First Chapter, finally! Ehe, I was in a slight dilemma, but here ya go.
Windy Village Market Area
“Hey kid, what do you think you’re doing?” a guard shouted out towards a young boy around the age of ten covering himself in a ragged robe. Reaching out his arm, he was instantly pushed back by unimaginable strength.
“Dang it! It’s Xiao Zhu!” the guard shouted out loud enough that other nearby guards jumped up at the mere mention of the name.
“Not again,” one guard in particular held his face in his palm as he shook his head in disappointment, “that kid never learns does he?”
Running through the crowd, utilizing his small stature to his advantage, the young boy dashed unperturbed through the small spaces. Taking quick turns and sliding under carts, he left the guards in his dust as he ran away with a couple of bread.
The guard were discouraged seeing that he the boy has ran away. One of the guards went up towards the guard captain, “captain, is it just me or is the boy getting better?”
“Can’t be, he has no cultivation if I recall correctly,” the captain replied, “but who knows, maybe he’s been practicing martial arts behind all our backs,”
Hearing the guard captain’s word, they all smiled sheepishly as they looked at a trail of dust with their morale hitting rock bottom.
Windy Village Slums
At the outskirts of town, a small, worn out house stood there colourless and stagnant. There lies a group of young children gathering firewood and fetching water from a nearby well to fill up clay pots.
The oldest of the children was a red haired young teenage girl hanging up laundries under the sun. Feeling movement from behind her, she turns to look and saw a shadow hiding behind a tree, cautiously looking around.
With a light giggle, she called out to the shadow, “Xiao Zhu!” Hearing his name, the shadow jumped up and was on full alert. “Xiao Zhu, what are you doing?”
Looking towards the direction he was called, he met eyes with the red haired lady and immediately went away from the tree towards her. “Hong Er,” he removed his ragged cloak revealing a young boy with bright orange hair wearing a sheepish grin.
“Xiao Zhu, don’t tell me you were actually trying to peek at me?” Hong Er said teasing in a teasing tone as greeting Xiao Zhu with a warm smile.
Turning brighter than an apple at the speed faster than a falling autumn leaf, Xiao Zhu waved his hand around trying to shake away his embarrassment, “of course not, I would never do such a thing to you sister,”
With soft laughter as brilliant as a chiming bell, Hong Er pulled back her hair behind her ear. Xiao Zhu not wasting another moment, started to walk towards the old building, but was stopped by Hong Er holding his shoulder.
“Xiao Zhu, what did you do this time?” noticing Hong Er’s gaze on the cloak and his dirt covered foot, he smiled embarrassedly.
Knowing that she would find out sooner or later, he decided to just tell her now, “actually, I went to get more food for…”
Not finishing his sentence, he was cut off by Hong Er who lightly chopped the top of his head, “idiot, how many times do you have to steal?” she place her hand on her hips as she sent a disappointed gaze towards Xiao Zhu.
“Ehehe,” with a small laugh, Xiao Zhu quickly ran towards the old building before Hong Er’s nagging comes.
Heavily sighing as she sends him off, she looked towards the sky and remembers the first moment she met with Xiao Zhu, “you are always such a handful, so how do you expect me to keep my promise then?”
Back at the old building, a little boy was twisting around twigs trying to light a fire, but failed miserably. Discouraged, he dropped the twigs and lift his head, only to see Xiao Zhu coming back from his normal errands, “oh, brother Xiao Zhu’s back!” he jumped in joy and his morale was lit up again as he hurriedly started to fix the fire again.
The other children seeing Xiao Zhu back all did their respective tasks with more vigour. One child finished her chores and ran up to Xiao Zhu, “big brother, what did you bring for us today?” she said with her face beaming brightly.
Xiao Zhu laughed and ruffled the little girl’s hair and laid out a small cloth. Unfolding the cloth, the children stared at the bread that was laid out in front of their eyes. With their mouth leaking waterfalls, they made haste to continue their tasks.
Hong Er coming back towards the building, Xiao Zhu handed the bread-filled cloth and prepared for his next task. “Hong Er, I’ll leave dividing the portions to you, I’ll be leaving to the forest for a while,” he looked back and smiled, “I’ll be back before dinner.”
With those words said, he stood up and walked away, the children all wish him luck as they all awaited his return. Seeing Hong Er’s lonely expression, the children all laughed as they started to tease her.
“Wow, so this is what it feels like to have parents, with elder sister Hong Er as our mother and elder brother Xiao Zhu as our father, we are a such a nice family” one child said in particular.
