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    Chapter 179: Wanning

    The two arrived at a cliff on Fluttering Flower Island, where peculiar rocks jutted out, and below them was the tumultuous sea. Waves crashed against the rocks, instantly turning into countless specks of foam. There was nothing around but the vast expanse of sea and sky, with a crescent moon hanging above.

    Mo Ran summoned his bonded sword and then turned to ask Chu Wanning, "Why don't you know how to fly on a sword, Shifu?"

    "It's not that I don't know," Chu Wanning said. "I'm just not skilled at it."

    "How unskilled are you?"

    Chu Wanning flicked his sleeve, a hint of arrogance appearing in his expression, but his ears turned red. "I can only fly a short distance above the ground."

    Mo Ran was somewhat surprised. The amount of spiritual energy expended to hover an inch off the ground or a hundred meters up was the same. Since Chu Wanning could fly a short distance, there was no reason he shouldn't be able to ascend higher. He suggested, "Shifu, give it a try. Let me see."

    "..." Chu Wanning didn't summon his sword but replied with a bland expression, "I usually avoid flying on a sword because I believe weapons should always be respected. It's inappropriate to step on one."

    "?"

    Uncertain why Chu Wanning suddenly felt the need to explain, Mo Ran nodded anyway.

    "Master is correct... but... we can't exactly lie on the sword or fly while hanging from it, can we?"

    Chu Wanning was momentarily at a loss for words. He looked up and saw the man smiling down at him under the moonlight, causing his frustration to rise. "Normally, when there's an urgent matter, I use the Soaring Dragon Barrier to fly."

    Mo Ran was slightly taken aback. "That little dragon?"

    "It can grow bigger," Chu Wanning said, somewhat regaining his composure. But then he felt awkward as he continued, "But during the great fire at the Confucian Wind Sect, it was completely useless. It's afraid of fire."

    Mo Ran understood. "So Master wants to learn sword-riding in case—"

    "For emergencies."

    Mo Ran fell silent, recalling the thick smoke and raging flames that had engulfed Lin Yi, claiming countless lives. Back then, Chu Wanning had stood on his sword, watching the mortals below get devoured by the inferno, turned into ashes without a trace of their remains. The mighty Immortal Venerated had been powerless, unable to ride his sword to save even one person. What must Chu Wanning have felt at that moment?

    No wonder someone who usually preferred carriages over sword-riding would suddenly make such a request of his disciple.

    "I understand, Master. Don't worry, I'll teach you well."

    Upon hearing this, Chu Wanning remained silent, lowering his gaze as he lost in thought. Eventually, he sighed and raised his hand, calling out, "Huai Sha, come."

    A beam of golden light suddenly condensed, and amidst the tranquil and serene moonlit seascape, Mo Ran once again laid eyes on that divine weapon which had appeared only during their life-and-death battle in their past life.

    Chu Wanning's blade of destruction—

    Huaisha.

    It was a longsword that exuded Chu Wanning's essence at first glance. Perhaps no one else in this world could be a more fitting master for it than Chu Wanning. Its patterns were subdued, its body shimmering with gold. The brilliance was so intense that it took on a faint pallor. The light flowed steadily from the sword's body, cascading into the night like a burning sparkler or a trail of falling white sand.

    "This is Huaisha," Chu Wanning said as he gazed at it. "You've never seen it before. It has too much malevolence, so I don't use it often."

    Mo Ran felt a jumble of emotions, but after a moment, he nodded and said in a low voice, "It's a fine sword."

    Night breeze blew gently, and Mo Ran stepped onto the blade of his own sword. With a slight shift of his toes, the sword rose obediently, hovering a few inches above the ground.

    Turning to Chu Wanning, Mo Ran said, "Give it a try, Master."

    Chu Wanning stood on Huaisha, and the sword ascended smoothly, rising a few inches as it carried Chu Wanning in a circle.

    "Isn't this nice?" Mo Ran asked. "Try going higher." He then controlled his sword to fly about five feet off the ground and smiled down at Chu Wanning. "Come up here."

    "..."

    Chu Wanning pressed his lips together and silently raised Huai Sha to be level with him.

    Mo Ran said, "There's no problem, Shifu. Aren't you capable? Let's just—"

    He abruptly stopped talking when he noticed Chu Wanning's pale face. The lines of his entire face were taut, and his lowered eyelashes trembled like grass in the wind, as if he was trying hard to endure something.

    Mo Ran looked down and realized they were only about five feet above the ground.

