Mo Qiong was the eldest brother of the three rabbit demons. Their family had been poor for way too long, and that was how the brothers came to get their names: Mo Qiong, Mo Pin, and Mo Kun.1
As soon as Mo Qiong grew up, he brought his two younger brothers to the Human Realm to earn a living. At first, he did some small business, but he always ended up defrauded by the mortals. So he later became an unscrupulous merchant and took advantage of loopholes to earn money. From then on, things had gone swimmingly for them.
Just as Mo Qiong was joyfully calculating how long more it would take for them to break out of poverty, he encountered a big obstacle in his career. That was Song Ci, who had mercilessly robbed him of all his money.
When he first met Song Ci at the inn, Song Ci was still a Daoist priest who was cautious in whatever he did. Although he later robbed him of all his money.
The second time they met, Song Ci was a youth who wore the attire of a Mo Yao disciple. Just like before, he robbed him of all his money.
On their third encounter, Song Ci turned into an executioner taking the appearance of the Tu Shan Divine Clan. He slaughtered all the demons that had besieged the capital city. And, robbed him of all his money.
It’s truly a small world! Mo Qiong lamented in silence.
Song Ci took the three of them as underlings. Then he killed the tyrannical tiger demon in the mountain to occupy the mountain and proclaimed himself king. He proceeded to move into the tiger demon’s little palace, never standing on ceremony as he took in those batches of demons under that tiger demon as his minions.
Rong Bai’s body kept weakening. On the whole, he just stayed in his room and did not venture out to wander around. Several times, Song Ci tried to kiss him, only to be rejected without a word. Song Ci was so furious that he turned Du’e into shackles to chain Rong Bai’s hands.
He seemed to have forgotten that Du’e originally belonged to Rong Bai.
So in his absence, Rong Bai took the chance to change Du’e into a dagger and cast it to one side. He coughed up a mouthful of blood and quickly wiped it off before rinsing his mouth with the tea on the table.
“How long can you hang on given the state you are in?” Zhu Yishu soundlessly appeared in the room with a solemn expression on his handsome face. “Why don’t you go to the Demon Realm?”
Rong Bai leaned against the soft chair as though the bones in his body were melting. “I can’t leave now. The knot in Song Ci’s heart has yet to be undone.”
“So you don’t even want your life?” Zhu Yishu said, “Everything has its priorities. The knot in his heart can be undo any time. But your matter brooks no further delay”
Rong Bai gave a light shake of his head. “His matter is more important.”
“Exactly where… did you scatter your last soul?” Zhu Yishu was helpless when it came to Rong Bai.
“I don’t want to summon back the last soul right now.” After a moment of silence, Rong Bai continued, “It’s fine this way.”
“Fine?” Zhu Yishu had never expected him to say such words. “Rong Bai, you waited for so many years. It hasn’t been easy for you to wait until Song Ci appeared. And yet you still…”
“Rong Bai! Rong Bai!”
He was only midway through his words when Song Ci’s shout rang out from outside. Even before he had made his way over, his voice had already impatiently reached them. Zhu Yishu could only abandon his persuasion and leave the room. Rong Bai turned Du’e back into shackles. The moment he obediently put it on, Song Ci pushed the door open to enter.
Song Ci was elated as he held a book in his hand and hurried over. “I’ve found a way to summon back your soul!”
Rong Bai sat up from the chair lazily with an undercurrent of tiredness in his movement. His face was sickly pale, but when he saw Song Ci, he naturally let out a genuine smile from his heart. “Why are you still worrying about this?”
“Earlier, I saw an ancient array recorded in this book. It can summon the soul of the deceased and resurrect the dead. We can give it a try.” Song Ci beamed with joy.
“What array?” Rong Bai suddenly had a bad feeling.
“The Great Ultimate Manifestations of Nature.” Song Ci said. “I saw this array before. It’s quite powerful. There shouldn’t be a problem.”
“No.” Rong Bai’s expression changed. “We can’t use this array.”
“Why?” Song Ci frowned and asked.
“The Great Ultimate Manifestations of Nature can only be activated with a live human sacrifice.”
“I know that.” Song Ci nodded. “But we are doing this to save you. It can’t be helped.”
Rong Bai had no wish to see Song Ci become an evil being with human blood on his hands. He knew that Song Ci was currently affected by his negative emotions. Once the knot in his heart had been undone, the docile, kind Song Ci would definitely grieve for the Song Ci who had carried out such a massacre.
