Song Ci nearly fell as he landed on the ground. After steadying himself, he found himself under the huge bodhi tree in the Demon Realm.
It was the spot where the Yin Yang Time Reversal Array had been activated.
He touched the tree trunk. Only then did he realize that he had returned.
That pair of panicked blue eyes flashed through Song Ci’s mind. Song Ci dashed back to the demon palace in a fluster, only to see Hua Wu standing guard outside Rong Bai’s room.
He hurried up to him, “How’s Rong Bai? Has he woken up?”
“His soul has been stabilized for the time being.” Hua Wu answered in a hushed tone. “He might wake up any time now.”
For an instant, Song Ci was dumbfounded. Then, he pushed open the door to the hall and rushed in. He walked over to the head of the bed and saw Rong Bai lying quietly on it. His face was still pale, and his eyes were gently shut as though he was sleeping.
Song Ci could not help but move softly as he squatted beside the bed to look at Rong Bai and hear the barely discernible sounds of his weak breathing.
This was no different from the way he had been before Song Ci left.
Song Ci forced himself to calm down, but his trembling betrayed his true emotions. He reached into the quilt and touched Rong Bai’s cool hands. Then he held it tightly and called out to him in a whisper, “Rong Bai.”
“Rong Bai.” He called out to him twice, but there was no reply.
Song Ci took a deep breath. His eyes were red as he released his hand and went out of the room. Under Hua Wu’s gaze, he walked a few steps farther and called out in a quivering voice, “Feng Zhuojun! Feng Zhuojun, come out!”
Feng Zhuojun immediately turned into a ray of light and emerged from the Kunlun Mirror secured around Song Ci’s neck. He stood before him and watched him without saying a word.
“How can this be? Nothing has changed at all. Rong Bai is still lying there!” Song Ci was worked up. “I went back to the past, didn’t I? Didn’t you say what I did would really change history?”
“Song Ci, calm down.” Feng Zhuojun said in a placatory tone. “The ways of Heaven are boundless. There is no way to pry into the cycle of cause and effect. It’s also the first time the Yin Yang Time Reversal Array has been activated. You’ve indeed returned to the past, but I don’t know why there has been no change in the current situation either.”
“I thought you knew everything in Heaven and Earth? So why is it that you have no idea either?” Song Ci lost his composure and murmured, “If you don’t even know, then who should I ask? What’s going to happen to Rong Bai?”
“Were you the one who activated it?” A voice suddenly rang out from the top of the tree beside them. Song Ci and Feng Zhuojun simultaneously looked up and saw a man jumping down from the tree.
Song Ci took a good look at the person. He turned out to be Wen Changchu, whom Song Ci had not seen for quite a while. He was dressed in a black robe, and his face glowed with a youthful spirit. Obviously, he did not have a hard time being with Zhu Yishu.
“Why are you here?” Song Ci asked.
“I came to look for you.” Wen Changchu walked over to Song Ci and put his hand on the latter’s shoulder. His expression was solemn. “Were you the one who activated the Yin Yang Time Reversal Array?”
“No.” Song Ci replied, “I was merely roped in.”
“The Yin Yang Time Reversal Array is connected to the Way of Heaven. You said that you went back to the past through the array. Then, whatever you see now is the result of all that you have done in the past.” Wen Changchu said.
For a moment, Song Ci was stunned. Unable to wrap his mind around it, he asked blankly, “You are saying that I’m the reason Rong Bai ended up in this state?”
“I didn’t say that.” Wen Changchu sighed, “Song Ci, there will be a way when it comes to Rong Bai. But now, we have an issue far more important at hand…”
“What?” Song Ci’s heart clenched.
Rong Bai’s matter had weighed down on him until he could scarcely breathe. But Wen Changchu’s expression suggested that issue he spoke of was a thorny one too.
Wen Changchu said, “I remembered you once said that you came from an empire called Xiliang in the Human Realm.”
Song Ci grew anxious the moment this name was mentioned. His emotions were already on the verge of upheaval, and now, he could no longer hold it back. He grabbed Wen Changchu with both hands. “What about Xiliang? Did something happen to my parents?!”
Wen Changchu said in a heavy tone, “Rumors are circulating in the Demon Realm that the capital of Xiliang had turned into a demon city.”
This was beyond Song Ci’s expectation. He said with a look of disbelief, “Where did you hear this from?”
“I think you’d better return and take a look for yourself.” Wen Changchu said, “The current situation in the capital of Xiliang is unusual. If it is as the rumors said, then I’m afraid there won’t be any human survivors in the entire city.”
Song Ci’s breathing quickened. His mind was in a mess.
Rong Bai’s condition still showed no signs of improvement. And now, something had happened in Xiliang. He wanted so much to tear himself into two, with one half heading for Xiliang and the other half, staying guard by Rong Bai’s side.
Wen Changchu noticed his misgivings and consoled him in a gentle voice. “Don’t get too anxious. There’s Zhu Yishu to look after Rong Bai here. He stabilized Rong Bai’s soul earlier, so it is not a problem to preserve his life for the time being. It won’t be too late for you to come and see him again once you have resolved the matters at home.”
Song Ci raised his eyes again. They were bloodshot. “Zhu Yishu? Is Zhu Yishu here too?”
Zhu Yishu’s presence could at least put Song Ci’s mind a little at ease. He could see that Zhu Yishu was not a cold-blooded and heartless person.
Feng Zhuojun watched in silence for a moment, then spoke up suddenly. “Song Ci, you aren’t really to be blamed for Rong Bai’s current condition. Don’t let it weigh you down.”
