Jing Yi sat down in the preparation room, his gaze never leaving the familiar figure of his mother. Even though not much had changed, five years were still too long. He didn’t even know where to start to catch up.
Madam Zhong smiled and patted his head. “It’s alright. You’re back. How long can you stay?”
Jing Yi looked over at Qiu Ling with worry. He wanted to stay for as long as he could but he also knew that that wasn’t possible. The Grandmaster had indicated that they should return after a year and by then, he’d have to have attained the root stage. There was no time to spare. Maybe it had been too willful to come here in the first place.
Qiu Ling smiled. Of course, he didn’t care at all for what his so-called Master had said. Root stage or whatever, those were all labels the mortals had invented. What did it have to do with them? He was a dragon and Jing He was a god. It didn’t matter much. When Jing He woke up in his real body all of this would be just like a dream.
He could take his time to cultivate. After all, wouldn’t he still be faster that way than if he just used up his mortal lifetime? It couldn’t take that long for a human to cultivate to ascension, could it? Furthermore … if Jing He woke up after his ascension, he wouldn’t need to die.
Thinking of that, Qiu Ling couldn’t help but smile to himself. This was actually his main reason. He didn’t want to experience the day where Jing He died in his arms. Not even if it was just a mortal reincarnation of his. He wouldn’t be able to take it and he couldn’t imagine that Jing He would feel good making that experience either. So … Wasn’t it better if he ascended and finished his trial in that way?
Qiu Ling didn’t believe that Jing Yi would be unable to ascend. He’d just need a bit of time to get it right. And since he would help his beloved with figuring everything out, it wouldn’t be until then. What were some weeks when they could have an eternity after that?
Thus he didn’t mind to happily tell Jing Yi what he wanted to hear. “We can stay for some weeks or even some months if you’d like.”
Jing Yi looked at him. Those words held a special temptation to him. He wanted to become a cultivator but he also loved his mother. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay in the capital for so long? He could imagine it: How he would help his mother out by greeting the guests just like back when they had just opened the teahouse. He would carry their orders over and ask them if they needed something else. If there was a break, he’d eat together with his mother and they’d talk over their meals just like how they had done when he was little.
His gaze dimmed when he thought of the consequences though. “The Grandmaster said —”
“Oh? Did he say something?” Qiu Ling put his elbow on the table and propped his head up on his hand.
Jing Yi sighed and shook his head. There was no use in talking with him. “I guess we’ll stay for a week at most.”
A week should be alright. It’s not like I could magically start cultivating now that I’ve left the sect. On the contrary, it will become even harder now that I can’t ask anybody. I can only hope that I stumble about the solution somewhere.
He knew that that place wasn’t the capital though so as much as he wanted to, he couldn’t stay for long.
Madam Zhong nodded. “That’s already quite long. Come, wait a bit, I’ll get you two some snacks.” She stood up, hurried over to the kitchen and put some of the snacks her son had always liked onto a plate. She couldn’t help but sigh when she looked at those snacks.
It had already been five years. Each day she had taken a look at the entrance of the teahouse and hoped that her son would walk in. Now, it had finally happened. He would only stay for one week but that was better than nothing. At least, she could spend some time with him again.
“Ah Lei, you probably would have liked how our son turned out. He looks so mature now. He’s even managed to live alone for five years in that Yun Zou sect. The two of us can be proud of him.” She sighed again. It really would have been nice if her husband was still alive and could see Jing Yi.
In the end, Madam Zhong could only stop thinking about it. There was no way to bring her husband back. Thinking of him would only make her sad and she didn’t want Jing Yi to feel that it was because of him.
She picked the plate up and went back to the preparation room, showing a smile. Seeing Jing Yi sit harmoniously next to Qiu Ling who was eying him from the side the smile became lighter. So that man had really followed him and it seemed he still hadn’t given up. Did her son know already?
Madam Zhong placed the plate between them and sat down again. “How is your life in the sect? Do you get along with the people?”
Jing Yi nodded. “Mn, it’s nice. You probably know already but Shao Hai has entered the Yun Zou Sect as well. And then there’s that boy called Xiao Dong. He was in the teahouse once before.”
“Ah, I remember him. He came with his mother.” Indeed. That had been the lady who helped to drive away that terrible Li Bo. If not for her, she wouldn’t only have lost her husband but would have had to watch her son becoming a slave as well.
Now that she thought of it, that woman had been associated with that Daoist Master too. Madam Zhong glanced at Qiu Ling but didn’t ask. Some things were better left unsaid. “It seems you’re doing good there.”
Qiu Ling smiled back and leaned over to Jing Yi. “You two certainly have a lot to talk about. How about I help out in the front? Then your mother wouldn’t have to worry about the customers while you’re talking.”
“But you’re a gue—”
“Alright.” Before Jing Yi could refute his mother had already accepted.
How couldn’t she? That man was constantly winking at her, hinting that now was the moment she could advise her son in regard to what they had talked about back then. His gaze seemed to say ‘Aren’t I the best possible son-in-law you could wish for? Look! I’ll even go and work for you to let you have some time with your precious son! So, shouldn’t you tell him that marrying me would be the best decision of his life?’
Since he was so eager to help Madam Zhong didn’t mind giving him some work to do. “Just go and stand at the counter. If someone comes in, go up and greet them, show them to a table and ask what they’d like. Are you able to do that?”
“Of course!” Qiu Ling stood up with a bright smile. He didn’t go without saying farewell to his beloved though. He bent down, cupped Jing Yi’s cheeks and kissed him, his lips lingering for a while. “Mn, my lo—” Qiu Ling coughed. Ah, his beloved had asked him not to call him that! He couldn’t break his promise! “Junior martial brother, I’ll be back soon. Don’t you worry about me!” Then, he turned around and went to the counter, leaving Jing Yi to face his mother alone.