1467 New Year’s Day
It was now the last third of the lunar calendar's twelfth month, and Winter City had long since been transformed into a snowy-white world, just like it had been four years ago at the end of the lunar year.
The Lin siblings were in the midst of watching snowflakes drifting down from the sky, their faces full of mixed emotions, when the door of the villa was suddenly opened by someone.
Standing in the doorway was none other than Lin Xuan.
"I expected both of you to arrive two days later; I had even planned to use all of today to pack, then go buy some things for the festivities and decorate the house a little." Lin Xuan's face bore a warm smile.
"You arrived really quickly—we were delayed by less than ten minutes, and you've teleported over already," Lin Huang returned, going toward Lin Xuan as he spoke.
"I'd previously used a portal to set coordinates for this place. Since there wasn't anything particularly pressing, I notified Huang Tianfu after ending the call and came over immediately," Lin Xuan explained with a chuckle.
At this point, Lin Xin came over to stand in front of Lin Xuan, craning her neck to look up at the young man who towered over her by more than half a head. "Xiaoxuan… why does it feel so strange now, calling you by that name?"
"If that's the case, you may as well call him Daxuan from now on," Lin Huang suggested from where he was standing beside them.
Lin Xuan's expression was wordlessly eloquent, but he did not object. Since in appearance, he now looked to be five or six years older than Lin Huang, he himself felt awkward at being called Xiaoxuan by Lin Xin.
"Daxuan honestly rolls off the tongue a lot smoother, so from now on I'll call you Daxuan instead." The minute Lin Xin finished speaking, she added hurriedly, "Your name might have changed, but don't you go forgetting that I'm still your big sister, Daxuan!"
Even though she was willing to let Lin Xuan change his embarrassing name, Lin Xin still steadfastly refused to abandon her position as the older sister.
Lin Xuan's expression indicated he did not have much of a choice, but he did not object either.
"Alright, let's hurry and tidy up the house for a bit," Lin Huang suggested quickly, dispelling Lin Xuan's awkwardness.
Given that they had not met for the past four years and Lin Xuan had experienced a great deal in that time—as well as awakened Mo Kui's memories—having him re-integrate so quickly into this family was definitely hard on him.
Lin Huang was more than willing to give Lin Xuan some time to let him slowly settle in.
Under Lin Huang's guidance, all three of them very quickly began spring cleaning.
It took the three of them one whole afternoon before they finally managed to clear the house, both inside and out.
"The bedsheets and quilts in the cupboard have been there for quite a few years; let's just get new ones. The toiletries in the bathroom are also past their expiry dates. Everything in the fridge can be tossed out…" As he spoke, Lin Huang jotted down the things that they needed to buy. "Both of you look around and see what else needs to be changed."
Lin Xin and Lin Xuan mentioned a few things; Lin Huang wrote them all down and made a checklist.
The three of them went out to eat lunch then headed straight for the supermarket. They purchased everything on the checklist, went home, and did another round of decorating so that the house, with its faintly forlorn air, now had an atmosphere of festive cheer.
For the next few days after that, neither of the three siblings went out much.
Lin Huang spent most of his time cultivating the Seamless technique and increasing the number of his telekinetic threads.
Lin Xin coaxed Lin Xuan to engage in combat practice with her. Naturally, their training ground was not in Winter City. Given that one of them was virtual god-level rank-9 and the other a first-rank True God, the mere aftermath of a combat session could easily destroy Winter City entirely. Their combat battlefield was in Lin Xuan's God Territory.
In the blink of an eye, a week or more passed by very quickly.
Lin Huang's telekinetic threads had increased by another twenty thousand strands, bringing the total number to around two hundred and fifty thousand strands. Lin Xin's combat skills had also gone up a level under high-intensity face-to-face training.
Currently, her abilities were no weaker than Mr. Fu's before he went into closed-door cultivation.
