With the Elder having said his piece, the disciples left the courtyard to go and do their own things.
Mei Chao Bing wanted to have a look where Yun Bei Fen went before they would probably retire for the night. Right now, they wouldn’t be able to do anything else so they could only wait. After being away all the time and rushing about, spending some hours with Yun Bei Fen was something he was really looking forward to.
Just when he stepped out of the door, he noticed that Xi Ju Hai had stopped a few steps away. He raised his brows and then couldn’t help but walk over, feeling that there had to be some kind of reason for her to stop. And since Kang Mu and Zhi Guan had already left, that might have to do with him. “Senior martial sister Xi, is everything alright?”
Xi Ju Hai turned to him, her brows faintly furrowed. She had still been hesitating until a moment ago but finally couldn’t help but feel that she should say something. “Junior martial brother Mei, could I have a moment of your time?”
Mei Chao Bing wasn’t sure what this was about but he still nodded. “Of course.” In any case, he trusted her. If there was a problem, it should be the other way around.
Xi Ju Hai nodded but kept quiet for a moment longer, sorting her thoughts before she spoke up. “I know that the two of us were never close. When Mu Qing left, you were still pretty young.”
Mei Chao Bing nodded, still not sure where she was going with this. Still, he was quite happy to hear that she was able to talk about this. It seemed like a positive sign. After all, Mu Qing’s betrayal of the sect had to have been difficult for her to bear. “I was indeed young but I do remember him. Among my senior martial brothers, he was special.”
Xi Ju Hai’s expression softened a little when she thought of her ex-fiance. “He was. Unfortunately, things are already this way. Even though we haven’t seen him here, we knew that he has joined the other side. If we see him, we can’t hesitate.” She sighed and then shook her head at herself. “Well, that is not what I wanted to talk about.
“You know, among the lot of them, you’re the only one who stayed. Regarding the ones who might not have had any idea about what Elder Feng did, I always faulted them despite that, thinking that if they really had nothing to hide, then why did they leave the sect? But then, seeing everything that has transpired so far in the border region, I have to say that my view on things has changed.”
Mei Chao Bing lowered his gaze, having a good guess as to why that was the case. He wasn’t sure if he should be happy about that. In any case, it wasn’t like he had been treated differently at the sect. It was only because he had gone into closed-door cultivation — essentially hiding from everyone — that he had been able to kind of deal with it. But even then, each time he emerged to go and see whether Yun Bei Fen had left his closed-door cultivation already or to tell the Sect Master of any progress he made, he had still been confronted by how he was suddenly seen by others.
Seeing his expression, Xi Ju Hai nodded. “Yes, I misjudged things. I apologize to you. You are probably the one who had it the hardest. You were with him for the shortest amount of time but still, you bore the brunt of everyone’s derision. That isn’t right. It shouldn’t have happened and somebody should have spoken up to make it stop but no one ever did. The Teng Yong Sect will have to bear that blame.
“I know that this probably doesn’t concern me. You found a few people who genuinely care for you, no matter what happened with your Master. And there are some people who did not think differently about you from the very beginning. They might only be a handful but having them is probably more important than anything else. In the future, you’ll know who you can trust unconditionally.
“That notwithstanding, I think that there is one more matter that you should know of.”
Mei Chao Bing looked up again, raising his brows. “What might senior martial sister Xi be talking about?”
Mei Chao Bing sighed. That name, he hadn’t expected it and now that he heard it, he wasn’t happy about it. “I’m sorry, senior martial sister Xi, I know you mean well but I’m not sure if you should speak any further. This matter, I don’t think there is anything to do.”
Xi Ju Hai gave a hum but still continued. “I can imagine that you would think that. But for your own peace of mind, you should probably ask him why. Maybe that would help you.”
Mei Chao Bing really wasn’t sure if he wanted that kind of help but he still nodded. “Thank you for advising me.”
Xi Ju Hai smiled when he responded like that. “I assume you won’t do it.”
“At the moment, the answer to that is indeed no. I don’t think I should do that and I don’t want to either. I can work with him if necessary but there is no personal relationship between us anymore. He made sure of that by himself. Anyway, maybe I will change my mind in the future. We’ll see. For now though, I have decided.”
Xi Ju Hai nodded. “I can’t force you to. I can at most tell you that, in my opinion, it might benefit you but it is your decision. Just … don’t forget that we don’t always have enough time.
“You’ve seen today what can happen. From one moment to the other, a person can be dead or in a state where they won’t be able to answer the questions you have. You should always keep that in mind because, from now on, things will only get worse.
“That is unfortunately the truth of being at this place. We can never trust that we will see another day. That’s just not how it works. So just make sure that if you want to know, you ask early enough.”
Mei Chao Bing nodded, already having realized this quite some time ago. “I will keep your words in mind. Now, if there is nothing else, I’ll go and look for my fiance now.” Saying this, he inclined his head and then turned around, going to look for Yun Bei Fen again. This matter, he really didn’t want to think about it any further.