Xiaodong carried the pouch of fruits as if it was a great secret. He protected the pouch with his arms as he walked, afraid that the fruits would topple out were he to make any sudden movements.
He circled around, looking for Eldest Senior Brother. Earlier, an Outer Sect disciple mentioned that Eldest Senior Brother and Senior Brother Jiang had gone out, but he did not know to where. The large number of residences filled his view as he wondered just where his senior siblings were.
The moment Mo Chen passed through the door of his residence, he saw Little Junior Brother with his arms tightly wrapped, pacing about and glancing around.
There wasn’t anyone else on the mountain who was as tiny and as fearful of the cold after all. His nose would turn red the moment he breathed in the freezing air, and if he could, he would wrap up every part of his face the moment he were to step out of his residence, revealing just a pair of eyes. Bundling himself with three layers of innerwear and another three layers of outerwear, he looked like a cotton ball slowly fumbling about on the snow.
“Eldest Senior Brother!” Xiaodong waved his hands from afar when he spotted Eldest Senior Brother, and then hurriedly ran over.
Though he was ‘running’, because of how thick his clothes were, he actually bounced with each step. People would fear for his safety if they watched him go.
Mo Chen loudly reminded, “Be careful, don’t fall.”
Before he could even finish his reminder, Xiaodong slipped and fell flat on his face.
Fortunately, the winter had blanketed the ground with thick snow and he did not suffer a heavy fall. However, he wore too many clothes and he found it hard to climb back up. Xiaodong struggled a few times, yet he was still unable to push himself up. Mo Chen could no longer bear the sight.
He hurriedly walked forward, reached out and helped Xiaodong up.
Xiaodong did not injure himself from the fall, though his body was now covered in snow. Bits of white scattered across his chest, arms, legs and even his hair. It could be seen how well-done that single fall was.
“Eldest Senior Brother, come over here.”
Xiaodong mysteriously pulled Mo Chen to the corner of a wall at the back. Mo Chen was still a little uneasy because of Chu Er’s death. Seeing his Little Junior Brother being this abnormally cautious, his heart could not help but sink.
Could it be that Little Junior Brother saw something?
In the end, Xiaodong extended his arm, and in center of his white milky palm was a piece of honey-brown dried fruit. “Eldest Senior Brother, try this.”
Mo Chen’s heart suddenly relaxed.
So it wasn’t what he thought.
Even without guessing, he knew where the dried fruit came from. Master must have brought it back.
Li Fulin did not have any hobbies to speak of. However, he was a rather gluttonous person. He loved to eat snacks. Whenever he returned from the bottom of the mountain, he never forgot to procure a few novel delicacies.
Mo Chen even remembered eating the pine nuts and persimmons that Master gave him when was young.
Just as he was about reach out to receive it, he suddenly recalled exactly what his hand had recently made contact with and slowly lowered it. He had been in a rush to return and had yet to wash his hands.
Even after seeing that he did not take it, Xiaodong still reached out his hand, whispering, “Eldest Senior Brother, try it. It’s really sweet.”
It’s even sweeter and tastier than the sugar cake down the mountain.
Mo Chen slightly lowered his head and ate the fruit right from Little Junior Brother’s hand.
He could not have Little Junior Brother holding his hand for too long after all.
Xiaodong did not feel that there was anything wrong with his action either. When Xiaodong was ill, his senior siblings had all fed him rice and medicine the same way.
He looked at Mo Chen with expectant eyes. “Eldest Senior Brother, is it tasty?”
Mo Chen smiled, nodding.
The fruit was really sweet.
Mo Chen nodded at Xiaodong. “It’s tasty.”
Xiaodong’s eyes turned crescent-shaped when he smiled. He raised the pouch and showed it to Mo Chen. “Master gave them to me. Let’s share them.”
If not because of the apprehension he felt, Mo Chen would reach out and stroke Xiaodong’s head as he wanted to.
“It’s fine. Do you think I’m still young and am greedy for such snacks? Keep them for yourself.”
The moment he said that, Mo Chen thought back. Wasn’t Master greedy for snacks even at his age? Outsiders might not know of this, but his few direct disciples knew it very well. As for Little Junior Brother, it had only been a short while since he came to the mountain. After a few more years, he would definitely be able to see it too.
When it came to certain things, it was fine as long as family members knew about it. Dirty laundry should not be aired in public after all.
Unconsciously, Mo Chen’s dispiritedness because of Chu Er’s incident had gradually faded away.
“Eldest Senior Brother, you have something on your mind?”
Xiaodong could see that Eldest Senior Brother was not as happy as before.
When Master showed them those strange weapons, Eldest Senior Brother was still in a cheerful mood and his face was all smiles. Why did it all change after a trip out? Though he was still carrying a smile on his face, Xiaodong could see that it was different from before.
“Did something happen?”
“It’s not something important.” Mo Chen urged him, “Stop loitering around outside, otherwise you will get a cold again.”
Xiaodong could not disobey Eldest Senior Brother’s words. After taking about two steps, he turned around again and said, “Eldest Senior Brother, if I can help in any way, just let me know.”
Mo Chen nodded and responded, “Alright.”
The dried fruits were delicious and Xiaodong was unwilling to eat them all at once. If he were to eat one a day, then these fruits could even last till spring. If he were to finish them too quickly, it would truly be a pity.
He washed clean the seed of the dried fruit with tea water, rubbed it dry and then wrapped it up. Planting it might be possible after all.
Xiaodong hesitated for a moment, before taking out the shell that he had already wrapped. With his other hand, he slowly reached for the area around his neck. Following along the string, he then steadily pulled out the pendant tucked inside his clothes.
In the past, he had always wondered just what the thing he was wearing was. His uncle had merely said that it was something his mother gave him. Though it was not worth much money, it had a different significance.
This was the only thing he had left to him by his parents. He had always carefully carried it on him and had never taken it off. Even without his uncle reminding him, he would never let this pendant leave his proximity, nor would he discard it.
He had never seen his biological parents. His uncle said that his father died before he was born, while his mother died after experiencing difficulty giving birth to him. Once, Xiaodong had really, really wanted to know what kind of people they were and what they looked like. If they did not die and were still alive, what would they say if they saw the current him? Would they praise him or would they hate him to the bones?
There was once a period of time where Xiaodong could not help but stop and watch when parents would hold onto their children’s hands on the streets.
While all he had was this pendant.
However, there were also times he wondered just what this pendant was.
Now that he looked at it, though the shape was different, from its size and weight, the pendant was similar to a dried fruit seed.
Xiaodong held one on each hand and carefully compared their weights.
Mn, they were very similar.
Probably because he had worn it for a long time, its exterior was round and smooth with a layer of watery gloss. At first glance, it did not look like wood but a piece of jade.
Could his parents have left him a piece of fruit seed?
Mo Chen scratched his head.
Why a fruit seed?
Or he might have guessed wrong and it wasn’t actually a fruit seed.
Xiaodong carefully stuffed the pendant back into his clothes, and then kept the fruit seed in a box. There wasn’t much in the box. There was only the bamboo whistle Senior Brother Jiang had given him, and the sword ring from Senior Sister. Placed at the center was the stone monkey that Eldest Senior Brother had carved for him.