Tag: twn

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 16

The Witch Nichang– Chapter 16

A Belt

Am I dreaming now? Or awake? I don’t get it.

If I was dreaming, yet my mind felt clear, my senses were sharp. The dewy dampness in the air, the scent of the cool earth, the passing wind, and the dancing shadow of the moon, all the sensations were so vivid. 

But if I was awake, wasn’t it strange for a person lying on the bed in a cave with high fever to feel all that?

For a brief moment, blinking, I was really confused, but soon, my attention was drawn to something else like the bumps, the feeling, and the warmth and the breath too close beneath me.

Rarely have I been this close to people in this way, too rare and too close, so it felt oddly incongruous. I froze for a moment before I could react and realize what kind of situation I was currently in.

“Lian’er, what are you…cough…doing?” My voice was still hoarse. As the cold wind blew against my face, my words were almost choked back. 

“I’m carrying you.” The sound was so close. The young girl’s voice was as matter-of-fact as ever, except her breathing was slightly uneven.

Yes, I knew the situation even without her telling me. Right now, I was resting on her back, and she was carrying me, not only carrying me but also running. More precisely, she was dashing through the night woods with me on her back. She had used her qinggong, making her very fast, which had kicked up the wind. The dewy leaves and branches swept across my arms and cheeks from time to time, which had woken me up. 

“I know you’re carrying me…cough…What I meant was…coughcough…” Speaking against the wind in this state wasn’t exactly an easy task. I had to bury my head in her collar before I could even finish my sentence. I was coughing and gasping, choking on the wind. It took me a while to get back my breath.

“You shut up!” I couldn’t see her expression from behind, but I guessed my movement must have annoyed her. After yelling at me, she gave my body a heave, then I heard the voice soften a little: “Stop it. We’re almost there.”

I was dumbstruck for a moment. ‘Stop it’ were the words I used to say to her a lot. Now that it was used back against me, it really rendered me speechless.

But it wasn’t wise to talk against the wind at this time, and I felt her breath was shaky—even though she was gifted and well-grounded in martial arts, she was still young. After all, it was tiring to walk while carrying someone a few years older than her on her back. I wanted to get down immediately, but I knew she was stubborn. Instead of wasting each other’s energy arguing, it was better to cooperate. She wouldn’t lie anyway. If she said we are almost there, we are almost there. As for other doubts like where to and why to… I would leave them until we got there.

With my mind made up, I didn’t ask any more questions, just tried to wrap my arms around her shoulders and curl up as much as possible so that she could carry me more easily. It was indeed awkward being carried by a child. But fortunately, she couldn’t see my uneasiness because of the night and the position.

Just like this, nothing more was said along the way, except for the sound of two breathing with different rhythms revolving around. 

Indeed, after a short while, I felt my body shifting, and the world was turning topsy-turvy. Before I knew it, I was off her back and put down next to a huge tree. My legs were still limp. As soon as she let go, I slumped onto the ground despite myself. Fortunately, under my feet was a relatively dry patch of grass, and my back could also lean against the trunk. It turned out to be a suitable place to sit.

“Here we are.” She stood beside me, heaving a soft sigh.

Looking around, although it was late at night, and I was a little dizzy, the surroundings were more or less visible under the silver-washed moonlight. It was an open field located by the slightly slanted hillside. The trees were sparse and not dense, so all kinds of dwarf shrubs and herbs between the trees grew extremely well. Only thick patches of black could be seen in the night.

“This place is…” Although it was different from the day view, I could still recognize this place.

How could I not recognize it? I was the one who discovered this place. Because of the sunlight, the rain, the terrain, and such, it was a perfect place for growing herbs. In the last month, I often came here or the nearby area to pick herbs because of the little wolf, so the child had tagged along with me to this place a dozen times. 

“Lian’er, why do you bring me here at this time?” Even though I recognized this place, I was still full of questions, looking up at the person standing beside me. 

Her reply was filled with certainty: “Get herbs.” She replied, squatted and looked at me, frowning: “It’s been a day since Master’s gone, and your cold seems to have worsened. I thought about it for a long time and felt that, if so, why don’t I bring you here to pick some herbs for yourself first, it’s better than waiting in vain.”

