Shi Yan was utterly shocked. Did his face turned into Lumi’s? he wondered. He looked at Shi Yin, who did not show any form of surprised expression.
[Strange, if my faced changed, Shi Yin would definitely be shocked. Does this mean that my face didn’t change?] Shi Yan carried Selene to the bed. This time, he did not faced any resistance from Shi Yin. Instead, her whole attitude took a 180 turn, she was now extremely docile as she obediently followed Shi Yan.
Once Selene was placed in a comfortable position, Shi Yan took Shi Yin to the river. The river in this world was unlike the river at Shi Yan’s cave. The water was tranquil, no waves, no ripple. It was an extremely slow flow of water. From the water’s reflection, Shi Yan could clearly see that his face did not change. He took the pendant in his hand, he noticed that the mirror no longer captured any background. Everything else in the mirror but Lumi’s face was pitch black. When Shi Yan rotated the mirror to different angles, Lumi’s face followed.
What if I close the mirror? Will Lumi’s face be gone?
Closing the mirror, nothing happened. The pendant was now firmly locked, unable to be pried open even when Shi Yan bit into his finger again and applied more blood. Shi Yin on the other hand had moved away from Shi Yan. She no longer recognised Shi Yan, as she showed an aggressive posture.
Shi Yan noticed Shi Yin’s weird actions and took a look at his reflection again. This time, he looked exactly like Lumi.
[There is no doubt, this is definitely caused by the pendant! I don’t think only my looks changed. Shi Yin wouldn’t be so aggressive if I still smelled the same. Don’t tell me even my smell changed? What about my voice? “Shi Yin~”.] Shi Yan started the scratch the back his hand. [This is definitely not my voice… My face, my smell and even my voice changed. What kind of treasure is this? Why would Lumi and his brother owe something like this? An invisible cloak, a healing bell, a morphing pendant…]
[*Sigh* I can try to ask Lumi but I doubt he will talk. That guy is way too tight-lipped. Let’s forget about them for now, there are bigger problems at hand. Poor Shi yin doesn’t recognise me anymore. Right now she really looks angry… If she injures me again, I can’t imagine how much guilt she will feel…]
In spite of Shi Yan’s worry, they were unwarranted. While Shi Yan was thinking, he unconsciously scratched the back of his hand out of habit. Naturally, Shi Yin noticed it and vaguely guessed the situation. She was no longer aggressive towards Shi Yan. Instead, she moved closer to him.
Before Shi Yan could notice, Shi Yin was already in front of him. She started to lick him, probing Shi Yan. Shi Yan understood her intentions. Thus, he squad down and gave the little fox a big kiss on her forehead. The little fox’s eyes glittered, transmitting a message, ‘I found you’.
[It seems Shi Yin recognises me now. But if Selene saw me, she’s going to have a shock. I wonder if I could change back?]
Shi Yan tinkered around with the pendant but, nothing changed. He still had Lumi’s face and voice. [Damn it… Will I have to look like an old man for the rest of my life?]
[“*sigh*” I guess I will have to live with this… At least if I get back to the orphanage, I can pose as Lumi and steal some stuff.] Shi Yan gave a cold laugh.
~ Early afternoon
Shi Yan and Shi Yin ate some fresh fruits and took a bath together. Both wearing their respective treasures, were waiting for Selene to wake up. Shi Yin was obviously displeased that they had to wait for her but, she would not show any displeasure. She didn’t want to be an inconvenience to Shi Yan. However, she planned to deal with Selene when Shi Yan is not around.
“Uuuwaaaaagggh” Selene gave a loud yawn while stretching herself awake. “Hey Selene. You’re finally awake.” Shi Yan gave Selene a charming smile, he had to reintroduce himself; and hopefully not scare her away.
Selene rubbed her eyes, once she got a clear view of Shi Yan, she jumped out of the bed and pointed to Shi Yan. “Where is big brother? Old man, how did you come in here! No! You…you’re not allowed here!” Shaking her head, Selene spread open her palm and a portal appeared above Shi Yan. Taken aback by Selene’s sudden aggression, Shi Yan quickly shouted to prove his innocence. “Selene! I’m Shi Yan! Stooop!”.
