Author: Slopaw (Page 4 of 5)

This is Slopaw.

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 14

The Witch Nichang– Chapter 14

Sorry

In the end, we still buried him.

Lian’er was still a little confused about what I had just said, but she eventually chose to send off the little wolf on his last journey with me in a human way, not an animal way. We worked together to fill the hole with dirt, pile it up high, and tamp it down into the shape of a mini grave mound.

The rain stopped before we knew it, and the sky was getting dark. She patted the small grave mound before standing up and said to me: “Let’s go home.”

I smiled bitterly as it came to me now that I still had a huge problem to solve. 

Acting on a whim was bound to create future troubles. On the way back, I had gone through many ways on how to face Master, how to explain it to her, and whether to confess truthfully to her, but I felt inappropriate no matter how I thought about it. 

Before I could straighten out anything, we were already standing at the cave entrance. I looked at Lian’er, stretching out my hand to hold her, and went in together. 

The inside wasn’t as bright and as spacious as the outside. The lights were lit, and Master was sitting in the shadow where the light and darkness met. Her expression was unclear. I hurried over, stopping three steps away from her, and dropped to my knees without saying a word. Lian’er was standing behind me, nudging my shoulder. I tugged at her sleeve, and she knelt together with me.

We said nothing, nor did Master. For a moment, the room sank into unbearable silence.

My hand was unconsciously kneading the hem of my clothes. I had no idea what was the best way to explain the situation even after thinking it over. At the same time, I also didn’t want to stay in this depressing silence for any longer, so I clenched my jaw and lifted my head, about to open my mouth. At the very moment, Master moved first. 

She first swept her hand across the air to stop my voice, then got up from the stone bench, and paced slowly toward us, stopping in front of us.

“You two have secrets?” At last, she opened her mouth, her voice was calm and flat, revealing no emotion in her voice, yet her eyes were sharp, so sharp that it impelled people to bow their head to avert from such a gaze. But I didn’t bow my head after all. Facing that gaze, I answered frankly: “Yes.”

“You feel that the secret is worth hiding and taking the blame for her?” Master asked again.

Was it worth it? I didn’t know. I knew that this secret would anger Master, even making her disappointed with Lian’er. It was my initial intention to keep the secret for Lian’er, but in the end, especially after the little wolf’s incident, I couldn’t tell if this hiding was for Master, Lian’er, or myself. 

“Yes.” No matter whom it was for, the answer could only be this. 

The room sank into silence again. I couldn’t help being worried as I thought this answer would have enraged the high-esteemed Master. But who knew, after waiting for a long moment, Master didn’t scold us, instead I heard her sigh and said: “If you feel that way, then I have no interest in knowing it.”

After saying that, she left for the stone chamber with a flick of her sleeve. I couldn’t respond in time. A second later, I straightened up and called in surprise: “Master.” She stopped, with her back facing us and her hands crossed behind: “I don’t need to know, but you’d still have to be punished for your disobedience.”

To my delight, I finally grasped the implication in her words that she had forgiven us. I answered, loud and clear: “Master, please punish me.”

Perhaps the delight in my voice was too obvious. Master threw a glare at me without saying a word before going into the stone chamber. Silence prevailed over words. I smiled awkwardly and remained kneeling on the ground, not daring to get up. I knew this was probably the punishment, at least for now.

The cave quieted down again, but it was no longer depressing, just sheer silence.

In the utter silence, the string that had been stretching in my head all day relaxed at last. Everything had passed. It wasn’t perfect, with many regrets, but it had still passed. 

After staying under the rain and not having anything for almost a day, I gradually drifted into a trance while kneeling with my cold, exhausted body.

On the brink of sleep, I suddenly felt something leaning against my back.

I was dazed but immediately recognized that it was the child’s head. 

She knelt behind me, head against my back. I felt her breathing through the slightest vibration, shallow but even. She fell asleep before me, and I was still awake instead, so I subconsciously kept my back straight to let her lean on more comfortably. 

I didn’t expect this tiniest move would wake her up. 

A mumbling mutter came from behind me. She stretched out her hand and patted on my back as a complaint. Perhaps she was quite comfortable leaning on me. She moved a little but didn’t leave, just turning to another side to lean on, and fell asleep again. 

But the soft, gentle breathing wasn’t as even as before, so I knew she was awake. 

Opening my mouth, I wanted to say something to her like “Are you tired?” or “Are you hungry?” 

“Sorry…” 

Instead, I blurted out this word, out of the blue. Even I myself was scratching my head when I said that, yet it felt like the right thing to say.

I couldn’t see her expression. Maybe because she was sleepy, her voice when answering me was soft with a hint of indolence. “You sure are weird.” She added: “It’s me who dragged you out today. Why are you saying sorry to me now instead?”

“Not this.” Feeling the warmth on my back, I pressed my lips together and continued: “I mean…the thing with the pup. Sorry.”

Initially, she came to me for him in a rage, but after I had started treating him, no one had mentioned this again, until today’s…loss.”

At first, I didn’t think I had done anything wrong on this, not until now. Reasonably speaking, I still didn’t think I had done anything wrong—it was all sorts of factual reasons adding up that caused this injury. The reasons I saved him were, on the one hand, to appease Lian’er who was raging at that time, on the other, I pitied him being so small and young. 

But the fact was, the trap I set had indeed injured him. I hurt him yet couldn’t cure him, letting him suffer for nearly a month and watching him die.

I had given Lian’er hope, but I had also failed her in the end. 

She should have hated me to death with her usual black-or-white attitude towards love and hate. But until now, she hadn’t mentioned anything and was even willing to sleep on my back. 

So, let me be the one who gets it out, I thought. I would have to face it one way or the other. 

However, I heard her laugh. 

There was a time I thought Lian’er didn’t like to laugh and only liked to act haughty in front of me with her chin up. Only recently, when we started to get along, did I realize she would smile quite often. She would smile mildly when she was happy, smile scornfully when she wasn’t happy; she would smile even when she was extremely angry. It didn’t matter if she threw a tantrum. 

I couldn’t see her smile at the moment, nor could I tell her emotions with her laughter alone. I could only keep my back straight and wait. 

In the swaying shadow of the lamp oil, I could hear the child on my back whispering: “He didn’t hate you, so I don’t hate you either. You cried today. I saw it.”

This answer had lifted off something in my heart. 

I couldn’t believe I actually cared so much about it. And now, because of her words, my mood was brisker than when I got Master’s forgiveness as if only this was what truly put my heart at ease, even my whole body loosened up.

Wait…this was…

Holding my head, I felt lighter and lighter, a floating sensation that I shouldn’t have even when I was relaxed. Contrarily, my consciousness was sinking. I couldn’t even lift my eyelids, only feeling tired and sleepy. 

This drowsiness flooded in too fast and fierce. I couldn’t resist it and could only give in. 

