Chapter 27 ~~ Juedai Shuangjiao/ Legendary Siblings / Handsome Siblings / The Proud Twins

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The Legendary Siblings Chapter 27

A young girl, clad in a light blouse and green dress, with a sprig of fresh mountain flowers tucked into her hair, stepped elegantly into the cave. Her steps were delicate, her waist was slender and graceful. Although she had obviously just climbed in out of a steep and dangerous precipice, she truly looked as if she were nothing more than a young woman stepping over a threshold. Even the flowers at her hair were firmly tucked into place, and not crooked a bit.

In the darkness, the Lord of Monkeys flew at her wildly like a forceful wind- straight towards the delicate and tender girl. It appeared she was about to be thrown out, but then, inexplicably, her waist twisted aside slightly, and there she stood still, gracefully, behind the Lord of Monkeys.

The Lord of Monkeys spun around in shock, and was about to strike a second time. The maiden in a green dress threw him an enchanting smile, and said softly, “Sir, if you wish me to leave, I will leave of course, there is no need for you to waste so much energy and get so upset.” The smiling face was as beautiful as a living flower, sweet as honey.

The Lord of Monkeys fumed: “You…you…”

Although he feared no-one, and was a cruel and devious creature, when faced with such a gentle, and pretty girl, his heart was moved in spite of itself. He found he could no longer hurl insults at her.

The maiden in a green dress said, “If this kind sir desires it, I will stay here, and cook for you. I will clean for you, mend your clothes…”

During all this time, Xiao Yu’er had stared at her with wide, steady eyes. Now he suddenly gave a happy laugh: “I have a better idea- why don’t you be my little wife.”

The girl clad in green smiled demurely, “If you really want me to be your wife, that would be my happiest wish. Such a clever and handsome husband like you, I couldn’t find in ten years of searching- unfortunately…”

“Unfortunately what?” Xiao Yu’er interrupted.

She continued softly, “It’s just that I’m too old for you, when you’re thirty, I’ll already be an old woman. By then, you would want to cast me aside, yet you wouldn’t have the heart to. Wouldn’t that be placing a burden on you? How could I bear to do that?”

Xiao Yu’er clearly knew that she spoke not one word of truth, but somehow, when her words sang in his ears, his heart felt very warm and soft. He couldn’t help smiling: “Instead of complaining that I was too young, you instead claimed that you yourself were too old. Any girl like you, who has such a way with words, it wouldn’t matter if she were a bloodthirsty, murdering pig, I would still like her.”

“No matter whether you are sincere or not, these words I will forever keep in my heart,” the maiden in a green dress said tenderly.

“And what if I don’t want to stay?” the Lord of Monkeys cut in harshly, changing the subject.

She replied, “If you, sir, find this place too confining, and wish to roam outside, I’ve already set up a ladder, you may exit at any time.”

“Really?” the Lord of Monkeys whispered.

The green-skirted girl reassured him, “Sir, if you are still worried, you may go up first, and then we will follow. Leave this young gentleman to carry the chest with him last. In this way, you may relax, and we will rest assured also.”

In his heart were a million voices telling him not to heed her; yet her words did indeed sound reasonable, and were just what he wanted to hear. So the Lord of Monkeys couldn’t help but be convinced. Even Shen Qinghong, who was certain that this girl must be a cold-blooded monster, seemed to have fallen under her spell; he nodded as he listened.

The two of them thought hard and searched their minds, and still failed to find any evil intent in her actions. What she said made sense, she had considered others as well as herself.

Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands: “This is indeed the best way. If anyone else climbed up first, my monkey brother would certainly be anxious. Since we’re letting him ascend first, he must wait until finally the treasure chest comes up too. This way he won’t cut the rope.”

The Lord of Monkeys stared hard at the young girl, and couldn’t restrain himself from asking: “You…you did this entirely with good intentions?”

The maiden gently protested: “But why would I have any malicious intent?” The Lord of Monkeys cried out: “Are there truly people as good as you in this world?”

“I was born with this nature,” she lightly sighed. “I only think of others, and do things for them, without thinking for myself.”

The Lord of Monkeys’ eyes flashed, and darted back and forth, but he could still not figure out why he should mistrust her. He stamped his foot and declared, “Very well. I don’t care if you’re good or evil. Let’s just get up there first!” His heart long ago had been bursting with impatience. The sunlight, the warm wind, the free world outside, beckoned to him invitingly.

