The robber's house was very big, extremely cold, and even had mildew.
Ju Mu'er was pushed in hard, she staggered and fell to the ground. Su Qing quickly helped her up, supporting her as they retreated to the corner of the room.
Ju Mu'er rubbed her fingers against each other, there was still a lingering feeling of dampness from touching the floor just now. She thought to herself, this must definitely not be the bandits' usual residence.
Sure enough, one of the big-sized bandits yelled, "It's so damn cold, are there any tools we can start a fire with?"
The big guy who had been complaining about the cold was still muttering under his breath as he left.
Then Ju Mu'er heard the chaotic sound of heavy footsteps, which sounded like the bandits were walking all over the different parts of the house. After a while, a robber said, "I've looked all over, there are only four rooms and three beds, but there are so many of us, how will we sleep?"
One person said, "How should we sleep? Sleep with the ladies of course." The burly men all begn laughing together.
Ju Mu'er and Su Qing held each other's hands tightly, and couldn't help shivering when they heard the men's laughter. Another person chimed in, "There aren't enough women to go around."
"What's the hurry!" The leader bandit said loudly, "They should be back soon, and then there will be wine, meat and women. All of us can comfortably usher in the new year.”
When the bandits heard this, they shouted in applause.
At this time, the head of the bandits stared unflinchingly at Ju Mu'er and Su Qing who were shrinking in the corner of the house, rubbed his chin and said, "Funnily enough, these two ladies are really quite obedient, they haven't cried, screamed or tried to escape, they really aren't that troublesome.”
As soon as he said this, the other bandits turned to stare at the two girls, and one of them smiled before saying, "She's blind right, where would she be able to escape to? I wonder, compared to a normal woman, what does a blind woman feel like?"
This sexually charged remark made everyone laugh again.
Ju Mu'er was so frightened that her entire body grew taut, and her whole body seemed to ache. Su Qing clasped her arm tightly, also revealing how scared she was on the inside.
After a while, a sudden ruckus could be heard coming in from outside. Four well-built men walked two girls in while carrying three big bags. As soon as the bandits met, they began swearing at each other, laughing and making noises. The big men put down their packages and said, "We managed to get some wine and food, tonight, let us brothers have a good time.”
Su Qing swiftly glanced around, after counting in her head, she knew there were a total of eight bandits in this place. As she was busy trying to memorize their faces, a bandit turned his head and met her gaze head-on. Su Qing shrank her shoulders in fright, and hastily lowered her head.
Just then, the leader of the bandits said, "Don't start eating and drinking just yet, let's wait for Mazi and the other guy to come back first. Let's discuss business first."As he said this, his eyes swept the room, then he pointed at Ju Mu'er and Su Qing and said, "Throw these two into the innermost room.”
When Ju Mu'er heard this, she knew that for now, the two of them were in no immediate danger yet. They didn't want them to hear their secrets, so this meant they weren't planning on killing them soon.
One of the bandits came over, picked them up and dragged them to the back room. Ju Mu'er heard a robber ask, "Boss, do you want to separate them?"
The head of the bandits laughed, "One is blind, the other a mere child, what are you afraid of?" Then he said, "As for the other two, leave them in another room. Let's discuss things first."
Then they said something else but Ju Mu'er couldn't hear them anymore, she had been pushed into an icy-cold room. She fell to the ground, and with a loud "creak" the door behind her closed.
"Elder Sister."Su Qing saw that no one was around, and hurriedly rushed to Ju Mu'er.
Ju Mu'er squeezed her hand tightly. Although she herself was also scared half-to-death, she still tried to comfort Su Qing, "Don't be afraid.”
Su Qing looked around the room and soon caught sight of a bed against the wall. First, she helped Ju Mu'er over to it, sat her down on the bed, then she walked around the small room once. She even got up close to the sides of the door, pulling at it a few times before running back to Ju Mu'er. Su Qing hugged her and said, "Elder Sister, there is no one else here, it's just the two of us.”
"Where are we?"
