⌈Weekend update: 1/2⌋
Even though the little kitten was small, it was still bigger than Shu Shuishui.
In order to prevent the kitten from dragging on the ground, Shu Shuishui made an effort to tilt his head upwards, his gaze fixed at a forty-five-degree angle to the sky, using his peripheral vision to look ahead.
Fortunately, the terrain of this green expanse was relatively gentle, without any rough or challenging parts.
Shu Shuishui’s journey was reasonably smooth, at least he didn’t trip over, but his body was definitely unstable.
His little body wobbled, resembling someone who had drunk too much.
He alternated between fast and slow, and sometimes his head, heavy with his brain, would suddenly tilt to one side.
However, Shu Shuishui always kept in mind that he was carrying Gu Langu in his mouth.
Despite the difficulty of walking, he never let the little kitten touch the ground.
The all-black little kitten was very well-behaved, seemingly understanding the challenges Shu Shuishui was facing.
Even though this posture wasn’t exactly comfortable, it didn’t struggle.
Occasionally, it would emit weak meows as if comforting Shu Shuishui.
While Shu Shuishui was earnestly holding his head up and moving toward the residence he envisioned, he recalled that to the south of the lake, there was a pile of green stones that provided shelter from the wind and ample sunlight.
Just as he was thinking this, his raised hind leg encountered resistance – it turned out to be entangled by grass.
Shu Shuishui maintained his forward motion, lifting his hind legs and trying to free himself from the entangled grass.
However, after two unsuccessful attempts, Shu Shuishui had no choice but to slowly lower his head and gently place the little kitten on the ground before looking at his own feet.
The grass had formed a knot, trapping Shu Shuishui.
Using his claws, Shu Shuishui untangled the grass and was about to continue walking when he suddenly heard faint chirping sounds, like bird calls.
Shu Shuishui pushed aside the grass and took a couple of steps, then came across a chubby gray baby bird.
Shu Shuishui wasn’t sure about its species, but it looked very fluffy.
The bird seemed to be freshly hatched, with soft feathers on its tiny wings.
“Perfect! A source of warmth for Gy Gu!” Shu Shuishui’s eyes lit up, and he hurried over to the chubby baby bird.
Seeing the small size of the bird, Shu Shuishui abandoned the idea of plucking its feathers.
Instead, he decided to pick up the chubby bird along with Gu Gu.
Due to his slender body, Shu Shuishui could only make two trips, unable to carry both fluffy creatures at once.
Shu Shuishui patted the chirping baby bird’s head and said, “Little warm baby, wait for me here.
I’ll come back for you.”
The fluffy bird’s chirping paused, unsure if it understood.
Regardless, Shu Shuishui didn’t waste any time and turned around, picking up the little kitten from the ground and continuing on the journey.
Not long after, Shu Shuishui reached his destination – a concave arrangement of green stones.
The hollow faced southward, perfectly shielding it from the northern winds.
The space wasn’t very roomy; the humanoid figure of Gu Langu wouldn’t fit inside.
Shu Shuishui took out his own little nest from his spiritual storage.
He also found a few pure cotton handkerchiefs to line the bottom with, though unfortunately, all the feathers had been used up when making the tent.
Shu Shuishui even spread the few makeup cotton pads he had used for wiping his face.
After arranging them, he covered the nest with another layer of handkerchiefs.
Climbing in himself, Shu Shuishui stomped around, smoothing out any uneven spots.
Satisfied with the nest’s softness and comfort, Shu Shuishui crawled out, then picked up Gu Langu and carefully pushed Gu Langu into the nest.
At this moment, Shu Shuishui felt incredibly fortunate for making his nest so spacious in pursuit of sleep quality.
After the little kitten entered, there was still enough space for himself and the warm baby.
Shu Shuishui extended his paw and patted the kitten’s head.
“Gu Gu, wait for me.
I’ll go pick up the warm baby.”
Amidst the reluctant meows of the kitten, Shu Shuishui left, looking back three times as he went.
He kept running until the nest was concealed by grass.
Then, he sprinted at full speed, and his two short legs regained their agility.
Finding the destination accurately, Shu Shuishui parted the grass and indeed saw the chubby gray baby bird.
In a few steps, Shu Shuishui rushed over, not bothering to speak.
He simply swooped down, picked up the slightly startled little bird, and raced back.
The weight of the chubby bird was much lighter than the little kitten, yet his speed wasn’t much faster.
