While he walked on the small mountain path and listened to Ling Feng’s recount, Qin Lie’s heart was like an overturned cruet. Sour, sweet, bitter, salty, spicy – they were all mingled into one.
Just half a year ago, when Ling Yushi learned that he held a Nebula Token and could become a core member of Nebula Pavilion at any time, she was even worried for quite a while. In order to avoid becoming his shackles, Ling Yushi had completely in submerged herself in cultivation, in hopes that one day she could keep up and join Nebula Pavilion with him.
Ling Yushi once said that she hoped that she wasn’t left too far behind, and that she hoped to keep up with his footsteps…
But half a year later, while he was still cultivating in Ling Town, Ling Yushi had met a once in a lifetime chance to skip right over Nebula Pavilion and enter Seven Fiends Valley straight away, a force of Black Iron rank.
Such was the way of life; Qin Lie wasn’t sure if he should cry or laugh, and for a moment he felt terribly upset.
“The Patriarch is waiting for you at the town entrance.” Ling Feng said suddenly.
Surprised, Qin Lie immediately saw Ling Chengye at the town entrance. His cheekbones were sunken and his face was pale white. He was staring blankly towards the sky, and from time to time he would let out a deep sigh.
Southeast of Ling Town, at the courtyard where Du Jiaolan and the family once stayed was an extravagant carriage made out of white jade. The carriage was carved with fine curlicue and embedded with gems and pearls. Under the sun’s rays, the blinding reflection from it made even Qin Lie’s eyes feel vaguely painful.
There were four Golden Crag Beasts used to pull the carriage with silver chains attached to them, guarding beside the carriage commandingly. These were wild Rank Two spirit beasts, yet they were now all completely docile.
There were a couple of beautiful female martial practitioners scattered about the carriage. Their aura was hidden – their realm obviously high – and they were chatting and laughing in a low tone about something.
Qin Lie looked towards Ling Chengye, then towards the carriage before frowning slightly.
“You’re finally back.” From the town entrance Ling Chengye finally saw his figure, and with a sudden surge of spirit walked quickly towards him.
Far away, those gorgeous female martial practitioners at Du Jiaolan’s courtyard noticed Ling Chengye’s actions and smiled. They seemed to find this amusing, and interacted with each other with covered mouths and light laughters.
On occasion they would take a glance towards Qin Lie, but although they were smiling, their gazes were all filled with a kind of natural arrogance…
—It was the attitude of a high ranking martial practitioner looking down at their inferior counterpart.
“Uncle Ling.” Qin Lie walked forwards and let out a small sigh, “You purposely waited for me here, but what exactly do you want me to do?”
Ling Chengye suddenly looked embarrassed, and for an awkward moment, he couldn’t find the right words to speak. He looked back towards the carriage and thought of tomorrow’s deadline, and finally he forced himself to say, “Uncle Ling has done you a disservice…”
Qin Lie kept quiet.
“But this is a once in a lifetime chance for Little Shi and Xuanxuan, and the entire Ling Family. It is an opportunity that I didn’t even dare to dream of!” Ling Chengye sucked in a deep breath and sighed, “Ling Family is just a very, very small force, and we have no choice but to attach ourselves to Nebula Pavilion to barely survive. Ten years ago, my wife and many of my childhood friends were lost exactly because of Ling Family’s weakness.”
“Because the Ling Family is weak, my second brother had died in shame, and all I could do was to endure. Even though I knew very well who did the deed, I could only feign ignorance and suffer that wench, Du Jiaolan’s cold glances and words…”
He stared deeply at Qin Lie and with a look of pain said sincerely, “Uncle Ling has done you a disservice. No matter how much you despise me, I am willing to accept all of it and will never rebuke a single word. But, but Uncle Ling hopes, hopes that you can persuade Little Shi to see reason, because not only is this opportunity tied to Ling Family’s fate, it is also tied to Little Shi’s lifetime growth. If she misses this opportunity, then she will regret it for a lifetime, and so will Ling Family…”
“Qin Lie, we also ask of you to persuade Little Shi.” After they heard that Qin Lie had returned, both Ling Chengzhi and Ling Kangan also hurried over to plead for his help.
Seeing the trio’s anxious looks and hearing their desperate pleas, the corner of Qin Lie’s mouth was curled in bitterness and after a long moment of silence he finally spoke, “Why do you think I can persuade her? You are her father, her uncle, her granduncle; if you have failed, then how can I possibly succeed?”
