Long Feiye responded accordingly. “I didn’t stay long on Celestial Mountain. Before I turned 18, I used to go once a year, but that grew less often as I aged. It’s been three or four years since I’ve gone back.”
Han Yunxi didn’t speak beyond staring at him with narrowed eyes. Long Feiye knew that he’d answered the crucial part of her question then. He didn’t know how hard it was to placate other woman, but he knew he couldn’t afford to be careless with this one. Either she’d ask him nothing at all, or smash everything apart to question him until the end.
“Every time I went up the mountain, I received master’s instruction before closing myself in for cultivation. As soon as I finished, I left,” Long Feiye added.
“Haven’t you gone up and down the mountain with her in the past? You even escorted her back to Western Zhou’s capital city, didn’t you?” Han Yunxi asked viciously.
She wasn’t usually so narrow-minded, but Long Feiye was her one exception. When it came to him, she was extremely petty and refused to accept a single blemish. This man could only belong wholly to her! She refused to share a bit of him, whether it was past, present, or future.
Long Feiye only looked at her with a helpless smile.
“What are you smiling about?!” Han Yunxi was almost choking to death from rage.
Ignoring her cry, Long Feiye only went to hail the driver. “Go order some dishes first. A plate of vinegar-soaked cabbage sounds good.”
Han Yunxi was now both enraged and embarrassed. She kicked at him and cried, “Long Feiye, I’m not joking with you here!”
“You’re still worried about what Duanmu Baiye said in the past?” Long Feiye didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. Back at Western Zhou, that man had tried to provoke them with his words, but he’d already explained himself. But here she was, calling up old debts again.
“Then...then did your master always used to order you to take care of her in the past? And did you go back then?” That was the main sore spot for Han Yunxi. Last time Duanmu Yao had come on the sword sect master’s orders to seek out Long Feiye. He’d promptly followed her without a word, which was enough proof of his master’s importance in his heart. Judging by the letter they received, it wasn’t the first time the old man had made demands of Long Feiye. Heaven knows how many orders he’d given in the past.
Long Feiye looked at her with a complicated expression and didn’t reply. Han Yunxi returned the look as she waited, but no answer was forthcoming. Her anger dissipated in the wake of her fast beating heart as she knitted her eyebrows nervously.
“Tell me!” The more anxious she felt, the harsher she spoke.
“What happened in the past…” Long Feiye finally spoke, but Han Yunxi was quick to muffle him.
“Enough! If it’s in the past, let it pass. I’m hungry so let’s eat.”
The heart of a woman was like a needle at the bottom of the sea. Her face was more changeable than a child’s or weather on a June day. It switched at the drop of a hat!
She was about to step off the carriage herself when Long Feiye hugged her from behind and pulled her into his arms. “Heh, not angry anymore?”
Han Yunxi shook her head.
“Why not?” he asked with interest.
Instead, Han Yunxi blurted out, “Long Feiye, I’m scared!” She turned to face him in earnest. “Long Feiye, I’m afraid that I’ll never be able to erase your past no matter how hard I try. I’m worried that I won’t be your one and only. Tell me, what should I do?”
She never trusted anyone but herself. Whenever difficulties came her way, she would do her best until she surmounted them! But she was helpless when it came to his past. What he experienced was something out of her bounds. She couldn’t stop him from doting on others if he wanted.
How helpless it all was!
Long Feiye’s heart trembled slightly at her words before he held her tighter. If possible, he’d want to absorb all of her into himself. This was probably the most emotional confession he’d ever heard.
She allowed him to hold tight as she confessed, “I object to it…I object to it a lot. Long Feiye, what should we do?”
With any other man, she might have excused it. She was a free and easy soul, after all. But he was someone she couldn’t simply forget. The more she thought about the possibilities, the more horrible she felt. He rubbed her back gently and asked, “Are you this greedy?”
Han Yunxi’s reply was quite pathetic. “That’s right. It’s a shame...that I can’t covet what I don’t have.”
Long Feiye was torn between heartache and humor. He’d never seen her so listless. Burying his face by her ear until he was almost close enough to bite her, he whispered back, word by word, “Han Yunxi, remember this. Your lordship will only have and serve one woman in this life, and that’s you. Regardless of the past or future, it’ll only be you. There won’t be a second.”
He drew back after that, only to stop and lean close again so he could cup her face in his hands. Then he gave her a firm kiss on the lips--their special “stamping” method.
Han Yunxi’s world lit up. Instead of feeling timid, she grew energized and recovered her spirits instantly. Her hands held his face as well before she started pestering him for details. “What other things has your master ordered you to do in the past?”
“I don’t remember them,” Long Feiye was telling the truth. Would he bother keeping a memory of those times?
“Think about it a bit more,” Han Yunxi’s heart itched. She wouldn’t be able to sleep without some straight answers.
“Probably about the same things as the contents of that letter.” Long Feiye had no desire to recall the past. Once Han Yunxi was sure he’d really forgotten, she felt quiet satisfied.
“It’s good that you forgot.”
Hearing these words, Long Feiye realized that she’d set a trap for him. If he had really remembered anything, the consequences could have been damning.
“Then how did you refuse the requests?” Han Yunxi asked.
“By overtly agreeing while covertly opposing.” He would never reject any request in his master’s face, but he never really followed those instructions in private. For example, when master had told him to take care of Duanmu Yao until she turned 18, he only made sure she didn’t die.
