Chapter 243 – The Boy and the Man
After jogging together for the last three years, Tang Wulin and Ouyang Zixin had become good friends. She was now in the advanced department, and though not as talented as Mu Xi, after graduating she’d get into a higher level school without a cinch. According to Mu Xi, Ouyang Zixin was a gifted mecha designer and prime new blood that many advanced academies were hoping to scout.
Lacking the nerve to walk through the front door of the girls’ dormitory, Tang Wulin snuck in through the back. With no one in sight, he scaled the wall with his Bluesilver Grass to a third-floor window.
The window was wide open, ready for Tang Wulin to slide into.
It led to a washroom. Luckily, it was seldom occupied throughout the day.
Ouyang Zixin was waiting for him. Seeing Tang Wulin land with the grace of a cat, she couldn’t help but laugh. “Oh you! You’re getting better and better at this! Don’t go philandering too much when you grow up.”
Tang Wulin blushed to the roots of his hair and rushed his words, “Big sis Zixin, don’t tease me like that. How is my senior disciple sister?”
Ouyang Zixin said, “She’s been tiger-faced the last few days. She’s so glum! Speaking of which, you’re leaving so suddenly. I never expected that that boy back then would take the Shrek entrance exam so soon.”
When they had first met, Tang Wulin had been no more than a boy. But now, they were the same height.
Shrek Academy was the land of dreams for all soul masters. She knew she didn’t have a chance, but when she saw the little brother she jogged with everyday prepare to take the entrance exam, frustration plagued her heart. If he was accepted, then the gap between them would widen.
Tang Wulin smiled, the apples of his cheeks dyed a delicious pink. “It’s not certain if I’ll pass yet. If I don’t I’ll just come back here!”
A smile tugged at the corner of Ouyang Zixin’s mouth. “I believe in you, and so does your senior disciple sister! Why else would she be so depressed?”
Tang Wulin was stunned. He had never considered this.
“Let’s go. I’ll bring you over.” Ouyang Zixin retrieved a coat from the side and placed it over his body.
Tang Wulin blushed at their proximity when she put it over him, her fragrance making him redder.
To the general student population, class zero had long since faded into the backdrop, with sightings of its students as rare as that of seeing a unicorn. However, that didn’t stop the two’s early morning routine.
Perhaps what Xie Xie had said back then was true; inside every man’s heart was a pretty senior sister. Ever since they’d met, Tang Wulin looked forward to seeing her. She was both beautiful and gentle, always looking after him like a big sister.
However, the two rarely shared a meal. If there was one thing she couldn’t handle, it would be Tang Wulin’s bottomless pit of a stomach.
Because his return was uncertain, he had come to bid Mu Xi and Ouyang Zixin farewell on the eve of his departure.
“Big sis Zixin, are you still going to jog every day?” Tang Wulin asked as he adjusted the hat.
Ouyang Zixin was taken aback, lashes fluttering as her eyes widened just a tad. “I will. I’ll have no choice but to jog all alone.”
After a moment of silence, Tang Wulin resolved himself. “Big sis Zixin, I like you.”
A pause. She was taken off-guard by his sudden confession, but a sweet smile soon blossomed on her lips. “You foolish boy, big sis likes you too!”
Tang Wulin didn’t explain himself. He knew that his ‘like’ and hers were different, but try as he might, he didn’t know how.
Once they arrived at a door, she jabbed her finger toward it, whispering into his ear, “Go in. She’s inside. Don’t tell her I was the one who brought you here! I’m going to leave now.”
“Mn. Thank you big sis Zixin.” Tang Wulin pushed open the door and entered.
As Ouyang Zixin watched it close, emotions warred within her like a storm, trembling, mystifying. She did like Tang Wulin. He was cute, handsome, and talented. Who wouldn’t have a soft spot for him?
Although Tang Wulin never bragged to her, the fact that he was in class zero spoke for itself. She had heard from Xu Xiaoyu how amazing class zero was and how Tang Wulin, sweet little Tang Wulin, was actually the team captain.
It’s a pity he’s so young. I can’t like a boy that much younger than me.
Girls matured earlier than boys. There was no way she didn’t understand the meaning in Tang Wulin’s confession. Even so, she could only pretend to be ignorant. If not, it might affect their friendship.
“You’ll definitely find a girl suitable for you in the future. If only I was four or five years younger, then maybe I would have snatched you up. I wish you the best on your path.” Without saying goodbye, Ouyang Zixin turned around and left, pretending the glistening tears rolling down her delicate cheeks were just a figment of a dream.
Inside of the room.
Mu Xi stood by the window, peering through the clear glass with her hands in her pockets.
She was tall for a girl. In fact, even if Tang Wulin had a growth spurt now, he probably wouldn’t be able to beat her.
“Zixin?” Mu Xi asked deadpan.
Tang Wulin stopped in place, calling out in a soft tone, “Senior disciple sister.”
Mu Xi spun around. She was stunned upon seeing him, but schooled her features into a mask of indifference. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you going to Shrek Academy? Shouldn’t you be preparing? How did you even sneak into the girl’s dormitory?”
“Just go. It would be bad if you’re discovered. I don’t want to see you either,” Mu Xi said coldly.
Tang Wulin forced a smile, though it might be more accurate to call it a grimace. “Senior disciple sister, I’m really leaving. I’m here to say goodbye. You can be assured that I will never forget my blacksmith roots. If I don’t pass, then I’ll return. And even if I do make it I won’t slack on blacksmithing. I’ll come visit you and Teacher whenever I can.”
Mu Xi didn’t interrupt him again. Instead, she swallowed him with her stare, eyes filled and trembling with unknown emotions.
Tang Wulin continued speaking under her gaze. “Senior disciple sister, thank you for looking after me these last few years. I’ll take my leave now then.”
He bowed to her before turning around to leave her room, footsteps trailing behind him.
After closing the door gently, he was surprised to find that the hallway was empty. Ouyang Zixin was already gone. He let out a breath of relief. Senior disciple sister’s gaze is so heavy!
When his presence no longer lingered, Mu Xi’s cold gaze thawed, turning into tears.
That brat! He’s really leaving!
Since the very beginning, Tang Wulin had been a boy in Ouyang Zixin’s mind, but for Mu Xi, it was different. To her, he was a young man.
This change in perception transpired three years ago when Tang Wulin led her along with his forging rhythm during the Skysea Alliance Tournament.
It was only after that experience did her talents blossom, elevating her to the level of a first-rate genius.
It hadn’t left a deep impression on her at the start. Yet as time went on and she mulled over her thoughts, she felt as if she had been protected and blessed by him. Despite being so much older than him, she felt at ease in his presence.
Since then, it was as if the shackles chaining her back were broken; Mu Xi made quick progress in her forging with Tang Wulin. She was now a fourth-rank blacksmith. She was capable of first-grade thousand refining.
According to Mu Chen’s original estimates, such progress should have taken her five years!
Ever since she was small, Mu Chen had hammered into her head the shape of humility. She was talented, but there were always those more brilliant than her. However, as she honed her craft together with Tang Wulin, her father began giving her more guidance.
He gave me all of this, but now he’s leaving. He’s leaving for Shrek City.
The day she found out, she approached her father in tears, begging him to make Tang Wulin stay.
Mu Chen answered her, “Tang Wulin doesn’t belong in this small pond. His future is among the sea of stars.”