Chapter 39 Grasses—Part Seven
A-Qing seemed to have paused shortly before answering, “Y-yes.”
Xiao XingChen, “Then, walk a bit slower. Don’t be so fast. You wouldn’t want to bump into someone again, would you?”
He didn’t mention at all that he himself couldn’t see either. Holding A-Qing’s hand, he led her to the side of the road, “Walk here. There are less people.”
Both his words and his actions were gentle yet careful. A-Qing reached out with hesitation, but in the end, she still snatched away the money pouch that hung by his waist, “Brother, A-Qing is very thankful of you!”
Xiao XingChen, “Not Brother. It’s Daozhang.”
A-Qing blinked, “But you’re both Daozhang and Brother.”
Xiao XingChen smiled, “Then, since you call me Brother, why don’t you give back Brother’s pouch?”
No matter how quick a street-roamer like A-Qing was, they wouldn’t be able to fool the senses of a cultivator. Startled, she took her pole and sprinted as fast as she could. Yet, not having run very far, Xiao XingChen grabbed the back of her collar with one hand and brought her back, “As I’ve already said, you shouldn’t run so fast. What if you bump into someone again?”
A-Qing struggled to escape his grasp. With a twitch of her lips, her upper teeth bit down on her lower lip. Wei WuXian understood at once, Oh no, she’s gonna shout ‘molester’! Suddenly, a middle-aged man hurried out of a street corner. As he saw A-Qing, his eyes lit up at once. He stormed over as he cursed, “You little bitch. I’ve finally caught you. Give back my money!”
Simply cursing wasn’t enough to relieve his anger. With a wave of his arm, his hand swung toward her face. A-Qing immediately looked down and closed her eyes. Yet, before the slap landed on her cheek, it was stopped halfway through.
Xiao XingChen, “Sir, please calm down for a moment. It’s quite an impolite way to treat a young maiden, don’t you think?”
A-Qing secretly peeked from behind her eyelids. The middle-aged man clearly used a lot of strength, yet his hand was held by Xiao XingChen’s in a seemingly light way, unable to move an inch. Although he was nervous, he accused stubbornly, “What is a blind guy like you doing here? Saving the damsel in distress? So the little bitch is your lover? Did you know that she’s a thief? She stole my money! If you protect her, then you’re also a thief!”
With him in one hand and A-Qing in the other, Xiao XingChen turned around, “Give the man his money back.”
A-Qing fumbled out the small amount of money and passed it over. Xiao XingChen let go of the man, who counted the money. Everything was still there. Glancing at the blind cultivator again, the man knew that he’d be difficult to deal with, so he trudged awkwardly away.
Xiao XingChen, “You really are too bold. How do you dare steal things even when you’re blind?”
A-Qing leaped up three inches high, “He touched me! He pinched my butt, and it hurt so much, so what’s wrong with me taking some of his money? There’s only so little inside of such a big pouch, and he’s being a bully about it. He’s gonna die flat broke!”
Wei WuXian disagreed, You clearly had stealing intentions and bumped into him first, but now you’re saying it like he wronged you first. What a fraud argument.
Xiao XingChen shook his head, “Such being the case, you really should’ve known better than to provoke him. Today, if nobody was here, the matter wouldn’t have been solved with a mere slap. Maiden, take care.”
After he finished, he turned to the opposite direction and left. Wei WuXian observed, He didn’t ask for his money pouch back. This shishu of mine is gentle towards women as well.
Holding the money pouch that she stole, A-Qing stood and stared blankly for a few seconds. Suddenly, she stuffed it into her lapel, chased over with her pole, and crashed right onto Xiao XingChen’s back. Xiao XingChen could only help steady her again, “Is there anything else?”
A-Qing, “I still have your money pouch!”
Xiao XingChen, “It’s yours now. There’s not much inside, anyways. Before you spend all of it, be sure not to steal anything else.”
A-Qing, “I heard the filthy man curse. So you’re blind too?”
Hearing the second sentence, Xiao XingChen’s expression faltered at once. His smile disappeared as well.
The bold, innocent remarks of children were often the cruelest. Children didn’t know anything. Precisely because they didn’t know anything, they hurt people’s feelings in the most direct of ways.