    Looking up again, he stared at Chu Wanning in disbelief.

    An absurd thought suddenly occurred to him—

    Could it be that Shifu can't fly on a sword because... he has a fear of heights??

    Mo Ran: "..."

    This was quite an awkward situation, and it seemed equally inconceivable to Mo Ran. Chu Wanning was skilled in martial arts; he could easily ascend or descend towering buildings with a single tap of his foot, covering several yards in a single bound. How could such a person have acrophobia? But observing the man standing on the sword, his complexion was indeed ashen, his gaze wandering, and despite his efforts to suppress it, a faint hint of panic still lingered between his brows.

    Mo Ran ventured, "Shifu?"

    Chu Wanning's reaction was rather intense. He suddenly looked up, the night wind tousling his stray hairs. But he didn't bother to smooth them back. His raised phoenix eyes shimmered with annoyance, sparks of wariness flickering behind the disarray of his forehead locks. "Hm?"

    "Cough... Pfft."

    "What are you laughing at!!"

    "I have a dry throat. I'm coughing."

    Mo Ran fought hard to suppress his laughter. He thought to himself, There's no denying it now. He really is afraid of heights. No wonder he gave so many explanations just now, trying to save face.

    If Shifu wants to save face, then as a disciple, he should naturally help provide an exit strategy.

    Mo Ran said, "Flying on a sword does indeed become more challenging the higher you go. At first, I couldn't make it past five feet either. You just need more practice."

    "You couldn't go up before either?"

    "Mm."

    Mo Weiyu, who had soared a hundred feet into the sky on his first attempt at sword flight, nodded gently.

    "Maybe not even five feet. I didn't dare look down, so it might have been... three feet? Anyway, Xue Meng could've easily kicked me down without breaking a sweat."

    Chu Wanning felt a little more reassured.

    The fear of heights while flying on a sword was something he had never dared to mention to anyone. But now it seemed there was no shame in it after all.

    "Shifu, try not to look down."

    "Hmm?"

    "Just look at me." Mo Ran hovered above, then descended a bit further. "Don't worry about how high you are. Just focus on flying level with me."

    Chu Wanning gritted his teeth and rose a little higher. The slender, smooth sword beneath his feet, which had felt warm and gentle in the night breeze, now sent a chill through him like a serpent slithering into his clothes and hissing.

    "Don't look down, don't look down," Mo Ran patiently repeated, reaching out his hand. "Come here, grab my hand."

    Chu Wanning, focused and diligent, replied, "No need, I can do it myself."

    Mo Ran did not insist further, for he knew Chu Wanning's temperament well. When the man wanted to do something on his own, unless it was a significant matter, it was best to let him have his way.

    One who had long been accustomed to being a towering tree was not used to relying on others.

    To stand by his side, equal to him, was what made him feel at ease and comfortable.

    Though he truly wished to turn Chu Wanning into a supple vine, twisting around his fingers like spring water, to grind him fiercely into his rugged body, shattering him within his embrace and dissolving into his blood. Like most men in the world, he had unrealistic and terrifying possessiveness towards the one he loved deeply.

    It was both nature and instinct.

    The innate aggression of a male drove him to desire locking Chu Wanning away, indulging in endless, unceasing passion with him day and night, consuming all his fervor.

    He yearned for Chu Wanning to recline perpetually upon their warm bed, surrounded by fragrant incense and exotic flowers, visible to no one but himself.

    He craved for Chu Wanning to be his forever, his warm body enveloping him eternally.

    Longed for the purple marks of his kisses never to fade, nurturing him into a ravenous beast of desire, requiring the deepest, hottest passion each night to satiate his appetite, feeding him until he was pliant with contentment.

    Yet, love stirred compassion in Mo Ran's heart.

    Love urged him to honor Chu Wanning, to witness his spirit soaring, riding swift horses with light steps, to see him draw his sword and depart the mortal world, sleeves fluttering as snowflakes fell.

    It indulged his arrogance, allowing him to grow tall and mighty in the forest, casting a benevolent shade, tolerating his lush foliage, even if it meant being bruised by storms.

    Thus, love bound his instincts with shackles, bridled his primal desires, making him lower his gaze and suppress his burning breath, turning him into a rule-abiding creature.

    For the rest of his life, he was willing to lock away his nature, pluck out his sharp fangs and claws.

    He had once been possessive and selfish because of love, but now, he became tolerant and selfless because of it.

    So he would no longer attempt to confine Chu Wanning, nor try to change him, as he did in his previous life.

