Suddenly there was a tremor on the ground. Lu Yaoyao raised her eyes and saw a group of fluffy masses dashed down the mountain.
The shouts were loud and full of enthusiasm. Lu Yaoyao waved her small hand, overjoyed, “Xiaoqi! Shi’er! Junjun!…” She called out her playmates’ names one by one as their familiar figures leaped toward her.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
With loud collisions, the cubs fell down layer by layer, burying Lu Yaoyao at the bottom.
“Yaoyao, you’re finally back. Woohoo…”
“We miss you so much…”
“Yaoyao, Yaoyao, Yaoyao…!!!”
The cubs cried and shouted, damping each other’s fur with their tears. Pressed tightly at the bottom, Lu Yaoyao couldn’t even move her hands. With difficulty, she moved her head right and left, trying to get free from her friends’ crushing display of affection.
Bai Shi’er and Song Xiaoqi were the closest to her, and even the usually shy little snake Junjun slithered sneakily in, wrapping himself around Lu Yaoyao’s wrist while hissing non-stop.
Shen Changyuan’s eyelids twitched. Just as he was about to rescue Lu Yaoyao, the wrist wrapped by the little snake disappeared, and he instantly fell to the ground.
Junjun was stunned for a moment, but soon cried out loudly, “Yaoyao is gone!”
Bai Shi’er and Song Xiaoqi hurriedly searched the ground, but did not see the familiar red figure.
“Where’s Yaoyao? Yaoyao is gone?”
“Woohoo, Yaoyao is gone!!!”
“I’m here.” A weak voice came from Bai Shi’er’s abdomen. The fat rabbit immediately raised his forelegs and stood up, “Where…”
A round white dumpling suddenly emerged from Bai Shi’er’s hind legs. Lu Yaoyao quickly climbed up and stood on the top of his head. Her and Bai Shi’er furs were both white; no wonder they had missed seeing her before.
“Wow!” The cubs exclaimed.
“Yaoyao, why have you become so small?”
“Yaoyao, is this your original form? So cute!”
“Is the original form of a stone demon like this?”
Lu Yaoyao replied proudly, “Yes, this is my original form!”
The cubs exclaimed again, “Why isn’t it a stone? Aren’t you a stone demon?”
“Sun Wukong popped out of a stone, and he is a monkey!”
The cubs who had heard Lu Yaoyao’s story about Sun Wukong suddenly had a realization and easily accepted this setting. Having their tearful reunion interrupted, the cubs were no longer in the mood to cry. Shi’er’s pair of big eyes squinted, “Lemme see, lemme see!”
Lu Yaoyao jumped down into Song Xiaoqi’s open paws.
Three years of separation seemed to have no effect on Lu Yaoyao and her friends. They were as close as before, as if they were still playing together yesterday, going home at night, and getting together to play again today. The group of cubs talked loudly with each other. It was when Lu Yaoyao stopped to take a breath that she noticed someone was missing, “Where is Xiaosi?” The news in Duanping spread quickly. She was sure that the entire community now knew about her return, so why was Xiaosi not here?
Lu Yaoyao was very worried. The demons of Duanping did not know the truth about her disappearance, but Xiaosi definitely knew. Before she fell into the black hole, she saw a group of wolves galloping towards her, along with a faint shout that she recognized as Xiaosi’s voice.
Xiaosi personally saw her fall into the black hole, which definitely devastated him. Lu Yaoyao was afraid that the little wolf thought she was dead and — thinking he had indirectly killed her — blamed himself for it.
During her three years absence, Xiaosi hadn’t done anything stupid, had he?
“Xiaosi and Xiaosi’s dad and Xiaosi’s mom have left!” Song Xiaoqi informed Lu Yaoyao.
Lu Yaoyao looked up, “Where did they go?”
“They’re back to the capital! They left right after you left.” Song Xiaoqi answered sadly. Although he and Xiaosi had a fight practically every day, they were still good friends, and he missed him.
