Heavenly Soul Chapter 45: The Rest of the Story

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As they exited Qinghe's room and walked towards the guest hall to once again go and meet Yan Lin, Qinghe recited the events he'd seen in his newly uncovered memories to Wei Xiang in a monotone and spiritless voice.
On the inside, Qinghe's thoughts churned as he put various pieces together, finally being able to reason many of his actions in the past.
After being rescued from the orphanage and entering the sect, Qinghe had thrown himself into training and practice the second he could. He had disregarded his own life and safety, not caring how battered or broken both his mind and body were becoming.
He always pushed himself beyond limits without caring for himself or the restrictions on his soul. This was why he had broken past the restrictions in the first place and advanced so quickly, and his recklessness had caused him no small amount of problems that he had had to deal with.
Though such tendencies had not yet completely disappeared even by now, they were not as bad as they had been back then either.
After rescuing the twins, Qinghe had also begun to look after himself. Taking care of those two children had started him on the path to recovery as well. And now that he had Wei Xiang's steady hand guiding him and further speeding up his healing, Qinghe's self-destructive tendencies had lessened by a lot.
And only now did he realize that his behavior from the beginning, when he hurt himself with wild abandon, had been a form of his atonement towards the first true friend he'd had, someone he thought he had caused the death of.
Since that time, his mind and personality had built upon that hurt of knowing he had indirectly killed the only person he was close to, that he deserved the worse that life could give him. So he had indiscriminately and continuously punished himself.
This aspect of himself was already firmly entrenched into his being, and now, even after finding that Yan Lin was alive, Qinghe knew that he would not be able to let this damage go.
Maybe, in a way, he had already paid his recompense.
As Qinghe slowly regained his composure after he finished narrating his memories, at the side, Wei Xiang was also pondering on something.
Thinking back to all the times he had seen Qinghe getting hurt, both emotionally and physically, Wei Xiang realized he had never seen Qinghe cry or look discomposed to that extent. Be it after the twins had hurt him or after he had been tortured in the Black Fang base, Qinghe had very quickly bounced back to his usual self and easily put the matter aside.
But after knowing that he had nearly caused the death of this friend of his, Qinghe had almost reached the point of breaking down. Hurting someone else clearly made him more distraught than when he himself was brutally harmed.
Wei Xiang shook his head in exasperation while thanking his master in his heart. If the Grandmaster hadn't established the Order of Sentinels long ago and made this world a kinder, much more peaceful place, someone as empathic as Qinghe would have been in constant distress at the state of the world.
The couple, each weighed with their own realizations, finally reached the guest hall to meet Yan Lin once more.
However, when they opened the door, they saw that an extra person had joined in.
Seated adjacent to Yan Lin and beside Jing Shui was the sect leader of the Silver Moon Sect, Wu Xiao. He peered at Qinghe with a strange expression that hid hints of guilt. Wu Xiao had already known about Yan Lin from Qinghe's master, Zhen YiLan, but had kept it a secret since he was asked to.
Though Qinghe could guess this, he couldn't be bothered with him at the moment since he had something far more nerve-wracking to deal with.
Steeling his spine, Qinghe went and sat at the table, his position directly opposite to a concerned looking Yan Lin. Wei Xiang naturally seated himself beside his lover to offer support if necessary.
Looking at Qinghe's stiff expression, Yan Lin hesitantly asked, "Qinghe, I was told back then that you'd forgotten me. But looking at you now…did you remember?"
Qinghe gave a short nod in answer.
The Yan Lin right now was no longer the emaciated young boy of his memories but a slender man in his late thirties. Witnessing him being able to speak again, Qinghe felt something in him loosening. Despite all his trials, Yan Lin seemed to be doing rather well right now.
With a conflicted expression, Yan Lin continued, "You look so different from when you were a child. It seems a lot has changed."
Wordlessly, Qinghe reached into his robes and pulled out the appearance changing talisman, revealing his true face that was simply a grown-up version of his angelic childhood features.
Jing Shui gasped and looked at his friend's beautiful face with equal parts wonder and bewilderment.
Wu Xiao, on the other hand, merely raised a brow as he observed, "I can see why you would hide your true appearance."
Truthfully, Qinghe still didn't know why he had to do this. Though he was able to recognize faces and read details like expressions and emotions from them, he was utterly unable to judge beauty based on looks alone. To him, faces were just an arrangement of lines and curves, shapes and angles, whose tiniest of movements caused expressions to be shown.
And so for Qinghe, his own face was nothing unusual, it was just that its expressions tended to be a bit cold. He simply did not understand the need to hide it, but since everyone saw it as necessary, he kept doing so.
