“How’ve you been?”
Just as the Great Sage was about to finish Hanba off, he heard a gentle voice calling him. At the same time, the rain faded from view, replaced by impenetrable white fog.
“How’ve you been?” The soft voice called out again. The Great Sage felt his heart tremble.
Was this her?
The person who’d haunted his dreams for tens of thousands of years…...
Was it really her?
He tightly clenched the Ruyi Jingu Bang, then turned and gazed into the distance. His Adam's apple bobbed nervously and his voice was raspy ask he asked….
“Is that you?”
“It’s me.” The soft voice floated past his voice once more. In response, he dashed forward with all his might.
The vague outline of a figure appeared within the mists, yet no matter how hard he ran….
But he couldn’t see her face clearly.
He tossed his staff to the ground, revealing his true emotions for the first time. His eyes dampened as he gazed at that distant shadow.
“If it’s really you, can you come out and see me?”
“I can’t,” said that distance voice, sending waves through the Great Sage’s heart. Her rejection devastated him.
A pained smile flashed across his face and he let out a long sigh. “Do you still blame me?”
Time passed and the figure said nothing. The Great Sage sat down dejectedly and shook his head.
“That’s right, of course you still blame me. If I were you, I wouldn’t forgive me either. It’s been seventy thousand years, a whole seventy thousand years. All this time, I’ve been living in self-recrimination.... I thought that if I became a Buddha, I could sever our karmic ties. Now I see that I was wrong!”
The Great Sage sat on the ground, muttering to himself. The Beast Region experts were dumbfounded. Hanba, too, froze in astonishment.
What was going on?
He’d been attacking Hanba, but just as his staff touched her forehead, he stayed his hand. Then he’d turned and scurred away frantically…..
Finally, he tossed the Jingu Bang away and collapsed to the ground, muttering to himself.
After a brief, surprised pause, Hanba’s eyes glinted. “Die, monkey!”
But just as she was about to attack, Jiangchen grabbed her and dragged her away. “Don’t go in there! Do you want to die?”
“A mirage formation,” said an elder of the Phoenix Clan. Phoenixes understood the art of divination. He knew at a glance that someone had placed a mirage formation.
“A mirage formation?” the older major powers of the Beast Region frowned. “How could the Great Sage be swayed by such a thing? Also, we’ve been here this whole time but didn’t see anyone place a spiritual formation.”
“That just shows how capable the enemy is: they were able to lay a formation without leaving a trace. They’ve got to be at least at the Grandmaster level.”
“Well, can you break it? We can’t just leave him in there - it’s dangerous,” said someone from the Beast Region.
The Phoenix Clan elder sighed and shook his head. “Placing a formation without leaving any evidence is enough to prove he’d a Grandmaster. On top of that, the formation itself is extremely high-quality. I’ve examined it for a while now yet still can’t find the crux of the formation. Again, the person who placed this was at least a Grandmaster. Please forgive this old man’s ineptitude; I can’t break it.”
“That said, everyone, there’s no need to worry about his safety. The Mirage Formation has no offensive strength. All it does is cause anyone who enters to fall prey to their obsessions. Furthermore, mirage formations are generally indiscriminate. Anyone who enters its borders will be susceptible, so the Great Sage is perfectly safe for now. All we need to worry about is whether he can leave or not.”
Then the elder let out a long sigh, “I heard that, in the past, the Great Sage……” But before he finished his sentence, he shut his mouth. This was the deepest, darkest secret of the Great Sage’s past. If he spread the word, it would be a major crime.
He licked his lips, then changed the subject. “Let’s hurry and find the person who placed the formation. Once we’ve found them, the formation will naturally dissipate.”
Meanwhile, Black Dragon frowned as he watched the Great Sage muttering on the ground. “Brother Su, is this your work?”
“Just now, I saw you with Jiangchen. As you walked, he bowed to you over and over. What’s going on between you….
“Nothing at all. He asked me to save Hanba’s life so we came to an agreement: our two factions will cooperate. It’s not a bad deal if I do say so myself, especially since that monkey is a bit of a threat to us too, so I agreed to place a formation for him. Black Dragon, are you upset with me?” asked Su Yiyun
“Why would I be?” laughed Black Dragon. “It’s best we cooperate with them. Otherwise, we might very well be beset on both sides.”
Then he gazed down at the monkey below. “Then, how about we…..”
“It’s too soon for us to act. When the monkey commits suicide, we can go mop up the remaining soldiers.”
Meanwhile, the Great Sage was sitting on the ground, muttering despondently. “Seventy thousand years, for seventy thousand years I’ve longed to go search for you, but…..”
He sighed, and that distant figure spoke once more. “
“Then why didn’t you? You simmered with regret for seventy thousand years. Don’t you realize that I was waiting for you that whole time?”
“I’m sorry.” He smiled apologetically, then shook his head and let out another melancholy sigh.
“I should never have let you leave,” said the Great Sage, his voice gentle. “I tried persuading you to stay but failed to sway you. I thought I’d never see you again in this lifetime, yet here you are…. Even though I know it’s too much to ask, I have to try: please, forgive me.”
He looked at her expectantly, eagerly anticipating her reply.
All he got was cold rejection.
“Now you understand the error of your ways and want my forgiveness, but back then? You blamed me then, so just keep on blaming me. If you suddenly admit fault, does that imply our love was so weak, so brittle, we couldn’t even trust each other on a basic level?”
“I……” His lips quivered. For a time, he was unable to speak. Then, after a lengthy silence…..
“Sorry? That’s all you know how to say,” said that distant figure, her tone no longer gentle. “Back then, I begged for your trust, but what did you do? ‘Sorry?’ Do you think a mere apology is enough to fix all this?”
“Then what do you want? Could it be you want me dead?”
“That will work,” said the distant voice coldly. “Indeed, death can solve a lot of problems. Absolve yourself of all this. I’ll do the same!”
“Okay, then….. As you wish!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter