OMF V1C34 You Still Believe That?

While Hong Bao and Leng Jin Yu were bantering in the nine heavens and bickering over the cookies, down in the mortal world, Madam Zhong still feared for her and her son’s lives.
She pressed her son against her chest and ran as fast as she could. Unfortunately, that wasn’t very fast. Her breath already came in short puffs, her legs and feet hurt, but she still hurried forward. Soon, she stumbled over a rock. She tried to catch her balance, but the small stones on the uneven ground slid away under her feet. She fell and turned to the side, so as to not hurt Jing Yi. The hard ground grazed her skin and Madam Zhong took a painful breath, repressing a moan.
We’re not gonna make it. She looked up at the top of the hill, that wasn’t that far away. They hadn’t covered a long distance. Like that, the bandit would soon get them.
Madam Zhong sat up and grabbed her son, holding him by the shoulders. She looked into his eyes. „Jing’er, listen to me now. That man just now wants to hurt us. You father is holding him back, but we have to do something, too. Let’s confuse him, alright? If we split up, he won’t know, which of us he should follow.“
Jing Yi shook his head. „No! No, I don’t want to!“ Jing Yi still remembered the sharp glint of the blade. For the first time in his life, he was afraid. If he let his mother go alone, maybe that bad man would hurt her, too?
Madam Zhong understood her son and patted his head. „I’m sorry, Jing’er, but there is no other choice. We have to split up. There, between the trees, go there. He won’t see you that way.“
„Why don’t you come with me?“ Jing Yi’s doe eyes shimmered with tears.
Madam Zhong gulped, but pushed him toward the trees anyway. „Just go. Mommy will run down the hill further. We’ll meet, when the bad man is gone. Go on, be a good boy.“
Jing Yi still hesitated.
„You don’t want mommy to scold you, do you?“
Jing Yi shook his head. He finally turned around and disappeared between the trees. Madam Zhong sighed relieved. At least her son would be save. Even if she and her husband couldn’t remain by his side, he’d live.
She turned around and continued running down the path. She stumbled over the stones, slipped and slid further down, rolling and tumbling down the hill. But she didn’t care. Every zhang she covered, was another moment more for her son to escape. The bandit wouldn’t be able to find him in such a huge forest.
With that thought, she continued on, not caring, what happened to her. Even if every last bone in her body broke, it was worth it, as long as her son lived.
At the top of the hill, Mister Zhong had turned around and equally hurried down the mountain. He found her traces on the path and followed it, thankful, that she hadn’t tried fleeing off the beaten track. Else, he might never have found her and his son ever again.
Like that half an hour passed. Finally, he saw his wife before him. „Chun’er!“
His wife turned, lost her footing and fell. This time, Madam Zhong didn’t get up. Her whole body shivered. That voice just now, that figure running behind her … That was her husband! He was alive, he was truly alive! She clasped her hands over her face and cried.
Mister Zhong ran faster. He caught up to his wife and fell to his knees just like her. Likewise crying, he took her into his arms and buried his face in her hair. The couple sat there, just holding each other.
Finally, Madam Zhong sat up, wiping the tears from her face. „We … We have to … go“, she got out between sobs. „Jing Yi …“
Mister Zhong paled. Right. His son wasn’t there! Being relieved, that his wife was alright, he hadn’t even noticed. „Where is he? Why isn’t he with you?“ He certainly could lose his son, but this was his wife, they were talking about. How could something like that happen?
„I was afraid, you wouldn’t be able to defeat him, so I send Jing Yi into the forest by himself. I thought, he … he’d have a better chance by himself. If that bandit came after someone, it would be me. I just wanted our son to live.“ She teared up again.
Mister Zhong hugged her again, but his body was tensed. How would they find their son in this forest? His wife had done so, because she reckoned, that the bandits wouldn’t be able to. But what about them? They knew even less about this forest than the bandits!
„That … certainly, nothing will happen to him. Doesn’t he still have that bracelet? If he doesn’t know, what to do, he’d call that daoist.“
„You’re right.“ Madam Zhong nodded and wiped her tears again. „Let’s go back to where I sent him off. If that cultivator comes, he’d certainly bring him back there.“
Mister Zhong nodded. He took his wife’s hand and together, they started going up the hill again. Madam Zhong looked at her husband, still a little doubtful, that everything had turned out well until now. „That bandit … How did you …?“
„I didn’t.“ Mister Zhong scratched his head. He was a little embarrassed. If not for that man coming to his rescue, he would be dead by now and his wife might not have managed to escape the bandit. „I was just lucky. A daoist immortal came by and saved me.“
„A daoist immortal?“ Madam Zhong looked up to the top of the hill. „That should be the one from our village. Most likely Jing Yi called him.“
Mister Zhong shook his head. „Didn’t you say, he was old? Jing Yi also calls him grandfather. But that man looked really young. Even younger than me.“ Seven years had already passed since Zhong Jing Yi’s birth. His father had already exceeded thirty years of age. Qiu Ling on the other hand still looked to be in his twenties.
Madam Zhong just smiled. „That man … when I first saw him, he looked just like that. He probably figured, that it was safer to appear as an older man, to avoid needless gossip. He probably knew of the rumors concerning Jing’er’s birth, that’s why he appeared as an slightly older man the next time, when Qiguan Cheng Da visited.“
„Ha?“ Mister Zhong stopped. „Didn’t he look like that in the first place? Mister Pi said, Madam Shen had looked wrongly.“
„Looked wrongly.“ Madam Zhong slapped his shoulder. „You still believe that braggart?“
„It seemed to be true. At least, you didn’t say anything.“
„Why would I say anything? Wasn’t it good for Jing Yi that way? If people had seen how that man really looked, wouldn’t they still have seen an evil heretic practitioner in him?“
Mister Zhong thought back to the man he had seen on the hill. The man had given him a majestic feeling. He definitely had to be a practitioner. If he was a heretic practitioner … „The man up there wore black robes. Chun’er, are you sure, that he’s really not a heretic practitioner? Maybe Madam Shen was ri—“
Madam Zhong whacked his head. „You dare to say that! He saved the lives of your wife and child and now even your own life! Even if he was a heretic practitioner, you should still kneel down and swear to serve him until your dying day!“
„Oh, yes … yes, of course. I should.“ Mister Zhong rubbed his head and turned around again.
The two wanted to climb further, but just then, the clip-clop of hooves approached them. Mister and Madam Zhong shared a glances. From the top of the hill, several men on horses made their way down toward them.

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