They all quieted down as the woman stopped struggling and screaming.
They all stood there with their pants’ drawstrings gone, not knowing what to do.
They just wanted to catch the person and understand the situation, but now with the realization that she was a lunatic, they didn’t know where to start.
“Who are you guys” The woman broke the silence first.
“We’re campers.” Old Yang answered, helping her sit up.
“Who are you”
“Gao Yufei.” The woman said.
“Gao Yufei” Old Yang repeated.
“Gao Yufang.” The woman said.
“Fang Gao Yufang” Old Yang repeated again.
“Gao Yufen.” The woman said.
“…Which one is it” Old Yang looked to them for help, “Her accent’s too strong, I can’t understand her.”
“Can you tell where she’s from” Kou Xiao looked to Huo Ran and asked, “Is she a local”
“It sounds kinda like it.” Huo Ran thought about it, “But I can’t be sure.
The locals at the store all spoke standard Chinese, though it was kinda hard to understand.”
“If she’s a local,” Kou Chen said.
“Then… were the locals from yesterday looking for her Their lunat… mentally ill family member”
“I’m not a lunatic.” Gao Yufei/fang/fen suddenly said.
She spoke pretty clearly this time, her accent lighter and understandable.
“Hm” Huo Ran crouched down in surprise, “Can you tell us which village you’re from”
“I’m lost.” Gao Yufei/fang/fen frowned, looking a bit pitiful.
“I’m lost, the paths are all the same, hard to tell apart.”
“Which village Where’s your home” Huo Ran repeated.
Gao Yufei/fang/fen looked at him, before finally saying: “Tang’s Hollow.”
“Tang’s Hollow” Huo Ran stood up.
“That’s where I wanted to go for their chicken, but I changed my plans since you guys were coming.”
“Didn’t you say it was really far” Kou Chen asked.
“She walked all the way from there”
“Look at her feet.” Kou Xiao whispered.
They all looked at Gao Yufei/fang/fen’s feet.
They were bare and swollen, covered in bruises and cuts.
“Uh…” Kou Xiao furrowed her brows, “I have extra shoes, we can give it to her.
It’s in my bag, Old Yang…”
“The bag…” Old Yang froze, running back with a hand on his pants.
“We left them on the path.”
“I’ll untie you now,” Kou Chen pointed at the string around Gao Yufei/fang/fen’s feet.
“Don’t hit us.”
“Hit bad people,” Gao Yufei/fang/fen said.
“Not good people.”
Kou Chen untied her, handing Huo Ran his pants’ drawstring, and whispered: “Even if she’s not a lunatic, she’s gotta be an idiot at least”
“Yeah,” Huo Ran unhooked a safety pin from the zipper of his pants and threaded the drawstring back.
“Damn, you even bring this stuff” Kou Chen looked at him.
“I have one on all my zippers, who knows when it’ll come in handy.” Huo Ran got another two and handed one to Kou Chen, the other to Kou Xiao.
“I’m fine.” Kou Xiao stuffed her own drawstring in Kou Chen’s pocket and lowered her voice.
“I’ll just change into a new pair, it was tied on her feet…”
Kou Xiao’s voice became even quieter: “How long has it been since she’s showered It stinks.”
Old Yang came back with Kou Xiao’s shoes, along with a pair of socks.
Huo Ran noticed that they were Arc’teryx shoes.
“Alright, it should fit.” Kou Xiao carefully measured it against Gao Yufei/fang/fen’s feet.
“Do you know how to put on socks and shoes Can you do it by yourself”
“Yeah!” Gao Yufei/fang/fen nodded eagerly.
She took the socks and shoes, forcing them onto her feet in all seriousness.
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.
“Be careful, don’t hurt yourself.” Kou Xiao stood up and sighed.
She even waved her hand in front of her nose.
“Lord, poor lady.”
“Tbe’gf pera ubccj ulnf atfw ab tfg” Leb Ejc jrxfv.
“Tfjt, tbk jw P ubccj kfjg atfw cbk” Bbe Wljb rlutfv.
Leb Ejc ujnf tfg j atewyr eq.
“Qtja vb kf vb cbk” Bbe Jtfc qblcafv ja Xjb Teofl/ojcu/ofc, “Dglcu tfg klat er”
Ktfs jii tfrlajafv, ibbxlcu ja Zjvjw Xjb, ktb kjr cbk tjqqlis jvwlglcu atf rtbfr rtf qea bc.
Po rtf gfjiis kjr pera j ibra lvlba bg iecjalm, atfc atfs mbeiv vfji klat la tbkfnfg atfs kjca.
Ktf ojrafra yflcu ab ub ab atf cfjgys nliijuf jcv mjii atf qbilmf.
