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    Chapter 91: The Moment the Dream Fades

    An Zhi believed he had woken up, only to find himself still within an opulent palace hall.

    "A heart that exists is mundane, love lost is enlightenment—" A gentle and distant male voice echoed in every corner of the grand chamber.

    The unfamiliar voice startled An Zhi, who immediately became wary. "Who is it?!"

    His voice reverberated against the walls until it faded away, yet no one appeared, and the speaker remained silent.

    "Peculiar," he muttered. "It's understandable that I'd connect with Qin Huai's dream since we're both in the Drifting Dreams Chest. But who's this man? Wen Yan?"

    Slowly turning around, he found a man standing quietly behind him, seemingly having been there for some time.

    Startled, he shrank back slightly. However, the palace hall was unusually bright, serene, and majestic – not the dwelling of malevolent spirits.

    The man possessed amber eyes, cold and noble. Crowned with jade, dressed in magnificent attire, he exuded a sense of composure.

    He exuded holiness without being overly detached, causing An Zhi to feel less intimidated. He asked, "Who are you?"

    The man replied, "Dixiu."

    "Emperor of Heaven!" An Zhi had only heard of this Emperor Dixiu in others' conversations. Now that he was face to face with him, he couldn't help but be excited. "Weren't you just a legend?"

    Dixiu said, "Due to the loss of a wooden heart, I've been in seclusion. I'm not just a mere tale."

    An Zhi was surprised. "A heart can be lost too?"

    Dixiu answered, "My heart seemed to have appeared much later than I did. All I can do is seclude myself in the Le Shan Hall and wait patiently."

    An Zhi couldn't resist questioning him. "As the Emperor of Heaven, how can you neglect worldly affairs and just wait in seclusion?"

    Dixiu responded, "The sun and moon act with non-action."

    An Zhi didn't understand but didn't bother to inquire further. He simply asked, "Why did the Emperor of Heaven summon me here?"

    Dixiu said, "Do you wish to live for yourself?"

    "Certainly!" An Zhi affirmed.

    "I see," Dixiu nodded in understanding.

    ...

    A gentle breeze caressed An Zhi's face with tender affection.

    Upon waking, he found himself not within the Dreaming Vessel but beside Ju Lang.

    They were flying on a sword.

    An Zhi inquired, "What about my brother?"

    Ju Lang replied, "Shi Huai took him back home."

    "Oh, that's good to know." An Zhi continued, "How did you find us?"

    Ju Lang explained, "We have long forged a Divine Aid Covenant between us. No matter where you are, I would always be able to locate you."

    For some reason, An Zhi felt an unusual calmness in his heart, as if it were a still pond. He spoke softly, "Does that mean my life and death are subject to your approval? If you don't wish for me to die, I can only wander the world as a wandering spirit?"

    "Yes," Ju Lang never denied his feelings.

    Overlooking the blue fields and white clouds, they walked above the sky. The breeze on this sunny day playfully danced into An Zhi's clothes like a mischievous fawn. He asked casually, "With sword flight and unity between man and sword, one can arrive at their destination in the blink of an eye. So why the slow stroll? Do you have something to explain to me privately?"

    The sword beneath them came to a halt.

    Ju Lang turned, his phoenix eyes looking at An Zhi with sincerity and focus. "When you were on a business trip in City S..."

    "I already know everything," An Zhi interrupted him, speaking nonchalantly. "It's only natural for the emperor to consider all aspects. I don't blame you."

    Ju Lang hurriedly explained, "I've been searching for a way to achieve both. Believe me, I will find it!"

    An Zhi chuckled. "If everything were perfect, where would the joy be? You can't have your cake and eat it too. This is from a middle school Chinese literature text. Haven't you figured it out yet, despite your age?"

    Ju Lang could tolerate An Zhi's tantrums or happiness, but not his excessive calmness.

    In an instant, his eyes reddened, and tears welled up as he roared, "I can't let go!"

    An Zhi changed the subject, maintaining his composed demeanor as he asked, "Did you retrieve my body from the lake?"

    After several deep breaths, Ju Lang calmed himself down before responding, "We did. The funeral was held a long time ago."

    Upon hearing this, An Zhi saw things clearly and found solace.

    "You still blame us," Ju Lang observed, sensing his feelings.

    An Zhi chuckled. "I don't."

