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 Chapter 4: Forest

Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -

"Hey Third elder, I didn't lie to you. The last time we came to extort from the village, there were spacious rooms here in the temple. We can sleep in them and get a good night's rest. As soon as day breaks tomorrow, we'll be reenergized to accept the goods and the women!" Finishing his sentence, the bandit laughed wretchedly.

The three of them entered the extremely spacious but somewhat dilapidated temple.

A shrine stood at the front of the temple while the rooms were all further inside. In the middle was a small garden, where grass had grown to waist height due to neglect.

After carefully searching the temple for any signs of habitation, the middle-aged bandit instructed the bandit next to him, "You! Begin your watch. He'll replace you in the middle of the night. Be alert at all times."

As he finished, he turned around and strutted towards the rooms where he discovered the beds broken. There were some straw and dried grass by them. Gathering those, he started a fire before dozing off on the floor.

The night was rather chilly, so the bandit standing guard felt cold. He too started a fire and sat beside it, warming himself up considerably. Bored by the lack of things to do, he looked around.

Pei Zi Yun stood still as a statue, quietly waiting for an opportunity to strike.

He would wait for two of the bandits to fall asleep and for the third bandit to get weary while standing guard, and then he would strike.

The bandit by the fire noticed that his clothes were stained with dirt and grease. He yawned in boredom and walked over to a corner to relieve his bladder.

Pei Zi Yun heaved a deep sigh of relief, stealthily crept up to him then stabbed him from behind, right through his heart.

"Ah!"

Although the bamboo spear wasn't very sharp, stabbing the bandit proved easy enough. This bandit had just felt a sharp pain through his chest, looked down and saw a spear protruding out of his chest. His lips quivered almost as if he was about to shout.

However, just before he could scream, a knife swiftly slit his throat. All that was audible were gurgling sounds as his windpipe and vital veins were cut; blood poured out onto the ground beneath.

Pei Zi Yun watched the body soften and drop to the ground with a dull thud. His eyes were like that of dead fish, bulging out of their sockets.

As much as Pei Zi Yun wished to remain quiet, he couldn't prevent that sound. He had just killed someone. Before killing, he felt an intense rage and anger well up in his chest. Now, he just felt like he needed to throw up and wiped the blood from his face.

"Two more left!" After killing his first victim, a flash of light gleamed across his eyes.

Just then, the sleeping bandit abruptly woke up. Looking at the position of the moon, he knew it was almost his turn to stand guard.

After sharpening his blade and stretching his muscles, he got ready to relieve his fellow sentry. As soon as he walked through the door, he saw the other bandit sitting upright by the fire, as if he had fallen asleep on the job.

"Aye, wake up! It's time to change shifts." After saying that, he felt strangely suspicious smelling the overpowering scent of blood.

"Die!" Pei Zi Yun's bamboo spear rushed right at him.

"Pu!" This bandit had a much quicker reflex than his buddy and dodged the blow. He swiftly struck with his dagger, cutting the spear in half.

At this moment, a blade slashed at his neck, attempting to end his life. The reflection of light blinded his eyes, so all that was visible was a shadow.

The bandit leapt aside, dodging the potentially fatal blow. He licked his lips and smiled sinisterly, rushing forward. "Bastard, why don't you just die?!"

**********

The commotion from outside roused third elder from his slumber!

Barely making it past two steps, the bandit felt something jerk at his feet, and without enough time to react, he fell forward.

"It's a damn noose!" The bandit immediately reacted. This was a method commonly used by the villagers to capture wild animals. Just as he finished processing what happened, he saw the reflection of the blade where it met his neck. Fresh blood sprouted from the gaping wound on his throat.

"Bam!" His body fell to the ground with so much force a cloud of dust billowed up.

"Who is it?!"

The middle-aged bandit came outside and and shouted loudly. Witnessing his fellow bandit dropping dead onto the ground, he became fully awake in anger. He drew his blade and rushed out.