He looked at Song Ci and finally sighed. He pulled Song Ci to sit beside him and said, “I’ll tell you slowly.”
“I lost my mother when I was young, and for a time, I led a very unhappy life. Although the others all exalted me as the hope of Tu Shan, I had always wanted to leave the Tu Shan Clan, even in my dreams. But I was under Tu Shan’s control and could not leave.”
Song Ci did not expect him to talk about the past all of a sudden. Even though he knew all about it, he listened to him earnestly.
“Then I met a man. Because of him, I had a new life.” Rong Bai seemed reluctant to mention this to Song Ci and merely gave the man a passing mention.
“Is he very important to you?” Song Ci smiled and asked.
Rong Bai looked at him, trying to find a trace of displeasure in his expression. Instead of discontent, Song Ci seemed pleased. Rong Bai inwardly breathed a sigh of relief and said, “I forgot.”
Song Ci’s smile froze. He frowned and asked, “You forgot?”
The change in his expression was obvious. Rong Bai instantly detected his mood and said hurriedly, “I really forgot, because it has been a very long time ago.”
Song Ci looked at him with seriousness in his eyes. “I wanted to hear the truth. Rong Bai, don’t lie to me.”
Rong Bai looked away and hesitated for a long while before he broke the silence and spoke. “I’ve indeed forgotten him, but I know that I love him very much. After he disappeared amidst that episode of upheaval in the Divine Realm, I traveled all over the Six Realms and searched many places, but I could not find any sign of his aura. He descended from the sky, and vanished into thin air. I had no way to find him at all.”
He did not dare to meet Song Ci’s eyes. He lamented, “I can’t remember how many years I have been looking for him. When he disappeared, Yan Bei was only this tall.” Rong Bai gesticulated. “Now, Yan Bei has become the God of War who commands the Six Realms and defends the peace of one side. As time passed, I began to forget his appearance and his voice. I was afraid that I’d completely forget him in the endless years to come, so I sealed away the soul of his and my passion in my body.”
“So, you want to wait until he shows up before you release the seal on that soul?” Song Ci’s voice was stiff. It seemed as if something was pricking his heart, causing it to ache. When he looked at Rong Bai saying all these with a calm expression, his heart was full of unspeakable pain.
If only he had bid farewell to Rong Bai when he left back then.
He should have told Rong Bai that they would meet again one day.
That in the starry City of Le Yu, and the sunny City of Pingyang, he would smile happily as he followed beside Rong Bai and said to him, “Master Rong, thank you for saving me earlier!”
Among the currents of history, that special day would become an unshakable pillar symbolizing the inevitability of their encounter.
At the thought of this, Song Ci could not help but reach out to hold Rong Bai’s hands. He grasped his warm palms and quietly kept away Du’e.
Rong Bai took his hands instead. His voice was so calm that it sounded a little merciless. “I don’t want to unseal that soul.”
Song Ci was stunned. He looked at him, puzzled.
Rong Bai said, “There can be only one person in my heart. I don’t want him. I only want you.”
He spoke in all seriousness. It was clear he had considered it carefully before. While Song Ci was still unaware, he had already inexplicably fought a battle with that illusory person in Rong Bai’s sealed memory. But Rong Bai did not even let them have a chance to compare against each other.
His thinking was simple. He wanted only Song Ci and no one else. No matter how much he had loved that other person in the past.
Feelings were what made him unable to resist approaching Song Ci, but the sealed passion restrained his actions. The reason Rong Bai had hesitated in explaining was because he was afraid that Song Ci would get angry after learning of this matter.
He never expected Song Ci to laugh after he revealed this.
“Why didn’t you say so earlier?” Song Ci could not help but embrace Rong Bai fully with his heart brimming with love. Rong Bai was clear what it would entail if he did not unseal that last soul. But he still insisted on not doing it.
Between not loving Song Ci and death, he had chosen the latter without hesitation.
He did not even care about what was to be of the story between his past self and the man he once loved.
Rong Bai turned over and buried his head in Song Ci’s neck. The damage caused by the loss of soul made him weak. At the moment, he looked like a molting fox who was still stubbornly trying to uphold his dignity.
He wanted to say that he was afraid.
