Love in Another Life: My Gentle Tyrant - lightnovelgate.com
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Hope the timeline isn’t too confusing cuz the author uses a flashback method to narrate the story. At the opening, Xuanji’s execution occured in Year 17 of Emperor Qingjia’s reign. Now, the story goes back to Year 15, when Zhu Qi first time-travelled to Nian Xuanji’s body. This part takes up about 70% of the story and it’s where the interesting stuff happens.
Also, now that the execution arc is over, there won’t be angst for quite some time.
From a young age, Zhu Qi, who was the eighth child in her family, had wanted to change her name multiple times. 'Qi' was the character for 'seven', but she was the eighth child.
In the end, she gave up the idea because this odd name was the last link she had to her parents. They were both dead. Her uncles and their children were long dead, too.
She was the last of the Zhu family.
Was her fortune-teller unhinged? Zhu Qi had once heard her family remark that, upon her birth, a blind fortune-teller had divined her fortune for her, before stumbling away in dazed shock.
'This child has the fate of an Empress,' he had proclaimed.
As it turns out, not only did her life lack riches and royalty, unluckiness dogged her footsteps. All her family members, including her pets, were dead.
That fortune-teller must have been a quack!
For years, she had been left wandering and did not have any friends. When things unfolded, she did not question why. When she met new people, she did not forge close friendships. She thought it preferable to live her life in isolation rather than having others die because of her.
Actually, this wasn't quite accurate. She still had two friends - two friends who had not been jinxed to their deaths because of her.
That was why she treated her only two friends with immense gratitude and sincerity, giving them all she had.
That was also why she became Xin Zhuizhui's guarantor. Xin Zhuizhui was her friend who had taken a huge loan in order to further her studies in archaeology and fund her research on the exploration of an ancient mausoleum.
At present time, the sky was dark and she did not know what the time was. Zhu Qi stared at the decrepit building looming ahead in the darkness. Her rented apartment was located there.
She did not even know from whom Zhuizhui had obtained her loan from, whether it was an underground loan shark or some other party. But it was a fact that Zhuizhui had disappeared and could not be found.
She had left countless messages to Zhuizhui but received no reply.
If she did not come up with a way to repay that huge sum of money, the creditors would murder her. She could feel the suffocating pressure of death lingering in the air.
Now, she was working as a librarian at a community school. Class had ended, and in quiet silence from the entrance of the library, she watched dejectedly as Lin Sheng left with his girlfriend.
Lin Sheng was a young professor whom she had a crush on.
Suddenly, two people appeared out of nowhere, restraining her. A sharp blade brushed across her finger, blood spilling. If it were not for the strange cat which howled from nowhere, Lin Sheng would not have turned around.
His impassive gaze swept across her.
This unthinking glance saved her life. The two man quickly left.
She gritted her teeth and quickly ran towards her apartment, before halting in her footsteps. On the white walls of the building were new words freshly painted in blood-red, the colour simultaneously resplendent and terrifying:
Owe money; pay money.
With the efficiency and proficiency of loan sharks in demanding repayment these days, Zhu Qi wondered if she was walking into a trap by returning home. She pressed her forehead against the cracks of the door, trying to see what was happening within the room.
A sudden voice pierced through the silence.
Wait, what was this voice? She jumped in fright. Hang on - that was her ringtone! Except her phone should be in her pockets, where she had left it after spending a whole afternoon trying to contact Zhuizhui.
So why did her ringtone sound from within her house?
She quickly searched her pockets only to find that it was empty.
This was supernatural!
She ought to run away. But for some inexplicable reason, she wanted to go in. Perhaps it was because she was starving and freezing; perhaps it was because, no matter how big the world was, other than this small rented apartment, she really had nowhere else to go.
The harsh sound of her key sliding into the door lock pierced through the gloomy silence of the hallway.
She took a deep breath, pushing open the door.
The living room shrouded in darkness save for a faint, blueish light. On the table was her phone, a smuggled, counterfeit gadget.
She shut the door.
Pretending that she hadn't seen anything, she went to the kitchen to boil a kettle of water and ripped open the last packet of instant noodles she had. Then, she returned to the bedroom to retrieve her blanket before burrowing herself within its comforting warmth. Carrying the bowl of noodles, she switched on the television, her fingers trembling.
A red coffin suddenly fell from the sky to the earth.
She shrieked in horror, the burning noodles scalding her hands. That sharp, throbbing pain jolted her back to her senses.
That was only an image on the television.
What kind of lousy show was this!
'This afternoon, our nation's archaeology team has discovered a new mausoleum. Experts are left astonished by the scale of this tomb…'
On the television screen, the close-up of the coffin had been replaced by the image of a news anchor, before switching to a video replaying the scene at the excavation site: dust fluttering in the skies; the archaeology team; a few metallic equipment scattered haphazardly across the grounds; a crowd of curious onlookers.
