They had knife shaved noodles1 for dinner. A slab of dough was taken out and placed at the edge of the pan, then using a knife, noodle slices were shaved from the bottom straight into the boiling water below. When Yi Longlong had done this in the past, her small size required her to stand on a stepladder to do this type of task. Additionally her skill with the knife was poor, always shaving a thin slice and then a thick slice, but now with Eric here, all the difficulties no longer posed a problem. The moment Yi Longlong finished saying she needed to slice, Eric promptly drew out the sword by his waist. Slices of noodles with consistent thickness flutteringly flew like the willow leaves, arcing through the air leaf by leaf and dropping into the water.
At first, Yi Longlong was only feeling impressed by Eric’s performance, but gradually she noticed that the orbit of the falling noodles was too precise. Every slice of noodle flew at the exact same angle and fell into the pot at the exact same place. It was hard to believe that this was his first time chopping noodles.
As for Eric, he was currently in a very relaxed posture. He practically didn’t even look at the noodles and readily sliced down precisely without error.
Yi Longlong leaned over one of his shoulders. Raising a paw, she poked at the mini paw print that was already imprinted on his handsome face. “Your handiwork’s not bad, if you ever lose your job, I advise you to become a chef.”
When they chatted in the afternoon, she found out that Eric was a wandering swordsman. According to his words, his level of skill is very average outside, but if this standard is considered normal, then just what will formidable people outside be like?
Eric nodded with agreement. “I’ll think about it.”
After finishing dinner, Yi Longlong produced a wooden cup. One paw held a cup, while another paw held a wooden stick with fine bristles. In the midst of Eric’s look of surprise, she scooped out a cup of water. The wooden stick with bristles was dabbed with a little bit of salt from the salt jar, then delivered into her mouth.
Eric could not help but ask, “What are you doing?”
Picking her teeth after dinner? What a giant toothpick.
Yi Longlong gargled and spat the salt water onto the ground, replying, “Brushing my teeth.”
In this year alone, her teeth had already begun to protrude. It was small and pointy, though not considered sharp, but thank goodness there was no tooth decay.
Eric became slightly absentminded. Since when did dragons learn to brush their teeth as well?
When night fell, Yi Longlong once again made preparations for the food for tomorrow. With Eric helping out with the heavy duties, her work load lightened quite a bit. Yi Longlong went back to her house and slept early. Because the house had size limitations, Eric could only resign to sleeping outside.
Eric squatted next to the wooden cabin and lightly tapped her outstretched paw. “Good night, little fella.”
He watched Yi Longlong open the silver blue grassy door drape and recede into the cabin. He heard her tiny footfalls, and then waited until the breathing inside the house had settled. Only then did Eric leave the wooden cabin. He slowly walked to the side of the lake and gazed down at the vast starry night sky reflected on the surface.
“Tahinia.” He murmured softly, “My utmost, sincerest apologies. Nine years ago, I could not save you. In the past few years I’ve been continually evading, but I would have never thought I will meet you again in this way… From this day onwards I will do my best in looking after your child, please rest assured.”
A wide and gentle wave oscillated from the heart of the lake, as if a sleeping silver dragon was smiling at him.
Yi Longlong and Eric lived by the lake for a total of ten days, all till Yi Longlong’s birthday came by. It had been exactly a year since she had hatched from the shell, and on that day a man and a dragon finally left this piece of lake.
For a place where she had dwelled for a year, Yi Longlong was very reluctant to leave. She hated the fact she could not pack away the whole wooden cabin and all the other items, but she knew that there was no way to bring so many things along on the journey, so she tentatively packed her toiletries, a few changes of grassy clothes, the seasonings she had carefully collected, the baked cookies used as snacks, the flint for starting a fire, drinking water, and the wind chime that hung on the eaves.
No matter how much more reluctant she was, Yi Longlong still decided to follow Eric into the outside world. Although she had already lived a year as a dragon, she had never once forgotten she was originally a human herself. Even if she had come to a different world, she still wanted to see the people here with her own eyes and listen to them talk.
Besides that, there was still one more reason.
The parents from her previous life died very early on, and because she was severely ill, as her guardian her aunt didn’t really treat her harshly, but in reality it couldn’t be considered as familial warmth. Every time she saw other harmonious families, she would feel envy and jealousy. As for now, she had snatched the body of Tahinia’s child and even enjoyed her care. This made Yi Longlong feel completely unsettled. Her leaving here, was not completely without the intention of running away.
Everything to be brought along was packed inside a wooden box, with Eric carrying it as a coolie2. All Yi Longlong had to do was safely sit on top of the wooden box, bobbing along to the gait and occasionally looking around at the scenery.
Eric walked very steadily and also moved very fast. His shadow shuttled through the forest. It took only half a day’s work to surpass the distance that had taken Yi Longlong twenty days to reach, and see those furballs that had once frightened both Yi Longlong and themselves.
Through Eric’s explanations, Yi Longlong learned that those types of furballs were called yeks. They were an extremely cowardly species, but because their level of intelligence was very low, they were instead not very sensitive towards Tahinia’s pressure and could get even closer to the lake than other creatures – though only a little bit closer.
Seeing the yeks and then walking some more, it was then that they had completely walked out of the boundaries of Tahinia’s pressure. Yi Longlong gradually broadened her horizons as she came across even more animals. Some of them were similar to Earth’s, and some of them she had never seen before. When she was learning about the animals, she simultaneously discovered one thing, and that thing was, Eric was a total utter directionally challenged idiot.
The reason he could directly find the lake was due to entering the influence of Tahinia’s pressure. With the center of the lake acting as the source of the pressure, it was like a beacon that guided him so he didn’t lose his way. It was the same with leaving the lake, but after exiting the boundary of the pressure that was used to tell apart the directions, Eric’s sense of direction immediately fell into disarray.
It was only then that Yi Longlong knew, before he had met her, Eric had already been lost in another part of this vast forest for nearly a year- But if he hadn’t lost his way, then he would have never blindly stumbled into Yi Longlong.
Left with no other choice, Yi Longlong took charge of directions. Although she had never been so far apart from the lake, at least her keen and accurate senses kept them from heading north, east, south and west and return to the starting point.
Yi Longlong only realized just how immense this forest was when she had finally exited it. She and Eric had walked for ten straight days, and along the journey they had passed by mountains, rivers and lakes, but they never did manage to see the edges of the forest. The sea of green seemed to endlessly spill out, as if there was no way to reach the end.
Yi Longlong sat on top of the box. Whenever she felt tired, she would lean on Eric’s shoulder. The blond man’s body was just as warm as his hair, like gathered pieces of brilliance from the sun.
On the twelfth day of the journey, Yi Longlong and Eric still did not get out of the forest, but they saw other people.
1. 刀削面 dao xiao miàn- Relatively short flat noodle peeled by knife from a firm slab of dough. ↩
2. 苦力 kǔlì -Coolie, literally translated as “bitter labor”, term for local unskilled laborer. ↩
edit: 耶克 Yé kè – Yek, The official name for furballs