The grim reaper was actually pretty cool.
Huo Ran had thought about what was below the grim reaper.
Knowing that lunatic Kou Chen, it could’ve been a grim reaper in cargo shorts, a popsicle stick, it could just be blank, or it could be a line or words.
Like ‘Am I cool or not!’
But the grim reaper was complete.
It was a grim reaper’s bottom half, with black flames beneath its feet, looking pretty three-dimensional.
If Kou Chen hadn’t emphasized it, Huo Ran felt that he probably wouldn’t have noticed the flames were right on his asscrack.
But now, he keeps thinking about it.
The flames and his asscrack.
Kou Xiao got out of the river as they started to boil the water.
She was the one that insisted on buying the pot.
She thought it would be fun to cook noodles out here.
“Is the water from the river” Old Yang asked.
“Nope.” Huo Ran pointed to the nearby mountain, “It’s from the spring there.
The veteran hikers all know of it, they even dug a sump.
We can just boil the water a bit longer and it’ll be fine.
You can put some water purification tablets too if you want, I brought some.”
“It’s fine…” Kou Xiao said.
“I just… Drank some of the river water.”
Huo Ran glanced at her: “Stop drinking random water from now on, it’s not like we didn’t bring any.”
“Will it give me a stomachache” Kou Xiao asked.
“There’s not many people here, just plants and animals,” Huo Ran said, “If it really hurts…”
“Why don’t you eat a water purification tablet” Kou Chen spoke up happily.
“Looking for death are you!” Kou Xiao glared at him.
“I brought medicine,” Huo Ran said, “Don’t worry so much.”
“It’s boiling,” Old Yang pointed at the pot of bubbling water, “How much longer”
“Give it a couple more minutes.” Huo Ran said.
There were a lot of things they could’ve done while they waited, like talking, eating chocolate, or walking around.
But for some reason, they all went quiet, only staring at the pot of water.
Huo Ran was reminded of the first time he’d eaten hot food after days in the mountains.
But they had only been here for a couple hours, it was their first meal.
Who knows how long they can last with this state of mind.
They had noodles, which Kou Chen liked.
Add in some sausages and it smelled great.
He’d make instant noodles like this at home too, but right now, the exact same kind of noodles felt like a delicacy.
Kou Chen filled his bowl, and two two large bites without even getting some soup.
“Eat slower,” Huo Ran reminded him.
“And chew it properly, the change in environment can make your stomach hurt.”
“Mhm.” Kou Chen nodded, rubbing his stomach.
Huo Ran looked at him.
“I didn’t really chew,” Kou Chen said, “I’m trying to mash them up now.”
Huo Ran choked and turned away.
Kou Chen laughed.
He thought that Huo Ran’s speechless expression was really funny.
Speaking of, the first time they met on the basketball court, he thought that Huo Ran was just a bad-tempered person.
Now, he knew that it depended on the person.
He gets angry easily towards people he’s not familiar with, but once they’re friends, he could control it quite a bit.
Kou Chen looked at his shoulder.
He put down his bowl and put an arm around him.
Huo Ran turned back: “What”
“Nothing.” Kou Chen said.
“Get off!” Huo Ran said.
“Why are you like this” Kou Chen took his arm back, “How close do we have to be”
“Who knows what malicious intent you’ve got” Huo Ran said.
“Is that the impression I give you” Kou Chen couldn’t really accept that.
“What else” Huo Ran said.
“My impression of you is just the silly second brother of the landlord’s house.”
“Jie, he insulted you.” Kou Chen said.
“Hm” Kou Xiao raised her head from where she was focused on eating, “Ranran”
“What do you mean by that” Huo Ran was shocked.
“If I’m the silly second brother, then what’s my sister” Kou Chen asked.
“The silly big sister.” Old Yang answered.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
“Yang Ruidong, what are you joining in for!” Kou Xiao said.
“P’w pera rjslcu,” Yiv Tjcu ijeutfv, “P mbeivc’a tfiq la.”
“P’w gfwfwyfglcu atlr, pera sbe kjla.” Bbe Wljb rjlv.
“Pcafggeqafv ws fjalcu.
Coafg fjalcu, atfs rqfca j ktlif kjrtlcu atf qba jcv ybkir jcv mifjclcu eq.
