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.
“Mister Bai, your mother….” Tang Xinyun’s voice had been the one to dispel the silence that had befallen the two.
“My mother passed away when I was only nine years old. And later, my grandfather–the remaining person in my life who relied on me and I on them–passed away as well. With only myself to rely upon, I had to work in a meager rice shop and move rice bags for my food…..” Bai Yunfei’s voice had been silent for a while, but with time, it grew stronger and stronger. When he saw the confused expression on Tang Xinyun’s face, he gave a small smile and continued on with his sentence, “Later on, I happened upon a meeting of fortune that helped me become who I am today.”
“My mother had once said that she hoped that there would be a day where I would become like the clouds in the sky. Absolute freedom to move as I please to where I pleased.” Tilting his head to stare up at the ink-stained night as if trying to see through the endless darkness to watch the clouds beyond it, Bai Yunfei smiled. “Today I stand, not only with power but with freedom. Having both of which what my mother wanted, I left the home I grew up in to wander the world. With that freedom, I found reason to my life while also accomplishing what my mother wanted for me….”
“Yes, I believe that you’ll be able to accomplish anything you set your mind to. You’re a strong person with honor. In the future, you’ll definitely be able to walk the continent as if anything under the skies is yours.” Tang Xinyun nodded her head with a smile.
“Yea….” Bai Yunfei replied melancholically. But then his eyes widened with realization as if something had just hit him. Scratching his cheek in embarrassment, he spoke, “Er….I thought I was supposed to be consoling you, how did it become the other way?”
Tang Xinyun couldn’t help but let out a small giggle and smile when she saw the embarrassment on Bai Yunfei’s face. Bai Yunfei was a character that was an unfathomable mystery to her, but she had felt that his actions were not a waste of energy at all.
And so the atmosphere on the rooftop had seemingly started to liven up by just a subtle amount.
“Miss Tang, you….”
Bai Yunfei had been thinking for a moment on the best time to ask Tang Xinyun just where she was planning to go next during the silence. And when he was finally about to open his mouth to ask, a sudden coughing sound had interrupted the silence first and startled him. Looking rather embarrassed, Bai Yunfei turned his head to look down at Zhao Mancha who had seemingly appeared from nowhere down below.
He had said nothing out loud, but in his heart, Bai Yunfei couldn’t help but remark, “Aunty, couldn’t you have stayed there in the darkness just a little longer? Why do you have to be like the cold wind that has to interrupt the atmosphere here….?”
At the same time this woman had let out a cough to alert the two to her presence, Bai Yunfei could just barely hear two sighs of regret down beneath his feet. It would appear that Jing Mingfeng and Tianming had both felt that aunty Zhao’s appearance was a very untimely one as well.
A wave of annoyance overcame Bai Yunfei, causing him to crease his forehead together….
“Young miss, it’s time to sleep. We have to wake up early tomorrow to get a move on.” The woman gave a look at Bai Yunfei for a slight moment before speaking to Tang Xinyun.
“Yes.” Tang Xinyun gave a noncommittal sound of agreement in response. Giving a slight nod of her head to Bai Yunfei, she rose up to prepare herself to follow aunty Zhao back to their room.
“Miss Tang, will you really not be traveling with us anymore? We are heading in the same direction, it would be nice to have everyone travel together.” Bai Yunfei had spoken out to her after thinking of the right words to say.
“There’s no need. The young miss and I have matters to attend to. That would mean we have no time to travel slowly with you, mister Bai.” It had not been Tang Xinyun that had replied, but Aunty Zhao who had rejected Bai Yunfei’s offer to travel. Even now, she was very unwilling to allow the young miss of her family travel with this group and wished to separate from the group at the earliest convenience. Tang Xinyun had changed plenty in their time with Bai Yunfei and the others, and while aunty Zhao couldn’t say that all these changes were bad, she still felt that the dangers and risks that came with traveling the group outweighed the changes. For the sake of keeping Tang Xinyun safe, the older woman wanted to rush ahead to their destination with post haste.
And so Bai Yunfei watched as Tang Xinyun and Zhao Mancha disappear underneath the balcony without another word. Having nothing to say, Bai Yunfei could only shake his head. Choosing to stay on top of the rooftops just a little longer to observe the skies, Bai Yunfei thought for a little longer before seemingly coming to some sort of conclusion. Finally stepping down from the roof, he walked back to his own room….
Shortly after eating breakfast the next morning, Zhao Mancha had hailed for a carriage from the city for her and Tang Xinyun. With a brief farewell to everyone, she and Tang Xinyun drove off out of Guyi City and towards the north.
Bai Yunfei, Jing Mingfeng, and Tianming, on the other hand, had spent the day strolling around the city to buy whatever tickled their fancy. For two days, they remained in Guyi City. And on the morning of the third day, the three of them set out for Gaoyi City at last.
As for Xiao Hu and his grandmother, the two of them were now traveling with Huang Wan and the others back to Yanlin City.
From the very beginning of when they left Guyi City, Bai Yunfei and the other two had been very relaxed. They traveled and stopped as they pleased and took time in their travels past each and every small city or village that they happened upon. As per usual, Tianming and Jing Mingfeng were as inseparable as shadows. The two of them had been extremely close in friendship, and Bai Yunfei had been startled to realize that Jing Mingfeng had even handed over the Disguise Technique over to Tianming.
At the same time, Jing Mingfeng had taught Tianming the art of stealing for a cause. At the very beginning, Tianming had tried his hand on Bai Yunfei, but each and every attempt had ended with him being caught and roughed up a bit as a lesson. With only failures coming up whenever he tried testing on Bai Yunfei, Tianming had no other choice but to switch targets. Every single time they reached an area with a decent amount of people, Tianming would steal from the hoodlums or the hedonistic children of so-and-so family. At the same time, the people who were living in destitution would always find their coin purses suddenly feeling heavier than before….