The last thing I saw before losing my consciousness was the child holding me up. Her eyes glinted with the candlelight were flashing with shock and bewilderment. 

I wanted to comfort her, saying it was all right, but I couldn’t.

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.

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 11

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 11

A Day

Only when I saw the wolf did I understand why Lian’er became so exasperated.

That was a young pup, nestled in its mother’s chest under the shade of a tree at the moment, wailing sporadically with its hind leg crooked. It was apparently broken from the middle. I could even faintly see bits of shattered bones in its bloody wound. 

Actually, the figure four deadfall trap was just a very simple mechanism. Its power could vary, and the key lay in the weight above the bait. I did not want to encounter fierce animals going all out, so I always set the rock low and heavy, hoping to avoid large animals, and at the same time, capture small prey in one strike. Who knew it would accidentally hit a wolf pup. 

In fact, even if it accidentally hit the wolf pup, he should not have been hurt so badly. I figured it was the mother wolf who tried to save her child in a moment of desperation and did something blindly, causing further injury to her child, hence this present situation. 

Though I thought so, I could not really explain it to her. Could I unabashedly blame it on animals?

There was already an outburst of commotion when the wolf pack saw a stranger stepping in their territory. It was Lian’er who took my hand and assumed a prevailing demeanor, continuously fending off the beasts that were coveting a chance to strike as she was leading the way and brought me to the mother and son pair. 

At the moment, I was checking the pup’s injury, and she was squatting aside, calming the anxious mother wolf down. Occasionally, she would take a few glimpses at me. A look of mistrust was on her face with anger in her eyes too. But what’s more, was the eager expectation on her face. 

I was accustomed to her being condescending with her cheek puffed, and now basking in her eyes full of high hopes, I felt a little uncomfortable. I cleared my throat before looking up to face her gaze: “He was indeed badly injured…” Before I finished my words, I saw her eyes dimmed down, and her nose puckered. My body stiffened; I quickly made a stop gesture: “Stop! Listen—he was indeed badly injured, but he can still be treated. Although it will take some time, and the pup may not completely heal, it should be no problem for him to jump and run in the future if everything goes well.”

I explained myself in one breath; I thought those words “may not completely heal” would definitely displease her, but who knew I would see a frank…smile. 

“That’s great.” It was not for me. She looked at the wolf pup, stretched out her hand, and stroked him. Her eyes were filled with genuine happiness: “You can live now. You don’t have to die.” 

I had never seen such a gentle expression on her face before. I froze for a moment, and after coming back to my mind, I vaguely felt that this sentence did not sound quite right, so I explained: “Even if it’s left untreated, this wound won’t necessarily kill him.”

“It will.” Without even raising her head, she kept on stroking the wolf pup: “If he lives like this, I’ll take his life.”

In the next hour, I found a bamboo culm of the right thickness nearby and split it in half, then carefully burnished it into splints and asked her to hold down the wolf pup. With my teeth gritted and a pull and push, I repositioned the dislocated bone back to its place. Lastly, I secured the splints and wrapped it up. The whole process was simple, but when I actually did it, I was sweating like hell. In contrast, she looked as usual; she even tapped the pup’s head twice as a punishment when he was struggling and not cooperating. 

After tossing about by us, although the pup’s wound was treated properly, he became more and more feeble and huddled up to his mother, losing even the strength to whine. She stayed by their side, looking at them without blinking. I also did not want to rush her, just sitting in a nearby corner to rest. 

She looked at the wolf, and I looked at her. In my brain, I always tried to connect what she said earlier with the scene before me. 

All this time, I had been looking at her and observing her like this. Maybe because I had brought her back myself, and Master was not a caring person in life, so I always had a special sense of responsibility for her.

I thought I was observant enough and knew her enough. But only at that moment, I realized I did not truly know many things about the child, just as I did not know she would throw the “kill“ word at me, just as I did not think she would throw the “kill“ word at the pup. If to me, it could be explained as our relationship was not deep enough. Then, to this pup, her eyes would grow teary for him; she would be filled with hope because of him; she would give him a gentle smile. However, when she said she would take his life, she was still so calm and resolute.

Initially, I interpreted it as the wolf’s nature in nature, but now I felt that it might not be a wolf’s nature, but her true…nature. 

Wolf’s nature can be removed, but true nature…

Unconsciously, I had already sunk deep in thoughts. Right at this moment, a string of shouts snapped me out of it. 

“Hey, hey, you! Why are you zoning out? Come over here!” Over there, the little human was lying beside the little wolf. Her hands were still stroking him, but her eyes were staring at my direction. Anxiety was all over her face: “Come and have a look. He looks weird.”

I hurried over in a few steps and took the pup from her hands that were holding him up. His head was hanging, and his ears were slouching, looking like he was gasping for air, dying.

“What’s wrong with it? Haven’t you already treated the wound?” She clenched her little fist. Her voice carried a questioning tone, but it was devoid of mistrust she had earlier. Presumably, the treatment gave her confidence in me. 

However, I was not a veterinarian, not even a doctor. I knew some virtues of medicinal herbs because I was born in a family living in the mountain. As for first-aid and wound dressing, it was because I used to be a backpacker. So, I was a little nervous too, when being asked now. I examined the injury again to make sure there was no mistake, then calmed down and thought it out. Within my knowledge, I had thought of two possibilities. 

“Maybe it was just too painful,” I answered honestly. “Another worse possibility is that the wound is infected.”

I did not know if the word “infect” was within this world’s lexicon. She would not understand anyway. She was only concerned about what to do. I felt rather helpless—If it was just pain, the pup could still endure it. But if it was infection…I only knew the most common herbs for dispelling cold and clearing heat.

But being stared at by such eyes, I really did not want to disappoint her. 

Or should I tell Master? She had wandered in jianghu. She should have some knowledge in treating wounds. But, it was not appropriate. Neither Lian’er or I was hurt. Even making a fresh wound now could not guarantee the result. If Master knew that we were rescuing a wild wolf, I could not imagine the consequences. 

Wait—Master.

An idea flashed across my mind. I suddenly remembered something, then I pulled the person beside me and ran back the way we came. She was caught off guard by me, staggering for two steps before withdrawing her eyes from the pup. 

“What’s the matter?” She asked, looking at me in confusion, but she did not turn violent and fight back. 

“Do you still remember the books Master brought back the other day?” I explained to her as we ran: “The ones that we use to read and write?”

In teaching us, Master had focused all her effort on martial arts, but she also felt that her disciples could not be illiterate. So, every time she went to replenish the supplies down the hill, she would always purchase two books as teaching materials. However, books were scarce goods in a rural small town. Only one or two books could be found from time to time, and the contents were diverse; they were even in different scripts. But Master did not care much. She would buy it for us to learn in our spare time whenever she came across one. For me, it was still all right, but Lian’er had a tough time studying them, so she had always held some grudges against them.

