Danzhu observed Bihua Lingjun’s expression and found it quite satisfactory.

Bihua Lingjun’s expression was clearly dazed, yet his gaze couldn’t help but linger on the mirror.

Danzhu leaned towards Bihua Lingjun, his arm wrapped around Bihua Lingjun’s, and he placed his hand on the mirror’s handle. The mirror immediately emitted a shimmering rainbow light, and the reflection on its surface changed once again.

It seemed to be the same wutong tree as before, with the bird’s nest still intact. However, the nestling inside had transformed its appearance. No longer a fluffy bundle, its feathers had grown to reveal a vibrant crimson color. However, its tail remained bare, and its beak had a hint of tender yellow.

Leaning closely against Bihua Lingjun’s shoulder, Danzhu smiled and said, “This one is slightly older than the previous one. It can already fly.”

The young phoenix in the mirror hopped to the edge of the nest, tilting its head to look into the distance. Its neck feathers were still downy, its eyes were still watery, and it looked lively and bright.

Danzhu modestly remarked, “When they grow larger, they may not be as adorable as when they were younger, but they can still pass.”

At that moment, a drop of dew from a leaf in the mirror fell onto the head of the young phoenix. It immediately closed its eyes, shook its head, and Bihua Lingjun, holding the mirror, involuntarily blurted out, “Not… not like that.”

Danzhu made a nonchalant sound but remained unfazed.

The young phoenix flapped its wings and took flight. Its wings had only just grown, so it flew unsteadily and not very high, zigzagging at about the height of a tree. There were a few instances where it seemed it would collide with the tree, causing Bihua Lingjun’s heart to clench with anxiety.

After a while, it managed to fly out of the forest. The young phoenix hovered in the open sky, suddenly burst into flames, and shot forward like a stone flung from a slingshot.

Danzhu commented, “Ah, during that time, I had already mastered some basic divine techniques, but I didn’t dare use them in the forest. I was afraid of setting the trees on fire or crashing into them. So, I only used them outside the forest.”

Bihua Lingjun’s gaze remained fixed on the mirror, his response vague. Danzhu smiled lightly and moved even closer.

In the mirror, the young phoenix had flown quite far and reached the side of a rocky mountain. Below the mountain was the vast sea, with waves crashing against the rocks, splashing like scattered silver before receding. The young phoenix circled above a slope on the rocky mountain, seemingly searching for a place to land. Suddenly, it seemed to have spotted something and landed on a stone.

Danzhu realized that something was amiss as he had just obtained the mirror not long ago, and his control over its ability to revisit the past was not yet perfect. Thus, it unintentionally reflected something that shouldn’t have been seen.

However, it would be too obvious to stop the reflection at this point, so Danzhu had no choice but to let the scene in the mirror continue.

After landing on the stone, the young phoenix hopped forward. Bihua Lingjun saw a small grassy nest nestled in a crack not far from the young phoenix. Inside the nest, a small and plump baby dragon was fast asleep.

Danzhu couldn’t help but admit that when it came to the younger age, even this old fellow, Fuli, looked quite appealing.

The baby dragon’s scales had yet to fully develop, its skin a smooth and vibrant shade of blue-green. It had two small bumps on its head instead of fully formed horns. With its four tiny claws, it tightly embraced a smooth round pebble, sleeping blissfully.

Bihua Lingjun stared at the baby dragon, his gaze filled with enthusiasm, and a faintly indulgent smile appeared on his lips.

The baby dragon’s plump belly rose and fell with each snore. Bihua Lingjun’s fingers couldn’t help but brush against the mirror, as if he wanted to touch its belly.

Danzhu discreetly observed Bihua Lingjun’s fingers, keeping his composure.

The young phoenix crouched on the stone, peering at the soundly sleeping baby dragon. Then, it flapped its wings and suddenly transformed into a child of seven or eight years old.

By now, the resemblance to the present-day Danzhu could be seen in the child’s features. Exquisite and beautiful, the child wore a fine crimson robe. Rolling up their sleeves, they approached the slumbering baby dragon cautiously. From an unknown place, the child produced a feather and poked the dragon’s nose with it.

The baby dragon let out a heavy snort, rubbing its nose against the smooth pebble in its embrace but remained soundly asleep.

The young phoenix smiled mischievously, revealing its teeth, and continued to poke and prod the dragon’s nose with the feather.

Danzhu cleared his throat and said, “Well, Qingxi, when I was young, I was a bit mischievous. Everyone tends to be like that when they’re young, and looking back, it’s rather endearing, don’t you think?”

