Many people, even if they had become my enemies, I do not regret meeting.
Because aside from the hatred, they have brought me even fonder memories.
Yet, I cannot ask if they regretted meeting me.
I’m too afraid of hearing the answer.
“What is the creation of spirit?” Gong Hua suddenly felt that he would be asking a lot of questions that day.
Cedric heaved a long sigh and said, “Let’s start from the beginning then, do you know about ‘spirits’?”
Gong Hua shook his head.
Cas immediately butted in, “I know! Everything in Sisha is made up of spirits ‘bound’ together, right?”
Nodding his head, Cedric said, “That’s right. Theoretically, all of Sisha is made up of spirits bound together, including humans. However, when we talk about spirits, we are normally referring to other things.”
“What kind of other things?” asked Gong Hua curiously.
“It is divided into three types: nature spirits, imagery spirits, and physical spirits. Nature spirits are the spirits used by Spirit Charmers, Spiritmancers, and Spirit Binders… Ou! You don’t understand again?”
Gong Hua nodded, which made Cedric troubled. He couldn’t imagine that Gong Hua was lacking even in the most basic knowledge, just like a baby. Now, he really had no idea where to begin.
But Owen casted one look after another, hurrying Cedric to explain. Feeling pressured, he could only take a deep breath and started explaining, “Nature spirits are spirits that are not strongly bound together, and are loosely scattered in nature. They can be used to attack or protect things, and its characteristics can be altered to create special items.”
“For example, I am a Spirit Charmer. A Spirit Charmer can bind nature spirits together and use these bounded spirits to attack enemies or to be used for other purposes. Owen is a Spiritmancer. He can “unbind” the spirits, leaving the enemies fragile and easily injured, after which he uses weapons to defeat the weakened enemies.”
“Aside from that, there’s another profession for using spirits, Spirit Binders. They can differentiate extremely tiny spirits and by unbinding and binding spirits, they can use them to create special items.”
After all that was said, Gong Hua wanted to ask many questions, but didn’t know where to start. Almost every sentence Cedric said contained words that he couldn’t understand.
“Anyways, that’s it for nature spirits!”
Cedric was fully scared of Gong Hua’s unrelenting questions now, so while Gong Hua was still hesitating about opening his mouth or not to ask, he promptly went onto the next topic. “And then, there’re imagery spirits and physical spirits. These two are based on beliefs. Imagery spirits are spirits that do not have a material existence, such as wine spirits, good harvest spirits, war spirits, and the like. Physical spirits are much harder to explain… Ah, I remember now! The idol of the Leaf Tribe is a physical spirit. I heard that it was a tree?”
Cedric wasn’t too sure though, as everything about the Leaf Tribe was only hearsay .
Although Gong Hua didn’t understand what exactly ‘beliefs’, ‘imagery spirits,’ or ‘physical spirits’ were, Tree was something all too familiar to him. He immediately said, “Tree is Mother and Father.”
Cedric misunderstood and nodded, saying, “That’s right, numerous tribes see the spirits they believe in as their own ancestors. All in all, physical spirits are an unusually powerful existence. There are often tribes that believe in them. Do you understand now?”
Gong Hua shook his head left and right, making Cedric heave a long sigh at the sky and feel that he had just wasted his poor saliva in trying to explain.
“Oh, you keep your mouth shut!” A confused Owen growled. “Even I couldn’t understand your explanations, let alone, say Gong Hua? I only wanted you to talk about things like Spirit Charmers, Spiritmancers, and Spirit Binders, and see whether Gong Hua has the ability to work in these three professions! Why are you talking all about these other nonsense?”
Cedric, who had explained to until he was incredibly thirsty, roared back, “Wasn’t it because your daughter asked a bunch of questions!”
“I’ve told you, she’s not my daughter…”
Mila quickly tried to mediate, “Alright, alright. Stop it. Two grown men quarrelling in front of the kids, aren’t you two ashamed of yourselves?!”
Owen snorted, and ordered, “Won’t you just take a quick look at Gong Hua’s talent?!”
Rolling his eyes, Cedric snappily said, “Have you forgotten how you were tested back then? It’s impossible to know if one has talent or not with just one test. He’ll have to at least train his Spirit Vision for a month, and only then can he be judged about his talent.”
“Oh,” answered Owen, knowing he was in the wrong this time.
