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    Chapter 43 [VIP] Jianghu Tale (End)

    Although Xie Yu had agreed to take her to Yaowang Valley, he had his own agenda, intentionally delaying their journey. What should have been a day's travel stretched into three.

    If he continued at this pace, Xiao Guanxue's wedding would be over, and Nan Yan couldn't let him keep stalling like this.

    By the time they reached a town near Yaowang Valley, it was already evening. Xie Yu found yet another reason to delay, and naturally, they stayed overnight at an inn.

    The next morning, Xie Yu was up early, preparing medicine.

    He thought to himself that with the town bustling with activity, he could take Yan Yan around to distract her. Planning to have lunch together, he could further delay their journey.

    Thinking about lunch, he frowned, recalling Yan Yan's recent poor appetite. The town had an abundance of local delicacies. He planned to buy some treats to cheer her up, thus creating another reason to postpone their visit.

    As Xie Yu mused, his smile grew warmer. Carrying freshly brewed medicine, he fanned away the steam while carefully ascending the stairs.

    "Yan Yan, the medicine is ready. Are you up yet?"

    There was no response from the room. Xie Yu thought she might still be asleep and turned to leave, but realizing it was late, he decided to knock on the door. That's when he noticed the door was slightly ajar.

    "Yan Yan!"

    He pushed the door open urgently. The room was spotless, the bedding neatly folded, as if it had never been occupied.

    As Xie Yu entered, he found a note on the pillow, "Brother Yu, I'm sorry."

    A jolt of panic struck him, and he quickly realized what had happened. He dashed outside, his mind racing with worry. Why did she sneak away alone, not realizing the danger, or how worried he would be?

    ……

    It was September, and the weather was gradually getting cooler.

    Although the news of Xiao Guanxue and Su Mo's marriage had long been spread, their interaction had become colder than before.

    Xiao Guanxue was almost indifferent to worldly affairs; it was more a matter of disregard than indifference.

    Su Mo couldn't feel any emotional fluctuations in his heart; his gaze towards her was as indifferent as towards a stranger.

    In such circumstances, Su Mo was solely responsible for the wedding preparations. Being her first marriage, she was clueless, and even the servant who went out to buy medicines wouldn't listen to her. She felt suffocated, with no one to share her troubles and no one understanding her thoughts. Moreover, no couple about to marry could be as distant and indifferent as they were.

    Since Xiao Guanxue had agreed to marry her, he had become even colder, spending his days in the medicinal garden studying herbs, hardly speaking to anyone for days.

    For the first time, Su Mo wondered if she had been too impulsive. Was this the outcome she desired? What was the point of such a marriage?

    Xiao Guanxue also questioned the meaning of such a marriage, perhaps mostly out of spite. Every day, he looked indifferently towards the valley entrance, unsure of what he was waiting for. Every time he thought of her, his heart ached faintly.

    If she came…

    As long as she came, he would forgive her.

    However, as the wedding day approached and time ran short, Xiao Guanxue never saw her come. He despairingly thought that perhaps she had never cared about him at all.

    The more he tried to let go, the harder it became; the more he tried not to care, the more he did. He shouldn't think about it, shouldn't dwell on it, as it only made his head ache more.

    Just when Xiao Guanxue thought she wouldn't come, on the day before their wedding, she arrived.

    That day, the sun was shining brightly. A servant mentioned a young woman surnamed Gu at the valley entrance looking for him. Xiao Guanxue's heart skipped a beat, and without much thought, he rushed out impulsively.

    When he caught sight of that familiar silhouette, he found it nearly impossible to suppress the tumult of emotions within him.

    All those repressed, resentful feelings, deliberately ignored, now surged uncontrollably upon seeing her, overwhelming him like a tempest, almost suffocating.

    He was uncertain of how to approach her with these mixed emotions.

    Finally, he took a deep breath and slowly made his way towards her.

    Nan Yan, sensing the movement behind her, turned around. The sunlight cascaded onto her hair and shoulders, casting a halo around her.

    She stood there quietly, her long black hair falling to her waist, a few stray strands framing her face, which appeared even paler against the dark locks.

    Xiao Guanxue immediately noticed something amiss, feeling uneasily anxious. She looked unwell, "What’s wrong? Why is your face so pale?"

    Instinctively, he reached out to check her pulse, only for Nan Yan to swiftly evade his touch.

    His hand hung awkwardly mid-air, neither retracting nor advancing, seemingly embarrassed. He finally lowered it slowly.

    His mind flashed back to the incident when Nan Yan had recoiled from him after he accidentally pushed her. Was she still holding that against him?

