Records of the Dragon Follower
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 22: Monkey
Rock-carved objects were supposed to be cold, but because Eldest Senior Brother had been carrying it the entire time, the little monkey was filled with the warmth of his body temperature. It was even hotter than Xiaodong’s hands.
The moment he held onto the little monkey, the suspicions he carried in his heart were all thrown to the side.
Eldest Senior Brother nodded with a smile.
Little Junior Brother’s room was too empty. He was still young, yet his room did not have anything that a youth should normally have. It’s emptiness gave people a feeling of indescribable discomfort.
When Little Junior Brother came up to the mountain, he only had that small little bundle as his baggage. Other than two sets of clothing, he had brought nothing else. Just by looking at his situation would make hearts ache. Below the mountain, children at his age all had several toys. The life that Little Junior Brother had in the past was definitely different from now, but he was very thoughtful and had never asked for anything. The more thoughtful he was, the more heart wrenching it was to look at him.
Xiaodong held onto that little monkey tightly.
He had seen Eldest Senior Brother choose the material and watched him carve the rock, but at the time, he did not know that Eldest Senior Brother was preparing it as a gift for him.
Actually, Mo Chen had made an incorrect guess. Before Xiaodong came to Returnflow Mountain, the life he had was different from the life of a regular child. He did not have any playmates and did not have any toys that he liked either. Putting aside the period of time that he could not remember, from what he could remember, he had always been going to various places with his uncle. He had never stayed in the same place for a long time. Since he did not have a home, naturally, he did not have any belongings of his own. One time, the neighbor of the place he lived in had a little puppy. The puppy was really close to Xiaodong and would wag its tail whenever it saw him. Xiaodong would willingly feed and play with it. However, he could never raise dogs and cats of his own. Another time, he saw a dough sculptor while he was out in the streets with his uncle. Possessing incredible skills, the bird, beast, worm, fish and even human figurines that he sculpted all looked lifelike. He looked at them for a long while, and when his uncle asked if he wanted one, he still shook his head.
A single figurine cost two pennies. Not to mention, where was he going to place it after buying it?
Uncle treated him very well. He had never missed out on any of Xiaodong’s meals or clothes. However, he was not scrupulous either. He had forgotten that other than being able to eat and dress comfortably, kids needed other things too.
Xiaodong held the little monkey tightly. Because he was gripping so hard, his palms were beginning to sweat.
“T-thank you, Senior Brother.”
“It’s not something expensive, so you can use it to press on your books. Once the weather gets warmer, I will head down the mountain and bring back some toys for you. I just don’t know what you like.”
“I-I like everything.” Xiaodong didn’t know what was going on with himself. Even though it was such a joyous occasion, his heart felt numb and his nose felt itchy too. His voice even began to tremble a little. “But Senior Brother, you always have actual matters to attend to when you head down the mountain, it’s best that you don’t get held up buying things like this.”
“I won’t get held up,” Eldest Senior Brother asked, “How are you these past two days? I heard from Junior Brother Jiang that you’re feeling a little chilly again?”
“No, I’m not.” Xiaodong hurriedly denied it and said while waving his hands, “Senior Brother Jiang had already forced me to drink a lot of ginger soup. All the cold has already been driven away by now.”
He did not like the taste of ginger, yet Senior Brother Jiang had people in the kitchen to make it thicker and poured several bowls of the soup into him. It was so spicy it felt as though his mouth and belly were on fire. Even after half a day, he still had hiccups and the taste of ginger would surge in his throat. He would rather forget about how uncomfortable it felt.
Mo Chen could see that as well. Smiling, he didn’t bring it up again.
Xiaodong kept holding onto the little monkey, not letting it go. After sending Eldest Senior Brother off, he kept looking at it, not willing to release his hands from it. The material it was made of was definitely the rock that Eldest Senior Brother found on Sword Conferring Peak. Xiaodong did not find it foreign at all. However, he had not managed to watch Eldest Senior Brother carve it. Xiaodong did not expect that Eldest Senior Brother would have considerably good craftsmanship skills. The little monkey looked lifelike, its tail was twirled up and it was even holding a peach in its hands. There were even two leaves carved out of the stem of the peach. With a closer look, he could see that there was also a curved slit on the monkey’s mouth, forming a smile.
As Xiaodong held the little monkey with his two hands, the more he looked at it, the more he liked it. Even while sleeping at night, he could not bear to place it far away. He placed it next to his pillow, as that way, he could see it again when he woke up.
After his excitement finally managed to dissipate a little, his frustration popped up again. Xiaodong finally recalled a very urgent matter.
He had forgotten to ask Eldest Senior Brother something. Senior Liu mentioned that he wanted Master to send Xiaodong off, but did Master agree to it? Was Master really planning to have him leave Returnflow Mountain?
Xiaodong understood that Senior Liu meant no ill will. With one glance, Xiaodong could see that Senior Liu was the type that was rather insensitive to human feelings, and after listening in on their conversation, it seemed he once met Xiaodongs uncle in the past as well. No matter how bad their relationship was, a famous senior and expert had no reason to make a child like him look bad. When Senior Liu said that he was not suitable to be under Master’s wing, it could be seen that he really was unsuitable.
However, Xiaodong did not want to leave.
Even if Master were to prepare a more suitable place for him, he did not want to leave either.
Tomorrow, once Master is free, he will tell Master that he wants to stay on Returnflow Mountain and doesn’t want to leave. If Master disagrees, he will kneel and beg. He could even have Eldest Senior Brother help him persuade Master.
Even after Senior Liu came down from Sword Conferring Peak, he still carried the sword case. Before seeing the little monkey, Xiaodong still held suspicions of whether the sword case was actually empty or not. However, now, he did not suspect it anymore. Everything he saw in his dream was all real, and it was not just his imagination. Since there wasn’t any sword in the sword case in the dream, then there definitely wasn’t a sword inside.
