This change along with the powerful ripples spreading out from Fang Cang Lan’s mountain was like a bright flame burning in the darkness. All the people in Southern Swamp Island could feel it clearly.
The tower was no longer around at the top of the mountain, having turned into rubble. There was a deep pit on the ground. In fact, there were also faint and indistinct waves of freezing air around the area that were spreading in all directions.
Fang Cang Lan was sitting cross-legged on the ground and looking at Su Ming with a delighted smile on her face.
Su Ming took a few steps forward and sat down before her. His gaze fell on the woman’s face. He had a vague feeling that he had returned to the past, it was just that the darkness around them caused his memories to also be faded and unclear.
"It’s been a while." After a long time, Su Ming spoke softly.
"It hasn’t been that long." Fang Cang Lan smiled softly and twirled a lock of hair. She put away the jade skull in her hand.
Su Ming looked at Fang Cang Lan. As he looked at the joy in her eyes and the face that existed in his memories, he suddenly did not know what he wanted to say. In this darkness, on this Southern Swamp Island that existed in the depths of the sea, the things that had happened in the past appeared before his eyes.
Time trickled by, and a long time seemed to have passed by. The smile on Fang Cang Lan’s face gradually disappeared and turned into serenity. She sighed in her heart and gradually lowered her head. Just like Su Ming, she stayed silent.
"How is Han Mountain City?" Su Ming asked softly.
Fang Cang Lan closed her eyes and mumbled, "It’s no longer there."
"Has dispersed." Fang Cang Lan opened her eyes and looked at Su Ming, at the face she had never been able to forget for the past twenty years. This amount of time might not be long, but it was not short either. Besides, far too many things had happened during these twenty years.
The two of them fell silent once more in the darkness, as if they had nothing to say to each other.
After some time, Su Ming broke the silence. "Zi Yan told me the things the two of you went through during the past few years…"
Fang Cang Lan bit her bottom lip and whispered softly, "Senior sister Zi Yan has given up a lot for me, but I can’t repay her."
"That’s why you set up the murder plan just now to kill this person called Yun Lai?" Su Ming looked at the seemingly meek and gentle woman before him. She was just as he had seen her in the past. There was a tough attitude hidden under that meek demeanor of hers.
"It’s a pity it’s all wasted. I can’t use it anymore." Fang Cang Lan lowered her head and looked at her hand. She suddenly lifted her head, and her glittering eyes fell on Su Ming’s face.
"If I didn’t have the divine ability that allows me to see other people’s pasts and I didn’t know the things that had happened to you over the past twenty years, would we have more to say to each other?"
Su Ming opened his mouth, as if he wanted to say something, but in the end chose to remain silent. This woman before him had loved him in the past, and she still loved him now, but he did not know how to respond to her. In fact, his impression of her in his heart was frozen as well, to that image of the past.
"We got to know each other when we were in Han Mountain City.
"We went to Freezing Sky Clan together.
"The seed of love Si Ma Xin planted in me was destroyed all those years ago thanks to you. You… don’t owe me anything," Fang Cang Lan said softly. Her gentle voice echoed in the air around them, and it gave off the same feeling as the woman herself—they were both meek and delicate.
"We’re friends." When Su Ming heard Fang Cang Lan’s words, he spoke softly.
"Friends…? We’re friends," Fang Cang Lan mumbled, and a smile appeared on her face once again, but that smile was a whole lot different compared to the smile she had showed him when she recognized him just then.
That smile was not one of joy but held a hint of anguish.
"I already know why you came here…
"Either you will take me away, or… don’t bother about me." Fang Cang Lan closed her eyes again.
Su Ming fell silent.
"Since you won’t take me away, then why did you come here? Isn’t it better to just let me immerse myself in the world of my memories? Su Ming… go!" Fang Cang Lan still had her eyes closed, but there was a firm edge to her soft voice.
"I can’t take you away from this place, but I can kill the person who is forcing you against your will." Su Ming looked at Fang Cang Lan and spoke with a low voice.
"I don’t need it. Why would I be unwilling? If you’re not taking me away, then I’ll need to choose how I will survive." Fang Cang Lan’s face was calm and her words were still as gentle as ever, but within that gentleness was grief. Su Ming could sense it.
He remained silent for a moment, then cast a complicated glance at Fang Cang Lan and stood up silently, walking away into the distance.
He could not accept Fang Cang Lan. It was not that this woman was not good enough. The problem lay with Su Ming himself. He did not want to have too many concerns tying him down. Love was something he had buried in Dark Mountain all those years ago. The women’s words and actions during treasure gambling event in the World of Nine Yin had also let him see through even more things in the world.
"I’m really envious of Bai Su… I want to know, Su Ming, during all these years, which woman was the hardest for you to erase from your heart?" Fang Cang Lan’s soft and gentle voice traveled from behind Su Ming.
His footstep halted for a moment, and the faces he had seen appeared in his eyes. There were some which were clear and some faint, but eventually, all of them faded away, none remained… If he had to say that there was one, then perhaps the girl called Bai Ling who had made his heart flutter when he was still a boy was the one who was still difficult for him to forget even to this date.
But that was already in the past.
