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    Chapter 163: Reality: Entering the Coffin

    Chi Zihe didn't go for his business but returned to the house on Xinhepu Road.

    Pan Hu seemed to have expected his return, opening the door to let him into the living room.

    In the living room, Yan Qiling, with his hair now dry, was brewing tea. Though he still wore a black silk robe, its style was different from the previous one.

    The man looked in high spirits, completely free of the burden of sealing an entire Realm of Endless Torment.

    Chi Zihe, facing this person, found himself at a loss for words.

    After a moment of silence, he asked,

    "When did you wake up?"

    "You know the answer. Otherwise, you wouldn't be back."

    Yan Qiling made a gesturing motion to invite him, having no intention of playing word games with this person.

    "I don't have much time, so there's something I need to entrust you with, and it can only be done by you."

    Chi Zihe sat down across from him, ignoring the offered cup of hot tea, and got straight to the point:


    "According to my measurements, make a coffin for me and arrange my funeral."

    The Taoist suddenly looked up, the blue tassels hanging from his ears swaying violently:

    "A funeral for you?"

    "Yes. You need to seal the coffin tightly, choose a clean and auspicious site with good feng shui, and bury it there."

    The man's tone was casual, as if he wasn't talking about being buried alive but discussing what to eat later.

    Chi Zihe blinked, trying to comprehend this unexpected request.

    After a moment, he gathered his thoughts and asked:

    "You want me to help you seal the coffin... I have no issue with that, but why? Has the afterlife changed its mind, and the judges refused to allow you to remain in the mortal world?"

    "The judges haven't recanted their decision."

    Yan Qiling's expression was quite serene. He faced his impending destiny with an almost indifferent acceptance:

    "It was my choice."

    His pale fingers lightly pressed against his chest, his eyelashes drooping like crow's feathers:

    "Right now, the Nineteen-Petaled Lotus Tower has returned to my fleshly body. If I were to 'die' naturally, it would be left behind in the mortal realm, making it possible for the Prison Train to reappear."

    "Only by sealing both me and the Lotus Tower together can everything come to the most complete end."

    Chi Zihe's gaze was complicated:

    "... Are you willing to part with it?"

    Yan Qiling didn't answer. Instead, he gazed at the vast expanse of swaying plants beyond the balcony.

    These plants were all meticulously transplanted by him after his return to the mortal world. He had always taken great care of them, never neglecting their care even during the busiest times.

    'Sacrifice' is a very casual term.

    But at this moment, he didn't want to give an answer right away.

    The Taoist didn't insist on an immediate reply. After a few seconds of silence, he said,

    "You can seal the coffin anytime. You can enjoy a few more years of the life you love. When you're ready, I'll seal you in."

    "I'm afraid by then, I won't be able to leave."

    The man's gaze returned, his unmasked heterochromatic eyes fixated on the Taoist. His tone was sincere,

    "Do you know why Yun Qu lost his memory?"

    "Yun Qu?"

    Chi Zihe didn't quite catch on.

    "Which Qú? As in a ditch?"

    Yan Qiling: "...No wonder you're brothers-in-arts."

    Chi Zihe: ?

    The man patiently explained:

    "This is the nickname I gave Ming Yiyang."

    Chi Zihe's words were immediately halted, while Yan Qiling elaborated on the situation:

    "His amnesia occurred because I activated 'Mishi' within him, sending him through a cycle to return to his original state."

    "But Mishi's influence in the mortal realm is limited. Moreover, as it belongs to the Master of the Unbounded, it's shrouded in malevolent energy, so it will gradually be devoured by the Clear Capital Purple Wei Yin-Yang Eyes."

    "In other words, Ming Yiyang's memories will slowly return over time."

    Pausing here, the man asked with a tone of uncertainty:

    "Do you think he'll allow it to happen once he knows about the sealing of the coffin?"

    Chi Zihe could figure it out with his feet that Ming Yiyang would absolutely not permit such a thing.

