Ying ’s wrinkled body trembled briefly, his slit-like eyes that seemed to contain the essence of his age dimmed considerably. An unfathomably deep sigh left his trembling and fragile lungs. ”You should go then, ” Ying said. He turned his body and sought to re-enter his hut in peace.
In a few moments, he left.
Wei Wuyin didn ’t stop him. Instead, he turned his head to view the serene lake nearby. It was crystal clear, lacking a hint of purity. With a relaxed stride until he was directly at its side, looking down as he could see the very depths of the lake. He squatted down and sat beside the lakeside. His silver eyes observed the fishes that swam freely within the lake.
For several hours, he simply sat there. He hadn ’t said a single word or bothered the old man before. In fact, if one were to casually walk by, they might not even notice his existence.
Soon, the thatched hut ’s make-shift door squeaked after opening. An old man garbed in a fisherman ’s outfit, carrying a rod and a fold-out chair, walked out with a somber aura. He walked for a moment while carrying two buckets before pausing, his eyes noticing Wei Wuyin ’s quiet figure. A slight frown emerged between his brows before he walked forward and set up his fishing spot just a few meters away from Wei Wuyin.
Seemingly unbothered, Wei Wuyin just calmly kept staring at the fishes and faint ripples in the water. Just as Wei Wuyin ignored Ying, Ying ignored Wei Wuyin as he sat and sent his fishing line into the lake in a well-practiced manner.
From then on, Ying fished. In such a clear water lake, it was quite easy for cultivators to observe the movements, patterns, and current locations of the fish, but Ying remained silent and kept his eyes closed. He hadn ’t used any bait, simply a hook. For hours, he received no response.
After six hours, he retrieved his line and packed up before returning to his thatched hut. At the same time the next day, he would once again return to the lake and fish in the same manner. Despite his apparent skill, he seemed to have no intent to strive for a successful capture. In fact, he merely napped during and was rather neglectful.
For three full days, always at the same time, Ying performed the same task. As for Wei Wuyin, besides looking around, staring at the sun, or watching the fishes, he never once said a single word and merely sat there. His existence was at the bare minimum, affecting absolutely nothing.
On the fourth day, Ying brought his chair over and sat, his eyes glancing at Wei Wuyin briefly. Since this young man had arrived, he had only spoken two sentences. This stroked the old man ’s curiosity, and it was set further ablazed by his odd actions. What was he trying to achieve? Did he really think he would accept him as a shadow? Whatever that meant.
”Young man, you ’re wasting your time being here. You should spend your time cultivating or enjoying your life rather than being here. ” Ying ’s tone tried to contain a sense of an advising elder. He didn ’t directly ask Wei Wuyin what he wanted, because he wasn ’t sure he wanted the answer.
Wei Wuyin ’s silver eyes shifted slightly, moving directly towards the fishes that swam freely. He said, ”Do you think fish know that their world is forever limited? That they are in a cage, unable to escape? ”
”… ” Ying frowned, unsure of what Wei Wuyin was trying to get at. Was he trying to observe these fishes to obtain some form of enlightenment or something? He took a moment, his eyes observing the fishes that seemed to be swimming as they wished. ”What is their cage? ” This question was one of his first thoughts, and he didn ’t know why he asked.
”The water, the lake, the continent, their bodies, their breadth of mind, their own intelligence, none of this…all of this? ” Wei Wuyin quietly responded.
Ying shook his head after a momentary thought, ”Do you think you know that your world is forever limited? That you are in a cage, unable to escape? ” He repeated Wei Wuyin ’s question, but threw it back at him, implying his own limits.
Wei Wuyin grinned slightly, ”You ’re perfect. ”
”Perfect? ” Ying was immediately confused. This young man was confusing in both his words and actions.
Wei Wuyin sat up and stretched his arms and legs a bit, revealing his excellent physique from the robes that tugged briefly against his muscles. ”I want you to join me; I want you to become my shadow. ”
Ying was a man who had lived a life for others, killing for others, and he had grown tired of that life and merely wished to wash away his sins slowly until his inevitable and closely approaching death date. He obtained Shadow Intent, a very rare Ethereal Intent that allowed him to establish his name and reputation after decades of work. From this, he felt that Wei Wuyin was just another person who wanted to use him for their own goals.
As for this ’become my shadow ’ business, it was ridiculous.
