Chapter 1.1 — The spring day’s sun dazzled brightly.
I finished writing Summer’s Desire, but I haven’t written for a while to let my body rest. At first, I began to write a European story, but 50,000 characters in, I suddenly desired to write this 《The Whirlwind Girl》. I truly was unable to restrain my impulse, so I began writing.
Hehe. I think that the name of this book, 《The Whirlwind Girl》, seems very simple. It always makes people reminisce of old film titles as well. Nonetheless, I cannot think of a name that suits this novel better, so I please ask of everyone to forgive me!
Okay, I’m a little nervous.
I don’t know whether everyone will like this story of Bai Cao.
Only, I myself am very fond of it.
Having written a few stories with gloomy and depressed tones for a long time, I truly had an excellent time writing 《The Whirlwind Girl》.
I hope everyone can like her as much as I do.
“She actually still dared to appear!”
“Does she still want face? If I were her, I would rather dig a hole to bury my face in!”
“Ah! She’s walking over!”
“I hope she doesn’t walk over to me!”
“I’m afraid she is! If she dares to walk over here, I’ll send her flying away with a kick!”
One sunny day in spring, within Absolute Victory Martial Hall, disciples dressed in white taekwondo garments gathered together, chattering continuously. They glared with gazes full of contempt at that fourteen-year-old girl walking by.
She was definitely coming. She did not do anything wrong, so why wouldn’t she dare to come?! If she didn’t come today, it would prove that she lacked confidence, that she believed she had been wrong.
But she didn’t do anything wrong!
Bai Cao bit her lip hard, raised her head, thrust out her chest, and walked towards Martial Hall courtyard. Her fists clenched tightly as she heard each and every insult thrown her way. She immediately glared at those who insulted her until the person she was glaring at discontentedly closed their mouth.
With her head held even higher, she walked toward the very front of the procession, the surrounding disciples immediately moving far away from her and making her stand there by herself all alone.
“Qi Bai Cao! Do you really think everyone is afraid of you?!”
A sharp female voice rang out.
Bai Cao frowned and looked over. The person glaring at her was Guang Ya, who was flushed with anger. Straightening up, she left the procession to walk forward, stopping in front of Bai Cao. She angrily shouted, “What kind of person are you when all is said and done? Why are acting so right and self-confident when you have obviously been involved in such a shameful affair? Why did you still come? Do you not know that you are completely unwelcome here?!”
“I haven’t done anything shameful.”
Bai Cao clenched her fists, raising her head up when she spoke.
“You…you…” Guang Ya was breathless. “…Who raised you! Who gave you money to go to school! Where do you live! Where do you eat! But you went as far as to…”
“I went as far as to what? Are you telling me that it’s right to lie? Are you telling me that we should cheat? Shifu1 said, ‘No matter the circumstance, people should know of honor and shame, of right and wrong!’ Don’t tell me that because of the Martial Halls Competition, we can lie and cheat?!” She sucked in a large breath of air, but she refused to cry. She was the unyielding Qi Bai Cao. Regardless of what she was feeling, right was right; wrong was wrong.
Guang Ya cried out loudly, tears streaming down her delicate face. She looked like as though she was an angel who had suffered all kinds of grievances. The other disciples also could not hold back any longer. Each and every one of them, without exception, glowered at Bai Cao.
An unknown person yelled, “Beat her! Beat her to death!”
Immediately, several disciples sent flying kicks her way!
The entire sky filled with the sounds of broken objects. Innumerable, lightning-fast and shadowy legs covered the sky like dense, dark clouds, with Bai Cao at the core! As if she was in an animation freeze frame, she unyieldingly straightened her back. The murderous spirit and hostility emitting from her lone figure intensified severely.
The youngsters collapsed onto the ground, with everything broken and in disorder. Each and every one involuntarily cried out in pain. Every face held a single footprint, and the owner of the footprint was the still unyieldingly standing with a straight back at her original spot. She raised her head even higher.
She hadn’t done anything wrong!
“Qi Bai Cao!”
Ahead, in the courtyard, was a Japanese-style house. A white papered screen was pulled open, and three middle-aged men, dressed in white taekwondo garments with a black belt tied around their waist, walked outside. Amongst this group was a man with a scarlet-red complexion. He looked at the sorry figures of their collapsed disciples. A haze flashed over his eyes as his gaze turned towards the girl that was still standing in the center of the courtyard. He asked, “Did you knock them down?”
