"If you hit the corner of my clothes, Guwang will make you the Great Chanyu!"
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
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Several people departed the next day, each going their own way. Princess Qinghe followed Murong Chong back to Pingyang, while Xiang Shu brought Chen Xing and Xiao Shan to Chi Le Chuan. Changing his course, Feng Qianjun trailed along the Great Wall to the Northwest. Xie An and Feng Qianyi turned eastward, avoiding the Qin army as they headed to the South.
After a few more days on their journey to the North, Chen Xing, who basically had nothing else to do all day long, practically begged Xiang Shu to teach him how to do mounted archery.
"Why are you always so noisy in wanting to learn archery?" Xiang Shu was puzzled.
Stubbornly, Chen Xing replied, "No reason, I just want to learn. Quickly teach me."
Xiang Shu couldn't persuade him otherwise, and thus, had no alternative but to personally teach him whenever they were at rest and camping. Holding him from behind, Xiang Shu taught Chen Xing how to draw a bow, release an arrow, and adjust his posture.
At first, since Chen Xing's archery was practically a hideous mess, Xiang Shu mocked, "Go keep shooting at the target next door." However, when he came back after walking away for a while, he saw Chen Xing still practicing with no intention of giving up. Every day, except when they were in a hurry to travel further, Chen Xing would practice shooting from horseback.
Days later, when they were on the road, Xiang Shu urged his horse forward and went to accompany him in his practice. While galloping on his horse, he told Chen Xing to prepare his bow and arrow and use him as a practice target.
"Change the target to a wooden pole ba!" Chen Xing said, "I'm afraid of hurting you!"
"If you hit the corner of my clothes," Xiang Shu rushed to Chen Xing and said, "Guwang will make you the Great Chanyu! Come!"
Chen Xing: "..."
Clamping his legs on both sides of the horse's abdomen, Xiang Shu turned away.
"When two riders come across each other, the coward loses. Rein back your horse, let the stirrup go, and turn around!" Xiang Shu feigned a move, though he didn't shoot his arrow and instead frowned. "If Guwang really shot the arrow now, you would have fallen off your horse and been trampled to death."
Chen Xing said, "I'm afraid of hitting your horse!"
"If you hit the Great Chanyu's horse," Xiang Shu replied, "Guwang will let you be the horse."
Chen Xing: "What kind of crap is that!"
Galloping on his horse, Chen Xing chased Xiang Shu for a long time before drawing his bow and releasing his arrow. Yet when the arrow flew over, Xiang Shu simply turned his horse in an agile manner to dodge it. Because Xiang Shu came leaving no shadow and went creating no wind, Chen Xing spent the majority of the time just tracking him, only for him to show up behind himself a moment later.
"Use your ears." Xiang Shu knitted his brows. "Listen to the sound of horse's hooves. You keep looking and looking and looking, you only know how to notice things by looking at them! Are you an idiot?"
Chen Xing: "..."
Xiang Shu: "If you want to be a marksman, go cover your eyes first."
"Like this?" And thus, Chen Xing tied a black cloth over his eyes. His rosy lips and high nose bridge were left exposed, making Xiang Shu stare at him in a daze for a good moment without saying anything.
"Xiang Shu?" Chen Xing probed, dense.
Xiang Shu was irritated at once. "Here!"
Like this, seven consecutive days passed. At this time, Chen Xing finally shot out an arrow. After everything, he was able to calculate the distance in advance, and the arrow flew toward Xiang Shu who was on horseback. The moment he shot the arrow, Chen Xing immediately knew that his aim was accurate, but since he was afraid it would hurt Xiang Shu, he yelled out at once.
"Get out of the way ah!" Chen Xing shouted.
However, while galloping his horse at high speed, Xiang Shu just agilely raised his hand. With two fingers he clasped and stopped the arrow before proceeding to swing his arm and throw it away —— it flew toward the ground, landing nailed to the ground ten steps away.
"Pay attention to the enemy's shoulder," Xiang Shu said, "and the look in their eyes. Pay attention when the enemy's legs clamp the horse's abdomen and their lower back exerts up; those will give a hint of their drawing direction and shooting target."
Oh well... Chen Xing thought, Sure enough, the so-called "First Under Heaven" is not just an empty title. Even after the Dinghai Pearl is gone, he's still so damn powerful.
"Make the horse stir up dust and fire the arrow with the sound as your guide," Xiang Shu said. "When an opportunity to blind the enemy's line of sight appears, release arrows in rapid succession by following the sound. Regardless of the other party's movements, try to injure the enemy by an arrow first; if they get hit, their movements will turn sluggish, and sooner or later, they won't be able to preserve their small life."
"Lower your bow!" Xiang Shu went past behind Chen Xing. "You're drawing it too high!"
After leaving the Great Wall and crossing the prairie for thousands of li, they had almost arrived in Chi Le Chuan. In the height of summer, the flowers of the prairie bloomed like colorful brocade, with rivers appearing similar to girdles made of jade. For a moment, Chen Xing threw all of his worries to the back of his mind, recalling that the first time he had gone north, his entire mind had been filled only with: "Only three years left ah... after three years, I'll die... what should be done now ah... is there still time..."
