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The horse ride was a bumpy one. Chen Xing had both hands tied behind his back and was strapped onto the back of the horse by the waist. Clinks of metal plates could be heard; Sima Wei, dressed in a suit of black armour, rushed out of the Yin mountains with Chen Xing. They travelled along the commercial route outside the Great Wall and turned eastwards.
Sima Wei had abducted him. Within the blink of an eye, he had already urged his horse to gallop several hundreds of miles. They had even passed by Chi Le Chuan along the way, but he didn’t go up north along the road to the river to enter the Great Wall, but instead continued heading east.
At noon, Sima Wei threw Chen Xing on the ground, loosened his ropes, then threw him a jerky biscuit and casually pointed at a stream not far away.
Chen Xing: “....”
“Xiang Shu will come and save me.” Chen Xing devoured the biscuit and tore off some jerky to eat because he was absolutely starving. He decided that “a wise man submits to circumstances”; since there was no use in him resisting, he would rack his brains to think of ways to slow down Sima Wei.
When Sima Wei was travelling, he wouldn’t respond to anything Chen Xing said. This time, he replied in a low voice, “He won’t. He’ll just think you left by yourself.”
These words struck Chen Xing right in his sore spot -- crap, what if Xiang Shu really thought that way? He had talked about leaving before Xiang Shu went up the mountains after all.
It was very possible! Before this, he had also left just like that without saying a word. This was different from Xiang Shu seeing him get abducted with his own eyes. Xiao Shan was sleeping, so no one would tell Xiang Shu that he, Chen Xing, had been captured. During this period of time, Chen Xing has always believed that Xiang Shu has his own responsibilities as the Great Chanyu, so he always implied that he would leave whenever they spoke.
If Xiang Shu thought that Chen Xing had just left that quietly because he didn’t want to say goodbye, he would return to Karakorum himself, and no one would come save Chen Xing anymore. He has to find a way to break free from this predicament himself!
A few crows were perched atop a tree. Chen Xing tried to activate his Heart Lamp a few times, but he didn’t sense Xiang Shu. Maybe he was too far away, or maybe… he could only accept this helpless reality -- Xiang Shu wasn’t coming to save him.
So Chen Xing could only plan his own resistance. He never stopped scheming along the way, thinking about how to sneak off while this asshole wasn’t paying attention. However, Sima Wei neither ate nor slept. Every time they stopped to take a breather, it was for Chen Xing’s sake, and they would continue on the road after he was done resting. Chen Xing couldn’t find a chance to escape at all.
Chen Xing kept trying to fish information out of him, but Sima Wei was tight-lipped and never responded to him. Just like this, they travelled at full speed for six days.
Sima Wei, “Get up, we’re moving.”
Chen Xing, “Where on earth do you want to take me?!”
Sima Wei didn’t reply. Chen Xing continued, “I want to take a nap. I’m about to become bow-legged from riding on a horse for so long, my feet hurt.”
So Sima Wei could only let him remain where he was, while he got up by himself to survey the surroundings.
Seeing Sima Wei leave the woods, Chen Xing looked around, then turned around and broke into a run.
“Caw! Caw!” The crows suddenly beat their wings and flew up in alarm. Chen Xing rushed right out of the forest and enacted a pursuit scene with Sima Wei. Before one incense stick could finish burning, he was caught in a mountain cave. What awaited him next was him getting bundled like a dumpling and thrown onto the horse before they continued east.
They hastened on their journey for close to ten days. Sima Wei always moved forward along the Great Wall. Every time they stopped, their temporary campsite would always be surrounded with crows. Chen Xing struggled on the horse and said, “Can’t you take me to a place where there’s people?”
Sima Wei took Chen Xing along with him and never entered the passes along the Great Wall. At last, they left the Great Wall and went north, then entered Youzhou’s boundary. Along the way, Chen Xing had seen the Qin army from afar several times. Sima Wei had excellent concealment techniques; he bypassed them and continued heading southeast.
By the time he saw the plaque "Zhuojun", Chen Xing knew that they would arrive in Goguryeo territory if they continued southeast. After leaving the Central Plains, Sima Wei finally relaxed his watch over Chen Xing.
“I really won’t escape anymore!” Chen Xing said. “We’re almost at Silla now; I wouldn’t be able to find my way back even if I escaped. Untie me, Sima Wei!”
Sima Wei replied, “Attempts shouldn’t be made more than three times.”
Chen Xing got what he wished for and was finally untied. The two of them entered one of Goguryeo’s largest cities, Pyongyang. Most of the residents here are Buyeo people, so a large number of them could understand the Xianbei language. Sima Wei changed into a set of regular clothes that he had found somewhere and kept his armour in his carry-on bundle. Then he wore a conical bamboo hat that covered half of his face.
When the Buyeo people saw these two travellers pass by, they would stare at him curiously. Some of them even inquired out of curiosity, so Chen Xing replied to them in the Xianbei language.
“What are you two here for?” The Buyeo person asked. “Did you guys come from the Jin country?”
Sima Wei asked Chen Xing, “What did they say?”
Chen Xing knew Sima Wei didn’t understand, so he could make trouble for him however he wanted now.
“They asked where we’re heading to,” Chen Xing said.
