The next day, Yan Mu was woken up by the noise.
“Where’s the dog? How could it have gone missing?” Dog Egg Zhang was making a ruckus next door. Even Yan Mu’s side couldn’t have any peace.
Yan Mu turned her body over and used the quilt to cover her head, trying to block out the noise. Due to her poor health, she currently had hypersomnia. Out of twenty-four hours a day, it was estimated that she could sleep for fourteen hours.
“Damn it, what bad luck! It’s time to hunt yet the hunting dog actually ran away.” Hunter Zhang started to curse along with him.
“Dad, this fellow Yu Yuan is a jinx. As soon as we said we wanted to bring him along, even our house’s hunting dog ran away.” Dog Egg Zhang looked at Yu Yuan with malicious intent and fanned the flames1扇风点火 (shānfēng-diǎnhuǒ) – fan the flames/agitate people/stir up trouble from the side.
“He’s really a person who brings bad luck!” Hunter Zhang was provoked by Dog Egg Zhang and instantly took out his anger on Yu Yuan.
He grabbed a bamboo strip and whipped it towards Yu Yuan without giving him time to explain2不由分说 (bùyóu-fēnshuō) – allow no explanation/without listening to someone’s protest.
Dog Egg Zhang was heartily laughing3哈哈大笑 (hāhādàxiào) – laughing heartily/roaring with laughter to the side while Yu Yuan was bending his body, taking the beating. He bit his lip, trying hard not to make a sound, but a few muffled grunts still managed to spill out of his throat.
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Hunter Zhang stopped after a few hits. He pulled out his pipe and started to smoke the pumpkin leaves vigorously.
“Dad, I think our family doesn’t need any hunting dogs, just let Yu Yuan go out to find those prey and bring them back is good enough,” Dog Egg Zhang said while grinning.
Yan Mu listened and scolded Dog Egg Zhang for being cruel.
The mountains around here were full of wild boars. Many hunters made their living from hunting them. The wild boar meat was delicious and could fetch a good price at the market.
But wild boars weren’t easy to kill and they were extremely intelligent. Sometimes they would even fake their own deaths. When they did, if someone approached, they would be attacked in an instant.
Wild boars had sharp tusks and could disembowel their opponents with just a single sweep. Every year, many hunting dogs died under the tusks of the wild boars.
In the eyes of Hunter Zhang and his son, Yu Yuan was even worse than a dog. Yan Mu stood in place in a daze. Her heart was feeling a little sad.
She held onto the wall and limped to the door, about to call out to Yu Yuan. But she reconsidered as she didn’t think that Hunter Zhang and his son would let Yu Yuan go so easily, and Yu Yuan was sensitive and distrustful by nature. He wasn’t close with her either, so he would unlikely respond to her.
A sense of helplessness surged up her heart, and Yan Mu’s determination instantly withered. Her fractured left leg was really painful. Yan Mu simply found a lump of rice straw to sit on as a cushion. She sat at the doorway, staring next door with a resentful face.
If this goes on, when will she be able to kiss Yu Yuan? She couldn’t possibly opt for a night attack, right? It wasn’t that she felt unconfident with herself, but with this body of hers, Yu Yuan didn’t even need to resist, just a gentle push could break her bones.
The door of the adjacent courtyard was pushed open by someone. Hunter Zhang and Dog Egg Zhang came out first. Dog Egg Zhang was complacently humming a folk song. Both Hunter Zhang and him were empty-handed.
Yan Mu averted her gaze back to the door. As expected, a weak and thin figure carrying a huge bundle slowly walked out from the courtyard. According to the book’s settings, although Yu Yuan was already sixteen, his appearance was thin and weak like a twelve or thirteen-year-old due to long-term malnutrition.
As a superficial dog, once Yu Yuan appeared, Yan Mu’s attention was all on his face. Yan Mu carefully checked over his face and was slightly relieved to see his handsome features weren’t damaged.
Perhaps because he had just received a beating, Yu Yuan’s movements were sluggish. After he walked out of the courtyard door, he didn’t immediately follow Hunter Zhang and his son.
Yu Yuan stood in place, staring coldly at their silhouettes. It was as if karmic fire was burning in his pitch-black eyes. A harsh cold aura surrounded him, seemingly able to freeze everything around him.
He stood for a while and suddenly revealed a strange smile.
His red lips were attractive, and that smile was like a poppy blooming in the abyss, giving a sense of trembling beauty. Yan Mu’s small mouth was slightly open as she was mesmerised by Yu Yuan.
“Jinx, what are you standing there for? Are you asking to be beaten again?” Dog Egg Zhang berated as he turned around.
“Coming.” Yu Yuan retracted his vicious aura the moment Dog Egg Zhang turned around and put back on his lovable and weak appearance.
He lifted his feet and was about to catch up with them, but, as if sensing something, he suddenly glanced back towards Yan Mu’s location.
Yan Mu froze. Yu Yuan and her stared at each other, wide-eyed.
Was her gaze too scorching, so Yu Yuan noticed it? Speaking of which, this was the second time she was caught on the spot for peeping at him, right?
What will Yu Yuan think? Will he think that she’s a peeping tom? Female pervert? Yan Mu suddenly got a headache.
Well, she would smash the pot if it was already cracked5破罐破摔 (pòguàn-pòshuāi) – let things slide; refuse to remedy a fault/deliberately make a bad situation worse. She raised her head and revealed a bright smile to Yu Yuan.