He peeked his head out. As she said, there indeed was a long rope dangling down from above, as thick as an arm. If this rope were somehow rigged to break under a weight, the maiden in a green dress herself would be trapped here with them. So therefore, if the rope were safe, there must be some other trick here. But he’d deal with it after he climbed up first.

The Lord of Monkeys pondered and reflected, but still could not come up with any sound strategy. At last he decided to ignore his suspicions, and sprang forward to grab the rope. Laughing gleefully, he cried, “Shen Qinghong, you follow me…”

His laughter was abruptly cut short as his body twisted and plunged straight down the vertical cliff face, thousands of feet down. All that could be heard now were screams of agony.

Shen Qinghong’s face went white. In alarm, his voice cracked: “This, this…”

The maiden in green had also turned pale. She said in a trembling voice, “How…how did this happen?”

Shen Qinghong whipped around to face her. He thundered, “I think we should be asking you this question!”

She said, “Perhaps…perhaps he was too aged and could not grip the rope properly?”

“I want the truth,” Shen Qinghong demanded. “Just how did you tamper with the rope?”

She looked at him with eyes clearer than autumn springs, innocent like a child. Softly she insisted, “There is nothing wrong with the rope. It didn’t break; didn’t I just come down on this rope a short while ago? If you don’t believe me, give it a tug.”

Accordingly Shen Qinghong reached out his hand, when Xiao Yu’er stopped him dead with a laugh: “Let’s say the rope had a few poison needles hidden within it, that wouldn’t feel very nice when you tugged it, would it?”

Instantly Shen Qinghong’s hand snaked backwards like lightning. In a loud voice he declared, “You are right. This rope must have contained poison needles, otherwise the Lord of Monkeys would not have loosened his grip. What a vicious woman you are- my eyes are indeed opened today!”

The tears shone brightly in the girl’s eyes. She said sadly, “If you insist on being suspicious, I can say no more. In that case, I…I can only pull it myself for you to see.” Upon those words she began to ascend the rope.

Shen Qinghong watched her go up with wide eyes. Her body, graceful as a dancer’s, began to recede upwards into the sky. He began to get anxious, and slightly regretful. He really didn’t dare to climb up on the same rope as this possibly evil, potentially blameless young girl. Yet to just helplessly watch this opportunity escape, would be heartbreaking.

He struggled with his doubts, unsure whether to take the chance. At this moment, this enigmatic young girl came lightly sliding back down again. Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Oh, I knew you would come back.”

She softly sighed: “Well, I was thinking of leaving you, but really I couldn’t bear to. Ai! Why is my heart always so tender, I don’t even know myself.”

She lightly swept her eyes over to Shen Qinghong, then said to him, “Whether the rope can be trusted or not, you should know by now.”

By this time, Shen Qinghong no longer knew whose words to believe. He even began to wonder if the Lord of Monkeys hadn’t in fact accidentally lost his grip on the rope and fallen.

The green maiden said leisurely, “If you still have doubts, why not use cloth to cover your hands first?”

Shen Qinghong looked at the rope. Then he gazed outside the cave, at the blue skies and clear heavens. Finally he glanced at the gloomy, dark interior of the cave, and he brooded on the long, hard fifteen years he had spent here.

This kind of chance was not easy to pass up.

He gritted his teeth, and eventually looked at Xiao Yu’er. Xiao Yu’er himself had his eyebrows drawn together tightly, and said, “Don’t look at me, I’m also out of ideas. And yet…I think this rope shouldn’t break, otherwise she would not have been able to descend on it.”

Shen Qinghong expelled a long breath. Then: “At this point, I must give it a try no matter what.”

He leapt up, and gripping the rope he started to climb.

Xiao Yu’er’s spirits also lifted as he saw him ascend. One foot, now two…he had reached thirty or forty metres. Xiao Yu’er released his held breath. He smiled and teased the young girl: “I still can’t figure out whether you’re a good or bad person…”

His words were cut short- the rope snapped.

Shen Qinghong screamed, he struggled, and fell past the cave entrance straight down. In the blink of an eye he was out of sight. All that remained of him was the echo of his shocked cries reverberating off the surrounding cliffs.

Xiao Yu’er stood there stunned, eyes wide open. For a moment he was speechless. Finally he mumbled, “You…you…you truly are a monster, tricking these people to their deaths!”

The girl smiled captivatingly: “Oh? Really?”