    Ju Lang shook his head, unconvinced, and attempted to clarify, "I..."

    "I really don't hold any grudges against you," An Zhi interrupted, still wearing a smile. "I made it clear before. I understand your position. If there's anyone to blame, it's only myself for being a demon."

    He understood everything, with a perfect, self-contained logic that left Ju Lang with no room to argue or find words. All Ju Lang could do was offer futile comfort, "No one is at fault for this situation."

    An Zhi countered, "No one may be at fault, but someone has to take responsibility."

    Ju Lang grew anxious again, "I'll find a way to make it right! Just give me more time!"

    "You're back again," An Zhi responded casually to Ju Lang. "Fine, I'll wait – until you find a way to have your cake and eat it too – is that an appropriate statement, my Emperor?"

    Ju Lang's cheeks flushed, and he lowered his head bashfully.

    "Well then," An Zhi said. "Let's go back."

    Ju Lang asked, "Back where?"

    "Let me think about it." After a moment of contemplation, An Zhi inquired, "Where's Wen Yan?"

    "He fled when he saw us approaching. Shi Huai told me not to chase after him, to settle you and Qin Huai first, and we can find Wen Yan later," Ju Lang explained, his tone carrying a hint of grievance, fearing that An Zhi would be unhappy. "I don't know where he is now."

    "Oh, I see. It's alright." An Zhi continued, "In that case... I'd like to visit my grave."

    Ju Lang replied, "Wen Yan mentioned that you wanted to be with your mother, so Qin Huai rushed to send your ashes abroad overnight."

    An Zhi chuckled. "What's the worry? You can fly on your sword, and we'll be there in the blink of an eye."

    ...

    A tranquil cemetery, a secluded nook, two graves lay quietly side by side.

    The grave to the left was overgrown with moss, unadorned, yet its tombstone gleamed as if newly erected. The one on the right appeared freshly tended, adorned with five bouquets of mourning flowers. Four of them had withered into a dull yellow, while the fifth seemed to have been placed there that very morning. At Mother's grave, too, a fresh bouquet stood.

    Ju Lang spoke, "Those four aged bouquets were from us."

    An Zhi acknowledged with an "oh," not probing about the origin of the new bouquet. Instead, he said, "Heroes may pass, but they are remembered by countless souls. For someone like me, who left this world too soon, it's more than enough to have someone occasionally bring flowers to pay their respects."

    This cemetery held a peculiar air about it.

    Across the road, on one side lies a serene cemetery where only the chirping of birds can be heard; on the other, a paradise of blue skies, gentle breezes, fresh air, blooming flowers, and dewy mornings, filled with the joyful laughter of crowds enjoying themselves in an amusement park.

    An Zhi shared, "Back when I was young and penniless, after my mother passed away, I could barely afford a burial plot by selling everything we had. A tombstone was simply out of reach. Later, as I grew up and started working, I received my first project. Upon completion, I earned the design fee and promptly purchased a tombstone for my mother."

    Ju Lang responded, "Mm-hmm."

    An Zhi continued, "This cemetery used to be vast. Over time, with urban redevelopment, the amusement park saw the land as a bargain and bought it with plans to demolish it for expansion. Naturally, I objected, but there was little I could do against the tide. However, when they reached my mother's grave, the construction team encountered something supernatural. From then on, this place was spared. Surprisingly, not only is this amusement park built on a graveyard free of ghostly disturbances, but it also enjoys exceptional business."

    Ju Lang replied, "That would be me."

    An Zhi was surprised. "What?"

    Ju Lang replied, "I sent them away."

    An Zhi responded, "Oh, then thank you – thanks to you, I can rest in peace here with my dearest ones after I'm gone."

    Ju Lang's expression darkened. "Death is not the end."

    Moving closer to Ju Lang, An Zhi faced away from his grave. "I'm sorry, but for me, it's too tiring for it not to be the end—" With that, he leaned back and vanished into the grave in a blink.

    Wen Yan caught him and asked in amazement, "How did you know I'd be waiting for you here?"

    An Zhi answered, "Because of those two bouquets. Who else would send red roses to mourn a friend but you?"

    Wen Yan smiled radiantly. "One should always meet others with the most vibrant and positive self." Then, she asked, "So, you want to go back into the game and continue the storyline?"

    An Zhi nodded, making a solemn request, "You can do it. Please take me back."

    --------------------

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