Selene’s mother had a human body. Her hair was vermillion coloured like Selene. It would have been beautiful if it was not covered in blood. She was in a pitiful state, with only one usable arm. The other arm had already been crushed to an unrecognisable state. With her back facing Selene, two huge holes could be seen in her abdomen area. With blood oozing out of the corners of her mouth, she whispered. “Darling… don’t cry. *Cough*”.
Her husband was in an even more horrendous state. His whole entire lower half had been crushed. The stomach area completely ripped open. His face was fully distorted with pain, displaying the amount of intense torture he must have been put through. When Selene saw her father’s face, she could not bear to look. Her branches shiver as tried to reach out to her parents. Unfortunately, she was afraid to approach them. She still wanted to cling on to the hope that this was all a dream “No! No! Daddy, mommy…”.
Shi Yan could not bear the sight of letting Selene see her father’s face any longer. He took off his red and black silk woven shirt and placed it on her father’s face. Nobody stopped him. There was a tacit mutual understanding between everyone. As the cloth covered his dead body, Selene was in full rejection she continuously shook her head.
“Madam, I’m going to cover up both your bodies, is that alright?” Shi Yan whispered to Selene’s mother in a soft voice.
Selene’s mother gave out a weary smile “Yeah, that’d be nice.*cough* Thank you”.
Shi Yan nodded, not wanting to make the lady exert any more strength, he slowly pulled out the cloak from under their bodies and used it to cover their bodies. He turned the woman around to face her daughter.
“Selene, darling, come here”. Her voice was coarse, it was obvious that she wanted to cry but chose not to. This was her final goodbye, she wanted to continue to support Selene even till this moment.
Shi Yan tacitly took a step back for Selene to move forward. He went to Shi Yin and sat down beside her. Shi Yin climbed on his lap and placed her head on his chest. When Shi Yan felt a moisture on his chest, he hugged Shi Yin.
Selene’s roots slowly moved her forward. She only stopped once she was in front of her mother. Her roots and branches were shaking uncontrollably, not wishing to take another step further.
Selene’s mother raised her trembling hand, trying to feel the familiar touch of her daughter. Unfortunately, she was too weak. Her hand could only manage to raise a little before collapsing back down.
Selene immediately reacted. Using her branch to reach out for her mother’s hand before it fell back down.
She could no longer continue being disillusioned. Her mother’s desperate last actions forced her to react. How could she possibly abandon her mother’s last wishes?
Selene cried out “Mommy… *sob*… don’t leave me”.
Hearing her daughter’s words made Selene’s mother weakened. She could no longer hold back her tears any longer. However, she still held onto a weary smile, trying to tell Selene not to be sad. “My wonderful child *cough* mommy is not going anywhere. I’ll always be with you…”. She slowly moved the branch to her face “Mommy will always be with you and daddy will always be with mommy”.
“Really? Mommy promise? Promise me, mommy!? *sniff sniff*”
“Silly child, *cough cough*, of course, I won’t lie to you… *cough*” Suddenly, Selene’s mother condition worsened. She coughed out blood, covering her face and Selene’s branch.
Shi Yan immediately jumped up and looked for Lumi. In a desperate tone, he shouted: “Please Lumi, can’t we save her?!”.
Selene who was still held onto her mum’s face, tearingly, looked at Lumi. “Please…*sniff* Please save mommy… please*sniff*”.
Lumi looked at Selene’s eyes and held a sad tone in his voice “I can heal her but she would at most only live for a week”.
Shi Yan excitedly nodded, “One week… one week is enough. Please. I beg you, please give her one more week”.
Lumi looked at Shi Yan and sighed. He had already healed Byakko yesterday. As a remnant spirit, he could not recover much of his Qi energy unless he went to sleep for another millennia or so. If he were to heal her, he would most likely sink into dormancy for a few weeks before being capable of waking up again. This would mean that for the next test, he could not support Shi Yan and Shi Yin. To merely extend someone else’s life span by a week, was it worth to risk an opportunity of a lifetime?
Shi Yan determined eyes made him unable to voice out. He understood that no matter what he said, Shi Yan would not change his mind.
“Uncle… Please…*sniff sniff* Please…” Selene who body trembled as she bent down to bow to the Lumi. Even her mother took the effort to look at Lumi. After living for so long, she understood that Lumi would have to sacrifice a lot of his strength to extend her lifespan. As someone who had nothing to exchange for his sacrifice, she could not possibility ask for his help. However, she still wished to at least be with her daughter for awhile more. A second, a minute, an hour. Whatever was fine. Just a little more.
