Two Stories (Part 2)
“Where shall I start…” The memory still was as surreal as the dreamy tone she broached the topic with. “Uhm, let’s start with when a naughty girl and her best friend had a fight?”
“Young Shiyi, what’s the matter?”
Ming Suwen thought she’d forget the harmless question, but his look, his tone, as well as the question, stuck with her forever. Even the feeling of the weather came to life when the memory surfaced.
Her nine year old self was crouched down in the forest at the rear mountain, pulling out grass as she muttered, “Stupid Feizhen, traitorous Feizhen, stupid Feizhen…” She could no longer remember why she was angry. All she called was stamping her feet because he refused to comply and then chose to hide away.
At a younger age, she found it intriguing and refreshing for everyone to respect her, even going as far as slapping themselves if she admonished them. As she grew older, she found it bizarre. From as far back as she could remember, she ate meals on her own, had, at least, twelve dishes at each meal, and had, at least, fifteen servants by her side at all times. She, of course, never finished any of her meals, yet they threw out her leftovers instead of sharing them with others, citing, “They are not worthy.”
The only family she ever had was her cousin, who was a legend of few words. He was either sleeping or cultivating most of the time, so she hardly spent much time with him. Her eldest nephew was a clever, pretty handsome boy whose favourite pass time was giving people grief, yet he always treated her equally to a Princess. The boy was the only one who could treat her as an equal.
Once there was only one blade of grass left, she ceased yanking them out. “Stupid Feizhen, it is.”
The sight of the mangled lawn reminded her of how amusing her friend looked when he felt defeated.
Not long after she was born, she liked his company, crying if it wasn’t he who held her. As far as she could remember, she always liked having his company, stargazing, strolling around on the mountain (technically riding on his back) and catching butterflies (he did the catching). Merely seeing him in deep thought invoked an urge to laugh.
Starting to weep, she uttered, “Stupid Feizhen, Stupid Feizhen, Stupid Fei-”
“What’s the matter, Young Shiyi?” There he was in front of her, smiling warmly with his hands extended out to her. “You called for me, right? Let’s go.”
She immediately cracked up smiling, forgetting about the fact that she was supposed to be peeved, and hugged him. “Wh-what are you here for? I thought you refuse to listen to me because I’m overbearing. Go away. Go away!”
“Am I wrong?”
Unable to believe her eyes, she almost burst out crying.
“Why did you come here? This is too close to Forbidden Forest. Shifu said they’re driving off a beast that everyone is duty-bound to participate in. Didn’t you notice shiniangs have gone into hiding?”
“In that case, why are you here?! Let them eat me! Let them gnaw me!”
“Shut up! So damn annoying!” He picked her up despite her protests. “I should feed you to a tiger!”
Never had he been so harsh on her; she was so scared that she staunched her own tears for a while.
“… Stupid Feizhen, stinkin’ Feizhen, traitorous Feizhen!” Her cursing eventually reached a point where her crying resulted in an indiscernible mess of cursing.
There was nothing Ming Feizhen feared more than Ming Suwen crying. Every time she cried, he’d be a panic-stricken mess: “Okay, okay, stop crying. I’ll apologise, okay?”
“No! I’m going to cry!”
“Why? You’re being unreasonable.”
“Because… Because you abandoned me! You want to feed me to a tiger.” She began wailing again.
He dabbed her tears and snot with his handkerchief. “Are you stupid? I would rather be eaten than let you suffer as much as a scratch. Keep crying and I’ll change my mind. Don’t be stupid, okay?”
While he was always spoiling her, “spoiling” wasn’t really the right word. Seldom but surely, there were moments when he’d seem more mature than he should be for his age, and each time that side of him came out, she’d follow whatever he said.
“Good.” He scrubbed her head.
“I want a piggy back!”
As soon as he put her on his back, someone at the rear castigated, “How dare you bring Mistress here.”
“You have a death wish, runt?! I assure you: your dinner is going to be a hundred canes!”
They were Ming Suwen’s two bodyguards today – Ming Feizhen’s uncles.
Mount Daluo’s branch disciples substantially outnumbered direct disciples of Ming Huayu to the point that they could start a business of selling Ming Feizhen’s uncles from the branch division.
Ming Feizhen didn’t find his uncles from the branch division unpleasant because they were jealous of his senior disciple status or for tattling on his misdemeanours. He wanted to cave their faces in solely because they lost sight of Ming Suwen, allowing her to endanger herself on the rear mountain. Their threat was a clear indication that they were going to cast the blame on him instead of owning up to their negligence of duty. As Ming Huayu said, “Branch disciples are third-rate trash that the trash at the trash dump wouldn’t want.”
Ming Feizhen gave them the cold shoulder, choosing not to deign, yet they stopped him.
“Hey, leave her with us.”
“I’ll take her back. You two need not trouble yourselves.”
“What nonsense is that? We’re her bodyguards today.”
“Is that why you’re here? This place looks anything but safe to me.” Walking off, Ming Feizhen sardonically asked, “Or are you saying you can’t even watch over a nine year old girl?”
“Ming… You runt, you think you’re all that just because Patriarch likes you, huh?”
“It’s Ming Feizhen. Allow me to remind you that I’m the next patriarch of Mount Daluo. You can disrespect me or challenge me,” Ming Feizhen looked over his shoulder, “but don’t forget I can also kill you here and now.”
Though the two elders didn’t know how much skill Ming Feizhen had, they hadn’t forgotten about him defeating another elder when he was only nine. They thought he would collapse under the pressure of seniority, but they discovered they were wrong.
As he didn’t sense the two elders following him, Ming Feizhen kindly turned around to remind them of the danger zone, only to pick up on a heavy stench of blood. “Uncles!”
Two headless corpses were already lying on the ground. The tiger that chomped their heads off peered through the dark-purple mist shrouding it, locking eyes with Ming Feizhen as it took sonorous breaths. It didn’t take a genius to tell it was incomparably dangerous compared to the beasts in Forbidden Forest.
“Young Shiyi, retreat, but don’t stray too far from me.” Ming Feizhen hiked up a corner of his lips as he polished his fist, his glimmering eyes showing he had mastered his internal discipline. “Though it’s not my preference… we might have to eat tiger meat for dinner.”
There weren’t even a hundred people, even if recluses were counted, who knew about the beasts on Mount Daluo in detail. There were the one or two people among them who could tell half the world about the beasts, but they didn’t, not because it would instil fear but because they didn’t dare to get on Mount Daluo’s bad side.
Mount Daluo cordoned their mountain peak today, instructing everyone to stay on the mountain furthest away from the rear mountain. As an insurance measure, all remaining adepts were tasked with protecting all those who couldn’t defend themselves, including residents of Mount Daluo.
The “rear mountain” of Mount Daluo was actually its headquarters. Every generation of Mount Daluo resided there after their founder slew one of the resurrected Six Evils – Colossal Chaofeng.
Mount Daluo had everyone go to the shelter and hundreds of selected elites were assembled for they calculated today would be the day a beast hatched. The hundreds of elites attacked the infant Colossal Chaofeng as soon as it hatched from its egg, striving to put it away as fast as possible. Under the previous and current patriarchs’ leadership, they finally sent the Colossal Chaofeng back to the abyss after a skirmish lasting twelve hours.
When they thought they could finally catch their breath, someone cried, “Patriarch, another beast has hatched!”