The wind was blowing in the northwest, which was why Black Wind Puya was attacking them in the winter.
Since the city gates were facing the northwest and back to the East Sea, the wind would have been favorable for the siege.
However, after a real fight, the infamous ghost tribe discovered that the northwest wind was actually working against them.
Suo Laimu had quite the knowledge on miscellaneous stuff. It was unknown what kind of gateway he had built for the city gates, but it was only when the enemy approached the walls did they realize that the place was actually sheltered from the wind. It was difficult for their arrows to fly from bottom to top. Because of this disadvantage on wind direction, most of their arrows were shot in vain.
However, on this day, the direction of the wind changed. The wind carried the salty smell of the sea, and the sound of the waves in the distance seemed a little louder.
Suo Laimu looked to the horizon and said to Hua Yi in a very soft voice, “The city gate has been deterring them, but there are a lot of mountains in the southeast. They’ve been so honest these days. What do you think they’re planning?”
Hua Yi’s hands were behind him, his fingers tapping on his wrist. After not saying anything for a long time, he suddenly turned around and asked Suo Laimu in reply, “Can you guess where exactly Black Wind Puya’s mysterious lair is?”
Suo Laimu smiled. “According to the map brought by the old merchant, at a hundred miles from the southeast coastline, there is a very small scattered tribe that had no more than twenty people. Back then, I thought that a beastman tribe would always rely on the mountains and the forests to eat1There is a very similar saying which goes, “Rely on the mountains to eat, and rely on the waters to draft water (靠山吃山，靠水吃水),” and it’s about how one should adapt to the conditions in where they live in. Suo Laimu, however, changes the second part of the saying to “forests” instead of water. Remember, beastmen are land-based., so how could they prefer to rely on the sea when the mountains are closer?”
Hua Yi nodded. “Then I can rest assured. You have explained it well to Lu Quan’s side. Nothing could go wrong.”
Suo Laimu lowered his head and said, “If something goes wrong, how will I be able to face those trembling merchants you kidnapped?”
Hua Yi walked out of the tent and said loudly, “Tell Shan Xi and Bu Dong to take eighty men and lie in ambush at the foot of the mountain. At night, prepare the garrison as usual. When they see the smoke signal, they will go straight out of the city gates to join our men and overthrow his old lair! Hasn’t Ka Zuo long wanted to rush out the gates and fight them to death outside? Tonight, let him vent out his fire!”
Hua Yi had been keeping quiet about it, but he had long been secretly deploying troops. That night, three orders went down one after another, and the whole city’s fighting spirit was ignited.
On one side of the river, there were warriors with cold armors and cold blades. On the other side, there was a giant beast that was about to become one with the night as the sky darkened.
After tonight, Hua Yi was convinced that he would be able to stand firm on this stronghold. Within two years, the entire East Sea will be swept away by him. He wanted a larger territory in the depths of the mainland, to cover farther roads, and get more people. One day, these places would once again sing and dance in celebration of peace. A single call of his would get hundreds of answers, and all the merchants’ trading routes would be in his hands. He wouldn’t have to step an inch away from his base to control the world.
At that time, he would have no more enemies on the land. He would be strong enough to be unshakeable… and perhaps he would also be able to sleep peacefully at night.
Right now, Hua Yi’s heart wasn’t surging with emotions. It was as calm as a broken piece of deep sea sponge gleaming under the moonlight after having rolled up on the shore. All the turbulence was deeply suppressed at the unseeable seabed.
He softly asked the person next to him, “Where did Chang An go? Call him for me.”
However, there would always be things that couldn’t be calculated. Such as Chang An. Hua Yi wasn’t able to find him, for at this moment, Bei Shi had taken Chang An out of the city gates unnoticed.
The wind from the sea was naturally much milder than the wind in the ice fields in the Far North, but after all, it was winter.
Chang An had no saber in his hand and no armor on his body. The wind seemed to be able to blow away his thin clothes. Once in a while, a fierce gust of wind would roll over, and it was as if it could blow his whole body away.