Lumi was placed in a tight spot. He reluctantly looked at Shi Yan and sadly spoke “Shi Yan, please… do not disappoint me in the next test. Promise just promise me that you will bear with anything thrown to you”.
Shi Yan obviously did not know the contents of the next test but he nodded “I promise… please just save her”.
Lumi gracefully walked towards Selene’s mother and placed his hand on her forehead. Selene’s mother closed her eyes as she felt Qi energy entering her body, healing her. Her appearance gradually became better; face no longer pale white, returning back to the normal ruddy glow of peach. Seeing her mother looking so much better, Selene’s heart gradually loosen up. She tightens her hold on her mother’s hand, trying to express her desire to keep her mother next to her.
Shi Yan and Shi Yin looked at the body getting better and smiled. Shi Yan looked towards the silver bell on Shi Yin, wishing he could learn how to use it. It might be possible to heal Selene’s mother with the bell but Lumi had not said anything. Shi Yan knew that he had to rely on himself to learn about his treasures and could not rely on Lumi. However, he just had to ask at this moment. “Lumi, this bell, could I use it to heal her?”.
Lumi shook his head and in a faint voice, he spoke. “That bell can only be used after absorbing the yin energy of a full moon”.
A full moon, that would take 12 more days to occur… before that, Selene’s mother would have already died.
Shi Yan was trying to think of a solution. He scratched the back of his hand for quite a long time, till Shi Yin had to lick his fingers to stop him. In the end, after an hour, he could not think of anything. He gloomily looked at Selene, who was staring at her mother this whole time. He felt depressed that he did not have the ability to help someone he cares for. He felt useless.
Lumi finally stopped. His hand lifted away from Selene’s mother. Lumi’s whole body has become translucent, as though he was about to fade away. “It’s done”. Lumi said in a weak voice. “Now, let’s leave here before they arrive”. Lumi bent down and touched the ground. Soon, the ground glowed with runes. The glow continued to expand and the whole mountain range was covered in a runic array.
Not longer after, white balls of light started to float from the ground. These balls of light gather towards the group, slowly engulfing them. The intensity of the light forced everyone to close their eyes.
Throughout the mountain range, the light continued to gather in one location. A man flying up in the air noticed this strange phenomenon. “What? How is this possible?”. He could tell that this large array was extremely powerful. In shock, he retreated a few steps. He was afraid that the array activated to eliminate him.
His complexion turned darker. “This is impossible! Byakko doesn’t know a single thing about setting up arrays! Did he manage to get some allies?”. He cursed his luck. “I need to hurry back to warn the Sect Master!”. The man flew away without realising that this array was just for teleportation.
Lumi obviously noticed the man’s presence. He was ready to battle it out with the man but the coward started to run away. Lumi sneered, he never expected the enemy to have such cowardly disposition. Although he was happy that the enemy fled, he could help but sigh. The great Byakko was in such a desperate situation due to these cowards? No, there must be more to it.
Lumi faced Shi Yan and showed a gentle smiled. The day this boy grows up, the new era will begin. He wondered, how the gears of fate would turn because of this boy. How the world would change because of his actions and how the heavens would react to this youngling. However, that wondrous fateful day had no place for him.
The light continued to grow brighter and brighter. When the final ball of light joined the rest, the light completely disappeared. The glowing array of the mountain range gradually grew dim and faded away.
Inside of a stone chamber, a gigantic ball of light suddenly appeared. Soon, tiny balls of light floated away from the gigantic ball to land on the multiple wall lamps inside the stone chamber. Gradually, the gigantic ball of light lost its lustre and dissipated away.
Shi Yan could finally open his eyes. In front of him, there was the same white door with ornaments. However, this was not the same room he was in previously. The chamber was much larger than the previous room; about 4 times the size of the previous room. The walls were made of black stone, engraved with bluish-white runes. The lamps of the rooms had a white glow, illuminating the strange markings on the floor. At the middle of the room, there was a huge blue circular piece that would emanate a faint blue sparkle.
“What is this place?” Shi Yan asked.
Lumi gave a light smile “this is the place where you will be experiencing the third test. The test”. His sight focused on Selene “little girl, can you bring out the little tiger?”.
Selene gave a confused nod and opened her mouth. Soon, the white tiger appeared out of her mouth. She was completely thin, it seems that she had not eaten for awhile. When Shi Yan saw Reina, he knew immediately that the little tiger must not have managed to catch any wild rabbits since they left.
