The Road to Collecting the Soul, The Dragon Realm – Part One
In the sky, Yan Yuan was flying with his feet on the cloud, following the long, thin blue thread floating in the air in front of him.
He was flying very quickly, standing still, his robe fluttering, his long hair, half tied and half draped, dancing in the wind.
Suddenly, the blue thread twisted and turned like a snake and flew rapidly downwards, followed by Yan Yuan, who broke through the clouds to reveal a lush, quiet valley below.
The fresh air of the valley was cool after the rain, and a huge stone monument stood to the right of the entrance to the valley, with the words 'Dragon Realm' chiselled on it in a powerful manner.
The moment Yan Yuan landed, the cloud disappeared from beneath his feet, and he gazed deeply at the name of the realm painted in red on the stone tablet, his heart tightening.
This was the place where Xuan Long had been born in this life.
Once he had entered the realm of the soul consciousness, he should be able to see more of it, of Xuan Long's past.
And having come all the way to this place meant that it was getting closer and closer to the rebirth of Xuan Long...
Soon, he would be able to see that dragon standing alive in front of him.
Without staying too long, Yan Yuan manifested the soul gathering box from his spiritual sea and held it in his hand.
With a wave of his raised sleeve, his body vanished in its place and he followed the guidance of the blue thread of the soul gathering box into the valley.
When he reappeared, he was in front of a small, elegant bamboo building.
The blue thread burrowed back into the jewel of the soul gathering box from mid-air, and the jewel continued to glow blue, proving that he had found the right place.
The moment he stepped into the realm of the soul consciousness, lightning flashed in the sky and the rain poured down in torrents, with coils of lightning tearing the grey sky into countless pieces.
The rain poured down heavily, but Yan Yuan was as dry as ever.
His soul was not from this world, and no amount of rain or snow could help him, but the same could not be said of those who were from this world.
He turned around as if he was aware of something and saw a man in black clothes, soaked to the skin, coming this way.
The man in black clothes was carrying a man in his arms, who was very tall and must have weighed a lot.
Xuan Long was slim and carrying such a grown man, each step was difficult and the footprints on the ground were sometimes light and sometimes shallow, and he was liable to fall at any moment.
The man being held was badly wounded, with an arrow feather sticking out of his heart, the white robe on his chest stained red with blood, and his face pale from the rain.
Xuan Long would occasionally hug the man in his arms, rubbing his cheek against his forehead and murmuring something.
Yan Yuan could not hear him.
But through the rain and mist, he could feel Xuan Long's fear and helplessness at the moment.
It seemed as if the person in his arms was someone who was very important to him, someone he absolutely could not lose.
As Xuan Long carried the unconscious man through Yan Yuan's body, Yan Yuan saw clearly the face of the person in Xuan Long's arms, and the person being held was himself.
After experiencing Xuan Long's various realms of soul consciousness, Yan Yuan was no longer as prone to losing control as he had been at first.
He was gradually able to remain calm and face all this with the mindset of a bystander, telling himself that all of that was behind him, and that from now on, his A'Po would not live such a miserable life again.
However, there were times when it was impossible to remain calm.
Like this moment, for example.
Yan Yuan saw the stubborn dragon, who had hugged him and knelt down in the pouring rain in order to beg the healer to save his life, bow his head.
"Please save him..."
Hoarse, trembling, humble, begging.
"Are you leaving or not If you don't go, I'll go."
"Stay here on your knees, kneel until tomorrow for all I care." The healer would not lend him a hand, and the door of the bamboo building was slammed shut
Xuan Long knelt as if he had not heard, not moving, as if he would kneel until tomorrow, or the day after, or forever, if the healer did not say yes.
Because he wanted to save his lover's life.
But what kind of lover was he He had been deceiving him from the start.
When the ugly truth was revealed, a normal person would have gone far away.
No one would go out of his way to save someone who had betrayed him.
Such stupidity and foolishness, Xuan Long was probably the only one.
Yan Yuan fell to his knees beside Xuan Long, screaming at him, telling him to go away, to leave him alone, that the man in his arms was an ungrateful bastard, that he should not torture himself for him.
Xuan Long couldn't hear him.
What had happened long ago would not change just because Yan Yuan regretted it.
He saw Xuan Long hugging him and kneeling in the rain for nearly two hours before the healer finally softened his heart, opened the door and came out, saying he was willing to save this human being, but on one condition.
The condition was that Xuan Long's remaining dragon horn was to be taken.
Xuan Long agreed without even thinking about it.
He had clearly said that having a pair of beautiful dragon horns was a matter of pride for their dragon clan.
There was only one left, so how could he just give it to someone else
He was so determined to give it away.
It was as if Yan Yuan's existence was more important than anything else that Xuan Long had.
The dragon horn was given as payment for the healer to save the person, but to truly save him, one thing was needed.
The dragon's inner elixir.
Inside the bamboo building, in front of the bed, the healer asked Xuan Long.
"Think about it, if you give him this inner elixir, your ten thousand years of Tao will be scattered.
You are pregnant now, without the inner elixir, the foetus will eat away at your soul power and grow.
By then, you will live at most three years."
"Do you really want to destroy ten thousand years of Taoism for him Is it worth it"
Not worth it.
Yan Yuan answered for him in his heart.
It's not worth it, it's not worth it, it's not worth it at all… A'Po, don't be so soft-hearted.
Yan Yuan shook his head with red eyes and prayed, prayed that that answer would not come out of Xuan Long's mouth, so that he could feel better.
"I've thought it over."
"Please help me, Senior." Xuan Long's low, warm, slow voice rang through the room.
