Chapter 1892 – Fragments (2)
A new dream fragment entered his consciousness.
In this dream, Yun Che—still a ten-year-old child—was sitting next to Xiao Lingxi and listening to Xiao Lie describing a familiar story in a warm tone:
“Back then, not long after Che’er had been born, Governor Situ’s daughter was born. However, due to the illness of the governor’s wife, when the child was born, she was very weak and on the brink of death.”
“If her life was to be saved, they needed someone who was at least at the Spirit Profound Realm to even have a chance. One could count the number of people who had reached the Spirit Profound Realm in Floating Cloud City with their fingers, and every single one of these people possessed extraordinary status. In order to save her, they would definitely harm their own foundations. As a result, nearly every one of them was unmoved despite the governor’s desperate begging.”
“The only exception was Ying’er. He risked serious harm to himself and nearly exhausted all of his profound strength to stabilize that child’s vitality. As a result, she was able to survive.”
“Che’er, that was how the destined wedding between you and the governor’s daughter happened. At that time, Governor Situ was so grateful to Ying’er for saving his daughter’s life that he became sworn brothers with Ying’er there and then. Furthermore, he announced in front of everyone that his daughter would be married to Xiao Ying’s son in the future in order to repay heaven’s kindness.”
“Hmph.” Xiao Lingxi turned her nose upwards as she said in a very soft voice, “I don’t like that Situ Xuan at all. She’s always so aloof… and she’s even like that when she sees Little Che.”
It was another dream he had experienced before. The scenery, the words, everything was exactly the same as it was last time. The only difference was that he was perfectly conscious this time.
In this dream, the person Xiao Ying sacrificed himself to save was Situ Xuan, not Xia Qingyue.
As a result, his bride-to-be thanks to Xiao Ying’s heroism also became Situ Xuan, not Xia Qingyue.
Another dream fragment entered his consciousness. This time, it was the figure of a girl.
“Stand right there, Xiao Che!”
She was a tall and slim woman dressed in luxurious clothing. She looked around fifteen or sixteen years old, but she was pretty in a way that didn’t fit her age because she had heavy makeup.
For the current Yun Che, it was utterly beneath him to even allow a woman like her to hold his gaze for an instant. That being said, she was perfectly attractive to a young man who hadn’t yet begun to broaden his horizons.
At the very least, it was clear that his dream self—he was still Xiao Che at this time—was just barely keeping a lid on his nervousness.
“Miss Situ,” Yun Che replied politely. This was the first time ever Situ Xuan had taken the initiative to speak with him, so he could barely conceal his excitement and joy.
The name “Situ Xuan” had appeared multiple times in his dreams.
In his actual memory, Situ Xuan was the daughter of Governor Situ and had resided in Floating Cloud City just like him. Naturally, he had met her before. But for some reason, his memories of her were so blurry that he couldn’t even recall her appearance.
He hadn’t paid heed to it at the time because he was busy surviving in the God Realm when he first started having these “dreams”. Why would he care about some governor’s daughter he hadn’t even made the acquaintance of when he was still in his birth city?
Not to mention that dreams often turned out to be completely nonsensical.
This time though, he had a perfect view of Situ Xuan, and suddenly, it felt as if an invisible fog had been lifted from his head. His memories and impression of Situ Xuan suddenly became crystal clear.
In fact, they felt so clear that… it was as if he had never forgotten about her in the first place.
Situ Xuan stared at Yun Che with unconcealed arrogance and disdain. “Do you know what a toad is?”
“…” His dream self’s entire body tensed like a spring. It took him several breaths before the suffocating sensation finally faded, and he regained enough cool to speak in an even tone, “Feel free to speak your mind, Miss Situ.”
Despite being only fifteen years old, he had heard so many insults that he had grown numb to them. However, to hear one from Situ Xuan herself was a blow that nearly tore a hole in his mental defense.
