"Jia, are you certain they're fish here?" A young boy, with spiky hair, squints his eyes doubtfully at the icy river.
A tall young girl dressed in a hemp robe streaked with dirt gently lays her fingers on the woven net by the water. "Of course, I'm certain! How else do you think I get to fish for us every year?"
The boy's face scrunched up in puzzlement and innocently asked, "But the river is frozen. Don't the fish freeze to death?"
"Aiya, shut up, will you? You're scaring away the fish! Go play with a stick or something if you're not going to help."
The boy scowled with a huff. "Hmph, I didn't want to do this woman work anyway."
"Yeah, yeah, you're a big strong man."
The boy smiled smugly. "Hah, damn right I am!"
The girl rolled her eyes. "You don't have to help, but you can't runoff. So, stand over there man boy and stay away from the water."
The spike-haired boy stuck out his tongue before stomping away a few feet away from his sister. He crouched down and picked up a few small pebbles from beneath the snow. His thin fingers dug for more beneath before a pile of them formed in his hands.
Silently, the boy began placing the pebbles down on a smooth, snow-white surface.
"Hehe." The boy snickered.
Gradually, the stones set out began to spell: [Jia smells like...]
Realizing he ran out of stones, the boy pursed his lips and turned to look for more. He stole a glance toward the tall girl near the edge of the river. Her expression was stern while she stared intently at the flowing river, the net clutched tightly in her hands.
Holding back a sneer, the boy steps away from the area in search of stones. Walking downstream, the boy quietly hums to himself while picking up stones along the side.
While walking, the boy suddenly froze. His eyes flashed at the sight of bright color in the snow.
It was red.
He scratched his head and stared at it longer. As if thinking of something, his eyes brightened.
He recalled a story a friend of his once said when he entered the woods one day. He was lucky enough to stumble upon a hunter's unwanted kill and was able to bring it home for his family.
Thinking of the juicy, thick meat, his mouth watered.
"Haha, all right! We're having meat tonight!"
Without hesitation, he followed the trail of red in the snow. Following it farther down the river, he noticed the trails of red blood growing thicker and thicker the farther he went. The scent of blood began to settle in the air.
The brightness in his eyes began to fade, his face forming into a set of black lines.
Pondering, he frowned and rubbed his head with some force. "Ah, no way. Did a wolf eat it?"
When he decided to head back, he suddenly perceived from the corner of his eyes, a bright, royal blue color. He froze. Hidden underneath a snow-covered tree, with long dark hair sprawled on the ground, a noticeable lump was draped in a blue cloak.
It looked like a body.
He couldn't help but be frightened by the unexpected sight. He clenched his hands into fists before he forced himself to relax.
"I'm the man. I'm the man." He mumbled incoherently to himself while slowly approaching the unconscious figure in the snow.
Every time he approaches a step, the more he could see the ghostly figure up close, bloodstains, surrounding them in the snow. The boy couldn't help but tremble and his body stiffened.
The next second, he turned away and ran.
Jia yawned tiredly while holding the net. Seeing the morning sun pass behind the trees, she scratched the crust from her eyes before glancing back down at the net.
Still no fish.
The girl's brows twitched.
Sighing loudly, Jia shifted her head in the sound of her brother's voice.
"Aiguo, you idiot! Can you be any more---"
Before she had the chance to berate her brother, the young boy tugged roughly on her arm.
"Jia, follow me there's a...there's a..." He panted while tugging on her arm.
Jia glanced at the little nervous face and wanted to laugh.
"What's wrong with you? I told you not to wander off and now look at you! Did the big man get lost and encounter a big manly rabbit?"
As if not hearing his sister's taunting words, Aiguo continued to tug her hand. Jia finally frowned and sighed while pulling her hand back.
"What are you doing?"
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Aiguo raised his head to look at the tall girl, his large, dark eyes slightly trembling.
"I saw a body in the woods!"
Jia's face hardened. She lowered her head and stared at her brother with a grave expression.
Without replying, Aiguo seized his sister's hand and without her defiance, easily trailed her forward. After walking down the river for a few minutes, the boy stopped and pointed.
"Look, over there!"
Jia shifted her gaze in the direction her brother pointed toward and squinted her eyes. From a distance, all she could make out was a faint blue color in the white snow.
Her hands by her side tensed, but she continued stepping forward. The closer she got, the more her heart dropped.
He was right! It was a body!
Jia's expression sunk, and she hurriedly rushed to the figure covered in blue. She kneeled, and the moment her eyes landed on them, she froze.
A pale but beautiful face poked out from beneath the cloak and absorbed the warm sunlight from underneath the shaded tree. Besides the head, their entire body was concealed. Based on the cloak and clothes wrapped around them, they seemed to be a young scholar.
"So beautiful..." She couldn't help but whisper.
Realizing her inappropriate thoughts toward the unconscious figure, Jia knocked herself on the head. Looking back at the figure, her frown deepened.
He was so pale. Was he already dead?
Jia didn't hesitate to fumble for the body's small hands and feel their pulse.
So thin and frail. Soft too.
A few moments passed before her eyes brightened. Turning to look at her brother, she shouted: "Aiguo, quick give me your cloak. He's still alive!"
The boy's expression was somewhat alarmed, but he still did as his sister said and took off his cloak before walking over to deliver it to her. Jia snatched it from his hands and hoisted the frail figure's body up.
The moment Jia tilted their body, the blue cloak slipped from their shoulders, their snowy white skin exposed to the chilly air.
At that moment, the two siblings stared at the figure in shock.
Their eyes travel from the youth's peerless face to their collarbone, before landing on the milky mounds on their chest. They were small, perfectly shaped in proportion to the figure's smaller frame and slightly...cute looking.
They were a girl!
Aiguo's fair face was covered up to his neck in a deep blush, just like a steamed lobster. The next second, he felt a hard whack on his head.
"What are you doing pervert, look away! Quick, go and contact, Master Qiu!" Jia harshly snapped at her brother, while covering the girl's body with his cloak.
Aiguo blanked for a moment before regaining consciousness and bobbing his head. He turned and hastily ran in the opposite direction, a red blush still lingering on his cheeks.
The winter chill was felt before dawn. After a snowfall, the rising sun slips through the forest trees, the white frost glowing brightly. The frost-covered trees darkened the river, sheets of ice layered on top.