This is no test! It’s a death mission! Talking to himself, Shi Yan subconsciously took a few steps back. Shi Yin did not move. She could feel the fearful aura of the ape; it was a being that they absolutely cannot provoke.
As Shi Yan slowly pulled back with Shi Yin in his arms, the ape finished its meal. The ape stretched its arm and let out an ear piercing yawn.
Yes! It’s going to sleep! We just need to wait for awhile more then we can get outta here!
The ape stood up, on his fours, he began to crawl towards Shi Yan.
Shi Yan cursed. Why are you moving here! Shit! Wasn’t the cliff comfortable enough? You bloody greedy bastard!
The ape was moving closer to Shi Yan. Feeling the pressure of life and death, Shi Yan started to back up faster. However, he maintained his vision on the ape. It was to ensure that it did not come too close.
As the ape crawled through the sense forest, weakened trees and bamboo shoots snapped. All that loud sound would probably cause it not to hear Shi Yan’s footsteps but he didn’t want to take the risk.
It was one kilometre away. The ape seems to have not spotted Shi Yan, which was impossible. He was wearing a black coat in the middle of the forest! This made Shi Yan understand, that the ape did not care about his and Shi Yin’s existence. They were not a threat to it. This was the disparity in their strength. Shi Yan felt both enraged and excited at the same time.
He was enraged because he was not even worth a single glance. Not worth even being food. This was the ultimate humiliation. Not being worth anything in the eyes of another, the denial of his existence. Any sentient being would retaliate; to prove their existence, to be alive. However, Shi Yan did not succumb to his instinct. He knew that retaliation would bring death to both Shi Yin and himself. In spite of this, he was excited because Shi Yin and himself were definitely going to survive their encounter with this ape.
Shi Yan grinned fiendishly, although he was normally the kind of person who would measure risk and reward very well; he was now planning to kill that ape. He himself, knows that his thoughts right now were out of character. He would never stick his head out willingly. In his life, he has been humiliated many time before. Forced to eat from the rubbish dumps, forced to apologise, forced to curse himself. In spite of all of this, he could not find it in himself to have killing intent. At most, he would hold on the grudge and get even later.
However, this ape has insulted both Shi Yin and himself. Not to mention, it was their target! How could he possibly let this reason off! Cursing the ape, Shi Yan talked to himself. I hope you will see us at your last moments, regretting that you let us live.
No longer bothering to conceal himself, Shi Yan ran off.
It soon became dusk. Although Shi Yan ran far away from the ape, he was still nervous. He would occasionally come across torn down trees, destroyed land formations and even multi-coloured blood splatters here and there. These were all signs of a battle occurring. Shi Yan could not conclude that this was all the ape’s doing. However, he could safety conclude that there were other beings that had the strength to tear down the trees.
This is bad… That bastard ape might ignore us but if we face another beast, it might not let us go. I’m not sure what’s happening in this forest right now, we need to at least ensure that we can survive any encounter. The best way is to figure out the abilities of the three treasure. But we first need to find some kind of safe shelter before doing anything. Hmm… Water is not much of a problem here; there are bamboo shoots growing all around (bamboo shoots contain water, which could be sucked out from an opening). But I would still prefer to live under a waterfall, the natural noise acts as a cover. Let’s head higher into the mountains. Not only can we get a vantage point, waterfalls are more common there.
~ After 2 hours
Although Shi Yan has travelled quite far from the Ape, he did not manage to find a waterfall cave. Instead, he found an extremely large and strange tree next to a river. This tree did not have any leaves, and was entirely greyish-black. It looked dead from being burnt but, the tree itself was still alive. Some of it’s branches were torn off and littered on the ground, this made the place emit an eerie feeling.
When Shi Yan tried to cut out one of the fallen branches’ twigs for firewood, a small spark was produced the instant he slammed the dagger onto the twigs.
What? Not a single scratch? Perplexed, Shi Yan looked at his dagger to find the part that hit the twig was now dented. How is this possible? Shi Yan’s face was filled with shock. Shi Yin on the other hand, popped her head out of the cloak and stared at the tree, thinking of something. She seemed to know about this tree but had no means to tell Shi Yan. Planning to take action, she jumped out of Shi Yan’s arms and ran towards the tree. With her tiny paws she scratched the tree.
A loud and ear piercing screeching sound was produced. Shi Yan cupped his ears in pain. Suddenly, the ground beneath him started to tremble. The tree was rising taller. Shi Yin took a few steps back but was not shocked. Instead, all seemed to be within her expectations. The tree rose by about 8 metres before stopping. Previously hidden tree truck has a skull like face carved into it. “*eeeerrrrugh…*” the tree gave out a large yawn. Its eye sockets moved towards Shi Yin and in a high-pitched voice, it spoke. “Little fox, how dare you disturb my beauty sleep?”