A strange feeling streaked across my heart upon hearing that. It was indeed not a bad idea, but it never occurred to me, because I never expected that she would be willing to do this for me. However, despite being moved, looking at the surroundings blanketed by the night sky, I could only sigh. “Lian’er, it’s a good idea, but as I said before, not everyone can…”

“I know. Not everyone can see in the dark like me.” She broke in, standing up with a wave of her hand. “Then just tell me what kind of herb to look for, and I’ll find it in the bushes and bring it back for you to check. Simple.”

This time, I was really dumbfounded.

I supposed this reaction of mine was satisfying to her as I saw the corner of her eyes crinkled slightly, and a smug smile overtly appeared on her face. 

And what would happen next naturally fell into the child’s hands. 

Perhaps she was happy with the idea of surprising me, she was all pumped up, asking pressingly for the shape of herbs needed to be gathered without stopping for a rest. I thought about it and picked out a few simple, easily identifiable plants, describing them to her as succinctly as I could. Then she turned around and searched for them carefully in the nearby area. 

Instead, I was left with nothing to do, just have to sit under the tree and rest. 

The temperature at night was rather low, and the air was chilly. I felt much relaxed as the air filled my body between breaths. Although I was sick, I rarely sat down idly to watch people bustling about, so I felt somewhat at a loss. My eyes swept around aimlessly and eventually landed on the little figure not far away who was engrossed in the search.

How many times has it been? Every time, this child would always make me wonder, even introspect, about myself with her unexpected words and actions. 

Just like tonight, her idea was good, really good, but it wasn’t something hard to think of. I had always treasured my own life, yet this idea never crossed my mind… why? Could it have simply slipped through my mind? I’m afraid…not quite. 

I tried to make sense of it. Maybe it was the self-esteem of an adult that didn’t want a child to work hard for me, but then, I quirked my lips in self-irony and shook off this idea.

The answer was actually in my heart, plain and clear.

“How about this?” A long stalk of grass unexpectedly popped up in front of me, with dew still hanging on it. 

Taking it on my hand, I looked at the pair of eager eyes and then tried to identify the plant by the moonlight for a while before smiling and shaking my head at her. 

Undeterred, and knowing that wasn’t the one, she turned and walked away, carrying on her search. 

My body felt better, and the dizziness waned a bit, but I was still exhausted. I leaned against the trunk and closed my eyes, forcing my gaze to stop following the busy little figure. 

When you close your eyes in silence, you are dulled to the passage of time. Even when you know you are awake, your senses become blurred. 

It seemed like a long time, but it shouldn’t have been long because the child hadn’t found anything for me to look at. It was difficult for those who were inexperienced to search for a few specific plants among the thick, lush bushes, but you were bound to find something given some time.

As I was thinking fuzzily, I suddenly noticed a strange feeling.

I opened my eyes and looked to my right hand without moving. Because my back was resting against the tree, my hand was casually placed on the grass beside my body, just like how everyone sat when they were relaxed, usual and chill.

However, it was this hand that something was clearly next to it, showing up unknowingly. Under the night sky, it seemed like a twisty, dappled belt. 

Of course, that wouldn’t be a belt. Anyone with a modicum of common sense would know!

Holding my breath in concentration, I stared at it, restraining myself from shrieking or moving. Thanks to my previous experience, I had done mental precautions similar to this more than once before, as I would sometimes encounter unexpected situations being in the wild. I didn’t expect nothing had happened then, but it really came in handy in this life. 

It was crawling up slowly along my palm. Fortunately, the cuff wasn’t wide enough for it to get in, so it just wrapped itself loosely around my hand, circling my arms. Even so, I could still clearly feel the cold presence through the thin garment. 

I endured the discomfort, knowing that this was the worst time to be rash. It wasn’t aggressive at the moment. It was just the cold-blooded animals’ natural inclination toward warmth that made it come closer to me. If I could keep calm and steady, we could both be fine for the time being. If I made a reckless move out of fright, I would startle it instead, then a snake bite would be inevitable.

I would never want to be bitten by this thing. Although I could hardly see the dappled pattern in the haze of night, the head was, heck, a distinct triangular shape. 

