Return to the Magical Forest – Chapter 1
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Side story that takes place when Xue Wei was still young. This chapter was written a very long time ago, but I figured it was time to publish my old side stories.
Written by Tinalynge
Edited by OEE
It had been a full year since Hui Yue entered the Magical Forest and met Sha Yun and her sisters. During this year he was focused at the academy, studying to his heart’s content. It was increasingly rare for him to show up to his classes as he’d rather stay in his courtyard and train in accordance to what Lan Feng told him. Lan Feng was a much better teacher than the ones he had at the academy and because of this Hui Yue felt he was wasting time going to classes.
While it was true that Lan Feng was better at teaching him martial arts and cultivation, he was, without a doubt, inferior when it came to information about the world around them. Due to this, the young man had no real knowledge about the outside world, what countries were part of it and who reigned in these countries.
Having spent the majority of this year training on his own, it was once more time for him and his friends to train in another way, their yearly outdoor practice.
Hui Yue had long since decided that he was going to go back to the Magical Forest. The decision was not hard and his reasons were simple. Hui Yue wished to see his family. He wished to see his mother and father once more, but more than anything, he wished to see his younger brother. To see how much he had grown up since last year.
Another reason for his decision was Sha Yun. The young snake-woman had not seen her sisters for a year and Hui Yue knew perfectly well how painful it was when one’s family was not around.
Having made his decision, Ma Kong, Deng Wu, the Rong twins and Gao Yan all agreed to head to the Magical Forest. Much like last year, the entire group was filled with expectations.
The night before they set off, Hui Yue found that he was incapable of sleeping. A big smile was constantly adorning his face and happiness welled up from within. Although he was considered a genius at the academy he was old enough to understand just how much his parents did for him. He felt genuine love towards them, love which made him eager to visit.
Last visit he brought multiple gifts with him for the village, including money, food and materials. He could not wait to see how the shabby village he grew up in had changed for the better. He could not help but be eager to rush home and see the changes which had been made.
Finally the morning arrived and it was time for Hui Yue and his good friends to set off on their trip. This caused the young man to be humming happily. Seeing the happiness evident on his face, all his friends were smitten by the cheerful atmosphere and soon all of them were laughing together, laughing and having fun.
The year before they had relied on magical beasts to travel to the Magical Forest, however, this year no magical beasts were used. Instead, they used their own legs and ran towards their destination in the distance.
Although the speed with which they traveled was slower than what they would have had if they used magical beasts, all of them agreed to to walk on their own. Had they brought beasts with them, it would have required a lot to keep them fed, have them looked after and ensure the safety of the villagers while they entered the Magical Forest and focused on training.
The route was familiar as they ran through the farmlands. They walked through multiple small towns where various families were practicing, or dealing with their daily chores. They ran past fields where workers were tending to the crops while others were keeping an eye on them.
Traveling for the entire day, they finally arrived at the outskirts of the Magical Forest and after entering it, they moved towards the valley where Hui Yue’s hometown was located.
With every step Hui Yue was more and more thrilled and excited as he could not wait to see how beautiful his home had become. However, just as they passed over a hill, Hui Yue’s village came into view. His eyes narrowed and he was gobsmacked to see that the village looked exactly as worn down and poor as it had before, something Hui Yue could not understand.
Slowing down, Hui Yue started scanning the area but his limited scan did not pick up anything unusual. Looking around the villagers were working in the fields like usual, their clothes as worn out as they used to be and almost everything was the way he remembered it.
What was different were their faces. Although the village was poor they had always been cheerful. They were grateful for what they had, but now suffering and pain was visible on every single one of their faces and far fewer villagers could be seen. Only the children and the elderly were working, all the strong, young villagers were nowhere to be seen.
This scene was odd, putting the group on high alert. They moved from one shadow to another before they finally made their way to the outskirts of the village locating the shabbiest shack. Hui Yue’s house.
The group managed to sneak into the shack without being noticed by anyone. As they entered, Hui Yue expected to see his mother and younger brother inside, his mom looking after the home with his younger brother.
