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    Chapter 44 [VIP] The Jianghu Tale (Extra - Scum, Die)

    Xiaoguan Xue watched as the hand stretching towards the distance suddenly fell from mid-air. In that instant, he froze, as if hearing the collapse of everything in the world, yet simultaneously hearing nothing at all.

    He stared at her limp fingers, unable to believe.

    Yanyan was dead, just like that, dead because of his petulance. He hadn't even known how seriously ill she was, nor understood the feelings with which she had come to find him.

    But... how could this be possible?

    How could she have just died, just like that?

    Disbelief! In denial! She must be angry with him, deceiving him, certainly tricking him. She was so adept at deception, she must be deceiving him now too.

    Xiaoguan Xue tentatively touched her hand, her fingertips ice-cold, unresponsive.

    He froze.

    Yanyan... was really dead.

    In that moment, Xiaoguan Xue felt as if the last taut string in his mind had snapped, and the emotions he had suppressed for so long became uncontrollable.

    He fiercely grasped her fallen hand, holding on tightly as if fearing she would disappear if he loosened his grip, helpless and despairing, eventually breaking down into childlike sobs that stunned the servants nearby.

    He cried out frantically, his tears falling on Nanyan's face, "No, you're not dead, you're not! I still have so much to tell you."

    "Are you deceiving me again? I know I was wrong. Will you accept my apology?"

    His tone was one of utter desperation, almost pleading, "I haven't said sorry to you yet, I haven't proposed at Mingyue Mountain Villa! The jade pendant was always meant for you. I never despised you, listen to me, please?"

    "I never intended to marry Sumo; from beginning to end, the only person I wanted to marry was you. I just wanted to trick you into coming to me, and I would've stopped being angry as soon as you arrived."

    "Yanyan, please get up..."

    Finally, he carefully wiped the blood from her lips, emitting a low, mournful wail, "I was wrong, I truly know my mistake now. I shouldn't have been angry with you, I should have listened to your explanation. Whatever you want, just wake up, Yanyan, don't leave me."

    "Please wake up, please..."

    "I beg you, Yanyan."

    His voice grew lower and more desperate with each plea, but to no avail—the person in his arms remained unresponsive.

    ……

    Xie Yu, who had run frantically from the inn, witnessed the hand that had been reaching out to him suddenly fall from mid-air. Overwhelmed by grief, he spat out a mouthful of blood.

    Disbelieving, Xie Yu's eyes widened in shock. Yanyan was dead, her hand still extended towards him, yet she died in another's arms, and he hadn't even seen her for the last time.

    How could she be dead? She had promised to start over with him, assured him she wouldn't let herself get hurt again.

    How could she be dead?

    Xie Yu couldn't believe it, trembling in shock, staggering so much he could barely walk, eventually collapsing on his knees before her.

    Only when he grasped her lifeless hand did the reality hit him, his tears uncontrollably falling. "Yanyan, please get up, okay?"

    "Didn't you... promise Ah Yu Brother you wouldn't do this? You promised, how can you break your word?"

    "You said it, you said after this was over, we would start anew. Please get up, okay? Come home with me."

    "It's my fault, I shouldn't have brought you here. Please get up, come back home with Ah Yu Brother..."

    He murmured repeatedly, pleading, his voice laden with suppressed pain.

    But no matter what he said, the person still lay lifelessly in Xiaoguan Xue's arms, unhearing and unresponsive.

    She was... truly dead.

    The little girl he had cherished and protected all his life, his childhood sweetheart, was truly gone.

    Xie Yu's fingers trembled as they touched her tightly closed eyes and lips, where a trace of dried blood still lingered.

    He gently wiped it away with his sleeve, yet those closed eyes never opened again. She would no longer call him Ah Yu Brother, nor would she ever act coyly towards him again...

    After a while, he suddenly let out a low laugh, letting tears stream down his cheeks.

    "It's okay if you don't get up. Just sleep, sleep peacefully. Ah Yu Brother is holding you, just like when we were kids. No matter where you went, Ah Yu Brother always found you and brought you safely home..."

    Xie Yu bent down to embrace her.

    But Xiaoguan Xue, frantic, stopped him, clutching the body tightly in his arms, refusing to let go, "Don't touch her, I won't let anyone touch her."

    Xie Yu, consumed with hatred, could no longer contain his emotions and thrust a sword through Xiaoguan Xue's shoulder, "How dare you say that?"

    "If it weren't for you, she wouldn't have died."

