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Chapter 299 - If Life Could Be Like the Moment When We First Met (Part Twelve)
It was a run-down and tiny temple, heavily eroded by the wind and rain. Only by virtue of the remaining sacrificial beasts statues on the temple eaves could one faintly make out its original style and use.
Standing before this temple cloaked in the rain, neither Chen Changsheng nor Xu Yourong said anything. It was very quiet.
This was a sacrificial temple.
With the white grass as a path, onwards to the sea of stars, a sacrifice for a thousand li.
The run-down sacrificial temple sat on the side of the White Grass Path. This indicated that their conjecture was correct. The path truly led to some sort of grave—after all, not all graves could be called mausoleums. In the past thousand years, besides the three emperors of the Great Zhou Dynasty, only one person dared to call his tomb a mausoleum and construct it in that style. To this, no one dared to object.
Of course, that person was Zhou Dufu.
"This is the legendary first sacrificial temple?" Chen Changsheng muttered to himself as he gazed at this run-down temple through the rain.
Each of the mausoleums for the three emperors of the Zhou Dynasty were vast, but each one of their first, outermost sacrificial temples, a thousand li from the mausoleum, were no more. At the risk of blaspheming the heavens, the Divine Empress had given the order for all of them to be torn down. This was because the Empress felt that these thousand li temples, besides nurturing a few ministers of Rites, had no meaning and were a massive waste.
This matter was just resolved as neatly and tidily, just like when she had sent Zhou Tong to destroy that monolith hut outside of the Mausoleum of Books. It was very reasonable, and very inarguable.
The run-down temple should be this entire continent's only first sacrificial temple.
The rain continued to fall harder and harder. The distant disc of light had long since vanished, casting the world into gloom.
Chen Changsheng stood amidst the rain while carrying Xu Yourong. For some reason, he did not enter the temple to take shelter from the rain.
In the past, there had assuredly been many human cultivators or demon experts preceding them, following the White Grass Path and finding the temple.
Afterwards, those people continued onwards towards that mausoleum.
Ultimately, they all died.
He asked, "Do you think we can turn back?"
"No, this is a path for which there is no going back." Xu Yourong shook her head.
On the previous two occasions in which Chen Changsheng was sleeping, she had used the Fated Star Plate to perform some calculations, but they presaged an extremely poor result. Although she could not calculate her own fate, his fate was as gray and dark as ever. Moreover, if they did not continue on this course and decided to turn back, they would definitely lose themselves amidst these plains.
They could only proceed forward. In that case, would they end up suffering the same fate as their predecessors?
Besides the pitter patter of the rain, there were no other sounds in front of the temple.
Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong's faces gradually grew calm, their eyes serene. They had regained their calm composures.
There was no question, nor was there an answer, and no looking into each other's eyes. They did not know what each other was thinking, but they both firmly believed that they would not be like their predecessors.
The rain dripped down from the eaves, splashing into flowers of water upon the shattered stone steps. Before the liquid flowers had a chance to fully bloom, they were swallowed up by even more downpour. In the temple, a bonfire burned. A wooden idol that had stood in this temple for untold many centuries had been chopped up into kindling, and as it burned, it gave off a strong, wooden scent. Chen Changsheng crouched by the fire, removing damp wood from the fire while at the same time using a candlestick holder to move around those several tuber roots in the fire.
Xu Yourong leaned against a pile of grass, her face a little pale and seeming extremely feeble. Given her injuries and the loss of her true blood, for her to hold on until now and to even emerge victorious in a few fierce battles was already a miracle.
Once the tuber roots that came from some unknown sort of grass were cooked, they began to give off a light fragrance. Chen Changsheng picked them out of the ashes, peeled off their outer skins, and then walked over to Xu Yourong. She took them and used her hands to slowly tear them apart and eat. Chen Changsheng calmly gazed at her. Even now, he did not know how she had managed to rescue him that night, as she had never made mention of it since. However, over the course of this journey, he had personally experienced how unimaginably powerful she was. He was always thinking that if it were not for him, then perhaps at the very beginning, she would have been able to easily escape.
Xu Yourong truly did not speak of that matter because she had her own pride. Moreover, she believed that since the youth of the Snow Mountain Sect had also saved her, they no longer owed each other a debt.
She did not take too long to finish eating. Chen Changsheng handed over a wet handkerchief and began to eat his own meal afterwards.
Xu Yourong took the wet handkerchief and lightly wiped her lips. She silently gazed at him as he sat by the fire.
On the journey, for this and that reason, they had very rarely spoken to each other, but they had done many things for each other.
To live and die together, to never leave each other; these most dazzling and most connected of phrases had been easily and simply accomplished by the two of them.
May the sacred light be with you.
She said in her heart as she gazed at his two eyes that were so clear that they reflected the fire.
Then she said to him, "You are a good person."
She said this very indifferently, but very seriously.
Chen Changsheng looked back at her and chuckled. "So are you."
Suddenly, he thought of something, and said rather embarrassedly, "I'm so sorry that it took me so long to ask you. May I ask what your name is?"
Xu Yourong smiled, "And you?"
Truly interesting. These two had up to this point not even known each other's names, nor who they were.
The rain continued to fall with no indication of stopping anytime soon, and the stars could not be seen in the Garden of Zhou. Yet when he looked into her eyes, it was as if he saw the night sky in Xining Village after rain. There was not a single strand of fog or speck of dust, but because of the countless stars in the night sky, they were very bright, so bright as to cause one to be flustered, to the extent that it was simply impossible to tell lies under their watch.
