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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
It was known throughout the world that Qiushan Jun had a deeply-rooted affection for Xu Yourong, and people also once believed that Xu Yourong held similarly deep feelings for Qiushan Jun. The True Dragon and the Heavenly Phoenix, both of the same sect, had grown up together. One was highly likely to be inheritor to the position of Saint of the Longevity Sect that had lain fallow for several decades, while the other was the future Holy Maiden of the south. From every aspect, this was a match made in heaven.
Until…last year's Ivy Festival in the capital.
In that Ivy Festival, Chen Changsheng took out a marriage contract. In that same Ivy Festival, Xu Yourong had the White Crane bring a letter. In that letter, she clearly wrote none of it was as the populace had imagined. It was only at that moment that the world knew that the so-called match made in heaven was, as was inevitable and right, only a beautiful dream and hope in their minds.
If it were a normal young girl in this situation, they would not have been willing to meet Qiushan Jun now because it was awkward and inconvenient. If it were one of those exceptionally intelligent girls who did things with resolve and were not ordinary in the least, they would also not wish to meet Qiushan Jun, because only by refusing to meet could they allow him to quickly pacify his emotions.
But Xu Yourong did not act this way. She was not some youth that was like a cool breeze. Her Dao heart was spotless. She did not plan, nor would she deliberately change her mind.
Walking to the dwelling at the peak of Mount Li, she placed her empty lunchbox on the table. She said to Qiushan Jun on the bed, "Junior Sister Qi Jian is still very weak, but she's always thinking about going to the capital to find Zhexiu."
Qiushan Jun leaned on the bedhead, his pale face brimming with concern. "When Martial Granduncle returned to the mountain and heard of this matter, he was very unhappy. He scolded Junior Sister for a very long time!"
Xu Yourong was rather puzzled. "Senior Su Li is confident and uninhibited, why is he so unreasonable on this matter?"
Qiushan Jun smiled, explaining, "When any man plays the role of a father, they always have to become that father-in-law they found most loathsome when they were young."
Xu Yourong said, "But I still don't understand why he has to so strictly oppose it."
After a moment of silence, Qiushan Jun responded, "In the past, Martial Granduncle met that wolf cub on the snowy plains. He said…that wolf cub has an illness, that he can't live for very long!"
This was the first time Xu Yourong had heard of this matter. She thought of how that wolf cub which had placed the greatest pressure on her in the Proclamation of Azure Sky not only had such a miserable history, but also such an unbearable fate. She couldn't help but sigh.
Qiushan Jun gazed at her and said, "No father would agree to marry their daughter to someone who will die prematurely…now that I think of it, Martial Granduncle also cursed Chen Changsheng for three days because of this matter."
Xu Yourong chuckled, but said nothing. Only after coming to Mount Li did she come to know of those matters that had occurred after the Garden of Zhou, such as the story of how Chen Changsheng had accompanied Su Li through the snowy plains to Tianliang. She was forced to admit that these feats of his had caused her to change her impression of the fellow called Chen Changsheng. Ultimately, though, that fellow was called Chen Changsheng. She would not speak ill of him to his face, but she also did not wish to praise him.
Qiushan Jun said no more. Borrowing the light of the Night Pearl on the wall, he continued studying the sword classic in his hands.
Xu Yourong took up a scroll of the 'Classic of Longevity' from the table and began to silently read it.
The dwelling was very peaceful, but there wasn't anything scandalous about it. It was extremely natural, just like how Xu Yourong had walked in and the two began to have a conversation. The conversation had concluded, but there was no need to intentionally do anything else.
Several years ago, when Xu Yourong was still a little girl, she came to Holy Maiden Peak from the capital. She began to cultivate and study in South Stream Temple, comprehending the Heavenly Tomes. The two would often meet, and they would often enact this scene: the two sitting down opposite each other, quietly reading without words.
The common folk had believed that the two innocent playmates had grown up as childhood friends, but both of them knew that this characterization was not at all accurate. They were innocent because both of them clearly understood what the other was thinking.
After some time had passed, Xu Yourong got up and said, "Senior Brother, I'll be leaving now. I'll come to see you again tomorrow."
Qiushan Jun shifted his gaze from the book to her, but he did not do as he had done for the past several nights, for the past several years, and tell her that she should take care on the way back.
In the past few years, these had been the calmest and most cheerful few nights he had experienced.
Because he could quietly look at her, whether at her fluttering eyelashes, her finger flipping the pages, or the slight curving of her lips.
He didn't have to watch her at every moment, just when he was tired of reading his book and casually raising his head. When he saw her sitting there, he would feel calm and at ease, and then cheerful.
He wished there could be even more of these nights, so he wished to say a few things more.
"Because of Martial Granduncle's matter, my Mount Li Sword Sect owes him an enormous favor. No matter what enmity existed between us in the past, now it is only us that owe him." Qiushan Jun gazed at her and said, "But this matter and this favor have never had anything to do with each other. I want to say that he's very outstanding, suitable for you. He is in no way as naughty and mischievous as you described him when you were small, and he is even less as unbearable as you mentioned in your letters. So then, just what is your view on this engagement now?"
The person mentioned in these words was naturally Chen Changsheng.
Qiushan Jun's tone was very calm, very magnanimous, and very sincere.
Xu Yourong pondered this, then said, "After a while, I will go to the capital to end the engagement."
"Directly ending the engagement…" Qiushan Jun seriously said, "To Chen Changsheng, this is inevitably rather unfair. Gossip is a fearful thing. The things your family did in the past year amount to a humiliation."
Xu Yourong looked him in the eyes and calmly replied, "But if this engagement is fulfilled, that is unfair to me."
