Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Ou Yan’s party travelled for a few more days on the road and even though the elder who was supposed to welcome them had not reached, the surrounding towns had branches of Lotus escort and Piaomiao sect gathering points and many elite disciples joined her party so Ou Yan’s safety was roughly guaranteed. Madam Qin also made an order to request all disciples within the sect to follow the river and look for Zhang Xiaohua’s person, and they would be heavily rewarded even if they found his dead body. Hence, apart from disciples who already had a mission, many others followed along the river to search for the missing boy.
However, after seven days’ even up till the arrival of second elder Li Jian and fifth elder Liu Qingyang who joined Ou Yan’s party, there was still no news of Zhang Xiaohua’s whereabouts.
Zhang Xiaohua, was he still alive? Or was he dead?
When Zhang Xiaohua was struck on the chest by the black clothed elder’s palm thrust, he fainted immediately on the spot and his body flew into the air and fell into the river. Zhang Xiaohua was already planning to jump into the river when he was carrying Ou Yan on his back, and the place he and the elder fought was also not far from the river. Zhang Xiaohua’s body was small so even though the momentum of the palm thrust was not enough to make him fall into the river completely, only half his body was on shore. Coupled with the strong tide caused by the rain, the river swept Zhang Xiaohua’s legs almost immediately and his body was dunked into the water so it was long gone by the time He Tianshu went over to look for him.
It could also be considered as Zhang Xiaohua’s fortune because if the black clothed elder was slightly stronger, Zhang Xiaohua would have dropped directly into the middle of the river and there was a high chance that he would sink under and drown. When he was washed away later on, his legs were carried off by the current first so his upper half including his head was above the surface of the water. If not, Zhang Xiaohua would have drowned to death even if the black clothed elder’s strike did not kill him on the spot.
Zhang Xiaohua who had lost all senses was naturally relaxed and his body floated easily on the river. At that moment, it struck midnight and the unconscious Zhang Xiaohua went back again into a brilliant flashing dream, although one could not be sure if he was conscious enough to see the lights.
Within the darkness of the night, Zhang Xiaohua’s body floated on the water and went straight downstream for three thousand “chi”. However, Zhang Xiaohua did not drift like a normal person, when a person drops into the water, he would float for a while before sinking into the water or being washed ashore soon after, and this was what Madam Qin and the others expected as well which was why they called the other disciples to search around the river. However, Zhang Xiaohua was different, whether it was due to his small and light body or because of the dream with flashing lights, Zhang Xiaohua’s body continued to stay afloat while the small sword his left hand was still gripping on to did not seemed to be as heavy as it was before. Hence, Zhang Xiaohua’s body was like a piece of driftwood and it moved downstream as fast as the river’s current could carry him.
*TN: 1 chi = 33cm or 13 inches.
Thus, when He Tianshu sent people to search for him again on the second day, Zhang Xiaohua was already washed off to someplace they would never expect, and when Lan Dong sent people to investigate the area they suspected Zhang Xiaohua to be at, this “area” was already far away from where Zhang Xiaohua actually was.
When the next day came, the rain continued to fall and the river current remained strong so Zhang Xiaohua continued to float on the river and was washed off to who knew where.
When it was close to midnight again, Zhang Xiaohua finally drifted to a river bend although one could not guess how far Zhang Xiaohua had travelled from his original position.
There was a simple grass hut on the side of the river bend which was surrounded by a fence. There also seemed to be a few wooden platforms that extended into the river from the grass hut, and a young girl about ten years of age was currently sitting over there holding a fishing rod with one hand pressed on her cheeks while her eyes looked expressionlessly at the beyond. The girl was wearing a light yellow dress and looked very tidy, her ebony black hair was tied up with a handkerchief and swung loosely at the back of her head. The girl’s face was the shape of an oval duck’s egg, her eyes were large and the creases were small, her skin was fair and there was a red beauty mark at the corner of her mouth. Even though she was not very pretty, the clear pupils in her eyes and slight rise in her eyebrows hinted an overbearing disposition.
The girl’s age was young and she had yet to reached the maturity of spring, so why was there such a frown on her face?