From the corner of the screen, a small figure came to view. A birthmark in the shape of a teardrop was visible at the corner of that individual's eyes. Though the person's face was covered with dust, this was an individual Zhu Qi would always recognise, even if that person were to turn into a pile of ashes.
Zhu Qi endured her pain and threw her bowl of noodles to a side, leaning forward to stare at the screen.
If this was the afternoon's news, that meant Xin Zhuizhui hadn't disappeared! But why was she unable to contact her? Was Zhuizhui intentionally avoiding her or some other reason?
Her phone rang again.
Ignoring the nervousness threatening to rise, Zhu Qi bit her lips as she quickly strode over to the table to retrieve her phone, only to see a new text message:
'Ah Qi, No. 18 Xining Street, the antique store jade-'
It was a message from Zhuizhui!
She quickly dialled Zhuizhui’s number.
But the only response was: the number you have called is not available.
One hour later.
Zhu Qi glanced at the long, winding street before her - Xining Street.
During the day, Xining Street was a bustling marketplace selling various paintings and antiques, its road crowded with elderly who had nowhere to go and nothing to do. During the night, however, the entire place transformed into an eerie, deserted alley. If one were to shoot a horror movie here, they would not even need to arrange for any props.
No. 18 Xining Street… Had Xin Zhuizhui gone mad? She had sent her those messages but she could not decipher the meaning behind them. What jade was Zhuizhui referring to? Half the shops here sold jades!
Her phone rang again.
Glancing at it, she saw that the caller was her second friend - Jia Yuhuan.
'Ah Qi, do you know where Zhuizhui has gone? I can't contact her.'
Of all things, Yuhuan had to mention Zhuizhui. Frustrated, Zhu Qi said, 'Zhuizhui has disappeared and I'm heavily in debt now. You can start making arrangements for my funeral.'
'Ah Qi, there's no need to be scared. What novels have you been reading lately? Those published at Hongxiu or Jinjiang?'
Zhu Qi was speechless.
'If you've been reading those by Hongxiu, I wager you'll soon meet a millionaire or a CEO to save the day. If it's Jinjiang, you'll soon time-travel. In any case, you'll not die!'
'… So, if I read books published at Qidian, does that mean I'll soon be cultivating?!'
'How did you know?' The voice which issued from the phone was surprised.
'Go and die! If I can't find Zhuizhui by tonight, I'll come after you instead!' Frantic with worry, Zhu Qi quickly ended the call.
Along the streets, there was not a single soul to be found. Zhu Qi squinted her eyes as she started to search for No. 18.
No. 18 Xining Street, where are you!
She halted. At one side of the streets was a small shop, lit by a faint glow.
She glanced at the shop. It was old and shabby, its signboard crooked.
What an auspicious name. She ignored the shop and pressed forward.
'Lady, aren't you coming in?' From behind came a voice.
Zhu Qi knew with certainty that, a mere second ago, there was no one in the streets, nor were the sound of any footsteps. Did this newcomer use his hands to walk?
She sighed. Today, the number of times she had been frightened out of her wits was enough. So - well, she was still startled.
Slowly, she turned around to face the newcomer.
'Um, I was only passing by.'
The person smiled, mischief flashing across her eyes.
An odd feeling washed across Zhu Qi. The look in the stranger's eyes was strange. It was an expression belonging to a man in his twenties or thirties, yet it appeared on the face of a little girl, her hands fair and slender, face childlike and adorable.
'This is No. 18 Xining Street. Come on in,' the girl said brightly, skipping into the shop.
Even as she entered the shop, Zhu Qi was still stupefied. What if this girl was an evil person? No one said a young child couldn't have sinister motives… so why did she follow her in?
The glow of light within the shop came from a candlestick sitting squarely on a table.
Zhu Qi swallowed and glanced around the shop. It was not large, filled with rows of shelves which extended into the shadows of the dimly lit room. On the shelves were numerous antiques.
She had wanted to ask where Xin Zhuizhui had gone, but the young girl had already disappeared. An uneasy feeling settled over her, just as a faint noise stirred from beyond the shelves.
A second's hesitation.
She quickly turned around, preparing to bolt.
The door slammed shut.
Her heart nearly stopped in her fright.
'Zhu Qi.' The low voice which issued from behind her was cold.
She straightened, turning around.
Leaning against the nearest shelf was the figure of a man.
Through the faint glow of the candlelight, she saw the contour of his face, the fall of his silver hair and the glow of his blue eyes. The man's brows were exquisitely shaped, his lips beautifully sculpted. Her once-over completed, she decided, it was a handsome man all right.
Now, what she was more concerned with was the fact that he did not have a shadow.
In a bland voice, the man said, 'Have you found it? I've been looking for it. If you've found it, do tell me.'
