Chapter 18 Bonus Story 2: Forevermore
At the moment Moxi’s soul drifted away from his mortal body, Wuqu Xingjun was already waiting in the air.
“Welcome back, My Lord. His Majesty has prepared a banquet to welcome your return.”
With his memories of the past, the God of War did not feel any joy of returning from his trial. His ears were ringing with Sansheng’s faint voice: “I like it just because I got to meet you.”
Unable to control a sour warmth in his heart, he turned to gaze down the lower realm at a hollow and haggard girl who was holding a bloody ‘Moxi’ sitting on the battlefield. After ruminating for a long time, he asked, “Wuqu, where is Siming?”
Hearing the chill in Moxi’s voice, Wuqu couldn’t but shudder. “Siming… Siming…”
“Never mind, I shall look for her myself.”
Wuqu hadn’t time to plead before he suddenly heard a piercing laughter from the lower realm. The terrifying sound alarmed Wuqu. He looked to Sansheng sighingly: “It’s rare to come across this smart of a spirit in the underworld. It’s unfortunate that she will fall into darkness after this.”
Moxi scowled, his body motionless. Wuqu quickly advised: “Your Lordship, you mustn’t! You mustn’t! This is the lower realm’s matter, we cannot intervene!”
Making Wuqu break out in cold sweat, Moxi gave a slight glance in reply: “Did I say I will intervene?” Then he added: “I merely saw a mortal who is rather fated for divinity and would like to give him some counsel, that’s all.”
Wuqu wiped his perspiration as he watched Moxi ‘counsel’ a human named Chang’an. Wuqu couldn’t but sigh inside. This wasn’t a stone’s love trial; this love trial was clearly here to trial Heaven’s God of War, too.
The loner God of War and the emotionless stone had fallen in love. The world must be coming to an end!
When the spirit of the spiritual being called Sansheng flew away, Wuqu saw Moxi stopping the judge coming from afar and giving him a pair of handcuffs. Even from a distance away, he could sense a circulating divine energy emanating from the handcuffs. Moxi told the judge a few words, to which the judge smiled knowingly.
Wuqu lowered his head in an attempt to look as though he didn’t see anything. But when he saw the judge use them to cuff Sansheng, he couldn’t resist saying: “My Lord, those handcuffs have a very strong divine energy. I don’t think it’s a good idea to use them on her.”
Moxi did not answer him. He stared after the judge leading Sansheng away, a cryptic gleam sparking in his obsidian eyes. Finally, his gaze dropped to his hands, and he suddenly asked, “Wugu, how powerful are the forty-nine celestial bolts?”
Wuqu did not know what Moxi had meant. He incautiously replied: “Just one bolt has the power to shake Heaven and Earth. Forty-nine of them are naturally very powerful.”
“Would you ever be willing to suffer those lightning bolts for something?”
Wuqu was quick to shake his head. “It’s a punishment that would take away my life!”
Moxi faintly smiled. He clenched his fists, his soft voice almost whispering: “If I can have Sansheng in exchange, then I wouldn’t mind.” Wuqu didn’t hear him very clearly, but before he could ask Moxi to repeat himself, Moxi was heard saying: “Wuqu, I can’t go to the Celestial Emperor’s banquet anymore. If he really wants to hold a feast for me, he can host my wedding the next time.” At these words, his figure made a flash and vanished without waiting for Wuqu’s reply.
Wuqu stood alone for a long time in the air, wanting desperately to cry but couldn’t force out any tears.
Moxi went one step ahead of Sansheng to see Yanwang. At this time, Yanwang was having a headache over how to deal with Sansheng’s matter. If he were lenient, he would not be following the laws, but if he were severe, it would be too harsh. Moxi stepped into the hall and lightly said three words: “Remove her heart.”
Moxi’s sudden appearance gave Yanwang a start. He hid under the table, stuttering in a shaky voice: “The… the hall’s only gotten its floor re-tiled! Why are you here again?”
“Come out from there,” uttered Moxi, coldly.
The scrawny Yanwang cautiously peeked out from under the table to look at Moxi and pitifully said, “Your Lordship! I don’t want to sentence Sansheng either, but she had unfortunately gone well over the line this time. I… I really can’t do anything about it.”
“Of course she needs to be sentenced,” Moxi said and then added: “Her sentence is to have her heart removed.”
Yanwang dumbly looked at Moxi for a long time before faltering: “Isn’t this… isn’t this a little too light? No matter what, Sansheng has disrupted the order of the universe…”
“This will be fine. If the man upstairs has any rebukes, I shall face them for you. After Sansheng’s heart is removed, you must hand it to me immediately.”
Light footfalls were heard outside Yanwang’s palace. It must be the escorting judge and Sansheng. Moxi hid behind a large column, not forgetting to quietly remind Yanwang: “Find a swift executioner. Do not let her suffer.”