“What?” As expected, when I suddenly mentioned those books now, she looked alert, and her pace also slowed down a lot.  

I turned around and smiled at her, replying: “I remember there is a medical book among them. There should be a prescription for treating wounds.”

It was almost dusk when we returned to Yellow Dragon cave. Master did not come out from closed-door meditation today. It suited us just right. After rummaging through the boxes and chests, we actually dug out that thin medical book. Lian’er snatched it from my hand and flipped through it first, then she immediately passed the book back to me and stared at me intently.  

She did not say anything. Hope was written all over her eyes. 

Under that gaze, I opened the book and read a few lines carefully; I could not help but draw my brows together. 

The book was indeed a medical book, but it was just a local record. What was recorded inside was all kinds of jumbled remedies. Actually, it was great because the most common category in this kind of mixed remedies would include the commonly used prescriptions for treating wounds and relieving pain, removing toxin and putrefaction. It even recorded the benefits and shapes of herbs. But unfortunately, the terms, especially the jargon, were hard to understand. The herb drawings were scratchy. To locate the herbs with these drawings was near to impossible. 

For the sake of today’s plan, I could only first tough it out and make out how the herbs look like from the obscure descriptions.

I was holding the book, interpreting it word by word, trying to translate it into sentences with my poor basic knowledge. My mind was consistently jumping from Chinese medicine to western medicine, classical Chinese to vernacular Chinese. For a moment, I felt my head had been blown up to a few times bigger. 

The light around me was slowly dimming down. Until I could no longer see the words in the book clearly, I put down the book and rubbed my sore eyes. I was going to light the lamp, but suddenly, I saw Lian’er was holding an oil lamp in her hands at the corridor’s end, carefully walking over. 

I thought I had read too much, overstraining my eyes, so I rubbed my eyes again, but what I saw was still there.

It was really odd. In the past, when it was dark, I would light the lamp, and Master would light the lamp, but I had never seen this child lighting the lamp. First, she was a little afraid of the fire all the while. Second, her eyesight was so good that she could see in the dark and never needed the light at all. 

But now, she had clearly brought a lamp over and even placed it on the table. Sensing my gaze, she curled her lips down: “You, quick, read!” Then, she just stared at the oil lamp and ignored me. 

I grinned, wanted to tease her but felt that it was not the right time and also afraid that the things I had in mind would go away, so I went on grinding away as she said. 

By the time I managed to put the book’s words into my own understanding and visualize this understanding into images in my brain, linking them with those plants in the mountains, it was already late at night. I lifted my head and expelled a long breath. Then I found that she was lying on the table. Her long lashes were quivering under the shadows. She had fallen asleep watching the lamp. 

It suddenly occurred to me that on this day, we seemed to know each other better and get closer to each other than the past few years. 

Maybe, for she and I, this was the beginning of a real relationship.

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 10

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 10

Bite

I had no idea what an actual martial sister relationship should be like in this world. Following Master over the years, I had never, not before or after settling down, come in contact with a real member of the martial arts community. 

When recalling those stories I had read, the existence of a so-called senior martial sister was either overbearing or dignified, if not, she would get along with other martial siblings like her own siblings.

I would also like to emulate that kind of existence if possible, but I had not had the chance. 

Since Lian’er started learning how to talk, the first word she said was mama, the second word was master, and the third word was you. When she finally learned to say the word senior sister, she soon understood the meaning of this title, especially the implication of being above her. From then on, she stopped using it and resumed her usual way of addressing with “you.”

I always reciprocated her unique sense of pride with understanding. Even if I was being singled out, I did not feel too bothered and just let her be. 

However, when I heard the teeth-gnashing “I’ll kill you” under the gaze of those malicious eyes, I admitted my heart shook for a moment.

Closed my eyes, I told myself. Like many times before, this was just an expression of her violence out of spite. Besides, in Lian’er’s thinking, killing, and life and death were not as heavy as they were in ordinary people’s eyes. It was the law of nature she learned earlier than language; it had always been as simple and as usual as drinking and eating.

Yes, rationally, I could understand. 

But still my heart sank instantaneously the moment that sentence blurted out from between her teeth. 

During these few years after bringing her back, Master had undoubtedly devoted a great deal of effort to her, but the effort I put in was not necessarily lesser. Especially on trivial matters such as food and clothing. I spent even more energy than Master on these, yet I got such words in return. She might feel nothing, but I could not help feeling upset the moment I heard it. 

Hence that night, I said nothing to her after that sentence. I only gave her an intense look in silence and turned to leave.

When I left, I was even mentally prepared for her to assault me, but fortunately, at last, she did not. 

I wondered if she saw anything from that gaze. 

However, even though the feelings in my heart were inexpressible, ultimately, I still kept my lips sealed in front of Master and helped her to keep this—in fact, harmless—secret.

Anyway, Master had been getting busier recently, so she also would not notice any time soon.

It was just that because of this matter, both of us were gradually drifting apart from each other. 

Strictly speaking, it was not so much the both of us as only me from her one-sidedly—she still spoke to me bluntly like always. Seeing that I did not reveal anything to Master this time, she just went on as usual. Occasionally, she took a few looks at me—I also did not know what it meant—and then turned back to continue doing her own thing. 

Despite her young age, she was indeed busy, busy practicing martial arts, and learning how to read, all of which were arranged by Master. She would check on them now and then; she had never neglected them. And also, busy hunting; this was a little…as if she was sure that it would be no problem if I did not say it. She seemed like she was not going to learn a lesson at all. Most of the time, she still took only a little of her kills back. The rest, needless to say, were fed to her “distant relatives.”

If we had not had that conversation, I could still remind her it was inappropriate to do so. But now, we did not talk, and it happened that I was responsible for the cooking. She probably had not learned the proverb- even a capable housewife cannot cook a meal without rice, yet she had already unintentionally used this proverb to make things difficult for me. 

Out of desperation, I had to think of a way myself. Fortunately, I had not forgotten those trap techniques I learned to fill my stomach when I was in the hunter’s house. Now when I set up the traps again, I could get some kills from time to time, so Master did not notice anything wrong during the meal.

Why did I have to cover it up  for the child while I was angry with her?

Every time I thought about this, I could only sigh—I was born to toil. 

Like this, we had been living in peace for a short period. Except for conflicting with myself, everything else remained the same, at least on the surface.

The sky was clear on this day. I had taken a wooden bucket to the nearest stream to wash our clothes. From afar, I saw a familiar little figure scurrying toward the direction of the cave and disappeared in a flash. 

Sigh…her qinggong is becoming more and more consummate. My thoughts drifted aimlessly. I lowered my head, scrubbing hard, and her clothes happened to be in my hands.

