This chapter was brought to you by AnmesicCat, Masadeer, and StellarAshes.
One Soul, Two Names
Liola walked through most of the Bandit Mountains with Yandi, but Anise was nowhere to be found. He couldn’t resist holding the Dragon Cross Necklace tightly. Of course, the necklace was now with him instead of Yandi.
“Where are you?” Liola murmured. However, unexpectedly, the necklace did not emit any light, nor make any sound.
Although Liola became more anxious, Yandi seemed to be unexpectedly patient, despite her normal hot temper. In fact, because of the rumor of Anise being alive, she patiently went everywhere Anise had been. Even though she didn’t see Anise, she proved the rumors were not groundless with her own power.
Being keen eyed, she suddenly saw something floating around on a tree from afar. She beckoned, “Follow me.” And then she began to run without turning her head.
She grabbed the small piece of cloth hanging on a tree branch. In Liola’s eyes, there was nothing special about it, but Yandi examined it attentively, while she thought out loud,
“Green, embroidered, and the material is light. This should be a piece of cloth from a woman’s clothing.”
“So what?” Liola tried to be patient and asked.
“Why would a woman be around here? Even if there was a woman among Bandits, she would never walk alone in these forests.”
Yandi gestured around as she continued to explain, “Look, the grass and trees are all undamaged, so obviously there weren’t many who passed by. Perhaps it was a few, or maybe even one. A group of a few people including a woman is unlikely to be passing by here. Even I wouldn’t dare to walk through here if it weren’t for you being here.”
“Is it Anise?” Liola’s heart skipped a beat.
“I don’t know. Sister has no habit of using fragrance, and her clothes weren’t anything special. It’s impossible to determine if it was her just from this cloth.”
Yandi said honestly, then continued, “Since we are basically wandering around aimlessly, we may as well follow this lead.”
Liola nodded, and he lead Yandi in the direction where the cloth pointed. On the way, he cut off the branches, so Yandi could have a much easier time to walk through. She looked at the small path the Assassin created for her, and followed quietly, not sure how she felt about it.
After walking for a short while, the Assassin suddenly stopped with a frown. Yandi opened her mouth and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Ahead of us, there’s someone, just one person.”
Yandi was shock. After exchanging glances with the Assassin, they ran forward as fast as they could.
Liola grabbed Yandi’s arm and ran with her. For some reason, he was now afraid of seeing Anise by himself, so even if it slowed him down, he still held onto Yandi.
“There’s an empty space!” Yandi yelled, and Liola had already noticed it. They continued to run as fast as they could, but as soon as they stepped into the empty space, Liola’s sensed the person had suddenly disappeared. The person… was gone. Not moving away, just suddenly disappeared.
Liola glanced around the place. He was certain he sensed someone here before, so how could it suddenly disappear?
“Just a plain, large rock…”
Liola heard Yandi’s sound of murmur, then turned around to look. An ordinary rock appeared in front of his eyes. With the trees and grass around it, this rock seemed rather out of the ordinary.
Yandi walked slowly towards the rock, and suddenly noticed there were words carved into the rock. She read it out loud, “Who you are and where you’re from are not important, what’s important is who you want to be, and where you want to go.”
Every word Yandi uttered left a mark in Liola’s mind.
‘This couldn’t possibly be a coincidence. Could these words be left behind by Anise? Why would she leave words behind, but be unwilling to appear before me?’
Liola walked towards the rock, and writing on the rock was identical to the letter Anise had left him. He could not help but stroke the writing lightly on the rock.
‘Perhaps she hadn’t gotten far!’ Liola suddenly got up, and looked around, wondering which direction he should go to find her.
“You can stop looking.” Yandi said instead, “I understand what sister means.”
Liola was shocked. The silver eyes looked towards Yandi, waiting for her explanation.
“She won’t appear, no matter where you look, unless…” Yandi crouched down and touched the writing, “What you’re looking for isn’t Anise, but the answers to the questions in your heart.”
Yandi raised her head, and looked sharply at Liola, “Do you want to stay?”
Liola stumbled, but could not bring himself to answer.
“Do you want to leave?” Yandi approached Liola, her shining eyes made Liola fluster.
“Do you want to be Silver Moon?” She had no plans of letting the Assassin off.