Xu Yourong gazed into his eyes. The eyes were so clean and bright as to let one clearly make out their own reflection in them. Confronted by these eyes, one felt obligated to give only truthful answers.
The eyes were a window to the soul. These famous words, because they had appeared in the human world far too many times, were rarely spoken except by children just starting out on their lessons. In the vast majority of cases, people would not think of these words either, but now as they looked into each other's eyes, they both thought of this phrase.
In Wenshui City, he had not found the gazes of the encircling crowd to be enjoyable. If she knew that he was Chen Changsheng, she most likely would not have acted so indifferently and casually to him.
Since she was small, she had lived out days of attracting constant attention. Whether it was in the capital or in the south, she was the focus of everyone's gaze, the target of their admiration. She did not enjoy this lifestyle, so she also did not hope that once he knew she was Xu Yourong, he would be like the other young men, where his eyes would burn with passion and his words would become cautious and tasteless.
But when they looked into each other's eyes, they decided to give away their true identities, because this was their way of showing respect to each other.
Yet just as their mouths began to move, the moment their names were about to leave their lips, they once more… changed their minds.
Because they had an engagement that the whole world knew of. If this elven, white-clothed girl was to know that he was Chen Changsheng, she would know that he had a fiancée called Xu Yourong. On the other hand, if this disciple of Snow Mountain Sect's Secret Sect knew that she was Xu Yourong, he would know that she had a fiancé called Chen Changsheng.
They both disliked the engagement, and they both wanted to end it, but neither one wanted the other to know of it.
These emotions were very complicated. These thoughts were very simple. No matter how extraordinary they were, when all was said and done, he was a young man, and she a young woman.
So they both made an identical decision. Even after many years had passed, there was still no solution for this matter that occurred on this rain-soaked night in this run-down temple. No one knew the reasons for why they made such a decision, and they never even spoke to each other about what they were thinking that night.
Xu Yourong's smiling expression gradually dwindled, making her turn extremely placid.
Chen Changsheng's smiling expression gradually grew calm, he too not desiring to give anything away.
Their voices simultaneously rang out.
"Snow Mountain Sect, Xu Sheng."
"Elf race, Chen Chujian."
The night was quiet, with only the sound of rain falling. This sound did not vex the heart, but added to the tranquility.
In the cave when he was still not fully conscious, Chen Changsheng had faintly heard the old freak's voice and knew that he had been mistakenly identified as a secret disciple of Snow Mountain Sect. He also knew that this girl was an elf. He did not want to reveal his identity, so he decided to hide behind this veil of subterfuge. How could he have known that Xu Yourong would think of the same thing?
Her voice was very soft, and her tongue slightly curled as that final syllable dragged off her tongue. Even if she was saying her own name, it still seemed rather awkward. When it reached his ears, his impression was that it sounded beautiful. Her voice was beautiful, her name was beautiful, that her last name was Chen was beautiful and that her name was Chujian(初见) was also beautiful. What was that phrase? If life(人生) could be like the moment we first met(初见)? When he gazed at her somewhat swollen yet still elegant face and thought about that time a few days ago where she cutely covered her cheeks with her hands, he thought to himself that if life really was just like this girl called Chujian, it would truly be good.
(TN: 初见means "the moment we first met". The original line 人生若只如初见 means "If life could be like the moment we first met", but it is also used here to play on Xu Yourong's fake name.)
Xu Yourong's thoughts were somewhat simpler. When she first looked at this unconscious boy, she had found him to be somewhat familiar and wanted to bring his identity to light. Now that she knew his last name was Xu, she decided that it was because of this reason.
Now that they had finished exchanging names, what would they do next? The temple once again grew quiet.
"Play a round?" Xu Yourong had taken out a chessboard from somewhere and invited him to play.
As he gazed at the chessboard, he understood that she was just like him, still hiding many secrets, so he could not help but smile.
Xu Yourong also gave a wordless smile. They knew that neither of them were ordinary. Only, what need was there to discuss such uninteresting and tasteless things? If they were unable to leave this garden, what meaning did those worldly matters have? Yes, outside of life and death, besides enjoying life, nothing else was important, but what was important was...
"I don't know how to play chess," he said rather abashedly. Seeing her disappointed expression, he added, "Maybe we can play something else?"
Xu Yourong thought to herself, if we want to play dominoes, we're still lacking two people. If we want to play Yangzhou cards, we're missing even more. With just two people, other than chess, what else can we do?
In the endless night and the cold and dreary rain, it was not a good time to fall asleep, not to mention that she had gotten more than enough sleep on their way here.
Then they could only idly chat, which would let them not use up their strength and spirit.
Only right now, they were in the midst of an escape, nor were they close. Naturally, they could not talk about anything too deep, such as ‘How many people are in your family?’ ‘Are your father and mother doing well?’ ‘This year, how old are you?’ ‘How can your eyes look so beautiful?’ ‘Does your body hold the remnants of the Black Frost Dragon's bloodline?’ ‘Have you ever been married?’
This was the first time they had truly held a meaningful conversation. They were cultivators and were not too familiar with each other, so they could naturally only discuss cultivation.
The cultivation here was true cultivation, it had nothing to do with that old saying, "Life is just cultivation".
The bonfire in the temple illuminated their young faces. Right now, neither of them knew what significance the other person would play in their life.