    Xiaoguan Xue grunted in pain, blood sliding down the blade and his injury. His hands trembled but stubbornly clung to Yanyan's lifeless body.

    Disgust filled Xie Yu's eyes, wishing to kill Xiaoguan Xue on the spot, but as he was about to act...

    He suddenly remembered that Yanyan loved this man. If he killed him, she would be saddened... How could he bear to make her sad?

    His greatest regret in life was meeting the man before him, taking Yanyan away from Mingyue Mountain Villa, but he despised and regretted himself even more.

    If he hadn't been fickle, how could Yanyan have suffered so? His greatest enemy should be himself!

    Every time he remembered Yanyan coughing up blood in anger, Xie Yu felt an excruciating pain in his heart. How desperate must she have been to lose all will to live?

    He knew Xiaoguan Xue loved Yanyan and knew exactly how to make him suffer with regret.

    He wanted to burden him with guilt until his death!

    "Xiaoguan Xue, do you know how she died? Do you understand why she was exhausted to the extreme, her life flickering out? You certainly don't know how desperate she was when she heard you were to marry Sumo. You angered her to the point of coughing blood, yet she still cared for you, eagerly awaiting the day you would come to propose. She waited for you for so long..."

    "But you, just because of the angry words you heard that day, you held a grudge against her. Why wouldn't you believe her? If not for you, she would still be alive. It's your fault, you are the one who killed her!"

    Xie Yu, barely containing his repressed emotions, forcefully twisted his sword, the sound of bones breaking sharply resonated, and blood instantly soaked his entire sleeve.

    The intense pain turned Xiao Guanxue's face deathly pale in an instant. His grip loosened, and Xie Yu took the opportunity to lift Nanyan into his arms.

    But the physical pain was nothing compared to the agony in his heart. Xiao Guanxue, coughing, his voice choked in his throat, gasping for air, spat out a mouthful of blood.

    "Nanyan…"

    "...Give it back to me!"

    A young medical apprentice rushed to support him but was pushed away carelessly. Staggering and struggling, he reached for Nanyan's skirt but only grasped a pouch that had fallen from her hand, stained with blood and embroidered with a pair of geese and the character “Xiao.”

    Xiao Guanxue’s movements halted abruptly as he saw the character “Xiao,” clutching it tightly, his fingers stained crimson.

    It was as if he could no longer contain the desolation in his heart, "Don't take her away, give her back to me, return her to me..."

    He repeated it over and over, his voice growing hoarser.

    Xie Yu turned around expressionlessly, completely deaf to the sounds behind him.

    Holding Yiyan in his arms, he staggered back the way he came. Though his steps were unsteady, the person in his embrace was secure, as if he was holding the most precious treasure of his life. His eyes, filled with affection and tenderness, rested on Nanyan's face in his arms.

    Looking at her slumbering figure, his memories involuntarily drifted back to the past...

    In those days, under the lush locust tree, the youth was as light as a swallow, his sword moving through the air like a wandering dragon. He practiced his swordplay on one side, while she played the zither on the other.

    The melody of the zither accompanied the whistling of the sword, the music resonating with the spirit of the sword, and the sword admiring the strings of the zither. They were childhood friends, innocent and unassuming.

    The youth's thoughts were like the misty and ambiguous flowing water under the moonlit pine, unaware of his own budding feelings. Sometimes, he teased her to catch her attention, using his sword to shake the locust blossoms from the tree. The scattered petals and leaves fell inadvertently into her plum-like hair, looking so beautiful, he thought...

    She gave him a gentle smile, turning his ears and cheeks red with embarrassment. Annoyed and shy, he turned his head away, yet secretly hoping she would come to see him...

    It seems so much time has already passed.

    He closed his eyes, realizing he could never return to those times.

    A mist formed in Xie Yu's eyes, and fine droplets of moisture clung to his long eyelashes. He whispered softly, "Brother will take you home, and once we're home, no one will ever dare to bully you again."

    "Once we're home, we'll be like we were in our childhood - you playing the zither, me practicing swordplay. Together, we'll grow old, never to part again..."

    "During festivals, Brother will accompany you to see the most beautiful fireworks in Luo'an City, we'll release the largest river lanterns together, fly paper kites, and enjoy candied hawthorns..."

    "If next year comes..."

    "When the plums on that tree ripen, Brother will brew a jar of green plum wine. If there's a next life, you must wait for me. I'll come to find you earlier, ensuring you never suffer the slightest bit again."

    ……

    Xiaoguan Xue's wedding never came to pass. After that day, the renowned healer of the martial world, Xiao God-Doctor, disappeared.

