Chapter 1612 - A Meeting With Yourself
This was the fall of the 35th year since Wang Lin left Zhao.
In Hou Fen, as the autumn wind blew across the sea to Zhao, it was already winter. The entire country of Zhao was covered in snow like a white jade was placed over it.
Only the two lines created by the carriage passing by could be seen. The sound of the carriage creaking slowly went into the distance.
Along the path, you could see an inn. This inn was covered by dense, white snow; it was bleak and no one was inside.
More than half the inn had collapsed more than 10 years ago, injuring a lot of the people staying there. The owner had gotten in trouble with the officials and died in prison. As for the waiter, he had left. It was unknown where he was or if he was still alive.
Over time, the inn that once made the grand scholar of Zhao drunk became a ruin.
The carriage stopped for a moment before the inn. The curtain of the carriage was raised up and a burst of heat spread out. In this cold weather, the heat didn’t scatter far before it dissipated.
An old man wearing white looked at the abandoned inn covered in white snow. His eyes were filled with reminiscence as he watched. After a long time, he let out a sigh and put down the curtain.
“Wan Er, there was an inn here before and I woke up here.” An old voice came from the carriage as it slowly went off into the distance.
As the carriage went further away, the voice from the carriage became weaker until the snow covered up everything. Only the cold wind continued to blow as if it would never get tired.
An old man’s time was short. They could count their own end as they silently looked at the blue sky and white clouds and the snow falling. At the same time, an old man’s time was infinite; what was infinite was their memory. They could forget their death in their memories.
The speed of the carriage was not fast, and it bounced as it moved along the road toward the small village below the Heng Yue Mountain. It was dusk of the second day, but the snow continued to fall without any sign of stopping.
The snow sealed the earth as the lone carriage slowly moved closer to the mountain village.
It wasn’t until night came that the mountain village appeared before their eyes. The mountain village in the snow was very quiet. Even the big, astute dogs were all hiding in their houses. Even though they heard the creaking of the carriage, they were unwilling to raise their heads to bark.
Every household was sitting beside their burning stove. In the cold night, they would sit by the fire together with their families, warming their bodies and souls. The warmth of the body and soul allowed the mortals of this world to survive the cold winter again and again.
Among the many houses in the village, there was a house where there were two large dogs curled around each other in the yard for warmth. Everywhere else was covered in white snow.
There was a faint light coming from the fire inside the house that came through the withered, yellow window paper and scattered into the yard. The light landed on the snow, making it look like a tired sunset. It was struggling and was slowly lowering its head before it disappeared.
In the fire, one could see a bent figure behind the window paper. The shrunken figure held a thin fire rod and was poking the fire, trying to make it burn brighter.
It was an old man, an old man that was covered in so many wrinkles that even his eyes couldn’t be fully opened anymore. He sat there staring at the fire, and after a long time, he tightened his cotton coat. Then he looked at his right wrist.
He was Big Fortune.
“It has been many years… He should be back soon…” Big Fortune looked at this right wrist, where there was a golden palmprint faintly glowing. He gently stroked his wrist and recalled the past.
He had waited here for 35 years. He still remember the day Wang Lin had told him to wait for him here until he comes back.
“He said that there will not be a second 38th year, so he should be back soon…” Big Fortune looked tired and stood up with the help of the stick. Just as he was about to go rest, the two big dogs that were too lazy to move began to whimper.
The sound of a carriage crushing the snow faintly came from the distance until it stopped outside the courtyard. The door to the carriage opened and Wang Lin walked out facing the wind and snow.
Behind him, Li Muwan, who had become an old woman, walked out with a gentle smile. She stood with Wang Lin and looked at the yard and the gentle light coming from the yard.
With a creak, the door to the house was pushed open from the inside. Big Fortune stood there, stunned, looking outside the yard. He saw Wang Lin through the blizzard and grinned.
“I’m back.” Wang Lin looked at Big Fortune, who was just as old, and smiled.
The blizzard became even stronger.
However, inside the house in the snow, the fire became even brighter. In this house, the master and servant who had been apart for 35 years reunited again.