Under the bandages wrapped around Xiao XingChen’s eyes, a smear of red grew darker and darker, almost seeping through the cloth. His raised his hand for it to hover over his eyes, while his arm trembled slightly. The pain and injury that came with gouging out one’s eyes were not that easy to heal. However, A-Qing simply thought that he was feeling dizzy. She beamed, “Then let me follow you!”
Xiao XingChen managed to smile, “Why would you want to follow me? To become a cultivator?”
A-Qing, “You’re tall and blind, and I’m small and blind. If we travel together, we can care for each other. My parents are gone and there’s nowhere I can stay. I’ll follow anyone to anywhere.” Being as clever as she was, she was afraid that Xiao XingChen would refuse her, so she took advantage of his agreeable nature and threatened, “I spend money really quickly. If you refuse to take me with you, the money will be gone at once, and I’ll have to go steal and trick people again. And then somebody will slap me hard and I’ll fall down and I won’t even be able to find my way. Poor me!”
Xiao XingChen laughed, “Someone as clever as you should be able to fool others so that they can’t find their way. Who in the world can do the same to you?”
After watching for a while, Wei WuXian found something interesting.
Now that he had seen Xiao XingChen himself, he discovered that, in comparison to the real one, Xue Yang’s imitation really was precise! Aside from his face, all of the details were true to the real Xiao XingChen. If someone told him so, he could’ve even believed that Xiao XingChen had possessed Xue Yang’s body.
Pleading, pestering, and pretending that she was pitiful, A-Qing clung to Xiao XingChen the whole way. Xiao XingChen warned her quite a couple of times that it’d be dangerous if she followed him, but A-Qing never listened. She wasn’t even scared after Xiao XingChen exorcised an old cattle that had gained consciousness when they passed a certain village. She still kept on calling him “Daozhang” and stuck to him as if she was syrup, never going more than three meters away from him. As she followed him, possibly deciding that A-Qing was quick-witted, brave, and never a hindrance all the while being a young, blind maiden with nowhere to go, Xiao XingChen finally gave tacit permission to her staying with him.
Wei WuXian originally thought that Xiao XingChen must have had a destination. However, as a few pieces of memory passed, judging from the climates and dialects, the places that they went couldn’t at all form a distinct route. He didn’t seem like he was going anywhere, but rather night-hunting by chance. He went to wherever people mentioned peculiar things were happening. Wei WuXian guessed, Maybe the YueyangChang Clan’s case had too big of a blow on him. He didn’t want to be among the clans and sects anymore, but he couldn’t give up on his aspirations, so he chose to night-hunt as he wandered around, solving as many problems as he could.
At the moment, Xiao XingChen and A-Qing were walking along a long, flat road with weeds and grasses of waist height growing on both sides of it. Suddenly, A-Qing cried out with an ah. Xiao XingChen immediately asked, “What’s wrong?”
A-Qing, “Ugh. Nothing. My ankle twisted.”
Wei WuXian could clearly see that it wasn’t because her ankle twisted at all. She was walking as fine as ever. If not for that she was pretending to be blind in front of Xiao XingChen so that he couldn’t come up with any reasons to shoo her away, she could hop up to the heavens as she walked. A-Qing’s exclamation was because as she glanced around, she suddenly saw a black figure lying among the bushes of weeds.
Although she didn’t know whether he was dead or alive, most likely thinking that it’d be a drag either way, she obviously didn’t want Xiao XingChen to find the person. She urged him, “Let’s go, let’s go. Let’s rest a bit at that whatever city that’s ahead. I’m so tired!”
Xiao XingChen, “Didn’t you twist your ankle? Do you want me to carry you?”
A-Qing was ecstatic, knocking loudly on the ground with her bamboo pole, “Yes, yes, yes!” Smiling, Xiao XingChen turned around with his back to her and kneeled down with one leg. Just as A-Qing was about to throw herself over, Xiao XingChen suddenly stopped her. With a serious expression, he stood up, “Something smells like blood.”
A-Qing could also smell a faint hint of blood. Amid the night wind, it was indeed discernible at times. She bluffed, “Really? Why can’t I smell it? Are any families around the area killing livestock?”
Just as she finished speaking, as if Heaven wanted to go against her wishes, the person in the bushes coughed.
Even though the sound was almost imperceptible, it couldn’t escape Xiao XingChen’s ears. He immediately found the direction, stepped into the bushes, and squatted down beside the person.
