Chapter 22: Are We Going to Change?
Translator: Mogumoguchan/Zenobys Editor: - -
Su Ming was immersed in his thoughts until noon. He gritted his teeth, slung a basket over his back and left the tribe. Lei Chen went with him. Lei Chen had gone to the square before. He went there just a few days ago, in fact. Once he heard that Su Ming wanted to borrow some stone coins, he immediately pestered him for the reason. Once he learned of the reason, he immediately perked up and offered to act as Su Ming's guide.
"Su Ming, those two were the only stone coins I had. I went through a lot of trouble to get them. When... when are you going to give them back to me...?" Lei Chen stared anxiously at Su Ming as they sped through the forest outside the tribe.
"You've been nagging me for the entire journey. It's just two stone coins! I've been giving you Dark Dragon's Saliva for so many years. How much do you think they're worth? Lei Chen, aren't we best friends? How could you be like this?!" Su Ming felt slightly guilty but he still glared at Lei Chen, causing Lei Chen to mumble under his breath.
"I really went through a lot of trouble to get them..." Lei Chen scratched his head. As he mumbled, he seemed to remember something and looked at Su Ming oddly.
"Say, I just remembered. What are you going to buy at the square with the stone coins?"
"I'm buying Cloud Gauze Grass!" Su Ming ran through the forest lithely, showing signs of overtaking Lei Chen with his speed.
"What is Cloud Gauze Grass?" Lei Chen asked honestly. However, when he found that Su Ming had already overtaken him, he immediately took a few wide leaps to catch up.
"Su Ming, you have to remember to return them to me..."
"Su Ming, it took me a lot of years to save up those coins..."
"Su Ming, not even my father knows about them. How did you know where I hid them the moment you came to my house?"
"Su Ming, what is Cloud Gauze Grass? Why won't you tell me..."
"Su Ming? Su Ming?! I've been asking you the entire day!"
Su Ming's ears rang with Lei Chen's voice throughout the entire journey. He knew for a long time that Lei Chen liked to talk. Once he started, there was no stopping him but he did not expect him to keep talking for the entire journey.
When dusk arrived, they had already traveled some distance away from the tribe settlement. Within the unfamiliar forest, Su Ming's stamina finally ran dry and he began to slow down until he reached a huge tree. He leaned against it to catch his breath. Then he turned and looked at Lei Chen as if he wanted nothing to do with him. Lei Chen was also panting heavily while he sat down on the ground.
"Su... Su Ming... You... have to... give it back... to me..." Lei Chen was panting heavily but when he saw Su Ming looking back at him, he immediately straightened up and repeated himself.
"I'll return it... I'll definitely return it... but you have to promise me something!" Su Ming laughed wryly. He already did not know what to say for Lei Chen to shut up.
"What is it?" Lei Chen blinked his eyes. His expression was that of a simple-minded person.
"Don't look at me like that. Even Xiao Hong looks more convincing than you. Lei Chen, I know what you want to ask but I can't tell you. You'll know later." Su Ming glared at him. He grew up with this person and it would not be an exaggeration to say that he understood Lei Chen more than his parents.
Lei Chen appeared to be an honest and simple-minded person but he was actually pretty sensitive. A lot of people were fooled by the honest look on his face and tended to ignore the slyness in his eyes.
After he heard Su Ming, Lei Chen touched his nose and laughed boyishly.
"My request is simple. If you don't make a sound during the trip, once I finish my business and we come back, I'll tell you everything you want to know!" Then Su Ming gave Lei Chen a long, hard look.
Lei Chen froze as if his entire body was petrified. He did not move but his eyes were wide open as he stared at Su Ming.
"Lei Chen..." Su Ming laughed wryly. He played together with his friend growing up. He was not going to be fooled by his little trick.
"You were the one who told me to be quiet. I wanted to nod my head but if I did then there'd be rustling sounds. I'm just fulfilling my end of the promise! I'm not even moving and I'm not making any sound. It completely suits your idea of silence! Aren't I being quiet enough?!"
"You're asking me to be quiet, right? Don't worry. I'll be like this during the entire journey. I won't make any sound. But if I make any sound when I run, you can't blame me, I..."
"Stop! Enough! Just keep quiet!" Su Ming pinched the bridge of his nose. He saw a hint of playfulness in Lei Chen's eyes and he knew his friend was doing it on purpose.
"Fine, I'll tell you. I have a Berserker Body but it's hidden by the elder's Berserker Art. Don't tell anyone about this." As he spoke, Su Ming's face became deadly grave.
Lei Chen was stunned but he soon nodded solemnly.
"If I knew, I wouldn't have asked. I just wanted to know whether you've become a Berserker Practitioner. Now, I'm no longer worried. Haha, from now on, we'll become the future guardians of Dark Mountain Tribe!"
Su Ming laughed as well. They took a moment to replenish their strength and continued on their way. The sky gradually darkened, the moon rose in the sky and the stars shone. The snow on the ground became thicker, too and the winter wind blew against their faces. Still, they continued their journey without stopping. They even talked to each other on the way, creating an amiable atmosphere.