Bai Cao lowered her head.
The three men glanced at each other before the man with the scarlet-red complexion said with a forced smile, “It seems that what Qu shidi2 said is right. You really have studied Taekwondo.”
Bai Cao remained silent.
“Your current martial arts is very strong. We, of this small and unpopular Martial Hall, cannot teach you anything.” The man with the scarlet-red complexion gave a hollow laugh. “It would be better for you to go to the other Martial Halls to continue your studies. In the future, if you happen to become the national champion, remember to tell reporters that you had received lessons from Absolute Victory Martial Hall. Don’t try to waste everyone’s time through spars.”
Bai Cao lifted her head, shocked. What did Zheng shibo3 mean? Why would it be better to go to other Martial Halls to study?
“Your things have already been packed. They are now outside the gate of this Martial Hall.” The man with the scarlet-red complexion could no longer look at her. Turning his head towards the other disciples, he said, “Okay, everyone gather around. To prepare for the Martial Halls Competition in May, everyone must temper their spirit. Double training!”
Bai Cao bit her lip. She pretended not to care about the disdainful gazes she drew from the disciples that were crawling up from the ground to assemble.
“Qi Bai Cao! Did you not hear me?”
The man with the scarlet-red complexion impatiently watched her standing amongst the procession and said, “If you cannot understand me, then I will repeat myself once more. Please go to other Martial Halls, or wherever else you wish to go. This insignificant Absolute Victory Martial Hall cannot afford to worship you, this grand, venerated Buddha.”
Bai Cao couldn’t help but shout in disbelief. Her body gradually grew ice-cold. They really wanted to drive her out? They were driving her out because of what happened yesterday?
“Do not yell at this Senior Teacher. I do not have the fortune to be your Senior Teacher.” Zheng Yuan Hai was too lazy to even bother glancing her way. “Please leave immediately!”
“Liu shibo! Deng shibo!”
She panicked a bit, but forced herself to calm down. She looked towards the other shibo, but Liu shibo’s complexion was even more unsightly than Zheng shibo. Deng shibo evaded her eyes. It seemed that this decision was agreed upon by all three of them.
“Why are you yelling? Not willing to leave peacefully, you really want us to drive you out?!”
Zheng Yuan Hai shouted, scowling.
“I’m not leaving.”
Bai Cao repressed the dread emerging from her heart with all her might and obstinately declared, “I didn’t do anything wrong. I am not wrong, so I won’t leave.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong?” Zheng Yuan Hai angrily scowled. “The Martial Halls Competition is several months from now, but you went as far as to heavily tarnish Absolute Victory Martial Hall’s prestige at such a pivotal moment. What more do you want from Absolute Victory Martial Hall? Absolute Victory Martial Hall has already become the laughingstock amongst all the Martial Halls!”
Her chest heaved violently. Clenching her hands tightly, she said, “Since I was a child, Shifu has always taught me that a Taekwondo practitioner should possess a Taekwondo spirit, should know honor and shame, should learn to distinguish from right and wrong, should not practice fraud for any reason, and should not attempt to fool the common people for benefits or vanity. Otherwise, that practitioner has disgraced the Taekwondo spirit.”
Zheng Yuan Hai’s complexion paled before flushing red again. He ruthlessly said, “Yes, you’re right! I have wronged! Are you satisfied?! Except, I am the Master of this Martial Hall. I have the right to forbid you from practicing here. I also have the right to forbid you from continuing to live here! So, get lost right now!”
Bai Cao gradually became frenetic.
“I’m not going. I… I want to wait for shifu’s return… Shifu won’t drive me away…”
“Haha! Qu Xiang Nan? He is also living in my hall. What qualifications does he have to prevent me from driving you out?! Qi Bai Cao, tactfully withdraw yourself immediately. Otherwise, don’t blame me when I drive you out! What, you’re still not leaving?”
Zheng Yuan Hai snorted coldly. His gaze swept past the stupefied disciples and continued, “From now on, she is no longer a member of Absolute Victory Martial Hall. She also no longer has any relations with all of you. Now, everyone, drive her out!”
The spring day’s sun dazzled brightly.
Bai Cao was somewhat dazzled; countless specks of light flickered in her vision. She gradually lost clear sight of those hostile and loathing expressions. Was she wrong? Did she really do something wrong?
