” What?”, a moist sensation could be felt as Shi Yan woke up. As his eyelids slowly opened, he saw the little white fox licking his face. He wanted to lift his arm to caress her but discovered his whole body was sore.
Ouch! Damn it’s so hard to move… “sign” at least we are alive I guess… Looking around, I found that we were still in the forest but in an area I have never been to. We could always walk following the river channel but I’m not sure if that thing would ambush us… argh just my luck! why did I have to encounter that thing! Regardless, I still need to get back. I can’t leave Li En like this again. Even if we leave this forest, I need to take her with me.
Shi Yan slowly tried to lift his body. Noticing his attempt, Shi Yin immediately stopped licking and used her head to push Shi Yan’s back. Once the boy managed to sit upright, Shi Yin went to take some fruits placed beside the tree. Some of the fruits were damaged and looked unsightly but Shi Yan was too hungry to care.
Said in a lethargic voice, “Shi Yin, are you alright?” .
Trying to sound robust, Shi Yin gave a cheerful “Eyah!”.
This little fox doesn’t want me to worry. “sign”, if I were more capable, you wouldn’t be put through all of this. To have you beside me, I don’t really need anything else but I’m unable to protect you. In the end, it always seems like you are protecting me…
In deep thought, Shi Yan did not notice a presence approaching.
“Eeyyah!”, alarmed by the presence, Shi Yin did screamed .
Before finishing his sentence, a shadow grabbed Shi Yin and a knife was at Shi Yan’s neck. The shadow was slowly revealed in Shi Yan’s eyes. An old man, about 55 in age, close to 1.8 meters tall, had a graceful bearing, further highlighted by his light blue silk robe. His eyes shone wisdom, not forgetting that amazingly long beard, which was exquisite.
In a calm and deep voice, the old man demanded “Boy where are the rest of the foxes?”
Perplexed by his question, “What are you talking about? It’s just me and Shi Yin here!”
“Boy! There is little benefit in lying to me. You are just a bystander in our world. A normal human. Do not joke with me anymore or I’ll run out of patience.” Pointing the knife closer to Shi Yan’s neck, the old man threatens further ” I will not repeat a third time boy”.
Bystander, Normal human? What is this old man talking about! What other foxes! Is this man sane? I’m going to die because of a misunderstanding? No! It can’t end like this! But I’m in no condition to run away for this old man. Think… Think!
Shivering with fear, Shi Yan spoke with a shaky voice “Old man, I understand… please calm down… I’ll talk, I’ll talk. I’ll lead you to the foxes!”
“Wise choice boy. I’ll spare your life.” Removing the blade from Shi Yan’s throat, he breathed out some cold air. However, at the next moment, the knife was pointed towards Shi Yin, (in the old man’s arms) preparing to take her life.
“STOP! If you kill her I will die in front of you!” Although still shivering with fear, Shi Yan spoke with a firm resolve. He could not let Shi Yin die.
“Boy! Don’t take an inch for a yard! I can easily torture the truth out of you!” Enraged, the old man firmly gripped the knife closer to Shi Yin and let out a swift kick. The kick landed on Shi Yan’s stomach, causing him to vomit out a mouth full of black blood.
Seeing the injured Shi Yan, Shi Yin could not help to wail “Eyyyahh! Eyyyahh!”
“I’m alright Shi Yin, I’m alright… *Cough Cough* you don’t need to cry…” . Although Shi Yan tried to comfort her, Shi Yin continued to sob.
Although the old man heavily injured Shi Yan, he started to think of his current situation. He felt that something seemed off.
Strange, why is this old man still keeping Shi Yin alive even though he could torture me now? He seemed to be in a rush, yet he hasn’t started to torture me. Morals? No that can’t be. Powerful men like him wouldn’t care about my life. To him, I’m probably no different than an ant. He seemed willing to kill me but to be honest, I wouldn’t die from another one of those kicks. Not only that, My body actually feels lighter and the numbness has subsided. Well, at least I know I’m not in any real danger at the moment. However, my words seemed to tip him off. At least, he’s no longer trying to kill Shi Yin. Instead he is just using her as a hostage. Arggh great! Just great. We escaped that monster and landed into another monster… All I can do now is to pretend; Keep Shi Yin safe. Maybe later, we can find the chance to escape.