Due to how Xiao XingChen discovered the person anyway, A-Qing stomped on the ground, then pretended to find her way over, “What happened?”
Xiao XingChen was feeling the person’s pulse, “Someone is lying here.”
A-Qing, “So that’s why the smell of blood is so strong. Are they dead? Should we make a ditch and bury them?”
Of course, a dead person was less of a hassle than a living one, so A-Qing couldn’t wait for the person to die. However, Xiao XingChen replied, “Not yet. He’s just badly injured.”
After giving it some thought, he gently carried the person onto his back.
Seeing that a filthy, bloodstained man took the position where she would’ve been and that Xiao XingChen wouldn’t be able to carry her to the city anymore, A-Qing pouted and poked a few deep holes on the ground with her pole. Yet, she knew that Xiao XingChen wouldn’t not help the person, so complaining wouldn’t work anyway. They went back onto the road and continued walking. The more they walked, the stronger Wei WuXian’s sense of familiarity grew. He suddenly recalled, Isn’t this the road that Lan Zhan and I used to get to Yi City?
Sure enough, Yi City could be seen looming at the end of the road.
As of this time, the city gates weren’t as run-down. The tower was still in fair condition and there weren’t any scribbles on the walls. Entering the city, the fog was somewhat denser, but compared to the unnatural density in later times, it was not a hindrance at all. On the sides of the road, lights and even human conversations leaked from the doors and windows of houses. Although it was an obscure place, it had some liveliness to it.
Carrying a person with severe injuries and drenched in blood on his back, Xiao XingChen definitely knew that no shops would let someone like him inside. Thus, he didn’t search for places to rest, but instead directly asked a night watchman who walked by if there were any idle coffin homes in the city. The watchman told him, “There’s one over there. The guy who guarded it passed away last month. There’s currently nobody there.” Seeing that Xiao XingChen was blind and might have difficulties finding the way, he decided to lead them over.
This was precisely the coffin home where Xiao XingChen’s corpse was put after he had died.
They thanked the watchman, and Xiao XingChen carried the injured person into the chamber on the right. The room wasn’t large, but wasn’t too small either. Including a low bed by the wall, the room had all of the necessities. He carefully laid the person onto the bed. Taking an elixir from his qiankun pouch, he pushed it through the person’s clenched teeth. A-Qing felt around in the room for a while before she beamed, “There are so many things here! Here’s a basin!”
Xiao XingChen, “Is there a stove?”
Xiao XingChen, “A-Qing, why don’t you try to boil some water? Be careful and don’t hurt yourself.”
A-Qing pouted some more and got to work. Xiao XingChen touched the person’s forehead, then took out another elixir and fed it to him. Wei WuXian really wanted to take a good look at the person’s face, but A-Qing was clearly not interested in him. She was rather annoyed and refused to spare him a single glimpse. After the water had been boiled, Xiao XingChen slowly wiped off the blood on his face. Out of curiosity, A-Qing gave him a glance, and made a soundless huh.
Now that the person’s face had been cleaned, she could see that his looks were actually quite decent.
As Wei WuXian saw the face, his heart immediately sunk.
Just as he had expected, it was Xue Yang.
He sighed in silence, Enemies really can’t avoid each other, can they? Xiao XingChen, you really are… hopelessly unlucky.
At this point in time, with a childish charm, Xue Yang looked nothing more than a boy. However, who could’ve known that a boy like him whose canine teeth showed when he smiled was a maniac who wiped out entire clans.
Counting the years, this was probably after Jin GuangYao became the Chief Cultivator. In such a difficult situation, Xue Yang had probably just escaped Jin GuangYao’s “elimination”. Since he couldn’t kill him, Jin GuangYao naturally didn’t want to let anything out. Or, maybe because he believed that he wouldn’t be able to live, he told the public that Xue Yang had already been eliminated. However, villains always tended to outlast heroes. On the brink of dying, he was saved by his old rival XingChen. It was unfortunate that Xiao XingChen wasn’t cautious to the point of feeling and examining his face. By accident, he had saved his enemy—the one who made his life this way. Although A-Qing could see, since she wasn’t a cultivator, she didn’t know of Xue Yang, much less the immense hatred between the two of them. She didn’t even know what Xiao XingChen’s name was…
Wei WuXian sighed again. Xiao XingChen couldn’t be any more unlucky. It was as though all of the ominous energy in this world had tainted him.
