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06 December 2016 @ 01:42 am
living up to you - chapter 04 - black rose  


CHAPTER 04 - BLACK ROSE

Translation Notes: Only new romanized word is 啊丑 (ah-Chou) which means ugly, adding the prefix ah- in front of it turns it into a person. This is Qing Kui's nickname for Ling Xi and it's ironically supposed to be endearing haha. Since it's important, I'm going to explain a little about the daoist concept of a person's soul, usually xianxia novels will bring it up so if you get confused, here's my little explaination for it since I too got curious at one point and decided to google it. 三魂七魄 (san hun qi po) is comprised of the two halves of the soul, one half has three parts, the other has seven parts. One half, the 'hun', is immortal and goes into reincarnation. the three parts are 元神 (yuan shen) the divine part、陽神 (yang shen) the yang part、陰神 (yin shen) and the yin part. The 'yuan shen' is usually what novels will mention though. The other half, the 'po' is somewhat ambiguous and novels rarely go too deep into it since it's considered mortal. The seven parts are 喜(xi) joy、怒(nu) anger、哀(ai) sorrow、懼(ju) fear、愛(ai) love、惡(e) evil、and 慾(yu) desire. Sometimes if these mortal sentiments are deep enough during a lifetime, they will follow the hun into the next lifetime and become one with the immortal 'hun' thus spanning multiple lifetimes I assume, but otherwise they get wiped clean everytime a character crosses the Bridge of Helplessness and drinks the old lady's soup.  Whenever a book says 魂飞魄散 (hun fei po san) that means both the 'hun' disperses and the 'po' scatters so the immortal part is destroyed along with the mortal part. The character will not go through reincarnation and is truly dead and will never come back! What I just explained is the traditional idea of 'san hun qi po' so don't take it literally. Every author has their own spin on it one way or another, and you can judge for yourself if Living Up To You follows this or not. Hope that was interesting!
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Ling Xi has always remembered what gege said, that the only difference between her and ordinary people is that she is just missing a chord that's all. So no matter what others say about her, whether they say she is dumb or foolish, she doesn't mind it because like gege said, she is different from them.

However, ever since she arrived at Tian Mai Peak, Ling Xi gradually understood that the difference between herself and 'ordinary people' is not as simple as a 'chord' as gege casually puts it. For example, even after a year she still could not master 'Leaf Does Not Touch Ground'. For example, even after a year of memorizing Cang Jia Shan's rules, she still could not recite them off the top of her head. For example, if a good chunk of time has passed since something happened and nobody deliberately tells her to remember it, her mind will wipe it completely and not leave a trace.

A year had passed on Tian Mai Peak, her past memories have already become a blur. Only two words remained perfectly clear in her memory, gege.

She remembers gege holding her little hand, laughing and sighing at the same time, “The world is so vast, there must be somewhere we can stay.” She remembers gege pinching her cheeks while complaining “One wrong step turns into eternal regret!” She also remembers gege the last time he went out the door, he had stopped to smile at her and remind her “take good care of yourself.”

Every memory with gege in it, she remembers it clearly as if it happened yesterday.

But where did gege go?



Ever since that snow storm a year ago, ever since she was rescued by Feng Shu and brought to Cang Jia Shan, from that moment on gege had disappeared from her world. Even if Feng Shu had promised her before that if she stayed on Cang Jia Shan, she would be able to see her gege again, but a year has already passed. There was still no sign nor sound of gege at all.

A long while passed, Feng Shu still did not reply.

Ling Xi hung her head low, quietly exiting the room.

Actually half a year ago, Feng Shu had already told her, when she passes the Sword Trial and formally becomes a disciple of Cang Yu, only then will he tell her the whereabouts of her gege.

Half a year ago, she had run out of patience and caused a commotion. Today, she also couldn't hold it in, so she asked him again. If he doesn't reply, she would not be surprised.

Her only problem was that Sword Trial, every time she wanted to attend it, her heart would feel congested. Although she could now talk like any ordinary person, reply to others' question like any ordinary person, but still she could not recite a single incantation. Even if she forces herself to memorize it, after three to five days without using it, she would completely forget it. After a year of cultivation, any ordinary person could probably be able to do 'Leaf Does Not Touch Ground', yet she could not. There was no hope for her at the Sword Trial...

If... if gege was by her side like in the past, if he had never gone away how nice would that be...

The more Ling Xi thought about her gege, the more she was sure he would not bear for her to pursue cultivation because of all the hardship she would face. He would never abandon her all by herself, to be ridiculed by others. He would not just leave without a warning, without even saying a word to her, she was sure of it.

Coincidentally, a strong wine aroma drifted over from the small trail, the familiar scent making Ling Xi's body tremble. Without even thinking about it, she immediately grabbed onto the newcomer, happily calling out “gege!”