At that moment, the fishing rod in the girl’s seemed to have caught something large as the line continued to move outwards, but the girl did not notice all these. Suddenly, a kind voice appeared from the grass hut and it said, “Silly child, you did not pull your fishing rod up even when you caught a fish, now your rod is about to be pulled away.”
The girl was startled from her daydream and she hurriedly gripped onto the fishing road that was about to leave her hands, and when she raised her head to look at the river, she exclaimed, “Master, it’s a dead person.”
“Oh?” the voice seemed to be surprised and a kind looking old lady walked out of the grass hut wearing a clean dress the colour of a pure white moon with a longsword hung at her waist.
When the old lady inspected the scene when she walked onto the platform, wasn’t it the unconscious Zhang Xiaohua who was at the other end of the line?
The young girl looked at Zhang Xiaohua’s “body” and said in a sad tone, “The poor child, he seemed roughly my age and yet his corpse was washed into the river like this. His family who could not find him must be feeling very sad.”
As the girl talked, her heart seemed to be stirred by something and it was made obvious by the expression on her face.
The master looked at the “corpse” in the water and said, “In that case, let’s pull it out of the water first. Even though we do not know where he came from, and the rain was very heavy last night so the river had grown by quite a bit so it will be hard to find where he came from, it is still better than leaving him in the waters and letting the fishes feed on him.”
The girls’ sad expression did not soften, she merely nodded and used some force to pull the fishing rod and when Zhang Xiaohua was pulled to ashore and near enough to the master, the master extended her hand and tugged Zhang Xiaohua’s shoulder. Fortunately, the platform on the water was not too high and the water level had risen quite a lot so she managed to grab him barely.
When the master grabbed onto Zhang Xiaohua’s shoulders and was about to pull him ashore, her expression suddenly turned joyful and she called out, “He’s still alive.”
Upon hearing this, the girl became overjoyed and went over to help but her body was small and her strength was weak, so how much help was she able to provide? Furthermore, Zhang Xiaohua’s body was not heavy so the master only needed a pull to bring him up from the river, except she had to be more careful with the girl beside her.
When the master saw the girl tried to help, she smiled and said, “Go boil some water and make some ginger soup. We do not know how long this child had been in the river for so he might have caught a chill, so some ginger soup will help him to combat the chill.”
Upon hearing this, the girl jumped and ran off, the wrinkle between her brows softened by much as well.
The master brought Zhang Xiaohua into the grass hut and changed him out of his wet clothes before covering him in thick blankets and checked his pulse. When her inner energy circulated in his body, her expression became more solemn.
At that moment, she saw the small sword that Zhang Xiaohua was still gripping tightly to even when near death and she tried to pull it out to inspect it. However, his grip did not break so she slipped his left hand with the sword into the blanket.
When the girl entered the grass hut with a bowl in her hands, the master was still frowning as though she was deep in thought, and the girl asked carefully, “Master, what is the matter? Can he be saved?”
When the master saw the girl’s concern, she explained, “His body is not used to the water, and he also suffered severe injuries before being pushed into the river.”
When the girl heard this, she became even sadder and said, “His is only about my age so what kind of person could he offend? It must have been an evil person who hurt him, isn’t master a martial art expert, you must definitely save him.”
When she heard the girl’s words, the master could not help but feel secretly guilty, she had been in Jianghu for too long and her thoughts have become complicated and actually thought that this child could have been an evil person. Without the girl’s reminder, how could she assume that a ten plus year old child could be a dangerous and evil person?
Since this was the case, how could she not extend her hand to help?
Thus, the master instructed the little girl to bring a wooden pot over to the bed side, then supported Zhang Xiaohua into a sitting position before moving behind him and placing her two palm onto his back. She circulated the qi which was accumulated using her sect’s unique injury healing cultivation method to help Zhang Xiaohua recover from the wound caused by the faint golden palm.
Not long later, Zhang Xiaohua’s face turned rosier and beads of sweat appeared on his head. The master’s right palm pulled back slightly and immediately thrusted itself forcefully onto Zhang Xiaohua’s shoulder causing the latter’s mouth to open and large amounts of fresh blood to spurt from it and into the wooden pot. There were large amounts of black coagulated blood among the fresh red blood in the bowl.
