Supporting the elderly woman to her knees, Bai Yunfei transmitted some of his soulforce into her to alleviate her pain before turning to look at the four men struggling on the ground with sharp and frosty eyes, “Scram!!”
At a sudden loss of words, the four of them stared blankly for a moment before one of the less injured ones glared vehemenously at Bai Yunfei. With a seemingly rehearsed line, he shouted, “Who are you! We are from the Eagle Gang….”
But before they could even finish speaking, a tremendous amount of soulforce pressed down onto them in an instant. The pressure had been so much that whatever words they wanted to say had been forcibly stopped in their throats.
Killing intent began to leak from Bai Yunfei’s eyes as he spoke icily, “If you don’t leave this instant, I’ll kill you all!!”
All four of the men had shivered at the same time from fear. Even the one that had a hole through his leg had stopped screaming for that one moment. With a look at one another, they did not say anything more and hobbled their way out from the alley.
Jing Mingfeng helped the youth boy named Xiao Hu back up to his feet as well. With some soulforce to help the boy recover from his wounds, he was already starting to look a little better.
For a soul cultivator, the soulforce of another could be accepted temporarily to heal their wounds. But it would not last for long, and if the affinities of the soulforces were contrasted, then the recovery effect would backfire completely. For the average person however, if they were to accept some soulforce into their bodies, then it would stimulate the acupoints and help start the recovery process.
As soon as Xiao Hu rose to his feet, he flew to his grandmother’s site with an anxious expression. Upon realizing that there had been no major injuries to her, he let out a great sigh in relief before tilting his head to look at Bai Yunfei gratefully. “Thank you!” He spoke.
Laughing, Bai Yunfei shook his head, “There’s no need to thank us. Instead, we were the ones that brought trouble to you in the first place….” As he spoke, Bai Yunfei’s eye swiveled to look besides him.
After a small moment of consideration, Bai Yunfei spoke to the boy, “Leaving you here would be dangerous. Who knows whether or not those men will come back for you. I can help you again, but are you willing to follow me?”
Stunned, Xiao Hu looked to his grandmother then back to Bai Yunfei in silence. Then, with a determined look, he nodded his head, “Okay!”
Smiling, Bai Yunfei cried out, “Tianming, come here!”
“Ah? Oh! Coming!” Tianming ran up to Bai Yunfei with curiosity, “Brother Bai, what’s up?”
“Carry the grandmother and we’ll head back to find boss Huang.”
“Ah? That’s….” Tianming looked at the grimy and dusty clothes of the stinky woman with a look of hesitation.
“What’s wrong? Are you unwilling? Do you hate the filth of the elderly? Forget it then, I’ll do it.” Bai Yunfei narrowed his eyes before moving to kneel down in preparation to carry the old woman.
Snapping out of his daze, Tianming had a look of guilt on his face as he panicked, “No no, that’s not it….Brother Bai, I admit my wrongs. Let me do it, please.”
Bai Yunfei stood back up with a smile and watched as Tianming carefully lift the woman onto his back. With a nod of his head towards Xiao Hu and Jing Mingfeng, he spoke, “Let’s go then.”
There had been a complicated expression on Tang Xinyun’s face when she saw Bai Yunfei look at her earlier. Then when she saw the woman on Tianming’s back and Xiao Hu right next to the two, her mouth opened as if trying to say something, but then she closed it as if unsure of what to say. Her eyes began to moisten and a guilty look overcame her face.
Seeing the state that she was in, Bai Yunfei shook his head and spoke softly, “You….had no bad intentions.”
But then he looked to Zhao Mancha who was standing guiltily right besides Tang Xinyun, “You however, did wrong…”
Without any further words, they all turned to walk onto the streets.
As they arrived back at the Prosperity inn, Bai Yunfei had noticed that Huang Wan and the others were already waiting for them. Several plates of food could be seen ready to be eaten, and even more people could be seen seated around the tables with smiles and laughter as they chatted. About half of them were strangers to Bai Yunfei, but they were most likely Huang Wan’s business partners.
When Huang Wan saw Bai Yunfei and the others enter, he immediately flew up to receive them. Another stout but wealthy persons had came up with him, but he too had been very respectful–albeit a little nervous– he must have known from Huang Wan what statuses Bai Yunfei and the others had.
The two of them exchanged several words of greeting with the group before Bai Yunfei had mentioned Xiao Hu and his grandmother. He had hoped that Xiao Hu would be able to find work with Huang Wan in exchange for several necessities.
Bai Yunfei had made sure to note that neither Xiao Hu or he knew each other, and that there should be no special consideration to be had. Xiao Hu would be treated as any regular person. As it was nothing but a small matter to a person like Huang Wan, he agreed to the request full-heartedly. He himself was more than aware that Xiao Hu and Bai Yunfei had only a chance encounter and that it was almost impossible for them to meet again, but the fact that he was connected to a soul cultivator was a good selling point. Even if it was a small exchange, agreeing to Bai Yunfei would serve as an honor and as ‘capital’….
That night, Bai Yunfei was rested upon an impressive-looking bed. But instead of cultivating, Bai Yunfei was instead resting his head on his hands while he reminisced on several things.
At the moment, Bai Yunfei was thinking back to how the rich merchant Huang Wan was always giving him looks of admiration and worship. Then he thought to the young boy and his grandmother he helped save from the gang of hoodlums. Then at last, he thought back to how words could change his ‘destiny’ irrevocably. But for some reason, there had been a ‘melancholic’ spirit to him.
He himself was now a mighty soul cultivator. No longer was he a commoner that had to swallow his anger whenever berated with insults from any single person.
