An Fei did have some apprehensions regarding the odd and slightly perplexing raven she had picked up the day before.
At the minimum, she was curious to whether it would have left her by the tomorrow’s dawn.
The young girl had tossed a disdainful glance towards the pesky little creature perched on her right shoulder, before flashing into the quiet and comfortable haven of the Sanctum.
For an inexplicable reason, the little raven had not followed her into the realm of sky-blue crystal, but had remained in the exact location throughout the entire night.
When An Fei finally emerged relatively matching the crack of dawn, the young girl found a raven perched within the cavity of the large acacia tree she had rested against yesterday evening.
…and received a baleful glare from the little raven, full of disdain and contempt.
An Fei crossed her arms, her brows furrowed and her bottom lip protruding outward in a light pout.
“This young lady doesn’t want to be surrounded by hairy beasts in the night, how does that sound for you?”
The little raven sneered with disdain, its wings ruffling the air within the vicinity.
The young girl paid it no heed and mindlessly continued her journey in trekking through the forest, the leather bag customarily slung over her right shoulder.
Alas, the little creature was to swallow down a significant portion of its pride, and fly the short distance to perch on An Fei once again.
The crimson eyes carefully tracked each movement made by the young girl, but deigned not to mention that she was heading in the completely wrong direction.
Suffer alone, for you left this immortal not only hanging dry in a damp forest, but right outside the door to your safe haven!
The young girl remained oblivious to the anomaly of a raven on her shoulder, other than the comical notion that it sounded like a crow.
She was to remain completely clueless until a key moment, of which her heart was to suffer a catastrophic blow.
Until then, the raven was to suffer as the butt of her jokes, whether it appreciated it or not.
“Xiao Hei, do you think this is the right direction?”
An Fei carelessly mumbled as she walked alongside the length of the stream, her eyes occasionally roaming to the other bank. The young girl kicked a clumped ball of dried grass, her entire being radiating an aura of boredom,
“After all, it’s been a few days of constant walking around in a single direction, and I’ve only been able to read and sleep within the Sanctum when it reaches nighttime. Exercise outside and then inside, it doesn’t possess much allure to me…”
The raven groaned within its heart, deeply desiring to bore through the invincible shield of a coat of linen fabric, and deliver some pain towards its unruly mount.
In the end, the little creature shoved its head into its feathers, deigning not to face the innocent and oftentimes clueless young girl.
You’re heading in the opposite direction where fierce creatures roam left and right, what boredom do you speak of?
“I really want to leave this forest, ah…” An Fei sighed, the pair of scarlet irises revealed a sorrowful glint.
The young girl discarded the rough ball of tortured and executed grass, her feet deciding to plainly walk across the surface of the soft earth in silence.
The grass coiling around her legs released a sigh of relief, happily parting way to spare themselves from unreasonable torment.
“I need to quickly return to Jiang’an, and inform Father of the Empress’ scheme. Daring to do such an act in private, who wouldn’t say that she has an ulterior motive, ah!?”
A puffed right cheek and baleful pair of scarlet irises razed the peaceful atmosphere of the Wu Ji Forest to ashes, dousing the creatures of the tranquil forest into another daytime nightmare.
The white rabbits, deer, snakes, and even a wild boar hidden within the backdrop of a myriad trees all quivered as they heard the young girl’s complaints.
As creatures who had not received the opportunity of the bestowment of spiritual essence, they were unable to understand the meaning within An Fei’s laments towards the closed-off sky.
Alas, as primal creatures, they were more or less accustomed to her predatorial, moody aura that reeked from her body, and deigned to scamper away upon first sight.
…they weren’t necessarily scared of either the little raven or the young girl, but the steel sword without a handle that hovered behind An Fei as though a deathly loyal butler.
That sword was to be described as temperamental and eternally disconsolate, ah!
The young girl permitted it free reign other than the command to protect her body from harm, causing the handle-less blade to constantly emit a baleful aura seeking massacre.
Though An Fei only experienced a cooling sensation that took the edge of the mind-numbing series of experiences within the solitary forest, the denizens felt otherwise.
The sword with the uncontrollable habit of drowning itself in blood, combined with its ever-moody state… bade an ill-fated omen for the creatures.
Particularly the fluffy, defenseless white rabbits. The handle-less blade formed from the first lotus petal of An Fei’s rendition of the <Golden Lotus of Establishment>… especially relished in the sensation of massacring rabbits after the young girl had ordered it to hunt the first one down.
…and An Fei didn’t receive much opportunity to salvage the pitiful animal’s corpse, for the steel sword rendered its playthings into red and grey paste.
“I know, it’s been a few days since I picked you up, and we haven’t accomplished much…” the young girl huffed in a discontented manner.
“Just walking out of this forest is too much of a drain on my nerves… I really enjoy the peace and quiet, but the present circumstances won’t necessarily permit me –“
The little raven surprisingly leapt from its lazy perch on the young girl’s right shoulder to flit before her countenance.
The small golden beak split apart to release a deafening cry, an intangible but powerful aura exploding to stain the surroundings with a faint violet hue.
An Fei grumbled, the pair of scarlet irises coming into contact with a pair of crimson, beady eyes. The young girl and little raven stared at each other for a brief moment, before the young girl averted her gaze with a disturbed expression.
“What kind of danger? Like the white tiger we met yesterday? Or the big rattlesnake that lived at the upper branches?”
“I keep on saying, I don’t know what exactly you mean by that, ah! You keep ‘cawing’ in my face… what am I supposed to get – Hey! Don’t bite!”
Caw! Caw! Ca-
A surge of warmth streaked across the young girl’s face, and An Fei’s feet automatically responded in a full moon sweep, her body twisting towards the right with a fluid motion.
The twin butterfly swords slid from their sheath and into her hands, flashing towards the source of the surprise with two silent whispers of death.
The young girl’s motion finally ceased after four complete rotations, and she found herself glaring at the back of a large creature… in the form of a plant.
“What…” An Fei’s mouth dropped in shock and horror, the pair of scarlet irises unable to comprehend the scene before her.
“What even is this… creature? I…I’m not in a horror fairytale… right?”
The little raven shrieked into the atmosphere of the disturbed forest, a violet light invisible to the young girl’s perception exploding forth to immerse the surroundings with a malevolent aura.
The little creature took flight from the young girl’s shoulder to perch at a nearby branch, its claws and beak tensed to rake any enemy threatening to issue a sneak attack.
The vines lashed forth, buffeting the young girl left and right with a continuous flurry of attacks towards her vitals.
An Fei’s vision blurred into a mottled smear of color, her body whirling through the air as it followed the <Steps of Underlying Shadows> to completely mitigate the incoming threat to zero.
Full moon turn, half moon sweep, and a scything revolution in a clockwise motion with her left hand grasping the butterfly sword in a reverse grip…
The handle-less sword released a tangible scream of death as a storm of scarlet inscriptions bloomed on its length, devouring the remaining traces of sanity within the vicinity.
The steel blade dove deep into the sea of writhing vines, whirling and sweeping to clear a besotted path of scarlet flowers drained of their vitality.
…the young girl was finally able to grasp the tip of the iceberg regarding the curse of the shadow, and perhaps assuage her fears…