The footsteps were getting closer and closer, not in a hurry, but slow and tight, occasionally stopping for a moment for some unknown reason.
Yi Yin couldn’t help being curious and poked out his little head from behind Wei Zhao, trying to see what was going on, only to be gently slapped back by Wei Zhao.
There was only one chaser, which seemed a bit strange, but there were many forks in Tianmen Ridge, and no one could guarantee that the man didn’t have companions nearby, so perhaps he was just moving separately.
Wei Zhao was captured five years ago and was given the secret medicine of the royal family by Helian Zhuo. His martial arts were blocked. In fact, according to Helian Zhuo’s original intention, he wanted to directly destroy Wei Zhao’s martial arts, but the shaman doctor warned him that this might kill Wei Zhao, so he changed his mind.
The secret medicine was not permanent and had to be taken again every six months to strengthen its effect. Helian Zhuo was so uneasy about Wei Zhao that he made him take the medicine once every three months, never giving him a chance to regain his martial arts skills.
Wei Zhao had a cousin with superb medical skills, named Sun Ye, who studied under the medical immortal Duanmu Hui. When Wei Zhao was young, he was forced by Sun Ye to study medicine with his friend Jun Qing. Unfortunately, Wei Zhao was not interested. He was only interested in killing with invisible poisons but refused to learn anything else.
Therefore, Wei Zhao studied the secret medicine for his martial arts for many years, and only scratched the surface. He couldn’t get the corresponding medicinal materials either. He really couldn’t undo it. In the end, he reluctantly relied on poison to fight poison and a lot of bloodletting to relieve a small part of the medicine.
Wei Zhao was talented and intelligent, with excellent roots and bones. He was extremely talented in martial arts. He was even compared to Hou Zhaoyang in his youth. Under normal circumstances, one-fifth or one-third of his power was enough to deal with most of the so-called martial arts experts.
However, last night, Wei Zhao had just had a miscarriage and was at his weakest, barely able to stand. He was not sure that he would be able to defeat his pursuers.
If the chasers were sent by Helian Zhuo, Yi Yin would always have a chance of survival, regardless of victory or defeat, but if they were sent by the Great Yan-zhi, unless Wei Zhao could defeat his opponents, they would have to die in the wilderness, both father and son.
Wei Zhao steeled himself, his gaze fixed in the direction from which the sound came, his face grim.
After a long time, a young man dressed as a commoner, with straw shoes on his feet and a scimitar made of fine iron on his back finally came into view.
Although the clothes were simple and shabby, Wei Zhao could see at a glance that it was the attire of the Han people, not the Fuyu people, and his spirit was suddenly restored.
Yi Yin poked out his head and was very happy to see the young man’s clothes. Being able to meet the Han people here showed that they were not very far from the border of the Great Yan.
The young man looked a little surprised when he saw the ragged and dishevelled Wei Zhao and Yi Yin. He stood in place for a long time in a daze before taking two steps forward and asking, “Where did you two come from? Where are you going? Is there anything I can help you with?”
Wei Zhao looked at him, his eyes full of vigilance, and his hands subconsciously hugged Yi Yin tighter.
The fact that he had met a passerby instead of a pursuer had put Wei Zhao in a good mood, but the fact that the passerby was so enthusiastic made him feel uncomfortable.
Seeing that Wei Zhao was silent for a long time, the young man was not angry. Instead, he said cheerfully: “Don’t be afraid, the two of you. I’m not a bad person. Anyone can encounter trouble when going out. It is appropriate to help each other.”
Wei Zhao still didn’t speak, just looked at him carefully. Seeing that the young man’s eyes were clear and his expression was frank, Yi Yin had a good impression of him, so he said loudly: “Big brother, my father and I are lost.”
The young man immediately asked, “Little brother, this is the first time you have entered Tianmen Ridge, right?”