If it wasn’t just lost… They’ll be in danger if they bring her to call the police where the locals were.
But if they didn’t do that, they could only use their own phones, and there was only signal at the river mouth.
Forget the fact that she might not want to go with them, even if she did, who knows when they would get there with her condition, adding on to the fact that they have to stop and restock.
The most important part is that if they ran into any locals, they might all be in danger.
“Madam,” Old Yang patients asked her, “Your family, dad, mom, siblings, are they all at Tang’s Hollow”
Madam Gao looked at him, suddenly appearing a bit sad: “No, it’s just me.”
Her accent was strong, but they could pretty much guess what she was saying.
“Then where are they” Old Yang asked.
“I don’t know.” She looked kinda lost, she said, “I don’t remember.”
“Don’t remember” Kou Chen was surprised.
“My head doesn’t work,” She laughed embarrassedly, wiping her face with her hand.
“I’m an idiot, because of a fever.”
“Then did you marry into Tang’s Hollow” Kou Xiao asked.
“Ah” She looked at her blankly, “You’re a good person, very good.”
“I’m a pretty person,” Kou Xiao said.
“I mean, did you marry someone from Tang’s Hollow Marriage Your husband is from Tang’s Hollow Your man”
“…Husband Yes!” Madam Gao nodded, before taking a few steps back hastily, “No, no, no… can’t say no, or he’ll beat me.”
“Someone beat you” Old Yang asked.
“Old Tang does!” She said, “He does! With a metal rod! If I run he’ll drag me back and beat me!”
“Why would he beat you” Kou Xiao asked.
“Waste of money!” She suddenly cursed, “Bought an idiot! Can’t do anything! Can’t even feed the chickens…”
Huo Ran recognized that Madam Gao should be imitating the local accent.
And that was the worst possible realization.
Not only does it confirm that Madam Gao was sold to this place and had suffered horribly, it also meant that they would be in danger.
“Let’s go back, our bags are still there.” Old Yang said.
They all turned back.
A few steps in, Old Yang whispered: “This is too dangerous… Little Huo, have you ever run into this sort of situation”
“No.” Huo Ran replied, “I always come alone, so there’s no way I would’ve chased her out here.”
“Fuck, I shouldn’t have done that.” Kou Chen sighed, “Look where it got us.”
“Don’t say that,” Kou Xiao said.
“It’s normal for you to want to find out what happened.”
“Then what do we do now” Kou Chen glanced back, “She’s right behind us!”
Not only was she following behind them, his glance startled her.
She ran up to them and grabbed onto the hem of Old Yang’s shirt.
“Maybe she’ll just leave in a bit.” Huo Ran said.
“We’ll call the police at the river mouth.”
“Can we call them without signal” Kou Xiao said.
“I tried it before when I was with other campers,” Huo Ran said.
“It won’t work… If we want to call the police we can only go forwards.
The village back at Baimao Hill is too far away, and we might run into those locals.”
Back on the path, their bags were still there beside a rock.
Huo Ran put his bag on: “Let’s go, if she’s still following us then… just let her.”
“Does she know we’re heading in the direction she came from” Kou Chen asked.
Didn’t she say she was lost” Huo Ran sighed.
“We were supposed to set up camp and eat, but we better not stop now.
If you guys aren’t tired we’ll just eat as we go.”
“Not tired,” Kou Xiao said, “I want to eat instant noodles dry, are there any left”
“Instant noodles, bread, all that.” Old Yang said.
They divvied up the food amongst themselves.
Madam Gao was still holding onto Old Yang’s shirt, not letting go even when she was handed some bread.
The bread disappeared into her mouth in about two seconds.
“Is that a magic trick” Kou Chen froze.
Madam Gao laughed sillily, reaching out and vanishing the bread in his hands too.
“Damn.” Kou Chen looked at her, before turning around, “Fine, eat it.
It looks like you’ve been starving for days.
They each ate one bun, giving the rest to Madam Gao.
Continuing on their way, Madam Gao let go of Old Yang’s shirt, because he had his bag on and she switched to holding on to the tassel on the bag.
Probably due to her surviving in the mountains all this time, she could keep up with their pace, even with her injured feet.
Only Old Yang had a face of helplessness.
“Madam, how long has it been since you left Tang’s Hollow” He asked.
“A year,” She answered quickly, “I ran away yesterday.”
“…Never mind.” Old Yang sighed.
“When we go stock up,” Kou Chen walked with Huo Ran at the front, trying to find some signal.
“How much longer We can call the police there, right”
“We don’t need to go that far, from the river it’s…” Huo Ran was cut off by Madam Gao singing behind him.
