OMF V1C38 Didn’t Think of It

Mister Zhong gulped. He shook his wife’s shoulder and sat up, forcing himself to smile at the man while he was shivering inside. Madam Zhong opened her eyes. It was still dark. The sun had just started to rise, painting only a sliver of the horizon in a lighter gray. She wanted to ask what had happened for her husband to already wake her up when she saw the man.
A bandit!
They both didn’t think that he was just a wanderer who had started his journey for the day early. He didn’t look that part at all. He wore mismatched clothing that seemed to be spoils of his robberies and more than one weapon. An even more obvious sign was his smug expression. He still sneered and his eyes glinted calculatingly as if he was already thinking of how he could use this prey of his in a way that benefited him the most.
Madam Zhong grabbed Jing Yi and pulled him into her embrace, sliding closer to her husband. Mister Zhong stood up, every bit of sleepiness gone. Unfortunately, his nervousness wouldn’t leave him like that.
“Good morning, sir, I wonder how we may help you?”
The bandit grinned even wider, showing his teeth. “Hand me all your valuables.”
Mister Zhong didn’t even think of refusing. He fumbled around for the few copper coins the family had. Slowly, he made his way over to the bandit and extended his hand.
The man grabbed the coins and scoffed. “The rest?”
Mister Zhong gave a jerk. “That … That is all. We don’t have anything else.” He backed up a step, positioning himself between the bandit and his family. If worst came to worst, his wife could try to flee with their son while he stalled him. He didn’t have hope for anything more.
The bandit examined Mister Zhong. His clothes were old and not of good quality. It was obvious he was a poor man. The bandit snorted and pushed the coins into his sleeve. Mister Zhong wanted to sigh in relief but the bandit didn’t turn around and leave. Instead, his hand found the handle of his sword. His fingers drummed on the sheath in a steady rhythm while his eyes roamed over the family of three. He clearly wasn’t content with what he had gotten.
Mister Zhong backed further away, now closer to his family than the bandit. He had to convey his plan to his wife somehow.
“You, leave.” The bandit motioned to Mister Zhong before he looked back at Madam Zhong and her son. “You, come with me.”
“Please, kind sir. These are my wife and son. Our family awaits us back in the capital and —”
“I told you to leave!” The bandit roared at him, shutting Mister Zhong right up.
Madam Zhong behind him shook, pressing her son closer against her. Jing Yi had woken up with all the tension around him. He hugged his mother, not sure what to do.
Qiu Ling glanced at him. The boy seemed mostly confused but also a little afraid. He sighed. See, this was the kind of opportunity he wanted! Especially with Jing He being mortal now, he could totally show off his strength! Such a case of the hero saving the beauty, wouldn’t that smooth the way for a future relationship? Teaching the bandit a lesson, sweeping his beloved up into his arms and comforting him, looking deeply into his eyes … Mn, he really wanted to experience that!
But alas, his beloved was too young, his parents were there and he wasn’t even that afraid. Seriously, what needed to happen for him to have a good opportunity?
Mister Zhong looked at his wife, signaling her with his eyes to run. She didn’t dare nod, afraid that the bandit might notice something. Her eyes darted around, looking for the best way out. The way down was long, the path barely distinguishable. Would she be able to outrun that man? Furthermore with Jing Yi on her arms?
She probably couldn’t. They both knew.
“Don’t be afraid.” She patted her son’s back. Now, they could only hope for a miracle.
At this moment, none of them thought of the acclaimed Daoist master. Jing Yi still didn’t really understand what had happened and his parents were too afraid to think deeper. They just knew that they needed to get away.
“Hurry up!” The bandit unsheathed his sword, tired of waiting for Mister Zhong to comply.
All color drained from Mister Zhong’s face. He might have had a chance to stall the man if he took him by surprise and prevented him from drawing his weapon for a while. But now … One stroke would be enough to kill him.
He looked at his wife, feeling like this would be the last time he saw her and their son. “Go back to the village,” he mouthed. There was no way she’d be able to make it to the capital. But if she could somehow outrun this man, she might be able to go back to the village. The others would help her and when Jing Yi was a little older he could take over one of the paddies.
Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to see that day. They should have never set out for the capital. What was so good about it anyway? His cousin certainly would have found another person to man his second stall.
The bandit had enough. He stepped forward. Mister Zhong knew there wasn’t any time left. He lunged forward, barely avoiding the sword and throwing the man to the ground.
His wife took one last glance at him, turned around and ran. Jing Yi looked back at his father. The bandit had thrown him to the side and lifted his sword. Jing Yi grew alarmed, wriggling in his mother’s embrace.
“Be quiet, Jing’er.” Tears streamed down Madam Zhong’s face. She accelerated her steps, stumbling down the path they had taken the day before. Mister Zhong was already out of sight. Not that she would dare to look back. She didn’t want to see. She didn’t want to know. That way, she could still hope that her husband might live through some stroke of luck and return home to her.

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