After the episode in the forest, Liu Cheng made it a point to stay close to Jing Yi all the time. Especially after the boy told what else had happened while he was away that night. He didn’t believe for a single moment that there wasn’t anything fishy about this.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything he could do about this other than staying with the boy to make sure he was safe for now. After he dropped him off in the capital city where his fiance would be able to pay attention to his well-being, he could go and investigate some more. With this intention in mind, Liu Cheng flew toward the capital as fast as he could, even reducing the breaks they took.
While Jing Yi was eager to return, this also meant that he had less time to try to cultivate. After accidentally succeeding in what he hadn’t been able to do previously, he really would have liked to sit down and make a few more attempts. Maybe then he would be able to make good progress and really reach the second stage by the end of the year. Since he had realized his feelings for Qiu Ling that would be for the best. Otherwise, the two of them wouldn’t be permitted to get married, after all.
Well, even though he didn’t have much time, he still tried his best in the little that he did have. While nothing worked at first, he finally managed to recreate the miracle of that night after two days and deliberately took in a bit of spiritual energy.
It was only a sliver and he was drenched in sweat when he finally managed to do so but there was still a happy smile on his lips. When he opened his eyes the sun was already starting to rise and Liu Cheng was getting ready to set off again.
Jing Yi hadn’t slept for even a wink. He tiredly rubbed his eyes, thankful that he wasn’t the one who had to fly. If he was … he was afraid that the two of them might crash.
Standing behind Liu Cheng on his sword, he almost nodded off several times and had to pull himself together to make sure he held on tightly. Pressing his lips together, he tried to focus on anything else to keep his mind occupied. But since they were flying, there wasn’t much around. In the end, he could only once again try to sense the energy around him.
With the familiar feeling enveloping him, he couldn’t help but think. If only he was able to take in energy while traveling, it would go so much faster. And furthermore, he wouldn’t need to sacrifice all his sleep. Just imagining how he got to the capital and met Qiu Ling again with dark shadows under his eyes … Qiu Ling would definitely be distraught.
And furthermore … When he returned, he wanted to be able to show Qiu Ling that he had made lots of progress. Somehow he felt like just being able to sense the spiritual energy and take in a sliver wouldn’t be enough. He wanted to have a big surprise ready for Qiu Ling when he returned.
In fact, Jing Yi was worrying too much. With being able to take in energy, he had already reached the first level of the first cultivation stage in regard to his air spiritual veins. This might be slow progress if one considered he had taken five years until he learned how to sense the energy but if one looked at how it had only taken him a few months to get proficient in that and then figure taking it in on his own, then this was almost heaven-defying.
Those peerless geniuses with heavenly spirit veins would also take several weeks to consolidate their insights and at least a few days to realize how to proceed further. And those geniuses had their Masters and cultivation manuals to guide them. On the other hand, Jing Yi had been able to manage all of this with just a bit of help from Qiu Ling and a lucky coincidence. It had actually been a blessing in disguise.
Still, Jing Yi trained earnestly up until the moment the Long kingdom’s capital city could be seen on the horizon. As soon as he recognized the familiar gates and finally even saw the houses he had passed by daily when he was a child, his heart jumped in anticipation. He couldn’t wait to see his mother and Qiu Ling again!
Thus, when Liu Cheng landed on the ground and they entered the capital together, he rushed right ahead to the teahouse, not even bothering to explain anything to the demon hunter.
Jing Yi’s steps grew more hurried the closer he got to the teahouse until he finally ran the last steps. He couldn’t see the two of them from the entrance and ran over to the preparation room. His mother was just picking up a tray with tea.
“Mother!” Jing Yi forgot Qiu Ling for a moment, jumped over, and hugged his mother, tears clouding his sight once more.
Just a few days ago, he had thought he might die and never see her again. Now, he was actually able to hold her in his arms. It really only hit him now.
“Jing Yi?” Madam Zhong couldn’t believe that her son had finally returned. “Jing Yi, it’s really you! I was so worried!” She put the tray down and hugged him back, finally taking a deep breath after all the anxiousness she had felt for the last months because of seeing Qiu Ling remain in that state of neither living nor dying. “Are you alright? You’re not hurt, are you?”
Jing Yi shook his head. “I’m very well, mother. Actually, something good happened while I was outside. Right, where’s Qiu Ling?” He looked around but still couldn’t see him.
His heart once again jumped but this time, it was with anxiousness and, yes, a sliver of fear. He hadn’t known what exactly had happened to Qiu Ling. He had just convinced himself that it couldn’t be that bad. Now though, his original fear came back.
Madam Zhong looked at her son, her expression of worry not reassuring at all. She couldn’t help it though. She just didn’t know how he would receive the news. She didn’t want to imagine. “About that … Maybe it’s better if you see for yourself.”
Jing Yi’s scalp grew numb. His mother hadn’t said anything about where he was and how he was doing but that alone told him more than he wanted to know. It seemed the thing he had worried about had come true after all.
Something had happened to Qiu Ling and even after so many months, he was still in dire straits.