Chapter 15: Remember Her

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As the caravan was walking through a forest, the camels’ bells twinkled melodiously, complimenting the songs of the birds in the trees. 

“Show yourself!” Ye Qi said vigilantly. 

A figure flashed through the woods and a person stepped out of the shadows.
They wore the clothing of the Qingshan Sect, and without them saying a word, one could see from their face that they were arrogant and presumptuous: Jin Jue. 

Not expecting the Qingshan Sect to have already caught up to them, the members of the caravan raised their guard. 

“Qingshan Sect, Jin Jue.”


“Everyone, do not look so fierce.
I, this humble one, have come for a trade.” Jin Jue said, but he did not look to be there to discuss trade. 

“Trade?” He Xi was bemused.
Did they still have any leeway to negotiate a trade with the Qingshan Sect? Further, He Xi was not pleased with Jin Jue’s manner of speaking. 

“You did many things today at the Qingshan Sect.
New hatred has piled on old, the resentful divide grows deeper and harsher.
Should the Qingshan Sect give the word, even if you wish to mend relations in the future, it would simply be wishful thinking.

“Miss, there’s nothing to discuss with someone like him.” A Na lifted his blade to compel Jin Jue to retreat. 

“Insolence!” Jin Jue spat. 

In an instant, the two of them became entangled in a fight. 

Ye Qi led the caravan as they continued forward.
No one turned to look back. 

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Jiang Ling’s strength had been nearly spent that day.
By the time she woke up, it was seven days later. 

In that time, the Qingshan Sect had fruitlessly tracked the Manichaens and informed the rest of Jianghu that should any sect be on friendly terms with the Manichaens, they would make enemies of the Qingshan Sect.
This led to the expanding cessation of the exchange between east and west.
Only the area west of Longxi continued to have some contact, with the merchants having some impact without being completely prevented from their gold-seeking endeavors. 

Liu Qi had sent a messenger pigeon to notify Yun Yang and the Gu Family of Mingzhou.
Yun Yang and the eldest lady of the Gu Family, Gu Zhao, had already arrived at the Qingshan Sect. 

A Du told Jiang Ling that when she had been returned to the Qingshan Sect, Yun He had wanted to keep vigil beside Gu Yun’s coffin, so Shangguan Qing had taken care of her.
It was just that the Yueluo Sect wanted to return to Longxi, so she had to go with them.
She had A Du say goodbye on her behalf. 

“In the end, I wasn’t able to say a proper goodbye to anyone.” Regardless if it was He Xi or Shangguan Qing, Jiang Ling mocked herself.
Jiang Ling’s chest tightened in pain just thinking of He Xi. 

The Qingshan Sect had placed a Zhuyan pearl[1] in Gu Yun’s mouth to preserve his remains for three months.
Once returned to Mingzhou, his father and mother could see him for the last time. 

The eldest lady of the Tang Family, Tang Wanyi, had come with Gu Zhao.
Because she had earned back some face with Gu Zhao three months prior, she made a special trip to visit to offer an apology for the incident.
As she was living in Mingzhou, Gu Zhao received the sad news of Gu Yun’s passing. 

The Gu family became enveloped in dark clouds.
The Master and Madam of the Gu Family were already elderly.
Madam Gu had fainted from her sorrow and was unable to take up the arduous journey, so Gu Zhao was forced to make the trip by herself.
Tang Wanyi could not rest easy and went with her. 

The color of Gu Zhao’s face did not look well.
When she saw Gu Yun, her knees had gone weak and she nearly collapsed.
Luckily, Tang Wanyi was there to support her. 

“A Yun, your sister has come to see you.” Her dear brother, who she had not seen in ten years, was laying right in front of her, his body as cold as ice.
She could not accept it; she felt like a knife was being twisted in her heart, “Our A Yun has grown so big.”

Gu Zhao reached out to tenderly stroke Gu Yun’s cheek.
Tears gushed out of her eyes like a fresh water spring. 

Yun Yang was also standing to one side.
When he saw the brother and sister pair like this, he felt a dull ache in his heart, his remorse deepening.
At the outset, when he brought Yun He and Jiang Ling to live with him in seclusion on Minghe Mountain, he had thought that, when Yun He and Jiang Ling grew up a bit and could take care of themselves, he could entrust the two children to the villagers below the mountain.
He, who had not traveled for many years, had decided to go for a leisurely trip to some far-off place. 

 Yun Yang gave the villagers no small amount of remuneration for their care and set off on his distant journey. 

It was also at that time that he encountered Gu Yun. 

