"How has your exploration been this past month? I didn't lie to you, did I?"
The Elder watched Ling Xian with a playful look on his face. He was smiling but was not truly smiling.
Started slightly, Ling Xian's eyes were bright and clear, he admitted, "I knew I would not be able to hide that from you. It is true, I've been trying to find my ways around the Vast Mountains. It is just like you said. With my strength right now, to get out of this place is as difficult as me trying to get to heaven."
Hearing this, Su Zi's face turned white. She forced a peal of laughter. "Ling Xian, Grandpa, you guys talk, I'll clean up."
She then picked up the plates and bowls off the dining table and walked to the kitchen.
Watching Su Zi leaving, the Elder sighed. "It's good that she left. Some things I don't really want her to hear."
Ling Xian nodded in agreement.
Seeing the expressionless youth, the Elder opened his mouth. "It seems like you have guessed what I want to talk to you about."
Ling Xian nodded again as a bitter grin appeared on his face.
"You and I are both clear headed people, so I will just straight up say it." the Elder stayed silent for a while before finally asking, "Must you leave?"
"Yes, I must leave." Ling Xian's face was serious and determined. His dream was to live in the heavens, how could he let himself spend the rest of his life in a little village.
Sensing Ling Xian's resolution, the Elder sighed again. "Ling Xian, the feeling Su Zi has for you, you know, don't you?"
"I…" Ling Xian hesitated, "I know."
"As long as you know." The Elder nodded. His murky eyes suddenly turned sharp as he stared deadly at the youth before him. In a low voice, he asked, "Since you know, then I will ask, are you willing to take Su Zi as your wife?"
So the topic came up.
Ling Xian exhaled deeply and did not utter a word. He shook his head.
"Just as I thought…" The Elder seemed to have aged 10 years. Worry was written all over his wrinkled face.
He predicted that Ling Xian would reject this request, therefore he originally had no plans to ask so directly. However, Su Zi's somber attitude caused him to make a split-second decision.
The result was just as anticipated.
"I see Su Zi as a little sister," Ling Xian whispered.
"But she never treated you like her older brother," the Elder shook his head and pushed on, "You know how nice she has been to you in the past two months. Does your heart not waver at all?"
Staring at the suddenly older looking Elder, Ling Xian was finding it hard to say no. However, there really was no way for him to accept Su Zi, so he could only toughen up his heart and reject again, "She is a good girl. Smart, beautiful, kind, and gentle. I like her very much, but it is not the type of affection between a man and a woman."
"Ah… If that's the case then… That will be the end of that, I will never mention it again." The Elder exhaled, finding it hard to cover up the exhaustion and worry he felt. He waved his hand, gesturing for Ling Xian to leave.
Ling Xian bitterly laughed and slowly stood up, marching toward his own room.
The Elder suddenly ordered. After a long while, he said, "You should go talk to Su Zi. Some things are better said yourself. Since you made up your mind, then make it clear to her."
Pausing his footstep, Ling Xian stayed put for a few long seconds before marching on again. He did not return to his room, however, rather he walked toward a little stream outside of the Village Leader's house.
Because Su Zi was there.
Even if the Elder didn't ask him, he was planning on finding Su Zi and talking it out with her. He had already used his spiritual energy to find her whereabouts.
Su Zi was sitting on a giant rock, observing the clear little stream before her. She didn't look back. With the sound of footsteps alone, she knew it was Ling Xian who had come.
"Yeah, I came." Ling Xian walked beside her and took a black robe out of his pouch and laid it on the young girl. "Nights get chilly. Wear more, so you don't catch a cold."
Su Zi didn't dismiss Ling Xian's niceness. However, her face was ice cold. She said softly, "If you don't like me, then why worry about me?"
"Did… Did you hear my conversation with your grandpa?" Ling Xian froze a bit.
"No," Su Zi shook her head. "To like someone is to never want to leave that person's side. Yet you want to leave. That means you don't like me."
Watching the dispirited young girl, Ling Xian was speechless for a while. He then smiled bitterly. "I do like you, but it's not the type of feelings between a man and a woman. Tather it's the type of emotions between a brother and a sister."
Hearing with her own ears that he has been seeing her as his sister, Su Zi's face turned white, and she sneered, "Then why does it matter? In my eyes, if you don't like me as a woman then I don't care what it is you feel for me. I don't need it."
"Aye…" Ling Xian sighed, "Can't we be brother and sister?"
"No. Maybe in our next lives, but in this life, there are only two types of relationship I am willing to have with you; one is husband and wife, one is strangers." Su Zi's voice was very cold. Though she appeared weak and normally acted gentle and mellow, she had a very strong heart. Since Ling Xian has made it clear to her that he didn't feel the same way, she didn't feel the need to still latch on.
Though her heart was in pain, she would much rather have a clean break that ended this aggressive but short fate.
Ling Xian opened his mouth to say something but closed it with a sigh. He was speechless.
Seeing the man she loved not uttering a word, Su Zi looked away. Her heart was throbbing, yet she put on a nonchalant attitude. "You don't need to say anything. Since you don't like me, then there is no need to force anything. After all, a lot of people are after me. I… I don't care about you."
"Really? You really don't care?" Ling Xian glared at the crescent moon in the sky, his eyes filled with empathy.