“You placed venomous needles in the rope to poison the old monkey,” Xiao Yu’er grimly accused her. “Then you cut the rope across half its thickness, to trick Shen Qinghong. But with your skill in martial arts, you never needed to use such devious methods to kill them!”

Pleasantly, she explained: “There’s not much point in killing them using skills in violence. Never in my life have I lifted so much as a finger to kill a single person. All of them died voluntarily and of their own free will.”

“But I still don’t understand,” Xiao Yu’er said. “Since the rope is now severed, how are you going to get back up?”

The girl in green said, “This place is nice and comfortable, I like it here; I don’t intend on leaving.”

Xiao Yu’er scratched his head in surprise, then smiled wryly, “A girl saying something that I can’t figure out; you are indeed the first.”

She gazed at him steadily, then said softly, “Your friends died by my hand, aren’t you going to avenge them?”

He sighed: “I can’t beat you with my martial arts, and I’m not skilled enough to trick you either, how am I supposed to avenge them? Besides, as you said, you didn’t force them, they willingly let themselves be fooled.”

“You’re not angry or upset at all?” she asked.

Xiao Yu’er said, “Of these two, one of them deserved to die a long time ago. The other one was ready to die fifteen years before. Their deaths today are therefore appropriate, why should I be upset?”

Her eyes darted back and forth, then she said, giggling: “You little kid, I’ve never met anyone like you.”

Joining in her laughter, Xiao Yu’er said, “Right then, you can start tricking me. Go ahead, lure me to my death.”

The maiden in green said, “If I did that, I’d be pretty lonely all here by myself…”

Xiao Yu’er said, wide-eyed, “You…you mean you’re really not going back up there?”

“I don’t have wings, and I can’t fly,” she replied.

He was silent for a while. Finally he smiled: “You really are a monster among women!”

She joked back: “If I was a girl monster, you would be a baby monster.”

Xiao Yu’er sighed: “That’s actually quite right. A girl monster and a little monster, spending their lives in this ghostly cave. Perhaps in the future we’ll spawn a whole brood of tiny monster babies…” Before he had finished, she was laughing so hard she was doubled over.

Unexpectedly, a wave of crazed laughter floated over from afar.

A demented voice cackled, “Xiao, you wench, you can’t run from me, your old man knows where you’re hiding. He’s waiting for you here, you can’t wait forever down there!” (1)

The voice clearly came from somewhere in the mist and mountains, but it sounded like it was madly screaming right in your ear. Instantly the girl’s expression changed; now it was whiter than paper.

Xiao Yu’er asked, “Who is he?”

She answered, “He…he isn’t human, he’s an old fiend!”

“Are you really that afraid of him?” Xiao Yu’er demanded.

The maiden in a green dress shook her head and sighed, “You don’t understand, you don’t…the things he does to you, no one could imagine.”

They heard the voice cry out again: “Xiao, you’re really not coming up?”

She bit her lip and made no reply.

After a pause, the voice called out, “All right then, your old man is going to count to ten. If you don’t come up by then, and you wait for me to catch you, I swear I will keep you in a living hell for ten days and ten nights straight. If I let you suffer less a minute, I won’t call myself a man!”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes, then sighed, “It appears that he has the ability to torture people beyond the point of being able to die.”

The voice howled, “We’re counting down now! One!”

The strength seemed to drain from her entire body; the green maiden collapsed onto the floor, unable to move. The flowers that were tucked into her hair shook uncontrollably.

“Two!”

Xiao Yu’er’s eyes flickered. “Could it be that he is one of the ‘Ten Evils’?”

The girl sighed, “The ‘Ten Evils’, when compared with him, would be obedient little children.”

Xiao Yu’er cried out, shocked, “You mean he’s worse than the ‘Ten Evils’?”

“Three!” the voice shouted.

“What’s his name?” Xiao Yu’er asked her after a pause.

She answered, “You wouldn’t recognize it.”

He said, “Well if he’s more vicious than the ‘Ten Evils’, his name should be exceedingly famous.”

The girl in green let out a long sigh: “Don’t you know that dogs who give the most vicious bites, are usually the most silent? The nameless ones are the most to be feared. Even if he committed the most unimaginable horrors, no-one would know.”

“Four!” the voice hollered. “Fine, it appears that you’re not coming back up. Would you like to hear how your old man will torture you when he does catch you?” It seemed the speaker was in the throes of a paroxysmal rage. He screamed, “When I get you, I’ll poke out one of your eyes, then start filling its socket with salt water. Ten days later, your entire body will be a hunk of salted pork.”