He saw the two men he had brought with him lying dead on the floor, their blood spreading across the ground.

In the distance, he spotted a shadow running, desperately attempting to make an escape. It was almost at the edge of the temple, heading towards the woods. The shadow showed that it was not a big man. In fact, he was thin and lanky, holding onto a bamboo spear and knife as he reached the forest.

"Little bastard, you dare to kill my Black Wind bandits and run? Die!" The middle-aged bandit shouted. He looked around and instantly knew exactly what had occurred. His face convulsed with fury, eyes turning bloodshot as he dashed towards the target of his vengeance.

Pei Zi Yun looked back and realized that the middle-aged bandit was almost caught up to him. With such speed, it was clear that the previous two bandits were no match for this man in fighting capabilities.

In his previous life, the villagers willingly gave up the girl to the bandits. Thus, he had no interaction with nor knowledge of this middle-aged bandit's strength. This was indeed a ferocious and fearless bandit. On hindsight, he might have made a big mistake.

In a few short breaths, the man behind was quickly catching up.

"Scoundrel, I know some Dao Arts!" Pei Zi Yun laughed coldly. The original owner had indeed known some Dao Fighting Techniques, but he had never practiced any of it before. There were, however, some moves that any normal human can use.

Obviously, the strength needed was minimal. But here in the dense forest, just a little sluggishness could get him murdered.

"Trip and fall!"

Panting violently, he saw a fallen branch and pointed at it.

This Dao Art was etched very deeply inside his memory. It was a trick of sorts. Even a normal person with only a little spiritual energy would be able to pull it off. He had planned for the bandit to get entangled in the branch, and quickly finish him off after.

In that moment, Pei Zi Yun's expression turned blank-the branch did not budge an inch.

"Go to hell!" the bandit chasing behind him began to laugh as he slashed his blade at the direction of his prey. Without hesitation, Pei Zi Yun rolled over to dodge the attack, and a few strands of hair bore the brunt of the blade. He landed on the ground deftly before running back into the depth of the forest.

Pei Zi Yun saw the bandit catching up from his peripheral view. He lunged into another roll, brushing past leaves and plants only to realize these plants were actually thorn bushes, pricking him. Leaves fell as he ran past.

Pei Zi Yun continued running past the shrubs then once again noticed that the bandit was quickly catching up. WIthout looking his back, he dashed towards the centre of the mountains, where the forest was much denser. Shadows of hills and trees shaded the path ahead. All he needed was to stay ahead of the bandit for another thirty metres, and then he can hide within those shadows, providing sufficient cover for him to survive.

Upon entering the mountainous jungle, the Black Wind bandit sensed something off. What lay ahead was nothing but trees and more trees. He noticed that the trees were not very tall, just very dense. He felt a sharp pain and realized that he had been pricked by a thorn bush.

The bandit agitatedly plucked out the thorn on his leg as he let out a soft groan. He whipped out his knife and started hacking at the trees, causing the shrubs to fall onto the ground. Visibility was poor due to the lack of moonlight which couldn't pass through the cluster of trees. However he managed to glimpse the numerous thorn bushes surrounding him, clustering together.

Pei Zi Yun did not even bother considering what lay ahead of him, as he continued his crazed run forward in order to survive. He took three deep breaths before pulling away for another fifty metres. Under the cover of the shadows, his back gradually became indiscernible.

The middle-aged bandit still retained the icy gaze in his eyes, hacking and slashing the shrubs obstructing his way, until he reached a clearing and started chasing again.

Pei Zi Yun took big gulps of air as he panted, this body was indeed very week. Merely killing two people and running a short distance made his arms ache in exhaustion. His chest too was on fire and constricted. Pei Zi Yun was very familiar with these areas. Although he had been a scholar with a High Scholar rank, his family was impoverished. There were many occasions where he had to ascend the mountain and help his family forage mushrooms, pick wild vegetables and gather firewood for their use.