Reddening up, Hong Er shooed them away as they playfully ran around the old building.
Windy Village Forest
Reaching out nimbly towards fruits hanging on the branch of the apple tree he was currently on, he stuffed in a cloth bag before climbing towards another branch. Having his sack full, he was prepared to leave when he saw on the ground, a group of bright red glowing ants the size of an adult’s arm. Smiling at his luck, he carefully positioned himself at a branch parallel towards a stray ant’s position.
The bright red ant glowed a faint hue of amber on its segmented body as it looked around with its feelers twitching. Slowly pulling his weight along the thick branch, Xiao Zhu looked around to see if there are any other ants around him. Finding it clear, he grabbed a sharpened piece of wood from his pockets and jumped down on the ant.
Stabbing the stake into the abdomen of the ant, it hissed in pain as it tried to shake him off. With unnatural strength for a small critter, the ant tossed around Xiao Zhu, who held on tightly to the sharpened wood impaled on the ant.
A comedic sight of a child riding an ant as if he was a great swordsman trying to tame a wild horse, it was chaotic.
Holding on, Xiao Zhu was tossed around at as he was hit towards a tree and even debris of rocks flew towards him from the ant’s rampage. Soon after the ant ran out of energy and fell limp. Covered in light bruises and scratches that one would think that he simply fell, but never would they imagine that he was tossed around by an amber ant.
Slowly, the amber ant was overcome with exhaustion as it collapsed lifeless on the ground. With his breathing out of order, Xiao Zhu sat down next to the ant with a downcast expression. Holding the stake, he clumsily beheaded the ant while muttering apologies under each breath.
Sitting down facing the dismembered corpse of the ant, Xiao Zhu slowly bowed his head to the ground and said in a low voice, “I thank you for the food, I hope that you will be more fortunate in your next life after passing through reincarnation,” and stuffed the pieces into his mouth.
Feeling the familiar texture on his tongue, he winced a bit but continued on. Crunching on the exoskeleton he could only squint his eyes to bear through with the bitter taste of ant’s acid that flowed out every time he took a bite. A slight burn flowed through his throat and into his stomach as it was slowly digested into bile.
Finishing off his endeavours, he grabbed the fruit-filled cloth that he hung by a branch beforehand and steadily walked back to the old building.
Windy Village Slums
Noticing a figure out in the darkness, his small figure was illuminated by the fire, the children went up to greet him. Smiling in relief as Xiao Zhu returned to them, they all sat around the fire and had their dinner of bread and fruits and afterwards prepared themselves to go to sleep.
“Xiao Zhu, why are you injured?” seeing the dusty and scratch filled appearance of Xiao Zhu, Hong Er inquired out of worry.
Xiao Zhu smiled and replied, “it’s nothing much, I just fell down from a tree trying to grab a few fruits,”
Worried about Xiao Zhu, she reached out her hand to touch his the scratch on his cheek, but quickly pulled back her hand and turned away to hide her flushed appearance, “just don’t push yourself, ok?”
Hong Er felt something warm grab her hand, and turned back to see Xiao Zhu holding her hand with a calm smile on his face, “I promise you Hong Er, I will protect you and everyone here,”
Holding back her tears she nodded her head and quickly pulled away her hand and went to her place to sleep while muttering in a small voice, “idiot, it’s supposed to be the other way around,”
Confused as to why Hong Er suddenly pulled her hand away, Xiao Zhu scratched his head and leaned back onto the cold wall of the tattered building.
‘Hmm, I did hear that girls her age disliked being touched, maybe that’s the reason,’ shrugging off these complicated thoughts, his eye lids slowly greeted each other, his mind went instantly entered into a state of deep sleep as soon as darkness was spread over his vision
A sudden light was beaming from an empty room. Opening his eyes he was standing in front of two people. The thing about these two wasn’t the fact that they were in an empty realm of darkness, but rather, the fact that one of them was a bulky red-skinned man with black hair glowing amber at the edge while the other was a man with a long nose and a tail exhorting a cunning aura.
These two people turned to see Xiao Zhu and smiled.
The long nosed man greeted him with a calm tone, “oh, young one, you have arrived,”
“Took you long enough,” in contrast, the red-skinned man smugly greeting him.
Seeing that the two have noticed his presence, Xiao Zhu cupped his hand, politely bowed his head and greeted them, “Master Bullet Ant, Master Thieving Rat, hello,”