Pc atf fcv, Leb Ejc kjr atf bcf atja tjv ab qea fnfgsatlcu yjmx lc atf yjur.
“We should just eat dry food from now on.” Kou Chen said.
“Cleaning up takes longer than actually eating, it’s such a pain.”
“You weren’t even the one putting it all back.” Huo Ran sighed.
“Because I couldn’t do it!” Kou Chen said.
“I’m reducing your burden.”
“We can roast meat over a fire tonight.” Huo Ran said.
“If you guys still have the energy to.”
“I don’t feel tired at all.” Kou Chen said.
“It’s actually not that hard.”
“The real journey starts in an hour.
Save those words for later,” Huo Ran laughed, looking at him, “Newbie.”
Huo Ran wasn’t exaggerating, this path was easy.
You didn’t need to climb or walk through water.
But the deeper you get the narrower trails become.
There’ll be bumpy rock paths and mud, even some ditches made by the rain.
Jiang Lei fell into a ditch right on this path, dislocating his shoulder.
“Which way” Old Yang asked.
“To the right.
I’ll go in front, you guys stay behind me.” Huo Ran said.
“It won’t be so easy now.”
“You guys go behind us,” Kou Chen immediately ran up to him with the air of an experienced hiker.
“I’ll walk with Huo Ran.”
“Sure.” Huo Ran glanced at him.
They reached the forest not long after.
Leaves covered the rocks and mud on the ground, and the sun flitted in and out between the trees.
They could hear water, but they couldn’t see where the creek was.
It was a wonderful feeling, and Huo Ran loved this type of peacefulness.
But after a couple of steps, Kou Xiao suddenly screamed.
Huo Ran didn’t even turn to look before running back to them.
Kou Xiao had slipped all the way down two or three meters off a muddy slope, only stopping because Old Yang had grabbed her backpack.
“Fucking hell…” Kou Xiao sat on the ground, hand on her chest.
“I was scared I would barrel you two over!”
“Where did you fall” Kou Chen ran over and crouched down.
Huo Ran glanced at the place she fell from, there weren’t any big rocks, so she should be fine.
“Fell on my pants.” Kou Xiao rubbed her pants after Old Yang dragged her back.
Looking at her hand covered in mud, her expression was pained.
“Now I know why you told me not to bring my good clothes.”
“It’s still mostly because there’s no one here to see you in them.” Kou Chen said.
“Fuck off!” Kou Xiao glared at him.
She moved her leg, “I’m fine, we can keep going.”
“Here.” Huo Ran picked up her hiking stick that had fallen to the side.
He made it shorter, “It’s too long, you can’t put pressure on it.”
“Is there any other path” Old Yang asked.
“I saw one just now, it looked smoother than this one.”
“That’s where the animals go.” Huo Ran said.
“We can’t walk there, and there’s animal traps too, it’s dangerous.”
“Animal traps” Kou Chen was stunned, “Those big metal ones with teeth”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran frowned.
“What can they catch” Kou Chen asked.
Huo Ran continued forward: “Wolves, foxes, gazelles, rabbits, hedgehogs, anything.”
“Holy **,” Kou Chen said.
“Is that okay Have you seen one Can you save something from it”
“There’s not many big animals here,” Huo Ran said.
“The smaller ones would die immediately, so even if you see one it’s probably dead, or it will die even if you get it out.”
Kou Chen stayed silent for a while.
He rarely touches on subjects like this, he just likes animals, cats, dogs, rabbits, the sort.
But hearing Huo Ran say that, he suddenly felt a bit uncomfortable.
“You’ve tried to save one, right” He asked.
Huo Ran continued forward a few steps before nodding: “Yeah.”
“What was it” Kou Chen asked.
“A fox.” Huo Ran said.
“I wrapped it up in my clothes, so I could find someone to help at the next village, but it died after half an hour.”
“Huo Ran.” Kou Chen stopped.
“Hm” Huo Ran turned back to look at him.
Kou Chen spread his arms.
“What” Huo Ran took a step back in caution.
“Come here.” Kou Chen frowned, looking a bit upset.
Huo Ran hesitated, before walking up to him: “Wh…”
Kou Chen hugged him, patting the bag on his back: “It’s okay, don’t be sad.”
“Hey—” Huo Ran yelled and pushed him away, “I’m not sad! It’s just uncomfortable to talk about.”
