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Chapter: 9.1


With the arrival of winter, the weather was growing increasingly colder by the day, so cold it could seep through one’s bones. Everyone that could was hiding in their homes, resting by the fire or huddling in the warmth of a cozy blanket. 

Yet in front of Jian City, many people were heading south along the road through Gong City. It was not that they didn’t want to remain within the comforts of their home, but that they no longer had a place to call home as it had been destroyed by the war. In order to survive, they had to pack their bags, drag their children and flee to a place that could give them peace and stability. 

Along their long journey, the cold wind whistled overhead. Many had only a pair of straw shoes, while others were barefoot as they trod along the road covered by a thin layer of ice. Amongst the group, there were many that brought their children along. Though their children were crying from hunger and the biting cold, their footsteps never halted, continuing to tread along the road, southbound. Occasionally, a few people would raise their heads, look towards the skies and say a prayer, hoping that the sun will make an appearance to warm the wintry air. Otherwise, they knew, rather than dying under the blades of war, they would surely die from the cold and hunger along their journey. 

 Reaching the end of the road, as if reaching the ends of heaven and earth, a figure suddenly appeared. The group of refugees could not help but halt in their steps as they wondered if it was a messenger from hell or an immortal from heaven that had come to collect them. 

In a body of white robes, unsullied by even a speck of dust, the figure slowly approached them. As they got a clearer view of the newcomer, a brief thought crossed their minds: Had an immortal arrived to liberate them of their suffering? 

Though the weather today was chilly and dreary, this person gave off a warm aura that made everyone’s eyes light up expectantly. With a countenance as fine as jade, he gave a faint smile that dispelled the fears amassed in their hearts. His eyes were deep as the bottomless sea, void of any ripple, and full of compassion, making them feel as if they had on an extra layer of clothing, dispelling the cold surrounding them. 

Momentarily, the hunger and fear were gone, replaced by tranquil serenity within their hearts. Meeting this man’s eyes, everyone felt it would be a blessing regardless if their fate was set in heaven or hell. 

Looking at the group of people in front of him, the man in white took note of their torn and tattered clothes as well as their blue complexion from remaining out in the cold. To him, they looked as if they would collapse at any moment and once they did, they would never be able to rise again. 

 Taking the package resting over his shoulder, the man in white handed the item to a burly man with a pair of gentle, unpretentious eyes that was standing in front of the group. 

 Receiving the package, the burly man was struck by surprise and hesitated to open to see what was inside. 

"There are some baked goods inside, everyone should have a bite to fight the cold."

Like the Buddhists chants resonating from the Buddhist temples, his voice was light and graceful, nearly ethereal like a Buddha sighing out of pity for the mortals of the world. 

Opening the package, the burly man was startled by the sight of hotcakes inside that were still warm. 

 "Thank you, immortal sir! Thank you, immortal sir!" The burly man suddenly knelt down and kowtowed, tears welling up in his innocent eyes.

These few pieces of hotcakes may not be much for some people, but for them it was a life-saver! This man was indeed an immortal sent from the heavens to come save them! Only an immortal could have such a noble, ethereal countenance, only an immortal would have such compassion. 

"No need for such formalities." The young man in white helped the burly man up, unbothered by his filthy appearance. With a friendly smile, the man in white said, "I’m not an immortal, my name is Yu Wuyuan." 

"Yu Wuyuan?" The burly man repeated, eyes widening. "Young Master Yu! You…you are Young Master Yu?"

This was the man regarded as the number one Young Master of Eastern Realm? Yu Wuyuan? The man with great compassion for the people, Yu Wuyuan? 

"Please help me distribute the food to everyone," Yu Wuyuan patted him on the shoulder and said, "Look at those children crying from hunger."

"Yes," The burly man immediately turned around and went to distribute the food to everyone. He loudly exclaimed, "This was given by Young Master Yu. Young Master Yu came to save us!"

"Thank you, Young Master Yu!"

"Thank you, Young Master Yu!"

The refugees all turned towards Yu Wuyuan and expressed their sincere gratitude. Among the group, there was a woman who had received a piece of hotcake. Though she was hungry, she did not rush to stuff it in her mouth. Instead, she split it in half and gave a piece to the child on her lap and then gave the other piece to the elderly man next to her. The elderly man tore off a piece of the hotcake and gave the remaining bits back to the woman. 

Standing next to them, Yu Wuyuan could only watch in silence as the gaze in his eyes deeped with sorrow and pity. He gave a soft sigh before turning to walk away. 

"Young Master Yu…"

After distributing the hotcakes, the burly man went back to find Yu Wuyuan but he was nowhere to be found. In place of where he had stood, there was something shining. The burly man walked over and was startled to find four golden leaves lying on the ground. 

"This…" The burly man picked it up and chased after Yu Wuyuan, shouting "Young Master Yu, wait! Young Master Yu, you dropped something!"

Hearing the shouts behind him, Yu Wuyuan who had already walked a far distance ahead, stopped and turned around. He saw the burly man chasing after him, though his speed was not very fast as he didn’t have much physical strength. 

"Yo… Young master Yu, your ….stuff was…left behind." The burly man finally caught up to him, panting as he extended the golden leaves in front of him with one hand while the other was grasping his leg for support. This run had made his head swarm with dizziness and his vision grew blurry. 

 Yu Wuyuan extended a hand, but instead of taking the golden leaves, he stroked the man’s back with his palm. The man strangely felt his body relaxed as his breathing stabilized. He was no longer dizzy and his whole body felt warmer. 

"Young Master Yu, your stuff," the burly man handed him the golden leaves in his hand.

Yu Wuyuan shook his head and said, "You don’t have to give it back to me, I purposely left it behind for all of you."

"This… but…" the burly man was reluctant to accept such a huge amount. 

"Take it." Yu Wuyuan said as he used his hand to envelop the man’s palm around the golden leaves. "You’re heading to Huang Kingdom, aren’t you? With so many people, this amount of money can only afford each of you one hotcake a day." 

"Thank you, Young Master Yu!" The burly man decided to accept the money in the end. He motioned to kneel to express his gratitude. He was just a farmer, had never read a book in his life so he was not great with words. He did not know how to vocalize his sincere gratitude towards this man for saving the lives of his village and could only express the highest level of respect he knew how by kneeling on the ground.  

Yu Wuyuan stretched out his hand and stopped him from kneeling. "Go back and take the people of your village to Huang Kingdom. It will be better there."

"Yes." No matter how hard he tried, the burly man could not fall to his knees so he could only stand back up again. He looked at his benefactor and asked, "Young master, are you heading north? It’s very dangerous there!"

"Hmm." Yu Wuyuan nodded and looked ahead. "Bai and Nan Kingdoms are at war. Many lives have already been lost."

"Yes, you’d better not go," the burly man advised.

"I want to go," Yu Wuyuan remarked, his voice still faint and ethereal like the passing wind.

"Young Master, do you have matters to take care of there? How about…" the burly man wanted to suggest that he could help him if he had something that must be done as he didn’t want this immortal-like figure to face such hell on earth. 

Yu Wuyuan gave a faint smile and shook his head.

 "You should go back to your people," Yu Wuyuan said before turning to walk away. 

"Young master, be careful! You must be careful!" the burly man shouted after him.

With a wave of sleeve, Yu Wuyuan departed without a glance back. 

The burly man looked at the pile of golden leaves in his hand, then looked up towards the departing back of the man who was more precious than gold. Closing his eyes, he enveloped his hands around the money and said a prayer. He prayed that his benefactor would be safe, hoping that he’d live to a hundred years. It’s just this prayer of his, will God hear it? And if heard, will he grant it?

***

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