While slowly calming my breath as best as I could, I secretly exerted force to my left hand on the other side. As the saying goes, hit a snake on its seven inches, grab a snake on its three inches. If I couldn’t grab its neck accurately in one strike, I would have one hell of a time with it. 

There was only one chance, but my hand was shaking, my body was weak, somewhat shy of a little energy. 

Or…a thought suddenly flashed across my mind. I relaxed my trembling left hand and cast my gaze on the little figure not far away.

I guessed she hadn’t found what she was looking for nearby. She had gone a little farther than before in the grass field, but she still stayed well within my sight, and I could easily spot that moving silhouette with a quick glance.

It was risky to cry out for help at this distance, but as long as it was well-controlled, the risk was no higher than catching the snake with my bare hand. 

The question was… 

I dared not curl my lips and could only smile wryly in my heart. I couldn’t believe the question came so fast. One second ago, I just figured out some answers, and the next, I was forced to make a decision?

Perhaps, deep down, I had never trusted that child. 

Yes, I believed in her, but I didn’t trust her. I cared for and tolerated her as a child, even disobeyed Master for her words. But on the other hand, it was true that I had never really wanted to rely on her for anything—that was why I never thought of her at all, never thought of cooperating with her, even though I was very sick—not wanting to trouble a child was just an excuse. 

No trust, why? Just because she was too young to be trusted? Or did those unruly, aggressive behaviors then leave a mark on me after all? Or simply, my own problem.

I used to have friends and buddies, at the very least, I still had my parents and blood relatives. After I came to this world, I didn’t think my personality had changed, but it was true that I had never trusted anyone again. There were no family or friends in my heart, and I relied only on myself. Even after I followed Master, I had thought about more than once what to do if she didn’t want me one day. 

Before today, I had never realized I had changed this way, cold and distant as if I was isolated from the world. 

However…taking one last look at the person in the distance, I took a shallow breath and closed my eyes, trying to return my attention to the unbearably cold presence on my arm. 

So what if I do realize it after today? Having died once, I was no longer willing to place my life in the hands of others anymore, nor was my fate. 

After gently getting my blood flowing again, my left hand stopped shaking so much. I tried to exert force again while keeping my eyes on my right arm. Fortunately or unfortunately, the thing remained where it was, not moving further up, but wound a little tighter, a dark triangular snake’s head swaying slightly from time to time.

After envisioning the move I should make a million times in my head, I finally felt the time was right. I gritted my teeth and bent over, as softly and carefully as I could, easing from a calm, relaxed resting state to one that was ready to strike. 

My left hand lifted gently. Success or failure, it all ends here. I couldn’t help feeling nervous. 

It was at this juncture that an unexpected turn of events took place!

“Hey! Come take a look, this must be it. This time, I’ve looked at it very carefully. It should…” A familiar voice abruptly sounded from the other side. There was pure joy in her tone, but then it suddenly broke off.

Startled, I looked up at her and saw her staring straight in my direction. There was some distance between us, so I couldn’t see her clearly in the night, but I could clearly feel her gaze unblinkingly locked on my right hand. Well, her pair of eyes could differentiate various plants in bushes at night that mingled and blended together, how could she not see the creature coiled around my arm now. 

After getting a good look, she said no word, just approaching this side one step at a time, even her footsteps were hushed, only her eyes were sparkling, penetrating and sharp. 

I knew what she wanted to do, and there was still time to stop her. That child was always like this, acting at her will. She did as she thought, wouldn’t hesitate, and never cared what others thought.

At this moment, I didn’t think I wanted her to come over, so I should just tell her: Lian’er, don’t move. It’s alright. Let me deal with it myself.

But still, until she got closer, nothing came out of my mouth.

Two steps away, she stopped. Her sharp gaze that locked on my right arm shifted, making contact with my eyes, and blinked, turning a little softer. 

Eyes are the mirror of the soul. I didn’t know if she saw my hesitation, but I had already understood the determination and persistence in her eyes. 

My tense body gradually relaxed.

Maybe I wasn’t willing to trust her; I didn’t even trust Master. The most others could do was to lend a helping hand. When it came to a critical moment, no one could be relied upon other than yourself. Even if the decision went wrong, you could only face the consequences of your own making, not blaming God or others. If not for holding this belief, I wouldn’t have survived to this day. 