“Hey hey hey! Who's your gege!” Qing Kui's face was the physical manifestation of the word misery. He had just returned from the Hall of Oblivion. Not only did he not get to talk to his shifu, he even ran into Cang Hai shishu and earned himself a lecture. Now that he has fallen into the hands of the ultimate culprit, all the vent-up gas inside of him seemed to explode on her all at once, his hands repeatedly shoving her several times.

Ling Xi's mortal body naturally cannot stand up to his sudden outburst, so she fell on the ground in pain. Now that she thought about it, if gege was here, there is no way he would allow for her to get hurt like this. In a matter of seconds, her eyes became red and puffy.

Qing Kui finally realized that the person who had thrown her arms around him was Ling Xi after he got a hold of himself. Seeing the usually carefree girl on the ground glaring at him with reddened eyes, looking very bitter and upset, a sprout of guilt immediately sprang up inside his heart.

“So it's ah-Chou! Does it hurt? Does it hurt? It's all my fault, I got too drunk...” Qing Kui has never called Ling Xi by her name. When he is in a good mood, he will call her ah-Chou. If he is in a bad mood, then he'll just randomly pick out of idiot, fool, or ugly girl. Right now, half of him was occupied with helping Ling Xi up, the other half was going through incantations in his head that he could use to heal the cuts he had put on her body. Ling Xi wouldn't have it though and he found himself pushed away.

“I know ah-Chou is very strong, but you are still a human, right? Let shixiong help you get rid of these cuts so that you don't need to hurt.”

Qing Kui was truly sorry for what he did, but somehow after hearing him say the word 'human' Ling Xi suddenly felt that she was very useless. When it dawned on her that she may never find her gege, she started to sob loudly, dragging the back of her hand across her tear-stained face

Qing Kui was brought to Cang Jia Shan at the age of three. At age twenty-seven he achieved immortality, distancing himself from the mortal world. How could he have ever seen a child sitting on the ground wailing like this, overflowing with tears and snot, and for it to be his handiwork much less?

Back and forth, every good word his mind could come up with, he had already said. Ironically, Ling Xi's crying just got louder and louder. In a moment of hotheadedness, Qing Kui shouted “I know where your gege is!”

As soon as she heard this, Ling Xi stopped crying at once. She looked at him with teary eyes, waiting for his next words.

Qing Kui let out a breath, taking a seat on the ground next to Ling Xi, tapping his cheek and contemplating how he should lighten down what he was going to say to her so he could avoid the heavier parts.

Honestly, he had always been very curious about that brother of Ling Xi's. The souls of mortal humans are comprised of the three pieces of their spirit and seven pieces of their physical soul, missing any one piece meant death would be waiting. Ling Xi, who only has two pieces of her spirit and three pieces of her physical soul, has somehow managed to lived to the age of ten and even more strangely, her health appears to be sound. There must have been someone with a considerably deep cultivation by her side, sustaining her with his own life force. Furthermore, all around Ling Xi's body, there is a thick aura of righteous energy. That person could even help her awaken her Heaven's Eye, certainly he cannot be of the heretic path.

Yet, among all of the xian cultivating sects, he sifted through those individuals that might have the capability of using life force to sustain someone with an incomplete soul for ten years and realized... he could count them with one hand! Except, if this person really happens to be of the xian path, no matter which one of the four xian mountains he chooses to bring Ling Xi up to, the spiritual energies amassed on those mountains would certainly prevent anything from happening to Ling Xi, so why would there be the need to exhaust his own cultivation in order to sustain Ling Xi?

After seeing that he has not spoken a word for a long time, Ling Xi's lips tightened into a straight line, looking as if she wanted to cry again. Qing Kui hastily blurted, “Obviously, he's alive and on this earth!”

According to his speculations, if that gege of hers has such a deep cultivation, it's impossible that his life could be snuffed out by that swarm of fledgling yao and muo by the Eastern Sea. There's a bigger chance that Ling Xi had depleted too much of his life force energies, so he hid himself away to re-cultivate it...

Ling Xi never though her gege would die anyways, so when he finally said something and it turned out to be nonsense, her tears resumed their downpour.

Qing Kui was at a loss, on one hand he was fawningly trying to wipe her tears, on the other hand begging her “Aish kid, can you please stop crying! Fine, I'll be honest with you, alright? Driving me insane!”

Ling Xi's tears stopped on command, again she stared at him with those teary eyes of hers.

Qing Kui cleared his throat, “This is what happened! Do you remember when Da Shixiong insisted you stay on Cang Jia Shan, one of the reasons you were able to stay was because you were only ten, but your Heaven's Eye had already opened?”

Ling Xi shook her head.

