As soon as Ying Feng exited the treatment chamber, he saw a person sitting on the chair next to him. The man was dressed in a military uniform, and the epaulet on his shoulder served an evidence of his high army rank. He was staring at Ying Feng with a spurious smile in his eyes, which made Ying Feng very uncomfortable.
Most importantly, despite his short height, the man somehow gave off an imposing aura. Even though he had no advantage in height, there was something so arrogant and aloof in his manner, as if he was born to be high above the masses.
Sure enough, as soon as he opened his mouth, his voice sounded just as conceited, “Let me introduce myself. I’m from the military ministry, and you may address me as ‘officer’.”
What kind of self introduction was that? Ying Feng thought to himself.
Fu Yao paid no attention to Ying Feng’s thought processes and continued speaking alone, “First of all, congratulations on becoming an Adult.”
Ying Feng’s face fell just as Fu Yao expected, which immediately confirmed his conjecture — Ying Feng did not complete the Adult Ceremony out of his own will, and he was all the more reluctant to accept what was now already a fact.
But Fu Yao continued to rub salt in his wounds, “Next, I must also congratulate you for killing a Kui. Do you have any idea how many people aren’t even able to see a legendary creature in their entire life? Not only did you see one, you even defeated it. Very amazing indeed.”
“I’m not the one who killed the Kui.” Ying Feng retorted coldly, “It has nothing to do with me.”
“Well, it may not have before, but it sure does have a lot to do with you now.” Fu Yao leaned forward, “Because the one who defeated the Kui is your Qizi. Not only are you two related, the relationship is a pretty intimate one.”
Ying Feng’s face darkened and he remained silent. Fu Yao sat back in his seat.
“Do you have anything to tell me regarding why your Qizi was able to kill a Kui all by himself? Or could you please explain to me why he owned a vial of Embers 2nd, a medicine that even the military was not allowed to use?”
Still seeing no reply from Ying Feng, Fu Yao stood up from his chair. “I know you have just experienced some unplanned surprises, and your mind may not be very clear at the moment. That’s fine. I’ll give you enough time to slowly think about it.”
He left Ying Feng’s ward as soon as he finished. After the medical personnel saw him coming out, they went in with the excuse of checking on Ying Feng’s recovery status.
“The officer who was talking to you just now is Fu Yao, a major general from the military ministry.” The doctor said, pretending to bring it up nonchalantly as he ran the examinations on Ying Feng.
Ying Feng was not interested in who the person was, but he still memorized the name. The medical personnel had clearly expressed a desire for further communication, but Ying Feng pretended not to hear him.
In the end, the other person couldn’t hold back his curiosity and asked point blank, “Did you and your Qizi really defeat a Kui?”
Ying Feng thought that the news must have spread throughout the entire Tianxiu planet. He was a little surprised to find out that some of them still didn’t know about it.
The medical personnel kindly suggested, “I don’t care how you two obtained the Embers, but I suggest that you cooperate with Major General Fu Yao’s investigation. He has a sharp tongue, but he’s still a graduate of Bikong after all. As your senior, he won’t make things overly difficult for you two.”
“Are there any problems with my examination results?” Ying Feng suddenly asked.
The medical personnel was slightly taken aback, but he soon shook his head, “Your body is very healthy. In fact, we can’t even tell that you have just gone through the Adult Ceremony.”
“If there’s no problem, I would like to take a shower.” He was covered in blood and dirt. For someone with slight OCD tendencies like Ying Feng, this was already the limit of what he could endure.
“Oh, sure. Come with me.” The medical personnel brought him to the shower room. “Wait for a minute. I’ll get you something to change into.”
Ying Feng was led by the medical personnel to the shower room, completely unaware that Ling Xiao was lying unconscious in the room he had just passed through.
Ying Feng had almost fully recovered, but Ling Xiao was not as lucky. He still had not awakened from the coma yet.
Or perhaps the he was actually lucky to be in a coma like this, not knowing anything.
Ling Xiao’s attending doctor was discussing the treatment plan with his assistant when Fu Yao entered the room.
“How’s everything going over here?”
“He’s recovering steadily, but because of his serious injuries, he won’t wake up anytime soon.” The doctor reported to Fu Yao.
“We already confirmed the composition of the unknown drug inside his body.” Fu Yao showed them the Embers test result.
“So, it’s really the Embers? Embers 2nd?” Even though they had guessed the result already, they were still astonished when it was officially confirmed. “No wonder he could kill a Kui all by himself, and no wonder he had such a serious case of hormone disorder. If he had been injected with Embers 2nd, everything can be explained. It’s just that we don’t know where he got the drug from.”
“That can wait. I believe we can get the answer we want after he wakes up. Embers 2nd has extremely strong side effects. Researchers failed to improve it no matter how hard they tried, and that is the very reason it has always been on the prohibition list. Did you inject him with purifier?”