Yandi gritted her teeth, and spit out the cruelest question, “Or do you want to go back to be the Dragon Emperor’s son? Kill your father, and replace him!”
Liola took a deep breath, and said with a trembling voice, “I can’t kill.”
“What if sister asks you to kill?” Yandi’s face was practically in front of Liola’s eyes. Her hands were also holding the Assassin’s shoulder to stop him from running.
Liola turned his face, trying to avoid Yandi’s eyes. He answered, “If it’s Anise’s request, I will kill.” The Assassin didn’t notice the shaking in his own voice.
Yandi looked at him for a long time, and said slowly, “Lies.”
“I’m not!” Liola yelled back almost immediately, like a cat with its tail stepped on.
“What if your companions don’t want you to kill, but Anise does?” Yandi asked again.
Liola stared blankly. He had never thought about such a dilemma. He was hesitating, but he didn’t know why he was hesitating.
Anise was the most important, isn’t it? But Kaiser, Daylight, Purity, and Meinan, they’re important too. Which one was more important? The Assassin couldn’t decide.
Facing the uncertain Assassin, Yandi sighed, “Silver Moon, do you still not understand? You’ve met good companions and Anise. Anise doesn’t want to interfere with your decision, and your companions wouldn’t, either. On the contrary, they are all waiting for your decision. You must choose your own path.”
“My… decision…” Liola panicked. Was he the one who had to decide? He had to decide by himself? No one would tell him what to do? Suggest to him, or even commanding him would be better.
“We can stop looking. When you have decided on an answer, everything will come to you.”
Yandi quietly walked away, to give Liola some personal space. She decided to do something more realistic, such as, putting up two hammocks, starting a fire, cook some food, etc.
“Taking good care of Silver Moon is probably the best way I could repay you.” Yandi raised her head to look at the full moon. Its color resembled Anise’s long hair.
“But, what exactly is he in your heart?”
* * *
Liola touched the writing on the rock, and repeated the words again and again, but the answer did not come to him, and instead make him fall even deeper into his perplexity.
He didn’t know how long this lasted when he felt a bit stiff in his body. He changed his posture, and sat on top of the rock, but he unknowingly lied down slowly. This was just like the first memory he had of this world. Luckily the rock was large enough that, if he curled slightly, he could lie on the rock with his face to the sky.
The sky was already covered with his stars. Liola remembered the sun was still up just then. It wasn’t until now that he realized he had already been thinking since when the sun was still up to when the sky was covered in stars. No… perhaps even longer. When he first woke up at Skyward Overlook, he had probably began to think, and he was never brave enough to admit it.
“Which one do I feel more familiar, the smell of metal, or the smell of wood?”
“Magic, sword, Mechas, Dragons… Dragons!”
Liola suddenly stood up. Crap! He had completely forgotten about Baolilong. Where was it now? Hopefully not where the Leader was at?
Liola felt anxious. No one knew the Leader’s experiments better than him. He would never allow the possibility of Baolilong becoming the materials for experiment.
“And Kaiser, Kaiser…” Liola’s face went pale.
How could he be so crazy, leaving Kaiser and Baolilong with the Leader? If something happened to either of them, he would never be able to forgive himself.
“And Purity and Meinan, how exactly are they in the other world? Could the war have started?” Liola sat up with frustration, “They probably wouldn’t participate in the war, right? They’re still too young…” Liola completely forgot that Meinan was actually older than him.
“Lanski and Jasmine, what kind of reactions did they have when they found out I’m Silver Mask?” Liola felt worried.
Wait… if he really was the Dragon Emperor’s son, then wouldn’t it mean Lanski was his twin sister? For some reason, Liola knew instinctively, Lanski wouldn’t be happy to know he’s her brother.
“What are you thinking about?” He heard Yandi’s voice, and then she put a plate filled with food in Liola’s hands.
“A lot of things.” Liola suddenly realized how many things he had to worry about.
“Things on which side?” Yandi asked casually, with her eyes looking at her own plate.
“The other side.” Liola held the steaming food, but had little appetite.
“Oh, thinking about those two girls? Lanski and Jasmine? It would’ve been a dilemma, because they both sound decent, different personalities, but both are good. And they both liked you, but… isn’t one of them your twin sister? Then there’s nothing much left to worry.” Yandi smiled somewhat ambiguously.
