The night wind whistled and the stream rippled. Green bamboos swayed while the peach blossom trees rustled. Chen Lu walked toward the foot of the mountain and into the straw cottage.
The straw cottage was empty and silent. As usual, Lu Chen stared at the gray grass stem as it floated down before turning around to shut the door. He walked to his bed and lied on it.
In the darkness, the mysterious and ghostly howls from outside the windows were heard yet again. He lied silently in the shadow as it slowly consumed his body. Just like that, he seemed to have drifted into a deep sleep.
As the night sky darkened and the wind cried, no one seemed to remember the presence of this lonely straw cottage by the foot of the mountain. Even so, at a particular moment in the depth of the night, suddenly, in the straw cottage, at the darkest corner concealed by the shadows, a stifled groan sounded out.
Lu Chen abruptly opened his eyes. Everything before was pitch black, yet something fearsome seemed to be burning.
The black-colored flames burst forth from every single corner of his body and danced frenziedly as though a poisonous snake, burning all flesh and blood on his body. Yet, his clothes remained completely intact.
Everything was silent, yet in the next instant, the world seemed to suddenly fall apart. No howl of agony in this world seemed to be able to match the wretched screams at the very moment. Short instances later, the bed shook abruptly and Lu Chen disappeared.
The next moment, Lu Chen landed on a solid surface. Once again, he arrived in the mysterious space that resembled a tree hollow.
Under the glow of the gentle light, the black flames engulfed the entirety of Lu Chen’s body, turning him into a human torch. He screamed from the excruciating pain. Staggering forward, he dived into the puddle at the center of the hollow.
Huala, water splashed about. Once again, he entered the vitality-bestowing pool of green water. The exact moment he entered the water, the black flames which were burning frenziedly seemed to be suppressed. The fire slowly died down before retreating back into Lu Chen’s body.
Everything seemed the same as before. The water gently rippled and the mysterious life force from the water seeped into Lu Chen’s body, healing the glaring wounds left behind by the burning blame flames such that not a single scar remained.
After some time, Lu Chen sat upright in the water and glanced at his body. After which, he surveyed the pool of emerald water.
The water was light green as it flowed faintly about, an extremely beautiful sight.
However, when he found this location out of coincidence ten years ago, the pool of water had a shade of deep green. Back then, the life force in it was so rich that one could almost breath it in. Yet, it is gradually thinning down.
On the other hand, the relapse of the black flames seemed to be happening in shorter intervals.
If the last shade of emerald were to disappear from this pool, what kind of outcome would be awaiting him?
He continued sitting in the pool for a very long time with an indifferent expression as he pondered solemnly.
Spring seemed to be slowly drifting away and the weather was starting to heat up. Dawn was arriving earlier day after day and the Spirit Tea Trees on the tea mountain prospered.
Birds were calling on top of the large Chinese scholar tree beside the clear stream. Under the tree, the old fisherman was fishing as usual. One morning, when Lu Chen woke up, he saw smoke rising from the villages off the mountain. Just as he was thinking whether he should steel his determination today, he suddenly saw a figure walking toward his straw cottage.
From a distance away, he could tell that it was Ding Dang.
From that day on, he had never went to look for Ding Dang. Naturally, Ding Dang also didn’t try to find him. Just like that, a familiar and close duo suddenly became strangers. That was, until this day, when she suddenly visited the straw cottage.
As the sun rays shone downwards, Lu Chen realised that she was panting slightly as she walked over. Her chest was slightly expanding and contracting in rhythm and her face was flushed red. Even so, she still was indescribably beautiful. Upon catching sight of Lu Chen, Ding Dang shot him a smile before happily calling out to him, “Hey, long time no see.”
Lu Chen smiled and nodded, “Indeed.”
Ding Dang turned around to survey the surroundings. As she looked at the tea mountain just slightly away and the village in the distance at the bottom of the mountain, she sighed, “Life at the foot of the mountain is so tranquil, not to mention the beautiful scenery. If I had known earlier, I would have stayed here.”
Lu Chen smiled, “You won’t like this location when night falls.”
Ding Dang chuckled. She took a good look at Lu Chen before asking, “How have you been recently?”
Lu Chen replied, “Not bad, how about you?”
Ding Dang responded, “Same as well.”
Lu Chen nodded his head, “That’s great.”
Following which, an awkward silence filled the air abruptly, as though there were nothing to say… not even intentionally acting oblivious could salvage the situation.
The silence continued and the two of them looked slightly lost. After a short period of time, Lu Chen coughed slightly and asked, “So, what is the reason behind your visit?”
Ding Dang pondered for a moment before replying, “There is something which I would like to tell you.”
Lu Chen responds, “Oh, go ahead.”
“Can you lend me 300 Spirit Stones?” Ding Dang asked abruptly after another moment of silence.
Lu Chen went silent as well. He stared into Ding Dang’s eyes.
Ding Dang appeared a little distressed as a flustered look appeared in her eyes. She turned away subconsciously. Yet, in the next instant, she seemed to have thought of something and bucked up her courage before turning back to look at Lu Chen and asked softly, “Is it possible?”
Lu Chen didn’t respond, neither did he reject her. After staring at her silently, he asked, “What do you need it for?”
Ding Dang was surprised by Lu Chen’s abnormal calmness. However, she did not have the luxury to ponder leisurely. Inhaling deeply, hesitation appeared in her eyes. She opened her mouth, just to close it again. In the end, she sighed and said, “I need it urgently.” After which, she sneaked another peek at Lu Chen and hesitated for another moment before asking, “If the sum is too great, can you lend me 200 first?”
Lu Chen went silent for another moment before asking, “Is it very urgent?”
Ding Dang nodded her head vigorously, “Very urgent.” Then, she continued with a soft tone, “I can’t think of anyone else who would help me in this village, so I could only come over to find you.”
Lu Chen smiled. His eyes turned downward and after a short moment, responded, “I don’t have much Spirit Stones in my possession right now. Give me a day, I will see if I can make out the sum for you.”
Eyes turn downwards (No.5)
Ding Dang was overjoyed. She cheered and nodded her head continuously with an exhilarated expression.
The quiet and bland life continued. The villagers of the Clear Stream Village welcomed the arrival of the warm and beautiful summer, after the departure of spring. However, other than the weather heating up and the calls of the crickets on the trees of the village, there did not seem to be much change to life in the village.
That was, until the 4th day of the 6th month, the sudden arrival of a certain news caused a commotion in this little mountainous village!