“Hmph!” Situ Xuan side-eyed him. “Our marriage is only five months away. I’m the daughter of a governor, and yet I’m being forced to marry a complete cripple like you. Do you know how much scorn I’ve had to bear because of you!?”
Yun Che felt his face turning pale, so he bit his tongue to regain control of himself. “I understand. If you won’t marry me, you may ask your father and my grandfather to… cancel the engagement. It isn’t too late yet.”
“Cancel? Do you really think I would wait until now if it was possible!?” Situ Xuan’s voice grew increasingly shrill. “The entire city knows your dead dad saved my life when I was born!”
“My dad has sworn to wed us before countless people!”
“If your dad was still alive, then it would’ve been fine. We could’ve negotiated a different way to repay our favor. But no, not only is he dead, it is rumored that half the reason he died was because he exhausted himself to save me! My dad would be called an ingrate for the rest of his life if he cancels the engagement now!”
“The Situ Family is a venerated family. Its dignity will not suffer for the likes of you,” Situ Xuan said slowly. “Don’t worry though. My dad won’t cancel the engagement, and neither will I.”
Her eyes suddenly took on a disgusting flavor. “You are a cripple, but you’re not completely useless. After all, you do have quite the handsome appearance. If nothing else, you are very qualified to be a boy toy.”
“…” Yun Che’s mental defense finally collapsed, and his features began spasming uncontrollably.
“Since we met by chance today, I may as well tell you about the future.” Situ Xuan’s half-narrowed eyes were colored in three-tenths disdain and seven-tenths playfulness. The bad kind. “You will learn to be… obedient during these last couple months. If your performance pleases me, you may even enjoy a somewhat good life after we get married. Otherwise… let’s just say that your crippled body may not be strong enough to stand my teachings.”
Did he break a tooth? He probably did. Yun Che could feel a growing pool of blood in his mouth.
Suddenly, the most familiar cry in his life entered his ears. It washed away all those negative emotions that nearly crushed his soul like a pure spring.
Seemingly satisfied with Yun Che’s tortured but suppressed expression, Situ Xuan shot him one last arrogant smirk before turning away.
It wasn’t long before a girl who looked as lithe as a colorful butterfly appeared beside Yun Che. She looked at the departing Situ Xuan and exclaimed in surprise, “Is that Situ Xuan? Were you talking to her just now?”
Yun Che looked at the girl clinging to his arm. Just a few breaths ago, his shame and anger felt tangible enough to burst out of his chest. However, the large majority of it disappeared the second his gaze made contact with her countenance.
There were countless people inside or outside the Xiao Clan who insulted him for his disability. He had gotten used to it a long time ago.
However, three people kept him going no matter how difficult things became: his grandfather, who loved him dearly and had never given up on him, his good friend Xia Yuanba, who defended him with everything he had since young, and his little aunt, who loved him so much she would search for him just because he had been out of sight for slightly over an hour.
He was already blessed to have three people who cared for him from the bottom of their hearts. What everyone else says… need not and shouldn’t be the focus of his life.
That’s right. From a very young age, no matter what kind of humiliation and insults he had suffered before, the mere sight and sound of Xiao Lingxi could always calm him down and satisfy him. That was all that really mattered.
“Mn.” Yun Che nodded. “I think this is the first time she spoke to me of her own accord. It’s not like we’ve never run into each other before, but she has never acknowledged me before now.”
“Eh? Really?” Xiao Lingxi’s surprise grew. “What did she say to you?”
“Nothing. It was just about the arrangements after the wedding,” Yun Che said in a casual tone. He was never going to repeat Situ Xuan’s words to Xiao Lingxi because the last thing he wanted to see was her angry, sorrowful face.
The second last thing he wanted to see would be his grandfather’s expression after hearing this.
I see.” Xiao Lingxi’s voice softened, and a tinge of something that even she herself didn’t notice entered her gaze. “There have been a lot of weird rumors in the city for the past two years. They all say that Situ Xuan would do everything in her power to cancel the engagement. I guess rumors were just rumors after all, huh?”
