Back in the mortal realm, more precisely in a small town north of the Yun Zou Sect, Shao Hai emerged from the guesthouse after having grabbed his bag and talking to the owner for a moment to say his goodbyes and mention where they could find help in case something else occurred. He had come to this place with an objective in mind, after all.
Seeing Jing Yi and Qiu Ling standing side by side as soon as he opened the door, he could only awkwardly look at the latter. Jing Yi had been his friend so for him to not mind his angry reaction to the start of their relationship back then was one thing. This guy though … he wasn’t so sure if he could overlook that.
Qiu Ling had clearly been the possessive type and some of the mutual dislike on Qiu Ling’s side was definitely understandable. After all, it had to have been obvious to him that he had been into Jing Yi. And with him opposing them so much, that couldn’t have left him with a good impression.
In the end, Shao Hai simply gave a curt nod, hoping that this would count as an acceptable greeting. Considering that these two wanted to leave soon anyway, they didn’t need to be friends but he’d love it if the last few hours they spent together wouldn’t be tainted by a conflict.
Qiu Ling greeted him back, not thinking too much. Anyway, if he was still worried about this guy after all this time, he shouldn’t think about getting married. No, he wasn’t that insecure. Since Jing Yi considered Shao Hai his friend, he’d just treat him like everyone else.
Shao Hai almost heaved a sigh of relief but finally turned back to Jing Yi and raised his brows instead. He really didn’t want to think about this issue any longer.
Jing Yi’s feelings weren’t much different. He looked from one person to the other, having noted the tension, but since nothing further happened, he wasn’t going to bother them about it. It was good enough that everyone could come together now without having to debate their relationship status.
“Well, let’s go then. We’ll pick up the others and then return to the capital.” Looking up at the sky, he couldn’t help but click his tongue. “Going there might need to wait until tomorrow morning though.”
It wasn’t like a practitioner, an ascended deity, and a dragon wouldn’t be able to travel by night but then, most of them simply liked to stick to schedules like that because it was more convenient to have regular rest times.
The other two nodded in return and the three of them finally rushed back to the Yun Zou Sect. Just as Jing Yi had predicted, the sun had gone down by the time they arrived. They stopped at the gate to show their identity tokens and then walked inside, stopping when they passed the barrier to the inner sect.
Jing Yi cleared his throat, glanced at Qiu Ling, and then turned back to Shao Hai. “Then, I guess you will want to go back to your own room first, see your Master, and tell him about everything.”
Shao Hai nodded. “Yes, I should. Do we see each other tomorrow then?”
Jing Yi gave a hum. “How about meeting at the Grandelder’s place? Qiu Ling and I will first go to pick up senior martial brother Wu, then go there to see senior martial brother Ma and senior martial brother Nian. After that, we can all leave together.”
“That sounds good. Then we’ll do it that way.” He stopped there and then looked from one person to the other before uncomfortably clearing his throat. “Well, then I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
Jing Yi nodded and Shao Hai finally turned around, walking away.
Qiu Ling glanced at his lover and then raised his brows. “Where do you want to go?”
Jing Yi sighed. “Back to the bamboo house. I’m really tired.” Yes, he was indeed. It wasn’t the kind of tiredness that came from running around all day but the kind that you felt when you realized that time had slowly passed by and the mistakes of the past couldn’t be set right any longer.
Qiu Ling didn’t say much, simply took his hand, and led the way. He glanced around the Yun Zou Sect, not having been able to do so before unlike Jing Yi. “It must bring back memories.”
Jing Yi nodded and leaned against him, feeling like sighing again. “It does. Is it not the same for you?”
Qiu Ling gave a hum but there was no conviction behind it. It sounded more like a question or a thought that was currently being formed.
Jing Yi looked up, surprised to not hear him agree. “It doesn’t?”
“I mean, it’s not like it isn’t bringing any memories back. But I guess they differ from yours. For me … when I think of those days long ago, this wouldn’t be what I think of even though it indeed has been a long time. No, I think of … the time when I was young, the dragon king’s palace, Jinde … Maybe I even think of the time when I was just crowned king.”
Jing Yi nodded. “Well, you’ve lived longer than I have.” If it had been a few days ago, he still might have been surprised. But then, he had talked about almost the same thing with Shen An De. He felt like he got it to a certain degree even if he hadn’t reached the same point in his life.
The two of them finally reached the bamboo house and Jing Yi felt another wave of nostalgia washing over him. This place … he hadn’t even lived here long and yet, it had left him with a profound impact. He still remembered the day when senior martial brother Nian had brought him here.
Since then … so much seemed to have changed but then, it was also kind of the same. Maybe time really was that weird after you ascended. In any case, it did reaffirm his conviction that coming back to the mortal realm not just for this short visit but also for his second chance at life would be the right thing to do.