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Chapter 32

After the great battle between gods and demons ended five thousand years ago, the disappearance of the primordial gods and the fall of the first god caused widespread panic in the divine realm. Subsequently, many gods and goddesses followed, meeting their ends one after another. Initially, parts of their bodies turned transparent, and whether in a few months or several thousand years, once their divine bodies became completely translucent, they ceased to exist, their souls dissipating without entering reincarnation.

At that time, she was like the other gods, fearing that one day she might suddenly find part of her body turning into transparent light particles. After Taihe fell into slumber, one day Han Nu’s feet turned transparent. When Tanyin used divine crystals to seal her feet, Han Nu did not seem very afraid. Unlike other gods who were pained and ultimately numb, she even smiled, her gaze subtle and her smile peculiar: “…This day has finally come.”

Tanyin felt sad, “Han Nu, don’t be afraid, I will try my best to preserve your body.”

Han Nu touched her head, smiling and sighing, “I’m not afraid at all. I’m just thinking… it has finally begun.”

“What has begun?”

“My calamity.”


She didn’t understand.

Han Nu looked at her, suddenly sighing deeply, her eyes filled with envy and a profound, inexplicable meaning.

“When will your calamity begin, Wushuang? Do you only think about creating things?”

She still didn’t understand, and Han Nu never explained again until today.

And now, her calamity has finally arrived.

After an unknown period, Tanyin exhaled deeply, her consciousness suddenly turning and leaving the wooden house, looking around blankly. Surrounding her were desolate smoke and overgrown weeds, drifting snowflakes, and a vast emptiness with no signs of life.

In such a vast world, she suddenly didn’t know how to handle herself. She too was about to perish, like those dissipated gods and goddesses, her soul scattering and never existing in this world again.

A sudden surge of extreme reluctance and sorrow overwhelmed her. Everything before her eyes seemed to vanish in an instant, leaving a blank void in her vision.

Where should she go now? How many things did she still want to do? How many unfulfilled wishes did she have? Tanyin felt her mind grow dizzy. This vast yet bustling, hateful yet incredibly lovely world—sunrise and sunset, spring breezes and autumn nights, white snow and red lotuses—she would never see again.

She didn’t know where to go, letting her consciousness drift aimlessly. After an unknown amount of time, she seemed to arrive at a farmhouse. Dusk was falling, with deep red and dark black interweaving in the sky. A pair of young farm children chased and played by the field ridge in the sunset glow.

Tanyin floated past them in a daze, unseen by anyone. The boy finally caught up with the girl, holding her hand and laughing, “You like me; I know you do!”

[“Say you like me.”]

It seemed someone had said the same words to her. Tanyin instinctively stopped, watching the young couple just starting to experience love, whispering countless secrets only they could understand.

“We’ll live and die together, forever.” The boy promised fervently.

Forever? Had she ever promised someone forever?

Tanyin’s eyes suddenly blurred, tears streaming endlessly. She stared blankly at the gradually fading twilight, night engulfing the sky, while the sweet young couple walked home hand in hand, leaving her alone in the vast world.

Long ago, she had always been alone—creating things alone, living alone, dying alone, and wandering the mortal world alone. Back then, she never understood what loneliness meant. Later, after meeting Taihe, she felt that two people were indeed more interesting than one, but Taihe left her to be with Han Nu.

Even so, she had never felt such deep, bone-chilling loneliness as she did at this moment.

Where should she go? Where could she go? Would she continue to live out her remaining life in such loneliness?

By evening, it started snowing again in a small cave. Snowflakes drifted for more than an hour before stopping. Soon after, a brilliant moon appeared in the sky, and the snow-covered willows by the lakeside seemed coated with silver.

Yuan Zhong brushed the snow off his shoulders and slowly stood up. Another day had passed, and Ji Tanyin had not returned.