Bihua Lingjun did not respond. He watched as the young phoenix teased the baby dragon with the feather, causing it to sneeze repeatedly. Eventually, after a particularly strong sneeze, the baby dragon forcefully opened its eyes, waking up.

Once the culprit was identified, the baby dragon became furious. A streak of green light flashed, and it also transformed into a boy of about seven or eight years old. Rolling up his sleeves, he lunged at the young phoenix, and they immediately tumbled into a fight.

They exchanged punches and kicks, displaying comparable strength. After a while, both of them had swollen faces and bruised noses. The baby dragon grabbed the young phoenix’s sleeve, tearing off a piece of fabric. With a casual toss, the fabric transformed into a cluster of feathers, floating in all directions.

The young phoenix, in turn, bathed in a burst of red light, reverting to its chick form. It flew into the air and exhaled a burst of flames, sweeping towards the baby dragon.

The dragon transformed back into its dragon form, spewing a mist that extinguished the phoenix’s fire. Then it shook its head, and with a snap, it emitted a lightning bolt, striking directly at the young phoenix. The two young future emperors continued their fierce battle in mid-air.

Danzhu said, “Children always seem to enjoy fighting. When they grow up, they no longer engage in such activities.” As he spoke, the mirror shimmered, and the reflection changed once again. “Look at this moment. They are older and more composed compared to before.”

In the mirror, there were blue skies and white clouds, with a phoenix perched on a wutong branch. The slight yellow hue at the corners of its beak had faded, and its tail feathers had grown, displaying magnificent colors. However, its size seemed slightly smaller than the present-day Danzhu.

Danzhu asked, “Qingxi, what do you think of this moment compared to the previous ones?”

Bihua Lingjun replied, “The original form of the Emperor is unique, no matter when.”

In the mirror, the phoenix elegantly groomed its feathers with its beak. Its wings slightly lifted, and its neck arched into a perfect curve. A light green leaf gently descended from the treetop above its head, coincidentally landing on its head.

The phoenix shook its head gently, causing the leaf to fall off its head. It then continued to leisurely groom its wings. However, due to its elegant posture, its claws slipped, and it fell from the tree.

The phoenix plummeted straight down but managed to flap its wings before hitting the ground. It flew in an arc, landing gracefully on the ground. After a flicker of light, it transformed into a red-clad teenager of about fifteen or sixteen years old. Hastily glancing around to make sure nobody witnessed his embarrassed state, he coughed lightly, feigned composure, and adjusted his robe.

Bihua Lingjun couldn’t help but raise the corners of his mouth, and Danzhu spoke with a tinge of embarrassment, “At that time, I had just transformed into a fully-fledged phoenix. At that age, I liked to put on airs, emphasizing extravagant appearances. I tried to act mature in both words and actions. There seems to be a saying in the mortal realm that describes such behavior, something like ‘pretending to be someone you’re not.’”

Bihua Lingjun chuckled, “When I was in the mortal realm as a youth, I did the same. Even in the dead of winter, I carried a folded fan in my hand, thinking it was incredibly stylish.”

Danzhu said, “I remember back then, I would bathe in the spring three or four times a day, and I had to find secluded springs because after bathing, my feathers would be drenched, which didn’t look good. I was afraid of being seen, so I would secretly wait until they dried before going out.”

Bihua Lingjun seemed to want to say something, his lips slightly moved, but then he swallowed his words.

Danzhu said, “Do you have something to say to me? Why beat around the bush?”

Bihua Lingjun hesitated for a moment before saying, “Little immortal… I was wondering, if the Emperor were to remove his clothes and revert to his original form…”

Danzhu immediately responded, “Although I’m not the same as before, I can still transform into my former self. Qingxi, if you want to see, I can change back and let you have a look. If you feel it’s not convenient here, we can find a hot spring and bathe together. I can undress for you.”

Danzhu’s gaze was intense, and his expression was very sincere.

Bihua Lingjun said, “Emperor, please don’t misunderstand. What the little immortal meant was that if the Emperor were to undress and return to your original form…”

Danzhu interrupted, “I didn’t misunderstand. When you say undress, it means I’ll be naked, right? I can transform into a featherless phoenix for you to see. It would probably be no different from a roasted chicken.” He narrowed his eyes and smiled faintly. “Do you want it to be something else?”

Bihua Lingjun said, “No, no.”

In the mirror, the red-clad teenager stooped to pick up the fallen leaf, blowing on it lightly. The leaf fluttered upward, swirling in the wind and making a few circles.