Yi Yin nodded. Although he knew that they were going in the direction of the Flying Wings Peaks, he and Wei Zhao really didn’t know the specific route, and they didn’t know how many wrong turns they had taken.
Upon seeing this, the young man hurriedly said: “Tianmen Ridge is densely forested, and there are fierce beasts. Not to mention the people who enter the mountain for the first time, even among the experienced old hunters there are also those who can’t get out when they come in. Like my uncle, he disappeared when he went hunting in the mountains last year. So far, no bones have been found.”
Yi Yin was shocked when he heard these words. He and Wei Zhao were lucky enough. Although they had walked hard along the way, they did not meet a fierce beast that they couldn’t have handled.
Seeing that the sorrow on the young man’s face didn’t seem to be fake, Wei Zhao said in a deep voice: “People can’t come back from the dead. I’m sorry for your loss.” In a place like Tianmen Ridge, if you were caught by a beast as food, or fell off a cliff by accident, no corpse could be found.
The young man waved his hand to show that he didn’t mind: “Life and death are fate, and success or failure are in the hands of gods. This is what my uncle loved to say most during his lifetime. I started hunting in the mountains with my uncle when I was ten years old. I am very familiar with Tianmen Ridge. Where are you going, can I take you there?”
Wei Zhao told half-truth and half-lie about their origin, saying that they were Yanzhou people who moved to Youzhou during the restoration of Youzhou in the 40th year of Yongjia. After the fall of Youzhou last year, they became slaves to the Fuyu people. They worked hard every day and suffered indescribably.
A few days ago, Tiele and Fuyu clashed on the grasslands. The two sides fought fiercely. The guards were no longer as strict as they used to be, so they took the opportunity to escape. They wanted to cross Tianmen Ridge and return to the Great Yan, not realising that they had lost their way.
The young man did not doubt Wei Zhao’s statement, but exclaimed: “The first time you enter Tianmen Ridge, you can walk to the vicinity of the Flying Wings Peaks, it is very smooth! But you are even more lucky to meet me.”
“What do you mean?” Wei Zhao was puzzled. As long as they didn’t meet their pursuers and used the Flying Wings Peaks as a reference, they could always get out of Tianmen Ridge. It didn’t seem to matter whether they met this young man or not.
The young man raised his eyebrows and smiled, saying proudly: “You don’t know that the terrain in this area is famous for ghosts building the wall. Even if you follow the Flying Wings Peaks, you are still going around in circles. If I’m not mistaken, you must have already turned around a lot.”
Yi Yin was ashamed. It turned out that it didn’t work if they had a reference. No wonder that after walking for several days, they still felt that the Flying Wings Peaks were out of reach.
The young man continued: “As I said, I am very familiar with Tianmen Ridge, and I can take you out. But the place we are now is in Fuyu territory, and I usually don’t come here. It’s just that after chasing a white tiger a few days ago I crossed the border and got here.”
“A white tiger? Where is it?” Yi Yin looked around curiously. Originally, Wei Yang also had a white tiger in the palace, which was majestic and cute, and Yi Yin liked it.
The young man spread his hands and said helplessly: “I don’t know, it ran away long ago. If not, you guys wouldn’t be lucky to meet me like this and you might not be able to get out even if you walked around for another half a month.”
Wei Zhao thought for a while; this young man who had never met him really had no reason to harm him and Yi Yin, so he cupped his hands in greeting and said, “If that’s the case, many thanks to the hero.” In his current condition, how could he survive in the mountains for more than half a month?
“You’re welcome!” The young man waved his hand readily, “My name is Huo Qingyang, just call me by my name, hero or something, it sounds weird.”
Yi Yin accepted this kind offer and changed his words: “Brother Qingyang, thank you! You are such a good person!” Having survived a desperate situation, Yi Yin almost cried with joy. It was great that Wei Zhao finally didn’t have to go back to the tragic fate of his previous life.
Huo Qingyang nodded unceremoniously: “Of course I am a good person!” As he said that, he rubbed Yi Yin’s messy head, making it even messier.
