Continuing their journey, Bai Yunfei was startled to realize that the relationship between Jing Mingfeng and Tianming was growing at an astonishingly freakish rate.
It had only taken them a single morning before the two could be practically seen with their arms over the other’s shoulder by noon. It was like they were now blood brothers. By late afternoon, the two of them were already detached from the group and were gesturing to each other as they excitedly talked.
When night fell, everyone garrisoned themselves by a quain hillside where Huang Wan began to direct people to set up the tents and have some people prepare dinner.
Tang Xinyun had set off to enjoy the landscape because she was interested in the setting sun. She wanted to get there before the sun could completely set behind the hills. Zhao Mancha followed obediently behind her. Jing Mingfeng and Tianming had run off into the nearby forest and out of sight with nothing but laughter to be heard. Completely bored out of his mind, Bai Yunfei could only sit on a nearby rock, and begin to upgrade the remaining few daggers he had.
Shaking away the pile of dust in his hands, Bai Yunfei shook his head in disappointment. “Another failure, did I use up all my luck from last night?” He sighed.
A brown chain bracelet appeared in his hands next. With a cursory glance over it, he focused. “Upgrade.”
“Equipment level: Superior.”
“Upgrade level: +10.”
“Additional attribute: +51 Strength.”
“+10 Additional effect: The arm attacking with this item in hand has a 1% chance to doubled in power.”
“Upgrade requirement: 28 soulpoints.”
Happy at first, Bai Yunfei looked over the additional effects of the item before disappointment appeared on his face. “While doubling the strength isn’t bad, it’s limiting and pretty unlikely to activate…”
After one becomes a Soul Sprite, a battle essentially became a battle between one’s elemental attribute. The stronger one was the stronger the element would be; thus, the farther away each combatant would be. At this level of strength, very few people would engage in close combat. Even the battle between Jiang Fan and the other man had been several hundred meters apart, but the battle had still been exhilarating and intense. Of course, there were a few soul cultivators who loved to fight up close because of their particular soul techniques, but they were only a small minority of soul cultivators. Even if one side was willing, the other side would most likely prefer to stay far away from the other. For that very reason, the additional effect of this accessory was practically useless. The Bai Yunfei of today would have no use for it either. A 1% chance was pitiful. Unless one was lucky enough, there was no way the enemy would allow one to strike them a hundred times in the course of battle…
“Eh? Isn’t that… Tianming?” As soon as he put away the bracelet, Bai Yunfei could see a secretive figure hiding under the guise of the night as he stalked toward the tents. The average person wouldn’t be able notice him, but Bai Yunfei’s could clearly tell that it was Tianming.
Tianming was like a cat in his slow movements. The area around his chest was bulging slightly as if something was hidden underneath. Then, looking around, he disappeared into the tent with a swish.
Roughly ten minutes later, the flap opened for Tianming to sneak out from it. Pulling at the flap, he made sure that the flap looked as if nothing had changed.
“I say, Tianming, what in the world are you doing?”
Whirling around, the previous look of ‘success’ on Tianming’s face had quickly turned into a look of surprise. Subconsciously leaping a meter into the air from fright, he nearly fell back to the ground in a crumpled mess.
“Bro… brother Bai, what are you doing here?” Tianming asked uneasily before looking to the suspicious Bai Yunfei and then around himself.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that? What are you being so secretive for?”
“No-nothing… I was uh, making the beds! Yea! I was helping to tidy up the bedding and such. You know that’s what I do around here.” Tianming’s eyes whirled around as he tried to make an excuse.
“Oh, I see…” Bai Yunfei looked at Tianming. Realizing that there was nothing strange about his body now, Bai Yunfei shook his head, “Then why are you acting as if you did something bad if it’s just that?”
“Ah? Re-really now? Maybe the lighting is bad, you must be mistaken brother Bai. Well-l-l, no more, I have the other beds to clean up now, see you!” Looking left then looking right, he spoke a single phrase and immediately ran off toward the other tents.
“Oh…” Bai Yunfei shook his head before walking back to where Huang Wan and the others were roasting a rabbit. Coming to a stop just ten meters, Bai Yunfei looked back to the tent Tianming had walked out from.
“Isn’t that the tent of miss Tang and Aunty Zhao? It seems that they’ve been targeting her all this time…”
During dinner that evening, Bai Yunfei sat next to two pig-faced men — oh, it was Jing Mingfeng and Tianming.
