“Senior!” Qin Wentian’s heart shuddered as he called out in shock. Qin Wentian ran towards Gongyang Hong, then squatted down to check on his injuries.
Gongyang Hong waved his hands in response to Qin Wentian as he stared blankly at that vacant space. In the depths of his eyes, despair, rage, regret and pain could be seen, causing those who saw it to also be able to feel the sadness of Gongyang Hong.
“Senior, you have to take care of yourself.” Qin Wentian silently sighed upon seeing the emotions in Gongyang Hong’s eyes. Gongyang Hong definitely had an extraordinary past.
“We live and die together, we live and die together…… for over 20 years, I wanted to fully immerse myself in comprehending the insights of Divine Imprints and thus, I begun my research on Divine Inscriptions. But right from the beginning, my path was already a mistake.” Helplessness was evident in Gongyang Hong’s voice as he muttered to himself.
“If I had known that her intention was not for me to comprehend the imprints within the paintings, but instead was for me to decipher the innate techniques hidden within, I believe that at most, I would have succeeded using only half a year of time. After all, I’ve seen and knew of these techniques. Maybe I would have even succeeded using only 2 to 3 months’ worth of time… but, I actually used a total of 20 over years.”
Gongyang Hong murmured to himself, but Qin Wentian knew that he was right. If Gongyang Hong had known from the beginning that the paintings contained innate techniques within them, he would have understood the concept of the problem from this angle. Based on his knowledge and comprehension level, he would have solved the riddle within half a year. After all, he was familiar with all the four types of innate techniques, and was even capable of executing them at a certain level. However, sadly, Gongyang Hong’s direction was already wrong at the start.
“I’ve always considered myself to be free-spirited, but in reality, I’m inferior, a coward, cold blooded and emotionless. I’m sorry for what I’ve done to you.” From the corner of his eye, a tear could be seen beginning to roll down Gongyang Hong’s face. Akin to a corpse, he laid there, unmoving.
There’s no greater sorrow than a heart that’s already withered. His heart, at this moment, was so cold that the coldness seeped into the bone.
And in this instant, Qin Wentian’s heart involuntarily trembled as he saw the dishevelled hair of Gongyang Hong’s head slowly turning white.
“Senior, the matter of over 20 years ago has already passed. Why must you torment yourself so?”
Qin Wentian tried to persuade. To what degree would the level of despair and agony be in order to turn a headful of hair white? However at that moment, the headful of white hair actually turned silver, as Gongyang Hong appeared to age more than 10 years in an instant.
Gongyang Hong closed his eyes, as Qin Wentian sat beside him, not knowing what to say.
The “her” in his words should most probably be a female who left behind the words “We live and die together” to him.
However, Qin Wentian didn’t understand. Since that female was so emotional, why didn’t she just tell Gongyang Hong directly. Instead, she chose to left behind a riddle in the paintings, leaving behind more than 20 years of regret and misunderstanding.
Gongyang Hong currently had his eyes closed, and there were no signs of life visible about him. Qin Wentian sighed but chose not to disturb Gongyang Hong. He sat down at a spot nearby Gongyang Hong, opting not to leave in case Gongyang Hong suffered from any mishap.
Very quickly, another day passed and night arrived. The Astral Light cascaded downwards, landing on Qin Wentian’s body. Qin Wentian was currently cultivating in his sleep, his body was bathing in the starlight, his countenance appearing so tranquil and peaceful. The boundless energy of the Astral Light was absorbed into his body, as it circulated along his arterial circular pathways.
At this moment, Gongyang Hong opened his eyes, only to see him inclining his head to look at the vast starry skies, as a sense of lost emanated from him.
“Everything that happened was because of my own mistakes.” Gongyang Hong gazed at the stars as he murmured in his heart.
“That year, her talent was monstrous, and she had many suitors. Although you appeared confident and at ease, didn’t that originate from your sense of inferiority? If you didn’t think of yourself to be inferior to her, why after such a long period of companionship did you still not dare to take the final step. Couldn’t you feel the love she had towards you?
“That year, she rejected 18 marriage proposals, and those she rejected were all demon-level talents from all the grand and powerful sects. Which of them was inferior to you? Why did she still chose to reject them? Why would she still take the trouble to talk about this with you? Your self-pity and cowardice spoiled everything. In the end, you chose to remain silent, afraid to tell her of the feelings in your heart.
“That year, everyone was jealous of you. But why would they be jealous? Wasn’t it because you were the only one she was close to? And because of jealousy, they severely injured you. Because of you, she begged her father for help, but yet again, during the 19th marriage proposal, you remained silent. Could it be that you were still blind to her love for you?
“Even the last time she came to see you, you were still afraid to confess. In the end, you remained silent, the only thing she left behind were the four Divine Inscription paintings, and she still gave you a year of time to decipher the riddle. During that year of time, even if you did not decipher it, as long as you spoke up, regardless of the cost, she would have given everything up and left together with you. All because of the words, ‘We live and die together.’
“But, you did not. You personally witnessed her marriage with some other. You indifferently watched everything happen. Couldn’t you tell what her eyes were conveying when she looked at you? That despair, and coldness and eventually hopelessness. Gongyang Hong, you deserve death.”
Gongyang Hong thought about the events of his past that occurred over 20 years ago. Even after the long passage of time, he still felt pain, as he stared blankly at the night skies, lonely and miserable.
The air of the early morning was slightly wet, dewdrops could be seen on the bamboo leaves in the bamboo forest around them.
Qin Wentian called out, “Senior.” as he opened his eyes. He saw Gongyang Hong sitting there, with a head of silvery hair, appearing to have aged immensely.
