Chapter 288: Accompanying You Back Home
Tang Xinyun's birthday party came to an end later that night. The group slowly filed out of Bai Yunfei's room to return to their own rooms to rest for the night. Lian Lingmin and Ling Yiyi both led Huangfu Rui back to their courtyards. Huangfu Rui was still eating a slice of cake with great gusto, in fact.
This left Bai Yunfei and Tang Xinyun ten meters behind the group, walking side by side.
"Yunfei... thank you for tonight, really." The joy was still apparent on her face. Her lips were curled in a smile and dimples could be seen on her cheeks.
Since the moon was still hanging brightly in the night sky, she looked up and brushed a few strands of hair behind her ear-a habit of hers.
Bai Yunfei laughed. "Don't worry about it," he shook his head nonchalantly, "I don't have much to do right now, so when I found out it was your birthday, I knew I just had to whip up something for everyone. A birthday celebration should be a happy one."
He said it like it was a trivial matter, but Tang Xinyun knew that 'whipping up' something like this was contrary to what he was saying. "Yunfei," She began, "you... didn't have to do that for me. I know you feel guilty about what happened back in Curopia City, but still... you don't have to feel like you owe me something. You don't have to try and atone to me..."
Bai Yunfei didn't know how to continue his sentence.
He was confused.
Was it because of guilt?
Yes, maybe it was...
His hesitation seemed to have disappointed Tang Xinyun somehow. A flicker of sadness came into her eyes before she turned to look at the night sky above.
For a while, the two remained in deep silence.
The silence was broken by Tang Xinyun.
Still looking up at the sky, she smiled. "But still, I need to thank you, Yunfei. This has to be the most exciting birthday I've ever had.
"I know everyone's worried that I feel unhappy about not being able to train in elemental fire and wanted to cheer me up... knowing that everyone's so worried about me, I feel happy. I really do.
"So... really. I want to thank everyone."
"Haha, aren't we all family here? There's no need to say thank you between family."
"Yes." Came a silent reply, but nothing else.
By now, the two of them were lagging behind Ling Yiyi and the other two females by a good margin.
Having sensed Tang Xinyun's relatively dispirited emotions, Bai Yunfei felt a little confused. "What's wrong? Are you homesick?"
"Homesick?" Tang Xinyun looked surprised.
A cold smile crept onto her lips.
It surprised Bai Yunfei; he had never seen the kind Tang Xinyun reveal a look of such contempt before.
"I could never feel that way about such an icy bird-cage. If not for my mother, I wouldn't even call that place home." Tang Xinyun shook her head. "Mother is too attached to it. She hopes that one day, that person will change their mind. How silly..."
Her feet had stopped moving by this point. As if lost in her thoughts, Tang Xinyun looked to her left as if trying to see countless of kilometers away at the source of suffering she had felt before.
But somehow, she remained as kindly and warm as ever.
"It's been a year since I left 'home.' I wonder if mother is doing well; every winter the wound on her left shoulder starts hurting. Usually, I'm the one that gives her a massage, but since I'm not there, I hope aunty Zhao is doing it in my place...
"It's going to be the Reunion Festival in a month, but I won't be there for mother. I used to be there for mother whenever my 'family' put up a huge party, but I didn't go last year-mother must've suffered a lot... this year won't be any different..."
The more she talked, the more the memories of the past started to haunt her. Soon enough, she was starting to choke up with emotions.
"I... I wanted to get stronger. Strong enough that I can't be bullied; strong enough to protect my mother from suffering..."
The words she spoke now reminded Bai Yunfei of when they were talking to each other that one night on the roof back in Guyi City.
Like when she started to cry after accepting that she wouldn't be able to train in elemental fire after the events in Curopia City, Bai Yunfei felt a stab of pain go through him.
Tang Xinyun stood in the silent night and illuminated by moonlight. She was absent-minded, and her demeanor made her seem delicate and even more helpless than before...
"Xinyun, I'll take you home to see your mother!"
That snapped Tang Xinyun out of her begrieved thoughts.
"What... what did you say, Yunfei?" She turned to him to ask.
He returned her look tenderly and with a smile, "I said, if you want to see your mother, let's go. I'll protect you on your way back."
"But..." Having not expected such a suggestion, Tang Xinyun didn't know how to respond to Bai Yunfei other than to stare.
"What?" He asked, "You don't want to go home?"
"I do, but..." She hesitated to reply honestly, but her eyes betrayed a hint of longing.
"Then it's decided! We leave tomorrow, so we can make it back for the Reunion Festival!"
Tang Xinyun was very clearly tempted by such a proposal, but she still couldn't help but feel some misgivings. "But... there's only a month left until then. My home is in Mo City in the Forest Pass Province. That's a very long ways away from here, we can't possibly..."
"Don't worry about that, I'll make good on my promise!" Bai Yunfei promised. "I'm going to go prepare! You should too! We leave tomorrow morning!"
Not even bothering to wait for an answer, Bai Yunfei turned around to run back.
In no time at all, he disappeared under the guise of the night.
"Yunfei, wait a mo-"
It was too late; he was already gone.
Staring off into the distance where Bai Yunfei ran away, the corners of Tang Xinyun's mouth gradually twitched into a smile.
She turned to face the Western Point. She was walking even faster now, and her eyes were filled with excitement.
Both her cheeks were flushed a faint tint of red as well...
Bai Yunfei on the other hand was flying as fast as he could, but not to his courtyards. Instead, he was headed to the Northern Point.
He was aiming for Zi Jin's courtyard.
Before he could knock, Zi Jin's voice called out to him from within, "Enter."
Pushing open the door, Bai Yunfei could see Zi Jin holding a jade slip in front of him and a confused look on his face.
"Master." Bai Yunfei greeted him.
He nodded, "Yunfei, what brings you here to see me so late?"
Bai Yunfei hesitated as if he found it hard to say what was on his mind.
"Master... your... your student requests to borrow a soul armament that can fly..."
"What's that? A soul armament that can fly? Where for?"
"I... I wish to take Xinyun to see her family..."
"Seeing her home?" Suspicious, Zi Jin pondered the question before suddenly coming to a new question. "Going back to meet her father so soon?" He questioned in confusion.
"..." Bai Yunfei nearly stumbled over his feet at that.
Was this what a Soul King was supposed to say? This was more like something an ordinary old man would tease his grandson with!!
"The Reunion Festival is nearly here, and Xinyun wants to see her mother. The idea to send her home occurred to me, but walking there would take too long. Thus, I was hoping master would let me borrow a soul armament that could fly to take her home..."
Zi Jin smiled as he listened to Bai Yunfei's explanation. "I see now. Haha, very well... there's no problem then."
With a wave of his right hand, a ray of green light immediately shot into sight right in front of Bai Yunfei. Grabbing hold of it, Bai Yunfei realized he was holding a sword about a meter long and greenish in color.