Her body was shoved.
What seemed to be several pairs of hands shoved her around.
Was it those disciples that she had trained with everyday pushing her out, out of the gate? And afterwards, closing the gate heavily?
Bai Cao stood, numb, outside the gate of the Martial Hall.
She stood beneath an old locust tree near the imposing gate, foolishly staring at the plaque hanging above the gate. Written on the red plaque was ‘Absolute Victory Martial Hall.’ Those four words were burned into the board with large, golden writing. Everyone thought she did something wrong, so…perhaps she actually did something wrong?
Zheng Yuan Hai executed a flying kick, and pine boards at least thirty centimeters thick broke in half. Zhong He shixiong,4 who was holding the pine boards, staggered back from the powerful impact. They both turned and bowed towards the applauding spectating reporters, who had all exclaimed in admiration.
She even heard some reporters lament, “Ah, it turns out that Absolute Victory Martial Hall’s strength is not weak!”
“This next Martial Halls Competition… perhaps Absolute Victory Martial Hall will be a dark horse.”
She knew, however, that Zheng shibo didn’t have that level of power.
After drinking heavily for many years, Zheng shibo couldn’t even break a thin pine board, so how could he unexpectedly break such thick pine boards with a kick? She had expected to find chunks of pine boards shattered by a kick, but she actually found that the boards were broken beforehand and glued back together. On top of that, it appeared to be made from viscose, a type of pine board that even kids just beginning to learn Taekwondo could split with a kick.
Did she do something wrong?
Should she not have gone to Zheng shibo’s residence and ask him why he did this, why he violated the essence of the Taekwondo spirit to deceive the reporters? She had believed that it would only be between her and Zheng shibo when she asked, so she didn’t expect that a reporter, who just happened to have returned from conducting an interview with Liu shibo, would overhear her interrogation.
So, was she at fault?
The night was pitch-black.
She was both hungry and cold, her back slowly sliding down the tree trunk she was leaning against to sit on the ground. She only had a meagre amount of possessions—a schoolbag and school uniform, her other clothes that weren’t thrown away, and the white taekwondo garments she was still wearing. She didn’t get it. Did she really do something wrong?
She hugged her knees to her chest.
Tears rolled down her face involuntarily.
Why is it like this? What about etiquette, honor, patience, discipline, perseverance, all these morals that shifu had taught her? Ah, shifu had said that these are the fundamentals necessary for training in Taekwondo.
Even if Taekwondo originated from and flourished in South Korea, its spirit still came from the quintessentials of Chinese culture. As a Chinese person, training in it became more than just rigorous self-discipline.
No, she didn’t do anything wrong.
She bit her lip hard.
She would wait for shifu to return. Shifu would surely say that Zheng shibo was at fault and not her.
High School in the City.
“Hey, did you not shower after you finished training yesterday?! You stink!” In between lessons, Xiao Ying exaggerated her claim by fanning herself with her textbook.
Bai Cao silently worked on her math homework that was due soon.
“You didn’t even finish working on your homework? Very strange… you have always turned your homework in on time. What happened to the meticulous student who would always be the first to turn in homework?”
Bai Cao continued writing down answers, her head still bowed.
“Wa, you write so fast! Your brain is a calculator! Are you even thinking about what you’re writing? Hey, hey, why are you ignoring me!? Although our Pure Elegance Martial Hall and your Absolute Victory Martial Hall are considered long-standing enemies, we are still good sisters! I know that last time, Ruo Bai shixiong defeated your strongest Zhong He shixiong, and Chu Wei shijie5 defeated your strongest Li Lan shijie. The losses caused your Absolute Victory Martial Hall to have no face left. You were also angry for many days, but hadn’t you already calmed down? Why is it that today…”
“Right, are you participating in this next Martial Halls Competition? Each Martial Hall can have up to three competitors. Only, I might not join…”
Gula. Gula. Xiao Ying stopped talking, just like a stalling, oversized machine. She, like Bai Cao, also lived in the Martial Hall since she was a child. The only difference was that Bai Cao was adopted by her shifu, whereas Xiao Ying’s parents were respectively a chauffeur and housekeeper of Pure Elegance Martial Hall.
At first, she quite disliked Qi Bai Cao.
She had tried to complain about her to the homeroom teacher multiple times, resolutely demanding not to be deskmates with Qi Bai Cao.
