“If we follow this road west for another two hundred miles, we’ll reach the well-known YunXia mountains. That mountain range stretches for over a thousand miles, traversing the two prefectures of Quan Zhou and Yun Zhou. That’s why, once we enter the mountains, we’ll be much safer.” Shi Mu answered readily, obviously having already made the plan beforehand.
“The YunXia mountains? I have no doubt that it’s a good hiding place. But we still have a long way before we get there, can we make it? Will the Jin Clan catch us on the way? After all, I’ve heard the big clans all have special tracking horses. They’ll definitely beat our ordinary ones.” Zhong Xiu was enlightened by Shi Mu’s idea, and answered, blinking her eyes.
“That’s beyond our power. But we left immediately, upon Jin Tian dying, so we should have outstripped them for, say, at least, half a day’s journey. But whether we can make it or not, I’m not quite so sure myself, we can only try our best. Miss Zhong, be careful, I’m gonna quicken the horses now, hopefully, they can run to the last moment of the hundred miles’ journey.” Shi Mu said in a serious tone.
Hearing this, however, worried she might be, Zhong Xiu could only draw the curtains shut and sit back in the carriage. Shi Mu did not waste any time whipping the two heavy horses fiercely, at which the two black horses galloped on at an even higher speed after letting out a sharp neigh. It wasn’t long before the grey carriage finally became a black spot, disappearing into the distance.
At the same time, a carriage, covered entirely by a black cloth, was coming from downtown toward the west gate of Feng City. The three horses carrying the carriage looked rather strange, their bodies totally red with hair that looked like a blaze of fire. They are the well-known tracking horses, called the Tracking Blaze Horse, which could serve, both as a riding horse - covering a thousand mile a day - and a fighter, who would spout fires from its mouth when incited.
The cart driver was a blue-robed man sitting at the front of the carriage, wielding a shiny black whip. Three riders, on the same strange type of horses, were following behind the carriage, and one of them was none other than 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 and sitting on the horse like a giant monkey, his ears sticking out and his cheek like an ape. The last one had unusually large stature. Wearing a long silver robe, his eyes were bright and piercing. The three riders, and the carriage, all went at a gallop, as if in a great hurry, passing through the west gate at full speed.
But now and then, the monkey man would jump down and try to identify some fresh trails on the road, before he mounted the horse and galloped forward again.
“The Fifth Master of the Jin Clan has set off with their hunters and eagles! Good, then we shall depart immediately from the north gate. We’ll take a detour and catch up with Shi Mu earlier than them. Although they are good at tracking, how can they beat our Qian Li Xiang? We’ve already scattered some of the tracking incense in Shi Mu’s cart.” Near the north gate, a group of ten riders was already prepared, and the leader of these men, in an embroidered dress, laughed as he heard the report from a servant.
“Third Uncle, if we can really catch Shi Mu before the Jins, do let me break his legs myself.” A proud youth in the group said ambitiously, ready to break Shi Mu’s legs.
This group was made up of the Wu Clan’s men. The leader was the Third Master of their family, Wu Tong; the proud youth was Wu Hua, who was previously engaged to Zhong Xiu.
It was quite a coincidence: The Wu Clan had been planning to kidnap Zhong Xiu after the enrollment test, so they had been keeping watch on Shi Mu’s manor, and naturally, got the first news that Jin Tian was killed by Shi Mu in an accident. Therefore, the Wu Clan was now quite relieved. They had had been holding some fear that Shi Mu was remotely related to the Jin Clan. Now all they had to do was reach Zhong Xiu before the Jin Clan did.
Wu Hua’s participation was, of course, of his own will. The Wu Clan riders were all riding peculiar horses, each with blue shiny hair as if covered faintly by a layer of shimmering blue light, and this type of horse was another famous tracking type, the Horse of Blue Wind. It was said that this peculiar type of horse had some blood relation with the Fox of Wind, so they could produce gusts of wind once they’d reach a certain high speed. So they were, no doubt, one of the fastest horses around. And that was why the Wu Clan had so much confidence in beating the Jin Clan in finding Shi Mu first.
After a short time, the Wu Clan riders also poured out from the north gate and took a detour, which allowed them to get in front of the Jin Clan trackers.
At this time, other big clans and gangs had also got the news of the accidental murder of Jin Tian by Shi Mu, which, though surprising many, was soon forgotten among the ceaseless discussions about the enrollment test.
Half a day later.
The day had grown dark, but the grey carriage was still galloping on the road, only at a lower speed.
Small hilltops began to appear along the road, but they seemed rather indistinct in the dusk, quiet in an unusual way.
Shi Mu was whipping the horses the entire time, his face sullen. But the two horses were at their limits: they only snorted hot air while their speed was slowing down.
“Brother Shi, don’t do this, it won’t work anyway. The horses must be extremely tired after running continuously for so long. They must stop and rest.” Zhong Xiu’s voice came from the carriage.
“Of course I know, but every moment we delay may allow 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 a rest and go on after feeding them something.” Zhong Xiu urged on.
“That sounds fair enough. Let’s rest for a few minutes and have something to eat.” Giving the two sweating horses a quick glance, Shi Mu had to nod his agreement.
Then he pulled at the rein and let the two horses turn their heads. They rushed off the road and into the nearby woods.
But obviously, they both had underestimated the speed of the peculiar horse of the Wu Clan.
As they neared the woods, Shi Mu unleashed the rein and helped Zhong Xiu get off the carriage. But suddenly, they heard galloping sounds coming from the road, like torrential rain, as well as some faint wild laughter.
“Haha! The Fragrance-Sensing beetles are reacting! Then they must be quite near!”
“Quiet you, wait for me to capture Shi Mu. I’ll do it by myself.”
This group of pursuers came at such a great speed that scarcely had they finished their talk before Shi Mu saw them.
“Run, they’ve come!” Hearing the voice, Shi Mu knew what happened immediately. He shouted at Zhong Xiu and grabbed her at the waist, running into the woods at his top speed.
The pursuers were none other than the Wu Clan. They caught up with Shi Mu in merely half a day with their Horses of Blue Wind, which were a level higher than the Jin Clan’s Tracking Blaze Horses, along with the fragrance of Qian Li Xiang and the Fragrance-Sensing Worm.
 Qian Li Xiang: The author does not specify here, but it is highly likely to be a kind of powder with a strong fragrance that can be detected by a special beetle named Fragrance-Sensing Beetle. So the powder is immensely useful in tracking, which will be mentioned later in this chapter. “Qian Li” means a thousand mile, indicating the strong fragrance that can be smelled even from a thousand mile’s distance, “Xiang” means fragrance.
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