As New Year's Day—the first day of the first lunar month—drew closer, Lin Huang finally halted his cultivation of the Seamless technique; Lin Xin and Lin Xuan also stopped their combat training.
New Year's Day was actually the new era's new year, but everyone was accustomed to celebrating the end of the lunar calendar's old year, so New Year's Day was slightly less significant in comparison.
At present, however, there were still two months before the end of the lunar year. Lin Huang was not planning to remain in the gravel world for much longer, so he had chosen New Year's Day to step into the new year.
On the night of New Year's Day, Lin Huang showed his two siblings how to wrap dumplings.
Although there were dumpling shops in the gravel world, this was the first time that Lin Xin and Lin Xuan had made dumplings on their own. Both of them were very interested to learn and displayed great enthusiasm in the wrapping process.
The dinner that the three of them had was also very simple—each person had a bowl of dumplings, and they did not eat much more than that. The remaining uncooked dumplings were all packed and stored in the freezer.
That night, heavy snow fell outside the windows once again.
Lin Huang and his two siblings sat around the fireplace, happily chatting about the amusing experiences that they had gone through over the last few years until the wee hours of the morning ushered in the new year of the new era.
Only when they heard the melodious sound of the New Year's Eve bell did the three young people break off their conversation, turning their heads to look outside the window at almost the same time. Right at this moment, from not too far off, countless fireworks soared into the air in quick succession, bursting into gorgeous displays of light in the heavens.
Although the temperature was twenty degrees below zero, Winter City was currently bustling and lively even in these early morning hours.
The merchant street not far from Lin Huang and his siblings' small district was full of people coming and going; there were even a great many individuals who stopped where they were to watch the fireworks.
In the Lin house, however, everything was unusually quiet.
The flames flickering in the fireplace cast a warm yellow light that illuminated the faces of all three Lin siblings brightly.
None of the three said anything; they just quietly watched the fireworks soaring into the sky outside their window, bursting into bright blooms.
The fireworks display lasted for over half an hour before finally stopping. Only then did Lin Huang and the other two finally tear their eyes away.
"Four years ago, they let off a similar display of fireworks at the end of the lunar year," Lin Huang was the first to break the silence.
"That's right, I remember it very clearly—it was just like this. We lit the fireplace in the house as well…" Lin Xuan nodded, smiling.
"I remember it a little differently. Daxuan and I ran to the window to look at the fireworks for a little while. Then it started to snow all of a sudden, so we ran outside to have a snowball fight," Lin Xin reminisced, laughing, "By the time we came back after we were done, the fireworks display had finished a long time ago."
Lin Xuan gave a faintly embarrassed chuckle. Of course, he remembered these things, but he felt awkward bringing them up again.
The three of them chatted idly for a while longer before Lin Xuan abruptly turned to Lin Huang and asked, "Once New Year's Day is over, when do you want to go to the great world?"
Upon hearing this inquiry, Lin Xin perked up her ears as well.
"We'll stay for one more day. On the 3rd, we'll go back to Emperor City first. Let me sort out my remaining affairs, then we can go." Lin Huang obviously already had a clear-cut itinerary planned out.
When Lin Xin heard this, she fell silent for a moment, then asked suddenly, "Brother… in the future, can we still come back to the gravel world to visit?"
"Of course you can." Lin Huang smiled and nodded. "If both of you want, you can come back here any time you wish."
"Returning from the great world doesn't seem as if it's an easy thing, right?" Lin Xuan furrowed his brow slightly as he asked this. He felt that Lin Huang was saying this merely to humor Lin Xin.
"Don't worry—since I've said it, I definitely can do it." Lin Huang chuckled and patted Lin Xuan on the shoulder; he did not extrapolate further.
When he heard Lin Huang say this, Lin Xuan still harbored some doubts, but he did not pursue the matter any further, choosing to believe Lin Huang. After all, this man had managed to accomplish far too many things that other people were unable to achieve.