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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 07, 2024 3 Comments
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Chapter 28: A Thread of love Wrapped around Black Silk

A Thread of love Wrapped around Black Silk (Part Seven)

The rain fell steadily throughout the night in the mountains, and the next day dawned clear, with birds chirping melodiously in the empty valley, their songs lingering and sweet.

Qing Jiu awoke from her deep sleep, her eyes clear and staring straight up at the cave ceiling. Cracks streaked across the ceiling, allowing beams of morning light to filter through, making them appear smooth and glossy, reminiscent of satin.

Sitting up, her long hair flowed down her shoulders and pooled in front of her. She glanced down at her hands, noticing one particularly soft and warm holding hers. Qing Jiu stared at it intently, a ripple of emotion stirring in her usually calm eyes. Tracing the hand to its owner, she found Yu’er curled up beside her, her head resting on her arm.

Qing Jiu’s body shivered slightly, and a gentle laugh escaped her lips, a mix of bitterness and contentment.

Yu’er was awakened by the slight movement and, seeing Qing Jiu sitting up, felt a surge of happiness: “You’re awake! How do you feel?”

With a soft smile, Qing Jiu replied, “Didn’t I ask you to keep some distance?”

Yu’er looked away, “You seemed restless in your sleep…”

The fire had died down to a wisp of blue smoke. Yu’er tried to get up but found her hand still held by Qing Jiu. She looked back at her, seeing the gentle, compassionate light in her eyes, and her heart skipped a beat in shock.

Just as Yu’er was wondering what to do, Qing Jiu remarked, “What a pity.”

Yu’er, following Qing Jiu’s gaze, realized she was talking about her own cut hair. Qing Jiu had suddenly swung a sword at her the day before, chopping off a lock of hair beside her ear.

“It’s okay,” Yu’er said.

Seeing it was clearly her fault, yet Yu’er seemed troubled as if she had done something wrong, Qing Jiu couldn’t help teasing her. “How can you say it’s okay? If you were to get married and your husband sees your hair shorter here, he might think you had a lover who you gave your hair to as a token of love. Without knowing the truth, such a misunderstanding would be my fault.”

Yu’er felt even more uneasy, her face turning red.

Qing Jiu let out a light laugh, realizing she had forgotten Yu’er was always easily teased. “Alright, I’ll stop teasing you. Come here, and let me do your hair.” Obediently, Yu’er walked over and squatted in front of Qing Jiu.

Qing Jiu’s fingers gently slid into Yu’er’s hair, softly and soothingly combing it. Yu’er watched the light and dust particles dance in the beam that fell through the crack floating slowly, as if time itself was moving exceptionally slowly in this tranquil and comfortable moment.

It would be best if things could always remain this way.

Qing Jiu combed the cut lock of Yu’er’s hair into a braid, then tied it together with the rest, making it barely noticeable.

After finishing, Yu’er stood up, a hint of reluctance in her movements. Qing Jiu also rose, dusting off her clothes.

Yu’er said, “You rest for a while. Are you hungry? I’ll go out and find some food.”

Their food supplies had been lost in the water the previous day, rendering them inedible, but the mountains should provide plenty of fruits and wild animals to hunt.

“No need,” Qing Jiu insisted, “I’ll go with you.”

Qing Jiu walked over to the rock wall, took hold of the long sword she had stuck into the wall the day before, and looked at a strand of black hair on it. She said to Yu’er, “Gather these up quickly, don’t let the villagers find them. They could be very useful if you meet the one your heart desires.”

This time, Yu’er’s face turned even redder, and without a word, she tucked the lock of hair into her clothes.

After retrieving her sword, Qing Jiu seriously said, “I wasn’t joking. Our body, skin and hair are gifts from our parents, and we should cherish them. I’m sorry for hurting you yesterday.”

Yu’er, seeing the seriousness in Qing Jiu’s words, quickly responded, “I really don’t mind.”

Qing Jiu smiled but said nothing, simply extending her hand as if to gently touch Yu’er, but ultimately only lightly tapped near Yu’er’s ear.

Leaving the cave, they were greeted by the fresh air of the mountains, misty and ethereal, with the enchanting melodies of birds filling the tranquil forest.

As they headed up the mountain, Yu’er asked, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” Qing Jiu replied, and seeing she preferred not to elaborate, Yu’er didn’t press further.

Not far along their path, they rounded a boulder and spotted a white figure in the grass. Qing Jiu cautioned Yu’er with a hand on her shoulder, “Wait.”