But now was not the time to ponder upon that and give way to procrastination.
Realizing that he was letting his thoughts get distracted, Qinghe solemnly looked at Yan Lin, firming his resolve.
"Yan Lin, what happened to you twenty-four years ago was my fault. Even though I do not deserve to ask this, I still wish for you to forgive me. I'm sorry. If there is something I can do to atone for it, then please tell me, I'll gladly do so."
Heavy silence claimed the room.
Wei Xiang frowned. He didn't like to see Qinghe humbling himself like this, but also felt that this wasn't his place to interfere.
"Qinghe, what do you mean?" Yan Lin asked, puzzled. Truthfully, he also didn't like to see such an uncharacteristically subdued Qinghe.
Taking a deep breath, Qinghe spoke again, "Despite all that time I spent with you, I still didn't know what was happening. I'm sure I even hurt you with my careless words, though it was unintentional. And in the end, those people tried to kill you only because you were trying to protect me. It's all my fault."
The rims of Qinghe's eyes reddened again, but he still looked at Yan Lin resolutely.
At the side, Jing Shui felt distressed at seeing his friend like this, but he had never been good at offering comfort, so he silently turned his gaze to his friend's lover instead, urging him wordlessly to do something.
Wei Xiang hardly needed someone to push him to do so, for he had already looped his arm around Qinghe and pulled his beloved to rest his head on his shoulder. Words of consolation at this time would be meaningless. There was only one person whose words Qinghe would believe now.
Yan Lin looked deep in thought as if carefully weighing the words he was about to speak next.
In a soft and kind voice, Yan Lin finally said, "All the things that you blame yourself for happened by my choice. I chose to keep you in the dark and I chose to protect you. I don't see why you should blame yourself for all that. The only people who deserve to be blamed are the people from the orphanage. Qinghe, it is illogical for you to bear responsibility for the actions of someone else."
Qinghe's stiff spine finally slumped in relief when he detected that there was truly no blame in Yan Lin's voice and expression. Qinghe buried his head further into Wei Xiang's shoulder as he tried to compose himself. Wei Xiang silently ran his hand over his lover's back, offering the support he needed.
Yan Lin continued patiently, "To put it simply, you haven't done anything that you should ask my forgiveness for. In fact, I should be the one asking you to forgive me. Even though you always tried to protect me from those who would bully me, I still couldn't do anything for you in return. Despite all my precautions, what I feared still happened."
His gloom and heartbreak temporarily pushed aside, Qinghe's head popped up as he scowled lightly, saying, "What are you talking about? Why would you need to apologize for that? I tried to protect you because I wanted to, not because I sought something from you in return. Why should you beat yourself up over that?"
Yan Lin simply laughed, it was a pleasant and mellow sound.
Qinghe only scowled harder. What was so freaking funny?!
Wei Xiang also chuckled before he said in explanation, "Love, aren't you the same? If you just think for a bit, I'm sure you'll find that every word you said applies to yourself as well."
Scrunching up his brows, Qinghe gave it some thought and found that it was indeed the case. Feeling uncomfortable, he grumped, "Enough of you both ganging up on me."
Wei Xiang simply chuckled once more.
Though Jing Shui had been of no contribution, he still felt relieved. He more or less knew what had happened on both their sides and was glad they had finally cleared this up.
"Mister Yan, you should tell Brother Feng the rest of the story," Jing Shui spoke to Yan Lin.
Qinghe tilted his head in puzzlement, "What else is there left to say?"
Yan Lin smiled and answered, "I was thrown down a cliff with severe injuries and left for dead. Aren't you curious about how I survived?"
Since his mind had been roiling with an overabundance of emotions since he woke up, Qinghe had overlooked this little detail.
"That's true. So how did you survive?" Qinghe gave in to curiosity and asked.
In his calming voice, Yan Lin narrated, "After I was thrown off the cliff, I ended up falling into the path of a great cultivator. He looked to be in his fifties and had white hair. He fed me some sort of pills that healed all my injuries. Thinking that maybe he could help, I told him about the orphanage and that I still had a friend left in there. The cultivator rushed to find you and, it seems, saved you in time. I wanted to meet you afterwards, but the cultivator told me that you claimed to not know me at all. After hearing my version of what happened, the cultivator concluded that you must have buried all memories concerning me since thinking of them pained you so much. So I…decided to let you be. The cultivator was kind enough to find me a home. I have lived a very blessed life since then."