“*Cough cough* old man… I have no meaning to live if she dies. *cough cough* She’s all I have left in this world.” Shi Yan clenched his teeth and stated and unyielding proclamation “If you take her away from me, I would join her in the Yellow River! Then let’s see how you can find the rest of the foxes!”
Shi Yan thought that the old man will reluctantly agree, maybe kick him in a fit of anger. However, this was not the case. The old man instead laughed “Interesting… Interesting! To think that someone like you would try to outsmart me! 500 years and you are the first! *Wakakaka* Boy! I admit, you are smart! It’d be a waste to kill you! However, words should not be said so carelessly! If you think all I can do is torture you, you are highly mistaken. *kakaka* see this fox here? will you be willing to talk if I cook her alive?”
Hearing his words, Shi Yan’s face turns pale. He knew that this old man was completely capable of torturing Shi Yin and he did not have any means to really stop him. Silence; Shi Yan could not respond. He dare not respond. Any words could trigger this madman.
Seeing Shi Yan’s silence, the old man, as if reading through his mind started to speak with a calm voice. “little boy, if you guide me to the foxes, I’ll pledge that I will not take your life. However, I cannot let this young fox live. I do not have animosity with this fox but she will be a dangerous existence in the future.”
“ Shi Yin is not dangerous!” hearing the old man accuse Shi Yin, Shi Yan could not help but yell.
“ little boy, you do not know the origins of this fox do you? Have you ever thought why her fur is silver? Her high intelligence? You should know that this is no ordinary fox!” staring at Shi Yan, the old man sighed. Such a young boy to have met such a beast and care for her is certainly fate. However this fate is cruel. If I do not kill her now, she may not harm him, but what about others? Demonic beast and humans are enemies. Maybe meeting me to end their ties is also fate…
Shi Yan understood that Shi Yin was special. She was not like any ordinary fox. However, does it matter? Of course not! “How do you know that she’s going to be dangerous in the future? Are you going to kill her just because she has the potential to be dangerous?” glaring at the old man, Shi Yan hope that his reason could go through. “I swear that as long as I live, she will not harm those innocent!”
Hearing Shi Yan’s words, Shi Yin began to cry out, swearing that she will do the same while sobbing “eeyah… eeyah!”
Looking at these two, the old man couldn’t help but feel a little bit touched. “*sign* little boy, you are just a frog inside of a well. Stand up and start moving. There’s no need to explain any further. The more you know, the more danger you will be in. You are really too good for this fox…”
Shaking his head, “No, you’re wrong”. Speaking in a calm but praising manner, “It’s Shi Yin that’s too good for me”. Saying this last sentence, Shi Yan started to stand up and walk off. Pretending to lead the way, he walked upstream.
~ After 2 hours of walking.
Shi Yan now recognised the scenery around him. It’s not far away from the cave now. It’s estimated that it’ll take around another 2 more hour to reach.
From time to time, he would look back at Shi Yin to check up on her. Likewise, Shi Yin’s attention was only glued onto Shi Yan. This could be her last moment alive. At the very least, she wanted to be with him a little longer.
For the entire journey, both the old man and Shi Yan did not speak. Shi Yan was tense the entire time but the old man remained calm.
~Another 2 hours later.
They finally arrive at the entrance of the cave.
Shit! Where’s that crystal insect when I need it! Why did not appear in the last 2 hours! Damn it! Damn it all!
As Shi Yan cursed in his mind, the old man was staring into at the cave entrance. His face turned dark “Boy! I thought you we’re smarter th… “ before he could complete his scolding, a fast moving large shadow was coming close behind him.
Noticing its presence, the old man turned around. “I see now! *kakaka* little boy you have my praise. To think that you planned to have a Crystal Scorpion ambush me!” the old man grinned. Suddenly, the air around became hard to breathe “too bad this is far from enough to even consider as a challenge!”. The pressure arrived all around the old man, with Shi Yan not being spared. Soon, his head felt light as he fell flat on the ground.
What the hell is this! Shi Yan thought. He could not comprehend the current situation. Being unable to move, He could only look at the old man holding Shi Yin. Wishing for the little fox to run away.
As Shi Yan’s vision began to fade, he saw the old man moved his left hand. The hand soon disappeared as its speed was beyond what Shi Yan’s eyes could detect.
Before the world became pitch black, Shi Yan last saw a minced crystal scorpion.