Shi Yin gave out a loud “eyaa……eyyyyy…yah”, which could not be heard by Shi Yan but could apparently be heard by the tree. “That’s no excuse! That boy is of no importance if we compare it to my beauty sleep.” The tree grumbled “Either ways, as punishment for your insolence, you and that boy are to scrub the branches till they shine!”
Shi Yin expressed her discontent “Eeeeeeeyah!”.
“What? You dare refuse? I’ll let you know that even the king of the mountain doesn’t get to touch me casually. That’s how great I am.” The tree was grinning.
Shi Yin did not respond, instead she started to walk away, pretending to ignore the tree. For some reason, the tree became depressed. Shi Yan kept close to Shi Yin, while watching the show. He was ensuring that the tree does not attack Shi Yin. If it does, they should not have any problems getting away.
The tree’s face distort to resemble a person’s face while wailing “so you’re just going to leave me?”. “Mean fox! You dare leave me?” the tree lashed out, its branches moved at a high speed. It swiped the floor targeting Shi Yin, but Shi Yan was too quick. Before the branch started to descend, he already grabbed onto Shi Yin.
“Mean boy! Why are in getting in my way! I need to teach that mean fox.” The tree cried out injustice.
Shi Yan stared at the tree, worried that it was going to come in for another attack. “Sorry, Tree, but I won’t let you lay a finger on her”. In a cold voice, “I will apologise on her behalf, she may have been rude to wake you up, but that does not mean you can hit her.”
The tree, feeling dejected started to sob, its eye sockets leak out an orange liquid. “Why are you so mean to me! *Sniff, sniff* If mommy and daddy were here, you wouldn’t dare be so mean to me!”.
Mommy and daddy? That manner of speaking… isn’t this tree just a child? Could it be that it’s younger than me? But that size…
Shi Yan shook his head in rejection. No no, I can’t judge anything by its physical appearance anymore.
The tree continued to wail, Shi Yan did not know what to do. He wasn’t used to pacifying a child. Even in the orphanage, crying children would normally just get beaten till they stopped crying. “Um… can you stop crying? There really isn’t a need to cry right?” Shi Yan said in an awkward tone.
Seeing Shi Yan give concern to the tree, Shi Yin gave a cold snort. “Eyahh”, she screamed, trying to scold the tree, to stop crying. Naturally, the tree’s wailing got louder. It tried to speak but most of what it said was inaudible due to it’s erratic breathing.
Only after some time, did it start to cool down, Shi Yan and Shi Yin stayed in a distance well away from the tree. Afraid that it might attract unnecessary attention, Shi Yan wanted to walk away but was stopped by Shi Yin. She would tug on his cloak, hinting him to stay. Slowly, the tree’s voice became audible “Why? *sniff*, mommy, daddy, *sniff sniff* where are you? *sniff*”. The tree looked towards the bush Shi Yan and Shi Yin were hiding in. “meanie fox! *sniff sniff* I will never forgive you! Wait till I find my daddy! *Sniff* then I’ll make you regret!” the tree roots began to dig out of the ground. Fully exposed, the roots moved like flexible tentacles.
The tree was slowly moving in the opposite direction of Shi Yan and Shi Yin. It wanted to no longer stay close to the two, afraid that they might continue to bully it. However, Shi Yin did not let her escape. She ran out of the bush, pursuing the tree. Shi Yan, immediately followed her to pursue the tree.
As they ran towards the tree, the tree noticed and shouted in a upset voice “Go away! I don’t want to see you anymore! *Sniff*”. The tree swung its branch once more, but, it was yet again avoided by Shi Yan. “Why can’t you leave me alone? *Sniff sniff* I’m sorry alright, I’m sorry, *sniff sniff* please just leave me alone *sniff*” the tree pleaded.
Shi Yin scolded the tree “eyahh”, the tree stopped moving and sobbed some more, “No! I won’t let you inside *sniff sniff* only good people can go inside!”.
Shi Yin angrily rebuked “Eyahh…eeyyaah”.
The tree now showed an afraid expression, shivering, “No! *sniff* Don’t lie to me! They can’t be gone! Liar! Liar! Go away! *sniff* I need to find them! *sniff sniff*”.
Shi Yan could not understand their conversation at all. As he stood there just staring. He trust that Shi Yin knows what she is doing. However, he had a vague sense that her negotiation was not going very well. He wanted to step in but he did not know what to say. He had no cards to negotiate.