The fluffiness of the bird’s downy feathers obstructed Shu Shuishui’s vision.
As Shu Shuishui moved, the soft feathers repeatedly brushed against his nose.
Suddenly, as he took a step, Shu Shuishui halted.
His already slightly raised head lifted again, followed by a loud sneeze – a powerful achoo.
The chubby bird was flung out.
The chubby little bird rolled twice on the grass, seeming a bit dazed.
It didn’t make a sound until it came to a stop.
Shu Shuishui hurriedly rushed over and embraced the chubby bird’s neck, soothing it.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Fluff didn’t get hurt, did it?”
The round, bright eyes of the chubby bird seemed to glance at Shu Shuishui for a moment.
Then, it let out a series of chirps in a fit of anger and grievance.
Shu Shuishui hadn’t expected the chubby bird to have such rich emotions.
He was momentarily taken aback, but thinking about the pitiful little Gu Gu in the nest, Shu Shuishui didn’t dwell on it.
He moved forward and picked up the still indignant chubby bird in his mouth.
In this manner, Shu Shuishui wobbled as he carried the incessantly chirping gray chubby bird all the way back to the side of the little nest.
Carrying the chubby bird, he struggled to climb back into the nest and placed the chubby bird next to the young milk cat.
“Gu Gu, is it warmer here?”
For a brief moment, the expression in the chubby bird’s eyes seemed rather peculiar.
Then, with its plump, feathery wings, it pointed at Gu Langu and burst into a hearty laughter of chirps.
Shu Shuishui: “…”
Bending down to face the gleefully chirping and happy chubby bird, Shu Shuishui grabbed its neck, furrowing his brow in thought for a while.
Then, tentatively, he spoke.
“Xiao Du Du?”
The chirping of the chubby bird instantly stopped, and after a moment, its joyful chirps resumed.
However, this time, it was clearly a sound of happiness.
Shu Shuishui was now certain.
The chubby bird in front of him was indeed Liu Du! “Xiao Du Du, you’ve been here all along?”
The chubby bird shook its head, chirping incessantly.
Its two fluffy wings were still flapping vigorously, but unfortunately, Shu Shuishui didn’t understand.
The reason he could recognize Liu Du was because when he called the young milk cat Gu Gu, the chubby bird had gone from shocked to bursting into laughter.
This indicated they were at least on the same team.
Among a team, even someone like Yu Jin wouldn’t dare to mock Gu Langu so brazenly.
That meant it was someone from Zone B, and Liu Po and Cheng Que were clearly not possibilities.
That only left Liu Du.
Why would Liu Du appear here? And why had he turned into a bird? Shu Shuishui speculated that it might be a spatial transformation.
Liu Du had coincidentally been transported here.
“Why did you turn into a bird, Xiao Du Du?”
Liu Du’s chirping couldn’t clearly convey the message, so a game of charades between a dormouse and a bird ensued.
However, Liu Du’s performance ability was rather poor.
In the end, Shu Shuishui could only extend his paw and pat Liu Du’s bird head.
“Xiao Du Du, you really are a rookie.”
The rookie Liu Du: “…”
Shu Shuishui nudged the fluffy Liu Du in the direction of the young milk cat.
Liu Du looked extremely disdainful, chirping in protest, only to be suddenly silenced by the young dormouse’s grip on his tender yellow beak.
Shu Shuishui raised his other little paw and made a shushing gesture near his mouth, then spoke in a very soft voice.
“Shh, don’t make noise, Gu Gu is asleep.”
The chubby bird turned its head and indeed, the young milk cat was already sound asleep in the comfortable environment.
The chubby bird seemed a bit unable to adapt; this was truly Gu Langu! If it weren’t for Shu Shuishui confirming it with his own words, he wouldn’t have been able to recognize him no matter what.
Out of a tiny bit of sympathy, coupled with Shu Shuishui’s request, the chubby bird finally approached.
Watching the warm baby in the young milk cat’s arms, Shu Shuishui nodded in satisfaction.
“Xiao Du Du, you stay with Gu Gu.
I’ll go find something to eat.”
The chubby bird chirped twice.
“Don’t worry, time in this space flows towards the starting point.
There won’t be any large predators.” Shu Shuishui reassured.
The chubby bird listened, controlled its fluttering wings, and obediently nestled into the little nest Shu Shuishui had made.