Reina gave a soft cry “ra..wr…”. She was calling out to Shi Yin, greeting her older sister but was so weak that she had to lie down.
Lumi gave a disappointing look. [So this is the great Byakko’s daughter? How disappointing…]. He took out Shi Yan’s ring and summoned out some bags of food and water for the everyone. “Eat up and rest up well”. He turned towards Shi Yan and Shi Yin and in a more serious tone, “especially you two. You have around a day’s worth of time to rest up before the next test starts. It is sad to say but this time, I wouldn’t be able to guide you”. The bags flew to each person and floated there for them to receive.
Finally able to eat, Reina happy went forward and tore the bag up. She ripped open the bag forcefully and took a big bite into it.
Selene who received her portion had no mood to eat. How could she? She had just discovered her father’s dead corpse and now, her mother was still unconscious. She shook her head to refuse her portion but Shi Yan did not allow her to refuse. Without taking his portion, he took Selene’s and passed it to her directly. “Selene, you have to eat something. At least hold yours in case your mother needs more. Don’t refuse so easily”.
Selene turned to look at Shi Yan with her teary eye holes “Big brother… *sniff sniff*”.
Shi Yan waved his hand “Say no more. Please, just take care of your mother alright? Can you be a good girl and do this for me?”.
Selene nodded “em…” And turned her vision to her unconscious mother.
Shi Yin jumped up to grab Shi Yan’s bag and walked to his side. She nudged his calf, reminding his that he also needs to take care of himself too. Shi Yan bent down and took the bad out of her mouth and gave her a kiss on her forehead. He led her back to where her food was floating, grabbed it and passed it to her. He pulled out a smile, [you too, should not forget to take care of yourself.]
Shi Yan sat down and opened both bags for Shi Yin and himself. He understood that these bags were made for humans to open and unless Shi Yin forcefully opened her bag like Reina, it would be very difficult for her to open the bag.
After both of them had their fill, Reina moved beside Shi Yin and sat at her side.
Lumi who was on the verge of falling into slumber forced himself to stay awake. He still had to pass on the test information to Shi Yan. He floated behind Shi Yan and in a soft voice said ” Boy, this next test will be very different from the others. This is a very specific test of speed, knowledge and awareness. You have to be extremely observant in this test. There is only one way to pass and that is if you truly understand what it means to be a successor. Tell Byakko…, that I’m sorry, this is the best I can do for you…”.
Shi Yan was obviously stunned by Lumi’s word but when he turned back to ask, Lumi was already gone from the room.[It seems that Byakko was truly speaking the truth about helping me… The next time I sleep, I better ask him about this test…]
Just when Shi Yan was about to go deeper within his thoughts, Selene’s voice sounded out “Mommy! Mommy!”.
Shi Yan turned to see that Selene’s mother had just opened her eyes. She smiled at her daughter. “Darling, mommy is okay. Can you help me up?”. Selene obediently used her roots to go under her mother and gently lifted her up.
Selene’s mother managed to sit upright. The hole in her stomach had already closed up and even her crushed arm had been fully healed. Seeing her condition made Selene leak out tears of joy “Mommy!”. Selene wrapped her mother using her branches and roots, not letting go. Feeling Selene’s warm hug made the mother a little teary. “Darling…”.
It was only after a long period of time before Selene was willing to loosen her grip on her mother. The woman gently held Selene’s branch and said in a solemn voice. “Selene, can you be a good girl and promise me something?”.
Selene obvious nodded with glee “em!”
Selene’s mother’s face became more serious. Using the other hand, she caressed Selene’s skull-like face. “darling, I need you to absorb your daddy and mommy”.
Selene viciously shook her head, “No mommy, I don’t want to. Please, mommy… Please, I promise to do something else”.
Selene’s mother closed her eyes and placed her forehead onto Selene’s trunk. Shi Yan could see tears dripping down from her face. “darling, please… this is what your daddy wanted and this is also what I want. Promise me… you will absorb us when we die”.
Selene screamed “No… *sniff sniff* mommy, you said that you will always be with me… you promised! *sniff sniff*”.
Selene’s mother did not look up. She continued to stay in that position “Darling… mommy and daddy’s bodies will be inside of you… and our souls… will always be with you…”.
Selene shook her head viciously “No! I want mommy to be with me like this *Sniff sniff* mommy, stay with me like this… don’t go…”.
Selene’s mother gave Selene a kiss and removed her face from Selene’s truck. She looked at Selene and gave a forced smile “Darling. If you love your mommy, could you do me this one last favour?”
Silavin: Yup, back from my trip and continuing the series. 😀