Night fell. The only sound to be heard was the gentle lapping of waves against the island, making everything very peaceful.
As Bai Xiaochun sat cross-legged in meditation, his heart slowly grew calm. He had made his decision way back on the battleship. His trip to Heavenspan Island was for the purpose of getting a longevity pill, making sure that Hou Xiaomei was safe, and also… to find out why he had been so obsessed with Du Lingfei.
He didn’t sit reminiscing about the past. He just waited quietly.
The same pressure from before weighed down on the island, and in fact, the lack of any sound other than the waves made that pressure seem even more intense. As a result, all of the visitors felt more awe and fear than ever.
Such feelings were more intense among those with higher cultivation bases, the reason being that they could more clearly sense… an aura that destabilized their cultivation bases and left their minds reeling. That aura could crush them out of existence at will!
It was the most paramount of auras, the type that could not even be threatened by the heavens. In fact, the heavens even seemed ready to bow to the source of that aura!
An aura like that, something completely domineering and elevated… could only belong to one person in the Heavenspan Realm… the Celestial!
That knowledge made the cultivators of the four rivers even more enthusiastic than before. The mere idea of becoming the apprentice of the Celestial was profoundly exciting.
Not even the devas could control their emotions. After all, the rules had not stipulated that only Nascent Soul cultivators could win the chance to become an apprentice.
The only qualification… was to be the first person to emerge from the trial by fire.
Although the level of one’s cultivation base could play into that, luck was a larger factor. And therefore, although devas did have an advantage, that advantage would only help them to a limited extent.
As the night grew darker, most of the visiting cultivators sank into trances as they practiced cultivation. No one left their living quarters. It wasn't that they didn’t want to; they didn’t dare to.
Not only had Du Lingfei offered that warning of hers, but the pressure that weighed down made it clear that only someone suicidal would go out into the open.
Bai Xiaochun made the same decision, and simply sat waiting.
Late in the night… he opened his eyes and looked over at the front door.
In almost the same moment, an entrancing voiced drifted in from outside.
“Can I come in?”
Only that one sentence was spoken, nothing else. Bai Xiaochun sent some divine sense over to the door, and could see Du Lingfei standing outside. She wasn’t dressed like she had been during the day. She wore a white gown that was not ostentatious like her earlier garb, and made her seem just like she had been back in the Spirit Stream Sect days.
That gave Bai Xiaochun pause for thought. A moment later, he waved his hand, and the door opened, revealing Du Lingfei standing there with a smile on her face.
Their gazes met.
They were the same people that they had been all those years ago. However, on this occasion, Bai Xiaochun chose not to call her ‘boo’.
“It's been a long time,” she said. When she saw that Bai Xiaochun wasn’t inclined to say anything in response, she laughed softly and then walked inside. Tucking a stray strand of hair back over her ear, she said, “Why aren’t you saying anything?”
As the moonlight tumbled down onto her from above, it made her look as delicate as fine jade. There was something beautiful, pure, and holy about her.
When Bai Xiaochun caught the fragrance of her perfume, his heart began to beat a bit faster. After a moment of hesitation, he decided to just tell the truth. “I don't know what to say.”
Seeing that he was remaining seated, she sat down cross-legged in front of him and placed her hands on her knees.
“Why don’t you tell me about your time in the Wildlands?” she said, not sounding the least bit irritated.
He took a breath, and smelled her perfume again. Then he went on to give a brief overview of his time in the Wildlands, leaving out the details of his secret identity.
In the end, he looked her in the eye, took a deep breath, and said, “Thank you for that deva soul.”
He didn’t tell her that he had ended up forming a Heaven-Dao Nascent Soul, and only casually mentioned some of the main events during his Wildlands adventures. She didn’t press for details. It was almost as if both of them were holding back from saying the things they truly wanted to say.
Eventually, they lapsed into silence. Although they made a pretty picture, silhouetted against the moonlight, both of them felt like they were strangers to each other.
The sound of the waves surrounded them, seemingly attempting to draw them closer together, and yet failing.
After some time passed, Bai Xiaochun suddenly asked, “Who exactly are you…?”
It was the same question he had asked before leaving for the Great Wall. Way back then, she had told him that when he returned, she would tell him the truth.
Therefore, he finally decided to simply ask the question.
Du Lingfei didn’t seem surprised at all, as if she had been waiting for him to ask. She didn’t respond at first, and didn’t even look at him. But after a moment passed, she looked up into his eyes.
“The Celestial… is my father.”
Although Bai Xiaochun had suspected for a long time that this was the case, to hear the words spoken directly, and to have his suspicions confirmed, caused waves of emotion to surge in his heart.
He couldn’t control his breathing at first. Despite the fact that he had considered the possibility, now that he knew the truth, there were many things that suddenly made sense.
It made sense why Du Lingfei had such a special status in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect. If the rumors were true that the demigod patriarchs of the four riversource sects were the apprentices of the Celestial, then that made Du Lingfei their Junior Sister!
With an identity and background like that, Du Lingfei had an extremely unique status in the Heavenspan Realm. She was like a pearl of matchless quality!
However, there were still unanswered questions. As the Celestial’s daughter, a person with incredible standing, what had she been up to in the Spirit Stream Sect? And why did she appear later in the Blood Stream Sect…?
Such questions popped into his mind, and they led to more questions. And then, all of a sudden, he remembered something that caused him to tremble involuntarily….
He had absorbed a blood-hair from the Celestial.
Back when he did it, he had hesitated. But the Celestial had been such a distant figure at the time, and the hair had been given to him by the gravekeeper. Therefore, he had simply braced himself and gone through with the plan to absorb it.
But now, he was on the Celestial’s doorstep… and Du Lingfei was the Celestial’s daughter.
“I see,” he thought. “Now it makes sense why the demigod patriarch of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect only let me off with a warning when I caused so much trouble with my pill concocting….”
Settling his thoughts, he asked, “Did you arrange for Hou Xiaomei to be brought here?”
She actually didn't answer his question directly. She simply looked at him and smiled, much the same way she had back in the Luochen Mountains. She rose to her feet, walked over, and arranged his clothing like a wife would her husband’s.
Her proximity made the smell of her perfume even stronger, and caused his heart to beat faster.
After smoothing out his robes, she looked into his eyes, mixed emotions swirling in her own. Immediately, Bai Xiaochun could sense that her life had not been as happy and carefree as might be expected considering who she was. In fact, she seemed exhausted, and even forlorn.
The way she looked at him dredged up memories from the past that suddenly caused him to address her the way he had so long ago.
She shivered as memories of her own overtook her thoughts. A moment passed, and then she leaned over, put her lips right next to his ears, and spoke in the quietest of voices.
“Xiaochun… be careful… of Hou Xiaomei.”
With that, she looked him in the eyes one more time, then turned and faded away into the air….