Suddenly, Xue Yang frowned. Xiao XingChen was in the middle of inspecting and bandaging his wounds. Sensing that Xue Yang was about to wake up, he spoke, “Don’t move.”
Someone like Xue Yang who had done countless bad deeds in their life would naturally be more alert than ordinary people. Hearing this voice, his eyes sprang open and he sat up at once. Tumbling to the corner of the room, he glared at Xiao XingChen with a fierce expression and a careful posture. His eyes resembled those of a beast who had been trapped, not at all concealing the malice and cruelty within them. Watching the scene, A-Qing’s scalp tingled. The sensation also passed onto Wei WuXian’s head, who shouted silently, Talk! Xiao XingChen definitely wouldn’t have forgotten Xue Yang’s voice.
Xue Yang, “What…”
As soon as he spoke, Wei WuXian knew that there was no hope. Even after he spoke, Xiao XingChen wouldn’t be able to discover who he was.
Xue Yang’s throat was injured as well. After coughing up a large quantity of blood, his voice was so hoarse that nobody could tell they were the same person!
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Xiao XingChen assured, “I told you not to move. You’re wounds are going to open. Don’t worry. Since I saved you, of course I won’t hurt you.”
Xue Yang was quick at adjusting to sudden changes of situation. He immediately inferred that Xiao XingChen most likely didn’t recognize him. With a roll of his eyes, he coughed, “Who are you?”
A-Qing interrupted, “If you have eyes can’t you see for yourself? He’s a roaming cultivator. He went to such lengths to carry you back and saved you and even gave you magical elixirs, yet you’re so mean!”
Xue Yang turned to her at once. He spoke in a cold voice, “You’re blind?”
Wei WuXian was alarmed.
The little delinquent was both crafty and vigilant. Even though A-Qing had a pair of white eyes, he didn’t let down his guard. Not passing any points of suspicion, he immediately caught A-Qing’s slip of the tongue. Xue Yang had only spoken four words. With only these four words, it was impossible to determine if he was mean or not, unless A-Qing had seen his expression.
The good thing was that A-Qing grew up lying. She replied on the spot, “Do you discriminate against blind people? Well a blind person saved you. Or else, nobody would care even if you rotted on the side of the road! The first words you said weren’t even to thank Daozhang. How rude! And you called me blind in such a tone. Hmph… What’s wrong with being blind…”
She successfully switched the topic and the point of the conversation. As A-Qing muttered nonstop in an unyielding yet dejected manner, Xiao XingChen immediately went over to comfort her. In the corner, Xue Yang rolled his eyes. Xiao XingChen turned to him again, “Don’t sit by the wall. I didn’t bandage the wound on your leg yet. Come here.”
With an indifferent expression, Xue Yang continued to think. Xiao XingChen added, “If it’s not treated soon, your might end up crippled.”
Hearing this, Xue Yang decisively made his choice.
Wei WuXian could speculate what he was thinking. With a body covered in severe wounds, he couldn’t go anywhere if nobody helped treat him. Since Xiao XingChen was such an idiot that he placed himself right at his disposal, why not accept the help?
Thus, he changed his expression at once. In a voice filled with gratitude, he replied, “Then, thank you, Daozhang.”
Having seen Xue Yang’s skill of changing from merciless to affectionate within fractions of a second, Wei WuXian was truly worried for the two blind ones, both real and fake, in the room, but especially for A-Qing. She could see everything. If Xue Yang discovered this, to prevent the secret from leaking out, she’d definitely die. Although he knew that, in the end, A-Qing probably died in Xue Yang’s hands anyway, Wei WuXian still felt anxious since he’d be going through the same experience.
All of a sudden, he noticed that Xue Yang had been discreetly preventing Xiao XingChen from touching his left hand. Taking a closer look at it, he found that the little finger of Xue Yang’s left hand was severed. From where it cut off, it could be seen that it wasn’t a new wound. Back then, Xiao XingChen definitely knew that Xue Yang only had nine fingers. So this was why Xue Yang wore a black glove on his left hand when he was putting up his act.
