"Tell me everything you know," said Jing Jiu after a moment of silence.
"Though I believe you're the new god, unfortunately, it doesn't mean all the other female priests also believe it. Hence, there are some things I can't tell you, at least not right now."
The female priest straightened her body and looked at the figure outside the screen, saying calmly, "Of course, if you're truly a god, you should be able to find out what I'm thinking."
Jing Jiu could learn the inherited knowledge in the awareness of this female priest through the Two-Mind Connection or the magic method of soul-search, but he found from scanning that she had cultivated a certain passive secret magic and that she would be in trouble if her awareness were invaded.
"Are there many other people like me in this world?" asked Jing Jiu.
The female priest didn't refuse to answer this question, "A few have appeared in the past."
"What are their names?" pressed Jing Jiu.
The female priest replied apologetically, "All I know is that they exist; I don't know who they are. And I wouldn't tell you even if I know."
"But why don't you think they are the new gods?" pressed Jing Jiu.
The female priest answered modestly, "It's because they're not as powerful as you; so they can't lead humans in resisting the invasion of the darkness. And they haven't been accepted."
"Accepted by whom?" Jing Jiu prompted.
The female priest said, "If the female priest on the Main Planet believes they are the new gods, she will let the other female priests know. But this hasn't happened even once in the past hundreds of years."
Jing Jiu knew that he wouldn't be able to obtain any useful information from this female priest; he turned to leave.
Seeing the change of the shadow on the screen, the female priest knew that he was inclined to take his leave. She prostrated on the floor again, saying nothing to keep him longer.
Jing Jiu suddenly stopped short and said, "I've seen a painting of sunflowers in the Art Gallery."
"It was copied by a female priest before me; it is not an authentic painting," said the female priest.
Jing Jiu said, "I think that something is not quite right about the painting. The sunflowers in the painting are scattered. What is the item that binds the flowers in the original painting?"
The female priest decided that he was the new god. "The original painting is kept on the Main Planet. You can go check it out yourself," she replied reverentially.
Jing Jiu didn't expect that he would get an answer. "Inconvenient to tell me?" he questioned.
"Yes," said the female priest. "It's because the author of the painting wasn't a regular artist in the distant ancient civilization; it's said that she…was the sister of a god."
Jing Jiu turned around and gazed at her face through the screen, asking, "God has family members?"
The female priest returned, "God is a human. It's natural that he'd have a wife, sister, and other family members."
No voice could be heard behind the sky-like screen.
The flower petals on the surface of the water in the green ceramic bowel rotated slightly.
Jing Jiu had left.
The female priest extended her slightly trembling finger and touched a flower petal in the water; then she pointed her finger at the center of her brows.
She was nervous to the extreme even though she looked calm.
It was because she had conversed with a god.
"I haven't been home for a long time. That Mr. Xia is my uncle."
Jiang Yuxia brought Zong Lizi to a detached building in the compound of the mansion. She led Zong Lizi to a bedroom on the third floor hand in hand and sat in a chair, showing a relaxed expression on her face.
Looking at the luxurious bedroom and the expensive items she had only seen on TV, Zong Lizi uttered praise inwardly. Thinking of the shabby condition of the university dorm, she felt somewhat uncomfortable. Jiang Yuxia was a talented girl from the priest clan and could be considered as a princess on this planet; but she lived in the university dorm like all the other regular students. On the other hand, she, a regular girl from the underground neighborhood, led a comfortable life in a hotel…Well, Zong Lizi thought of Jing Jiu and thought that it was not too outrageous to enjoy the life a bit with that guy. But, what should she say right now? She held her knees while looking at the girl with black hair sitting in the chair, as if she were sitting by a lake, feeling half-nervous and half-expectant.
It was then that the door was pushed open as a maid came in with a small cart full of cookies and tea. "Mistress, how should the supper be prepared?" she asked Jiang Yuxia.
"My uncle and the Dean Cui will have supper with our classmates. Do you wish to dine with them?" Jiang Yuxia asked Zong Lizi.
Thinking of the gazes of those girls, Zong Lizi prompted, "What do you think?"
Jiang Yuxia flashed a faint smile and signaled to the maid that she would like to have the supper brought to the bedroom.
The bedroom became quiet again after the maid left the room. The atmosphere was a bit awkward.
Yet, Zong Lizi was sure that it had nothing to do with how she felt at the moment.
Jiang Yuxia was as amiable as the spring breeze, one who could make everyone around her feel comfortable; hence, such an awkward situation shouldn't have occurred when she was around. Normally, she should tell Zong Lizi about the mansion, her childhood and why she had to conceal her true identity…But, why did she remain silent for such a long time?
"I…don't want to play the role anymore." Jiang Yuxia suddenly stood up and said this after she came before Zong Lizi and stared into her eyes. Her voice revealed a hint of determination and decisiveness.
Zong Lizi's heart skipped a beat even though she thought she shouldn't do so.
"Well, I know you have learned of the relationship between me and the Twirling Rain Company and realized that I'm your potential opponent for the position of female priest. Hence, you have befriended and tried to learn more of my background. But, what's wrong with that? I've finally made a friend, and you said you don't want to play the role anymore only after a few days…You haven't even found out my background and don't even know the real author of the novel; and you haven't even procured my affection. Now you don't want to play the role anymore. Can't you play it a few more days?" Zong Lizi thought in her mind.
We would still be friends even if it were staged.
"I don't want to be a female priest!" said Jiang Yuxia earnestly. "Can you help me?"
Zong Lizi was about to tell her that she understood her predicament, but she suddenly came back to her senses after hearing this. Zong Lizi looked at her blankly, not knowing what to say.
