Love and Separation
I shut Six Evil Beasts Chronicles once I finished reading the last page and stowed it in my shirt. Luo Ming had to have jumped through plenty of hurdles to procure the same edition as my shifu’s. Hence, it was something worth thinking about.
The six evil beasts are walking catastrophes, the enemy of life and the most terrifying, emotionless power. Irrespective of one’s purpose when letting them out, the outcome would always be the same – mayhem. I will kill any soul that tries to use them.
Seeded in my analysis of Luo Ming’s entire library, I had two conclusions that I could be confident about. Firstly, Luo Ming was searching for a specific evil beast’s information. The books he had for research were the worst information sources. Still, all books related to them were on his bookshelf. He also researched terrain and domains, suggesting he was scrupulous in his study.
Secondly, Luo Ming didn’t set up the formation to protect Repository Sword Theory. Based on what I could see Boss doing while I was reading, the formation wasn’t designed to attack intruders but trap them in an illusion. If he wasn’t positive the room was immune to thieves, he wouldn’t have set an illusion formation.
When I was searching for the odd spot of the formation, I chanced upon a crystal under the floor at the most outer section. How did I search? Old-school style – pull everything apart. Carved on the egg-sized jadeite crystal was, “The deeper love is, the more painful parting is.” On the other side was “Emotion Barrier”. I don’t know. Maybe the crystal was called Emotion Barrier Stone?
If I were to hazard a guess, the crystal was the medium. According to Shifu, you need rare mediums for certain formations to work. In the same vein, crushing it would defuse the formation. I held back, howbeit, for the reason that Boss wasn’t evading danger or speaking. On the contrary, she had a smile on her rosy lips while she was looking at or watching something. From what I could interpret, that was a smile of someone reminiscing and indulging in nostalgia.
I’ve never seen that smile from her. What does the illusion do?
I could’ve just crushed the crystal; however, my curiosity got the better of me. I closed my eyes and shut down my protective mental cultivation so that the formation would work on me.
“You disregarded me again. All you do is train, train, train. I hate you.”
Upon parting my eyelids, I was in a forest on a mountain I recognised at first glance, and there was eight year old young shiyi whining at my eleven year old self in her signature akimbo stance.
“Grandaunt, wait for me. I’ll piggy back you after I’m done training,” my young self promised as he continued throwing his fists.
Young Shiyi watched me for a long while and then decided to roll around on the ground, disregarding the fact that she’d smear her clothing in mud and dust.
“Pffthehe… Feizhen. Feizhenah… Feizhen, Feizhen, Feizhen.”
“Grandaunt, I can’t respond if you call me that fast.”
“Feizhen, Feizhen, Feizhen, Feizhen.” Young Shiyi just lied there, laughing as she called my name for the giggles.
I remember that was when I could always feel blood in my oesophagus, hands and feet immobilised. I really suffered when I trained as a kid, yet I saw my young self smiling jovially. Seeing as I didn’t realise it until now, I probably didn’t notice having Young Shiyi keep me company while I train was so much fun back then, either. I suppose that explained Boss’ smile.
In the subsequent scene I was shown, I was even younger. Second, who is two years older than me, was the only disciple in my age bracket who could spar with me. Because I was horrible at controlling my power back then, I floored him in no time.
After getting up to his feet, Second burst out wailing as he ran off. “Eat crap, Shifu. Eat dog crap, Grandmaster! Why does he get to be the senior disciple?! I refuse to acknowledge him! Eat crap! Eat crap! Eat cr-” And I will never forget him tripping, pulling off a triple cork and… beautifully landing in a pile of manure. I still remembered the breakneck-speed slap yourself moment as if it was yesterday.
As I surmised, the formation wasn’t harmful. It was merely a formation stored in the crystal and activated when a certain condition or conditions were met. I suppose what it exhibited was moments where we were touched in our lives given I saw Young Shiyi, Second and my youth at Mount Daluo. That would justify the “Emotion Barrier” name. I have little doubt people struggle with their emotions.
Memories from long ago and more recent ones flashed before my eyes in no particular order, and I just treated it as a revision session until an unforgettable roar the shook the air and brought back a memory that still ground my gears. Although I was aware it wasn’t happening in real time, my hairs jumped up, and I almost swung. It was one of the few fights I put my life on the line.
The young me charged at the beast bathed in blood with reckless abandon. Behind him was Young Shiyi, lying in her own blood. I still want to hit something every time I recall the vivid memory. At the same time, it still shakes me, especially when I first got to know the monster stronger than my shifu and grandmaster. My uncles, shifu and grandmaster looked mutilated in their bloody red robes. Rather than a conquest, Mount Daluo fought for their lives. There are fewer than few who can match its power, and a victory wouldn’t come for free.
Being exposed to the memory again reinforced the need for me to ascertain what Luo Ming’s real aim is in researching the six beasts. Mount Daluo may not stand for eternity, but I wasn’t going to let it fall, not in my generation.
Motivated, I squeezed the crystal in my hand but stopped when I heard my name enunciated in a tone that I should never have heard again.
“Impossible…” I choked out, feeling the pain of old wounds opening, yet relishing it at the same time. Every breath became heavy. Every heart beat thumped sonorously. I turned around to see what I buried in the depths of my hearts many years ago. “… It’s you.”
“Yeah, it’s me.”
The red leaves dancing to autumn’s wind were as red as my fourteen year old face’s cheeks. She was still the elder-sister character blessed with a breathtaking smile who would read and play music to me.