“One day, there’ll be a time when my little Yunfei will be like the clouds in the sky as they float across the azure skies with complete freedom.”
The sweet and endearing words of his mother came whispering into his ear, causing Bai Yunfei’s right arm to rise up in front of his face to have his palm face the ceiling. “Mother, I’ve become someone with more strength than the average person. I can do so much more now, I can even do the things I could only dream of before. It has been a relaxed life ever since….is this the ‘freedom’ you talked about?”
“But….” Bai Yunfei then thought back to his previous grievances with the Glacial School and then how he had been chased by the Soul Ancestor in Yanlin City. It had only been by the assistance of another that he managed to escape with his life.
“Perhaps this is only temporary….the world is big, and I can only ‘fly freely’ for a small amount of time. Life goes on for even longer than that. Even if I bother no one, there is no guarantee that trouble won’t come after me. There’s plenty of stronger people than me in the world, and if I want to continue living my life with this ‘freedom’, then I just have to get stronger!”
“Furthermore….it’s not like I’m being forced into this. Mother, I feel that growing stronger is a thing to be happy about; it’s not a burden at all. I’ve taken plenty of risks with soul cultivators, soul techniques, soul items, soulbeasts, schools, and even the upgrade technique….I feel that there’s still so much more for me to discover. A lifestyle like this is something that is to my liking….Mother, please don’t worry about me anymore. Your child will continue to live in freedom and in peace. I won’t disappoint you…..”
The more he thought, the more he began to think about the hazy memories of his mother and the more he thought about the bits and pieces he had of his grandfather. His line of thought had been so fast that by the end of it all, Bai Yunfei had been unable to go to sleep in peace or cultivate.
With nothing else to do, Bai Yunfei let out a small sigh and hopped down from his bed. Opening to the windows, he leapt out and prepared to take a stroll around.
“Eh?” As soon as he landed on the streets, Bai Yunfei let out a small sound of surprise before turning his head to look at the rooftop–there had been a person standing on top of it….
On the rooftops, a figure wearing white robes could be seen sitting there with their head staring up at the bright moon hanging in the sky. Their eyes were fogged over as if thinking about something. Xiao Bai was on their shoulder and would occasionally hop around the shoulder and chirp as if to console the person.
The pittering-pattering sounds of footsteps had caused Tang Xinyun to be alarmed for a moment, but quickly regaining her calm, she gave a nod at the Bai Yunfei down below. Bringing her head back up to look at the night sky, Tang Xinyun now looked even more gloomy than before.
“What’s wrong? Miss Tang, what could you be thinking about this late at night?” Bai Yunfei hopped on over to a meter away from Tang Xinyun as he asked.
For a brief moment, Tang Xinyun hesitated when she looked to Bai Yunfei. But then giving a light nod of her head, she opened her mouth to speak. “I….mister Bai, I wanted to thank you. And I wanted….to say sorry….”
“Haha, what are you thanking me for? Your apologies aren’t needed either.” Bai Yunfei smiled as he shook his head. “You did nothing wrong, miss Tang, don’t think too much about today’s events….”
“How did I do nothing wrong? Because of my actions, that kid and his grandmother were accosted by those hoodlums. If I didn’t give them those gold coins, then this wouldn’t have happened in the first place….” Drooping her head, she spoke with guilt creeping in onto her voice, “But….I really thought I was helping them. I never once thought that something like that would happen….”
“Now that I think about it, whenever I did this in the past, aunty Zhao would always find an excuse to leave me for a moment. I can see it now….she was helping me with the ‘aftermath’ of my actions….” Tang Xinyun shook her head, “And to think I was so naive to believe that I was helping them live a better life. This is the price of my self-satisfaction I suppose….”
“Aunty Zhao was only protecting your innocence and goodwill….” Bai Yunfei tried to console her.
Tang Xinyun gave a bitter laugh, “I know that. I know that aunty Zhao always acts in my best interest. Even back home, she would be like this. And even now, she remains the same….In the past, I thought I knew everything. But now I realize that I don’t know anything about the outside world at all.”
“But aren’t you understanding how it works now? The more you learn, the more you understand. That’s what it means to travel, is it not? When you think back to these mistakes you did in the future, you will cherish them as a lesson you learned from.”
Bai Yunfei had no other ideas on how to console Tang Xinyun, so when he saw that she was still gloomy, he tried to change the subject. “Ah, miss Tang, I never got the chance to ask you. What reason did you have for traveling to the outside world anyways?”
Bai Yunfei had tried to change to subject to distract her from her depression, but what he didn’t expect was to see Tang Xinyun fall even deeper into her depression after the question was asked.
“I….wanted to get stronger. I want to become so strong that even my family won’t be able to ignore me. I want to be able to protect my mother from any harm with my own two hands…” Tang Xinyun whispered nearly silently after a period of silence.
Bai Yunfei too had grown silent after listening to her speak. Sighing, he responded, “Miss Tang, you shouldn’t be depressed like this. For the sake of your mother, you must smile, even if there is a lot to shoulder. Your mother would want you to be happy, and I’m sure that you being happy would be the greatest desire of hers….”
“I too want to become stronger and protect my mother. Even if it meant working to exhaustion and suffering all there is to suffer, I would be willing. But alas, I no longer have the chance for that….”
Bai Yunfei had originally started out as the one comforting Tang Xinyun. But all of a sudden, her depression had spread over to him. Such a reversal had caused Tang Xinyun to be surprised. And for a small while, the scenery on the rooftop had descended into a temporary stillness.