Under the pressuring gaze of eight high-minded people, An Fei’s motions came to a freeze.
The young girl blinked in surprise, her countenance stiffening at the sudden attention boring holes into her back.
The young girl angled her body around to face Shen Haoren and the others, her head slightly tilted to the right in confusion. The little raven perched on her shoulder sleepily waved its wings, the crimson eyes flickering with an unabated interest.
“Er… your actions were just a little weird, nothing much,” the middle-aged man was silently elected to be the representative to respond with an awkward expression.
“After all, we’re all sitting here on the ground, but you’ve remained standing the entire time. Is there… something wrong?”
The young woman besides Shen Haoren helpfully quipped, her wide doe eyes blinking towards An Fei’s direction.
The young girl glanced at the mutilated earth and the patches of mud, her nose almost wrinkling at the humid and rustic odor emanating from the ground.
If it were before the encounter with the Earth Giant who was still howling its lungs out a kilometer away, she might have sat down, but now…
Ruining her dress to fit in with a group was not her priority!
Fortunately, there was someone who clearly understood An Fei’s motive after tracking the object of her gaze for a brief moment.
One of the three newcomers, Wen Jiu, immediately stood to stretch his arms, coincidentally exposing a portion of finely toned muscle and flesh through his actions.
“The Young Miss must care considerably about the wonderful dress,” the handsome man warmly smiled, earning himself a fierce glare from his brothers.
“Is the dress a memento of close origin?”
An Fei’s lips twitched at the persistent attitude of Wen Jiu.
Her mind deigning itself to not forget the handsome man’s previous transgression, the young girl gave a brief, curt nod.
“My grandfather made it himself for my birthday.”
A little white lie that the little raven could quickly detect the instant it departed from the young girl’s lips, but the little creature resigned itself to a quick sputter before retaining its silent and menacing gaze.
Fortunately, as An Fei’s eyes had gently misted over whilst uttering her statement, nobody dared to question the veracity of her words.
The young girl had become teary from the mention of her grandfather, but it was from a different origin, ah.
“I see, the Young Miss would indeed wish to avoid tarnishing the dress gifted from a close family member,” Wen Jiu’s smile expanded by a mile after having secured his inch.
“Then would the Young Miss like to take a rest on my flying sword? Of course, if the Young Miss desires to spend the night on it as well, there is no problem to such an arrangement, not at all.”
The words were uttered at a rapid pace, catching An Fei off guard and unable to respond for a brief moment.
Then, an unexpected savior arrived to offer salvation in the next moment, whilst shattering the handsome man’s initial dreams of securing himself a happy night.
“Brother Wen, that is not appropriate, ah.”
“Old Wen, if you were to maintain your flying sword for the entire day, how are we to escape from the plains?”
Tang Yunhe and Shen Haoren simultaneously complained, their countenance graced with twitching expressions of displeasure and jealousy.
Yang Jian shook his head with a wry sigh, before angling his gaze to inspect the solemn and quiet Tang Shiqi.
“Brother Tang, Brother Shen, maintaining my flying sword for one person is no problem for someone like me, ah,” Wen Jiu eagerly protested, his heartbeat quickening and slaughtering itself by the moment.
“As long as we’re not moving for the entire day, I can sustain my flying sword and recover spiritual essence at the same time!”
“Who said we’re not going to move until the three of you recover your spiritual essence?” Shen Haoren snorted with a derisive smile.
“You want to camp for the night with only a kilometer of a barrier to shield us from that Earth Giant? Remember, that fierce creature can still launch ranged bombardments – stop trying to pick flowers during a battle, ah.”
The handsome man who had contributed the least in the fight flushed scarlet at the condescending remarks from the middle-aged man.
Unfortunately, before Wen Jiu could recover his moral ground and flash back a retort, Tang Yunhe joined in to deliver a final push.