”Why do you do it? ” Wei Wuyin abruptly asked.
Ying wasn ’t someone who generally liked having company, and he felt this interaction was pointless, but Wei Wuyin kept driving his interest forward. He blurted out, ”Do what? ”
”Why do you try to save others? ” Wei Wuyin moved his fingers and a pebble was created within his palms. With a casual toss, he sent it skipping over the lake four times before it sunk.
”… ” Ying stilled. His eyes narrowed as he focused on Wei Wuyin. ”Why does it concern you? ” His tone grew a little darker. His past was filled with shameful and vile events, and he despised his own memories. If he could, he would scrub it all, but to have a random stranger question his actions brought up unpleasing flashes.
”I ’ll be direct: You ’re seeking redemption. I ’m offering you a chance at it. ” Wei Wuyin decided to not beat around the bush. He had long since learned a little about Ying, and while his past wasn ’t very clear, his reputation was a renowned assassin was exceptional. His cultivation base wasn ’t impressive, merely at the Seventh Stage of the Qi Condensation Realm, the Sublime Qi Phase, yet he had killed an Astral Core Realm cultivator before. While it was merely a First Stage Astral Core Realm cultivator, the feat was impressive nevertheless.
Very few assassins could achieve such a result. It would be like an ant killing a bull, but he accomplished it!
”…I don ’t want it. ” Ying said, a wisp of coldness within.
”You ’re right. You don ’t want it; you need it. ”
Ying stilled. Those words reached his heart and caused it to inadvertently race. He went silent for a long while, his thoughts a mystery, but his hands were clenched tightly into fists.
”In our starfield, the general consensus of evil is mostly agreed upon. Do you know what evil is? ” Wei Wuyin calmly gazed at Ying, his silver eyes shone with a mysterious light that reflected Ying ’s silhouette. Within his pupils, Ying ’s figure was drawn and contained.
Ying lifted his head and met Wei Wuyin ’s eyes. He felt a surging pressure descend upon his mind, soul, and thoughts. In a brilliant flash, he felt that his entire world had changed into a blank slate of white. A brief glance around and he felt as if everything about him, his past, was swept away.
Subconsciously, he looked to his palms and came to a startling realization! His hands which were wrinkled and carried a trace of death had returned to its youthful smoothness, color, and brimmed with plump vigor. He touched his face, immediately feeling its smoothness with his hands.
”What did you do to me? ” He asked in utter disbelief. Did he somehow return to the past? Where was this? An illusion? Was this the afterlife?
Wei Wuyin asked again, ”Do you know what evil is? ”
Ying froze. After a deep breath, he responded: ”Me. ”
He had been responsible for the death of his entire family…
Just as this thought emerged in his thoughts, the white surroundings swirled into a lively set of colors and shapes. They solidified and he found himself existing within a memory. It was the memory of that moment, the moment that caused it all.
His younger self was surrounded by bodyguards and stooges, and his arrogance was high. He felt as if he was invincible and ruled the world, and whatever he wanted, he could have! A young man and his female companion arrived, and this woman was an exceptional beauty.
He sought to pursue her, but was gated by her kindness. They tried to avoid him, which harmed his ego and forced him to make one mistake after another until that young man descended and tried to kill him. His bodyguard and stooges intervened, but they were slaughtered. He survived, ran away, and pleaded to his family for revenge.
How dare that woman reject him! How dare that young man lift a hand against him!
They, enraged at his near-death experience, hunted the young man responsible. In two years, a series of misfortunate events later, and that young man had the power to slaughter everyone. He had to beg for his life. The moment that he had kneeled and begged for mercy after seeing his grandfather horrifically die, who was his pillar of safety and support, was relived by him at this moment.
He saw the moment his snot and tears flowed ceaselessly as he begged on his knees to be let off, apologizing with his everything. His lowest point in life was here.
The young man gave him a choice: to cripple himself or die.
In a moment of hope, he did so. He was nearly turned into an invalid, but he retained his life.
The memories flashed as he smiled and thanked the young man for his ’benevolent ’ leniency. However, the damage was done. His family ’s fortune and high-level protection was over as they were soon ransacked and raided by their enemies, resulting in the inevitable eradication of his family. Those who slaughter his family to the last even spared him in the end, allowing him to live on with mocking laughter and jeering smiles.