“I don’t understand what you mean…” Liola stared blankly at Yandi.
Yandi probably knew the Assassin’s personality. For the two girls, she explained patiently, “They both like you, do you understand?”
“I know, and I like them too. They’re both good people.” Liola answered naturally.
Yandi closely examined the Assassin, then shook her head, “No, you don’t understand. Their ‘like’ isn’t the ordinary like, not the kind of like Purity feels towards you.”
Liola hesitated, “What’s the difference?”
He really was an oblivious ice cube. Yandi felt a bit sorry for the two distant girls. But to someone who had just learnt what friendship was, to learn the more complex feeling of love, it would require time and someone’s help!
Yandi couldn’t help but laugh, did she want to be the one to teach him? It would be interesting! She couldn’t wait to see the Assassin’s expressions.
Yandi said simply, perhaps too straightforwardly, “In simple terms, they want to marry you, and be your wife, understand?”
“M-marry? Wife?” Liola’s mind was suddenly in chaos. What was worse was he knew full well what marry meant, and he also understood the meaning of ‘wife’, but he was clueless of the deeper meaning. He didn’t understand why people married?
‘How come he doesn’t have much of reaction?’ Yandi closely observed the Assassin’s face, but all she saw was his blank face, and felt a bit disappointed.
“Why would they want to marry me? And why doesn’t Purity want to marry me?” Liola suddenly asked with a flash across his eyes.
‘What kind of question is this?’ Yandi was rather dumbfounded. ‘How exactly was Silver Moon raised?’
Yandi said with a stutter, “B-because it’s friendship between you and Purity, but the other two feel love towards you. Just like you, you feel differently towards Purity than the other two girls, right…?”
The last question, Yandi was asking out of pity for the other two girls, she was trying to ascertain which of them Silver Mask actually felt love towards.
This question was difficult for Liola.
‘Is it different between Purity, Lanski, and Jasmine?’
He thought briefly, thinking that it was somewhat different: Purity knew him longer, and spent more time with him than the others; other than that…
“For example, which one of them makes you feel your heart beat?” Yandi tried to push the thought along.
Liola glanced her back with strangeness, “My heart always beats, if it didn’t, wouldn’t I be dead?”
“… Are you an idiot?” Yandi snapped back, “No wonder you didn’t understand love for such a long time, because no one dare to explained it to you.”
Liola was speechless.
Yandi wasn’t one to give up, she asked again, “Is there someone who, whenever you don’t see her, you’d feel worried? Or if any tears of hers showed up, you would feel a pain in your heart? Or is there anyone who, no matter what she did, you would forgive her?”
“Yes!” Liola answered honestly.
Yandi’s eyes shone and prompted him to continue, “Who?”
He answered honestly, “Baolilong. Whenever I don’t see it, I would be worried it might have gotten in trouble. Whenever it cries, I couldn’t just ignore it, and no matter how much trouble Baolilong runs into, I couldn’t really get mad.”
Hearing this answer, Yandi buried her head into her hands, “I give up, sorry, Lanski, Jasmine, I can’t help you…”
“?” Liola looked at Yandi with confusion.
Though Yandi’s expression was full of “You can’t be saved”, Liola began to smile, and even began to eat the food out of the plate, as if he suddenly felt relaxed.
“Hey! What’s with you?” Yandi didn’t understand.
“I’ve decided, I want to go back.”
Yandi couldn’t believe he had actually made his mind. She had to ask, “Why did you suddenly decide?”
Liola stopped eating, and explained, “Everyone I thought of, everything I care about, are not in this world. I am here, but everything I worry about belongs in the other world.”
“But, while I was in the other world, other than Anise, I thought nothing of this world. I was never worried about whether I could come back, because I never wanted to come back.”
Yandi heard his explanation, and said slowly, “This is, after all, not your world. Go back, Silver Moon, no, you are no longer Silver Moon. When that boy mispronounced your name, you were born to a new name and new life, Liola…”
“No matter what happens when you come back, what you run into, or what the result is, even if it’s death, I trust you will never regret it.”
Liola answered with a troubled look, “I don’t fear death. I just fear being a burden to my companions.”
“Just stop!” Yandi glared at him, “Men die for friendship! They are willing to die for you, and you are willing to die for them. That’s friendship, or are you doubting your companions’ friendship towards you?”
