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The assassin was extremely small and didn’t even reach half of Xiang Shu’s height. With both hands and legs, the assassin darted over from the snowfield and was behind Xiang Shu within the blink of an eye. Xiang Shu immediately turned around and brandished his sword horizontally to block. With a “clang”, the two metal weapons collided, and within the blink of an eye, that shadows swept to the back of Xiang Shu and reached out to claw at his neck!
It was too fast! Chen Xing had thought that no one could rival Xiang Shu in terms of speed, but he didn’t expect that this black shadow would seem as if it was flying on the snow fields. Xiang Shu turned around, then turned again, yet the black shadow followed him relentlessly. It threw itself onto his back and firmly attached itself onto Xiang Shu’s back!
With both legs wrapped around the tree, Chen Xing gathered a snowball in his hands and threw it down.
A snowball flew over and hit that black shadow right on its face. Xiang Shu let out an angry roar, grabbed the black shadow, and flung him away!
“It’s a yao!” Chen Xing said, “Wait for me, I’ll come down and help you!”
Xiang Shu finally saw the black shadow clearly -- only to see a damn creature that was half-wolf and half-human. A human’s face appeared within the wolf’s mouth, and it howled hoarsely at Xiang Shu a few times, then it looked up to see Chen Xing, who was on the tree. It lunged over, its metal claws hooking into the tree, and it had already leapt several zhang high within the blink of an eye. Xiang Shu immediately gave chase, yet Chen Xing didn’t dare to jump down and suddenly saw the enemy right in front of him.
“You are...” In a panic, Chen Xing illuminated his surroundings with the Heart Lamp and instantly saw this guy in full view.
It wasn’t a wolf yao, and neither was it a monster -- it was a person!
It was a child!
The child was first dazzled by the white light, then he used his arm to cover his eyes and swung his metal claws. The edge of his claws revealed a peculiar rune under the illumination of the Heart Lamp’s light.
Those claws flickered with a phosphorescent light, and it was in the shape of dragon claws. But there were extremely few claw weapons in the world in the shape of dragon claws, and the gold inscription on these dragon claws... for some reason, Chen Xing unexpectedly recalled the records he had seen in ancient texts.
In ancient times, the Dragon God descended upon a place far north of the Divine Land. Its claws were obtained by Gongshu Ban and refined into a sacred weapon in the human world. It was called...
“Hold on!” Chen Xing said, “Why do you have...”
“Listen to me!” Chen Xing became frantic. “Listen to what I’m saying! You damn brat!”
With the skin of a gray wolf draped over him, the child wore a hat made from a wolf’s head and was clamping down on the tree trunk with both his legs. He swiftly clawed towards Chen Xing’s throat to slit it.
Under the tree, Xiang Shu released several arrows in succession. The child gave up on Chen Xing, and without even looking back, he turned around and swung his metal claws. With three “ding”s, he actually managed to block the arrows and send them flying away.
“I said! Listen to me!!” Chen Xing exploded. He grabbed a handful of snow and harshly smacked it on the child’s face.
Perhaps it was because Chen Xing had appeared too useless, so the child didn’t guard against him at all. Unexpectedly, he lost his balance in an instant after getting hit and fell down the tree, causing the leaves to rustle along the way. Xiang Shu gave chase until he was underneath the tree, yet the child lunged in midair, rolled over, leapt several zhang, and landed steadily on the snowfield. He raised his head slightly.
“Aowu--” The child looked up to the sky and let out a wolf’s howl.
The wolf pack retreated one by one. Xiang Shu was about to take his bow and arrow out when within the blink of an eye, that child had led the wolf pack to retreat completely and disappeared into the forest.
Chen Xing, “...”
Xiang Shu gasped for breath. Outside the forest just now, his horse had already run away from fright. He had rushed over the whole way the moment he had heard the wolves howling, and he had run almost three miles over here.
Chen Xing, “It was human! It was a small kid!”
Xiang Shu said impatiently, “I saw! It’s not like I’m blind!”
