For a moment, everybody present felt like they were dreaming.
There was no need to pull apart his hands to carefully check. With just a look, anybody could tell that this young man was a sub-beast. It didn’t make sense for a beastman to grow up with his kind of appearance.
A sub-beast boy of so little flesh and so light bones simply cut down a beastman in beast form with one move… Even Hua Yi, the one rescued, had the same thought as the others at this moment—This boy can’t be human, right? What kind of monster is he?
Chang An casually shook off the blood on his saber. The conical hat on his head was somewhat askew, precariously covering one of his eyes, and it looked a little amusing. He shook his head, but unable to get the hat onto its proper place, he finally took it off impatiently and threw it to Hua Yi.
After that, he looked up and swept his eyes over the enemies around them who were still in disbelief. He asked, “Are you guys still fighting?”
Once he took off his conical hat, he was all out in the open. Perhaps because he had just exerted himself, the young man’s hardly ruddy cheeks had a faint hint of redness. His wet, pitch-black hair clung to the sides of his face, and the contrast between black and white was extremely clear. Even his expression and tone when speaking was not very vicious, so much so that he was practically gentle and polite when asking the other party.
When no one said a word, the teenager stabbed his heavy horse-chopping saber to the ground with a thud. The birdman nearest him couldn’t help but flap his wings and jump to a branch that was a little farther away, only to hear the teenager very sincerely suggest to the crowd: “If there are no grievances and no grudges, then you guys should stop fighting. What do you say?”
After saying this, he seemed certain that the others would accept his suggestion. Leaning on his saber, he bent down a bit and held out a hand to Hua Yi. “Shall I help you, or will you stand up by yourself?”
Hua Yi once again saw this teenager who called himself Chang An, and his mood was very complex. It was so complex that he had nothing to say and could only laugh. He grabbed the teenager’s hand, staggered to his feet, then immediately let go.
Playing dumb, he smiled and said, “Look, I just said there was no beauty, and here comes one. Ai, this group of ugly men insisted I take my clothes off, and naturally I wasn’t willing. If you had come a little earlier, I would have taken it off. Then everybody wouldn’t have had to make such a big fuss over this.”
“Wait, hold up!” Someone finally came back to his senses. The winged beastman in the tree curbed his wings, and in an instant, dropped to the ground in the form of a small-headed man with a gloomy face. His little triangular eyes swept coldly over Chang An, his gaze like a viper stretching its tongue out. With the birdman’s characteristic peculiar voice, he said, “You killed one of our men, and you’re thinking of leaving?”
Chang An, who was carrying the saber, looked back at him with a frown and asked, “Then what do you want?”
The winged beastman and his companions looked at each other, then he pointed to Hua Yi and said, “Leave him behind.”
“That won’t do.” Before Hua Yi could utter a sound, Chang An spoke out first. He seemed to be the person in charge of the overall situation. Unfortunately, this person in charge of the overall situation had a peculiar way of dealing with the problem. Chang An couldn’t let Hua Yi die here, but he also couldn’t think of any other solution. So he glanced at Hua Yi, thought for a moment, and suggested, “I think you better take off your clothes. It won’t hurt to take it off and let them have a look.”
Hua Yi’s signature goofy smile almost froze. “……”
Chang An’s deadpan face showed no trace that he was joking; it was as if he really meant it.
Too bad the pursuers had never seen such a wise mediation. They were obviously enraged, thinking they were being ridiculed. The winged beastman took the lead in changing into his large bird form, then flew into the air. The other pursuers also transformed into giant beasts on the spot, and in a moment, they surrounded the two in human form in the middle.
Hua Yi’s expression turned grave. He leaned against a tree and tried to balance himself as much as he could. Placing a hand on Chang An’s shoulder, he pushed him gently and said, “Xiao xiongdi, this is none of your business. You better stand back.”
“Oh.” Chang An was caught off guard, but then he looked at him and asked sharply, “Will you be able to beat them if I stand back?”