Who had beaten them? Aunty Zhao of course. Originally they had planned on having the woman go to sleep with a bunch of scorpions crawling all around her bed at night. With the scorpions crawling here and there, it would serve as a mischievous prank…
Unfortunately for them, aunty Zhao had returned to her tent first before dinner and was enlightened of their conspiracy.
The reason was that in his rush to dig the hole for the scorpions to be in, Tianming had forgotten to fill the hole back up…
After a speedy interrogation, the two men were beaten to an inch of their life.
This was the very consequence of not filling the hole one just dug up…
Watching the two bruised men drink their congee with lips so numb that the congee leaked out without their notice, Bai Yunfei tried hard to suppress the smile on his lips. They were glaring at the aunty, who pretended as if nothing had happened. Tang Xinyun was eating her meal with smile while Bai Yunfei shook his head without a word. Jing Mingfeng’s heart was filled with a mischievous desire for revenge, but that much was to be expected. What Bai Yunfei couldn’t understand was why Tianming joined in on this prank? Just what ‘incentive’ did Jing Mingfeng offer Tianming in order to gain his ardent support. Even more curious, why wasn’t Tianming at all angry at Jing Mingfeng for this result?
As if sensing his gaze, Tang Xinyun shifted her head to smile in greeting. Her smile revealed the dimples on her face, prompting Bai Yunfei to return a smile. When aunty Zhao’s vigilant gaze swung toward him, Bai Yunfei swung his head away in a hurry. Giving a short cough, his eyes looked down at his congee bowl as if to say, “I have nothing to do with those two; their prank has nothing to do with me…”
Later that night, the two pig-headed men raised the issue of wanting to share the same tent, and relocated Bai Yunfei to another. This truly made Bai Yunfei feel astonished — was this the brotherly camaraderie born from hardships and tribulations?
On the second day, the completely unscratched faces of Jing Mingfeng and Tianming came to aunty Zhao with smiles on their faces to apologize. Annoying her until she finally gave in and forgave them, the two gave a curt bow of their heads, and scampered off yelling words that only they understood. From time to time, Jing Mingfeng’s hand could be seen gesticulating while Tianming’s eyes flooded with a spark of light as he nodded furiously…
With a helpless sigh, Bai Yunfei looked away and muttered to himself, “He was such a nice child, but he was led astray so quickly…”
The closer and closer they got to Guyi City, the more and more people they saw on the roads. There were even some teahouses to be seen every so often. For lunch everyone gathered at a nearby inn to eat a meal before continuing on their way.
Approximately two or three in the afternoon, Bai Yunfei could be seen inquiring to Huang Wan of the nature of Guyi City. All of a sudden, Tianming’s voice could be heard from behind.
“Brother Bai, brother Bai! Come quick, I have something to tell you…” Tianming waved his hand at Bai Yunfei.
“Oh? What is it?” Bai Yunfei walked over to ask.
“Hehe, I’ve a secret to tell you…” Tianming gave a surreptitious look left and right before stepping closer to him. Covering his mouth with his left hand, he leaned in to whisper into Bai Yunfei’s ear, “I’ve realized that sis Xinyun has been paying attention to you recently!”
“Eh?” Distracted, Bai Yunfei twisted his head to look at Tang Xinyun, who was in front of him. Bai Yunfei quickly brought his right hand down to grab the hand that was inching toward the piece of jade around his other arm with a terrifying glint.
Narrowing his eyes to glare at the mortified but embarrassed face of Tianming, he said, “Tianming, is this what you’ve been learning by messing around with Jing Mingfeng for the last two days!?”
“Oh uh… it was just a joke. A joke, that’s all! Brother Bai, we were just messing around…”
Taking back his hand with an embarrassed smile, Tianming tried to pass off a covert look and nod to the faraway, hidden figure of Jing Mingfeng. “Bro Bai, don’t be mad. I was only just joking around. Don’t worry, I’d never do learn anything bad…”
“Oh…” With such a seemingly honest answer, Bai Yunfei didn’t really know how to respond. Deciding on giving a glare to Jing Mingfeng, it was then that Bai Yunfei realized something was about to happen. He swore before looking into the nearby forest to his right.
At the same time, Bai Yunfei’s actions had caught the attention of aunty Zhao and Jing Mingfeng both. Tang Xinyun had been slow on the uptake, but when she saw his movements, she too realized the abnormality of the situation and turned to look where Bai Yunfei was staring.
The chirping sounds of a bird could be heard from the depths of the forest. Mournful in its sound, the whistle carried far, and soon a flock of birds flew out in every direction…