Seeing that Zhang Xiaohua had spitted out the pieces of blood, the master heaved a sigh in relief and retracted both palms before carefully placing Zhang Xiaohua back onto the bed. At that moment, Zhang Xiaohua’s face had turned more rosier and his breathing was more stable, there were many tiny beads of perspiration on his face and he seemed more alive overall compared to before.
The girl quickly took the wooden bowl out and poured the contents into the river before returning into the room and asked carefully, “Master, has he been treated then?”
The master smiled and said, “How could it be so simple? I only expelled the pieces of blood that blocked his circulation from his body. He had never trained in inner energy before so his meridians are all clogged and treatment that requires the use of such meridians are not as effective. The best treatment for him is to use medicine, but I am not as capable as a physician and where can we find one in the desolate mountains? The nearest city is also quite a distance and we would need to use qinggong to reach there, yet his body is still so weak so how can he endure the journey? I’m afraid he would lose his life before reaching the town.”
The girl frowned and said, “So what should we do?”
The master continued, “We do not know which bandit had hurt this child to have used such devious means, he would have lost his life if his organs had moved slightly more or his heart was hurt a little more, not to mention being pushed into the river. Now that he is resting on the bed, his body should start to recover as long as his organs do not incur any further injuries. I still have some beads of medicines which I will let him consume later, perhaps it will be effective. We can only let him rest now and leave it to fate to see how much he can recover.”
The girl seemed to understand and she nodded her head slightly before turning to the ginger soup that was already beginning to cool and asked, “Do we still need to feed him this?”
The master smiled and said, “That is not necessary, I thought that he was cold from the excess water and ginger soup can help to combat the chill, but now that we learn that he has severe internal injury, wouldn’t giving something as stimulating as this cost him his life? It will be better to switch it for some normal water, and I will feed him some medicine later.”
The girl followed her instructions and went to take some water while the master retrieved a white bottle from her bosom and opened it carefully. She took out a black coloured pill the size of a thumb and positioned it between Zhang Xiaohua’s teeth before forcing it into his mouth and using the water to wash it down. The master’s confidence rose to another level when she saw Zhang Xiaohua’s throat made the motion of swallowing the pill down.
The arrival of Zhang Xiaohua did not make any drastic changes to the lives of the master and girl. The master would go out early in the morning and return late at night, except that she would monitor Zhang Xiaohua’s condition when she reached back and feed him another pill. The girl would stay in the grass hut and look left and right, but she would be out most of the times sitting beside the river with the fishing rod with her thoughts filled with fishing.
Who knew how much it had rain for the past few days so the river was always rapid every day. However, there was nothing in the river and her fishing would not yield any harvest.
After a few more days, the weather started to turn cold to signal the arrival of winter. The girl disliked the cold, she would only think of staying the grass hut beside the stove. The master’s initial peaceful countenance became more and more irritable and her brows would wrinkle every so often as though she was facing a huge obstacle.
The girl noticed the change in her master’s mood and wanted to ask but she did not know where to begin.
During that particular night after the master fed Zhang Xiaohua the last pill, the girl asked, “Master, you have finished all your pills, how are you going to feed him tomorrow?”
The master felt Zhang Xiaohua’s pulse and inserted some inner energy into his body to check his condition before saying, “There are only these many pills, it will have some effect if they are effective in treating his illness. Otherwise, anymore would be useless.”
The girl was still slightly worried and she said, “So how is he now? Is it effective? Don’t make us bury him after we fished him from the river, it will be so unworthy of our efforts.”
The master smiled and said, “When saving someone, the result is not as important as the intention. Anyway, you don’t need to worry too much, this child’s recovery is much faster than I expected so keeping his life should not be a problem, only is that I still do not know when he will wake up. It cannot go on like this, I still need to return to the sect before the New Year and you will have to follow me since I can’t keep you here in the mountains. Should we carry him along with us if he still doesn’t wake up by then?”
The girls smiled and said, “Then let’s bring him with us. Since you accept me as a disciple, you can accept him as one too.”
