There was a large crack on the ground, and an old guy fell in by accident and nearly died. He eagerly tried to climb up, but when the old man’s hand had just reached the crack, a beastman carrying a sub-beast on his back accidentally stepped on it. The giant creature’s step weighed hundreds of jins, and it shattered the man’s bones.
The old man let out a scream.
Someone in the confusion finally heard his voice. A young man bent down eagerly and said, “Quick! I’ll pull you up!”
But before the old man could hand him his uninjured hand, another wave of shocks came. The earth twisted, the gaping holes collided and closed, and the man caught inside was like a worm twisted at the fingertips, struggling desperately, yet easily pinched into a badly mangled corpse.
When had the young man ever seen such a death? He was scared dumb on the spot, he couldn’t even cry.
A big wok being carried by the sub-beast riding on the back of the beastman accidentally slipped off the sub-beast’s shoulder and was about to hit the boy’s head. The young man went blank, panicking, not knowing what to do at all. At this time, a child’s thin, immature hand grabbed him by the back of the neck and yanked him down, causing him to stumble, and the cauldron crashed to the ground with a bang.
Luda, covered in dust, gave him a stern “Pei!”, but it still didn’t relieve him of his anger. He jumped up and said in a loud voice, “Waste!”
The young man was exactly Luo Tong’s dear, treasured son, and he was somehow separated from his father again. He looked at Luda with tears in his eyes and said, “I’m not called waste. My name is Qingliang.”
Luda reached out and shoved him, turning a deaf ear, “Waste, if you still don’t run, you’ll turn into dead waste!”
When the little slave finished talking, he wanted to go back to Chang An. However, the crowd was no better than a frightened herd of horses, and he couldn’t see a single strand of Chang An’s hair.
The two children could only run along with the crowd, during which, Luo Tong’s voice was heard in the distance, shouting, “Qingliang!” The young man whined and wept endlessly as he responded twice, but he doubted the people around him could even hear him, let alone his father.
Chang An wasn’t that far away. He heard a loud sound explode over his head and immediately dodged on reflex. They were about to leave the valley, not realizing that the narrow exit was actually the most critically affected area.
One side of the mountain wall practically collapsed, blocking most of the road. People could only walk on the pitted land and risk being crushed to death at any time. Unfortunately, not everyone had such quick responses like Chang An.
He heard a woman scream, and as soon as he turned around, a gray shadow jumped out from beside him.
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A huge beast roared and grabbed the woman’s clothes with his mouth, and then flung her to the air and out of the way. The falling boulder, however, hit him squarely on the back. Chang An’s hand tightened. He seemed to hear the sound of bones breaking. The giant beast wailed and was crushed to the ground in an abnormal position.
His spine broke.
The woman, holding the newborn baby in her arms, fell to her knees with a thud.
The giant beast’s large head hung to the ground. His eyes seemed to close weakly, but in the next moment, he managed to open them again. Then he changed back into his human form. It was Jila.
Jila looked at his wife and child with fire in his eyes, as if he wanted to bore a hole into them with his incomparable, desperate yearning. Then he shouted hoarsely, “Take them away! Somebody get them out of here! Who… Aaaah!”
He shouted so hard that the veins in his neck bulged, literally shouting with the last breath of his life. Jila desperately lifted his head, his last voice hoarse to the extreme, and then, no other sound could be made. Two lines of muddy tears ran down his dusty cheek.
Another batch of rocks scrambled to fall. Chang An strode forward and pressed A’Fen’s head down. He arched his shoulders and crossed his hand holding the blade over the child in A’Fen’s arms. Perhaps it was too chaotic, perhaps the murderous aura and chill of the saber made the little baby uneasy, and he suddenly burst into tears.
A’Fen didn’t know whether to walk or stand. Her knees were soft. Chang An almost rudely dragged her all the way. A lot of sand and fine stones fell on both of them. Although they were small things, they also hurt when they fell on people.
A’Fen was pulled along by Chang An, knowing nothing but to hold her baby tightly. Her knees bumped around, and she couldn’t walk steadily. Chang An had to carry her.
Boulders rolled down from the mountain cliff one after another, quickly blocking their way. But A’Fen still continued to turn her head around unrelentingly, always looking back, until finally, not even Jila’s shadow could be seen.
It was as if her eyes had become clouded with all the dust and had lost their luster for a moment.
The rest of them fled out of the valley, wildly running all the way, running higher and higher up the terrain.
Running for their lives stirred up the potential in the living. They quickly ran up a hill, and it was only then that those madly running people finally stopped.
