Inside a modest room, one that looked oddly similar to the one in Guiren's memories, Daiyu could be seen lying motionlessly between two sheets. Her black hair smoothed out in strands around her pillow, and a bead of sweat rolled down her forehead. A damp cloth was placed on her forehead, and small puffs of warm air floated out between her pale lips. Every once in a while, her fingers twitched as her heavy eyelids began to flutter open.
Who was calling to her?
Daiyu's eyebrows creased at once, and her eyelids quivered as she gathered the strength in her arms. Pushing herself forward from her position, her body seemed to shudder under the strain of her muscles. Her eyelids blinked open, revealing her dull eyes. Her sights were quickly focused on the small boy in front of her.
Although Daiyu could see the figure in front of her, she still felt lost.
What was she looking for?
Why did she feel like it was someone else who had called out to her?
Nonetheless, she hastily cleared her head, ridding of any other thoughts. Daiyu flipped over the corner of the blanket off her body with a quick motion. Her fingers tensed on the wooden side of the bed, and she attempted to slide herself off. However, before she could even stand, the vision before her eyes appeared to have flashed white, and her body fell back. The world around her seemed to whirled in a single moment, yet Daiyu felt calm.
"Senior sister!" Huizhong looked alarmed as he tried to stop her fall.
All at once, a warm hand appearing out of the air seemed to press against her back, propping her up. Confused, Daiyu twisted her neck and happened to meet the eyes of her master.
"Shifu," Her words came out odd and raspy, but her master nodded nonetheless. The old man gently guided her back to the bed and poured out a stream of tea into a porcelain cup.
Holding it gingerly within his fingers, he delivered the cup of the hot liquid to Daiyu. Daiyu accepted it with both hands and sipped the tea. The steam seemed to rush up into her nose, clearing her mind as the tea rushed into her mouth, moistening her parched throat. She sighed.
However, in the eyes of the old man, it felt like something else. The sect master sighed, and the released breath was difficult to hear for the heart.
"When did I miss it?"
Her master's words were gentle but strangely withdrawn. Daiyu couldn't help tilting her head upwards to meet... sad eyes. Startled by the way he was looking at her, Daiyu couldn't help holding her breath.
She had seen those eyes before in her past life for a different reason. Why was she able to see those eyes again? The reason why she was trying so hard was to avoid seeing those eyes of his. The grey orbs seemed to hold years of regret and melancholy. What had she done wrong?
Her voice came out muffled but steady; a tone one wouldn't hear from someone so critically injured internally. While it should have brought assurance for the listener, it only seemed to bring more regret to the sect master.
"Was it me? Did I lead you down this road?" His voice was somewhat wistful, and his eyes drifted to the windows of the room. Daiyu blinked. What was he saying? Daiyu held her breath.
The sect master sighed, a fading breath could be seen escaping into the night air. It was heavy to hear, and Daiyu felt as if she was carrying a burden on her shoulders.
No one spoke after that, but with that one sigh, Daiyu seemed to have understood her master's regret.
Her master was both her guardian and mentor. He was a person who held her dearly in his heart and merely wanted her to have a good life. Even so, he also needed her to be more mature in order to handle the sect's matters if he left one day.
Within those two roles, there was no balance, and such conflicts with the two functions only seemed to lead to regret in the end.
Daiyu could not be both.
Even so, the old man was saddened by the very sight of her losing the pure heart of a child. There was no looking back. He never realized how much she changed. When did it happen? Was it when they had that disagreement?
Daiyu lowered her head.
She had her own conflicting thoughts.
She could no longer act like a child, it just wasn't there in her heart. Not to mention, she knew too much and no longer had a heart. Even if she wanted to act like one, it would not be right.
Where would she find the old her? Which one was the real her? The one who was childish and playful or the one who was ice cold with no emotions?
Finally, the old man lowered his eyes and turned to Daiyu. The note written by Guiren was tightly crumpled in his hands.
"Little Yu, what are you hiding from me?"