Li Yao was quite interested in his wife’s experiences in the Nether World Sector. He was about to pay with an anonymous crystal card and read on when he sensed somebody breathing and chuckling next to him. Frowning, he exited the Half-Step Grand Illusionary Land state, only to discover that Long Yangjun was looking at him mischievously, leaning against the shell of the reading cabin he was in.
“A… very strong woman.” Long Yangjun was quite amazed by Ding Lingdang’s image on the promotional picture, in which she was grabbing a giant sword with both hands that were covered in a pair of crystal gloves, with some of her crimson hair leaking out of the hood. She blinked at Li Yao and said, “I can’t admire you more now. It never occurred to me that I was faced with such a legend among legends, ‘Monster Li’!”
“Where are they?” Li Yao craned his neck and looked around.
“Don’t worry,” Long Yangjun said. “They are all too fascinated by the jade chips to care about anything else right now. You wouldn’t be able to get them out even if you pulled them with nine bulls or beat them with sticks.”
“What about you? Why are you not reading the books like they are?” Li Yao tried to change the topic.
“I am as fascinated as them!” Long Yangjun said with a smile. “However, it is my opinion that the best way to learn about a country and a civilization quickly is to browse through the biographies of celebrities, in order to know what kind of brilliant, extraordinary figures have emerged during the rise of the civilization. That’s why I’m here and how I ran into you. Shouldn’t I say hello?”
“The hello has been said,” Li Yao snapped. “Anything else?”
“There is indeed something not very important,” Long Yangjun said. “I have picked out a bunch of biographies, but I’m wondering if some of them are simply based on rumors and groundless stories. In that case, wouldn’t I be wasting my time to read them?
“As it happens, you are right here. Help me check if those books are full of bullsh*t!”
She handed over a few jade chips and activated the advertisement on the first jade chip. The name of the biography in the jade chip popped up.
‘He Changed the Federation: A Biography of Li Yao’.
Right above the title was a young man who was resolute and determined. Fierce flames were beaming out of his eyes, giving everybody the impression that he was a visionary man with the charisma of a leader. He was resting his hands on his hip while he stared at the infinite brilliant stars.
“…” Li Yao.
“Look, look!” Exclaiming in astonishment, Long Yangjun touched a corner of the picture, and it immediately changed from the cover to the title page.
On the title page, with the deep, dark universe as the background, there was a dazzling line that seemed to be written with lightning.
“Every one of us is a star. If we burn, the universe will never be dark. – Li Yao”
“I really can’t hold back my admiration for you anymore. It never occurred to me that not only can you awe the two toughest women in the federation, you are also capable of such philosophical speech. According to the traditions of this world, I’m almost inclined to ask for your autograph!”
“… Well, I really don’t remember speaking in such a pretentious way before.”
“Really?” Long Yangjun raised an eyebrow and changed to a different jade chip. “What about this one? ‘999 Life Lessons Li Yao Offered to the Young Cultivators Before He Left’?”
“Well. I don’t think I’ve heard about it before.”
“You can’t be serious. Are the offspring so shameless as to fabricate and exaggerate the nonexistent stuff? What about this one?” Long Yangjun took out a third jade chip. “‘Romance of the Old Federation: Li Yao and His Women’. Wow. This book is rather shocking. It claims that you and your disciple Jin Xinyue are in an ambiguous relationship. That’s why Ding Lingdang and Jin Xinyue are at loggerheads with each other. The competition of Skyfire and the Patriots Front, two major forces in the federation, boils down to the competition over a husband between the two women!
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Although the book sounds ridiculous and not worth reading, now that you are here in person, I think that I’d better check it with you first. It can’t be true, right, Monster Li?”
“… No comment!”
“So, are you saying that it is true?”
“Hehe. You’re finally admitting that you are Vulture Li Yao, the legendary dominator of the three Sectors and one of the founding fathers of the federation, right?”
“I don’t know about the dominator of the three Sectors, but it’s true that I am Vulture Li Yao. Is there a problem?”
Long Yangjun blinked. “Huh. I feel that you have changed into a different person after returning to this place. You are more and more like ‘Monster Li’ right now. It seems to me that you are no longer worried that your identity will be exposed!”
Looking at Ding Lingdang’s image on the advertisement of the jade chip in his hands and the covers of Jin Xinyue’s biographies that were everywhere to be seen not far away, Li Yao put on a confident and casual smile. “I wandered in the sea of stars for almost a hundred years and went through so much trouble before I found the Ancient Sages Sector. To be honest, I was indeed a bit worried at that time, not knowing what exactly had happened in the federation during the hundred years.
