Actually, Tantai Jin was awake. He had awakened from his coma when the yellow dog had approached him. After it was poisoned to death by his blood, the group of kids had come close.
He silently lay prone and inwardly thought, When they come near, even if we die together1同归于尽 (tóngguīyújìn) – perish together/suffer a common downfall/ die in such a way that somebody or something else also perishes/take somebody down with oneself, I must think of a way to kill them. He was in pain. The Xuanbing Needle was still embedded in his left eye, the blood had coagulated, and the cold Qi was seeping into his body. Half of his face was buried in the snow, but he wasn’t willing to fall asleep.
If I sleep, I might never be able to open my eyes again.
Even if I must die, I want to watch how I die. However, he didn’t expect to hear a familiar voice.
The girl jumped out of the forest, dragged the children by their ears, and drove them away.
His disabled body stiffened for a moment. If Tantai Jin had a choice, Su Su would be the last person he wanted to see at this moment. He had originally thought that even if she was alive, when they met again, he would be a superior king that could abuse or torture her at will and decide her life or death.
He never expected that it would be such a situation.
The tendons of his four limbs were severed, and his left eye was blinded, making him completely handicapped.
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Seeing him look at her with such a twisted and sinister expression, Su Su felt extremely annoyed, so she slapped him on the head, “Shut up, you talk too much.”
She put Tantai Jin down, turned around and left. After walking away a fair distance, she could still feel his gaze relentlessly following her2如影随形 (rúyǐngsuíxíng) – like shadow follows the body (idiom) which means closely associated with each other/follow relentlessly. Su Su didn’t bother to care about his thoughts and didn’t look back.
She found her chestnut horse and as she led it back to him, she saw Tantai Jin looking out at the dark and dreary sky with his intact eye. The colour of the sky was dim as it was getting dark.
His gloomy expression was simply uglier than the sky.
At this moment, Su Su somewhat wanted to laugh. The sound of her footsteps returned and Tantai Jin coldly said, “Didn’t you leave? What are you coming back for!”
Su Su muttered, “You obviously want to be saved, so why can’t you say something nice?”
Tantai Jin didn’t speak anymore.
Su Su remembered that in the past, back in the residence, he was quite good at pretending in front of those servants. But she didn’t know when it had started, when he was facing her, Tantai Jin’s mouth seemed to be laced with poison and ice.
Su Su squatted down, took a deep breath, and used her strength to lift him up. She was panting from rushing back, but her arms were incredibly warm. As Tantai Jin leaned on the girl’s childish and feeble body he could smell her hair fragrance.
He turned his head away, thinking that the smell was faintly like a “pink silk flower.”3合欢花 (héhuān huā) – Also known as Persian silk flower or plant/tree. It’s actually a traditional Chinese herb which has many functions such as curing insomnia etc, but the word 合欢 also has another meaning (sleeping together), so Tantai Jin probably mean something like aphrodisiac (my assumption) He coldly snorted, this woman, even the fragrance on her body is so promiscuous.
Su Su didn’t know what he was thinking, otherwise she would have thrown him off, dug a hole in the snowy ground, and buried him. The young man was so heavy that she was staggering, and after a tremendous effort, Su Su managed to get him onto the horse.
Sensing that she would save him, Tantai Jin was unexpectedly quiet.
Su Su humphed. If she hadn’t been to his dreamland, she definitely would’ve been tricked into thinking that he wasn’t afraid of death. Heaven and earth created all things. Perhaps, there was no one in this world who wanted to live more than Tantai Jin.
“What’s the matter with your injuries? Didn’t you go back to the Zhou Kingdom with Madam Lan An? Who hurt you like this?”
Tantai Jin spoke succinctly4言简意赅 (yánjiǎn-yìgāi) – concise and comprehensive/compendious/pithy, “Tantai Minglang.”
He didn’t lift his eyes, gazing at the horse’s hooves he hoarsely asked, “Why did you save me?”
Su Su led the horse and deliberately provoked him, “Who knows, maybe it’s like you said, I’ve never seen a handicapped person before, so I wanted to amuse myself.”
He coldly laughed, “I’m surprised you didn’t die after falling into the Huai River5淮河 (Huái Hé) – main river of east China, between the Yellow River Huáng Hé (黄河) and the Changjiang Cháng Jiāng (长江).”
Su Su smacked his shoulder with a branch and resentfully said, “If I died, you’d have also died today.”
“You can’t save me, I have a Xuanbing Needle in my eye.”
Su Su paused her steps and slightly frowned. She naturally knew what a Xuanbing Needle was. It was an evil thing, and a slowly torturing one at that. Supposedly, when a Xuanbing Needle entered the eye, that person would cry incessantly and feel so much pain that they’d want to die. There were some people who chose to kill themselves because they couldn’t stand the endless torture.
However, there wasn’t a single drop of a tear in Tantai Jin’s eye, and he didn’t even seem to be in much pain. Earlier, Su Su didn’t think of the possibility of a Xuanbing Needle. Now that she was aware of it, Su Su’s heart sank.
She hadn’t reached the Abyss of Desolation yet, so naturally, she couldn’t let Tantai Jin die. But an eye that had been pierced by a Xuanbing Needle was already necrotic. If she wanted to save him, she had to replace the eye for him before the cold Qi entered his body.
The horse’s hooves crunched on the snowy ground.
Su Su said, “It’s getting dark. Since we saw children, there must be a village nearby. Later, we’ll find a house to stay overnight. It’s very cold in winter, so we can’t spend the night in the forest. With your current appearance, you might scare ordinary people. When the time comes, I’ll tell them that you’re my brother, we encountered bandits and ended up in the mountain forest, there will surely be good people that’ll take us in.”
Tantai Jin didn’t reply as he was still thinking about his eye.
Sure enough, just like Su Su said, they soon arrived at a village. She stepped forward to knock on a door, but a vigilant eye was watching them through a crack from inside.
“Just leave, we don’t take in strangers here.”
Su Su explained their reason, but the host family remained unmoved.
Su Su had no choice but to knock on the next house, and to her surprise, it was the same case for several houses in succession.
Tantai Jin said, “There’s something wrong with this village.”
“How do you know that?” Su Su asked.
“There isn’t a single house in the village that has lit their lights when it’s already night but there’s no sound of livestock. When you went to knock on the door, they were scared and only looked out through the crack of the door. There are either mountain bandits or demons nearby this village.” Tantai Jin calmly said.
Su Su admired him a little. She reckoned that internally he must be trembling with pain, but he still didn’t forget to be vigilant and observe his surroundings. She knew that Tantai Jin had a point, so when she knocked on the next house, she said in advance, “We’re not bad people and we’re not demons. I’m a demon slayer passing by this village, can you take us in for a night?”
Edited by: Gaze