Chen Xing ran to Xiang Shu’s side and looked at the direction in which the wolf pack left. He said, “Also, he wasn’t wearing clothes! And he didn’t seem to understand what we were saying.”
Xiang Shu practically didn’t know what to do with him anymore. He kept his weapon on his back, clutched Chen Xing’s collar, and pushed him to one side. He shouted angrily, “Why did you run out of Chi Le Chuan without saying a word?! Did I ever even cross your mind?!”
“Uh...” Only then did Chen Xing realise this serious problem. He answered, “Don’t... don’t get angry, I just didn’t want you to...”
In the past several days, Xiang Shu had departed from Chi Le Chuan, but he just couldn’t catch up to King Akele and Chen Xing no matter what he did. The heavy snowfall had covered their horse’s hoof-prints, and King Akele was an experienced old hunter as well. Xiang Shu chased them all the way to Barkol lake, yet he was always just a little bit behind the two of them.
Along the whole way, the more he gave chase, the angrier Xiang Shu had grown. From the very beginning when he had wanted to give Chen Xing a good scolding after catching up to him, it changed to giving him a slap, then as his patience had worn away, now he just wanted to hang Chen Xing up and give him a few good slaps.
Chen Xing suddenly laughed and said, “This is great! I’m so happy!”
Then Chen Xing took a step forward and hugged Xiang Shu around his waist and buried his head in his chest, saying, “This is great!!”
“Get lost!” Xiang Shu was about to go mad with anger. He grabbed Chen Xing and dragged him away.
Chen Xing explained with a smile, “King Akele said that he could show me the way. I didn’t want to trouble you... wait! Where’s King Akele?”
Both of them suddenly remembered, then immediately went to search for King Akeles along the direction in which the wolf pack left. Xiang Shu looked down to distinguish the footprints on the snow, but the ground was already in a mess. Chen Xing ran to the front of the extinguished bonfire and said seriously, “Here! This was where I last heard his voice...”
What Chen Xing was most afraid of was seeing King Akele’s corpse, but fortunately he didn’t. In the dark night, Xiang Shu said, “If he’s dead, that’ll be on you!”
Chen Xing was at a loss for a moment and just stood in the snow. Xiang Shu was extremely angry at Chen Xing for leaving Chi Le Chuan so arbitrarily, so he spoke without concern for his words in a fury. When he snapped out of it, he thought that he had overstepped. King Akele escorted Chen Xing all the way to the north because he himself wanted to uncover the truth, so how could Chen Xing be blamed?
Xiang Shu saw that Chen Xing looked like he was about to cry and suddenly felt very guilty.
“He won’t.” But Chen Xing resumed his calm very quickly and pulled himself together. He said, “The wolf pack didn’t attack us because they wanted to eat us, instead, they had followed us the whole way here. I’m guessing it must have something to do with that child. They wouldn’t kill people indiscriminately. Akeles! Are you there?!”
Xiang Shu breathed a sigh of relief and followed Chen Xing. Chen Xing struggled to walk through the forest as he shouted in all directions. They couldn’t find King Akeles, yet they had found the lost horse.
Xiang Shu whistled, and his horse returned as well.
They were at the boundary of the woods, and the wolves’ footprints led far away. The sky was gradually becoming bright, and the vast expanse of snow was being lit up.
Chen Xing looked at Xiang Shu. Xiang Shu couldn’t make up his mind for a moment either and said, “Let’s give chase and see ba.” So the two mounted their horses and rode for half a mile in the wilderness. The sky was now bright, when Xiang Shu suddenly said, “Wait!”
Chen Xing saw King Akele’s wolf fang necklace lying quietly in the snow and finally felt relieved. From the looks of it, he had been captured by the wolf pack.
“Akeles!” Chen Xing looked around and shouted.
“He’s not called Akeles!” Xiang Shu corrected, “Akeles is a tribe name!”
Chen Xing, “Oh... then what’s his name?”
Chen Xing held the necklace and thought that he had to save King Akele no matter what. Along the way here, they had established a strange kind of friendship. This middle-aged man obtained a son in his old age after experiencing the pain of losing his own son, and he had even treated this young lad, Chen Xing, as a child. No matter what, Chen Xing must let him return alive.
