For some reason, Li Yao felt guilty and didn't dare to look at her in the eyes, fearing that she might see through the unsaid feelings in his heart.
"Why are you acting all weird? Not recovered from the protracted stay at Thunderous Sound Mountain yet?"
Ding Lingdang walked to Li Yao on the tips of her toes and lay down beside him. After stretching herself, she patted Li Yao on his back heavily as she said, "Good for you. Surviving ten days by yourself in the Thunderous Sound Mountain without being eaten by a demon beast. That's my boy!
"Are you done resting? Let's go down and start training if you are.
"During the three months while you were gone, I've been training by myself in the Billowing Star Sea. There was no one to practice boxing with. It was so boring that my bones were itchy, my meals were dull, and I couldn't sleep well. Haha. If you were delayed for a few days longer, I might've gone to the Dark Desolate Domain to find you."
Ding Lingdang said casually, showing no sign that she had cried in front of anyone.
Blinking his eyes, Li Yao said hesitatingly, "Sister Ling, why don't we just sit and talk here while we enjoy the beautiful view instead of going to the Billowing Star Sea?"
Ding Lingdang stared at him from head to toe for over half a minute, before she said in amusement, "That's not something the 'Vulture' often says. I remember that we used to spend every second we're together on training. Why are you changed after only three months?"
Li Yao scratched his hair. He smiled.
"I just thought that we never really had the chance to sit down and get to know each other although we've met for such a long time."
Ding Lingdang's mouth twitched.
"There isn't so much time for chitchatting! We can get to know each other by our fists. My fist, for one, knows your body pretty well."
She turned him down. But seeing Li Yao's disappointed face, she felt her heart was somewhat hurt. She blurted, "Alright, alright. You are totally absent-minded today. It will be no fun beating you up. Might as well gossip for a while. What do you want to talk about? Martial arts or magical equipment?"
Li Yao almost laughed.
"Can we talk about something else? For example, like, your parents? I'm curious about how a refiner of the military and a university teacher fell in love with each other."
Li Yao wanted to bite his tongue off the moment he let those words out.
There couldn't possibly be a worse topic! Where was his computational ability that he was so proud of?
But since the Pandora's box was already opened, Li Yao had no choice but to stare at Ding Lingdang waiting for an answer.
Li Yao felt sorry about the accident of Ding Lingdang's parents. But he also knew that it would be better to dig out and deal with the emotional trauma than to bury it deep down in her heart for the rest of their life.
Ding Lingdang's smile was frozen, before it melt half a minute later under Li Yao's enthusiastic look.
She took a long breath. Memories of long time ago came back to her. Her lips curled as she thought of something interesting.
After a while, she smiled.
"They met each other during a co-operation of the Grand Desolate War Institution and the military. My mother and I share the same temper. Straightforward and aggressive. She liked to travel to the depths of the Grand Desolate Plateau and fight the demon beasts there.
"Men around her often found her unbearable.
"My father was a mild, somewhat mundane, man. He was a typical refiner dwelling in the world of magical equipment all the time who had zero combat ability.
"At the beginning of the co-operation, they came across a very strong demon beast. My father was almost killed because of his lack of combat skills. My mother saved his life multiple times from the paws and teeth of the demon beast. But as a result, their mission was delayed.
"My mother was mad and got even madder seeing my father's dumb actions.
"Therefore, she went to my father whenever they were not occupied during the mission and taught him basic self-defense skills, in case he dragged the team down again.
"But according to my father, my mother was simply looking for more opportunities to pick on him.
"Anyways, that was how my mother and my father met. After the co-operation was over, my father came to the Grand Desolate War Institution for my mother whenever he had free time, claiming that he needed to learn more about the self-defense skills my mother taught him which he found extremely useful.
"My mother was innocent enough to believe that my father was really trying to learn the martial arts, so she taught him without being guarded against him. My father finally got a chance. Later, he even filed an application to the military to study martial arts in the Grand Desolate War Institution for half a year.
"Just like that, during the learning and teaching, my mother fell in love with my father as well. Haha!
"They loved each other very much. You've seen the two delicate puppets in my house, haven't you?
"Those are my father's masterpieces.
"Born in the Grand Desolate Plateau and serving in the military all the time, my father was kind of a grassroots refiner. He wasn't good enough to refine such exquisite magical equipment.