But now, standing on the carriage, he only felt that heaven and earth were so vast; he still had many years to live, and there was also Xiang Shu by his side —— this was the happiest thing that could ever happen.
One afternoon, at one side of the convoy, Xiao Shan suddenly jumped down from the carriage and shouted, "Chi Le Chuan! Chi Le Chuan!"
The Hu people caused a commotion: they were home. Xiao Shan kept shouting all the way, but he stopped at the carriage at the front of the convoy. He turned around and yelled anxiously, "Chen Xing! Gege! Chi Le Chuan——!"
Xiang Shu looked into the distance, and instantly, his expression changed; he got off the carriage and mounted his horse. Chen Xing spotted that there was a curl of warning smoke signal rising in the distance, and the gathering area of the Hus under the Yin Mountains was also deserted.
Chen Xing's heart trembled at once, and he shouted, "Xiang Shu! Wait!"
After turning past the last mountain gorge of the prairie, Chi Le Chuan, surrounded by peaks on three sides, appeared before his eyes. There were tents in a mess everywhere. Seeing this, the cruel scene that he saw the first time around after it was ravaged by the army of drought fiends suddenly flashed through Chen Xing's mind, darkening his vision almost completely.
Shouting one after another, the Hus galloped their horses and rushed to the Chi Le Covenant's dwelling. Xiang Shu surveyed his surroundings in a daze from the back of the horse. It was as if the place had been thoroughly pillaged: fences were destroyed, tents were overturned, clothes were scattered in all directions, and many places were on fire.
But fortunately, there were no dead people. Chen Xing looked around and said "thank god" in his heart. However, at the same time, it also made him more tense —— What if they have been turned into drought fiends?!
He dared not think anymore, but Xiao Shan had already run to the eastern part of Chi Le Chuan and arrived in front of the creek.
"Che Luofeng——!" Xiang Shu's voice resounded throughout the empty, abandoned Chi Le Chuan. "Shi Mokun——!"
Xiang Shu's voice was echoed back by the mountain ranges. Cautiously, Chen Xing investigated the majority of the tents before shouting, "Xiang Shu! Don't be nervous! There's no bloodstain! It wasn’t a raid!"
Xiao Shan shouted, "Come quick! Chen Xing!"
Chen Xing urged his horse with Xiang Shu and the rest keeping pace behind him. Xiao Shan used his claw to hook a corpse from the river while the puppy on the side kept barking "woof, woof, woof."
In the summertime, the corpse had rotted almost completely, leaving a few strands of rotting flesh hanging from the bones. Wearing strange armor, it continued to struggle.
The Hus let out a big shout one after another.
It was a drought fiend stuck on a piece of broken wood. This was perhaps one of many drought fiends that had gotten washed away while crossing the creek.
"Do you need help?" the phoenix flew in and landed gracefully on the back of the horse.
"Not for the time being, " Chen Xing said. "You go ba."
Xiang Shu: "..."
Xiang Shu looked at that red bird that seemingly appeared and disappeared at random before looking at Chen Xing again.
"This armor..." Xiang Shu identified the armor style.
As Chen Xing pressed his hand on that drought fiend's forehead, the Heart Lamp flashed a brilliant light that penetrated the corpse's body. The drought fiend immediately quieted down, completely dying.
"Akelean armor," said Chen Xing.
"How did you know?" Xiang Shu was flabbergasted.
For a moment, Chen Xing had unexpectedly forgotten to mind his words and quickly tried to find an excuse to dodge the bullet. But then, Xiao Shan saw that there was something moving on the opposite bank. He waded across the river, carrying the dog to the opposite bank.
Everyone followed him and crossed the creek, only to see a huge white wolf carrying a black animal on its head, seemingly having been waiting for them.
"Lu Ying said," that white wolf opened its mouth, "to tell you not to go back to Carosha right away and instead deal with the drought fiends first. Lu Ying has created a defensive wall made of dream power to seal off the entire Carosha, so it shouldn't be in danger for the time being."
Chen Xing: "You can talk!"
"White Mane!" Xiao Shan shouted and ran toward that white wolf, hugging its head and touching the hair on its neck.
Crouching on the ground, the white wolf raised its hind leg and scratched its ear before saying, "Because the Revival of All Magic made everyone regain their mana."
That strange animal slipped down from the wolf's head and clumsily crawled toward Chen Xing.
"Yi?" Chen Xing recognized it, it was a bei! The last time he had come to Chi Le Chuan, he seemed to have seen it in the Yin Mountains!
Raising his front paws, the bei stood upright as it scrutinized Chen Xing before moving his head to look at Xiang Shu.
"It's them?" The bei, unexpectedly, also opened its mouth and asked a question.
"Yes," answered White Mane. "Come follow me ba."
"You are Shulü Kong!" the bei suddenly said. "I've seen you before, you've grown up so big!"