Liola desperately shook his head. He didn’t doubt it one bit, nor had he ever doubted it. Those people… for him, how many rank-X people had they faced? For him, how many dangerous places did they brave? For him, they even tried their best to adapt to a new world.
For some reason, Liola’s eyes teared up. He was obviously not sad. Contrarily, he should be very happy, but tears kept coming…
“All right! Let’s not worry about sister Anise for now. When it’s time, she will appear. You are worried about your companions being at the Leader’s place, right?”
Yandi patted Liola’s shoulder, as if she didn’t see Liola’s teary eyes. She turned away and said, “I’m going to sleep. We still have a long journey back tomorrow.”
“Long Yandi.” Liola suddenly called her name.
Yandi stopped, but didn’t turn around. She knew this wasn’t the right time to turn around. She quietly listened to Liola.
Yandi did not answer. She climbed up into her hammock, then drift off to sleep with a smile on her face.
* * *
When Yandi was asleep, Liola was still lying down on the rock. After all, sleeping on a rock or a hammock made little difference to him. He really wanted to lie here, though he had no idea why.
Liola suddenly sat up, and looked in the direction of the sound. Within the forest, under the faint moonlight, with cream white hair, a person with kind yet playful smile, dressed in simple clothing, was waving to him with a hand full of wounds and calluses…
Liola was breathless, “Anise.”
Anise was smiling lightly, with her index finger gesturing on her mouth, she waved her hand to beckon him to come.
Liola, however, turned and looked at Yandi, wanting to wake her up. He knew Yandi had always been looking for Anise.
Liola suddenly turned to look at Anise, and saw her shaking her head with a painful expression on her face. Her eyes were looking at Yandi with sympathy, but at the same time, an unspeakable refrain.
Seeing Anise’s expressions, Liola did not wake up Yandi, but when he passed the bonfire, he used his Ki to pulverize most of the wood there.
‘It’s so cold in the mountains, without the fire, she will hopefully wake up… Yandi, please wake up…’
Without any more hesitation, Liola walked towards Anise, and she also turned to leave. She maintained a few steps away from Liola.
After a while of walking, she finally jumped up to a tree branch high above like a fairy, then elegantly sat on top of it, while Liola was standing quietly below.
Anise stared at him, her eyes filled with caring and love. It was impossible for Liola to ask things like, “Are you using me?” Nobody would believe someone looking at him with such care would be using him.
Instead, Anise opened her mouth first, “I’m Bairui, and also Anise.”
“I… don’t understand.” Liola was slightly bitter, because Anise wasn’t just Anise.
“This is a story that, no matter if you want to listen to or not, I have to tell you, but please believe me when I tell you I don’t want to harm you. Please listen to the very end, okay?”
Liola nodded. In the past, he might not be able to agree, but now, he didn’t seem to care anymore, because he had other things to care about — his companions.
“Bairui was the Princess of the Sacred White Dragon, the current Dragon Emperor’s Dragon, and also Black Dragon Miluo’s wife, your Dragon’s mother.”
“Where should I begin with the story?”
“Right, did you know? Back in that world of ours, there was only one continent to begin with.”
“Once upon a time, the first Zhuogen commanded the largest army of Knights in history and marched across the continent. The dozens of countries there had been trampled over, leaving only three of them struggling to defend themselves. The three of them, with their magic powers, could not defend against the impending army of Knights. The three of them would rather see their homes burn than to let their lands be conquered, they formed a short alliance. Hundreds of thousands of Magicians united to activated the strongest magic they knew, and forcefully broke the continent into three.”
“I don’t know how many people died or got injured back then. The continents continued to move. Although the Zhuogens did not die, they had no choice but stay in the continent where their Palaces were. The Knights, being unfamiliar with magic, could do nothing about the terrifying atmospheric changes or the movement of the continents, and they scrambled for their own survival as they saw the other two lands drift away. When the world had calmed down countless number of years later, the previously young and powerful Zhuogen, who even signed blood contracts with the Dragons and shared their longevity, had aged and died.”
“But he never gave up his dream to conquer the entire world. I don’t know how, but he managed to retain his ambition, into his own descendent, into the heart of the next Dragon Emperor.”
