In the end, Jing Yue went home with Old man Liu.
The entire way, Old man Liu was baffled. After getting the ominous thunder warning, why would he still bring the youngster along with him? After pondering for a bit, he blamed it on the looks department.
After many li of hiking through hills and ravines, they finally reached a few rows of houses made from stone.
However, Old man Liu’s house was not amongst them – going past the stone houses, a thatch hut stood desolately on the horizon.
When the wind blew, several blades of grass swirled and landed on Jing Yue’s head.
Old man Liu plucked the debris out of Jing Yue’s hair, cleared his throat, and solemnly said, “The winds are pretty strong today.”
At this moment, a boy of about 4 or 5 toddled from the hut. He looked thin and weak, his skin was pale with a greenish tinge, and his face marred with purplish bruises.
Old man Liu introduced, “That’s my grandson, Lil Pebble. Lil Pebble, call Brother.”
Lil Pebble appeared to be quite bashful. He hugged Old man Liu’s thigh and hid behind him, peeping at Jing Yue and the wolf carcass that he still held in his hands. When Jing Yue waved at him in a come hither motion, Lil Pebble abandoned the thigh he was hugging and threw himself at Jing Yue, arms around his waist.
Old man Liu was astonished. Lil Pebble had always been afraid of strangers, often crying loudly when faced with one. Why was he acting in such a familiar manner with Jing Yue now?
Staring at the two, he touched his weather-beaten face, and his heart became a little sour…
After that, Old man Liu prepared a room that was less exposed to the winds for Jing Yue, before going into the kitchen to make dinner.
In the evening, the village air was permeated with the smell of wood smoke wafting from the chimneys. In his past life, Jing Yue had detached himself from worldly affairs long ago. Now that he was experiencing the hustle and bustle of normal life again, the turmoil in his heart calmed a little at a time, and all the news he heard this morning was slowly forgotten, dissipated along with the smoke.
Whatever will be, will be.
Jing Yue left Lil Pebble at the dining area, while he took the wolf carcass into the kitchen.
“Let’s cook the wolf up,” he told Old man Liu.
Old man Liu replied, “A-Jing, I gave you a place to stay in exchange for your help in selling my herbs. I can’t be taking more advantage of you.”
Old man Liu learned of Jing Yue’s name on the way back. Although Jing Yue seemed to be very young, Old man Liu instinctively knew that he was no simple child, and treated him as he would with any other adult.
Jing Yue acted as though he did not hear anything, found a sharp knife, and started to butcher the wolf carcass. His deft movements were comparable to a seasoned huntsman, combined with his childish features, the effects were quite spine-chilling.
Old man Liu swallowed nervously and for no apparent reason, unable to speak any further.
Jing Yue rolled up the piece of wolf pelt still stained in blood, and continued to separate the tendons, bones, teeth, and claws, leaving the meat and intestine.
“Cook everything. Lil Pebble is plagued by the cold syndrome. The meat and intestine of the desert wolf will help to dispel the cold factors.”
Old man Liu was amazed, “How do you know that? Are you learned in the art of medicine?”
Jing Yue smiled mysteriously as if he was going to reveal a big secret, “The weather is so hot, yet Lil Pebble is still wearing a light jacket. I am not dumb, you know.”
Old man Liu, “…”
Old man Liu could not turn down Jing Yue’s offer. Wasn’t he trying to earn money to cure Lil Pebble’s ailment? As a result, the meat and intestine of the desert wolf became the main dish for dinner.
Lil Pebble was ecstatic. With every bite of the food, he stole glances at Jing Yue. When Jing Yue responded with a smile, he would giggle happily with the bowl still clutched in his hands.
Suddenly, his whole body trembled.
Bam, bam, bam!
The front door was hammered loudly, followed by a loud screech, “Old man Liu, come out at once! The hell with that little brat, trying to run away after a fight? Not that easy!”
The expression on Old man Liu’s face changed, he stood up abruptly, trying his best to control his breathing. He told Jing Yue to retreat into the inner room with Lil Pebble, while he went out to face the ensuing battle alone.