The youth raised his eyebrows and left with a flick of his sleeve.

Under the azure sky and verdant trees, in the blink of an eye, everything became incredibly vibrant.

The seven-colored lights shimmered once again as the scene in the mirror transformed. Fierce winds howled and clouds tumbled. Amidst the billowing clouds, a majestic fire phoenix soared, radiating auspicious brilliance. It spewed flames from its mouth, and its wings created fierce gusts of wind that carried the fire’s momentum, engulfing the opposite side. Thick smoke billowed, revealing figures of fleeing demons, and…

Danzhu stroked his chin and said, “This was the scene of my demon-slaying in the past. The courage I had back then is not worth mentioning now, but it’s amusing to reminisce. Qingxi, look, at this moment, I still displayed bravery.”

Bihua Lingjun nodded and asked, “At this moment, were you subduing demons?”

Danzhu nodded in agreement, “Yes.”

Bihua Lingjun questioned, “Hmm, then why does it seem that the one burning in your phoenix fire is Fuli, the Immortal Emperor?”

As the phoenix vigorously flapped its wings, fanning the flames even higher, the fire incinerated countless demon figures. However, amidst the fire, there was a shining green dragon.

Danzhu explained, “It’s a bit bittersweet. Back then, we were all young and full of energy, eager to exterminate demons and vie for merits. Friction and conflicts were inevitable. I knew he wouldn’t be burned to death so easily. That kind of fire, Fuli, can withstand it. Didn’t you see him summoning water and lightning? The lightning was even aimed at my head, but I don’t hold grudges. I have a broad mind and a generous temperament. I’ve never bothered to keep track of such things. Alas, those matters have long turned moldy and won’t be brought up again. Setting that aside, Qingxi, look at this moment, how I appear compared to Fuli. He has changed more than when he was young.”

Bihua Lingjun murmured, and Danzhu smiled contentedly.

In an instant, the scene of intense battle transformed into a solitary figure standing by a pillar in the clouds.

With black hair cascading down, smooth and lustrous like silk, wearing a wide-sleeved robe, the person appeared elegant and at ease. The face now fully resembled Danzhu’s current appearance. Slowly, he wiped the long sword stained with demon blood, as if admiring a newly bloomed peach blossom or a sprouting willow branch. He looked elegant and relaxed, giving no indication that he had just been in a fierce battle. It was hard to believe that he was the same great phoenix flapping its wings.

Bihua Lingjun observed the mirror’s reflection while Danzhu smiled at him. “Qingxi, you see, this kind of moment is also good.”

Bihua Lingjun remained silent as the scene in the mirror gradually disappeared, leaving a plain mirror. Danzhu retrieved it, playing with it in his hand. “Qingxi, cultivating immortality emphasizes being free-spirited. Do you know why?”

Bihua Lingjun asked, “I would like to hear the Emperor’s teachings.”

Danzhu explained, “To be unrestricted and not attached, that is the essence of being free-spirited. Everything in the world undergoes change. In the mortal realm, there are shifting rivers and boundless seas. In the celestial realm, clouds gather and disperse. Just like the little spirit beasts in your mansion, they will all grow up someday. Like that fluffy young phoenix that eventually became me. Immortals are eternal, and we must maintain an unwavering heart amidst constant change. We must adapt to change. As you once said, some of those in your mansion are still young, and they will inevitably grow older. However, if you look at it with an unattached perspective, the difference between the young and the old is merely fleeting, like the gathering and dispersing of clouds. Why not treat it with a consistent heart? This is the unchanging aspect amidst change. Furthermore, the young will always grow older, which proves that being older is superior. Just like myself, if I were still that fluffy young phoenix, it wouldn’t be suitable. The current state is the best. Therefore, we should cherish and care for the young, which you have already done well. But for the older ones, it wouldn’t hurt to adopt a more advanced attitude. This is adapting to change. Do you find my words reasonable?”

Bihua Lingjun nodded, “I feel enlightened, as if a sudden realization has dawned upon me.”

Danzhu continued, “Do you understand the meaning behind my words?”

Bihua Lingjun nodded again, “I understand, little immortal.”

A gentle breeze brushed past the pavilion, and the radiance shone brightly while wisps of clouds gently swirled.

Bihua Lingjun gazed at Danzhu and spoke slowly, “I heard that in the southeastern part of the celestial realm, there is a tranquil immortal land. Within one of its mountains, there is a hot spring. I wonder if the Emperor is willing to accompany the little immortal there?”