This turned out to be the secret Jiang Yuxia had intended to tell her.
Zong Lizi felt relieved; but soon she felt perplexed, wondering why she didn't want to be a female priest. She suddenly recalled the scene in which Jiang Yuxia stared at Jing Jiu on the lawn while standing under a tree. She suppressed the feeling of jealousy forcefully and muttered, "The priest…can get married too."
Jiang Yuxia came to the balcony and looked at the greenish lawn in the compound of the mansion. She let loose a faint smile for some reason, saying softly, "I'll get married for sure; but my decision has nothing to do with this. I just don't want to become a female priest."
Zong Lizi came beside her and asked in concern, "But why?"
Jiang Yuxia turned around and said while staring into her eyes, "It's because I don't want to become a puppet of my clan."
She continued softly before Zong Lizi could give a response, "My clan has existed solely to serve the female priests for a long time. They have been accompanying the female priests the entire time. It's inevitable for them to come up with other ideas after a while."
After some thought, Zong Lizi reflected that this was something understandable.
"It's the wish of my clan in the past dozen generations to produce a female priest; and I'm the favorite candidate for this purpose among those of my generation. I received the related education since a young age. And looks like I might have a chance to succeed," said Jiang Yuxia. "I can't even tell why I have such an idea. Maybe, it's a natural rebellious mentality after I listened and practiced so much since a young age to become the next female priest. All in all, I don't wish to accept their arrangement for me."
After some more thought, Zong Lizi believed that this was something sensible as well. "Are you intending to perform poorly so that you won't be selected?" asked Zong Lizi.
"The education I've received since a young age doesn't allow for such ill-mannered conduct. Now that I will participate in the selection, I have to do my best to show respect to all the others, including my opponents in the selection," said Jiang Yuxia earnestly while staring at her eyes. "I planned to leave before the selection event; as such, I obtained the position of exchange student at the University of Stargate."
Zong Lizi thought that this was an incomprehensible idea and wondered how escaping was better than pretending to lose. In the next moment, she thought of a matter and said, "Mr. Xia…your uncle said that the person who has become the female priest will visit the sole remains of the distant ancient civilization and receive the training related to the position of female priest. Why don't you try to leave by then?"
"If I became the female priest, I would be accompanied by the members of the priest clan. Don't forget, they are all my family members…it'll be harder to leave by then."
Jiang Yuxia said while holding Zong Lizi's hand, "Fortunately, I've met you."
"So?" pressed Zong Lizi, her eyes wide open.
Jiang Yuxia said earnestly while looking at her, "Since you want to become the female priest, you must succeed."
Having said this, she handed Zong Lizi a memory chip the size of a fingernail, saying, "The courses I've received since a young age regarding the female priest are all on it."
"Courses?" Zong Lizi wondered in bewilderment after taking the memory chip.
"It contains everything you can think of, like the manner of eating, the attitudes when meeting the officials of different statuses, the posture of walking, and the choices of bedroom items."
Zong Lizi was speechless. All she intended to do was to find another goal for her life after her incurable illness had been miraculously eradicated; but she didn't expect it to be so troublesome.
Jiang Yuxia suddenly thought of something and asked, "Where did your friend go?"
Zong Lizi was aware that she asked about Jing Jiu. "That guy often disappears all of a sudden. No need to worry about him. He will suddenly come back after a few hours or a few days."
"Who the heck is he?" Jiang Yuxia asked after some hesitation. "My clan knows he is your friend and has investigated him in secret; but they came up with nothing. And they…were warned by a certain authority, and don't dare investigate him further."
Zong Lizi thought that the warning came from Jing Jiu's family. As she was about to say something, a nonchalant voice suddenly rang out behind her.
"It's better not to investigate."
The two girls were startled and spun their heads around and saw Jing Jiu sit in the chair, drinking tea from a cup.
For some reason, Zong Lizi scolded, "That cup is mine."
Jing Jiu set down the teacup and said to Jiang Yuxia, "One should choose one's own path in life. Don't do it if you don't want to; but also, don't pin your hopes on somebody else."
Jiang Yuxia looked at his eyes as sharp as swords while saying softly, "I know what you're worried about; but I'm really considering her as my friend."
"Give me a reason," demanded Jing Jiu.
Jiang Yuxia said while flushing slightly, "My clan asked me to befriend her because they knew the Twirling Rain Company values her; but I did it simply because I like her."
"Passed," declared Jing Jiu.
Zong Lizi was dumbfounded, wondering how her answer was passed.
Jing Jiu stood up and led Zong Lizi leaving the building. Soon, they arrived at the other side of the lawn.
Jiang Yuxia rushed to the balcony and watched the disappearing figures of the two, feeling envious.
Walking shoulder to shoulder were the youth in blue tracksuits and Zong Lizi in the dark red university uniform, looking truly harmonious.
After they arrived in the hotel in Shou'er City, it was late at night. The stars filling the sky emitted bright glows. Jing Jiu didn't wish to miss the opportunity and started his star-bathing. Zong Lizi had been used to the perfect naked body under the starlight. She sat on the other end of the chair with a teacup in her hand, saying earnestly, "It's I who wants to become the female priest; it has nothing to do with her. Don't blame her."
Thinking of the conversation he had with the female priest, Jing Jiu pulled back his gaze and said to her, "A lot of hardship for a female priest."
Zong Lizi returned with a smile, "How hard could it be? Could it be harder than I've been over the years?"
"Can't have any child," said Jing Jiu.
"I've never thought of having kids."
Zong Lizi said softly, "My illness is hereditary. Even though I have a good fortune, it doesn't mean my descendants will."
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