"Chilong! Come back!"
"Don't worry I will catch him."
A boy no older than ten ran up to the child and lifted him up in the air. The younger boy struggled for a while before giving up. The older boy carried the younger on his shoulders as he walked over to the young woman. He had large eyes and long eyelashes making him almost feminine. If it wasn't for his outfit, nobody would be able to tell.
"Mom. I caught him."
The woman affectionately rubbed the older boy on the head and grabbed the younger boy.
"Chitian, go and collect some herbs in the forest."
Chitian dashed into the underbrush in search for food, leaving his mother and younger brother alone in the small cottage in the forest. This is the tragic story of a family destroyed by misfortune.
"Hah...Chilong. What do I do with you...?"
The child in her hand flinched, slightly shaking. He avoided eye contact and tried to play it off. The woman closed her eyes and poked him on the cheek. She seem to enjoy doing so much to the dismay of the child.
"ehehehe...this never gets old."
The woman placed her child down on the chair and turned her attention to a book that was half opened on the table. She looked over it and closed it putting it back on the shelf. After a short while, Chitian returned with a basket in hand filled to the brim with herbs and forest fruits. She stared at the assortment of herbs in the basket and thought for a moment.
"This should do."
She stretched her hands and stared outside the window. She closed her eyes listening to the sounds of the forest before opening them up again.
"Just one final thing."
A bow materialized in her dainty hands and she pulled the bowstring. She shut one eye and released the bowstring. An arrow manifested in the air and pierced through the air narrowly missing a couple trees. A small squeak could be heard in the distance.
"Go fetch it."
Chitian already exhausted drank a cup of water before dashing out once again. Chilong slowly fell off the chair and climbed up onto the window sill.
"Mother, what are we eating?"
The woman smiled at her child and poked his chin once again.
"Your favorite food, rabbit."
The boy's eyes lit up and waddled over to the bucket to clean the dirt off his hands. Chitian returned with a decently large rabbit held by the ear. The woman took out a large knife and skinned the rabbit within an instant. A single cut was enough to gut the animal. She placed the whole thing inside a pot and filled it half with water and dumped the herbs in it. She lightly seasoned it before she placed it on the stove. A small flame appeared on the tip of her finger as she lightly touched it against the wood making it burst to flames. Steam filled the room as Chilong watched the flames intently.
"Is it done?"
The woman shook her head patting the boy on the head.
The woman walked over to another room leaving the siblings alone in the kitchen. Had the walls been thinner, they would have heard the loud coughing in the other room. The woman returned immediately washing her hands in the bucket. The water inside turned slightly pink before the dirt on the bottom got mixed in covering it all. Chitian ran up to his mother holding her still.
"Mother are yo..."
The woman placed her pale finger to the lips of the boy. She had a subtle pained expression on her face. Her eyes shifted to the younger child who was still staring in the flames before looking to Chitian. Chitian did not say anything more before nodding.
The meat started to sizzle as the little amounts of fats started to render. The sauce was reduced to the consistency of a paste. The woman quickly took the pot off the flames before placing it on the table. She broke a piece of the leg and fed it to Chilong. Chilong willingly ate it without worry for the world. At her child's joy, she felt the same happiness. Chitian broke a piece himself and chewed thoroughly. He was the first to finish and poured the contents of the pot into a plate before washing the pot. His mother looked at him approvingly before continuing to feed her child.
Chitian walked outside and stretched a bit. He stared at the sky while practicing his punching technique. His long hair fluttered in the wind accentuating his androgynous features. A spectral image of an animal's paw overlaid his fists as he punched forwards. He kicked the air and crushed a tree nearby. The image retreated back into his body as he saw his mother coming out of the house. She waved over to tell him to come over.
"Chitian...your hair is becoming too long. Come let me cut it."
Chitian stroked his long hair with disinterest.
"Why? It doesn't get in the way of my fighting abilities."
The mother sighed before changing to a more stern look.
"Sit...don't make me say it another time."
Chitian froze up. When his mother looked at him like that, he knew it was best to comply. He sat down on the wooden bench as his mother's face relaxed, taking out a pair of scissors.
"There...there...that's a good boy."
Bits of hair fell on the floor slowly collecting into a large pile. Chitian patted his head making sure there was at least some left. To his relief, the hair was only at shoulder length and there wasn't too much of a difference. He stared in the mirror checking out his new look. His mother looked at him smugly.
"How is it? Not bad right?"
"Speaking of which, when did you break through?"
The boy frowned while looking at his mother.
"I entered the refinement realm last month remember?"
His mother gave him a hug while chuckling.
"Hahaha...It's just a joke. What are you so serious for?"
Chitian looked worryingly at his mother.
"Are you sure you are okay."
His mother stared at him while squeezing his cheeks. As much as she stretched and pulled, he didn't really mind.
The sounds of footsteps echoed throughout the forest. The mother instantly let go and materialized a bow in her hands and drew it.
"Chitian...go inside and grab your brother. Do not come outside."
A red aura was emitted from the tip of the arrow on her bow.
"Wow...aggressive...expected no less from you. Shi Yixian"
"I am not returning to the clan."
The voice in the forest laughed in a mocking manner.
"It's not really a choice. Either you marry me or die to me."
A snake head slowly appeared from the underbrush. It released a dark green aura which was connected to something deep in the forest.
"Hei Chengyi is the only man for me."
Upon these words she released her arrow.
"Your own choice then."
The arrow pierced through the head of the snake and the red aura stuck onto the green. Like a flame on a fuse, it chased down the green aura into the fores however the chain was cut after 10 meters. Shi Yixian grit her teeth before going back into the cottage.
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