It was morning, another day for martial arts practice. The joints of the bricks on the ground were all covered in ice, making the floor slippery. Xiaodong had already fallen twice in the early morning. He fell head-first the first time, though he was able to break the fall with his hands and fortunately, there were no tears to his skin. The second time, he slipped and fell on his back. The fall was pretty heavy, and the part of his body that got injured was not a great one. It was coincidentally the bones of his buttocks. In front of other people, he had reached out to hold them. When Eldest Senior Brother and the rest asked where he was hurt, he found it embarrassing and simply said that his fall wasn’t serious.
Seeing how he was gritting his teeth, his words did not sound persuasive at all.
Senior Brother Jiang took the initiative and held him back to his residence, insisting on seeing where he was hurt. Xiaodong grew anxious from his assertiveness. Holding his buttocks, he rolled around on the bed, not allowing Senior Brother Jiang to see.
His behavior made Jiang Fan laugh. “What’s there to hide? Could it be that you’re a girl and you’re feeling shy?”
“No means no.” Xiaodong said nothing else. As he tossed and turned, this was the only thing he kept saying.
Seeing that he was still spirited and could still move, he might not have received a severe injury from the fall as he had claimed. After teasing him for a while, Jiang Fan no longer made it difficult for him, leaving him with a small bottle of ointment for Xiaodong to apply himself.
“If it really hurts a lot, don’t endure it. Hurry and tell me, or inform Eldest Senior Brother and Master. Senior Liu is leaving tomorrow. If your body still hurts then, you don’t need to see him off.”
“Senior Liu is going to leave?”
“I heard it from Eldest Senior Brother.” Jiang Fan still had many things to attend to, and he was still rushing the investigation on Chu Er’s incident, so he did not stay too long at Xiaodong’s place.
The moment he left, Xiaodong placed the medicine bottle to the side.
His skin and flesh was still intact, and his bones did not crack from the fall either, so why was there a need to apply the ointment? Furthermore, it was awkward for him to apply medicine on his own buttocks. If someone else were to come and apply the ointment for him, then that would be even more awkward!
Though Senior Liu was terse and had a cold look, Xiaodong did not not dislike him. It was Senior Liu’s obsession with the sword that made him socially inept. Though, not even a single one of those three disciples of his was well-liked. Senior Sister Lin Yan was rather beautiful, but Senior Brother Jiang said that she was too cunning, and her eyes were filled with schemes. The same went for the other two. They were narrow-minded and liked to bully the weak. Though Xiaodong was not afraid of them, he was unwilling to see people that he disliked all the time.
In the end, Xiaodong had planned to see them off, but when Senior Liu and those disciples left, Master was the only one present. No matter how Xiaodong thought about it, he could not figure out why there were people who would crawl out and bid farewell in the middle of the night.
Uh, now that he thought about it, when he lived in inns with his uncle, there were times where they would leave in the middle of the night… But was living in an inn and living in someone else’s house the same? No matter what, there was a need to think about the homeowner’s feelings, right?
Most likely, Senior Liu was the only person who would do something like this.
Xiaodong was not really reluctant to see Senior Liu go. His rough and shallow martial arts were not worthy of being given pointers by Senior Liu, after all. Though, Senior Liu gave Eldest Senior Brother quite a considerable number of pointers, and even Senior Sister Linglong and Senior Brother Jiang received a bit of his guidance. However, Xiaodong still heaved a sigh of relief at his departure. Senior Liu was the one who mentioned sending him off, after all.
Even a good person could do bad things. As long as Senior Liu had not brought this up, Xiaodong felt that he would definitely welcome Senior Liu back again.
His buttocks still hurt. He laid down on his back, but very quickly he shifted to lie on the side. However, he still felt it was a little uncomfortable, and finally chose to lie on his front. His buttocks no longer felt that uncomfortable.
After sleeping rather soundly for a while, Xiaodong flipped over and ended up bumping his buttocks again, waking himself up.
It was dim and obscure outside the window and the room was dark. For a moment, Xiaodong could not clearly distinguish what hour it was.
The sun had not risen yet?
Was it about time for martial arts practice?
But right after, he recalled.
It should not be morning right now. Rather, it should be about time for the sun to set.
Senior Liu left early in the morning today. Because of the injury on Xiaodong’s buttocks, he found it embarrassing to leave his room. He was afraid of being laughed at by his senior siblings, and so he had been nestling himself in his room. After that, he wanted to have a short repose… From there, it turned into a short nap, and from a short nap, it turned into a good sleep. He dug his head into his pillow and slept all the way till now.
This was too outrageous! He did not practice martial arts in the morning, and instead had a sound sleep! Though he was indeed injured, it was just a small injury. It’s not like his skin tore or his bones cracked, so Xiaodong felt like he was not really living up to Master’s and Eldest Senior Brother’s expectations by sleeping the entire day.
People said that diligence could make up for talent. He was already clumsy and was not as hardworking as others, so how was he going to make up for the blunder today?
The most shameful thing was that he did not really know how to sleep on his stomach in the past, but he slept so soundly for his first time, and had even drooled. Half of his pillow was all wet. Could it be that he had dreamt of chicken wings in his dream, and nibbled on his pillow because of that?
The pillow was soaked in drool. If he wanted to use the pillow at night, then he had to find a way to dry it right now. Otherwise, with how cold and damp it was right now, how was he going to sleep at night?
Xiaodong was afraid of the cold, so he would always have a brazier in his room at night. After dinner, an attendant would help send it in. This was also something that Eldest Senior Brother especially instructed, as he was afraid that Xiaodong was not used to the harsh mountain cold.
It seemed like the fever he had in autumn had given his senior siblings quite a big fright.
Actually, Xiaodong felt that his body was rather strong. There were not many times that he was ill in the past few years, and even coughing fits were rare.
Judging from the usual hours, it was about time for the brazier to arrive. It was just in time for him to heat up his pillow.
The attendant that came to send him braziers every day did not have a surname and he barely talked. The only thing Xiaodong knew about him was that he was called Old Crow. Previously, he did not know where this nickname came from, but after hearing the attendant speak, his voice sounded scratchy, and it indeed sounded like an old crow.
But why wasn’t the brazier here yet?
Just as he was thinking that, he heard the sounds of footsteps outside.
Xiaodong did his best to stand a little straighter, preventing others from seeing the miserable posture of his buttocks sticking out. Slowly, he walked to the door, wanting to open it for Old Crow.
Just as he touched the door latch, Xiaodong stopped.
He did not know why he stopped, he was just a movement away from releasing the latch.
The person outside spoke with the voice that he had gotten used to, “The brazier is here.”
Xiaodong stood there, unmoving. It was as if there was a voice in his heart shouting. Don’t open. You can’t open the door.
Something was wrong.
But what was amiss?
Something seemed to be missing.
That’s right, something was missing.
Though Old Crow looked slovenly, he was not the type who had no sense of responsibility. Especially during the winter season, he was afraid that the snow and mud on his shoes would dirty the floor in the room, so he would scrape his shoes a few times across the ground outside the door.
Today, Xiaodong did not hear the sounds of him scraping his shoes.
This was an incomparably small matter. Maybe Old Crow’s shoes were not dirty today. Maybe he was in a daze and had forgotten about scraping his shoes…
“Just put it at the entrance of the door. You can leave first.”
The person outside might have been stunned for a moment. He did not respond immediately, nor was there any other movement.
Warning signs flickered in Xiaodong’s heart. He turned around and stepped back, but the movements of the person outside were much faster than his. A glistening blue sword light sliced down the center of the door, and the door latch was easily sliced into two.