Step Down, Let Me Come!
Chapter 13: Night rain
Outside, the rain was coming down in torrents.
The sky and earth seemed to become one.
From time to time, it was accompanied by lightning and thunder.
Qi Shan had just lied down, when the loud knocking woke him up.
He opened his eyes, got up, and tidied up his clothes.
He was just about to put on the wooden clogs to open the door, but Shen Tang was a step faster.
The guest wore a conical bamboo hat and woven rush raincoat, he looked anxious –
He was a Qianjia village official.
Shen Tang moved to the side, inviting him inside.
“Outside it is raining heavily, sir.
First, you should come inside”.
The village official waved his hand, declining: “No, no, thank you”.
Qi Shan stepped forward: “Sir, looks anxious, something bad has happened?”
“The two young masters, did you see Ayan?” The wind and rain were blowing outside the house.
The village official was soaked, and the droplets were dripping down his face.
He didn’t bother to wipe them away.
His voice was trembling, “This kid… not watched for a moment, and he disappeared!”
Shen Tang was puzzled: “Who is Ayan?”
“This is the kid the young master played so lively with before”.
After he said that, Shen Tang understood.
Originally, it was this foolish looking child.
He was called “Ayan”.
Shen Tang looked at the weather outside.
She shook her head: “We’ve been staying in this house all this time and didn’t see him.
When did he disappear?”
The village official said: “Just now, at most 15 minutes ago”.
Shen Tang heard this and sunk in thought.
One quarter of an hour, it’s just 15 minutes.
The downpour outside was unstoppable, even the raincoat wasn’t enough.
The wind whistled and the beast's howls could be faintly heard from the mountains.
It was horrific.
A child disappeared in this kind of weather.
Could it be that he met with the dangerous animals around the village?
It is also what the village official was worrying the most.
He said: “If he just naughtily ran to play, it wouldn’t be so bad, but I’m afraid that he went downhill and met a tiger…”
Because of the drought, the harvest in these years was lacking.
The repeated taxes and the wars everywhere impacted the lives of the villagers.
The beasts in the mountains also lived poorly, so sometimes they would go downhill to hunt.
It was still okay, when they only took the livestock away, but not the kids…
Within two years, similar tragedies had already happened three times.
Qi Shan took his hat off the wall and put it on, tightening the string.
He said: “Sir, firstly, don’t worry.
I’ll look for him.
We will find him.
Well, think about it, maybe the child was picked up by the people from the manor, it is still unknown … “
The village official sighed.
He also hoped that everything could be like Qi Shan said, that it was just a false alarm and the child didn’t disappear nor was taken away by a big animal, but was just picked up.
However, he knew that this possibility was very small.
Ayan wasn’t valued in the manor.
He just needed to live, no one cared if he was hungry.
Half a month ago, he stayed in the village for four or five days before being picked up—and that was because one of the villagers deliberately reminded the people from the manor of Ayan.
The weather tonight was so bad, he wouldn’t expect them to go out to pick him up.
Shen Tang said: “I will also help you”.
Qi Shan looked at her: “You better forget about it.
Don’t you see the weather outside? We won’t find him, and we will lose you yet”.
The village official was grateful for Qi Shan’s help and also disapproved of Shen Tang going out—This young master was still an innocent kid.
He was around 11–12 years old and looked meager.
He could only be five or six years older than Ayan.
“The worry is superfluous, how can I get lost? No matter how bad it is, I’m still a better helper than the villagers who would search in the dark”.
Shen Tang borrowed a coat from the village official.
But, he wasn’t reassured and handed her a wooden knife.
If she had bad luck and met with a tiger, she could at least have something to protect herself with.
The heavy rain made the ground muddy.
Although Shen Tang's eyesight was good, from time to time she would step on the puddle.
When walking, she would also splash the muddy water everywhere, dirtying her clothes.
After 15 minutes of searching, she still wasn’t able to find any trace of Ayan in the fields near Qianjia Village.
Other villagers also didn’t have any gains.
As time passed by, everyone started losing their faith.
Qi Shan asked the village official where the manor was.
He wanted to go there to inquire—although the possibility of being picked up by them wasn’t high, but if?
Shen Tang volunteered herself: “I’ll go too”.
The village official sighed: “Then, I will have to bother you”.
The villagers went towards the mountains to look for him.
The situation now looked the same as with the other kids that were caught by tiger previously.
The villagers were looking for them all night, but at the end they found them at the foot of a mountain.
In the underbrush laid intestines, mincemeat and bones, all that was left of them.
“If the magic words are so mystical, why is there no way to stop the rain?”
Despite wearing a raincoat and bamboo hat, Shen Tang was still drenched by the rain.
The ice-cold clothes were sticking to her skin, making her feel extremely uncomfortable.
Her garment also didn’t stop the night wind from giving her goosebumps.
Qi Shan said: “Maybe there is”.
Who let there be so many magic words?
“Even if there is, it’s not like we can learn all the magic phrases.
It’s better to take a raincoat, than just hope that in this world exists a phrase like that”.
Shen Tang had to jog to keep up with his footsteps.
It didn’t matter if she splashed the sewage while walking, because she was already dirty, so it didn’t bother her: “So is there any sort of light that wouldn’t get soaked by rain? It would be really convenient while walking in the heavy rain at night…”
Qi Shan “…”
The village wasn’t too far away from the manor.
The two of them followed the muddy trail.
The road was uneven, and they walked for half an hour before finding the manor.
They saw a courtyard surrounded by a short fence with the barely seen black tiles and white walls.
The courtyard was pitch-black, and not shiny at all.
From a distance, it looked like a curled up shadow of a beast.
Shen Tang stepped forward and knocked.
Knock, knock, knock –
At this moment, the thunderbolt illuminated half of the sky, followed by a deafening rumble of thunder.
Shen Tang was worried that the knocking could be inaudible inside the manor, so she made a fist and started banging on it—bang, bang, bang!
And then, at the house she thought was empty, an impatient man's voice could be faintly heard: “Who is knocking?”
After a moment, the doors opened.
The middle-aged man who opened the door wore a short brown robe and a headband.
He seemed dissatisfied to be disturbed in the middle of the night.
His eyes swept over Shen Tang and Qi Shan.
After seeing one short kid and one tall youth, his expression slightly relaxed, and he seemed more friendly.
“You two are?”
Shen Tang replied: “We are travelers, temporarily staying in Qianjia village.
The village official said that the child named Ayan lives in this manor.
He played in the village and didn’t return, we didn’t see him for some time.
The village official is worried that he was eaten by a tiger and is searching everywhere for him”.
After the middle-aged man heard it, his expression eased a lot: “Oh, Ayan was picked up, I troubled you two”.
Shen Tang frowned slightly.
The hat blocked her expression, before she resumed to normal.
At this time, Qi Shan saluted the other man with a mild expression: “If the young master is safely at home, I can relax.
The road is dark, the wind, and rain is strong, so is it possible that we can temporarily stay in your house to avoid getting caught in it?”
The middle-aged man hesitated.
At the end, he let Shen Tang and Qi Shan in and said: “You two came here in this rain, because of that child.
You can stay here.
Everyone is already asleep, I have no way to receive you, so I hope you will forgive me.”
The two followed the middle-aged man into the courtyard.
There were a few trees in the courtyard, and between them was a rope tied to dry the clothes.
There were seven or eight adult-sized clothing and one white with patches for a kid.
Shen Tang glanced at them and took back her line of sight unnoticed.
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