Chapter 40 – Mercenaries Are But Wolves
“Ah Yu, should we look for the Scorching Wind brigade?” Chu Yao asked hesitantly.
“What do you think, Chu Yao?”
Chu Yao spoke as she furrowed her brows, “According to the original plan, it would be the best case scenario if the two of us can get to Lanyan City quietly. Now that the amount of bounty hunters after us has been steadily increasing for the last few days, in addition to the fact that you’re so gravely hurt, I’m worried that we won’t even be able to fight back if we run into a group of mercenaries. Scorching Wind Mountain is less than one hundred li away, so it might be best to go there.”
Lin Mu Yu nodded. His injuries had not healed completely, so he could only bring out less than 70% of his strength. If he were to run into a strong practitioner the likes of Ye Liang and Guan Yang, perhaps everything might truly point to an ill omen.
Only half a day later, the two arrived at the base of Scorching Wind Mountain on horseback. This mountain was in an active volcanic belt, and one could even see the majestic volcanic eruptions in the distance. When the two were finally met by a pair of bandits, the two were quickly led up the mountain after Lin Mu Yu took out Lei Bai Zhan’s letter.
Rather than calling them a mercenary brigade, calling them a bandit gang hiding was probably more accurate. The mercenaries did not look like soldiers, instead their shady countenance made Lin Mu Yu and Chu Yao feel slightly uneasy.
“The commander is in the hall. Please wait.” A bandit said respectfully.
Lin Mu Yu unstrapped Prairie Fire from its sheath and firmly gripped onto the hilt. The two cautiously entered the hall, only to see two rows of chairs lined up on either side. Every unit leader was present, while a middle aged mercenary of about 35 years old sat on the commander’s seat and looked sharply at the two guests.
“You are Lin Mu Yu?” He smirked.
“That is correct. And you are Scorching Wind Brigade’s commander, Lei Qian Hai?”
“Yes, This is I.”
Lei Qian Hai walked from his seat as he laughed, “To have slaughtered that pair of tyrannical father and son, Hua Tian and Hua Wan, you are truly a young hero. Come here, please sit. You’re both tired, correct? Tell the kitchen to start preparing dinner!”
Lin Mu Yu instead cupped his hand in salute and respectfully declined, “My senior and I had been hunted the whole way, so I dare not to bother you too much, commander. This meal will have to be at another time. We plan to immediately set off, so if possible, I hope you could dispatch some men to accompany and protect us, sir. We can pay a sufficient remuneration for the effort.”
“What kind of talk is that?”
Lei Qian Hai slapped his chest and said, “If older brother said to protect you, then if I, Lei Qian Hai, were to take your reward, what kind of a man would I be? If you do not wish to stay, that is fine as well, young warrior. I’ll pick out one hundred of the strongest men I have and have them accompany you.”
“One hundred men?”
Lin Mu Yu stumbled in shock for a second, “Don’t need that many men, 20 is enough.”
“Haha, you’re too modest, young warrior. Someone, pick out twenty elite soldiers and have them prepare to set off. Also set aside enough food, water, and horses. You guys must safely protect young braver Lin to his destination.”
As he spoke, Lei Qian Hai suddenly bent down and looked at Lin Mu Yu and Chu Yao with a burning gaze. “I heard that Hua Tian had lost his life because of a book called the <Medicine God’s Index>. I’m guessing that you have already obtained it, young braver?”
Chu Yao was caught off guard by the question as she stared blankly, not knowing what to do.
Lin Mu Yu indifferently replied, “It had been raining heavily when we escaped, and the rain had mixed together with the blood from my injuries. When I finally remembered, the book had been turned into a soggy mess and was no different than a pile of grass paste. As such… there is no such thing as a Medicine God’s Index in this world anymore.”
“Oh, like that…”
Lei Qian Hai smiled faintly, but the disappointment in his gaze did not escape Lin Mu Yu’s eyes. He then looked at the sword in Lin Mu Yu’s hand and his eyes lit up. “This sword… looks like it’s a rare weapon that had been spirit refined. Does it have a name?”
Lin Mu Yu inwardly swore in his heart. This Lei Qian Hai was clearly no saint, and was so obviously a brigand.
“This sword is called Prairie Fire. It’s a gift I had received from Ye Liang of the Seven Martial Saints.”
“Oh? Ye Liang’s gift?”
Lei Qian Hai squinted his eyes, “I don’t think Ye Liang is that magnanimous with his character. To gift someone else his personal treasure sword… Is there possibly some kind of misunderstanding?”
Lin Mu Yu smiled, “Then I’ll explain it more accurately. This is a legacy of the deceased.”
“What? Ye Liang’s dead!?” Lei Qian Hai was shocked as he muttered, “The third ranker of the Seven Martial Saints died…Good heavens. Could it be that he died in your hands, young braver?”
Lin Mu Yu nodded, “He wanted to kill me, so I had no choice but to take his life.”
