At this time, Qiu Ling was wandering through a forest in his inner self, looking deeper into the woods between the trunks and glancing up at the treetops every now and then.
Truth be told, he had no idea where he was.
Whether it was that hut or that palace, they had both played an important part in his life so he had recognized them at a glance. But as for this place … Sure, he had been in a forest before but what kind of significance did this one hold? If it was important, wouldn’t he remember? And if he couldn’t remember … How fleeting must his time here have been if that was the case?
He shook his head and sighed, mumbling to himself. “If you just want to show me this kind of thing, you might as well let me out of here. My beloved is probably waiting anxiously.”
Mn, speaking of which … Qiu Ling furrowed his brows. He had spent several weeks in this stupid place. What exactly had happened to Jing He’s reincarnation in all this time? Had he just waited for him there at the seaside? Had he gone to search for him?
Looking at how long it had been, it would likely be the latter. Even if Jing Yi had waited originally, he would have left sooner or later. After all, what good would waiting on the same spot do him? But if he had left …
Qiu Ling sighed again and rubbed his forehead. “He’s still on his trial. Most likely, that Fate’s Scribe will have made him suffer quite a bit while I wasn’t there.” Well, he had been behaving these last few years and not gotten involved. Still, it was a different thing if he was there and at least saw what was going on compared to if he was imprisoned here and could only guess.
Qiu Ling stopped in his tracks, crouched down on the ground, and groaned. “Ah! I want out of here!” Mussing up his own hair, he raised his head and stared down the path he was walking on.
Seriously, what good was this doing him? If he was supposed to work on some issues, then at least throw them at him! Why lead him on a wild goose chase? Nobody benefited from this.
He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and forced himself to get up again. Continuing down the path, he stopped looking around or try to remember anything. Whatever it was he was supposed to be confronted with, it would definitely turn up in front of him when his inner self wanted that. Hadn’t it been the same with the glowing sea and the old palace? This here shouldn’t be any different.
After another hour, the sound of water could be faintly heard in the distance. Listening to it as if he had found a clue, Qiu Ling sped up his steps. Soon enough, he could make out the gurgling of a river that was running over stones.
His gaze swept from side to side, once again trying to remember if this told him anything. Unfortunately, he still came up with a blank. Over the years, he had been to so many places. Forests and rivers were just too commonplace to be able to pick out which one it might be. Especially since there were no special landmarks around that told him anything.
Sighing lightly, he once again continued on until the trees before him seemed to become sparse. Dazzling light shone down from the sky and blinded him for a moment before he could finally make out a meadow. By now, the sound of the water was incredibly close. Most likely, it was running through that meadow up front.
Furrowing his brow, Qiu Ling still had trouble remembering the place. But, well, it wasn’t important anymore. Whatever he was supposed to see was likely right behind this forest on that meadow. He would be able to understand when he reached it.
Feeling much calmer already, Qiu Ling made his way to the edge of the forest and stepped out onto the soft grass. His feet slightly sank into the ground as if it was still muddy from a recent bout of rain. Qiu Ling didn’t care about that though. Instead, he stared at the meadow in front of him.
Just as he had thought, the river did indeed pass through here. It came from somewhere deeper in the forest, cut through the meadow in a steep arch, and then disappeared again between the trees on the other side. At the side of this river was a small fireplace. It consisted of nothing more than a small pit in the ground that had been steadied with a couple of stones at the side and a fallen tree trunk that somebody had freed of its roots and branches.
Despite its simplicity, this place was what drew Qiu Ling’s attention. Or rather, it was the person sitting on that trunk that made him unable to look away: She didn’t even look in his direction and was instead facing him with her back but that alone was enough to unearth a memory he seemed to have long forgotten. The picture of those waves in the dark green color of seaweed with a few strands in-between that reminded him of the water from the depth of the sea itself was another unwelcome reminder of his younger days.
Yes, this woman, he remembered her all too well. Even though he had desperately tried to forget about it. He had thought that with time, he would one day been able to let go of this guilt he felt but … seeing her again in his inner self, it was obvious that he hadn’t.
Well, even if nobody ever knew and you were never judged by others, it might very well be that you were your hardest judge yourself and the wrongs you had committed would — no matter the circumstances — haunt you until the day you died.