Xia Xun looked at Qi Yan.
Even though the wound on Qi Yan’s shoulder was tightly bandaged, it was still bleeding, and the strip of cloth torn from Xia Xun’s sleeve was quickly soaked in blood, turning dark red.
If Xia Xun left him behind, he would pass out due to excessive blood loss.
If the chasers arrived at that time, he would undoubtedly die.
But what if Xia Xun took him with him?
The chasers caught up with them and they would still die.
No matter what he thought, Xia Xun had to leave him behind and go to the village ahead alone to seek the help of the authorities.
This way, at least he could survive.
Xia Xun obviously planned to do so.
When he regained his senses, he had already pulled Qi Yan up from the ground and carried him on his back.
He had grown taller. Qi Yan was only half a head taller than him, but he was larger than him and he was unconscious. His whole body was very heavy, pressed on his shoulders like a dead weight.
The country road was wet and soft, very difficult to tread.
Xia Xun carried him on his back, and with every step he took, he left a deep footprint in the mud.
He walked very slowly.
He wanted to be faster. He clearly tried his best to move his feet quicker, but his speed did not increase.
After a few steps, Qi Yan on his back slowly began to slide down, and he had to stop, raise him a little higher and then move forward again.
Being tossed like this several times, Qi Yan actually came round.
He was wounded and bleeding, but he still was in the mood to make fun of Xia Xun:
“The way you carry… you can awaken the dead…”
Xia Xun was putting all his strength into moving forward, his teeth clenched so tightly that his jaws were sore.
“…cut the crap! If you have the ability, come down and walk by yourself!”
Qi Yan chuckled into his ear; his breath made Xia Xun so itchy that he almost threw him down:
Before he could get angry, Qi Yan fainted again.
Xia Xun raised his head, looked at the shady canopy above his head, took a breath and continued to walk forward. He stared at the ground, struggling to move step by step, relying entirely on instinct.
Sometimes a bird called out in the woods; the wind blew across his face every now and then, and beads of sweat slipped from his forehead and fell to the ground.
Xia Xun couldn’t perceive anything, the only thing he could hear was his heavy breathing.
He was very tired.
His health was not as good as it used to be. At the age of sixteen, he would probably be able to dance with Qi Yan on his back. But now, he could only move forward, keeping his waist stiff, enduring the burning feeling that spread from his lower back.
Xia Xun had been walking for a long, long time but hadn’t walked out of the forest yet. In a daze, he wondered if he was lost and was walking in circles.
He doubted that he was really walking forward until a small stream appeared in front of him.
At some point Qi Yan woke up again. He raised his trembling hand and rubbed Xia Xun’s forehead with the back of his hand that was covered with sweat.
“Take a break…” His voice was as thin as a gossamer: “You… are tired…”
Xia Xun didn’t plan to listen to him:
“I… can still go!”
Qi Yan didn’t say anything else and his arm fell heavily on Xia Xun’s shoulder.
Xia Xun looked sideways at him; his eye sockets were sunken, his face was pale, his lips bloodless and his expression seemed extremely blank.
Xia Xun had seen this expression before; only people who were seriously injured and dying would have it.
Qi Yan couldn’t hold on anymore.
Xia Xun put him by the stream.
He wanted to put Qi Yan down slowly, but he was so out of strength that his whole body became soft and he fell to the ground with Qi Yan.
He fell dizzy, constantly hearing the buzzing sound in his head. It took him a long time to get up.
He couldn’t believe that his physique was so bad.
He helped Qi Yan up, put him to sit with his back against a big tree, scooped a handful of clear water and brought it to his mouth.
Cold water flowed from Qi Yan’s lips and trickled between his fingers. Most of the water was spilled, only a little bit entering Qi Yan’s mouth.
Qi Yan closed his eyes, licked his lips lightly, and asked in a hoarse voice:
“What a good thing….. did you give me to drink…..?”
Xia Xun took another handful of water and poured it into his mouth:
“The delicacy of the mountains and seas, served on gold and jade.”
Qi Yan snorted.
After two handfuls, far more water flowed on Qi Yan’s clothes than he drank.
Qi Yan raised his trembling hand, trying to take something out or his clothes, stretched out his hand several times but couldn’t even open his placket.
Xia Xun tore open his clothes and groped in there:
“What do you want?”
He touched a cold hard object.
Qi Yan said, “…this is it.”
Xia Xun took it out; it turned out to be a jade belt hook.
He asked, “Why do you carry it if you don’t tie it to your belt?”
Qi Yan said breathlessly: “Didn’t want to be too flashy on this trip… Before leaving, I untied…”
He looked up at Xia Xun, trying to focus his distracted gaze on him:
“You take it… go…”
Xia Xun was expressionless:
“I can’t walk faster with it, what’s the use?”
Qi Yan shook his head gently:
“Take it and go back to Lingnan… This thing is enough for your travel expenses…”
Before he finished speaking, he fell into a coma again.
Xia Xun looked at the jade belt hook in his hand.
Its workmanship was exquisite; it was engraved with two kui dragons and was of extraordinary value at first glance. If you pawned it, you could get a lot of silver.
Not to mention the travel expenses, it should be enough for Xia Xun to buy a big house in Lingnan.
Xia Xun carefully stuffed it into his belt, then picked up Qi Yan and continued walking.
Xia Xun was not a good man, nor did he want to be a living Bodhisattva. He just wanted to send Qi Yan to the authorities, ask the magistrate to take him in and find him a doctor for treatment.