“That was when it started. The Prince who succeeded the Dragon Emperor must have, at the day of his coronation, which was also the day the previous Dragon Emperor died, ate the heart from the corpse of his father, to maintain the same ambition to conquer the world.”
Anise saw that Liola looked somewhat terrified, she smiled, “It’s very ridiculous, right? What’s even more ridiculous, I was told all these by my master, the current Dragon Emperor.
“At the time, he was still a Prince, a Prince whose heart was warm, and anyone who saw him would say he was far too gentle to be an Emperor, but I still adored him. He was the only Prince who would play flute in the Royal Garden, only to fall asleep there. I had often hid in the bushes, listening to him play.
“I had listen for years before the slowpoke noticed me. It was then when we played together, and I had often carried him to different places, and even away from the Dragon Continent. It was when I ran into Miluo on the Yaron Plains. You probably would never believe me when I say Caffey was the one who played matchmaker between Miluo and I. Ah… Caffey was the Dragon Emperor’s name, but after he became the Dragon Emperor, he stopped having a name.”
Getting to this point, Anise suddenly began to laugh, to the point where tears appeared in the corner of her eyes, “Did you know? Because he was called Caffey, Miluo and I both called him Coffee. That was when he swore he will name his children with different names of coffee.”
Liola looked at Anise, and for some reason, Anise’s smile was making him feel sad, as if the happy events of the past had, due to the changes in people, had turned to nothing but a cruel memory.
“I chose him!”
“The Dragon Emperor at the time was not faithful, and had multiple wives. He had, in total, five Princes and seven Princesses. ‘I chose him’, practically no one understood, and even the dying Dragon Emperor was furious. He hated Caffey’s gentleness and overly kind nature.”
“But no one could interfere with his choice, and Caffey indeed end up on the throne. The day of his coronation… or I should say, that night, Caffey was extremely scared. I did not understand what he was afraid of. To become the Dragon Emperor, one must obtain the approval of a Sacred White Dragon, so it was impossible for his siblings to assassinate him or overthrow the throne. Rather, one would only have to worry about it prior to getting the approval of the Sacred White Dragon.”
“That was when Caffey told me and Miluo about the history, and what he was forced to do on his coronation ceremony….”
“He told me, he was scared, fearing he might really change, and become as cruel and ruthless as his father.
“I desperately tried to comfort him, and Miluo even joked, that someone as gentle as him, even if he were to become cruel, he would probably just go around bullying little animals.”
“Caffey laughed. None of us could believe something that happened so long ago could possibly affect the present. Later on, Caffey didn’t change, and we were all relieved, so much so that we completely forgot everything about his coronation ceremony.”
“He changed, didn’t he?” Liola had guessed what probably happened.
“Yes, he changed.” Anise said with a dim voice, “I don’t know if he changed slowly,so we never noticed, or if he changed suddenly but hid it well.”
“When Gle appeared, Miluo and I actually both had doubts. But compared to the strange Gle, we willingly closed our eyes and ears, and blindly trusted the Caffey we had known for years.”
“But he really did change.” Anise’s eyes could no longer hold back the tears, “He really wasn’t Caffey anymore, just the Dragon Emperor. Miluo knew this well, and he chose to leave the Dragon Emperor. Miluo didn’t trust him, but I couldn’t leave, not only because he was my master, but also… how could I leave him?”
“It was me who chose him, it was me who caused him to eat his father’s heart, and the person who caused him to turn into what he is was all me.”
Seeing Anise crying, Liola had no idea what to do. He could only stand beneath the tree, and stared at her blankly while accompanying her.
With tears rolling down her face, Anise settled her eyes back on Liola,
“Sorry, Liola… The truth is, only half of Mocha’s prophecy was leaked. If it was just ‘Susanna’s son would kill the Dragon Emperor’, then perhaps I wouldn’t have saved you. Although Caffey had changed, I did not want him dead, nor would I save a child who would kill his father.”
“But the true prophecy was, you will kill the Dragon Emperor, but you will not succeed him. Instead, you would end the ambition passed down through generations in the Dragon Empire, and this was also the reason why the Dragon Emperor must kill you.”
Liola was speechless for a while, but there was something he must confirm, “I… really am the Dragon Emperor’s son?”
Anise firmly nodded, “Yes, you are the Dragon Emperor’s son, Lanski’s twin brother, and the youngest Prince of the Dragon Empire.”
