The hidden Loveless Valley.
After Yang Guo woke up the next morning, he left the stone house and went outside. Last night it was dark and he couldn’t see the surroundings clearly but now he could; he was surrounded by emerald green grass, the flowers like a brocade, the scenery of this place was already magnificent but the beauty of this place was even more rarely seen.
He followed where his feet took him and along the path he saw cranes, herds of white deer, squirrels and rabbits but none of them were alarmed by his presence.
He passed two bends and saw the girl in green plucking flowers off to one side. She saw him approaching and greeted, “You wake up really early, have some breakfast.” She plucked two flowers from the tree and offered them to him.
Yang Guo accepted them and thought, “Is it possible that flowers can be eaten?” But then he saw the girl tearing the flower petal by petal and placing them in her mouth, he did the same. When he placed the petals in his mouth, he noticed a sweet fragrance, a fragrance like that of honey and there was a subtle air of wine, he felt a feeling of comfort but after a few chews the taste became bitter and sour. He wanted to spit it out but felt that he couldn’t give it up; he wanted to swallow but had a little difficulty in getting it go down his throat.
He carefully looked at the plant and saw that the branches were covered in thorns but the flowers were extremely beautiful, and even more fragrant than lotuses, he asked, “What is this flower? I’ve never seen it before.”
The girl said, “This is the Passion Flower, I’ve heard that it is a very rare plant. Tell me, what do you think of the taste?”
Yang Guo said, “At first, it is extremely sweet but afterwards it is extremely bitter. This is called the Passion Flower? There’s a meaning behind this name.” He stretched out his hand to pluck a flower.
The girl said, “Careful! There’s thorns on the plant, don’t touch it!”
Yang Guo avoided the thorns and was very careful but he didn’t notice that behind the flower was hidden another and it pricked his hand.
The girl said, “This valley is called the ‘Passionless Valley’ yet there are so many Passion Flowers growing here.”
Yang Guo said, “Why is it called the Passionless Valley? This name really is… really is special.”
The girl shook her head and said, “I don’t know why. This is the name our ancestors gave it, maybe my father knows.”
The two then started to walk down the path, shoulder to shoulder. The scent of flowers filled Yang Guo’s nose, by the side of the path were rabbits and young deer were darting about, it was very adorable sight. He had a feeling of being carefree and joyous, and naturally he started to think about Xiao Longnu, “If the person walking with me was Gu Gu, I really would love to live in this place forever with her and not ever leave.” Just as he thought about this, the wound on his finger suddenly became painful, the wound was very small yet the pain was so great, it was like someone smashing a hammer across his chest, he couldn’t hold it in and gave an ‘ai’ call, placed the finger in his mouth and sucked it.
The girl blandly said, “You’re thinking about your lover, is that it?”
Yang Guo’s thoughts were guessed; his face went red and asked, “How do you know?”
The girl said, “If you’ve been pricked by the thorns of the Passion Flower, you cannot think about love for the next twenty four hours otherwise the suffering will be unbearable.”
Yang Guo was surprised and said, “There’s actually such a strange thing as this in the world?”
The girl said, “My father said: love is like this, when it enters the mouth it is sweet but afterwards it becomes bitter and sour, furthermore, it is covered by thorns, even if you are extremely careful, pain from it would be unavoidable. The flower was given its name most probably because it has this special characteristic.”
Yang Guo asked, “How come that within twenty four hours, one cannot… cannot… think about love?”
The girl said, “Father said: there’s poison on the thorns of the plant. When people think about love, not only does their blood flow quicker, some unknown thing is created in the blood. The poison of the thorns of the Passion Flower is not harmful normally, but once it meets this something in the blood, it will create unbearable pain in the person.”
When Yang Guo heard this, he felt that it was fairly reasonable and believed her with few doubts.
The two slowly walked to the unsheltered mountainside. The light of the sun lighted up this place, the ground and air were gentle and warm; the Passion Flowers have bloomed early here and there were fruits on the plant.
Yang Guo saw that the fruits were either red or green, but some were red and green and there were hair on the fruits, like a caterpillar.
Yang Guo said, “The Passion Flower is so beautiful yet its fruits are so ugly.”
The girl said, “The fruits of the flower can’t be eaten, some are sour, some are hot and some stink so much that it makes people want to vomit.”
Yang Guo gave a laugh and said, “Is it possible that there aren’t any that are sweet as honey?”
The girl glanced at him and said, “Sometimes there are but you cannot tell by its appearance. Some that are extremely ugly are sweet but an ugly fruit doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a sweet one. Only by tasting it directly will you know for sure. Out of ten fruits, nine are bitter; because of this we never eat them.”
Yang Guo thought, “Though she is talking about the Passion Flower, it is like an analogy for love. Could it be that although the love between lovers is at first sweet, it will eventually turn sour? Can it be that a pair of lovers who are deeply in love with each other will eventually experience more bitterness than sweetness? Could it be that the yearning love I have for Gu Gu will eventually…”
As soon as he thought about Xiao Longnu, his finger suddenly broke out with a piercing pain again and he swung his arm around a few times. He now knew that the words of the girl were indeed true.
When the girl saw him like this, her lip moved a little, as if she wanted to laugh but was refraining from doing so. Sunlight lit up her face and showed a pair of elegant eyes and brows, her skin was white with redness floating on top of it, she looked very beautiful.
Yang Guo laughed, “I once heard a story; there was once an emperor, he set up a fire display and burned all things, throwing away most of his kingdom as a result, and the only reason for this was that he was trying to get a legendary beauty to smile. To be able to see a smile is a fortunate thing, so, the same applies whether it’s in the past or in the present.”
After being teased by Yang Guo, the girl could no longer hold it in and eventually gave a giggle.
Yang Guo noticed that she had been cold as ice throughout this time and there were some feelings of anxiety in his heart, but after this smile, most of the divide between the two went away. Yang Guo continued, “Everyone knows that a beauty’s smile is rare to come by, they say something like a smile can overturn a city, another can overturn a country, actually there’s something of a beauty’s that is even rarer than a smile.”