“I didn’t expect I’d see you again. As a master, I’ve always wanted to teach you some more. Now, I basically have nothing but the bare necessities, so let me just teach you this last move.”
Bei Shi’s voice was caught in the wind, and it was somewhat indistinct. Chang An’s ears twitched, and he took two steps forward to follow him. He sensed that if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to hear him speak.
The rest of the man’s voice broke into coughs. Even then, Bei Shi fished out the wine flask from his waist and took a sip. The wine’s aroma dispersed in the air. It was most likely that jade nectar flowing from the hardest tree trunk on Yufeng Mountain.
Hai Lan frowned. He wanted to say something, but in the end he didn’t.
Chang An, who was rarely keen, somehow heard something unsettling from the words “the last move,” and he anxiously asked, “What’s wrong with you? Are you sick?”
Bei Shi turned back to him with a smile. “Not sick. Shifu is old, but it’s nothing. Who wouldn’t grow old?”
His lips said he was “old,” but his eyes were still shining brightly, as if it was always full of smiles. Chang An didn’t understand. What’s there to be happy about being “old”?
“Do you know why I didn’t let you bring a saber?” asked Bei Shi.
Chang An subconsciously rubbed his wrist.
Bei Shi glanced at it and sighed. “Looks like you have already felt the pressure of the saber on your wrist… a little earlier than I thought. Little pup, let me ask you. If one day you find yourself unable to carry the saber, what will you do?”
Chang An froze for a moment. “Then I’ll change into a lighter one.”
Bei Shi asked, “Do you not resent it? If you were a beastman, if you were in better health…”
Chang An said rightfully, “Resenting also wouldn’t enable me to carry it.”
Bei Shi had watched him grow up. He knew that the heart in his chest was as hard and unshakable as a stone, so he was not surprised by his answer. Slightly lost in thought, he said, “When I was your age, I also had a saber. I treated it as my life. With it, I could boast shamelessly when I hear others say that I was the ‘The World’s Finest Blade2In that Bei Shi Extra, I had literally translated 天下第一刀 as “Best Blade in the World.” I plan to edit that one day.’… But one day, it still broke. I realized then that if you want to live to old age, you will have to break one or two sabers that are more important than your life.”
After saying this, he took out a cloth bag from his arms and opened it very carefully. Wrapped inside were two semi-finished sabers without handles. Even the sabers’ spines hadn’t been polished. Only the direction of the sabers’ edges had taken shape. The sabers were so sharp that when they were taken out, they immediately scraped a slit in the small cloth bag.
“Take it. One for each of us,” said Bei Shi. “Tell that wooden club to keep watch. Shifu will kill a few people to show you how to do this last move.”
At the foot of the southeast mountain, hordes of beastmen fought and killed each other. One by one, giant beasts the height of a man returned to their most primitive bearings. They tumbled together, claws against each other, competing with the strength of their bodies as the blood of others flowed from their mouths.
Bite off the enemy’s flesh and blood and swallow it directly into your stomach—This was a rule that had been passed down from the ancient battlefield. The blood of an enemy’s neck could give one boundless strength.
The whole city was ablaze with lights, and the dancing torches reflected every twisted face as roars rose and fell. A map hung in front of Hua Yi. He looked far into the distance, indescribable restlessness making him want to stamp in rage—Where did Chang An go!
Suo Laimu tossed out the turtle shells in his arms and carefully observed the patterns on it. Without looking up, he said to Hua Yi, “The Azure Dragon tribe has animosity toward Black Wind Puya for destroying their entire clan. Er-shu and the other guy probably don’t want him to have any regrets in case he learned the truth one day.”
Hua Yi cursed, “This bastard!”
Suo Laimu: “Who are you cursing?”
