Initially, Zhuge Yue frowned, ignoring the child. However, his expression relaxed swiftly. He lifted the child up, staring angrily at him.
The child was startled and pouted. "Father…"
"Don't call me Father again!" Zhuge Yue hollered. As he finished his sentence, the child looked as if he was about to cry again. Zhuge Yue sighed helplessly and said, "Don't call me Father, and you…you can stay here."
Xingxing was a smart child. Hearing this, she dashed up and said, "Mo'er, call him Uncle. You can stay here after that!"
"Un-uncle…" the child probably did not know what that word meant but followed Xingxing's instructions. Seeing that Zhuge Yue's expression slowly warmed up, he dashed forward, grabbed Zhuge Yue's neck and shouted, "Uncle, those adults…killed…parents…set fire…killed Mo'er…blood…cries…dead people…"
The young child, after calling Zhuge Yue his uncle, treated him like family and complained to him loudly while crying. There was no desire for revenge in the child's voice. Perhaps, he had not been made aware of this idea. What the child felt was pure fear, sorrow, dislike, and disgust. However, these seemingly simple emotions would definitely manifest into an insatiable desire for revenge and a thirst for blood in future. Just like Yan Xun presently.
The enemies that he remembered were just some adults. He did not know their identities, backgrounds, status, or even their full names. He only knew that the people who killed his parents were not children, but a group of adults, and that currently, they were after his life, not allowing him to eat, sleep, nor go home.
This time, Zhuge Yue did not push the child aside. The child's little body was trembling in fear. He grabbed his neck forcefully, just like family.
Xingxing's eyes teared up. She said, "Sister, I'm leaving. I'll be back here tomorrow."
As the young girl turned to leave, Chu Qiao suddenly restrained her. She turned around to pick up a small dagger, placing it in the young girl's hand and saying seriously, "Xingxing, be careful. If there's any trouble, come and find Sister."
A wide smile appeared across the young girl's face. She waved goodbye to Mo'er and took another careful look at Zhuge Yue, before walking out of the tent.
The winds outside were cold. Chu Qiao stood by the door of the tent, looking at the child walk into the distance, occasionally turning back to wave at her. In the darkness, she could not make out the young girl's face, only sensing that the young girl was trying to speak to her. However, the young girl's voice was drowned out by the strong winds. Everything was like a cycle. She looked at the child's shadow fading, which reminded her of herself and triggering certain emotions within her heart. The onslaught of the strong winds made her feel very cold.
"Find it familiar?" a plain voice sounded from behind her. Chu Qiao turned around, seeing the child still in Zhuge Yue's embrace, his shoulders still trembling from crying. Zhuge Yue was staring at her. The years seemed to roll back, all the way to the start. Back then, they were this small but had seemingly been through so much more.
Chu Qiao laughed. "What a strong, obedient child."
With a swoosh, the wind scattered the soil into the air. The night was silent, with no birds in the sky. A solitary dark cloud drifted across the sky.
"Uncle, I'm hungry," the child said, tired from crying. Tears were still trickling down his face. Without any reservations, he broke the silence in the tent, biting his finger in protest. "Mo'er is starving."
Alright, I shall let go of the sad past for now. Zhuge Yue looked at the child, who was no taller than his leg. Frowning, he said, "What do you want to eat?"
"Umm…" the child frowned and thought hard for a moment. "Is there abalone soup?"
Zhuge Yue frowned, saying, "No!"
Not even this? The child probed, "Are there roasted pigeons?"
Zhuge Yue's expression turned dark. With a low voice, he replied, "No."
"How about steamed shark's fin?"
"Not even that?" the child frowned in dissatisfaction, looking at the relative that he had just acknowledged, questioning his economic status. "Then…then there should at least be a suckling pig? Uncle, Mo'er does not eat vegetarian food…"
Zhuge Yue's expression slowly turned to that of thunder. The child, sensing this, sighed and said, "Then…then…then…some braised meat would be fine too. I…I want deer meat, I don't like braised pork nor beef."
Zhuge Yue lifted the child up in a fit of rage. "Little idiot! Are you playing with me?"
"Wuuuu…" the child started to cry. "Okay, pork is fine too. Uncle, you're so poor!"
This was probably the first person in the world that said that Zhuge Yue was poor to his face.
Chu Qiao looked at them, her mood brightened up. She released the curtains and bent over, walking into the tent. She picked up a bowl of white porridge and said to the young child, "You haven't eaten for a day. Have some porridge first."
The child reluctantly picked up the bowl and stuck out his small tongue to taste the food, as if it contained poison. However, as he took a mouthful, he was stunned. He started to take big gulps of the porridge.
"Sister, this porridge is delicious!" the child squealed in joy.
Chu Qiao sighed. This porridge was prepared by Zhuge Yue. It was not delicious; the child was merely hungry.
