Chapter 47 – Fruit of Nirvana
“Why isn’t she killing us right away?” Liu Meng knelt down beside Li Yiming. The poisonous fog grew thicker by the minute. They tried to search for their friends at first, but gave up after realizing they could not even see where they were going. Even the link between Li Yiming and Bai Ze had been cut off, so there was no way their voice could reach their friends.
“I think Xiang Liu wants to poison us to death. She wants us to suffer the same fate as the rest of the people who lived in this city.” Li Yiming answered weakly. He was no longer able to remain standing, or even sitting up after all of his strength was funneled into Thunderous Strike. His ki-recovering pills were used to help Qing Qiaoqiao put up her barrier against Duan Mu a few days ago, so his recovery was very slow. What made matters worse was that the poisonous gas was also becoming more and more corrosive as time went by.
For Liu Meng, the fog was not that big of a deal, since her fire was naturally effective against it, but Li Yiming’s skin had already begun to rot due to the exposure. Liu Meng tried to help Li Yiming with her fire, but it only replaced the rotting flesh with a burn mark on Li Yiming’s calf as Li Yiming was not immune to fire, unlike herself. Liu Meng then wanted to spread her fire out and burn away the gas around them, but Li Yiming stopped her, knowing full well that with her level three spell power, she would not be able to last long, and that it would only accelerate their deaths.
“You know, for all of it to end like this, it’s not that bad.” Liu Meng extinguished the fire on her right hand and reached out for Li Yiming’s. The moment the flames receded, a sizzling sound was heard as the poison began to eat away at her flesh. Liu Meng frowned, but instead of moving her hand away, she held Li Yiming’s hand even more tightly.
“Liu Meng…” Bitterness and dejection gushed into Li Yiming’s heard. Just when he finally reached found Liu Meng, his true love, both physically and metaphorically, the end had come.
“You know, I really do think that I’ll be happy for all of it to end like that.” Liu Meng had a gentle smile. Her stare grew more and more vacant as she reminisced the time she had spent with Li Yiming and the things she had done with him. “I’m thankful to Heaven’s Laws.”
“I…” Li Yiming extended his arm. He wanted to touch Liu Meng, but he stopped when he saw the black specks on the back of his hand.
“Can you sing for me? I’ve seen you dance many times, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard you sing.” Liu Meng smiled and moved in closer toward Li Yiming while also extinguished a larger portion of the fire around her body.
“I had love in my hands and lost it,
I’ve tasted its joy and pains.
I escaped the caprices of fate,
I know what I want and need:
It’s a feeling that I cannot explain,
There’s no need to worry anymore,
And think that there’s nothing in this world worth living for.
If it wasn’t for you…”
Li Yiming voice was off-key, but he still sang without hesitation when he heard Liu Meng’s request; this might the last thing he could do for her.
“I’ve gazed at the mountains peaks far away,
But missed the crossroad I just walked by.
I turned around,
And I saw you there.
I knew that you never left me.
I’ve sought the end of the seas,
But I ignored the little stream that trickled quietly.
I rowed upstream,
And you were there,
Pushing me and helping me go…”
Li Yiming’s voice was growing weaker, and his breathing became even more broken. The poisonous air which gushed into his throat with each inspiration turned his song into a hoarse chant that sounded like it came from someone who had not taken a single droplet of water for several days. However, Liu Meng was still listening to his song wholeheartedly. The watery mist in her eyes grew as the fire around her limbs extinguished, and she fell into Li Yiming’s arms, locked in a tight embrace.
That I can have it all,
Because you’ll mend every little unhappiness with your love.
I want to take you in my arms,
Gently and sweetly,
And sing a love song to you.”
Li Yiming’s voice grew even weaker with Liu Meng’s weight on him. But Liu Meng climbed closer to his face and continued to listen. Beads of tear trickled out of her eyes, but her heart was inundated by happiness.
“So you do know now?” Liu Meng’s whispering ended with a weak sob.
“Yes, I’m so sorry that it took me so long.” Li Yiming closed his eyes. Droplets of tear slowly seeped out. He raised his left hand and brushed Liu Meng’s hair gently. He approached her head and took a deep breath; despite the rotting smell of poison, he could still easily distinguish Liu Meng’s scent.
“I don’t regret it. Not a single bit. I would do the same over again. Meeting you was the best thing that happened to me.” Liu Meng suddenly raised her head and gave Li Yiming a long kiss.
“I have no regrets now.” Liu Meng raised her head and whispered into Li Yiming’s ear. “That night was the happiest night of my life. Promise me that you’ll live well after this, okay?”
“Liu Meng…” Li Yiming’s heart was still sunken in sadness and dejection, but he did notice Liu Meng’s abnormal tone.
“You have a technique, that Thunderous Strike thing, right? You can unleash all of your energy at once?” Liu Meng did not wait for Li Yiming to ask. She slowly crawled up and sat facing Li Yiming. She had a happy smile and looked like someone who had just woken up on a sunny morning with her lover instead of someone who was about to die.