    This belated, purest love made the former Immortal Treading Deity willingly submit, ready to dedicate his entire existence to merely accompanying Chu Wanning.

    As the sword ascended gradually, reaching a certain height, even without looking down, Chu Wanning's fingertips trembled subtly beneath his wide sleeves.

    His scalp tingled with nervousness.

    Mo Ran noticed his tension and reassured him, "There's no need to be afraid. It's similar to light-footwork."

    "It's different," Chu Wanning said. "Lightfootwork relies on oneself, while sword flight is…"

    "But sword flight also relies on yourself."

    "Sword flight relies on the sword!" Chu Wanning snapped.

    Mo Ran: "…"

    He was starting to understand why his master was a master of lightfootwork but afraid when it came to sword flight – Chu Wanning never got used to relying on anything else but himself. It was only when he was depending on himself that he felt the most secure.

    This realization made Mo Ran's heart ache with sympathy.

    "I'll be fine, Master. You have to trust Huai Sha," he said.

    But although Chu Wanning tried to appear calm, the anxiety and panic in his eyes were evident. Mo Ran saw beads of sweat forming on his forehead, and his feet began to waver. He knew this wasn't going well; they couldn't continue like this. If Chu Wanning fell from the sword now, the trauma would likely deepen.

    "We should descend first," Mo Ran decided promptly.

    Chu Wanning was more than eager to comply. They landed on the ground, and after a moment's respite, he asked, "How high did we fly?"

    Mo Ran deliberately exaggerated the distance, saying, "Over fifty feet."

    Sure enough, Chu Wanning was startled, his eyes widening. "That much?"

    "Yes," Mo Ran smiled. "With Master's skills, you'll be able to fly five hundred feet next time without any issue."

    "..."

    Upon hearing five hundred feet, the already pale Chu Wanning's expression turned even more ashen. He waved dismissively, not speaking, and gazed blankly at Huai Sha.

    After some thought, Mo Ran suggested, "How about this, Master? I'll take you on a quick flight first so you can get used to it."

    "You don't have to show me. You've done it before."

    "But last time, Master didn't really look down while flying, did you?"

    Mo Ran had a point. Whenever he rode someone else's sword, Chu Wanning would always try his best to focus on their back or some other spot, convincing himself that he was still firmly on the ground.

    Mo Ran summoned his sword again and purposely made it wider. He stepped onto it first, then turned to Chu Wanning with a gentle expression. "Come on, up you go."

    Chu Wanning gritted his teeth inwardly but still leapt lightly onto the hilt of the sword.

    Mo Ran said, "Hold on tight." With that, he tapped the tip of his foot, and the sword, obeying his command, soared upward in an instant, piercing through the clouds into the sky. Chu Wanning initially closed his eyes out of habit, but the sound of Mo Ran's laughter beside his ear startled him awake. He mustered up his courage and looked down.

    It was better not to look, for when he did, every hair on Chu Wanning's body stood on end.

    This grandson, Mo Ran, was flying at an incredible speed towards the depths of the sky with him. Flowerfall Island was left far behind, becoming smaller and more distant. The roar of the fierce wind whistling past their ears was deafening, and their robes were chilled by the night air. There was nothing beneath their feet but the sword as they flew over the sea. The dark blue waters of the night seemed like a monstrous beast from ancient times, its vast maw open wide to devour all living creatures.

    Chu Wanning's icy eyelashes trembled involuntarily, and he instinctively tried to close his eyes again. But he heard Mo Ran's voice behind him, "Don't be afraid, everything will be fine."

    "I... I'm not scared," Chu Wanning replied, his face as pale as paper.

    Mo Ran chuckled. "Alright, if you say so. If you feel cold or bored, just tell me, and I'll take you back to the island."

    Chu Wanning remained silent, knowing that Mo Ran was giving him some dignity.

    After all, a trembling Immortal Venerated due to the cold on the sword was more impressive than one trembling out of fear.

    Seeing that Chu Wanning was struggling but stubbornly refused to speak up, Mo Ran felt guilty and said, "I'll make the sword bigger."

    He raised his hand, unsheathing the sword several times in a wide arc, enough for him to stand side by side with Chu Wanning.

    "Shifu, in a few days, the inferno in Lin Yi will subside. We'll return to the Peak of Life and Death, but what about the people we've brought with us?" he said, attempting to alleviate the tension in Chu Wanning's demeanor.

    Chu Wanning was indeed remarkable; he could still think under pressure. "Take them to Shu Province."

