Jing Yi hurried along the edge of the sea as fast as he could. The sky grew darker with each passing minute until Jing Yi’s surroundings were finally plunged into darkness. He tried to see the way in front of him but it was futile. He hadn’t managed to make it to any town or city. Just as he had feared it would take a long time if one went on foot.
He sighed and walked away from the water toward a group of shrubs that were standing not too far away. He felt that it wouldn’t be too good to get too close to the water. After all, what if the weather got worse and he somehow got dragged into the water? He had never learned how to swim. It wouldn’t do to get himself into even more trouble. He had to be careful and act smart. Only that way could he make Qiu Ling proud.
Jing Yi patted around for some dry branches and then took out the flint that Qiu Ling had given him from his bag. Holding it in his hands, he couldn’t help but sigh. Thankfully, Qiu Ling had handed it over to him or he would be screwed now. Although … while he had the flint and could start a fire, he didn’t have any food. It seemed that for this evening, he could only go hungry.
Jing Yi tried a few times and finally managed to make a fire. He carefully stored the flint and then stared into the flames, once again thinking of Qiu Ling. Suddenly having to sit alone made him feel that something was missing. He really would have given a lot to hear Qiu Ling’s endless chatter next to him again.
Right now … was he doing well? Had he also made a fire by now and maybe even gone hunting? Was he thinking of his too?
He smiled to himself when he thought of that. Yes, if Qiu Ling was alright, he would probably be fretting whether or not he was doing alright by himself. He would be anxious to return and blame himself for leaving him alone all this time.
When they saw each other again, Qiu Ling would probably pull him into his arms, hugging him tightly and fussing over him until he had made sure that he was alright. Only then would he reluctantly let go of him. They would look at each other for a while and then give each other a smile.
Despite everything that had happened, they would feel happy that they had made it out alive and well. They would talk about what they had experienced while being separated and finally, they would once again travel together, going to see all those places he hadn’t even heard of.
This was Jing Yi’s last thought before he fell asleep. Sometime the next day when the sky was still dark, he was woken up by the rhythmic sound of the waves and the cold wind that blew over from the sea.
He cracked his eyes open, still feeling somewhat drowsy. The first thing he saw was the pitiful firepit he had made yesterday. The fire had long been extinguished, leaving him feeling cold. He pulled up his shoulders and then turned around to ask Qiu Ling if they should get up already, only to realize that Qiu Ling wasn’t even there.
Right. They had been separated yesterday because of that accident. Jing Yi rolled onto his back and stared at the sky in the daze. Who would have thought that he’d suddenly feel so alone without Qiu Ling? Well, come to think of it, he had never really been alone.
In the beginning, he had always been with his family. Then, there had been Shao Hai and Xiao Dong and all those senior martial brothers and sisters of the Yun Zou Sect. When he left, there had still been Qiu Ling at his side who only ever left for a few minutes to take care of one specific task.
He had never been alone. Now, it was hard to bear to finally be in that situation.
Jing Yi sat up and sighed, once again gathering that bit of courage that he had managed to find yesterday. He made sure that he had packed the flint and then got up. Before he left, he once again looked around, hoping to see Qiu Ling somewhere. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be seen of him. Jing Yi sighed, gave himself a deprecating smile and then continued in the same direction he had taken yesterday.
Anyway, what had he expected? Qiu Ling wouldn’t just return like that. If it was so easy, he would be back already. No, it was on him to solve matters now.
Jing Yi followed the plan he had come up with and continued to search for the next town. Soon enough, his stomach started to grumble. He grimaced but still continued to walk.
Anyway, he couldn’t stray too far from the sea. If he did, he might get lost or — if Qiu Ling really came back by some miraculous turn of events — he might not be able to find him if he entered a forest or something. No, it was much better to stay on this path. At the very least, Qiu Ling would be able to follow his traces, right?
Jing Yi continued to encourage himself but even when he had walked until midday, there was no town in sight. He looked up at the sky where the sun was already hanging above his head, its rays burning down on him. He stared at it for a moment and then fell to his knees, putting his face in his hands.
Come to think of it, despite traveling for several weeks with Qiu Ling, he had never had to suffer any harsh weather. If he so much as squinted at the sun, there would be clouds gathering above their heads or a gentle breeze blowing into his face.
Now, he felt for the first time just how merciless nature could be and how powerless he actually was.