Xuanle Sect was busy with the upcoming happy event, and even Master Shen Qianyan put aside the matters at hand for the time being to choose happy clothes for her younger brother and future sister-in-law.
Cai Xiannian and Shen Fugui were called to the flower building, wondering why they couldn’t see their wedding dresses in the sect but had to go to a lesser-known stronghold of Xuanle Sect to see them. Only when they saw the man who delivered the wedding clothes did they understand.
Shen Fugui was surprised and delighted: “Why did you come so early?!”
Xiao Yuan smiled and said, “I’m bringing you your wedding clothes. I heard that the best fabrics and embroideries are in Huaizhou. At the risk of being discovered by Yunjian Pavilion, I went to Huaizhou to pick them for you. How is it, are you touched?”
“You have a face-changing technique, so there is no risk.” Shen Fugui’s quick tongue was met with glares from both his jiejie and his shimei.
Cai Xunnian stomped on his foot, “Shixiong!”
Shen Qianyan frowned, “This is Master Xiao’s sincerity, what are you saying?”
Shen Fugui was forced to bow his head, “I was wrong.”
Xiao Yuan held back a smile and tried his best to look less like he was gloating, “Where were you wrong?”
Shen Fugui: “…”
Gu Louyin stood at his side with a helpless indulgent expression.
“Speaking of which, it is really unfair to you to arrange something during your wedding.” Xiao Yuan said, “I have wronged you.”
Getting married was a big deal. No one wanted to have a sword fight and a river of blood during their wedding.
Shen Fugui seemed to have some grievances, but Cai Xunnian didn’t care: “It’s okay, it’s okay. The overall situation is important. No big deal, Shixiong and I will just marry again in the future, so this time won’t count.”
Xiao Yuan smiled and said, “That’s a great idea.”
Shen Qianyan waited for the young people to finish talking and then said, “You must have come to Xuanle Sect in advance not just to deliver the wedding clothes.”
Xiao Yuan smiled slightly and said with a serious expression: “To tell you the truth, I have a personal matter and I need Xuanle Sect’s help.”
Xiao Yuan explained his intent. Cai Xunnian said, “Do you want to retrieve the memories you lost when you were a child?”
Xiao Yuan nodded, “Xuanle Sect should have a way?”
“Of course we have it.” Shen Fugui was quite proud, “The melody of ‘Old Dreams’, plus a dust-burning lamp, and you are all set – am I right, jiejie?”
Shen Qianyan said indifferently: “Since you are right, I will leave this matter to you.”
Shen Fugui hesitated and said, “That…”
“Why, you can’t do ‘Nanhuai Chao’, and neither can you do ‘Old Dreams’?”
“I can but I’m not sure I’ll be as good as jiejie.”
“It will be enough.” Xiao Yuan said, “Thank you, Young Sect Master Shen.”
Shen Qianyan ordered someone to bring a dust-burning lamp and light it up and asked everyone else to walk out. Only Xiao Yuan and Shen Fugui were left in the room.
Shen Fugui stroked his flute and said, “I’ll be honest with you. With my skills, you may only be able to recall some fragments.”
Xiao Yuan said, “Try it.”
Shen Fugui played the flute, and the melodious sound of the flute reached Xiao Yuan’s ears. The dim light of the dust-burning lamp illuminated his face, and he closed his eyes.
“Mother, gege… gege!”
Xiao Yuan ran barefoot in the empty streets, his delicate face covered with filth. It was the twelfth lunar month in the bitter winter, and he was wearing a large coat that his gege had left behind. The shoes on his feet had long been lost, and his small feet were red with cold.
He and his gege fled all the way from Pangu Mountain to this small town. He hadn’t eaten for two days. He was so hungry that he lay in his gege’s arms and bit him on the shoulder. Later, gege went to find something to eat, but they got separated somehow. Xiao Yuan had no choice but to look for his gege with his eyes full of tears. He asked several passers-by if they had seen his gege, but no one paid attention to him. At night, all the people on the street disappeared, the doors of all the houses were closed and no one lit the lights, as if afraid of attracting something.
Xiao Yuan was cold, hungry and scared. He tripped over a stone on the road and slammed his forehead on the ground. It hurt fiercely. He couldn’t help it anymore and cried out in the long silent night.