Xiang Shu had "unbelievable" plastered all over his face. Having grown up this big, this was the first time he heard a wolf and a bei speaking in a human language; if it was before, he would've beaten them to death without saying anything else. However, he had already heard a bird speak before. Moreover, he was also the Protector Martial God; thus, he could only try his best to restrain his astonishment and just nodded.
Chen Xing said, "Last time... thank you. Ah, wait, you should have also forgotten."
The bei yao: "???"
That bei looked strangely at Chen Xing before saying, "Your clansmen have already fled to Karakorum. Come with us ba."
Since the Hu people on the opposite bank couldn't hear them, Xiang Shu turned around and signalled them with a whistle. And so, the army began to cross the river. The wolf and the bei then turned around and dove into the sea of grass.
At the end of summer, Karakorum stood mighty amidst the barren wasteland. Gazing into the distance, it gave a kind of bleak, desolate feeling. On all sides, the earth was filled with rocks and gravel, vegetation only thinly spread across it, and the turbid Orkhon River, its water brimming with silt, slowly flowed across outside of the city. Compared to Chi Le Chuan, this was yet another lifeless sight.
The first time Chen Xing had stayed in Karakorum, he had still been baffled by the fact that the people chose to live in Chi Le Chuan instead of living in a readily available city. But just now, he finally understood —— it had been a cold winter at that time, with the pure white snow covering all the barren land. Once the snow melted, it could be seen that Karakorum was like a huge graveyard. The grass had turned dry, rivers had become mere streams, forests had been reduced to just sparse trees, mountains were left abandoned... it could no longer provide the people with their survival needs.
Karakorum was tightly guarded; there were many defenders keeping watch at the top of the city wall, and scout eagles were sent out to investigate all directions.
The wolf and the bei took the lead to hurry to the city front. As Xiang Shu urged his horse to get near, people on the city wall immediately raised a cry.
"The Great Chanyu is back!"
The whole city immediately stirred up a commotion. The city gate was opened at once, and two men led the army to welcome him. A young voice, which reminded Chen Xing of his psychological trauma when he heard it, shouted, "Shulü Kong, you've finally returned!"
Che Luofeng rushed out with his horse, while Xiang Shu simply halted his horse and looked at him from a distance. The moment he saw Che Luofeng, Chen Xing was slightly surprised. This guy isn't wounded this time? He is! So that means... a lot of things have indeed changed.
When Xiao Shan took a glance at Che Luofeng, he also recalled something and said, "It's him!"
"What's up with him?" Chen Xing asked in a low voice.
Xiao Shan said, "He's still alive."
Confused, Chen Xing replied, "Of course ah... wait! The first time, Che Luofeng was wounded by you?!"
Xiao Shan nodded and looked at Chen Xing, seemingly thinking. After a moment, he said, "I saw him talking to a drought fiend."
Chen Xing: "!!!"
Chen Xing hadn't known Xiao Shan the first time he had come to Chi Le Chuan, and when Che Luofeng had fled back bearing his wounded, scratched belly, he only thought that it was a wolf attack. But now, it could safely be assumed that it had been Xiao Shan! After the tide of time had been reversed, the first thing Xiao Shan did when he recovered his memories was to inform Lu Ying, who told him to go south to Chang'an at once to look for Chen Xing.
In other words, since Xiao Shan had left the North, naturally, there was no one to attack Che Luofeng, making the current him free of any injuries!
"What drought fiend?" Chen Xing had actually forgotten to inquire Xiao Shan about this matter in detail the first time around. After all, Xiao Shan hadn't been able to speak properly before.
Xiao Shan leaned forward to Chen Xing's ear and said in whispers, "A Rouran."
Chen Xing: "..."
Zhou Zhen, it must be Zhou Zhen! Chen Xing, after deliberately falling behind to ask Xiao Shan about the whole story in detail, finally understood:
The first time, before the Autumn Close Festival, Xiao Shan, who had been banished by Lu Ying, had run into Zhou Zhen who had been meeting with Che Luofeng by Lake Barkol! The moment Xiao Shan appeared, Che Luofeng and Zhou Zhen had both tried to dispose of the child so he couldn't divulge any secrets. Who would have thought that Xiao Shan was not to be underestimated? He felled Che Luofeng in one strike, but upon seeing this, Zhou Zhen immediately withdrew and left, prompting Xiao Shan to chase after him. As he went, he heard the Rourans rush over to save Che Luofeng.
And thus, this was the whole story of why Che Luofeng had come back heavily injured and had his life saved by Chen Xing back then. Not long after that, after Xiang Shu and Chen Xing had left Chi Le Chuan for Carosha, Zhou Zhen met with Che Luofeng again, tempting him to drink the Devil God's Blood, which was the thing that led to that drought fiend chaos and the massacre of the whole Akele tribe.
Chen Xing immediately scrutinized Che Luofeng. However, for the time being, he couldn't tell whether he had met up with Zhou Zhen or not this time around.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Elestrea.