“We didn’t.” The assistant replied.
Fu Yao was a bit surprised, “I remember the doctor once told me during the experimental phase that people who were injected with Embers 2nd but didn’t receive purifier injection in time would die from their blood burning up.”
“Wasn’t everyone who participated in the experiment back then a Qizhu?” The attending doctor asked.
“Yes, because Qizhu generally have better physiques. We were afraid that Qizi would not be able to bear its side effect, therefore all the experimental subjects we chose were Qizhu with the best fitness within the military ministry.”
“The truth is, it’s just the opposite.” The attending doctor pulled up Ling Xiao’s physical indexes. “During examination, we discovered a purer, more effective, more natural purifying energy that was working inside his body, which completely suppressed the negative effects caused by Embers 2nd. As far as the current medical level is concerned, there is no artificial purifier comparable to it, and it is because we have realized this that we did not give him any unnecessary treatment.”
Fu Yao discovered new information and immediately investigated it in detail, “What is it?”
“It is a well-known fact that a Qizhu’s saliva can act as a tranquilizer, antidote, and even anesthetic for their Qizi. But no one ever thought it could even purify the by-products of Embers 2nd. If this was not the case, he would have died inside the mine. Using Qizhu to test its functionality was a mistake. Perhaps only a Qizi can draw out its full potential.”
Fu Yao’s eyes brightened. “It’s an unexpected discovery indeed.”
“If the result is proven to be true, then Embers 2nd can be officially put into production and usage. It will definitely be a significant increase to the military’s strength.”
Fu Yao patted him on the shoulder in satisfaction. “Good job.”
Fu Yao made a call to the military research institute as he quickly strode out. The two people left in the room looked at each other in the eye, then shrugged it off with a smile. They knew how impatient this major general was. He must have been itching to notify the related departments to conduct experiments. They believed that in the near future, Embers 2nd, which had long been locked up in a safe, would officially become the military’s secret weapon. By that time, the Tianxiu people’s battle power would rise exponentially again.
“Therefore, the whole course of the event was that a Qizi obtained Embers 2nd through an unknown method and used it to defeat the Kui, thus saving his Qizhu’s life. The Qizhu who was pulled into the Adult Ceremony suppressed the side effects of the injection and accidentally saved the Qizi in return. Well, if you look at it this way, they are actually quite destined for each other.”
“If only they can treasure such a destiny. I just saw the Qizhu walk by. He sure didn’t look happy.”
Ying Feng washed off all the dirt and mud on his body and came out from the shower naked. As he was walking past the mirror, he stopped.
After a long period of hesitation, he finally reached out a hand and wiped away the water vapor covering the surface of the mirror. The clear silhouette of a person with water still dripping down his black hair was immediately reflected inside. The rich, thick color became the main focus of the image reflected in the radiant mirror.
Even more striking than his hair was the pair of eyes under his bangs. They were exactly the same color as his hair, jet-black yet clear, heartlessly rejecting all chromatic light. But at the same time, they were extremely heavy.
All of the things he was unwilling to admit, accept, or even remember had aggregated and condensed into those ink-black eyes, reminding himself with each passing second of what had already taken place.
He still remembered the last thought that ran through his head before he went crazy, and he could vaguely recall their desperate fight with their lives on the line. Small rocks continuously fell onto their bodies, yet they completely ignored the fact that the mine could collapse at any time.
He remembered how it felt when his fangs pierced through the skin, and the sweet taste of blood still lingered on the tip of his tongue. He remembered how he, after completely losing his mind, fulfilled all of his desires on the other person. Things he never touched on, nor ever knew of, happened so naturally under the drive of instinct.
However, his clearest memory was the astonishment he felt when realizing that the person under him was Ling Xiao after he sobered up. Even if he had intentionally forgotten everything mentioned above, the moment he saw the pair of eyes in the mirror, they rushed back to him all at once.
It was the only opportunity in a lifetime; a relationship which even the most outstanding genius researcher could not remove. No matter whether he wanted it or not, it could not be changed.
Ying Feng walked out from the shower room, fully and neatly dressed, and stood in the hallway of the medical treatment station. All kinds of soldiers in uniform passed by him on their way. Some of them looked at him curiously, some greeted him with a gentle nod, but none of them tried to stop him as if everyone firmly believed that he would not leave.
Ying Feng walked all the way out to the gate. Not far from him stood an eye-catching road sign. When he saw the direction and distance written on it, Ying Feng learned for the first time how close the Interstellar Port was to here. It seemed like all it took for him to get to that place was a single step.
He stood there, lost in thought as he stared at the road sign, until he heard a teenager’s crisp and clear voice behind him.
