OMF V1C38 A Short-Lived Success

They stayed at the pond for a few hours, so the Zhongs could recover from all the excitement and danger. Qiu Ling obviously showered all his attention onto Jing Yi. After his mother had adjusted her lie about animals a bit, Jing Yi was still cautious, but he approached the horses, as long as Qiu Ling stood beside him, and even patted them.
Qiu Ling smiled and motioned for him to wait a moment. He vanished, reappearing a blink later with a rabbit in hand. He extended it toward Jing Yi.
„What is that?“ Jing Yi hesitatingly took a step toward him and reached out. He patted the rabbits head, not sure, what exactly he was seeing there.
Because of his mothers warning, he had only ever dared to go into the forest to call Qiu Ling and talk to him. He was sure, as long as his grandfather was there with him, nothing would happen to him. Because of this same reason, he had never actually seen any animals. It spoke volumes about his trust in Qiu Ling, that he dared to approach the rabbit with him around.
Jing Yi patted the fur, his eyes growing wide. The animal in front of him didn’t seem the least bit dangerous. Instead, it was soft and warm. Even more so than the tall horse.
„Just take it.“ Qiu Ling stuffed the rabbit into Jing Yi’s arms and smiled satisfied. Mn, Jing He has always loved animals and they always loved him. It’s a pity, that he needed so long to figure it out down here int he human realm. But I’ll help you to make up for it.
„Daoist master.“ Madam Zhong approached him and smiled, seeing her son willing to hold an animal. „My husband seems better already. We should be on our way again.“
Qiu Ling nodded. „I’ll accompany you. Who knows, if those six were the only bandits around here?“
„Thank you, Daoist master.“
Qiu Ling smiled and waved. There was really no need for her, to thank him. Of course, he would treat his love’s mortal family good. „Let us go. The sooner we leave the forest the better.“ He once again helped the Zhongs with the horses and they let them trot along the path to the other side of the forest.
Now free of the worry of happening upon bandits again, Mister and Madam Zhong slowly relaxed. Zhong Jing Yi was still engrossed in patting the rabbit, Qiu Ling had caught him. From a child, that got frightened just from mentioning animals, to one, that could quietly sit there and spent its time with one, the difference was really too great.
Qiu Ling smiled, extended his hand and patted Jing Yi’s head. The boy looked up and smiled at him. „Thank you, grandfather!“
„What for?“
„For saving mommy and father and bringing us out of the forest!“
„Mn. That’s —“
Jing Yi tensed and then sat petrified. Whatever Qiu Ling had wanted to say, it was forgotten in an instant.
„What’s wrong? What happened?“ Qiu Ling grew frantic. He looked around, but couldn’t find anything. No bandits charging at them, no terrifying wild animal breaking through the underbrush ready to assault them … Nothing.
Madam Zhong started laughing. Qiu Ling halted and looked at her incredulously. He wanted to say something, but the woman had already patted Jing Yi’s head. „Look at you. You’ve even startled the daoist master with how you’re acting. Haven’t you just gotten yourself a little dirty?“ She grabbed the rabbit and revealed some dirty patches on Jing Yi’s clothes. He had carried that rabbit around for so long, that it couldn’t refrain from doing his business any longer.
Qiu Ling turned around and hurriedly masked his laughter with a coughing fit. My love, you’re really unlucky! It’s your first day getting to know animals and something like that happens?
Qiu Ling reined his horse in and helped Madam Zhong with hers. The boy still sat there with his hands half raised and a frozen expression on his face. Madam Zhong climbed out of the saddle, while Qiu Ling had a look through the things in his spatial ring again.
There it is! He took out a white robe. It was several sizes too big for Jing Yi, but it would have to suffice for now.
„Don’t worry, little boy. I have exactly the thing you need now. Look here!“ He showed him the robe. The fabric seemed to shimmer in the faint light, that filtered through the foliage. „Do you know, what this is?“
Neither did Jing Yi answer, nor did he look. He was still entirely concentrated on the stains on his own robe, his face pale. Qiu Ling threw a glance at Madam Zhong, asking for her help. The woman sighed and set the rabbit down at the edge of the path. The animal hopped away, as soon as she let go.
Madam Zhong looked after it, a little regretful. Her son had finally gotten over the lies she told him back then and started accepting animals and now something like that had happened. She felt worse than before. She never should have told him something like that!
She came back to the horse and lifted her son out of the saddle. Qiu Ling passed her the robe.
„It’s a little big, but it should do for now. It’s made of heav—“ He coughed again. „Heavy. Heavy silk. It can’t get dirty. He’ll like that.“
Madam Zhong returned his gaze. Heavy silk? She had never heard of something like that and it hadn’t seem, like he had wanted to say that at first. Could it be … She thought of another name, he might have wanted to utter, but she didn’t dare dwell on it. She only nodded and brought Jing Yi to a rock at the side of the path to help him change out of the dirty clothes.
The white robe was more than just a little too big. The sleeves were long enough to be folded in half to fit, while the lower part seemed to be a train, dragging over the ground behind him with every step.
Qiu Ling sighed. This, too, had been prepared for Jing He. He certainly would have looked marvelous in such a robe. The white fabric would hug his slender body tightly, highlighting his dark eyes and hair and emphasizing his tender skin. But alas, he needed to calm down Jing Yi now and this robe was probably the only thing, that could help with this.
„How is it? It doesn’t get dirty, right?“
Jing Yi blinked his large doe eyes. He turned around and looked at the fabric, that had slipped down again and was touching the ground. He frantically pulled it up, only to notice, that it indeed hadn’t gotten dirty. He turned toward Qiu Ling again, his face now lit up with a splendid smile.
„So it’s alright now? Then come on. We’d better leave the forest soon or else, we’ll be stuck here for way too long.“
„Mn!“ The boy nodded happily and let his mother lift him into the saddle again. He didn’t mind the horse, but he’d probably not even look at a rabbit again. Well, at least, he had made a little progress.

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