"In a hut."Su Qing described the furnishings in the room to Ju Mu'er, "There is a small window, a bed, that's where we are sitting now. There's also a rotten wooden table, and a chair with a missing leg.”
Ju Mu'er thought for a while, then asked Su Qing to lead her around the room once, so she could get a good feel of their current situation. Su Qing agreed, and began to support her as they started from the door. First she touched the table and chair, then touched the window. The window was a little high, and the bottom edge could only be reached if one raised their hand. They tugged on it but it didn't move, so in the end they returned to the bed again.
The room was a little far away from the outside, so the two of them couldn't any movement from outside. Su Qing ran to the door and pressed her ears up against it. After listening for a while, she returned saying that she couldn't hear anything.
Now that there was no rascal evilly staring at them, they weren't as afraid as before. Su Qing ran back to Ju Mu'er and softly whispered, "I wonder if anything has happened to those two girls?"
Ju Mu'er lowered her head, her fingers holding the bamboo stick turned white as she clenched it, and she replied under her breath, "I'm the one who got you into this, Qing'er.”
"Elder sister, don't say that. Of course I couldn't abandon my sister in such a situation. The ones to blame are the wicked people outside, this has nothing to do with you, elder sister."Su Qing gritted her teeth, "I just hate how useless I was, that I couldn't save my sister. If our luck and fortune is enough, and we get lucky this time, when I get out, I will definitely look for a master I can learn martial arts from, so that I'll never have to experience being bullied by such evil people ever again.”
Ju Mu'er didn't say anything in reply, she seemed to be thinking about something. After a while, she reached out to Su Qing, took her into her arms, and whispered, "Qing'er, there is something I have to tell you, I'm afraid if I don't tell you now, I won't get another chance again.”
Su Qing was startled by this, she straightened up to look at her in panic, "Elder sister."
Ju Mu'er embraced her again, and whispered in her ear, "Listen to me carefully. I have hidden this matter for a long time.”
She had just said this, when the door was pushed open roughly, and both girls straightened up in shock. Yet, all they saw was one bandit had opened the door to check on them, and upon seeing that they were huddled up in a ball, seemingly frightened out of their wits, he let out a smirk, loudly commenting, "Be good and just stay there, if you don't listen to us then we'll chop off your hands and feet.”
Ju Mu'er and Su Qing both kept their heads down, not daring to say anything. The bandit was very satisfied to see this, locked the door again and left.
The two girls didn't dare to move at first. After a while, Su Qing jumped up and touched the door to listen to the movement outside, then turned back to Ju Mu'er's side and whispered: ""Elder Sister, I can't hear anything anymore, you can continue with what you were going to say.”
Ju Mu'er thought for a moment, then said carefully: "Qing'er, have you ever heard of a kind of bird, mentioned in the legends? They say that is amazing. It can sing and even learn how to speak like humans.”
"I've never heard of it."Su Qing shook her head in reply.
"I want to tell you about this kind of bird. One day, this breed of mystical bird, flocked together, and flew to one place. At the place, there was someone standing there. He sang a very beautiful song, and after he finished singing the song, he died. The birds were very worried, yet they were also excited at the same time, because they all thought they had just heard a great secret. But someone else found out that these birds could sing, and he didn't want these birds to sing the same song that the other person had sang before his death, so he captured the birds. However, there were too many birds, and he didn't know for sure which one had learnt that song, thus he painstakingly began his search.”
Su Qing asked in a low voice, "Can't birds fly away? If they could only fly far away, then they could sing whatever they liked.”
Ju Mu'er shook her head, "The birds originally wanted to rise up to rebel against him, but the very outstanding bird who had been their leader suddenly died, causing the other birds to become scattered, and completely clueless on what to do. Among them all, was one bird who had once sung that very song with the now-dead bird. Although it seemed like no one knew this, this bird was still very scared. It had been injured, and was surrounded by prying eyes. It didn't know who the person who wanted to capture them was, and also didn't know what to do. ”
Su Qing listened attentively, and Ju Mu'er continued, "The bird wanted to quickly hide before the person could find it, but it didn't know who to hide from, furthermore it had nowhere to hide. Then, one day, the bird saw a gorgeous cage. The cage was sturdy and strong, even the door was open. The bird thought to itself, if it could fly in, then it might be safe.”
