A Nest of Snakes Inside an Old Tomb - Chapter 15
By the time Yin Dabai and Yin Xiaoxiao returned to the entrance of the cave, the sun had nearly set and its light shone red on the ground. The lack of harsh sunlight put a certain snake in a cheerful mood…naturally, the snake referred to was Yin Xiaoxiao.
Yin Dabai and Yin Xiaoxiao entered the cave one after the other, Yin Dabai visibly more eager than Yin Xiaoxiao. “Xiaohua, I’m back!”
Unfortunately, no snake responded.
Yin Dabai circled around the cave, but found neither Hua Xiaohua nor any of the other young snakes.
“Huh? Strange. Where did they go?” Yin Dabai wondered aloud to Yin Xiaoxiao.
Yin Xiaoxiao didn’t reply. And anyway, Yin Xiaoxiao felt like Yin Dabai was posing this more as a rhetorical question.
Yin Dabai circled around the cave a few more times. Then, he thought. Taking into consideration Hua Xiaohua’s character…
“They must have gone to visit a neighbor.”
And neighbor obviously referred to Lan Erlang and Hong Sanhong.
“Xiaoxiao, I’m going to look for your Pop and brothers. Be good and stay here. Don’t do anything foolish, now!” With this brief explanation, Yin Dabai bustled away.
Yin Xiaoxiao curled his lip. So he was just left at home? What1 would he do if he was attacked?!
Left on his own, Yin Xiaoxiao felt lonely. From hatching until this very moment, he had never been alone. Yin Xiaoxiao felt unease prickle along his body. Sure enough, he had become used to being surrounded by snakes, who affectionately cared for and protected him. Did this mean that if he didn’t have snakes around him that he’d drown in solitude? At this thought, Yin Xiaoxiao came to a decision. Later, he must be nice to Hua Xiaowu!
Yin Xiaoxiao didn’t have long to wait. The whole family had rushed to return home. Hua Xiaohua was first on the scene. With only a quick glimpse at Yin Xiaoxiao, he rushed over and kissed Yin Xiaoxiao several times before carefully observing him. Then, he turned around to snarl at Yin Dabai, “Yin Dabai! You actually dared to take Xiaoxiao with you!”
Yin Dabai felt like he was going to die from the injustice of it all. “Xiaohua, you were the one to agree to it!”
“Me, agree? When did I agree?” Yin Xiaoxiao wasn’t sure whether he was imagining it, but he felt as though Hua Xiaohua’s eyes had grown larger. “Xiaoxiao is so small, but you still took him? I’m so angry I could spit!”’
As it turned out, although this morning Hua Xiaohua had told Yin Dabai to listen to Yin Xiaoxiao and to not bully him, Hua Xiaohua hadn’t expected that Yin Dabai would take Yin Xiaoxiao with him when he went to look for bird eggs. By the time Hua Xiaohua realized something was wrong, noon was already fast approaching. It was only when Hua Xiaowu had weakly informed Hua Xiaohua that “Dad brought Yin Xiaoxiao to the place where he looks for bird eggs”, that Hua Xiaohua knew what had happened to this father-son pair who had vanished this morning! Of course, Hua Xiaowu couldn’t just betray Yin Xiaoxiao. So, in Hua Xiaowu’s version of events, Yin Dabai had absconded with an unwilling Yin Xiaoxiao to look for bird eggs. An unwilling Yin Xiaoxiao who was forced into capitulation due to Yin Dabai’s tyranny.
At first, Hua Xiaohua had planned on looking for Yin Dabai and Yin Xiaoxiao. Even if nothing had befallen Yin Xiaoxiao when he was out with Yin Dabai, Hua Xiaohua was still angry. So angry. He had planned on finding Yin Dabai to give him a piece of his mind. But he was tricked. Tricked by his own Xiaosi. Tricked into going to the Lan-Hong household. Yin Xiaoxiao, when you were going with Yin Dabai to look for eggs, just how many people did you rope into covering for you?!
And so, Yin Dabai suffered a string of bad luck. And Yin Xiaoxiao suffered from inflaming a snake’s love.
Hua Xiaohua held Yin Dabai solely accountable. For Yin Dabai, these next few days will assuredly be difficult.
