Chapter 170: Sudden Mishap
“Miss Xiao Fang, are you alright?”
Bai Yunfei’s calm words broke the silence within the forest and jolted everyone back to reality.
“Ah? Oh! I’m… I’m fine. Th—thank you…” Still slightly in a daze, Xiao Fang managed to reply to him.
“Haha, as long as you’re fine, there’s no need to thank me.” Waving his hand, Bai Yunfei gave her a smile.
By now, all of the villagers were crowding around the two. Uncle Xu and Shao Ling were the most prominent in looking over Xiao Fang, fearing that she had been injured, while the other villagers gibbered almost incoherently over one another. Leaving them to their antics, Bai Yunfei walked over to Zhu Zi was who still retching on the floor. Extending a hand to him, Bai Yunfei asked, “Are you alright?”
The hand was ignored. Zhu Zi gave a look of mixed emotions toward Bai Yunfei for just a brief moment as if trying to understand the person. Choosing to crawl up from the ground by himself, he stalked toward Xiao Fang while massaging his neck.
Shaking his head, Bai Yunfei chose not to pay him any attention.
Now that everyone was calm once more, Shao Ling turned to look at his own personal hero with a renewed amount of awe and respect.
“Big brother Bai! Big brother Bai! What are you looking at?”
Shao Ling’s words jolted Bai Yunfei from his thoughts. Looking to the younger boy, Bai Yunfei replied, “Eh? Shao Ling, what’s up?”
“That’s what I’m asking you, what are you looking at?” Shao Ling’s pointed at the rest of the villagers, who were busy inquiring about Zhu Zi’s injuries. “Everyone’s saying we’ve got enough game for today, so we’re ready to go home! What were you looking at?”
“Oh. Got it. Let’s go back home then…” Bai Yunfei nodded his head and moved to pick up the bulldeer. From there, he smiled and walked toward Zhu Zi…
Life in the village over the next two days was extremely blissful for Bai Yunfei. Hunting game, chopping wood, and the overall relaxation of his mind and body--Bai Yunfei felt all of the fatigue and weariness he had accumulated on his journey be washed away.
Xiao Fang didn’t have some sort of melodramatic change of affection for him after he saved her, but at the very least, she treated him far more amicably than before. It wasn’t just her. The rest of the village had started to treat Bai Yunfei with respect as if he was now a hero.
There was one person in particular that didn’t treat him as such, of course. That person was Zhu Zi. At times, the amount of hostility from him was left unmasked, but whether that was done on purpose or on accident was never clear to Bai Yunfei. Still, it was enough for him to realize that this kid liked Xiao Fang. Upon realizing that, Bai Yunfei himself began to dislike this “hero saving his woman” type of respect that came from living with Xiao Fang’s family.
The mystery on why Zhu Zi treated him like an enemy was finally solved, but Bai Yunfei lacked the motivation to explain things to Zhu Zi. In any case, he was about to leave soon, so he didn’t really bother to think hard about the issue at all.
According to his own observations, Zhu Zi was at an expected level for the common standard usage of soulforce. He hadn’t yet awakened, but Zhu Zi’s physique was exceptionally well off; it was practically challenging the limits of what the normal human could do. Catching an incoming bulldeer with one’s own hands was something only a few commoners could pull off.
His attitude was fine as well. Even though he disliked Bai Yunfei, he never sought trouble with him and he treated the other villagers well. Perhaps it was because he knew that he wasn’t a match for Bai Yunfei even if he tried to make a sneak attack.
On the afternoon of the third day, Bai Yunfei could be seen roosting on top of a tree branch, soaking in the sun. In his mouth was a long piece of dogtail grass that was slowly being chewed as he planned out his future journey.
“I’ve pretty much done my fill of resting. I should leave tomorrow morning and cross the mountains to reach the Great Plains Province. With time I should be able to reach the Crafting School…”
The Crafting School accepted students into their school twice every year on the fifth day of the fifth month and the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was now just entering the tenth month, leaving only forty days or so left until the deadline. So with that in mind, Bai Yunfei felt that it was time to hurry to the Crafting School. If he delayed any longer, he’d miss the deadline, and that would be very annoying.
Of course, getting there on one of these two days was just the easy part. Each time they held the enrollment, countless of people would apply, but only a meager few would be accepted.
“Big brother Bai! Big brother Bai, where are you!?”
The panicked cry of Shao Ling knocked Bai Yunfei out of his thoughts. Jumping to his feet and off the branch, Bai Yunfei called out, “Shao Ling, I’m right here! What’s going on?”
As soon Shao Ling came into view, Bai Yunfei’s eyes narrowed together in concern.
Just several meters away from him, Shao Ling could be seen hobbling. Countless abrasions and scratches adorned his body, and his right arm had a single long wound that oozed with blood. Holding him by the arm was Zhu Zi, whose normally calm but formidable-looking face was now as pale as parchment. His left arm was twisted and hung uselessly by the side—clearly broken. Bloodstains marked his chest, and blood could still be seen spilling from his mouth.
At the sight of Bai Yunfei, Shao Ling’s face lit up. Scrambling on over as fast as he could while holding onto Zhu Zi, he cried out to Bai Yunfei, “Big brother Bai! Something terrible has happened! You have to save my sis!”
Hurrying on over them the two, Bai Yunfei began to transmit some of his soulforce into their bodies to aid their recovery. “What’s wrong?” He asked. “Weren’t you helping Xiao Fang pick some herbs? What in the world did this to you? Where’s Xiao Fang?”
“How dare you!!” Zhu Zi managed to give off a surprisingly loud retort as he knocked away Bai Yunfei’s arm. Grabbing at the hems of Bai Yunfei’s clothes with his remaining good hand, he snarled, “Just who are you!? You bastard! If something happens to Xiao Fang, then I won’t forgive you!”
Bai Yunfei’s eyebrows knit together in confusion. Pulling Zhu Zi’s hand away, he asked, “What do you mean? It has to do with me? What in the world happened to Xiao Fang?”
Then he noticed Zhu Zi’s wounds. Not only was he angry, Zhu Zi was so injured that with each word he snarled out, blood accompanied his spittle. Clearly, he was in no condition to be answering questions.
“Shao Ling, you tell me! Tell me about what happened in detail! No matter what danger Xiao Fang is in, I’ll rescue her!”
Pushing his soulforce into the two again, Bai Yunfei started to accelerate their healing.
It was unknown whether or not Bai Yunfei’s commanded him to calm down or if he had been able to calm down himself, but Shao Ling managed to take in a deep breath to summarize the events.
“The three of us went behind the mountains to collect herbs, and since brother Zhu Zi was with us, we went a little farther than usual. When we reached the northeastern valleys, two men suddenly popped out of nowhere. They… they were strong! They managed to grab sis as soon as they came! Brother Zhu Zi tried to fight them, but one of them had only needed to use one hand to completely defeat him! Even at his best, brother Zhu Zi was no match for them. It was a baby trying to fight an adult…”
“They… they said that we were to go back and tell big brother Bai to come to them. If you don’t, then… then they’d kill sis! Big brother Bai… just who are you? Why are they after you? You have to save my sis!”
Bai Yunfei’s eyes narrowed together as an irritable and suspicious emotion filled his head.
“Their target is me… but who? Who would want to fight me?”