“Wouldn’t Duanmu Yao tattle?” Han Yunxi was bewildered.
Long Feiye shook her head, so she asked, “Why not?”
“I’m not sure.” Now Long Feiye was starting to get impatient. Han Yunxi stopped while she was ahead and started wondering about something more important instead. “Why does the sword sect master dote on Duanmu Yao so much? It shouldn’t just be because she has excellent natural talents, right?”
After all, Long Feiye was superior to her in every aspect. So why wouldn’t the sword sect master dote on him instead of asking him to wait on Duanmu Yao instead? There had to be a secret there.
Long Feiye was planning to tell Han Yunxi more things slowly once they went to Celestial Mountain themselves, but since she’d already asked, he didn’t plan to hide the facts any longer. After all, the fact that he’d decided to take her up the mountain already made hiding these things pointless.
“She was the real first disciple of my master, but that’s a secret that no one else knows. Master didn’t take disciples at all because he had shimu, but Duanmu Yao caught his eye when we both went for our tests at Celestial Mountain. Because seeing her put him in such a good mood, he accepted both of us that day under his tutelage.”
Han Yunxi was surprised. The public all said that Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao were officially accepted out of the norm by the sword sect master because of their exceptional talents. Who knew that this would be the truth?
If that was the case, then Long Feiye had ridden on Duanmu Yao’s coattails to be accepted in Celestial Mountain Sword Sect all those years ago.
“Even Duanmu Yao herself doesn’t know this fact. Master only told me as it was a matter that concerned his own reputation…”
Before Long Feiye could finish, Han Yunxi declared, “Don’t worry, I’ll definitely keep it secret!”
Cloud Realm Continent might be an open-minded society, but common customs saw romantic relationships between masters and disciples as taboo. The sword sect master was respected as a figure of noble character and high morals, so he’d be extremely condemned if news broke of his forbidden love. The entire Celestial Mountain Sword Sect would see their reputation plummeting as a result. No one would send their children to learn under their masters after that.
“Shimu....died because the circulation of her true qi backfired and drove her to insanity down a wrong cultivation path,” Long Feiye remarked. “After she passed away, master’s hair turned white overnight. The shock scarred him psychologically and afflicted him with fits of insanity. Though he’s managed to control himself in the past, his mental state is unsteady now. When his condition acts up, he doesn’t even know who I am, only Duanmu Yao.”
Han Yunxi was stunned. She knew that Long Feiye had been hiding things about Celestial Mountain from her, but never thought that it’d be this. From what she understood, the sword sect master had gone all white when he was only around 30 years old. They said it was a result of his cultivation, but reality showed that heartbreak was to blame. For him to grow white hair overnight was a testament to how much he’d suffered from his wife’s death!
In a flash, Han Yunxi’s anger towards the man all but evaporated. She suddenly understood why he’d treat Duanmu Yao so well without any further words of explanation.
“Does Cang Qiuzi know about this?” Han Yunxi asked.
“He’s suspected from the way master treats Duanmu Yao, but I don’t know if he’s aware of the truth,” Long Feiye replied. “Even Tang Zijin and Tang Li don’t know about this. Only you, I, and Duanmu Yao know about his condition. When we get to Celestial Mountain, you can just pretend to be ignorant for the time being.”
The sword sect master only had occasional episodes of mental instability, so he’d forbidden Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao from revealing his condition to anyone. Long Feiye had only sent Tang Li up the mountain to scope out the basic news and nothing more. The sword sect master’s quarters were heavily guarded so it’d be impossible to get anything out of there. Duanmu Yao herself only knew as much as their master suffering from fits once in a while. She was still ignorant to the true cause of the condition, or how it’d stemmed from shimu’s death.
Long Feiye was technically breaking the rules by telling Han Yunxi at all.
Over the past few years, Cang Qiuzi and various factions of Celestial Mountain were getting restless, as well as the rogue factions of Carefree City and the City of Daughters. All of them wanted to gain sovereignty over Cloud Realm Continent’s martial arts circles. As the true pillar of Celestial Mountain, the sword sect master’s stability was paramount to prevent the situation from devolving into chaos!
After all, if the martial arts circles started fighting, there would be no considerations of country or borders to keep them in check like a war between nations. Understanding the implications, Han Yunxi said, “If that’s the case, we’ll have to soundly face off against Cang Qiuzi when we go to Celestial Mountain!”
With all these factors already at play, Celestial Mountain Sword Sect couldn’t afford to entertain its own internal squabbles as well.
Long Feiye just poked her on the nose with a grin. “There’s no need for you to worry about that. Just restrain yourself and make sure not to anger master when you meet him.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to yield to him!” Han Yunxi agreed.
They wouldn’t be able to avoid meeting Duanmu Yao then, but as long as the girl wasn’t too atrocious, she wouldn’t fuss either. As it turned out, she didn’t underestimate Duanmu Yao--but the extent of the sword sect master’s love and doting on the girl. When that future came, she would only regret.
Meanwhile, a complicated look flitted past Long Feiye’s eyes. Facing off against Cang Qiuzi was only secondary importance for their trip up Celestial Mountain this summer. The primary goal for him was to unlock the seal inside his body.
Should I tell Han Yunxi about that too?