Even though I was angry, unless it was something serious, I was a person who could hardly hold on to it for long. After these days, my anger had subsided. It was meaningless to distance her. First, she did not care. Second, I was an adult on the inside, yet I was angry with such a child. It was ridiculous when I thought about it. 

Besides, I later recalled her vehement reaction at that time—is it because she remembered the incident when Master slaughtered the wolves? If so, I should understand her for her thoughtless words. 

This way, it was better to make up with her. Although she did not care, it was different to me.

I washed the last clothes, wrung all of them, and put them back in the bucket one by one. I flung my hands and stood up, ready to return to Yellow Dragon cave and talked to the child. Looking up, I saw the figure earlier rushing over here from the direction of the cave. 

“Lian’er—” I called out from a distance. I had not called her name for several days. I missed it quite a bit. 

When she heard my voice, she sped up. It was nothing seeing from a distance before, but when she came closer, I noticed something was wrong with her.

As she got even closer, I saw it clearly—why did she look exasperated and menacing?

Where did I cross her again? Before I could figure it out, she was already in front of me. Her face was rosy because of running too fast, and her hair was also a mess. At first, I unconsciously wanted to reach out my hand to smooth it out for her, but seeing her expression, I stopped wisely. 

“What’s the matter?” I could only ask. 

She looked straight into my eyes, not answering. I did not know whether she was exhausted or something. She was gasping, her chest heaving violently, even the rim of her eyes turning red. She flung the thing in her hand on the ground and asked with a croaky voice: “Yours?”

I looked at her and squatted down, then I noticed that it was an item made of woods and cow tendons, Taking a closer look, it was a component I used to make a figure four deadfall trap, but now it was damaged and somehow stained with blood.

My heart tensed after seeing it. I quickly raised my head: “I made it. Did it hurt you? Where did it hurt?” While saying that, I wanted to get up and examine her, but I immediately noticed that when she heard what I said, the redness around her eyes suddenly deepened. Clutching her fists, she let out a dismal hiss from her throat like a young beast and jumped on me at once.

I was in a squatting position, could not dodge in time, so she caught me head-on. The momentum was too strong. The two of us fell into the stream in an instant while wrestling together. 

The moment she knocked me down, my heart trembled, feeling that things were about to go south. 

I did not know why she suddenly came at me. I only knew that if she genuinely wanted to give me a hard time now, I was doomed.

We rolled in the water a few times. She had the upper hand; she sprang over and pressed me down into the stream, followed by a burst of blows and kicks. For a moment, water was splashing everywhere. I suffered a few hits to my body and arms, but surprisingly, they did not hurt much. 

Startled, I stopped floundering and scanned her, who was now on me. Although her face was flushed, seemingly furious, she clearly did not use internal energy while swinging punches and kicks. Not only that, but even her way of hitting was also haphazard. It was not so much an assault as a child venting out her anger. 

I was worried, but I did not say much to her. It did not hurt much anyway, so I just let her beat me and took advantage of the situation to check her body from head to toe. I did not find any wounds. 

I was worried about her, but she seemed to think the beating was not enough to quench her anger. After squirming for a while and some thinking, she pulled my arm toward her mouth. I was frightened, thinking, are you going to bite me again? I quickly stretched the other hand to grip her cheeks.

With her cheeks squeezed and her mouth pouted, she could not bite. She probably felt that she had made too much of a fuss, so she stopped struggling, looking at me while panting, her eyes still tinted with anger.

Maintaining this posture, I shook my head, shaking off the wet hair on my forehead, and said: “I made the trap because you always share the kills. I have to do it, do you understand?”

Silence.

“Did the trap hurt you?”

More silence.

“Did it hurt your…wolves?”

Finally, she struggled. Her eyes were getting more and more furious. 

Okay, bingo. 

“That trap of mine won’t kill them. You came to me for their injuries. Then I’ll treat them. That’s it. Why do you throw a fit like this!” Soaking in the cold water, I was really mad. 

Yet, I saw her pouting, eyes full of distrust.

“You know how to treat?”

I really wanted to bite her too. 


Translator’s note:
This chapter is later than usual. Sorry for leaving you hanging(*>人<)Hope you enjoy this chapter!

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 9

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!” 

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 8

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 8

Human

Master once said: “Xian’er, you’re smart, but you always like to overthink, burdened by your own thoughts. Perhaps this is a flaw of worrying too much that you were born with.” 

It was more of a tease when she said that, but she hit the mark without intention. 

I still had some self-consciousness. Hence, I couldn’t refute that. I could only tell myself that it was all right to overthink, but just don’t be indecisive and be absorbed in insoluble or trivial problems.

These tangled feelings came in fast, but also faded away quickly. 

If there was no solution for the time being, just leave it for now.  

Besides, that night, because of her supposedly waiting and response, regardless of whether it was a coincidence, I vaguely came to realize she, Lian’er, compared to the legendary lady in the well-known story, was indeed a living being with flesh and blood. A child who was abandoned by her father, raised by a female wolf, and later, happened to be brought back from the wolf’s den by me and Master and fostered to this day. 

I had seen all her emotions- joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness, and seen her changes little by little. How could I doubt her existence, and in turn, question the reality of this entire world and myself simply because of a name?

Thinking about it this way, I felt relieved. 

The days went on as usual, plain and simple. Everything was going like how it was supposed to be. Master saw I was gradually coming back to normal. Perhaps she thought I had finally adjusted myself, so she asked no more questions. But she seemed gratified. 

However, in the days to come, I had unknowingly developed a new habit. 

It didn’t matter whether I was reminded or still dwelled on the thought. Later, when I was alone in my spare time, I couldn’t help but try to think and recall—recall the story of that legendary lady, although the result of such attempts was often in vain. 

I used to travel around. Every time during a long, tiring drive, I liked to read something to pass my time. I had read books of varied topics and many classic stories from the collection of Jin Yong’s wuxia novels, going with the crowd, and also many passages about Gu Long’s Sentimental Swordsman and Chu Liuxiang, the gallant bandit chief. Unfortunately, even with all these, all I could remember was just bits and pieces when I thought back now. As for the most pivotal masterpiece, I couldn’t even remember if I’d read it after thinking about it. 

So, no matter how hard I tried to recall, the images that flashed through my mind the most were various scenes from different versions of the story. That said, the appearance of the lady, however, was still fresh in my mind, keeping her graceful look; except, every detail of the story had become a passing memory, putting me in an awkward situation. 

Often at this moment, I couldn’t help but want to cover my face and sigh—only if God would give me one more chance.  

“Hey, you! Trance out again! Made me look for you long time. Master call!”

A yell abruptly came from behind. Though the sentences were incomplete and unclear, they still sounded prideful. 

Well—if God gave me another chance, I wouldn’t have been so dumb to choose this path. Thought of this, I smiled as I shook my head, got up, and brushed away the dust on my shirt. When I turned around, in front of me was a seemingly solemn little face. 

