Records of the Dragon Follower
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 13: Ashen Face
Linglong turned her head to take a look. Because they were quite far away, she couldn’t clearly see Little Junior Brother’s figure in front of the tomb.
“He’s definitely crying his eyes out…”
Jiang Fan couldn’t hear her due to the strong winds, and so he asked, “What?”
“I’m talking about Little Junior Brother. He’s most likely crying right now.”
Jiang Fan threw the suspicions to the back of his head and nodded. “He’s definitely crying.”
Little Junior Brother usually found it embarrassing to cry in front of people. Now that they were not around him, Little Junior Brother no longer had to hold back his feelings.
Presently, Xiaodong was indeed teary-eyed. However, those tears were not due to sadness, but from the burning smoke.
The strength of the mountain winds was immense. As the paper money and foil ingots burned, the flames suddenly rose and swirled towards Xiaodong. Shocked, he hurriedly got up from his kneeling posture and retreated a few steps.
Fortunately, he dodged quickly.
However, at this rate, there was no way he could continue dropping the remaining half of the paper money into the fire a bit at a time. Left with no choice, he stood a little away, stretched out his arms, and tossed in all of the remaining paper money that was in the bag.
In the end, he tossed too much at once and the flames were instantly suppressed. Smoke was all that could be seen oozing out. The flames did not get to him, but the smoke had now been fanned into his eyes. Xiaodong coughed as he closed his eyes, facing the direction of the wind.
As expected, he was still without experience. The next time he came, he would know not to face against the wind. He was basically waiting to eat smoke and soot that way.
When the paper money had all been burned away, Xiaodong once again kneeled down and kowtowed.
“Uncle, I’m doing well in Returnflow Mountain. Master treats me well, and my senior brothers and senior sister are nice to me too. It’s as if we’re really siblings…”
“But I’m just too stupid. Even now, I’ve still yet to get the simple Rudimentary Sword Techniques right. Master has gone down the mountain. I want to work even harder, as there will definitely be a test once Master returns. When that time comes, I must at least master a set of sword techniques.”
There were still many things that he wanted to say suppressed in his heart. He couldn’t say them, and he didn’t know how to put them into words either.
His uncle raised him since he was young. Not much about those years needed to be said, but in the end, because his uncle was still worried, he especially dragged his sickly body to Returnflow Mountain and entrusted Xiaodong to Master.
However, he couldn’t repay his uncle. When the two of them were together in the past, his uncle would give him the most delicious food and the best items. Back then, he even talked big, saying he would definitely take good care of uncle once he made it big in the future. He would then give the most delicious food and the best items to his uncle.
He remembered how happy his uncle was after hearing that…
Recalling this now, his heart felt both sour and bitter.
Senior Sister Linglong and the rest wiped clean the few tombs that were stacked together. Not a single name was engraved on these tombstones. All Senior Sister knew was that the people buried underneath were the ancestors of their sect, but she had never heard from Master who these seniors or ancestors were.
“Senior Brother, do you also not know who the people buried here are?”
Mo Chen shook his head. “Master has never brought it up.”
As for why their names were not engraved, there might be some hidden secrets behind it.
They began to walk back after sweeping the tombs. When they met up with Xiaodong again, Linglong and Jiang Fan did not give face and let out hearty laughs. Even Mo Chen could not help but smile.
Xiaodong was clueless. He looked left and right, but he didn’t see what the problem was.
Mo Chen pulled out a handkerchief and passed it over. Then, he pointed at his own face, “Wipe it a little, it’s stained with soot.”
There was a patch on the left, and another on the right. Even his nose was completely dark. The funniest was his hair. It had most likely gotten too close to the fire and was burned. A big patch of his hair was charred, and even the parts that weren’t were curled up. It was indescribable how funny he looked.
Xiaodong received the handkerchief and wiped around a few times clumsily. It wasn’t like he had a mirror here, so he didn’t know which part of his face was dirty. It was as if he wasn’t wiping himself at all. At first, Jiang Fan had already curbed his laughter, but when he saw Xiaodong smudging his face even further, his shoulders began to tremble. If someone from afar looked at him, that person might even think that he was actually crying.