When Qi Yan was safe in the magistrate’s office, he would find another opportunity to leave.
This time, he was not able to walk for long.
There was a sound of horse hooves coming with the wind, and Xia Xun realized that their pursuers were coming.
This path was extremely remote, he had been walking for so long and hadn’t seen a living thing. At this time, the sound of horses could only mean that the back-up of the Bai Yue people was approaching.
No matter how fast Xia Xun walked, he would definitely not be able to be faster than them.
It’s not that he hadn’t thought about hiding in the forest, but the trees here were very strange. The branches and leaves on the canopy were quite dense, but the trunks were so thin and bare that even a cat couldn’t hide behind them.
Xia Xun raised his eyes and looked around, a little desperate.
They were here to kill him, and they probably wouldn’t let Qi Yan go.
Xia Xun could guess the reason for their wish to kill him but he really didn’t know who sent them.
He was not afraid of death, but he didn’t want to die in vain.
Looking down at his feet, Xia Xun suddenly thought of something.
He took this thing with him deliberately before leaving, but he didn’t expect it to come in handy one day.
On the night of Yuzhu’s death, the mysterious Hu man gave him a bird whistle.
He told Xia Xun that no one except for birds could hear this whistle. He also told him that as long as he made his mind, he could blow the whistle and he would come no matter where he was.
Now that Xia Xun was far north, hundreds of miles away from the capital, would he still be able to come?
For some reason, Xia Xun was very sure that he would definitely come.
Because Xia Xun gradually realized that, unlike the Bai Yue people, the Hu’s goal was not him, but Qi Yan.
The Hu man watched Qi Yan when he went to Lingnan and followed him all the way to the capital.
He had a clear grasp of Qi Yan’s whereabouts and he must have known that Qi Yan was out of the city.
There were thousands of miles from Lingnan to the capital but he had followed. Now Qi Yan went to Qingzhou, how could he not follow?
Xia Xun stood still amidst the sound of approaching horse hooves, found the bird whistle, took a deep breath and blew it hard.
There was no sound.
The treetops rippled, the wind swept away the fallen leaves at his feet, and the Bai Yue people on horsebacks appeared in sight, so close that he could even hear them talking.
Other than that, there was nothing else.
Was his guess wrong?
Qi Yan slipped off his back and fell to the ground. Xia Xun no longer had the strength to carry him. His knees softened and he knelt down beside him.
The Bai Yue people were talking. They said that they would cut off the heads of the two of them and send them to the capital to take credit, so that not only would they not be punished by the lord, but they would also get a large bounty.
Xia Xun knelt on the ground, panting.
He thought in a daze that the person who sent them was actually in the capital.
He wanted to look up and see the faces of those people clearly. He wanted to figure out who killed him.
Could it be that he and Qi Yan would be decapitated here?
Would the head as beautiful as Qi Yan’s be separated from his body and gradually decay?
Xia Xun was stunned imagining that picture, unaware of anything around him.
He didn’t notice that there was a man walking out of the dense forest not far behind him.
The man had a black crow perching on his shoulder and was carelessly carrying a scimitar in his hand.
This weapon from the Western Regions was lavishly decorated. The golden scabbard was inlaid with several rubies and even in the shadow of the trees, it was still too dazzling to look directly.
Xia Xun heard that the dialogue between the Bai Yue suddenly stopped, and slowly raised his head, only to see the man.
He was in good spirits and smiled at Xia Xun, while Xia Xun, like a tired old camel, knelt on the ground and gasped for breath.
He asked Xia Xun: “Have you thought about it?”
Xia Xun said, breathing hard:
“These people are here to kill Qi Yan… if you still want his life… just solve them for me…”
The Hu man looked at him and asked, “How did you know that I was nearby?”
Xia Xun hung his head:
“Why don’t you wait until you get rid of them… I’ll answer your question…”
The man thought for a while, drew out his blade and walked slowly past Xia Xun.
Xia Xun closed his eyes and covered his ears, not wanting to hear him kill.
The Hu man’s swordsmanship was very good and the expected screams did not come. Xia Xun only heard a few muffled groans and the sound of heavy objects falling to the ground.
After just a few breaths, the Hu man stood in front of Xia Xun again.
Seeing the blood on his blade, Xia Xun knew he had just killed several people, not picked a couple flowers in the garden.
Xia Xun stared at his scimitar. The Hu man asked triumphantly:
“How’s it? Isn’t it beautiful?”
Complicated patterns were carved on the blade. But Xia Xun couldn’t pay attention to it. He felt dizzy and his vision was black. He barely could see or hear anything.
The Hu man thought Xia Xun was looking at his scimitar, but in fact, he was just holding on not to pass out.
Xia Xun expected that Qi Yan would be valuable to the Hu man, so he asked him for help. But Xia Xun was worried that if he lost consciousness, the Hu man would take the opportunity to take Qi Yan away.
In this mess, Xia Xun could guess the intentions of anyone except for the man in front of him; his actions were a mystery and he couldn’t understand how to read them.
His head buzzed sharply, and Xia Xun knew that he was about to faint.
He stretched out his hand and grabbed the corner of the Hu man’s clothes, exhausting his last strength to say to him:
“Don’t kill Qi Yan… Kill him and you won’t get anything…”
With these words, Xia Xun fell heavily to the ground, no longer conscious.