Maybe this was one of the reasons I felt relieved.

For no matter how I looked at her, I could never associate this little face with the stunning, domineering, legendary lady who shared the same name as her. Okay, regarding the stunning appearance, it might be possible for her to match in the future. But for now, adorable was the only word to describe her. As for the domineering demeanor, she had possessed it since young, but unfortunately, it was used only against me.  

I stepped forward, wanted to take her hand, and walk together. But, before I could reach out my hand, I received a glare from her. Then, she ran off and disappeared as soon as she turned around. 

In that instant, I missed the wolf pup that hadn’t learned qinggong and still couldn’t run on two legs. 

Since she started speaking, she seemed to grow up in no time. In less than a year, she could communicate fluently, and her way of thinking and expression looked more like a normal human being. 

After that, Master began to teach her some basic mental cultivation methods of her martial art as a foundation. In this regard, I had to say she deserved the painstaking efforts that Master invested in her. Her good comprehension and rapid progress had put me to shame. 

Before her, I had been practicing for over two years, but now it seemed like the day she would overtake me was close at hand. Occasionally, when I thought about it, I felt more or less disgruntled yet impotent. 

Of course, in contrast to my mixed feelings, Master was genuinely a lot happier. 

Or perhaps, she felt that she couldn’t let down such an exceptional talent. Therefore, she paid more and more attention to the set of swordsmanship that was being developed. So, aside from giving us guidance on our practices, she had returned to her previous meditation state, staying in all day long, spending even more time than before. Perhaps, she felt that Lian’er had already become a “human,” and nature would take its course for the rest. In recent days, she even entrusted the hunting to her with great assurance. 

As a result, this had inadvertently formed a situation in which she was responsible for everything outside the cave, and I took care of everything inside the cave. She was delighted about it and seemed to perceive herself as the head of the household, showing me more of her proud and lofty look with her cheek puffed. I wasn’t so bothered about this; her hunting ability was indeed above me. She might be even better than Master if only considered techniques. 

But, recently…

After dinner, Master, who seldom came out from her room, gave each of us a few words before returning to the stone chamber to meditate. I started a fire, preparing to clean up what she had brought back from the hunting in the daytime. But, when I walked towards the corner where the prey was usually stacked, I couldn’t help frowning at the sight of it.  

Only a half-dead pheasant was lying lonely and pitifully at that place, where it would usually have lots of prey piling up.

It was not the first time. It had been like this for several days now. 

I glanced at that bit of prey and turned back to peer at her. Expectedly, I noticed she was glancing at me at the same time from a distance. As soon as she saw me turning around, she immediately averted her eyes, trying to act as if nothing had happened.

I wanted to tell her, out of all the kids I’d seen, she was the worst at hiding her feelings.

Is there something going on? Now was the season of abundance; even if I were to go out hunting, the prey would certainly not be only this little, not to say her. Looking at her guilty expression, it was not so much a suspicion as a certainty.

So I kept an eye on her at night.

Master’s bed was in the innermost part of the stone chamber. Then there was a stone bed and a bench in the inner cave. Because the entrance of Yellow Dragon cave couldn’t be completely sealed, I would stay alert at night then, afraid that something might sneak in during the night. But ever since we had this child, I slept soundly instead as she was more sensitive to the surroundings than me. 

Tonight, however, I was vigilant, so I saw her sneaking out of the cave late at night. 

Why? Standing up, I was full of doubts.

With little time to hesitate, I put on my robe and boots and followed her immediately. 

The night ran deep, and the fog was thick. The air in the forest was humid, and the moonlight tonight was dull. It was a completely different environment, but somehow, it reminded me of that cold night when I first met the kid. 

The difference was I was trembling in fear with a touch in my hand at that time. And now I was holding my breath with empty hands. 

In front of me was a distant figure, moving fast. It was not an easy task to keep up with her pace. Not only because of her heightened alertness, but also because I nearly lost track of her several times in such a short distance. I didn’t bring any weapons. Not that I’d forgotten, but I subconsciously felt that there would be no danger. She might hide some little secret, but it would not be something sinister.

Perhaps I was too confident—confident that no matter how hard it would be, I could still keep up with her. 

Soon after, God punished me for my imprudence. I didn’t expect the child’s qinggong to be the one skill that had improved the most out of all her martial practices. I could still barely keep up with her speed on the field before, but those agile moves when she entered the dense woods were something I was incapable of doing now. 

Finally, in between the shadow of the trees, I lost her.

A moonless and windy night. 

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 7

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 7

Lian’er

When I first opened my eyes in this world, I thought I was dreaming. 

If one day those cliché plots actually happened to oneself, regardless of how banal they were, anyone would feel as absurd as a dream.

In my dream, I saw a crude straw house, a dim oil lamp, a stalwart man, and a woman crying and complaining about having given birth to a girl again. Unfortunately, I slept, woke up, and slept again; countless days and nights had passed, but I still didn’t wake up from this nightmare. So, I finally accepted the truth that I would never wake up. 

If one couldn’t wake up from the dream, the dream became a reality.

I was a practical person. 

Since I was alive, as a practical person, I would want to live a better life. 

Thus after that, I kept myself busy all the time, for survival and the future, struggling while taking the trouble to ask around and make all kinds of plans, only to achieve this simple goal.

But thanks to that, I gradually had the reality of living in the present. 

I thought I had accepted the fact of living in obscurity in the corner of history. The history was real, therefore so was I. It was just time and space separating me from the world of sleepless nights filled with debauchery and revelry.

I really thought so. 

But now…

Lian Nichang.

Who was Lian Nichang?

Like most people, living in a fast-paced life, I was not a keen fan of books at that time. Although I had some exposure to those kinds of literature, I had only scratched the surface for most of them, only vaguely remembering a fraction of them at most. 

Even so, I would never be unfamiliar with this name. 

Not only was it familiar, I literally heard a lot about it—a well-known yet fictional existence.

In a daze, I was back in the mountains. 

I didn’t even remember how I got back, or maybe I was merely following Master without thinking. 

I was not a child, after all, so, over the years, I had made my own decision about everything, rarely needing someone to talk to. Besides, there were many things I couldn’t talk about. Especially after following Master, neither of us liked to talk much. Gradually, we had come to a kind of tacit understanding—if I didn’t want to say it, she wouldn’t ask either. 

However, this time, she had looked at me several times on the way back from the store. And now, she finally called me, hesitantly: “Xian’er…”

Upon hearing her, I looked up and saw her brows knitted. Her expression was as usual, but her eyes clearly flashed with worries.  

