“Your trial … it went a bit off-track early on.” Qiu Ling gave an apologetic smile when he finally started like that. “This was my fault. Even though you roughly explained what the trial was about, it seems I didn’t understand enough. While following your mortal reincarnation, it was hard to watch you suffer so … I got involved where I shouldn’t.”
Jing He’s eyes widened. Contrary to Qiu Ling who had been ignorant of the rules of the trials, he was very much aware of what kind of punishment would await him if the trial wasn’t done right. No wonder his father had asked about how he was doing so insistently. Although … “Is my father aware of that?”
Qiu Ling nodded solemnly. “Yes. I got in trouble with him for that.” He cleared his throat, trying not to feel too embarrassed about that whole matter. “We figured that part out but it took a while and it still wasn’t the end. During your trial, you started to cultivate and finally ascended.”
Jing He stared at Qiu Ling in a daze. This matter … while it still couldn’t compare to the news that he had somehow met the supreme ruler, it still wasn’t easy to accept. A god’s mortal incarnation cultivating during the trial was exceedingly rare, after all. Not to mention that most that tried would not have much luck with it. Instead, what awaited them was an arduous journey that ended in violent death. That was what he had read anyway.
Qiu Ling continued to hold onto Jing He’s hand, trying to keep a neutral expression. “Much of that was my fault as well. Although, at the end of the day, maybe it was also fate itself.”
Jing He hastily nodded. In his mind, there was no way for Qiu Ling to do wrong. Of course, he couldn’t imagine that his trial would have gone off-track without fate intending it to. At most, Qiu Ling had pushed things forward by a bit.
Qiu Ling gave a hum in response and gently rubbed Jing He’s fingers with his thumb. “Because of this, your trial was longer than usual.”
“Oh, that is right. Is this why so much has happened even in the immortal realms?” Of course, some changes could happen even in the span of two or three months but even from the little he knew, there seemed to be too much for less than a year of time: A battle had broken out and the king of the demon race had changed, there was a project that the dragons and gods were working on together even though their king had been away for a long stretch of time as it seemed, and his uncle had somehow found his lost child. And who knew what else was there that he wasn’t aware of yet?
Qiu Ling nodded. “Yes, that is the case. Overall, a millennium went by in the mortal realm.”
Jing He once again found himself in a daze. “A … whole millennium?” He only whispered the words, unable to believe it. A millennium, that was almost three years in the immortal realms. Such a long trial … it really was no wonder that his parents and his uncle had seemed so worried.
“Yes, it was that long.” Qiu Ling shifted uncomfortably and finally got to his feet, walking around the table until he stood in front of Jing He. He squeezed his hands again, his gaze deep as he looked into his eyes. “I know this is a lot to take in. I … I would tell you slowly but I’m afraid there won’t be enough time.”
“Is … is something about to happen?” Jing He didn’t get up this time. After those revelations just now, he felt that he didn’t have the strength to stand. And who knew what kind of shock he would get next? No, it was better to stay seated. But this way, he could only look up at Qiu Ling in a daze.
Qiu Ling hesitated but then shook his head. “No, it’s not … not that there is anything specific. It’s just …” He knew how Jing He was but that certainly couldn’t be said like this.
He turned his head, looking out at the sky that was slowly reddening in the distance. “There isn’t that much more time today and you have started to remember your time in the mortal realm already. These things … some will be easier to talk about after you remember. Others, I’d rather explain ahead of time, so you won’t feel troubled by them.”
Jing He hastily shook his head. “There is no need to worry. Whatever happened, I certainly won’t think too much.”
Qiu Ling turned back, let go of his hands, and instead reached up to cup Jing He’s cheeks. “Won’t you?” He looked into his eyes, his lips curving up. “I won’t ask for much. Just … please trust me. Whatever you remember, whatever you think of when you do, there is an explanation for everything.”
Jing He nodded, his cheeks flushing red once more. He had been worried when Qiu Ling was distant earlier but now, they were so close and his touch made him think of those times before when Qiu Ling would inadvertently or maybe even deliberately cross the boundaries of what modesty allowed. It seemed that by now, they were back to that. Their pose right now definitely wasn’t something that could be shown to others …
Qiu Ling watched his expression and his smile got lighter. His beloved had dared to say that he wouldn’t think too much. But now, look at this! Surely, there had to be a lot of things going through his mind.
He hesitated for a moment and then looked over his shoulder. Seeing that nobody was there, he finally leaned down, his lips encountering Jing He’s in a fleeting touch. “I really missed you. You can’t imagine how much I did.”