The two of them went inside and Jing Yi sat down at the table, his lips curving up. “There are so many instances of our life in the mortal realm that I love to think back on. Like, do you remember how I was trying to learn alchemy originally, without being able to read, and only being able to rely on what senior martial brother Yue and you told me or read to me?”
Qiu Ling sat down opposite him and nodded. “I do. I also remember painstakingly teaching you how to read and write at that time, even though we only finished with that years later.”
Jing Yi nodded. “I guess I wasn’t the best student.”
“No, you did really well. It’s just that there was always so much else to do.” He smiled and shook his head. That time had already passed but yes, it did make for some fond memories. If they could have had a few more years like that, Jing Yi probably would have been a lot happier with his life in the mortal realm.
Jing Yi nodded, his gaze brushing over the rest of the house. He had stayed here with Shao Hai when he originally came back to the mortal realm but it seemed different now that he was back with Qiu Ling. Maybe it was because they had indeed lived together for several years or maybe being with Qiu Ling just made him feel more emotional in general. He didn’t know but, right now, he felt overcome with emotion. “If I could do it all over … I think I would still do most of it all the same.”
Qiu Ling raised his brows, not having expected that. “Most of it?”
Jing Yi nodded, got up, and walked around the table, wrapping his arms around Qiu Ling’s shoulders. “I know you feel guilty and I won’t say I don’t have regrets. But these days of staying here in the mortal realm … they made me realize some things.
“Yes, my life was implicated by the trial and your presence a lot. I don’t know how it was supposed to go originally and honestly, I might not care to know at this point. I only know that the mistakes I made … most of those were on myself. I made decisions that I would do differently now that I’m older and know where they would lead.
“But if I were my fifteen-year-old self again that met you at the Gathering of Practitioners and then was … well, convinced to give you a chance, I would still do my best to learn to cultivate so we could stay together forever.
“If I were twenty years again, coming right out of the secret realm in the Leyuan region with the thought that there was some destined lover waiting for me … I would still want to ascend badly to go and look for him and I would still hurt terribly on the inside because I would feel that I led you on and it wasn’t meant to be.”
He lowered his head, his expression turning pained. “I did things wrong but I always made the decisions I thought were best at the time. They weren’t. More often than not, they weren’t. But there is nobody to blame for that, not even myself. So … if I had another chance, I would still do all of it the same way and have the same outcome. Since that is the case … how could I complain?”
Qiu Ling wasn’t sure what to say in response. Yes, Jing Yi was likely right: Even if there was another chance, the two of them had always done what they thought was the best. They might have gone wrong not just once or twice but that couldn’t be changed. Unless they could start over with all the knowledge they had gained in those slightly more than a thousand years, it would simply turn out the same way.
He hugged Jing Yi back and closed his eyes, his thoughts seeming to wander off on their own. He wasn’t sure what to say. He only knew that Jing Yi seemed a lot more … as if he had come to terms with this. That was good. It really was. And yet, he couldn’t help but feel that things should be different.
“I’m sorry. I know you are right but I am still sorry about how everything turned out. It should have been … better. Or different at least.” He furrowed his brows, not sure what to think. If he hadn’t gotten involved, Jing Yi’s life wouldn’t have been good at all. That wasn’t how the trials were supposed to be, after all. In that case, there was no way it could have been ‘better’. There was only the possibility to let him have a life that wouldn’t include him knowing about his past self. Maybe that would have taken some burden off him.
Jing Yi chuckled. He knew that Qiu Ling felt guilty but there was nothing to feel guilty about. Honestly, after all this time, he was starting to think that the problem had been more on his side. Even if Qiu Ling had played a part, it honestly hadn’t been that big. In any case … “It doesn’t matter.”
Jing Yi pulled back and looked at his fiance, trying to look confident when he said this. “I made my decision. I will give up my soul after our wedding. I … I won’t have any regrets at that point. Even if I couldn’t come back, the things I absolutely wanted to do, they will have been done by then. That is enough.”
Qiu Ling nodded, still feeling a pang of guilt when Jing Yi spoke of coming back. And yet, he still didn’t bring up his thoughts on the matter. “So … what now?”
Jing Yi just smiled. “Now, we should go to sleep. Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave for the capital city again, and then, it’ll be my last farewell to the mortal realm. I am … really looking forward to that.”