    "Hmm?"

    "First, take them to Shu Province. After the inferno in Lin Yi, it will be nothing but barren, burnt land, uninhabitable."

    Mo Ran replied, "Alright."

    Looking at Chu Wanning's pale face, after a moment, his heart ached, so he asked, "Should we go back now?"

    "Let's wait a little longer."

    Mo Ran widened the sword's arc further. He made Chu Wanning sit down; it would be much more comfortable than standing. He activated an enchantment, and Chu Wanning turned to inquire, "What are you doing?"

    "It's just a barrier to keep out the cold," Mo Ran answered gently. "It's too high up here, and it's chilly."

    Chu Wanning allowed him to do as he pleased.

    The barrier was closely related to his own, strikingly similar, even forming the image of a peach blossom on its shimmering surface—except Chu Wanning's was golden, while Mo Ran's was red.

    With this translucent barrier in place, although Chu Wanning knew it served no purpose other than to keep out the cold, he felt an added layer of protection around him. Perhaps it was because the ocean beyond the barrier didn't seem as terrifyingly dark through it. Gradually, Chu Wanning's tense body relaxed, and his breathing steadied.

    Sitting beside him, Mo Ran chuckled. "Shifu, look over there."

    "What?"

    "Can you see it?"

    "..." Chu Wanning stared in the direction Mo Ran pointed for a long while, then furrowed his brow. "There's nothing but the moon."

    "It is the moon."

    Chu Wanning was slightly taken aback. "What's so interesting about it? It looks the same from the ground."

    Mo Ran smiled. "This is the first time we're admiring the moon together, Shifu."

    Chu Wanning didn't respond immediately. After a while, when Mo Ran thought he wasn't going to say anything else, he softly murmured, "We have watched the stars together before."

    "…What?"

    Somewhat taken aback, Mo Ran turned his head to look at him.

    The moonlight bathed Chu Wanning's refined and handsome face, his skin as pure as white petals in a cold night. Under his thick, dark eyelashes, there seemed to be memories deeper than the ocean hidden in his eyes.

    "It was too long ago. You've probably forgotten," Chu Wanning said. "It doesn't matter."

    Mo Ran didn't know what to say. He had lived longer than this current iteration of Chu Wanning, and many early memories had lost their sharp edges, so much so that what Chu Wanning remembered might not linger in his own heart anymore.

    Gazing at Chu Wanning's profile, he felt a pang of guilt, but it was tinged with an indescribable sweetness. He couldn't help but recall the sachet, the question he had almost asked yesterday—why did Chu Wanning keep their hair tied together, keep so many memories? Why did he risk his life to save him during the Cataclysm in Jinchengchi…

    Jinchengchi, the Town of Butterflies…

    Why, indeed.

    previously dared not indulge in conjectures, thinking himself shamelessly audacious.

    But these past two days, every tiny revelation had fueled his burning ambition.

    —Why?

    "Shifu."

    "Hmm?"

    His chest surged with fiery blood, pulsing with intense emotion. His throat was parched, and as he gazed at Chu Wanning, his eyes gleamed bright. Suddenly, he had an urge to lean in and kiss his face, to gather all his courage and ask, Do you... do you like me?

    Hovering on the sword above the earth, the vast expanse gave Mo Ran a vague illusion.

    It seemed as if they had no remaining ties to this world, that their past loves, hates, and grievances had never occurred. Everything felt as serene and pure as moonlight filtering through light clouds.

    Seeing that Mo Ran remained silent for a long while, Chu Wanning turned back and asked, "What's wrong?"

    Mo Ran didn't reply. His mind was muddled; he yearned to possess him, embrace him, and kiss him.

    Unconsciously, he leaned closer.

    Then, he suddenly realized that after Chu Wanning had opened the barrier, though he had somewhat regained his composure, his lips were still pressed together, pale and ashen. He held his arms with his slender fingers interlaced, tightly gripping the cold fabric.

    Even when afraid, Chu Wanning clung to himself rather than others.

    Mo Ran was taken aback.

    After that, the aggression in his eyes faded, replaced by a gentle, twinkling light like the flickering flames of a fisherman's lantern.

    Very gentle.

    The lips that had intended to abruptly kiss him now slightly pursed, wearing a soft, bittersweet smile.

    The hands that had been about to abruptly embrace him paused, then, after a moment, reached out to touch the cold back of Chu Wanning's hand.

    "You…" Chu Wanning was startled, a flush of pink rising to his pale cheeks as he spoke in a hoarse, wary voice, "What are you doing?"

