Chu Qiao and Zhuge Yue were locked in their favorite hobby—argument—until they suddenly heard footsteps coming from the outside. Stunned, they stood up with daggers in their hands.
Just as they were about to exit the tent to explore, they suddenly heard a crash, as two small shadows pounced into the tent, and in the process, almost tore the entrance curtain off!
Taken aback, Chu Qiao and Zhuge Yue looked at each other. Following which, Chu Qiao opened her mouth, and asked, "Kid, what are you doing?"
Xingxing's face was colored black, and her eyes were bloodshot. She held a kid who was even smaller than her. Hearing Chu Qiao's voice, tears started streaming down her cheeks.
Looking extremely furious, Zhuge Yue impatiently glared at the kids who seemed as though they had just rolled in charcoal. Grimly, he admonished, "Who let you in? Get out!"
"Uwuuuu..." The other kid, seemingly four or five-years-old, raised his head. His face was black, and his eyes were big and round. Pouting, he looked at Zhuge Yue innocently. Like a little beast wailing, he crawled towards Zhuge Yue with his plump hands.
Zhuge Yue had seen so much war and fighting and had never felt fear. But at this very moment, he suddenly panicked, and pointed at the little kid while shouting, "You…you! Do not come over. I am ordering you to get out!"
"Wah!!" A thunderous wail sounded as the kid pounced onto Zhuge Yue, hugging him. As he soaked his tears and snot into Zhuge Yue's clothes, he suddenly cried, "Daddy!"
At this instance, Zhuge Yue's face turned bright right. His expression was so exaggerated that one could only describe it as being "completely flustered". With his mouth agape, he looked at Chu Qiao, before hurriedly saying, "Who is your father? Let go! If not, I will give you a good beating!"
"Daddy!" The kid did not even reach Zhuge Yue's hip, but he grappled onto Zhuge Yue's thighs with all of his strength while wailing loudly, "Daddy! Daddy!"
The young kid could possibly be severely injured if Zhuge Yue decided to kick him away. Fearing that the kid would be hurt, Zhuge Yue could not hit him, but as the kid was clinging onto him so tightly, Zhuge Yue could not push him away either. In the end, he innocently turned around and sought help from Chu Qiao. "I am really not his dad."
He did not understand why he felt the need to explain this to Chu Qiao, but seeing that there was an obvious tinge of amusement amidst Chu Qiao's shocked expression, his anger rose quickly within his heart.
As much as Chu Qiao was extremely amused, deep down she was pondering these strange turn of events. Knowing that she probably could not get an answer from the crying kid who was currently glued to Zhuge Yue, she turned around. She looked at Xingxing and asked, "Xingxing, who is he? What is going on?"
Before Xingxing could reply, the dazed kid suddenly turned around, as though he had just realized that Chu Qiao was also in the room. Stretching his hand out, he sobbed, "Mommy!"
"You are a kid from the Ouyang family?" Zhuge Yue interrogated after noticing the luxurious set of clothes that the kid was wearing. Within the small tent, the four of them sat in a circle to iron the matter out.
The kid was apparently scared stiff, like a shocked rabbit. Cowering his head, he stole quick glances at Zhuge Yue, before reaching out his hand and tugging on Zhuge Yue's sleeves. He sobbed, "Daddy..."
"I am not your dad!"
With a slap, the kid's hand was pushed away. His mouth turned upside down, as though he was about to cry again, but he endured and tried not to cry.
Frowning, Chu Qiao turned to the other kid, and forlornly asked, "Xingxing, are you the one who brought him here?"
Although she was still young, Xingxing was smart. Hearing Chu Qiao's question, she lowered her head and remained silent.
"If you do not fess up, I will throw both of you outside now."
Xingxing immediately raised her head. Blinking her big eyes, her child-like voice responded, "Then, if I tell you the truth, can you only throw me out?"
Upon hearing that, Chu Qiao was taken aback, as her frown faded slightly. Chu Qiao quickly recovered her composure, and questioned, "Xingxing, do you not know that bringing him around will bring us trouble?"
"I…know." Pouting, the girl frowned and miserably elaborated, "I cannot bring him to my own tent. Daddy will inform Mister Lim.. "
"So, you brought him to us?"
With a defeated sigh, the girl nodded.
"Do you know each other?"
"We are good friends!" Xingxing raised her head, and her face looked more serious than ever. She puffed her chest up, and as if she was about to give an important speech, she firmly declared, "We had been playing on the trip!"
"Daddy..." The kid at the side attempted to tug on Zhuge Yue's sleeves again. Pouting, he continued sobbing, "Mo'er is hungry."
After being glared at by Zhuge Yue, the kid turned his gaze at Xingxing. Within his gaze, there was mostly helplessness from being hungry and being bullied, and without a single vestige of the understanding of being a "friend".
