Rin's face was tense, and her eyebrows were tied in a knot.
Just now, she wasn't even able to sense his presence!
She looked at him vigilantly, eyes full of suspicion.
"Are you Mister Qiu?"
"Who else would I be?" He grunted.
Rin clamped her lips shut and stared at the old man closely. As the old man walked closer to her, Rin was observing him. Not being able to perceive the man's presence, she could merely assume the other was highly skilled.
He suddenly leaned forward and stared at her with a calculating expression. A smirk danced on the old man's lips.
"Hmm…not bad. Your strength is quite impressive for your size, girl. Martial arts aren't half bad either."
Rin was a little surprised.
Was he praising her?
Master Qiu swept back his robes and placed his hands behind his back while speaking with a bored expression. "However, you lack balance."
A little confusion flashed through her bright eyes. She did not seem to understand.
The old man raised his chin and pointed at her body. "Body is too rigid, your posture was crooked and you purely rely on your speed to fight. To be frank, you're incomplete."
Rin's eyes went even wider.
This was the first time anyone had ever declared such words to her. She felt rather stunned to hear a critique of her combat skills.
At the same time, she felt his words were accurate.
Whenever she combatted, she felt there was something incomplete, just as he said. No matter how much she practiced, she was unable to achieve her full strength.
With this thought, her expression turned incredibly serious.
"How can I fix this?" Rin asked directly, her eyes blinked but never left his sight.
"Hmm…" The old man paused for two seconds to scratch his chin. "Hand me one of those melons in your basket, and I'll tell you."
Rin frowned slightly.
She looked down at the three melons in her basket and hesitated. Jia had asked her to purchase melons from the market. Unexpectedly, Rin was given an extra from the old lady at the shop.
During that moment, she couldn't help but think back to Jia's words.
Her face was a 'discount.'
Rin looked back at the old man who seemed impatient. In the end, she sighed and passed him a green winter melon.
She would have to provide a replacement for the melon after.
The old man's eyes curved as he smiled. He snatched the hard melon and sank his teeth into the delicious vegetable.
Rin waited silently for him to tell her what she sought. Instead, what was heard after waiting was the sound of man's lips smacking.
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Her brows twitched.
After a long period, Rin finally asked: "Mister Qiu, tell me, how can I complete myself?"
The white-haired old man wiped his lips in a sloppy motion while indifferently devouring the melon in his hand.
He smacked his thin, wrinkled lips. "Beats me."
Rin didn't know how to reply to that. A twitch developed at the corner of her mouth, as she looked at the old man munching on the green vegetable in his hand.
A wrinkle appeared between her brows and her expression turned bitter.
This rubbish old man swindled her of a melon!
The old man bit into the melon again, unaffected by her icy glares.
"This melon's slightly bitter. That other one in your basket looks better. Hand me that one and this time I will tell you."
Rin grounded her teeth and glared chillingly. "Impudent!"
This vile old man was shameless!
Meanwhile, the shameless old man picked his ears casually to her insult and yawned.
"Girl, this old monk will retire now. Nevertheless, know balance is not something you achieve through training. It requires steady feet, a steady mind and a sense of control. Out of all of these, you lack a steady mind."
Before Rin could react to the old monk's words, he turned and walked back up the enormous boulder until his figure disappeared.
A dark and gloomy vibe surrounded the girl and sent a chill down one's spine.
Rin's lips formed in a slight pout as she stared in the direction the old man escaped in. After a moment, she looked down at her hands silently. She looked at them deep in thought as the old man's words echoed in her mind.
Although his attitude might seem to be casual, the words were worth thinking over.
Did she lack a steady mind?
How could that be? In what way was her mind unsteady?
The more Rin thought the deeper her frown became until a slight ache formed in her head.
"Forget it," Rin sighed.
She glanced down at the basket in her hand and noticed the missing melon. At this, her expression darkened and her lips tightened sourly.
Shameless, impudent old man! Snatched her melon without charge!
Rin helplessly sighed, maybe she could go back to the market and get another 'discount.' As Rin walked away and muttered to herself, she stepped over the three bruised, unconscious youths on the ground.
"Ah, you met Master Qiu?"
Jia turned her head from the boiling pot to the girl, chopping the melon beside her.
In the kitchen, soup bowls rested on a worn-out table. In the corner, there was an enormous woven basket heaped with freshly dug out potatoes Rin received from the market.
"Yes." Rin nodded. "If you don't mind me asking, who is he?"
Jia clumsily scratched her chin. "It's a little complicated. If you want, you can think of him as the village's monk or physician."
Jia sighed regrettably. "But truthfully, he's just a grumpy old monk who hates all human beings."
Rin nodded her head.
That seemed to be an accurate description of the old man.
Rin finished chopping and placed the cut melon into a large bowl with additional ingredients. From the beginning, Jia unconsciously observed the girl's movements.
"Rin…" Jia started cautiously. "I hope you don't find my words rude, but…what happened to you in the woods that day?"
Listening to Jia's cautious, uneasy tone, Rin slowly looked up as her long lashes fluttered.
"It's all right, I'm not offended." Rin smiled lightly. "It's understandable you would be cautious of me after what you saw that day."
Jia's hands clenched tightly. "That…I don't mean to be…"
Rin interrupted her, "Jia, I must be honest with you. My identity is not one to share openly."
When Jia heeded these words, her expression tensed.
What did that mean? Was she a runaway?
Though Jia envied the noble, prosperous people in the world, she didn't feel any desires for it. It was muddled, filled with worry and a stiff lifestyle.
If Rin was involved with such matters, then wouldn't she and Aiguo eventually get in involved?
Rin glanced at the girl's expression and could predict her thoughts.
She sighed softly.
Rin placed her snow-white, slender hands on her heart with a smile. "However, please believe me when I say this. I mean no harm to you or your brother and promise to ensure your lives will never be affected. With all my heart, I thank you for your generosity and hospitality until now."
Jia was stunned by the girl's words. She noted her sincere expression and fell into a daze.
There was a steadiness to the girl as if all the violence in the world were a whispering breeze if she was present. Rin was quiet but kind, her eyes filled with a hidden cleverness.
Perhaps that's what drew people to her.
She walked and spoke in that high-class way, yet Jia admired her gentleness. There was nothing arrogant about her though, only pure independence and softness too.
Although she should be cautious and wary of such a person, Jia could not help but feel the girl was worth trusting.
Jia's gaze was slightly warmer than usual as she patted Rin's shoulder.
"I trust you, Rin."
Rin's lips curled up into a gentle smile and looked at Jia with a pair of bright eyes, "Thank you, Jia."
The two exchanged silent smiles and continued prepping dinner. The comforting aroma of boiling soup and millet steaming in the black rice pot wafted through the small house.
Unaware of what will await them in the near future, all they could do now was trust.
The old man hopped down from the boulder effortlessly. At this moment, he stood up as though he was all fine and dandy, straightening out his worn-out clothes.