Jiang Fan deeply agreed and nodded, “That’s true. Thank you for reminding me.”
He grew up on the mountaintop, along with Eldest Senior Brother and Senior Sister Linglong. Compared to the people down the mountain, they did not think as much about the etiquette and barriers between men and women.
Junior Brother Chen had only been here a little more than a year. In the past, he had invited teachers to his house and was someone who had read many poems and books. He was indeed more thorough when it came to thinking things through.
When Linglong returned with the water, Jiang Fan found a reason to chase her to the opposite room and then rolled up his sleeves. Their Little Junior Brother was burning up, his face was flushed red and his consciousness was questionable. Together with Chen Jingzhi, they began to remove his clothes and rub his body with a wrung towel to lower his temperature.
Jiang Fan wouldn’t have known otherwise, but the moment he made contact with Little Junior Brother’s body, he grew even more shocked.
Little Junior Brother’s entire body was burning hot. Even if Jiang Fan hadn’t learnt the art of pulse checking from Master, he knew that a fever like this was definitely not normal.
He had heard of someone whose brain was fried because his high fever did not recede, and that person ended up turning into an idiot.
Little Junior Brother had been completely fine at the moment of Master’s departure. Master was afraid of Senior Sister’s imprudent personality, and had even especially instructed Jiang Fan to carefully watch over his Senior Sister and Junior Brother. However, Junior Brother was already ill to such an extent after only half a day.
Jiang Fan was incredibly anxious. He was a little plump in the first place, and even with the late autumn weather, he was already drenched in sweat from the anxiety.
Chen Jingzhi wrung another warm towel, and after folding it properly, placed in on Little Junior Brother’s forehead.
He was incredibly worried as well.
Little Junior Brother’s body was so hot, yet he was not sweating. Normally, people with a fever like this one would naturally sweat the moment their bodies were hot. However, Little Junior Brother was not sweating at all, which meant his burning fever would not recede.
Chen Jingzhi was a little regretful.
If he’d stopped Senior Sister from bringing Little Junior Brother down in the day, it would’ve been better. Or, if he had gone down together with them, he would’ve been able to remind her a little. Senior Sister always had an outgoing personality and did not know how to take care of others. On the other hand, Little Junior Brother had a poor appetite ever since his uncle passed away, so his body was not considerably tough in the first place.
His heart was in turmoil, however, so he failed to consider these options at the time. All he could think about were his own matters.
He helped Yun Xiaodong wipe Little Junior Brother’s neck at a little. Chen Jingzhi leaned close and then pulled Yun Xiaodong’s clothes a little to the side, afraid that the towel would wet them.
Yun Xiaodong’s neck was thin, causing his collar bones to protrude more evidently. A red string hung around his neck, and it was holding a pendant the size of a lotus seed. It looked just like a peach seed that regular children would wear to ward off evil spirits. Chen Jingzhi stood there blankly as he looked at the pendant. Only after Jiang Fan called out to him the second time, did he finally regain his senses and hurriedly respond.
“Senior Brother, what instructions do you have?”
Jiang Fan thought that Chen Jingzhi’s mind was most likely wandering off because of fatigue, “Go over to where your Senior Sister is and fetch another bucket of warm water. Let’s feed Junior Brother some water.”
Chen Jingzhi responded affirmatively and left.
Jiang Fan and Yun Xiaodong were thus the only ones left in the room. The winds were especially strong at night on Returnflow Mountain. The northern winds sounded like tiger roars and wolf howls as they blew. Jiang Fan was already feeling anxious, and hearing the winds made his anxiety worse.
Nothing must happen to Little Junior Brother, or even Master would feel incredibly uncomfortable. Master’s good friend knew that he didn’t have much longer to live, and thus especially dragged his ill body up the mountain to entrust his nephew to Master. Master had agreed in an instant, and Jiang Fan was by his side, listening to it all. It hadn’t even been a year since then, and Little Junior Brother was…
Jiang Fan couldn’t keep still and circled about in front of Yun Xiaodong’s bed. Yun Xiaodong lay on the bed, feeling giddy from the fever, and let out a vague groan.
He sounded as if he was crying, yet he also sounded as if he was calling for someone. Jiang Fan couldn’t make anything out of it, so he leaned a little closer and lightly asked. “Little Junior Brother? Can you hear me?”
The door behind him was pushed open. Jiang Fan did not bother turning around, and simply stretched out his hands to the back and hinted, “Junior Brother, pass me the water?”
The person behind him asked, “What water?”
