Qiu Ling instinctively took a step back into the shadows of the trees as if that could change anything about the picture in front of him. Unfortunately, it couldn’t. There was still the same meadow in front of him, still the same fireplace, still the same log with that young woman sitting there, turning her back toward him.
Watching her for a moment, Qiu Ling finally sighed, and then stepped back onto the grass. Anyway, he couldn’t change it. Things had already long passed. Right now, the only thing that counted was that he needed to get out of his inner self to return to his beloved’s side. For that, he would have to find some kind of way. Maybe he would be able to go after he was done with this. In the end, he could only try it out.
Carefully, as if just one wrong move could make all of this even worse, Qiu Ling inched closer to that fireplace, walking around that woman in a big circle. The whole time, she didn’t say a single word and didn’t do anything either. She was just sitting there quietly.
Standing a few steps away from her, Qiu Ling looked at her, wondering what he should do now. Obviously, she wasn’t really there. Just like with the old geezer back in the palace, this person was only a figment of his imagination, born from the memories he had of her. He might remember her saying something specific or doing something but that was more or less the extent of what could happen in his inner self. And since it had really been a long time, it was rather difficult to actually recall something. Thus, just knowing how she looked was already quite the accomplishment.
Qiu Ling sighed, feeling deeply just how much time had passed, and then looked around, finally sitting down himself. He didn’t know what to do after doing that though. Well, this was rather awkward.
Looking around the place again to find anything to do, he sighed once more when nothing could grab his attention. Observing this place though … “I thought that I had no idea where this was but … The longer I look, the more familiar it feels. This was where we spend our days back then, wasn’t it?” He looked at her, hoping for some kind of clue as to what he was supposed to do. Unfortunately, she still stayed perfectly quiet.
Qiu Ling just sighed once more. “Well, I guess this is to be expected. You’re already dead after all.” He stopped at that, once again turning away from her. Anyway, he really didn’t want to look into that face. It just made him feel really guilty.
The river next to them continued to rush past and the wind rustled in the treetops, brushed through her hair, and gave the illusion of her still being a living, breathing creature.
Qiu Ling glanced over again, wondering what to do now. In theory, getting out of his inner self should be easy. Since it was made up of his deepest emotions he just had to do something with that. Working through whatever it was that kept him awake at night, would naturally show him the way outside.
The problem was that he really didn’t know how to do that. After all, if it was so easy, wouldn’t he have done so long ago? Since he hadn’t that obviously said something about his ability to deal with this.
Qiu Ling leaned back and stared up at the small spot of blue sky above their heads. “Well, I guess it’s not that easy. As for you … I don’t know what to say. I could tell you that I’m sorry. But what difference would that make? You’d still be dead. You’d still have had your heart broken by me. So how does that make a difference?
“Seriously, it really doesn’t. No, if anything, saying that would just be for me. I can’t change the past. Although … If I could, I’d do it in a heartbeat. You didn’t deserve to end up like that.”
Qiu Ling sighed, not quite sure what else to say. There really was nothing that he could do. The past was the past. In fact, regardless of what it was that he saw in his inner self, that would still be the case. Nothing he did or said here, nothing that he saw, would ever be able to change anything about that.
That was honestly quite said. Because there were quite a few things that he regretted. If he had the chance to make up for just one thing that he had done wrong back then, he would do it without a second thought. There were just way too many things that he had done wrong in his life.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. Life didn’t work like that. As much as he regretted that, it was still the case. Nobody could change that.
Looking back at the woman on the other side of that fireplace, Qiu Ling gave yet another sigh. Since he couldn’t change it, why was he still holding onto it? By now, she might’ve even been reborn. It didn’t change what he had done and it didn’t really make him feel better but, in fact, his guilt was also useless.
Since he couldn’t bring her back, why was he even thinking about it? He knew he had done wrong. He regretted it. But after so many millennia, who was that helping? If he could let go of it … If he could just move on from all these things … Maybe it would actually benefit him and, in turn, benefit others. After all, he wasn’t the same person anymore.
He wasn’t that lost youth that only had one person that cared about him in the whole world. No, by now, he had become the dragon king. He should not be thinking only about himself. He should be thinking about his people. And he was pretty sure that they would benefit if their king was actually able to let go of the things from the past and move forward.
It was just that he still didn’t know how to do that. Despite being so much older, he was still just as much at a loss as he had been back then. That really was a pity. Because this way, nobody’s problems would ever be solved.