    He immediately grasped the gravity of the situation and felt an indescribable sense of fear creeping up within him:

    "I see... I'll arrange it right away."

    Yan Qiling pushed the tea towards him, asking:

    "How soon can you make it happen?"

    Chi Zihe did some quick calculations in his mind:

    "Given my connections, I should be able to sort it out within three days."

    "You enjoy your life for now. I'll give you a call once everything's settled, the coffin and the burial site. Then we'll take care of everything in one trip so you won't have to keep running back and forth."

    This man showed no concern about his impending end to his comfortable life; instead, a hint of a relieved smile graced his face.

    "Trouble arises."

    "Not at all, considering you've resolved the major issue with the Prison Train, that's all virtue and merit. This small matter, leave it to me."

    Having said that, Chi Zihe thought of the young man who was still oblivious to the current situation.

    He truly had no idea how to confront Ming Yiyang with the truth when the time came for him to reveal it all.

    He gazed into the vibrant, contrasting red and blue irises before him, his lips trembling slightly before he mustered the courage to ask the question.

    "What do you think of... Xiao Ming?"

    Yan Qiling slowly lifted the teacup to his lips, sipping the steaming, scorching hot tea.

    He didn't reply at all.

    The Taoist priest seemed to grasp something from this silence that was like an excuse. He then left to make a phone call, starting to arrange for the coffin sealing ceremony, soon disappearing beyond the iron gate.

    In the kitchen, Pan Hu, who had been avoiding the situation, emerged once he saw that Chi Zihe was no longer around. He carried a tray of sliced fruit.

    "Sir, are you truly determined to leave so soon?"

    "I shouldn't have been here in the first place, shouldn't I?"

    The man's smile remained gentle, his eyes tinged with a compassionate tenderness under the glow of the desk lamp:

    "A hundred years ago, I should have closed my eyes. Coming here has only entangled others' destinies. What does that matter now?"

    "He was meant to live in peace and enjoy the pleasures of life."

    Pan Hu had accompanied the man for too long; perhaps others couldn't perceive it, but he could discern the hidden sadness beneath the smile.

    It was likely an emotion that even the gentleman himself was unaware of.

    Yet, Pan Hu had no right to expose it.

    The man set down his teacup, his lips reddened from the heat, as he spoke words that seemed both like a farewell and a blessing:

    "Now, let us each return to our own paths, guided by fate, with no further entanglements."


    Ming Yiyang awoke from a disturbing dream.

    ...Or perhaps it wasn't a nightmare, strictly speaking.

    He had merely relived the events of that campus infernal realm once more.

    But this time, his experience was vastly different from his recollection.

    Everyone survived except for the red-haired man!

    And it was all because a man named Yan Qiling had inexplicably joined him on his journey!

    Absorbed in contemplation, the young man replayed the differing details in his mind. Suddenly, he realized he was drenched in cold sweat, his pajamas clammy against his skin.

    Stripping off his shirt, Ming Yiyang stepped into the bathroom for a cold shower.

    After toweling his hair dry, he hesitated for a moment before unlocking the door to the basement. He descended the wooden steps one by one.

    Slipping off his slippers, he settled onto the sofa in this small living room.

    Despite never having sat on the sofa in Yan Qiling's home, Ming Yiyang found an inexplicable sense of comfort in the familiar setting.

    Observing the space in silence, he gradually noticed that all the sharp edges of the furniture were covered with thick velvet cushions that matched the wall color.

    Could it be that these covers were added to prevent Wujian Lord from attempting suicide?

    What an ominously meticulous consideration.

    Running his hand over the smoothly polished rounded corners of the wooden coffee table, memories from his dream stirred, causing a faint ache behind his eyes.

    Yet, within this pain, sleepiness also crept upon him, and he dozed off again, leaning against the sofa.

    When he opened his eyes once more, the young man's face held a dazed confusion. He quickly stood up and rushed out of the basement.

    Grabbing his clothes, he sprinted down the stairs.

    Subconsciously, he felt as if this scene had unfolded at some point before.