    Recalling her gaze that day, Xiao Guanxue felt a tightness in his chest, apprehensive of encountering her distant and cold look again.

    Nan Yan seemed oblivious to his thoughts.

    She shook her head at Xiao Guanxue, smiling as if in resignation, "Don’t worry, I’m fine. I just caught a chill from leaving the window open one night. A doctor has prescribed medicine, it’s nothing serious."

    Xiao Guanxue still frowned, puzzled by her indifferent demeanor. Hadn’t he expected her to react differently towards him?

    But his gaze fell on her pale lips, and for some reason, he felt a tightness in his chest, a nervousness that made his heart flutter.

    Xiao Guanxue hummed softly in response.

    Nanyan smiled a gentle smile, but it didn't reach the depths of her eyes.

    She coughed softly, then continued, "I heard you are marrying Miss Su. Congratulations, Brother Xiao, you've finally achieved your heart's desire."

    Xiao Guanxue felt a twinge of pain in his chest when he heard her say 'congratulations', his fingers tightening unconsciously, his voice tinged with bitterness, "You say... congratulations to me?"

    He didn't know if her congratulations were sincere or sarcastic, but neither outcome was what he wanted. He couldn't understand why Nanyan's attitude had become so indifferent. Was it because he had become utterly useless to her?

    Nanyan nodded, smiling lightly at him.

    "Yes, congratulations."

    Although she was smiling at him, there seemed to be an indescribable sadness and melancholy in her eyes, making her expression even more lonely.

    Xiao Guanxue felt as if her words were a sharp sword piercing through his heart, twisting and turning painfully inside.

    He was nervous and reluctant, closing his eyes momentarily, but couldn't help asking her, "Nanyan, did you ever have even the slightest..."

    Before he could finish, Nanyan suddenly interrupted him, "Brother Xiao..."

    Xiao Guanxue paused, looking at her quietly.

    Nanyan smiled gently at him, then took out the mended jade pendant from her bosom and handed it to him, "Actually, there’s something I've wanted to say for a long time but never had the chance."

    Her fingertips caressed the crack in the pendant, speaking softly, "I'm sorry, Brother Xiao. I was too willful in the past, made many mistakes, and caused you much trouble. Can you forgive me?"

    Hearing her earnest apology, Xiao Guanxue felt momentarily stunned, as if something was blocking his throat, unable to say a word.

    He looked at her, suddenly feeling as if he had lost something important.

    He had wanted her submission, but not like this. He would rather she hate or be angry with him, remembering him for a lifetime, than this indifferent attitude, as if she had completely let go.

    The more she let go and became indifferent, the more he couldn't.

    Xiao Guanxue was truly anxious and nervous now. He had never seen Nanyan like this before. Why had things become like this between them?

    His fingers tightened then loosened, a sudden sense of wanting to grasp something elusive enveloped him, "Why suddenly say these things to me?"

    "…I've never blamed you for these matters."

    "That's good, as long as you don't blame me."

    Nanyan smiled again, then sighed softly, looking down, "I just thought it was time to return this jade pendant to you. After all, I've held onto it for so long. It’s not mine after all, and even though I took it, it never really belonged to me."

    A look of regret appeared in Nanyan’s eyes as she seemed to recall the incident, feeling sad, "It's a pity I broke the pendant, it got a crack in the middle. But fortunately, Brother Yu helped me mend it."

    Xiao Guanxue felt a surge of remorse upon her mention of that day's events, asking softly, "I hurt you that day, does it still hurt?"

    Nanyan’s expression paused briefly, her fingertips curling.

    Then she smiled and shook her head, "…It stopped hurting a long time ago."

    As she spoke, she handed the jade pendant to him. Xiao Guanxue's fingers inadvertently touched hers, trembling as if touching ice, completely devoid of warmth. He instinctively tried to grasp her hand, but she quickly withdrew it.

    Suddenly she said, "Brother Xiao, I’m leaving."

    Xiao Guanxue's heart trembled, he stepped forward quickly, "Where are you going? Haven’t you always been with… Xie Yu?"

    At the mention of Xie Yu, Nanyan seemed startled, memories of their past flashing through her mind as if they happened just yesterday.

    Nanyan exhaled softly, finally nodding at Xiao Guanxue, smiling, "Yes, I’m leaving with Brother Yu. But before that…"

    Nanyan looked up at him, her gaze soft and gentle, as if she could see into his soul, and she spoke softly:

    "Can you hold me once more?"

    "Just like we used to back in the village, hug me... would you?"

    Xiaoguan Xue's gaze paused for a moment, seemingly surprised by her request. He wondered what was going on with Yanyan today. Why was she saying all these strange things?