Zhu Qi plastered a smile on her face. 'Found what?'
Zhu Qi pressed her lips together, suppressing the scream threatening to rise within her. Hurriedly, she said, 'I'm going off now. Bye, see you soon.'
She strode to the door. It was an old-fashioned door with two door-knockers on it, its lock unfastened. She pushed the door, but it remained unmoving.
'On your right, there is a mirror. Why don't you take a look at it before leaving,' said the man, his voice casual.
She gritted her teeth and glanced to her right. Next to the door was a bronze mirror which towered over her.
The surface of the mirror was originally blur and indistinct, but an image suddenly swam to the surface.
Her heart thumped wildly and she could not help the gasp which escaped her.
She was standing upright yet the Zhu Qi within the mirror lay collapsed on Xining Street, body covered with blood.
'This mirror is called the Future mirror. It can see what will happen in the future. If you were to walk out of this shop now, this will be your ending - slaughtered to death by your creditors,' said the man leisurely.
She covered her face and murmured, 'I must be dreaming; I must be dreaming.'
She clenched her jaw and turned around, exclaiming, 'Where is Zhuizhui? What's going on?'
The man pulled over a chair and sat down by the table. He said, 'Aren't your priorities wrong? Shouldn't you be more concerned with your life?'
'That message wasn't sent by Zhuizhui. It was you, wasn't it?' She said suddenly.
The corners of the man's mouth lifted in a smile. In the next instant, his face became serious again. 'Your impending death is an undeniable fact.'
Taking a deep breath, she said, 'Did you make me come over just to discuss this?'
'I wish to save you, Zhu Qi. You should leave this place.'
'Escape to another city?'
'No, to another world. What you guys like to call "time-travel".'
'Lately, I've been reading from Hongxiu, so I'm not interested in time-travel!'
'A person's destiny cannot be changed. If you were to remain here, you will not live past tonight. Once you die, the Underworld will collect your soul, and by then, even the Gods will not be able to save you. Your only way out is to escape into another space-time, saving your soul by severing its link to your body.'
Zhu Qi gave a half-smile, 'All the better if I died. In this life, I haven’t had much luck.'
'There are six levels of existence: angels, demons, humans, animals, spirits, and those belonging to the Underworld. Are you certain that you'll be human once more in your next life?' The man sneered, 'Your fate predestines that you will either end up as the latter three.'
Zhu Qi stared at him for a long moment. At last, she said in a heavy voice, 'Why do you want to help me? Who are you? Or, are you not even… human?'
'That has nothing to do with you.' His voice cooled.
Zhu Qi bit her lips. 'Save me.'
The man laughed, his moody face regaining their exquisite beauty. 'Come here.'
Zhu Qi walked over and sat down on a chair across the man, facing him.
'Take it,' said the man, passing a small journal into her hands.
On the cover of the journal were a few words: Records of Yuncang: Xi Liang.
'The space-time has a continent called Yuncang, which is consists of twelve countries. The country you will be going is Xi Liang. This journal is a record of the major events which occurred in someone's life. It will be of use to you.'
'Whose life has been recorded within the book?' Curious, she opened the journal, pages fluttering in the winds as she flipped through them.
A musky smell lingered in the air. Within the journal, its pages were snow white, devoid of a single word.
In her bewilderment, she heard the man's amiable voice issue from beside her ear, 'Zhu Qi, take a good look at it. Are there really no words?'
As though under a spell, her gaze fell upon the pages of the book once more, only to see that the journal had transformed, pages curling, scrolls of words appearing.
The faintest breeze swept across the room, extinguishing the candlelight.
Darkness enveloped her vision.
'Consort Nian has passed away.'
'Hurry! Inform the Queen Mother that Consort Nian has passed on!'
Noise… what was this incessant commotion!
All around her was the sound of hurried footsteps. It appeared that many people were walking about, their movements swift and urgent!
A faint, musky scent lingered in the air.
A strange pressure seemed to envelop her throat, suffocating her in sharp stabs of pain.
Eyelids twitching, Zhu Qi exhaled lowly, sitting upright.
She was… on a bed?!
A debt worth millions; the missing Xin Zhuizhui; being hunted down by numerous creditors; a black cat; her vanishing phone; No. 18 Xining Street; the mysterious man with blue eyes… yes, it turns out it was all a dream.
She wiped the cold sweat on her forehead and could not help the smile which blossomed across her face.
Her other hand seemed to brush across something. Puzzled, she picked it up.
Records of Yuncang: Xi Liang.
Alarmed, she twisted her head around, only to find a crowd of people kneeling by her bedside. Men and women alike, all of them were staring at her, their faces pale with fright.
'Consort Nian has revived!'
Finally, a trembling voice announced as, in the next moment, the room descended into pandemonium.
Back to Xi Liang next chap ^^