Chapter 4 : Hunting Chariots
Luo Jie whispered, “The trap has been triggered! 12th, good idea, now gather everything and keep moving!”
12th said, “Master, we should try to avoid them. According to Fu Ye Jie, their power is far beyond what we can handle. Hopefully we can avoid them long enough for the Mysterious Land to kick us out, otherwise…… we’ll be in trouble.”
Qi Nan Shan suddenly sat up, looked around, then quietly commanded, “Everyone hide! Go! Go! Go!”
12th, without much thought, hid next to a giant rock. It was thick with grass and even had a tree covering it. Waves of noise came through the air soon after everyone hid. It was the zooming sound of something moving really fast and as the noise got louder and louder, everyone then saw it.
There were at least one hundred hunting chariots zooming through the air; each one about ten meters apart. It was frightening how crowded they were. The ones hiding in the thickets all paled. They wouldn’t be able to handle a couple dozen of those, let alone one hundred! Individual power had nothing to do with this, they were far outnumbered; this was the advantage of preparation.
One of the chariots suddenly zoomed towards them; a ray of golden light of about a hundred meters swept across the forest, the trees fell one after the other. Thankfully, the light was far away enough, or else it would’ve forced them out of hiding. Luo Jie couldn’t help but stare in amazement. That was a Super Fu Greatsword, it was stronger than an ordinary Ancient Fu; it was very possible that that was a True Ancient Fu that Li Ran mentioned.
That chariot circled the area once and didn’t find anything, so it rejoined with the group. There was cold sweat running down Luo Jie’s forehead, realising that they, indeed, were caught in a helpless situation. After waiting for fifteen minutes, he quietly said, “Nan Shan, gather everyone and retreat southward!”
12th whispered, “Master, we ought to go East!”
Luo Jie raised his brow, “Why’s that?”
12th said, “Well, we can’t outrun hunting chariots that can fly, especially since they have such large numbers. Should they discover us…… we wouldn’t be able to escape at all. As such, we should head towards their gathering point; they shouldn’t be patrolling that area as rigorously as all the way out here, so unless they launch a full scale search in the area, we should be able to hide there!”
Qi Nan Shan agreed, quietly saying, “He’s got a point, Elder!”
Luo Jie understood what 12th had said, that that was their only option. He lightly patted 12th’s head, smiled, and said, “You really are so smart, 12th. Alright we’ll listen to him, head East!”
The twenty odd people, under the cover of the forest, snuck their way eastward. Because of the gloom casted by the trees, it was hard for anybody to spot them at a cursory glance.
Luo Zhan said, “We need to have a backup plan. If we hide long enough for the Mysterious Land to close, then we’ll be out of here.”
Luo Jie swallowed a breath, saying, “If we didn’t fight with those people with Fu Ye Jie, then that could work. However, it’ll be difficult now, we need to keep moving lest we be found by their search parties. They have flying chariots so it’s easier for them to move around.”
Luo Zhan nodded, saying, “12th, I’ll carry you.”
Everyone set off again; this time, increasing in carefulness. After seeing that golden Fu Sword’s power, they all understood that should they be discovered, they wouldn’t have a hope of escaping alive, let alone returning to their own land.
Under Qi Nan Shan’s instructions, everyone moved at a moderate pace, being very careful, and trying to leave as little of a trace as possible. Even though it was difficult, everyone tried their best. Two Fu Masters deliberately stayed at the back to cover their tracks.
12th, hanging from Luo Zhan’s back, was very worried, thinking, “Upper and lower levels of the FuZhou Land? What does this mean? Where was Li Ran from? He’s basically stronger than the people from the Upper levels. Argh! This world is too complicated!”
With the knowledge from his past life, it was very difficult to understand this world, but the phenomenon of reincarnation was all the harder to understand. He sighed and decided to not think any more about it, as he focused on staying alive. But looking at his present situation, even staying alive seemed difficult.
While 12th thought about everything, the group pressed on silently.