I must have looked pale, but I also know she might have misunderstood me because of this. Master was a person with great pride who kept her words and honored her promises. Though she had never promised me herself, the time when we settled down in Mount Hua, she had made her attitude of recognizing me as her successor clear, which was why she had given me those words of encouragement. But now, she had accepted another disciple again, someone with an exceptional physique. Although her life’s wish had been fulfilled, she was a little troubled for breaking her own words. I understood the feelings she had even before this, so I had been acting considerate to make her feel relieved. Yet, when she actually accepted another disciple, my expression didn’t look so good, so it must have made her think that I still cared.

But how would she have known? And how could I tell her that what was bothering me was just a name she had given at random?

This name had once again sent me back to the confused state at birth. 

I couldn’t explain; I could only smile at her. Fortunately, Master wasn’t a person who liked to get to the bottom of things. She would give me time to think it over. 

And that was what I needed most now. 

That night, I had lost sleep for the first time. 

I rolled over, got up, and draped a coat over my shoulders, wanting to have a walk outside the cave. Who knew this small movement would alarm that child who had always been pretty alert. She reared her head cautiously on the bench beside, and her eyes stared straight at me in the dark. 

I looked at her in silence—though I couldn’t see her clearly in the dark.

After a while, I withdrew my gaze, turned around, and headed out of the cave. 

The air outside the cave was brisk. It was always chilly at night in the mountains, regardless of the season. Tonight was a lovely night with speckles of stars and a bright moon hanging high in the sky, seemingly the same as the sky I’d seen every night in the hunter’s house. 

I couldn’t read the stars, but every time I looked up into the sky, I felt my heart had been comforted, gaining a moment of peace. 

Peace was vital because only with a peace of mind that I could think, calmly and rationally.  

In the night wind, my mind gradually unclouded. I began to wonder.

Could it be just a coincidence? The world is so vast that even in a small part of the world, many people share the same name. Couldn’t someone be allowed to have the same name just so coincidence as a character in a book hundreds of years later? 

However, deep inside, a voice retorted.

How could it be so coincident? The name, checked; the world, checked; even the era, checked—when I think back now, it should be by the late Ming dynasty, troubled times when the eunuchs were in power. Although I almost can’t remember the story, this bit of knowledge was still in my brain. 

If…if this is not a coincidence, where am I now? Am I in actual history? Or am I in an imaginary story?

Looking up, I saw the vast rivers of stars. 

Are they the same as those I’ve seen countless times from inside the buildings or amid the wilderness hundreds of years later? 

What is this place? What day is today?

I once thought I found the answer, but now it was all blurred again. 

I sat still for a long time; perplexity and confusion remained. There was still no answer to everything. But at least, after sorting out my thoughts, they were not as complicated as before turning my mind into a mess.

After regaining my senses, I finally felt cold. I tugged my clothes wryly before getting up and left.

My view was getting darker returning into the cave from under the bright night sky. Relying on my memories, I felt my way to the stone bed. As I sat down on the bed, about to take off my shoes and socks, I suddenly felt a gaze on me.

I opened my eyes wide and focused, straining my eyes to their fullest. Finally, I saw a blurry figure—it was still that kid. She kept the same posture as before I was out. It seemed like she hadn’t moved much. Only a pair of bright eyes were gleaming in the dark. Now, seeing that I sensed her, she yawned out of boredom, and turned to lie down on the bench, and continued to rest. 

I wasn’t sure why. My heart shivered. It struck me that she was expressly waiting for me to come back. 

I didn’t know how long I had been sitting there, only noticing her shallow breathing in the dark becoming more distinct. Finally, I couldn’t hold back and spoke softly, trying to call her: “Lian…” The last two words lingered in my throat: “…Nichang?”

The moment I voiced the name, it didn’t feel like a dream; it felt like a show. 

But when my voice came out, she just twitched her ears and didn’t respond to the name. 

Right, she just had her name this morning. Generally, children wouldn’t remember it so quickly, let alone her. 

After a pause, I tried to call her again: “…Lian’er?”

This time, she turned half her face around and looked over here with her eyes squinting, as if she had concluded that I was teasing her. She puckered her nose with dissatisfaction and let out a ferocious grunt of protest from her throat before turning her back on me.    

I pursed my lips and smiled silently.

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 6

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 6

Nichang

Spring came after Lunar New Year. After the awakening of hibernating insects[1] (begins around March 5 and ends around March 20), the weather in the mountain was finally getting warmer, and the snow and ice around were gradually melting into purling streams. 

The mountain life of three was much livelier than of two, but I had grown accustomed to it.

Great things happened. Since leaving the wolf’s den, the child’s animal nature had slowly diminished under our strict discipline these days. Recently, she had stopped biting people or gnawing on things easily and seldom made loud howls anymore. She even learned how to eat clumsily from a wooden bowl. Master’s eyes were beaming with joy witnessing that, and I was happy for her. 

There were also some subtle changes in her attitude toward us. 

Her attitude toward Master had gradually changed from pure fear to a kind of reverence. She even displayed affectionate and clingy behaviors sometimes. Master was pleased to see this and felt that it was a sign of the gradual disappearance of animal nature and the budding of humanity. I had nothing to say on this, but I personally believed that it might be the remnants of her animal nature having an effect on her behaviors. It was worth knowing that there was always a leader in every wolf pack. Such behaviors of hers were probably her instinct to recognize Master as the leader.

In this case, it could explain her attitude toward me. 

After all, compared to the gratifying progress on Master’s side, her attitude toward me always came with one word—defiance. 

I thought it was because the first fight we had in the wolf’s den that she had held a grudge and sowed hostility against me. I had tried to get close to her in every possible way. But after a long time, I realized that although she had no longer glared at me with belligerent eyes, and wasn’t constantly being aggressive anymore, she was still stubborn and supercilious. It was totally different from her attitude toward Master. 

Perplexed by this, I felt that only the law of the wolves could explain this situation after thinking it over—She instinctively sensed the power of Master, and conceded to her. She then recognized her as the leader, but would never accept others’ position to be above her. And this ‘others’ was, of course, me, which was why she acted haughty toward me in every way, causing a lot of trouble.

Having figured out the reason, I could only feel more ironic, feeling that the journey ahead would be difficult, yet didn’t know what to do with her.

Of course, there were two sides to the story. She didn’t always work against me in everything or act rebellious and unruly, especially when it was time to cook. 

I was the one who usually prepared the meals in the cave. Initially, the child wouldn’t even touch the cooked food when I gave it to her. She would only drool over bloody raw meats, and sometimes she would also eat grassroots or tree berries. Master couldn’t stand it. She told me not to give her anything but cooked food, even if she would starve to death. Later, she had really fasted for a few meals and was lethargic, seeming piteous. I couldn’t unsee it. After careful observation of her behaviors, I noticed, not that she refused to eat; it was just that she couldn’t take hot food, not even when it was warm. And the weather was freezing cold then, so every dish I prepared for each meal was steaming hot. Naturally, she wouldn’t eat it. 