Xiao XingChen was rather dedicated to helping him. After applying medicine to his wound, he bandaged it in a remarkably neat manner, “It’s finished, but it’s best if you don’t move, or else your bones will dislocate again.”
Xue Yang had already ascertained that Xiao XingChen was so gullible that he didn’t recognize him. Although he was covered in blood and surrounded by other messes, the lazy grin appeared on his face again, “Daozhang, so you aren’t going to ask who I am? Why I was injured so badly?”
If someone else were at his position, they would’ve carefully avoided the topic so that they didn’t reveal details that would expose their identity. He, on the other hand, deliberately did the exact opposite. Turning to clean the medical kit and bandages, Xiao XingChen softly replied, “If you won’t say it, then why should I ask? I just happened to have seen you and decided to lend a hand. It’s nothing difficult for me, anyways. After your injuries heal, we’d go our separate ways. If I were you, there’d also be a lot of things that I don’t want others to ask about.”
Wei WuXian commented, Even if Xiao XingChen asked, the little delinquent would probably make up a seamless explanation and fool him around. It was natural for people to have complicated pasts. Xiao XingChen only avoided inquiring too much out of respect. Yet, it made it convenient for Xue Yang to use his respect. Wei WuXian was sure that he was not only going to get Xiao XingChen to heal all his wounds, after he recovered, he definitely wouldn’t let them “go their separate ways” either.
Xue Yang rested in the bedroom of the coffin home’s guard, while Xiao XingChen went to the main hall. Opening up a new coffin, he picked up some of the straws on the ground and thickly spread them over the bottom of the coffin. He turned to A-Qing, “The person inside is injured, so let’s let him have the bed. Would you mind making do with this? I put straws on the bottom, so it shouldn’t be too cold.”
A-Qing had been roaming in the streets ever since she was young. Having lived alongside wind and hunger, there was nowhere she hadn’t slept. She replied nonchalantly, “Not at all. It’s good enough that I have somewhere to sleep. It won’t be cold. Don’t take off your coat for me again.”
Xiao XingChen stroked the top of her head. With both his sword and horsetail whisk on his back, he walked outside again. To ensure safety, Xiao XingChen never let her follow when he was on night-hunts. After crawling into the coffin and lying for a while, she heard Xue Yang call her from the other room, “Little Blind, come over.”
A-Qing poked her head out, “What?”
Xue Yang, “Do you want candy?”
The end of A-Qing’s tongue felt sour, as though she really wanted candy. Despite this, she still refused, “I’m not eating it. I’m not going.”
Xue Yang threatened sweetly, “Are you sure you’re not eating it? Are you too scared of coming? But, did you think that I actually can’t move? That if you don’t come, I’m not going to go over and find you?”
Hearing the strange tone of his words, A-Qing shuddered. She imagined the malicious grin suddenly appear on top of the coffin, and felt that it was even creepier. With some hesitation, she finally picked up her pole and slowly tapped her way to the room’s door. Before she could speak, a small object flew straight at her.
Wei WuXian instinctively wanted to dodge, worried that it was some sort of weapon. Of course, he couldn’t control this body. Immediately afterward, he finally realized, It’s a trap!
Xue Yang was testing A-Qing—if she was truly blind, she wouldn’t be able to avoid it!
As both a quick-witted person and someone who pretended to be blind throughout the year, A-Qing didn’t dodge at all. She didn’t even blink as she saw the object rush toward her. Instead, she let it hit her chest, then jumped back and fumed, “Hey! What did you throw at me?”
With A-Qing having passed the test, Xue Yang replied, “It’s candy, for you. I forgot that you’re blind and can’t catch. It landed by your feet.”
A-Qing humphed and squatted down. Searching around as if she really were blind, she found a piece of candy. She had never eaten something like this before. She gulped, wiped it, then put it into her mouth, happily crunching it with her teeth. Xue Yang lay on his side with one hand holding his chin, and asked, “Is it good, Little Blind?”
A-Qing, “I have a name. I’m not called Little Blind.”
Xue Yang, “You didn’t tell me your name, so I could only call you this.”
A-Qing had always told her name only to people who were nice to her, but she didn’t like the way Xue Yang said it, so she told him, “Listen up. My name is A-Qing. Don’t keep on calling me Little Blind and Little Blind!” After she said it, she felt that her voice was somewhat harsh. Afraid that she’d anger the person, she immediately started another topic, “You’re such a strange person. You’re covered in blood and this injured, but you have candy with you.”