Then, Cas butted in, boasting, “I can see spirits already!”
That piqued Owen’s interest, he asked, “Oh? So what are you suited for?”
Cas pouted, softly saying, “Brother said my level of Spirit Vision isn’t that high, so it’d be difficult in being a Spirit Charmer. So I’m more suited in becoming a Spiritmancer.”
“Spiritmancers are great!” Owen greatly praised at once. “Being a Spiritmancer is the only job for men, see the weapons and armours… you like it, right? I knew you’d like it just by looking at your eyes. You’re indeed a natural born Spiritmancer! Do you want to touch this sword?”
At the sight of Owen unsheathing his sword, Cas completely forgot about the matter with his Spirit Vision, as the shining sword attracted all of his attention, and immediately moved forward to touch it.
Cedric rolled his eyes at Owen after hearing his words, but he did not forbid his little brother to touch it. He had intended for Owen to be Cas’s teacher after all, thus it was for the best now.
In fact, Owen had known Cedric’s intentions and he had thought of tutoring Cas since a long time ago. But, he didn’t intend to lose out! Letting Cas play with his sword, Owen turned around and negotiated with Cedric, “I’ll teach your Cas if you be my Gong Hua’s teacher, how about it?”
“And you’re still saying she’s not your daughter? You’re already using ‘my Gong Hua’!” Cedric snappily said, “We still don’t even know whether she can see spirits or not! Should her Spirit Vision reach the standard of a Spirit Charmer one month from now, I’ll take her as my student then. But even if her abilities are not up to it, I’ll still pretend that she’s my student so she can stay in the camp as military personnel. Is this alright? Team leader?”
“Heh heh,” Owen laughed, embarrassed to have to his true intentions being seen through. Yet he still agreed, “Deal!”
“That’s great!” Mila embraced Gong Hua at once, saying happily, “You’re now a military personnel, Gong Hua.”
Seeing Mila’s smile, Gong Hua started to smile too, and asked, “What’s ‘military personnel’?”
“Just like me! I’m a military personnel. As long as you’re a military personnel, you can stay at the camp together with Owen and me!”
To be together with Owen and Mila… Even though Gong Hua was happy hearing those words, he surprisingly asked, “You’re not going to abandon me?”
Gong Hua shocked everyone there, but Mila quickly replied, somewhat forced, “Abandon? Why are you saying that? You, you have been worrying about this?”
Gong Hua nodded and said, “Leaf abandoned me. They don’t want me anymore. After that, Tree disappeared. He didn’t want me either. Why don’t they want me, Mila?”
Pained, Mila hugged Gong Hua and said, “Don’t you care about them, Gong Hua. There isn’t anybody who doesn’t want you now. And at the very least, I want you, and I will never abandon you, Owen too.”
“Mila will never abandon me?” Gong Hua lifted his head surprised, and looked at Mila.
Mila grew even sadder after seeing Gong Hua’s expression. She didn’t know that, during all this time, Gong Hua had lived with them while thinking that he was going to be abandoned.
“That’s right. I definitely won’t abandon you, ever!”
Mila hugged Gong Hua tightly, so tightly that it hurt. Soon after, the lofty Owen opened his arms and hugged the both of them, which undoubtedly made it worse with his strength of a Spiritmancer.
Although both of them were hugged so tightly to the point of pain, Gong Hua realised that he was happy. Very, very happy.
However, Cedric, who was on the side, couldn’t help but feel confused. According to the rumors, the Leaf Tribe was gentle in nature. How could they simply discard a child of their Tribe?
Though he was confused, he didn’t think that it seemed like a good time to be suspicious after seeing the three of them like a harmonious family. He could only hide the doubts in his heart, merely thinking that he should just be more alert from now on and that it would be fine.
Cas, bored of the sword on his hand, tugged Gong Hua and said with his eyes shining, “Let’s go compete at tree climbing!”
Looking at both kids hand in hand, searching for a tree to climb, Gong Hua and his child-like actions, even Cedric wanted to clobber his own head. He scolded himself furiously for his deeply dubious heart. How could a child like her be of any danger?
Mila tried suggesting to Cedric, “Will you let Cas come and play with Gong Hua in the future? They’re both kids so they should be able to get along well. Cas is only 10 years old, surely you wouldn’t want him to have a head full of thoughts of vengeance?”