Knowing that the chubby bird was Liu Du, Shu Shuishui felt more at ease.
Although this was a parallel world, survival still required food, and that wasn’t wrong.
Since this parallel world was a real existence in some corner of the universe, the food here was naturally real as well.
However, since they were sent here as spiritual entities, they couldn’t consume food directly.
The simulator would convert food into energy to replenish the spiritual bodies and simulate taste and satiety sensations through neural interference.
This was also one of the reasons why the simulated world of the simulator was so dangerous yet countless people were still drawn to it.
Besides trading for supplies, being inside the simulator meant a drastic reduction in food consumption, and one wouldn’t even feel the tormenting cold from the outside.
As long as one had the ability, the food found in the simulator could sustain life.
Of course, this kind of conversion wasn’t a hundred percent, and the conversion rates differed for different foods.
These theories, broken down to molecular and atomic levels, were beyond Shu Shuishui’s understanding and interest.
There was no suitable food for younglings in Shu Shuishui’s spiritual storage.
He hoped he could find a nursing creature nearby and borrow some milk for Gu Langu.
However, after walking for a while, Shu Shuishui hadn’t seen any nursing animals, not even mature ones.
Climbing up a gentle slope, the wild landscape stretched far and wide.
Looking out, it was a sea of fresh greenery, not even tall trees in sight, the view was exceptionally clear.
But Shu Shuishui was somewhat worried.
It seemed that there were no mature creatures left in this time and space.
What should Gu Langu eat then? He checked his spiritual storage, and while he could arrange a formation with spirit stones, they couldn’t be eaten directly.
Moreover, Gu Langu probably couldn’t absorb spirit stones on his own right now.
Sweet potatoes? Rice? Wheat?
Finally, Shu Shuishui decided to cook some rice porridge for Gu Langu.
On the way back, he caught several young grasshoppers to treat the warm baby.
After all, he had previously startled the bird with a sneeze and it fell.
In this way, after the time-space conversion, Shu Shuishui, a little dormouse, took on the responsibility of caring for two fledglings.
Liu Du was somewhat better off.
Though small, there were still grasshoppers around.
If it really came down to it, Shu Shuishui could even catch tadpoles to feed Liu Du.
Of course, whether Liu Du dared to eat them was another matter.
Since Shu Shuishui’s roasted grasshoppers were quite tasty, Liu Du always seemed satisfied with the offerings.
As a result, he willingly continued to fulfill his duties as a caregiver for the warm baby.
As for Gu Langu’s food, that was a true worry for Shu Shuishui.
After a few days, he had scoured the vicinity, but there was simply nothing mature nearby.
All life forms, including plants, were regressing in time, going from old to young.
The tadpoles in the pond were returning to their egg-laying state, and even small fish had become fry.
Shu Shuishui spent several days fishing, but the fish he caught grew smaller and smaller.
It was becoming apparent that they couldn’t serve as a food source.
However, his spiritual storage food was also limited, and Shu Shuishui had tried planting, only to find that no plants could sprout.
Clearly, planting was meaningless in this time and space.
The little dormouse became restless, circling the lake every day.
Shu Shuishui didn’t dare to recall the time in the previous reality when Gu Langu had died.
It felt as if that memory had been deliberately sealed off.
Shu Shuishui had countless times been grateful that that period of time was short, preventing him from transitioning from panic to sorrow.
But now, Shu Shuishui was facing the same trial once again, and the current situation wasn’t much better than the last reality.
The start and end points of life actually didn’t have much difference; both led to eternal silence or nothingness.
The reason this wilderness was so quiet was that creatures reverting to their infancy, without motherly care, wouldn’t survive long.
Even if they did survive, they would continue regressing until they became ignorant and naive.
Shu Shuishui gently crouched near the little nest, watching the black young milk cat curled into a half-circle, its delicate little nose rhythmically twitching.
Unable to resist, Shu Shuishui approached and lightly bumped his own head against the young milk cat’s head.
Gu Langu’s memories seemed to be fading more and more.
In recent days, his responses to Shu Shuishui had become fewer.
However, he still instinctively stayed close to him.
This made Shu Shuishui’s journey of nurturing his younglings somewhat easier.
In these past few days, the chubby bird also sensed the solemn atmosphere.
Its chirping had diminished, presumably to avoid causing trouble for Shu Shuishui.
It even took care of the young milk cat, using its beak to hold a handkerchief and cover the young milk cat, then adopting a posture that seemed to seek praise.
