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23 One year feels like an eternity

    "Has it really been one year?" Xue'er asked as she emerged from her seclusion and looked towards the beautiful daylight she yearned for.

    She was dressed entirely in loose dark gray robes that seemed to be too large for her thin body that was beneath the thick cloth, she had a small canvas bag hanging by the side that held her most needed items.

    Although the aura of her body had slightly changed, it became extremely deep and calming, but there was something sinister lurking within it.

    "Yes, it has only been twelve months, you came here at the beginning of fall last year and it is fall once again. What, you don't believe me? Take a look at the trees." Gan Tian Chi said pointing at the nearest tree.

    Xue'er looked towards the trees, which were turning golden, orange and red, ready to fall once more. It was the same last year. Xue'er held out her pale hand and a golden orange leaf landed in her palm. She brought the leaf closer to her lips and gave a gentle blow, and watched the leaf go back into the air, getting further and further away from the ground.

    "I believe you, it's just that it felt like it has been longer." She sighed as the leaf disappeared from sight.

    "Hmm... How long do you think you spent down there?" Gan Tian Chi asked he was anticipating an answer from her, hoping he would not get disappointed.

    "Not sure, it felt like a few centuries." She said, taking a fresh breath of the fall air that filled her lungs, curbing the sense of longing her body felt.

    [It felt like an eternity.]

    "Look at how young you are, do you even know what a century feels like?" Gan Tian Chi asked as he laughed at her. He was not disappointed in her answer, in fact, he was proud of her.

    Xue'er shook her head seriously, it seemed that she had taken his question to heart and gave a frank answer.

    An awkward silence ensued between the two, who was standing in the crevice of a deep valley.

    "Ahem." Gan Tian Chi cleared his throat "It is normal, it is the way your spirit perceives time, for some may feel like a year, and others, an eternity, it really doesn't matter." But he was proud of her.

    He looked at Xue'er's dark obsidian eyes that held no trace of a child her age. Her gaze was far too mature, overturning the years of experience he accumulated and shattering his beliefs.

    It had been a year since she had seen the light of day, since the day she was brought to this underground maze. She never thought that there would be a day when she would be yearning to see the daylight again.

    [When she was in the sunlight, she thought she would want to spend a lifetime in the darkness, but now that the sunlight was gone, she wanted to see it again.]

    [Desire is a strange thing.]

    In this year, since she had been brought to the underground maze, she had stayed in the darkness, mastering the eighteen weapons and building up her internal qi. Within the dark maze, she was unable to tell night from day in the real world. She felt that she had spent an eternity without seeing the light of day.

    Within this place, there seemed to be a sea of illusions, that was so real, she felt that it was really happening. Within this year, she felt as if she had been through thousands of battles. Those people that she fought with and killed felt so real. Even though it was said the place only an illusion, she truly felt that her life was in danger, whether she was battling in a one to one situation, or when the maze had sent millions of shadow soldiers after her.

    She didn't know who those shadow soldiers were, but she called them that, because they took the form of dark masses in the shape of a man, the swords they held were also black shadows. Although those shadow soldiers looked all in the same, she sensed the differences in the auras and techniques as they crossed each other's paths.

    [Why would the underground maze bother so much as to the detail of a shadow soldier's aura and techniques.]

    In this year, her inner qi had grown as deep as the boundless ocean and she had somehow built up a killing intent by practicing with the shadow soldiers.

    The underground maze felt like a heaven and a hell.

    After emerging from the from the underground maze, she only found out that only a single year had passed.

    She had expected that more time had passed before she emerged, but the results were unexpected.

    The mysterious underground maze was truly a mysterious place.

    "Gan Tian Chi, how do you know this?" Xue'er asked the man who still had an awkward expression on his face.

    She didn't call him master, because all he did was bring her to a mysterious underground maze that existed within the crevice of a forest valley and leave her at the entrance that she would enter, before resuming his travels.

    She felt that he was not living up to her expectations as her guardian. After all, her grandfather would rarely allow her to practice alone, but do it beside her.

    Although, she was once pushed into a valley of corpses alone for the purpose of learning, still, he would never leave her alone for such a long time.

    "I've been there before." Was the only thing he said before making his way up the valley.

    Xue'er quickly rushed to follow behind him. He did not use his lightness skills to make his way up effortlessly, instead deciding to go up the hard way, therefore she also did not try to make the walk easier, as they hiked up the side of the steep, rocky valley.
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