Luo Huainan's Yuanying stopped struggling.
The light net that was like a chessboard stopped tightening.
Hovering in the mid-air above the small green bottle, the Yuanying displayed a baffled expression as he watched Tong Yan approach the table.
Yet, the expression wasn't apparent, because the Yuanying had just been born; so it was understandable that his expression was also weak.
Tong Yan sat down on the stone stool, his eyes leveled with Yuanying's.
The appearance of Yuanying looked like Luo Huainan, but a lot tender. It was an interesting experience when Tong Yan moved his face closer to Yuanying.
"You have raised a Yuanying in secret, and that is why you have seldom stayed on the Cloud Dream Mountain these last three years. I think this is the last path you have prepared for yourself."
"I don't even know what you're talking about. Let me go at once!"
"What I'm trying to say is that you are responsible for our Young Sister's death, so you feel guilty and extremely fearful, and you don't dare tell our two masters about the fact that you have raised a Yuanying."
After a moment of silence, the Yuanying said, "It's true that our Young Sister died because of saving me. If you say that I'm responsible for her death, it's not unreasonable."
Shaking his head, Tong Yan said, "It's obvious that you know what I mean; it's useless to say anything else."
"Do you mean that I've killed our Young Sister?" Yuanying protested angrily.
Tong Yan said, "If it wasn't the case, what would you have to be afraid of? Why didn't you tell anybody about the Yuanying?"
Staring into his eyes, the Yuanying exclaimed, "Are you crazy? Why would I kill our Young Sister?"
"For the Ten-Thousand Mile Seal, of course," said Tong Yan.
"There are two Ten-Thousand Mile Seals!" said the Yuanying while showing an expression indicating the accusation was absurd.
"My master didn't even know that the Sect Master had given his Ten-Thousand Mile Seal to our Young Sister in secret. That seal was of course intended for you. If you didn't know about it, you would have enough motivation to kill her to snatch the treasure. Yet, another motive is even more possible; though there were two Ten-Thousand Mile Seals, how could they be allocated to three people?"
Tong Yan's voice was flat, without any emotional fluctuation, and his expression was peaceful, as if speaking on an ordinary matter.
The Yuanying sneered, "These are all excuses. You are jealous of me, because our Young Sister would rather die to let me live!"
"According to your logic, I should be jealous of Jing Jiu," Tong Yan said emotionlessly.
The Yuanying asked, "What do you mean?"
"The Sect Master likes you too much, and my master is too sad from the loss, so they are not suspicious of you," Tong Yan said. "Yet I'm different. I don't like you. I've been thinking of this behind closed doors for three years, pondering the role you played in it. After I have figured it out, I've been thinking how I can kill you undetected."
It turned deathly quiet in the manor cave.
There was no sound for a long time.
The small green bottle reflected those thin lights back to the stone walls, making the scenes on the walls look like those in the Underworld.
Luo Huainan's Yuanying was dim to begin with, and now he looked even more hideous when being colored by the green light.
"This scheme…was set up by you."
"Yes, indeed it was. It has nothing to do with Guo Nanshan and others. This scheme is quite simple. I merely mentioned a few words on Liangwang Peak. A smart guy like Ma Hua, who is used to taking a different approach, would have thought of this scheme for sure."
Tong Yan's voice was very gentle, devoid of any mockery.
After a moment of silence, the Yuanying said, "That fat pig has been manipulated by you like a puppet, and he still feels proud of his cleverness."
Tong Yan said, "They could ask Liu Shisui to kill Guo Nanshan; two people from within the same sect bringing harm to one another? That would be quite the popular show, but Ma Hua would suggest you to be the target, because he wants to please you."
The Yuanying questioned, "What a risky thing to say; how can you say 'he wants to please me'?"
Tong Yan answered, "Ma Hua knew that you fancied fame and would accept the proposal, and that you would even thank him for it. As I said, he is very smart."
Yuanying inquired, "I don't understand why you were so certain Liu Shisui would take this opportunity to kill me?"
"When Liu Shisui was driven off the Green Mountain, Jing Jiu's performance had proven their close relationship."
Tong Yan said, "We had chosen Liu Shisui to infiltrate the Old Ones because we knew what kind of person he was. It's impossible for such a person not to do something for Jing Jiu."
The Yuanying asked, "The problem is, why does he suspect Jing Jiu's death had something to do with me? Zhao Layue as well. I know you went to Shenmo Peak; how did you persuade her?"
Tong Yan said, "I didn't have to persuade her because she didn't believe your story to begin with. And since Liu Shisui knows Jing Jiu so intimately well, he didn't believe you either."
The Yuanying asked, "Do you know Jing Jiu?"
"I have played chess with him. I've never seen anybody who is as relentless as Jing Jiu."
The Yuanying said wryly, "You are indeed a chess player, fond of pondering these matters; but I didn't expect that you would set up a scheme to kill me for Jing Jiu."
Tong Yan snapped, "I did it for our Young Sister!"
"Don't kill me," the Yuanying suddenly begged, after a moment of silence.
Tong Yan said, "I don't think you can give me any reason not ."
The Yuanying said sincerely, "If good and bad deeds could be calculated, I'm definitely a good person, because I have done countless good deeds and did only one bad thing. You should let me live to make our Young Sister's death worthwhile. I have genuinely regretted my actions, and I have proven myself by doing as many good deeds as possible in the past three years."
"This is the part that I don't understand," Tong Yan said. "As you have done such a shameful thing, how can you maintain your Dao Heart? Your behavior over the past three years has been really strange, including your agreement to Liangwang Peak's plot and being wounded by Liu Shisui. You have behaved too bravely. It seems that you want to be someone like the Broadsword King. Why?"
The Yuanying asked with a serious expression, "Have you found the answer? I've been wondering myself."
"It's because you desire for pain and being harmed to compensate for your guilty conscience, and to let your Dao Heart be at peace."
The Yuanying remained silent for a long time, and said, "So that's it then."
"Why? Why don't you fear death now, and yet you made such a shameful decision back then?" pressed Tong Yan while staring into the Yuanying's eyes.
Luo Huainan's Yuanying was a newborn, still very fragile; and he should have died in this scheme much earlier. The reason why he managed to stay alive till now was that he wanted to know the answer.
Yuanying sighed, "When facing death, it's easier to keep a brave face, but it's much harder to take it easy."
Tong Yan asked, "Did you stay in the snow worm's stomach for a long time?"
"It was actually just half a day, but I felt it was as long as a half of my life."
Luo Huainan's Yuanying continued after a pause, "The higher one's Cultivation state is, the less emotional they are, but I can't shake off the fear."
That is the fear of one's own death.
Both magnificent sacrifice and brave death are subjective choices.
Luo Huainan didn't know which choice was the correct one, and what he had done was the choice he made.
"In fact, I didn't realize that I was right until you asked me the question. The Cultivation practitioners should desire for life and fear death."
He added, "The only mistake I made was that I should have run away from the test of life and death rather than face it like a naïve and inexperienced kid."
Tong Yan said, "Perhaps what you said makes sense, but you have to pay for your failure, as you have chosen to face life and death, but have indeed failed the test."
Luo Huainan said after a long pause, "I hope to see you again, if there will be another life."
Dropping his eyelids slightly, Tong Yan said, "Don't hold your breath."
Dozens of light lines on the "chessboard" caved in.
A band of smoke rose up.
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