“Are you leaving?”
Puzzled, Ying Feng turned around and saw the principal of his institution. The man had just finished treating his hand. As an undeveloped Qizi, his recovered much slower than Fu Yao, who suffered the same injury.
“Where am I leaving for?”
“I don’t know. But I just have the feeling that you’ll leave.” The principal walked up next to him and looked up at the road sign as he lost himself in his thoughts together with Ying Feng.
“A long time ago, there was an arrogant and conceited man. He just had to obtain the person he liked no matter what, regardless of the other person’s will. He only thought that if he became Qizhu one day, he would be able to freely exercise control over his Qizi.”
“So he waited for the other person to awaken and arranged a perfectly sealed space. No one could escape from it, and no one could enter from the outside. The space would only open up when the people inside it completed the Adult Ceremony.”
“He was confident, opinionated, and swollen with pride. He believed that he could definitely win the battle. However, what he didn’t know was that the other person, in order to break away from his entanglement, had been concealing his own strength all those years in hopes that it would thus lower the other man’s interests in him.”
The principal suddenly asked, “Can you guess the result of the battle?”
After a moment of silence, Ying Feng answered with another question, “Is that person you?”
“Yes.” The principal calmly admitted. “I weaved a deadlock for myself with my own hands. The only way for him to get out was to finish the Adult Ceremony. I thought I would definitely come out as the winner, but I lost in the end.”
There were all kinds of rumors about the principal and his Qizhu, and Ying Feng finally heard the one closest to the truth.
“The person who wanted to take the other person’s blood ended up losing his own. The space he set up to trap the other became his own prison in the end; a confinement that lasted for more than a hundred years. Well, I guess you can count it as reaping what you sow.”
“What about your… Where is that person now?”
“He left. By the time I woke up, he was no longer there. The Interstella Port was the last place he was spotted, and he has never returned ever since.”
Ying Feng didn’t know what to say. Just then, he heard the principal saying something he did not expect to hear.
“You look a lot like him, almost identical. I thought you were his reincarnation the first time I saw you.”
Ying Feng was shocked inside. So that was why both the principal and Fu Yao had such unusual expressions when they first met him face-to-face.
“But I quickly denied myself. A soul’s appearance will be randomly generated at the time it reincarnates. How unlikely it is for a person to look exactly the same as their previous life!”
“Most importantly, I believe he’s still alive somewhere in the universe. If I could hold on to this day as a Qizi, how is it possible for a Qizhu like him to be dead?”
It had been a long time since the principal opened himself up to others. Once he started to talk, everything just poured out.
“Even though I was the one who made the first mistake, for a period of time, I deeply resented him for running away from all of it.”
“You’re a Qizhu, therefore you can never understand an abandoned Qizi’s feelings. It’s like your body stays where it is, while your soul has been forcibly taken away from you. It is forever drifting and can never reach the shore. There’s no warmth, no sense of security. Every night feels like endless torture.”
“Every single day I spent in the Center of Disease Control, I thought I would not be able to make it to the next day. As those years crawled by, I gradually realized what an unforgivable mistake I had made.”
“I am now very grateful that I have lost the Adult Ceremony. Because if I won, I would not have realized my mistakes and I would continue to make them again and again. I will be as arrogant as I was, unable to see myself clearly, and continue to think that I can dominate everything with strength. I will ignore the other person’s feelings and use the rights I have obtained to harm the person I love.”
“I’m thankful that I lost, so I could learn the difference between love and plunder. I’m glad that I lost, so that I could be the one bearing this pain. I deeply regret what I have done, but he disappeared so resolutely that he didn’t even leave me chance to apologize.”
“I know the accident that happened today was not what you wanted, and I know you may not wish to face the person who caused all of this. If you really want to leave, no one can stop you.”
“But after you leave, Ling Xiao will walk the same path I walked, experience what I experienced. He will be sent to the Center of Disease Control, and whether he can even make his way out again is debatable. Even if he does, he’ll be just like me, living on drugs everyday. Only people who have experienced it themselves can understand the pain of being abandoned.”
“I had so much pride and ego back then. There were some words that I would never tell him no matter what. But I have given up a lot of useless things today. If I could go back in time and return to that day, I will definitely say this to him before he leaves.”
“Ying Feng, you look very much like him. So much so that it even gives me illusions sometimes. When I saw you standing here, staring at the road sign pointing to the Interstellar Port, it felt as if I was looking at him from many years ago — once the decision is made, there is no return.”
“I know what I am going to ask for might be too much, but could you please fulfill this one wish for me? — Pretend to be him and listen to me finish this sentence.”
Something flickered in Ying Feng’s eyes. He asked, “What sentence?”
The principal turned around and stared sincerely into Ying Feng’s eyes. “Please, don’t go.”