16 A Drop of Red in the Snow (2): A Heart Turned Numb
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When Baili Chao passed by the estate, his gaze was immediately attracted by the figure below the tree. He stopped in his tracks and watched for a moment but that child did not move and just sat there, staring at the estate ahead. Baili Chao also turned, his brows furrowing slightly. The estate might not be called big but it was still sizable and the red robe the youth was wearing was of good quality fabric. Clearly, this family was not poor. So why would this child be sitting outside in the heavy snow?

He finally walked over and Luo Lin turned his head when he heard the crunching steps. He looked at the old man in the white robe. He should probably say something but he did not know what and he didn’t know if his voice would carry.

Baili Chao felt a sinking feeling when Luo Lin turned to look at him. The youth’s lips had lost all color and his skin was as pale as paper. Clearly, he had been much too long outside in the snow. What kind of family was this that they would do something like that to a child?

He clenched his hands into fists before he forced himself to relax. He went over with a faint smile on his lips, hoping to elicit some goodwill from the youth. "What’s your name?"

Luo Lin’s lips parted faintly. He needed a moment to find his voice. "Luo Lin. Like jade." His lips faintly curled. Who knew what he was thinking of?

Baili Chao felt like it wouldn’t be good to ask further in that direction. "So it’s Luo Lin. Well, child, what are you doing outside here?"

Luo Lin turned to look at the gates of the estate again. "My mother … told me to wait here." In fact, it would be more apt to say that she had told him to scram. She might have even mentioned that he should never return. But then again, how often had she said things like that? In the end, she had still always let him back inside after his stepfather talked things over with her. Surely, it would be the same today.

"In this weather?" Baili Chao’s expression turned into one of pity. He thought for a moment and then pulled out a piece of spiritual jade. He crouched down and handed it to Luo Lin. "Here, hold this. It’ll keep you warm."

Luo Lin stared at the stone for a moment that really emitted some faint warmth. Looking up at the old man, he faintly smiled. "Thank you." Inside, he could not help but worry though. He had learned that strangers should not be easily trusted. If somebody did something nice for you, wasn’t it all so they would get something in return? He was well aware of that.

Baili Chao nodded, not quite sure what else to say for a moment. He took a deep breath and then got back up. "Well, I’ll go inside and have a talk with your mother." He didn’t know what had happened but he was sure that Luo Lin’s life here couldn’t be easy. His heart felt pained thinking of this. His two disciples had been the same. Maybe that was why he just couldn’t go past this estate without making sure how Luo Lin was doing.

Luo Lin didn’t say anything and just watched the man turn around and walk toward the gate that he could only stare at from afar. He didn’t know what to expect. Would this … make things better? Or would things actually get worse? With his mother, he never really knew but he was past the point of fear. In fact, his heart felt a little numb as if the outcome didn’t matter any longer.