Chapter 3 – Memories
Sometimes, he would have the illusion that he might be beaten to death, or left to starve in the woodshed. But every time he was about to give up, his mother, Le Lin, would suddenly wake up, trembling, and hold him, apologizing and gently tending to his wounds, tears in her eyes.
He hated this woman, day in and day out, without exception.
Whenever he found himself unable to stand up in the corner, his hatred made him clutch the sharp knife hidden in his sleeve countless times.
But he also loved her. In the rare moments of tenderness from Le Lin, that love would make him forget his hatred.
In theory, if Yu Yang had grown up with Le Lin since childhood, exposed to her ways, he should have a gloomy and resentful heart. Coupled with being a member of the demonic race, a highly destructive kind, he was destined to develop an antisocial personality once awakened.
Yet Yu Yang had a secret he never told anyone, he had a brother.
Outside the doghole, there was a brother wearing a silk robe.
At first, the brother didn’t speak to him, just sending him toys or snacks every other day. Gradually, they started to chat, and he taught Yu Yang to read and write, to discern right from wrong, to be kind and charitable.
They became familiar with each other.
Yu Yang had never interacted with others from a young age, not knowing how to express himself, and no one taught him how to properly vent his emotions. His scarred childhood left him permanently scarred, a source of all his later tribulations.
If he was very happy one day, he would talk a lot, and the brother would patiently listen, rewarding him with a string of candied haws. But if he was once again kicked by Le Lin and left unable to get up in the corner, he would be very upset and vent his anger on his brother, shouting harsh words. But the brother never got angry; he would just give him more candied haws.
The brother didn’t talk much, but his voice was pleasant, like the clear, icy, gurgling spring in early spring.
Yet, for some reason, Yu Yang could never recall what his voice was like. They would have just finished talking, the conversation fresh in his memory, but in the blink of an eye, he would forget his voice.
But that didn’t matter because he would return tomorrow, ask if he had finished reciting yesterday’s poem, and promise him some osmanthus cakes.
But after that, he never came back.
Yu Yang sat by the doghole every day, hugging his knees, waiting, but he never heard that voice again.
When he was happy, he didn’t know who to share it with; when he was sad, he didn’t know who to vent to.
He suddenly realized that his feelings were called “dependence,” and his brother had told him to cherish those who depended on each other. But just as he understood, the person he depended on was gone.
Fortunately, he returned today.
This time, he finally didn’t forget his voice.
The brother had become even gentler, and their conversations had become more frequent.
He even gave his first gift.
He was very happy.
But somewhere in Yu Yang’s heart always told him that the brother seemed to be back but also seemed like he might never come back again.
As the sky darkened, Yu Yang also snapped out of his reverie.
He had already put the little trinket he had untied in his bag, and he finished eating the candied haws. Slowly, he made his way from the backyard to Le Lin’s room.
The front theater stage was brightly lit, with melodious music, and the laughter of women filled the air, and the scent of rouge and powder was everywhere.
Today, it was Le Lin’s turn to perform on stage, and he didn’t need to think twice to know that she must be going crazy in her room, throwing things around. So, he intentionally returned late and set out just before the performance.
Yu Yang ascended the bamboo ladder, and as soon as he stepped onto the final step, he saw a hurried figure dart around the corner—a direction leading to Le Lin’s chamber.
At this time, the courtesans of the brothel were in their boudoirs getting ready, the madam was entertaining guests in the front hall, and the eunuch was unlikely to appear in the courtyards of the courtesans. So who could be lurking around here?
Yu Yang pondered for a moment and then calmly walked in the direction of the figure.
He treaded lightly, clutching the small knife hidden in his sleeve.
Gu Ruoqing spent most of the day moving between various jewelry pawnshops, selecting jade pendants that were of moderate size and similar color.
But he found that jade was indeed mysterious, especially top-quality jade with a spiritual essence. There were hardly two pieces that could be considered similar.
By evening, Gu Ruoqing finally selected a piece of red jade that he could barely accept.
Red jade, unlike blood jade, even though it was also an excellent quality, had low transparency, a relatively cloudy color, and its spiritual essence was far less rich than the blood spirit jade nurtured by the demonic race.
Gu Ruoqing returned to his room at the inn and set up an array with his spiritual power to block sight and sound. Then, he took out the peculiar blood spirit jade that Yu Yang had given him from his chest.
The jade was warm and radiant, translucent like water, and filled with a powerful spiritual force. Inside, fine bloodlines seemed to flow like mist, as if they had a life of their own. It was truly extraordinary.
Gu Ruoqing looked at the red jade he had bought at a high price, and it immediately paled in comparison. He sighed and began to carve it according to the shape of the blood spirit jade’s crack.
The red jade was already shaped by a skilled craftsman. Gu Ruoqing only needed to cut it in half and use his spiritual power to join the two pieces together, making adjustments based on the crack.