“It's alright even if you don't remember, the point is that you are different from ordinary people. You can see things of the muo realm, that is because someone powerful helped you open your Heaven's Eye. That powerful person can only be your gege! Think about it, your appearance changed a lot from when you were little, what about him? He still looks exactly the same right?”

Ling Xi nodded her head.

“Exactly!” Qing Kui snapped his fingers loudly, continuing on to say, “Look at Da Shixiong, he's at least three thousand years old, but he also hasn't aged! Ah-Chou's gege must also be a xian! Xian always come like the wind and go like the wind, never leaving a trace right?”

Ling Xi thought about Feng Shu, nodding.

“So ah-Chou's gege has only gone out for a walk, after he's done walking, he'll come back!”

“That's impossible! Gege said before that he'd wait until I'm old enough to marry me off and then leave!” This time, Ling Xi did not give a nod. Her reaction actually came pretty quickly too, dragging along with it a bit of stuffiness as she shouted at him.

Qing Kui didn't expect Ling Xi to actually remember such a small detail that happened between her and her gege, seems like he had spun himself into a dead end... Seeing the tears in Ling Xi's eyes looking suspiciously like they wanted to brim over again, he figured that now was the time to abandon the road and find another way, for instance divert her attention...

“Ah-Chou, look at this!”

Ling Xi only saw a faint flash, the next moment a single stalk of rose quietly stood before her eyes. It's petals gathered in a rosebud, waiting to to bloom at any moment.

The moonlight was lucid, the night air carried a slight chill.

This particular rose does not resemble a blushing maiden, but rather like a handsome man in a solemn black robe, standing in solitude.

“A black... rose?” Ling Xi's eyes were fixed unmovingly on that quiescent flower, as if the entirety of her heart and consciousness were captivated by him.

“Right! Isn't it beautiful?”

Ling Xi nodded frantically.

Qing Kui continued proudly, “Blood colored roses are common sight, but black is beyond rare, you know! Especially this particular stalk, I found it growing at the summit of Cang Jia Shan's main peak, absorbing the energy of the sun and moon, formed of the natural energies of heaven and earth. I watched him for sixteen years, you know! Today on my way back from the Hall of Oblivion, I finally got a chance to pick it and bring it back with me! Anyone who consumes it will gain at least two hundred years of cultivation!”

“Consume? As in... eat it?” Ling Xi's face distorted into a frown.

“Of course, this sort of luxury...”

“What does this have to do with gege?” Ling Xi's eyes started to water again.

Qing Kui originally thought he had succeeded in diverting Ling Xi's attention. His elated face along with all that pride slathered over it got slapped down by Ling Xi's question. He muttered to himself for what seemed like an awfully long time before he opened his mouth again, “Of course... of course there's something to do with it! I just thought about it long and hard, wasn't ah-Chou's brother seriously injured before he disappeared? Right now, he must have gone to recover... if ah-Chou can take good care of this black rose, wait until it blooms and have ah-Chou's brother consume it. Then he'll be invincible, and if he's invincible that means he will never have to leave you!”

“But when will gege come back...” Ling Xi cried.

“Give him another two years! After two years, when ah-Chou is of age to marry, he'll definitely be back! Didn't he say before that he's going to see you get married off? Has ah-Chou's gege ever gone back on his own words?”

“So I'm taking care of it for two years?” Ling Xi reached out to take the black rose.

“Yes, that's right!” Qing Kui realized that it hurts where his heart is.

“After it blooms, gege will come back and never leave again?” Ling Xi's face finally gave way to a smile, holding that stalk of rose close to her heart.

“Yes...”

“Really?”

“For reals!” Qing Kui also put his hand over his heart, secretly shedding tears, “there goes my two hundred years too...”

“Thank you Qing Kui shixiong! I'm going to go back first and find a place to put it! See you tomorrow!”

Ling Xi's face bloomed with happiness as she held onto the rose stalk, running off like she was flying. Qing Kui stood there his his hand covering his heart for what seemed like half the day, in a low voice he bitterly shouted, “Damn it! Who said that beauty is poisonous water! It's obvious those tears are poisonous water!”

* * *

If those words of Qing Kui's, in all it's hole-ridden contradictions, were spoken to Ling Xi a few years later, they probably wouldn't be enough to trick her. But for eleven-year-old Ling Xi, her head can't hold too much things, so after that night only one thought remained firmly planted inside her head, when the flower blooms, gege will come back and never leave again.

With this new thread of hope, even though Ling Xi still didn't make any progress in her training, she never felt frustrated again. When she completely let herself unwind, her progress ironically picked up and became more and more obvious. Within three months, she was actually able to go from accurately hitting a qingrong leaf to rarely missing one.

