Mei Chao Bing and Sect Master Zhang left, staying quiet for a while. Only when they had made their way back to the Sect Master’s palace did Mei Chao Bing turn to Zhang Guan Yu. “Is there anything else I can do for now?”
Zhang Guan Yu shook his head. “No, I think you should go and rest up a bit. The Elders and their disciples will need some time to compile what they can remember. Until then, I really don’t think there is a need to do anything.”
Mei Chao Bing nodded and then bid him farewell, going back toward his own house.
He couldn’t help but feel odd walking this familiar path. He had done so many times in the past: When he had been young and his Master had still been a member of the sect, his betrayal not having changed everything, then after his Master showed his true face, he had still secretly gone over to Sect Master Zhang’s palace every now and then to report on his progress. By now, he really wasn’t sure how to feel about this anymore.
In his early years, the Teng Yong Sect had been somewhat of a home but not necessarily a place where he felt at home. His Master had been strict, stricter than any of the other Elders in the sect. He had known. He had felt it every day. Being disappointed over and over again when he wasn’t able to gain even his Master’s approval no matter how hard he tried.
Warmth? That was a feeling he had never known. Maybe some of his senior martial brothers had been willing to show it to him. Not all of them but Mu Qing, for example, had always treated him nicely. Sometimes, it had made him wonder how such a nice person could take learning under their Master.
Yes, in those years, while he had lived here, his attachment to the sect hadn’t been all that deep. It had only been a sense of duty that bound him here. And most likely, that had been his Master’s plan all along. Because between his own Master and the sect, the one he owed more to would’ve been Feng Bai Xiao himself. So after he told him the truth, he might have been able to convince him to follow him to the other side.
Mei Chao Bing stopped in his tracks. He hadn’t realized this before but yes, this had probably been his Master’s plan. And it actually could’ve worked. But the problem was that on the day of the open gate ceremony that one year, Yun Bei Fen had spotted him, and even though he still didn’t quite understand why, the child had immediately taken a liking to him. And in the years after that, how often had he seen him pop up somewhere, slowly inching his way into his heart?
Yun Bei Fen had been following him around, watching him from the distance, cheering him on when he took part in a tournament at the sect, happily rushing over whenever he heard that he had come back to the sect from a mission.
In time, Mei Chao Bing had started to look forward to coming back to the sect not just because of the faint hope that his Master would finally praise him for doing something right for once, but mostly because he wanted to see that child. Because for the first time in his life, he had felt that there was somebody who cared about him. For once, his worth was not measured in what he was able to do but lay just in him being … himself.
He hadn’t needed to do anything or say anything. Just going about his normal life was enough to somehow keep Yun Bei Fen entertained. And no matter what happened, that hadn’t lessened with the years to the point where — on the one day when he really needed a person to believe in him — he had been there, giving him that hug and that kiss and somehow managing to ground him when his whole world had been about to collapse.
Yes, his Master had forgotten to take into consideration that something like this might happen. Or maybe he had. Wasn’t that why he had constantly been sent on missions, constantly been told to focus on his practice or go into closed-door cultivation? His Master hadn’t wanted him to interact with others too much because that might have created an attachment where he did not want to see it.
And yet, it had still happened because Yun Bei Fen hadn’t given up. Because no matter how hard it was to see him, he would always find a way. He had probably been aided by those three senior martial brothers of his who doted on him to a degree that might not be healthy. But it really had come in handy and in the end, it had all worked out just as it should.
Actually, now that he thought about it, maybe this was also something that could help them solve this whole disastrous situation.
Mei Chao Bing turned in the other direction and instead walked to Elder Baili’s valley. He hadn’t come here often in the past other than to check whether Yun Bei Fen had emerged from closed-door cultivation yet but he generally knew who was living where so he knew which house to walk up to.
Knocking on the door, he couldn’t help but wonder how he should introduce himself. As Yun Bei Fen’s fiance? As just Mei Chao Bing? Then again, Yun Bei Fen’s second senior martial brother probably knew who he was. There wasn’t really a reason to introduce himself at all, was there?
He waited for a moment but there was no response from inside. Mei Chao Bing hesitated but then knocked again and also called out. “Senior martial brother Yan, are you in? I could use your help with something.”
Inside the house, Yan Hong Min had been holed up with his latest experiment but he couldn’t help but lower the materials when he heard the voice outside.
Don’t kid him. He had been listening to stories about this person for years. In fact, he had also spied on him for years for his little junior so he knew pretty much everything about Mei Chao Bing. Hearing this voice, he immediately recognized it.
He couldn’t help but wonder what exactly might be going on this time. And not even mentioning that, his third little junior hadn’t returned yet so there was also an answer he needed from Mei Chao Bing himself.
He threw the materials to the side and rushed to the door, opening it in a swift motion. “My third junior martial brother, how is he?”