Qiu Ling walked to the other side of the courtyard and leaned his head against the wall. He had done everything he could to make sure that Jing He fell in love with him back in the Nine Heavens. Then he had followed him down to the mortal world and once again fought to win and hold onto his heart. All this time, he had worried that things would go wrong but only because of his heritage. Only because he knew that part of his blood was demonic and that things would get ugly if the gods ever found out. Never once had he imagined that things might turn out like this, that something would go wrong on Jing He’s side. That he … his soul would actually get damaged.
Qiu Ling glanced back at Xiang Yu. He might not know this guy very well but he didn’t seem like a bad person. He was likely saying the truth. Furthermore, he had also known that something was wrong with Jing He’s soul. It was just that he had thought it was because of the soul-engraving dagger. Now, it had turned out that he was wrong.
“When you said that … it was because of a trial happening in the Nine Heavens, what did you mean? What kind of trial could have made his soul crack?” Jing He was someone who kept to himself, who didn’t like it if there were too many people around him, and certainly somebody who disliked conflict but that didn’t mean he was weak. He just … couldn’t believe that Jing He’s soul would crack easily. That couldn’t be. So what kind of torturous trial had his beloved undergone in the Nine Heavens? Without him knowing nonetheless?
Xiang Yu tilted his head. “Wasn’t it a trial of decision?”
“Trial of decision?” Qiu Ling frowned. “What is that?”
Xin Lan tsked. “What? You can’t infer that from the name?”
Qiu Ling’s brows drew together. “But … what would Jing He have to decide? What kind of decision could make his soul almost crack?”
Xiang Yu wanted to explain but finally kept quiet. What he had seen about that soul … it was too similar to how his own soul had looked after his trial of love went so terribly wrong. This was the appearance somebody’s soul had after irrevocably falling in love … and then tumbling into darkness. Just that … the Son of Heaven seemed to have been a little luckier.
Back then he had been alone in the demon realm, with nobody to depend on. Yan Xia’s betrayal had been too much for him to handle and he had fallen instantly with no way of turning back.
The crown prince seemed to have been hovering at the edge. He should have fallen in love but there was still something else, something important to him and something that stopped him from pursuing this love. Who knew how long that had gone on for his soul to finally show the first signs of cracking? It was a wonder that he hadn’t fallen yet. Maybe it was because there had still been something that kept him grounded or maybe this trial had come at the right time and barely prevented his soul from collapsing. Drinking the water of the River of Forgetfulness, his troubles sinking into oblivion even if it was only for a short while … maybe that had saved him.
Xiang Yu looked up at the sky. If only … he had been given that chance back then. But instead, it had been his trial that ruined him. Was there really still a person out there he could fall in love with? Someone who could make him forget what had happened back then? Trusting somebody enough for that … seemed impossible.
“What is it?” Qiu Ling pulled Xiang Yu out of his thoughts again. “Just what was that trial? What can I do to help him?”
Xiang Yu sighed and looked back at him. He hadn’t felt anything when he told Jing Yi about it but looking at the confused and frantic gaze of this man, he didn’t know if he should tell him the truth. “Who knows what the reason was? Maybe even he himself doesn’t know. For now, I’ve brought him to the High Heavens. It’s a good place for healing a soul. When he comes back, the cracks might already be healed.”
“And then … he won’t be in danger anymore? His soul won’t crack in the future? He’ll … he’ll have passed that trial?” Qiu Ling’s fingers dug into the wall. He wanted to believe this. He really wanted to. But this wasn’t the first time that he had almost lost his beloved because of one of these trials. How could he still believe it was that easy? Even if he did, he had to make sure that things were the way he believed them to be! He couldn’t risk that Jing He’s soul was damaged. After all … this was his soul.
Qiu Ling closed his eyes and sighed. It hadn’t been long since he found out that Jing Yi would have to die for Jing He to come back. He had barely come to terms with it and now he had to find out that even Jing He’s soul was in danger. Why? Just why was Heaven so harsh on him? Why did his beloved have to suffer so much?
Xiang Yu hesitated but finally nodded. “He might have passed that trial. It’s … It’s not sure though. Things could happen. It’s best to wait until he returned to the Nine Heavens and then talk to him about it. He’ll know best what his problem was so maybe … you can find a way around it.” After all, this man obviously loved him very much. There was no way they wouldn’t be able to figure something out. They could work on it together, hand in hand.
It wasn’t … like back when he fell. This was another time, another couple. A true couple, this time. Not just a demon’s curiosity and a god’s naivety. This here was a true love that just needed to pass a time of trial before it would finally blossom.