After half a day, two more chariots passed them. It was thanks to Qi Nan Shan’s foresight and everyone’s fast reactions that they successfully avoided them.
12th was carefully watching the surroundings. The forest was getting thinner, and he couldn’t help but feel uneasy; are they about to exit the forest? They could only hide from the chariots under the cover of the forest, but as soon as they got to a flat plain, there would be no chance of survival.
The group stopped. Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan also noticed this problem, which was why they called everyone to stop. Qi Nan Shan said, “Spread out and rest. 12th, come with me.”
Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan always treated 12th like a grown man; in their eyes, this boy was attentive and decisive, and would often provide an idea that nobody else would think of. In this moment, one extra head for ideas was better for everybody.
12th came and said straightforwardly, “Master, if we keep going…… I’m afraid that we’ll leave the forest; that’s detrimental to us, we can’t afford to lose the cover of the trees.”
Luo Jie said, “Of course, we mustn’t leave the forest. But that means we can’t keep going this way, so which direction do we go now?”
Qi Nan Shan shook his head saying, “That’s the problem!”
12th said, “Don’t decide yet, send some people to scout the area ahead to see what is really there.”
Qi Nan Shan, “Haha, pressure will cause us to make mistakes…… Good thing 12th is collected as always. Alright, I’ll send someone immediately.” He called over two Fu Masters and told them to go scout ahead, saying, “Whatever you find, try to come back within half an hour.”
The two of them ran through the thickets so fast that it was like they flew. Qi Nan Shan said, “We should prepare ourselves. In case there’s danger, we’ll be at least somewhat prepared, rather than stumbling over our hands and feet.”
Luo Jie nodded, “Yeah, let’s plan.”
Very quickly, an emergency plan was made; it wasn’t a particularly detailed plan. 12th was at a loss; because he didn’t know the strength of every Fu Master there, he couldn’t think of too many ideas. Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan decided that the purpose of this plan was firstly, to protect 12th and the other four children, and then the safety of everyone else.
At the North Fu Sect, for any person with power, the most basic duty was to protect posterity and to ensure the safety of the next generation. The next generation was the hope and future of the Sect, as such, viewing 12th and the other children as the most important people, wasn’t strange. It was also something that made 12th quite emotional.
Everyone rushed to eat and drink. Unfortunately, they couldn’t start a fire; otherwise, drinking a nice bowl of warm soup would’ve been the best.
The two Fu Masters who went to scout came back shortly, one of them said, “There’s a hill up ahead. We went up to take a look and found a few hundred chariots. It looked like they were surrounding something, there were also flashes of their artillery being shot.”
12th asked, “It’s not forest up ahead?”
The other Fu Master said, “There are low lying trees, it’s possible to hide but it’s also easy to be discovered, it’s not as safe as in the forest.”
Qi Nan Shan asked, “You said a few hundred chariots? What are they gathering around?”
“We don’t know, it was too far. We could only see it faintly…… it didn’t look like they were surrounding people, they might’ve been surrounding a Fu Beast.”
As soon as he finished, a faint cry was heard. They didn’t know what Fu Beast it was; they couldn’t believe that they could hear the sound this far away. 12th said, “This place is already too dangerous, we need to quickly leave.”
Luo Jie said, “You’re right, we need to find somewhere to hide and rest a day or two, see what happens then.”
12th disagreed, “Master, we can’t stop. Even if we’re scurrying through the forest, we still can’t stop…… As soon as we’re surrounded, we wouldn’t even get the chance to retaliate. The hunting chariots are too powerful, we have to keep moving constantly. It’s the only way to confuse the enemy and given enough time, they’ll stop searching themselves…… Now isn’t the time to be resting.”
Luo Jie thought for a moment and asked, “Nan Shan, what do you think?”
Qi Nan Shan was also hesitant. He was in the same position as Luo Jie, they must be responsible for the entire group. He said, “Everyone is already exhausted……”
12th couldn’t help but say, “Master, Grandpa Nan Shan, a little more tiredness won’t kill them…… Getting discovered by the chariots will kill us! I’d rather be half-dead from exhaustion than be killed by those people!”