Yi Yin didn’t like being rubbed very much and tried to dodge desperately, but Huo Qingyang’s hands were so strong that he couldn’t escape at all, so he could only stick out his tongue helplessly.
Huo Qingyang ignored Yi Yin’s little gestures and continued: “My home is in the border village, just walk south out of Tianmen Ridge and I can bring you to Yunzhou.”
Wei Zhao thanked Huo Qingyang and was about to take Yi Yin’s hand and follow him, when his body suddenly went limp, his eyes turned black and he fell backwards.
Yi Yin hurriedly stretched out his hand to help, but he was weak. Not only couldn’t he help Wei Zhao, he almost fell over. It was Huo Qingyang who had quick eyes and quick hands and made a timely move to stabilise Wei Zhao without letting him fall to the ground.
Seeing that Wei Zhao’s face looked really bad, Huo Qingyang couldn’t figure out what was going on, so he asked Yi Yin: “Little guy, what’s wrong with your father?”
Yi Yin couldn’t elaborate, so he said vaguely that he was probably not feeling well because he had worked too hard recently and hadn’t rested well.
Huo Qingyang was half-convinced and checked Wei Zhao’s pulse haphazardly, but he couldn’t figure out anything. Seeing that Wei Zhao’s breathing was still stable, he reluctantly accepted Yi Yin’s words.
“Brother Qingyang, what should we do now?” Somehow, Yi Yin always felt that Huo Qingyang looked familiar, giving him an inexplicable sense of affinity, but after thinking carefully, he had no recollection of seeing him before.
Huo Qingyang asked Yi Yin to help, took off the scimitar on his back and hung it around his waist, picked up Wei Zhao, who was unconscious, and said to Yi Yin: “Your father needs to rest. We have to find a place to settle down. You hold the hem of my clothes and walk by yourself. Don’t let go.”
Yi Yin nodded desperately, picked up the small bundle they had left and carried it on his shoulder.
Before it got dark, Huo Qingyang led Yi Yin to a cave that was sheltered from the wind. Yi Yin found a flat piece of ground and laid Wei Zhao’s cloak first, then asked Huo Qingyang to put Wei Zhao down.
Afterwards, the two picked up some dry wood nearby and started a fire. Huo Qingyang ordered Yi Yin to keep an eye on Wei Zhao and went out to hunt for dinner for the three of them.
Not long after Huo Qingyang left, Wei Zhao woke up, and Yi Yin hurriedly asked, “Daddy, are you feeling better? Do you want some water?”
Wei Zhao nodded slightly, and Yi Yin ran over holding Huo Qingyang’s water sac, saying at the same time: “Brother Qingyang has gone hunting. He said he would treat us to delicious food at night.”
Wei Zhao was so thirsty that he drank half a sac of water in one go before feeling better. He looked at Yi Yin and asked softly, “Ah Yin, why do you think Huo Qingyang treats us so well?”
Yi Yin took back the water sac, took two sips by himself and then sealed the sac’s mouth with a stopper. He understood Wei Zhao’s suspicion of Huo Qingyang. As a passerby who met them by chance, Huo Qingyang was indeed a bit too enthusiastic towards them.
It was just that they were already cornered, and it was not a bad thing to have such an enthusiastic person as Huo Qingyang to help. So, Yi Yin smiled and said, “Because Brother Qingyang is a good person!”
Wei Zhao also smiled, teasing him that he was too careless. However, no matter what Huo Qingyang’s purpose was, for now, he was really an excellent help to them.
Not long after, Huo Qingyang came back humming an incomprehensible little song, carrying a deer on his shoulder and two pheasants in his hand. It seemed that he had gained a lot of prey.
What surprised Yi Yin even more was that after Huo Qingyang put down the deer and pheasants, he took off a crock from his back, saying that he would stew the soup for Wei Zhao to replenish his body.