He was firm but indifferent, as if he was buying some insignificant commodity rather than offering up his inner elixir and sacrificing his life.
His gaze remained glued to the unconscious man on the bed for a moment.
Next, Yan Yuan witnessed the process of his own rescue and healing.
Witnessed how the inner elixir was forced out of Xuan Long's body and how it was incorporated into his own body by the healer.
He cut off the dragon's horn for him.
The healer advised Xuan Long to remove the child from his womb so that he would still have a hundred years of life, like an ordinary human being.
Xuan Long said, "...
I don't want to part with it."
He was so full of hope that Yan Yuan would love the child as much as he did that he sent Yan Yuan back to the palace, and promised Yan Yuan that he would stay, deciding to forget the past and the fact that he had been deceived and used, and to live out his remaining three years by Yan Yuan's side.
He thought that Yan Yuan would protect the child.
But Yan Yuan did not.
Yan Yuan forced him, tortured him, and used up his three years so quickly that he did not even make it through one year.
At the end of the dream, the scene shifted to the palace, where he pestered Xuan Long for intercourse, after which Xuan Long hesitantly said that there was something he wanted to ask him.
It was rare to see the man so apprehensive, so Yan Yuan was curious, but before Xuan Long could finish, someone outside announced that Ning Zhiyu was seriously ill, so Yan Yuan left Xuan Long behind without thinking.
That dragon sat on the bed in a daze, looking out of the window for a long time.
The 'Yan Yuan' in the realm of soul consciousness disappeared, so the Yan Yuan in reality could appear in front of Xuan Long.
He was so upset that he deliberately went around to the door, made it look as if he had gone out and returned, and pushed the door in.
Hearing the movement, Xuan Long turned his head to look, saw that it was Yan Yuan returned, and was a bit overwhelmed: "How did you come back...
he..." He wanted to ask how Ning Zhiyu was, the words came to his mouth, but he didn’t ask.
After all, he was not so generous that he could not care about the health of his beloved's lover in a calm manner, so he turned his head to the side and hung his eyes without saying anything.
Yan Yuan slowly walked to the edge of the bed and sat down, gently grabbed Xuan Long's hand and held it, smiling softly, "Don't you have something to say to me I have to listen carefully to all your words."
Xuan Long raised his icy turquoise eyes to look at Yan Yuan, the knot in his throat bulging: "I..."
If he had been this inquisitive before, Yan Yuan would have been impatient, but not now.
From now on, his patience would be given to his lover and child.
“Mhmm, say it."
Xuan Long was a little embarrassed and lowered his eyes to mull it over for a long time before he spoke arduously.
The two words were soft, but clearly heard.
Yan Yuan thought of his own shocked performance at that time when he was told the news, it really broke the dragon's heart.
That bastard had even asked Xuan Long to abort the child that he had barely managed to have.
Fortunately, their baby was now doing well.
"Oh, if you are pregnant, then let's have it." He said with a smile as the ends of his eyes reddened slightly.
How good it would have been if that was how he had responded to him in the first place...
Xuan Long's hand hanging on the bedding unconsciously tightened and he asked, pretending to be bashful, "Do you really think so"
Yan Yuan sensed his uneasiness and shook his hand firmly, looking at him frankly: "Why do you have such an expression I am happy with you and will love our child properly."
“En." Certain that Yan Yuan did not seem to be lying, Xuan Long's entire body relaxed, lowering his eyes to hide the joy rising in his turquoise eyes as he murmured.
"Then I am relieved..."
"Relieved about what" Yan Yuan asked knowingly, as if he had a lump in his throat.
Xuan Long shook his head, "Nothing."
He would not tell Yan Yuan about the matter of him leaving, no matter what.
This was something Yan Yuan knew very well, because Xuan Long was afraid that he would be upset.
Yan Yuan did not poke at it, weaving a beautiful dream of his own in the dream world: “A'Po, I won't be the emperor anymore, I'll take you away."
Xuan Long turned his head in surprise: "...
Where are we going"
"Wherever you want to go, we will go.
From now on it will be just you, me, and the child, the three of us living together, okay..."
Xuan Long was silent for a moment, "What about your empress"
Yan Yuan smiled, "I will let him out of the palace and give him his freedom."
"It is enough for me to have you."
Xuan Long frowned, "But..."
But I don't have much time left to live.
Yan Yuan did not speak, waiting for Xuan Long to answer.
After a while, Xuan Long spoke indifferently, "You have married the Empress, you should treat him well."
Yan Yuan looked at the man's silent, cold profile and said dully, "But I don't love him."
Xuan Long's eyes were puzzled as he murmured, "...
You don't love him"
Earlier, Yan Yuan clearly did not say that.
Yan Yuan said that Ning Zhiyu was his beloved, and if Ning Zhiyu died, he would die too.
"I love you." Yan Yuan said to Xuan Long hoarsely, “A'Po...
I love you."
If he did not say it today, he might not have the chance later.
You must have had too much to drink today." Xuan Long instinctively drew his hand back.
He had long since become confused and did not want to fall back into the swamp and lose himself.
Yan Yuan grabbed Xuan Long's hand and pulled him into his arms, his arm wrapped around Xuan Long's waist, and before Xuan Long could react, he cupped his face with his other hand and leaned in to kiss him on the lips.
The two men's breaths met and burned hotly.
Xuan Long forgot to struggle as Yan Yuan's loving kisses fell on his eyelids and between his brows, and he asked huskily:
"Don't you like that I love you"
He liked it.
Liked it so much that it would kill him.