Qinghe felt pangs of guilt gnawing at him from the inside once more. So Yan Lin had helped him yet again and had been instrumental in sending help during such a crucial moment.
If he had instead chosen to remember Yan Lin despite everything, then maybe they would still have been connected to each other all these years.
As if reading his self-recriminating thoughts, Yan Lin spoke, "Do not think too much into it. Meeting like this is also fortunate. I did not think I'd have a cultivator suddenly come to my door to ask me about you after all these years. Thinking back on it, be it our meeting in the orphanage, that time when I stumbled upon the old cultivator by chance, or when I was sought out recently again, my luck seems to be great whenever it involves you."
Not knowing what to say to that, Qinghe merely shook his head in bewilderment. "They were all just coincidences. You give me too much unwarranted credit."
But at the side, Wei Xiang narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. He remembered the small glimpse he'd caught of Qinghe's soul at Starry Mountain Peak. It had been so pure and beautiful. It must surely be a sign that heavenly favor would rain down upon him. And yet, Qinghe had also suffered many unspeakable things.
Just what did Heaven intend with his beloved?
Whatever it may be, Wei Xiang wouldn't let it put his lover through any more torments or hardships. Qinghe had gone through more than enough.
"As things stand," Yan Lin said, his eyes soft, "I have already married and started a family. I am content with my life. So you have no need to blame yourself for whatever happened in the past. Let us just be happy in the present, alright?"
Bowing his head, Qinghe smiled hesitantly as he answered, "Okay."
"And so," Yan Lin continued cheerfully, "Qinghe, I want to introduce you to my wife. If you are free, would you like to visit my house for dinner? Of course, you can bring along your friends and lover too if they're alright with it."
Jing Shui hurriedly replied, "Yes, I'll come!" He was very curious about Yan Lin, who could be said to be Qinghe's first ever friend. Also, he didn't want to pass up on a fun trip with his friend.
Wu Xiao smiled wryly at Jing Shui's enthusiastic response, but also spoke, "Since Ah-Shui is going, I will of course tag along."
Wei Xiang simply nodded. There was no question that he'd be going wherever Qinghe went.
Yan Lin also nodded, satisfied. It would be a lively dinner today. He could only hope his wife wouldn't scold him for bringing over so many people to feed without warning.
The merry atmosphere in the room was suddenly broken by whispers that floated through the door.
"H-Hey! What are you―?!"
"Come on~ Won't you let me eat you, my cute little sheep?"
A bang sounded as if something had impacted the door, or rather, as if somebody had been forcefully pushed against it.
A frantic whisper sounded out, "There are people inside this room!"
"Leave it, they're probably just some bunch of old farts discussing uppity things. No need to be concerned about them."
The supposed bunch of old farts: "…"
Just who was this shameless couple?
The creaking and groaning of the straining wood could be heard as the couple seemingly started making out. Soft moans and gasps issued from the other side of the door along with the wet sounds of lips sucking against each other and the rustle of hands wandering over clothes in urgency.
In the room, utter, shocked silence reigned.
Just which pair of lovers was bold enough to be doing it in broad daylight, in the midst of a hallway, and within the walls of the prestigious Heavenly Peak Sect no less?!
On the other side, as if unable to bear the passion of the two lovebirds, the creaking of the poor door intensified until, with a resounding crack, the door finally broke.
As the wood sprayed splinters and the door collapsed inwards, a pair of figures came tumbling into the room, one falling on top of the other.
Looking at them, Qinghe felt like hiding his face in shame.
It was his senior brother Chen Xiande and their guest from the demonic faction, Hei NingYu.
One was the head disciple of the Heavenly Peak Sect, the other was the undisputed leader of the demonic faction and the former grandmaster of the cultivation world. Seeing them both tangled like this in front of the guest hall really left one speechless.
Splayed on the floor, Chen Xiande looked up to see several familiar figures looking at him with both shock and amusement. As intense embarrassment came over him, Chen Xiande groaned and covered his face with his hands. Whatever dignity he must have left in his junior brother's eyes must be long gone by now. He wanted more than anything to just disappear off the face of the earth right this instant!
Still lying on top of Chen Xiande on the floor, Hei NingYu nonchalantly looked up with a charming grin as if he wasn't in an awkward situation at all. His eyes sparkling with interest, he spoke, "Did someone mention going on a house visit? Sounds fascinating, let me come along."
At the side, Yan Lin closed his mouth that had been open due to shock and nodded, "Of course, all friends of Qinghe are welcome." The more the merrier, after all!
Qinghe could only sigh. Why did all the people he knew seem to be such oddballs?
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