At this moment, a village woman, pulling a fat little boy along with her, fiercely said, “That little brat even pushed my Big Bull down the hill. Was he trying to commit murder? He was indeed a child with no parents to teach him, harboring bad intentions at such a young age. Just imagine how he’ll turn out to be when he grows up!”
The village woman almost jabbed her finger at Old man Liu’s head as she gestured wildly. Old man Liu tried his very best to contain his anger. At his current level, it would be easy to reduce the fuming woman in front of him to silence.
He was worried, however, and dare not attempt to do so, but tried to explain instead, “Big Bull was the one who bullied Lil Pebble first. I saw Big Bull pushing Lil Pebble with my own two eyes. Lil Pebble panicked and grabbed Big Bull, causing both of them to roll down the hill. It was nothing but an accident. I have already sent my apologies to the village chief.”
“Ptooey!” The village woman spat on the ground, “What’s the use of a mere apology? Why don’t you get that brat out here, I’ll give him a beating and then apologize to him. What about that?”
She propped both hands on either side of her waist and scolded relentlessly, “We allowed you to build a roof over your heads out of the kindness of our hearts, and you repaid it with ungratefulness! Right now, I’ll give you two choices: either you tell that brat to kowtow to my boy and beg for his forgiveness, or pay up! Otherwise, I’ll get some men to wreck your house!”
As soon as she finished her tirade, an unknown object landed on her face with a loud ‘pah’. Darkness fell over her eyes, followed by a stench of blood.
The village woman wailed in fright and quickly grabbed the item away from her face, the furry texture sending a chill up her spine.
“The hide of a desert wolf, it will fetch at least ten taels.”
The village woman was about to throw the pelt to the ground when she stopped her actions. Lifting her head, she saw a youngster with skin like alabaster standing in front of her.
For some strange reason, a shortness of breath overcame the shallow-brained village woman, but the very next moment, she noticed the slightly disheveled appearance of that person, and summoned the courage to ask, “Who are you?”
Jing Yue ignored her question and simply continued, “Ten taels is sufficient for a physician to check your son from top to toe. You could even get a different physician to check a different part of his body.”
The village woman glared at him, at first in anger, but in consideration that he produced a desert wolf pelt so generously, her tone changed, “It’s not enough. Are you trying to get rid of a beggar with ten taels of silver? At least… I’ll need at least ten more taels of silver.”
She had two reasons for making that demand: first to probe further, secondly to try her luck. Even if they refuse to give another ten taels, wouldn’t she earn with one or two more taels?
The village woman gripped the wolf pelt tightly in her arms, eyes completely focused on the youngster.
Much to her surprise, he smiled brightly, and her heart softened at the sight.
Jing Yue: “Of course.”
After saying that, Jing Yue grabbed hold of the little fat boy who did not seem to have a scratch on him and headed towards the hill.
The village woman tried to snatch her boy back, but she was unable to catch up to Jing Yue. In a panic, she cried, “What are you doing? Put him down at once!”
“You want another ten taels? He’ll have to roll down again.”
Hearing those words, Big Bull, who was still in a daze, started struggling to get free. However, Jing Yue, who was already at the Body Forging level was much stronger than him, and Jing Yue caught him by the back of his clothes, and he could not get away at all. On top of that, his struggles had made him run out of breath and even choked on a few mouthfuls of sand. In the end, he could only cry out for help.
“Mother! Help! Save me!”
“Little brat! Stop it!”
As Jing Yue approached the top of the hill, the village woman finally relented, “No more! No more! I’ll just take the wolf pelt! Let Big Bull go!”
Jing Yue stopped walking and turned around, “Really?”
The village woman nodded repeatedly.
“Alright then.” Jing Yue lifted his arm and placed Big Bull firmly back on the ground.
The village woman rushed forward and enveloped Big Bull in a tight hug, sobbing and wailing for a long while, before she left with the wolf pelt in one hand and her boy in the other, not forgetting to leave some threatening words, “You just wait!”
When Jing Yue turned back, he saw a complicated expression on Old man Liu’s face, as if he was happy, but worried at the same time. He thought for a moment before saying, “Did I cause trouble for you?”