Sima Wei said, “Ask them where we can find a boat.”
So Chen Xing said to the locals in Xianbei language, “I was kidnapped by this person! I was taken all the way here from Chi Le Chuan!”
People in the city started a lively discussion, and many began to surround them. All of them wore robes of the literati and bamboo hats, dressed in the style of a Confucian scholar.
Ever since Sosurim of Goguryeo came to power, the Imperial College of Supreme Learning was established in Pyongyang with the aim of nurturing scholars. From the Han dynasty to the Cao Wei dynasty to the Jin dynasty, the doctrines of Confucianism in the Central Plains has always been admired by many vassal states. All ethnic groups took pride in learning the Han language and reading Han books. This group of scholars had just finished their lessons in the Imperial College. In conformance with the virtue of chivalry where one intervened at the sight of injustice, they blocked Sima Wei and Chen Xing’s path one after another, scrutinising this strange combo.
One of the scholars asked, “How can we save you? Can we be of any help?”
Sima Wei, “What did they say?”
Chen Xing waved his hand at them. Compared to the other drought fiend kings, Sima Wei’s attitude might be much gentler, but Chen Xing didn’t know if he would suddenly go mad. If he were to go on a killing spree within the city, it would only harm innocent people and cost them their lives, so he didn’t ask for help immediately and explained, “This guy is insane, he has killed a lot of people on our way. Everyone, please don’t act rashly.”
Sima Wei, “?”
Everyone asked, “Then what do we do?”
After speaking, Chen Xing relayed to Sima Wei, “They said that the boats won’t be leaving anytime soon and asked us to rest in the city. We’ll have to check again in a few days.”
Sima Wei observed the expressions of the crowd, then said to Chen Xing, “Don’t lie to me.”
Chen Xing, “I’m not lying!”
Sima Wei, “They had only said four words just now, how could that turn into such long strings of sentences after translation?”
Chen Xing, “That’s how Xianbei language is like! Don’t you know any Xianbei people? If you think I’m too wordy, then you talk to them. I don’t care anymore.”
Sima Wei, “We’ll go to the pier to look for a boat.”
Chen Xing, “Wait wait wait...”
Chen Xing pondered for a bit, then smiled calmly to the crowd with his hands clasped. “Geges, please help me inform the guards in the city. I’ll trick him into resting in an inn for awhile first. If you bump into anyone asking around for me, please let them know.”
Sima Wei, “What are you saying this time?”
Chen Xing, “I asked them when the boats would set sail.”
Sima Wei, “Your tone was clearly descriptive, not inquisitive.”
Chen Xing asked in the Xianbei language, “Where are the inns in the city?”
Someone pointed somewhere far away. Chen Xing signalled to Sima Wei as if to say see, I’m asking.
One of the scholars said, “I’ll go to the King’s guards now to report the situation in detail. Be careful.”
Chen Xing quickly nodded.
Sima Wei: “?”
Chen Xing, “They said that we’ll have to wait for at least three to five days. Let’s go ba.”
So under everyone’s gaze, Chen Xing changed from being a guest to acting as a host and leading Sima Wei away. The two of them passed through a market. Chen Xing was secretly delighted; he knew that Sima Wei must be filled with doubts right now, so he had to think of something to divert his line of thought for now. He pointed at the goods in the stalls and said, “Do you want to buy some rouge?”
Sima Wei, “???”
Chen Xing said, “They seem to be doubting you a little, because your face is blue.”
Sima Wei, “...”
“Apply some rouge,” Chen Xing said. “Cover it a little, do you have money? Take some money out to spend.” At the same time, he thought that if some guards came to save him later, he could say he had nothing to do with it. In any case, he just had to say that the crowd of spectators had thought Sima Wei’s complexion seemed off so they reported it to the authorities, and it would all be fine.
But Sima Wei didn’t expect to spend money here and was penniless. Chen Xing came up with an idea. “Your armour can be pawned off for some money; that helmet should be worth quite a lot of money.”Sima Wei, “You want to pawn off my armour?”
Chen Xing, “What else? Don’t we need money to take a boat? And we still need to eat and buy clothes too. Even if you don’t need to eat, I do.”
So Sima Wei was duped by Chen Xing into pawning his helmet off. The two of them successfully found a place to stay. Chen Xing noticed a few crows flying away from the entrance of the store. He had a nagging sensation that he had seen those few crows on their way here.
But all crows in the world were generally black and all looked about the same, so he might be wrong.
A lightning streak flashed across the sky and thunder boomed. A downpour suddenly started. All the people along the streets rushed to avoid getting drenched.
After entering the inn, Chen Xing stopped caring about Sima Wei and instructed a waiter to prepare some hot water for a bath. He felt much better after changing his clothes.
“I’ll help you cover up a little ba.” Chen Xing studied Sima Wei and started applying rouge for him to cover up his dead person complexion.
Sima Wei closed the four windows in the room. Chen Xing mixed the powder, and just when he was about to approach him, Sima Wei grabbed Chen Xing’s wrist.
“Exorcist, save me.” Sima said in a very soft voice.
Zryuu: we’ll be changing all ‘magic treasures’ to ‘magical artifacts’ from now on! Because…it sounds nicer haha
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.