Sansheng walked in behind the judge. Her composed countenance was as it had always been whenever she chatted with Yanwang. When the underworld ruler announced: “Remove her heart,” Sansheng looked at him with a faint smile, knelt down and kowtowed. There were neither words of thanks nor dissatisfaction, only calm acceptance of her punishment.
After they left the hall, White Impermanence asked her, “Do you regret it?”
Hidden behind them, Moxi couldn’t help pausing when he heard this question.
“I have no regrets.”
Moxi gripped his fist, the light in his eyes swirling, as he tried to suppress the impulse to go out and pull her in for a hug. If ‘no regrets’ was her answer, Moxi thought, then they must take care to never have any regrets in the future.
Moxi took Sansheng’s heart from the messenger ghost, carefully held it in his hands, and protected it with his divine energy.
He looked to the distance where he saw Sansheng clutching her chest and slowly crawling into the Sansheng Stone with difficulty. After thousands of years, a rare storm was brewing in his heart which had long been lulled into stillness. A dull pain. He murmured: just bear with it, just bear with it. It’s unclear whether he was telling Sansheng to bear with it or telling himself to bear with it.
Once he was back in Heaven, the first place Moxi went to was the Soul Rinsing Tower.
There was a heavenly treasure on the Soul Rinsing Tower called the Soul Rinser that could cleanse all the souls in this world. Be they demons or ghosts, when their hearts passed through this treasure, their miasma would obliterate and they would immediately become no different from mere mortals.
Moxi raised Sansheng’s heart and placed it before the Soul Rinser. After a slight quiver, the living heart became no different from an ordinary stone. Moxi smiled as he happily took the stone back to Victory Palace.
Words in Heaven spread that the God of War Moxi was becoming increasingly reclusive after returning from his trial. Not only did he decline the Celestial Emperor’s welcoming feast, he stayed all day behind closed doors and even turned away the gods who came to visit, all of whom were good friends of his in the past.
While everyone was busy talking about this deity, lightning suddenly struck Victory Palace.
The thunder clapping wasn’t low. Forty-nine lightning bolts fell straight onto the God of War’s palace, shaking so much that half of Heaven rattled thrice. The stunned Celestial Emperor rushed out in the middle of the night. All he saw was that Victory Palace was burning red and that the bloodied God of War was engulfed in fire while clutching something in his hands. His face was bleeding horribly but there was a gentlest smile on his lips.
None had ever seen the God of War looking this way. The gods stared at him. For the time being, no one dared to step forward to lend him a hand.
In the end, Siming Xingjun was the first to react. She led Wuqu to go rescue Moxi from the scorching flames. By the time they saw what Moxi was holding in his hands, Siming couldn’t but gasp: “You… you… you’re trying to help her change her fate.”
When the gods heard Siming’s exclamation, they looked to the thing Moxi was holding. It was Sansheng’s heart. At this time, it had become a mass of shimmering object. Coldness no longer occupied it, and all the miasma was also gone, leaving only an air of awe-spiring divine glory, like that of red plums blossoming in the midst of winter, standing proudly among snow and ice.
The Celestial Emperor’s eyes darkened as he growled: “Nonsense! Changing fate against Heaven’s will is a sin that causes disruption to the world! Do you really think you don’t have to fear Heaven’s retribution just because you’re a god?”
Realization only now dawned on Wuqu. No wonder His Lordship wanted to make Sansheng wear those handcuffs. No wonder he wanted to remove Sansheng’s heart. No wonder he inquired about the forty-nine lightning bolts. It turned out he had long planned for tomorrow.
He handcuffed Sansheng so that divine energy would dispel the dark forces inside of her. He removed her heart and brought it to Heaven so that he could completely change her fate. He was punished by forty-nine lightning bolts for changing Destiny on his own. He had planned everything without letting anyone know, paying the full price by himself.
Moxi quietly put her heart away and said to the Celestial Emperor: “In a few days, I will take a trip to the underworld. Last time you had prepared a welcoming banquet for me but I did not go. This time, please prepare a wedding feast for me. I won’t miss the date.”
The Celestial Emperor gave him a long glare. “You’ve made your life so difficult for that Sansheng Stone. Is she worth it?”
“Even knowing she would lose her soul, she still committed murder for my sake. What’s to prevent me from suffering these trivial forty-nine lightning bolts for her?”
“You are bent on marrying a spirit from the underworld?”
Moxi shook his head: “She is now a fairy.”
The Celestial Emperor sighed: “There are no shortage of better women in Heaven. Why must you insist on loving that stone?”
Moxi suddenly thought of what Sansheng said to White Impermanence last time. He laughed: “I’m left with little choice now that I’ve met her.”
The gods were all silent. The Celestial Emperor gazed at the raging fire in Victory Palace for a long while before finally walking away, leaving only one line: “If that’s what you both want, then let me not be the one standing in your way.”
Moxi dropped his gaze. Even though he was covered in blood, the gods could see an unbridled joy in his smile.
I can finally give you forever.