… Though, he just couldn’t understand why he had dreamt all this? Even if Xiaodong was young and hadn’t experienced many things, he understood that this was not normal. He had gone many places with his uncle in the past, but he had never heard of anyone with such an ability.
His uncle did not seem to have it either, nor did his uncle bring up anything about other members of the Yun Family having it.
They most likely did not have it.
Then here came the question. Why did he have such a strange ability?
Xiaodong pondered for a long while yet he still could not figure it out. He looked at the little monkey, grew happy for a moment, and then became frustrated once more. He would not get a good sleep that night.
There were several matters to attend to the next day. Master wrote a pair of phrases early in the morning and had them stick the phrases on the door. Red papers with the word ‘Fortune’ written on them were also stuck onto the pillars in front of the main hall. The phrases and the word ‘Fortune’ were all written especially spiritedly. Against the ground that covered in ice and snow, the words gave the cold Returnflow Mountain the joyous air of passing the new year.
Xiaodong still did not dare to follow right behind Master. He simply pestered Eldest Senior Brother everywhere he went. No matter what Mo Chen wanted to do, Xiaodong would steal his job. When Mo Chen wanted to look for someone to run errands for him, Xiaodong was the first to make the trip. As the day went on, Mo Chen did not know if he should laugh or cry.
Little Junior Brother clearly had something on his mind. Otherwise, no matter how strong their martial siblings-relationship was, Little Junior Brother would not have stuck himself with someone like this.
Mo Chen tried to probe the problem out of him, but Xiaodong was hesitant.
Xiaodong wanted to ask Eldest Senior Brother if Master was really thinking of sending him off.
However, he stopped right before he was about to speak.
It wasn’t as though he did not want to tell Eldest Senior Brother, it was just that he was feeling anxious without end. He really wanted to find someone he could confide in. If Eldest Senior Brother could tell him that he was not going anywhere, then he would be able to feel at ease. However, he didn’t know how he should ask Eldest Senior Brother. If Eldest Senior Brother were to ask him how he found out about this, how should he reply?
Senior Liu was talking to Master back then, and Eldest Senior Brother who was standing at the side might not have heard it. Xiaodong did not climb Sword Conferring Mountain either, so how could he find out? Should he tell Eldest Senior Brother that he dreamt of it?
An explanation like that clearly wouldn’t work.
Seeing that he wasn’t willing to say, Eldest Senior Brother could understand that his problem must be really troubling. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have found it this difficult to speak about it.
Did he perhaps get bullied?
Or did this little kid find something he liked and wanted it, but did not dare to voice it out loud?
No. Mo Chen shook his head as he threw away these thoughts.
There were only very few people on the mountain, and the guests were not that low to do such things. As for his other junior siblings, Mo Chen could guarantee that they wouldn’t partake in such acts. When Linglong and Jiang Fan were brought back, Mo Chen was already an obedient child. It could be said that he had watched both of them grow up. As for Junior Brother Chen, though he kept things to himself, he wouldn’t do things like bullying the weak either.
He asked Xiaodong again. Xiaodong stuttered a little, but he still managed to bring the message across.
“Eldest Senior Brother, I still haven’t been able to make much progress with my sword practice. If Master were to test me…”
So he was worried about this.
Mo Chen heaved a sigh of relief. “Don’t worry. As long as you are willing to put in the effort, Master won’t get angry. Master hates those people who act smart and use petty tricks the most. Master once said that if people keep thinking that they’re smart because they’re always able to bluff others, then the ones they’re playing will always be themselves.”
If he really was not cut out for this and Master felt that he as a piece of wood wasn’t carvable, what should he do if Master was determined to send him off?
Mo Chen did not feel the slightest bit irritated as he carefully consoled Xiaodong, “Later on, I shall help direct you on your sword path again. It’s only been a short amount of time since you came to the mountain, so Master won’t be too strict with you.”
In the end, Xiaodong still asked the question that had been on his mind the most. “Senior Brother, if Master thinks that I don’t have the aptitude, and wants to send me away and not let me stay on Returnflow Mountain, what should I do?”
Mo Chen was stunned for a moment.
He did not expect that Little Junior Brother would ask such a question.
Actually, on Sword Conferring Peak, when Senior Liu told Master about this, Mo Chen had overheard it.
However, he did not take his words to heart.
Little Junior Brother had officially been apprenticed to Master. Different from those outer sect disciples, unless there were extreme unforeseen circumstances, there was no way for a disciple to be apprenticed to another master. He didn’t have the aptitude? There were tons of people in the world with poor aptitude. If people were chased away just because of their poor aptitudes, it wouldn’t be reasonable, right?
When Senior Liu said this, Master did not reject him straight-away, mostly because Master wanted to save him some face. Master shouldn’t have any thoughts of sending Little Junior Brother away.
He did not expect that Little Junior Brother would actually be worried about this.
“What is it? Did someone say something to you?”
The first thing that Mo Chen thought of, was that someone had frightened Little Junior Brother. Did those uninvited guests make fun of him? Or were there some restless people among the outer sect disciples who envied Little Junior Brother for being about to become Master’s inner sect disciple at such a young age?
“No, no one said anything to me,” Xiaodong hurriedly explained, “I just feel that I’m disappointing everyone…”
“You don’t have to worry about that. Didn’t I say this before? Master puts emphasis on a disciple’s character, while talent is secondary. Have you heard of anyone being chased away from their sect because of having poor aptitude?”
However, Senior Liu said that sending him away was for his own good. What should he do if Master really wanted to send him off for his own good?