An adorable voice rang sweetly by Ye Chong’s ears, "Big brother! If you stay under this hot sun your skin will become dark, very dark!" With her tiny hands, she held Ye Chong. She tried shaking him very hard. She kept shaking him in hopes that he'll regain consciousness. Due to her small build, she did not have enough strength to shake Ye Chong who was much heavier than she was.
Ye Chong forced his heavy and tired eyes open. He tilted his head over and beamed at the little girl in front of him. The bitter smile on his quivering lips shone a little terrifyingly with that drained face of his.
The little girl seemed to be about 5 to 6 years old. The pair of large eyes blinked peculiarly above her dollish pink cheeks. A pale green beret sat on top of her head obediently… That was not a beret, that was a lid! The slots on it justified its identity! Ye Chong recognized it being one of the parts of a mech. The material seemed unusual too. Ye Chong wondered what this lid was made out of as he was amazed by the craftsmanship.
A red diamond shaped piece about the size of a palm hung around her neck. There were 4 holes tidily crafted on it. Ye Chong was astonished! Wasn't this a part of a mech's interior? It was the washer, wasn't it? Why was she using it as an accessory?
Judging by her naivety blatantly presented through her appearance, Ye Chong let off a sigh of relief. It seemed like his security was finally assured.
"Wow… Big Brother, your smile's ugly! Were you bitten by a dog? You poor, poor thing!" She expressed her utmost sympathy. The little girl carried on, "Big brother, can you move? You have to move! Yikes! You’ll get dark, very, very dark! What if… you become as dark as Brother Hei Zi… That wouldn't be good…" She pondered hard about it and frowned. She somehow looked adorable in that state. "Aha!" she clapped her hands as she got inspired by something. Her angelic voice cheered loudly as she tripped her way away.
For some reason Ye Chong felt rather relaxed after listening to innocent words uttered by the little girl - it was as if something deep, deep down had awakened. His sight lost the waddling little girl… "She had probably headed home," Ye Chong laughed and closed his eyes once more. He focused on regulating his breath, striving to regain his vitality as soon as possible. Being out of control on his own fate felt absolutely terrible.
He breathed in rhythms, attempting to avoid dozing off. It was a challenge to stay awake under a fatigued condition like this… A trial to one’s will was to not be lured away by sleep! The tiredness crashed into his head wave by wave. There were a few times where he fell asleep before knowing it yet he dragged himself out of the bog. Sleep could have been helpful in rejuvenating his strength but not fast enough.
It was agonizing to stay awake yet it was quite effective. He could feel his strength restoring bit by bit. This excited him. The exhaustion was mostly gone! Mhm, in about 10 minutes time, I should at least regain mobility!
Out of the blue he felt the glaring light vanished. Something was blocking his face and the scorching heat was greatly reduced!
He had his eyes opened.
His blurred vision discerned a small hand holding onto grass weaved into a shape of a ring which blocked the sunlight.
Her expressive eyes blinked again, "Big brother!" The charm was captivating, as her cheery voice resounded, "You won’t get dark now! Hehehe, isn’t Nan Nan smart?"
Ye Chong subconsciously smiled, without realizing how that smile twitched his wound. Hssssst… Hsstt… Out of immense ache he hissed pitifully.
"Hehehe…" little Nan Nan giggled, seeing how Ye Chong’s face turned bitter. Her laugh was bubbly, like ringing bells in spring. It was far lovelier to the ears than Feng Su’s voice. "Ow… poor, poor, big brother…" After giggling, her faint brows squeezed, "It must be bad, bad doggie! Bad, bad doggie bit big brother! Bad doggie is bad! Bad doggie bite Nan Nan’s dress!" While she shared her bad experience with a dog, she did not forget to show her sympathy too, "Big brother, your clothes, doggie bit it? Did bad doggie bite you?"
"Hehehehe~ Nan Nan was out alone. Shhh, it is a s-e-c-r-e-t. Grandpa and Brother Hei Zi says Nan Nan should not play outside. But staying home is boring! Nan Nan wants to play! Big brother, play with Nan Nan, okay?"
"Yay! Nan Nan is happy! Big brother is good! Good big brother!"
Three men walked by the river. They seemed to be chatting idly, as sometimes lustfully they burst out laughing. The filthy-looking shorty was ugly as hell. He looked like a pumpkin which rolled off a cliff. Every part of his face was well-blended. "Hey you both! Look over there!" he called the other two men as he spotted something.
For the other men, one was somewhat normal… yeah, the kind that would get missing once stepped into the crowd, while the other was fleshy on his face, looking messy as unshaved. Their eyes rolled in curiosity. They seemed quick-witted at least.
As guided by the shorty’s finger, they shifted their sight over, "Lao Pi, what is so worthy of all the heyhoo there?" The rugged man chuckled, "It’s just some beggar hooking up with a little girl. What is so exciting about that?"
The average guy said nothing, but his expression told the same.
Lao Pi sneered as he ignored that average guy’s expression, "You are just as dumb as you always are, Lao Meng! Look at Lao Ping, at least he's not as dumb as a donkey like someone I know! Look at that little girl carefully!"
Lao Ping and Lao Meng stared at little Nan Nan dancing around the beggar for a moment. "She’s just a kid," muttered Lao Meng. "Why are we looking at her for? Don’t tell me… you are a pedophile in disguise?"
"Shhhhh!" whispered Lao Ping. "Say it quietly. You can’t criticize the person who's in front of you." He lectured though his expression showed approval towards Lao Meng’s statement. And Lao Meng started giggling nonstop!
The corner of Lao Ping's eyes twitched, as the wrinkles on his face splashed like waves, "Look at what the girl has on her head…" He pretended he had never heard the comment, "And also her neck."