Su Zi held back her tears and snickered, "I don't care. I really don't care."
"If that's really the case then that's good." Ling Xian slowly shook his head and gazed at her. "Su Zi, no matter what, I will carve all the memories we made in the last two months onto my heart. In my lifetime, I will never forget them."
"If you are unwilling to accept me, then what's the point of carving them? It's better to forget, forget all of it, forget everything." Su Zi grinned out of politeness as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Finally, she could no longer contain her pain, no longer contain the tears in her eyes.
Watching Su Zi, whose tears would not stop, Ling Xian wanted to go up to her and wipe away her tears. However, he took one step and immediately stopped. He hesitated, and in the end, he had no courage to go up to her.
No, he had no reason to go up to her.
Since he cannot accept her, then he must be absolute and stop giving her any mixed signals. Definitely no more intimate gestures.
A clean break is better for both of them.
Su Zi's face was chalk white, seeing Ling Xian taking one step and stopping, she laughed. Throwing his black robe onto the ground, she walked away without turning her head.
Her steps were slow, like an old and ailing candle, she staggered and faltered. Every step seemed difficult.
It wasn't hard to guess how much she wanted him to run up to her and engulf her into his chest and kiss her. Even if he just had said one simple sentence of how he wanted her to stay, it would've been enough for her to change her mind.
However, Ling Xian showed no emotions. He simply stood where he was and watched her walk away until she completely disappeared from his view.
Under the moon and the black sky, Ling Xian sighed. Anyone could tell how much emotions were stuffed into his little sigh.
"If you go up right now, and hug her tightly, her heart will be completely yours, and her body will follow you no matter where you go."
A crisp voice suddenly emerged. The silhouette of the Untainted slowly materialized beside Ling Xian.
Her skin was like cream; her eyes were like the autumn frost. She wore all white, and her long flowy hair was ink black. Just like a goddess would, she descended into the mortal world like a lotus that grew out of the ground without a speck of dust on its petals.
"I don't want to."
Ling Xian shook his head, "Waling up to her and hugging her is not good for her. I would just be causing her more pain and digging a hole for myself. Even though at that moment, we would both be happy, but in the future, one of us would be in agony while the other drowns in shame."
"That's true, because you don't love her."
The Untainted, whose beauty alone was enough to make the entire city succumb, gracefully stared at the youth before her. "I didn't expect you to be so clear-cut. If this were any other man, they would accept her for all the wrong reasons even if they didn't love her."
"I don't want to cause her pain and end up hating myself too." Ling Xian faintly sighed. He moved his gaze onto the Keeper of Land and Sea. Subconsciously, his eyes flickered at her beauty. He asked, "Since you have personally appeared, something must be up. I do not believe you would suddenly be in the aesthetic mood to spend a night watching the moon with me."
"Why can't I be in such mood?" The Keeper of Land and Sea was icy like the snow, proud like the moon. Like the snow lotus in heavens, she was cold and holy, lonely and noble.
"Even if you really do have such refined interests, with your cold personality, you would never do this with a man." Ling Xian faintly smiled.
"That is true. However, you should feel fortunate. Ever since I was awakened, I have appeared before you in this cold attitude. If instead, I chose to treat you with my evil and overbearing side, then you would've died before you could worship me as your master." The Untainted's eyes were frigid. "I never would've saved your life twice."
Ling Xian grinned. "Where did you get this information from? If I'm not wrong, you only saved me once. That was when you sealed the heavens and locked the earth with your sigh. Afterward, you didn't help me even though I was on the brink of death."
"You dare to bring that up?" the Keeper of Land and Sea sneered at him, "'Come out, the Keeper of Land and Sea'. Ling Xian, do you really think of me as your pet who comes and goes as you please?"
Hearing this, Ling Xian became embarrassed and chuckled. "Please forgive me. I said that purely without thinking. Please don't blame me."
The Keeper of Land and Sea snickered. "Did you really think you were saved by the majestic blood after falling off the mile-tall cliff?"
"Wasn't I?" Ling Xian frowned.
"The majestic blood is heaven-defying. However, you only awoke a quarter of it. If I didn't meddle at the critical time when you were landing, would you even have the life in you to speak with me?" The Untainted's lips opened slightly, and she spoke slowly.
"I see, then thank you the Keeper of Land and Sea for saving my life twice," Ling Xian was enlightened. He didn't question her nor suspected what she said. The Untainted would never lie to him just so he would admire her.
"I don't need you to thank me, I just need you to repay me in the future," the Untainted, with steps light as air, walked over. She was only here in spirit and soul and thus appeared very weak. Even so, her grace was enough to allure all men and dazzle the dynasty.
"I am here today to tell you something of serendipity."
"Serendipity?" Ling Xian's eyes brightened, and he was very excited. Serendipity means he has a chance to improve his capabilities, perhaps a chance for him to leave the Vast Mountains.
"That's right. Right now I am only the soul of an immortal, but I am more sensitive than ever. Half an hour ago, I had the feeling that on this piece of land, a treasure is about to born." The Untainted gazed into the wilderness as her eyes sharpened and illuminated.
"What kind of treasure?" Ling Xian asked.
The Untainted glared at him and softly whispered, "Perhaps it's a spiritual medicine, perhaps it's a rare gem, perhaps it's an abode. Whatever it is, it is an incredible treasure."