She thought Qi Bai Cao was an arrogant princess.
If it wasn’t because she later learned that Qi Bao Cao was an orphan, whose parents had died when she was five to six years old, she simply would’ve believed that Qi Bai Cao was looking down upon everyone else. Every day, she would look at the board with a very serious appearance, which was absolutely infuriating.
Whilst they were deskmates, however, she slowly discovered——
Qi Bai Cao actually only suffered from a social impairment disorder. Her expression when she looked at the board was actually because she was afraid someone would talk with her. She acted very serious to keep her classmates distant. In fact, this Qi Bai Cao’s temperament was unfathomable. Regardless of what was said to her, she wouldn’t take offense.
In other words, haha, she was the very definition of a paper tiger!6
Xiao Ying’s ears perked up as she finally determined that the noise was coming from Bai Cao’s belly. She exclaimed, “Wow! Bai Cao, your belly is singing a song~! Quick, listen!”
Bai Cao frowned. Twisting a water bottle open, she gulped down several mouthfuls. Gudong. Gudong. Fortunately, she had kept this water bottle in her school desk and not in her room at the Martial Hall. If she wasn’t able to drink a few gulps of water, her belly would be even more ravenous and unbearable.
“You didn’t eat?” Xiao Ying inquisitively asked.
From yesterday morning when she was driven out of the Martial Hall to now, she had not eaten anything. She also didn’t have a single cent on her. She had stored all of her meagre allowance in a frog money bank in her room.
“Do you want to eat my lunch?”
Xiao Ying opened up her lunchbox. Inside, there was a small case closely packed with cooked rice, stir-fry green vegetables, two prawns, and a fried egg. Bai Cao looked at it and swallowed down saliva. She picked up her water bottle again and gulped down more of its contents. Gudong. Gudong. Afterwards, she immersed herself in completing her homework once more.
“Hey, what’s going on with you?!” Xiao Ying was slightly angry. “I know you’re strange, but you don’t need to be this strange! Hey, I’m your only best friend! If you act like this again, I’ll break all relations with you!”
“…I’m not hungry.”
Bai Cao whispered.
“Haha, so you finally speak! What, were you afraid you and I would no longer be friends? Relax, I was just messing with you. I would never end this friendship of ours. You are also my only best friend! Only…” Xiao Ying sized Bai Cao up. “You’re lying to me. You have it written plainly on your face. Written on your left cheek is ‘I’m,’ and written on your right cheek is ‘Hungry.’ Written on your forehead is ‘Very.’ Altogether, it reads as——I’m! Very! Hungry!”’
The cute rings of the school bell that signified students should go to class saved Bai Cao from Xiao Ying’s unceasing torrent of questions. She quietly casted a glance at Xiao Ying, who was hurriedly putting away her lunchbox. Her belly once again issued a rumbling noise.
She really was starving.
And she had stayed this hungry all morning and through the night.
It was said that the locust tree outside the gate of Absolute Victory Martial Hall was a hundred-year-old locust tree. Its thick leaves hid the sky and shadowed the earth. At night, starlight would slip through the gaps of the tree leaves to sprinkle down on the ground, illuminating Bai Cao’s seated figure with her back leaning against the trunk. She was reading her English textbook with the feeble starlight. Her English teacher had said that they would be required to recite a random passage from the text tomorrow.
But she wasn’t able to concentrate.
She was starving.
Her ravenous stomach seemed to be twisting together.
She once again recalled Xiao Ying’s lunchbox that contained the savoury cooked rice, stir-fry green vegetables, prawn, and that fried egg—that brilliantly yellow fried egg with its very delicious appearance.
She swallowed back her saliva.
If…if she had eaten a few bites, she probably wouldn’t be so hungry.
Brilliantly yellow fried egg.
A layer of shiitake and choy sum spread atop cooked rice.
Verdant green vegetables.
The famous, alluring aroma of shiitake!
Bai Cao stared out in a daze. All of a sudden, she blanked out. She wasn’t imagining Xiao Ying’s lunchbox. Faint starlight fell down atop the lunchbox that a lustrous, white hand was holding out. Her gaze followed up the hand to unexpectedly stare at Guang Ya’s face, which was full of disdain.
