Wind and snow gently receded, and the northern lands quietened down overnight. The thousand-mile starry river on this winter night extended from the North to the South, guiding them along their way forward. Behind them hung the North Star in the azure night sky that gradually became more distant as they moved forward.
The pack of wolves travelled South. White Mane carried Chen Xing and Xiao Shan, who was sound asleep, while Xiang Shu rode on another robustly built gray wolf. They tramped over mountains and through ravines all the way down South. The pack of wolves proceeded as quickly as a gust of wind and bore through a multitude of snow capped mountains. They were more familiar with the terrain than horses, so they didn’t have to stop and seek the correct path. It took only a day for them to complete the journey that had originally taken them four days to arrive at Longcheng.
At the sight of tens of thousands of wolves rushing into the city, the residents of Karakorum instantly flew into a panic, but when they saw that the person in the lead was Xiang Shu, they immediately called out the name of the Great Chanyu. They all knelt down one after and bowed with their foreheads on their hands in worship, as if they had just seen a god. Xiang Shu instructed them not to worry and to take the wolf pack into the stone palace. The wolf pack and humans didn’t harm each other at all as they spent the long night together.
“Eat a little ba.” Chen Xing roasted the meat given to them by the Xiongnu people. When he thought about how the King Akele who had been taking care of him along the way had already passed away, he felt even more stifled. On the other hand, Xiao Shan’s eyes had reddened, and with a stubborn expression, he refused to eat anything.
Xiang Shu looked at Xiao Shan and said, “People who don’t eat meat and drink milk won’t grow much.”
Xiao Shan just ignored him. Chen Xing was already thoroughly spent, and when he was about to try and persuade Xiao Shan again, Xiang Shu motioned to him to not care anymore and to just sleep first. In the middle of the night, Chen Xing heard Xiao Shan quietly get up and squat beside the embers of their bonfire. Soft chewing sounds could be heard, and only then did Chen Xing feel relieved.
Perhaps from a very long time ago, Xiao Shan had already realised that his separation from Lu Ying was inevitable and was already prepared to bid him farewell. Chen Xing thought that he had been just like Xiao Shan when he was a child. Although his Shifu didn’t tell him that his family had been destroyed, he could guess it all. At these sorts of times, nothing needed to be said; all he needed to do was to quietly accompany Xiao Shan by his side, and in time, this child would slowly manage to get through it.
He didn’t know where Xiang Shu went again. Chen Xing waited for a long while before getting up as quietly as he could. He went to find a blanket and covered Xiao Shan with it. This kid was really too skinny, and he was so skinny that he looked just like a ferret that had been thrown into a pile of mud. One’s heart would ache just looking at him.
After covering him with the blanket, Chen Xing rubbed Xiao Shan’s small head that was peeking out of the blanket. He sighed, then got up to leave. Xiao Shan’s pair of bright eyes had been wide open the entire time, and he didn’t say a word.
In front of the pagoda at the most elevated part of Karakorum, Xiang Shu leaned against his heavy sword as he faced the stars that hung low. A blanket draped across his knees as he stared with an indifferent expression towards the South.
“What are you doing?” Chen Xing asked.
“Night watch,” Xiang Shu answered.
Chen Xing casually said, “There are so many wolves, why’re you still on night watch?”
Xiang Shu didn’t answer. He glanced at Chen Xing and raised an eyebrow. Chen Xing knew that he wanted to ask about Xiao Shan, so he answered, “He ate a little. He’s asleep now.”
“You knew what I wanted to ask again?” Xiang Shu said indifferently.
Chen Xing suddenly realised something weirdly fascinating. In this whole world, he seemed to only possess a tacit understanding with Xiang Shu -- where they would each understand what the other meant without even saying anything. Was that because of the power of the Heart Lamp? The entanglement between exorcists and their Protectors?
Chen Xing walked up the steps, and Xiang Shu moved a little to make space for him to sit down. Both of them were covered with the same blanket. Chen Xing picked up the sword at the side and studied it. “This divine weapon can actually transform into a bow, it’s really strange.”
Xiang Shu glanced over and frowned slightly. Che Luofeng had picked up the sword before, but he had to exert a lot of energy to lift it, yet it seemed as light as a wooden sword in Chen Xing’s hands now as he picked it up without any difficulty.
“The ensnaring nets of Life and Death bound firm and strong, hoping to be cut by the sword of wisdom.” Chen Xing murmured, “Just don’t know who passed it down.”
The two of them were wrapped in a blanket. A gust of wind blew, and Chen Xing consciously moved closer into Xiang Shu’s embrace.
“What are you thinking about?” Chen Xing asked Xiang Shu.
Xiang Shu remained silent. Chen Xing continued muttering to himself as he frowned, “The Dinghai Pearl...will it be in one of the other two places?”
“I’ll draw it out for you when we get back.” Xiang Shu said calmly, “I remember it all.”
