Meng Fuyao shook her head, cursing, "Proud and unruly? More like bullying the weak and fearing the strong."
Nevertheless, she no longer paid much attention to it and followed Zong Yue up the mountains. When the sun set, they made their way down. As they were a still a distance away from the old Han couple's home, Zong Yue, who was leading the way, stopped suddenly.
From afar, they could hear cries traveling from the old couple's house. The cries were sharp and mournful, and the next moment, sounds of drawers flipping and collapsing could be heard. Bodies were banging against furniture, producing dull thuds amid crude laughter and words. Women and children's frightful weeping blended together awfully as the surrounding neighbors listened on with rapt attention, their faces full of sympathy and anger. Yet, when that was done, they scuttled back into their own houses and secured the locks.
Rong men were howling with laughter, and someone conveniently grabbed a wine pot from a tavern, greedily gulping its content down. With still some remaining wine left within, he slammed it onto the couple's roof, cackling, "Burn! Burn!"
As if awoken by his voice, more people gathered around, pulling up their sleeves, and dancing and shouting excitedly.
Meng Fuyao stood in the center of the street, her pupils shrinking. A colored ribbon had been hung on the old Han couple's door.
The couple was honest and kind, so how did they have offended the Rong people? Meng Fuyao quietly stopped a neighbor and asked, "What happened?"
"Three years ago, a Rong man bumped into the young fellow in that family and was called a fool. Look now, they're here for revenge." The neighbor answered furtively before running off.
"D*mn, is that a valid reason?" Meng Fuyao uttered.
"Looks like the Rong people in this city are out of control and looking for trouble," Zong Yue commented, approaching her. "You're not fully recovered so don't butt in. If their house gets burned, we can gather some silver and find new accommodation for them. The Rong people here are powerful and merely seeking reasons to start a fight. Don't cause more trouble."
Meng Fuyao sucked in a deep breath, tightly clenching both fists and reluctantly suppressing the urge to take action. Historically, the struggles between different ethnicities brought far-reaching repercussions, but it wasn't something that could easily be resolved. She was familiar with history, and understood that loyalty would not work, especially in situations like these. Rescuing someone on impulse might be alright, but if she were to agitate every Rong man in the process and blow things up, more deaths would be inevitable.
She gripped Xiao Dao's hand tightly and took a step back, causing the child to turn around. Her lips were pursed tightly, and a zealous sort of excitement was evident in her eyes. Meng Fuyao lowered her head and looked into the girl's eyes, frowning. "Xiao Dao?"
Xiao Dao's eyes were devilish, when she enunciated her words clearly, "They deserve it."
Stunned by her words, Meng Fuyao clarified, somewhat unbelievably, "Who?"
"All," she stated, pointing at the old Han couple's house.
Her voice contained a viciousness that shouldn't belong to any child her age. It sounded like a steel nail being hammered into a crow-black coffin, bloody and hardened.
"Sss," Yao Xun let out. "What doll..."
Zong Yue shot Xiao Dao a faint glance, his expression pensive. "Oh yeah?"
A slight smile appeared on his face as he reached out to pat Xiao Dao's shoulder.
Not knowing why, the girl looked at him, as he calmly and warmly extended his hand.
His fair, slender hand was quickly stopped by another hand. Meng Fuyao had grabbed him, and she raised her brows, looking straight into his eyes.
"Just a slip of the tongue, not deserving of a death sentence."
"One's words reflect one's thinking," Zong Yue replied unwaveringly. "She's too dangerous."
His tone was simple, but his expression meaningful. Meng Fuyao looked up, feeling her chest tightened. His face read, "Too dangerous to keep by your side."
This evil-tongued man actually cared about her, and Meng Fuyao was moved. Nevertheless, she did not let go of his hands and simply kept her willful eyes on him.
Zong Yue's snow-white sleeves slid down slowly as sweat trickled down Meng Fuyao's forehead. Meng Fuyao's hands were still in midair as she added, "She's still a child and has no strength. I can't do it."
"Just let me do it then," Zong Yue said, his eyes cold. "You're strong, intelligent and decisive, but you're too kind and soft-hearted. Haven't you gotten yourself into trouble for trusting Qiao Ling? You know the dangers of saving her so why did you do it? How are you going to survive in this predatory world?"
After a long pause, Meng Fuyao responded, "Some things must be done and things that mustn't be done. For this, I'll die without regrets."
The streets were quiet, and the girl's back was straightened. The wind blew through her hair, taking her metallic voice far away with it. Like an awl, the words belonging to the hot-blooded, the faithful and the unyielding, penetrated the solid cold and the bright sunlight.
Zong Yue waved his sleeves a little as he gazed into her eyes, lost in thought. With a layer of ceramic glaze in his eyes, he half-smiled and put his hand down. "I hope you don't regret this one day."