Because of this, I felt somewhat guilty. After that, I would specially cut some meat, add less seasoning, and roast it slowly with low heat, then slice it, and let it cool before giving it to her. As I thought, she liked it. After this occasion, she was willing to accept other food little by little.

Even though she liked it, she seemed to have her own conceit as a proud little wolf. She would never be tempted by food and danced around merrily like cats and dogs, especially when the person who enticed her was me. While I was roasting the meat, she would stand watching over me silently in the distance, letting the smell of roasting meat waft through the air without taking a glimpse at it. Occasionally, when she peeked out of the corner of her eye, she would assume a look of indifference. Sometimes, when I wanted to tease her, I would take my sweet time to roast the meat and not give it to her. Once her craving turned into frustration, not only would she not give in and please me, she would threaten me with a ferocious look instead. 

Or maybe I should be happy, for she didn’t bite down on me. 

Although we didn’t get along well, the kid did gradually return to the track of being a so-called human following Master’s expectations. On the day when she was awkwardly trying to stand on her feet, Master removed the rope from her.

At first glance, Master seemed to be very strict with this child, but I was well aware of how much effort Master had put into her. Since the child came, Master spent significantly less time in closed-door meditation refining her martial art, especially the initial phase. As the child only feared her, she was the one who looked after the child all the time. Later, when the situation was slightly better, she would retreat to the stone chamber to train, but she would definitely come out once in a day or two, which was quite different from the ten-day-to-half-a-month meditation when it was only the two of us. 

Master called me Xian’er and called her Lian’er.

I knew as long as Master hadn’t named her for a day; it meant that she still wasn’t considered as Master’s disciple for a day. But whenever I saw Master spending time with her, calling her Lian’er, I always had a weird feeling. 

I, too, felt odd for this weird feeling.

I wasn’t a jealous person, much less of such a master-disciple relationship. Undeniably to this day, Master was the only person with whom I had developed a relationship since I came to this world. I was grateful to her…grateful to her for getting me out of deep water and opening up a whole new world before me, so I wanted to repay her and try my best to fulfill all her expectations of me.

But now, there was a more suitable person to carry these expectations. 

I was a little upset, yet deep down, I felt a sense of relief. 

If so, why do I have this inexplicable feeling? Where does it come from?

For a long time, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Until that day—it was the beginning of the summer. 

The weather in the mountain was still pleasant at this time, gentle breezes blowing in the air, but the turn of the season was just around the corner.

Children of a few years old grew up fast. Her last year’s clothes didn’t fit her anymore when I took them out and had a look. Ever since we brought the kid back, she had been wearing my old clothes, and the size didn’t fit her well either. Since her animal nature was fading, we decided to take her along to the market downhill to buy some new clothes after a brief discussion. 

The so-called market was just the most basic mountain village fair. Farmers from villages around gathered for buying and selling goods. Master and I were no strangers to it, but for the child, everything was new. 

I thought she would look about with curiosity and like to try everything. But who knew, amidst the jostling crowd, this kid kept a cold face with caution and vigilance written in her eyes. When she saw anyone came too close, she would pucker her nose and give the person a menacing look. Fortunately, she was in Master’s arms, so she didn’t do anything in the end. 

Seeing her response, we didn’t want to stay on the street for any longer. We headed straight to the clothing store after purchasing the necessities. 

I hadn’t been very demanding. It was a clothing store, but as a small store in the countryside, they sold both ready-made garments and fabrics side by side. We were lucky as we quickly found clothes that fit her. It would be difficult to find fitting ones if she were a little younger. Master also picked some silk and prepared to sew a robe for her after we got back. 

The old shopkeeper’s face lit up with happiness as silk was expensive quality goods in this small village store. He measured and cut the silk himself while pouring out flattery the whole time. I didn’t know how he mistook us for mother and daughters. He first complimented Master, saying she was blessed for having such a pair of daughters, and then praised her for being a good mother. 

I felt uncomfortable listening in by the side. Master seemed annoyed too, however, she couldn’t lose her temper. She could only sit tight and wait for him to finish his job. 

In contrast, the child was more relaxed now, probably because she was away from the crowd. She was just starting to learn how to speak of late. While listening to the old shopkeeper talking, she babbled along with bright eyes. 

At first, Master and I were used to this, so it didn’t surprise us.

Until she uttered a crisp and clear word among her babbling: 

“Ma…ma…”

I saw Master start slightly, looking incredulous. She looked at the child in her arms deeply. And for a moment, tears welled up faintly in the corners of her eyes.  

I had been following Master for so long. This was the first time I had seen her lose her composure. I dropped my head down quietly, all sorts of feelings flooded my heart. 

Luckily, Master had quickly recollected herself despite losing her cool. With a deep breath, she was back to normal. The old shopkeeper saw nothing when he lifted his head back up, heard only the child’s babbling. He was delighted and asked for the child’s name while chatting with Master. 

The moment I heard the old shopkeeper’s inquiry, a premonition struck me for some reason. 

I looked up at Master, saw that she was silent at first, then she slowly looked over to the silk chiffon in the shopkeeper’s hands, and gazed fixedly at it with her mouth ajar for a while. 

“Nichang.”

I heard her reply: “This child’s name is Lian Nichang.”

A sentence crashed into my brain, instantly freezing my limbs and bones. 

In a trance, I only knew that I seemed to have repeated the name once more.

Lian…Nichang…

Lian Nichang…

Her name was as familiar as the sound of thunder to my ears. 


[1]惊蛰(Jīngzhé)- 惊 is to startle and 蛰 means hibernating insects. It’s the 3rd of the 24 solar terms in the traditional East Asian calendars. Traditional Chinese folklore says that during Jingzhe, thunderstorms will wake up the hibernating insects, which implies that the weather is getting warmer. Source: Wikipedia

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 5

The Witch Nichang- Chapter 5

She

“This girl surnamed Lian, her father was a poor scholar. When they fled to this place, her mother died in childbirth. Her father abandoned her at the foot of Mount Hua, and a monk in Mount Yuanji found and raised her…”

I sat on a stone stool in the cave, listening to Master reciting the inscription on the rotten rag in her hand while redressing the wound. 

The tattered rag found in the wolf’s den earlier turned out to be the child’s swaddling clothes with her antecedent scrawled on it. The handwriting was already blurry by now, but it was still legible. I once imagined her life experience as complicated and full of ups and downs, but it sounded mediocre now that I knew it. After all, abandoned babies weren’t uncommon in this world, especially baby girls. If it weren’t for the mother wolf that found and raised her by chance, it would merely be an ordinary story. 

I turned my head; in the candlelight, the protagonist of the story was curling up on the stone bench where I usually rested, sleeping soundly, frowning and squelching from time to time. 