Would there be any different in the future?

The child bent over, quietly picking up a branch and weighing it in her hand. Then she looked to my eyes again and nodded in silence, and I, at last, in that gaze, eased off the force on my left hand and slowly closed my eyes.

Because she is more stubborn than you are, a voice in my heart said so.


Translator’s note:
Sorry for the late release. I’ll see if I can upload one more chapter next week to make it up to you guys!

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 13

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 13

Futile

Running in the rain, Lian’er said nothing, just clasping my hand in hers, and hurried on at full speed while watching the road ahead with her lips pursed.

Thanks to the practice before, I managed to keep up with her speed. 

I wanted to ask something, but I would choke on rainwater whenever I opened my mouth. Besides, I actually knew where we were heading without asking. For nearly a month, we would make a trip in this direction every day. 

With unease in my heart, I only hoped that the worst wouldn’t happen. 

However…

Wiping off the rain on my face, I looked at the scene before me while panting—the pack was crammed in the concave area below the cliff, taking shelter from the rain. Perhaps they had grown used to it and also came to understand something over the past month. Therefore, when they saw us, especially me, they stepped aside one by one on their own accord, revealing the mother wolf and her son who were huddling inside and leaning on the mountain wall. 

The wolf pup’s condition was terrible. Anyone who didn’t understand what it meant could see it at first sight.

I hurried over in a few steps, oblivious of being wet, and reached out my hand to gently peel off the soaked bandage on his wound. However, the moment I touched his body, I realized he was shivering as if suffering from malaria, his little limbs were shaking, and his temperature was lower than usual. The mother wolf was constantly licking him, seemed to be comforting him, but to no avail. 

The herbs that I had applied four days ago had all dried out and changed color. And now, after having been soaked by the rain, it had turned mud-like and was smudged around the wound. I tore off a corner of my clothes, squeezed out the excess water, and carefully wiped that area clean, finally exposing the wound that had somewhat turned white. There were some signs of inflammation around the wound, but they were not severe; the wound had even healed a little. 

From the surface, I couldn’t see any abnormalities, but his condition was indeed not good.

Could it be…a thought flashed across my mind, but I did not want to believe it. With my mind made up, I held the wolf pup in my arms, carefully covering him with my coat, and then rushed out. 

However, right when I was entering the rain, not two steps down, a hand grasped my sash.

“Where’re you going?” The child looked straight at me. 

I was a little flustered because of the conjecture I had in mind, and for a moment, I forgot that someone was silently standing behind me all the time. Turning back to look at her at this moment, I found that her eyes were calm, and she seemed to be more collected than I was. 

“Take him to the village down the hill. People over there usually rear livestock. Maybe they know how to treat him better.” I did not want to make it sound too grave, so I just told her what I would do at the moment. But who knew, after hearing it, she said nothing. After a while, she still hadn’t let go of the sash. Instead, she asked: “Why didn’t you do this earlier?”

I remained silent until she repeated the question, only then I responded hesitantly and ambiguously: “Commoners, especially those in the mountain village,…err…dislike wolves…”

It was actually more than disliking. The beasts in the mountains had taken who knew how many lives that depended on the mountains. The hatred had accumulated year after year, generations over generations. The mountain men prided themselves for the capability to kill beasts. Anyone who could kill a tiger or a wolf would be a hero in others’ eyes. It was almost impossible to expect them to save a wolf pup. 

But there was really no other way.  

We looked at each other, and no one said anything. Perhaps she saw something from my eyes. She bit her lips and let go of her hand at last, but she turned to hug the wolf pup in my hands and smiled coldly: “They hate us, then we don’t go begging them. A wolf is a wolf, not a dog.”

I was not sure if it was a coincidence. The wolf pup gave a few whimpers, seemingly in response, and was struggling to shove himself into her arms. 

The rain still kept falling, fine trickles of rain intertwined. The mountains were as if shrouded in a smog-like veil. I stood within the veil watching silently—watching the child holding the little life in her arms, walking step by step to the mother wolf without looking back, and sat down. She let his head lean against his mother’s neck comfortably, and his body curled in her hands, stroking him over and over again, saying something over and over again. She kept saying until that little life gradually stopped trembling in her hands. 