Tonight, the howling wind was very cold. However, the three people inside the house didn’t feel cold and instead felt warmth.
Only in the early morning did the snow become sparse and fall more sporadically. The sunlight landed on the snow, and although it didn’t melt the snow. it made one feel more refreshed.
When the sunlight fell on the ground, the light reflected off the snow and made it difficult to keep one’s eyes open. In the morning, Wang Lin brought Li Muwan and Big Fortune to his parents’ grave next to the village.
Kneeling before the grave, Li Muwan also knelt down beside him. The two remained silent before the grave for a very long time.
“Father, Mother, her name is Li Muwan. She is your daughter-in-law… I brought her here to see you.” Wang Lin didn’t cry. He pulled Li Muwan’s hand as they bowed toward the grave.
Several days later, during a blizzard, the carriage left the mountain village and headed toward the city of Su.
On the carriage, Wang Lin lifted the curtain and looked at his home covered in snow. In his eyes, he saw himself from 73 years ago when he left home carrying the bamboo backpack under his parent’s gentle gazes. Every few steps, he would look back until he could no longer see his parents’ figures. Finally, he stopped turning back and stepped toward the future.
At that time, he was still ignoran; he didn’t know where his path was. He only knew that he had to allow his parents to live a good life, to make his relatives to look up at his family.
As he looked back from the carriage, everything became a blur in the snow. He let out a sigh and put down the curtain.
The carriage went further away.
In the spring of the 74th year, the carriage arrived in the city of Su.
In the spring, everything revived in the city of Su. After the snow melted, the aroma of the grass and flowers entered one’s heart and was unforgettable.
Wang Lin was very familiar with this fragrance. Just like when he first came to the city of Su, he rented a boat and bought osmanthus wine. He sat on the boat with Li Muwan as he drank wine, watched the sunset and sunrise, and experienced life.
Big Fortune was the same as before. He sat on the side as he looked at Wang Lin with a happy smile.
“This is a meeting, he will definitely come.” Wang Lin held up the wine jug. He had already entered his twilight years. There were even more old man spots on his hand, and they had become even darker. He brought the the wine jug closer to his mouth and drank a mouthful.
The zither music echoed. It was Li Muwan playing the zither.
Days passed day by day. Several months later, the spring of Su passed and now it was June of another year.
This was June of the 75th year. The willow leaves flew again as Wang Lin sat on the bow of the ship and drank osmanthus wine.
“The world is an inn for all living things... Time is a guest of the ages... The difference between life and death is like being awakened... from a dream...” Wang Lin laughed as the boat floated down the river. There was a stone bridge before him, but there was no one on the stone bridge. However, there was a white bird flying above the bridge.
This white bird hadn’t appeared in a very long time. Now that it appeared, it circled around the stone bridge. The streets around the bridge became blurry; it was as if everything in this world had become a blur at this moment.
Only the stone bridge and the boat were extremely clear.
As the boat closed in, Wang Lin’s eyes revealed the brightest glow in these 70 plus years. He stood up and looked at the stone bridge.
Wang Lin murmured, “He came…”
Just at this moment, the white bird closed in and landed on the stone bridge. A white light spread out from the bird. From afar, it looked like a white vortex.
Inside the vortex, a person slowly walked out.
This was a young man who had a head of white hair. His cold eyes contained confusion as he looked at his surroundings in a daze. When the boat closed in, the young man’s eyes suddenly looked at the boat and at Wang Lin on the boat.
When their gazes connected, the world became a blur. At this instant, time seemed to stop. To be more accurate, the time in this world did stop.
Li Muwan’s hands froze above the zither and the music stopped. Big Fortune was sitting on the side, looking at his right wrist. The river stopped moving and the willow leaves all froze in the sky.
Everything in this world stopped completely at this moment.
Only the young man on the stone bridge and Wang Lin on the boat remained the same as before.
“Why don’t you come over and drink with yourself?” Wang Lin smiled and sat on the side.
The white-haired young man on the stone bridge silently pondered for a moment before he jumped onto the bow. He sat down and picked up a jug of wine. After taking a drink, he didn’t look at his older self but at Li Muwan, who had been an old woman for a long time.