Chapter 23 - The Mad Chicken-Stealing Devil
Late into the night, the Scented Cloud Mountain was enveloped by inky darkness. It was so dark that if one extended their hand, they would not be able to see their fingers. Apart from the wailing winds which swept through the valley, the surroundings were quiet, as though even birds and beasts were afraid to break the silence.
In the inky darkness, Bai Xiaochun took out the ribbon given to him by Zhou Xinqi and tied it to his arm. He nonchalantly walked forward, straight along the small path leading towards the Spirit Tailed chickens’ yard. His shadow was rapidly shifting from one place to another. It wasn’t long before he had passed through the bamboo shrubbery, arriving close to the chickens.
From there, he could see the Spirit Tailed chickens resting in the yard. Still, there were a few which would occasionally wander about, most notably, a certain Spirit Tailed chicken that was heading in his direction.
Bai Xiaochun squatted amidst the shrubbery and licked his lips. After waiting for a short while, when that Spirit Tailed chicken had come closer, he slowly approached the enclosure. Just when he was about to take out his bamboo rod, he was suddenly startled and his eyes turned serious.
At that moment a low bellow suddenly resounded from behind him. Silhouettes appeared one after another, some of them even producing fireballs, brightening the surroundings with blinding light.
“Damned chicken thief! You’ve finally appeared!”
“I’ve waited here for many days and have laid traps all over the place. Let’s see how you’re going to escape!” The bellow resonated in the air. Seven to eight shadows instantly shot towards Bai Xiaochun, surrounding him completely.
These shadows were the disciples in charge of rearing the chickens. They had been painstakingly waiting for numerous days, and never imagined that today, their efforts would actually pay off. Hatred had accumulated deep within their hearts, so every sinlge one of them wanted to execute this chicken thief on the spot.
After hearing their words and seeing their approach, Bai Xiaochun was initially shocked. Then he rolled his eyes, before humphing coldly.
(ED Note: rolled his eyes means that he suddenly thought of an idea.)
“Be quiet! All of you lower your voice!” He unceremoniously spoke with a serious tone. Without even trying to conceal himself, Bai Xiaochun swaggered as he stood up. Then, he purposefully revealed the ribbon tied on his arm.
This sudden and unexpected sight stunned the seven to eight people that were rushing towards him.
“All of you look carefully. I am the leader of the thief-catching group.” Bai Xiaochun furrowed his brows in dissatisfaction as he looked at the people standing in front of him.
Some of the disciples in charge of rearing the chickens had seen Bai Xiaochun before in broad daylight. At that moment, as they inspected him carefully, they started hesitating.
“It’s Junior Brother Bai...It’s already so late. What are you doing here?” Among these disciples, there was one whose face revealed suspicion as he fixed his gaze on Bai Xiaochun. Following this question, the others also cast him suspicious glances.
“Since Sister Zhou has asked me to lead the small group of thief-catchers. I must give it my all to nab this chicken thief. Even if that includes sacrificing my cultivation time, I will still come here in the middle of the night to guard the chickens. But with your shouting, even if there really was a chicken thief here, he would have been scared away.” Bai Xiaochun unhappily spoke with a flourish of his sleeves. He furrowed his brows, looking as though he had spared no efforts towards catching the thief.
The disciples in charge of rearing the chickens glanced at each other before embarrased expressions adorned some of their faces. The disciple who initially questioned Bai Xiaochun also looked a lot less suspicious of him, but still seemed doubtful.
When he saw that the suspicions of the other party had not been fully dispelled, Bai Xiaochun coldly humphed. Without giving the disciples a chance to raise another question, he seized the opportunity to speak first. His voice was filled with dissatisfaction regarding the disciples’ efforts.
“No wonder your Spirit Tailed chickens always go missing. You’re too careless! You’re all waiting here but this fence is already broken!” Bai Xiaochun pointed at the fence behind him. There was indeed some damage on the fence which was hard to notice. It had been Bai Xiaochun himself who broke it when he had tussled with a Spirit Tailed chicken during his first theft.
Hearing his words, the disciples in charge of rearing the chickens looked towards the direction of Bai Xiaochun’s finger one by one. When they inspected closely and noticed the damage on the fence, they were all shocked. Previously, they had never paid too much attention to these kinds of subtle and minor details.
“Also, that Spirit Tailed chicken just ran all the way here! Just how have you been guarding this area?” Bai Xiaochun displayed his displeasure and even raised his voice which caused discomfort to the surrounding disciples.
“According to my observations, this place is the most isolated part of the territory. You should have focused more on guarding this place, but I’ve already been here for quite a while and only now do you guys show up.” The more Bai Xiaochun spoke, the angrier he became. When he finished speaking, he heaved a long sigh.
“If you’re all like this, how are we going to catch the thief? With my thief-catching experience, if I’m guessing correctly, this is the place where you have lost the most chickens.” The moment he said this, the disciples in charge of rearing the chickens were all dumbfounded. They looked at each other and saw shock in each others’ eyes. According to their knowledge, this was precisely the spot where the largesst number of chickens had disappeared.
This was why they had chosen to guard this place. Bai Xiaochun had actually unravelled their entire plan at first glance. As they looked towards Bai Xiaochun, their gazes now exposed a sliver of respect.
Even the disciple who was previously suspicious had been humbled. He thought about Bai Xiaochun sacrificing his training time to help them catch the thief, as well as the eagerness to help he had displayed during the day. Then, he quickly sucked in a breath and cupped his hands before bowing deeply.
“Junior Brother Bai, please do not take our actions to heart. We are sincerely grateful for your generous assistance. We will definitely repair this fence as soon as possible, and from now on, we will definitely guard this place more carefully!”
