Su Ming saw Shan Hen smile. That smile might be incredibly faint and only lasted for an instant, but he saw it. Just for a brief moment, a happy smile appeared on Shan Hen's lips.
As the chief of the hunters and leader of Dark Mountain Tribe's hunting team, he had to constantly be cold and aloof. He had to make others fear him. The murderous aura and bloodlust on him had to be the thickest, only then could he intimidate outsiders and the miscreants in the tribe, and only then could he… protect his home!
The world before Su Ming gradually became clearly. This clarity was something he could sense in his heart. It was not that his vision had become clear, because the things before had been clear since the start. Slowly, the voices by his ears no longer remained indistinct as well. Su Ming stood there and lowered his head. He looked at his own body. It was the body of a teenager.
"Big brother La Su!" As Su Ming looked at his own body, Tong Tong's rather excited voice rang in his ears. When he lifted his head to look at her, he saw her pouting, and there was a rather glum look on her face.
"You're cheating! I already found you, but you're pretending not to hear me! Hmph, I'm not playing with you anymore." The little lassie was clearly fuming. At that moment, she pouted and ignored Su Ming, hugging her doll and running far away. Pipi quickly followed behind her, hopping as it followed its master into the distance.
'A three day long serendipity… Are you telling me that I can… stay in my home for three days?' Su Ming closed his eyes, but immediately opened them after several breaths. He did not want to waste his time with closed eyes. He wanted to use every single moment he had to remember everything and carve them all deep into his memories.
It did not matter whether they were real or false…
'This is my home.' Su Ming took large strides and walked briskly forward. He wanted to see his elder. This feeling spread out endlessly in his heart until it filled his entire being.
He moved past Lei Chen, who had his head lowered as his mother scolded him. When he saw Su Ming walking past him, he made a face at him, as if he was resigned to his fate.
Yet this expression was seen by his mother, somehow, and she became even angrier. She grabbed Lei Chen by the ear and began another round of scolding.
Su Ming walked past Wu La and the children. His arrival caused the kids to be filled with joy. When they called out to him, Tong Tong, who had just arrived, puffed up her cheeks and started mumbling under her breath with a displeased look on her face.
"Big brother La Su cheated. He promised me, but he refused to play."
There was a hint of disdain on Wu La's face, and she did not bother herself with Su Ming. He did not bother himself with that. He smiled at the children, and as anxiety burned in his heart, he moved past them until he arrived outside a house - his elder's house.
He stood at the door and lifted his right hand, but… could not bring himself to open it. He was afraid. He was afraid that all of this was just a dream, and all of it was fake. He was afraid that if he pushed open the door, he would only see emptiness, and there would be nothing inside.
His shivered. He… was afraid.
"My young Su Ming, is that you? Why are you standing outside? Come in." In the midst of his fear and anxiety from losing his home, a familiar voice reached his ears from the house, and it instantly caused the corners of Su Ming's eyes to turn red.
That voice was as gentle and kind as the one in his memories. It was as loving as he remembered, just like how a parent would speak to his or her child. At the instant Su Ming heard that voice, he could no longer contain himself. He pushed open the door and saw… the old man sitting in the house with his legs crossed as he looked at Su Ming with a smile… his elder, Mo Sang!
The wrinkles on the elder's face was something Su Ming would never forget. The white in his hair was also something that could never be erased from his memories. The gentle voice, the familiar presence, all of these things caused Su Ming's tears to flow from his eyes the moment he saw his elder.
At that moment, he was no longer the murderer who could kill without blinking an eye, he was not the Lord of the Great Frozen Plains who had brought about Heaven Gate's collapse, not the person whom the Fated Kin worshiped, and not the Destiny who had been away for years, learning how to be cold as well as hide his emotions… He was simply a wanderer who had finally returned home after leaving for many years, and was now looking at his family.
"Elder!" At that moment, Su Ming's body was that of a teenager. Tears fell from his eyes uncontrollably, and he swiftly ran to his elder's side, wrapping his arms around Mo Sang.
"Elder, I miss you… I… I miss our tribe, I miss everything here, elder…"
The anguish he had suffered for years, the longing he had carried for years, the tears that he had not been able to shed for years, and the deduction he made that his home was a mere fiction were no longer things Su Ming cared about, neither did he want to think about them. He only had one thought in his mind at that moment, and that was to hug his elder. He did not want to let go. This was the one place that was filled with the most warmth in his life. This was… his family, his home.
Even if it was fake, even if they did not exist, Su Ming did not want to think about it. He told himself that all of it was real. This warmth was also real. Everything here was real.
Mo Sang was momentarily stunned. He looked at Su Ming crying as he hugged him, and a questioning look appeared on his face, but he said nothing. Instead, he patted Su Ming's back, and the smile on his face became even more loving.
"My little La Su, why are you crying? That's not like you. Come, tell me, who bullied you? I'll go teach them a lesson!"