Xue Yang grinned, “When I was young, I really liked candy, but I couldn’t get them no matter what and I could only watch people eat. So, I’ve always thought that if I become wealthier one day, I’d carry an infinite amount of candy with me.”
A-Qing just so happened to have finished the candy that he gave her. Licking her lips, she wanted more. Her desire for candy outweighed her fear of the person in front of her, “Then do you have any more?”
Xue Yang laughed, “Of course I do. I’ll give you more if you come over here.”
A-Qing stood up and, with her bamboo pole, she walked toward him. Yet, when she was halfway there, Xue Yang started to look at her in an eerie way, his smile unchanged. Without making a sound, he pulled a sharp-edged sword out of his sleeve.
It was Jiangzai.
He pointed the tip of the sword toward A-Qing. If she walked just a few more steps forward, she’d be impaled by the sword. However, if A-Qing hesitated for the slightest moment, the fact that she wasn’t actually blind would be revealed!
Sharing the same senses as A-Qing, Wei WuXian also felt the pins and needles pricking his scalp. Despite this, the young maiden bravely searched her way forward in a calm, ordinary manner. When the tip of the sword was half an inch away from her stomach, Xue Yang took it away and put it back into his sleeve. Exchanging it with two pieces of candy, he gave one to A-Qing and tossed the other one into his own mouth.
He asked, “A-Qing, where’s that daozhang of yours gone to in the middle of the night?”
A-Qing licked and munched on the candy, “I think he went hunting.”
Xue Yang tittered, “Hunting? More like night-hunting.”
A-Qing, “Oh really? The two are pretty much the same. What’s the difference? It’s just helping other people fight ghosts and beasts without receiving any money.”
Wei WuXian was truly amazed by how clever she was.
It wasn’t that A-Qing couldn’t remember what Xiao XingChen said to her. In fact, she remembered it better than anyone. She said “night-hunt” wrong on purpose. Since Xue Yang corrected her, in a way, he confirmed that he was also a cultivator. Xue Yang’s test failed and was instead tested by her. The maiden was only so young, yet she already had such tactics.
Although Xue Yang looked scornful, his voice sounded confused, “He’s blind already. How can he night-hunt?”
A-Qing raged, “You’re at it again. What’s wrong with being blind? Even if Daozhang’s blind, he’s still really cool. His sword’s like whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. One word: fast.” As she was prancing around, Xue Yang suddenly asked, “You can’t see, so how do you know his sword is fast?”
The opponent was quick, but her defense was quicker. A-Qing replied in an outraged voice, “It’s fast because I say so. Daozhang’s sword must be fast! It’s true that I can’t see, but can’t I listen? Just what are you trying to say? Do you discriminate against blind people like us?” She behaved exactly like a naive girl who was bragging about the person she admired. It sounded as natural as can be.
Now that she passed all three of his tests, Xue Yang’s expression finally relaxed. It was likely that he finally believed that A-Qing was indeed blind.
However, A-Qing, on the other hand, grew extremely wary toward Xue Yang. The next day, Xiao XingChen found some wood, straw, and tiles for repairing the roof. As soon as he came inside, A-Qing secretly dragged him out again, whispering on about how this person was suspicious and that he definitely wasn’t a good person, judging from him hiding secrets even though they were both cultivators. Unfortunately, she thought that the broken little finger was a trivial matter, so she didn’t mention the most fatal characteristic. Xiao XingChen went about comforting her, “You’ve already eaten his candy, so you should stop chasing him away. Of course he’ll go after his wounds have healed. Nobody would be willing to stay with us inside this coffin home.”
This was indeed the truth. There was only a single bed inside such a shack. It was lucky for them that there was no wind or rain, or else the roof would’ve created a great problem. Nobody would want to live here. Just as A-Qing was about to continue her complaint of Xue Yang, the certain someone’s voice came from behind them, “Are you talking about me?”
To A-Qing’s surprise, he got off the bed again. However, she wasn’t afraid of being found out at all, “We’re talking about you? Don’t flatter yourself!” Picking up her bamboo pole, she went inside, sneaked behind the window, and continued to eavesdrop.
