51 A warm bath

    Xue'er silently entered the inn, upon seeing owner Chao, she greeted him.

    "You've returned in one piece." He said.

    Xue'er's eyebrows perked up, "Was I suppose to return in many pieces?" She asked, her voice was sincere.

    [How is one suppose to return in many pieces?]

    "Nevermind, you wouldn't understand." Owner Chao helplessly shook his head. He looked at Xue'er's clothes, which were covered in a layer of light dust.

    He didn't ask, but simply said: "You can have a bath in the back."

    Xue'er nodder her head as she rushed toward the back of the inn, with her eyes lowered. It was really embarrassing for her to return to the inn as if she had gone out to roll in mud, for the first time, she felt her cheeks burning up, the pale skin that was deathly white suddenly had the complexion of rosy color, making it seem strangely unnatural.

    She could hear that the entire inn still had no addition of visitors and sighed in relief.

    She ran upstairs to the room and grabbed the clothes that she had up there before she went toward the back of the inn.

    Stepping into the backyard of the inn, was like chancing upon a barren wasteland. The yard behind was small, with very high and uneven stone walls that made it impossible for sunlight to get to the ground, which caused the once green grass to become dry and yellowed hay. Yet there was a small well where thereupon, one would be able to draw water.

    This yard wasn't a place where many people came, so it was full of junk and objects that were rarely used were just lying around waiting to collect up dust.

    There was a small shack that was in view, made by thinned out timber, left out in the elements, to be worn down by the elements.

    The door was shut in a manner that left a thin crack that one can peer through. Upon closer inspection, Xue'er discovered that the door and its frame were poorly matched, so the best it could do was be closed partially.

    [Oh well, it's not as if there will be someone coming here in the middle of the night.]

    Xue'er silently told herself the most logical idea possible. Even though she knew that this alleyway was more than meets the eyes.

    Besides, could she really pass off a bath that someone so graciously offered her because she did not wash up before returning.

    Perhaps she could, but it was not the most polite thing to do.

    Xue'er carefully pushed open the door, afraid the door might come off its hinges unexpectedly, but to one's surprise, that had not happened.

    Instead, she was greeted by warm glowing light, coming from the source of a single candle that was set in its holder, which rested upon the worn walls of the shack.

    Judging by how much the candle had melted, it could be seen that the candle had only been lit recently.

    Xue'er looked around and found a wooden bathtub set in the middle of a small and enclosed room, that had a curtain in its way, acting as a flimsy barrier between the cold air on the outside and the warm air on the other side.

    The wooden bathtub was very tall, that nearly reached her chest. By the looks of it, a child could easily drown, if they were not careful.

    Her clothes were put down on the table next to the wooden tub and Xue'er reached her hand into the waters, to find that it was surprisingly warm to the touch. Warm, but not too hot, it was a marvelous feeling on this cold day.

    Very easily, she slipped into the warm waters without making a sound, as her body made contact with the water, she could feel all those tensed up muscles fall into a relaxed state. It was an indescribable feeling, but it may have something to do with going in the warm water after being in the cold.

    Gently uncoiling her ink black hair that was held in tight buns on both sides of her head, she allowed them to float around her, like free strands of flowing silk as she sat calmly in the warmth of the water like it was some sort of womb where she would grow and be nourished.

    Her eyes were closed, as she allowed her spiritual sense to wander around freely in this border town. Those senses which were one with her were like small strands of thread that wove throughout the city, seeping itself into every nook and cranny that could be found and inching in every secret ever told.

    It took a while before her long eyelashes fluttered open once more, and her eyes dark as the night opened up again.

    This time, she did not sense a thread of Gan Tian Chi wandering around the capital, but he was excellent at hiding, and could never be found when needed.

    Either way, she had long given up on seeking him before he decided to appear from thin air. It would give her less stress anyway.

    She slowly stepped out of the wooden tub, with her body and hair dripping wet, leaving a puddle where she stood.

    She wrapped herself with her clothes, her hair was still dripping wet with the droplets of water that had already cooled down. The cascade hair was soaking her dry clothes with water, to the point, it got a little irritating to bear.

    [I can't go out like this.]

    Her fingers gently ran through her hair, almost like a natural breeze that dried it instantly, in no time, her hair became the fine silky smooth waterfall it once was.

    She tied them up into two buns on the side of her head, an adorable smile appeared on her face, and her cute childish expression was back.

    Nodding with satisfaction, she left the small shack.

    At least she took the first step towards looking like a child...
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