Chapter 40: The hawks and Hounds Show Up
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Maggie
"That's unnecessary! I'll send you to Wu Tong soon enough," Shi Mu said with a stony face. He then drew out the Sun and Moon Daggers from his waist, and separated Wu Hua's head from his body.
Zhong Xiu's face became pale as she witnessed this scene.
However, Shi Mu's remained as calm as always. He reached out and hooked the best two 'Horses of the Blue Wind' to the nearby cart.
Shi Mu and his newly acquired grey cart was back to speeding on the main road moments later.
Dealing with Wu Tong had been a very tough task for Shi Mu. The deceased was a low level Hou Tian warrior; he could only imagine the might of an intermediate Hou Tian enemy.
He had heard that the Fifth Master of the Jin Clan had long surpassed warriors like Wu Tong. Therefore, he didn't dare to get distracted, and remained vigilant.
Meanwhile, Jin Clan's party trailed about 15km behind them as their 'Tracking Blaze Horses' galloped with a frenzy. Three snow white eagles with emerald green heads flew a few Kilometre ahead of the Jin clan's team. Their majestic wings stretched long and wide as they cut the wind with a smooth and peaceful vigor.
The grey cart arrived in front of an unending mountain range as the horizon started to lighten in shade. One really couldn't tell the extent to which these mountains ranges stretched.
Shi Mu abandoned the cart without a second thought, and then darted into the mountains with Zhong Xiu.
The Jin Clan's fighters arrived at the same spot two hours later; they were astonished to discover Shi Mu's abandoned cart.
The Fifth Master was riding one of 'Tracking Blaze Horses'. He was enraged as he noticed the deserted cart and the two 'Horses of the Blue Wind'. He then ordered two of his men:
"Let the eagles fly a little lower and release all the dogs. That'll assist us in the chase!"
The tall servant in-charge of the eagles nodded. He took out a silver whistle, put in his mouth, and then blew on it.
This was followed by an ear-piercing whistle noise as four harsh notes resounded. The three eagles that were flying at high altitude immediately spread their wings, and dived down. They then started to hover above their heads.
The servant in-charge of the dogs had ears similar to that of a monkey. He jumped off his horse. He went to a black carriage and opened its door. Five dogs immediately dashed out of the cart. Each of these dogs was as huge as a calf.
These huge dogs had green eyes, and their bodies were hairless and red in color. Exceptionally sharp teeth could clearly be seen inside their fierce mouths.
Then, the dog-servant threw a grey shirt on the ground. The dogs immediately sniffed the shirt and issued a low-pitched howl.
Suddenly, the dogs started to run, and then disappeared into the mountains.
"Hurry up and follow the blood-dogs while they still have the scent of the shirt's owner," the dog-servant said with delight.
"Well, my effort to go to that bastard's house and look for his frequently worn clothes proved to be worthwhile. Now, let's go!" the Fifth Master said with a grim expression on his face.
Then, he jumped off his horse and took the lead as they follow the hunting-dogs into the mountains.
The two servants followed him closely.
The cart-driver was the only one who stayed behind since he'd never had any sort of martial arts training.
Shi Mu's posterior appeared motionless in comparison to the magnanimity of these mountains' stretch as he walked deep into the mountain; he carried Zhong Xiu on his back. Suddenly, they heard a crisp cry from the sky. Shi Mu couldn't help but raise his head to look.
He was surprised to see a rare snow white eagle circling them above the canopy of the mountain forest.
Shi Mu continued his journey. However, he was unsettled since he was aware that the uncanny eagle was following them. In fact, its cries were getting louder and shriller with each step.
"This eagle's behaviour doesn't seem natural. Miss Zhong, can you please get down..." Shi Mu said without a second thought.
"Brother Shi, be careful." Zhong Xiu was tired and drowsy as she lied on Shi Mu's back. However, Shi Mu's words suddenly sobered her up, and she started to worry.
Shi Mu nodded and wielded the purple steel bow he had been carrying over his shoulder. He put an arrow in place as he prepared to shoot.
"Whoosh!" suddenly, a sound ushered through the air. The eagle screeched as it fell down from the sky like a shooting star, and crashed some distance away.
"Okay; time to move on." Shi Mu felt relieved upon the death of the bird. He put his bow away and smiled to the girl.
Another cry was heard soon after this dead eagle's faded away into silence. Shi Mu saw two more white eagles fly their way from the distant sky. However, they swirled around in the nearby-sky without approaching-on.
Shi Mu's expression changed as he saw the two eagles. He picked the girl up in his arms and rushed to the next hilltop.
"What's wrong? Did someone send those eagles after us?" Zhang Xiu asked in confusion as she held onto Shi Mu.
"Yes. I was once told by Butler Cheng that the Jin's have something he called the 'tracking eagles'. They have green heads, and can travel as far as a thousand miles per day. They are always paired with blood-dogs," Shi Mu answered while still running at his top speed.
He could hear the air howl around his ears as he ran through the mountains; his speed was no slower than a horse's.
"Did you say Blood-Dogs...?"
A fierce and uncontrolled pack of dogs was heard growling behind them while Zhong Xiu was decrypting Shi Mu's words.
A group of massive red hunting dogs emerged out of a grove about three hundred meters behind them before they could comprehend those noises; they then started to follow them.
"Haha! There you are bastard! I've finally found you! You dared to kill my only son?! Even skinning you alive won't be enough to subside the hatred I have for you!" behind the dogs was a middle-aged bearded man. He was carrying two golden sticks in his hands. Behind him were his two servants; they wielded a saber and a sword.
These men were undoubtedly the Fifth Master and his two servants.
Shi Mu had started two hours before them. However, carrying Zhong Xiu had caused his speed to decline. Moreover, the Jins had an added advantage with the eagles and the dogs since they had helped them by finding their way to him without any detours.
Shi Mu analysed the situation. His heart 'thumped' as he realized that he didn't have a chance of outrunning the enemy.
He immediately put Zhang Xiu down and whispered, "You'll have to go alone for now. I'll take care of these people."
"No. I will stay here with you. I can't go far without you. It's okay as long as I die with you," Zhong Xiu protested with a calm expression on her face; she hadn't moved one inch from her spot.
Shi Mu couldn't help but feel moved by her words. He looked deep into her eyes. He took a moment and then slowly replied, "You can stay if this is what you truly wish for. But you must hide yourself well to avoid distractions while I fight the enemy."
"I'll hide behind that large boulder. Be careful, Brother Shi!" Zhong Xiu nodded. She then turned away and ran to hide behind the boulder.
Shi Mu took a deep breath. He then raised his arms and wielded the Purple-Steel bow again.
Meanwhile, this delay had allowed the chief of the blood-dogs to come within 50-60 meters of him.