Chapter 34: The Horses of Blue Wind
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Maggie
"We'll reach the well-known Yun Xia mountain range if we follow this road and go west for another two hundred miles. That mountain range stretches over a thousand miles. It traverses the two prefectures of Quan Zhou and Yun Zhou. We'll be safer once we enter the mountains," Shi Mu answered readily. He had obviously made the plan beforehand.
"The Yun Xia mountain range? There's no doubt that it's a good hiding place. But we still have a long way before we get there. Do you think we can make it? Won't the Jin Clan catch us on the way? ...I've heard that all the big clans have special tracking horses. They'll definitely beat our ordinary ones," Zhong Xiu blinked her eyes as she answered. However, Shi Mu's idea had certainly enlightened her.
"That's beyond our capacity. We left immediately after Jin Tian's death. So, we should have outstripped them by at least half a day's journey. But, I'm not so sure whether we can make it or not. We can only try our best. Miss Zhong, be careful... I'm going to quicken the horses now. Hopefully, they can run until the last moment of this journey," Shi Mu said in a serious tone.
Zhong Xiu could only draw the curtains shut and sit back in the carriage even though she was worried.
Shi Mu didn't waste any time and began to whip the two horses fiercely. The two black horses let out a sharp neigh and started to gallop at an even higher speed.
The grey carriage soon turned into a black spot, and disappeared into the distance.
Meanwhile, a carriage covered entirely by a black cloth was progressing from downtown, and towards the west gate of Feng City.
The three horses pulling that carriage looked a bit strange. Their bodies were red in their entirety. And their hair looked like a blaze of fire. These well-known tracking horses were called the 'Tracking Blaze Horses'. They could serve as riding horses as well, and could cover a thousand miles a day. They could also serve as fighter horses. They could even spout fire from their mouths when incited.
The cart-driver was a blue-robed man. He was sitting at the front of the carriage. He was wielding a shiny black whip. Three riders riding the same 'strange' horses were following the carriage.
One of them was the Fifth Master of the Jin Clan. He had a short beard and was wearing a grief-stricken look on his long face. One of the other two riders was wearing a yellow cotton robe. He was sitting on the horse like a giant monkey; his ears were sticking out... and his cheeks looked like that of an ape. The last one had an unusually large stature. He was wearing a long silver robe, and his eyes were bright and piercing. The three riders and the carriage were moving fast, as if in a great hurry. They passed through the west gate at full speed.
The monkey man would jump down every now and then. He would try to identify some fresh trails on the road. Then, he would mount the horse again, and they'd gallop away.
"The Fifth Master of the Jin Clan has set off with the hunters and eagles... Good! We shall depart from the North Gate now. We'll take a detour and catch up with Shi Mu before them. They won't be able to beat our 'Fragrance of Qing Li' even though they're good at tracking. We've already scattered some of the tracking incense in Shi Mu's cart," spoke the leader of a group of ten riders who stood prepared near the North Gate. The leader was wearing an embroidered dress. He laughed when he heard the report from a servant.
"Third Uncle, please allow me to break Shi Mu's legs if we catch him before the Jins," a proud young man in the group asked ambitiously.
This group was made up of the Wu Clan's men. Their leader was the Third Master of the Family -Wu Tong. The proud youth was Wu Hua; he had been engaged to Zhong Xiu earlier.
This had been quite a coincidence. The Wu Clan had been planning to kidnap Zhong Xiu after the enrolment test. Therefore, they had kept a watch on Shi Mu's manor. Naturally, they were the first ones to get the news that Shi Mu had accidentally killed Jin Tian. Therefore, the Wu Clan was quite relieved now; they had been afraid of Shi Mu's remote relations with the Jin Clan. However, all they had to do now was to reach Zhong Xiu before the Jin Clan.
Wu Hua's participation was of his own will. The Wu Clan riders were riding peculiar horses. These horses had shiny blue hair. It seemed as if these horses were covered with a layer of shimmering blue light. These horses were famous for tracking and were known as the 'Horses of Blue Wind'. It was said that this peculiar breed of horses had some blood relation with the Fox of Wind. Therefore, they could produce gusts of wind once they reached a certain speed. These were undoubtedly amongst the fastest horses around.
That was why the Wu Clan was so confident in beating the Jins when it came to finding Shi Mu.
The Wu Clan riders poured out from the North Gate a little while later. They took a detour which allowed them to get ahead of the Jin Clan's trackers.
The other big clans and gangs had also received the news of the accidental murder of Jin Tian. It surprised many people. However, it was soon forgotten amid the ceaseless discussions about the enrolment test.
*Half a day later...*
The day had grown dark... The grey carriage was still hurling on the road; but at a lower speed.
Small hilltops had begun to appear alongside the road. They seemed rather indistinct in the dusk, and were unusually quiet.
Shi Mu's face was sullen as he whipped the horses. The two horses had reached their limits. They snorted hot air as they slowed down.
"Brother Shi, don't do this. This won't work anyway. The horses must be extremely tired after running without a break for so long. They must stop and take rest," Zhong Xiu's voice came from inside the carriage.
"Of course, I know that. But, every moment we waste allows our pursuers to catch us," Shi Mu answered with a bitter smile.
"But it won't help if you whip them to death. Let's take some rest, and then go-on after feeding them something," Zhong Xiu continued to urge.
"That sounds fair. Let's take rest for a few minutes and eat something," Shi Mu had to agree as he glanced at the two sweating horses.
He pulled at the rein, and the horses changed the direction. They rushed-off the road, and into the nearby woods.
However, they had underestimated the speed of the Wu Clan's horses.
Shi Mu unleashed the rein as they neared the woods. Then, he helped Zhong Xiu get off the carriage. Suddenly, they heard galloping sounds coming from the road. It sounded like torrential rains were accompanied by faint wild laughter.
"Haha! The Fragrance-sensing beetle is reacting. They must be nearby!"
"Be quiet. Wait for me to capture Shi Mu. I'll do it by myself."
These pursuers came at such a great speed that Shi Mu could see them before they had even finished their conversation.
"Run! They've come!" Shi Mu realized what had happened as soon as he heard their voices. He grabbed Zhong Xiu by her waist and ran into the woods; as fast as he could.
The Wu Clan had caught up with Shi Mu in merely half a day with the help of their 'Horses of Blue Wind'.
Their horses were a level higher than the Jin Clan's 'Tracking Blaze Horses'. The combination of the 'fragrance of Qian Li' and the 'Horses of Blue Wind' had allowed them to catch-up Shi Mu before the Jin Clan.
Qian Li means 'thousand miles' or 'long distance'.