Luo Jie laughed at that, saying, “So pessimistic! Have a little optimism…… Your Master is a Great FuZhou Master. To kill me, heh, we’ll see how much they’re willing to sacrifice for that!”
12th smiled bitterly, “Master, no sacrifice is enough to trade your life, I don’t want you to die.” That was 12th expressing his desire, he didn’t want to see his Master in grave danger.
Qi Nan Shan said, “12th is right, as long as we can get out this time, if we record our position in our own land into the Fu Door, then in the future, we’ll be able to come and go as we please, we won’t need to fear those people! Let’s keep moving then…… So fucking aggravating.”
Luo Jie also decided, saying, “Alright then, let’s continue!”
It didn’t matter how aggravating it was, this was their duty overwhelming their power. The most irritating part was that the enemy wasn’t even strong, they just had numbers. Even if they fought, Luo Jie wouldn’t even care, but for now, they must keep fleeing. He needed to make sure his disciple stayed alive; if they started fighting, 12th wouldn’t be able to escape at all.
The group gathered and changed their direction as they continued. Luo Jie didn’t want to take the group out of the forest, so they must move around the edge of the forest; this way, they could go deeper into the forest at any time.
The paths that they took were all decided by 12th. It was like a maze; sometimes east, sometimes west, other times north and south. They moved around non-stop, moving randomly, and rarely staying in one place for longer than 8 hours. By moving around constantly, they successfully avoided being discovered a few times. There were a few times were Luo Jie really wanted to strike, but he remembered his young disciple, and so, forced himself to resist his urge to attack.
As a Great FuZhou Master, he was one of the strongest people in the North Fu Sect, and had it not been for his good upbringing, it would’ve been very hard to ignore the enemy’s arrogance. Those bastards chased them relentlessly for more than four months. During that time, they ate and slept badly, their supplies were pretty much gone, and they didn’t dare to hunt openly – it was very frustrating.
As their supplies dwindled day by day, it became harder and harder to survive.
Two days have already passed without any sign of the chariots, everyone started to relax a little. 12th, on the other hand, didn’t relax at all. He found Luo Jie and said, “Master, I have a bad feeling about this!”
Luo Jie was surprised, 12th’s instincts have had plenty of experience, and as such, they were very sharp, which was why he respected those instincts, so he asked, “We haven’t seen the chariots in two days, surely they’ve given up by now?”
12th smiled bitterly, “I don’t know what the problem is which is frustrating, but I think…… I think we should head backwards, toward the mountain……”
Luo Jie shook his head saying, “12th, you can’t possibly still remember the way back there……”
12th said, “Yeah, I’ve long since forgotten. I don’t even know where we are right now, but I feel like going back there is the only way we can ensure our safety.”
Qi Nan Shan said, “We can’t even find our way back to those ruins, let alone the mountain. Haha, looks like we’re truly lost; although we shouldn’t worry, we just need to wait until the Mysterious Land closes, then even if we’re lost, it wouldn’t be a problem.”
12th was perpetually frustrated, he said, “I don’t know…… Should we carry on ahead or go back, or maybe stay here and not move. Since we don’t have any reasonable route to go, I always feel like there’s a trap waiting for us, but the question is where…… As long as we avoid this one, then we’ll be safe!”
Luo Jie consoled him, “12th, this isn’t your responsibility, it’s mine.”
12th shook his head saying, “Master, your responsibilities are also my responsibilities; as long as I am able, I will help you carry this burden.”
Luo Jie sighed, patted 12th’s shoulder and said, “12th, you should rest, you’ve been tired for a while now.”
12th was indeed very tired, but he wasn’t so tired that he was about to collapse. He said, “Master, we still can’t rest yet. Whatever the case, we can’t stay in one spot too long.”
Luo Jie said, “I know, but you go sleep and relax a little, maybe afterwards you’ll feel better.”