A stream flowing faster than usual down the mountain blocked the people’s way.
Chang An then gently put A’Fen and her son on the ground. A’Fen was numb all over. Chang An tentatively stretched out his hand and waved it in front of her, but she didn’t respond at all.
He squatted sullenly next to the woman, not knowing what to say.
Jila died for his woman and son. If he hadn’t jumped in the way, those stones wouldn’t have hit him. Chang An’s heart was faintly moved, but he didn’t understand.
Chang An remembered from when he was young that the Chief that always dealt with Zhe Yan had three wives. He had always remembered the hateful and disgusted look in the carpenter’s eyes when he talked of his wife. He only knew that men and women were together for the purpose of doing that thing that could make babies, but he had never yet seen what it meant to live and die together.
Suo Laimu and Shan Xi led a group of men to open up the way. They moved large, flat rocks and placed them in the water as they walked, so the people behind them could pass through and meet them on the other side of the stream.
The people, in all flurry and confusion, first sent the children through one at a time. Then they began to support each other across the water. But half the people had not yet passed when the current suddenly got faster, making them anxious.
Soon, all the large rocks that the men in front had placed were now buried underwater. At the other end, Suo Laimu howled his voice hoarse; like a broken gong, he urged the people on the other side to hurry up and hurry some more.
Chang An frowned as he looked at the stream current getting faster. He gently pushed A’Fen forward. “We’re going to cross the water. You hold the baby, and I’ll carry you.”
When A’Fen was pushed by him, her blank eyes turned like a dry stone statue suddenly coming to life. She didn’t cry, nor could she shed any tears. She just screamed hysterically, as if trying to shout out all the air in her chest.
However, the sound of her screaming that exhausted all her strength was no higher1All the words “higher” in this paragraph are translated from 高, which can mean tall, loud, or above/superior. than a landslide splitting the earth open, no higher than the distance between loved ones parted in death, and not even higher than the sound of the turbulent water behind her.
Out of nowhere, A’Lan came over and put her arm around A’Fen’s shoulders, hugging her head to her chest. Tears glistened in her large, beautiful eyes, but she quickly held them back2It’s a bit vague in the raws, so I can’t really tell if it’s A’Lan or A’Fen who has tears glistening in their eyes. I think it’s more likely A’Lan, who’s stopping herself from crying coz she needs to be strong for A’Fen (and since the author also just said that A’Fen can’t cry anymore)… but it can also be A’Fen, and she’s just trying to stay the least bit strong by holding back her tears..
A’Lan said, “A’Fen, get up. We have to cross the river! Your child hasn’t even been named yet! Get up quickly!”
A’Fen, exhausted by her own shouting, stared blankly for a moment before looking down at the baby who had turned red from crying.
In an instant, she looked miserable, but she slowly reached out to gather the baby’s swaddling clothes, then took hold of A’Lan’s arm, staggering to her feet.
On the other side, Suo Laimu was still shouting loudly and urging them to death. Hua Yi stood on the side of the stream in the opposite bank, where the water was already reaching his knees, splashing water onto his face. His two arms brimmed with power, and he could easily lift up an adult sub-beast and throw them straight ashore.
His gaze searched for Chang An, and he said loudly, “All of you, hurry up! Hurry up! Chang An! Don’t dawdle, get over here!”
The water was going crazy. Little by little, it widened, and little by little, it rose above his knees, and actually rose all the way up his thighs. Those several large stones were completely no longer visible.
Chang An hesitantly looked at A’Lan. He looked around and couldn’t find anyone who could be of use. Frowning at the increasingly turbulent water, he said, “You… What are you going to do?”
A’Lan shoved his shoulder and said quickly, “You don’t have to worry about me. First send A’Fen-a’jie3阿姐 – “a-” here is a prefix used to indicate familiarity. “Jie” means older sister, and as you already know, calling someone with a “family term of address” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re related., the two of them over.”
Chang An carried A’Fen and her son on his back. He stabbed the hilt of his saber through the water, and as he walked forward as fast as he could, he said, “I’ll immediately come back to pick you up.”
A’Lan, however, followed him directly into the water. The water rushed so fast that she almost couldn’t stand. She nearly fell back, but good thing she caught hold of Chang An’s clothes. She still managed to smile. “When I was thirteen years old, I followed my father into the woods to go hunting. It’s just crossing a river, I’m not afraid. I’ll just follow right after you. I can walk across by myself!”
At this time, the water had risen to Chang An’s waist, so he had to prop A’Fen up. The tyrannical power faintly transmitted from the what should have been gentle water made him cry “no good” in his heart.