Song Ci pursed his lips and said nothing. A nagging doubt lingered in his heart. He suppressed it down, comforting himself that there was still room for maneuver. It was too early to give up now.
Since something had happened in Xiliang, then he definitely had to check it out. But before he left, he wanted to take a look at Rong Bai.
He said his thanks to Feng Zhuojun. “It was all thanks to your help these days.”
Feng Zhuojun said, “Consider it my thanks for your help earlier. I’ll accompany you to Xiliang too.”
“There’s no need to.” Song Ci politely turned him down. “Look after Jiang Liang first, just in case something unforeseen happens, especially now that the Six Realms are in turmoil.”
Feng Zhuojun did not insist on it when he saw Song Ci in low spirits, but the worry in his expression lingered for a long time.
Song Ci returned to Rong Bai’s room again. He stood at the head of the bed and stared at Rong Bai’s face, then slowly sat down at the edge of the bed.
If he had not stepped into the Yin Yang Time Reversal Array, then would everything that had transpired in the past not have happened?
Rong Bai would not extract the blood from his heart, nor would he leave the Divine Realm. He would not scatter his own soul and came to be in his current state.
Then, what would have happened to him? Would he marry Zhu Han? Would he force himself to continue living in the Tu Shan he loathed the most, under the oppression of Tu Shan Bi?
No matter which it was, Song Ci did not wish to see it happen.
He suddenly realized that it seemed to be an uphill task to let Rong Bai lead a free and happy life. He returned to the past, and yet he could not change a thing. Could no one really shake up the wheel of Heaven?
Song Ci removed his boots and lifted the quilt to burrow his way in. He gently wrapped his arms around Rong Bai’s waist and leaned fully on his body, feeling that faint warmth come through to him. Rong Bai’s scent filled his nose.
This was the scent he could not bear to part with.
Song Ci buried his head into Rong Bai’s neck and closed his eyes. He thought, confused and helpless, “What should I do to save you?”
Even when the time came for Song Ci to leave, Rong Bai did not regain consciousness.
Song Ci reluctantly pressed his own forehead against Rong Bai’s forehead to bid him farewell in a soft voice. Only then was he ready to leave the Demon Realm.
While he had entered the Demon Realm through the Demon Gate, it was much easier to exit. The entrance to the Demon Realm was always opened. It was a place mere mortals had no access, but Song Ci could enter and leave at will. This was a fixed exit; the moment he stepped out, he was on a mountain in the wilderness.
Song Ci walked out of the mountain ranges and found a town at random to make inquiries. That was how he came to realize that he was at the border of the State of Nanqi. It was millions of li away from Xiliang.
But this was nothing to worry about. He was now a demon, so traveling a thousand li in the twinkling of an eye did not pose that much of a problem to him. It took him only a day to rush from Nanqi to Xiliang.
Song Ci was overcome with emotion the instant he stepped into Xiliang, but did not dare to pause for even a moment.
When he left Xiliang four years ago, he changed his name and surname and took on a fake identity. He had vowed to turn back into a mortal before returning to reunite with his family.
However, within a few short months of knowing Rong Bai, he had completely changed his mind. He was no longer the Song Ci who hid all day dreaming of becoming human again.
He even wanted to remain a demon, just so he could stay by Rong Bai’s side as his companion.
But for now, he needed to find out what had happened in the capital.
The capital was still the same old capital of the past. It did not look any different when he looked at it from the outside. Yet, it was eerily quiet.
From outside the city, Song Ci could not sense any traces of life in the city.
Everything and anything in the world had its own unique flavor, regardless of whether they were deities or immortals, demons or devils, or even humans. Yet, this flourishing capital city before him was unusually sterile. This gave Song Ci a vague sense of uneasiness.
He conjured out Du’e in his right hand and grasped it. The cool sensation he felt from holding Du’e in his palm seemed to be this divine artifact’s way of comforting him. This somehow reassured Song Ci.
Having Du’e with him was just like having Rong Bai standing beside him.
Song Ci felt as if he had never been as steadfast as he was right this moment. With his back as straight as a ramrod, he stepped into the capital city.
It was an empty city. There was not a single person on the streets. Yet, it was a bright, sunny day.
Song Ci carefully observed his surroundings. He slowed down and grasped Du’e tightly in his hand. His entire body was on guard.
“Liang Shuhong.” An old-sounding voice rang out. For the person to call out this name at the very first instance, she had to be an old acquaintance of Song Ci.
Song Ci stopped in his tracks. “Why are you hiding? You don’t dare to show yourself?”
A cackle reverberated through the air. The old-sounding voice did not seem to be amicable at all. Instead, it made one’s hair stand on end. Song Ci could not help but frown.
A black fog flashed before him, and a white-haired old woman with a hunched back walked out of the black fog with a white walking stick in her hand.
Song Ci looked at her warily. “Who are you? How dare you create havoc in the capital?!”
The old woman laughed again until she was gasping for breath. She wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes. “I can’t believe you don’t recognize me. Seems that there is something wrong with your eyes.”
Song Ci tried to recall who she was, only to feel as if he had never seen this person before at all. His impatience flared. “Stop keeping me in suspense. Did you alone turn the capital into its current state? Or did you have accomplices? If you don’t tell me, then don’t blame my blade for showing disrespect to elders!”
The old woman sighed. “So what if it’s me? Who do you think you are? You want to hit me? Scholars are all useless. You are merely a blockhead who has studied for a few years, and you still dare to challenge me?”
This enraged Song Ci, who fumed. “I studied for over twenty years!”