Ballad of the Desert

 
 
 

Ballad of the Desert Volume 2 Epilogue


Epilogue: Shadow of Sorrow

The different orders of mixing the ingredients for the “Seven Day Suffering” is all very hard to differentiate since the results are so similar. Despite it being hard, if there was enough time and he could study Huo Qu Bing’s poison strain and use someone to test the antidote, then he would definitely find the cure,

With seven ingredients, the number of order combinations make five thousand forty different concoctions. Plus if the amounts are varied, then it shoots up to over ten thousand different mixtures. Even if enough test subjects are found to test the poison, but everyone’s body is different and the reaction is different.

With five days, is impossible to find an antidote. Meng Jie bitterly laughed. If it was possible, the “Seven Day Suffering” wouldn’t be deemed a truly hellish poison that was banned in all the Xi Yu kingdoms. His mind flashed the visage of Yu Er crying. He smiled and decided. This will do, this is the only way.

He used his own body to test the poison. Only by feeling it himself could he sense the minute differences and find the antidote. Even if he had to rely on luck as well, it was his only way. Za Za Er and Teng Yin kneeled before him bowing non stop “Shi Nan Tian, if you need to test the poison, please use us instead. Please you cannot test the “Seven Day Suffering” on yourself.”

Meng Jiu calmly said “I have decided. Teng Yin, please prepare and Za Za Er please guard the outside. Don’t let anyone in, especially that girl you saw today.”

Within five days, he tested countless antidotes, so many Teng Yin had lost count. Perhaps Huo Qu Bing’s life wasn’t meant to end now, or perhaps Jiu Ye’s heartfelt wish touched the Heavens, so Meng Jiu hit upon the right antidote. When it happened, he smiled, and Teng Yin felt tears come to his eyes.

All medicine has some poisonous properties, much less poison. The poison plus the antidote, how many did Shi Nan Tian take during the five days? Teng Yin only took a few dozen and still he was in excruciating pain and felt like his insides were being ripped apart. It was worse that the torture he endured in the death row prison. But Shi Nan Tian, this crippled seemingly weak young man, how did he endure it? What kind of soul was hidden in his body?

After taking the antidote, Meng Jiu stood up and took his crutch. He was about to order Za Za Er to get Jin Yu, but then he collapsed on the ground. Teng Yin rushed to help him but Jiu Ye said “I’ll do it.”

Teng Yin was worried but Za Za Er knew Meng Jiu’s personality so pulled Teng Yin aside. Meng Jiu tried many times but he couldn’t stand up. His two legs wouldn’t listen to him. He lifted his robe and looked at his legs. His one healthy leg was completely black from the knee on down. The other shriveled leg, because the blood circulation was bad, was less black. Meng Jiu lightly pressed on his nerves and investigated. All the color in his face disappeared.

Za Za Er has followed by Meng Jiu’s side since he was young, learning medicine from him. He looked at Meng Jiu’s leg, and realized what had happened. Shi Nan Tian’s nerves in his legs have been completely destroyed by him testing the antidote. The healthy leg was now starting to die and shrivel. Despite Shi Nan Tian being able to control the amount tested perfectly, but in the past five days he simply tested too many poison and antidotes.

The residual poison in his body was pushed into his lower body by the new poison being injected. Now there is likely nothing that can be done to save his legs. He wanted to say something to comfort Shi Nan Tian, but when he opened his mouth, he could only cry.

Meng Jiu was originally crestfallen, but when he heard Za Za Er crying, he gave a small smile. He pointed to a chair, indicating for it to be brought over “In five days, the Heavens let me find the antidote. This is probably the price the Heavens wants in exchange. Have Yu Er bring General Huo here! But keep her outside, don’t let her in.”

Za Za Er was enraged. Who was that woman? How much did Shi Nan Tian do for her? How much did he sacrifice for her? Even now, he doesn’t want her to know. But he dare not oppose Jiu Ye’s orders so he suppressed his rage and sadness and went to get that woman.

Meng Jiu heard Yu Er calling from outside asking to be let in. He knew that he couldn’t prevent her much longer. He decided to let her in. But when he’s treating Huo Qu Bing, she’ll see his sad state and ask what happened to his legs.

He ordered Teng Yin to extinguish the lamps, and when Yu Er walked in, he released a fainting smoke bomb.

It was the dead of night by the time all the poison was cleared from Huo Qu Bing’s body. An exhausted Meng Jiu silently stared at Yu Er and Huo Qu Bing sleeping side-by-side on the pallet.

A wind drifted in the window and extinguished the lamp. But it wasn’t dark out, the moonlight shone in through the window and happened to land on Yu Er’s face, turning her skin as translucent as jade.

So close, so close that he can reach out and touch her.

But so far. So far that she will never know how close they once were, and how far they will be for the rest of this lifetime.

Their first meeting, the girl in the raggedy clothing, the girl who laughed out loud.

Their reunion in Chang An, the thoughtful and cheerful girl who always tried to take care of him.

She admired the moon on the roof, he played the flute in the courtyard.

She visited in the night, but stood outside his window and didn’t dare come in.

She learned the flute for him, she placed her entire heart in “The Song of the Yue Person”.

