Chapter 2: Nightmare in the color of dusk (Part Two)

Silently, he reached out his hand in her direction. Taking his hand, she felt the warmth from his palm and was less frightened. Occasionally, he’d stop, and his nose twitched as if he was searching for a scent; then he’d pull her forward. When light appeared ahead of them, he let go of her hand but still walked ahead of her.

She followed him and wondered how he knew the direction of her home. He was more and more mysterious to her. At the beginning, she was just drawn by his unique name; then she saw his rare and familiar eyes; later he somehow appeared in Yongchuan Forest and woke her up from a nightmare. He had become a mystery on the first day that she met him.

When they got close to her home, Xia Qiu saw her grandma was looking their way from behind the fence and waved at them when she saw Xia Qiu. Seeing her grandma’s smiling face, Xia Qiu was relieved.

“I was talking to your grandpa about you being late coming back from school today. He said you must have made some new friends in school. He was right!” Her grandma looked at the youth behind Xia Qiu and nodded at him with a smile.

“Yeah. This is Ouyang Xiaoleng. He sits behind me. Can he have supper with us today?” Not knowing how to explain to her grandma what had happened, she used Ouyang Xiaoleng as a distraction.

“Of course! Welcome!”

A non-plussed Ouyang Xiaoleng was pulled into the house and seated at the dinner table without a chance of saying no. He had never been a guest in a human’s home in the past 16 years. The lighting in the dining room was soft while Xia Qiu and her grandma’s laughter came from the kitchen occasionally. Soon, the dinner table was covered by dishes and Xia Qiu and her grandparents sat down with him at the table.

He had never thought of having close interactions with humans since he’d have to take the trouble of making up stories to disguise his true identity and background. Facing the questions from Xia Qiu’s grandparents, he felt very uncomfortable, but the old couple wasn’t bothered by his strange responses; they still smiled at him benignly and kept putting food into his bowl as if he was part of the family. Suddenly, a warmth he had never felt before filled his heart.

After supper, Ouyang Xiaoleng and Xia Qiu sat on the step at the gate, sipping coke silently. He was extremely familiar with her facial expressions and moves, but sitting so close to her still made his heart race. One reason was his longing for her and the other was the summoning call of the Spirit King’s Crown in his body. If he didn’t leave soon, he’d not be able to resist the summon; he’d show his real form before her.

“Never go into Yongchuan Forest after dark. Remember it!” Before he left, he warned her again.

Looking at his departing back, Xia Qiu thought of his warning. It didn’t sound like a joke. There must be some danger hidden in the forest. She remembered the nightmare she had in the afternoon and shivered involuntarily.

Coming out of Xia Qiu’s home, Ouyang Xiaoleng returned to Yongchuan Forest. Lately, spirits with unknown background kept appearing in the forest. He must make sure the seals that Ouyang Hongye had planted around the forest were intact; if these spirits got out of the forest, they’d cause chaos. He didn’t know why these spirits came here, but they must know attacking humans was forbidden. Except for that person’s minions, he didn’t know who else dared to break this rule.

After making sure all the seals were intact, he flew up to the thousand-year banyan tree in the forest. He had sat in the tree for countless times watching Xia Qiu quietly. She was so different from others. A fragile human girl, she had unusual determination in her eyes. She didn’t know that the banyan tree in their school was a child of this banyan tree, under which he had met her many years ago. 

“Today I saw your child. It has grown into a very big tree,” said Ouyang Xiaoleng.

The old banyan tree rustled in the breeze as if it was answering him.(read on noodletowntranslated dot com to support the actual translators)

The alarm clock went off on the bedside table. Xia Qiu had set it the previous night. She usually woke up in the morning without the alarm clock, but last night she couldn’t sleep until midnight.

She kept remembering the nightmare and Ouyang Xiaoleng’s words which reminded her of Pandora’s box. Ouyang Xiaoleng was probably the key to this box. Her thoughts wandered as she remembered the legend about the path leading to the spirit world from Yongchuan Forest. She wished the legend was true, so her boring life would be replaced by legendary adventures. At this thought, the terror brought by the nightmare was soon replaced by her longing for the legend.

When she came into the classroom, she saw Ouyang Xiaoleng was soundly asleep with his head resting on his folded arms on his desk. Devoid of his usual cold and blank expression, his face now looked as pure and innocent as a child. A girl in the class walked over cautiously to take a photo of him with her cell phone, but the clicking sound of the camera woke him up.(read on noodletowntranslated dot com to support the actual translators)

Ouyang Xiaoleng sat up immediately and extended out a hand toward the girl expressionlessly. He didn’t speak, but his aura made the girl hand the cell phone to him obediently. He pressed on some buttons, deleted the photo and handed the phone back to her. The girl pursed her lips in embarrassment and returned to her seat.

Xia Qiu stood there and watched the scene. It was not right to take his photo without his permission, but his coldness toward the girl was quite unusual. On the way to school, she had been practicing how to greet him and then talk to him, but the aura emitting from him right now intimidated her.

Ouyang Xiaoleng could see her fear of him from her eyes. He had not wanted to come to Yongchuan High School but knew that his adoptive father Ouyang Hongye made the arrangement because of the Blood Pact.

He had wished for true freedom. When he was a child, he had wanted to be friends with human kids, but most of the time, he lived in the ancient house of his family for safety reasons; he felt like a prisoner. Now he was used to the feeling of loneliness and didn’t know how to communicate with people, but they sent him here.

At the PE class in the afternoon, the boys played basketball while the girls played volleyball. Ouyang Xiaoleng only saw people play basketball on TV. Not interested in the game, he only walked around to kill time.

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