What seemed to be a simple task, Gu Ruoqing worked on it all night without rest, hunched over the desk.
Finally, Gu Ruoqing finished the last corner of the red jade, and he was overjoyed. However, when he looked up, he realized it was already past midnight.
He was about to lie down for a short rest, but then he changed his mind, sat back down, and carefully inscribed the name “Yu Yang” on the red jade.
Instinctively, he thought about inscribing something on the blood spirit jade, but when he picked it up, he smiled and shook his head.
He couldn’t dare to inscribe anything on the blood spirit jade of the Demon Lord.
He looked at the naturally incomplete piece of the blood spirit jade and the red jade that he had substituted to complete it. Slowly, he joined them together.
Suddenly, intense emotional waves exploded in Gu Ruoqing’s mind, and a blinding white light filled his vision, making him dizzy.
Countless fragments of memories rushed into his brain, tumultuous and uncontrolled.
In one fragment, he first saw the doghole from earlier that day.
“Who are you?”
“Are you here to play in the mud with me?”
A bony hand slowly reached into the hole, disregarding the dirty mud, and covered the child’s cold hand.
“Don’t play with this in the future.”
The voice of the person was like striking a chime, clear and soothing.
“But I only know how to play with this. No one plays anything else with me.”
The child tore the mud figurine apart again, but he was naive and cruel, thinking it was just a plaything, innocent and ruthless.
The person took the figurine from the child’s hand and placed a small jade flute in his hand. The jade flute was cool and was a spiritual tool.
“In the future, when you play this, I will come to meet you.”
“Will you play with me then?”
“Yes, I will.”
The scene shifted, and the sound of the flute played in the distance.
The person almost played with the child in the doghole every day.
Every morning, he would buy the candied haws the child had asked for through coaxing, and then he would follow the sound of the flute to the doghole for their appointment.
They were separated by the wall, unable to see each other’s faces, but they chatted and exchanged items, becoming a place where the child’s enlightenment and learning took place.
“…My mother hates seeing this. I don’t like it either, but she doesn’t allow me to get rid of it or show it to anyone. I only show it to you, big brother.”
“This jade is very good, why don’t you like it?”
“Because it’s only half! Mother says it’s inauspicious, just like me, no one will like it. It’s the destiny of a lone star, and everyone will call for its destruction.”
“That’s not true.”
“But that’s what the books say, right? I saw it in that book, ‘son of incomplete jade, destined as a lone star’…”
“Don’t believe such nonsense.”
The usually cold and indifferent voice of the person even had a hint of seriousness. He took the book and put it away.
“Don’t read these nonsense books in the future.”
“This jade… can you temporarily give it to me?”
The child readily agreed, and the person looked at the blood spirit jade in his hand, quietly gripping it.
After a day passed, the person handed the candied haws for the day and the repaired blood spirit jade to Yu Yang.
“…Is this my jade? It’s… it’s whole now?! It’s not incomplete anymore?!”
The person outside the wall faintly curled his lips, but his voice still sounded calm and unruffled.
“The jade is not for the person, and the person is not defined by the jade. The jade is as it was born, while the person can change their fate through their own efforts.”
“Ah Yang, keep this jade safe.”
The child was still inside, eagerly examining the completed blood spirit jade, with fresh wounds on his hands from a beating he received from his mother the previous night.
The person looked at the child’s injuries and lowered his eyes in silence.
“Alright, did you learn the new characters from yesterday?”
The child’s movements paused.
“And you need to transcribe today’s poem five times.”
The child began to playfully resist, knowing that this person outside the wall could be both kind and firm.
“Brother, I don’t want to write today. Can I do it tomorrow? I’ll write six times tomorrow!”
“Today’s work should be done today.”
“But, brother, my hand hurts so much today, I can’t even hold a pen. Can I write tomorrow, please…”
The person outside the wall was about to respond but saw the wound on the child’s hand and fell silent.
After a while, the person outside the wall let out a nearly imperceptible sigh.
“…Alright, you can do it tomorrow.”
“Great! Oh, by the way, brother, you didn’t finish telling me the last time’s tales of monsters and strange creatures. Can you continue today? Brother?”
Even though he knew the child was pushing his luck, the person couldn’t help but give in and sighed once again.
“…Today, it’s up to you.”
The memories in Gu Ruoqing’s mind ended here. Before he could catch his breath, another rush of memories surged through his mind like a whirlpool, overwhelming his consciousness.
In the blink of an eye, a new scene unfolded before him.
And this time, he saw a tall man in black. He had handsome features, with eyes that shone like dark gold, and he coldly twisted someone’s neck.
In an instant, Gu Ruoqing knew who that was.
It was the adult Yu Yang, the most terrifying Demon Lord in a century.
T/N: Hey there! There is plenty more where that came from, so stay tuned! And stay healthy! Straighten your posture, so some stretches and drink some water before continuing hehe~
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