97 Little Chick

    The day Huo momo pack up her things and leave Xue'er stood in silence from afar looking at the figure board a carriage and leave the town. The carriage was heading south and did not have to go through as rigorous of a search as those heading north, or those coming from the north.

    After watching for as long as the eye could see, as the dust clouds kicked up by the carriage slowly dispersed into nothingness, Xue'er went to the village that was at the outskirts of town that did not harbor a single soul, but all was well as she could never imagine truly going about the world to interact with others.

    It may have been the countless years she spent in isolation with only a living person, who was now most certainly dead, and the many corpses that were in the grave mounds. In truth, she did prefer those who did not have the ability to speak or judge her.

    Her face was blank without expression upon arrival to this ghost village. It was uncertain why some people move out of the place their ancestors have lived for generations, but that was already the case here, so there was no need to care for the reason.

    The work that she had done the last time was still intact, and the broken jars where she left them. Only there was not much water within the jars, as there had been no rain the past days.

    Xue'er gently tilted the jar, and let some water flow out on her hand. The water had a cool feeling as it spread across the pale skin. With a thud, the jar was placed back in its place so it could continue to collect water.

    After rubbing her hands together and wiping off the excess droplets on her clothes, she went into the dilapidated cottage to sit crossed legged on the pile of straw. It was quiet when nightfall came. There was nothing much more than a few speckles of moonlight that poured through the gigantic hole that had been in the roof, it was a hole that was already there when she arrived, but it was one she decided not to fix.

    The occasional sounds of howling and creatures within the darkness almost made Xue'er understand why there was no one in this village. Added on the cold winds that poured through the many openings in the cottage made the entire place as fridged as outside.

    Xue'er opened her eyes when there was a heavy thud that knocked into the roof. A confused look on her face, as the thud was not huge to the extent of a falling tree, but it was most likely more than just a lone stick falling on the roof.

    Looking into the opening where pieced of strayed straw polked out from the hole in the roof, she closed her eyes again, completely unbothered.

    After a while, there were a few more pieces that fell down. It was as though there was something above her breaking down parts of the roof and throwing it down into the hole. There was also a soft moaning sound that was very slight compared to the wind rustling the trees, but she still heard it.

    A piece of stray straw fell gently onto Xue'er's hair. Her wordlessly combed her fingers through the ink-black strands to pull the piece out. With a sigh, she got up and walked outside.

    A wisp of wind blew by, and more straw fell from the roof, along with the sound of a heavy thud. Curiosity sparked in her eyes as she came towards the sound. What she saw was a shriveled up ball of mangled feathers. The poor chick must have been beginning to fly, but it was unfortunate that it spread out its wings the same time a gust of wind blew and got swept away far from its nest.

    Birds like this were one too many. They, like children, had no guarantee to survive past adulthood, with such accidents that could occur. It was tragic, but part of the course of nature. Perhaps this was the reason why parents tended to have many offspring.

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    "Pitiful." Xue'er muttered as she strokes the feathers that were starting to mature. There were tints of blue and purple among the ruffled gray feathers that foretold it would mature into a beautiful bird, yet feeling the chick's small body, she could tell that she was holding nothing more than an empty sack of blood and bones all pushed together.

    The creature in her hand gave a few meek chirps as it prepared for death. Yet even in death, it could not even get the slightest semblances of warmth from these hands that it deemed to be from a warmblooded creature.

    Xue'er was stunned as she saw the small chick attempting to burrow deep into her palm. It seemed that this creature was unwilling to die unless it found what it wanted. Fine then let it continue to search. Xue'er brought the little chick and placed it into the vat of water that had been collecting.

    Once in the cold water, the thing thrashed around violently, causing the water to displace. A few drops landed on the ground, and some landed near her. She continued to watch the chick tweet and give weak chirps, before finally placing her hand to enclosed the top.

    It was only a moment, but she felt the eerie quietness in the jar.

    After a while, she removed her hand and went back inside the cottage. It was a long and quiet night.
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