From Fall until Spring, from Spring until Winter, she planted the Lover’s Vines. She planted her heart, she planted her love for him.

That day, the drops of blood on the flute, her heartbreak, he thought it would be one moment of pain in his life. Who knew it would become a lifetime’s pain for him……………

Everything seems like it was just yesterday. When she broke the flute and turned and walked out of his life, it was still stepping on the pain in his heart……………….

In front of the Lover’s Vine, he cruelly pulled his sleeve out of her hands little by little. Meng Xi Mo, how could you have been so cruel to her back then? How could you have been so cruel to yourself? Why couldn’t you let yourself live freely for once?

……………

…………..

If the first time he heard her play a song for him, he said “It was lovely.”

If he didn’t avert his eyes every time she looked at him.

If he didn’t pull his sleeve out of her hands.

If he opened his mouth to explain the moment she leaped on the roof.

If every word she said when he was sick and she was holding him was true…….

If……if……sadly life has no ifs.

He didn’t know how long he stared at her, and only when the room got darker did he snap out of it.

The moon was falling and it was the final bit of darkness before dawn.

A new day is starting, but he will be leaving her life forever.

Huo Qu Bing and she are suited for each other. He can accompany her as she travels the world, ride over thousands of miles, climb the highest mountain, swim the fastest rivers……..

And himself…………

Meng Jiu looked down at his own legs. From now on, he will have to rely on a wheelchair forever.

One handkerchief contains all his longing. He raised the pen and put it down repeatedly. In the end he could not write the characters “Yu Er.”

He could not say goodbye to her forever. He can only use “Huo Qu Bing” to start the letter.

The moment Yu Er enters the city of Ha Mi, she will see a doctor’s clinic sign with the gold sandy desert as the backdrop and the blue verdant shape of the Yue Ya Spring. She will know immediately where to go to pick up Yi Er.

That day when he chanced to encounter then at the Yue Ya Spring, he was peeved that Huo Qu Bing chose to refer to them as “a married couple”, so he wanted to see Huo Qu Bing’s expression when Yu Er saw the sign. But now he regretted it. Now he would rather Yu Er never once think about him.

When he wrote “No meeting again in sight”, he had a strange smile on his face. But underneath the smile was a heart that shattererd.

Yu Er, this is the last thing I can do for you. With your personality, if you knew my legs were destroyed forever trying to save Huo Qu Bing, you would never be at ease going with Huo Qu Bing to live your carefee existence. I want to see the you who is flying, and not the you who is tied to me because of guilt.

The first rays of the morning light hit the room and shine its golden light on the two people laying on the pallet. Meng Jue smiled, their world belongs in the sunlight.

Meng Jiu picked up Yu Er’s hand, and after hesitating for a moment, he bent down and kissed her firmly on the lips.

Yu Er, forgive me, forgive my overstepping my bounds this once………..

Her lips was just like he imagined, sweet, warm, fragrant. But he couldn’t have imagined the degree of pain he was feeling, it was pain that seeped into his bones. The tenderness between their lips, the touch of their lips, it was branded on him based on hopelessness……

After some time, he raised his head. He put her hand on Huo Qu Bing’s hand and turned to leave. He wheeled himself out.

No meeting again in sight!

…………and then Jiu Ye began to hum the love song of the plains telling of the love story between Ba Ya Er and Yi Zhu.

……………………………………….

The person on the pallet is not yet awake. This time she did not see his figure leaving, and he also did not look back.

He slowly rode alone on his Snow Mountain Camel. Such a camel can fly like the wind, but because of his legs, the camel would have to endure the slow pace from now on.

But right now, he wanted the camel to go slower, even slower, as slow as possible, but the camel still took him further and further away from her.

The blue sky went on for miles, the green grass appeared to connect to the sky, the bright sun was shining down. The white sheep herd, the black horse pack, it was like fallen pearls littering the grassing plains.

A healthy herder was tending to his flock, a beautiful girl was singing a herding song. Her voice rang out in joy, the song of Ba Ya Er and Yi Zhu.

Jiu Ye couldn’t help but stop his camel and listen. In this lifetime, happiness was once so close to him, but he missed it.

His heart was like knives cutting it, the pain caused him to start coughing violently. It was some time before he could straighten himself. He tasted an acrid sweetness in his mouth, and when he looked down he saw the snow white camel had a few drops of dark blood on it. It normally should be red blood, but it was tinged with blackness. He glanced at it and then reached out his hand to wipe it off the camel.

The wind of the plains breezed past him, carrying fallen petals in its midst. After it passed, there was only a lonely shadow on the ground that kept him company.

The stunning red beauty of the sunrise had passed and now the sky was blue tinged with white clouds. His heart came to a realization, and he patted the camel for it to move faster. He took out his flute and played the tune to accompany the herding girl’s song.

The rainbow after the rain, the sunrise on the edge of the ocean, the first Spring flowers, most of the beauty in this world can never be owned. It is enough to have experienced beauty.

The clear tune of the flute mixed with the herding girl’s song and the sound drifted to the sky. The pain in Meng Jiu’s eyes remained, but he had a slight smile.

The emotion was deep, but their fate was shallow. But………no regrets…….only longing.