    He tried to pull his hand away, but Mo Ran held on tightly and refused to let go. Chu Wanning felt his frozen fingers sink into an extremely warm palm, encased from the heel to the fingertips with a perfect fit.

    "Stop relying solely on yourself," Mo Ran said. "I'm here, you can lean on me."

    If Chu Wanning could still remain composed earlier, then after hearing this sentence, even if he were slow to perceive or hesitant, he couldn't fail to recognize the affection behind it.

    Not to mention those deadly black eyes that gazed at him solemnly, earnestly, tenderly, and persistently. Chu Wanning's heartbeat throbbed like a torrential downpour, tapping against his very soul.

    He dared not look into Mo Ran's eyes again and swiftly turned his face away, lowering his head.

    It was scorching hot.

    At a height of a hundred feet, how could it be this sweltering?

    He had always been proud and composed, but now it felt as if he had suddenly stepped into an unfamiliar territory, his armor stripped away and his sharp claws clipped. Faced with Mo Ran's blunt sincerity, Chu Wanning's usual countermeasures seemed powerless.

    The man's intense gaze pried open his shell, his eyes fixated on the trembling, translucent flesh within. Whether it was the luminous pearl or the savory mussel meat, they were both laid bare before the man's unwavering stare.

    This proud and collected individual found himself disarmed, suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of panic and helplessness.

    What should he do...

    What should he say?

    He...

    Realizing that his hand was still held by Mo Ran's, interlaced intimately, he didn't know how to react. Frazzled and nervous, his eyes reddened, and he instinctively tried to pull his finger away.

    But the moment he made a move, Mo Ran tightened his grip.

    The man's palm was damp with sweat.

    "Don't take it away."

    "..."

    His grasp was firm and unyielding. For some reason, Chu Wanning suddenly sensed a hint of sorrow in his tone.

    Mo Ran's gaze burned fiercely as he fixated on him for a long while before speaking in a low, rough voice, "Chu Wanning..."

    "... What did you just call me?"

    "... I misspoke."

    At this moment, Chu Wanning's body was even more tense than before, his heartbeat racing faster than when he first rode the sword. He was unaccustomed to it – far too unaccustomed.

    He struggled to regain his composure, determined to make one final, desperate attempt to resist before plummeting into this abyss.

    Lowering his eyelids, he said, "Mm, knowing that you spoke wrongly means there's still hope for a..."

    But Mo Ran's heart was aflame, and without hesitation, he blurted out, "Wanning."

    Save.

    The last word never left Chu Wanning's lips.

    Hearing that gentle, sighing voice again, his mind buzzed, instantly going blank.

    These last words were forever left unsaid.

    There was no cure.

    No cure at all—

    For so long they had hesitated on the outskirts of desire's quagmire, until finally they could resist no longer and stepped in, sinking deep into its depths, ensnared by an intricate web that pierced their very bones with longing.

    Mo Ran's voice was hoarse as he gazed at Chu Wanning. "Wanning, actually, these past few days, there's something I've been wanting to ask you."

    "..."

    His heart burned fiercely, and Mo Ran held Chu Wanning's hand tightly; his fingers trembled. "No, I won't ask you anymore."

    Just as Chu Wanning let out a sigh of relief, he heard Mo Ran continue.

    "I don't want to ask you anything anymore, I just want to tell you."

    Mo Ran was resolute, his determination unyielding and irreversible.

    In one breath, he poured out all his courage.

    "I like you."

    His heart pounded fiercely.

    "I like you, not as a disciple to his master, but... it's my audacity, I... I like you."

    Chu Wanning closed his eyes, his fingertips gradually stilling in the warmth of that person's feverish touch that had been trembling.

    How could this be?

    How could it be...

    He must have heard wrong. He was so unattractive, so fierce, so ineloquent, so devoid of charm. He was utterly useless, a complete idiot. Who could possibly like him?

    "I like you."

    Chu Wanning stood frozen for what felt like an eternity. He truly didn't know what to say. His heart ached uncontrollably, his emotions in disarray. He felt bitterness and fear creeping in, his mind almost blank. He wanted to dismiss it as nonsense with a wave of his sleeve, as he would have before, to call it laughable. But the words stuck in his throat, unable to be spoken.

    After a long, rigid silence, Chu Wanning spoke in a hoarse, bewildered voice, "…My temper is terrible."

    "You've always been kind to me."

    "I'm… I'm older."

    "You don't look it."

