Title : Gu Ruohai’s & Su Huaizhu’s Story
Author : PurpleLy
THIS IS FAN FICTION!!! Click here to read the full disclaimer.
Autumn, Lesser Jade House.
“ANYONE THERE?!” Gu Ruohai shouted for the umpteenth time.
Su Huaizhu let out a sigh, “Give it up already. You’ve been at it for the last hour. No one’s coming.” He returned to his meditative pose as Gu Ruohai walked over and sat next to him.
He eyed Su Huaizhu’s right leg and asked, “How is it?’
It had been almost three months since they’d entered Lesser Jade House. They’d been assigned under Huang shixiong to tutor them in sword techniques and their respective methodologies. Earlier today, Huang shixiong had abruptly been summoned away by another shixiong and shijie to assist on the repairs of a chain bridge. Before he left, he’d instructed them both to continue with their training until his return.
Once the coast was clear, Su Huaizhu snuck out of Yingyuan courtyard to go exploring in the bamboo forests on the eastern side, much to Gu Ruohai’s consternation. Gu Ruohai had followed him all the way in an attempt to get him to return to the courtyard.
As they went deeper into the forest, Gu Ruohai finally got fed up with Su Huaizhu and began to fight with him. As they leapt and dashed about with their light footwork, they hadn’t realised that they were bordering on a cliff. It caught both the inexperienced youngsters unawares and they plummeted down, down, down……
It wasn’t a straight drop. Su Huaizhu’s ankle got impacted during the fall, but fortunately for Gu Ruohai, he didn’t suffer any injuries. It was a long way to the top and they didn’t have any tools or weapons with them, so they couldn’t make their way up unassisted. And that’s how they came to be at the bottom, waiting for help to come.
It will be getting dark soon. Hopefully, Huang shixiong had already returned and noted their absence. Perhaps he’s already out searching for them, Gu Ruohai thought.
He saw Su Huaizhu’s brows furrow as he tried to focus on his meditation and couldn’t help feeling sorry for him, so he approached and asked again “How bad is it? Let me have a look at your leg.”
Su Huaizhu opened his eyes and cast Gu Ruohai a confused look. After a moment’s silence, he smirked, “I wouldn’t presume for the Young Pavilion Master to care about what happens to a Devil Sect scum like me.”
Gu Ruohai folded his arms and eyed Su Huaizhu. “I’ve never called you that.” Without waiting for Su Huaizhu to respond, he sat down facing him, placed his hands on his injured leg and looked up at him expectedly.
Gu Ruohai said in a resigned tone,“I just want to make sure it isn’t broken, alright?”
Su Huaizhu hesitated. After some time, he grudgingly extended his leg out. Gu Ruohai gently pulled up the trouser leg and scrutinised the injury. He felt around to ascertain whether or not there were any broken bones, slowly moving the ankle this way and that. A move made Su Huaizhu wince in pain. “En…hurts.”
Satisfied, Gu Ruohai gently lowered the ankle and said, “It’s not broken. Just some scratches and a sprain. It’s swollen now. Don’t put weight on it in the meantime.”
“So pretty much no light footwork or martial arts training then.” Su Huaizhu grumbled.
Seeing that the last rays of the sun were fading, Gu Ruohai got up and started to collect wood for a fire. Luckily, he carried a fire stick with him at all times, so at least they wouldn’t freeze to death outside. It was autumn now and the chilly winds had started to pick up. Before you knew it, he’d managed to get a small fire going. It brightened their dim surroundings and emitted a welcome warmth.
“I’m going to look around to see if there’s any food and water.” Gu Ruohai said as he walked away from their makeshift campsite.
Su Huaizhu gave him a dismissive wave and replied sarcastically, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Gu Ruohai threw him a glance before he turned to leave. What he didn’t see was Su Huaizhu’s gaze trailing his back as he walked off.
Gu Ruohai had been nothing but civil to Su Huaizhu since they’d met. Su Huaizhu, on the other hand, had been mostly haughty and taciturn.
If only Su Huaizhu wasn’t so good looking. Gu Ruohai gave a shake of his head.
