Elder Liu came by in the morning with breakfast on the tray. The breakfast was food I had seen before, mostly meat, eggs and some rice. You’d think that a sect like this would have fancy food or a feast prepared, but there was a saying that cultivators didn’t need to eat everyday like mortals do. They prefer taking pills over taking meals.
Elder Liu sat a respectful distance away from me while in the same room. She didn’t have fierce eyes, on the contrary she seemed to have discerning eyes that were trying to gather information about me and my mood.
“What are you trying to find out from me?” I ask to break the silence while chewing the food.
Somehow food tastes better when you’re hungry.
“How do you feel about your mother right now?” Elder Liu asked. “Are you thinking or dreaming about her?”
Thinking or dreaming about her? I reacted to the word dream because I had an inappropriate dream about her the last night. Not that I wanted to have a dream like that, but somehow that dream intruded my thoughts.
“Does she think I’m angry at her?”
“Yes, she knows she did wrong, but as a Sect Master she can’t apologize.”
Oh, the face and authority of a Sect Master must not be compromised bit. I get it. She can’t apologize, so she sends Elder Liu to smooth things over. Still, I remembered the words she gave me about wanting to improve her relationship with me. I find it odd that though she wants to improve her relationship with me, she has no desire to change.
“What do you want me to think about her?” I tried to remain nonchalant. “I mean, it’s not like I have a choice in how to think about her, do I? Even if I had dreams about her what would it matter? She just keeps imposing her own thoughts and expectations on me and doesn’t let me talk at all.”
Elder Liu sat there with her legs crossed across from me. This old woman was really trying her best for her beloved Sect Master. That was obviously where her loyalty lies, not with me. No one cares about a mortal and the only reason the Sect is putting up with me now is because there is some link between me and the curse that they’re not telling me and I’m sure of it.
“Do you feel that much resentment towards your mother?” Elder Liu seemed to concentrate on me trying to make me change my mind. “She is your birth mother, and you were conceived within her. You were born to her and even if she wasn’t the one who raised you she was still the one who gave you life and assigned resources from the Sect to protect you because she has those feelings of a mother towards you.”
No, it can’t be that simple. Sects like this normally don’t care about human life. Mom killed that girl for trying to approach me, and no one batted an eye. Sure, it shocked the girls there. Approaching me could get them killed, but no one in the Sect said anything about it and there was no commotion.
“Elder Liu, you told me before when I asked about my fate if I were to die, you said my mom would just feel sad for a bit, right?”
“That’s correct, the only reason you’re alive is because your mother loves you and wishes for your happiness.”
“If that’s the case, then wouldn’t it be better if I just died?” I asked this with no hesitation. “I’m sure you know now that I’m not happy at all, and if this curse is any indication, there is no happiness in my future either. I can’t marry, I can’t find a calling to work in life, and I can’t even have my own children. Those are the things I want the most, and those are the things that would make me happy and I can’t have them anymore. Instead, I’m here like a prisoner. If she loved me, then why doesn’t she let me end my life? Why not let me go instead of keeping me alive to suffer?”
Elder Liu tilted her head and widened her eyes. This was definitely a question she wasn’t expecting. I did a lot of thinking about life in my previous world, after all. When my parents died and I was aimlessly trying to figure out where to go from there, I asked a lot of questions about whether life would be worth living.
One of those questions centered on hope for the future. As long as there might be some hope of changing my life, I felt like I could keep going. As long as the goal was still within reach, there was no point in letting go. Now, however, things are different. There is no goal I can reach because I’m a prisoner, and there is a curse that directly affects my ability to do the things I want.
“You mustn’t have thoughts like those,” Elder Liu said.
“Why not? I have my mom, but I have nothing else after that. There is no hope for me to accomplish what I want in life and there is no way for me to move forward.” Honestly, I’m at the end of my rope here. “So why do I have to keep going? Wouldn’t it be better for me to end it all now and not go forward? Mom will get over my death eventually since she’s a cultivator and will live for countless years after I’m gone, so wouldn’t this also benefit her and the sect as well?”
I give her a smile.
“You don’t need me, the world doesn’t need me. I don’t need me. Let me go.”
“You’re not making sense, you’re simply trying to provoke me,” Elder Liu said. “I will talk with you later when you’ve settled down.”
Again avoiding the topic. She leaves with me there alone. I know there has to be something they won’t tell me, and their actions up to this point make little sense if everything they said was true. Shouldn’t they try to kill me if I was really such a burden to the Sect Master?
Also, the question about the dream. It was like she knew what I was dreaming and I’m not sure how to understand that.
Elder Liu walked into the room where Risless was meditating. When she sensed the Elder, Risless immediately opened her eyes. She wasn’t hopeful about everything that had happened so far.
“What was his response like?” Risless asked. “How did he feel about me?”
“He doesn’t seem to have any change in his attitude,” Elder Liu answered. “There is no difference between how he was before and how he is now. He still believes that there is much we are not telling him. His instincts about what is true and what is a lie is strong. Risless, you should just tell him the truth and let him decide as an adult.”
“No… I can’t…” Risless said. “You’ve mentioned this over and over, but I keep telling you I can’t. I can’t let him know the solution from the Progenitor. How will he look at me as his mother then? I already said some strange things to him in the heat of the moment and I’ve already noticed he has those complex emotions towards me.”
“Risless, this might be the only solution for the both of you.”
“Then how will our sect be viewed after? Such things are considered as defying the order of the heavens and the Sect will be attacked from all sides if that happens.”
“Keep it a secret then,” Elder Liu said. “Don’t let anyone know. We can silence those within our Sect and we can give Dong Chen a unique identity so he can hide and go about his life.”
“Then he won’t be by my side anymore,” Risless said. “I gave him up for over twenty years, I don’t want to give him up for any longer anymore!”
“Risless, now you’re being selfish.”
“I know, but I don’t want to give him up or let him go, he’s my son and I’m not ready for that. His life isn’t long, and he doesn’t have long to live as a mortal I can’t let him go anymore.”
Elder Liu went over to Risless side and put her arms around her. Risless was indeed troubled by everything that was happening. The development was difficult and there were so many complex emotions to where she would have a troublesome time understanding or explaining them all away.
It wasn’t a normal mother and son relationship, and the curse of the cultivation technique causes that.
“You just have to take it one day at a time and try to improve your relationship with him,” Elder Liu said. “If you can, even if it is something you are afraid of, you must one day tell him what the progenitor told you. You can’t hide that from him forever.”