Meng Fuyao brought her hands down as well, before turning to look at Xiao Dao. She smiled. "I believe that people are kind in nature. Fate might lead them astray, but if given a chance, they will be guided back onto the right path. If we don't even give them this opportunity, and only use violence as a solution, won't we be the ones turning evil?"
She extended a hand out to give Zong Yue a pat. "Don't worry, I know when to take action, and will be firm when need be."
"Spare no one!"
As if in agreement with her sentence, a group of men yelled from behind them, followed by the anguished wailings of a woman.
"Don't touch my child!"
Half a door behind them had been smashed onto the street center, almost hitting Xiao Dao while raising a layer of dust into the air. Meng Fuyao pulled her to safety before turning back and seeing the other half of the door hanging loosely from its frame. The image resembled that of a toothless cave mouth. From inside the door crawled out the daughter-in-law, her clothes stained in blood. She attempted to climb over the doorstep time and time again but to no avail, eventually collapsing from the lack of energy. Behind her stood a group of gloating Rong men, watching her apathetically with their arms crossed.
A Rong man, almost three meters tall, pursed his lips tightly while holding onto his machete. Blood was still dripping down it, forming a snake-like trace on the ground. He followed behind the squirming lady, and each time he made a step forward he lifted his machete slightly, picking and ripping at her garment.
Her torn clothes fluttered like butterflies as the pregnant lady struggled to push herself forward. More rips appeared on her garment, and more skin became exposed, looking like specks of bright snow. Pieces of cloth and drops of fresh blood reached the ground, igniting the beasts in those wild, primitive men.
Her belly bulged significantly as her child was almost due. She tried hard to protect it and crawl forward without hurting it. Not daring to crawl with her belly facing the ground, she could only have it facing the sky as she moved her body inch by inch.
The Rong man wasn't rushing her either. He simply cut off her clothes, one piece after another, with each step taken.
A short while later, the lady's clothes were completely torn. As she was in the final stages of her pregnancy, faint green veins could be seen on her fully bare belly.
The Rong man howled with laughter. "Look at your daughter-in-law and your grandkid, old man. With just a slip of my hand, the stupid fool in her tummy will be gone."
He smirked disdainfully. A light ray flashed by as he pricked his machete toward the lady's belly.
Unable to watch, the neighbors turned their heads, sighing.
The old man and his son, who were held down by a few Rong men, yelled at the top of their lungs, "Huan'er!" Their voices shot through layers of clouds, only returning as mournful echoes that filled the quiet surroundings.
A merciless and deadly aura shrouded the streets the next moment. The pregnant lady's belly button was about to be ripped off, and two lives were about to be lost.
The sound was made 10 times crispier by the still silence. Unexpectedly, a similarly crisp voice sounded: "A man abusing a pregnant lady in public... is this what you Rong tribesmen are proud of?"
Already scared out of her wits, the pregnant lady felt an incoming gust of wind, followed by a ticklish sensation above her head. When she opened her eyes, she saw that a few strands of her hair had been sliced off by the machete, falling to the ground.
She lifted her head and spotted two clean, powerful fingers pinching onto the end of the blade, which was only a centimeter away from her belly.
Again, the streets were dead silent as people fixed their eyes on those fingers, which had easily subdued the steel blade, no longer allowing it to sink further in spite of great efforts made by the Rong man. The Rong man stared at those fingers, his gaze slowly moving up to a set of an umber-black robe, and then to a meager-looking youth.
Some things must be done, and some things mustn't be done. Certain things must be endured, and certain things mustn't be endured.
There was a limit to some things. She wouldn't be Meng Fuyao if she had allowed this brutal man to kill an unborn child, and under the eyes of everyone present at that.
Upon seeing the astonishment and ominous look in his eyes, Meng Fuyao took a deep breath. "Get lost!" she growled.
She viciously broke the blade, conveniently tossing its broken tip backward, evoking a painful cry immediately after. She had successfully struck another Rong man, who had been sneaking up on her. With a broken blade plunged in the back on his hand, the Rong man soon collapsed with a wretched wail.
"Garison is watching! Where has this death-seeking fellow come from?" the tall Rong man howled, pouncing forward with his bare arms while ferociously waving his fist. He was a martial artist.
Unfortunately, Meng Fuyao was her opponent, and such moves weren't effective against her.
Meng Fuyao let out a cold smile and placed both hands behind her back before leaping forward.
It took her just one step to land on the corner of the other section of the blade, sending it into the air in a spiral before flying straight at the man's bowl-sized fist. While retracting his hand in panic, the Rong man produced a strong wave of airflow, which diverted the incoming blade and sucked it right toward his nose.