235 Ice Phoenix
Lifting their robes, the two ladies rushed out of the hall. As they walked, the jiejie asked the meimei, "The ice phoenix wouldn't fly away once we open the door, would it?"
"It wouldn't. Look, it's just flying around in circles right now. We have to make use of this time. It won't fly out the door so quickly."
"Right, let's move quickly and get the high priest here." They then ran over to the entrance.
A bright light blinded me as the door opened. I lifted a hand to shield my eyes, and the two ladies were gone before I knew it. I stepped out from behind the pillar and looked at the ice phoenix which was still flying in circles above.
That ice phoenix seemed to be able to understand humans. After the ladies left, it flew straight at me.
I focused MF on my vision and saw that it had a pair of bright, transparent eyes, just like an ice sculpture. However, those eyes did not belong to a human, and I couldn't sense its emotions simply by looking at them.
It flew across the great hall directly towards me, but I had no intention of avoiding it. For some reason, I had a good feeling about this creature. I wanted to see what it planned to do next.
The ice phoenix did not slow down at all even when it was about to reach me. Right at that moment, Nie Zun pulled on my right hand as he appeared on my right suddenly.
I didn't let him pull me away this time. I didn't even blink when that ice phoenix arrived right in front of me.
It stopped in the air suddenly, hovering with those outstretched, icy wings. It was staring at me.
It was so beautiful. I couldn't help but smile at those bright and clear eyes that looked like crystals. "Are you able to understand me?"
"Chirp…" It called out softly.
Overjoyed, I reached out a hand to caress the creature's head. An icy cold spread from my palm to my heart as the creature did not avoid my touch.
"It can actually understand me. Nie Zun, come and have a look." I turned to Nie Zun in surprise. His eyes seemed to shine a little at this.
"Hmm, what should I ask? You… are you an ice phoenix?"
"Is Du Yue your owner?"
I thought this was an ordinary question, but the ice phoenix seemed to get a little agitated at this as it flapped its wings.
"What's wrong?" I frowned. The ice phoenix seemed to fear the words 'Du Yue'. I could see a hint of fear in its eyes. It was a kind of raw fear that could be seen in all living things.
"Chiiiiiirp…" The ice phoenix called out again. This time, it ended on a much sadder note as a tear formed in those crystal eyes.
I felt heartbroken for it. "What's wrong, ice phoenix? Did Du Yue lock you up against your will?"
The ice phoenix remained silent this time. It kept flapping its wings, as if it was reminiscing some sorrowful past.
"Don't worry. How about this, you can follow me, and I'll protect you. Or, I can take you away from here." I spoke gently to this pitiful ice phoenix.
Nie Zun suddenly said, "It'll believe you if you make casual promises like this. Animals are different from human beings. Furthermore, this ice phoenix is no ordinary animal, it's a divine creature. We can't even keep ourselves safe in this foreign place and you're here making promises that you might not be able to fulfil? Isn't that a little too cruel even to a bird?"
He sounded calm and indifferent, as if he was simply talking about the weather instead of criticizing me.
"That's true. But I can still give it hope even if it is a phoenix."
I furrowed my brows. "Nie Zun, you weren't like this in the past. You didn't look at everything like there was no hope to be found. Just what happened during that blood-changing process in the demon cave?"
A bitter smile appeared on Nie Zun. "Wasn't I exactly like this in the past? It's you who didn't understand me. I've always been like this. I've never carried hope in my heart for anything."
"Even towards me? You've never hoped for anything?"
Nie Zun's eyes shone as he answered, "Yes, even towards you."
I flashed a brilliant smile at him as I shrugged. "Nie Zun, look at how strong I am now. I'll no longer be upset at those words of yours. It isn't because your words don't matter to me anymore, but it's because I have hope. I believe that there's definitely some reason that you're doing this. I believe that I'll find you again, that I'll let you rely on me like you did in the past, that you'll trust me again. Because I love you."
I said those last words very lightly, and I could see the gentleness in his eyes as he looked at me.
It didn't matter to me even if these words didn't change anything right now. If loving him meant that I had to fight a long battle and climb a high mountain, I was willing to do just that.
I swear that I will never be afraid again. I will never go back on that same path I did when I killed Gao Qi. From the moment I admitted to myself how I felt about Nie Zun, I made a decision that I'd continue loving him no matter what.
"You weren't like this in the past either. You've been really direct and open recently. Is this because you're not satisfied?" Nie Zun asked suddenly.
I smiled. "Seems like you've become pitiful too. Why is that? You're not willing to tell me why you're avoiding me and you're trying to suppress everything in your heart again? That's okay though. I have time."
I turned back to the ice phoenix and said gently, "Are you willing to come with me? Call once if you are. If you aren't, you can call out twice."
I smiled at Nie Zun. "See? It's willing to come with me. It should be given hope."
"What do you plan to do next? You, me and the creature, do we just walk out of here?" Nie Zun asked.
"Do you have any ideas? Aren't you rational, intelligent and a great problem-solver? Even if we aren't a couple now, there's no need to be this selfish and keep those ideas to yourself, is there?"
"I'm just asking. It's none of my business whatever you plan to do." That coldness emerged in his eyes again.
I didn't mind it.
It doesn't matter. From now on, I'm going to stick to you whether you like it or not.
I wanted to be brave for myself, just this once.
I was too cowardly and naïve and in the past, weren't I?
You were just like that too, weren't you?
"Ice phoenix, I don't know your name yet. You can't talk, so you can't tell me either. I guess I'll just have to give you a new name, alright? Hmm… what should I call you? Right, how about Bing'er?"
It was nice and simple, and it matched that translucent body perfectly. (T/n: Bing'er can be roughly translated to 'little ice' since the Chinese character for ice is bing.)
Bing'er looked happy. That tear in its eye was gone now.
"Okay now. Although I don't know what happened to you here, but you have to believe that I'll be able to bring you out, okay? It's just that I've just arrived here and I don't know this place as well as you do. It might be difficult to escape from here, but you'll still have to believe in me, alright? I'll definitely take you away, okay?"
I petted its head again.
Sorrow seemed to fill its eyes again.
Nie Zun seemed to be slightly irritated as he addressed Bing'er, "Can you fly out of this palace on your own? Call out once if you can, call twice if you can't. I'm referring only to your ability to do so."
"Chirp…" Bing'er called out softly.
"Hey, don't be so cold. You're scaring it," I scolded Nie Zun.
Nie Zun ignored me as he continued with his questions. "I heard those two ladies say that you've been here for a while now. Is there some reason that you are not able to leave this place?"
"Chirp." It was a short, sharp call, as if it was replying in an anxious manner.
Nie Zun continued after a short pause. "Those two ladies were talking about a fire phoenix earlier. Are you worried about that fire phoenix?"
"Chirp…" Bing'er called out as it raised its head.
Nie Zun turned to me. "Do you understand? Seems like that fire phoenix is being locked up too. Either way, it can't leave the fire phoenix, and this is why she's not leaving this place. My guess is that Du Yue manipulated these phoenixes by making use of their feelings for each other."
"Du Yue is really cruel." The hatred I had towards Du Yue wasn't new. But it seemed to deepen because of this little phoenix now.
"Are you able to take us to your fiery partner?" I even made a bird with my hands, afraid that Bing'er wouldn't understand me.
"Chiirrrrp…" It was the first time Bing'er gave a negative response. Its eyes drooped as it did so.