Li Chengfeng hurled his bone spear, killing the grey rabbit, then hunted another two more plump mountain chickens. They returned to their quarters with the bountiful harvest.
Chengfeng cleaned the game while Su Yuehan started a fire. By the time he had skinned the rabbit and roasted it, the sky had completely darkened when they began eating. Chengfeng was very full after half a rabbit and one chicken thigh but Su Yuehan devoured two chickens and the other half of the rabbit. He was so shocked he wondered if she would eat him while he was sleeping.
“Right, now that our bellies are filled, let’s find a spot to sleep!” Li Chengfeng patted the dust off his butt and surrounded the fire pile, finally covering it with sand but leaving one hole to keep the embers inside alive.
She looked at him. “Young Master, where will we sleep?”
He sighed. “We’ve got no choice. We’ve got to make it through tonight in this broken house. Just pray that it won’t rain tonight.”
Chengfeng walked into the house and looked around. “Sweep the dust and sand in here up and we’ll get through the night.” As he spoke, he pointed at the innermost corner of the house with the tip of his foot. “The wind is the weakest in that corner. You sleep there.”
Su Yuehan hesitated. “My body can withstand the cold, you should sleep there. Who lets their servant sleep in the best corner?”
He glared. “Shut up, I’m your master so you’ll sleep there because I said so!”
She made a face at him. “Alright, you don’t have to be so rude!” While she complained, a smile crept up her face: I’ll consider you smart!
Chengfeng cleaned the place a little, then laid the weeds and grass Su Yuehan pulled up on the ground as insulation between his body and the cold ground. He hugged the bone spear in his arms, while the innermost spot was emptied for Su Yuehan. Both of them slept back to back, beneath the clothes they retrieved from their luggage. And just like that, they slowly drifted to fitful sleep on this starless early winter night.
Su Yuehan could feel that Li Chengfeng’s broad shoulders and back had blocked most of the night breeze from reaching her and sighed privately. Coming to Spiritual Mountain Sect looked like an awfully bad move for her Young Master! This Cangjian Court was obviously a very deep hole, how was he going to crawl out of this mess now?
Coincidentally, he seemed to have sensed her thoughts because he said, “Don’t worry, it will get better! These days might seem rough but we’ll get through it together. And then you’ll realise you’ve gotten used to the suffering.”
Su Yuehan almost choked at the fake philosophical wistfulness. She broke out in giggles. “I hate it!”
Li Chengfeng closed his eyes and smiled. “Yep, you hate to love me.”
She gave him a look filled with longing and surprise. It was too bad he did not see her expression then.
Somehow, Li Chengfeng’s closed eyes reminded her of the time at the lake when countless black fish were chasing after them, yet she could see the moment he shoved her away with all his might. Su Yuehan was deep in thought, not realising the soft expression on her face as she stared at him, and the smile that crept up the corners of her lips.
This was how they passed the night. In the beginning, Li Chengfeng could not stop thinking about everything. He thought about his parents, about Zhao Xiaobao, about Green Bead, about the servants the Grim Stork ate, then Zhan Qisheng, then how he ranked first in two tests, then his past dreams and the secret techniques he learned in his dreams and at home.
After that, he thought about how he must quickly become more powerful in this precarious situation. How was he going to improve his cultivation in this crappy Cangjian Court, at the same time remaining vigilant enough to protect himself?
Question after question pounced on him like large waves, bringing on a headache. He felt like he was drowning after the waves crashed repeatedly against him, right until he drifted off to deep sleep, exhausted from keeping his head above water.
This was his first real rest after the three tests. Previously, due to the excitement, his body had automatically suppressed his fatigue after the tests. Although he was in the middle of nowhere now, he could finally relax.
When the fatigue came, it felt like the entire weight of a mountain crushed him. He slept for two days and one night. When he woke, the sun had set.
As he rose, he felt behind him but found the spot empty. This startled him as he scrambled up to look around. Su Yuehan was nowhere to be found.
He hurried outside to see that their surroundings had changed dramatically.
The field outside his house had been plowed, all the weeds uprooted across one chinese acre of land. Rows of shallow troughs arranged themselves neatly.
The fence outside the house had been mended too. Although they were merely replaced by simple logs, the place looked more lived-in compared to its previous dilapidated state.