Guang Ya impatiently placed the lunchbox onto the ground in front of her. Afterwards, she took out a large backpack, unzipped it, and said, “I placed all of your things in this bag. Your clothes, your books, your money bank, and some of your everyday commodities, so don’t come back again. Zheng shibo will never change his mind. You should try to find another place to offer you shelter. Returning here and acting pitiful is useless.”
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Bai Cao muttered.
“Shut up! You harmed the prestige of Absolute Victory Martial Hall, making Zheng shibo lose face and unable to see anyone! You made us unable to walk anywhere without people jeering! You haven’t done anything wrong?! Did you not see that this place had raised you, put you through school, fed you, sheltered you, and taught you Taekwondo! And this is how you repay Absolute Victory Martial Hall?! Ask your conscience—have you done wrong?!”
Guang Ya angrily threw the large bag at her, as if she was unable to even look at Bai Cao anymore. With large strides, she walked back through Absolute Victory Martial Hall’s gate. Bang! The heavy gate closed once more.
A few things inside the bag spilled out.
Bai Cao blankly placed each item one-by-one back into the bag. Guang Ya was shifu’s daughter and of a similar age to her. Since she was a kid, Guang Ya loathed her. Every time she saw Bai Cao, she would snort coldly, as if she looked down on Bai Cao paying respect to her father as her shifu. Because Guang Ya loathed her, a lot of the Senior and Junior Brothers crushing on Guang Ya also disliked Bai Cao. In addition, with her relationship with shifu and her offending Zheng shibo again last year, there was practically no one in Absolute Victory Martial Hall that would talk to her.
Perhaps, it wasn’t because of Guang Ya and the others.
Maybe she just naturally made people dislike her.
So when she was driven out, everyone rejoiced, as they no longer needed to look at her.
But where could she go?
Perhaps Zheng shibo would change his mind while she waited for shifu to return? If so, then she could still return to Absolute Victory Martial Hall. She was willing to accept any punishment, even if she would be forced to clean the toilets, cook everyone’s food, or wash everyone’s clothes. She would accept any and all punishments!
Where would she go if she left Absolute Victory Martial Hall?
Bai Cao bit on her lip.
Although she was already used to being on her own and thus lonely, this time she wanted to turn into something as small as rice.
“Oh my god! You’re really here!”
A voice gasped, the sound at first distant before coming closer. The rapid breathing indicated that she had ran the entire way here. A tall figure bowed her head, breathlessly shouting, “Qi Bai Cao! Let me tell you! I’m so angry, almost angry enough to die! What do you treat me as?! Am I or am I not your best friend! Hey, after a whole day, you didn’t even say anything to me! I had to hear about this from others!
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were driven out of Absolute Victory Martial Hall?! You didn’t eat anything all day, did you? No, it’s obvious that you hadn’t eaten anything for over a day! The girls told me that you were driven out yesterday morning! Aren’t you hungry? Do you want to starve to death?!
“You should have tried to find me when you were driven out! Why are you idiotically keeping vigil here?! Do you not understand that those members of Absolute Victory Martial Hall are ridiculing you? Even all the repulsive guys in our Martial Hall are mocking you! They say that your family doesn’t want you, but you still shamelessly refused to leave and sit outside the gate like a guard dog! Aiya, you infuriate me! Hey, answer me!”
Xiao Ying angrily tugged at the figure hugging her knees.
“Why are you such a strange person? Speak! Speak! It’s me that’s angry! Have some dignity, all right? If they don’t want you, then you also don’t want them! Why do you still need them?! I heard everything; you’re right! They made themselves lose face! They know no shame, to go as far as to blame you!
Xiao Ying crouched down, her eyes burning with rage as she lifted Bai Cao’s head, which was buried into her arms like an ostrich. When she saw Bai Cao’s face, however, Xiao Yin was stupefied. Bewildered, she stammered, “… You …you … why are you crying? … You … don’t cry! … They don’t want you, but I want you! … You …you are still my best friend! … Are you crying because you are extremely hungry? … Ah! Here, have this lunchbox, okay? Eat a bit of it first? …
“… Bai Cao … wu wu wu wu … I’m begging you, please don’t cry okay? … Seeing you cry … I also want to cry! … Aren’t you very strong? … wu wu wu wu … Don’t cry, alright? … wu wu wu wu wu … Did I scold you too viciously? … Then I … Then I apologize … wu wu wu wu wu …”
Specks of starlight filtered through the leaves of the locust tree.