However, as he looked around there was no one inside of the shack. There were signs of people living here, but none of them were home at the moment. This caused even more confusion with the young man.
Looking around, Hui Yue found that the beds were not tidied and the bowls from breakfast were stacked on the counter, ready to be cleaned.
It looked as if both his mom and brother left the shack in a hurry. Looking around, he quickly decided while turning to his friends, “We’ll wait here for my parents to return.” He said with in a decisive voice and sat down on the floor. All his friends followed suit sitting on the ground. They all decided to spend the time cultivating while waiting for his family to return once more.
The trip which started with great excitement and happiness was now quickly reduced to worry and uncertainty. The friends were all very worried, much like Hui Yue. The year before at the village, before heading into the Magical Forest, all of them made new friends. To now see these friends missing, everyone felt a somber mood descend upon the small shack. Due to their worry none of them managed to truly enter cultivation.
Time ticked by ever so slowly as all the friends were quietly waiting within the room, waiting for his parents to return. And just as the sunshine vanished and darkness took over the world, voices could finally be heard outside the shack.
The voices were low and they were mumbling, making it hard to understand what was being said. Though Hui Yue clearly recognized the voices, his heart trembled with relief and a smile crept onto his face.
The door slowly opened and as it did two people stepped through the doorway. Their eyes quickly glancing about the room, but neither of them were capable of seeing in the dark.
“Father, Mother, we’ve returned!” Hui Yue said with a quiet voice and his words caused the two parents to jump in surprise.
“Little Yue, is that you?” His father asked with a gentle voice and an approving sound could be heard in response. The two people near the door were stunned at first but then they started moving about quickly. Their movements clearly routine for them. After moments the fireplace was filled with flames which heated up the chilled room and spread a soft and warm light across the room.
His little brother was only a year old and he was just hanging at the side of Hui Lifen, Hui Yue’s mother, in a small bag created for him.
Looking at his parents, Hui Yue was happy to see that they both seemed to be in a great mood, however he was worried when he saw that his father was far thinner than he had been before. His mother also seemed slimmer, but at least his little brother seemed to be well fed.
Before starting the conversation about what was happening, Hui Yue took out certain storage stones from his belt from which he brought out fresh berries, fruits and vegetables, alongside various meats. Seeing that the fireplace was burning well, it did not take Hui Yue long before he started to cook a hearty soup for everyone. A soup filled with chopped vegetables and various meats, enough food to make sure that everyone who was huddled together within the shack would have full stomachs.
Accepting the food with gratitude, his parents were feeling proud that their son managed to earn as much money as he did. Enough to look after them, but although they were grateful, they also felt guilty for being a burden.
“Eat first,” Hui Yue said with a tender voice as he looked at his parents. “Make sure to eat as much as you can. We can talk afterwards.”
Having said that, he saw the gratitude visible within their eyes as they ate one portion after another of the delicious food. Eventually, they were both so full of food that they were incapable of moving around much.
Having eaten the soup and drunk some of the wine Hui Yue offered them, his father finally straightened his back and opened his mouth.
“After you visited us last time we went to purchase some items within the city and on the way back we were followed by a group of bandits. These bandits found the village and took all of our valuables. We thought they were going to kill us all, but instead they decided that all the youngest and strongest in the village were to help them harvest their crops while only the weakest were left behind.”
Hui Guang paused for some time not certain how to continue. But while he was struggling, Hui Lifen took over, “All the presents you gave us were taken away by those bandits and they even made their own lair in another valley close by, where we are forced to go to every day to grow their crops.”
Hearing this the eyes of Hui Yue turned dark and anger rose up within his soul. He refused to accept that others enslaved his parents. He was ready to go all out and kill all of them. He wanted to rip them to shreds and ensure that they were never breathing again.
For some reason Hui Yue felt an immense killing intent welling up within him, a killing intent aimed completely at the bandits who dared to mess with his childhood home.
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