I just need to complete my training here, then I can return to Tengyun Pavilion in a couple of years.
Just then, he spotted a group of loquat trees on the side and headed over. It was autumn after all and there weren’t many left. Those that remained were all overripe. He grabbed as many edible ones as he could and scanned his surroundings for any water, but couldn’t see anything. At least they’d have something to eat in the meantime. So he turned and made his way back to the campsite.
As he approached, he saw that Su Huaizhu was staring blankly into the flames and hadn’t noticed his return.
“You alright?” Gu Ruohai asked as he sat down next to Su Huaizhu and handed over some of the fruit.
“I’m fine……” Su Huaizhu mumbled and avoided his gaze as he took the fruit and bit into one.
Normally, now would be the start of dinner time in Lesser Jade House. Once in a while, Gu Ruohai would bump into Wang Ke, Luo Yu and Qin Jianyue—who’d entered the same time as them—in the dining hall. No one was expecting them and no one would be looking out for them.
Now, all they could hope for was that Huang shixiong had already returned or would at least return soon.
Both of them ate quietly, staring at the flickering flames.
Gu Ruohai broke the silence after a while, “Perhaps Huang shixiong is out looking for us now……”
“Ng.” Su Huaizhu sounded in response.
Gu Ruohai eyes him for a while, considering whether or not to say anything more. After a long pause, he made up his mind and said, “Have I offended you in some way?”
Su Huaizhu didn’t reply.
“Never mind,” said Gu Ruohai.
He poked the fire with a stick and looked away. Don’t care so much, he told himself. It had been nearly three months like this. He would attempt to strike up a conversation with Su Huaizhu and nine out of ten times, he’d be met with monosyllabic responses or silence.
It’s just that there was something about Su Huaizhu that kept drawing his attention ever since they’d met. Physical attraction aside, there was some niggling sense at the back of his mind that wouldn’t go away each time they were around each other. He’d talk with him just to attempt to gain more clarity into those thoughts, but to no avail.
The fire crackled and he added some wood to it before biting into his second loquat.
As he was thinking maybe he shouldn’t have said that last sentence just now, suddenly Su Huaizhu uttered, “No, you haven’t.”
Gu Ruohai turned in his direction, blinking in surprise.
Su Huaizhu took a deep breath and threw a stick into the fire. “I came here looking for Shizun’s abode.” He said, staring into the flames. “Heard one of the shijies mention it and was curious.”
Gu Ruohai contemplated Su Huaizhu’s expression which was dyed orange-yellow from the glow of the campfire. His fierce eyebrows were furrowed on that thin handsome face. It abruptly reminded him of his name ‘Huaizhu’ and bamboo. He inwardly smiled. After a pause, he said, “I heard that Shizun’s abode was somewhere in the south…”
Su Huaizhu didn’t look up at him but he raised an eyebrow.
Upon their arrival at Lesser Jade House, all the newcomers were instructed by their shijie to pay their respects to a portrait of a young lady in green. They’d been told that Shizun rarely taught disciples directly and hadn’t shown herself in almost a hundred years. However, she still kept in touch through messages delivered by her little green bird.
When everyone heard that, they were all rather disheartened. They were suspicious that this had all been some scheme or trick, but no one dared voice their dissatisfaction ever since they’d witnessed that shijie’s jaw-dropping internal strength and skills during the assessments earlier that day.
Subsequently, they were all assigned under various shixiongs and shijies to mentor. Since Gu Ruohai’s and Su Huaizhu’s skills and techniques were roughly similar, they had been assigned under Huang shixiong.
Just then, the wind picked up and gusted some chilly air in their direction, causing the fire to flicker. It blew up some leaves around them before scattering them elsewhere.
Gu Ruohai saw Su Huaizhu rub his arms, so he shuffled nearer and asked, “Are you cold?” Because he practiced Zhengyang techniques, he wasn’t so susceptible to the chill. He subconsciously reached out his hand to place it on Su Huaizhu’s shoulder.
Su Huaizhu saw this and immediately flinched away. “What are you doing?”