Bai Cao buried her face into her knees. After rubbing it against her pants, she lifted her head again. Apart from her eyes being a little red, her cheeks didn’t even have a single trace of tears.
“I’m not crying. I’m just a little hungry…”
She spoke these words quietly with a hoarse voice.
“… Okay, you didn’t cry, my mistake,” Xiao Ying very carefully said. Her weeping hadn’t completely stopped. She released one more sob before picking up the lunchbox on the ground and handing it over to Bai Cao. She placed the chopsticks in her hand atop the lunchbox. “Eat a bit first, alright? It looks very delicious…”
Bai Cao didn’t utter a single sound as she ate.
Xiao Ying used the back of her hand to wipe the tear stains from her face. She said, “Come home with me.”
“Then where will you go? Don’t tell me that you plan to live under this tree every day?”
“Come home with me~~~~ Keep me company, okay~~~~? Every day, we can go to school and go home together~~~~”
“Okay, Okay, let’s go, let’s go.”
“How about you temporarily come home with me to play? Just until your shifu is back; then you can decide what to do for the future? Just stay for a few days. Treat it as a vacation, alright~~~~? Yes~? Yes~~?”
“Come on, come on~~~”
“If you say no again, I’ll stop being friends with you!”
“I swear that I’m speaking the truth. If you refuse me, I really will, really really will, end our friendship!”
Early in the morning, when the first light of dawn broke through the horizon, a girl was already in the laundry room of Pure Elegance Martial Hall’s courtyard washing dirty clothes, before neatly hanging them to dry on the clothesline.
When the first little bird flew onto the tip of a tree, that girl held a broom in her hand and began to sweep the floor. When the first disciple of Pure Elegance Martial Hall broke out into a yawn, stretched their body, and exited their room, that girl was already kneeling atop the training mats and using a small, moist cotton cloth to wipe it clean bit by bit, not allowing any sweaty stains or filth to remain on the surface.
“Isn’t she your classmate?”
Pure Elegance Martial Hall was already clean inside and out, sparkling and shiny. Fan Shen stared, stunned, at that thin girl kneeling down and cleaning the mats. Standing beside her was an equally shocked, open-mouthed Xiao Ying.
“Why is she so competent? Are you sure she’s your classmate and not a specialized janitor?”
Xiao Ying scratched her head. For goodness sake, when did Bai Cao wake up, to have already cleaned so much?
“Before, when she was living in the Absolute Victory Martial Hall, was she always mistreated there? Pitiful child,” Fan Shen spoke with concern. How else could a young girl be able to bear such hardships?
“No wonder she’s silent all the time. It seems that she may have been constantly bullied at Absolute Victory Martial Hall, so she’s not willing to speak.” Xiao Ying remorsefully looked at Bai Cao. At first, she had believed that Bai Cao’s silence was because she was too arrogant.
“Who is she?”
Fan Shen and Xiao Ying heard a voice and quickly turned around to see the wife of the Martial Hall Master walking towards them slowly with a dignified grace in the morning light. They bowed respectfully towards her.
Seeing the shimu’s gaze fall upon the distant Bai Cao, Xiao Ying hastily explained, “She is my classmate; her name is Qi Bai Cao. She… she recently fell into a difficult situation and has nowhere to live. So… Madam, may I offer her temporary shelter here for the time being? … I can cover her food expenses!”
“En8, call her over.”
Madam Yu smiled.
Xiao Ying pulled Bai Cao towards Madam Yu. Bai Cao stood there with a cleaning rag in hand and a bright red flush gracing her cheeks due to exertion. Fine beads of sweat speckled her forehead.
“Bai Cao, this is my shimu. She’s also the wife of Pure Elegance Martial Hall’s Master.”
In front of this beautiful woman, Bai Cao blanked out for a few seconds before Xiao Ying stealthily tugged at her arm. She lowered her head, not daring to look up.
“Martial Hall Mistress.”
“You are called Qi Bai Cao?” Madam Yu asked with a smile on her face.
“Xiao Ying said that you are her friend,” Madam Yu’s gentle smile resembled the first glimmer of dawn appearing in the sky. “Then please, live here without worries. If you need anything, tell Fan Shen. You can also tell me directly. Consider this place your home.”
Bai Cao’s eyelashes trembled.
“From now on, you do not need to get up early in the morning, nor do you need to do chores like these. You are still growing, so getting enough sleep and rest is very important.” Madam Yu’s soft voice made it seem like she was speaking to her own child.