    Seven days later, a huge fire broke out in the Medicine King Valley for unknown reasons. It burned for a day and a night, leaving the valley's buildings in disarray.

    Fortunately, the medicine boys and servants had been dismissed earlier, so there were no casualties in the fire.

    Sumo also vanished in that fire. There were rumors of a sacred relic of the Demon Sect being stolen, and the sect sent a large number of followers to hunt down the traitor, who was believed to be Sumo. This time, however, there was no one to protect her.

    Meanwhile, an unfortunate event occurred at Mingyue Mountain Villa. The only daughter of the villa's master passed away. Known for her stunning beauty, her untimely death at such a young age was a matter of great sorrow.

    However, it was just a fleeting moment of pity. In the world of constant strife and death, her demise was merely another tale of a woman's fragile fate.

    Today marks the seventh day since Nanyan's death. The mourning hall is draped with white banners. It was supposed to be Xie Yu keeping vigil, but he, having stayed awake and close to Nanyan day and night, finally succumbed to exhaustion.

    The duty of guarding the mourning hall fell to a maid who had served Nanyan. While crying and burning paper money, she muttered "Miss" under her breath, only to hear a disturbance behind her...

    As she turned her head, she unexpectedly caught sight of a white figure appearing in the courtyard behind her. The young maid, terrified, screamed, "A ghost!" and then felt a pain in her neck before collapsing against a pillar, unconscious.

    And this ghost was no other...

    Xiao Guanxue's fingers trembled lightly as he took out the purse from his bosom. He had heard that seven days after death, the soul returns home to look at their loved ones one last time before moving on to rebirth. He wondered if this was true.

    But it didn't matter anymore, whether true or false, he no longer cared.

    Because he was here to fulfill his promise. His Yiyan had waited too long, and she would be displeased by the wait.

    Xiao Guanxue pressed his lips together in a light smile, seemingly recalling a past amusement. The young lady was tough on the outside but soft on the inside. However, when really angered, she could be quite troublesome. He was late, and it was his fault.

    He gently pushed open the coffin, and inside lay a woman, her face as beautiful as ever, with her eyes slightly closed, hands clasped in front of her, her expression peaceful, as if she were merely asleep, unchanged from before.

    He looked at her quietly, pulling a gentle smile for the person inside.

    Then he silently lay down beside her, carefully placing the jade pendant in her palm. "Yiyan, I'm here with you now. I know you're afraid of the dark, afraid of being alone... From now on, wherever you go, I'll be there with you."

    How wonderful, we're finally together.

    A satisfied smile appeared on his lips as the poison in his body slowly took effect, blood continuously spilling from his mouth. "I brought... the deed to the Medicine King Valley as your dowry. I've burned everything else; it might be modest, but please don't despise me for it..."

    "I'm sorry... I arrived a bit late this time, making you wait so long in vain."

    He coughed lightly, caressing and holding her hand, murmuring softly: "In the next life, I must... find you before anyone else, and be your Xiao brother for a lifetime."

    "Who cares about Xie Yu... or any other fiancé? I won't let anyone... bully you again. Can you forgive me?"

    "Even if you don't forgive me... it's okay. Wherever you go, I will follow. Even if you're annoyed by me... I won't let go, clinging to you forever."

    "I might be a bit slow in my journey, so when we cross the Naihe Bridge, could you wait for me a little?"

    "Yiyan... I'm here to accompany you."

    On the day of the burial, it seemed as if a light rain began to fall from the sky.

    Smoke curled up in the distance on the mountain top, white mist shrouding the wild forest. The cries of cuckoos echoed mournfully through the woods, sounding like heart-wrenching sobs.

    After that, Xie Yu completely disappeared. The heroic youth who once aspired to make a mark in the martial world lost his former ambition, and the Xie family lost all news of him.

    Several years later, a woodcutter seeking shelter from the rain stumbled upon a grass hut with a tombstone erected in front of it. After paying his respects, he hurried into the hut for cover, only to discover an unidentified corpse lying inside.

    The corpse had long been dead, its clothing and appearance no longer recognizable, save for the dulled long sword standing beside it.

    The sword, though rusted, still revealed its sharpness when unsheathed, prompting the woodcutter to muse that this unidentified corpse was perhaps a hermit swordsman of the martial world.

    Observing the long sword beside him, clearly no ordinary weapon, he guessed the deceased must have been a notable figure in life. It was a pity to find him dead in such a place.

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