Gu Ruohai quickly withdrew his hand, “I thought I’d transfer over some internal strength to you to warm you up, that’s all.”
Su Huaizhu’s expression was complicated as he pondered for a long while. In the end, he replied, “No need.”
The forest became silent again.
Gu Ruohai finished his four loquats and glanced over to see that Su Huaizhu was still eating his. He had been thirsty for quite some time now, so he rose to his feet and said to Su Huaizhu, “I’m going to look again to see if there’s a pond or something. We need water.”
Su Huaizhu nodded, still not looking up. He continued to slowly chew the last of his loquat and toss the seed into the fire as Gu Ruohai walked back into the woods again.
After walking some ways, Gu Ruohai managed to make out a little stream in the waning light. He hurried over to wash his hands, clearing the stickiness from the fruit. Then he scooped up some water to drink as he scanned around for something he could use to bring water back to Su Huaizhu.
He couldn’t find anything suitable. There weren’t any usable leaves and he didn’t have any tools or weapons with him. If not, he could have cut down a bamboo and used a section of it as a cup.
The light would be fading soon, so he cupped his hands and scooped up as much water as he could. He made his way back as quickly and as steadily as he could without spilling too much water. The thought came to him as he was doing this: What if Su Huaizhu rebuffed his goodwill?
In a moment, he cast it aside and said to himself: Forget it. Su Huaizhu will choose to drink it or he can choose to go thirsty.
At last, he arrived back at the campsite and hurried over to Su Huaizhu’s side. He knelt down carefully and said, “There was nothing I could use as a cup, so I had to bring it to you in my hands. Hurry, before it leaks out.”
He moved his hands over to Su Huaizhu’s mouth, fully prepared to be rebuked. But Su Huaizhu didn’t even give it a second thought. He bowed his head and held Gu Ruohai’s cupped hands steady as he drank.
Gu Ruohai watched him quietly. Su Huaizhu must be terribly thirsty. His breathing suddenly stilled when he felt Su Huaizhu’s lips touch his palm to finish the last of the water. He swallowed and said softly: “Do you want more—”
“No, no.” Su Huaizhu said swiftly. “It’s too dark now. You might lose your way.” He must have realised that his hand was still holding Gu Ruohai’s and he abruptly let go as if he’d been burned.
“I’m going to sleep. Wake me if someone comes.” He lay down on his side, facing away from Gu Ruohai and pillowed his arm. Gu Ruohai thought for a moment then shifted over to sit behind him, facing away.
“Go ahead and sleep. It should be safe enough here in Lesser Jade House that we won’t need to watch out for predators and the like. I’ll meditate for a while.” After speaking, he moved to sit in a cross-legged position.
After some time, Gu Ruohai peered behind him and noticed that Su Huaizhu had already fallen asleep. His breaths were soft and steady, but he was hugging his arms around him. He was clearly cold but unwilling to admit it.
Having pondered for a moment, Gu Ruohai manoeuvred himself gently to lie down behind him. He placed his hand ever so lightly on Su Huaizhu’s shoulder and streamed over some of his internal strength.
Subconsciously, Su Huaizhu’s brows relaxed and his arms gradually loosened. Seeing this, Gu Ruohai relaxed as well.
Before long, Gu Ruohai’s eyelids also began to get heavy. He let himself fall asleep; his hand remained on Su Huaizhu’s shoulder.
It was a clear moonlit night. Except for the occasional rustle of the leaves from the chilly breeze and the random crackle from the fire, it was relatively quiet all around.
Su Huaizhu dreamt that he was back in the Devil Sect. He was all cosy and wrapped up in his blankets on his soft bed on Iris Island.
When he awoke, he would be able to take a hot soak in his private bathhouse, have the attendants wash, dry and dress him and have his pick of an assortment of delicious hot foods.
The sound of birds chirping woke Su Huaizhu up. He slowly peeled open his eyes and tried to focus on his surroundings. His thoughts were muddled at the moment as he attempted to recall where he was.
That’s right, the bamboo forest. They’d fallen down the cliff yesterday.
It was then that he realised he was lying on the forest floor. Someone was hugging him from behind; their arm around his waist.