“Brother Wen, you weren’t able to put in your all in the previous fight due to worrying for any unexpected counterattacks, no? This time is the same – we need someone to look after our backs in the night. Wooing the girl, I nor Brother Shen will intervene in your attempts once we reach the city, is that fine? Even if you were to taunt me then, I won’t complain, ah!”
The last two sentences was silently transmitted from Tang Yunhe’s lips by means of spiritual essence, his countenance placid and innocent of the words he had just spoken to his brother.
Wen Jiu’s lips twitched continually for a few moments, lowering his head with an exasperated sigh.
“Looks like I’m relegated to night duty again…”
That damned sword!
The handsome man grit his teeth after Shen Haoren and Tang Yunhe had returned to their original topic of discussion.
His heart remaining on its diligent task of ‘protecting’ the young girl standing at the corner of the group, Wen Jiu released another sigh as he allowed the multicolored jian to disperse into particles of spiritual essence.
Noticing that Wen Jiu had ceased his furtive glances, An Fei released a light sigh as she glanced towards the Earth Giant submerged in the dust storm.
The young girl’s body gently trembled, and she extended her right hand before her chest, the palm facing the darkening skies of twilight.
Two snow lotus petals drifted silently onto the base of her palm, before sinking into her flesh and disappearing from sight.
An Fei momentarily gasped as the spiritual essence flooded through her meridians to return to the coil housed within her heart, allowing her gaze to return to her palm once the lingering numbness had faded to a tolerable amount.
There, nestled at the crook of her delicate and small palm, was a jade pendant.
The clasp and socket of the pendant was of a finely polished metallic material whose appearance greatly resembled amber, and the smoothly cut jade at the center was of a dark green, rich in its lustre and sheen.
Extending from the clasp were a series of pointed surfaces, aligned and configured in the rudimentary projection of an eye.
The strap of the pendant was a delicate and refined chain that reflected the diminishing rays of sunlight, the amber-like appearance gently glowing as the sun began its descent into the horizon.
An Fei rubbed the jade surface with her left thumb, her mind abuzz with questions.
The jade pendant was found at the core of the Earth Giant’s heart, nestled deeply and secured underneath a bunker of earth and stone.
Around the pendant’s exterior, a large network of artificially induced channels resembling that of a circuit board expanded throughout the dense armor of compacted sediment, as though the jade pendant served as the core powering the fierce creature.
…not unlike that of a robotic existence, perhaps?
“However… why was a pendant in such a location…” An Fei’s scarlet irises pulsated with a dull gleam, appearing completely spiritless and desolate as she gazed into the distance.
After Yang Jian and the others had retreated with their tails coiled around their hind legs, the steel sword had remained to harass and slay the Earth Giant.
The temporarily complete sword had punctured through the previously impenetrable walls of soil and stone with ease, causing the fierce creature to continually howl in pain for the next few hours until its death.
After which, the sword replaced its howl for until the fall of twilight, to pose the impression of the Earth Giant requiring a period of recovery.
Just as Shen Haoren and the others were preparing to sleep, An Fei had called for the sword to return to her side.
Only… the sword had brought along the jade pendant as an unexpected spoil of war.
The appearance was beautiful and fitting for an elegant woman or a budding young girl, tempting An Fei to hang the chain around her neck.
Her brows silently creasing into a frown, the young girl set the little crow onto the leather bag, placing the jade pendant before it with a concerned expression.
“Xiao Hei, is there anything wrong with this pendant? How could it appear in the chest of an Earth Giant?”
The little raven tilted its head in confusion, its crimson eyes then flashing with surprise as it gazed at the intricate surfaces of the interior of the clasp.
The little creature’s beak gently undulated, and the pools of crimson swayed and almost gave way to reveal the sea of violet hidden underneath –
“Shut it, you stupid little crow!”
Shen Haoren roared as he angrily shifted his back onto the destroyed earth of the plains, his skin screaming in agony as small stones pricked into his flesh with their piercing, venomous hooks that granted an unforgettable suffering.