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Gu Yun was seven years old and in a coma due to illness.
The Gu Family had no choice but to offer a large sum of payment to find the best doctors.
Yun Yang relied on his family background, having come from a prominent family of doctors, and his knowledge of medicine that he learned in his childhood to go and have a try, aiming for the large payment.
And so, Gu Yun was saved from the Gates of Hell.
Gu Yun’s health was poor, and he needed to study martial arts to nurse his strength.
Yun Yang accepted Gu Yun as his disciple and brought him back to Minghe Mountain.
Yun He had a new shidi, and Jiang Ling had a new shixiong. 

“I’m sorry.
It was I who did not look after you, A Yun.” Yun Yang said. 

“Senior, there is no need.
Brother Yun was sick and weak as a child.
If he had not met you, Senior Yun, he would not have lived many days.
These ten years were the time the Gu Family stole from the heavens.” Gu Zhao may have spoken thus, but her expression grew more sorrowful.
Tang Wanyi came forward and stroked her back consolingly, “A Zhao, restrain your grief.” 

“The Qingshan Sect will demand justice for Gu Shi and Gu Yun and give the Gu Family a clear account.” Liu Qi, who was standing to the side, said. 

“Justice?” Yun Yang gave Liu Qi a ridiculing look, “The evildoers from those demonic Manichaens[2] have already crossed the Yumen Pass, I’d reckon.
Tell me just how you plan to demand justice?”

“Yun Yang!” From some time onward, his shidi seemed to have changed.
Their closeness from before was gone and left between them only reticence and frosty words. 

“Shixiong should use this opportunity to consolidate the Qingshan Sect.
Wulin has been quiet for too long, and the disciples have long forgotten what exactly Wulin is.
Evildoers could ascend the mountain and commit theft without discovery.
This Qingshan Sect truly looks impressive but lacks real worth.” Each of Yun Yang’s words were concise yet powerful, turning Liu Qi’s mind upside down.
Liu Qi was silent; it seemed like he agreed with every word. 

“The two seniors need not fight because of Brother Yun.
This matter is not entirely the Qingshan Sect’s fault.
Our Gu Family does not dare forget the hatred of the demonic Manichaens.” Gu Zhao said, then sighed, looking weary.
She turned to look deeply at Gu Yun.
Tang Wanyi supported her back to the guest residence.
Servants of the Gu Family came in and took Gu Yun away. 

Tang Wanyi brought Gu Zhao back to the guest residence, carefully straightened out her bedding, and signaled for Gu Zhao to lay down and rest.
Gu Zhao tiredly shook her head then sat on the edge of the bed. 

“Do you want to go see A Shi?” Tang Wanyi thought that Gu Zhao would not rest because she needed to check on Gu Shi. 

Gu Zhao shook her head, “People have been sent.
They should be returning soon.”

As expected, soon after, a little servant knocked on the door, came in, and spoke a little on Gu Shi’s condition.
She said that he had taken a turn for the better and would wake up in no time.
Once she knew, Gu Zhao could relax, and she laid down to rest after sending the girl servant back. 

Jiang Ling sat on the stairs below the arch looking out at the beautiful scenery of Qingshan.
Distant flocks of birds flew through the clouds, free and merry, while she seemed to have become a bird trapped in a cage, imprisoned behind the bars of her heart.
She blamed herself for her lack of experience.
When she had met a foreigner, she did not keep her guard up at all, hoping in vain to become friends. 

Jiang Ling knew that, whether or not she had told He Xi about the celebratory banquet, it would not have changed their actions, but had she not told He Xi about the banquet, and they had not chosen to act the night of the banquet, then who could say if Gu Yun would not have died.
Jiang Ling sank into a mire of incomparable self reproach.
She hugged her legs and buried her face in her arms. 

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When Yun He heard from A Du that Jiang Ling had woken up, she went over to check on her and found that Jiang Ling was not in her room.
She went to search for her and saw her frail form sitting on the right steps, her shoulders trembling.
She sat beside Jiang Ling, pulled her into her arms, and consoled her gently. 

Jiang Ling felt Yun He come over, and she lifted her head and wiped her face, “Shijie, it’s all my fault.”

“A Ling, it’s not your fault.
It was the fault of those evil thieves.” Yun He reassured her. 

Jiang Ling still felt unrestrainable regret.
She turned and laid down on Yun He’s lap, weeping uncontrollably.
Yun He stroked her head and sighed, turning her gaze to the distant white clouds, a trace of wetness in her eyes. 