Xiao Yu’er chuckled bitterly: “What a demon- such a style of salting meat alive, I don’t think even Li Dazhui has tried it.”

Abruptly she asked him: “You know Li Dazhui?”

Blinking, he answered her with a question of his own: “Why, do you know him?”

The girl in green paused, then said slowly, “Throughout wulin, who wouldn’t know him?”

Now the voice screamed shrilly from above: “Five! You heard it, five! Five more counts, and you’re dead. If you think your old man won’t be able to catch you, you’re making a big mistake!”

Suddenly she stood up and gave a long, despairing sigh: “It’s over. Rather than waiting for him to torture me, I may as well kill myself properly first.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “You…what are you scared of? Let’s just wait here and not go up, he’s not going to come down.”

The girl clad in green sighed again: “You don’t understand. This person has never made an empty threat. If he claims to be able to capture me, then I don’t doubt that he can.”

He protested, “You can’t die just like that. If you die, then I’ll be left all alone here.”

She gave a melancholic smile: “Do you still want to live?”

“Why wouldn’t I? My life has just started to become interesting.”

She shook her head. “He won’t let you go either…” she said, sighing.

“Six!” the voice threatened. “I’ve counted to six now!”

The girl in green said, “He’ll be able to catch you somehow. If I die, he’ll vent his anger on you. At that time you’ll really be in trouble!”

As she spoke, she slowly stepped toward the cave entrance.

Xiao Yu’er asked, “You’re going to jump?”

She replied, “If you ask me, I think you’d be better off coming with me.”

His voice cracked in surprise: “You want me to jump with you?”

Unexpectedly she turned back towards him. Gazing at him, she slowly said, “If I die by myself, I would also feel terribly lonely. Would you be willing to come with me?”

Xiao Yu’er rubbed his head. He muttered to himself: “Asking someone to die with her so she won’t feel lonely…ha! This is certainly a rare type of request.”

Slowly she spoke again: “The only reason I ask is because I am fond of you. Otherwise…I wouldn’t care if you lived or died.”

“Seven!” the voice cut in from above.

Xiao Yu’er looked back at her. He gazed at her for a long time. Finally he said, “You are fond of me?”

“You are a clever person, couldn’t you tell?” she slowly replied.

Still he stared at her for a while. Abruptly he cried: “Fine! I will come with you!”

In shock, the girl said hoarsely, “You will?”

Xiao Yu’er told her, “Not only will we go together, but I will hold you in my arms as well.”

Again her eyes were fixed on him. Eventually she said, “Very well. You are very good to me.”

“Eight!” the voice interrupted. “Still holding out, are you, you little wench? You won’t be living much longer!”

Xiao Yu’er did indeed jump up and bound towards her. He held her tightly to him, and even laughed, murmuring: “You smell wonderful…dying with you in my arms, is not bad at all.”

She suddenly laughed with him: “You are really an adorable little boy. Dying while being held by you, doesn’t feel bad at all.”

“Nine!” the voice screeched. “Nine! Did you hear me, you wench? Your old man has counted to nine!”

She asked him, “Are you holding on tight? Hang on firmly now, I am going to jump!”

“Go ahead!” he replied. He closed his eyes tightly. He took a few deep breaths, and reflected: “To die, I wonder what it feels like.”

She said ironically, “Well, you’ll find out shortly.” With that, she really did leap into the air, and they began their rapid plunge into the invisible depths of nothingness.(?)

He heard the rapid whistling of the wind by his ears, (?) and his body continued to descend. At this moment, you could have said he felt afraid; yet he was also fascinated, and comfortable at the same time. No matter what, you had to admit that not many people had had the experience of jumping down through a depth of a thousand metres.

Or perhaps it was that the word “frightened” had already been frightened from his thoughts. Or maybe he had never believed that the girl in green would really jump to begin with.

The deeper the fell, the faster they went. He felt as though his lower body would split apart from his upper half. Now he thought to himself: “Am I really clever? Or incredibly stupid?”

Then with a “foong” sound, his body was stunned; their descent began to slow down. He heard the girl clad in green softly laugh in his ear: “How does it feel to die?”

He joked back: “Not bad, not bad at all…”

Xiao Yu’er opened his eyes. He looked left, then right. On both sides, the mountain slopes were covered in forest, giving a peaceful and calm feeling, as if one by one each tree were floating upwards. From this you could tell that the speed of his fall was very slow indeed.