Yu’er stopped in her tracks, then heard a low roar of a tiger. It turned out that a white tiger was lying in the bushes, huge in size, with a formidable physique and an imposing aura. It growled softly at their approach but did not move.

Taking a few steps closer, Qing Jiu laughed, “It’s a trap.”

Yu’er joined her and saw the tiger’s hind leg caught in a trap, bleeding profusely. As they approached, the tiger howled pitifully, its cries imbued with a heartbreaking loneliness.

Yu’er, moved by compassion, stepped forward before stopping herself, lost in thought.

Qing Jiu observed, “White tigers are spiritual creatures. It’s not easy for one to grow so large. It’s asking us to save it.”

Noticing an unusual bulge in the tiger’s abdomen, Yu’er felt a surge of empathy and approached.

“Do you want to save it?” Qing Jiu asked.

Turning back with a radiant smile, Yu’er replied, “Qing Jiu, it’s pregnant.”

The smile on Yu’er’s face was pure and deeply beautiful, like the dawn of all creation. Qing Jiu’s heart fluttered, her mind briefly comparing Yu’er’s smile to the comforting richness of milk, before she shook off the absurd thought. She frowned slightly as she observed Yu’er in silence. Recognizing Yu’er’s desire to save the tiger, Qing Jiu offered a word of caution, “Remember, humans may not attack tigers, but the tiger might still intend to attack humans.”

Yu’er replied, “It hasn’t attacked me, it might not attack me…”

Qing Jiu reasoned, “It’s starving. The moment you free it, it might leap and snap your neck. What then? It’s a wild beast, after all. Do you think it will remember your kindness? Even humans, when desperate, forget about gratitude and righteousness. What does it know about kindness and righteousness?”

Yu’er knew Qing Jiu was right, but a stubborn part of her heart refused to relent, compromising, “But you’re here…”

Yu’er bit her lip, leaving the thought ‘you would protect me’ unspoken. She knew Qing Jiu was smart enough to understand.

Qing Jiu, with a shake of her head and a smile, continued, “Even if I protect you today, by letting the tiger go, if a villager wanders into the mountains tomorrow and gets hurt by this white tiger, you’d indirectly be responsible for their harm.”

Yu’er was startled, noticing something different about Qing Jiu now. Qing Jiu rarely dwelled so persistently on a matter; she was usually carefree, doing as she wished without too many “what ifs” or worries. Yet, now she seemed so serious, her expression solemn as if discussing a matter of great importance.

Yu’er couldn’t help but seriously say, “We can’t decide not to act based on what hasn’t happened.”

Leaning against a tree, Qing Jiu smiled gently, her smile gentle and sincere. She softly said, “Someone once said the same thing to me.”

“Who was that person?” Yu’er asked naturally.

After a moment of silence, Qing Jiu said, “Let’s free it from the trap.”

Approaching the white tiger, Yu’er found it surprisingly docile, lying still. She pried the trap open, revealing a deep wound on the tiger’s leg that exposed the bone. She then took out some healing ointment from her clothes, applied it to the wound, and bandaged it with a piece of her skirt.

Standing up, Yu’er cautiously backed away from the tiger, never letting her guard down. The tiger stood, roared at her without malice, seemingly in gratitude.

Yu’er couldn’t help but smile, turning to Qing Jiu, “You see.”

“It didn’t attack me.”

Yu’er’s smile was brilliant and dazzling, unbeknownst to her. Qing Jiu watched her quietly, then suddenly said, “That person was my teacher.”

As Qing Jiu resumed walking in the direction they had been heading, Yu’er followed with curiosity. She knew little about Qing Jiu’s past and was eager to learn more. “What kind of person was he?”

With a smile, Qing Jiu replied, “An old bald monk.”

Yu’er noticed the disrespectful nickname but heard the affection in Qing Jiu’s tone, making her even more curious. When she pressed for more details, Qing Jiu remained silent.

The two of them picked some fruit halfway up the mountain and Qing Jiu hunted a wild boar, not out of necessity but because the opportunity presented itself. They found a cave to rest in, and looking back, they saw the white tiger limping behind them.

Yu’er called out, “Qing Jiu.”

Qing Jiu glanced over and said, “Leave it be.”

By the river, the two skinned and gutted the wild boar, cleaned it thoroughly, and took it back to the cave to smoke and roast. The white tiger stayed at the cave entrance, stepping aside when they returned, and resuming its seated position once they entered.