“Yes.” Li Yiming was not sure why Liu Meng asked him about that, but he still answered.
“I’ll tell you a secret. I have a technique too.” Liu Meng grimaced playfully.
“My talent isn’t just about controlling fire. The camouflager said that I had fire purity, but he was wrong. I actually have the essence of a phoenix enclosed in my body. I am a phoenix! Aren’t you happy? Your girlfriend is a phoenix!”
Li Yiming frowned. He had a terrible feeling about all of this.
“You do know about the legend of phoenixes being reborn from fire, right? They’’re immortal, but if…” Liu Meng paused for an instant and her eyes lingered on Li Yiming, “But if I burn my fruit of Nirvana, then I’ll be able to deliver a single blow that contains the energy from many lifetimes. I wouldn’t think that Xiang Liu can win against that.”
Liu Meng stood up slowly, her body once again enveloped by raging flames. However, the odd thing was that despite the fire burning more fiercely than ever, Li Yiming could not feel its heat anymore.
“No, Liu Meng! You cannot do that.” Li Yiming understood Liu Meng’s explanation; even if Liu Meng did die here, she would be reborn by Heaven’s power somewhere else. However, if she used the power of her essence…
“You said that you liked my long hair, didn’t you?” Liu Meng smiled again. Her short hair suddenly turned crimson red. The threads of red billowed behind her back and grew longer and longer.
“Live well.” Liu Meng turned around calmly and disappeared in the fog.
“NO!” Li Yiming struggled to stand up and limped in Liu Meng’s direction, but an instant later he saw a flash of red light and heard an angry voice.
“Come! Bring it on! I’m sick and tired of this shit! First Li Huaibei, and then the camouflager, and now this nine-headed insect? I’m Bi Fang, not some weakling that can be squashed around by anyone! I’ll show you who’s the boss! Little girl, I made the right decision to follow you.” A voice that sounded like a young man’s but talked like someone much older was heard. It was the rebellious teenager, Bi Fang.
“Liu Meng…” Li Yiming called out, heartbroken.
An ear-piercing shriek was heard in the distance, and the fog suddenly cleared up a little. A giant firebird appeared in the sky. It wore a coronet of flame proudly, and the holy fire that burned on its wings was the one that cleansed all evils. The tail was long and elegant, and a few specks of blue decorated the phoenix’s body, making it look even more beautiful and imposing.
“A phoenix? How is that possible?” Xiang Liu’s sounded terrified.
“I will burn the world—Flight of the phoenix!” An airy and sonorous cry was heard — It was Liu Meng’s voice. After a few circles, the phoenix flapped its wings and flew toward Xiang Liu.
Xiang Liu stared at the oncoming phoenix fiercely and spat out jets of concentrated toxic gas from her heads. It was a showdown between two mythical beasts, but Xiang Liu had already created a favorable environment for itself. However, when the phoenix came close, it body suddenly disintegrated into a curtain of fire that wrapped around Xiang Liu.
“What? You! You’re crazy!” Xiang Liu realized, to its horror, that the phoenix had not come looking for a fight, but rather for a suicide attack. Xiang Liu knew that this was the life-fire of a phoenix. What she did not know about, however, was the price that Liu Meng had to pay for such an attack: she would relinquish her ability to be reborn and her immortality.
“Arrgh…!” A painful shriek came from Xiang Liu. The giant snake’s body contorted violently to try to get rid of the fire, but a fire powered by the essence of a phoenix was impossible to get rid of.
“Arrgh!” Xiang Liu’s screeches of pain continued. The poisonous fog that veiled the city quickly receded and compacted around Xiang Liu, but all of it was burned away before it even had a chance to touch the fire. This was a natural disadvantage no amount of poison would overcome.
Bai Ze stood up with difficulty as the gas around her faded away. She looked around and found Qing Linglong and Qing Qiaoqiao together, already unconscious from their injuries. On the other side was Big Beard’s mech, which looked broken down, and Big Beard himself nowhere to be found. However, Bai Ze had little time for the other guardians, and she rushed toward Li Yiming.
“It’s Liu Meng?” Bai Ze had heard what Bi Fang said earlier, and even she was shocked at Liu Meng’s having a phoenix’s essence; it was not just that she had inherited the power of phoenix, one could say that she was a phoenix.
“Is she going to die?” Li Yiming looked at Xiang Liu, who was still writhing in pain.
“She’s going to lose her fruit of nirvana. There’s no way she can live through that.” Bai Ze knew that this was not the moment for a euphemistic answer.
Xiang Liu’s cries of pain gradually ceased. The thick fog had cleared up entirely, and a blue, sunny sky had returned to Shangbei. The giant snake was gone, turned into ashes, and so was Liu Meng.
uh… Plot armor?
On the other hand, +1 for a protagonist that is weak (emotionally and physically) at times. (That’s part of being human).
1. Segment taken from “Never Left” by Angela Zhang, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRqnuQcdw_I. Fits the context pretty nicely, at least by the looks of the lyrics.