From the moment the other one opened his eyes after the sudden fever, he knew, it wasn't his Shen Qingqiu. He knew him for too long to not notice this. He just overlooked it.
Shen Qingqiu was alive. Shen Qingqiu was back again.
It was all that mattered.
Grieving for so long, he buried his regrets in his heart a second time. There was no need to talk about this with the person right in front of him. He knew, the Shen Qingqiu here didn't know how to react would he confess everything.
He wanted to when the other one woke up, but... he missed the chance.
So he decided to watch over the new Shen Qingqiu. Watch how he would react to the new environment, to the people here.
To the little disciple his ShenQingqiu despised so much.
Surprisingly, the new Shen Qingqiu seemed to know almost everything here. He found himself a place quite soon, and the other people living here began to become fond of him. He was smart, courteous and charismatic. The beautiful face that so often was distorted with hatred became soft and seemed to glow from the inside.
He was the only one missing the man from before. Everyone else was glad to have such a pleasant person with them right now. It was understandable; who wanted a bitter and ill willed person around all the time? One who bullied a small child without a reason? Well, no one.
They had a past together, they were bond by a promise he couldn't fulfill.
He lit up some incence for the lost person, sure to never see him again.
Shen Qingqiu was standing in front of him. They had spoken about some strategies regarding the upcoming Immortal Alliance Conference. Shen Qingqiu didn't seem to feel that comfortable about the event, and he tried to soothe him.
„Don't worry, everything will be fine. We are planning this for quite some time now, so there is no need to be concerned.“
It wasn't his Shen Qingqiu, it would never be. But he still was a very nice person, someone who was worthy being protected. He had sworn to himself, that he would give his life for the new Shen Qingqiu, if it would be necessary. He was part of the family-like relationship the Peak Lords had with each other, after all.
If he wasnt able to protect the original, maybe he could repent for his sins like this. Only a little bit would be fine.
Three years went by, since Shen Qingqiu had changed. The Immortal Alliance Conference took place, and he had pushed his disciple, whom he learned to favor, into the abyss which had opened there. Now he was grieving about the loss, and he buried the broken sword of his disciple behind his bamboo hut.
He didn't know what exactly happened there, but it pained him to see the other one like this. Even if he wasn't his Shen Qingqiu, he didn't deserve this.
He wanted to be there for him, to give him strength to overcome the loss, but who was he to think about this?
So he watched over Shen Qingqiu from afar, just how he did the whole time.
Another three years later, Shen Qingqiu self-destructed.
This left him bewildered.
He knew, Shen Qingqiu valued this disciple so much, and when he appeared again after being pushed into the abyss, it shook him to the bone. But to go to this length...especially when his reputation was almost destroyed and he was imprisoned because of this...
It broke his heart.
An they didn't even had the chance to retrieve the body.
Liu Qingge tried again and again to fight the Demon Lord residing in Huan Hua Palace, but he lost every time. There was no chance to see Shen Qingqiu ever again.
He mourned. He mourned for himself, showing no emotions regarding this on the outside. No one knew how hard this hit him inside.
No one should ever know, but it teared him almost apart.
He lost his Shen Qingqiu, now he lost another one. And there was nothing he could have done against it. He felt guilty, he thought time and time again if he could have done at least the slightest bit.
But there was nothing, and that made it even more painful.
There was no choice, he needed to go on. Cang Qiong Mountain needed him, and he wanted to move on. For the two Shen Qingqiu's, too.
Three bitter years, another three years... but he torture still wasn't over.
Five years later a person appeared. At first it was unbelievable, but then he understood.
This really was Shen Qingqiu. He came back.
He didn't know what to feel. Did everything turn to a good ending? Was he now possible to do anything for Shen Qingqiu? Had some deity given him another chance?
But before he was able to act, everything went upside down. They barely met when Shen Qingqiu disappeared again. He wasn't able to hold him within his reach.
How often did heavens want to punish him? Wasn't it enough? How much did he have to endure?
He was on the verge of breaking down. He couldn't go on! He couldn't!
But before he was able to give up, so much happened. The whole world was turned upside down, and finally Shen Qingqiu relied on him. Trusted him. He was able to risk his life for him.
He was ready to die. It didn't matter, as long as Shen Qingqiu survived.
Go! Go and live on!
But Shen Qingqiu insisted on saving him. It was the wrong way around!
They both made it out alive, they both survived.
The world was in shambles. His world already was it for a long time, and now the real world had caught up. It was Shen Qingqiu who saved them all, but it also was Shen Qingqiu who denied him his last request and the possibility to find his peace.
He let him go with the Demon Lord. He never had seen Shen Qingqiu looking like this before than when he was with the other one. So bright and beautiful. He was happy for him, but his heart was torn part again at the same time.
He was alone again.
„It's good, that the Sect Master of Cang Qiong Mountain is here.“
„Yes, the damage is still huge, they need to send more help to rebuild this city.“
Yue Qingyuan was overhearing a conversation from some townspeople. It was true, that they still needed more time to remove the ruins all over the land. The merging had wrecked havoc but gladly, most of the people survived. And now the people of Cang Qiong Mountain were helping with the reconstruction wherever they could.
Today, he was visiting a city who was almost destroyed entirely. The reparations were going smoothly, but as the Sect Master he had to be present from time to time.
He nodded at some people crossing his way, They all here were open-minded and grateful for every help they received. The city itself had a good and healthy environment; if Yue Qingyuan wanted a child to grow up at a good place, it would be here.
He wanted to inspect another place, when suddenly someone tugged on his sleeve. He turned around to see a maid standing there. She bowed deeply, before raising her voice.
„Sect Master, I'm sorry to bother you. This maid is unworthy, but-“
„Don't mind it.“ Yue Qingyuan smiled warmly. „You have a request, so please tell me, what can I do for you?“
The maid hesitated for a moment. „My young Master... he...“ She bowed again. „Please follow me!“
She led him through some streets. „Since he lost his parents two years ago, he began talking nonsense from time to time. That he was a cultivator once and such. He must have inherited a great potential, so his uncle wanted to introduce him to your sect. But recently, he... he was demanding to see the Sect Master.“
She explained hastily and so her speech was a bit confused. Yue Qingyuan's face showed concern. What did this mean? How could a child know him, and even more, wanted to meet him? He wanted to know more, but for this, he had to go and see the child.
His concern was blown away, when they finally arrived at a mansion. It was destroyed partly, and there were a lot of people working on some walls. But Yue Qingyuan didn't see them.
His focus was on the child sitting on a bench at the courtard.
It was a young boy, barely twelve years old. His features were already delicate, showing, that he would grow up to be a very handsome man. His black hair was long, and someone took great care to comb it up into a traditional bun.
He was holding a fan, emitting a graceful aura, which seemed more fitting for an adult than a young boy like this.
Yue Qingyuan swallowed.
This boy reminded him so much of him.
Clenching his fists to hide his trembling, he stepped closer.
The boy lifted his gaze.
And there was only one word.