The mother wolf let out a low wailing cry, which resounded like ripples, spreading out little by little among the wolf pack, and finally, it started resonating in all directions.

Amidst the low resonating cry, she got closer to rub his little nose for one last time, and then she put down the body that was still soft, came to me, and said: “Let’s go home.”

Maybe because I had stayed in the rain for too long, my limbs were stiff. I was soaked, but my throat felt bone dry. It took me a while to get back my voice. 

“That…” When I lowered my head, even my neck gave out a choppy creaking sound: “That’s it?”

She looked at me as if she did not understand what I meant. 

Taking two deep breaths, the moist and cold air entered my body and finally woke up my usual self. I turned around looking at her and asked: “That’s it? Shouldn’t we…bury him properly?”

“Bury?” She tilted her head, eyes full of questions as if it was a foreign word. She only reacted after a while and replied: “Is it to bury in the ground? But why do we have to bury him? The weather is awful these days. The carcass is still useful for everyone.”

I stared at her as if I had never known her. A biting chill ran up from my feet, spreading through my limbs and bones along the spine. I could not believe the meaning I got from it. I felt that there must be some mistake. Yet my brain had clearly discerned the implication.

I wanted to talk and explain to her, but at that moment, my feelings dominated my body. Like she had done before, I walked to the mother wolf in silence, bent over, and took the pup’s little body. After a moment of thought, I peeled off the bandage on his leg together with the fixed splints. I thought once I peeled it off, his leg would crook to a side like when I first saw it, but it did not. 

How sad. I smiled in silence. The leg bone was trying hard to recover, but its owner could not make it. 

Holding the body, I walked out of the wolf pack step by step. No wolf was stopping me, including the mother wolf, who lost her child. Maybe they were just used to it.  

The child did not stop me either. I knew she was following behind me, but I did not know—and also did not want to know—what she was thinking. I just kept moving forward until I saw a lush tree in the distance. The tree was green and luxuriant, towering in the rain like an enormous umbrella, shielding off the drizzle. I walked to the tree, withdrew the short sword I carried about, and started digging. 

I felt a gaze on my back, but I did not turn around. All I wanted to do was dig the hole deeper, so deep that no wild animal could dig it out. Fortunately, the sword was a great one, and the damp ground was easy to dig. This task did not take me too long. Looking at the satisfactory depth, I took the little wolf over and had a last look. And then, I laid him into the hole, took a handful of dirt, and wanted to scatter over him. 

At this moment, someone grabbed my hand. 

“Why?” A familiar voice came right beside my ear: “What’s good about burying in the ground?”

Her voice sounded serious and puzzled. I did not look up at her, just answering softly: “He was just this small… At worst, I will hunt some prey for the wolf pack as compensation later…” But, this irritated the voice’s owner. She flung the hand I was holding the dirt and snapped: “I’m not asking about this. What’s the use of burying him in the ground like this and rotting away slowly?”

“Lian’er.” I sighed softly in my heart, put down the dirt in my hand, and turned back to her: “People do a lot of things, not just because they’re useful. If everything is measured according to its usefulness, then burial is useless, sorrow is useless, even…” I looked deeply into those bright eyes: “your tears are also useless.”

She was stunned when she heard that. She touched her face recklessly, looked at her palm, and replied: “I’m not crying.”

“You did.” I lowered my head and smiled gently: “When I first saw you, you were crying, leaning on a huge wolf’s carcass. Your face was full of tears. You didn’t cry this time, but don’t you feel sad in your heart?”

Her nose twitched a few times in silence.

“Come and look.” I pulled her over in a soft voice and showed her the little wolf in the hole: “He’ll sleep here. We’ll bury him, and he’ll rest here forever. If you miss him, you can come here to see him. You’re right. His flesh will disintegrate bit by bit, but the bones will still be here, still in a sleeping position, and his flesh will return to this land, and maybe next year, a flower will grow here, just like he has lived again, isn’t that nice?”

“It’s nice…but…” She looked lost: “Why do we want to do that?”

“Because we liked him and loved him. Naturally, we want him well and can’t stand seeing him suffer even after death.” I patiently guided her, but in return, more confusion appeared on her little face.

“I understand what’s like, but…what’s love?”

