Long Feiye and Han Yunxi held each other tightly. It would be a lie to say they weren’t frightened by the fire illusions just then. Han Yunxi told Long Feiye about her experiences and vice versa. Both of them had experienced the same illusion! It was a cruel hallucination. Few could stand to watch their loved ones burn to death before their eyes.
“Was the illusion testing us?” Han Yunxi asked doubtfully.
“But what was it testing?” Long Feiye pondered.
It did feel like a test. They weren’t sure what would have happened if they really went to save the fakes. Would they die? Or be penalized in some way?
“I don’t understand…” Han Yunxi didn’t want to recall the miserable scenes, so she asked, “What about Gu Qishao and the rest? Did they follow us in?”
The fake Long Feiye had told her no, but she wanted to confirm with the real one.
“I’m not sure about the rest, but Gu Qishao should have made it. He grabbed onto my foot. Then he somehow disappeared after that,” Long Feiye said. The wind had been too strong while they were falling, so he couldn’t recall when Gu Qishao had let go of his foot.
“Strange…” Han Yunxi was full of doubts. “Long Feiye, when did you let go of me?”
“I never did!” Long Feiye shook his head.
Gu Qishao he could ignore, but Han Yunxi he’d definitely protect well. He had been grasping her hand tightly the entire time!
“Weird, I didn’t let go of you either!” Han Yunxi couldn’t figure it out.
But they had no time to ponder the question. Both of them were well and safe, so it was more important to figure out what was going on in this place. Where was Gu Qishao? And how were they supposed to get out of here?!
“Let’s hurry up and find Gu Qishao!” Han Yunxi proposed. Behind her laid only one room, so there wasn’t much worth searching that again. Thus, Long Feiye brought her back the way he came, going through multiple stone rooms until they reached a palace hall with doors on four sides. Long Feiye had headed for the east gate before.
“Let’s try the west gate,” Han Yunxi suggested. Of course, it’d be faster to split up and search, but she didn’t dare to let go of his hand again. Neither did Long Feiye. Yet they’d hardly reached the west gate when the north and south ones opened up. Gu Beiyue walked in from the south, while Xu Donglin and Baili Mingxiang erged from the north.
This… Both Han Yunxi and Long Feiye grew guarded. Gu Beiyue and the rest came in too? Are they reals or fakes?
But Gu Beiyue and the others were only thrilled to see them.
“Princess, Your Highness, are you alright?” Gu Beiyue asked as he strode towards them. Baili Mingxiang and Xu Donglin hurried over as well. She didn’t speak, but her joy was evident in her eyes.
Xu Donglin was overjoyed. “Your Highness, princess, we’ve finally found you!”
Long Feiye and Han Yunxi remained silent until the trio sensed something amiss. They exchanged glances, a little lost.
“Princess, Your Highness….are you guys alright?” Gu Beiyue probed.
Han Yunxi and Long Feiye were still trying to figure out how to distinguish the trios from imposters. It seemed a little difficult! Yet it wasn’t long before a miserable cry reached their ears.
“Gu Qishao!” Han Yunxi grew alarmed as she recognized the voice.
“It’s Gu Qishao all right!” Gu Beiyue turned anxious. “It seems to have come from the west…”
“Let’s go!” Long Feiye pulled Han Yunxi with him to the door. There was no time to determine the others anymore. Once past the western gate, they discovered themselves in a tall palace hall. There was nothing inside except for Gu Qishao sitting on the floor, crying his heart out. He seemed to be doing something with his arms, his movements strange and abnormal. Seeing this, everyone felt their hairs stand on end. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi exchanged glances. They couldn’t tell if the scene before them now was real or another illusion.
“Gu Qishao...seems to be hugging someone,” Xu Donglin murmured.
Indeed, Gu Qishao looked like he was hugging someone in his arms. Had he been possessed? The crowd stayed silent and prepared to approach when Gu Qishao suddenly wailed, “Poison lass! Poison lass, wake up, won’t you? I’m begging you!”
“Poison lass, no matter what you do to me, I’ve never blamed or hated you...but….but if you don’t wake up this time, Qi gege won’t forgive you for the rest of my life! My entire life!”
Gu Qishao was truly shedding tears nonstop, his voice hoarse from his heartrending sobs. Everyone gave a start at the sound, while Han Yunxi was left completely flummoxed. What’s wrong with him? It’s like he’s done something unforgivable, as if...as if I’m dead.