The scene grew fuzzy as he soon returned to a world filled with white emptiness, with only Wei Wuyin ’s tall and handsome figure remaining before him.
At the moment, Ying ’s face was wet with tears. He didn ’t have an expression of crying, but his tears flowed endlessly.
”Do you know what evil is? ”
Those words echoed once more, and he bit his lips.
He had killed infants…
The scene changed to the moment he met his first infant, one which was abandoned at an orphanage. They weren ’t very protected and those who operated it was negligent and incompetent, so with a brief plan, he infiltrated and found a lovely two-month old boy.
He saw his dirty, smelly, and broken self grasp the body as if it was the most precious treasure. He absconded away with the baby in his arms.
Later that night, he executed the Evil Method obtained later that week and fed on its warm blood. The cries that were rampant and then abruptly ceased haunted his life even to this day.
In a flash, he returned to a world of whiteness. His body couldn ’t stop trembling as he lifted his youthful hands and saw them rapidly age, covered in blood that dripped without end. His lips trembled and his nose looked as if it had smelled something sour.
Wei Wuyin ’s figure was still present. ”Do you know what evil is? ”
”Ahhh! ” Ying screamed. He bared his teeth and hands like claws as he snarled at Wei Wuyin. ”I get it! I ’m evil! I ’M EVIL! I DESERVE PUNISHMENT!! I DESERVE A HORRIBLE DEATH!!! I…I… ” He fell to his knees with a heavy thud, closing his eyes as he felt his memories overtake his mind. Everything he felt on those days was his evil.
The world flashed once more, changing into different shapes and colors causing Ying to shout like a frantic monkey. ”Stop! I GET IT! ”
But his words couldn ’t stop the scene from changing. On a rainy day, the squeals, cries, and grunts of a young woman were drowned out. She was drenched, a tall, bulky man pressed her down to the ground with a hot gaze.
”Pl-PLEASE! Stop, stop, please stop! ”
A head flew into the sky.
The blood no longer drowned out screams of terror and pleading, but the thud of a headless corpse. It fell atop the woman who pushed it off her, regaining her bodily freedom as she was confused, but after a moment, she ran away. She never looked back.
From the rain, a shadow flickered into existence and formed a desolate figure with cold eyes and a sanguine blade.
The world changed until it became white. The next sequence of events displayed all of Ying ’s actions, his numerous acts of interference as he sought redemption for his hands. It was numerous, spanning over two hundred or so years.
”Do you know what evil is? ” Wei Wuyin ’s voice resounded one last time, causing Ying to still. He looked at those silver eyes of his and felt unsure, confusion in his eyes. In a blink, he returned back to his original self, the wrinkled and near death version of himself. The lake, fishes, suns, and sky returned.
”While others might be of a different opinion, my personal belief of Evil is rather simple: Evil acts without a purpose. Evil acts for the sake of one ’s own interest or enjoyment. Evil regrets nothing even in death.
”It is vile, emotionless, and selfish. It isn ’t wrong, but it certainly isn ’t right. It permeates the world we live in, inseminating itself into our hearts, but our hearts naturally reject it. Those who accept it, they are, to my belief, Evil.
”You, to me, are not Evil. You ’ve acted with a purpose. You acted against your own conscience, self-interest, your own heart for the sake of this purpose. You regret everything. ” Wei Wuyin calmly said, his words spoken in a leveled cadence. They caused Ying to open his eyes, revealing a black unlike anything in this world, reflecting everything within.
”I offer you a chance at redemption. One where you can save lives, without taking them. A legacy that will result in countless changes to our world and ripple beyond what you could ever imagine, all in your name. It is yours, if you want it. ” Wei Wuyin stated.
In the mind of Ying, there was a storm within. He recalled Wei Wuyin ’s first sentence, and he felt as if he was the fish in the lake, limited and restricted in manners he hadn ’t even conceived of. He didn ’t know what this redemption was, or why he trusted anything this young man said, but he opened his eyes and saw a ray of hope. Not in death, but in redemption.
”What do you want? ” Ying slowly asked.
Wei Wuyin smilingly said, ”For you to be my ’Shadow ’. For as long as you do so, so will your chance at redemption remain. ”
Whether he was accepting the deal with a devil or an angel, he wasn ’t sure; nevertheless, he wanted, no, needed to try.
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