With a faint sigh, I tied the last knot tight, jumped off the stone stool, and came to Master’s side, asking tentatively with a cupped fist: “What should we do with that…kid?”

Master didn’t answer me right away, but took another look at the girl following my gaze. The thoughtful look on her face grew more pronounced.

It was just as I would expect. Upon seeing that, I was more sure of it. There was no reason to hesitate anymore now. I took a step back, bowed, and pleaded: “I beg Master to keep her.”

Deep down, I had known for a long time that Master had always given a lot of weight to the martial arts she created, always wanted to find a talented successor to carry forward her mantle and make it shine. In this regard, I had fallen short of her expectations. Just because she had a high standard and couldn’t find the ideal prospect adhering to her principle of quality over quantity, in the end, she could only put her hope upon me.  

That time when I saw Master peering at her in the wolf’s den, I knew that this child was most likely the talent Master had been waiting for for a long time. Otherwise, for Master’s personality, she would never have taken the trouble to search for her origin even though she had saved her. 

Even if I didn’t say it now, Master should also have this intention. It would be better if I made it clear and saved her from contemplating, and both sides would be satisfied. 

Who knew Master just glanced at me and asked: “Why?”

“I…” Don’t you want to keep her? I secretly grumbled, yet couldn’t speak it out. I hesitated for a bit: “Disciple wants to have a companion who trains and studies together. This…” My voice was getting softer as I lowered my head. This wasn’t me, and Master should know it more or less. This excuse was a little too silly. 

I raised my brows and took a peek in secret. As expected, she was looking at me noncommittally. Seeing me lifted my head abashedly, she smiled a little. 

“I’m used to seeing you acting like an adult, and you had the gall to guess what I’m thinking.” She said with a smile, reached out her hand, and gave a punitive pat on my head. Then, she stood up, walked next to the stone bench, observed the girl for some time, and finally, she sighed: “Let’s just leave it to fate. We’ll see if we can get rid of her animal nature first”

Only then did I understand Master’s actual misgivings.

Now that I thought of it. It was an era where information wasn’t easily accessible. Such strange events were mostly unheard of. Naturally, she would be in doubt. No matter how good she was, if she didn’t have even the basic humanity, let alone others. 

I wasn’t concerned about this. Thinking back to those legends and tales I’d read, it clearly explained that a wolf child was also a human. Their learning ability and intelligence didn’t necessarily deteriorate much. Besides, this child was so young. With an appropriate environment and guidance, it shouldn’t be too difficult to tame the ferity.

But it was just my thoughts. I daren’t make any promises at the moment, just thinking about it in my mind.  

Other than what should be done to get rid of her animality, there was one thing that must be done now. 

And that was the cleaning. 

This child was covered in dirt from head to toes. I already had the intention of throwing the coat away when I gave it to her to keep out the cold earlier. After staying in the same room with her, I was even more sensitive to the foul smell. I had been eyeing her for a while now, but considering the injury on my arm, plus, she might suddenly wake up and hurt others, I could only ask for Master’s help. Who knew Master had the same thought as me. Since we were both thinking the same thing, we ended our break right away and boiled some water. While she was still unconscious, we put her into a tub and gave her a thorough scrub. 

I had to say this was more exhausting than breaking ice. I kept boiling and changing the water. It took me a few rounds of water to see her actual skin color. The most pitiable thing was her greasy, matted hair. We couldn’t untangle it no matter how hard we tried to smooth it down, and this had maddened Master. She resolutely swung her sword to cut off her hair, shaving it short to not more than an inch long. 

She had woken up once in the meantime, struggled blankly in the water, but was quickly knocked out again, and continued to let us move her around limply. 

After all the washing and scrubbing, Master carried her back to the stone bench freshly cushioned with some thick clothes. I then took a dry cloth to wipe off the water and had a closer look at the final result of my hard work.

She now looked like a steaming peeled boiled egg after getting out of the warm water. 

I knew that she had good features under the cover of dirt. I had taken a few glances while bathing her just now. But, now that I looked closely, she was far better looking than I imagined. Let’s say this little body with fair and silky smooth skin. Although the skin on her knees and palms was rough, she looked totally different from before. Speaking of her face, the little features of her were still childlike, but looking at her arch eyebrows and almond eyes, red lips and white teeth, she was a total beauty. And now, with her newly chopped hair, she looked naïve and lovable, like a baby. 

I took a few more glances with admiration before looking over to Master. I noticed she was also looking at the child with great satisfaction. Her eyes were filled with joy and hope. 

For an instant, I was a little upset. 

She…had never looked at me with such eyes. 

When I noticed what was bothering me, I couldn’t help smiling. Shaking my head lightly, I silently stepped back to a side, pulled out a set of clothes from my baggage, which was a little too small for me to wear, brought it over, and put them on for the child. 

If she was Master’s hope, she should be mine too. 

Soon after, she slowly woke up.

I watched her long eyelashes flutter open. In a blink of an eye, the innocence and naivety of a baby had all vanished. 

She rolled over suddenly and got up on the stone bench on all fours. She seemed to be very concerned about where she was, anxiously wanting to look around. However, because of her movements, she felt a thick encumbrance on her body and was eager to take it off. For a while, she seemed lost, not knowing what to do first. One moment, she raised her head and looked around, the next she lowered her head and tried to tear off her clothes, seemingly in a bustle. 

I couldn’t help chuckling for a moment and bursting out in laughter. 

Her ears twitched as she heard the laugh, and she turned around swiftly as if she got shocked, glaring at me with savage eyes. She was ready to pounce on me, but when she caught a glimpse of Master standing beside me the next second, she suddenly looked scared, kept retreating until she curled up in a corner, shivering, giving out faint whimpers. 

Seeing her attitude between two extremes, I smiled wryly, knowing that my life ahead would be difficult. 

As expected, for a long time after that, she would curl up in the corner and remain silent as long as Master was within sight. Although her eyes were full of vigilance and she wouldn’t let others near her, she was considerably docile. However, once Master was out or went into training—in short, when Master wasn’t around—she would turn my life upside down and never listen to me. Whenever she saw me alone, she wanted to attack me, or she would try every possible means within her intellect to escape. Master and I couldn’t keep watching over her all the time. We were forced into no choice, and in the end, we bound a rope around her right ankle and tied it to the stone table—she didn’t know how to untie it, anyway. Every time her movements were restricted, she would vent out her steam on the rope, grabbing and biting it recklessly. After she was worn out from the biting, she would lie face down on the ground with her arms and legs spread out and pant with her tongue hanging outside her mouth. 

Occasionally, she would do nothing but gaze out the cave with eager eyes, raise her head and let out dismal howls, which were no different from wolves, with a trace of sorrow, as if calling for her former mates. 

I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. After that winter night, there wasn’t a single wolf to be seen within a hundred-mile radius. 

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021 Leirion

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