Suddenly it stroke him, could it be? That this whole mess is related to that ape? The damaged trees, destroyed landscape and blood splatters; could it be that the ape was the cause? There were no beings lurking about even when this tree cried. Did they all die? Now that I think about it, it’s not normal for us to travel about without even being able to spot an animal. This tree even has its branch torn off, could it be that the ape tore it off? Is everything caused by the ape? I need to confirm it…
Shi Yan suddenly spoke. His voice filled with confidence, “Tree, I think I saw your parents with the ape”. Once it heard him, the tree shivered even fiercer. It’s greyish-black face became pale, its branches hugged its truck.
So this whole event really has something to do with that ape… but I finally gotten something that I can use!
“Tree, what will you say that we team up to kill that ape”. Although Shi Yan could tell that the even with the tree’s additional strength, they will still not be able to kill off that ape. However, a meat shield will at least increase the chances of his and Shi Yin’s survival with the ape.
The tree still shivering, spoke “No! *sniff* mommy and daddy could not kill that thing. *sniff* You will also no be able to kill it!”.
Shi Yan was unfazed by this remark. He already knew that she would mention something along those lines. In reply, “Well, would you believe if I said that I was tasked to kill that ape? Naturally, I have methods to deal with it. However, after seeing its power, I’m not a hundred percent confident anymore. With your help, our probability of winning is now sixty percent”.
Hearing his words, the tree’s eyes widen. However, it was still apprehensive, “I don’t *sniff* believe you! *sniff* Show me your method, *sniff* then I’ll believe you”. Shi Yan’s lips curled “ Well, if I don’t mind showing you now, but that would mean I can’t use it later”.
The tree looked at Shi Yan with disbelief, “I knew it. You mean person, Liar! Go away, I don’t believe you anymore!.” It turned around and started to move again. However, Shi Yan’s words made it froze, “are you sure? Don’t you want to see your parents? I guess that you will never see each other again”.
The tree could no longer refuse his proposal. This was Shi Yan’s plan. The tree, no longer had the desire to run away. His last words stroke its heart and made it fearful. It knew that if it walked away, it will probably never have the chance to meet its parents again. Knowing that there was no choice, the tree controlling its tears made a deal with Shi Yan “you will let *sniff sniff* me meet my parents? *sniff* promise me? *sniff*”.
Shi Yan naturally promised her. He felt awful on the inside, guilty of lying to her. However, Shi Yin’s life and his life took priority over its life.
Shi Yin understood what happened. She did not understand Shi Yan and the tree’s content of discussion but she understood that the tree will help her and Shi Yan from now on. “Eyaah” Shi Yin cried, giving an order to the tree. The tree, now willingly complying opened its mouth.
Shi Yin ran into the mouth. She knew that Shi Yan would chase her out of concern; since the could not talk to him, this was the only way to lead him.
Shi Yan naturally followed Shi Yin. Although he knew that the tree will no longer harm him and Shi Yin, entering its mouth was a rather scary experience. It felt like his life depended on the tree, no longer in his control. He pondered, is this how food feels when it enters my mouth?
Inside the mouth was a different world. It was a confined space; about a 1 kilometre radius garden with a vast array of greenery and flowers. There was a river from one end of the garden to another, providing the plants with water. It was utopia. Untainted and amazingly beautiful. Behind the pair, was an adorable little girl, looks to be about 6 years old in age. She was a few centimetres shorter than Shi Yan. Her eyes were a red and vermilion-coloured hair was messy.
“mean boy, welcome to my world *sniff*, my name is *sniff sniff*, Selene. Selene Darkwood” . Her voice was soft and sweet, capable of melting the hearts of any cold person.
Shi Yan awkwardly responded, “I am Shi Yan, and this is Shi Yin”.
The tree muttered Shi Yan’s name as though in a trance “Shi… Yan… *sniff* Shi… Yan… big brother, you promised right? Right? Promised to help me find my parents? Right?”
Shi Yin gave a cold look, she obviously does not approve of Selene calling Shi Yan big brother.
Selene held onto Shi Yan’s arm tightly, tightly closing her eyes, “Promise? Promise?”. She seemed to be on the verge of tears again. “Shi Yan could not bear such a sight. The panging guilt was pricking his heart. “Yes, yes I promise. I promise.”
Hearing those words made the little girl smile. Her dimples could be seen. She hugged Shi Yan, digging her head into his chest. “thank you… thank you…”
Shi Yin was enraged at the scene. She pulled on Shi Yan’s cloak, hinting him to get away from Selene but Shi Yan shook his head.
I’m such an awful person. I’m sorry Selene, that I lied. I have no idea how to find your parents or how to kill the ape. I’m sorry that I’m so incapable that I needed to trick you. But I will make it up to you. I promise that I will find them. I promise that I will kill the ape.