The Road to Collecting the Soul, Thousand Year Old Pond
Xuan Long looked down at the hairpin in Yan Yuan's hand: “Why"
Under the blazing golden sun, Yan Yuan's silvery-white robe swayed in the wind, and he smiled as warmly as spring, but there were too many emotions in his eyes that Xuan Long couldn't see, like regret, like sadness, like reluctance.
"The Qixi Festival is a festival for the human race to celebrate love, and those who love each other will give each other gifts on that day to commit to each other for life."
are you willing to be betrothed to me for life."
From the moment their spirit and bodies met, Xuan Long had decided that he wanted to be with Yan Yuan as husband and wife for the rest of his life, and he was willing to be betrothed to Yan Yuan for the rest of his life.
"But I don't know how to tie my hair." He said in a low, sullen voice.
Yan Yuan smiled, "I'll teach you."
Xuan Long's throat twitched slightly: "Hm."
He raised his hand and took the silver hairpin from Yan Yuan's fingers with an imperceptible caution.
This was the first time someone had given him a gift, and it felt so heavy in his hand that he wanted to put it away immediately, but he felt reluctant to part with it because he hadn't seen enough.
There were so many delicious and interesting places in Chang'an that the day passed in a flash after a morning of shopping at the market, an afternoon of shadow puppet shows and juggling at a street corner in the east of the city, and an evening of dinner at a restaurant.
On the way back, the two of them interlocked their fingers and walked slowly in the sunset.
Xuan Long intended to transform into his original body and fly back with Yan Yuan, but Yan Yuan refused.
He took Xuan Long's hand and walked from the bustling marketplace to the quiet forest path, wishing time would slow down and the road would grow a little longer.
After passing through these woods, they would arrive at the thousand-year-old pond.
The two silently enjoyed the intimacy and comfort of the moment.
Xuan Long vaguely felt that Yan Yuan seemed to be different somewhere, yet how could he, an ash of a shattered soul, figure out exactly where.
"Why, give it early"
He asked for no reason.
Yan Yuan looked at him sideways, and after being stunned for a moment, he realised that Xuan Long was talking about the silver hairpin he had given him, so he curled his lips and said hoarsely.
"Because I wanted to give it to you."
"I don't want to make you unhappy."
Did not want to ask him to foolishly covet a gift.
Even if this nightmare was illusory, he still wanted to finish what he should have done before.
To offer up his heart as a gift – even if the reborn Xuan Long never bothered to ask for it again.
But whether he did it or not, and whether Xuan Long wanted it or not, were two different things.
The man at his side was silent for a moment, lifting his untethered left hand to the back of his neck.
Before Yan Yuan could understand what he was up to, Xuan Long suddenly applied force and plucked off an ink-coloured dragon scale in the shape of a crescent moon.
With a stifled grunt, he pursed his lips and handed the dragon scale to Yan Yuan, as blood dripped down between his fingers and his face turned pale to the naked eye.
"I'll give it to you in advance too."
Even though it was a dream, Xuan Long's action, which was no different from reality, still caused Yan Yuan to lose control.
A hot mist welled up in his eyes and he gently pulled the man into his arms and embraced him, his large palm clasping the back of his head as his voice became more hoarse.
"Don't be so foolish in the future...
don't hand over everything so easily."
"You also have to see who the other person is and if it's worth it...
do you understand"
It was not handed over easily, but rather the most precious thing on his body was given to the other party only after he had identified them.
Xuan Long's mouth was clumsy.
Before he met Yan Yuan, almost no one spoke to him, so he would not say smooth and nice words.
His heart wanted to explain, but what came out was just one sentence:
"I know you treat me well."
I have not treated you well at all.
If I had treated you well, you, me, A'Zhi, our family would have lived happily ever after, and you would not have become a thousand ashes of a broken soul, tormented by obsessions and nightmares even after death.
Yan Yuan roared and cried out in his heart, hating himself and regretting his death, both of which swept up his body like a ferocious tornado and completely tore him apart.
However, he could not tell Xuan Long those things.
His heart tumbled in waves, his bloodshot scarlet eyes stung, but he opened his mouth with a calmness that was full of belated and extreme tenderness.
I treat you well"
I will treat you well from now on.
As long as there is still a chance.
Xuan Long raised his hand and patted Yan Yuan's back, "Let's go."
Okay." Yan Yuan continued to hug him for a moment before slowly releasing Xuan Long's body and looking at him as he repeated those two words.
The simple two-word phrase had become a luxury.
The thousand-year-old pond was still the same as it had been at the beginning, the simple stone bed, the simple stone table, the simple stone chairs, the soft bedding and delicate food boxes added because of Yan Yuan's arrival, the fruit on the stone table that was always fresh...
The experience that he once disdained became the warmth that Yan Yuan craved today.
He did not want to leave like this, so he did not coax Xuan Long into the soul gathering box at the first opportunity, but stayed in the pond.
Living like husband and wife, more sticky than ordinary couples, he no longer let Xuan Long go out alone to buy food and supplies and he followed him everywhere he went, not missing a single moment with Xuan Long, not wasting a single moment of time.