Su Ming had thousands upon thousands of words he wanted to say at that moment, but he could not give voice to any of his thoughts. Could he tell the elder about what had happened over the years? He did not want to destroy this warmth. This gentle warmth would only last for three days, and it was very dear to him.
A deep wave of fatigue rose swiftly in Su Ming's heart, but he did not want to sleep, because he could not find it in himself to part with this. After a long while, he wiped away his tears and let go of the elder slowly. He looked at this old man who was a little younger than in his memories with a dumbfounded expression, then spoke softly.
"Elder, it's nothing. I just had a dream."
"What dream could it be that it made my little La Su so scared that he even cried while hugging me like he did a few years ago?" The elder smiled kindly and stroked Su Ming's head.
"I dreamed that a few years later, our tribe will fight against Black Mountain Tribe. I dreamed of our tribe's migration and my departure… I even dreamed of myself wandering outside, alone…" Su Ming mumbled under his breath, telling the elder about his experiences, the content in his words very condensed. However, every single word spoke of his entire life.
As Su Ming spoke, the smile on the elder's face gradually changed to one of seriousness. Slowly, he began to look at Su Ming with a dumbfounded expression, and after a long, long while, when Su Ming finished recounting his 'dream', the elder frowned.
"Is it true… or false…?" The elder let his eyelids fall slightly, and after some time, when he opened his eyes, he looked at Su Ming.
"It was just a dream. You're awake now, so don't bother about all that happened in the dream. I can tell you this, I am real!"
Su Ming nodded his head quietly as he looked at his elder. He had an endless amount of things he wanted to tell him.
When the sky outside gradually grew dark and a hint of tiredness appeared on the elder's face, Su Ming stood up quietly and wrapped his fist in his palm before bowing to the elder. With an unwillingness to part and a reluctance to leave, he walked out of the house.
The sun was setting in the west. Gentle rays of sunlight scattered on the ground, causing shadows from the houses in Dark Mountain Tribe to appear on the ground. Chimney smoke rose into the air due to the members of the tribe preparing dinner. The wisps of smoke curled in the sky, fusing with the clouds in the sunset, causing them to become an incredibly beautiful sight when the people looked towards them.
The warmth that Su Ming had never experienced ever since he left Dark Mountain rose in his heart at that moment. This warmth was different from the one in ninth summit. That place showed him kindness, gave him friendship, showered him with a teacher's love for his disciple, but in this place… was the scent of his hometown.
As he looked at his tribe members occupying themselves through the evening, looked at the gates to the tribe being thrown open to welcome their warriors who had returned from their hunt, looked at all the things around him, he suddenly could no longer differentiate what was real.
He could no longer tell whether the him just a day ago was just a dream, or whether what he was seeing was a dream.
Su Ming stood on the spot with a blank expression, until a hand slapped him powerfully between his shoulders. His pupils instinctively shrank. He lifted his left hand and grabbed the hand on his shoulder. The instant he turned around, a freezing glare rose swiftly in his eyes, and he pointed towards the person behind him with his right index finger.
This was an almost instinctive action. It was developed through the years Su Ming had wandered outside, but right at the moment he executed this attack, he immediately pulled that finger back and turned his right hand into a fist before lightly punching the other person's shoulder.
"Lei Chen!" This punch was a greeting between brothers, a meeting born from the longing.
The person who had just slapped Su Ming was naturally Lei Chen. He laughed boisterously and let the punch land on his body. A smug expression appeared on his face.
"Even if you hit me a few more times, that puny fist of yours won't do anything to me. What are you doing here? What are you daydreaming about? My mom asked me to call you over for dinner."
Su Ming looked at Lei Chen, and a smile appeared on his face. He walked up and hugged his friend tightly. This was a different hug from the one he gave his elder, this was a symbol of friendship between brothers!
"What's wrong? You're really strange today…" Lei Chen was momentarily stunned, but simply allowed Su Ming to hug him. After a moment, when Su Ming looked at him again, Lei Chen saw something ageless in his eyes, as if they had not met each other for years.
He scratched his head and looked at Su Ming with a questioning look. He even lifted his hand to touch his friend's forehead.
"There's something off about you. Are you sick?" As Lei Chen mumbled, he lifted his hand, and just as he was about to touch the center of Su Ming's brows, he suddenly froze and cast a few scrutinizing looks.
"There's something really off about you! You're not moving away!"
"You're the one who's sick!" Su Ming let out a wry laugh and blurted out those words.
"Yeah, that's the normal Su Ming I know." Lei Chen grinned and patted his friend's shoulder before giving a few thumps on his chest. "Su Ming, I'm a Berserker now. Don't worry. Everything I told you before is true, I'll beat down whoever dares to bully you!
"Once I become the tribe leader… Heh heh, at that time I'll protect you, and then, the both of us will drink and eat meat every single day. I'll have Bei Ling go out hunting for us every day, and then I'll have Chen Xin… Er, oh well, I'll just have her accompany you." Lei Chen walked before him with a smile and brought Su Ming back to the path leading to his house.