“You’re not sad” Kou Chen looked at him.
“It’s been years.” Huo Ran said.
“How long am I supposed to stay sad for And there’s been less trap these years, so that would make me even less sad.”
“I just wanted to comfort you a bit.” Kou Chen said.
“I know.” Huo Ran looked at him, suddenly feeling a bit awkward.
Of course he knew Kou Chen was trying to comfort him, but right now, in front of Old Yang and Kou Xiao, this type of comfort was very much Kou Chen.
“Ah.” Kou Chen looked at him slightly unhappily.
“Man,” Huo Ran was literally speechless, he went and hugged him, patting his backpack, “Thank you.”
“Hurry up!” Kou Xiao yelled.
“Are you two kids playing house or what!”
An hour later, Kou Xiao wasn’t even talking, much less yelling.
When Old Yang asked her if she wanted water, she panted as she spoke: “My ass, I don’t wanna go to the bathroom here.”
“It’ll be like this the whole way.” Huo Ran said.
“Are you hoping for a public bathroom If you can hold it there’s one in the village actually, but I bet you’ll want to run back out when you see it.”
“I’m too tired to talk to you,” Kou Xiao waved him off.
“Just tell me how long until we can rest.”
“It gets dark earlier in the mountains, just after the mountain ridge up ahead…” Huo Ran pointed.
“What mountain ridge! What did you say! There’s a mountain ridge! We’re gonna have to go over that!” Kou Xiao yelled.
“That’s not it,” Huo Ran laughed, “We just call it a mountain ridge, it’s only a dip in between two dirt hills, it’ll only take twenty minutes.
We’ll set up camp after that.”
The path was difficult to walk through, and along with the fact that they were all tired, even Kou Chen stayed silent throughout.
Huo Ran led the way, looking back at them occasionally.
“Are there any more obstacles” Kou Chen asked.
“Nope, we’re almost there, but there’s a ditch up ahead, be careful.” Huo Ran said.
“In most cases there’ll just be a log across it.”
“Gonna have to walk a single plank bridge” Kou Chen perked up, “Who put it there”
“The locals did.
And it’s not a plank, just a fallen tree or whatever that was dragged over.” Huo Ran said.
“Damn, this is interesting.” Kou Chen got out his phone.
“I gotta post this, I bet those idiots have never seen anything so cool.”
Five minutes later, they arrived at the cool thing.
The log that was supposed to be there went AWOL.
The end on their side had slid down to the bottom of the ditch.
“Holy **!” Kou Chen snapped a bunch of pictures, “What happened here How are we gonna get past Do we have to get down and then climb up it”
In theory, yes.
Huo Ran glanced at Kou Xiao.
She was pretty good, didn’t complain nor hold them back.
It was just that although the ditch wasn’t wide, it was pretty deep.
It was a bit of a stretch to expect her to make her way down and then climb up to the other side.
Huo Ran put his bag down and looked around.
There would usually be some extra logs for situations like this.
He soon found a tree that looked like it had been struck down by lightning, but there were no stumps nearby, so it was probably the extra log.
“Kou Chen! Yang-ge!” He yelled, “Come help.”
Kou Xiao wasn’t interested in this stuff.
The only thing keeping her going was the fact that they will set up camp after they get over the mountain ridge.
Kou Chen and Old Yang were both excited, all of their early tiredness chased away by the unexpected incident.
The three of them dragged the log back out to the ditch.
“How do we do this” Kou Chen stared at the ditch.
Huo Ran took out a folding shovel from his bag, and dug a hole where the original log was supposed to lay.
Then he put a big rock down into the spot, so the log wouldn’t slide.
Kou Chen stood off to the side, wanting to help, but he didn’t know how.
And looking at Huo Ran, he didn’t seem like he needed help.
He was obviously someone that had spent a lot of time outdoors.
“Come,” Huo Ran beckoned them over after he was done, “Bring the log here.
Put one side in the hole and let it fall over to the other side… Do you see the dip from the old log”
“Nope.” Kou Chen and Old Yang both replied.
“…I’ll tell you when to let go.” Huo Ran said.
Holding the log up, Huo Ran looked to the other side and told them to let go.
As the log fell, Kou Chen finally saw the dip Huo Ran was talking about.
The log fell accurately, bouncing away before rolling back into the dip.