Although many had already said so, Liola still had his doubts, he was even in denial, “But, Anise, you…”
“I am but an illusion, Liola.” Anise’s voice sounded close and far at the same time.
“When Susanna gave you to me, I knew if I continued to stay in that world, I couldn’t possibly protect you. To the Dragon Empire and the entire race of Dragons, the Emperor will always be more important than the Prince. If the Emperor requests, I will be forced to hand you over.”
Anise said slowly, “I took you to an alien world using the magic circle Gle had left behind.”
“After all, I’m not Gle. When I activated the magic circle to force my way through dimensions, my flesh had been destroyed, so I could only send my soul into the Dragon Cross Necklace.
“Even if you drifted into an alien world, you must still one day go back to end the Dragon Empire’s ambition. In order for you not to be killed the moment you go back, I began my plan twenty years ago. I put my consciousness in a girl, and at the same time changed the girl’s appearance to look like to your elder sister’s. Don’t under estimate me, to the Sacred White Dragons, predicting a baby’s future appearance is an easy task.”
“To help fool the Dragon Emperor, I even sealed my own memory, leaving behind only a bit of arrangements and indications so I could send myself to you properly in twenty years.”
“When you went back to your original world, the Dragon Emperor used the necklace as a vessel to examine your memory. He had initially believed the existence of Anise, and he wasn’t suspicious of anything until you released Miluo.”
Anise stopped, and did not breath another word. She quietly looked at Liola, as if she was waiting for him to ask something, and she knew he must have questions.
“So… everything was fake.” Liola said bitterly. Although he knew it probably was something like this, hearing Anise say it herself was still shocking to him.
Anise suddenly laughed playfully, “The Anise who met with the top Assassin didn’t know anything at all~. She wasn’t the Sacred White Dragon Bairui, nor did she remember you were a baby she held in her arms. It wasn’t until Anise had ‘died’, did Bairui live again.”
Liola raised his head to look at Anise. Though her expression was playful, her eyes still carried sadness.
She was no longer the Anise who was carefree and only cared about saving people. At that moment, Liola truly understood. Anise was really dead. The person in front of him was no longer Anise, but rather Baolilong’s mother, Bairui.
“Anise… is dead.” Liola finally accepted the truth now.
“Yes, Anise is dead.” Bairui nodded, while saying helplessly, “Bairui is about to die, too. In fact, Bairui had already died twenty years ago.”
“You…” Liola was very shocked. He didn’t think Anise… no, Bairui would say something like that.
“My broken soul had stayed for twenty years, I’m afraid there’s nothing else I could do.”
Bairui smiled lightly, “Gle made an interesting gamble, go look for him. Remember! Next month when the moon is full, take the Dragon Cross Necklace to Duanchang Cliff. I will activate the final dimensional door and send all of you back, I will also get Gle’s daughter back, this was my agreement with him.”
“Also, please save Miluo. His personality is too rash, and he actually ran to Caffey by himself. He is probably now completely controlled by the Emperor. Lancelot is different, however, he’s also under a hypnosis… Liola, remember, do not trust anyone who gets burnt by the Dragon Cross Necklace. No matter willingly or unwillingly, getting burnt by the necklace means they’re already under the control of the Dragon Emperor…”
After she talking, Bairui fell off the tree branch.
Liola wanted to go up to catch her, but someone beat him to it, Yandi quickly caught her, and quietly looked at Bairui.
Bairui seemed to have a genuine smile, “Little Dee, have you found a good husband? You have to have a dozen little cute babies.”
“I’m not a pig, a dozen is too much. I just want two, a boy and a girl…” Yandi complained, as if she couldn’t see Bairui’s closing eyes or purple lips.
“… I’ll call the boy Miluo, and the girl Bairui.” Two drops of tears dripped onto Bairui’s face.
Bairui closed her eyes completely, spitting out her final, broken words, “Miluo… Caffey…”
“Fine, I’ll have one more boy named Caffey…” Yandi lowered her head, and her voice began to crack. More and more tear drops fell on Bairui’s face, but she could no longer feel any of them.
The moon shone high above in the air. Strangely, a drizzle of rain fell despite the full moon. Perhaps it was the Assassin’s tears, or the Heroine’s tears, or perhaps it was both, intertwined…