Shen Qiang took a deep breath and then slowly exhaled. “Your lover … He isn’t human.” He left it at that for a moment, giving Nian Hong Fang time to sort out his thoughts. He could imagine just how difficult this was to understand. He had probably never even thought of such a possibility. Naturally, he would be shocked.
Nian Hong Fang furrowed his brows in response. “Not human? What exactly do you mean with that? And is that why he was captured and imprisoned all this time?”
Shen Qiang nodded. “That’s precisely the reason. Your lover is actually part demon. I know that this must be hard for you to take. You probably always assumed him to be just like you, human. But now it turns out that that was never the case. You probably feel that he betrayed your trust.”
Nian Hong Fang leaned back, his expression complicated. “So the sect you spoke of … is a demon-hunting sect?”
Shen Qiang looked at him with some surprise that this was the first thing he asked but still nodded. Since he had already started he would answer all of Nian Hong Fang’s questions. “Yes, it’s one of the demon-hunting sects. They found out about his true nature and then used the opportunity when he was out on a mission to alone to get him.”
Nian Hong Fang didn’t know what to say. He reached up and put a hand over his face, trying to wrap his head around all of this. A demon-hunting sect. Why had he never thought of this? A whole decade had gone by but the thought had never even crossed his mind.
Shen Qiang looked down, his expression one of guilt and worry. “You must feel devastated. I’m sorry. Originally, I never wanted to tell you. I always thought that you would be better off thinking that it was something different, that there was no fault of his own. Knowing that he wasn’t honest with you —”
“No.” Nian Hong Fang shook his head.
Shen Qiang looked up, his expression still very much torn. “Xiao Fang, I know that you don’t want to believe this but it’s true. He really isn’t human.”
Nian Hong Fang lowered his hand and shook his head again. “No, you misunderstood. I knew that Ma Zhi Wu wasn’t completely human. I have known for a long time. He already told me himself.”
Shen Qiang stared at him, unable to believe what he had heard just now. “You … You knew that he is a demon? And you still stayed with him?” That couldn’t be possible. Nian Hong Fang … He wasn’t that type of person. He wouldn’t condone any evil. He didn’t believe that.
Nian Hong Fang sighed. It wasn’t difficult to understand why Shen Qiang would react like this if he was from a demon-hunting sect. But he really was thinking a little too simple, wasn’t he? “Ma Zhi Wu isn’t a demon.”
Nian Hong Fang shook his head again, cutting Shen Qiang right off. “Part of his bloodline is that of a demonic beast. That isn’t the same as that of a demon. They share the same roots but that is so far in the past that you really can’t say they’re the same race anymore.
“Furthermore, it has been several generations since that person became a part of Zhi Wu’s family. All his other relatives are human. He himself can hardly be counted as more than a human. There’s only a very slight influence. Big enough to be noticeable in some areas but he hardly differs from us. A random person meeting him would never guess. And even if he was different, what is so bad about that?”
Shen Qiang furrowed his brows. “Demons are evil creatures.”
“I’m sure that some of them are. Maybe it’s even most of them. But it’s certainly not each and every one of them. And especially not the ones born from a union between humans and demons or demonic beasts.
“They aren’t pure-blooded, after all. They don’t share all their characteristics. How can you condemn them because of something they might or might not have? And even if they did, they wouldn’t have any control over it since it’s their nature. Wouldn’t it be better to just exile them to the demon realm?
“Anyway, Zhi Wu has never harmed anyone. You tell me: Should he really be imprisoned just because of something that happened several generations in the past? Shen Qiang, I know that the demon-hunting sects can be very clear cut in their decisions regarding this kind of thing. But I’m sure that you’re different. You wouldn’t judge somebody just because of who his parents were, would you? I’m sure that you would look deeper into this. I can’t have been that mistaken about you.”
Shen Qiang looked at him with an unsure expression. Yes, he didn’t want to condemn somebody just because of who they were born to. He didn’t feel that that was fair. But for demons, it was something different. After all, they were evil creatures. At the very least, that was what he had always believed. Even though he wasn’t quite as harsh as other members of the Chun Feng Sect, he wouldn’t let go of that belief just like that. “He probably manipulated you into thinking like that. It’s what they do.”
Nian Hong Fang sighed when Shen Qiang didn’t show any intention of even thinking about it. “How about I tell you a story?”
Shen Qiang glanced at him, unsure what to think. “What kind of story?”
“The story of how Zhi Wu and I met. I feel that you should know. After all, you don’t really know him, do you? Maybe you’ve met him but have you ever had the chance to sit down and talk with him? I bet you haven’t.” Because he didn’t believe that there was anybody who could spend time with his lover and still say that he was an evil creature just because of the bit of demonic beast blood that he carried. That just wasn’t possible.