Chapter 24 – Zither of Divinity (III)
A faintly discernable sound echoed deeply within Ye Yin Zhu’s heart. The music was melancholic and crisp, with an undulating and indeterminable mood, as if this sorrowful melody was giving voice to a song of wondrous yearning:
“I am a pearl in the hands of God. In God’s hand, I have been reincarnating for five hundred years.
“Five hundred years ago, people called me Ming Zhu. I was called Lady Lan Ming Zhu.
“During my 18 years, I fell in love with a man called Qin Zhi. He was twenty years my senior, but I still love him without any misgivings. I remember facing the sun during the dawn, pursuing an adorable white-feathered sparrow into the Maple Forest. I then heard the cries of the zither, its clarity and smoothness—it resembled a tranquil, unperturbed stream, a celestial melody!
“I saw him, Qin Zhi. A clear male figure dressed in white. He sat upright atop a floor of red autumnal leaves, his hair slightly covering his face. Both hands, like running water, lightly caressed an orange guqin in front of him, intoxicating every living creature with its celestial melody. Ever since that moment, I had fallen in love with him with no chance to return. Along with that smooth zither music as fluid as clouds, the red autumnal leaves fell gently, painting the sky with its color as accompaniment. I couldn’t help but dance the <<Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers>>. So, under a sky full of red autumnal leaves and with a strange white clothed man, I danced!
“The Falan of the Lan clan held the power to overturn the whole world, with the most wealth under the heavens—how I wished I was merely an ordinary girl! But I was not. I was Lan Ming Zhu and the beloved daughter of the Patriarch of the Lan clan. Qin Zhi, that senior twenty years older than I whom I desperately love, was only a wanderer, no home to his name. Even more, he wasn’t a wandering bard; a Divine Music Mage was not considered a wandering bard, as they performed to make a living——
“‘A shameful identity and a large age difference, it would be harmful to the Lan clan’s reputation, so— cannot mate!’ Father had said. Afterwards, our relationship was forbidden.
“But I was the eldest daughter of the Lan clan. I had never been afraid of any matter nor anyone. I am my father’s sole daughter. Even though I had seen him beat servants to death for a single mistake, I was not afraid of him.
“I tried to find him by any and all means possible, honestly telling everyone, ‘I’m in love with him, so no matter what, I want to be together with him.’
“One evening, with the drizzling rain as company, I once more stole out in search for him, but I found him collapsed on the ground. His body was bloodied, as scarlet as Eijitsu roses blossoming in the night!
“‘Father did it… It was him… It was him…’ So I concluded!
“He once told me: ‘If I am happy, then he can only be my happiness for several days, but if I am broken-hearted, then he would help me bear the pain for several years. Now, however, my father had killed him! I didn’t shed tears because tears were already flowing from my heart— across my face was a maniacal smile, like a saint jumping brazenly into the glorious wind. The abnormal omen of misfortune, the secrecy…
“——Of course this was father’s masterpiece!
“——I swore I had only intended to frighten him; I truly didn’t intend to kill father. I had only placed a serpent in father’s bed. Of course, I was resentful and vengeful towards him for killing Qin Zhu, but I truly didn’t intend to kill him. The fact was, however, that I had killed my father! Yes, I killed the one who had never glared at me, the one who loved me, pampered me, and even allowed me to run amok and pull on his beard!
“It didn’t matter if he wasn’t a good man. To me, he was a good father! Thus, in this world, I was not worthy of his love, so I left reluctantly. With a flick of my wrist, the scissors slashed a graceful arc. I smiled afterwards—carefree.
“I was a pearl in the hands of God. In God’s hand, I searched for five hundred years. Since I knew of God’s existence, I clearly comprehended all possibilities available. I sought God in order to force him to allow me to see him, and God always told me, ‘Karma is determined by the heavens. Because his life with you has ended, even if you see him again, he would not recognize you.’
“I said, ‘I don’t care. I only want to see him, to see the one that made me love him for five hundred years and long for him for five hundred years.’
“God told me I was already part of God’s domain. If I wanted to go, I must remember to not shed tears. God stressed that emotions must not pollute the earthly realm and must not influence the realm. Permanent tranquility—no fear, no happiness, no sorrow, no anger.
“I promised I wouldn’t, especially since I was already in the hands of God and had been reincarnating for five hundred years, already possessing divine karma. I merely wanted to look for him, to resolve this cherished desire. I would’ve returned afterwards, continuing my reincarnations in the hands of God.
“God allowed me to turn into this beautiful butterfly.
“One day, two days.. I flew over the limitless ocean.
“One month, two months… I flew over the vast desert.
“One year, two years… I overcame mountain after mountain.
“I arrived at last to the Maple Forest, which still filled the whole sky with swirling red autumnal leaves! His life, five hundred years ago, was free and at ease, without fear. I was only happy for a short time. Because I saw this lonely person with a young girl clothed in a pink gauze dress danced lightly in front of him as he played an orange guqin. He plucked out << Thoughts on a Tranquil Night >> with a smile across his face and his eyes focused solely on her figure.
“He——gripped her hand, eyes filled with deep love, and said, ‘You are exquisite.’
“They snuggled together. ‘You are exquisite.’ He had told me this five hundred years ago in the Maple Forest.
“I paid no attention, I only came to look at him. Honestly, just this and nothing more…
“Who told me to pay no attention? How could I not have paid attention? Could I do it? Impossible; I overestimated myself.
“I flew before his eyes, flying beside his ear and spiraling around him. I shouted loudly, ‘I am Ming Zhu! Five hundred years ago, I was your Ming Zhu! Do you recognize me?’
“He didn’t hear me, his heart only held tender sentiments for this girl. He said to her, ‘Ya, look at how lovely this butterfly is!’
“That girl coquettishly said, ‘Are you saying I’m not lovable?’
“He immediately tensed. Promptly, he explained, ‘No, no, you are the most beautiful and lovable person under the sun! Even this butterfly can’t compare with you!’
“I cried. I finally cried, and I still cry.
“——God told me I must not cry!
“I remembered a few things:
“That orange guqin… a beautiful melody… fiery red maple leaves…
“——I felt myself fade away, seemingly becoming weaker and weaker…
“I had changed into a strand of light smoke and entered through the end of the orange zither upon his knees!
“God’s voice echoed within my ear: ‘Shedding tears… you have changed into the thing you were just recalling… never to reincarnate…’
“I had become a zither soul. Within his hands was a zither with a zither soul. I frequently recalled the affair five hundred years ago in the Maple Forest. At that time, my mood was very excited, like the unstoppable waters of a waterfall; I also became as quiet and undisturbed as those days in God’s hand during the reincarnation cycle, with no desires or goals——I believe this mood of mine is expressed through the zither music.
“Oh, how I desired for him to understand this!
“Perhaps he had truly understood me.
“He abandoned the earthly realm, falling in love with the zither.