Rain in the Wu Ji Forest brought forth many differing sentiments towards its inhabitants.
Towards the plants and animals living in the undergrowth of the forest, rainfall symbolized their submerged hopes.
Their ability to absorb and assimilate the atmospheric spiritual qi into their bodies was sorely restricted by the inaccessibility of water or sunlight – the majority of their accumulated spiritual essence was expended on restoring their vitality to a sustainable amount.
As such, the spillage of blood or rainfall were greatly desired and supported by the inhabitants of the forest, for they would wither without additional supplements to be administered at the proper moment.
For the trees and creatures who towered over the forest, the rainfall was a slight nuisance due to the abnormally humid atmosphere and obscured vision.
However, they couldn’t help but feel grateful, for rainfall represented the diminished cries for the spillage of lifeforce and blood from those below.
As for the young girl who had found herself in the Wu Ji Forest… rainfall symbolized an eternal nightmare.
She couldn’t drink from the water, she couldn’t consume anything obtained from the forest, even if it were obtained from sources untouched by the world’s spiritual qi, and even breathing in the humid air was tantamount to disaster if she dared reside in a damp area for too long.
Not only that, An Fei could not forget the caution within the book regarding the lingering aftereffects of rainfall in a forest; until the surrounding lifeforms had consumed the spiritual qi inundating and assimilating into the water, she wasn’t to touch a single drop of it.
Inadvertently or not.
Whilst the young girl ruminated to herself with a moody temperament, another raindrop cascaded from the sky to dive into the stream of water before her gaze.
The soft raindrop instantly reminded her of the incoming predicament, galvanizing the young girl into action.
An Fei quickly slung the leather bag over her right shoulder, forcing the little raven to fly onto his ever-shifting perch as she ran into the depths of the forest.
The young girl fled from the stream with great haste, numerous thoughts rushing through her mind as she pondered on what to do.
Her feet still struck soft, but significantly dry soil; her hands occasionally came into contact with dry bark. The atmosphere was not yet humid, but An Fei could visualize the grey clouds looming in the sky with each passing moment.
“I… haven’t actually invested any effort in creating a shelter, even after all of that planning…”
The young girl whispered to herself in disappointment, before clenching her teeth in pain.
A soft region of her nape seared with a blistering pain, causing her eyes to squeeze shut and a harsh hiss to leave her throat with minimal resistance.
An Fei knew without inspecting that the source of her pain was due to having been struck by an incoming raindrop; had she spared the time to check her body, the young girl was definite in discovering a violet discoloration where the drop of water supercharged with worldly spiritual qi had struck her nape.
The crow leaped from his comfortable perch of the leather strap to claw around the young girl’s neck, a strangled shout escaping its beak upon noticing the darkened bruise.
The impacted area emitted a painful steam, the purple bruise hissing with sizzling rage and maddened sorrow.
“Xiao Hei, are you scared of the rain as well?” the young girl asked whilst continuing to weave through the dense net of trees.
“I can’t stand certain things here due to some… special circumstances, but you should be fine, no? After all, you should be a –“
Caw! Caw! Caw!
The little raven abruptly released a series of shrieks suffused with rage and pain, its body trembling an innocent raindrop missed its original target of a bitterleaf grass and struck the tip of its beak.
The little creature swung its small wings towards the obscured sky, cursing the grey clouds with all of its might.
“Ah… I can’t really take you with me, though…”
An Fei revealed a wry smile at the little raven’s predicament. The young girl gripped a thin tree trunk with her left hand, altering her trajectory to narrowly avoid running into the outskirts of a large creature’s abode.
As she continued to wade through the maze of trees and grass at a high speed, An Fei mused to herself, the little raven and her hisses of pain serving as an odd and discomfiting symphony amongst the praise and worship of the plants and animals nearby.
The young girl suddenly blinked, her right hand arcing over her head to grasp the young raven by its throat, stuffing it into the mouth of the leather back slung over her shoulder.
The drawstring was closed shut with a swift tug, trapping the little raven in darkness.
“Xiao Hei, this should be better, right?”
The little creature thrashed in rage at the sudden and rough transversal of its location, but calmed down at the young girl’s hasty explanation.
Having placated the small raven, An Fei frowned for a brief moment, before taking a deep breath.
She could faintly discern that the main bombardment of the clouds was beginning soon, causing waves of panic to faintly grip her heart.
When the random strikes of a drizzle hurt this much, leaving deep and swollen bruises on her delicate skin of a young maiden… just how painful would a downpour be?
A shiver, followed by a sneeze, then clenched teeth of fear and apprehension.
An Fei broke into a sprint towards the nearest tree that she could find that possessed a significantly thick girdle.
As she ran, the young girl whispered in her mind, the suppressed reserves of spiritual essence constrained within her body erupting into motion.
The lotus petal formed before her chest fully erupted into the customary handle-less steel blade at her command, terrorizing the inhabitants of the forest with its domineering presence.
The inscriptions along the length of the blade remained inactive, etched onto the surface with a dark coloration.
“Carve! I want it hollowed, just enough to secure an object.”
A certain tree suddenly shivered with abject horror at the young girl’s cold command, its roots shriveling in fear and dread.
The numerous branches swayed and trembled in a weak demur as though to beg pity, but alas, An Fei could not spare enough consideration for others with stinging pain assaulting her body in all areas.
The steel sword plunged into the trunk of the redwood tree, ignoring the sudden gasp and screams of pain emitted by the wood as the blade rotated towards the right with unstoppable momentum.
Wood shavings littered the floor as the steel handle-less sword drilled a hole into the tree’s core, following An Fei’s command to create a hollow within the redwood tree.
A hollow sufficiently expanded to accommodate the presence of the leather bag, and nothing more.
“Hah… Sorry about that, ah…”
An Fei whispered as she inserted the leather bag into the mouth of the hollow’s opening, pushing with her fingers until only the entrance of the leather bag remained visible.
When the young girl loosened the drawstrings, she found herself staring into a pair of crimson eyes tinged with resentment, as if rebuking her for her uncounted actions.
“Eh…” An Fei rubbed the back of her neck, before wincing in pain towards her mistake.
“There’s enough gingko nuts stored in the bag… and there shouldn’t be any issues regarding the humidity or the incoming rain as long as you stay inside the bag… Xiao Hei, you should be fine now?”
The little raven parted its beak to release a piercing cry, as if shooing the young girl away. As it watched An Fei turn around, the pair of crimson eyes never left her back, tracing her movements to every last detail.
Five steps away from the redwood tree that nursed its new cavity in its body, the young girl took a final glance towards the sky.
Beyond the obscuring veil of leaves and branches, the overhead clouds of grey loomed as the directed a condescending glare towards the puny transgressor of the world, a sneer on their formless contours.
A swift breeze rushed through An Fei’s clothes, rustling her hair in a playful and mean manner.
The young girl revealed a mirthless smile towards the intentional actions of the forest, sweeping a disinterested glance towards the animals and grass relishing in the incoming blessing of virtue and fortune with stars glittering in their countenances.
“I…” An Fei whispered, her soft voice piercing the tranquil environment of the Wu Ji Forest.
“[Reveal the eternal river].”
A soft twinkle as though the gently shattering of a glass heart, and the young girl vanished from the forest.
The clouds above finished their preparations, amassing together to unleash their mightiest blow towards the masochistic creatures living on the ground, and to thoroughly pummel the transgressor until she begged for mercy.
Thus, the first spring monsoon of the year began for the Wu Ji Forest.