“Of course rumors are just rumors.” Yun Che chuckled. “The governor won’t cancel the engagement… that’s what Situ Xuan said to me herself.”
“Mn. That’s good. I’m sure dad will be happy to hear this.”
That was what she said, but Xiao Lingxi didn’t feel happy at all even though she was one of the people who detested the rumors the most.
“Did… did you speak with Situ Xuan for a long time?” Xiao Lingxi asked. She didn’t understand why she was asking such a weird question herself.
“No. It was a very short conversation,” Yun Che replied before adding, “I don’t like talking to her. I would never even think to marry her if the engagement didn’t exist. I would rather be with you forever, little aunt.”
“Heehee!” Xiao Lingxi let out a girlish giggle before hiding her expression. “To be honest, I don’t like Situ Xuan at all, and I like the idea of the two of you marrying even less. But… that is what dad wants. He won’t be able to rest easy unless the marriage goes through.”
“Anyway, let’s go home together.” She grabbed Yun Che’s arm before continuing expectantly, “Dad hired a super duper good doctor this time. A lot of people call him a ‘medical immortal’. I’m sure… he’ll be able to cure you, Little Che!”
Now that the fog had lifted, Yun Che could say with absolute certainty that the Situ Xuan he remembered was exactly identical to the one he was seeing in his dreams.
However, he was equally certain that these dreams didn’t match his reality. The differences were minor, but they were enough to make his dreams a completely separate reality.
That was the crux of the problem though, wasn’t it? It felt so real that it was like a separate reality. A different past that actually happened.
The scene changed again, and this time it was filled with red. Red tables, red candles, red curtains and more.
“Little Che, wake up! Today’s the day you’re getting married to Miss Situ, and it’s almost time already! Quickly!”
Xiao Lingxi insistently but gently woke him from his slumber. Later, she helped him into his red wedding clothes.
“Little Che, I made this porridge for you. You have a weak constitution, and it’s going to be a long morning, so… you should finish everything.” She brought him a ridiculously huge bowl of porridge. It smelled delicious.
“I got it, I got it.” He didn’t even bother with the spoon. He just drank the whole thing from the bowl.
After he was done, he looked at Xiao Lingxi and grew a bit misty-eyed. “I wonder if I can still eat your meals after I get married, Little Aunt.”
“Heehe, don’t forget that the governor’s daughter is marrying into your family, not the other way around. If you want, I can prepare your meals everyday just like before.”
Suddenly, her smile lessened, and she said softly, “I’m sure we’ll have less time for each other after you get married though, Little Che.”
“Of course not!” He raised his hand and swore immediately. “Didn’t I promise you yesterday that I’ll never forget about you even after I marry Situ Xuan? We’ll spend just as much time with each other as we used to, and I’ll always be there whenever you call for me!”
He would never forget how Situ Xuan looked when she spouted those ugly words at him.
There were only two reasons he was going through with this wedding. One, he wanted to fulfill his grandfather’s wish. Two, he wanted to protect his late father’s honor.
The aftermath of the wedding was sure to be ugly, but he no longer feared it one bit because Xiao Lingxi was right. No matter what happened in the future, he would still be in the Xiao Clan, and Xiao Lingxi would still be right beside him.
“Big brother! Big brother!!”
It was Xia Yuanba’s voice. He had rushed in looking like someone had lit a flame under his ass.
“Yuanba! You’re surprisingly early today.” Yun Che greeted him smilingly.
“Hehe! It’s the day of your marriage, so how can I not be around to help out?” Xia Yuanba looked incredibly excited.
In the scene, the fifteen-year-old Xia Yuanba looked extraordinarily handsome. He was still a little thin, and his skin color seemed a tad lighter than normal. This was nothing to an ordinary person, but the current Yun Che could tell that it wasn’t because Xia Yuanba hadn’t gone outdoors as of late. A sort of cold, metallic sheen was hovering right above his skin, and it was what gave him a whiter complexion.