Jing Mingfeng and Tianming had both relished in this pattern of ‘stealing from the rich and helping the poor’, causing Bai Yunfei to feel worried for the two. But the two of them had not been too reckless in their behaviors. Jing Mingfeng himself knew when to judge the time to be proper or improper, so Bai Yunfei felt disinclined to stop them. From time to time, however, Bai Yunfei would scold Jing Mingfeng for corrupting Tianming–a high and mighty soul cultivator that stole money? It was truly an absurd thought.
Whenever Bai Yunfei had inquired to Jing Mingfeng on why he was so committed to stealing like this, Jing Mingfeng would reply to him in embarrassment, “Honestly, being a noble thief is my side job.”
He had explained that when stealing, he would never hurt the person he stole from. And when he stole something that was important to the owner and not important to him, Jing Mingfeng would return it so as to not let it weight on his conscious–and thus he was a ‘noble thief’. But whatever his main job was, he never mentioned it to either of the two.
Three days later, Bai Yunfei was suddenly given a difficult decision–should he agree to Bai Yunfei and Tianming’s idea of taking a shortcut through the forests?
In his mind, this course of action was rather unnecessary. There was no need to hurry to where they wanted to go and so traveling on the main paths would be fine. But Jing Mingfeng and Tianming didn’t think the same. They had both heard from a nearby small village that the forests had plenty of never before seen soulbeasts and so their eyes were practically beaming at the prospects of finding one.
The fact that Tang Xinyun had managed to make a partner out of the Quickshade Bird had been a major influence on the two of them. Jing Mingfeng especially had vowed that he would find a strong soulbeast with the wind affinity and make it his soulbeast companion.
Jing Mingfeng and Tianming had managed to procure a map of the forest, and after studying the layout for a very long time, the group finally decided on taking that shortcut through the forests on the grounds that it would save them three days worth of travel. The fact that there may be a soulbeast for them and that it would shave off three days, Bai Yunfei had finally resigned himself to their proposal.
For two days and two nights, the group of three trekked through the forests. From start to end, they had not seen a single soulbeast–not even a single strand of hair from one. On the other hand, there were all sorts of regular wild animals. But still, Jing Mingfeng and Tianming who were both excited at first had become extremely disappointed by the results.
By the time they made it back onto the main roads, their remaining travel time had indeed been reduced by a decent amount. Bai Yunfei himself had let out a sigh of relief–he had been glad that they had not gotten lost as he was afraid they might have.
Another three days later in the afternoon, they finally happened upon a tea stop.
With the three of them seated at the same table, Bai Yunfei had been happy to order a cup of tea to drink as he winded down and watched the other travelers walk on by. Tianming had mentioned that it wasn’t too far until they reached Gaoyi City. As long as they press on without any mother hindrances, they should be able to reach his home in the city by night time.
Continuing on their way, the group reached a small mountain this time. Tianming had suggested once more that they could take a shortcut over it to save some time. If they did take this shortcut, then it might be possible to get to the city before nightfall. This time, Bai Yunfei had been more than willing to agree. Hiking a mountain to get to the other side shouldn’t be a cause for concern at all….
As soon as they scaled the mountain to the very top, the three males were able to see the city off in the distance. Although it wasn’t as grandiose as Yanlin City, it was still a city with a considerable amount of charm and grace to it. The first thing that had to be noted were the four giant buildings that stood at the corners of the city. According to Tianming, one of the four buildings was home to the lord of the city while the other three corners all belonged to the house of Liu, Ye, and Zhao. The building to the southwest of the city was where the house of Ye was.
Upon seeing his home, Tianming seemed to look a little more excited than before. Letting out two loud whoops in excitement, he whirled around to shout out to his two companions, “Brother Bai, brother Jing! Let’s hurry up! Maybe we’ll make it back home before dinner!”
“Tianming, didn’t you sneak out from your home? Aren’t you afraid of being punished by your family?” Jing Mingfeng had asked when he noted that Tianming was unafraid at the prospect of returning home.
“Not at all! It’s a small matter really, I’ve done this in the past too. But in comparison, this trip took a little longer than usual. I’ll just be scolded by my father a bit, but my mother and grandmother won’t let him hurt me. Hehe….” Tianming waved a hand in a carefree manner.
Having said that, he began to run down the mountain while also waving to Bai Yunfei and Jing Mingfeng.
As soon as Bai Yunfei was about to lift his foot to start walking, a sudden glint of surprise flashed through his face. Adding even more weight to his foot to run even faster, Bai Yunfei began to use the Wave Treading Steps to chase down Tianming with as much speed as he could muster. “Tianming! Get back!” He cried out a warning to him.
Just ten meters away when Bai Yunfei had been alerted, a black rope-like object had suddenly shot forth towards Tianming from the forest to his left. But before he could even reach Tianming, the black rope had already coiled around Tianming’s neck.
At first glance, the object looked rather similar to the Compliant Rope, but when given a second glance, one would realize that this was no rope–it was actually a ten meter long snake!
Tianming was weak in strength, but his reaction was still beyond what the normal person would be capable of. Or perhaps it was because of his faith in Bai Yunfei that when he heard the two words, ‘get back’, Tianming didn’t even look to the snake coming at him from the left before pushing off his foot to jump backward. Because of this trust, he was able to just barely escape danger.
This black snake had barely grazed by his neck as it passed by, but with a twist of its body, the snake bent at a right angle to the left to come flying back at him!