The master patted her head and said, “You say it as if it was so easy. Our sect only accepts female disciples, and even if we have male disciples, they would be outer disciples. Furthermore, I do not plan to accept a male disciple.”
The girl replied, “In that case, we can only bring him along to the nearest town before letting fate decide his future.”
The master said, “You don’t need to try and think of anything behind my back. Not to mention bringing him to the town, even if we could carry him to town in this condition, he will not likely survive by himself.”
The girl blinked her eyes and said, “In that case, perhaps he will recover after you finish your task?”
The master smiled and said, “Don’t talk about perhaps, the place I am looking for……” She suddenly realized the girl’s intention when she spoke up to here, she laughed bitterly and scolded, “You rascal, just say it directly if you want to know, don’t beat about the bush. However, this matter is quite sensitive so you are not allowed to know it for now. You must also not say anything if someone else asks you about it, understand?”
The girl answered in a tone that suggested that she did not agree, “I understand, master, I will keep your secret for you since you say so.”
The master could tell that the girl was not serious and she continued, “For my task, it seems that I will not be able to succeed this time round as well. However, I was already mentally prepared to continue in the future. We can wait a few more days; I think we can wait a little longer before returning to the sect from the time now.”
The girl pursed her lips and said, “I will listen to master since I have nowhere else to go.”
The master stroke her head and said lovingly, “It is alright, you will have a place to belong to in the future.”
Two days later before dawn, just as the rising sun was lighting up the sky with its brilliant rays, the Zhang Xiaohua who had been unconscious all these while in the grass hut opened his eyes, and a flashing light appeared within his black pupils.
When Zhang Xiaohua looked at the unfamiliar grass hut in his surroundings, he felt strange but then recalled the events few days ago and guessed roughly what happened. He tried to sit up but could only raise his chest slightly before feeling an unbearable pain and yelped out involuntarily before lying back onto the bed. Thus, he turned his head around and studied his surroundings. Zhang Xiaohua opened his mouth and tried to call for someone but just as he was about to speak, the pain in his chest reappeared so he could not shout and only ask softly, “Is there anyone?”
Who could hear his voice which was as soft as a cat’s mew?
Fortunately, Zhang Xiaohua’s arms could still move and when he wanted to use it, he realized that his left hand was still gripping onto the small sword tightly. Zhang Xiaohua felt extremely emotional as he brought the small sword to in front of his eyes with great difficulty; he looked at the familiar toy and the suspicion in his heart rose up again, what was this thing? Was it really a toy? He could understand if it could pierce through a rock or tree during his normal practice, but the black clothed elder’s martial arts could prevent even the Piaomiao disciple’s longsword for piercing through yet Zhang Xiaohua’s small sword could easily cut into his flesh, it was really out of his expectations. Furthermore, the sword did not have any sharp edge.
Just as Zhang Xiaohua was pondering, he suddenly heard a clear ringing voice, “You are awake?”
Zhang Xiaohua turned around to look, there was a girl whose stature was similar to his standing at the door, her face was oval like a duck egg and was slightly red from the chill, her eyes were large and there was currently an expression of joy in them, while a fishing rod was in her hands. Zhang Xiaohua felt a wave of confusion, was this child from a fisherman’s household? Was she going to fish early in the morning for a living? However, even though her appearance was not very beautiful, there was still a proud disposition that could not be hidden, and which fisherman’s child would be like that?
Indeed, the girl put down her fishing rod hurriedly and said, “Wait here, I will go tell the master right away.”
After finishing her sentence, she turned around and left in a flash, the ebony black hair fluttered in the wind leaving behind a beautiful view.
Not long later, the master walked over quickly and said in a joy and relieved tone, “Thank the heavens for watching over you, you have finally woken up. Let me check your pulse first.”
After finishing her sentence, she walked to Zhang Xiaohua’s bed and held up his wrist before sending another stream of qi into his body. She said, “Not bad, child, your recovery has been quite good. You have managed to recover almost halfway in these ten plus days, your body is actually much better than the average person and is fuller with vitality. Sigh, it is so nice to be young and recover so soon from injuries.”