Cedric was silent for a moment, and during so, came the laughter of the two kids from a distance…
Owen flipped open the tent, but only Mila was inside.
She was busying herself with altering a few skirts to Gong Hua’s size to fit her better. If it wasn’t for the fact that there were no towns nearby, she’d really have liked to buy some flowery cloth to make new clothes for Gong Hua.
“Where’s Gong Hua?”
Mila raised her head, and after seeing that it was Owen, she went back to her sewing and replied, “Out playing with Cas. They told me that they’re going to climb trees. Even though a girl climbing trees is really not that appropriate… but it’s fine as long as they’re happy.”
“Why is it that Cas has become so attached to Gong Hua? That was different from my original plans.” mumbled Owen, scratching his head.
“What plans?” interrogated Mila immediately, putting down the work in her hands. Her ears are sharp when things are connected to Gong Hua.
As Owen’s plans are nothing shameful for him, he honestly replied, “I was thinking of introducing Gong Hua to Cedric. Who knew Cas would get so latched onto Gong Hua instead.”
“You wanted to bring Cedric and Gong Hua together?” Mila was surprised at first, but subsequently acknowledged Owen’s idea.
Cedric may be older than Gong Hua by around 10 years, but he is still a Spirit Charmer after all. The Spirit Charmer profession has even less people than Spiritmancers, but since it has so many broad uses, they are in great demand. In their team of thirty plus people, there were eight Spiritmancers but only one Spirit Charmer. That’s why Cedric has a higher pay even though Owen is the team leader.
“However, Gong Hua isn’t human. Is that going to be all right?” Mila suddenly remembered a problem, that being Gong Hua’s body is different from a normal human’s.
“I’ve asked around, there should be no problem! The Leaf Tribe’s people are similar to humans. Although there may be some difficulties in giving birth, Cedric has said before that he only wants to concentrate on raising his younger brother. Plus, he hates kids.” Owen immediately responded..
Even though Mila was still puzzled, she stopped pressing him on the matter but started lecturing instead.
“Then isn’t it better that Cas likes Gong Hua? He doesn’t care much about girls. As long as his brother likes her and you work hard on persuading Cedric that Cas needs a full family before you get Cas to start asking for a mum, surely Cedric will waver?”
“Oh! That could work!” Owen nodded his head and thoughtfully said, “Maybe we could have the two weddings done together, it’d save trouble.”
Two weddings? Mila froze for a moment, and realized Owen’s meaning behind his words… Was he proposing to her?
Owen said with a negotiating tone, “I’ve been thinking about it. I have decided on waiting until this matter has been solved before making a deal with Cedric for the two families to find a town and settle in together!”
“How can it be that simple?” Mila hung her head low, and softly said, “We… you do not have a house, where would we live?”
Owen then hurriedly voiced his plans, “My distant cousin, West, has a plot of land under his name. We can live in the city where that plot is, and he’ll set me and Cedric as protectorate soldiers, the lord’s bodyguards, or something similar. It’s better than running around all over the place like this. Cas is only ten years old, and we don’t have anyone else to rely on. In the end, it’s no good always staying in the army.”
After he finished, Owen nervously looked at Mila. The latter, however, kept her head low shyly and only murmured a “Mm” after a long while.
Owen suddenly clasped Mila in an embrace. She made a short cry out of surprise while he maniacally yelled, “Great! Great!” He then lifted her off the ground and twirled her around.
Mila, her face red from embarrassment, merely scolded, “Idiot! Quickly put me down!” to cover up her shyness.
Owen laughed out loud instead, shouting with all his might, “Never, I’m never letting you down!”
“What are Owen and Mila doing?”
“Things kids shouldn’t be asking about.”
Tripped by his right foot, Owen nearly fell flat on the floor as he stumbled a few steps before finally setting Mila safely on the ground. He turned his gaze to the tent’s opening where Gong Hua and Cas stood, hand in hand, dirty from all their playing.
Then, Gong Hua suddenly hugged Cas and lifted him high, spinning him in circles just like what Owen and Mila did while the startled latter pair shouted, “What are you doing?!”
Gong Hua stopped his spinning but continued holding Cas off the ground, only turning his head to look at Owen and Mila, saying, “I’m doing what Owen and Mila did.”
Hearing that, Mila lowered her head to a point where it couldn’t be lowered anymore. Even though Owen had been bold about it, he suddenly became embarrassed. He rubbed his head idiotically, pretending that nothing had happened.