This engagement with Chen Changsheng had been decided by her grandfather. No one had ever asked her opinion on it.
Qiushan Jun fell into silence, then said, "My apologies."
This apology was for the mission the south had sent to the capital last year to propose. At the time, there had also been no one to ask Xu Yourong of her opinion.
Xu Yourong chuckled, but said nothing. She had a profound understanding of Qiushan Jun's conduct and believed that the matter had nothing to do with him. Back then, she had been sent off by her teachers and elders to the Southern Sea to quietly cultivate while Qiushan Jun had been striving against those young demon experts for the key to the Garden of Zhou…
As she thought of the Garden of Zhou, her eyes like limpid autumn water were suddenly suffused with the slightest tinge of dull sadness.
In the Mausoleum of Zhou, he had said that he had an engagement, but he said that he would end it.
She had also said to him that she had an engagement, but she would absolutely not marry that man.
Why had there been this sort of conversation? Naturally, it was because he wanted to marry her, and she wanted to marry him. Although they had not said it, although he was already dead, how could she refuse it? How could she forget?
Yes, so she had to return to the capital to end the engagement, whether Chen Changsheng was good or bad. None of it was important, because he could not be him.
"Junior Sister, what's wrong?"
Qiushan Jun could sense the slightest changes in her emotional state, because in these past few years, his thoughts had always been on her. He could sense her sadness and couldn't help but be concerned.
"It's nothing…" Xu Yourong looked into Qiushan Jun's eyes and suddenly felt that it was not right to conceal this matter from him. After a momentary pause, she said, "Senior Brother, there is a matter that you are not aware of. The reason I persist in ending the engagement is that there is someone that I love."
The dwelling abruptly became abnormally quiet, quieter than it had been when the two were reading books.
Qiushan Jun suddenly laughed, saying, "Presumably, that person is assuredly not me."
Xu Yourong smiled, then gave a rough description of all that she had encountered in the Garden of Zhou. She primarily spoke of that Snow Mountain Secret Sect disciple called Xu Sheng.
Qiushan Jun's smile faded away. After what seemed like an endless silence, he said, "Junior Sister, he is probably already dead."
Xu Yourong calmly answered, "I know."
Qiushan Jun gazed at her with concern.
Walking out of the dwelling, she stood at the edge of the cliff. Under the starlight's illumination, the pine trees whistled as the wind blew through them, and they seemed just like a silver ocean.
She turned her gaze to the young man dressed as a scholar at the edge of the cliff and said, "Second Brother."
Gou Hanshi had left the Mausoleum of Books in advance because he had learned what had occurred at Mount Li. He had arrived even earlier than she had.
He turned to Xu Yourong, wanting to say something to her. Ultimately, he could only sigh.
To him, Xu Yourong was Junior Sister and Qiushan Jun was Eldest Brother. He was the person that most understood the relationship between the two, and he also understood many things going on in the capital.
Below the pines that were akin to a silver ocean was an exceptionally precipitous cliff. A mournful howl suddenly emerged from that cliff.
Xiao Songgong and the two elders of the Discipline Hall were currently imprisoned in the cliffs of Mount Li. The two Discipline Hall elders had not yet recovered from their heavy injuries, but Xiao Songgong's end had been even more miserable. His two arms had been directly chopped off on Su Li's order.
As for that elder that had attempted to avail himself of Su Li's absence to reassert the authority of the Longevity Sect, his cultivation had been crippled by Su Li himself. As expected, the conduct of the Junior Martial Uncle of Mount Li was cold-blooded and ruthless.
Su Li was currently in the back mountains tending to his injuries. Xu Yourong also had to go there, because her teacher, the Holy Maiden of the south, was also there. It was only after the storm in Xunyang City that all of Mount Li, all of the south, and all of the continent realized that the Holy Maiden and Su Li actually had such a deep relationship. It was also the first time Xu Yourong heard of this matter.
"There's no need to speak of anything else. Only, if you insist on returning to the capital to end the engagement, I hope that you do as much as you can to give Chen Changsheng face," Gou Hanshi looked at her and said.
Xu Yourong was rather surprised. After so many matters, especially Chen Changsheng and Su Li's majestic journey south, she had already begun to doubt the things Shuang'er and Mo Yu had written in their letters. She no longer viewed Chen Changsheng with as much disdain, but it was beyond her expectations that Gou Hanshi would voluntarily speak for him.
"Chen Changsheng…just what sort of person is he?"
Hearing her question, Gou Hanshi contemplated it for quite a long while. Finally, he produced a verdict: "He is a real person."
He and Xu Yourong did not know that on the journey south, Su Li had also evaluated Chen Changsheng as such.
Xu Yourong trusted in Gou Hanshi's judgment of others, but she couldn't help but be a little absent-minded. She had originally forgotten many things from when she was a child, but after Chen Changsheng entered the capital, she gradually began to recall. However…
She pushed it from her mind. Perhaps there really was some misunderstanding, but it had nothing to with her.
She bid farewell to Gou Hanshi and took the pine tree-lined mountain path to the back mountain.
Gou Hanshi suddenly thought of a matter and said, "Junior Sister, Chen Changsheng, he…"
Xu Yourong turned back to him.
Gou Hanshi had originally wanted to tell her that Chen Changsheng had discovered the Sword Pool in the Garden of Zhou, that the Li Palace was prepared to return these swords to the various sects, and that amongst these swords was the temple sword that had been lost by Holy Maiden Peak. However, upon seeing her slightly lonesome expression, he knew that she did not want to hear it. And when he thought about how she might have already known of this matter, he shook his head and said, "It's nothing."