Ju Mu'er stopped after she said that, it was unclear what she was thinking about. Su Qing asked hurriedly, "Then did it fly in?"
"If it could fly into the cage, why didn't it try to fly further away?"
"It was injured."Ju Mu'er's voice was throaty when she said this.
Su Qing felt very nervous, and asked, "Had it been found? In the end, did it fly in?"
Ju Mu'er shook her head, before she could even answer, Su Qing had already asked another question anxiously: "What kind of injury had it sustained?"
”It had become blind."
Su Qing was a smart girl, so when she heard this, she instantly sat upright.
Ju Mu'er didn't speak any more, just tightly pursed her lips together. Su Qing opened her mouth wide in surprise, and after a while, she asked, "The bird was taken away by a net on its way into the cage, wasn't it?"
Ju Mu'er nodded, "It also caused its good friend to be taken away by the net too.”
Su Qing was completely stunned. She stood up, and after mulling over everything for a while, she went back to the door, trying to hear if anything was happening, turned back again and cautiously asked, "Is it Master Shi, the one Elder sister always used to talk about? And the bird who died, was it Big Brother Hua?"
She was very close to Ju Mu'er, and knew most of Ju Mu'er's friends. Everything seemed to fit in place. If the birds who knew how to sing were referring to the qin-masters, then the person who had died after singing the song must be the Shi Boyin that Ju Mu'er had greatly lamented about after attending that Execution Qin Recital. Su Qing had not been a stranger to the rumors that had been greatly circulating society at the time.
Ju Mu'er nodded her head. Su Qing's eyes grew teary, "Elder Sister, your eyes, did someone harm them?"
"I'm not sure, Qing'er, but all this time, the doctor has been unable to cure me. I've become blind, and that's the reality.Ju Mu'er gritted her teeth, "Ever since I turned blind, I have become more suspicious. Maybe I really did end up blind because of illnes, but maybe..."
When she said this, she couldn't seem to continue speaking, but Su Qing couldn't stand it any more, and fell onto Ju Mu'er's lap and started crying.
Ju Mu'er held her by the shoulder, pushed her up, and said to her, "Qing'er, don't cry. The reason why I'm telling you this at this time, is not because I want you to cry.”
Su Qing seemed stunned by this, then wiped her eyes, and called out, ""Elder Sister."
Ju Mu'er hugged her tightly and said in her ear, "Listen to me, you cannot tell anyone about this little bird's story because you don't know who might want to catch the bird. If I don't make it out this time, you must take away all my qin music scores and my qin. If one day, someone can right the wrongs suffered by Master Shi and Big Brother Hua, then you have to give all my posessions to them. I, I too don't want to die in vain.”
"Nothing will happen to you."Su Qing's tears welled up again, "Elder Sister, you will be fine, I don't want your things, I don't.”
Ju Muer also felt a wave of sadness as tears appeared, "Qing'er, I don't want to be like this either. The worst thing I ever did was to drag you into this mess. I..."Ju Mu'er choked up and almost couldn't continue speaking, "I, I also feel like I wronged Second Master.”
"Yes, that's right, we still have Second Master! Second Master will come and save us, Elder sister, don't give up yet..."
Before Su Qing could finish speaking, the sound of heavy footsteps and a lady struggling suddenly came from beyond the door. Su Qing and Ju Mu'er hurriedly fell silent and reached out to wipe away their tears.
Soon, the big door to their tiny room was forcefully thrown open, and a young lady in elegant yet raggedy clothes was thrown in.
The bandit loudly threatened, "Be obedient, if you dare to scream I will slap your mouth till it is torn.”
Ju Mu'er didn’t know what was going on, and her anxiety caused her to squeeze Su Qing’s hand tightly. She heard the heavy footsteps of the bandit as he exited the room, then the heavy slam of the door being closed and locked. Finally she heard Su Qing exclaiming in surprise, "Young Lady Ding?"
End of Chapter