Jinde watched the Heavenly Empress and sighed. He knew how she felt. He had been in a similar situation himself for many years: Knowing that your child was out there but that you may never see each other again. It was hard to bear.
He turned to Xiang Yu and put his hands on his shoulders. “Xiang Yu, is there anything you can remember? Anything you noticed? Maybe you saw the person who took him away?”
Xiang Yu shook his head. “I only know that this is where I completely lost sight of him. Whoever took him likely appeared at that time so I couldn’t see them. There shouldn’t be many people that it could have been though.”
Jinde nodded. Of course, there weren’t many. That person had to be a fallen god as well and there should at most be a handful of those. It wasn’t like they were a race of their own, after all. They were just … well, the unfortunate ones among the trueborn gods who got hurt to the point of no return.
Xiang Yu pondered and then leaned closer, lowering his voice. “Maybe we could go and ask Tian.”
Even though Xiang Yu had tried to be as quiet as possible, the people around were all strong and the surroundings were very quiet. Naturally, everyone heard and couldn’t help but glance over.
Jinde’s lips twitched. “I know Xin Lan has gone several times but … most people can’t just march into the High Heavens to ask Tian questions.”
Bai Fen sighed again and wandered over to their side, patting the child that was trying to help her son on the back. “It’s kind that you’re trying to find solutions but my husband’s family is as far from Tian’s good graces as they could be. I’m afraid that extends to my son so … even if one of us went, I doubt there is a chance he’d be willing to help.”
“Oh.” Xiang Yu didn’t dare to say more even though he had a different view. Tian had always been so kind to him. How could he refuse to even say a few words if it would put his mind at ease? Yes, later, he should just go over there himself. It didn’t matter what others thought. He knew Tian a lot better than they did.
Also, he had another question as well so it would be best to go and visit. He hadn’t been in the High Heavens for quite some time anyway. It’d be nice to go there for a bit. He just had to make sure that Qiu Ling and Xiang Ling were both safe while he left.
Qiang Yan also came over and nodded. “Yes, the chances of that are slim. Still, don’t worry about it. You’ve already provided us with lots of information and I have new directions to investigate in. I’ll do that and hopefully, we’ll find something.” He smiled at Xiang Yu and then turned to Jinde. “You’ll get in contact when Qiu Ling wakes up, right? Maybe he knows something as well.”
He didn’t know how exactly the soul-binding of the dragons worked and whether Qiu Ling would be able to give any new information but right now, he was desperate. Even though what he had told Xiang Yu just now wasn’t wrong, his hopes of being able to find his nephew through this were slim. Unless a miracle happened, he was afraid Jing He would be lost forever.
Jinde nodded. “We’ll do that. I’m not sure how long it will be though. If it’s true that Jing He fell, then Qiu Ling’s soul was affected. That … is not easy to deal with.” He had experienced it himself, after all, although it hadn’t been that kind of violent destruction. Instead, it had slowly faded. He could only compare it to the time he had cut off the infected part of his soul and that had taken him out for several hours. How much worse did it have to be if your whole soul was destroyed?
Nobody really knew what to say to that. They didn’t know for sure yet but with everything they saw and heard, it seemed more likely to be the case. Of course, that was an outcome neither of them wanted to see.
Jinde, Leng Jin Yu, and Xiang Yu finally bid farewell in this odd atmosphere, returning to the dragon realm.
Meanwhile, Qiang Yan quietly stood next to his sister, looking out at the garden as well. “I can’t promise you that we’ll figure it out.”
“I know. Nobody can make promises right now. We can only try our best.”
Qiang Yan hummed. He would have liked to say anything else but … there just were no guarantees right now. At most, there was a sliver of hope and even that was dim. “If he truly is a fallen god now, we likely won’t get to see him again.”
Bai Fen closed her eyes and turned to her brother, hugging him quietly. She didn’t want to lose Jing He. Just the thought of that … it was unbearable. But there was nothing she could do about it either.
Qiang Yan patted her back and looked at the place where Jing He had vanished. “A fallen god taking away a fallen god … that seems rather odd, doesn’t it? But the other person definitely opened a portal so they have to have been one of them. Maybe that means we’re wrong and Jing He didn’t fall.”
Bai Fen continued to keep silent. She heard what he was saying but … she couldn’t agree. Maybe deep down, she already knew the answer: Her child had fallen and there was no coming back from that. No matter what she told herself, no matter how she found alternative explanations, it couldn’t change what had already happened.
“I’m afraid. Afraid of what will happen to him. He … he never left home and he never needed to rely on himself. Life out there … can he even take it?”
Qiang Yan didn’t know the answer to that and could only shake his head. “Maybe he remembers enough of his trial to do so. Maybe … maybe he’ll let us know in some way.” Right now, that really was their only hope of getting the full story.
It was a pity that right now, Jing He wasn’t able to do that.