One by one, the other disciples also cupped their hands. From the bottom of their hearts, they truly felt that Bai Xiaochun’s kindness was rare and precious, and that he was truly trying his best to assist them. They felt even more apologetic for their thoughtless behaviour earlier.
Bai Xiaochun humphed lightly before he gave a few more detailed instructions. Only then did he walk away. Behind him, those seven to eight disciples bowed again. As they looked at Bai Xiaochun, they had already been moved by Bai Xiaochun’s compassion.
“Junior Brother Bai is a good person!”
Just as Bai Xiaochun exited this piece of territory, a gust of wind blew past and he felt a chill run down his spine. In his heart, he silently exclaimed that the situation just now had been too dangerous. However, his stomach was still hungry. After some thought, he decided to try his luck in other places.
As he walked along the small path, Bai Xiaochun glanced around with a grave expression. In his heart, he contemplated how he should steal chickens from the next place.
Suddenly, with a gust of wind, the ribbon on his arm was blown far away. At the same time, there was a feminine figure floating in midair in the inky night sky, her presence concealed from passers-by. The girl was standing on a blue damask overlooking the entire Scented Cloud Mountain, suddenly she had a change of expression when she noticed Bai Xiaochun looking about. Slowly, the respect in her gaze increased.
“This junior disciple is truly a sincere and responsible person.” This girl was naturally Zhou Xinqi. She had already investigated all the territories. In the beginning, there had still been people patrolling about, but as night fell, most had left to complete their own training. Only this Bai Xiaochun had really gone out in earnest search for the thief.
“With him being here, the chicken thief’s actions will certainly be heavily restricted.” Zhou Xinqi looked away. With her heart now set at ease, she flew back towards her cave.
After some time, Bai Xiaochun had circled around and returned to his own yard. With a pat of his storage pouch, two Spirit Tailed chickens appeared. Chuckling to himself, he plucked and cleansed the chickens before throwing them into a pot. Soon, an aroma floated outwards, causing Bai Xiaochun to swallow a mouthful of saliva. He didn’t even care that the food was still burning hot as he began to shove it into his mouth ravenously.
Finally, with a burp, he patted his stomach and lay beside the pot. On his face, a look of elation could be seen.
Soon, a month had passed. In this month, Bai Xiaochun had been rather dilligent. His shadow could often be seen in various chicken-rearing places during the night.
But even so, chickens continued dissapearing. It was as though their opponent came without a shadow and left without a trace, mysterious and unpredictable. The disciples in charge of rearing the chickens increasingly felt like they were losing face so they spared no efforts and swore numerous times that they would definitely catch the chicken thief.
They depended on Bai Xiaochun who seemed to be even more dutiful than they were. He had tenaciously guarded the territory, as though he would never rest until he had caught the thief. He even went as far as guarding the area for a consecutive four days and nights.
This kind of persistence and determination seemed to have acted as a strong deterrent since the chicken thefts had vastly decreased. However, they still did not disappeared completely. The Spirit Tailed chickens’ population of the Scented Cloud Mountain had already dwindled to less than half. Not many were left, and most of them were immature chicks.
In the end, even the disciples in charge of rearing the chickens sighed at their incompetence. They constantly lamented that if all the disciples of the thief-catching group were like Junior Brother Bai, then they would definitely catch the chicken thief.
Zhou Xinqi was also getting worried. One afternoon, Bai Xiaochun was sitting cross-legged in the chicken coop, vigilantly observing his surroundings, when a streak of blue damask suddenly came closer and Zhou Xinqi’s figure appeared.
“Sister Zhou.” When Bai Xiaochun saw her, he stood up and obediently greeted her.
“Junior Brother Bai has worked hard.” Zhou Xinqi’s beautiful eyes looked towards Bai Xiaochun as a smile appeared on her face.
Soon, the other disciples in this area had all hurried over, clustering around Zhou Xinqi. Bai Xiaochun was also among the crowd.
“Thank you very much for your help over these past few days. I appreciate your efforts but the thief remains impudent. In the following days, I have decided to guard this place together with you.” Zhou Xinqi said softly. After scouring the surrounding area again, she furrowed her brows.
“Perhaps this chicken thief has a history with Master? After all, the other mountains have Spirit Tailed Chickens too, but he solely targets my master’s!”
Upon hearing this, Bai Xiaochun’s eyes lit up and he almost slapped his thigh. The expression on his face showed complete agreement with her words, it was as if those words were very reasonable and he himself had reached the same conclusion.
In the next moment, Bai Xiaochun’s line of sight involuntarily shifted towards the Purple Cauldron Mountain in the distance. His eyes slowly narrowed, hiding the cunning glint deep within his gaze.
The moment Zhou Xinqi had come here, the surroundings had quickly been filled with numerous admirers, causing the entire chicken-rearing territory of the Scented Cloud Mountain to be filled with a sea of people.
Apparently, the chicken thief could no longer find a way to steal. So in the following days, there was not a single Spirit Tailed chicken which had gone missing.
Even so, this incident of the mysterious chicken thief had already become well-known, and the person behind it had long been named “The Mad Chicken-Stealing Devil” as it circulated among the disciples. Some people had even compared this thief to the small turtle as they became two of the most mysterious people of Scented Cloud Mountain. Even the outer sect disciples of the Green Peak Mountain and the Purple Cauldron Mountain had also heard of them.
When she noticed that the chicken thief disappeared, Zhou Xinqi was pleased. Although they did not manage to catch the thief, she remembered Bai Xiaochun’s earnest efforts throughout this period of time. In the end, she had ordered people to bring the jade tablet to him as a reward.
(ED Note: period of time is just over a month)
The matter had finally come to a close. Furthermore, Bai Xiaochun’s tenacity and sincerity had caused plenty of outer sect disciples to remember this pure, tidy, obedient and incredibly compassionate Brother.