When Jiang Fan heard this voice, he was stunned and surprised. He turned his head so quickly that the muscles in his neck ached.
“Eldest Senior Brother!”
In the future, when Yun Xiaodong recalled this night when he was sick, he wouldn’t remember what happened around him because of high his fever was. He simply felt hot. Hot and thirsty. He faintly heard people walking about and talking next to him. He could also feel his arms, legs, and neck being wiped. But he just couldn’t open his eyes, nor could he say anything. He was in and out of consciousness.
He knew Senior Brother Jiang, Senior Sister Linglong and Senior Brother Chen were all in the room, in front of his bed. Their faces were filled with anxiety, and they were pacing about in front of him.
He even remembered that he seemed to have puked, and not just once either.
For some time, Yun Xiaodong thought that he wouldn’t have remembered anything from that night, and that the things that appeared in his memory were most likely his own imagination.
His clearest memory was when he opened his eyes in the morning.
He didn’t know what time it was, but the sky was already bright and the dazzling light was shining through the windows. He opened his eyes a slit, but he closed them again against the bright light.
Someone very near to him spoke up, “Ah, you’re awake.”
That voice was extremely clear and gentle, filled with indescribable sweetness.
Xiaodong mustered the strength to open his eyes and slightly turned his head around to have a look.
Someone was standing in front of the bed. He reached out his hand, probed Xiaodong’s forehead a little, and said with a gentle smile, “It’s no longer hot now. Little Junior Brother, how does your body feel? Do you feel uncomfortable anywhere?’
Xiaodong had never seen this person before, but was able to guess his identity given his attire and attitude.
“Eldest Senior Brother?”
The person in front of the bed nodded, “That’s me. Little Junior Brother is so smart. This is our first meeting, yet you were still able to recognize me despite being sick.”
This was because, in the past few months, he had heard many things about Eldest Senior Brother.
Everyone praised him. He was Master’s eldest apprentice, an important figure on Returnflow Mountain. Senior Sister Linglong said that he had great talent, and both hers and Jiang Fan’s sword techniques were all taught by him. Senior Brother Jiang said that he had a good personality, and he had never spoken loudly to anyone, let alone argue with anyone or lecture the subordinates. Even Fourth Senior Brother who did not usually have much to say, said that Eldest Senior Brother was extremely good.
The others on the mountain would all speak of his greatness whenever he was brought up. The few young ladies especially would all have red faces whenever they talked about Eldest Senior Brother.
At that time, Xiaodong did not understand why their faces would redden, only later did he finally understand.
Given that his fever had just receded and his body was powerlessly weak, however, he couldn’t think that deeply.
There was only a single thought in his mind.
So this is Eldest Senior Brother…
Eldest Senior Brother is actually this handsome. Xiaodong had once travelled to many places with his uncle, but he had never seen a person this extraordinarily handsome.
The blue and white dual-coloured robe that apprentices of Returnflow Mountain wore all looked plain and spiritless on others. However, when Eldest Senior Brother wore it, he looked as elegant as a jade tree, tall and upright.
The robe really suited him.
No, to be exact, someone with a character like his would look extraordinary in whatever he wore. Even if he wore a beggar’s attire, not a single person would feel disgusted.
Jiang Fan came in with a bucket of water so that Xiaodong could wash his face. After staying up late all night, he was looking quite listless. In just a short while, he began to let out a few yawns. As he helped to wipe Xiaodong’s face, he said, “You met him, right? This is our Eldest Senior Brother. Eldest Senior Brother returned last night. Haah, because Senior Brother worried about the affairs on top of the mountain, he chose not to stay at the mountain foot at night and climbed the mountain instead. It definitely wasn’t easy. It’s fortunate that Eldest Senior Brother is back. He fed you medicine and even circulated his energy to adjust your body. That’s how you were able to get better so quickly.”
Xiaodong then turned to look at Mo Chen.
Returnflow Mountain was steep, and there were many mountain roads that were extremely dangerous. Fishback Slope went without saying. Everyone had seen how fishes swam in water, oriented vertically with only a thin strip of its tail on the surface. Fishback Slope was just like that. Its two sides led to deep valleys, and only a single center path was wide enough to traverse on. If one was to slip in a moment of carelessness, that person would most likely lose their life no matter which side he or she fall to. People had to be cautious even when walking in bright daylight, let alone in the night.
Jiang Fan said that Eldest Senior Brother was the only one with the talent and guts to dare climb the mountain at night. Any other man, even if he had the guts, most likely wouldn’t have had the ability to do so.