    Chu Wanning grew almost agitated. He said helplessly, "I'm so ugly…"

    This time, it was Mo Ran's turn to be stunned. He widened his eyes, staring at the breathtakingly handsome man before him. He couldn't understand why someone so beautiful would feel insecure about their appearance.

    Seeing Mo Ran's silence, Chu Wanning's heart grew even more restless and empty. Lowering his head, he murmured, "I'm not good-looking."

    "…"

    "Not as good-looking as you."

    As he repeated this to himself, a warm hand suddenly brushed against his cheek. He heard Mo Ran's sigh, gentler than the moonlight of this very night, "Would you like to see my eyes?"

    Chu Wanning: "Your eyes...?"

    Mo Ran's gaze was soft, reflecting the image of a man in white. He said, "Can you see it? That's the most beautiful person in the world."

    Staring at him, Chu Wanning's face remained composed despite the turmoil within his heart. His expression was as cold and distant as ever.

    Mo Ran held his palm, his hand damp with sweat.

    He whispered again, "I like you."

    It was as if Chu Wanning had been pricked by a needle. His fingers trembled, and after a moment, he suddenly lowered his head. "I like you" felt like a sharp dagger piercing his heart, unleashing an uncontrollable rush of emotion. Chu Wanning's eyes reddened; perhaps he had waited too long, for he didn't expect such a reaction to those words. He was anxious, on the verge of tears, and said, "I'm not good. I've never... Never been liked before."

    Never been liked before.

    No one had ever been happy, proud, or cherished because they had him.

    Thirty-two years had passed.

    Not once had anyone liked him.

    Hearing these words, Mo Ran looked at the man before him, his head bowed and face hidden, unwilling to lift it up. Suddenly, he felt such profound pain, as if his heart were cracking and his bones crumbling.

    This was his treasure, yet it had been shrouded in dust for nearly half a lifetime.

    He was at a loss for words, unsure of how to express his feelings properly.

    In the end, he simply held Chu Wanning's hand tightly, repeating earnestly, "There is, there is."

    Someone loves you. I love you.

    You are wanted by someone, cherished by someone. Don't be so insecure anymore, don't be so foolish, devaluing yourself like that. Fool.

    Foolish Chu Wanning.

    I love you.

    After a long while, Mo Ran asked, "What about you?"

    "… What?"

    Mo Ran's eyelashes fluttered as he looked down. "I... I'm so clumsy, so ignorant, so unreliable. I... I've even done unforgivable wrongs."

    He paused and whispered, "Will you like me?"

    Chu Wanning had already lifted his face, but hearing this, he suddenly met Mo Ran's soft black eyes and felt his heart race. With an unknown surge of strength, he pulled his hand away and turned his head.

    He neither nodded nor shook his head.

    Neither an affirmation nor a denial.

    But Mo Ran could see Chu Wanning's ears turn red, the flush extending to his delicate, flower-like neck.

    "About that silk purse..."

    "Stop," Chu Wanning interrupted, his entire face now flushed. "Don't mention it."

    Mo Ran gazed at Chu Wanning's mix of reluctance, embarrassment, anger, and confusion. The moonlight danced in his eyes.

    He moved closer, reached out again, and held Chu Wanning's fingertips gently.

    Chu Wanning trembled, and so did Mo Ran's fingers as they gently covered Chu Wanning's slender digits. Then, in an unprecedented manner, he interlaced their fingers and pressed their palms together.

    Chu Wanning's face flushed red as he tried to avert his face even more.

    This time, however, he didn't pull away.

    Thus, with Chu Wanning's hand in his, Mo Ran finally realized, albeit belatedly and with anxious uncertainty, that Chu Wanning... also liked him.

    He had finally come to understand.

    Author's Note: Wielding a sword amidst falling snow, sleeves billowing like clouds; inspired by Ling Yue's line from "The Ancient Sword: Tales of the Past DLC," which originally read, "Sleeves fluttering against the azure sky, sword drawn amidst falling snow."

    Short Scene: "Do We Need a Short Scene Today?"

    Xue Meng: Eh? Where's the actor for today's short scene?

    Meat Bun: Guess.

    Xue Meng: F*ck, where's my master??

    Meat Bun: Hehehe.

    Xue Meng: ...

    At the street corner, Mei Hanxue, the handsome guy selling takeout: Forget about your master. Come, sit down and have a bowl of fish mint and meat rice bowl. These are adult matters; kids shouldn't inquire about them.

    Xue Meng: ???

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