His companion laughed: “You know, you are one very lucky person. You have tasted death without really losing your life.”

“How…how is this possible?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

“Lift your head, take a look,” she replied.

Upon raising his head, he saw a bizarre contraption. It looked like an umbrella and yet was not. It was larger than an umbrella by at least ten times.

This odd device had actually burst out from the back of the girl in green. Apparently she had used a lot of thread and rope to make a multi-coloured, giant umbrella. This ‘umbrella’ caught the wind, therefore their descent naturally slowed down.

Xiao Yu’er felt as if he were riding downwards on a cloud. This feeling was very fun and interesting. He couldn’t help but laugh out loud: “This little toy isn’t bad, how did you come up with it?”

Unexpectedly another shock hit his body- they had landed on the ground. The huge ‘umbrella’ began to roll away in the wind, tugging at them.

The girl in green pulled out a small dagger and started cutting the ropes. She smiled sweetly: “Little flirt, you can let go of my hand now.”

Instead, Xiao Yu’er squeezed her hand tighter: “No, I won’t. You really tricked me good, I almost went mad. Now you should let me hug you for a bit, to make up for it.”

“You little flirt, are you really clever, or an idiot?” she asked laughing.

He replied, amused, “I just asked that myself a while ago. Even I couldn’t come up with an answer.”

“Well, if you ask me, you’re just a little bit of an idiot,” she teased.

Xiao Yu’er suddenly sprang to his feet. His eyes flashed; staring at her he said, “You really think that you deceived me?”

She looked back at him with an enchanting smile: “You haven’t figured it out?”

He laughed loudly: “Let me tell you, I already knew you wouldn’t let yourself die. That’s why I agreed to jump with you. You don’t seem the sort to kill yourself.”

The girl blinked a few times: “Oh? Really?”

Xiao Yu’er drew himself up and declared loudly: “I tell you, no one in this world can fool Jiang Yu.”

She looked at him, then softly said, “Indeed then, I find now you are truly a man, no longer a child. I have never met a man like you.” Her eyes were warm and kind. Xiao Yu’er puffed out his chest and thought to himself that he agreed with her. He had grown up and was now a man.

The girl clad in green looked around in all directions, then abruptly sighed: “Although I haven’t died, but now at this point, I’m really out of ideas. Now…I really have to rely on you, please don’t leave me.”

Xiao Yu’er thought he had never felt more strong or brave than at this moment. He felt that he must really be quite capable, or this girl would never have wholeheartedly put her faith in him.

He said firmly, “You can rely on me, I won’t regret it.”

She smiled gratefully: “You are so good, I know I haven’t picked the wrong person.” He laughed: “Of course you haven’t, you’ve chosen the best.”

The girl in green relaxed and said, “Good, now if you could think of a way out of here, we’ll be able to leave this godforsaken place.”

“Certainly,” agreed Xiao Yu’er. Although the word came readily from his lips, in his heart he felt anxious, because he had already surveyed this ‘godforsaken place’ and truly could not see a way out.

This place resembled the bottom of a wine bottle. Even with as many legs as a centipede, and the strongest will to live, it was impossible to climb out.

The strangest thing was, the place didn’t seem as damp as they might have imagined. There wasn’t the slightest bit of humidity, in fact it was warm and rather dry. The dense fog and clouds from above were very far away.

Below his feet, instead of thick and sticky mud, (?) was refreshing grass. It was soft, springy, and green, like a large colourful blanket. Under the bright shards of sunlight, the air was filled with a delightful fragrance.

Everywhere there was thick and dense forest. In between the trees would peek some grass and flowers. Xiao Yu’er felt as though he had landed in a paradise.

The only disturbing part about this paradise was, there was an endless silence and stillness. No breeze, and no sounds. Every blade of grass, each leaf, was motionless. There was no breath of life anywhere.

This terrible stillness was enough to drive a person mad. Such a beautiful paradise was actually a place of death.

The girl in green softly interrupted his thoughts: “Have you thought of a way out yet?”

Xiao Yu’er could no longer force a smile to his lips. He could only keep mumbling, “There must be a way, of course there is.”

She said, “All right then, you lead and I’ll obey your instructions.” She looked at him gently and fell silent.

With his hands behind his back, Xiao Yu’er began to turn in circles. By about the seventeenth or eighteenth circle, he suddenly cried out: “Something’s wrong, something’s not right here!”

“What’s wrong?” the girl asked.

He asked her, “What’s missing here?”