Cas shouted, “Idiot! Sister Mila is a girl, but I’m not a girl! I don’t want to be spun around! Put me down!”
Setting Cas down, Gong Hua looked at him and said, “Then how about you spin me around?”
“I can’t lift you…” Glancing at Owen and Mila, he said precociously, “Let’s go, let’s go! Big Brother’s telling me to train my Spirit Vision. Come train with me! We shouldn’t bother them.”
Mila hurriedly lifted her head and stuttered, “You two, don’t-don’t go too far!”
Case let out a small “eek!” and purposely asked, “But then we’ll be back too soon, you know? Is that alright?”
Mila was stunned for a second, then turned away with her face bright red. She then screamed at Cas, “You little pervert! What are you spouting!”
“I’m not a little pervert! Teacher Owen is the one that’s a big pervert!”
Cas made a face, grabbed hold of Gong Hua, and ran. Behind them, they could hear Owen grumbling and swearing.
“Let’s go!” Pulling on Gong Hua, Cas said while he walked, “You like water, right? We’ll go fetch a bucket of water, and I’ll teach you how to see water spirits.”
“Owen says to go back.” Although they hadn’t run very far, Gong Hua could still hear Owen’s shouts.
Completely indifferent, Cas voiced, ”Ignore him! He doesn’t really want us to go back. Teacher Owen still has to do lovey-dovey with Sister Mila!”
“What’s doing the lovey-dovey?”
“Lovey-dovey is when a guy and a girl do embarrassing things together.”
“What is embarrassing?”
In the endless chain of questions and answers, the two finished fetching water. Lifting the bucket together, they walked to the tree they were just climbing.
Cas was so excited to be a teacher for the first time. As soon as they set the bucket down, he quickly told Gong Hua, “Hurry. Look at the water.”
Hearing this, Gong Hua kneeled down and peered at the water.
“Okay. This is what Big Brother said. You have to keep staring at the water with your heart completely still, listening to nothing, and feeling nothing. Pretend you only have eyes and place all your senses towards your vision! Like this, try it!”
Cas closed his mouth after he finished and also kneeled next to the bucket while watching Gong Hua. But children are children, so he didn’t have much patience. Not more than a few seconds later, he impatiently asked, “How is it? Do you see them?”
Puzzled, Gong Hua said, “I can see water.”
“That’s not it! Don’t you see the little bits in the water?”
“Yes.” Gong Hua nodded.
“No? Don’t worry, that’s normal! Brother said that only after a month of training can you vaguely see them. There are a lot of people who aren’t gifted and thus cannot see spirits their entire lives… What did you just say?”
Stunned, Cas abruptly stopped mid-sentence and stared at Gong Hua with disbelief as his brain finally registered Gong Hua’s words.
“I see them.” repeated Gong Hua, and adding on, “There are little bits everywhere in the water.”
Cas’ eyes widened to the size of a beast’s, and immediately shouted, “How can you see everything?! Big Brother told me that seeing half of them warrants as a pass on the advanced Spirit Vision exam! It’s extremely hard, you know! There are loads of powerful Spirit Charmers who only have intermediate Spirit Vision!”
Gong Hua still said, “I can see everything.”
Cas gaped at Gong Hua in disbelief, but after spending these few days with her, he already knew Gong Hua’s personality. She wouldn’t lie. He couldn’t help but say in admiration, “That’s incredible. Your Spirit Vision is so powerful! Could it be because you are…”
He looked at his surroundings and muttered, “In the Leaf Tribe, is everyone’s Spirit Vision this good?”
“I don’t know,” Gong Hua honestly replied.
Cas fell backwards, lying on the ground with his hands and feet all sprawled out. He grumbled, “Then you don’t need to train at all! You’re even better than my brother. My brother’s Spirit Vision still hasn’t passed the intermediate exam! He said Spirit Charmers who can pass the intermediate test before they’re thirty are already really amazing.”
Gong Hua looked at him and also laid down, copying him. Laying there, he saw the blue sky and the white clouds. The green grass underneath was still a little damp. He felt very comfortable.
After laying down for a while, Cas suddenly pointed to the sky and said, “Look at that cloud, doesn’t it look like a pack of meat buns?”
“It does! Otherwise, what do you think it looks like?”
Thinking, Gong Hua said, “Tree leaves.”