“Because Big Sister loves you.” Ling Xuanxuan voice came silently from the trio’s back. Her eyes were flickering, her lips were pursed. She said, “Because she didn’t want to break the engagement. Because she didn’t want to see you hurt. Because she is afraid that once she leaves Ling Town, she will lose you forever…”
Thunder struck Qin Lie’s mind.
“Qin Lie, do not listen to them. If Big Sister is gone, then it is unlikely that she will ever return to Ling Town. Unless, unless you can become strong enough to enter forces at the level of Dark Asura Hall or Seven Fiends Valley, all hope may be lost between you and Big Sister.”
Ling Xuanxuan ignored Ling Chengye and the others’ scoldings and continued stubbornly, “In the past I have held a misunderstanding towards you, but I did not forget that you have saved Ling Family many times, both in the open and from the shadows. I do not understand what it is to look out for the family’s greater good, but I just feel that Ling Family should at least know gratitude; know to keep their promise with grandfather Qin Shan. That’s it. That’s all I want to say…”
Finished, without caring for the scoldings of Ling Chengye, Ling Chengzhi and Ling Kangan, she turned her head and walked away.
Qin Lie was stunned because of her words for a very long time.
“Unless you can become strong enough to enter forces at the level of Dark Asura Hall or Seven Fiend Valley, all hope may be lost between you and Big Sister…”
“If I do not work hard, I will fall further and further behind. I just want… want to keep up with your footsteps; I don’t want to become your burden…”
Ling Xuanxuan and Ling Yushi’s words resounded again and again inside his head, sending him into a long trance.
“Where is she?” After a long while, Qin Lie asked suddenly.
Ling Chengye frowned deeply while feeling deep anxiousness inside his heart. Pointing towards Qin Lie’s stone house, he said, “For the past three days, she has locked herself in your house…”
Qin Lie’s heart suddenly tightened, and without waiting for Ling Chengye and the others to speak he swiftly walked towards his own house.
“How do you think the brat will choose?”
“Who knows? He should know very well that once she leaves, she will rise to the skies like a meteor. If he lets go, then he may very well lose her forever.”
“What if he doesn’t? If the girl changes her mind later, won’t she be complaining about it everyday?”
“I’m very curious about his decision.”
Beside the extravagant carriage, a few beautiful women stared at Qin Lie’s back from afar. They conversed softly, and their eyes overflowed with great curiosity.
Among them was a girl who looked to be only in her early twenties. She wore a dark blue gauze dress and her figure leaning against the carriage of white jade was incredibly tall and slim. Her skin was like snow, and her beautiful face shone with jade-like luster…
She seemed to be uninterested in the group’s conversation and had not uttered a word since the beginning. Her head was bowed as though she was cultivating in silence.
However, those beautiful women in their thirties seemed to care deeply about her opinion, and one of them couldn’t help but ask, “Lu Li, what do you think about this matter? If that brat is willing to let go then you will have two new juniors. What do you think of that?”
These women were just the martial practitioners of Dark Fiend Valley, and not Jiu Liuyu’s direct disciples, so their status were far more insignificant compared to Lu Li.
“I don’t feel like wasting energy making blind guesses. The only thing I’m interested in is the final result.”
The rest of the women laughed awkwardly at the reply; seeing that she had said her part, they all stopped discussing.
On the other side.
“Knock knock knock.” Qin Lie knocked the door gently.
“I said that I don’t want to see anyone!” Ling Yushi yelled in a low tone from inside the house.
“It’s me.” Qin Lie said with a grave voice.
There was no voice coming from the house. Instead, there was only the rustling of clothes being tidied…
After a while, the door was opened from the inside, and a downcast Ling Yushi moved aside and stared silently towards him. After he came in, she then turned around and shut the door tightly, so that Ling Chengye and the others who were rushing over would not be able to see anything.
Inside the house, the duo stared at each other in silence. They both felt like they had a million things to say, and yet not know how they should start.
“I…” Qin Lie started.
“If you’re here to persuade me, then you can stop. I won’t hear it.” Ling Yushi interrupted suddenly.
