Mei Chao Bing stared at him, not sure what to think or say.
Song Mu sighed and looked up at the sky, squinting his eyes. “I’m not saying that to make you suspicious but I can understand if you are. The problem is that it is the truth: You don’t have another choice than to take a gamble with this.
“Let’s be honest here: You can propose something tomorrow but if you do, then junior martial brother Tian and junior martial brother Ran will definitely argue against it. Of course, Yang Wu Huang, Di Huan Bo, and Ao Jing will do the same. It could even be that some of the others agree with those five because they will feel that a big group is safer than a smaller one and who doesn’t want to be safe?
“This would make things difficult for you. Because while you are the leader of your group in any case and are the leader of our whole group as long as we are of one opinion and the others don’t completely shut down, you still can’t work with a group that doesn’t trust you.”
Mei Chao Bing didn’t like what Song Mu was saying there but he knew that he was right. “So? What is the alternative?”
“Well, on the other hand, you could keep your opinion to yourself first and instead let me make the suggestion to split up. That way, those two junior martial brothers won’t disagree just because. While Yang Wu Huang and the other two will still argue against it, the rest of our group might not be as inclined to believe them. After all, they don’t really have anything against you and some people — like Liu Bao Ru, for example — might even be inclined to take a stance against Yang Wu Huang instead.
“Also, without being prompted to question the validity of this suggestion, the other members of the group might not feel that it reduces the overall safety of our group. If I then bring up some points in favor of not going with them and propose another plan, it would work out. At the very least, it would be much more likely than if you did it.”
Once again, Mei Chao Bing couldn’t argue his points. It was well-thought-out. There was just one problem: “And what if you break your word?” This was what they had originally been speaking about, after all. He wasn’t sure if he could trust Song Mu with this. Not hurting the others on purpose? Sure. But disagreeing with Yang Wu Huang? That wasn’t so sure.
Song Mu gave him another faint smile though. “If that happens, then we were still two groups originally. If the two of us can’t decide on how to proceed together, then you can demand to separate and go your own way.”
“It’s just that it’s questionable whether the others would follow me and even if they do, you know the route that I intend to take.”
“Indeed. But I’m sure that you would be able to find another one and the Zhen Yan Sect is also closer than the Jian Chu Sect so you would reach your destination before us in any way. After that, everything is up to you. So, what is it that you want to do?”
Mei Chao Bing gazed at him, trying to find some kind of hint for what Song Mu was actually thinking. He couldn’t see anything though. This person … he didn’t know him well enough anymore to see through him. But maybe he never had. That thought didn’t help with establishing trust between them but, in the end, he still nodded. “This once. I will take the risk and trust you just this once.”
Song Mu nodded as well. “You won’t regret it. I promise you that.”
Mei Chao Bing scoffed. “Are you sure about that?” This time, it was he who squinted and then looked up at the stars. “I remember a time when I never could have imagined that I’d ever distrust you. Others? Yes, maybe. But you? That never would have crossed my mind.”
Song Mu kept quiet for a moment but finally sighed. “You probably won’t believe me when I say that it wasn’t an easy decision back then. It definitely wasn’t what I wanted. But sometimes … sometimes we just have to make a decision even if it is against what we believe.”
“Do we though?”
“There are some more things to be taken into consideration. Let me ask you this: If you had to decide between a friend and your fiance, whom would you chose?”
Mei Chao Bing gave a hum. “That’s a good question. I wouldn’t know how to answer it though. After all, I don’t have any friends. There’s only my fiance left.” He turned around but stopped after a few steps. “Song Mu, you know, it’s alright. Everybody but Fen’er turned their backs on me at that time. You don’t have to try and make up some reason.
“At the end of the day, it wouldn’t change anything. Neither of us can change the past. The decision you made was already made. I’ve also made my own decisions. Who knows where it will lead to in the end? Anyway, I don’t resent you … too much.”
Song Mu smiled wryly. “I guess that is the best I can hope for. I’m still glad I had the honor to be your friend at least for some time even if it wasn’t meant to last.”
“Mn.” Mei Chao Bing gave a hum and then walked back to the camp, lying down next to Yun Bei Fen. Pulling this person into his arms, the stuffy feeling in his chest eased.
Yes, he really had nobody else left but … it was good enough. Nobody was more important than this person anyway.