Hua Yi laughed at the words, not at all finding them defiant. “So what if I can’t beat them? Although I haven’t been able to get what I want, it is no dishonor for me to die in the hands of my enemies after fighting unhindered for ten years. At the least, it’s much better than those flat-feathered animals that hide their heads but show their tails1 藏头露尾 (idiom) – to dodge from telling the full truth. To be not fully transparent, then stab people in the dark.”
His voice trailed off, and he suddenly shoved Chang An aside. In the next moment, a green-tipped dart2吹箭 – Refers to the dart of a blowgun. A blowgun is a simple ranged weapon consisting of a long narrow tube for shooting light projectiles such as darts. It operates by having the projectile placed inside the pipe and using the force created by blowing to pneumatically propel the projectile. (Wikipedia) was nailed on the spot where Chang An had just stood. These winged beastmen were simply dogs that couldn’t stop themselves from eating shit3狗改不了吃屎 – having bad habits that are hard to change. They were full of filthy things, and when they turned to birds, their beaks could actually also hide traps.
Chang An frowned. He glanced at the blow dart that nearly hit him on the head, then picked up the saber he had poked on the ground. He raised the blade slightly, looked up at the beastman bird, and asked calmly, “Are you looking for death?”
The winged beastman in the air suddenly felt inexplicably terrified, and he instinctively whizzed into the sky. At the same time, a giant beast pounced on Chang An.
But it was only to see the teenager becoming like a demon, disappearing from where he was standing in a split second. The giant beast who pounced on him felt a strong wind blowing by the side of his ear, and it was so fast, he could hardly see the edge of the saber.
The beastman realized for the first time that this beast form was actually so cumbersome. He couldn’t avoid the strike. The saber’s heavy spine4The unsharp side of a bladed weapon. In a single-edged weapon like the saber, this is opposite the edge. In a double-edged weapon, this would be the middle of the blade hit him on the back of his head, and he was instantly knocked out, his body falling forward. Chang An stepped on the giant beast’s huge body, and jumped up into the air with it as support. His hands slid to the bottommost part of the saber’s hilt, and the horse-chopping saber in his thin wrists swept out with a thunderous force of ten thousand catties, catching up with the winged beastman who had flown into the air.
The bone-soaking chill caused the feathers of the winged beastman to explode. He turned around in a hurry and tried to shoot the second dart he had hidden in his mouth at this monster that came out from nowhere, but he was stunned to find that he had lost the strength to open his mouth.
The winged beastman had no idea how he fell to the ground, and by the time he reacted, he found that the lower half of his body had landed a few feet away and had been separated from himself.
How could such a blade exist in the world?
How could there be such a person?
Chang An fell down with his saber without even looking up. He didn’t waste any energy in retrieving his saber, and his body went out sideways along with the inertia. The saber was swept away in a half-circle, and the blood dripping from it drew a creepy arc on the ground.
The rain had stopped at some point, and the early morning sunlight peeked through the clouds as the teenager stood in place. The light fell on the side of his face, and it made him look both soft and beautiful. A giant beast nearest him suddenly took ten or so steps backward, changed into his human form, and shouted, “Demon!5妖怪 (yāo guài) – Generally means “monster.” Yaoguai are mostly malevolent animal or plant spirits that have acquired magical powers through the practice of Taoism. (Wikipedia)”
Then he frantically crawled into the woods and ran away.
Half of the pursuers were dealt by Hua Yi, and the eccentric teenager who came out of nowhere killed more or less the same. The few that remained were all scared out of their wits and immediately scattered wildly and ran away.
“You’re the one who’s a demon.” Chang An’s face was a little bad. He muttered this sentence, then turned to Hua Yi, “Hey, you…”
But Hua Yi said nothing, and fell headlong in front of him. He was paralyzed by the bird poison and had been holding himself up for so long that he was finally at the end of his tether.