“Something’s missing? What’s missing?” she echoed.

Xiao Yu’er said worriedly, “Where are the old monkey and Shen Qinghong? Flown up to heaven?”

She said, “Didn’t…didn’t they fall to their deaths?”

He said excitedly, “Right, exactly, they did. But where are the bodies? I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find a single bone. Even if they were devoured by wolves, they couldn’t have been eaten that fast. Furthermore, there’s not even a kitten to be found here, let alone a wolf.”

The expression on the girl’s face changed. She said anxiously, “You really couldn’t find their corpses?”

“No, I didn’t, not even a bone,” he repeated.

Even as he said it, Xiao Yu’er still couldn’t believe his own words. As he spoke, he continued his search. The girl in green followed along, helping him. The area was not large, and very soon they had already finished two or three complete searches. They had looked in every corner, under every tree, and over all the patches of grass.

Not only were even the bones missing, but not even a single bloodstain was visible. There was no evidence at all of the two others having died here.

Suddenly Xiao Yu’er began to grow afraid. He said, “Maybe there are ghosts here.”

The girl shrank back, but forced herself to laugh, “Ghosts, how could there be ghosts?”

Xiao Yu’er said, “If it weren’t for ghosts, how could they have disappeared? Even if they weren’t killed by the fall, they should still be here. Besides, there is no way they could still be alive.”

He added, “There is something weird about this place. I must get to the root of this mystery.” As he spoke, he began to search for clues again. But the trees remained just trees, and the grassy patched yielded no further clues.

Firmly he concluded, “There must be someone else in this place.”

“How could there be anyone else in this place?” she asked.

Xiao Yu’er explained, “If this were a natural and freely growing patch of grass, how could it be so neat and tidy? Therefore, there must be someone here, someone who regularly tends the grounds.”

Her puzzled expression cleared: “Ah, you are right. Not only is your brain clever, but your eyes are observant…since someone lives here, I’m a little more relieved.”

She jumped up, her eyes dancing, but then drew her eyebrows in worry and said, “But…where are they then?”

Xiao Yu’er said, “They…they…”

He looked around, but not a soul could be seen, let alone a living human.

A mystery. A puzzling, unsolvable mystery.

The girl in green said, “I can’t even bear to think of it, it’s too creepy.”

Xiao Yu’er said steadfastly: “Don’t you worry about it, you can leave the thinking to me.”

In reality he couldn’t figure it out either, he was starting to get a headache.

The light was beginning to fade, and quickly too. Xiao Yu’er ceaselessly walked, here and there, back and forth. He was so hungry he was sure his stomach would start to leak acid.

He was starting to go crazy.

He always used to say, “There is nothing impossible in this world.” At this point, he was beginning to feel that anyone who could say that was either a madman or a simpleton.

He didn’t dare look at the girl in green. She had said that she would leave everything up to him. If she had chosen the right person, well, perhaps her eyes were a little blind.

Eventually Xiao Yu’er began to feel faint. He mumbled, “I’ll rest for a bit, then we’ll see. If only I could sleep and never have to wake up…”

Suddenly the girl cried, “Come over here…come!”

He turned his head in her direction, but had already lost sight of her. He shouted, “Where are you? Have you learned the art of invisibility or something?”

“I’m here, over here!” she called back. Her voice could be heard from behind a tree. The tree was thick in diameter, and large. Its leaves were especially green. Xiao Yu’er had been suspicious of it a long time ago, but had not been able to pinpoint anything specific.

Xiao Yu’er flew over to her side, and found her kneeling on the ground behind the tree, as if praying.(?) She made no move, but her eyes were huge.

He drew his eyebrows together, frowning: “What are you doing? Praying?”

She beckoned him with her hand, urging him: “Come quickly, take a look at this spot.”

Accordingly, Xiao Yu’er crouched down beside her and looked. After a while he said, “There’s nothing there, only…whoa, wait, there is something!”

He had suddenly noticed that the bark on the lower part of the tree was different from its upper half. It was thick and rough above; below it was shiny and smooth.

The girl pointed out, “Look here, the bark appears to be regularly touched by people. And why should they touch this spot? Clearly there is only one explanation…there must be a door in this tree.”

Xiao Yu’er’s face lit up. He returned her compliment from before: “Not only is your brain clever, but your eyes are observant.”

She teased back, “Thank you, thank you.”

He winked at her, then knocked on the tree a few times, laughing: “Is anybody home?”

End of Chapter 27

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