Yan Mu raised her little hand and greeted him cutely.
She was dressed in pink clothes and shrunk herself into a tiny ball, like a peach blossom that was about to bloom. Yu Yuan’s gaze rested on her exceptionally pale face.
Yan Mu blinked helplessly and touched her face, feeling a little uneasy.
Is there something on my face? Yan Mu was feeling inwardly perturbed.
The young girl’s apricot eyes were twinkling with specks of glimmer under the sunlight, like shimmering crystalline sunlight reflected on the waves of a lake. Yu Yuan only took a glance before retracting his gaze.
He didn’t pay attention to Yan Mu and left, minding his own business.
Yan Mu looked at Yu Yuan’s back as he trudged away and only felt slightly baffled. However, this cold-faced and silent Yu Yuan was handsome too.
Yan Mu’s lips curved into a smile and she slowly stood up, holding onto the wall. This body was really too weak. After Yan Mu stood up, a wave of dizziness took over her again.
Yan Mu shook her head several times before she gradually sobered up.
She had to rely on Yu Yuan’s kiss once a month to prolong her lifespan. If she was still unable to kiss Yu Yuan, her vitality would gradually decline too. There were about ten days left before one month’s time was up, and this body was almost at its limit already.
She had to hurry up and kiss Yu Yuan. Yan Mu let out a sigh. She remembered Yu Yuan’s ruthless appearance just now and felt that kissing him was harder than ascending to heaven.
She limped back into the house. Just as she sat down, Father Yan had returned, carrying a hoe.
“Daughter, how are you feeling today?” Father Yan showed concern about Yan Mu’s health before even putting down his hoe.
“I’m feeling much better,” Yan Mu said while smiling.
In fact, Yan Mu clearly felt that her body had become a little weaker again. But she knew in her heart that her body’s deterioration had nothing to do with the medication, and was due to not kissing Yu Yuan.
Since it was incurable by medical skills, there was no need for her to say it out loud and unnecessarily increase Father Yan’s worries.
Father Yan nodded his head. As if remembering something, he suddenly asked, “I heard that Hunter Zhang’s family lost their hunting dog?”
“Yes,” Yan Mu froze for a while then softly said, “Dad, do you think Yu Yuan brings bad luck too?” She stared straight at Father Yan, afraid that he would be the same as those people in the village.
“That’s not true.” Father Yan was oblivious of Yan Mu’s gaze. He put down the hoe, shook his head and said, “Dog Egg Zhang is always bullying that dog. I think it most probably ran away by itself. I pity Yu Yuan, that kid is going to get beaten again……”
Seeing that Father Yan’s attitude was not as cold and harsh as the other villagers, Yan Mu couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief in her heart.
She needed to rely on Yu Yuan’s kiss to replenish her lifespan, so she was bound to get close to Yu Yuan. If Father Yan rejected Yu Yuan and did not allow them to interact, Yan Mu would later be troubled.
After resolving something worrisome, Yan Mu’s mood slightly improved. She recalled Yu Yuan’s strange attitude just now and started to ask, “Dad, is there anything on my face?”
The Yan Family was just a normal peasant household and they couldn’t afford to buy a mirror. And you couldn’t see clearly in the water’s reflection, as it could only reflect a rough outline. Yan Mu couldn’t see herself properly.
“There’s nothing on your face,” Father Yan looked carefully once again and said.
“Really nothing?” Yan Mu was stunned and continued to ask.
“Really nothing,” Father Yan answered, feeling perplexed, “Daughter, what happened to you?”
“It’s nothing……” Yan Mu smiled and simply found a reason to brush it off.
Since there wasn’t anything strange on her face, what was Yu Yuan looking at just now? The doubt from the bottom of her heart flashed up, but Yan Mu did not have time to think about it as sleepiness suddenly overtook her.
She yawned. Father Yan naturally knew Yan Mu’s physical condition, so he urged her to go to sleep.
This sleep lasted until evening. Yan Mu opened her eyes and her mind was still dazed, as if she was in a dream.
The sound of grasshoppers and frogs could be heard through the window. The sky was cloudy as if it was about to rain. There was a faint humidity in the air, sweat that stuck to your body couldn’t be evaporated, and the air pressure felt oppressive.
An indescribable pain from the fractured left leg instantly pulled Yan Mu back to reality.
She straightened her clothes and slowly walked out of her room. Father Yan was packing something in the house, looking a bit worried, and he didn’t even notice Yan Mu’s approach.
“Dad, what’s wrong with you?” asked Yan Mu. Yan Mu moved in front of Father Yan only to find him holding a strip of cured meat.
Father Yan was startled. Once he saw that it was Yan Mu, he pursed his lips and said, “Dog Egg Zhang fell off the mountain, I wanted to pay a visit and send over a strip of cured meat.”
Dog Egg Zhang fell? Yan Mu was startled, and her somewhat muddled brain suddenly became sober.
A rumbling sound erupted, and summer lightning split the sky. A downpour pelted down from the clouds, the raindrops falling fast and heavy. They harshly beat onto the dirt road, creating little pits.
The strong wind curled up the rice straw on the roofs, blowing them into the distance.
Yan Mu stayed where she was and the pattering sound of rain never stopped. Somehow, she suddenly recalled Yu Yuan’s strange smile.
Edited by: Gaze