The next part was easy, although the log wasn’t very wide, it would only take a couple steps to hop over.
After Old Yang threw her bag over to the other side, she ran across bravely.
The first thing she did when she got across was to check the contents of her bag: “I hope you didn’t **ing break my moisturizer bottle, I only brought that one, I have to rely on it for the next two days…”
“Watch your language!” Old Yang said.
“Don’t talk like your brother.”
“I hope you didn’t break my moisturizer bottle,” Kou Chen changed her tone to a whiny one, “I only brought that one, I have to rely on it for the next two days…”
After all that effort, crossing the ridge felt like nothing.
Crossing through the last bit of forest, they all cheered as they saw the open patch of land.
They ran over like it was the light at the end of the tunnel.
“There’s someone else’s fire here!” Kou Chen said.
“Do they all set up camp here”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran put his bag down, looking up at the site.
“Their first stop is usually here.
There’s a small village two kilometers north, so it’s convenient to stock up, and it’s relatively safe too.”
“I’m hungry,” Kou Chen said.
“Time to cook!”
“Put the tent up first.” Huo Ran opened his bag.
“Let’s cook first, it’s not like we’re gonna sleep now.” Kou Chen looked at him.
“Tent first.” Huo Ran pointed at the skin, “It’s about to rain.”
“No way.” Kou Chen looked up in confusion, “It’s as clear as day, there’s just no sun.
Didn’t you say it gets dark quicker in the mountains”
“Tent first.” Huo Ran repeated.
“Okay.” Although Kou Chen didn’t know how he could tell, he trusted Huo Ran’s judgement.
They had two double tents.
After Huo Ran helped Old Yang with theirs, it was already starting to drizzle.
“Damn,” Kou Chen looked at him, “You’re really amazing, Huo Ran.”
“Stop talking,” Huo Ran didn’t stop, “If you don’t want to get soaked then hurry up.”
“If I don’t wanna get soaked I can also…” Kou Chen laughed and walked over to Kou Xiao’s tent, bending down to squeeze through.
“I can also hide out in here…”
“Get out!” Kou Xiao yelled, “You have your own tent!”
Kou Chen was shoved out, and before he could even get up, Kou Xiao had zipped up the tent.
“Seriously” Kou Chen walked back to help Huo Ran unhappily, “Keep it down! The tents aren’t soundproof!”
“I’m changing! What’s wrong with you!” Kou Xiao yelled.
After they finished with the tents, it was starting to rain pretty heavily.
Huo Ran and Kou Chen climbed into their tent.
“Is it waterproof” Kou Chen looked up.
“Mhm.” Huo Ran got their sleeping bags out, “It won’t last long, at most an hour.”
“Oh.” Kou Chen sat at the opening, looking out.
A while later, he stretched.
“It’s so boring, sitting and watching the rain in a tent.
We’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s no signal, it’s gonna get dark soon, and we don’t even have a light…”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran took off his sweater and changed into a new one.
“Change out of your wet clothes, you might get sick.”
Kou Chen took off his sweater and rummaged around his bag.
He suddenly made a surprised sound.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t bring extra clothes!” Huo Ran sat up.
“Why did I bring my drawer key Hey, let me tell you…” Kou Chen paused, kneeling beside his bag and doing something.
“Let me show you something, my dad chased me out of the house because of this when I was little.”
Huo Ran immediately moved to the other side of the tent: “No need, I don’t wanna see, thanks.”
Kou Chen didn’t say anything, still doing something with his head down.
Huo Ran even saw him tug at his pants.
“Kou Chen, I’m warning you…” Huo Ran pointed at his back.
Before he could finish, Kou Chen suddenly turned around.
Still kneeling, he scooted over and then he moved his hand, thrusting his hips forward.
What Huo Ran saw was the bulge in his pants.
“Should I clap” Huo Ran asked.
“What was it that gave you that kind of reaction in a place like this”
“Look!” Kou Chen slowly tugged down the zipper.
“I don’t want to, I have my own, really.” Huo Ran didn’t know if he should laugh or cry.
Kou Chen tugged down the zipper, and a little yellow chicken flew out of his pants, landing by Huo Ran’s foot.
There was a loop attached to it.
…It was a chicken keychain.
Huo Ran felt that he had finally understood Kou Chen at that moment.
He watched in pain as he saw himself start laughing hysterically.