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.