Chen Xing continued, “Kjera, Shi Hai, where on earth could they be hiding?”
Shi Hai had travelled all over the Divine Land and didn’t even pass over the far North. His purpose was to revive Chiyou, the ancient Devil God. The Silence of All Magic seemed to have no effect on them at all; these people can control magic treasures with resentment. In other words, now their enemies have mana, but those on their side didn’t and could only rely on the Heart Lamp and the divine weapon in Xiang Shu’s hands. It was truly vexing.
Also, even if they successfully found the Dinghai Pearl, how would they release the spiritual Qi of the heavens and earth stored within it? Destroy the magic treasure? Chen Xing vaguely thought of an even more serious problem -- if, as Lu Ying had mentioned, the Dinghai Pearl truly had the ability to travel through time and change the past and future, then after Exorcist Zhang Liu obtained it, he might have already taken it with him and left his present world 300 years ago.
That is to say, this magic treasure may exist thousands of years ago or thousands of years later, so the chances of them finding it has now grown even more slim.
Even if they did manage to find the Dinghai Pearl and restore the mana of the world, how were they supposed to seal Chiyou by relying just on the strength of the humans?! When he thought of this, Chen Xing felt like he was about to go mad.
“AAAAHHHHHHHH--” The more Chen Xing thought about it, the more anxious he felt, so he clutched Xiang Shu’s neck and shook him back and forth.
Xiang Shu, “………………”
Chen Xing felt a little despondent, and his brows furrowed deeply. This was truly too complicated. He glanced at Xiang Shu’s expression that seemed to be asking, “are you rebelling” and could only scratch his head in frustration before shrinking back under the blanket.
“Where next?” Xiang Shu asked.
“Back to Chi Le Chuan ah.” Chen Xing said, “Ensure your tribesmen's safety first.”
Xiang Shu, “I meant, the Dinghai Pearl could be in two different places.”
Chen Xing uttered in distress, “Why is this so difficult?! And there wasn’t even a lot of time to begin with, damn it.”
Chen Xing had even thought that if the problem could be resolved early, then in the little time he had left, he would roam about through the mountains and forests and travel around the Divine Land to admire the famous rivers and mountains. But from the looks of it now, with the three years he had left, he might even get smacked to death with one palm by the Devil God Chiyou in the end. His future was practically covered with thistles and thorns.
“Go back and take care of your people first ba.” Chen Xing said gloomily, “Give me the map, and I’ll find a way. If I really can’t figure something out, I’ll write a letter to you for help. I’ll go sleep now.”
“Chi Le Chuan will be okay.” Xiang Shu answered, “Che Luofeng will look after it.”
The next morning, when Chen Xing woke up, he realised that he had returned to the stone palace and was sleeping with Xiao Shan. Xiao Shan seemed to have treated him as Lu Ying and was curled up comfortably in his embrace just like a small animal.
Xiang Shu whistled outside and shouted, “Let’s go!”
The Xiongnu people prepared a sled used specially for speeding through snow fields for the Great Chanyu and harnessed it to the wolf. The three of them got on the sled. Xiang Shu gave the residents here a few instructions, telling them to spend the winter at Chi Le Chuan, then drove the sled and left Longcheng.
Xiao Shan was in a much better mood now. With a blanket wrapped around him, he wiped his two steel claws on the sled. The pack of wolves flew through the snow, and they were almost at the end of their 400-mile journey in the blink of an eye in less than two days. Chen Xing had always been boggled by the loads on his mind as he planned when to go to the next place to search for the Dinghai Pearl. When he saw Chi Le Chuan appear in the mist, his mood finally improved.
Chen Xing thought that he should teach Xiao Shan how to speak, so he had only been talking to him in the Han language all the way there, regardless of whether he understood it or not.
“When you’re home,” Chen Xing said to Xiao Shan, “we’ll have to give you a bath first.”
Xiao Shan scrutinised Chen Xing with alert eyes. Chen Xing said, “The place we’re about to arrive at is Chi Le Chuan.”
The pack of wolves gradually slowed down. Chen Xing asked Xiang Shu, “There are so many wolves, we can’t bring them all in, we’ll have to bid farewell to them outside...”
Suddenly, without saying a word, Xiang Shu jumped off the sled when they were more than a hundred steps away from Chi Le Chuan.
Xiao Shan, “?”
Xiao Shan let out a strange noise. The sled slowed down. Chen Xing stood up slowly on the sled and looked at the scene before him.
The entire Chi Le Chuan area had been burnt to ashes. At the foot of the Yin mountains, pitch black tents could be found everywhere.
Dead, charred bodies littered the ground. An avalanche had buried the northeast mountains. There were Xiongnu, Tiele...and other Hu corpses floating in the river. After the river thawed, it had frozen over again and sealed the corpses in a layer of ice.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.