Gu Zhao rested for a day.
On the second day, she set out to bring Gu Yun back to Mingzhou.
Yun Yang felt that he did not have the face to see the Master and Madam of the Gu Family, so he left on his own for a destination unknown.
Yun He and Jiang Ling left for Mingzhou together.
They had promised Gu Yun that, once everything had concluded, they would go with him to see his parents.
They would see the sea together. 

Because it was not easy to bring Gu Yun with them, by the time the travelers had arrived at Mingzhou, a fortnight had passed.
The weather was fading into late autumn, which in Jiangnan passed with the pitter-patter of intermittent drizzle and chilly breezes.
Ordinarily, people always said that Jiangnan was good, and that the daily rain added to the Jiangnan flavor.
But when meeting such rainy days with a grieving heart, it only added a gloomy and clammy element. 

While the Gu Family held the number one business in Jiangnan, the family lived remarkably simply.
Unlike the sumptuous, majestic courtyards one might imagine of a rich family, the Gu Family had one courtyard with three entrances. 

Master Gu and Madam Gu wept again when they saw Gu Yun.
Yun He and Jiang Ling felt the sight pluck a chord in their hearts, and they soon followed suit.
The funeral was a simple affair; Master Gu and Madam Gu, their hair white, were sending off their young one, his hair still black, so they were not willing to see outsiders.
They had Gu Zhao prepare it and soon laid Gu Yun to rest. 

After she helped Gu Zhao arrange everything, Tang Wanyi returned to Yuzhou.
The Gu family sank into a period of cheerlessness and desolation. 

Another day.
Another day of unbroken drizzle, a sticky, damp, sickly rain. 

Yun He prepared to say goodbye to the Gu Family and went to see the elders of the Gu Family.
Master and Madam Gu had grown wan and sallow, but they still had some vigor and related many things to Yun He.
They asked how Gu Yun had passed those ten years on Minghe Mountain. 

“Shidi was very sensible.” Yun He said. 

The elders were gratified.
Madam Gu reached out to clasp Yun He’s hand, “If MIss Yun does not object, take the Gu Family as your own.
Miss Jiang as well.
Yun-er would often speak of you in his letters, and he thought of you both as his own sisters.
Naturally, you are our children, as well.
If you can, please come visit us.”

Yun He agreed and said farewell to the two elders. 

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She returned to the guest room.
Jiang Ling had already arranged their belongings, but there was no sign of the person herself.
Yun He called out to her twice, but there was no response. 

Yun He knew Jiang Ling’s disposition.
She thought that Jiang Ling would not run off and that she likely went to find Gu Yun. 

“Shixiong, I’m going back tomorrow.” Jiang Ling knelt in front of Gu Yun’s tomb, the rain gradually dampening her clothes.
‘Qian Shui’ was off to the side, “If I have the chance, I will avenge you.”

“Shixiong, do you know? I seem to be well.” When Jiang Ling woke up, she felt the energy in her dantian churning.
If only she had her internal force before. 

“Shixiong…” Jiang Ling found it difficult to speak, her fists tightening their grip on her pants.
She gritted her teeth, but could not stop her tears from rolling down. 

The rain grew stronger, and Jiang Ling’s clothes were dyed darker by the deluge.
The cornelian agate on her wrist flashed crimson, the light piercing through the rain and pricking Jiang Ling’s nerves. 

Jiang Ling rolled up her sleeve and tried to remove the bracelet, but after several attempts, she could not find out how to undo the clasp. 

“A special craft of the western regions.
Aside from me, no one can take it off.” He Xi’s voice echoed in her ears. 

Jiang Ling’s chest tightened.
A rage sparking within her, she made another two attempts, but could not snap the bracelet. 

“No, I don’t want you!” Jiang Ling seemed like she had lost her mind.
She exhausted her strength, but the cornelian gem still firmly hung on her wrist, and her wrist was ringed in red. 

The corners of Jiang Ling’s eyes went red, “If that’s how it is, then I don’t want you either.”

Jiang Ling pulled out ‘Qian Shui’ and held it over her own wrist, like she wanted to cut it off. 

“A Ling!” Yun He appeared on time and grabbed her left wrist, the one that was holding ‘Qian Shui.’ Yun He held Jiang Ling down, “What were you thinking?!”

“Shijie, I don’t want it.” Jiang Ling’s voice was hoarse, like she was going to cry.
She lifted her right hand and showed Yun He the bracelet.
Yun He gripped her wrist and pulled her sleeve down, “If you cannot remove it, then don’t remove it.
Remember it.” Remember everything, and sooner or later, you will get recompensed. 

“Remember her[3]…” She would only make me unhappy.

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