"You are a heartless man… Su Ming…" Fang Cang Lan seemed to have already guessed what was in Su Ming’s mind, and she spoke softly behind him.
‘Perhaps,’ Su Ming answered quietly in his heart. Besides Bai Ling, there were two other women who had left the deepest impression in his heart. One of them was Bai Su, and the other Tian Lan Meng.
However, Bai Su had not taken the path of return Su Ming had provided for her. While Tian Lan Meng’s avoidance of his gaze and her subsequent silence in the World of Nine Yin had also caused that deep impression to gradually turn back to something normal.
When Su Ming left and Fang Cang Lan was the only one on the mountain, she quietly opened her eyes while sitting there. Tears fell down her face, causing the world in her sight to turn blurry.
"I can see other people’s past, but not my own future…"
She whispered softly, and in her anguish, more tears fell from her eyes. When the person who she had always found hard to forget even during these twenty years appeared before her once again, their end was the same as before. Nothing much had changed.
‘Perhaps forgetting is the best choice.’ Fang Cang Lan lowered her head, but at the instant she dipped her head down, another person appeared on the mountain some distance away from her.
It was a man in a large robe. He was bald and his eyes shone with a dark light. He was filled with a devilish air, and he seemed to have fused together with the mountain under his feet.
He stared at Fang Cang Lan and the wreckage around her coldly before walking towards her.
His body was like an illusion. When he walked closer, the air around him started distorting, and it continued twisting until the man was a hundred feet away from Fang Cang Lan.
"This was prepared for me, right?" The man was naturally the person Zi Yan had spoken of, Yun Lai. Once he swept his gaze through the area, he cast a glance at the spot where the sun should have been, and his pupils shrank.
Fang Cang Lan lifted her head and looked at Yun Lai with a detached expression. She did not speak.
"The tower here before and the waves of ripples from the Runes within it should have been able to make me freeze for a moment when I was caught in them," Yun Lai stated calmly, and his gaze landed at the pit.
"After I walked out of the tower, I would step into another Rune. This Rune could freeze me, and even with my level of cultivation, I would be sealed for a moment." A hint of admiration appeared on Yun Lai’s face, and he took another few steps closer.
"And then would come the ninety-nine sword aura from the mountain. Once it covered the entire area, it would make me be unable to find your true killing move falling from the sky." Yun Lai stood thirty feet away from Fang Cang Lan, and his gaze landed on her body.
"You must have other methods that you would continue executing until you killed me, too. Not bad! Not bad indeed! As expected of the woman I fancy. You have a calculative heart and a forbearing soul. But that b*tch Zi Yan should be involved in this as well, no?" Yun Lai suddenly laughed.
"I don’t understand. Where does your hate towards me come from? If it wasn’t for me, you would have met a miserable fate, and that b*tch Zi Yan would have been the same as well. If it wasn’t for me, you would have become a ghost by now.
"The both of you just needed to pay a price for this. You’ll simply become my concubine, that’s all. This is a trade, why would you hate it? The strong prey on the weak, this is the law set by heaven itself. If you want to survive, if you want to obtain the protection from those who are powerful, then how could you not give up something in return?
"And I have been different to you compared to all the other women. If you are unwilling, I won’t force you. Several years have passed since then, have I ever forced you into anything?" Yun Lai shook his head and asked slowly.
"Why are you asking when you already know the answer? The thing that you value in me is my skills and my divine abilities. I have also seen your memories, all those involved when you seemingly ran into me and my senior sister by pure coincidence.
"I’ve already helped you many times in the past. I won’t even mention your ulterior motives and your schemes, but the times I’ve helped you are already enough for me to have repaid for your protection," Fang Cang Lan retorted calmly.
"It’s not enough. I can’t bear killing you like this. But I’ve changed my mind about that b*tch Zi Yan, I will take her back… As for you, I can forgive you, but you have no choice. You must come and become my concubine!" A glint appeared in Yun Lai’s eyes. He took one step forward again, and there was now less than twenty feet between them.
"He has already left, you don’t need to waste your time testing and explaining yourself." A hint of derision appeared in Fang Cang Lan’s eyes.
"Also, the word ‘must’ does not exist in my dictionary. If I, Fang Cang Lan, am unwilling to do something, then I would rather die. And. I. Do. Not. Want. To. Be. Your. Concubine!"
Yun Lai narrowed his eyes and let out a cold harrumph. He lifted his foot and took another step forward, thinking of closing in on Fang Cang Lan.
But right at the instant he lifted his foot, suddenly, an incredibly aloof voice so cold that it felt like biting, freezing wind sweeping past his skin came from behind him.
"She said she doesn’t want to, didn’t you hear her?"
The instant that voice spoke up, Yun Lai turned around swiftly, and the first thing he saw was a person who had appeared behind him at some unknown point of time. He was dressed in long robes with a head full of black hair. He had a handsome face, but his expression was as cold as winter.
Yun Lai narrowed his eyes and circulated his power as a middle stage Berserker in the Berserker Soul Realm through his entire body, causing the air around him to start distorting so violently that it seemed like it was about to be to ripped apart. He stood there and stared at Su Ming, then suddenly smiled.
"It’s rare to find a fellow powerful Berserker. If you like this woman, then I’m afraid I have been rude towards her."