Xiang Shu didn’t know what King Akele was really called either, and after thinking about it for a while, he could only change the subject and say, “Let’s go.”
“You obviously don’t know either.” Chen Xing said, then mounted his horse and followed the retreat route of the wolves.
Xiang Shu,” Ai!”
Chen Xing, “?”
Chen Xing was on the horse as he glanced at Xiang Shu.
Xiang Shu, “Do you not trust me?”
Chen Xing, “I just didn’t want to put you on the spot! You’re Chi Le Covenant’s Great Chanyu, and now there are drought fiends causing havoc too. You have so many people under you, how could you just throw them aside and leave?”
Xiang Shu, “Who was the one who said that he wanted a Protector to protect him?”
Chen Xing, “But do you have any intention of being my Protector? I can’t afford to have you! Great Chanyu!”
Xiang Shu uttered in disbelief, “I chased you for eight hundred miles! Can’t you say something nice? Fine! I’ll go back right now!”
Chen Xing still had some anxiety in his heart -- who on earth was that child? Why would he have such a powerful sacred weapon in his hands? And he had even less of a clue to the answer for the latter. When he heard Xiang Shu, he looked at Xiang Shu and suddenly, it hit him. He could vaguely sense the intention behind Xiang Shu’s words.
Xiang Shu was apologising to him.
“Then, thank you ah.” Chen Xing said with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
Xiang Shu, “...”
Xiang Shu urged his horse and wanted to lift Chen Xing up from his horse to teach him a lesson, yet Chen Xing urged his own horse forward and galloped away. Xiang Shu was astonished. “You’re so stable on a horse now?”
“Akeles taught me!” Chen Xing said, “Shoot me to death with your arrows ah!”
Xiang Shu urged his horse and caught up with Chen Xing in a flash. The two of them rode their horses side by side in the snow, yet their horses weren’t being very obedient. Especially the old, brown horse -- it would think of breaking free from the reins that were bound together from time to time, and it deviated farther and farther away the more it ran. It kept deviating towards the northeast along with Xiang Shu, who was riding it.
“This horse has gone crazy!” Xiang Shu exploded, “Come back!”
“Why are you venting your frustrations on a horse?” Chen Xing turned around to look at Xiang Shu, only to see the old horse constantly running towards the east. On the other hand, Xiang Shu was tugging on the reins forcefully and in a single breath, had dragged the old horse back.
Xiang Shu, “I’ll just let it go! This stubborn thing!”
Xiang Shu was scolding the horse, but Chen Xing naturally understood the insinuations behind it. Xiang Shu was in the middle of taking his dagger out to cut the reins when Chen Xing said, “That’s your mother’s horse, you can just release it if you want, what would that have to do with me?”
“What?” Xiang Shu was stunned and said, “Impossible! Where did you find it from?”
Chen Xing relayed the Consort’s words. Xiang Shu’s doubts grew even more and said, “This was the horse she rode on when she first came to the north?”
“Maybe.” Chen Xing saw the old horse gradually calm down and run with the rest.
Xiang Shu said, “Where does it want to go?”
Chen Xing naturally didn’t know. The sun rose, and the world lit up. The white snow shone brightly and blinded their eyes, but fortunately, it didn’t snow again that night. The wolf pack’s paw prints were distinct and easy to recognise. After crossing the vast plains, they continued heading into the distance to the end in sight.
And in that place, the legendary mountain mentioned in the legends of the Xiongnu people finally appeared within the misty fog.
A long and narrow mountain range that stretched for dozens of miles towered aloft. White clouds curled around their snow-capped peaks, and the entire mountain range seemed to have been split into three by lightning, with a narrow cliff in its midst.
In front of the cliff was a lake that occupied a thousand qing, and it reflected the blazing sunlight like a mirror.
On both sides of the cliff, the white snowfields were dotted with black dots that stood in great numbers, and crouching high above--
-- were more than ten thousand black wolves.
The horses began to panic and retreated one after another.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.