Chapter 1552 - Deep Feelings

Pity.

 

When he saw An Lu’s beautiful eyes well up with tears, Ye Zichen didn’t know how else to describe his emotions.

 

He hadn’t known An Lu for long, and he could count the number of times they’d interacted on his fingers. They’d met in the Outside as strangers, but he’d saved her. When he asked himself why, he thought it was because of those pure, clear eyes. They’d drawn him in.

 

He couldn’t begin to imagine how someone with such pure eyes could have been born in a place like the Upper Three Realms.

 

Those eyes were like radiant, untarnished windows, so pure that one look was tantamount to a calming spell, easing one’s tension and soothing one’s nerves whether they liked it or not.

 

Even bloodthirsty killers, even those accustomed to bathing in blood…

 

One look into those eyes seemed to cleanse their very souls.

 

That was why Ye Zichen had rescued her even knowing she was a demon. That was why he’d taken her back to the Upheaval Alliance, and why he’d attentively arranged for her care.

 

She’d grown accustomed to spending time at Xiao Yumei’s side.

 

Part of that was that it was better a girl her age didn’t follow Ye Zichen around. But more than that, Ye Zichen didn’t want to involve a girl so pure in the petty struggles of this corrupted world.

 

Eyes were windows to the soul.

 

Ye Zichen wanted her to live on maintaining her unearthly purity, untainted by the world and its filth. 

 

Girls with such eyes were far too rare.

 

An Lu had once told him there was someone she liked, and he’d wondered just who it was. He, of course, had no untoward thoughts about her; he had more than enough feminine companionship already, and all of them were irreplaceable. It was simple curiosity. Just who had won the heart of this pristinely pure-hearted young woman? 

 

He’d considered countless possibilities, but Gu Li had never once occurred to him.

 

Scheming, sinister, crafty, bloodthirsty, a ruthless killer who reaped lives like a farmer harvests wheat. The sins he’d accumulated in his life were so heavy that a thousand lifetimes wouldn’t be enough to make up for them.

 

Just what had he done to win An Lu’s heart? In what way was he worthy of her?

 

But Ye Zichen quickly understood. He saw how Gu Li looked at An Lu: it was a rare display of tenderness, his gaze as soft as water.

 

He’d really fallen for her.

 

Eyes filled with tears, An Lu bit her lip and nodded, then turned and clung to Ye Zichen’s sleeves. “Please, I beg you, let Gu Li go. Please, for my sake!”  

Her pleas were so earnest, even the great emperors were moved, despite themselves. Those clear eyes and her tear-faced beauty were enough to soften even the hardest of hearts.

 

Ye Zichen was, of course, not immune.

 

He didn’t dare meet her gaze; he was afraid she’d convince him.

 

“Gu Li, it seems you haven’t lived in vain. I hadn’t thought someone like you, forsaken by both friends and family, would ever have a girl like this willing to plead for you,” said Ye Zichen.

 

“I don’t need you of all people to lecture me,” said Gu Li, recovering his usual coldness. “If you’ve got the balls, kill me!”

 

He then grabbed An Lu’s hand. “Don’t beg him.” 

 

“Gu Li, there’s no need for this. Big Brother Zichen’s a good guy; why are you treating him like this?” An Lu pursed her lips. “You two are a lot alike, and you’re both good people, so why can’t you be friends?”

 

“Child, don’t let this fiend fool you.” The dragon race elder couldn’t help but frown. “He’s nowhere near as king as you think. He’s an honest to goodness devil, a fiend, and his hands are stained in blood.”

 

“He’s nothing like that!” An Lu glared back at the elder. “He’s kind; I can tell. Just like Big Brother Zichen. They’re both kind people. His hands might be stained with blood, but does that make him evil? Aren’t your hands stained too? By that logic, doesn’t that make you irredeemably wicked too?”

 

“An Lu, there’s no point arguing with this self-righteous bunch of hypocrites. You can’t win that way.” Gu Li rose to his feet, then pulled An Lu close.

 

It was only then that An Lu realized just how serious his wounds really were, and how quickly he was losing blood. “You’re bleeding!”

 

“They’re minor wounds. It’s no big deal.” Before An Lu, Gu Li was always so soft and tender. “You’re too inexperienced to have any hope of winning an argument with those old fogies. Besides, they’re right: in their eyes, at least, I really am an irredeemable scoundrel.”

 

“But you’re not! You’re so, so good!” An Lu whimpered softly.

 

“It doesn’t matter whether I am or not.” Gu Li reached out and patted her on the head. “If you think I’m a good person, that’s enough. I couldn’t care less what others think of me. How do I put this? Let me think…. Right: I hate this world, and the only thing in it I love is you.” 

 

Few could love with such intensity. After calming An Lu, Gu Li turned his head. “Ye Zichen, I thought you’d captured An Lu because of her relationship with me, but it seems I misunderstood.”

 

“So, she was the one you were talking about then after all,” said Ye Zichen.

 

“Yes, it was An Lu.” Gu Li chuckled, then took her hand. “To me, she’s far more important than even my own life. She’s my everything.”

 

“I finally understand.” Ye Zichen felt a sudden clarity. He nodded. “You captured Su Yan and the others because you wanted An Lu back, right? You did all this for An Lu. Was it worth it?”  

“Why wouldn’t it be?” asked Gu Li. “It’s true: I did all of this for her. There are no lengths to which I wouldn’t go. You ask if it was worth it? Let me ask you this: wouldn’t you do the same to rescue your loved ones?”

 

Ye Zichen fell silent. A long time passed, but although he said nothing out loud, his answer was clear. Yes, he would.

 

In fact, he might have gone to even greater extremes than Gu Li. 

 

“Now that An Lu is back safe, I can finally relax. How about this? I’ll stay behind, and you can do with me as you will. I hope you can let the other demons and yao go. They were simply acting on my orders, especially the only shoulders. They didn’t even know what this was all for.”

 

Gu Li glanced at his army, then smiled bitterly. “They’re the truly pitiful ones in all this. They had no goal here; they were simply following orders. Let them go. I was the one behind this. I am willing to pay the price for what I’ve done. The others…. Are innocent. I hope you can let them go as a favor to me, in the name of all the years we’ve known each other.”

 

“But what about An Lu?” asked Ye Zichen.

 

“An Lu.” Gu Li turned to her, his eyes filled with profound emotion. “I’ve already made arrangements and left her sufficient resources to live out her days in peace and happiness. But then, I suppose that won’t be possible anyway; the era is quickly reaching its end. Perhaps, if you can really transcend, she’ll be able to enjoy her life a little longer.” 

 

With that, Gu Li looked up into the sky and let out a long whistle. Two women appeared in the sky. When they saw them, the surrounding great emperors’ expressions turned solemn.

 

They were both imperial-level experts!

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