Back in the warm little building, little Yuan Zhong brought a cup of tea with a bitter expression and started complaining, “The master hasn’t returned yet. I miss her so much! She would be heartbroken to see me in this state!”

Yuan Zhong looked him up and down, frowning.

“Why are you so nagging? If you’re a man, shut up.”

Little Yuan Zhong pointed to his head, which was tilted to his collarbone, and shouted desperately, “Wouldn’t you nag if you were like this?! If you couldn’t do it, you shouldn’t have tried! You’ve turned my beautiful face into this monstrosity, and you won’t even let me complain! And I’m not a man; I’m a mechanical man!”

He was so agitated that his arm, which was barely attached to the rotten wood, fell to the ground and rolled far away.

Little Yuan Zhong quickly bent down to pick it up, but his makeshift wooden leg broke again, causing him to crash to the ground, his head rolling even farther.

Yuan Zhong casually glued his chaotic body back together and reattached his head.

Little Yuan Zhong looked like he was about to cry.

“Big Zhong, I hate you!”

Yuan Zhong ignored him, went upstairs, and pushed open the door. In the corner was a wooden desk cluttered with various wood materials and nails, along with several hand-stitched books on craftsmanship, all purchased on his last trip to Guixu.

A bizarre mechanical man stood in the corner, almost complete. Though it had hands, feet, a head, and a face, its head was as large as a pumpkin, and its limbs were short and thick, with all five fingers carved out but of uniform length and thickness. The facial features were there, but the holes for the eyes were probably too big, so he stuffed two huge black gems in them. With the sharp nose and the big mouth, like a copper basin, it looked funny and scary.

Yuan Zhong stared at the mechanical man for a long time, sighing in dissatisfaction, unable to do any better.

He glued the purchased real human hair to its head, ensuring it wasn’t crooked. Then he took a white dress from the coat rack, dressed it, and tied it properly. After everything was done, he stepped back a few paces. Except for the hopeless barrel-shaped waist of the mechanical man, it still looked very much like Ji Tanyin at first glance. Yuan Zhong praised it against his will, took a wooden comb, gently combed its long hair, and tied it into a bun that Tanyin usually tied.

Finally, he inserted a bronze stick into the small hole at the back of its neck, carefully winding it a few times. The mechanical man immediately started waving its arms and legs, spinning in place for several turns before stopping, then clumsily walking downstairs. Due to some design flaws, it stumbled and rolled down to Little Yuan Zhong, who was terrified.

“You…you’ve made some kind of monster!” he screamed.

Yuan Zhong coughed, propped up the rolling mechanical man, and it continued to clumsily walk outside towards the frozen lake.

“You dressed it like the master!” Little Yuan Zhong’s wooden jaw almost dropped.

“You dare to mock my respected master!”

Yuan Zhong frowned.

“Shut up.”

He slowly walked out of the small building, watching the mechanical man on the frozen lake. Under the cold moonlight, its long hair and white clothes fluttered in the night wind, resembling a tall and fat version of Tanyin.

Little Yuan Zhong couldn’t stand it, sneering, “I told you, if you can’t make it, don’t try…”

He glared at Yuan Zhong, but Big Zhong ignored him, staring intently at the clumsy figure on the lake, his eyes filled with a strange fervor.

Little Yuan Zhong didn’t know what to say, watching him walk slowly to the lakeside.

The old turtle at the lake’s bottom broke through the ice, surfacing with a flat green boat on its back.

A lake of snow, a sky of the moon, Yuan Zhong felt as if he were back on Guixuan Terrace, with the goddess in front of him, her clothes fluttering and long hair flowing. He was about to catch up to her.

The mechanical man stopped in the center of the lake, starting to spin clumsily, shouting in a sharp, awkward voice, “Ji Tanyin! Ji Tanyin! I am Ji Tanyin!”

Yuan Zhong couldn’t help but laugh. It was nothing like what she had made, and he felt embarrassed to show it to her.