“… Fine, I guess it really does look more like tree leaves.”
“That cloud,” Gong Hua indicated to a cloud far away, saying, “looks like you.”
“Impossible… It really does look like me!”
Cas was awed to find a cloud that resembled his own hair. His hair was never very cooperative, always sticking up in every direction in big bunches. Even if Mila specially combed it for him, his hair would go back to how it was after running or jumping around a little. Eventually, even Mila gave up on battling with his hair.
Cas cheerfully laughed and said, “So that cloud is mine! It’s Cas’ cloud!”
“Ha ha, Cas’ cloud,” laughed Gong Hua.
After giggling for a while, they continued to lie atop the grass. Suddenly, Cas recalled his brother’s instructions to ask Gong Hua about her being abandoned… He didn’t really want to ask, but he didn’t want to disappoint his brother either. Hence, with a bit of worry, he asked, “Gong Hua, how did your dad and mom abandon you?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know anything. That’s so weird!” Cas thought for a moment and continued, discouraged, “Actually, it’s not all that strange. I don’t know why my dad and mom were murdered either, as well as my sister and her husband… My sister’s baby’s really cute, you know! I wanted to wait a little and have him call me Big Brother! But my brother-in-law keeps telling me the baby’s supposed to call me uncle.”
Cas turned around, complaining, “But uncle sounds so strange. Don’t you agree that ‘brother’ sounds better?”
Gong Hua shook his head. He thought it was the same either way.
“But now, the baby is gone… Daddy, mommy, sister and brother-in-law, the neighbourhood big brother who gives me candy, the loud-mouthed granny from across the street… everybody’s gone. I only have Big Brother left.”
With that said, Cas covered his eyes with the back of his hands as though the sun rays were hurting his eyes. This made Gong Hua confused. They were under a tree’s shade and weren’t exposed to the sun.
“Big Brother’s turned really weird now too. In the past, he’d bring me toys every time he came home. Now, he only tells me to practice my Spirit Vision, train my body, practice the sword, telling me to hurry and grow up, so that we can find the murderer together, kill him, and get our revenge…”
Having only a hazy notion of what Cas meant, Gong Hua wasn’t sure if he should comfort him. Actually, he didn’t understand what comforting someone meant, so he listened quietly to Cas’ complaints. He also wondered why Cas’ voice sounded different from before.
Suddenly, Cas turned around and hugged Gong Hua, digging his face into Gong Hua’s chest with his shoulders trembling.
Gong Hua supported his body with one arm, looking down at the top of Cas’ head. Confused, he asked, “Cas, what’re you doing?”
“Stupid… I’m crying!”
Cas abruptly looked up, screaming, “You’re impossible! Look at me. I’m crying!”
Gong Hua carefully observed Cas, whose eyes were red and overflowing with tears.
Wiping a tear with his finger, Gong Gua tasted it and exclaimed, “Salty water!”
“… You’re really strange!” Cas broke into a smile, “Who would go and taste the tears!”
“Why is it flowing with salty water?”
Cas wiped his tears and snappily said, “It’s called crying! Not salty water but tears! Because I’m hurt, that’s why I cry!”
“Hurt?” Gong Hua asked with concern, “Are you injured?”
“…” Cas mumbled weakly, “Feeling hurt doesn’t mean I’m actually injured! It’s saying that my heart feels really horrible, like… like my chest has been stuffed with boulders, or like it’s been punched and stabbed. Do you get it?”
Even though Cas tried to explain it, Gong Hua still shook his head.
Seeing this, Cas turned a little angry, “How can you not understand what it means to feel hurt? Could it be that when your parents died, you didn’t feel sad?”
Thinking about it, Gong Hua shook his head again, saying, “There wasn’t sadness, but pain. My whole body was in a lot of pain.”
“That’s sadness!” Cas said, expectantly.
He thought Gong Hua’s pain was the same as feeling sad. In reality, when a tree dies, the flowers experience the same thing. It was physical pain, not the type of hurt Cas was thinking of.
Not understanding it completely, Gong Hua returned to the original question, “Why do you feel hurt?”
“Because everyone died, and Big Brother changed too… But Big Brother’s right!” At this point, Cas’ voice suddenly became louder, “Everyone dying, Big Brother changing… it’s all because of that murderer! I’ll definitely learn how to use the sword well from Teacher Owen and become a powerful Spiritmancer. Then my brother and I will take our revenge, and kill the culprit!”