    Had something bad happened to her? Did Xie Yu do something again that upset her?

    Seeing that he remained silent for a long time, Nanyan thought her request was too much. She pinched her fingertips and turned her face away, embarrassed.

    "Sorry, I asked for too much. I forgot that you are now Sumo's fiancé. We shouldn't..."

    Before she could finish, Xiaoguan Xue could no longer hold back. He stepped forward and embraced her tightly.

    It wasn't until he held her in his arms that he realized how much thinner she had become. Her waist was so slender that he could almost encircle it with one arm. He instinctively held her tighter, as if only then could the unease in his heart be somewhat dispelled. What had happened to her? Why had she become so unhealthily thin?

    "Yanyan, don't say things like this to me. Our relationship shouldn't be like this. Let's start over, okay? I don't mind the past, as long as you're willing, can we start again?"

    Nanyan was stunned for a moment before she came back to her senses.

    She didn't speak but pressed her cheek against his neck, seemingly unable to stand firmly. Her hand, which had been on his shoulder, slid down weakly, and eventually, her entire body slumped into his embrace, her smile faint and ethereal.

    "Big Brother Xiao, do you remember?"

    Anxiously waiting for her reply, Xiaoguan Xue instinctively answered when he heard her question, "Remember what?"

    Nanyan pursed her lips into a faint smile, her eyes filled with nostalgia, "Remember when you were poisoned by a snake? We hid in a tree overnight. The next day, I accidentally knocked over that pot of water. You probably didn't know, but I did it on purpose. I just wanted to tease you, to see you helpless yet unable to do anything about me..."

    Her tone carried a hint of triumphant mischief, like the pride of a successful prank.

    A touch of sourness, mixed with amusement, suddenly surged in Xiaoguan Xue's eyes. So it was intentional? How mischievous of her! He was so thirsty his throat felt like it was on fire, and yet he ended up comforting her, who appeared heartbroken.

    Nanyan chuckled softly, "Later, when you came to comfort me, I thought to myself, how could someone be so foolish? I deceived you, and yet you came to console me. Such a blockhead..."

    Her voice trailed off as she spoke. She seemed to want to touch his face but after several attempts, she couldn't raise her hand and eventually gave up.

    Xiaoguan Xue didn't notice her gesture, but his embrace tightened suddenly, a wave of unease washing over him. "Yanyan, why are you suddenly saying these things? What's wrong? Did he... bully you again?"

    Nanyan didn't respond; she just gave a soft cough.

    She slightly lifted her gaze to look at his profile, her eyes seeming to drift far away, blurred and distant. "I just can't believe someone can be as foolish as you."

    Nanyan smiled through her tears, which now fell uncontrollably from the corners of her eyes. Her body had reached its limit.

    At this moment, Nanyan felt an intense pain all over.

    She weakly and desperately grasped his sleeve, tears flowing unrestrainedly. "Xiao... Big Brother Xiao, do you... resent me? For always using you?"

    Hearing this, Xiaoguan Xue felt as if his heart was being tightly clenched. "...I've told you, I've never blamed you. I'm just jealous, jealous that you treat Xie Yu better than anyone else. I'm also angry at you, angry that you won't say a kind word to me. You could do anything you want with me, even use me over and over again, and I wouldn't blame you."

    Unable to contain herself any longer, Nanyan responded to his words.

    She swallowed hard, then started coughing violently, as if her insides were shifting, and eventually coughed up blood, her complexion as pale and fragile as paper.

    "Then why... didn't you come to find me? Don't you know I've always been waiting for you?"

    Nanyan looked up at him, her eyes filled with desolate fragility.

    Xiaoguan Xue was stunned, then horrified by the blood she coughed up, leaving him breathless and his mind blank.

    Tears wet her temples, and there was a stutter in her voice, laced with a hint of resentment.

    "Didn't you say... after the poison was cured, you would... come to Mingyue Mountain Villa to propose? How could you marry someone else?

    "I... had already accepted your jade pendant..."

    Her tears fell in despair, blood continuously spilling from her mouth with each word, unstoppable.

    "How could you... break your promise?"

    Her tears fell onto his fingertips, the heat causing him to shiver. Xiaoguan Xue finally snapped back to reality, feeling an unprecedented panic surge in his heart.

    "Yanyan, Yanyan, what's wrong with you...?"

    "Why would you suddenly cough up blood?"

    Blood oozed from Nanyan's lips again, sending Xiaoguan Xue into a complete panic. He reached out to cover her mouth, as if doing so would stop the bleeding.

    But it was futile; the more he wiped, the more blood seemed to flow, endless and unceasing, covering his hands. He had never felt such despair and fear.