Hua Yi wanted to curse everyone, from Bei Shi to Chang An, as well as that rude Er-shu of Suo Laimu who still wouldn’t do shit even after three beatings from a stick3三棍子打不出一个屁来 – Not an actual beating. It’s an idiom describing a very taciturn person who wouldn’t speak even if they were tortured. Not that Hai Lan is actually being tortured though..
However, Er-shu and company, the ones being cursed, didn’t even sneeze as they moved very fast on their feet. Bei Shi didn’t know how long they had been wandering, but he was so familiar with the terrain outside the city that even Chang An felt ashamed. The farther they walked, the closer they got to the mountain pass.
At this time, Bei Shi’s ears twitched. He suddenly waved his hand and said in a low voice, “Oh? Some people are fighting. Who could they be?”
Saying so, he ran up the hillside in two or three steps and nimbly shuttled through the withered trees. When he looked down from above, he saw some kind of tribe in the mountain pass. All the houses were made of wood, and the large tent in the middle was even more magnificent—Hua Yi’s tent that was part dwelling and part meeting place couldn’t be compared to it at all. It was the old lair of the Black Wind Puya clan, which no one had found for decades.
Chang An’s eyesight wasn’t as good as Bei Shi’s. After all, he was a sub-beast. After taking a long time to carefully identify it, he whispered into Bei Shi’s ear, “I know some of the people there. They’re Lu Quan and the others, our people.”
Bei Shi’s eyes roamed around, and then looked at those tattered men in the stance of wanting to win with their numbers. At once, he understood that Hua Yi had secretly sent people to gather the surrounding refugees, and he couldn’t help but frown. “That boy is so calculative. When he bullies you in the future, you wouldn’t even know.”
Chang An wondered, “How come? I’m not stupid.”
Bei Shi: “……”
Looking at this stupid boy rightfully saying he wasn’t stupid simply made Bei Shi want to open his gourd4Bei Shi is making a pun here. The “gourd” he is referring to is 瓢 (piao), which is actually a traditional kind of scoop/ladle made from breaking a gourd into half:
The gourd is round, and so is the head. A gourd scoop simply looks like a human head cut open. Because of this, there is a northern Chinese slang 开瓢儿 (opening the gourd-scoop) which is used to describe a person whose head is broken. So yeah, Bei Shi is just saying Chang An is stupid x2 hahahah and take a knife to carve more grooves into his brain.
When Bei Shi saw that the mob and the guards were inseparable, he beckoned and said, “Follow me.”
Outside, the fight was boiling. But inside the leader’s tent in the center, it was as warm as spring. A dozen or so strong men, each armed, were watching the dancers in the middle dancing leisurely.
It was unknown if it was true leisure or fake relaxation.
The leader was still there though, so the others remained still and silent. No one wanted to reveal their mind before anyone else, so all of them sat as stiffly as a rock.
The old merchant had given Hua Yi two female dancers as a rare gift, but in the main tent of the Black Wind Puya clan, there were dozens of dancers that were as beautiful as flowers.
A beautiful woman wearing a long skirt dragging on the floor was carrying a wine jug that was a little too big for her with her eyebrows lowered submissively. She was just about to go in when, suddenly, it went black before her eyes. As for what happened after, she knew nothing more.
Bei Shi reached out to catch the wine jug from her hands, and not a single drop of wine was spilled.
He rubbed his finger on the mouth of the jug, then put it in his mouth and tasted it. Afterwards, he frowned in disgust.
“Hai Lan, guard the door,” he whispered. “The twelve hounds of the Puya clan are in the tent. No wonder they’re so unafraid. It is said that twenty years ago, it was these twelve clan dogs that swept flat the entire Northern continent. Dunno if this pack of old dog men raised on wine and meat are still intact or not.”
Chang An couldn’t help but change the way he was holding the saber. The thing had no handle and no spine, and however he held it seemed a little awkward.
But then Bei Shi suddenly put a hand on his face. Looking into his eyes, he couldn’t help but soften his voice as he said, “Watch closely on this last technique, and do not make a move. Shifu will save you a place where you can attack.”