Unconsciously, he looked up at the sky.
Old man Liu could have stopped Jing Yue before, but at that moment, his emotions overcame reason, and he felt nothing but gratification now, so how could he put the blame on Jing Yue? Seeing Jing Yue looking at the sky blankly, he found that action a bit amusing and relaxed a little.
“No, I should be thanking you instead. I’ll repay the ten taels of silver, and also for the wolf meat…”
At the topic of money, his heart sank again…
Jing Yue flicked a glance at him without saying a word.
Both of them returned to the hut. Lil Pebble, who was hiding behind a chair, asked timidly, “Grandpa, are we going to move away again?”
Jing Yue frowned at that, “Will the village chief really drive you away?”
Old man Liu sighed heavily but did not try to hide it, “The village chief is an honest man. The problem is Wang Chuihua, the village woman who was here just now. Her uncle is a disciple of one of the four big cultivation families of the Megasun City, the Chu family. Before the age of sixty, he had attained Level-4 Qi Condensation**, his talent is greatly recognized and the Chu family values him very much.”
(TN: The term 'Qi Condensation' will be replaced by 'Qi Refining' to better reflect the original text. This term refers to the second stage of cultivation level after Body Forging.)
“He spends most of his time cultivating on the Chu family grounds, but he gets about ten days of rest every year. Since there are not many people left in the Wang family, he would visit Wang Chuihua during that time. If I’m not mistaken, he’ll be here soon.”
Jing Yue: “Will that person kill you over such a trivial matter?”
Most cultivators believed in the concept of cause and effect. Putting aside the fact that they would sometimes fight to the death for a chance at cultivation, under normal circumstances, they would not get involved in mundane affairs.
Old man Liu: “Not to that extent, although he is most likely to drive us away.”
“In that case, we’ll leave. Let’s head for Minisun Town, “Jing Yue announced, “This hut of yours is hot and humid, exposed to the sun and wind all day long. It’s not conducive for Lil Pebble’s recovery.”
Jing Yue gave him a brief lecture about the taboos of the cold syndrome, some of which Old man Liu have not even heard about, but after thinking about it, he realized what Jing Yue said made sense.
In a rush of emotions, Old man Liu gritted his teeth and decided, “Let’s go to Minisun Town!”
Almost instantly, though, he became glum again, “Our possessions are scarce, and the cost of living in Minisun Town is quite high. Even the herbs that I sold this morning will be worth nothing there. How are we going to make a living…”
He glanced at his naïve grandson, “And I can’t leave Lil Pebble alone for too long.”
Jing Yue: “Don’t worry about it yet. Tomorrow, we’ll travel into the town and take a look at the situation before deciding.”
With no other choice, Old man Liu nodded in agreement.
As the moon raised high in the sky, Jing Yue retired into the room that Old man Liu prepared for him.
The room was not too big, but it was clean and well-kept. Closing the door, he sat cross-legged on the bed, and said mildly, “Come out.”
There was no other person in sight, so who was he talking to?
“Come out!” Jing Yue’s tone turned cold.
“Ding! Greetings, my Host. I’m the Face-slapping System, destined to slap face for ten thousand years. I’ll be assisting my Host to turn your fate around, be the winner in life, slap the faces of anyone tall, rich and handsome, and help you walk towards the pinnacle of your career!”
…What the hell is a system? Don’t understand…
Earlier, when Wang Chuihua appeared, a strange voice rang in Jing Yue’s divine consciousness. It sounded quite childlike, and kept repeating the words ‘Slap face, slap face’ just like this.
However, since it dared to invade his divine consciousness, he could not be blamed for being ruthless.
Jing Yue focused his concentration, controlled his divine consciousness, and pulled with all his strength.
Due to the low cultivation level of his physical body, the action made his face pale in an instant and he swayed weakly.
A distressed cry was heard. A cloud of blue light was forced out of his divine consciousness and quickly morphed into a small, blue-feathered chicken.
The chicken rolled over three times before falling on the ground, its green beady eyes full of fear.