Shu Shuishui usually just tapped the chubby bird with his paw.
Soon, he noticed that his paw’s sharpness had decreased significantly, a clear sign of regression.
Yes, Shu Shuishui was also affected by this time-regressing influence of space.
He was reverting to a younger state.
Fortunately, Shu Shuishui was a dormouse whose own age was already unknown, possibly in the hundreds.
The effects of time regression on him weren’t very pronounced.
Shu Shuishui calculated for himself; time regression seemed to have started when he first entered this wilderness.
In the subsequent parallel realities, time regression hadn’t stopped.
It’s just that Shu Shuishui’s age was relatively old, so he didn’t feel it very acutely.
However, in Li Meng’s home, Shu Shuishui’s life gradient had decreased by a step, manifesting as his fur fading to a light brown.
The mouse fur that Shu Shuishui had discovered in Wu Lan’s bag was, in fact, his own, just in its regressed state.
Inside the little nest, Shu Shuishui contemplated his dormouse life.
He couldn’t stay in this time and space for too long; he had to find the anomaly point as soon as possible.
With no food source in this time and space, if he continued to linger, everything here would eventually return to nothingness.
The chubby bird blinked its round eyes, trying hard to control its desire to play with Shu Shuishui.
To Liu Du, this feeling of being almost the same size as Shu Shuishui felt quite novel.
He seemed as if he had opened the door to a new world.
If he hadn’t remembered to keep Gu Langu warm, he might have frolicked around outside.
Of course, as a fledgling, Liu Du couldn’t exactly frolic freely.
Shu Shuishui brought his small head close to Gu Langu, the two balls of fur lying side by side in the little nest.
A small chubby bird also attempted to subtly insert itself into the mix.
Sorting through his experiences in three parallel realities, the valley was his starting point, the city was the endpoint of Wu Lan’s Life, and Li Meng’s apartment was an intermediary phase.
If this were a timeline, there seemed to be a missing segment—what happened to Li Meng after Wu Lan’s death?
Shu Shuishui suddenly tapped his head with his paw and pulled out a ring from his spiritual storage.
It was the pair of rings he had taken from Wu Lan.
They were likely bought during Wu Lan’s business trip, and it was evident that Wu Lan had made a significant transaction.
Perhaps he was planning to become independent from his family and alleviate Li Meng’s panic.
Wu Lan had succeeded, so he eagerly bought the pair of rings, intending to propose after returning.
However, an accident occurred in the city—every living being lost its life in an instant, and life reached its end.
Wait! Wu Lan had died of old age! Shu Shuishui clearly remembered that he had found white fur on the large black cat in the apartment.
Now, thinking about it, it resembled human white hair, a symbol of aging! So in that reality, Gu Langu had also died of old age!
It was said that cats could predict their own deaths, so before dying, a cat would leave its home, not letting the people in the household know.
That morning, Gu Langu was in such a hurry to urge him to go out for a walk that he didn’t even have time to put on a bandana before being carried out.
This was entirely because, at that time, Gu Langu had sensed that its life was approaching its end.
In an instant, Shu Shuishui seemed to understand something.
He and Gu Langu had walked opposite paths of time when entering the parallel reality.
Gu Langu was heading toward the end of life, which was old age.
He, on the other hand, was moving toward the starting point of life, which was infancy.
Furthermore, there was some inexplicable connection between Gu Langu and Wu Lan.
If Wu Lan died, Gu Langu would also die.
What about himself? Shu Shuishui recalled the behaviors, actions, and interests so similar to his in Li Meng.
There was a connection between himself and Li Meng too! If his life was regressing towards infancy, then Li Meng’s life was doing the same!
Hence, the missing parallel reality was the one where Li Meng’s life regressed to infancy!
No wonder in the previous parallel reality, Li Meng had become increasingly sensitive and seemed preoccupied.
So this was Li Meng’s secret!
Li Meng knew he was special! Speaking of the previous parallel reality, Shu Shuishui had never seen Li Meng’s parents.
Apart from Wu Lan, he hadn’t noticed any other close friends of Li Meng’s.
At least, no one had ever come to the apartment looking for Li Meng.
Li Meng’s life was regressing from old age to infancy, while Wu Lan’s life was progressing from infancy to old age.
This was the true cause of Li Meng’s anxiety.
Perhaps the family was only a trigger.