Hearing that Xiaosi was gone, Lu Yaoyao was a bit sad. She was disappointed that she couldn’t see Xiaosi, but she was also happy for him. She knew that Xiaosi’s dad was not an ordinary demon and that the clan would leave sooner or later. Xiaosi would definitely have a better opportunity if he returned to the Demon Capital.
Lu Yaoyao finally remembered to introduce Shen Changyuan to her friends. The cubs’ natural instinct made them wary of this big brother, but thinking that he was their Yaoyao’s brother, they were eager to show him cordiality and immediately took turns rubbing his calf with their soft fur.
Shen Changyuan: “…”
The peach blossom demon and other adults watched over the cubs’ reunion with warm eyes. After a while, the peach blossom demon called them, “Kids, come over here. Granny will cook you peach blossom soup.”
“Okay!” The cubs happily swarmed around the peach blossom demon, laughing merrily.
Lu Yaoyao was surrounded by a group of cubs, all demanding her attention, and had no time to feel sad. She was busy all day appeasing her friends and even forgot about Shen Changyuan. In the evening, the cubs were reluctant to part and go home. It was not until Lu Yaoyao reassured them several times and promised that she would see them again tomorrow morning that they finally relented and returned home with heavy steps.
Only then did Lu Yaoyao take Shen Changyuan back to her house, “…we usually play all over the mountain. It was so lively and fun…” Lu Yaoyao excitedly told Shen Changyuan. There seemed to be endless topics she couldn’t wait to talk about.
“We also went hunting in the wasteland and caught a lot of mutant beasts… Uncle Leopard’s roasted meat is the best…”
Lu Yaoyao passed through the barrier and noticed that Shen Changyuan suddenly stopped a few steps behind. She turned back and looked over puzzledly, “Brother Yuanyuan, what’s the matter?”
“There is a barrier here.” Shen Changyuan focused his eyes and could see the layer of shimmering barrier enveloping an area. When he looked up, he saw that the entire Duanping Mountain Range was similarly protected by a layer of barrier.
Whether it was the outer barrier or the smaller one in front of him, Shen Changyuan couldn’t figure out how to open any of them, leading to a vague hunch that whoever set up these barriers must be of a much higher cultivation base than himself.
Lu Yaoyao turned around and ran back, then she took Shen Changyuan’s hand and said, “It’s okay, I’ll bring you in.”
With Lu Yaoyao, the barrier no longer rejected Shen Changyuan. As soon as he entered, a simple-looking wooden house came into his view. Lu Yaoyao raised her head and smiled, “Brother Yuanyuan, welcome to my house.”
Lu Yaoyao ran in the front and took Shen Changyuan around, “I was born in this house and always lived here with my Father and Daddy. If not for my bad luck of getting sucked by the black hole and falling into the Abyss, our family of three would still be living together now!” Thinking of this, Lu Yaoyao felt depressed again.
Shen Changyuan observed the surrounding, “Yaoyao, what is this?” He pointed at one of the pillars, marked with a few visible scratches that looked to be engraved at random.
“This is my height.” Lu Yaoyao walked over to the pillar and put herself against the mark. Even though she knew that she couldn’t grow taller before her cultivation level reached the Nascent Soul stage, she never gave up and kept measuring her height every few months to see if she had grown taller. Unfortunately, all the marks always stayed at the same level.
Every inch of the house contained precious memory. Lu Yaoyao quickly shifted her attention and excitedly told Shen Changyuan many stories from her childhood.
After a while, Lu Yaoyao’s voice gradually became smaller, and she soon felt very sleepy. Today was a very exhausting day, both physically and emotionally. Lu Yaoyao had experienced several great joys and sorrows, followed by a day playing wildly with her playmates, and she was very tired.
“This is my Father’s room; that one is my Daddy’s. Brother Yuanyuan, will you sleep in this room tonight?” Lu Yaoyao pointed to a bare room with nothing except a couch. It was a small room especially separated by her Father in case Lu Yaoyao had a friend sleeping over. It was already late today, so she could only wrong Brother Yuanyuan for a night. Tomorrow, she would definitely prepare him a better accommodation…
Lu Yaoyao then returned to her room and lay on the bed. Surrounded by familiar scents, she quickly fell asleep in peace.
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