Chapter 338: The Rescue
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Was that a hallucination? Was she only seeing him because she was dying?
But the physical touch felt all too real. He supported her with his arm and guided her as they swam towards the shore.
So he was there to save her. At that moment, Xia Ling’s tears welled up in her eyes, and all of her grievances were released through them. Only now, when she faced a situation of life and death, did she realize that he was willing to give up his life for her.
He was her guardian, he always had been.
She struggled to keep her head up and continue swimming with her one good arm in order not to be a dead weight on him. As she swam, she accidentally knocked against his wrist.
A metallic object on his wrist unlatched and came off.
Pei Ziheng turned his head around and his expression changed.
Realizing that Pei Ziheng had stopped swimming forward, Xia Ling attempted to tug at him, signaling at him to hurry up. Against nature’s forces, they were all too small and helpless, and another second spent in the water was one too many.
But Pei Ziheng did not move.
He looked towards the direction in which that object fell off and then turned towards her.
Xia Ling had a bad premonition, and fear was beginning to wrap around her. All of the panic and darkness… she could not put it into words. But she was lost and helpless, and could only look at him pleadingly as she hoped for him to take her and escape that place.
But he took her hand off him.
It was a forceful and decisive move. Her hand fell away from his arm the same way that the object did.
Xia Ling did not see that coming. She finally knew where the fear was coming from. In the ice-cold water where their lives were in danger, he could forsake and abandon her for an item unknown to her.
Now that she had lost her support, her one good arm was unable to keep her in control of her swimming and ended up being dragged along by the waters. Her eyes were widened as she tried to look at him, to ask him why he did this, but that was when she realized he had already turned away to search for his lost item.
Her heart turned cold, spreading from inside out.
Xia Ling felt like she was sinking deeper by the second and that her muscles were going numb. It was almost as if she were losing her sense of existence. Before she knew it, she had sunk into a quiet, lonely darkness.
It seemed like a prolonged nightmare.
In the nightmare, there was a large cage, monsters, and a boundless void.
She tried to escape in fear as she felt someone chasing after her. She ran until she saw the light before her — it was faint but warm and hopeful. As she ran towards it, she heard someone calling her name. “Ling… Xiao Ling, Ye Xingling…”
Who was she?
Was she not Xia Ling? Why would she be Ye Xingling?
As she stopped running towards the light, the voice became clearer. “Xiao Ling… Ye Xingling… Wake up! Promise me you’ll be fine…”
Whose voice was that? It was familiar.
Right, she was Ye Xingling, who was Xia Ling?
No… she was no longer Xia Ling.
“Ye Xingling, come back. Ye Xingling!” The voice sounded desperate and urgent.
She dragged her feet towards the light with all her might. Finally, her eyelids quivered, and she was greeted by Li Lei’s anxious expression.
“Xiao Ling, you’ve finally come to!” He was drenched from head to toe, and there was still some mud on his face. He looked dirty and downtrodden, but the smile he had just flashed at her was the most beautiful and sincere one she had seen. He smiled foolishly. “I will save you! Believe me, I’ll save you! Xiao Ling, talk to me. Please stay awake, don’t go back to sleep.”
She found it difficult to breathe as her lungs hurt, but she listened to him and opened her mouth.
“What did you say?” He could not hear her clearly.
“So… so ugly…” She said weakly.
He was stunned for a while before he smiled again and began wiping the mud off her face.
“You’re not ugly.” He said. “You’ll always be the most beautiful.”
“I’m saying… you’re ugly.” She coughed in an attempt to smile.
He was stunned once again, but said, “Alright then, I’m ugly. But you must not despise me, you’ve seen all of me, I want to hold you responsible.” With that, he removed his soaked top and revealed his nicely toned muscles as he held her in his arms, then wrapped his top around both of them.
“What are you doing?” She had no way of resisting him. “You’ll… catch a cold.”
“I’m fit and strong, it’ll be fine.” Li Lei said. “You’ll be warmer this way. Xiao Ling, hold it out for a while more. Help is coming, you’ll be fine.”
She was ice-cold, and her pulse was extremely weak. Li Lei had never been this afraid in his life before he saw that she had almost left him and this world for good.
He was cold too. When he went to save her, he realized that she had been caught underwater by some seaweed and was already in an unconscious state. It took him a lot of effort to rescue her onto the shore, and he was weak now as well. Still, all he was concerned about now was to keep her safe, as she was in her most vulnerable state. She could die from hypothermia, and he could not let that happen.
After holding her for a while, she regained some breath. “I’m alright, you… don’t have to do this anymore.” She could see that he was cold too — his lips were already purple and quivering in the wind. Still, he kept her ice-cold hand on his chest and held it down when she tried to remove it.
“I’m alright.” He was trembling with cold, but he kept his voice steady. “We’ll both survive this. I want to protect you for the rest of your life, I won’t die here in front of you.”
“Hey…” She was a little unhappy, why was he talking about death now?
He smiled and bent over to kiss her forehead. “I’m here, don’t be afraid.” Tracing the outline of her face with his eyes, he spotted the amulet around her neck — the one that he poured his blood and sincere prayers into. “You’ll be fine,” Li Lei said again. “You’re wearing the amulet I gave you.”
She agreed with him softly.
She remembered how she had mocked the amulet for being another generic pendant worth less than a dollar, and refused to put it on. Only after going through so much did she realize that even if it was just another generic pendant, and even if he had picked it up on the streets, the thought and love that went into it were invaluable.
In fact, he was the one she could depend on to protect her for the rest of her life.