Before seeing Eldest Senior Brother person himself, Xiaodong had already heard many things about him.. He had already formed a mental image of Eldest Senior Brother. Since he was a Eldest Senior Brother, he was definitely a really serious and unsmiling person.
He might have a square face, thick brows, a loud voice when he were to talk, and a broad figure.
He had also heard that Master was becoming more aged in recent years, and most of the affairs on the mountaintop were all being managed by Eldest Senior Brother. This meant he had to be majestic, and when dealing with affairs, he would do things by the book.
However, after meeting Eldest Senior Brother himself, Xiaodong realized that a large half of his imagination was off the mark. Eldest Senior Brother was completely different from what he imagined.
Maybe it was because he had heard others talk about Eldest Senior Brother so many times, but Xiaodong did not find him foreign the slightest. On the contrary, the very first moment he caught sight of him, Xiaodong felt a sense of familiarity from the depths of his heart. As if… he had known this person for a very long time. This was not their first encounter, but their long-awaited reunion.
Eldest Senior Brother… He was as good as the people had said.
Even better than what the people had said.
While feeding Xiaodong medicine, he spoke in a very amicable manner. His voice was so gentle the entire time, as though he was afraid that he would frighten Xiaodong with a heavy tone.
Jiang Fan did not bother asking much last night. Now that Lil’ Dong was awake and his fever had receded, Jiang Fan finally heaved a sigh of relief. Only then did he recall asking Mo Chen about his travels.
“Eldest Senior Brother, why were you out so long this time? Didn’t you say that you could’ve returned after two months? You didn’t return for so long, we were so worried that something might’ve happened to you.”
“Things got held up. I wanted to return badly as well, but the affair couldn’t be dealt with quickly, so I had no choice but to first send a messenger back with a letter. After heading out of Yizhou, I even had to go to Nanguang. I then stayed there for over half a month as well. That’s the reason behind my late return.”
Xiaodong’s fever had just receded, and so he did not have the appetite to eat anything. Jiang Fan brought him a bowl of congee, and even added in half a salted egg. The salted egg was cured at just the right time, as the egg yolk looked all oily and yellowish the moment the egg was sliced open. Xiaodong picked up the egg yolk with his chopsticks and took a look at it.
Mo Chen realized that he did not look as if he was about to eat it. “What is it? Don’t have the appetite?”
Xiaodong lightly said, “I like salted egg white.”
Especially if it came with porridge. He would stir the salted egg white into the porridge and eat it.
Jiang Fan smiled at the side, “You sure have a rather special taste. People usually like the egg yolk more. Cured egg yolk is really fragrant, you know? While you on the other hand actually like to eat egg white. Coincidentally, you and Eldest Senior Brother would make the perfect combination in a meal. Eldest Senior Brother loves to eat egg yolk.”
Xiaodong found that a little unbelievable.
Eldest Senior Brother was actually picky with his food as well?
He really couldn’t see it happening.
No matter how he looked at Eldest Senior Brother, he looked so generous, so proper, so… In any case, Xiaodong couldn’t see him being related to the word ‘picky’ at all.
Even after being exposed by Jiang Fan, Mo Chen did not feel uncomfortable. He simply smiled and said, “You might not be picky with your food, but if you keep eating like that, how are you going to practice your movement techniques? Little Junior Brother will most likely catch up to you in two years.”
Hearing this, Jiang Fan became highly vexed. “I don’t eat that much either. Not to mention Senior Sister Linglong doesn’t eat that much less than me.”
Yun Xiaodong could be a witness to this point. Senior Sister’s appetite was truly rather huge. Yesterday for instance, Senior Sister still ate quite a few snacks down the mountain even though they had already eaten lunch in the afternoon. A huge bowl of meatball soup, pancake, braised meat, that incredibly stinky tofu, that fried melon seed, and more. When they got back at night, Yun Xiaodong was so full he couldn’t even speak, but Senior Sister did not push dinner aside either.
Even with such eating habits, she still had an incredibly slender figure. When standing next to Senior Brother Jiang, Senior Brother Jiang could split into two of her with some excess to spare.
In this usually spacious and quiet room, on this day as it was basked in the morning light, it became especially warm and lively. Yun Xiaodong held onto his blanket and leaned against the wall of his bed as he looked at Eldest Senior Brother and Third Senior Brother. A faint smile bloomed across his pale-white face.
Eldest Senior Brother was sitting next to the bed and smiling at him as he held onto the bowl of porridge. Sunlight shone onto the room through the gaps in the windows. When the sunlight reflected in his eyes, they looked just like clear ambers. Swirling with luster, yet so bright and clear.