The previous Yan Yuan had to pester Xuan Long for sex night after night, but these days Yan Yuan suddenly stopped touching him and just cuddled up to him and slept, which Xuan Long found strange.
He had never been confident in himself and thought that Yan Yuan had lost interest in his body after such a short period of time, and was always thinking about what was going on.
Of course, he just thought about it, he could not say it.
Yan Yuan was not seeking him for intercourse, he was better off down there and would not be hurting all the time, but he could not figure out what Yan Yuan really liked about him, he was not born good looking and his body was solidly manly, and he was not very comfortable to hold.
He's heard that all men of the human race love beautiful women...
The majority of new things begin interesting and lose their excitement after they are touched.
It was not until the third day, when Yan Yuan was kissing Xuan Long in his arms before going to bed, that he did not restrain his reaction, and they parted with a panting breath.
But Yan Yuan did nothing, just cupped his face with one hand, his fingertips gently rubbing his skin, and he looked at him as if he was remembering someone.
Xuan Long vaguely sensed that Yan Yuan was sad, but not knowing why he was sad, he comforted him in a clumsy way, "If you need to vent, just do it, you don't need to worry about me."
Every time they made love, Yan Yuan was so impatient and happy that Xuan Long thought he would be happy this time too.
But it was not the case.
Yan Yuan rubbed his face, and his warm lips fell on his forehead: "I will take you again when you become my legitimate wife."
"In the past, I have treated you lightly...
but now I want to change."
He was more gentle than before.
Xuan Long thought this in his heart.
The two of them slept together, and the moment the sun's rays cast their light on the water on the next day, Yan Yuan woke up leisurely.
He had been in this realm of soul consciousness for three days, and the three days had passed so quickly that he had to peel himself away from his hard-won happiness before he could even taste the sweetness.
He still had to go and find the rest of the soul ash, and could not spend any more time here.
The man in her arms was sleeping.
Yan Yuan estimated the time of their first encounter, and by this time, Xuan Long should have had a child in his womb.
No wonder he always slept for so long.
He pressed his palm against Xuan Long's still-flat stomach.
He thought of the child he had lost with Xuan Long's death in battle in the Heavenly Realm, and the thought made his heart twinge.
Xuan Long woke up in the middle of his daze and raised his hand to touch Yan Yuan's face, pulling him back to reality.
Yan Yuan obediently grabbed the man's hand and kissed it, smiling as he asked, "Did you sleep well"
Xuan Long: “En."
"How are you"
Yan Yuan looked deeply at him and softly said, word for word, "With you, I am good.” Then, without waiting for Xuan Long's reaction, he took his whole body into his arms including his head and said dumbly, “A'Po, I will take you to a place, will you come with me"
“Where" A muffled voice came from his chest.
Yan Yuan paused: "A place where I will always be in the future."
Xuan Long: "The Imperial Palace"
Yan Yuan didn't know how to say it for a moment, and fearing that he would suffocate, he loosened the force in his arm and said, "Not the palace, but somewhere else."
Xuan Long lifted his head, his icy turquoise eyes gazing at him, "Okay."
Yan Yuan knew that Xuan Long, who loved him, had always been easy to coax, but every time he felt his partner's unconditional trust, he still felt his heart fluttering, especially after all the bastardly things he had done.
"You won't ask where"
Xuan Long shook his head.
"It is good to have you there."
If only that were true.
Yan Yuan coaxed Xuan Long into the soul gathering box without much effort.
The moment his soul consciousness was collected in the box, the scene around him instantly changed back to the same ice-cold darkness of the night three days ago.
He stood in front of the Jing Yu Lou with the soul gathering box, his tall, upright figure standing alone, almost swallowed by the night.
Those three days were like a big stolen dream.
When the time came, it was time to return it...
Yan Yuan tightened the soul gathering box in his arms, as if he was holding Xuan Long in his arms.
After a long time, he turned around, his desolate back gradually disappearing into the night.
For the next month, Yan Yuan wandered the world in search of Xuan Long's broken soul consciousness.
Using his instant teleportation technique, he could easily reach the places he wanted to go, so the journey did not take much time.
The more soul consciousnesses he found, the stronger the soul gathering box became in pulling him to find the rest.
Later on, for every soul consciousness he collected, the jewel in the centre of the soul gathering box would produce a blue thread-like halo of light that would float in the air and lead him directly to the next realm.
Along the way, Yan Yuan found that within Xuan Long's soul consciousness, whether it was an obsession or a nightmare, almost all of them were related to him, and only a few involved unrelated strangers.
For example, the young Xuan Long, who had wandered all the way to the thousand-year-old pond when he was a child, thought that the human race would not hate him as much as his own people did, and tried to play with the young human children, only to scare the timid ones into tears when he approached them.
Xuan Long was helpless and tried to explain that he would not harm anyone, but before he could say anything, the parents of the children ran out at the sound of the cries, and he fled, hiding in the shadows, and heard the human children call him a demon.
He was indeed a demon, and even if he did not harm people, it would not change that fact.
Understanding that he was not welcome, the young Xuan Long stopped trying to get close to them, and he lived on his own, a small dragon, raising himself with difficulty, and then meeting Yan Yuan.