Qing Jiu expertly handled the meat, and before long, the wild boar was cooked to perfection, with just the right heat, golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside. They also used sour apricots to balance the richness and enhance the flavor. As the meat was torn apart, the juices flowed freely.

Qing Jiu sliced off a piece of meat from the front leg bone with her dagger and handed it to Yu’er. They ate their fill, leaving more than half uneaten, as the sound of purring came from the entrance. Yu’er looked towards Qing Jiu, her eyes pleading for permission.

After leisurely wiping her hands with a handkerchief, Qing Jiu said, “Give it to it. We can’t finish it anyway.”

Delighted, Yu’er carried the remaining half of the roasted boar outside and placed it before the white tiger, saying, “Here, you eat.”

The white tiger growled softly at her, pinned the meat with its paws, and started tearing into it.

Yu’er turned back into the cave, resting for a while with Qing Jiu. When they came out to find their way back to the village, they saw a pile of bones at the entrance; the white tiger had cleaned off the rest of the boar. The tiger was licking its paws nearby, growling softly at them before turning to walk away.

They stood still, and the tiger looked back, growling twice more, prompting Yu’er to say, “Qing Jiu, it seems it wants us to follow.”

After a moment’s consideration, Qing Jiu said, “Let’s follow and see.”

Following the white tiger, they walked for a while. The tiger looked back to see that they were still following before continuing on.

The tiger led them through the dense undergrowth, finally stopping and growling at them, indicating they had reached their destination.

The two humans and the tiger crossed the mountain, circumvented a hollow, and arrived at the middle of a mountain peak. Here, the dense trees and thick undergrowth created a dim, shadow-filled environment, where sunlight struggled to penetrate.

The tiger wound its way through the undergrowth, stopping abruptly to roar at them, drawing their attention.

At first glance, the place seemed unremarkable to them. However, as they looked around, the tiger started digging at the undergrowth, revealing a narrow gap.

With a curious sound, Qing Jiu approached, her hand brushing the long sword at her back. With a swift motion, the sword flew out, its cold light slicing through the undergrowth to reveal a large blue rock blocking an entrance, leaving just enough space for a person to squeeze through. This hidden entrance would have been difficult to discover without the white tiger leading them.

Qing Jiu entered first, lighting a torch to reveal a long, dark corridor extending into the unknown. She called Yu’er to follow, and together they proceeded inside.

After walking for a while, the passage widened into a circular clearing, illuminated by the soft glow of blue crystals embedded in the cave ceiling, casting a serene light around them.

Yu’er, with sharp eyes, immediately noticed a fiery red patch on the cave wall. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a cluster of blood coagulating flowers. She had found a single flower on a cliff edge with great difficulty and had lost it after falling. Feeling guilty about it, she was now happy to see such a large cluster of blood coagulating flowers, which would greatly help the villagers in need of medicinal ingredients.

Turning her attention back, Yu’er saw an object in the brightest part of the cave, very conspicuous. Initially focused on the blood coagulating flowers, she now noticed a broadsword, half of its blade embedded in a pedestal. Whether it was the light from the crystals or not, the blade shone brilliantly, far from ordinary.

Qing Jiu scoffed lightly, leapt to the pedestal with a tap of her foot, and grasped the sword’s hilt. Channeling her internal energy, she drew the blade with a resonant clang, releasing a brilliant flash of cold light that was almost blinding.

“Blue Frost, one meter long, sharp enough to cut through steel,” Qing Jiu declared.

Recognizing the sword’s significance, Yu’er realized it was no ordinary weapon, hidden as it was like a treasured secret. “Qing Jiu, what sword is this?” she inquired.

With a gentle swing of the broadsword, slicing the air with a whistling sound, Qing Jiu replied with a smile, “A divine sword, Qing Huan.”

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Khriss
Khriss
28 days ago

NEW EQUIPMENT AND IN AN AWESOME CAVE WOOOOOOO IM SO HYPED
thanks for the chapter!!! 😁😁😁
Also the opening moment with QJ opening up to Yu was so sweet, so well written. This latest arc has been very nicely done, even if not entirely unique or unusual, when executed right it can make it feel all the more special.

Khriss
Khriss
28 days ago

> he might think you had a lover who you gave your hair to as a token of love.
Also this won’t happen because the only lover she will have is you!!!

Cherry
Cherry
6 days ago

This is so sweet, then I remember that yu er is only 14…