    But he had no time to dwell on those details.

    All he wanted to know was if that person... was safe and sound right now.

    Ming Yiyang rushed into the garage and sped along Xinhepu Road at dawn's faint light.

    Without bothering to close the car door properly, he leaped out and frantically rang the doorbell!

    Pan Hu quickly emerged from inside and opened the door for him.

    Without a word, Ming Yiyang strode in, and Pan Hu made no attempt to stop him, allowing him to remove his shoes and enter the living room.

    After searching the area and not finding who he was looking for, the young man returned to the living room and grabbed Pan Hu, who was brewing tea there.

    "Where's Yan Qiling?" he demanded.

    Pan Hu maintained a calm demeanor.

    "Mr. Yan has gone out to work and is currently overseas. He'll be back later," he replied.

    The agitated young man seemed to snap back into reality, releasing his grip and sinking into the sofa as his overheated mind gradually cooled.

    The chaotic blend of fragmented memories and recent experiences left him exhausted, but Ming Yiyang slowly grasped the threads in his thoughts.

    ...He had just recalled the incident when Yan Qiling had shattered, something that happened months ago.

    That's right.

    There was no need for him to be so anxious.

    Yan Qiling was safe, still alive.

    Seeing that his emotions had seemingly stabilized, Pan Hu placed the tea before him and, with propriety, said,

    "Mr. Ming can go back first. After you return home, I'll give you a call."

    Ming Yiyang ran his hands through his soft silver hair and shook his head.

    "I'll wait for him here."

    Pan Hu didn't object but silently went to prepare his toiletries for him.

    Ming Yiyang felt that something was off, but with limited recall at the moment, he couldn't pinpoint the oddity.

    In the solitary dawn, only a single lamp in the living room accompanied him.


    Yan Qiling had no scheduled appearances and no pressing work to attend to.

    The location for the tomb's closure was of utmost importance concerning feng shui.

    Chi Zihe was incredibly efficient; within less than three hours of leaving, he called Yan Qiling.

    Yan Qiling set off that very night to investigate.

    At this moment, they stood amidst the twilight woods, with Chi Zihe acting as a real estate agent, walking and describing the area as they went:

    "Look, this spot rests against Mount Yin, sheltered from wind and rain. In front, there's a forest, offering tranquility and isolation. It would be disastrous to bury someone here, as it would likely bring misfortune to future generations. But for you, it's perfect – cleanliness is key."

    "If you're interred here, the mountain will be like a protective talisman, ensuring even more peace and safety in the surrounding area. No spirits or creatures would dare approach."

    Yan Qiling didn't object; he also found the location favorable.

    Having inspected the site, they moved on to examine the coffin.

    The coffin was a result of Chi Zihe's persuasion, with the owner personally overseeing its redesign.

    It was made from yin wood, dense and solid.

    Chi Zihe had specifically requested blood-colored lacquer, ideal for warding off evil spirits – whether it was the Lord of the Underworld or any other entity, once trapped inside, they wouldn't escape.

    Yan Qiling still had no objections. If he was to be confined, the stronger the enclosure, the better.

    Afterward, Chi Zihe took Yan Qiling to a local restaurant known for its quality cuisine. The Taoist had deliberately chosen this establishment.

    Yan Qiling's attire and appearance naturally drew attention, but everyone quickly went back to their own business.

    The proprietress, however, insisted that he was a celebrity, insisting on his autograph.

    Chi Zihe wanted to have an honest conversation. Knowing that Yan Qiling couldn't get drunk, he still ordered some wine.

    Pouring a little for both of them, after just a couple sips, the Daoist gently swayed his earring and spoke leisurely:

    "Speaking of which, Ming Yiyang will regain his memories eventually. If he finds out that I sealed his coffin, he'll likely come looking for me to settle scores, or even sever ties with me."

    Yan Qiling chuckled softly, his tone as soothing as a warm spring breeze:

    "He won't. He values loyalty greatly. Besides, it was his own choice to forget. If there's any resentment, it would only be towards me, not you."