Gong hua suddenly asked promptly, “Do you want to kill me, Cas?”
Stunned, Cas turned and looked at Gong Hua, laughing, “What are you talking about, Gong Hua? I’m not going to kill you. I’m only going to kill the enemy!”
“What is an enemy?”
“An enemy is…”
Cas became stuck for words. Although he had matured a little after the tragedy, no matter what, he was still only ten years old. The thoughts of hatred were even things superimposed on him by his brother Cedric while he, himself, did not truly understand the meaning of hatred. For these past few days, Cas could even play around with Gong Hua.
Since he knew little about his own hatred, how should he make Gong Hua understand the meaning of hatred?
Cas made an effort to remember the words his brother used, and then contracted them into easily understood words, “That is, that is, if someone killed the people you love, then he’s your enemy, and you’ll have to take revenge!”
“Why do you have to take revenge?”
Once Gong Hua asked, he patiently waited for an answer. But this time, Cas remained silent for a long long time before uttering in a small voice, with his head down, “Actually, I don’t really know what it means to take revenge.
Even if we killed the murderer, no one’s going to live again… But Big Brother said we have to make the culprit pay an eye for an eye. So I guess that means we must take revenge?”
“Are you going to continue crying?”
Seeing Cas’ eyes flickering with light reflected from the water in his eyes, Gong Hua said understandingly, “You can hold onto me and cry. Mila told me not to let boys touch me, but…” He partially slanted his head to think, “But you’re Cas, so it’s alright.”
Cas looked up, no longer crying, but rather, smiled, “Even though you’re really dumb and don’t know anything, I still really really like you… Okay! I’ve decided.”
Gong Hua curiously asked, “Decided what? Have you decided that you want to climb trees now?”
“That’s not it!” Cas yelled and without warning, kissed Gong Hua’s forehead with his mouth. He then loudly swore, “I’ve already kissed you! So when I grow up, you have to marry me!”
“What is “marry me”?”
“It’s marriage! Like Teacher Owen and Mila sister spinning around and around and be together forever!”
Cas stretched his hands to hug Gong Hua, but of course he couldn’t lift the other for a spin. Although a little discouraged, his morale improved.
“You have to wait for me, Gong Hua! Wait until I’ve grown up a bit more and have become an awesome Spiritmancer. I’ll be able to spin you around in the air. I’ll be able to wed you! Aiyo, you probably don’t understand what ‘to wed’ means. It’s the same as marriage!”
Half understanding, Gong Hua asked,”So we’ll be together forever?”
“Yes!” Cas passionately nodded his head, “You have to wait for me to grow up! Okay?”
Seeing Cas’ serious expression, Gong Hua thought for a little. There didn’t seem to be a reason he couldn’t wait, so he nodded.
“Okay, I’ll wait for you to grow up.”
As Mila measured Gong Hua’s size to alter clothes for her, she asked, “What are you doing today?”
Thinking, Gong Hua replied, “Wait for Cas to finish training his Spirit Vision and come play with me.”
Basically, his everyday life now was mostly just helping Mila with her work and waiting for Cas to come play with him.
“You’re getting along so well with Cas? Oh well, there’s only Cas around here to play with you after all.” Laughing, Mila asked, “Gong Hua, then do you like Cedric?”
Shaking his head, “I like Owen…”
Thump, went Mila’s heart.
“I like Mila, and I like Cas…”
That said, Mila was amused and a little worried, she asked, “So you don’t like Cedric?”
Gong Hua shook his head, saying, “Don’t like Cedric.”
“I thought so.” Mila heaved a sigh.
She had known from Owen that the Cedric now was full of thoughts on finding the culprit who destroyed the town and exacting revenge on the person. He even called upon Cas to teach Spirit Vision to Gong Hua instead. How could Gong Hua like him?
A thing such as feelings cannot be rushed! Trying to beat around the bush, Mila said, “But, if you like Cedric and marry him, you’ll be able to live with Cas.”
Still shaking his head, Gong Hua said, “Cas wants me to wait for him to grow up and marry him, and then be together forever.”
Shocked, Mila exclaimed, “Cas said that?! He’s still so young…!”
As she said that, she suddenly remembered that Cas was already ten years old. Gong Hua looked about fifteen. The age difference between the two of them was much smaller than Gong Hua and Cedric’s.
