Chapter 41: Catching fish (Part One)
Following Ouyang Hongye’s plan, they soon left the Bird Concealment Platform for the Crane Spring Land. The moment Xia Qiu leapt onto her spirit horse, a scene from her Soul Departure flashed across her mind. Startled, she almost missed the stirrup. Inhaling deeply, she regained her balance and glanced around; luckily, the others all looked to be deep in thought and didn’t notice her lapse.
She had a stronger mentality than she looked and was always afraid to become her companions’ burden. To some degree, she was happy that she had the talent of Soul Departure; if she could develop the talent fully, she was sure it would be a good source of power for her companions.
When they rode out of the city gate, they looked back at the small city and the exquisite bird houses built in the huge trees, which looked more dream-like and peaceful from this perspective. As their spirit horses galloped, the city soon disappeared from their sight.
After riding half a day, they took a break beside a creek and let the horses drink water. Ouyang took out a map and talked with the others about the route they should take. If everything went as planned, they’d enter the Golden Firefly Maple Forest; if they could travel through the forest during the night, they’d reach the Crane Spring Land by noon on the next day.
The name Golden Firefly Maple Forest roused the youths’ interest. Ouyang Xiaoleng remembered Grandpa Yong had once mentioned that Golden Firefly Maple Forest was his favorite place among all the prosperous and beautiful places in the prime time of the spirit world; Grandpa Yong had visited the forest frequently when he was young. In the forest of maple trees which were red all year round, tens of thousands of fireflies gathered in it during the night like frolicking fairies or twinkling stars in the night sky, radiant and fantastic. The most miraculous part about the forest was that the fireflies would reveal their souls when they were together and would choose to communicate with the noblest souls passing the forest, forming a beautiful picture as their gift to the passing noble souls.
“I have no interest in such romantic stuff. It’s a child’s tale,” Fenghuo said in disdain as they talked about the Golden Firefly Maple Forest.
“No beautiful things can rouse your interest because you have nothing to do with the word ‘beauty’.” It was obvious that Wangyue was goading Fenghuo.
“I’m not as pretty as you guys who’re as beautiful as flowers. But compared with other spirits, I’m a tall and handsome guy,” Fenghuo took the bait and retorted.
“I admit you’re tall, but handsome…” Wangyue paused purposefully.
“Let the only girl among us be the judge. Don’t you think I’m handsome?” displeased, Fenghuo turned to Xia Qiu and asked.
Instead of answering him, Xia Qiu just laughed.
“Hey! Answer me.” Fenghuo was impatient.
“At our advanced age, how can you ask a young girl to comment on your looks? You’re disgraceful. You scared a kid yesterday and now you want to frighten another kid?” Ouyang Hongye came to her rescue.
“Haha! Yeah. You’re right.” Fenghuo laughed heartily when he remembered how he had frightened Qianqi yesterday; the others laughed with him.
After traveling with them for a couple of days, Ouyang Hongye found the simple-minded and quick-tempered Fenghuo and the innocent Qianqi were sources of joy during this journey, giving them hearty laughs and making them forget, for a few precious moments, about the unknown dangers on the long journey ahead and the huge crisis they were facing. After all, hearty laughs were precious for them, otherwise they’d be crushed by the pressure and fear built up in their hearts.
As they talked and laughed, even Ouyang Xiaoleng’s eyes turned soft. But the only person who didn’t join the fun was Qianqi, the most open person among them. He picked up oval-shaped pebbles and skipped it on the surface of the river; he looked so calm and thoughtful that the others were concerned.
“What’s wrong with that kid?” Wangyue asked Ouyang Hongye.
“Maybe he hasn’t recovered yet from the fright I gave him?” Fenghuo sounded guilty.
“No. I think he’s sulky because his discovery yesterday achieved nothing. He’s a bit childish about it!” Ouyang Hongye hit the mark. After all, as Ember Dragon King’s son, Qianqi had been spoiled by people in Dongyao and couldn’t help sulking in the face of setbacks despite his easy-going personality.
Ouyang Hongye remembered he had been like this when he was a youth. As the heir to the Red-Haired Fox King, he lost his home and wandered around aimlessly, which was a drastic contrast to his previous luxurious life as a child. With no one caring for his words or whereabouts, he had felt his life was hellish. Hundreds of years later, he still couldn’t forget how miserable and resentful he had been.
But he was no longer resentful. From the moment he met Ouyang Xueye, he realized that he had found the only person he wanted to follow for the rest of his life. He supported Ouyang Xueye willingly because he had found the most fitting position for himself and a life-long dear friend.
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