She asked, a pair of black eyes looking straight at me without blinking.

My heart thumped for no reason.

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 12

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 12

All Kinds

The next day, at the crack of dawn, Lian’er dragged me into the mountain to find medicine.

Actually, she wanted to do so already when she woke up in the middle of the night. But, after listening to my resigned explanation that not everyone could see in the dark like her, she just squinted at me, scoffed a ‘dumb’ mumbly from her throat, and said nothing more. She did not insist either. It made me feel rather surprised. 

I felt it was not so much that our relationship grew substantially as she finally realized there was something she could not do by herself, but the other could. Thus, her unruly demeanor had imperceptibly subsided a lot. 

In this regard, she had always been a pretty simple child. Deference was deference; defiance was defiance, regardless.

On the contrary, I was not sure if I could live up to her expectations.

I soon found the herbs. As long as I sorted out their exact shapes and scents, they were all actually herbs that were commonly seen in the mountain’s depths. The wolf pup’s injury did not further worsen, although he was still listless. However, looking at him being such feeble while holding the herbal paste in my hand that was finally mixed and mashed, I was a little hesitant for a moment as I was not sure if it would work—both the remedy and dosage. I was even worried about what to do if I picked the wrong herbs. After thinking about it, I told her my misgivings truthfully, though I did not know why I would seek advice from this child.

“You’re weird.” As a result, she looked at me, and her eyes seemed to say that it was odd to have such concerns. “Because it has to be treated, that’s why we went looking for medicine, isn’t it?”

I broke into laughter.

I carefully unswathed the wolf pup’s bandage, not touching the fixed splints, gently applied the herbal medicine onto the wound from the gap, and wrapped the bandage again. Maybe it was merely because of the refreshing sensation of the fresh herbal paste, but seeing the pup nudged Lian’er’s hand affectionately and seemed to be feeling much better, I still felt comforted. 

Humans were like so; hunting other animals for food and survival on the one hand, but developing feelings for some animals around them on the other. I am afraid I would be told weird again if I let this thought of mine known to this child beside me who is cheering the wolf pup up.

In her eyes, maybe everything was normal and natural.

Life was, death was. 

In the days to come, although no one said anything, changes had still started to take place tacitly. Every day, we would go out and into the mountain together, then we would go to where the wolf pack was hand in hand. Lian’er was perfectly justifiable to hunt and feed them, whereas I went about in secret to collect herbs and treat the injury—of course, when I said in secret, I meant in front of Master. 

Actually, I had fear about this. After all, I was someone who seldom went out. Even if I went out, I would mostly stay near the cave entrance to practice my swordsmanship or do my tasks. I was easy to find. But now, I would disappear for two to four hours every day. Although Master often stayed in retreat, she would notice it, sooner or later, given some time. I had thought of teaching Lian’er to identify the herbs and let her do both things together. But on second thought, I still needed to go to the wolf pup to concoct the medicine and change the dressing anyway, so I just put that thought aside. 

A few days later, Master came out from her retreat, and she indeed asked about it over the dinner table. Before I could think of how to answer, someone unexpectedly interjected the conversation from aside.  

“She accompanies me to practice martial arts.” That child so interjected. Thinking about it, she shook her head again: “No, it’s me who accompanies her to practice martial arts. Her martial art skills suck.”

This had successfully made Master frown, and then she lectured her on respect for teachers. Seeing that she lowered her head and continued eating without uttering a word, she turned to me and asked me. The excuse I had prepared beforehand was totally useless now. I had to continue on with her story. Luckily, it was a near miss. I managed to forcibly mend the lie.

“That’s good too.” Master’s brows had yet to unfurl: “Your junior martial sister’s qinggong is indeed not bad. It’s good that you two compete and encourage each other, but remember, do not go too far, and more so do not pamper her too much.”

I nodded in agreement. It had me sweating inwardly, and my knowledge of that child had once again stepped up a level.

I could not say that Lian’er had done a disservice. Based on her character, these words must have been spontaneous. Her quick reaction was already beyond my expectation. I had never even thought she would take the trouble to speak for me. But from that day, I did have one more task, that was, to hone my qinggong for Master’s inspection in the future. 

