Bai Mu stared at Qiang Yan, not knowing what to think or feel. Even though he had started out telling that story as if it wasn’t about him but about another person, his voice had trembled when he reached the end. Obviously, these memories were real. That regret and reluctance he had felt at the end of his life, there were too. He had missed his mother, he hadn’t wanted to part with her. But especially then … “Why didn’t you go look for her? Considering what you said before, he should have woken up as … yourself. Then why didn’t you go and look for her?”
Qiang Yan nodded. “Yes, I should have done that. It’s just that … We don’t remember our trial immediately after waking up. I can’t go into the details but it wouldn’t be good for the gods to have all those memories of a whole life rushing into their mind immediately.
“Thus for the first few days, they are just waking up and getting used to their normal life again. The memories will only slowly resurface. When I remembered your mother … several days had already passed. And that was only when I remembered part of our life. Remembering our whole life took several weeks. And one day in the Nine Heavens will take as much time as one year in the mortal realm.
“So by the time that I knew everything that had happened and known just how much Huan Yin had meant to me, so much time had passed that even if she had perished when she ascended, even her mortal body wouldn’t have been able to be found anymore.
“I … I didn’t dare to go and search for it. I was afraid of what I might find. Finding merely a pile of bones of finding the places that had meant so much to us left empty … I don’t know if I would have been able to take that.” He shook his head. Even just thinking back to the time, he felt the same unwillingness well up inside himself. No, hadn’t wanted to let go. But what could he do? He had thought Huan Yin was dead. He had thought he wouldn’t find her anymore. He had thought there would be no use in going to search for her.
Who could have known that if he had really done so, he might have found her again? And all these years of missing her and wondering how things could have turned out if they hadn’t tried to ascend that day … All those years could have been spent in happiness instead.
“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” Qiang Yan shook his head at himself. The regret he had felt when his mortal self died and the same regret that he had felt when he found out that Huan Yin had still been alive all these years and that they had even had a son, welled up in him once again, even stronger than before.
“I’m sorry. If I hadn’t thought so much … If I just trusted my instincts and gone to look for her even once, I might have noticed. I might have found out that the two of you were still alive and we could have still been a family. It’s entirely my fault that we didn’t have that chance.” His voice finally broke at the last two words and tears glistened in his eyes.”
Bai Mu was taken aback. Never mind that he had never imagined his father to be like this, it was hard to bear to look at him in any way when he was this emotional. He just didn’t know how to handle the emotions in his eyes. All the thoughts he had had about his father in the many years of his life, he didn’t know what to do with them anymore. This man hadn’t abandoned them. Not willingly, not knowingly at least. Yes, he should have come and checked if what he thought was really true. But who could fault him? Especially if he looked this desolate?
Bai Mu gulped. “You … You don’t have a family in the Nine Heavens, do you?”
Qiang Yan shook his head. “No, there’s only my sister and her family. I could never bring myself to …” He shook his head. How could he have married? Even though he had never talked about it, there had only ever been Huan Yin in his heart. She was the woman he had fallen in love with. And he couldn’t imagine that there would ever be anyone like her.
Thinking of her, he couldn’t help but look at Bai Mu questioningly. He knew he had no right to ask but … His heart wouldn’t be able to calm down again if he didn’t find out. “Bai Mu, your mother … Do you know what happened to her? When I found out that there was you, I also heard that she had lived for a long time after that. It’s just that … I couldn’t find out if she still …” He stopped himself, unable to speak any further. He didn’t know what would be worse. Finding out that she was still alive even after all this time? Finding out that they had missed out on all those years that they could have been happy with each other? Or maybe it would be to find out that she had lived for a long time after that but had recently died, robbing them of the chance to find happiness even now?
Bai Mu looked at this father of his. Before he met him, when he only imagined how it would be to see him again, he had often wondered what he should do should this happen. What if he met this man while his mother hadn’t seen him again yet? Should he tell him? Would this man even care?
But now that he was in the situation, there was no question about it anymore. This man … He loved her. He had really loved his mother. He still did. It was obvious from the way he looked. There was hope in his eyes, hope but also great fear.
Unfortunately, there was nothing certain he could tell him. “I haven’t seen her in many years. I was caught by the Chun Feng Sect and imprisoned. In that time, I had no contact with her. And even before that, she preferred to journey around. Whether she’s alive or not … I truly don’t know.”