"Hey! Lad, don't call her 'Sister'," Zhuge Yue said in a low voice, his face black.
"Um?" the child looked at him and ignored his words, continuing to eat his porridge. "Sister, it's delicious."
"I told you not to call her Sister."
The child frowned, finding the man who was interrupting his meal a nuisance. Frowning, he retorted, "What do I call her then? Mother?"
"Mother?" Zhuge Yue was infuriated, continuing to bicker with the four-year-old child. "Don't call her that!"
"What do I call her then?"
"Call…call her Xing'er…"
"No way." The child shook his head decisively. Stubbornly, he replied, "Mo'er can't remember that. I will get confused."
This child was very bright. The both of them suspected that they had been played...
When they were outside, whenever they ran into trouble, they had to improvise on the spot. For example, in the night, when they laid a carpet on the floor to sleep, Chu Qiao laid on one side while Zhuge Yue laid on the other. The child was sandwiched in the middle between them. After the child laid down, he smiled with satisfaction and said, "Father said that he had things to do with Mother in the night. They have not let Mo'er sleep with them for a long time. It's good that Uncle and Sister are not busy."
"Cough, cough, cough, cough!" Zhuge Yue choked on his water and started to cough loudly.
Chu Qiao blushed with embarrassment and smacked the boy lightly on the head, saying, "You're full of words. Get to sleep."
The boy knew that she was not angry. He looked up and smiled sheepishly, snuggling into his blanket and closing his eyes in joy.
The winds were strong, causing the roof of the tent to flap. Suddenly, a gust of cold wind blew into the tent. Chu Qiao could not fall asleep. With the appearance of this wanted child, she had to plan each move in detail.
Sensing that the child had kicked the blanket aside in his sleep, Chu Qiao stuck out her hand to pull the blanket over the child. However, as she reached out her hand, she touched another long hand. As if she had been shocked, she retracted her hand. Her fingertips were cold, but she blushed.
Zhuge Yue was stunned. He had the same reaction. There was an air of awkwardness which lingered in the tent for a while. No one uttered a word. Only the sounds of low breaths were audible, interrupted occasionally by the child's murmurings in his sleep.
"Still not asleep?" Zhuge Yue's voice was low but conscious, evidently showing that he had not slept all along.
"Mmm." Chu Qiao nodded and replied, "I'm a bit worried." The winds were becoming heavier, letting out loud howls. Chu Qiao was worried about the impending storm the next day.
"Go to sleep," Zhuge Yue said slowly, turning around. Chu Qiao thought that he had fallen asleep. After a while, his voice echoed out again, sounding gentle but firm, giving her a sense of security. "I'm here." Although the winds were strong, the air in the tent appeared warm at that instant. As long as the tent was around, no wind could blow inwards.
Later that same night, a horse galloped into the camp, bringing news about Lord Feng's exploits in Xianyang. At that time, Yan Xun was asleep but was not at peace. Before the horse entered the camp, he had been rudely awakened by a nightmare. The cold sweat trickled down his forehead. He had actually dreamt about the young child from the Ouyang family. Throughout this journey, he had seen that boy trying to get close to him many times, a smile on his face. However, in his dream, he saw the boy looking at him, holding a blood-stained knife. Then, the child raised his knife but did not stab him. He sunk his knife into Chu Qiao's heart. The child had blood all over his face, giving him a sinister look. His smile looked as if he was a demon from hell. Ruthlessly, he hollered, "I'll destroy you, and whatever you have!"
"AhChu!" Yan Xun's clothes were drenched with sweat. His breathing was frantic, the scenes of his nightmare playing across his mind.
"To exterminate…to exterminate…" Yan Xun, seemingly possessed, uttered to himself. Suddenly, he looked up and shouted, "Men!"
"Find the kid from the Ouyang family at any cost. I want to see his corpse before dawn!"
The servant froze then obliged in an instant. "Yes, sir!"
"Master!" At this instant, another servant dashed into his tent, kneeling on the ground. "Lord Feng's messenger is here."
"Feng Mian?" Yan Xun raised his eyebrows and said in a low voice. "It's about time." He took big strides off his bed, putting his cloak on. With a change of expression, he transformed back into the calm and collected King of Yan Bei. He said, "Let's go and see his good news from Xianyang."
Before dawn broke, the rain had started to pour outside. The dark clouds gathered across the sky. The winds blew across the landscape, together with the torrential rain and the sounds of rumbling thunder. The trees in the forests on both sides of the valley shook violently, emitting a loud rustling sound. The soil on the ground turned muddy.
Chu Qiao frowned and opened her eyes, and covered her mouth with one hand. She looked up and saw Zhuge Yue half-kneeling on the ground solemnly. He held a long sword in his hand and stuck his ear towards the outside of the tent, as if he was eavesdropping on a conversation.