Valley of Yearning (Part 1)
It was crazy to think anyone out on an adventure would be as blind as a bat without a map, yet the only route Guan Ning claimed to remember was the way home. Even without light, he could navigate it as if it was daytime. Although Guan Ning gave the impression that he didn’t pay attention to details, Hong Jiu knew Guan Ning was actually attentive; Guan Ning merely gave an excuse so that Hong Jiu wouldn’t have to say he was unable to continue fighting. For that, Hong Jiu was grateful. Even when the others objected to Guan Ning’s suggestion, he still rode toward Valley of Yearning.
Fang Xiaoyu kept a pulse on Hong Jiu’s pulse in case the latter puked blood again, while Master Qi directly sealed his accupoints to immobilise him. Well, Hong Jiu was barely mobile due to his numerous injuries in the first place.
It took a while, but Hong Jiu eventually stopped arguing to have his way. He was a man who knew what he wanted and wouldn’t hesitate to voice his wishes. He seldom worked with anyone besides his siblings. This was one of the rare occasions that he didn’t fight to have his way.
Leader, once I’ve healed a little, I’ll stop that guy. I won’t let him harm you as long as I’m still alive.
Without Hong Jiu’s protests, the only audible sounds were the horses and the fast-turning wheels. While Fang Xiaoyu soon fell asleep, Hong Jiu seemed to be on an adrenaline drip. Although Hong Jiu sustained severe injuries and lost a considerable of blood, he didn’t expend much internal energy in the fight. To the contrary, the fight stimulated his internal energy growth. Through refining it using his internal discipline, he calmed as well as refreshed his mind.
Nothing in the carriage piqued Hong Jiu’s interest until he saw the maiden sitting before him. Owing to the fighting to escape and utilising her internal energy to treat Hong Jiu afterwards, her breathing was slightly heavy, and parts of her garments were darker than others. Several strands of her hair stuck to her face. As someone who didn’t use rouge, she didn’t look too different, but she was charming in her own way even in the dishevelled state she was in.
It was Hong Jiu’s first time noticing how large Master Qi’s eyes were, how thin her lips were, how voluminous her cheeks were and how pleasing her smile was. Female martial artists in the pugilistic world were often hearty or charming, rarely sweet.
Hong Jiu had saved more people than he could remember, and, among them, there were girls who fell for him, but he never cared for accolades, so he’d take off as soon as he saved them. As a result, the shy girls wouldn’t even have the chance to profess their feelings before he was gone. Therefore, he still couldn’t write one sentence about a romantic encounter he had.
Hong Jiu was constantly busy. If he didn’t find trouble, trouble found him. If he wasn’t being unfortunate, misfortune was out for him. There, therefore, was no time for him to have romantic thoughts even when he met pretty girls. This was his first time properly checking out a girl.
Hong Jiu stared at the maiden with her face in her hands, gaze on the moon, and mind in another world, unaware she was reflecting on what transpired not long ago in the carriage.
Son of a, no, you Hong Jiu! We’re not close? Of course we’re not! Who wants to be close to you?! If you didn’t chase after me, if you didn’t touch me – yes, you violated me that day, you Hong Jiu! How dare you give me attitude when I still haven’t made you pay for that?! Only an idiot would be close to you! Only an idiot would save you! Only an idiot would trade their life to stop you! With just one finger, I could pick up eight, nine, hmph, at least, twenty guys. I saved you, yet you’re complaining. What the hell?
As soon as Master Qi looked back at Hong Jiu, he looked away.
“Hey, you dead yet?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Yet you’re replying!”
“Why are you asking the obvious, then?”
Master Qi hissed as she stretched her eyes. “Don’t you have anything to say?”
Hong Jiu’s intention to apologise disappeared as soon as Master Qi gave him attitude. “Well, sorry.”
Master Qi: He’s hurt. He’s still hurt. Don’t bludgeon him. Don’t put a hole in his head. He’s still hurt…
Hong Jiu: Good. God. Whoever marries her must have the worst luck in the world.
Over the next two days, the two hardly spoke a word to each other.
The time they spent on flat roads decreased, while time spent on mountain paths increased. Had it not been for Guan Ning’s skills, the carriage would’ve never made it through – assuming they could even navigate the route first.
“We’re at the front door of Valley of Yearning now. Fog shrouds this place throughout the year, so it’s hard for people to enter unless they know the way.
Master Qi looked outside to confirm for herself, then smiled. “Had you not led the way, who would’ve ever imagined a big martial arts sect would be tucked away in these mountains?”
“The way forward leads to Valley of Yearning’s territory. Please head back the way you came, or we will be forced to stop you,” someone suddenly demanded.
Guan Ning enthused, “Senior Brothers, it’s me.”
The two guards were glad to see a familiar face. “Oh, Brother Guan!”
Following some idle chatter among the trio, one of Guan Ning’s seniors said, “Brother Guan, you forgot all about us after striking it rich, hey? You haven’t visited since.”
“You speak in jest, Senior Brother. The pugilistic world is a perilous place. I raised a white flag not long after I started. I’m back with friends, aren’t I?”
One of Guan Ning’s seniors joked, “Friends? If she’s not our sister-in-law, we can’t let you through.”
The three merrily laughed.
“Please don’t make fun of me, Brothers. One of them is a respected friend in the pugilistic world. This is Mount Daluo’s Br-”
The two disciples suddenly drew their broadswords. “Mount Daluo scum?! Where?!”