“If a child cries in the middle of the night, he will be eaten.”
Xiao Yuan raised his head with difficulty and met a pair of long, warm and gentle eyes.
The man in front of him was dressed in a blue robe and held a folding fan. He was a bit like the gentleman who taught him to read and write before, but he was much better-looking than that gentleman.
Xiao Yuan was stunned.
The man squatted down and asked, “Where are your parents?”
Xiao Yuan shook his head, “Dead, dead.”
The man asked again, “Are you alone now?”
Xiao Yuan’s tears were still hanging on his eyelashes, “Gege, I’m looking for my gege.”
A hand reached out in front of Xiao Yuan, the fingers slender and white, with a faint scent of ink. “I’ll take you to find him.”
Xiao Yuan hesitated for a long time and the man did not press him. Then, he carefully put his little hand in the man’s palm.
The man picked him up, “What’s your name?”
Xiao Yuan said, “Ah… Ah Nian.”
“I will take Ah Nian to find his gege,” the man said, “but before that, let’s solve the things that get in the way.”
Li Xianting came to the town to fight an evil spirit that was doing harm to the townsfolk. This low-level evil spirit was no different from an ant to him. He held Xiao Yuan on one arm and got rid of the evil spirit one-handedly in an instant. When the evil spirit burst and died, he raised his sleeve to prevent filth from splashing on the child in his arms.
Xiao Yuan was lying in Li Xianting’s arms, holding onto his shirt tightly, his eyes wide as he said, “Big brother, you are amazing, more amazing than my parents!”
“Big brother,” Li Xianting laughed, “it turns out that I am so young.”
After that, Li Xianting took Xiao Yuan around to inquire, but there was never any news of Xiao Du. He had to take Xiao Yuan back to Xufu where he cultivated and lived in seclusion.
Xiao Yuan, who had just lost his loved ones, was extremely insecure. He was like a small tail, sticking to Li Xianting as long as he was awake; when he was asleep, he had to hold Li Xianting’s fingers in his hand.
Xiao Yuan’s appearance was cute, his personality well-behaved and his spiritual talent excellent. Li Xianting had been alone for many years, and suddenly having such a small creature around him, surprisingly it was not noisy or annoying at all. He specially investigated Xiao Yuan’s life and confirmed that he had no other relatives apart from his long-lost brother, so he accepted him as his disciple.
In the third month, in spring, Xufu was green with grass and blooming, the surroundings colorful.
In this picturesque scenery, Li Xianting was standing in front of the window, painting. His eyebrows were like mountain ridges, he was as gentle as jade, more like a scholar who avoided the world than a cultivator who lived in seclusion.
Beside him, Xiao Yuan stood on a small bench and worked hard to grind the ink for him.
After Li Xianting finished painting the last stroke, he picked up the ink prepared by Xiao Yuan and poured it on the scroll. A green mountain shrouded in clouds and mist immediately appeared in front of Xiao Yuan’s eyes.
Looking at the astonished expression of the little boy, Li Xianting smiled and asked, “Does Ah Nian want to learn to paint?”
Xiao Yuan thought for a while seriously, “I don’t really think so.”
“I want to learn something else,” Xiao Yuan clenched his fists, “the kind that can protect people.”
Li Xianting said, “Okay, I’ll teach you something else. But you can’t call me ‘big brother’ in the future, you have to call me ‘Shizun’.”
“Well, as long as Ah Nian calls me ‘Shizun’, he will be able to protect others in the future.“ Li Xianting tapped Xiao Yuan’s head lightly with the tip of the brush, “and Shizun will always protect Ah Nian.”
Since then, Xiao Yuan’s name for Li Xianting changed from ‘big brother’ to ‘Shizun’.
A year later, Li Xianting took Xiao Yuan out for a trip, inquiring about Xiao Du’s whereabouts along the way. When passing through Lizhou, the two stayed in an inn.
The sand and dust were raging, the wind full of yellow sand that made people unable to open their eyes. Xiao Yuan was lying on the window sill, watching the passers-by struggling to move forward on the road. Smiling, he said, “Shizun–”
Li Xianting walked up behind him and said softly, “What’s the matter?”