"Just wait a little more!" Patting the kid's shoulder, Xingxing comforted him.
Both Zhuge Yue and Chu Qiao were slightly taken aback by that gesture. This young girl had risked so much to save someone she had just met to play along the way. The word "friend" sounded so firm coming from her mouth that Zhuge Yue and Chu Qiao started to have a sense of respect for this little girl.
Such friendship was perhaps already extinct in the world of adults.
Chu Qiao's face turned gentle, as she continued to inquire, "How did you find him? Where did you hide in the past day?"
Seeing how Chu Qiao's face relaxed, Xingxing was no longer scared to speak up. Proudly, she started describing her exploits, "Last night, a lot of soldiers came around. I was scared, so I hid in the pile of grass at the back. Then, I saw an uncle that I could recognize. He was from Mo'er's family. With a big bird on his back, his entire body was covered in blood. He was tightly hugging Mo'er, but he himself was already dead. Mo'er was scared stiff, as he did not dare to even cry, and his face was pale as a sheet. I dragged him out of that uncle's embrace. When the soldiers left, I brought him home."
"Brought him home?"
"Yes, but Mommy refused to let us in. Upon seeing Mo'er, Daddy panickedly wanted to report it. I knew that if those soldiers found out, Mo'er would be killed like the uncle. So I dragged him out and ran away. The entire day, I was hiding in the pile of grass."
Mo'er sat on the ground slouching, completely devoid of energy, as though he was oblivious to the fact that the other three people were talking about him. He was really too tired. After hiding for so long, and having being chased around by people who were trying to kill him, he was hungry and thirsty. Even more, this new "daddy" was extremely fierce. He had completely lost interest in the conversation, as he was about to fall asleep.
"Then why did you bring him here?"
"I-I..." Frowning, Xingxing took a while to muster her courage, before whispering, "Elder sister, you have been really friendly, and this…this uncle is very fierce and strong."
"Uncle?" Zhuge Yue's eyes widened, as he lightly knocked on Xingxing's small head. "Brat, mind how you address others!"
Last night, the Wang, Jia, and Ouyang families had completely been slaughtered, and perhaps this kid was the only survivor. It would be natural to think that Ouyang family had risked their all to help him break out of the encirclement only to be intercepted and killed along the way. It was coincidental that this girl had found him, and hid him. The Liu family must have thought that the kid had been rescued, and as such, they started to search outwards. They must have never thought that he had been inside the camp all along. It was possible that, as Xingxing's parents knew that the kid had been saved by their daughter, they did not dare to report the incident.
Letting out a sigh, Chu Qiao looked at Xingxing and said, "Xingxing, do you know that what you are doing is very dangerous?"
"Yes, I know," The girl's face looked melancholic. She still did not understand how her rich friend suddenly fell like that in just one night. Scratching her head, she continued, "But what else can I do?"
Indeed, what else could she have done? Betray her friend?
"So this is why you brought him to us, and taught him to call us 'Daddy' and 'Mommy', to gain our sympathy, right?"
The girl's head lowered even further, as though she knew that what she did was not very honorable. Taking a deep breath, Chu Qiao pulled Xingxing into her embrace, and sighed, "Such a good kid."
At this time, with a small crash, the kid slumped down into Zhuge Yue's chest, having fallen asleep. Using Zhuge Yue's leg as the cushion, his drool dripped down as he snored.
"Get up! Who allowed you to sleep here? Get up!"
Innocently, the kid opened his eyes, only to see Zhuge Yue's face which was fuming with rage. Rubbing his eyes, he quietly whispered, "I am so hungry…."
And then, a flurry of footstep sounded from outside the tent. Like frightened rabbits, both of the kids jumped up. Like a hen protecting her chicks, Xingxing grabbed Mo'er by the hands, and upon seeing that there was nowhere to hide, she ducked behind Chu Qiao.
From their little hand pulling on her clothes, Chu Qiao could sense their uneasiness. The flurry of footsteps went past the tent without stopping, and headed right past. It was clear that they were not looking for them.
"Sister, I will be going back," Xingxing stated, her face still pale. "I am afraid that my might spread the news. I will be going back to take a look."
Looking at Xingxing, Chu Qiao turned to look at the young descendant of Ouyang. She made up her mind. Looking at Mo'er, she said, "If you want to eat, go and pester him."
Taken aback, the kid looked at Zhuge Yue. Intimidated by the unhappy look on Zhuge Yue's face, he cowered forward, before suddenly kneeling on the floor. Muttering under his breath, he started to kowtow. With the loud impact of his forehead hitting the floor reverberating in the tent, his words started to become more and more audible as he wailed, "I am begging you, I am begging you."
Even for a four-year-old child, he probably knew what kind of situation awaited him. With the destruction of his family, even with his tender age, he probably understood that his future was not bright.