Xu Qingxuan walked over to her mother and wanted to take a closer look at the earring. However, Xu Meng held it firmly in her hand and kept staring at it as though it was her sole source of happiness and the most precious thing in the world.
"Mother, can't you let me take a small peek at it?" Xu Qingxuan's curiosity was piqued. It took some time before Xu Meng could finally loosen her grip and place the earring gently into Xu Qingxuan's hands. Her mother was treating it as the most fragile thing in the world.
Xu Qingxuan was also assailed by emotions. She understood that the earring represented the love and yearning between her parents. It was the symbol of hope. She didn't dare to be careless when she was given the earring. It didn't seem to be anything special, just a semi-precious accessory from the secular world. A true cultivator would never bother wearing such a thing.
"Xuan'er, this earring is definitely real. Who told you to you give this to me? W-what did he look like? He could very well be your father!" Xu Meng could no longer keep her composure.
"Ah mother, that man is very young. He isn't even thirty years old yet. A fellow disciple called Xu Shan is twenty-eight years old, yet he called her big sister. This means that he isn't even twenty-eight yet. How could he possibly be father?" Xu Qingxuan didn't want to pour cold water on her mother, but she felt obligated to tell the truth.
Xu Meng wasn't disheartened. "Even if he isn't your father, he's definitely your father's friend. Otherwise, how can you explain this earring? Why would he especially bring it to me?"
She'd made a rather good point.
Xu Qingxuan sighed gently. "Mother, there are some things which I've yet to tell you. A few days ago, I sent someone to investigate the Eastern Kingdom. The Jiang Han territory continues to exist, but it doesn't go by the surname of Jiang anymore. The duke of Jiang Han and Jiang Chen are longer there. The investigator said that they must've perished when the Eternal Celestial Capital attacked the Myriad Domain."
"No! Impossible! This earring doesn't lie!" Xu Meng remained resolute. "Your father is fine and so is your brother!"
"Mother, why don't you check if there's anything else in the storage ring?" Xu Qingxuan didn't try to argue with her mother. There was little meaning in trying to disprove her mother's staunch beliefs. Xu Meng suddenly recalled that there was something else in the ring. She took a glance and noticed a small note inside. Hardly able to contain herself, she immediately opened it.
Thirty years apart, thirty years of longing. Now I dwell in Frostmoon City, for I long to see you again. Only two sentences were written on the paper. There was no inscription, name, or anything to help identify the sender. However, Xu Meng immediately slumped to the ground and cried her heart out after reading it.
"Xuan'er, it really is your father! It's his handwriting and his manner of speech! Xuan'er, I need to descend the mountain! I need to go to Frostmoon City!" She'd lost all strength from her limbs due to the great waves of emotion, but her voice remained incredibly resolute and unwavering.
Xu Qingxuan noted that there was no endearing words or pledge of eternal love within the two sentences. However, it contained all the pain and longing from their thirty years of separation. This was a great love that didn't require grandiose gestures or flowery words.
Xu Qingxuan was deeply moved. If it really was her father's handwriting, then the love between her parents must be greater than anything else. They'd gone against all odds just so they could once again protect and care for each other. Not even time and space could separate them.
Jiang Feng's short message had been written after much deliberation. He'd previously written a letter filled with tens of thousands of words, but he realized that thirty years of longing couldn't be properly expressed with ink and paper. He quickly came to realize that words were superficial. He didn't know what his wife was thinking right now, but he was certain that her feelings hadn't changed.
If so, what was the point of writing so many words? After a lot of back and forth, he decided to write just two sentences. If their hearts were truly aligned, his wife would understand the depth within the two lines of words and come to meet him. If they were fated not to meet, she could keep it as a momento. Knowing about each other's safety was a million times better than knowing nothing about the other at all.
Xu Meng grabbed her daughter's hands tightly. "Xuan'er, didn't you say that you'll take mother down the mountain for some fresh air this morning? Well, mother has changed her mind. I want to go. Now!"
Xu Qingxuan understood that her mother had good reason to be excited, so she quickly spoke words of comfort. "Mother, since things are already at this point, I'll find a way to make it happen. However, we must remain vigilant and take things one step at a time. First of all, we need to consider if this is a trap or some kind of cruel joke. It's unlikely, but we need to be mentally prepared. Secondly, we must also take father's safety into consideration. If the sectmasters finds out that father has contacted us, the consequences would be unimaginable. Thirdly, we must also consider how we can let both of you reunite. I'll make sure to make it happen even if I'll be punished for it."