12th took his Master’s words to heart, nodded and said, “Alright, I’ll go sleep a bit. Remember to wake me, I only need to sleep around two hours.” The child lacks sleep; even though he’s trained his spirit so he doesn’t require as much sleep as usual, but some sleep was still required to ameliorate the fatigue.
He slept for four hours straight. Luo Jie purposely didn’t wake him so he could let his disciple rest a bit longer.
When 12th woke up, he asked, “What time is it? How long did I sleep?”
Huo Bao said, “It’s almost light.”
12th panicked a little, asking, “Why haven’t we left this place already?”
Huo Bao said, “Your Master wanted you to rest more, he said that you’ve exerted yourself too much recently……”
12th smiled bitterly, “I know, Master wants what’s best for me…… Huo Bao, you guys hurry and gather your things and prepare to leave, I’ll go see Master.”
Most of the people already finished gathering their things, ready to leave. 12th found Luo Jie, saying, “Master, we should leave this place now.”
Luo Jie asked, “How was your rest?”
12th said, “Master, I’ve rested well, but we can’t stay here for much longer, it’s best that we leave as soon as possible.”
Qi Nan Shan said, “Elder, we should leave soon.”
Luo Jie said, “Go! Nan Shan, send some people to scout ahead, we’ll head deeper into the forest.”
Everyone immediately left, heading deeper into the woods.This time, they travelled in a straight line, hoping that they could get deep enough into the woods faster.
At noon, the group arrived at a hill; there was a small stream enclosed by the forest. Luo Jie said, “We’ll rest here for one hour. Hurry and eat, then we’ll continue on!”
“There’s a mountain up ahead!”
The scouting party reported back. At that moment, everyone all roused; this meant that they could flee that way to avoid being hunted. As long as they were in a mountainous region, those hunting chariots will be less effective. Even if they were discovered, it would be easier to retaliate. This would be much more advantageous than flat plains, where as soon as their positions were known, the other chariots would be able to surround them and cut off any escape routes.
12th guessed that the hunting chariots would need to be careful of where they fly in a mountainous area, he had noticed that the chariots had a very limited altitude.
Qi Nan Shan said, “Everyone, persevere for a while longer and get to the mountain region as fast as possible. There, we can rest for longer.” His words felt more relaxed now. After running for their lives for a few months, everyone was already exhausted to the limit; their fighting power had decreased a lot as a result, it was best for them to rest a while.
Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan both felt lucky. 12th was the most important person in this expedition into the Mysterious Lands. The little guy’s actions were extraordinary; nobody knew where he learn it all from, his ability to escape goes far beyond normal. It was like he had a new idea every time he blinked, setting disruptive traps one after the other, making them travel in the strangest, most unpredictable patterns. He loved to set traps in the most ingenious of places, thoroughly annoying the pursuing enemy.
The group made their way through the forest. After a few months of flight, they were rather accustomed to the forest, so their speed was very fast; it only took them a day to reach near the foot of the mountain.
The summit was very high; from where they were, it was very easy to see the snowy cap. The entire group tilted their heads back to see the top; there were about a dozen black dots circling it, they looked like large birds – like eagles or buzzards. 12th smiled bitterly, “The remaining distance to the foot of the mountain is very dangerous, there’s no cover at all, I estimate…… If we rushed as fast as possible, it would take twenty minutes at least.”
“We need to go even if it’s dangerous, it shouldn’t be that easy to spot us!” Qi Nan Shan said closing his eyes.
Luo Jie said, “Yeah, we have to rush over. This bit of empty flat plain only has low grass and small trees, it’s impossible to hide. If there’s a chariot nearby, as soon as we walk out, we’ll be found.”
12th turned and said, “Why don’t we wait until nightfall, there’s no better cover than the cover of darkness!”
Luo Jie slapped his forehead saying, “Oh Nan Shan, we really are getting old. Absolutely! We’ll wait for nightfall, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
Qi Nan Shan nodded, saying, “Alright, everyone rest up, we set off at nightfall.”