Very soon, everyone looked towards Long Feiye, but his face had turned frosty enough to freeze all of Cloud Realm Continent solid. This was especially marked when Gu Qishao wailed, “Poison lass, don’t die!”
Losing the last shred of rationality, Long Feiye angrily roared, “GU QISHAO!”
Gu Qishao’s cries halted as he gave a start. He looked at his hands and had a fright. Quickly rising to his feet, he backed away until he was staring blankly at the ground, his face full of fear.
“Gu Qishao, what are you doing?” Long Feiye demanded.
Gu Qishao finally turned around to see Han Yunxi standing perfectly unharmed by Long Feiye’s side. He suddenly darted forward and wrapped her tightly in his arms. His speed was nothing short of...miraculous! Even Long Feiye hadn’t been in time to stop him.
“Poison lass, you...you…” Gu Qishao held her close, too moved to speak.
“You let go! Let go!” Han Yunxi struggled hard, not just to stop Long Feiye from getting angry, but because…he was crushing her to death!
Very soon, Long Feiye grabbed Gu Qishao’s hands and hauled him off. It was lucky that the man hadn’t broken any bones from the force. Finally regaining his wits, Gu Qishao looked blankly at Long Feiye. He ignored him and knocked him clear backwards, where he crashed against the stone wall, bounced off, and fell flat on his face.
Han Yunxi gave a long sigh. She had no idea why Gu Qishao was crying so hard about her, but she’d narrowly avoided being choked to death just then. When Gu Qishao raised his head, snot was running from his nostrils. They mixed with his tears and completely ruined his devastating good looks. Still, he broke into a smile once he saw that Han Yunxi was alright. Between tears and blood, the expression was dazzling and pure. He even forgot to argue with Long Feiye and muttered, “Poison lass, it’s so good to see you.”
Before Long Feiye could speak, Gu Beiyue intervened. “Qishao, you...what happened to you just then?”
Gu Qishao glanced back at the dreaded spot in the room before running a hand over his face to clear his thoughts. He told everyone what had happened--namely, after hauling Gu Beiyue into the darkness, he suddenly ended up alone. Eventually, he fell down here and saw a giant wolf-headed god statue. Poison lass was worshipping the effigy and he’d chatted with her until the statue turned into a flaming dragon that swallowed her up. He dove into the flames without hesitation to save her, but the fires died as soon as he did, leaving Poison lass...dead. He had been holding her body and crying for ages until Long Feiye’s shout made her vanish. Only then did he realize everything had been an illusion!
Gu Qishao’s gaze didn’t budge from Han Yunxi as he recounted his tale, afraid that she would vanish again, or that everything he saw now was still part of another beautiful dream. Hearing this, both Han Yunxi and Long Feiye exchanged worried looks. So that’s the aftermath of diving into the flames. If they hadn’t found this place, would Gu Qishao assume that Han Yunxi had truly died? Han Yunxi couldn’t begin to imagine what would happen if she thought Long Feiye was dead. Perhaps she would be a hundred times sadder than Gu Qishao...perhaps she too, would want to join him in death.
Long Feiye wasn’t as angry as before. His eyes on Gu Qishao grew dark and thoughtful.
Everyone needed time to digest Gu Qishao’s words. Han Yunxi and Long Feiye had experienced the same thing themselves, but it was hard for them to reflect before Gu Qishao’s genuine feelings and tearstains. Just what was this illusion trying to test? Why did Gu Qishao get trapped in the illusion after trying to save its victim, while she and Long Feiye had broken through the trap after steeling their hearts against the fakes?
Gu Beiyue broke the silence. “Qishao, that must have been an illusion.”
Both Han Yunxi and Long Feiye exhaled at this. It seemed like their Gu Beiyue was the real deal, not another illusion.
“Why was Gu Qishao the only one to experience it?” Xu Donglin couldn’t help asking.
“None of you did?” Han Yunxi asked quickly.
Both Xu Donglin and Baili Mingxiang shook their heads. Now Han Yunxi was certain that they were real too.
“What now, Poison lass, did you two experience it too? What kind of illusion was it?” Gu Qishao asked.
There was nothing much to hide at this point. Long Feiye immediately describe his and Han Yunxi’s illusions. However, when he was finished, everyone grew more silent as the atmosphere turned awkward.
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