    Finishing the white wine in his glass in two gulps, Chi Zihe propped his chin in his hand, gazing at the man:

    "What's your stance on Xiao Ming? You don't seem overly fond, yet you made sealing the coffin your first priority. But then again, you let him follow you around and never seem annoyed by him, no matter what he does."

    Yan Qiling slowly wiped away his smile. Lost in thought, he gazed at the radiant glow of the setting sun through the old windowpanes.

    The last vestiges of the sunset still brushed against the mountain ridges, bathing the peaks in a gentle golden glow, like the final scene an old man would recall in the depths of his memories.

    "Leaving doesn't imply dislike, and staying doesn't imply affection."

    Immersed in the fiery hues of an oil painting, he was as serene as a bodhisattva:

    "Love between humans is, by nature, unpredictable. The way is formless, yet it is given form through names. How can one explain the intangible with the tangible?"

    "You want to discuss the way with me, then."

    Chi Zihe refilled his cup once more, but didn't drink from it:

    "The Tao truly defies explanation, yet it remains constant amidst all transformations. That which exists can be described in countless ways; any description is but a facet of its essence."

    "As long as one accepts the emergence of new 'names,' comprehending the Tao isn't as perplexing as it seems."

    "Yet your choice is grounded in reality, distinct from the discourse on the Tao. It must embody some aspect of your thoughts, whether it be selflessness for the greater good or self-interest – there's always a reason behind it."

    Birds took flight across the mountain peak, casting their silhouettes against the fading crimson glow.

    Yan Qiling blinked, then suddenly smiled.

    "I love him, but I don't."

    Chi Zihe didn't display his usual exaggerated expression. Instead, he held the glass to his lips, adopting a serious listening posture.

    Yan Qiling was always the one who hid his thoughts the deepest.

    Perhaps because he knew this would be the last person he'd meet in this world, he finally revealed his true feelings.

    Yan Qiling twirled the wine glass in his hand, as if gazing at an illusory reflection in the glass.

    "I love the real him, whether good or bad. I love it, even if his smoking goes against my principles. But I enjoy seeing him relaxed."

    "Yet, someone like me, do I truly understand what love is?"

    He lifted his head, his heterochromatic eyes revealing a childlike confusion.

    "Even if this is love, how long can it last?"

    "For the Master of the Unbinding, eternity is but a fleeting moment. Can love, so ephemeral, truly accompany me through the ages?"

    "Not that I doubt the existence of true affection in this world. It's just more believable to think that Nüwa could fill the ocean with pebbles than for such sentiment to persist in me."

    Chi Zihe laughed heartily.

    "You're either confident in your ability to love till the end of time or you think I'm Qin Shi Huang, right?"

    Yan Qiling: ?

    Seeing Yan Qiling's confusion, Chi Zihe wore a mix of helplessness and amusement.

    "It's nothing, I just felt the mood was a bit heavy... But what you said does hold some truth. After all these years, there are times when even I am unsure of my own thoughts. However, compared to before, I am more certain about what I desire."

    Yan Qiling remained silent.

    To him, a lifetime was far too long, especially his own, which seemed endlessly daunting. He preferred to cherish the memory of his current passion, the recollection of a young man who once stirred his heartstrings in his world.

    Nor did he wish to wait for the passage of time to rob him of his humanity in the vast expanse of days.

    He watched helplessly as these aspects were stripped away from his being, until he himself reduced their beauty to ashes.

    From his chest, he withdrew two silver bracelets.

    These were the ones Ming Yiyang had personally fastened onto him when they entered the final Realm of No Escape.

    He had removed them to avoid any unnecessary complications.

    Now, he placed them into Chi Zihe's palm:

    "Remember to deliver this to Lingshuang for me."

    Chi Zihe accepted them silently, without a word.

    Finishing the wine in one gulp, Yan Qiling looked at Chi Zihe:

    "There's no time to lose. At three o'clock tomorrow morning, when Yin energy is at its peak, seal the coffin for me then."


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