Seeing the two of them like this, entrenched in their own worries, Jing Yi couldn’t bring himself to say anything about his situation. He just continued to sit with them for a while, talking about Nian Hong Fang’s progress, the matters of the sect, and what had changed since he left.
“Eh, I still can’t believe that you ascended just like that. It really was a shock. Usually, it’s a big occasion. The Sect Master and the Elders would all know if the time was approaching for anyone. But this time, they all looked nonplussed.”
Ma Zhi Wu nodded. “Yes, I’ll never forget the look on my Master’s face.” He laughed heartily and turned his head to the side, burying the face at his lover’s shoulder. Some time through their talk, he had changed seats and was now holding Nian Hong Fang in his arms.
The alchemist turned to glance at him and helplessly shook his head. “Don’t let Peak Master Geng find out you laughed about him like this! He’ll scold you and have you do all those tasks again.”
Ma Zhi Wu still chuckled but he leaned closer and gave Nian Hong Fang a kiss on the cheek. “He won’t know if you don’t tell on me.”
Nian Hong Fang gave him a look but didn’t say anything and instead turned back to Jing Yi. “Anyway, how have things been for you? Ascending … even though it’s what most of us are working toward, it’s not like we know too much about it. Going from being a disciple here to living in the immortal realm should be a big change. I hope you didn’t run into any problems.”
Jing Yi could only smile wryly. He had run into trouble for sure but he wasn’t sure anymore whether he should say anything about that. Nian Hong Fang and Ma Zhi Wu had had a rough time. They were doing better now and happy. Burdening them with the knowledge of his situation seemed wrong.
In any case, why was he doing this? When he really thought about this question, it was because he was afraid of simply vanishing. Since the time he had found out that he was Jing He’s reincarnation, that fear had been there and it hadn’t left him since.
In Qiu Ling’s eyes, they were the same person. In the eyes of the trueborn gods, he was a nuisance that should give his spot in the world back to their own people. After he gave up his soul, Zhong Jing Yi would cease to exist and only Jing He would be left. That was something he didn’t want. He wanted to … to leave a little bit of himself at least. He wanted people to know that he had once been alive as well. He didn’t want to just vanish.
The people in the mortal realm were the only ones he could tell because only they had known him well enough. But the common people he had met in his life here were dead so that only left the cultivators and practitioners he had come into contact with. There weren’t many. Only a handful here in the Yun Zou Sect and one or two over in the Hei Dian Sect from the time he had been sent there undercover as a spy.
Nian Hong Fang and Ma Zhi Wu were two such people. Even though they hadn’t necessarily been close, they had at least known each other and he felt that they wouldn’t just forget him. So of course, he had come here to tell them. Who would have thought that he’d have second thoughts about it when the opportunity arrived?
Keeping silent for a while, he shook his head, not sure whether he was answering Nian Hong Fang’s question or his own. “Well, Qiu Ling was with me.”
Ma Zhi Wu raised his brows. “Was he? I thought he was taking part in that wedding at the time.” At the very least, he was sure that he had seen him there.
Jing Yi sighed. Right, there had been that thing. “He was. But he did join me later on. Don’t worry about it.”
Ma Zhi Wu gave a hum. He felt like Jing Yi wasn’t telling them everything but then, they were down in the mortal realm, far from being able to ascend and step into the immortal realms. How would they be able to help him? So telling them would achieve nothing.
The conversation turned dull for a moment with neither side knowing what to say.
Finally, Nian Hong Fang cleared his throat. “Anyway, are you going to stay for a while? I think the bamboo hut you were living in before hasn’t been issued to any other disciple yet. If you want to, you could move in there for a bit. Otherwise, I can also organize a place here on the peak if you’d like.”
“Uh …” Jing Yi wasn’t sure what to say to this either. He had only wanted to come, have a chat with everyone, and then leave. But now, Shao Hai hadn’t been there. It might take a few days for him to return as well. But could he really stay and wait for him here?
Xiao Dong looked at him. “There’s no reason not to. Anyway, time flows differently. Even if we stay here for a couple of weeks, it wouldn’t matter. And this is the easiest way to make sure that we don’t miss Shao Hai’s return.”
Jing Yi nodded slowly. “Right.” If they returned to the dragon realm first and then came to check later, who knew if Shao Hai would be back or if he would have left already? In that case, it was indeed better to stay here. “In that case, if it’s not a problem, I’d love to stay in that bamboo hut again.” Anyway, he had made some nice memories there. It would be good to relive some of those moments. It wasn’t what he had come here for originally but he wouldn’t feel wronged if that was what he finally ended up doing.