“You’re awake.” Gongyang Hong shifted his gaze over and smiled at Qin Wentian, recovering from his earlier state of madness. Qin Wentian, upon seeing this, finally heaved a sigh of relief in his heart.
“Hmm.” Qin Wentian nodded.
“How did you ever find the connection between Divine Imprints and innate techniques?” Gongyang Hong curiously inquired. The her from that year was also a monstrous genius, and was an expert in divine inscriptions, carving out the four Divine Inscription paintings for him 20 over years ago. This was proof that she was the same as Qin Wentian, and had already discovered the interconnection between Divine Imprints and innate techniques.
“Struck by a sudden inspiration. One of my cultivation techniques requires me to borrow the energy of Divine Imprints. After I gained some comprehension regarding Divine Imprints, somehow, unknowingly, I began to link both of them together.” Qin Wentian smiled as he answered.
As Gongyang Hong looked upon the pure smile displayed, he couldn’t help but to think of events of yesteryear. Sadly, after living hollowly for over 20 years, the only thing he had left was regret.
“If you ever meet a girl who can move your heart, do not miss the chance, you must take the initiative.”
Gongyang Hong abruptly changed the topic, leaving Qin Wentian stunned.
Laughing simple-mindedly, Qin Wentian nodded, “Okay.”
However, as of now, he still had not met a girl who could truly move his heart. But, on the topic about moving his heart, a scene of a scenery of snow involuntarily floated up in his mind.
Snowflakes were drifting about, as a young lady sat beside him, silently admiring the snow. Calling him a dumbo, before leaving with a smile. That picture was beautiful indeed.
“What am I thinking?” Qin Wentian bitterly shook his head.
“Remember, not to miss the chance. If you do, you will regret it for life.” Gongyang Hong deeply sighed as he continued, “Since you could connect Divine Imprints and innate techniques together, why haven’t you done the same and linked your Astral Soul together with your attacking-type innate techniques?”
“Senior, the attacks executed by innate techniques, don’t they already contain a sliver of Astral Soul energy within them? The Astral Energy granted from the different types of Astral Souls would determine the cultivation art and innate techniques of a cultivator. As for a deeper linkage, this junior has yet to comprehend anything regarding that.” Qin Wentian replied.
Although he replied this way, in reality, Qin Wentian already had the thought of linking his Astral Soul with his innate techniques. Back then when he fought against Yanaro and Luo Qianqiu, he had already wanted to incorporate the power of his dream-type Astral Soul into his innate techniques.
“You should know that above the Yuanfu Realm is the Heavenly Dipper Realm. But do you know what the Heavenly Dipper Realm symbolises?” Gongyang Hong asked as he looked to Qin Wentian.
“Junior has no idea.” Qin Wentian replied. Now, he was only at the Arterial Circulation Realm. How would he have had the chance to interact with a sovereign of the Heavenly Dipper Realm? Those at the Heavenly Dipper Realm could already be considered as standing at the peak in the entire Chu Country.
“Heavenly Dipper Realm, is to condense stars of the Heavenly Dipper, also known as Astral Nova. At that time your Astral Soul, would be then, your most direct method of combat. For some cases, Astral Novas were even more powerful when compared to using Divine Weapons.” Gongyang Hong explained, as he continued. “Sooner or later, the Astral Soul itself would transform into an attack-type innate technique. However, to condense Astral Novas, a cultivator would require a truly astronomical amount of cultivation resources to step past the gulf that separates Yuanfu and the Heavenly Dipper Realm.
“Many people – including numerous elites and talented geniuses – despite trying for their entire lives, weren’t able to bridge the final gap. If you could incorporate the power of your Astral Soul directly into your innate techniques earlier, when it comes to the time to condense your Astral Nova, you would find it several times easier when compared to others.”
Gongyang Hong guided as Qin Wentian seriously listened. This was the precious insight of Gongyang Hong, obtained through his own experiences.
“Look into my eyes.” Gongyang Hong continued. As Qin Wentian looked into his eyes, he only saw eyes of the dead looking back at him. Instantaneously, he felt a surge of death intent entering his mind, only to dissipate a moment later. However, just an instant of that experience was able to cause Qin Wentian’s heart to palpitate wildly.
Just a single look was already this terrifying.
“That was the combination of my Astral Soul and my ‘Eyes of the Dead’ innate technique. This type of innate technique can only be cultivated if one has a matching type of Astral Soul.” Gongyang Hong continued, “Thus, you must remember to incessantly utilise your Astral Souls. In the future, they will become your ultimate weapons, and similarly, your proficiency with usage of Astral Souls is also the key of stepping into the Heavenly Dipper Realm.”
“Many thanks for the guidance of Senior.” Qin Wentian bowed.
“I’m just speaking from my experiences, how can it count as guidance? If not for you, I’m afraid to say that even now, I still would not have managed to decipher the riddle in the paintings.” Gongyang Hong sighed, “Qin Wentian, your comprehension is in the right direction. Astral Souls, Divine Imprints, Innate Techniques, all of these are part of cultivation. All streams lead to the oceans, all paths eventually lead to the same direction. Continue cultivating hard, and live well with no regrets.
“You, can leave now. And since you were the one who deciphered the riddles of these four paintings, I shall give them to you.”
Qin Wentian gazed at Gongyang Hong as he accepted the paintings. Standing up, he bowed again, as he departed.
“Take care of yourself Senior. In the future, this junior here will visit you often.” Qin Wentian called out as he walked into the bamboo forest. Little Rascal scuttled from the side, following behind the silhouette of Qin Wentian.