Feng Shu started to teach her some basic spells. Even though her memory seemed to be improving by the day, but truthfully it was still far from the capacity of ordinary people. It took a lot of effort for her to learn spells, so Feng Shu brought her book after book of incantations and had her memorize them first.

Although Ling Xi never entertained the idea of standing out in the Sword Trials, she never slacked in her cultivation. When others need only use a fraction of their diligence to master a certain spell, she would put in ten times the diligence to practice. Even if she fails to become a direct disciple of the zhangmen, she cannot let Da Shixiong loose face in front of thousands of disciples!

Aside from cultivation, what she was most concerned about is that black rose. Even though Qing Kui stressed to her repeatedly, that it took the flower seventy years to grow into a rosebud, it will take at least another two years before it would be ready to bloom. Also due to the abundance of natural energies present on Cang Jia Shan, because it has grown absorbing the essence of the sun and moon, even if Ling Xi casts it onto a pile of mud and forgets about it, it's petals will not wither or fall.

However Ling Xi somehow felt that if she didn't take care of it wholeheartedly, the time of it's blooming will be stalled, therefore the time of gege's return will also be stalled. If it happens past her coming of age, then perhaps... gege will never return...

Because of this, Ling Xi practically exhausted her mind coming up with ways and things she can use as fertilizer in order to make it grow faster. Anything valuable that she can find on Tian Mai Peak, be it leaves from the qingrong trees, nectar from the qilian lotus flowers, early morning dew, light from the full moon, even the medicine Feng Shu makes her drink as enrichment for her own body, she will save some of it everyday to drench it with.

Like this, two years flew by in a blur. Ling Xi is now no longer a little girl, but not quite a woman yet. The spells that Feng Shu teaches her have gotten increasingly difficult, the incantation books that he has her memorize have also gotten increasingly thick, and finally the Sword Trials have gotten increasingly closer.

Today, Feng Shu and Qing Kui have both gone to the Cloud Pavilion to discuss about the Sword Trial with zhangmen and the other zhanglaos, so Tian Mai Peak was left with only one person, Ling Xi.

Sudden freedom makes one feel like a jolly thief. These past days, Ling Xi has been endlessly tortured by countless spells and incantations to the point where she cannot eat or sleep well. It's already been a long time since she's had a chance to take a good look at that black rose of hers.

Originally, she had her rose in a pot sitting on her desk so that she can conveniently watch it everyday. These past two months however, the incantation books on her desk had honestly gotten too much. Afraid that she'd accidentally blow it up while practicing incantations, she had no choice but to move it to the back garden.

Today after tidying up her desk, she decided it was time to move the flower pot back inside. As soon as she stepped into the back garden though, she became frozen in place.

It was exactly the prime of spring, the back garden was alive with flowers contending with each other in beauty and brilliance. That black rose stood there in a sea of brightly colored petals, so pure and solemn that it almost felt like an unintentional sigh of loneliness on a cold winter night, quietly blooming in sadness.

Ling Xi's heart stopped for that instant. Following immediately was it's thumping beat, so loud it felt like the entire Tian Mai Peak was trembling.

Two years of waiting, two years of longing, at this unexpected moment, bloomed right before her eyes. Ling Xi nearly fell as she ran over there, unable to hold herself back from wanting to take a closer look at the black rose and see the extent of it's beauty after it had fully bloomed. However, after one glance, just that one glance, the sky, which had been clear as if someone had washed it a moment ago, was now completely shrouded over by darkness!

There was no more brilliant sunlight, no more white clouds, no more flowers covering the ground. Only a pair of eyes hung in the ink-stained sky.

Thick like undiluted ink, colder than melted frost.

'It' watched her, without any warmth, without any affection. There was only a vague sense of knowing, thin like a haze.

Ling Xi had completely forgotten where she was, what she was looking at. While she stared into that pair of eyes, she only felt an unexplainable familiarity. It was a familiarity that seemed to have been engraved in her very bones, but no matter how she looked, there was no way to find the root of that familiarity.

The darkness extended in all four directions, the emptiness pressed in on all eight sides. That pair of eyes looked over her from above.

Out of nowhere a cold voice asked her, “Who are you?”
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on December 12th, 2016 12:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the chapter! And the explanation at the beginning! It was very helpful :D

raini7o5raini7o5 on December 15th, 2016 05:45 am (UTC)
Glad it was of help! If there's anything other trivia you guys have questions or just interested in, just let me know and I'll try to include it in the next update!
(Anonymous) on December 15th, 2016 01:56 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for translating this book! Your translation is nicely written. I can't wait for the next chapter! There's already a lot things in the story that I'm curious about.
raini7o5raini7o5 on December 15th, 2016 05:47 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading!! If you have any curiosities, do let me know. As long as it's not spoiling, I'll try to answer them!