Nian Hong Fang looked up when he heard steps. Seeing the two people standing at the entrance to the palace, his eyes widened. “Xiao Yi? Xiao Dong?” It had been a long time since they saw each other but he remembered them well. It really was no wonder. If not for Xiao Dong back then, Ma Zhi Wu never would have been saved and instead would have died in the Chun Feng Sect’s prison. How could he ever forget this person?
He got up, his lips curling up in a bright smile. “I feel like it’s been forever since we last saw each other. Come on, come on, sit down!” He closed the book in front of him, pushing it to the side.
Ma Zhi Wu had noticed them even before Nian Hong Fang did. Seeing Xiao Dong, his expression was complicated. That time back then was something he didn’t like thinking back to. If he could, he would love to just purge those years from his memory. But he knew he couldn’t and he also understood that if it wasn’t for Xiao Dong and Shao Hai back then, he never would have gotten out.
Xiao Dong and Jing Yi didn’t think too much. In any case, Jing Yi’s role in the matter back then hadn’t been that big. Thinking about it, most of it had been done by Qiu Ling and his people.
As for Xiao Dong, he felt that it was his own fault for getting himself caught. What did that have to do with Ma Zhi Wu? So his feelings weren’t as complicated. Anyway, today was not about the matter back then or even about himself but about Jing Yi. He was just here to accompany him.
The two of them took a seat and then exchanged a glance. Xiao Dong felt like it wasn’t his place to say anything while Jing Yi had no idea where to start. After not seeing each other for years, you couldn’t just start a conversation with ‘by the way, I’m going to die soon’, could you?
He rubbed the back of his neck, faintly clearing his throat, and then turned to Ma Zhi Wu. “Senior martial brother Ma, how are you doing?” Back then, Ma Zhi Wu had been gravely injured. And while everyone had helped and managed to save his life, his body had been damaged. By now, who knew if everything had healed or if there were still lasting aftereffects.
Ma Zhi Wu sighed. Most likely, people would continue to ask him this for the rest of his life. “Well, my body is much better than back then. It’s just that … with my core damaged, my cultivation has slowed down.”
“I see.” Jing Yi lowered his gaze. Back then, they had known that there was a certain chance Ma Zhi Wu would never be able to ascend. It seemed that really was the case.
Nian Hong Fang reached over and grabbed his hand, giving him a reassuring smile. “It’s something we’ve known might happen. In fact, it’s already good he can cultivate at all.”
Ma Zhi Wu nodded. “True. Anyway, I’m just glad to be alive. It’s also thanks to you.” He looked at Xiao Dong and Jing Yi again, smiling faintly as well.
Xiao Dong shook his head, feeling like he hadn’t had much to do with it. Anyway, he didn’t want to discuss it either. He was still embarrassed about that time. “Spiritual and demonic beasts aren’t immortal just after being born and you are also part-human. If your cultivation slows down like that, can you still …?”
Ma Zhi Wu sighed in response. “That’s the question, isn’t it? I’m a bit worried about it. I don’t want to leave Xiao Fang. It’s just … it’s not like I can do anything.”
Nian Hong Fang squeezed his hand again. “Don’t worry about that. Didn’t I say that I will find a solution? Even if it takes a while, I’ll manage.”
Hearing that, Jing Yi couldn’t help but look at the book that was lying next to Nian Hong Fang. Most likely, this was what he had been working on? Unfortunately, there was no title written on top and he also didn’t dare to ask.
Jing Yi might not dare to ask but Xiao Dong was paying special attention to him as his king’s lover. Seeing him glance at the book on the table, he roughly understood what was going through his mind and he had no scruples bringing anything up. “Is that what you’ve been busy with since then?”
Nian Hong Fang nodded. “Yes. I know it’s unlikely to yield any results or even if it does, it’ll take a long time but I’m unwilling to give up. Back then, Zhi Wu and I were separated for so long, I couldn’t bear it. Every day was spent thinking about him. I don’t want to have a repeat of that, especially not when this time, he wouldn’t be able to return to my side.”
Ma Zhi Wu leaned forward and turned his hand, interlacing his fingers with Nian Hong Fang’s. “Don’t worry about it. I’m here with you and I’m not going to go anywhere.”
Nian Hong Fang nodded but there was still a trace of doubt in his eyes. Clearly, he couldn’t believe that this matter wouldn’t have any influence on their lives.
It was understandable. Nian Hong Fang might specialize in alchemy, but he was still a cultivator who was raising his level to be able to achieve a higher mastery in his craft. One day, he would be ready to ascend and become a true immortal. At that time, what if Ma Zhi Wu wasn’t healed? It was hard to say whether death wouldn’t come for him. After all, for most demonic beasts, cultivating to immortality was a given. How many were there that hadn’t reached that point? So it was hard to say what their end result would be.