“I don’t like it here,” Xiao Yuan’s small face looked up at him, “When are we leaving?”
Li Xianting took Xiao Yuan off the window sill, “It’s getting late, go to bed first.”
Xiao Yuan obediently climbed into bed, took the initiative to move in, and made room for Shizun. “Shizun – sleep together.”
Li Xianting covered him with the quilt and said, “Ah Nian go to bed first, Shizun will be at the side.”
Previously, he accidentally obtained an ancient book that recorded secret information. According to legend, those who were destined by Heavens could peep into the mysteries of Heavens in the desert of the northwest. Unlike ordinary cultivators, he had no interest in artifacts and sect power, but was quite intrigued by those mysterious and cryptic things.
After Li Xianting waited for Xiao Yuan to fall asleep, he went to the desert alone and found the legendary hidden place. Unfortunately, he was not a destined person in the eyes of Heavens and after several attempts, he did not see the destiny that belonged to him.
When Li Xianting returned to the inn, his little apprentice was still asleep. When he woke up, Li Xianting said, “Shizun has discovered a fun place. Would Ah Nian like to go and have a look?”
Li Xianting took Xiao Yuan to the green fields in the desert. Xiao Yuan liked this kind of place with mountains and water. Li Xianting took his hand, walked to the lake, and asked, “What does Ah Nian see?”
Xiao Yuan stared at himself in the lake and said blankly: “I… I see my eyes.”
“My own eyes.”
The little apprentice’s words seemed to be wrong. Li Xianting noticed that Xiao Yuan’s pupils began to dilate. His heart tightened; he pressed his fingertips against Xiao Yuan’s heavenly spirit to channel his spiritual consciousness to flow in.
Li Xianting’s spiritual consciousness sank into the lake along with Xiao Yuan. Then, he saw the destiny that belonged to Xiao Yuan.
The grown-up Xiao Yuan was more beautiful and enchanting than Li Xianting had imagined. But in the end, he wore a fiery wedding dress and died on Dongguan Mountain.
Returning to the real world, Li Xianting held Xiao Yuan who was not yet awake, and his face, which was always smiling, was full of murderous intent.
When Xiao Yuan woke up, he found himself lying on the bed in the inn, with his Shizun sitting on the side of the bed with a terrifying expression he had never seen before. Everything he saw in the lake was still vivid; Xiao Yuan seemed to understand something. He pulled his Shizun’s clothes and said, “Shizun, I had a long dream. I dreamed that I grew up, and then… and then died.”
Li Xianting smiled lightly: “It was just a dream.”
Xiao Yuan murmured, “In my dream, I died so miserably.”
Li Xianting’s eyes darkened, and he said, “Ah Nian will not die, Shizun will protect Ah Nian.”
Li Xianting took Xiao Yuan away from Lizhou and rushed non-stop to a mountain range located on the border of Penglai. Li Xianting’s master, True Lord Ji Ming lived in seclusion in this mountain for more than a hundred years.
After Li Xianting saw True Lord Ji Ming, his first words were: “If you change your destiny against the will of Heavens, what will be the consequences?”
Ji Ming, who had snow-white hair and a childish face, looked at Xiao Yuan who was hiding behind Li Xianting, and said, “You have gone to Lizhou.”
Li Xianting said, “Master really knows about it.”
“If you change your destiny against the will of Heavens, you will face the wrath of Heavens.” True Lord Ji Ming said, “When I was a young cultivator, I had a proud friend who accidentally peeped into the mysteries of Heavens and learned that he would marry his shimei in the future. He had to go against the will of Heavens and marry someone else instead. On the wedding night, he suffered tribulations and was blasted to death by five thunderbolts, without even leaving his soul behind. Do you want your disciple to end up like him?”
Li Xianting calmly said, “He is going to die anyway, so why not give it a try.”
Ji Ming suddenly said, “So, that’s how it is.”
Li Xianting lowered his head, “I hope Master will help me.”
Seeing this, Xiao Yuan, although he didn’t know what they were talking about, also lowered his head and said crisply: “Please help us, Shizu.” (Master’s Master)
True Lord Ji Ming had to meditate for a while and then said, “It is absolutely impossible to defy the Heavens, but there may be a glimmer of hope if you hide it from the Heavens.”