Qin Lie sighed softly and stayed quiet for a while. Suddenly he said, “I did not come here because of the Ling Family or your father, uncle and granduncle’s persuasion. I did not come here because of your sister either. I had come, for you and me…”
Ling Yushi’s eyes flickered as she waited for him to continue, a spark of curiosity bloomed inside her heart.
“You said that you hoped to be of help to me in the future. You said you didn’t want to become my burden, hoped to keep up with my footsteps…” Qin Lie looked at her and for the first time grabbed her hands on his own. While Ling Yushi’s eyes fell into a mess, he softly continued, “I can tell you right now that if you continue to stay in Ling Town, you will never keep up with my footsteps. Only by leaving, only by going to Seven Fiends Valley can you catch up to me…”
“No, it shouldn’t be like this, I don’t want to hear it.” Ling Yushi was close to tears as she shook her head repeatedly.
“Go. Leave Ling Town, join Seven Fiends Valley and work hard for the future when you and I can be together once more.” As Qin Lie said with a heavy voice, he took out the first spirit tablet that he had spent more than half a year to successfully create and pushed it into Ling Yushi’s soft palm, saying, “This is the one and only spirit tablet that I have successfully made. It is my first step on the path of Artifact Forging. To make it happen, I have spent countless sweat and hard work, and today… I gift it to you.”
Ling Yushi’s hand shivered, she bit her lips tightly, and tears flowed from her eyes.
“If you want us to have a future, then you must leave Ling Town. Only Seven Fiends Valley can truly bring out all your talent!” Qin Lie roared.
Ling Yushi’s body shuddered intensely.
“So go. Go out and tell your father, tell that Jiu Liuyu or whatever that you’ve figured it out and that you want to go to Seven Fiends Valley.” With a heavy expression, still holding her hands, he forcefully pulled her out of the stone house before immediately shutting himself inside the house. He growled through the door, “Put on your best and wait for me at Seven Fiend Valley; wait for me to come for you in the future. I, Qin Lie, swear this now! I will come for you!”
Ling Yushi stood at the doorway, listening to Qin Lie’s croaked growls; the tears would not stop.
After an unknown amount of time, under her father’s hopeful eyes, she finally stood up with dead eyes and walked towards the direction of the rich carriage.
Inside the house, Qin Lie was curled into a ball behind the door, his eyes crimson, and his teeth gritted to keep himself from screaming.
On the other side, surprise flowed out of Lu Li’s stern eyes when she saw Ling Yushi coming over. She stood up and walked over to a window that was once of Du Jiaolan’s room and spoke through it, “Master, she has come to a conclusion.”
“Very good. Find that kid and give him a Natal Ordering Pill. Tell him to forget about Ling Yushi forever.” from inside the room, a cold, crony voice resounded.
Lu Li answered once before she walked in the direction of Qin Lie’s stone house. When she and Ling Yushi crossed paths, her body shivered slightly, and it wasn’t until after she turned back to look at an indifferent-looking Ling Yushi before she finally resumed her steps.
Not long later, she arrived in front of the door of Qin Lie’s stone house and slipped a delicate little medicine bottle from the gap beneath the stone door. She said coldly, “If you can break through to the Natal Opening Realm, the Natal Ordering Pill will greatly increase your chances of success and reduce the risk of your body exploding and killing you when you ascend from the early stage to the middle stage of the Natal Opening Realm.”
She paused for a second before continuing, “Your decision surprised me a little, but I still need to tell you this. From today onwards she is my junior, and no longer a simple girl in Ling Town. She has stepped into a completely new world of cultivation, and in the future, she will have broader landscapes to see. She will no longer be in the same world as you are… I hope that this Natal Ordering Pill will make you forget about her, to forget your desires for her. It will be better for the both of you.”
Once she finished, not bothering to even listen to Qin Lie’s reply, she stood up and prepared herself to leave.
“Wait right there!” Qin Lie suddenly opened the stone door and flung the Natal Ordering Pill right into her palm. His handsome face was as cold as ice as he said impulsively towards Lu Li, “You and your master do not deserve to decide anything between her and me! You do not have the rights! Seven Fiends Valley, is it? One day I will come looking for her, and you will bear witness!”
“What an interesting fellow. Sure, I’ll wait.” Lu Li curled her lips. She smiled arrogantly and indifferently before withdrawing the Natal Ordering Pill. She even whispered, “How ungrateful…” before she finally walked away.