“Did the unification of the Heaven’s Origin Sector, the Blood Demon Sector, and the Flying Star Sector go well? Were the demons really willing to be transformed into human beings? Would other human beings discriminate against the people with the bloodline of the demons? Was Ding Lingdang capable of intimidating the radical, extreme fellows in the Patriots Partnership? Would the expedition army of the Imperium arrive in advance and begin to savage my motherland?
“At that time, I didn’t have any answers to those questions!
“At that time, I thought that the fate of the federation was on my shoulders and that my every action would decide the federation’s future. Therefore, I was often hesitant because of those concerns.
“However, now that I have come back to my hometown, I’ve realized that while the Star Glory Federation today is not a perfect country, and despite all the problems here, it is still much better than what I imagined. Ding Lingdang, Jin Xinyue, and all the other citizens of the federation are all working hard in their own way!
“Just now, when I watched Ding Lingdang travelling in the world of the deceased on her own, accomplishing something great that I might not have been able to achieve myself, I finally figured it out.
“Maybe I am not as important as I thought.
“The future of the federation can’t and shouldn’t be decided by myself but by me; Ding Lingdang; Jin Xinyue; and countless warriors, citizens, and ordinary people together. Even if some of us make a mistake on a certain plan, it is still not going to stop the rise of the federation!
“I firmly believe that the Star Glory Federation will show you her strength and hope, which will prompt you to make the right decision. Then, does it really matter what my real identity is and whether or not it is exposed?”
Long Yangjun’s mischievous expression was somewhat frozen, as if a certain delicate camouflage was shattered by Li Yao’s powerful speech. Confusion and hollowness were flowing out of the tiny gaps.
After a long hesitation, she finally sighed softly. “I suddenly find that I am very jealous of you. Hehe. Jealousy. Another emotion that I have never experienced before. A very amazing feeling.”
Li Yao was slightly dazed. “What makes you jealous of me?”
“I’m jealous that you have so many friends, family, and compatriots whom you are willing to fight for without caring about anything. In return, most of them are also willing to fight for you without bothering about anything else, right? I have already skimmed through one of your tales in the ‘Riot of Patriots’. If it isn’t exaggerated too much, that must’ve been a very thrilling experience.”
Long Yangjun turned the jade chip of ‘Li Yao and His Women’ over and over in her hands before she said, “You slept in the universe for a hundred years, but the moment you return home and see your family and friends, you have already absorbed tremendous strength from them!
“But what about me?
“I have slept for at least hundreds of thousands of years. Did I have my family, friends, and compatriots hundreds of thousands of years ago? I think I certainly did, but today, I’m afraid that they are already long gone, now dust in the cosmos.
“You have been asking me what my purpose is. That’s exactly what I’ve been asking myself. What am I going to do now that I’ve awakened? However, whatever my purpose and destiny is, even if I do accomplish it, my past family, friends, and compatriots won’t be able to see them, right? So, what’s the point?
“I fear that I will never be able to fight for my family, friends, compatriots, and civilization wholeheartedly just like you, to hesitate for them, to worry for them, to cheer for them, to be overjoyed by them!
“Don’t you think that I should be jealous of you?”
Li Yao was dazed, not expecting that Long Yangjun would express so many of her feelings.
After pondering for a moment, he extended his hands to Long Yangjun and sincerely said, “As you have seen, the Star Glory Federation today is not an isolated country but an open and tolerant universal civilization. Whoever is willing to guard the spirit of the federation can be taken as a citizen of the Star Glory Federation!
“I don’t care what kind of destiny is on your shoulders. However, before I find valid proof that calls for my suspicion for you, I am willing to regard you as a… friend, an ‘interstellar comrade’. I believe that the federation will be open for you, too.
“If you are willing to, you can totally consider the Star Glory Federation your new motherland, where you can find new friends, family, and targets that are worth protecting and fighting for at the cost of anything!
“Your destiny from hundreds of thousands of years ago… Maybe it doesn’t matter at all even if it cannot be realized, right?”
While Li Yao was speaking that, his head suddenly ached.
Two words that had not haunted him for a long time popped up again like a ghost.
Long Yangjun stared at Li Yao thoughtfully for a long time. Not finding the slightest pretension on Li Yao’s face, she could not help but chuckle. “You’ve earned one point for what you said just!”
Li Yao was dazed again. “One point? One point for what?”
“You will know what it is later. Now, let’s just focus on our books!”
“Later? What do you mean? Hey, why are you still reading ‘Romance of the Old Federation: Li Yao and His Women’? I already said that it is pure garbage!”