The Witch Nichang- Chapter 9

Beasts

The dense woods were unusually dark. All the trees turned into streaks of dark shadow. Only one or two rays of dim light seeped through the gap between the trees. Instead of setting my mind at ease, it made the atmosphere ineffably gloomy.

Humans were such strange creatures. If there was light, we could be courageous even in the wild; if there was no light, we could be scared even at home. 

I was just an ordinary person, not even tall enough to have a higher viewpoint. It was only human nature to be a little nervous standing unarmed in the dark and windy woods now. 

I took a deep breath and told myself to calm down. Anyhow, this was still a martial-arts-trained body. Even though I had little talent in martial arts, I had been practicing it for years. How could I be less fearless than the last time I explored the wolf’s den alone?

Besides, there should be no danger in these woods. 

It proved that there were things I should not think of. The moment I had that thought, a crisp sound of dried branches breaking came from the dark. I looked back in shock, panicking, wondering if the child was doubling back?

It turned out that it was the kid’s distant relatives.

I heard a low howl coming from beside, and pairs of dreadful flickering gleams lit up in the dark. It should be a terrifying scene. But for a moment, I was not sure whether I should be afraid, shocked, or sighed first, so it numbed my expression instead. Controlling my heartbeat, I counted the pairs of gleams carefully, and there were over ten pairs of them! 

It was far from good. 

When I first arrived at Mount Hua, I used to run around a lot during that time to familiarize myself with the mountain terrain. Later, when I found out the areas where there were fresh fruits and mountain springs, I only traveled between these few spots, rarely going to other areas. I had never been to these woods where I was tonight, and now, I had been surrounded in the dark; it was really…

Suddenly, a hunch hit me; I concentrated and observed. I noticed that although the pairs of gleams were flickering almost everywhere, only the northwest corner seemed to be quiet. 

An oversight? Or limited by the pack’s intellect? Or…

I could not bother about that now. Although I was murmuring to myself, I quietly took a few deep breaths and swerved. Lifted a breath of qi, I dashed off to the northwest while the pack was still slowly gathering before starting to move.

Trees were receding fast beside me, the wind whistling by my ear, beasts bellowing behind me, and the short and rapid rattles mingled among them—that was the sound of feet trotting. 

I did not have to look back to know how aggressive that pack of wolves was chasing me. 

The dark, dense woods were their playground; I was well aware that running like a headless chicken would not last me long. I had wasted a lot of energy to keep up with Lian’er when tailing her. And before I could catch my breath, I was being chased by the wolves. I could still keep up with this speed, but it would not be long before the breath of qi I lifted got disrupted. 

Or should I stop and put up a good fight? But—that was not a good idea. A face-to-face confrontation would end up injuring both sides, and that was the most foolish thing to do. 

What should I do?

I continued moving forward with all my strength while thinking fast. But, before I could think of a way out, the road ahead suddenly opened up. 

Soon, there were no more trees around me. Heading in the northwest’s direction had led me out of the woods by accident. 

There were no more obstacles before me after coming back to the vast field outside the woods, which was in my favor. Losing the cover of the trees, the threat that the pack posed had notably abated. More importantly, from now on, I knew which way was the right direction. I did not have to worry about wasting my energy like a headless chicken. 

In such a short time, the table had turned, and everything was great now. 

Too good that—something felt out of place.  

The joy in my heart dissipated. I thought for a moment, frowning. Instead of running far away, I gradually slowed down my speed, and eventually, came to a halt. 

As I stopped, the pack behind me caught up to me, orderly spreading out in the grass, slowly forming a fan-shaped net encompassing me. All of them were eyeing me in the dark, hissing. 

But it was odd. 

They were threatening to attack, but the attack still had not occurred after I had calmed my breath.  

I stared at them warily. At last, I took a deep breath and called out sonorously. 

“Lian’er!”

My voice was not loud, but it was imbued with qi. It sounded crystal clear in the field. 

“Lian’er, come out! I know it’s you.”