Lian’er was very calm about this. She said if worse came to worse, she would just accompany me to practice. It was good to know that even though we were closer now, she was still quite proud of her martial art skills. Of course, this pride came from the fact, and I also did not mind. However, because of what Master had said earlier and also out of my own interest, I coaxed her to make a promise with me, that was, if I caught up to her once during this practice period, she had to politely call me senior martial sister from that time on.

After all, she was still a straightforward child, so she agreed without thinking and was not even aware she actually had nothing to gain. 

The next two weeks were even busier. It was hectic but contented. 

But one thing in my heart had been giving me a sense of faint uneasiness. This uneasiness had become more and more evident over time. It was not because of the qinggong challenge. Although I had not won in the past two weeks, my qinggong had improved a lot. Sometimes, I could come close to her in full force by using some tricks stealthily. For me, that was enough. It was also not because of prey sharing. Right after I had asked about the whole story, I had set the trap outside of the wolf pack’s home range, not interfering with each other. 

What disturbed me was the little pup’s injury.

His injury had not worsened, at least every time I cleaned the wound, I saw no sign of infection or suppuration. It had been nearly a month since the beginning. The regeneration ability of animals was supposed to be better than the average human. But somehow, the wound healed awfully slowly, even his spirit was low all the time. Regarding this, I was not sure whether Lian’er did not notice it or did not voice it out. Anyway, she said nothing. But I was uncertain and often worried about if the herbs I picked actually worked. 

What I had never thought was, soon, I could not use even these types of medicinal herbs on him.

Late summer should not have been the rain season in Mount Hua, but the rain had indeed been pattering for three days. 

The rain was not heavy, but it was not light either. Anyway, it was not the kind of rain people could walk through like it was nothing. Even so, it should not have affected me and Lian’er too much. We would do things that needed to be done even if it was raining or snowing, unless…Master was at the side. 

But it was just such a coincidence that she had just completed a phase of closed-door meditation, and these few days were the time for her to rest and recuperate. 

Therefore, in the face of the rain, which was not a big deal, the excuses we made before had become useless. Even the hunting that Lian’er had been doing all the while was also temporarily put on hold with an impassive remark from Master: “With such heavy rain, you don’t have to go out purposely. There are enough grains stored in the cave and also plenty of smoked meats. We won’t run out of food for a few days.”

For the first time in my life, I had regretted being too proactive that I kept too many reserves.

The days being grounded in disguise were tough, especially when you had something to worry about. Except for doing the chores, meditating, and circulating qi every day, I was looking at the trees in the rain outside the cave, dazing, hoping that the sky would clear up the next day. The situation of Lian’er was much worse. Although she kept herself quite in check in front of Master, she could not even calm herself down when meditating, and there was a hint of rage in her eyes. 

In this way, the days continued until the fourth day. At last, that child could no longer hold in and had gone missing early in the morning. 

Yellow Dragon cave was just so big of a place. I could not hide it for her even if I wanted to. Master soon found out that she was gone. She could not get any answer out of me, so naturally, she flushed up with anger, sat down facing at the cave entrance with a straight face and fell silent. I stood at the side with hands hanging by the sides of my body, knowing that things were going to be bad. I quietly took two steps nearer to the cave entrance in the hope that when Lian’er came back, she could look at my eyes first and make up a good excuse. 

We stayed like this for a long time. The rain outside was getting heavier, and there was even thunder in the distance. 

I got really anxious from waiting, and when I was about to implore Master to let me look for her, the cave entrance suddenly turned dark, and a little, dripping wet figure flashed in. 

She was drenched and wretched, even her hair was dripping water, and her face was a little paler than usual. She came into the cave as if she did not see the master nearby, rushing straight to me, and grabbed my hand.

“Follow me!” She said, her eyes filled with anxiety, her fingertips were ice cold. 

“Xian’er!” A grating roar came from behind me. She did not call Lian’er, but me; her meaning went without saying.

For a moment, I was caught in a dilemma. But, the cold on my hand was too piercing, it did not allow me to hesitate. I turned around decisively, cupped my fists, and bowed deeply to Master: “There is no time to explain now. I’ll make a trip. I hope Master can trust me and also Lian’er!”

After finishing my sentence, I could not think about anything else. I turned around and rushed into the hazy rain hand in hand with the child.

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