Chapter 1: Rolled Down the Cliff
It was evening, and the blazing red-orange sky with a smatter of clouds was a breathtaking sight. It was a beautiful sight, yet Lu Qiu couldn’t appreciate such a view at this moment. Her footsteps were riddled with anxiety as she trekked on the mountain trails. Fortunately, there were only a few people in the mountain trails right now, since it wasn’t the peak season for tourists.
However, due to the heavy rain the day before yesterday, the two sides of the cliffs that were covered with thick trees were still very wet. Thankfully, the stone stairs where she walked on were already dry due to the strong sun these past two days.
Lu Qiu, who had been walking for a whole day, felt a little bit tired right now as she adjusted her backpack once again. Not only her feet felt sore, her knees also felt as soft as jelly. And though the weather wasn’t hot, she still sweated a lot. Her fair face was stained with sweats as it flushed red with exertion.
Therefore, she took a deep breath as she pulled her bangs that got stuck to her forehead and decided to stop walking for a moment. She took a short respite and sat on the stone steps on the side, taking out the water bottle from the backpack. She had only brought two water bottles uphill, and this was the last one she had.
After that short rest, she carried her backpack and prepared to continue on. However, what she didn’t expect was the sudden onslaught of dizziness that momentarily made her sight dark. She had also never expected that, combined with her sore feet and soft legs, her body would be unsteady as it involuntarily fell forward.
Unfortunately, ahead of her was a steep mountain road, where death was almost a certainty if one ever fell. As such, spurred with her instinctive desire to live, her hand almost involuntarily extended sideways, trying to grab something to hold onto. Fortunately, Lu Qiu managed to grab an outstretched branch from the left side where there were plenty of trees.
For a moment, she settled down and put all her energy on the branch she had grabbed. She pulled at it hard, planning to use it to try to stabilize herself and move to safety. However, as soon as she exerted her strength to do it, she realized it was as light as a feather. It turned out to be a dead branch that had already broken up from its trunk.
Accompanied with an echoing scream of terror, a figure rolled straight down the cliff.
Seconds before she fainted, Lu Qiu began to deeply regret her decision to trek the mountain trails. She was just in love. So, why did she have to come climb the mountain instead of going out to eat and drink? What exactly did she have to prove?
At that moment, the weather in the mountains suddenly changed. The cloud dispersed and the sky was abruptly filled with thunders. Then, a ray of thunder seemed to separate itself and broke into the mountains. The violent thunders that appeared without a warning soon disappeared, restoring the mountain’s tranquility as if nothing had happened.
Lu Qiu woke up with a severe headache. As she sat up from a pile of soft leaves, she held her raging head. It was not only the back of her head that was in pain, though for her cheeks, arms, legs, and lower back were also in pain. She then carefully touched the tingling area of her face, trying to figure out the extent of the damage. Since, right now, she could smell blood from the tip of her nose.
However, that blood was most likely because something was scratched when she fell. In any case, while her whole body felt thoroughly uncomfortable and in considerable pain, the fact that she was not dead was worthy of praise. In fact, she should be completely ecstatic about that.
She was incredibly lucky to have survived with just this amount of pain. She heaved a sigh and tried to stand up with the support of the sturdy tree trunk next to her. Despite her pain though, miraculously her bone was completely intact without any fracture.
At this time, she could see the sun had set and the sky had turned completely dark. She was unable to see anything and only knew there were thick fallen leaves underneath her. She could feel the leaves were very wide. It was even wider and bigger than her palms. Along with it, she could also smell some rot and damp scent floating in the air slightly mixing together.
Then, she tried to check the tree she was leaning on. However, even after a long time touching it, she was unable to reach its end. So, she opened her arms and tried to hug it. Nevertheless, even though her arms were opened as wide as possible to the point it almost reached 180 degrees, she still couldn’t hug the tree. It was hard to imagine how big the tree actually is, so she gave up.
In the end, she sat down at the base of the tree, energy spent. Even so, she was still alert since Lu Qiu had a physique that attracts mosquitoes and insects to her. And knowing this attribute of hers, she went into the mountains fully prepared; she protected herself by wrapping herself in full armor of long trousers, long tights, and a lot of hats and masks. Yet, due to it being too hot, she had taken off her mask and stuffed it inside the backpack. However, she had dropped her backpack, and it was lost when she fell.
Therefore, right now, she only had two tissues pack in her trouser pockets for the purpose of wiping her sweat. Meanwhile, she had placed her mobile phone into the backpack, so it was lost alongside it. In any case, she didn’t know if the signal could reach her place, so it was useless in her current situation. The only problem now was… she didn’t know when she could leave this place, especially if no one saw her fall down the cliff.
Thankfully, her eyes soon slightly adjusted to the darkness, so she stood up and moved forward. Her anxiety was evident from the sound of her deep and shallow breath. Nevertheless, she still persisted onwards since she figured her backpack shouldn’t drop too far away from her. Therefore, she decided to fumble around the area first. And if she couldn’t find it, she would give up and leaned on the tree to wait for the daylight.
However, Lu Qiu didn’t have much experience with nature, so she didn’t notice something that experienced people would. She couldn’t perceive the fact that the forest was too quiet to the point of being eerie.
No chirping birds; no sounds of leaves being shaken by the winds; there was no other sound except for the rustling sound of her footsteps traipsing the fallen leaves on the ground.
Not only that, she didn’t even think of the reason why there were such towering ancient trees in the forest under the cliff of a popular scenic spot.
All she was focused on was her missing backpack, but even after she had searched for it carefully, it was still missing. So, Lu Qiu trekked back and leaned on the tree in frustration, holding her arms tightly to herself and shrunk her body into a ball.
After staying still for a while, she could feel the temperature here was too low. The trousers she wore simply couldn’t stop her from feeling cold. When she made a rough estimate, the temperature didn’t feel like it reached ten degrees. Nonetheless, as inexperienced as she is, she still knew that the temperature in the mountains usually would be lower. She was fortunate it was summer currently, so it shouldn’t get any lower than her current estimate.
That didn’t mean it wasn’t cold, though. She still trembled for a while before somewhat getting used to it. Lu Qiu then closed her eyes and tried to force herself to sleep, waiting for dawn to come before trying to find a way to call for help.
Even if my bag is lost, there is always a way to contact the outside world. Don’t give up, Lu Qiu! You’ll definitely be saved! Fight!
But before she managed to fall asleep, she felt something touching her head that was leaning on the tree bark. Not only that, soon it was also touching both sides of her neck and back.
It’s not a snake, is it?
Frightened, she didn’t even try to stand up as she immediately crawled forward before looking back in horror.