Mila supported her forehead with her palm, feeling a bit helpless about this development, but she didn’t plan to stop it. Owen’s plan was very nice, but since Gong Hua and Cas liked each other, it’d be a huge mistake to marry her off to Cedric. That might even turn the brothers against each other!
We can’t let that happen! I have to talk to Owen about this. Mila decided.
“Gong Hua, I’m going to look for Owen, do you want to come along?”
Gong Hua took the initiative by grabbing Mila’s hand and nodded.
Mila grasped onto her hand. The two weren’t in a hurry, so they walked very slowly. Slow enough that it could have been considered strolling.
They were some distance from the camps for regular military personnel to the soldier’s field site. The soldier’s camp was situated to the side of the obliterated village for convenience purposes. The other army personnel should have been next to the village to improve efficiency, but they decided to live a bit further and go through a bit of trouble rather than live near the village.
As the two neared the soldier’s campsite, they heard sounds of quarreling from far away.
“You’re actually ordering us to leave? Everybody in the town died but there are no leads on the murderer. In this kind of situation, you’re still ordering us to leave?”
“Cedric, listen to me…”
“I don’t want to listen to you! My whole family died here. I’m not leaving without finding the murderer!”
Mila subconsciously tightened her grip on Gong Hua’s hand. She picked up the pace and soon saw the scene between Cedric and Owen.
Owen had knitted his brows, but Cedric was so angry that his face became distorted. Cas stood on the side, his expression looking as though he was about to cry.
The other soldiers stood on the side lines, unsure of what to do. To them, Owen was their leader, but Cedric was also the team’s important Spirit Charmer. Both of those figures weren’t people they could mess with.
Mila walked up. She knew this wasn’t something she should set her foot in, so she only walked in to lead Cas away from the scene.
Gong Hua looked at Cas and found his eyes red again. He let go of Mila’s hand and embraced Cas, even pushing Cas’ head towards his chest.
Almost immediately, Cas embraced Gong Hua back and began to cry. Because his brother was still there, so he didn’t dare cry loudly. He tried very hard to suppress it, changing sobs into small weeps.
Mila was surprised to see Gong Hua’s actions. She didn’t think Gong Hua, who didn’t understand the things of this world, to know how to act this way. It seemed that Cas had truly taught Gong Hua many things these past days.
Thinking about this, she was even more determined to prevent Gong Hua from marrying Cedric.
Cedric furiously growled, “Let me tell you, Owen. Even if I die, I will not…”
Suddenly, Owen grabbed Cedric’s collar and pulled him to his face, bellowing, “You listen to me, bastard! The borders of Zhang Xia have been breached and the Danyas have swept into Xi Zong! They are currently pillaging our homeland!”
Stunned by the news, Cedric’s face paled into a milky white and exclaimed, “What? Impossible! This couldn’t be real…”
Owen grabbed a piece of paper from his pocket and threw it at Cedric, roaring, “This is an emergency order issued from Qifeng Cheng, calling all troops to return to the main sector immediately!”
Cedric trembled as he scanned the paper. He was right!
Owen looked at the surrounding soldiers, all of their faces of panic and worry. He couldn’t help but sigh. He had originally planned to take the soldiers back to the main division without explaining anything, so they wouldn’t have to worry. But he didn’t know that Cedric would erupt as soon as he made the orders.
At this mess, Owen took an irritated tone, “We have to rush back tomorrow morning. If we’re late, then we’ll probably have no troops to return to!”
Cedric had nothing to say and silently nodded his head.
Only after things seemed to have calmed down a bit did Mila walk up, lightly tugging on Owen’s arm. Owen turned to her, breaking a pained smile, “Mila. It seems that our plan will have to be postponed.”
“Don’t worry.” Mila shook her head, “If Zhanyan were to be infiltrated by the Danyas, where would we live? Only, we need to find a safe village along the way, and let someone take care of Cas and Gong Hua. They can’t follow us into battle.”
Listening to Mila talking about his little brother, Cedric remembered Cas. He quickly looked everywhere in search for him, but he saw the soldiers’ anxious expressions before finding Cas in Gong Hua’s arms, crying.
Now, Cedric truly understood what a huge trouble he had caused. He lowered his head, saying in regret, “I’m sorry, I was too rash.”
