Xin Lan stared at Zheng Yin, wondering if maturity really was such a desirable trait in a partner. Yes, it was very nice for them to figure things out on their own and not needing to be told, but it also sucked if they just happened to be right when he didn’t want them to. He really didn’t have any arguments to counter what Zheng Yin had said just now.
He kept quiet for a while and then sighed. “A while ago, somebody did me a favor. A … huge favor. Something that I had no right to ask and especially not of him. But he was the only person who could help me so I didn’t really have a choice.
“As it so happens in this world, nothing is free though. For doing me that favor, he expected me to do something for him as well. And as it so happens, that person was of the God race.” He didn’t mention that Xiang Yu was a fallen god. That just didn’t seem like a good thing to share. But anyway, it still came close enough.
“That person, what he wanted in return was for me to do something for him on his trial. More precisely, he was interested in having somebody spend that trial with him as his lover.”
Zheng Yin lowered his gaze, not quite sure what to make of that. He didn’t think that Xin Lan was somebody who would refuse to make such a promise so he didn’t see where the problem was. Unless something else had happened, that was.
Xin Lan could see that Zheng Yin had once again managed to catch onto the crux of the matter and smiled faintly. “You can guess that it didn’t work out as intended. When I originally left, that was precisely to do what I had promised to that person.
“At first, things were going alright. We got together, and save for a small setback with his family, things were fantastic. We just needed to set the wedding date. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be too lucky recently.
“Each time, when we were about to tie the knot, something happened. And with ‘something happened’ I mean it completely blew up and we needed to rebuild trust over years and then give it a new try until finally, things would implode on themselves again. And you can guess what the most recent reason was.” He shook his head, his expression annoyed.
Zheng Yin furrowed his brows. “He wasn’t happy with how your face looked?”
Xin Lan glanced at him and then couldn’t help but give a faint laugh. “Oh, I would’ve loved that. But no, that wasn’t it. He wanted to see how my face looked without the mask and I wasn’t willing to do it.
“You might say that I’m not a vain person but I’m also not too thrilled to take my mask off. It is just something that …” He shook his head, not even sure to explain. “You know, this mask was made by a special person, by somebody that is very important to me. Since the day he gave it to me and I put it on, I haven’t taken it off even once. And at that moment, I wasn’t willing to do so either. Of course, not just because it means a lot to me, but also because I didn’t want that person to see my face.”
Zheng Yin nodded at that. “I heard that the gods remember what happened on their trials in detail even if it takes a while. I can imagine not being thrilled about that.”
That wasn’t what had happened but Xin Lan still nodded. “Precisely. You might think that it is a small matter and that I should have just gone ahead with it but I couldn’t. I really didn’t think that it would blow up that badly in my face but after I left that day, we got separated for a while, and when I got back, he was with somebody else. And now, he is still with that person and doesn’t intend to get back with me.”
“Well, you’ve already fulfilled your promise, haven’t you? I mean, you’ve been with him for quite some time.”
Xin Lan gave a hum, but then also shook his head. “There is one problem with this matter: That person didn’t necessarily trust me so he put a stipulation on doing me the favor I wanted. I needed to swear an oath. An oath that would mean that if I failed to fulfill my part of it, I would be obliterated by Heaven himself, soul and all.
“You can imagine that I’m somewhat worried about whether Heaven will see this as me fulfilling my part or not. Because, yes, we were together for a while, but clearly, that person wanted more than just that. He wanted me to accompany him for all of his trial. He likely wanted to get married and have that happy-until-death experience. I didn’t give him that.”
Zheng Yin’s brows furrowed even more tightly and he clasped Xin Lan’s robe. “It … It should count, shouldn’t it? Taking such a chance … But also, it’s not like you can do anything. If he doesn’t love you, you can’t be his lover. He could try to win him back but it’s not guaranteed to work. In fact, it might push him away further. No, that really is a risk you can’t take. But anyway, there’s no way to find out whether this counts, is there?”
He couldn’t help but worry. He knew that he couldn’t be with Xin Lan forever. Even though it had turned out that Xin Lan leaving back then hadn’t been just because he had grown tired of him but because there was a more pressing matter to take care of, that didn’t mean that it changed anything between them. But even though, he didn’t want this person to die, especially not with no return. No, he wanted him to have a shot at life. So if there was anything he could do, he would do so immediately. No matter what that was.