“Hide it from the Heavens?”
“Let your disciple go according to his destiny and make everyone think that he died on the day when his destiny was completed – including the Dao of Heavens.”
Li Xianting asked, “Master, how sure are you?”
True Lord Ji Ming smiled bitterly: “Less than thirty percent. You have to think it over well.”
“I don’t need to think it over,” Li Xianting said, “I’ll just do as Master said.”
True Lord Ji Ming said: “If you want to deceive the Dao of Heavens, you must first deceive yourself.”
Li Xianting understood what Ji Ming meant and said, “This disciple will take away his memory. Another thing is that Ah Nian’s heart will suffer more than his body. If Ah Nian is allowed to follow his destiny completely, even if he keeps his life, he will be heartbroken. What is the point of living in this way? Given Ah Nian’s character, with his destiny he might seek death by himself.”
“What do you want to do?”
Li Xianting glanced down at Xiao Yuan, and said, “Please Master, perform the soul-splitting technique for me, and attach one of my three souls to Ah Nian. Even if Ah Nian has to follow his destiny, he won’t be heartbroken by those b*stards… by me.”
True Lord Ji Ming did not immediately agree, but asked, “How long do you want your soul to be split?”
Li Xianting smiled, “Master knows the answer.”
True Lord Ji Ming said, “You don’t need me to tell you what happens when a soul is separated from the body for too long. I taught you that when you were a child.”
“Master, don’t worry, I remember it very clearly.”
True Lord Ji Ming sighed, “I hope you will not regret it in the future.”
“Ah Nian is my first apprentice. He is very cute, I will not regret it.”
Li Xianting took away the memory of the little Ah Nian and gave him a new name.
He took the soul that had the strongest soul awareness among his three souls and attached it to Xiao Yuan. Without the human soul, he also had no seven emotions and six desires that belonged to humans and was forced to practice the ruthless Dao.
Because he cultivated the ruthless Dao, he would not ruin the brotherly love between Xiao Yuan and Xiao Du out of his paranoid possessiveness towards Xiao Yuan, as it had happened in Xiao Yuan’s destiny.
On the first day after Xiao Yuan’s memories were taken, his human soul told Xiao Yuan: don’t trust your Shizun, one day he will abandon you.
Later, he arranged everything according to Xiao Yuan’s destiny and took away the token left to Xiao Yuan by his brother. He made Xiao Du think he had found his brother and then sent Xiao Rong to Xiao Du, thus completing Xiao Yuan’s destiny with Xiao Du.
On the day Xiao Yuan married Gu Louyin on Dongguan Mountain, he found the man in black who had taken Xiao Yuan from him before and sent him a message asking him to save Xiao Yuan. He went to Dongguan Mountain with Mu Yingyang.
Convinced by his human soul, Xiao Yuan jumped off the cliff. He stopped everyone who wanted to go down to find Xiao Yuan, jumped off the cliff by himself, confirmed that the man in black had saved Xiao Yuan, and returned to Dongguan Mountain to tell the world: Xiao Yuan was dead.
The possibility of thirty percent had become a fact; he summoned his human soul and retired with success.
From then on, his little apprentice had to walk the road by himself.
The sound of the flute got smaller and smaller, and finally stopped. Shen Fugui looked at Xiao Yuan, who still sat with his eyes closed in front of him, and tentatively said, “Hey?”
Xiao Yuan remained motionless and did not react.
Gu Louyin pushed the door when he heard the sound of the flute stop. “Xiao Yuan?”
Shen Fugui said, “He seems to be trapped in his memories.”
Shen Qianyan, who came in, too, said: “It seems that this lost memory has a great impact on him.”
Gu Louyin asked, “When will he wake up?”
“Master Gu, don’t worry, as long as he misses something in this world, he will definitely wake up.”
Xiao Yuan was unconscious for two days and woke up one evening.
Everything in front of him was so strange, even his body seemed to be much bigger. He opened his eyes blankly and said, “Shizun…?”
“You are awake.”
The familiar voice pulled Xiao Yuan back from the memories. The silver-haired sword cultivator stood by his side, with a trace of worry on his face.