As I expected—how would there be such a coincidence. The wolf pack appeared as soon as she disappeared in the woods. And that one opening among the wolf pack so happened to be the direction out of the woods. Look at them now, restless yet still had not attacked, they were obviously waiting for a command. Finally, after associating with the child’s unique background, it would be a wonder if I still could not figure out what had happened.

I was almost sure of my judgment, but nothing moved in the dark.

That little brat still dared pretend.

Smiling faintly, I steadily lifted my hands, turning my palms into claws—it was a set of more deadly hand techniques that Master had taught me. I could only wield it to a certain extent of its power, but it was excellent against animals. 

“If you don’t come out now, I don’t care what will happen next. Or do you think I won’t do anything up to this point?”

That was the most annoying thing. At some point, this little brat had picked up my trouble-avoiding personality. If not, why would she send the wolves to drive me away only to keep her little secret without worrying I might hurt the wolves?

Undeniably, this little brat, who had been out of the wolf’s den for just a few years, almost tricked me. Though I looked solemn now, I found it both amusing and irritating thinking about it. This child always made me wonder whether to cry or laugh.  

Perhaps she realized that she could not hide from me anymore. A rustling sound came from the grass, and then a small figure emerged from the dark.

The wolf pack made an uproar at the sight of her appearance, one that of intense excitement as if the chief had arrived. A few of them let out low growls. I was a little anxious upon seeing that. Just as I took a step forward, about to say something, two wolves could no longer hold back anymore, pouncing over from behind like an arrow that left its string.

Before I could see them coming, the color of her face changed. Then she moved; she was faster than the adult wolves. In a blink of an eye, she was standing before me, showing a ferocious expression at the two wolves. As if hitting something invisible, the two wolves fell to the ground from mid-air and ran away, whimpering, with their tails between their legs. 

At first, I wanted to put on a straight face and scold her, but after seeing this act of hers, my heart had softened a bit. 

“So, this is your secret?” I asked softly, pointing to the wolf pack. 

I did not scold her, yet she turned around and glared at me after fending off the two wolves. At first, she exasperatedly wanted to say something, opening her mouth, biting her lips, moving her eyes around, looking as if she had something in mind.  

The little look of her premeditating something was too apparent. I could not help chuckling. 

She did not notice me, just going about musing over there, and finally, she nodded as if she had made a decision. Then she looked over, lively and spirited, pointed at my nose, and said: “You followed me. It’s your fault. Now you see my secret, so you have to listen to me!”

I grinned and asked in reply: “Then what should I do?”

“If you listen to me, join us and be one of us.” She waved her hand and gestured across the wolf pack, seemingly with some king’s demeanor. 

“I’m the best. You stay by my side. If you listen to me, they’ll all listen to you.” After thinking for a while, she added: “Of course, you can also challenge me, but you can’t beat me.”

I was speechless for a while after hearing her words. I still wanted to tease her, but eventually, I shook my head.  

“I’m your senior martial sister.” I said that to her: “Do you understand what a senior martial sister means?”

“What’s the big deal with a senior martial sister? Whoever has the better ability has the say!” She responded while stamping her foot. She was a little mad now as it seemed like she did not expect me to refuse her offer.

I sighed, thinking I was right. All this time, she was behaving quite well in front of Master. It had convinced Master that the child was reborn. But, what she did not know was although she knew a lot better than before—able to speak and run, and looked no different from an ordinary person—her wolf’s nature still exists, even affecting the way she treats others. 

Master always had high self-esteem. If she knew the truth, she would be disappointed. 

At the thought of it, my heart felt a little heavy. I was no longer in the mood to play along with her. The smile on my face vanished. I looked at her with a stern face: “Lian’er, stop messing around. I know you have some history with them and also feel attached to them. But, if you continue behaving like this, do you know what will happen if Master notices it?”

The reason I said this was to let her understand Master’s feelings. But who knew, as soon as these words came out of my mouth, her expression changed. 

“Are you going to tell Master?” She was not good at hiding her emotions in the first place, and now, it was even clear. She panicked and gritted her teeth: “If you dare tell Master, I will, I will…”

I did not expect her to have such a huge reaction, so I was dazed. While pondering, words unconsciously came out of my mouth: “will what?”

Her eyes were simmering with anger: “I’ll kill you!” 

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