It was the same song as the one from last night.
It sounded erratic, and they couldn’t tell if it was a folk song or something else.
“Don’t sing,” Kou Chen said.
“What if someone hears…”
Madam Gao ignored him and kept singing.
Although it wasn’t very in tune, it was loud.
If it weren’t for the trees and hills, the people in Tang’s Hollow could probably hear her all the way from there.
“Stop singing!” Huo Ran yelled, “If Old Tang hears he’ll come beat you!”
Madam Gao startled, and she stopped.
Two seconds later, she looked down and started mumbling.
They couldn’t understand what she was saying, but at least she wasn’t so loud anymore.
They continued forward, none of them in the mood to appreciate the fun of hiking anymore.
Only Kou Xiao occasionally got out her phone to take some photos.
Madam Gao followed them as she mumbled, even singing quietly ever so often.
“Say,” Kou Chen sighed, “Are we doing the right thing Like, just, taking her to call the police”
“If it were just me, I wouldn’t get involved.” Huo Ran said.
“It’s too dangerous.
But now with four of us, I think we can do it.”
“Acting brave” Kou Chen laughed.
“Maybe, it’s just like how people always wait for someone else to make the first move, but once it happens they would all follow.” Huo Ran said.
“I guess we all need a sense of security.”
“Gotta be brave to do the wrong thing, but you also need to be brave to do the right thing.” Kou Chen said.
“Mhm, I admitted it.” Huo Ran said.
“I’m that kind of person that needs to act brave to do something.”
Kou Chen laughed, putting an arm around his shoulder, turning to look at him: “I like it when you’re honest like that.”
“What a surprise,” Huo Ran said.
“Someone who brags so much the solar system can barely take it, likes honesty.”
“Fuck off,” Kou Chen glared at him.
“If I ** off now, you three plus that Gao Yufei, Gao Yufang, Gao Yufen,” Huo Ran said, “Wouldn’t last a second.”
“Gao what…” Kou Chen froze for a few seconds before realizing, laughing hysterically as he hung around his shoulder.
“Holy **, we have three, four, five, six people, what are we scared of”
Huo Ran ignored him.
“Why are you so cute” Kou Chen asked.
“You’re the cutest in the world,” Huo Ran looked at him, “Is that what I’m supposed to say”
“No!” Kou Chen lowered his voice, “I’m just saying, come here.”
“What” Huo Ran leaned away in alarm.
“Lemme give you a kiss.” Kou Chen pulled him back in, puckering his lips and leaning over.
“What’s wrong with you!” Huo Ran shoved his face away in shock, “In the middle of the day…”
That didn’t sound right, as Huo Ran was about to correct himself, Kou Chen immediately said: “Fine, I’ll wait until nighttime.”
“Are you related to Gao Yufei, Gao Yufang, Gao Yufen” Huo Ran laughed, “Fucking sick in the head.”
“How do you say all that without messing up” Kou Chen asked.
“I…” Before he could finish, Madam Gao suddenly screamed.
They immediately turned around, “What…”
Madam Gao wasn’t behind Old Yang anymore, she shot into the forest like an arrow.
If it isn’t for Arc’teryx shoes, she can run like that even with her injuries…
The next second, Huo Ran saw the few locals running over.
With clubs, and rope.
The ones they ran into yesterday.
Huo Ran’s blood went cold.
He shrugged Kou Chen’s arm off and lowered his voice: “Run.”
“What” Kou Xiao startled.
“Run!” Huo Ran grabbed Kou Xiao’s wrist and started running, “RUN!”
Old Yang and Kou Chen reacted and started running.
The locals behind them started yelling, but they couldn’t tell what they were saying.
Kou Chen looked back and saw that they split up.
Three of them headed in Madam Gao’s direction and three of them were chasing after them.
“How many” Huo Ran yelled.
“Three!” Kou Chen yelled back, “They have clubs!”
Huo Ran got out his baton as he ran: “Yang-ge, do you have anything”
“I have a knife.” Old yang replied.
“Wait for them to catch up.” Huo Ran said.
Although Kou Xiao never held them back, she was still a girl and couldn’t run fast.
But even without Kou Xiao there was no way they could outrun those locals who grew up here in the mountains.
“There’s a ditch up ahead!” Huo Ran yelled, “Jie, you hide down there!”
“Okay!” Kou Xiao’s hair whipped in her face as she run, but she still replied loudly.
“They’re coming!” Kou Chen said.
“One, two,” Huo Ran extended the baton, and after he saw Kou Xiao leap into the nearby ditch, he yelled, “Three!”
The three of them turned around, and pounced onto the locals who were already just a couple steps away from them.