Due to his diligence and familiarity with this mountain, he could muster the energy to kill and run. Although adrenaline was still coursing through his veins, and his bravery has yet to desert him, he was exhausted. Every step was getting harder to take.

The middle-aged bandit was fast catching up to him, there was approximately only seven or eight steps separating them. Due to the numerous thorn shrubs around, he did not dare to run blindly. Instead, he was hacking away the bushes and gradually gaining ground. He was at most two or three breaths away from reaching Pei Zi Yun. He's near now. He could hear the other's laboured breathing; the thought of finally killing him sent waves of excitement through his body. He knew Pei Zi Yun was exhausted. With knife raised, he ploughed on.

Five steps. Four steps. Three steps.

"I'm here. You're dead!" One step, two steps, the knife swung forward as a flash of the blade gleamed in the darkness once more.

In that instant, he felt something entangling his legs again and felt as though he was going to fall over. The blade which was initially bound to connect with its target now changed trajectory. It hit the branch of a tree, causing it to snap in two and fall to the ground.

"Crafty!" It seemed like his prey kicked the branch over to trip him in an attempt to escape.

Pei Zi Yun exhaled and broke into a roll,his knife raised, ready to kill. However, he noticed the bandit was already eyeing him, also poised to slash.

Pei Zi Yun was shocked, seeing the bandit's blade almost upon him. A ray of light reflected off the blade into his eyes. The light momentarily blinded him as he felt intense pain deep in his eyes. He felt a jolt of fear in his heart, and his reflexes forced him into a roll. Forcing his eyes open, all he could see around him were broken branches and fallen trees, clustered between the bandit and himself.

This was a good opportunity, Pei Zi Yun rejoiced. Picking himself up from the ground, he began running again.

Moments before, if all had gone according to Pei Zi Yun's plan, the bandit would have gotten trapped by the rope and Pei Zi Yun would then be able to finish him off the same way he did the other two bandits. However, the third elder of Black Wind Sect had a lethal sword technique and had lightning quick reflexes. Just as Pei Zi Yun wanted to finish him off, he was blinded by the reflection off his sword. This man indeed had years of experience fighting close combat and should not be underestimated.

**********

- Late in the night. Snail Village

The voices of people began to die down as the night got later. However there were still people keeping an eye on the entrance, ensuring the girl does not escape. Although there was no way she could escape without them noticing, they insisted on keeping watch.

"Brother Pei..... Where are you?" Ye Su'er entered the house. The stillness of the house made her pause several times. Although she knew brother Pei had no energy to save himself, she still felt a glimmer of hope... Even if it's to see each other for one last time.

There was no reply- no sound. Her face gradually lost its colour.

All of a sudden, memories of her childhood began to flood her. Leaving her home in the middle of a winter night, getting caught in the deep pitfall of an animal trap, hearing the people searching for her walk past numerous of times but could not find her. How she cried and cried...

*********

Hearing the howling of wolves as dawn approached, a boy jumped in and knelt in front of the trap speaking in a hoarse voice. It was then she realized that there had been wolves nearby, and that the search party had been called off because it was too dangerous. But the boy was still there, fiddling with the trap in the dark. Albeit hearing the constant howling of wolves in the vicinity, he refused to give up...

But the boy was stupid to actually jump into the trap and stay there with her.

She vividly remembered shouting, "Silly!" at the boy repeatedly to combat her own fear. Now, can't she even have that feeling anymore?

As she opened her eyes, her quivering hands hesitated before pushing the door open.

Illuminated by the moonlight, she saw no one asleep in the room.

Because she wasn't met with the sight of brother Pei ignoring her, the colour of her face began to gradually recover, and she frantically searched the entire house. "Where is he? He was here just now!"

After searching everywhere, she gazed outside, and a thought came to her. Her face turning pale, she exclaimed, "The knife has disappeared! Oh no, has brother Pei gone out to..."

Without any hesitation, she nimbly sped off into the shadows, dashing out of the village.

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