“Don’t worry about it. “ Owen patted his shoulders.
Mila opened her mouth, “Cedric, why don’t we let Cas go with Gong Hua and I tonight? You probably wouldn’t be able to take care of him after this.”
As soon as she said that, Cas ran back to his brother, gripping tightly on his brother’s hand. No matter how much Cedric would reprimand him, he refused to let go.
Seeing this, Mila held Gong Hua’s hand and walked to Cas, warmly saying, “Cas, we have to put you two in a village.
But Gong Hua, she doesn’t know anything and I’m scared the villagers won’t understand her situation, so I want to let you take care of her. Can you promise me, that no matter what happens, you’ll stay by her side?”
Initially, Cas planned on holding onto his brother’s hand no matter what, but once he thought of Gong Hua, he hesitated.
Although he knew Mila was just using this as an excuse to have him obediently stay in a village and not have to go into battle with Cedric, it was still the truth. There were many things Gong Hua still didn’t understand. They couldn’t just leave her alone!
But, Cas didn’t want to leave his Big Brother. His brother was the only relative he had left, and the battlefield was such a dangerous place…
Gong Hua looked at Owen and Mila, inquiring, “I cannot follow you?”
Mila gently answered, “That’s right, Gong Hua. You can’t follow us to the battlefield. It’s very dangerous.”
Gong Hua remained quiet for a long time before saying, “Is Owen and Mila abandoning me too? Didn’t Mila say she wouldn’t abandon me? But now you are. I don’t understand.”
“I’m not saying that I’m abandoning you!” exclaimed Mila.
Gong Hua remained silent, thinking. The Leaves didn’t said they were abandoning him either, but they left and refused to bring him along with them.
He looked at Mila, his chest feeling strange, as though, as though…
To be hurt is like having your chest stuffed with boulders, or like it’s been punched and stabbed.
…Why do I cry? Because I feel sad, that’s why I cry!
What is sadness? Why do you cry when you’re sad? What does the salty water have to do with sadness?
Gong Hua still couldn’t understand. He only wondered why his eyes were hot, and then something fell, running down his face… He touched his face with his hands and licked his finger.
It’s a little salty, a little bitter… a horrible-tasting water. It tasted even worse than the water in the cage he was trapped in.
Seeing Gong Hua cry, Mila felt sad and said, anxiously, “Listen to me, Gong Hua. We’re not abandoning you. We’re only putting you in a village for the time being! Once the battle ends, we’ll go find you right away, okay?”
Yet, Gong Hua hung his head, touching the tears on his own face, tasting them. He said nothing.
Mila was still talking, but Gong Hua stopped paying attention. It was alright even if he didn’t listen to her explain, he still believed that she was abandoning him. Mila had said before that she wouldn’t abandon him, but now she is… What ever she says is just a lie anyways, so why should he listen?
But all of a sudden, Gong Hua’s hands were roughly clutched by someone, and he couldn’t get out of it either.
Startled, Gong Hua lifted his head to find Cas grasping his hands.
Very seriously, Cas said, “Gong Hua, we’ll wait together! My brother only has me left, so he definitely wouldn’t abandon me! So, Brother Owen and Sister Mila will definitely come get you. They wouldn’t abandon you.”
A little perplexed, Gong Hua asked, “Cas won’t abandon me?”
Cas nodded his head with might, voicing loudly, “Un! I’ll never leave you, and no one here is abandoning you! Brother Owen and Sister Mila are only leaving for a little while. They’d be by your side afterwards anyways. When we go play, they aren’t there either! Brother Owen has to work every day and he leaves you every day, but he still comes back to see you in the end, doesn’t he?”
“Comes back…” Gong Hua was silent for a second, then turned to Owen and Mila asking, “You’ll come back?”
Mila instantly embraced Gong Hua, nodding powerfully, “Yes! No matter what, we’ll come back to find you!”
Now, even Owen hollered, “Really, why do you have such little faith in me? Let me tell you, even if I have to crawl, I’ll crawl back to you!”
Not understanding, Gong Hua asked, “What is faith?”
Cas immediately yelled, “Having faith is to believe that we won’t abandon you!”
“Brat, good job!” Owen praised.
To believe that he wouldn’t be abandoned… Gong Hua looked at Owen, Mila, and Cas. When the three of them smiled at him at the same time, he suddenly understood what “faith” meant.