Jing Yi sat in Qiu Ling’s embrace for a while before he finally patted his arm. “Alright, I know now. If you’ve finished eating, let’s go. It’s still far until the village.”
To Jing Yi’s surprise, Qiu Ling let go of him immediately and stepped back. He even conscientiously put away the dishes before he followed him outside with a bright smile. “Lead the way!”
Jing Yi took a long look at him, trying to find out what was wrong but he just couldn’t come up with any explanation. Well, after what had happened just now, he also didn’t dare to guess wildly. Thus, in the end, he could only shrug his shoulders and leave the village, making his way back to the mountain path he had taken with his parents back then.
A few years had passed but he felt as if everything here had stayed the same. There were still the trees lining the path, their leaves plunging it into differing degrees of darkness and light every few steps, their roots protruding out of the ground so that he had to watch his steps. There were still weeds sticking out between them and dotting the path every here and there as if they’d swallow it soon. And most of all, there were still the hills that were only small when they went into the forest but got higher the further they got.
With each day, Jing Yi felt a bit more reminded of the things that had happened in this forest. When the hills turned more rugged and there were pebbles lying everywhere on the path, making it harder and harder to walk, he couldn’t help but think of that day thay had been attacked by the bandits.
That day, he and his mother had needed to flee while his father stayed behind to fight. In the end, his mother had tried to save his life by sacrificing herself. He hadn’t understood back then but now that he thought back, it was obvious. Why else would she have told him to go into the forest and try to get back to the village while she stayed on the path where the bandit would have been able to spot her easily?
Unfortunately, he only understood in hindsight just how much his parents had been willing to give for him that day. Back then, he had only felt afraid and cried because he didn’t want to separate. Most likely, he had made it harder on his parents that way. Well, it couldn’t be changed anymore.
Confronted with these thoughts, Jing Yi was especially quiet that day when they stopped to set up camp. Qiu Ling glanced at him. It was obvious that Jing Yi wasn’t in a good mood and he was able to guess why. The question was what he should do about that. Maybe … this would be a good time to distract him a bit?
Qiu Ling’s gaze darted around and he finally cleared his throat. “Uh … I’ll go and gather some more firewood. Maybe I’ll even be able to catch some animal so we can eat meat. This might take a while.”
“Oh. I see.” Jing Yi nodded but didn’t say anything more. He really was preoccupied with his thoughts so he didn’t notice the sliver of awkwardness in Qiu Ling’s eyes.
As soon as he was out of sight, Qiu Ling used his spiritual energy to change his appearance and then conjured up a water mirror. Looking at his reflection, he pursed his lips. Alright, he did not like this face. It was old and ugly and absolutely not what he should show his beloved.
But then again, he had already appeared in front of him with his true appearance anyway and his beloved’s reincarnation was on the right path to falling in love with him. It wouldn’t do to appear as somebody more handsome now. No, looking from that perspective, it was very good to be an old, ugly man.
Qiu Ling nodded to himself and actually made himself look a little older while he was at it. Anyway, some years had gone by so it was expected that he had aged, right? Wasn’t that normal for humans?
Feeling convinced by his own thoughts, Qiu Ling disintegrated the water mirror, turned around and rushed back to the small clearing where he had left Jing Yi. He still needed to have a good talk about cultivation with him and then hurry away before he could return with his real appearance, after all!
Jing Yi was still deep in thoughts when he heard the rustling of clothes on the other side of the small fire Qiu Ling had made before he left. “You’re back already?” He still faintly remembered how Qiu Ling had said that he might take a while. He had thought it would be much longer. Then again … Qiu Ling might have just said that because he had hoped he would miss him while he was away. That was entirely possible.
Qiu Ling pursed his lips when his beloved didn’t acknowledge him any further. He hadn’t even looked up! Well, that was also good. That way, he could ponder what to say. Ah, to think he actually hadn’t thought of his opening line!
Jing Yi couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong when the person that normally loved to chat away next to him stayed quiet. He raised his head, only to find a completely different person in front of him.
Jing Yi stared at him in a daze. This was … His expression finally lit up. He leaped to his face and then threw himself at this familiar person. “Grandfather!” He hugged him and buried his face in his neck, feeling that things weren’t quite as depressing anymore.
Qiu Ling looked at his beloved’s reincarnation in his arms and doubted the world a bit. This … wasn’t this a little too biased?!