    "Yanyan..."

    In his panic and confusion, Xiaoguan Xue embraced her, and amidst his fear, he suddenly remembered he was a doctor.

    His fingers hastily reached for her hand dangling by her side, soothing her with murmured reassurances, "Don't be afraid, don't be afraid! I can save you, I am the greatest doctor in the world, I will definitely save you, I must..."

    As he spoke, he reached to check her pulse. The moment he felt it, Xiaoguan Xue's pupils constricted sharply, as if struck by a heavy blow, hearing in his mind the sound of the earth shattering.

    In that instant, a chilling cold engulfed Xiaoguan Xue, his entire body trembling. He stepped back, his knees giving way uncontrollably as he collapsed to the ground.

    "Impossible, this can't be happening..."

    Exhausted to the extreme, her life fading away!

    Holding Nanyan tightly, disbelief filled Xiaoguan Xue's eyes. How, how could this be? Why like this? She was fine just a short while ago, how could she be at her life's end now?

    Frantically, he pulled out acupuncture needles from his sleeve to protect her heart meridian. But his fingers trembled too violently, stabbing himself several times instead. "Why, why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you let me know sooner..."

    Repeating these words over and over, Xiaoguan Xue's hands shook uncontrollably with the acupuncture needle, uncertain where to apply it, unsure of how to begin.

    He had never been so afraid, so terrified that his heart felt like it was about to stop.

    Fear had reached its zenith, trembling with dread in every fiber of his being.

    It felt as if the world was crumbling around him. All his pettiness, resentment, and jealousy seemed insignificant now. He asked for nothing more, only for her to be well, to be okay. Even if she hated or deceived him, it didn't matter anymore.

    "Please... not like this..."

    Nanyan grasped his fingers tightly, as if mustering all her strength, her voice choking, "Why... why wouldn't you listen to my explanation? At first, I used you, but then, I truly fell for you... Why won't you believe me?"

    "Do you know... how much pain I was in that day..."

    Xiaoguan Xue knew the day she was referring to, his panic intensifying, tears falling uncontrollably from his eyes. "I believe you, I do, Yanyan! Where does it hurt? Tell me, where?"

    Nanyan tried to smile, but tears flowed unrestrainedly. Her trembling fingers slowly drew a pouch from her bosom, "Look... I finished embroidering this pouch for you, but you never came... I can't wait any longer..."

    Xiaoguan Xue felt as if a huge void had opened in his heart, every breath a painful tremor.

    Clutching the pouch tightly, his tears fell on her face. "I'm sorry, so sorry, it's my fault. I realize my mistake. I shouldn't have been petulant with you. I just wanted... wanted you to care about me more..."

    She coughed softly, burying her head in his chest.

    Her blood and tears soaked his chest, her voice tinged with bitterness, "I know I have a bad temper, full of schemes, and a woman once jilted... but can you, please, not despise me..."

    "On the cliff that day, everything I said was from the heart..."

    Xiaoguan Xue had never felt such regret, feeling as if every word he had ever spoken to her was a sharp dagger, relentlessly slicing his heart, leaving him in unbearable pain.

    He shook his head desperately, "I don't despise you, I don't. What I said that day was out of anger, I've never despised you..."

    "That's good, as long as you don't despise me..." Nanyan slowly lowered her head, a faint smile playing on her lips. "Xiao Brother, Miss Su... she's better for you, she'll treat you better. After you get married, be happy..."

    Xiaoguan Xue suddenly grasped her hand to his face, his eyes misty with emotion. "No, I don't want that! I don't want anyone but you. I still have so much to tell you, Yanyan, don't treat me this way..."

    She struggled to open her eyes to look at him, her tears seemingly spent, and the look in her eyes was one of deep reluctance. "Also, could you... not forget me?"

    "At least, not... so soon."

    "I'm really scared, scared of being alone..."

    "My Ah Yu Brother... seems to be coming to take me home..." She turned her head, glancing towards the distance, a glimmer of light in her eyes, then reached out her hand towards a dark shadow in the distance.

    "He's come for me..." Her eyes finally closed, a slight smile on her lips, her outstretched hand falling limply to the ground due to her loss of strength.

    In that moment, Xie Yu, rushing over, suddenly went pale, clutching his chest in agony and coughing up blood.

    ……

    "Mission complete. Host, would you like to leave this world now?"

    "Leave now."

    In the void, Nanyan glanced indifferently at the small world, her calm and rational voice soon followed.

    1 Comment

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    1. Lemon Zest
      May 10, '24 at 2:55 pm

      So much angst but I can’t stop reading 😭😭 thanks for the update!