Seeing Gu Louyin, Xiao Yuan finally had a grip on the real world and said, “I’m okay.”
Gu Louyin didn’t ask much, but said, “It’s good if you’re okay.”
Xiao Yuan opened his arms for a hug, and Gu Louyin hugged him.
Xiao Yuan said softly: “Gu Louyin.”
“I seem to have misunderstood someone.” Xiao Yuan smiled quietly, “It turns out that he was protecting me – he never abandoned me.”
Gu Louyin said, “Your Shizun?”
Xiao Yuan was silent for a moment, and then said, “What are the consequences of long-term separation of a soul?”
“How long is the long term?”
Xiao Yuan said solemnly: “Ten years.”
“In the best case, you won’t wake up for a long time, in the worst case…” Gu Louyin paused and did not continue.
Xiao Yuan smiled again but his eyes felt sour, “It’s so annoying. If I had known, I would have been better off being kept in the dark. He must have wanted me to know nothing too. Why did I have to check, why did I have to go to Lizhou…”
At the end of his words Xiao Yuan was choking.
Gu Louyin opened the quilt, laid down by Xiao Yuan’s side and wrapped his arms around his waist, “I’ll be annoyed with you.”
The day of Shen Fugui and Cai Xunnian’s wedding was approaching, and Xiao Yuan was temporarily unable to get out of Xuanle Sect to look for someone. He did not show his distress too much. At first glance, he was no different from before and he would talk and laugh with others. Only Gu Louyin knew that Xiao Yuan hadn’t closed his eyes for a few nights and with no one else around, he would often spend an hour in a daze.
Gu Louyin approached Shen Fugui and asked him to play a heart-clearing melody for Xiao Yuan. After Xiao Yuan listened to it for a few days, his mind really stabilized a lot.
That day, Xiao Yuan finished listening to the music at Shen Fugui’s place and returned to his room without seeing Gu Louyin. He didn’t think much about it at first, but seeing that it was getting late and Gu Louyin hadn’t come back, he couldn’t sit still.
After making some inquiries, Xiao Yuan learned that Gu Louyin did not leave Xuanle Sect but went somewhere in the direction of the bamboo forest.
The moonlight was bright and Xiao Yuan could see the road ahead clearly without Qingyan. He found Gu Louyin’s footprints on the ground, so Gu Louyin did not deliberately hide his whereabouts. He followed the footprints to the depths of the bamboo forest and suddenly smelled a cold fragrance.
This cold fragrance was a bit familiar, somewhat similar to the smell he exuded when he had an attack of the Acacia Gu before, but it was more crisp and clear. It was very light, if you didn’t smell carefully, it was very likely you would miss it.
Xiao Yuan paused, looked up at the night sky and suddenly his expression changed.
Tonight was the full moon night, and he actually… forgot!
Gu Louyin inherited the Acacia Gu from him, and he must have been bearing the Gu attack for a while now. Xiao Yuan was angry and anxious, mainly angry with himself but also with Gu Louyin for not reminding him and hiding and enduring instead.
Deep in the bamboo forest, Xiao Yuan found Gu Louyin soaking in a clear pool of water.
Gu Louyin looked at him, and a fire instantly ignited in his usually calm eyes. Xiao Yuan walked directly into the pool, hugged Gu Louyin and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
The pool was cold, but Gu Louyin’s body was as hot as fire. When he was touched by Xiao Yuan, he was almost out of control, his cold white cheeks dyed red with lust.
Gu Louyin panted hoarsely: “I wanted to know what you had suffered before.”
Xiao Yuan was a little aroused by the smell of Gu Louyin’s body, “Do you know now?”
“I can bear it.”
Xiao Yuan smiled angrily, “I’m here, do you still have to bear it?”
Gu Louyin’s Adam’s apple rolled; he closed his eyes and said, “You are in a bad mood, I don’t want to torment you.”
Xiao Yuan’s heart softened; he leaned over and kissed Gu Louyin’s mouth, “I am indeed in a bad mood, but I promise that I will try my best to make you comfortable.”
Gu Louyin’s chest hitched slightly, his eyes dark and deep.
“Relax, don’t be nervous. Think about how I did it for the first time. You will do it, too, understand?”