Outside of the coffin home, Xiao XingChen turned to Xue Yang, “Your wounds haven’t healed yet, and you’re walking around already. Are you sure you’ll fine?”
Xue Yang, “It’ll heal faster if I walk around. And it’s not that both of my legs are broken or anything. I’m used to injuries like these. I grew up beaten by others.”
Xiao XingChen seemed as though he didn’t know what to say in response, whether he should comfort him or take it as a joke. After a pause, he replied, “Oh…”
Xue Yang continued, “Daozhang, are the things that you brought here gonna be for repairing the roof?”
Xiao XingChen, “Yes. I’ll most likely stay here for a temporary while. The broken roof won’t be beneficial to A-Qing or to your injuries.”
Xue Yang, “Should I help?”
Xiao XingChen thanked him, “I’ll be fine.”
Xue Yang, “Daozhang, do you know how to do it?”
Xiao XingChen laughed and shook his head, “I’m sorry, but I really haven’t tried to do such a thing before.”
And so, the two of them started to repair the roof together. One of them worked, the other one gave directions. Xue Yang was quite eloquent with words and was especially good at making witty remarks. His humor was accompanied by a presumptuous tone common to street markets. In the past, Xiao XingChen most likely had very rare contact with this type of people. Easily amused, he’d start laughing after just a few sentences. Hearing how cheerful their conversations were, A-Qing moved her lips in silence. After careful scrutiny, it seemed to have sounded like “let me kill you damn thing”.
Wei WuXian felt the same as A-Qing.
Xue Yang’s severe injuries that had almost taken his life were partly due to Xiao XingChen. The two had a relationship of absolute hatred. In his heart, he was probably hoping for Xiao XingChen to die in the most gruesome way possible, yet he could still converse with him in such a lighthearted manner. If the one hiding behind the window right now was Wei WuXian himself, he would’ve killed Xue Yang regardless of the consequences to avoid later trouble. However, it wasn’t his own body. And, even if A-Qing wanted to, she wasn’t capable of killing him.
After about a month, under Xiao XingChen’s meticulous care, Xue Yang’s wounds had mostly healed. Aside from how he limped slightly when he walked, nothing else posed any inconvenience. Despite this, he still hadn’t mentioned anything about leaving. He continued to live in this crammed coffin home with the two others. Wei WuXian had no idea what he was scheming of.
Today, after putting A-Qing to sleep, Xiao XingChen was about to leave and night-hunt again when Xue Yang’s voice suddenly came, “Daozhang, why don’t you take me with you tonight?”
His throat injury should’ve healed already as well. However, he purposely avoided using his original voice and disguised it in another tone. Xiao XingChen laughed, “Of course not. If you talk, I start laughing, and if I laugh, my sword won’t be steady anymore.”
Xue Yang replied in a piteous way, “Then I won’t talk. I’ll carry your sword and help you. Please don’t give me the cold shoulder.”
He had always been a master at behaving as though he was a spoiled child. When talking to people older than him, he sounded like a younger brother. And, since Xiao XingChen had probably cared for his shidi and shimei when he was a disciple of BaoShan SanRen, he naturally saw Xue Yang as junior to him. Xue Yang was a cultivator as well, so Xiao XingChen gladly agreed to the request. Wei WuXian thought, Xue Yang definitely won’t be so nice that he wants to help Xiao XingChen night-hunt. If A-Qing doesn’t go, she’ll miss something important for sure.
A-Qing was indeed clever. She also figured that Xue Yang probably didn’t have good intentions. After the two left, she jumped out of the coffin and followed them from afar. The distance between them was a bit too far, since she was scared that she’d be discovered, and she ended up losing sight of them. Luckily, when Xiao XingChen was washing the vegetables earlier, he mentioned that a small village nearby was plagued by walking corpses and told the two of them to refrain from running around. A-Qing could still remember the place. Rushing over, she arrived soon afterward. She slipped into a dog hole on the bottom of the village’s fence, hid behind one of the houses, and sneakily peeked out.
Wei WuXian wasn’t sure if A-Qing understood what was happening, but he felt a sudden chill within his heart.
With his hands folded in front of him, Xue Yang stood on the side of the road, smiling with his head tilted. Xiao XingChen stood on the opposite side. Calmly unsheathing his sword, Shuanghua flashed its silver sword glare before it pierced through a villager’s heart.
The villager was still alive.