Song Ci had no aura of his own before the blood had completely fused into him. Once he vanished into the Six Realms, there was nowhere Rong Bai could even begin to look for him. It was like a stone dropped into the bottomless ocean, never to be seen or heard of again, and experiencing this once was more than enough. Rong Bai did not dare to go through it a second time.
“There will be some other way.” Rong Bai’s muffled voice rang out.
“I’m sorry.” Song Ci’s eyes suddenly softened. It was as if the sharpness buried in his eyes after he had emerged from the dream realm was now blunted. He gently kissed the side of Rong Bai’s face.
“Let’s release that last soul sealed away in your body.” He said.
Rong Bai looked at him without answering immediately. He looked a little flustered. “Are you forcing me to choose him?”
“I was the one who used the Yin Yang Time Reversal Array to return to that era. The person you sealed away in your memory is actually me.” Song Ci revealed the truth in a soft voice. “I know of your mother’s death, and also the reason you left the Divine Realm. When I left, I wasn’t able to bid you farewell, and that resulted in you searching for so long a time in vain. It’s my fault.”
“So, can you unseal it?” When Song Ci looked at Rong Bai in this manner, he could melt the hundred zhang2 of ice in his heart inch by inch.
A familiar gaze seemed to flash through his mind from a faraway memory.
Rong Bai looked surprised. “When did it happen?”
“After you fainted.” Song Ci said, “The Divine Emperor activated the Yin Yang Time Reversal Array, and I was drawn into it. It sent me back to the Divine Realm at the beginning of the Era of Peace.”
“Yan Song?” Rong Bai frowned. “He activated the Yin Yang Time Reversal…”
Song Ci continued to look at him as he waited for his answer.
“I don’t remember the method to unseal it. But you must surely know.” Rong Bai’s emotions surged from the bottom of his heart. He grabbed Song Ci by the wrist and repeated, “You definitely know. Cause and effect.”
Song Ci was momentarily confused, but he instantly seemed to understand what Rong Bai had meant. Even so, it still stunned him that Rong Bai would hand the key of his own life and death this easily to a Song Ci he had not met for so many years.
Was Rong Bai not at all afraid that Song Ci himself would have forgotten?
He had, in the past, felt that Rong Bai had lived freely. It was only now that he realized Rong Bai had lived too casually. It was as if he did not care about life and death at all.
He stubbornly insisted on taking a gamble on a Song Ci who had vanished for so many years. He took the liberty to make Song Ci a participant in his own life, giving him the only key that could extend his lifespan.
The time was too short for Song Ci to get a full read on the emotions Rong Bai had concealed away among these matters. But those that he managed to understand still made his eyes redden involuntarily.
He grabbed Rong Bai’s hand and was about to speak when a crying Mo Qiong ran up to pound on the door. “Great King! Great King! Save my younger brother quickly. He is going to die!”
Song Ci’s mood worsened in a flash as displeasure washed over his face. “What trouble are you guys stirring up again?!”
“Great King! There are two fiends at the entrance wanting to see you. If you don’t go out, they will kill my younger brother!” Mo Qiong wailed. He was a man, and yet he cried until his snot dripped. “My poor young brother. Not once has he ever lived a peaceful life ever since he was born. Our family is so poor…”
His bawling gave Song Ci a headache. Bloodlust gradually creeped into his eyes as his emotions teetered on the verge of breakdown. Rong Bai grabbed hold of his hand when he saw him losing control of his emotions. “Song Ci.”
Song Ci raised his eyes to look at him as the penetrating air around him softened.
“Let’s head out for a look.” Rong Bai patiently smoothed his ruffled feathers.
Rong Bai: I’d never imagine that there would be a day when I would placate others.
- Extra Trivia:
The rabbit brothers’ names are:
• Mo Qiong (莫穷) = “don’t be poor”
• Mo Pin (莫贫) = “don’t be impoverished/lacking”
• Mo Kun (莫困) = “don’t be sleepy/tired”
The Mo in their names means “don’t be”. The second characters in their names can actually be combined to form words:
• Qiong and Kun can be combined to form the word Qiong Kun (穷困).
• Pin and Qiong can be combined to form the word Pin Qiong (贫穷).
• Pin and Kun can be combined to form the word Pin Kun (贫困).
All these ‘combined’ characters basically means poor, impoverished, and destitute.
- 丈 zhang; a traditional unit of length, equal to 10 chi (市尺), and equivalent to 3.333 metres or 3.65 yards.