"No! I cannot be so selfish! Both your father and I would never let you take punishment for our sake. We'll wait. One day, you'll become a sectmaster and you can then decide our fates."
Xu Qingxuan shook her head. "It'll take many centuries and millenniums before that happens. The sectmasters are still young, so it'll be many years before they retire. Neither of you have attained emperor realm either… I'm afraid time is not on your side…"
Xu Meng had abstained from cultivation. She had the talents of a holy maiden, but because of neglect in her martial dao, she hadn't even attained origin realm yet. As for Jiang Feng...
Xu Qingxuan hadn't met him yet, but the Eastern Kingdom was a place with limited martial dao aptitude. Even if he had a breakthrough, he was likely an origin cultivator at the very most. She couldn't help but worry about this problem. Her parents didn't have a lifespan as long as hers due to their limited cultivation level. They couldn't afford to wait for too long.
Deeply touched by the love her parents had for each other, she began to make bold elopement plans for them. She was determined to fulfill her mother's wish even if she'd be punished for it. She understood that her mother was going to reach the very limit of exhaustion one day. Her everyday life was filled with sadness and misery. Waking up everyday was a challenge in itself.
"Mother, don't worry. I'll make the arrangements. We'll leave by day break tomorrow." Her mind was set. She'd carry out her plan.
"Xuan'er, you must plan carefully. You mustn't get yourself entangled in my matters. The Moon God Sect doesn't contain even a shred of compassion. Once you're of no value to them, they have no qualms throwing you away like trash. Mother has experienced it firsthand," Xu Meng suddenly said. It was the first time she'd ever badmouthed the sect and served as a reminder for her daughter.
"Mother, don't worry… I know what I'm doing."
"Xuan'er, even if we take a trip down the mountain, how are we supposed to find your father in a city as big as Frostmoon City?" Xu Meng was at a loss.
"Mother, I know where they are. The messenger Shao Yuan and Emperor Peerless are both currently staying at the sect's first division at Frostmoon City. Father must be there too."
The second sectmaster had extremely high expectations for Xu Qingxuan. Because of that, she'd begun to control and scrutinize her disciple's every move. Xu Qingxuan found this very difficult to get used to. The second sectmaster was incredibly strict because she didn't want her disciple to walk down the same path as the mother. When Xu Qingxuan asked for permission to take her mother down the mountains, her master turned her down without a second thought or consideration.
"Qingxuan, you need to think this through. Ill fate is as persistent as red dust. Let your mother's misfortune serve as a bitter lesson for you!" The second sectmaster warned sternly.
Xu Qingxuan respected her master greatly and rarely went against her master's orders. However, today was one of those rare days. She glared at her master fiercely. "Honored master, can you really blame my mother for her actions? She was merely an infant when she left the Moon God Sect! How could she have known? What happened after that was a continuation of fate!" She felt that it was time speak a word on her mother's behalf.
The second sectmaster stared at Xu Qingxuan in utter disbelief. She never imagined that her obedient disciple would actually talk back at her! Xu Qingxuan hadn't said anything wrong, but to the second sectmaster, it was an act of defiance and disrespect.
"Qingxuan, have you finally learned to disrespect your master?" Her voice was harsh and cold.
Xu Qingxuan held her head high, exposing her snowy white neck. "Honored master, I've had enough! Everyone has been criticizing my mother ever since the day I could speak! They clearly know that it wasn't her fault, yet they continue to blame, belittle, and mock! Has nobody once thought that she was actually innocent? Even if she was at fault, at the end of the day, she's still my mother! Moreover, hasn't she given a holy maiden to the sect as a replacement already? She has repaid her debts to the sect and then some!" Xu Qingxuan yelled at the top of of her lungs, venting her frustrations and anger that had accumulated over the years.
The second sectmaster was completely dumbfounded by her disciple's sudden outburst. Xu Qingxuan's words had thawed some of the compassion that she'd long sealed in ice. Indeed, had Xu Meng truly sinned?
Was it really appropriate to blame everything on her? Even if she'd truly sinned, hadn't her sins been washed away when she gave her daughter, an even more impressive holy maiden, to the sect? The second sectmaster was suddenly at a loss for words. She understood her disciple very well. Xu Qingxuan would definitely rebel if pushed too far.
The second sectmaster let out a long sigh. "You may make a trip down the mountain with your mother. But remember, you must be back within three days and you mustn't leave the confines of Frostmoon City. Otherwise… you'll be punished according to sect rules."