The true divide lay in their completely different life trajectories, like two intersecting lines that briefly meet and then grow further apart.
“I understand now! The key to clearing the parallel reality lies with Li Meng!” The little dormouse sat up from the nest.
The chubby bird blinked drowsily and also sat up, making chirping sounds, wearing a bewildered expression.
Shu Shuishui’s gaze suddenly focused on the soft, plump wings of the chubby bird.
Liu Du felt a bit uncomfortable under Shu Shuishui’s intense stare and discreetly tucked its tiny wings back.
However, Shu Shuishui approached.
“Xiao Du Du, can you let me take a look at your wings? Don’t worry, I don’t want to have roasted wings, and Gu Langu can’t eat them either.”
Liu Du was almost scared out of its wits by this kind of reassurance, but it still trusted Shu Shuishui immensely, and it obediently extended its small wings.
The wings were still fleshy, but unlike a few days ago, feathers with a certain level of hardness had grown on the furry wings.
Although it was just a small feather, it was quite different from the surrounding fluff.
With excitement, Shu Shuishui grabbed the little wings and pointed at the feather with its sharp claws.
“Is this newly grown?”
The chubby bird nodded.
Shu Shuishui hugged the chubby bird’s neck.
“Brother, let’s discuss something.”
The chubby bird became wary, trying to retract its wings, and then hugged them close to its body.
“I don’t want your wings, but if you have any thoughts or ideas, you must tell me right away.” Shu Shuishui realized that Liu Du’s appearance in this parallel reality wasn’t coincidental.
While all living beings were regressing, only Liu Du was growing.
The anomaly of this parallel reality was Liu Du or, at the very least, related to Liu Du.
Over the next few days, Shu Shuishui hardly left the chubby bird’s and Gu Langu’s side.
Holding onto a glimmer of hope, he hoped that this time when he left, he could bring Gu Langu along.
Liu Du had been extremely happy these few days because Shu Shuishui’s attention had noticeably been focused on him more.
He complied with his requests, and this feeling made him think that being a bird was pretty good too.
If Liu Po were to find out about his little brother’s thoughts, he would probably want to give this unruly little brother a good scolding.
The unruly little brother finally wandered his way to a small grove of saplings one day, where he saw the nest of bird eggs.
It seemed like he remembered something as he chirped excitedly and rushed to the side of the nest.
In the instant that Liu Du rushed to the nest, Shu Shuishui felt a spatial shift around him.
His first instinct was to hold the squirming little kitten tightly in his arms.
The space stretched again, and Shu Shuishui understood that this was the most crucial moment, the timeline where everything hinged—after Gu Langu’s death and before the timeline of Li Meng.
When the space settled again, Shu Shuishui found himself standing on a sidewalk.
The dim light of street lamps spilled onto the zebra crossing, and Shu Shuishui stood right on the white lines, cradling something soft and fuzzy in his arms.
Overjoyed, Shu Shuishui hopped in place for a moment and then leaned down to give a gentle kiss on the tiny kitten’s forehead.
“Gu Gu is here, how wonderful!”
Just as he spoke, the sound of approaching cars could be heard from a distance.
Shu Shuishui quickly assessed the direction and darted to the green strip on the side of the road before the cars arrived, hiding in the shade of the vegetation.
Bringing Gu Langu along was the happiest thing for Shu Shuishui.
The only concern he had was that Liu Du didn’t appear to have been transported with them.
Perhaps Liu Du was still in the previous timeline, or maybe he was sent to a different one.
The time they were transported to was nighttime, but the bustling and lively city was far more vibrant than the quiet wilderness.
The impatient chirping of cicadas could be heard in the background.
“Does Gu Gu want to eat cicadas? When Gu Gu grows up, I’ll catch some for you to eat.”
The cicada’s chirping stopped for a moment, then continued with its persistent noise.
Eating cicadas was a distant possibility.
For now, the most important thing was figuring out how to sustain Gu Langu.
After pondering for a while, Shu Shuishui left with Gu Langu.
The next day, near the apartment where Li Meng had once lived, a cardboard box appeared in a small park.
Inside the box was an extremely cute brown mouse, and beside it was a black kitten that hadn’t even opened its eyes yet.
The mouse and the kitten were tightly huddled together, looking very affectionate.
The most eye-catching thing was the slightly crooked writing on the outside of the box, which read: “Seeking Adoption.”
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