"Tsk, tsk tsk," interrupted Lao Pi as he grew impatient. "Sigh, some people just can’t use their eyes the right way. Don’t you see the obvious, stark things on her body? That kid has part of an inner ring of a mech’s feet, yes, that pale green ring. It should either be the bones of the green beast or the skull of fletchant, yes it could be the skull of that bird. Tsk, tsk tsk, do you know how much could this be sold for?"
Lao Ping and Lao Meng finally got the whole reason why Lao Pi reacted dramatically upon seeing the girl. Their eyes went wide like saucer as they spoke together. "How much?"
"Keke!" Lao Pi was getting puffed up seeing how the two dummies showing the expected reaction. "It would be strange if you know its actual value. Let me tell you… that piece isn’t some ordinary knock-off in the street. Tsk, obviously it’s a masterpiece out of pure handcraft. And not any maker on Haleyson could produce such artistry, I reckoned."
"Stop blowing your own trumpet! Just tell us how much it is already!" Lao Meng’s face was filled with disdain while Lao Ping depicted supports at the side.
"100,000? At the very least," Lao Pi was not really sure of the exact pricing, but that should be it!
That dubious stare from Lao Ping was discomforting… Lao Pi’s face reddened as he embarrassingly replied, "I do not know the exact figure! Well, at least it would not be lower than this!"
"For real?" Lao Meng immediately responded skeptically. "This crap could go up to 100,000 of the currency here? Hah! No way! Stop pulling my leg! With 100,000 of our currency you could get the same junk hat. 100,000 of them!"
Lao Ping stayed silent as he collected his mind.
"The crap you know with your head!" Lao Pi’s face tightened as his face went redder, "Let me tell you something more to fill that airhead of yours! Junk hat? Whoever that is rich and insane enough to get this piece as a hat, he would be the mascot of the planet! The more valuable part is that washer on the kid’s neck! I am dead f*cking sure this piece worth a fortune! Way more than that ring!"
"Whatever you say, boasting Pi," Lao Meng disdainfully spoke.
"Hey! Hey! Hey! I don’t understand why you guys could bicker when the thing is not even in our hands! Wouldn’t it be much easier if we get those things and check the price ourselves rather than guessing and denying each other here? IShe’s just a kid, how hard could it be! And that beggar seemed to be kicking his bucket anytime soon. No pressure, Lao Meng, go get the things off the little girl! And we would head straight to Huang San’s place for appraisal. Maybe we could really make a fortune out of these!"
Lao Meng went chuckling again upon hearing the suggestion. He showed approval as he headed to Nan Nan.
Ye Chong on the ground could feel every quake occurred. That heavy footsteps coming into his senses immediately illustrated a buffed man heading towards him. Ye Chong had his eyes wide open. Nan Nan was busy fanning Ye Chong with the grass ring in her hands. Good Nan Nan… not! Thanks to the grass ring, Ye Chong could hardly see the appearance of the coming foe, though he could see the legs clearly.
Ye Chong put up his guard. By some means, Ye Chong was having an urge to prevent this little girl from getting into any kind of troubles. "By some means" it was, he could not explain why, but the urge was strong and still! Sadly Mu and Shang were not by his side, or he could at least investigate this strange feeling in detail.
The footsteps got nearer and Nan Nan did not seem to have noticed a thing. Could that be a relative of hers? Ye Chong was ready! A portion of his strength had recovered! He could launch an attack for the girl anytime soon!
As Lao Meng started breeze-walking towards Nan Nan, she noticed something as she turned her head, "Big brother, is this your friend? He is coming to help you? Is he?"
Ye Chong’s heart skipped a beat. Nan Nan does not know this person! Who in the Haleyson could this person be! What does he want!
Lao Meng gleefully walked towards little Nan Nan. The grin was not helpful at all. He already looked horrifying enough with his appearance, adding that grin would only make him the most fearsome monster to the girl. Nan Nan was foreign to the smiling creature as she fearfully hid behind Ye Chong. Her head popped over his back, taking a peek. "Yikes!" She withdrew herself and started trembling behind.
"Big brother! Nan Nan… Nan Nan is afraid! Beard man is scary! Bad beard man!" she shook Ye Chong slightly and her voice was choked with tears helplessly.
"Heya, little girl. I meant no harm," Lao Meng squeezed every kind of smile he had seen in his life before, "I just wanted to take a look at that beautiful green hat of yours. Oh, what a pretty necklace, could you give me that red… red…" He scratched his head and mumbled, "The heck was that again? Lao Pi had mentioned it before… How could I forget it… Sheesh, this is humiliating…"
Nan Nan wanted to stay alert but due to that introductory line of that bad beard man, she could not! She tried suppressing her laugh. All the intense fear she had before was gone. She pulled a face at Lao Meng, spitting her tongue, "Stupid beard man! Stupid! Stupid!"
And thereby Ye Chong got the big picture of the entire scenario. So that was what the man wanted! Man I am dumb! How could I forget this? Did my IQ just go down with my stamina after I get hurt?
Mu had once said it before - when one possesses a value beyond one’s own strength, one would be coveted by people. Looks like he was right after all!
Lao Meng took a glance at that beggar half-dead.
He did not seem threatening at all, man I am really dumb! The heck am I doing these mumbo-jumbo for, I’ll just snatch it!
Lao Meng kept his smile as he sprinted towards the kid.
Nan Nan the smart little girl sensed the danger as she sank into Ye Chong’s back. Her body was shaking violently.
Lao Meng stopped before the pathetic beggar as he launched his grab towards the girl.
And that was when Ye Chong made his move after being a splat of mud for so long!