The wind on the lake was quiet yet desolate, with only the mechanical man’s sharp voice repeating those words. The shining moon was soon covered by clouds, and the wind gradually picked up, with tiny snowflakes falling slowly.

Yuan Zhong slowly sat down at the bow of the boat. With a wave of his finger, a small wine table appeared in front of him out of thin air. On it was a green frozen stone wine jug and a small cup of the same material. Surrounded by wind and snow, he drank alone, watching the mechanical man spin clumsily. If only time could pass in an instant, a thousand years would go by without tasting the loneliness of a millennium alone. How wonderful that would be.

“Yuan Zhong! Yuan Zhong! Little Yuan Zhong!”

Someone seemed to be calling him. Yuan Zhong’s hand holding the cup froze. He stared in shock at the mechanical man in the lake, spinning and clumsily shouting his name, “Yuan Zhong! Little Yuan Zhong!”

He stood there, stunned, for a long time, suddenly tossing the cup away, transforming into a beam of golden light, and landing in front of the mechanical man in an instant.

Tanyin had infused her consciousness into the mechanical man, seeing its crude internal structure. She didn’t know why, but she felt like laughing, and indeed, she did.

She hadn’t hoped Yuan Zhong would stay in the small cave. She just wanted to come back and see it again. She had left so hastily and returned so quietly. Perhaps she had escaped back here, avoiding that profound loneliness. She didn’t know what expression to use when facing Yuan Zhong.

Until she saw this ridiculous mechanical man, she couldn’t help but smile. He had indeed secretly hidden this mechanical man in his room, making this mechanical man, hiding it from her because it was so poorly made, and feeling too embarrassed to show it to her.

The gloom in Tanyin’s heart vanished, replaced by a playful urge. She infused her consciousness into the mechanical man, seeing the simple technique used to create the vocal membrane in its throat. Unable to resist, she made a few small modifications, and the mechanical man called out his name.

Seeing Yuan Zhong rushing over, his eyes almost popping out, she couldn’t help but smile triumphantly. He had no idea what had happened.

But he didn’t react as she expected, with surprise or shouting. He just stared intently at the mechanical man, his eyes seeming to hide a fire.

Tanyin’s smile slowly faded, replaced by a guilty conscience and an inexplicable sense of remorse. She lowered her head, hearing him softly call, “… Tanyin.”

She didn’t answer, knowing that even if she did, he wouldn’t hear.

“Tanyin,” his voice suddenly grew louder, “are you there?”

No one answered him. Only the mechanical man kept spinning and calling his name, “Yuan Zhong! Little Yuan Zhong! Ji Tanyin! I am Ji Tanyin!”

Its large black gemstone eyes were dull.

Suddenly, as if its clockwork had run out, it stopped, its hands drooping weakly, motionless.

Yuan Zhong looked down at it, his voice soft.

“Tanyin, I know you’re here.”

Tanyin kept her head down, feeling her hands tremble. She timidly pulled them back into her sleeves. The next moment, Yuan Zhong suddenly spread his arms, his wide sleeves enveloping the mechanical man and her. He carried the cold breath of wind and snow, mixed with an unshakable fragrance.

Tanyin looked up at his chin. He closed his eyes, and his brows furrowed tightly. After a long time, a thick white mist escaped his lips, “… I know you’re here.”

Yes, she was here. She had returned.

Could she appear before him again, with that declining body? Or should she hide silently where he couldn’t see, waiting for his death?

After a long time, the snow covered both him and the mechanical man. Yuan Zhong slowly released it, suddenly smiling, “Shall we go back together?”

He wound the clockwork, took its hand, and walked step by step toward the small building across the snowy lake.

A cold yet familiar voice suddenly echoed behind them.

“Mm… okay.”

Yuan Zhong turned around to see a goddess in white standing on the snowy lake, bathed in the cold, clear moonlight. She smiled shyly at him.

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