Chang An stared at him for a while, then sighed. He put his saber under his armpit, dragged Hua Yi with great difficulty, threw him over his shoulder, and walked forward unsteadily.
He felt that the big man was so heavy, even heavier than his saber. His build was not suitable for supporting people. Picking him up was quite inconvenient, and he was about to die from exhaustion.
When Hua Yi woke up again, the day had passed. On instinct, he did not move, and first closed his eyes to feel his body. He found that his wound didn’t hurt so much anymore and that the numbness on his body had also receded. With his hands and feet regaining strength, it was a relief. But then Hua Yi recalled his bizarre experience from before. When he opened his eyes, he saw the “bizarre” protagonist beside him.
Chang An’s saber had rolled back into his incredibly large luggage sometime ago. It was unknown how he could sleep so much in this crisis-ridden forest, but he went so far as to curl up and sleep into a big ball. He slept sitting against the tree trunk, as if wanting to appear like an otherworldly person, but unfortunately, he couldn’t keep still. As he slept, his head would unconsciously tilt to one side. When it tilted to a certain extent, he’d fall down, get up in a daze, sit back under the tree, and then fall asleep again in an instant.
Hua Yi watched this peculiar young man for a while and slowly sat up.
Startled by his rustling movements, Chang opened his eyes and looked at Hua Yi. The first sentence that came out of his mouth was: “Do you still have some malt candies?”
Hua Yi took out a handful from his parcel, put them in his hand, and picked out a few pieces from it. Under Chang An’s reluctant eyes, he explained, “Those pieces can’t be eaten. They contain poison powder.”
Chang An accepted the candies with gusto, peeled open one piece, then put away the rest. He had always had an unusual fondness for malt candies. When he was a child, A’Yan liked to secretly hide a few pieces and give them to him. And when he got to Bei Shi, every time his bastard Shifu had a fit, the reward he threw at him was also this soft and sweet candy.
Hua Yi stared at him wide-eyed for a while, then finally asked, “Why don’t you lie down and sleep?”
Chang An rubbed his eyes. “I have to take care of the fire.”
Hua Yi’s eyes fell on the fire that had long been extinguished and fell silent.
Chang An followed his gaze and asked himself in confusion, “How did it go out?”
Hua Yi sighed. He got up in resignation, and poked and stirred the fire for a while. When it was finally burning again, he sat in place, and the simple and naive smile on his face faded a bit, revealing the cold and hard base underneath. In a casual tone, he asked, “You saved me so indiscriminately. Aren’t you afraid that I might be a bad person?”
Chang An yawned and said obscurely, “Zhe Yan said you saved me too.”
Hua Yi glanced at him and asked, “You are… seventeen? Eighteen?”
“En,” Chang’an nodded carelessly. “Pretty much.”
Hua Yi hesitated for a moment, but in the end did not ask where he came from or how he learned his godlike skills. Facing Chang An, he felt that he had nothing to say. This teenager, whom he had suspected to be malicious, had just saved his life.
Over the years, apart from the few strong friends whom he had gone through life and death with by chance, there were only two other kinds of people that Hua Yi had met—the people who came after him, and his employer. But this time, he met a special one.
He had been doing well for many years, but at this moment, the “Silly Big Man” from his childhood suddenly resurfaced within him, telling him that he still didn’t know how to do better.
While Hua Yi was pondering how to strike up a conversation with the teenager, Chang An unexpectedly fell asleep during his moment of silence. It was probably because someone else was now taking care of the fire that he relaxed without worries, resting comfortably on his luggage and sprawling out on his back.
His sabers skills were so powerful that it was almost demonic. Hua Yi couldn’t help but suspect that this young man was also some undercover mercenary. But looking at how carefree and incautious he was, he felt that he was just thinking too much.
Hua Yi frowned and thought about Chang An for a while, but he couldn’t figure out anything. In the end, he hesitantly took off his tattered outer garment and laid it over him. Then he took advantage of the light from the fire to deal with his wounds.