The portal was only an inch away from Shi Yan’s head, and Shi Yin yelled “Eyyyahh!”. The portal immediately froze still and disappeared. Selene’s eyes started to become red.
Shi Yan looked at Shi Yin, thinking that his lovely little fox was ferocious, being able to bring someone like Selene into submission. Shi Yin noticed Shi Yan’s gaze and gave a proud “*hummp*”, trying to show off that she was better than Selene. Poor Selene sadly muttered out, “No please… *sniff* please don’t leave…”.
Shi Yan walked closer to Selene, grasping her hand, “we are not going anywhere, don’t cry alright”
[I think this is how you comfort children…]Shi Yan thought.
Selene slowly sobered up, having someone with her calmed her mind. Naturally, these feelings was due to a child being used to dependence. Having someone to depend on was a luxury which she took for granted. Having experienced the loss of such a precious luxury, she did not wish to lose it again. These feeling were not of romance but their display of affection was similar. Thus, Shi Yin often disliked Selene, both of them are alone and both of them currently relied on Shi Yan. Their similarities made Shi Yin uncomfortable.
Selene now hugged Shi Yan’s arm, and buried her head into it. She muttered “Big brother… I’m sorry…”
Shi Yan used his other hand to caress the little girl on her head. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not your fault that you didn’t recognise me. I can’t transform back to how I previously looked, so I’m sorry that I startled you”. Shi Yin pretended not to mind their skin-ship and went to caress Shi Yan’s leg, indicating, ‘I’m here too you know’.
After awhile, Shi Yan pulled Selene away from himself and asked “Selene, I got a very important question to ask you”. In a solemn voice, “do you know where can I find this mountain god? If we can get him to help us, we’ve got a much greater chance of taking down that ape.”
Selene shook her head “Big brother, I cannot bring you there. Please don’t go”.
Shi Yan did not understand the customs at this mountain but roughly guessed that no one was allowed to go and visit the mountain god. “Selene, don’t worry, we are not from this mountain! You could just tell us the directions and we could walk there. I’m sure that your benevolent mountain gods would forgive us if we said that we got lost right?”
Cold sweet started to fall on Shi Yan’s face. He didn’t expect the mountain god to be a ruthless individual. However, he knew that there was no possibility of killing the ape without its help. In front of such overbearing might, schemes and tactics were useless. Attempt was just a forfeit of life.
Shi Yan firmly gripped onto Selene, his gaze were locked onto her. Noticing his strong gaze, she lowered her head. “Selene, please we need to see the mountain god. Don’t worry about us. I have tricks to run away from him if we are ever threatened”.
Selene did not relent in her persistence. Shi Yan knew that he had to convince her but with what?
Shi Yin notice that Shi Yan was struggling to convince Selene. Thus, she took it on herself to convince Selene. “Eyyah” she cried, and immediately Selene started to shake her head. “No! I won’t allow you to leave! Big brother must stay here! He cannot leave”. Shi Yan did not interfere with their quarrel. He hoped for Shi Yin to be able to convince Selene.
Shi Yin got more annoyed at Selene,”EEeeeyahh!” She shouted. Shi Yin threatened Selene, saying that Shi Yan would hate her if he doesn’t see the mountain god. Selene shook her head, expressing unwillingness and fear. She hated the idea of Shi Yan and Shi Yin leaving her but, she even more so feared Shi Yan would start hating her. She bit her lips and made a portal appear beside her.
Selene heard from her mother that the mountain god would punish anyone that stepped into his cavern. However, hearing Shi Yin said that Shi Yan would not be punished but was welcomed by the mountain god, she had no more excuse to keep them inside her world. Although she wanted to express disbelief, she could not bear the risk of Shi Yan hating her. “Big brother… Please, can’t you stay with me?”
Shi Yan could tell that Shi Yin managed to convince Selene and walked pass the portal; followed by Shi Yin. Once back into the world he originally came form, Shi Yan looked at the sad looking tree, “Selene, don’t worry, we may not see each other for awhile so stay here and be a good girl okay? I will make sure that we come back for you. So, don’t cry while we are away alright?”.
Selene, holding back her tears, “Come back.. Come back quickly, ok?” She pointed to the tip of the mountains with her branch. “Mountain valley, the cave… very near. *sniff* Big brother, come back. Later ok?”. Shi Yan gave Selene a sad smile, “Don’t worry, I’ll come back soon. So wait for me okay?”.
