The three of them continued to sit in the courtyard, talking about some things Hua Lin Yu and Hua Lin Rong had noticed on their way through the dragon king’s palace. Xin Lan patiently answered their questions, every now and then injecting some comparison to the time when he had been living here.
Finally, Hua Lin Rong left in the evening with the feeling that the dragon king’s palace was even more awesome than he had originally assumed. He would have loved to hear more but considering that his brother and Xin Lan were engaged, he felt that it would be wrong to bother them any further. They should have some time to themselves to get to know each other better.
Back in the room, Xin Lan turned to Hua Lin Yu, gently brushing through his hair. “So, what do you think of the dragon realm so far?”
“Mn … It’s a bit hard to say.” Hua Lin Yu leaned back into Xin Lan’s arms and looked up at the sky that was turning darker, with a few stars even starting to glitter here and there. “It isn’t as different as I had thought it might be. But it is a beautiful place. It feels … much grander than the mortal realm somehow. Maybe it’s because the spiritual energy is so dense here or maybe it’s just the way everything comes together. Anyway, it’s something I’d like to see more of.”
Xin Lan nodded. The immortal realms were what those cultivators back in the mortal realm were working toward. Naturally, they would be rarely disappointed when they came here. After all, this was their dream. And with Hua Lin Yu … He didn’t know if there was anything left over from Xiang Yu’s memories and his life before the trial but maybe he also felt a little at home here because he had grown up in the Nine Heavens originally. Things might be different if the one descending was a fallen god after all.
Hua Lin Yu sighed and straightened up. “Alright, it’s getting late. I guess the two of us should go to sleep now.”
Xin Lan raised his brows and wrapped a few strands of Hua Lin Yu’s hair around his finger, pulling him back. “Already? I feel like it is still early. It’s not even completely dark outside yet.”
Hua Lin Yu shook his head and laughed. “What? Can you only sleep when it’s completely dark?”
Xin Lan gave a hum. “No, but … you asking me to go to bed earlier makes me wonder if you have any hidden thoughts about what to do there.” He leaned closer, his lips almost brushing Hua Lin Yu’s neck.
Hua Lin Yu evaded his touch though, a teasing smile on his lips. “Actually, I indeed have a special reason to ask this.”
“Oh?” Xin Lan raised his brows, not quite sure if he should get his hopes up.
“Mn, it’s true. You know, I was wondering … Isn’t it better to go to sleep early today? After all, I’m sure that we’re going to get up early tomorrow so we can explore the palace a bit, right? And I’m really looking forward to meeting a few more people. You have to introduce everyone you know to us!”
Xin Lan only gave a grunt at that. He should have expected that it would be something like this. Anyway, he didn’t know too many people here, and even if he did, he wasn’t too sure if he really wanted to introduce them to Hua Lin Yu. After all, he felt that this would make matters much more complicated.
But if Hua Lin Yu was this excited about it, then he didn’t have to rain on his parade immediately. He should just wait until it came up again and then try to explain. Anyway, it had been a long time since he lived here so it really wasn’t that surprising that he didn’t have many contacts, right? But he could probably at least introduce him to Qiu Ling’s advisers if they coincidentally happened upon them. That should be enough, right?
With Hua Lin Yu trying to convince him, the two of them finally did indeed go inside and went to bed. Hua Lin Yu snuggled up against Xin Lan’s chest and fell asleep in no time while Xin Lan lay on his back and looked up at the ceiling, feeling a little restless.
He couldn’t help it. It was just this place that held too many memories. Once upon a time, this had been something of a home to him. Now, it was just an empty building without anyone he knew while the person that he longed for wasn’t even in this realm anymore. But, no matter, at the very least, Jinde was still alive. That was much better than he had dared to hope for the longest time.
His brows slightly furrowed when he thought back to that day. The way that Jinde had looked at him, his skin paper-white and the originally bright eyes a little turbid. ‘Burn it. It’s better if nobody ever sees me like this. Right now, this is the last thing that I can do for the dragon race.’
Xin Lan pressed his eyes shut, taking a deep breath. Certainly, setting the coffin on fire had been the hardest thing he had ever done in his life.
Even though he knew now that Jinde was still alive, he would never be able to get rid of these pictures. They were edged into his memory, more painful even than the memories he had of his youth. It made him feel as if he had single-handedly killed the person that he loved the most.