Mo Chen took back the handkerchief. “Here, let me help you.”
Mo Chen’s hand strength was neither too much nor too little. Xiaodong’s face still hurt a little from his own rubbing earlier, yet he didn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable when Eldest Senior Brother helped him.
After his little face was wiped properly, it was once again white and clean.
Mo Chen noticed that his eyes were indeed a little swollen. His pair of eyes were black and swirly, and Mo Chen could clearly see his own silhouette reflected from Little Junior Brother’s eyes.
It seemed like Little Junior Brother had indeed cried earlier.
His face was wiped clean, but Mo Chen’s handkerchief was now dirty.
Xiaodong saw the black soot that stained the handkerchief, and could finally imagine just how majestic his face was earlier.
It was no wonder Senior Sister and Third Senior Brother kept laughing at him.
Xiaodong opened his mouth, wanting to say something. However, his nose suddenly had an itch, and his words ended up becoming a huge sneeze.
This time, Jiang Fan was in no mood to laugh and anxiously said, “Let’s hurry and head back. The winds here are too strong. It’s best that we don’t stay and get blown by the chilly winds.”
When they got back, the ever-worrying Senior Brother Jiang even had someone prepare a huge pot of ginger soup. He stared on as Xiaodong gulped down two big bowls, and even tried to persuade him to drink more.
“Senior Brother, I really can’t drink anymore.” Xiaodong felt that if he were to get up and bounce a few times, his stomach would definitely go “gwoop gwoop” like a jar filled with water. Ginger soup was rich in flavor in the first place, and it was hot right out of the stove. After forcing two bowls down, his body was now drenched in sweat from the heat.
Those were two huge bowls, by the way. They were not the usual bowls that people used for holding rice. They were large serving bowls. Right now, Xiaodong didn’t dare to lower his head. He felt that the ginger soup had filled him up all the way to the top of his throat, and it could possibly spill out with the slightest movement.
“Alright then.” Jiang Fan unwillingly gave up on his plan to make him drink another bowl. “Then you have to stay sharp, alright? If your body feels uncomfortable, let me know immediately. Or you can find your Eldest Senior Brother as well.”
After drinking a belly full of ginger soup, Xiaodong couldn’t eat much during lunch. It wasn’t that the dishes were bad, his stomach simply didn’t have any space left to store more, even if he had the heart to do so.
In the end, because he didn’t eat lunch, he grew hungry again later in the afternoon.
Though, this was easy to manage. Xiaodong no longer treated himself as a visitor and directly made his way towards the kitchen. The time was a little awkward, and so there wasn’t anyone in the kitchen. The flames of the stoves had all been extinguished too. After circling around, he found a few buns and brought them back. He then fried them on the brazier in his room, till a slight char brown appeared on the skins. Steam rose the moment he split one of the buns apart, and inside was regular cabbage and tofu stuffings, along with a dash of bean threads.
Xiaodong blew at the steam and then munched on the first bun. Before he could even lay his hand on the second one, someone outside came to deliver a message. Master had returned, and he even brought along a few guests!
This time, he couldn’t bother himself with the buns. Xiaodong hurriedly changed his clothes and wore his shoes. Afraid that the scent of buns would ooze out the moment he breathes out, he even washed his mouth with a few sips of tea. He then hastened towards the main hall.
He met Chen Jingzhi on the way. He was walking very slowly, and it could be seen how big of an inconvenience his injured leg was. Xiaodong hurriedly went over wanting to hold him, but Chen Jingzhi quickly waved his hand.
“Senior Brother, how is your leg? Didn’t Eldest Senior Brother say that you shouldn’t move about and should rest more?”
Not only was Chen Jingzhi’s face pale, even his lips were lacked their reddish shade. He softly said, “It’s a minor injury. It’s nothing much.”
It didn’t look like a minor injury at all.
In Xiaodong’s mind, it seemed Fourth Senior Brother could be rather stubborn too.
He followed closely behind his senior brother. His eyes were focused on Chen Jingzhi’s leg, thinking to himself that he could step forward in a hurry to hold Chen Jingzhi if he couldn’t cope.