Selene gave a soft “Um”, while looking at Shi Yan and Shi yin wait away.
Although they only knew each other for close to two days, Shi Yan felt a strange connection to Selene. It was similar to when he first saw Shi Yin. They did not need to take a very long time to develop a bond. He felt only guilt towards Selene at first, but it quickly developed to actual care of her well being.
~ After 2 days
Shi Yan and Shi Yin have been exploring the mountain valley without any fruitful encounters. Silent at night and eventless in the day. At night, Shi Yan would often tinker with the treasures while Shi Yin would gather fruits for them to eat. Although they have not found the cave entrance, Shi Yan learnt quite a few things about the treasures in these two days.
[This is really where the mountain god lives. There are practically no animals here. I even rarely find insects here. Just what kind of magic does this mountain god use to force so many living things away from this place… I should put the activate cloak just in case, but the amount of blood it takes is way too much. For just a minute, it takes a drop of blood! ]
[It’s already been two days… I hope that Selene isn’t still crying…]
His thoughts were disrupted when Shi Yin pulled his cloak. He looked at her, pointing her nose in a direction. She obviously found something.
After they walked in the direction Shi Yin pointed to, Shi Yan found traces of a huge battle. The battle was more devastating than the ones he saw in the forest. In a 2 kilometer radius, all trees were uprooted; some parts of the land devastatingly torched; patches of blood stains everywhere, causing the air to smell of rot. The smell was so strong that it gave Shi Yan nausea. Shi Yin fortunately was not affected by the smell, despite her more sensitive nose.
Shi Yan held his vomit back. He doesn’t wish to proceed any further but he knew that this place was linked to the mountain god. Shi Yin could tell Shi Yan was not feeling well from his pale face. She jumped up to Shi Yan’s arms. Shi Yan attempted to hold her but she used his arms as a propulsion to jump up to his shoulders. Shi Yin would lie on his shoulder, her long silvery tail around his neck, giving of a faint fragrance. Shi Yan slowly felt better; the putrid smell now no longer had any effect on him. As thanks, he gave Shi Yin a little kiss on the tip of her tail.
Walking about the area, Shi Yan took special care not to step on the stains of blood. He managed to walked through the entire place without getting his feet stuck on the stains of blood. After walking for awhile, he noticed that there were two different blood stains leading to opposite directions.
Shi Yan started to scratch the back of his hand while gathering up the clues in this battle ground.
[It seems that there were survivors in this battle. Since there were no bones around, could it be that all the blood here was due to a battle of two monsters? Its too unlikely that the retreating monster would carry all its wounded comrades back. If this was the case, then this should be the battleground between the mountain god and the ape. But, why would it be hard for a mountain god to defeat the ape? Was it really only as strong as the ape? Or did the ape grew stronger than the mountain god, and planned to overthrow him? ]
Shi Yan could not think of the reason for the battle and switched his focus.
[The marks on the trees showed that one of the beast used claws and jaws as its weapon. That’s probably the mountain god. Judging from the size, the mountain god should be around the same size as the ape… Damn, can I even manage to run away from it? If I were to be ambushed by it, it’s definitely a dead end… There must be something I can do to make sure that…!]
[Hold on…] Shi Yan’s lips curved into a smile. [I can use the cloak to move inside the cave and scout. He can’t ambush what he can’t see. Since he did not try to eliminate the ape after all this time, I can assume that he is still injured. I don’t think I can personally kill that thing. But! I can certainly run away from him now. ]
[All that’s left is to decide which path for me to follow. Both paths are pretty similar, I need to find the one with claw marks on the ground.]
Shi Yan looked around, but did not manage to find any claw marks. The mountain god’s tracks had already been destroyed by the rain. Shi Yan now could only make a guess as to which direction the mountain god was. However, at this point Shi Yin turn to lick his face and pointed to one of the blood trails.
Shi Yan understood. Shi Yin could tell the difference in smell of the two beast. He followed the trail and after 4 hours or so, he reached a cave entrance by a mountain side.
[This seems to be the place… I really got to give credit to Shi Yin. Without her, I doubt that we would arrive here so quickly. I should steal some steak from the nobles and give it to her once we are back!]