A’Lan wasn’t tall enough, so this rising water soon reached her chest, making it even more difficult for her to stand steadily. A’Lan bit her lip, knowing that she would be slowing them down if she grasped onto Chang An’s clothes again. She took a quick glance across the shore, thinking that there wasn’t much farther left, only about a zhang long, and that Chang An’s blade would be enough to hook her back.
She came across a large stone under her feet, so she loosened her hold on Chang An’s clothes and climbed up. The water level finally fell below her waistline.
Chang An hurriedly turned his head around to look at her.
A’Lan said to him with a smile, “This water is too strong. I won’t overestimate myself. Go quickly. I’ll wait for you here.”
Chang An waded through the water, struggling as he walked, and finally reached the opposite bank. Hua Yi grabbed the hilt of his saber and brought him up. Then he picked A’Fen up by the waist, and immediately, several hands from the shore reached out to receive them.
Hua Yi pulled Chang An, wiped the water on his face and said quickly, “You go. I’ll pick her up.”
Chang An knew that being in the water took a lot of strength, so he didn’t argue and obediently gave way to him.
But who would’ve thought that when Hua Yi turned around, the current suddenly seemed to have broken through a sluice gate and rolled down from above like thunder, causing Hua Yi, who was standing on the shore, to lose his footing.
Standing on a large rock in the middle of the stream, A’Lan was thrown off the stone and immediately sank into the water. Chang An was shocked, but then reacted quickly. He immediately reversed his saber and used the end of the hilt to hook her. However, the saber was so heavy in the water that he could hardly move it.
Hua Yi hooked a hand around his waist, grabbed onto a piece of clothing hanging from the shore, twisted it into a rope, and said, “I’ll pull you, okay? Don’t worry—A’Lan! Grab the hilt!”
But the steel hilt was so slippery. A’Lan tried to catch it several times but couldn’t grab onto it. Fortunately, Chang An turned his wrist in a flash and was able to hook onto her clothes.
A’Lan moved desperately in the water, but it was no use. Chang An had to strain himself to retrieve the blade.
At that moment, the sound of silk ripping rang out. The hilt of the blade and the force of the water both fought against each other, tearing A’Lan’s clothes apart. Chang An suddenly stepped forward, nearly slipping out of Hua Yi’s hold, and finally narrowly reached A’Lan’s fingers.
Hua Yi wound the rope around his hand, and his hand turned purple from the restricted blood flow.
The water was getting faster and faster, and Chang An felt that A’Lan’s hand was about to lose its grip. He stretched out his other arm and tried to grab her, but he always fell short. He couldn’t help but turn back to Hua Yi and say, “Let go of me.”
Hua Yi was neither a delicate young woman nor a young man who hadn’t quite grown yet. However, the current was too strong, and it was difficult for him to compete with the force of nature even though he was gifted with extraordinary power. At this time, he was already in an extremely difficult situation. After hearing Chang An, he managed to loosen the rope by half an inch, trying to make them closer to A’Lan.
However, this half inch almost killed him. A big stone washed away by the current suddenly rushed to his fee and hit Hua Yi’s ankle just as his fingers were loosening. Hua Yi’s face turned white. The rope almost fell off his hand, which then instinctively turned into a beast’s paw, barely holding them together. Only then did he manage to stabilize himself. However, the rope “teared and pulled,” and him grabbing onto it tore it into half.
A’Lan heard someone yell, “The rope! The rope is breaking!”
Her nose and mouth were all full of water. She didn’t know how many times she had choked on water and lost consciousness, but hearing this sentence, she suddenly struggled violently and seized Chang An’s hand in a death grip, her nails leaving a deep bloodstain on the back of his hand.
The young girl’s eyes were so black and bright that they were like gemstones. Chang An felt that he would never forget those eyes for the rest of his life. She seemed to have so much to tell him, but he was slow-minded by nature and he couldn’t read a word.
A’Lan looked at him with a thousand words, then let go of his hand.
Huge waves engulfed a person like curling up a mere ant, and in a moment, not a trace of A’Lan could be seen.
Chang An subconsciously tried to chase after her, but he was held firmly by Hua Yi and dragged back to the shore.
Still clutching his wet saber, Chang An gazed in the direction where A’Lan had disappeared, almost hatefully looking at the foggy water, like a young wolf who didn’t know how to cover up his anger.
The flood broke down both sides of the strait, and Chang An was half-dragged and half-carried away by Hua Yi.