He also noticed that the light in Xia Yuanba’s pupils had grown more repressed… but as a result, became even more piercing than before.
“So er… how does it feel like to get married? Why do I feel like you’re not very excited?” Xia Yuanba asked.
“To be honest, I am not excited. I barely care about the wedding at all.” Yun Che then stared at Xia Yuanba for a moment before saying, “You on the other hand, are unusually excited given the time of the day. It’s not just because of my wedding, is it?”
“Hehe.” Xia Yuanba’s eyes shone brightly. “I do have some good news to share. The day before yesterday, my father invited a friend of his—a teacher from New Moon Profound Palace—over to his house. He was hoping to ask for a favor and drop me into New Moon Profound Palace. But after his friend saw me, he said that someone of my talent should just join Blue Wind Profound Palace directly!”
“Oh! That’s amazing! That’s something the entire Floating Cloud City should celebrate!” Yun Che congratulated and felt happy for Xia Yuanba from the bottom of his heart. However, he couldn’t help but feel deeply envious of his friend and sad over his own fate as well.
To the real Yun Che, he knew with that dream Xia Yuanba’s talent would’ve stunned even the king realms of the God Realm, much less the likes of Blue Wind Profound Palace.
To dream Yun Che though, even Blue Wind Profound Palace was an impossible dream to grasp.
“Hehehe…” Xian Yuanba could barely conceal his excitement. “I was so excited I haven’t slept for the past two days. When I join Blue Wind Profound Palace and become even stronger than before, I’m sure no one will ever dare to bully you again!”
“But father said that this is best kept a secret to avoid unnecessary complications, so right now you’re the only one who knows about it… oh right! For the past two years, I heard a lot of malicious rumors about Governor Situ planning to cancel your engagement and marrying Situ Xuan to the son of your clan master, Xiao Yulong instead.”
Yun Che: “…”
“I was really angry when I heard those rumors, but I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to worry. Thankfully, the rumors have proven themselves to be nothing but falsehoods.” Xia Yuanba laughed guilelessly. “I bet those rumor-mongers are aching from all the slaps they’ve received right now.”
“Wind does not blow from an empty cave without reason.” Yun Che smiled as if he didn’t care about the insults. “It’s fine, I’m used to it already. Frankly, I’m overjoyed that a cripple like me could have a friend like you, much less the daughter of the governor as my wife.”
“Your entrance to Blue Wind Profound Palace is what we really should celebrate. I bet the entire city will rejoice on the day you… officially enter… Blue Wind… Profound… Palace…”
His voice suddenly turned weak and stuttering. His features gradually became contorted in pain, and the darkness blotting his vision kept growing no matter how many times he blinked…
“Big brother? Ah? Big brother!” A panicking Xia Yuanba caught him before he fell over. “Big brother? Is something wrong… BIG BROTHER!!”
His pupils grew more and more unfocused. The entire world was fading away like a dream. He could still hear Xia Yuanba’s voice, but he couldn’t form an answer at all.
“Little Che? Little Che… wake up! Don’t scare me… LITTLE CHE!!”
Xiao Lingxi’s voice was the last thing he heard before his consciousness faded completely.
Outside the image, Yun Che watched as Xiao Lingxi hugged his dream self and cried like never before.
Her tears wet his wedding clothes, and her features were full of pain and despair…
It was only then the image came to a complete stop.
Again, he had experienced this dream before. Similarly, the difference between then and now was clarity.
In his memory, he had passed away on his wedding day with Xia Qingyue.
In his dreams, he had passed away on his wedding day with Situ Xuan.
Yun Che opened his eyes.
Light filled his vision. It was the same courtyard, the same familiar scent.
This time though, the dreams were no longer blurry.
This time, he remembered every image, every face and every voice as clear as crystal.