Jing He looked up at Qiu Ling, all his attention focused on him.
His gaze made Qiu Ling feel a certain kind of way and he had to face the other way as if he was staring at some unknown place in the distance before he managed to calm down again.
He faintly cleared his throat and thought through how to describe it. “It is said that once upon a time, the three realms were one land that knew no borders. It was surrounded by the ocean on all sides with a few lakes dotting the landscape here and there and rivers flowing from the mountains into the sea.
“Nowadays, the realms are only attached in the southern region of the Nine Heavens with the dragon realm sharing a border to the east of the Qishi sea with it and the demon realm sharing the border that leads through the mountain range in which the Tian Shan can be found.
“At those borders, the land looks as if it was still one: You can’t really distinguish the mountains on the eastern side of the border which are part of the Nine Heavens from the mountains on the western side. Just like the land north and south of the border between our realms doesn’t look any different.
“The Qishi sea borders all three realms. And yet, you won’t find a difference in the way the light of the sun and moon sparkles on its surface or how the waves behave when a breeze passes by. The smell of the water is the same as well, no matter in which direction you stand.
“All that is to say that nature knows no borders. It doesn’t care what the land where you lay eyes upon it is called. It doesn’t care who rules over the people living on it. Nature has its own way to develop and it has little to do with the people around it. At most, with cities being built and wars being fought, there will be slight changes but sometimes, it tends to take back what has been taken from it.”
Jing He had quietly listened until this point but now, he couldn’t help but speak up. “How so?” To be honest, he had read about the regions out there but they were all abstracts mentions in his mind, not real places that he could imagine without effort.
Qiu Ling turned back to him and gave a hum. “It might not be as clear in the immortal realms because we are all born with magic. If there is a flood, we will try our best to keep it in check. And often enough, we may succeed at it. But then, there might also be times when we can’t and nature will simply overwhelm us.”
Jing He nodded. “I heard my mother and uncle once were caught in such a flood and I remember being young …” He shook his head, not wanting to speak further, and instead raised his gaze to Qiu Ling again. “So, what course took nature in the realms out there? You should have seen it with your own eyes?”
Qiu Ling narrowed his eyes when Jing He mentioned being young. He had hardly mentioned his past in the six years they had known each other. The clearest had probably been the comment about him being afraid when they went out the other day and how that was because of something that had happened once when he was a child.
He really would have liked to know more but he felt that right now wasn’t the right moment. It would be better to slowly get there later, after he had told him what he wanted to know right now. Thus, he only nodded in response to Jing He’s last question.
“I did indeed see all of it myself. Although I have to admit that sometimes, it is difficult for me to tell which part of the land it is that I came across.” He smiled faintly and leaned back, looking up at the sky. “You know how I originally lived in the capital city of the dragon realm.
“You’ve probably seen it on a map: The city is roughly in the middle of the realm with a vast expanse of land to the west where the territory of the spiritual beasts is located as well and another stretch of land to the east that seems to curl beneath the Qishi sea.”
Jing He nodded. Of course, he had learned about the three immortal realms. The maps of them were something he had studied quite a bit. He knew of almost all the big cities in both the Nine Heavens and in the realm of their allies. But it had only been after he met and fell in love with Qiu Ling that he paid special attention to those places.
In fact, when it came to what was located where, he didn’t need Qiu Ling to say anything. He knew by heart how each of the rivers bend in the dragon realm or where the highest mountains towered over their settlements. It was just … he wanted to hear it from him, he wanted to hear him describe those places to him in his own words just like he remembered them from the times he had passed by.
Jing He didn’t interrupt him so Qiu Ling went on with his description. “When my family left the capital city, we moved further to the northwest, closer to the border of the territory of the spiritual beasts but also closer to the border to the demon realm.
“Later, when I was on my own and living outside in the wilderness, I naturally stumbled past both of those borders. I often had no idea where I actually was. It was only much later, after I got my hands on a few maps and learned to look for landmarks that I managed to figure out reliably where I was at a time.”
Jing He looked at Qiu Ling with some worry. “I would imagine that it was difficult to not know where exactly you were.”
Qiu Ling gave a drawn-out hum, thinking back to that time. It had certainly been a difficult period in his life but that had had little to do with his lack of knowledge of where he was. Naturally, he didn’t want to spell that out. “I’d assume it might have caused some issues but mostly, it didn’t matter much. Since I stayed out of the towns and cities most of the time, I didn’t have to know where I was.
“Also, the dragon realm was my home and the spiritual beasts are counted as part of our race while the gods are our allies. You could say it was only a problem when I strayed into the demon realm or the mortal realm.”
Jing He’s eyes widened. “You even went to the mortal realm?”
Qiu Ling nodded. “I did, though not often. It was more or less an accident at first and when I realized that I had completely ventured out of the bounds of the immortal realms, I made my way back rather soon. After all, in the mortal realm, there was much more reason to worry about being found out.”
Qiu Ling smiled faintly but then shook his head. “Well, enough of that. You wanted to know how the realms differ from each other and how they were the same. I still haven’t answered that question.”
Jing He lowered his gaze but his lips were faintly curved. To be honest, Qiu Ling didn’t necessarily need to answer. He was already happy just hearing him talk about all of this.
Qiu Ling thought for a while and then went back to where he had begun the story. “Well, I said the land might have been one in the past and then later became more … split.”
Jing He nodded. He had naturally heard that story. “Yes, it is said that at that time, it was divided evenly into an eastern and a western part that were ruled by the gods and demons respectively. Then later, a fissure emerged while the two races fought, and over time, the land itself cracked and drifted apart. The western part leaned even further to the west and the eastern part stretched toward the east. This way, Shan Dian trench was formed.”
Qiu Ling nodded. To be honest, he wasn’t as familiar with those legends. He only roughly knew that the land had apparently been split somehow in the long course of history that the immortal races had. He didn’t mention it though and simply moved on to what he had wanted to say. “So there was a more pronounced eastern and western part but there were still only the gods and the demons living in them.
“Later, when the dragon race emerged, they lived among the demons first. After all, they could still be called one people at the beginning. But when conflict grew, it became time to put space between themselves and the other demon tribes. Thus, the dragons started to converge together in the southern part of the continent. And over time, that place became the dragon realm. As for why they chose that place, that naturally has to do with the differences between the dragons and those of the demon tribes.”