Chapter 20: Standing at the Top
Translator: Nyoi_Bo_Studio Editor: Nyoi_Bo_Studio
Zhou the housekeeper laid on the ground miserably, the mark on his face red as a peach blossom. He spat out a few broken teeth and was half-dizzy in shock. He directed a weak gaze full of fear and horror towards Fan Xian.
“I seriously don’t understand what you guys think,” Fan Xian said in a quiet voice. “Did you really believe I wouldn’t hit you? You seem to have forgotten your place. Perhaps a more cultured master wouldn’t do anything to his servants, but that is not me, unfortunately. Don’t tell me you’re going to hit back? So, that’s that. All you can do is to deal with it and endure, laugh, or go cry about it to the Countess or back in the capital… But… from now on, don’t go into the back garden. I dislike seeing you.”
After saying this, he dusted his pants off and turned to Sisi who was sitting dumbfounded on the stool. He told her quietly that he wanted to go out and left the Count’s estate.
Behind him, looks of fear inevitably surfaced on the faces of the servants. None of them would have thought this cute, gentle boy had such a violent side to him. The contrast between the two sides shook everyone to the core and made it all the more terrifying.
At this time, the Countess had arrived in the back garden too. She looked at the groaning housekeeper on the ground and thought of that child; she couldn’t help but express a glint of meaningful happiness.
Chasing the head servant out of the house last year, and slapping Zhou the housekeeper silly today, the twelve-year-old Fan Xian finally established his authority in the Count’s estate.
Along the shore five kilometers from Danzhou Harbor was a dangerous region covered by reefs. The sea winds churned up the blue water, smashing it against the rocks into huge sprays of white foam.
On the east side, there was an extremely narrow passage hidden among the hazardous rocks. Fan Xian came along that path. He turned his body with his back to the sea. Listening to the deafening sound of waves at his back, he looked up.
In front of him was a series of steep cliffs. This mountain was formed naturally next to the sea. Behind the mountain were ancient forests and swamps spanning hundreds of li, making scaling the cliffs the only way to reach the apex.
Taking a look at the cliffs, Fan Xian frowned slightly. In his mind, he traced the path he always took while climbing. However, the sea winds had been strong recently, and the rocks which stuck out from the cliff were loose. If he were to climb to the top today, he must be more careful than usual.
The sea crashed into the reefs behind him, but the rocks proved cold and insurmountable, with only some seawater reaching the shallows, making this area of the shore wetter than others. Fan Xian’s shoes got wet from standing there and his feet felt quite uncomfortable.
Taking off his shoes, Fan Xian put them in a clean cavity just below the cliffs. Taking some coarse sand and rubbing his palms together, he began to adjust his inner zhenqi. Having readied himself, he planted his right hand securely onto an inconspicuous outcropping and deftly lifted his entire body into the air. He began to climb up as if he weighted next to nothing.
He ascended rapidly. With his entire body flattened against the cliff surface, he looked like some strange animal which was adept at climbing. Each time he reached out his hand, planted down with his foot, or lifted himself upwards, it all seemed effortless; there were no signs of difficulty.
After only a short while, he was close to the top. The sea wind whirled behind him, blowing away his body heat and sweat, making him feel refreshed.
“I bet even Guo Jing couldn’t climb this fast. But the blind man at the top of this mountain will be much fiercer than Ma Yu…”
Fan Xian thought back on what happened in the garden as he continued to climb. Something didn’t feel right to him. That precious housekeeper of the second wife stayed put for over a year, why did he happen to mess up today?
The sea winds carried moisture, making the exposed rocks somewhat slippery. Seeing that he was almost to the top, Fan Xian relaxed his focus. Thinking about what happened earlier only distracted him further. His right hand slipped and he almost fell.
As dangerous as that seemed, Fan Xian did not panic and directed his zhenqi into his right hand. With three fingers, he latched tightly onto the only piece of projecting rock that could support him. Shaking slightly, his fingers looked as if they were deeply embedded into the rock, unmovable.
A wooden stick reached down from above, gesturing him to grab it.
Fan Xian seemingly wanted to avoid this stick very much. He didn’t even look at it and started to swing his body. With the tip of his feet, he kicked against the cliff’s surface, providing him with the momentum to propel his entire body to the top. The maneuver was as risky as it looked.
“You weren’t focusing enough. That could cost you your life.”
At the mountain top, on the edge of the cliffs, Wu Zhu stood facing the sea breeze. His clothes were made from coarse fabric and a strip of black cloth covered his eyes.
Fan Xian ignored him and sat down in a lotus position. After a short period of adjustment, he stood back up and told Wu Zhu about what happened today at the house. He also expressed his suspicions, hoping Wu Zhu could provide a definitive answer.
“You think a single slap will keep the housekeeper in check?” Wu Zhu asked coldly.
“I do, as long as grandma is on my side,” Fan Xian said as he lowered his head. While he didn’t imbue that slap with zhenqi, the great power stored within his fragile young body over the years was still frightening. More importantly, he displayed his gloomy temperament at the most crucial moment. This was dreadful indeed.
“Then that’s enough.” Wu Zhu didn’t appear to want to probe deeper into the matter.
“This is only my suspicion, but why did the housekeeper decide to stir things up today? He has spent over a year in Danzhou Harbor with his tail between his legs. Under normal circumstances, there really isn’t any reason for him to show his ugly colors now, unless… he feels that he’s had enough and something will happen in Danzhou soon. Maybe, in his eyes, I’m no longer a threat to my half-brother in the capital, and so he no longer sees a need to please me.”
Fan Xian smiled bitterly, a look which did not match his youthful face.
It was indeed strange, now that he mentioned it. If Fei Jie was somewhat uncertain and fearful regarding Fan Xian’s early maturity, Wu Zhu, on the other hand, was unconcerned about this. It looked as though Wu Zhu would not react to anything when it came to Fan Xian, even if Fan Xian were to turn into a tree demon.
Fan Xian thought that perhaps it was because Wu Zhu was blind and unable to see the expressions that Fan Xian unknowingly made; expressions which shouldn’t appear on the face of a child.
“That’s trivial,” Wu Zhu said suddenly. He obviously felt Fan Xian was overanalyzing the subject.
“I predict someone will come to kill me. Is that trivial?” Fan Xian laughed.
Wu Zhu coldly replied: “Fei Jie and I have taught you so much. If you can’t handle something as trivial as that, then it becomes non-trivial.”
Fan Xian thought about it for a moment, and accepted the fact. He understood that Master Wu Zhu would not take care of things for him this time.
After a long while, in a remote area above the cliffs, Fan Xian removed his tunic. “Again…” he moaned dejectedly to the side.
As soon as his voice floated away from the cliffs, a wooden stick came down from above, mercilessly striking his back with a muffled crack.