"I saw Bei Ling today. I feel so frustrated when I see him, especially when he has Chen Xin by his side. He knows that Chen Xin likes you!" Lei Chen grumbled angrily.
"He's changed so much. He just went to Wind Stream Tribe for a few years. Has he already forgotten that he's from of Dark Mountain Tribe? You didn't see his face that time. He even nagged me about all sorts of things!"
Su Ming was silent.
"Su Ming, I'll definitely surpass him!" Lei Chen clenched his fists as he ran.
"He's Bei Ling, our older brother. He took care of us when we were younger. Don't you recall him teaching you all he knew about training in the Ways of the Berserkers last time? He was even punished by the elder for that!"
"He even taught me how to use the bow..." Su Ming spoke calmly.
"As for Chen Xin, I already told you ages ago. I only see her as a sister, nothing else... Why are you still thinking about all these weird things?" Su Ming's voice was still calm.
Lei Chen wanted to continue speaking but he saw how calm Su Ming was so, he swallowed all his words back. He understood Su Ming just as much as Su Ming understood him.
He knew that Su Ming was a grateful man.
"Su Ming, people change..." Lei Chen spoke softly after a long while.
"As we grow up, as we experience more things, we will change... Perhaps one day, I will change... and I think, you will as well..." Lei Chen muttered.
As Su Ming ran, he fell silent.
When the sky became dark completely, Su Ming and Lei Chen stopped. Traveling at night was exceptionally troublesome. Besides, there was still some distance left before they reached the square. As such, they set up camp under a big tree for the night. They took shifts so that one of them could sit down to train while the other kept watch.
Su Ming leaned against the tree and his gaze fell upon Lei Chen, who sat down with his legs crossed. His body began glowing red and he could see a lot of red lines emerging from his body.
After watching Lei Chen for some time, Su Ming looked at the dark sky. The moon shone brightly and it looked beautiful as it hung in the sky with a curtain of stars. Yet, it made people feel small and insignificant when they lifted their heads and looked up.
'People change... Will I... change too..?'
Su Ming gazed quietly as he recalled all the times he spent together with Bei Ling when he was still a child.
'If I do change some day... how will I change...?'
Uncertainty appeared in Su Ming's eyes. This was too complicated a question for a 16 year old teenager.
'Perhaps I'll be like the elder and become a really strong Berserk Healer. I'll bring Xiao Hong on a journey around the world. We'll go to places we have never been, we'll go to all the tribes in the world and cure lots of the members of the Berserker Tribe...
'Perhaps, I'll even become an elder... Then I'll find a girl I like and live with her. She'll go on a journey with me until we grow old together... Xiao Hong will become Old Hong by then... I'll talk about all of my experiences with the La Sus in the tribe... just like how the elder spoke to us about his life...'
Su Ming smiled. It was a pure, honest and happy smile.
'Or perhaps... I'll get to know my parents...'
Su Ming sighed as he smiled.
"Lei Chen, I won't change!" Su Ming took a deep breath and spoke firmly under the moonlight on the vast plains belonging to the Berserker Tribe. He did so even though he was the only one who could hear it.
He was certain of his words just like any young man who still believed in a bright future...
Night went by. When dawn arrived, Su Ming and Lei Chen woke up as light gradually lit up the sky. They washed their faces with the snow. The cold snow made them shiver and wide awake.
"If we travel according to our original route, we'll reach the square by noon." Lei Chen had already gone to the square a few times. He rubbed away the snow on his face as he spoke to Su Ming.
Su Ming nodded. After they washed up, they continued running in the forest as they welcomed the first rays of sunlight.
Their journey went on without problems. When noon arrived, Su Ming saw a lot of houses made of grass and wood at the edge of the forest. There were also a lot of noises coming from the tribal settlement. Some Berserkers from the tribe were also patrolling the vicinity.
"We're here!" Lei Chen looked towards Su Ming particularly at the woven basket on his back. However, the basket was covered firmly with hides. He could not tell what was in there.
Su Ming looked at the tribe square before him. It was big. Its size was comparable to the size of a small tribe but there were no fences around it. There were only several strong looking men patrolling the area in full alertness. They maintained the peace in the area and prevented wild beasts from attacking.
At the center of the square was a gigantic purple tent made of beast skins. The security was extremely tight and no one was allowed near it.
"That house belongs to the owner of the square. I heard that he's a really strong Berserker. He will only appear to welcome tribe leaders from other tribes." Lei Chen spoke to Su Ming softly as they moved out of the forest towards the square.
Su Ming only cast a glance at the purple tent before looking away. He stepped into the unfamiliar place under the guards' scrutinizing eyes.
At that moment, a girl's voice called out to them coldly.
Su Ming paused in the middle of his footsteps and discovered that Lei Chen immediately shuddered when he heard the voice.