"But he spent all his spare time polishing one crystal stone after another and refining one component after another. Finally, he created those two wonderful puppets as a gift to my mother on their tenth wedding anniversary.
"He said that my mother was the high and mighty seven-colored parrot and he would be the little snake staying by her side and protecting her.
"But my mother laughed and said that he was too weak to protect her and that he should just stay at home and let his wife protect him."
No one had been bold enough to talk with Ding Lingdang about her parents.
She never had the opportunity to share their stories with other people either. Now that she started talking, she found herself hardly able to stop.
Lying with her head on her hands, she told Li Yao everything about her parents as stars shined warmly in the sky.
From the funny stories when her parents just fell in love, to the happy moments after she was born, and how her father taught her refining when she was just little girl.
Without her knowing, she was leaning close to Li Yao. Nor did she, who was excited by all the beautiful memories, notice Li Yao's weird face.
After talking forever, Ding Lingdang finally stopped, when her body was right next to Li Yao's. She licked her lips and said, "Hey, I've talked so much about myself. Don't just listen. Say something about yourself, too. Let me see Why don't you tell me how you became a refiner?"
Li Yao was dazed for a moment. The warmth in his eyes dispersed and didn't return until a while later. With a childish smile, he murmured, "When I was four or five, I was still struggling in the magical equipment graveyard.
"One day, I came across a Flying Music Box by accident.
"You know what a Flying Music Box is, don't you? It's like a little bamboo dragonfly that can float in the air and play beautiful music.
"The more advanced models could unleash a three-dimensional light beam that displayed music videos.
"To this day, I still remember clearly that the Flying Music Box I picked up could play four music clips with four different light beams, which were the sceneries of a peaceful forest in four seasons.
"Every night, I would listen to the music box and enjoy the seasonal change of the forest. That was my happiest moment in a day.
"At that time, I truly believed that there were gods in this world. Who else could create such amazing magical equipment other than gods?
"Later, I learnt that such magical equipment was crafted by 'refiners'. That's when I decided that I would be a refiner one day and make the best Flying Music Box in the world."
Li Yao laughed vainly. "But after I became a refiner, I never once refined civil magical equipment such as a Flying Music Box. What I refined has been nothing but weapons for battles and combat.
"Under the guidance of my father, I did try to refine a Flying Music Box before. But it was ugly and had imbalanced wings, which caused it to fall every time it flew for a while.
Ding Lingdang leaned close. "I never knew that small talk could be so much fun. Let me see what else I've got for you"
The two of them chatted and laughed, until stars over their head quenched one after another.
They both fell to sleep on the roof after they didn't know how long.
Li Yao was made of flesh and bones like anybody else. Three months of over-training in the Thunder Training Camp and ten days on the run in the Thunderous Sound Mountain had drained him.
During the days after he was rescued, he found his brain too excited to sleep however his body tried to even when he was placed in a deep sleep capsule.
Right now, lying beside Ding Lingdang and smelling her perfume, Li Yao felt that the burden on his mind had been removed and fell asleep easily.
When he woke up again, broad daylight was already shining on his face. The autumn sun was comfortable and cozy.
Coldness of the night couldn't do any harm to the Cultivators. Li Yao felt refreshed and vigorous as he could ever be. Even the world had become more beautiful in his eyes.
His left hand was numb. Then he realized that Ding Lingdang was taking his left arm as her pillow.
He swallowed and moved his hand.
Ding Lingdang seemed to have felt something. She frowned and crawled into Li Yao's arms, like a kitty scrambling to a warm shelter in coldness.
She moaned and muttered something.
Li Yao's heart was beating fast. He turned his ear to listen carefully, his earlobe almost kissing Ding Lingdang's burning lips.
Ding Lingdang repeated what she just said. This time, Li Yao got it loud and clear. It was
"Damn, you wusses. Faster! Faster! Run faster!"
Li Yao was stiffened.
With a shivering of her eyelashes, Ding Lingdang opened her eyes.
The dumb look on her face indicated that she was not fully awake yet. She stayed still for a long time, unwilling to get rid of the warmth around her.
It was not until half a minute later that her eyes went clear again. She jumped and stretched her arms. Then she combed her hair with her fingers, only to make it messier than before.
Ding Lingdang yawned comfortably. She was smacking her lips as she said, "That was a short night. It will be fun just chatting casually every once in a while. It's officially decided then. Let's spare one night for chitchatting every month, no, every fortnight, no, every week, what do you think?"