While Qiu Ling had gone to inquire about how to help Jing Yi, Qiguan Cheng Da left the pagoda of forging talismans and hurried after Jing Yi who was on his way back to his quarters. “Junior martial brother Zhong!”
Jing Yi took a deep breath and stopped. Just because he was furious about Qiu Ling’s behavior he couldn’t be less courteous to other people. He turned around and found himself in front of Qiguan Cheng Da. Jing Yi’s expression lit up. “Senior martial brother Qiguan! We haven’t seen each other in a while.” Even though he hadn’t dared to ask Qiguan Cheng Da about the situation with Qiu Ling, he was still happy to see a familiar face. It made his negative emotions diminish quite a bit.
Qiguan Cheng Da nodded with a bright smile. “Indeed. I was occupied with my cultivation. I’m sorry for not checking in on you more often. As a friend, I’ve really not done very well.”
Jing Yi shook his head. “Nothing of the like, senior martial brother Qiguan. I’m very happy that you were willing to advise me previously. It’s just me who couldn’t quite live up to expectations.”
Qiguan Cheng Da sighed. “Maybe I’m just not good at explaining. Well, guess it won’t be a problem in the future.”
Jing Yi raised his brows. “What do you mean?”
Qiguan Cheng Da motioned back to the lake. “I just heard the good news from senior martial brother Yu. It seems like you’re going to marry and he’s even the disciple of Grandmaster Zhangsun. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot from him.”
Jing Yi lowered his head. So the news about that proposal had already spread this far? Well, it was no wonder considering Qiu Ling had proposed in front of all these people. Ah, just why hadn’t he waited and asked in private? Being rejected like that … wouldn’t that be like a slap to his face?
Still, he couldn’t give in just because of that. Qiu Ling had decided to propose like that. That was his decision. And now, he could only decide on what his answer would be. He couldn’t take anything else into consideration.
Jing Yi sighed and shook his head. “Actually, I’ve rejected senior martial brother Qiu’s proposal. I’m not going to marry him.”
“You’re not?” Qiguan Cheng Da was taken aback. If it was him … Well, he didn’t like the idea of marrying another man but if that someone was the Grandmaster’s disciple, he would never reject him. Just think of all the opportunities he could get through that! That Amethyst Lightning Pill senior martial brother Yu had mentioned would just be the beginning of all the benefits Zhong Jing Yi might encounter. If it was him, he would be able to endure everything he had to do if it just gave him more power. This Zhong Jing Yi … Was he stupid or was there some other plan behind this?
Jing Yi kept quiet. He had already said it. And yes, at this moment, he had truly decided. He wouldn’t marry him. He didn’t want to depend on another person for everything he achieved. He wanted to do it through his own hard work. That was the only way to go. Getting help every now and then when you were stuck was one thing but relying on somebody all the time … That wasn’t what a good man should do.
Ah, he should go and tell senior martial brother Qiu right now. Even though he had told him that he didn’t want his help, it might not have been clear enough that this also meant that he would reject his proposal. He looked in the direction Qiu Ling had vanished in and sighed. Well, he’d still have to wait until Qiu Ling came back by himself to tell him. After all, he couldn’t just enter the inner sect just because he wanted to. The rumors of their engagement weren’t enough to grant him access to the inner sect. His own status would need to be different for that.
Qiguan Cheng Da watched Jing Yi and his expression turned jovial when he saw him look toward the inner sect. Sure enough, there was some plan behind all this. If he had indeed rejected the Grandmaster’s disciple, then it should be because he wanted to make himself appear virtuous so nobody could say he was taking advantage of this person. That way, he could guarantee his own benefits in the long term.
Well, everything else would have been unbelievable. After all, he had seen the scene at the lakeside. Considering how close these two had been, there was no way Jing Yi wasn’t intending to accept the proposal. In that case, he had to stay around and make sure he had some influence on the situation.
“Junior martial brother Zhong, may I ask why you don’t want to marry Grandmaster Zhangsun’s disciple? You would certainly have a lot of opportunities if you accepted his offer.”
Jing Yi smiled wryly. “This isn’t about having opportunities. We don’t know each other so marriage shouldn’t even be considered. Furthermore, I believe I should earn opportunities through my own hard work and not through some sort of connection.”
Qiguan Cheng Da snorted inwardly. What kind of morally uptight nonsense was that? Well, it was good for him. He’d use him for a while and meanwhile make sure that he wouldn’t change his mind. “Your attitude is commendable,” he praised. “Well, it’s probably to be expected. People like us from the rural areas who weren’t born with status are just like that. Someone like him probably couldn’t understand. They feel … entitled to all these things, isn’t it?”
Jing Yi looked back in the direction of the lake. Maybe that was it. Senior martial brother Qiu had probably enjoyed having whatever he wanted all his life. Now he had taken an interest in him and felt that his feelings had to be reciprocated. He really didn’t want to be with such a person.
Jing Yi sighed, lifting Qiguan Cheng Da’s mood considerably. “Have you told him already?”
Jing Yi shook his head. “Not really. I … well, I guess he understood somehow? But I think I should make it clearer if he shows up again.”
“Mn, in such a case, one has to be decisive. Else, he won’t give up. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”
Jing Yi shook his head. No, he didn’t want that. This whole situation was something he didn’t want.
“Ah, never mind. We shouldn’t talk about that. We haven’t seen each other for a long time. How is your cultivation coming along? Any progress you’d like to share? And have you heard from your family? I wasn’t home in ages. I really wonder how my mother is doing.” In fact, Qiguan Cheng Da didn’t care one bit. He was a cultivator now. What should he care about those common people? But this was what had originally connected him with Zhong Jing Yi and if his plan was supposed to work, then he had to keep his trust.
Jing Yi lightly bit his lower lip when Qiguan Cheng Da brought up his cultivation. Even though he had already tried to help him and five years had gone by, he hadn’t achieved anything. If he told him that … wouldn’t senior martial brother Qiguan feel even worse? After all, he had already insinuated that it might be because he hadn’t taught him well. That definitely wasn’t the reason so it was better not to bring it up. In that case … “Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from my family. I guess there isn’t that much news reaching the Yun Zou Sect. It’s a pity. I … I would have liked to at least know how my mother is doing. Since my father died and I left as well, she’s all alone now. It must be tough. And it’s already been five years since we saw each other.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have brought it up. I myself have been gone for twenty years already. My family probably misses me greatly.”
“Twenty years? I can’t even imagine that. Your mother must be worried sick.” Jing Yi sighed. He really wanted to see his own mother again. Who knew what she was doing now? Was the business at the teahouse still good? Were his uncle and aunt caring enough for her? And what about sister Nie Huang who brewed the tea? His mother had been quite close to her in the last days before he went with senior martial brother Wu. Were they still getting along?
Qiguan Cheng Da smiled. It seemed like his plan was working. Now all he had to do was to get even closer to him and wait for an opportunity to strike up a relationship with that disciple of the Grandmaster. That couldn’t be hard, right? He had even managed to become friends with that elusive senior martial brother Yu with his stoic face. A pretty boy like that Qiu Ling would certainly become close to him after a few compliments.