Everyone was very tired; the second they were told to rest, each one of them fell down on the ground. If it weren’t for the fact that they needed to eat, they would’ve all fallen asleep. It would be hard to recover their strength without food.
There wasn’t much food left at all. Good thing in his past life, 12th was deathly afraid of starvation; he’d rather bring less of something else as long as he was carrying enough food. Now, most of the food had run out; only the five children could bring out some food to share with everyone. It was primarily braised pork – since that stuff was quite filling and didn’t spoil easily – so it would last a long time inside a Hidden Fu Bag.
12th ate heartily, he said, “If it wasn’t for these Hidden Fu Bags, I’m afraid we would have died a long time ago. Oh, if only there was some warm soup, that would’ve been nice!”
Huo Bao swallowed a bite of the pork, saying, “Warm soup, bread, it’s all finished. We even brought some fresh meat, but it’s a shame that we can’t light a fire to cook it.”
Hong Shi smiled, “Just be thankful that we even have food. If it wasn’t for 12th’s amazing foresight to bring all of this food, everyone would’ve starved by now.”
Chen Bing said, “After this meal, if we can successfully enter the mountain, then we can cook our food.”
Qi Nan Shan was pacing back and forth, occasionally reminding everyone, “After you finish eating, take a rest, be cautious of staying hidden, try to hide yourself as best as possible, and don’t be careless…… If anybody doesn’t hide well and so causes the enemy to find us, I’ll kill you first!”
They were at the edge of the forest. The trees, there, were strange; the edge was very uniform, it was as though someone cut the forest down the middle. One side was crowded with large trees, the other side was just grassland with the occasional tree here and there – the line of separation was obvious.
Two Fu Warriors stayed up as watchmen while the others all hid in the forest, sleeping.
Ever since they trained together, Chen Hong had grown close with 12th. Of course, she was still young and there weren’t any wrong ideas to be had, but she had just grown used to being by 12th’s side. Good thing 12th wasn’t even ten years old yet. Able to feign innocence, it wasn’t a big deal for Chen Hong to be following him; it was just as if they were siblings.
Chen Hong quietly said, “12th, there isn’t much food left.”
12th was hiding beneath a tree, turning his head to see a worrying Chen Hong. He smiled and asked, “What are you worried about? Don’t worry, after we reach the mountain, we’ll be able to hunt and eat fresh meat; stop worrying and rest will you? I’ll wake you up when it’s time to leave.” Chen Hong nodded, and lying next to 12th, she fell asleep holding onto his sleeve.
The sky gradually darkened, the giant birds all flew back to their nests with the occasional squawk. 12th shook Chen Hong lightly, and said quietly, “Hey, wake up! Chen Hong, you can get up now, we’re about to leave.”
Chen Hong slowly opened her eyes and asked, “Huh? Is it time to leave already?”
12th said quietly, “It’s almost dusk; as soon as it’s dark enough, we’re leaving.” He gathered his little companions, and said, “Wait until we start moving, there’ll be people coming to carry us. Remember, do not make a sound, cooperate with the person carrying you as best as possible, and don’t distract them.”
Qi Nan Shan squatted next to an ancient tree, carefully watching ahead, planning their route. At that moment, about a kilometer away in the forest, there was a large commotion which scared all of the roosted birds to take flight. Surprised, he wondered, “What alarmed the birds?”
Suddenly, from the forest, a large group of people moved swiftly towards the mountain.
Luo Jie and 12th both felt that something was off, and quickly arrived next to Qi Nan Shan. Luo Jie asked, “What’s wrong?” 12th’s eyes were sharp and he could see the sprinting group of people of about 100, all running as fast as possible.
“It’s the Beast Raising Fu Sect! This is a big problem!”
12th said, “They’re running too carelessly and openly, they’ll be discovered for sure!”
Qi Nan Shan looked around and his expression changed slightly, he said, “12th, you were right! They’re coming!”
Luo Jie cursed, “Those sons of bitches! They’re fucking stupid!”