The surprised and delighted Chengfeng heard a rustling sound. Turning his head, he saw a person walking out of the forest to the west of the house. The thin and petite figure had her back towards Chengfeng and was struggling to drag a large log, bending her back.
Li Chengfeng smiled. He crept up to her, then yelled suddenly. Su Yuehan screamed and fell on her butt, causing Chengfeng to laugh heartily.
She crawled up and started to punch him out of embarrassment. Once again Li Chengfeng held her off by pushing her head away, teasing her.
They were both play fighting when a deafening rumble came from the skies, startling them.
Chengfeng looked up and saw the setting sun in the west. The red fireball dyed the skies red too, yet from afar he saw grey clouds approaching, blocking out the red sky. Rain was coming.
“Quick, we need to find shelter! Did you see any caves nearby?”
Su Yuehan wrinkled her nose and replied sternly, “Nope!”
He furrowed his brows and thought for a moment. “Looks like we’ll just have to make do.”
He took out his sword, placed the log vertically, braced his knees, eased his breath and then bragged to Su Yuehan, “Watch closely, this is a secret technique of the Cleansing Moon Sect- Slashing Moon!” He dug his heels, turned his hips and slashed his sword down. With a glint, the sword slashed down as quick as lightning.
There was a loud thud. His sword was stuck halfway through the log, then with a snap, it broke in half… the other half still stuck in the log.
Su Yuehan laughed, then quickly covered her mouth.
In a rage, he yelled at his broken sword, “What rubbish! And they say this sword can cut through steel! It’s supposed to be a treasure! The knife we use to slaughter pigs at home is better than this!”
As he spoke, he tossed the sword into the forest west of the house. It disappeared into the bushes.
She looked at him. “So what do we do? Should we hide in the forest?”
Li Chengfeng shook his head vigorously. “No way, no way! Never hide in the forest during a storm, don’t you know that? What if you get struck by lightning?”
“So we’ll just get soaked?”
“Looks like we’ll have to ‘tear down the east wall to mend the west wall’.”
Holding the broken sword blade, he cut the wooden wall of the house down into a plank as big as a door.
Thunder rumbled again. The grey clouds were approaching.
He yelled at us Yuehan, “What are you standing there for? Come here!”
Snapping awake, she dove under this ‘door plank’ just as rain poured down from the skies. Large droplets pelted the plank so loud it sounded like firecrackers.
Both of them held one end of the plank up above their heads silently. They watched as the sky turned pitch black, the storm mercilessly pouring down. Water splashed in all directions and soaked them anyway.
After a while, Su Yuehan finally could not hold back her giggles anymore. Chengfeng looked at her, puzzled. “Have you gone crazy from the rain already? What are you laughing at?”
She pursed her lips. “I’ve lived so long… yet all of this is a first.”
Su Yuehan quickly added, “Yeah, as long as my life!”
He laughed. “Not bad, since when have you gotten sarcastic like me?”
She lowered her head. “You don’t have any manners at all, guess I picked up some of it.”
Both of them then burst out in laughter, looked at each other, then laughed even more until they could not stop.
Su Yuehan had lived a long life indeed, and travelled across the lands. She had experienced all kinds of storms, yet she could not believe that she was now suffering and getting pelted by rain with this idiot. Li Chengfeng laughed because no matter how the heavens bullied him, he realised he still could be happy, even in the middle of a storm like that.
The storm left as quickly as it came. Within fifteen minutes, the sky cleared. He finally put down the board. Su Yuehan looked at the large hole in the wall where Li Chengfeng cut out the plank and laughed bitterly. “Young Master, what are we going to do with this hole?”
He sighed. “It’s like how they say- it only rains when you’ve got a hole in your roof! I’m so unlucky!”
She could not help but console him, “Young Master, look on the bright side. At least those horrid senior brothers can’t bully us here!”
She had just finished her sentence when they heard an arrogant voice outside. “Hey, that new guy, Li Chengfeng, are you in there? Get out here right now!”
Su Yuehan: “...”
Chengfeng turned to pinch her cheek. “Slap yourself!”
“Huh?” She swatted his hand away, covering her face as she shook her head.
He glared at her. “Slap yourself now! You jinxed it!”