“I…I like doing these things.” Bai Cao bit down on her lip. “Martial Hall Mistress, please allow me to continue doing this.”
“If not, I will feel like I am a burden.” She lifted her head, a stubborn look in her eyes.
Xiao Ying nearly fainted.
Madam Yu stared at Bai Cao with rapt attention before she smiled. Nodding her head, she said, “Good, then you can continue with what you like doing.”
Their gazes followed Madam Yu’s departing figure.
Xiao Ying said to Bai Cao proudly, “How about it? Isn’t our Martial Hall Mistress as beautiful and as kindhearted as a fairy?!”
“En, she is.”
Although she was unable to clearly remember her childhood, but Bai Cao could dimly recall that her mother’s voice was just as soft and warm as the Martial Hall Mistress. Her gaze continued to follow the Martial Hall Mistress before she returned inside the training hall and proceeded to clean the mats.
“Martial Hall Mistress has already welcomed you here, meaning this time you can peacefully live here,” Xiao Ying happily spoke as she also kneeled down with a cleaning rag in hand to help Bai Cao clean the mats. “Haha, fantastic. From now on, we can go to and from school together. So excited~!”
But the happiness did not last for long before Xiao Ying made a pained face.
It was time for morning exercise.
The disciples of the Martial Hall, in twos and threes, gradually filled up the expansive courtyard and began a warm-up jog. Slowly, more and more people arrived, but Xiao Ying hadn’t begun as she was still dawdling in the training hall.
“Ah, why must I learn Taekwondo?!”
Xiao Ying, grieving, immersed herself in cleaning the last training mat. She said to Bai Cao, “I don’t want to learn this Taekwondo stuff. I don’t like doing work. I don’t intend to practice this in the future, so why must I train?! It’s all my dad’s fault; he insists on making me train because he sees others practicing. He doesn’t even care if his daughter likes it or not! Every day I have to get up early because sleeping in and being lazy won’t do! How is my life so miserable?!
“Furthermore, because of that damn Martial Halls Competition, training is half an hour earlier than before! You can obviously see that I can’t defeat any of my shijie to obtain qualifications to be one of our Martial Hall’s representative in the Martial Halls Competition, so why must I train half an hour earlier?!”
They finished cleaning.
Bai Cao stood up and watched the boys and girls finish up their warm-ups in the courtyard. She could not help but show her yearning through her eyes. Martial Halls Competition! A competition that made everyone fired up! If she was still at Absolute Victory Martial Hall, she would also be warming up right now.
Her eyes darkened.
Even if she was at Absolute Victory Martial Hall, she would not be qualified to join the Martial Halls Competition…
“I’m going to go train!”
Xiao Ying’s face was bitter as she slowly moved towards the entrance of the training hall.
“Well, I’ll go help Mother Fan cook.”
Bai Cao left the room with Xiao Ying.
“Aiya! You don’t have to. My mother is very capable of doing it herself. I estimate that she has already finished making all of the food by now. You can go wait in my room. Once I finish training, we can head to school together!”
If Mother Fan had already finished cooking, then she’ll simply have to adjust her routine tomorrow and wash the ingredients in the kitchen first before starting on the laundry. Xiao Ying smiled upon seeing Bai Cao’s bitter expression and waved farewell as Bai Cao followed a pathway from the courtyard to the room she stayed in last night.
A few Martial Hall disciples were hurriedly running straight towards her, having most likely overslept.
Bai Cao dodged to the side.
The still running Martial Hall disciples turned around to glance at her.
She silently continued walking down the path.
“Qi Bai Cao——!”
“She is Qi Bai Cao——!”
Early in the morning at Pure Elegance Martial Hall, all the disciples assembled in the courtyard released sharp, piercing cries of alarm, as if they had seen a horrifying ghost!
- Martial Arts Master/Teacher/Mentor ↩
- young disciple (of the same master) / younger or junior male schoolmate ↩
- Master’s Senior Brother or Sister Classmate ↩
- senior male fellow student or apprentice / son (older than oneself) of one’s teacher ↩
- senior female fellow student or apprentice / daughter (older than oneself) of one’s teacher ↩
- Something/someone who seems threatening but is ineffectual and unable to withstand challenge. ↩
- Teacher’s Wife ↩
- Non-committal sound of approval, appreciation, or agreement ↩