Hua Xiaohua ushered Yin Dabai into the depths of the cave for a lecture. Yin Xiaoxiao paid zero attention to this. For his role in causing Yin Dabai to suffer, Yin Xiaoxiao felt not even a sliver of guilt.
Seeing Hua Xiaohua and Yin Dabai disappear further back into the cave together, Hua Xiaowu moved over to Yin Xiaoxiao’s side. “Xiaoxiao, Xiaoxiao! Was it fun to follow Dad today to look for bird eggs?”
“It wasn’t!” Yin Xiaoxiao said, chopping the nail and slicing the iron2. “It was exhausting! We travelled too much!”
“Oh!” Hua Xiaowu hadn’t expected this answer at all. He had thought that Xiaoxiao would definitely be very happy!
“But,” Yin Xiaoxiao paused then opened his mouth to speak again, “the scenery was pretty good. The woods would make a great summer home, and there were loads of bird eggs. So, it was still pretty good.” The more Yin Xiaoxiao spoke, the more he felt that the forest would be a suitable place to live, and the more he was seriously considering living there in the future.
Hua Xiaowu said “oh” again. Now he was completely confused. Just a moment ago, Yin Xiaoxiao clearly said that it wasn’t fun, but now he said that it was pretty good?! Just what was Xiaoxiao’s real opinion?!
Yin Xiaosi looked helplessly upward as he passed by. Gazing up at the cave’s ceiling, he felt profound grief. Living together with these IQ’s, would his own IQ decrease?
Yin Xiaoyi chuckled at Yin Xiaoxiao and Hua Xiaowu.
“I also want to go-”
-said Hua Xiaoer and Hua Xiaosan, but no snake responded to them.
Yin Xiaoxiao yawned.
Hua Xiaowu felt a little flustered. “Xiaoxiao, I’m not tired yet.”
Yin Xiaoxiao bit back half a yawn. “What do you have to do with me being tired?”
“Xiaoxiao, if you’re tired that means that you want to go to sleep, right? But right now, I don’t want to sleep. But then, how can you sleep without the má huā? You can’t, right?”
Listening to Hua Xiaowu, Yin Xiaoxiao became even more sleepy.
Yin Xiaoxiao looked outside the cave. “It’s already dark out. It’s time to sleep.” Or in other words: ‘Hua Xiaowu, even though you’re not sleepy, it’s still time for you to go to bed’.
And, just a moment. What’s with this habit of going to bed right after sunset…Yin Xiaoxiao, did you do this when you were human?
Yin Xiaoyi, Yin Xiaosi, Hua Xiaoer and Hua Xiaosan loyally approached Yin Xiaoxiao. Hua Xiaowu saw them arrayed like so and could not, absolutely could not, be the odd one out. So, he resolutely moved closer.
Really. Yin Xiaoxiao devoutly wished that he could roll his eyes, but, unfortunately, lacked eyelids as a snake.
The young snakes approached Yin Xiaoxiao, and Yin Xiaoxiao again formed the center of a má huā. Maybe it was because he was extremely tired, but Yin Xiaoxiao felt pretty comfortable, and so he very smoothly fell into slumber.
Gradually, little by little, all the young snakes fell asleep. Aside from Hua Xiaowu.
Staring into the darkness, Hua Xiaowu’s eyes shone with grievance. He really wasn’t tired, okay?! This cross was really hard to bear, okay?!
And just who made you take such a long afternoon nap, Hua Xiaohua?! You see, retribution has come, swift and terrible!
Almost as soon as the sunlight illuminated the cave, Yin Xiaoxiao awoke. He waited a moment, and the rest of the young snakes woke up in succession. All except for Hua Xiaowu, who had only been able to fall asleep sometime after midnight. At the moment, he was sleeping soundly. Naturally, it was unlikely that any snake could rouse him.
But it was this early morning that caused Yin Xiaoxiao to wonder. At first, Yin Dabai and Hua Xiaohua had slept deep in the cave. Now, they were sleeping beside them.
How strange. Why were they sleeping next to them, here? Why not deep in the cave? Yin Xiaoxiao sincerely felt that he would never be able to understand these two fickle snakes.