A hint of alarm dashed past Lei Qian Hai’s eyes. He looked at the highest ranked mercenary captain and said in a clear voice, “This mountainous area is far too dangerous. Xing Lan, why don’t you accompany the young braver to the north?”
In the crowd, a spear-wielding general stood and saluted, “Yes, commander!”
Lei Qian Hai smiled humbly, “Braver Lin, Xing Lan is the best spear wielder in our Scorching Wind Brigade and is also one of the best at mounted combat. He is a level 46 Battle Master, so I believe that he should be good enough to help you and Miss Chu get through your troubles!”
Lin Mu Yu took a deep breath, “Thank you Commander Lei!”
Chu Yao looked at him. A hint of wariness dashed past her eyes, but how could Lin Mu Yu not be worried as well. The greed in Lei Qian Hai’s eyes was too obvious. The more men he dispatched, the clearer his intentions of obtaining Lin Mu Yu’s treasures. Lei Qian Hai was even looking at Chu Yao with a strong rapaciousness. This mercenary commander was seemingly already confident in obtaining the beautiful Chu Yao.
The reason why he didn’t act on the mountain was probably because he still had to take care of the reputation of the Scorching Flame mercenaries. Making the move down mountain would allow him to push the blame onto someone else.
This was Lin Mu Yu’s only chance. After getting down the mountain, perhaps he might still have a chance to live against these 21 strong warriors. Compared to the 2000 or so mercenaries in the stronghold, the chance of winning was far greater.
Lei Qian Hai also prepared a horse for Chu Yao, but it looked sickly and crooked. The 21 accompanying mercenaries also mounted their horses, but did not looked to have brought much food or water. They clearly had no plans to leave for too long; perhaps they planned to act right away once they got down Scorching Wind Mountain.
“Forgive me for not sending you off too far!” Lei Qian Hai cupped his fist in salute and laughed aloud.
Lin Mu Yu returned the salute as he tightly clutched Prairie Fire and whipped his horse into action. The 21 mercenaries immediately followed like hunters tracking prey. Hooves sounded as the group descended the mountain.
Not far from the base of the mountain, Chu Yao’s sickly horse was quickly unable to move anymore. Lin Mu Yu had thought of Lei Qian Hai’s vicious intent. If Chu Yao couldn’t escape, then he would not run either. In addition, if the two were to share a horse, then they most definitely won’t be able to outrun the mercenaries.
Glancing past each of the mercenaries, the strongest one was the level 46 Xing Lan. Other than that, a few were level 30 Battle Adept, while the rest were Battle Spirits or Battle Warriors. That alone was nothing to be afraid of, but the thing that made Lin Mu Yu secretly grumble was that every single one had a bow hanging on their saddle. This was enough to dissuade him of running away. He had to kill this group of mercenaries, otherwise he would have to leave behind Chu Yao, Prairie Fire, and his life.
“Young braver Lin, what sorts of things were recorded on the Medicine God Index?” Xing Lan suddenly asked.
“I don’t know. It’s master’s book, I’ve never looked through it.”
“Oh, so it’s like that.”
Xing Lan looked at the distance and said, “On the Fierce Wind Ridge before us lives quite a number of Swift Wolves. These wolves are run wild at night, so maybe we should make camp under Fierce Wind Ridge, then set off tomorrow morning?”
“Below the ridge?”
Lin Mu Yu frowned, “Not necessary. I think we should just stay on track and make it over Fierce Wind Ridge tonight, or else the bounty hunters behind us would only increase in number. I’m also worried for you guys in case accidents happen.”
“Ah…” A sliver of killing intent slipped past Xing Lan’s gaze. Smiling, he said, “Alright then, let’s just cross over Fierce Wind Ridge then. We have a large party so those Swift Wolves probably won’t dare to attack, or else we’ll just have to beat them until their teeth break, hahahaha… Oh right, young braver. Are you sure that the Medicine God Index is completely ruined? It ought to have left at least a few legible fragments, right?”
“All ruined, can’t read a single word. It’s also covered in blood stains.”
Xing Lan was able to continue asking, but Lin Mu Yu had already whipped his horse into action. Reaching out, he grabbed hold of Chu Yao’s lean waist and carried her in his embrace before speeding on ahead.
Chu Yao’s heart warmed but she alerted softly, “Ah Yu, they’re about to make their move.”
“Aye, I know.”
Lin Mu Yu lowered his voice and said, “Once they attack, immediately sprinkle a bottle of Intoxicating Breeze and I’ll hold them off. They are nothing compared to Ye Liang, so the drug should take effect quite swiftly. But before they act, we can’t be the first to strike, because we don’t really know if they will actually attack us. We can’t be accidentally killing good people.”
The two were quite slow because they shared a horse, so they were quickly caught up by the mercenaries. 5 men on the right, 5 in the front, 5 on the left, and once more 5 in the back. The mercenaries immediately surrounded the two in a circle. This kind of indicator was quickly becoming very apparent.
“Young braver, we’re almost at the Swift Wolves’ gathering spot!” Xing Lan laughed.
“What about it?” Lin Mu Yu asked coldly.
“They’ve been hungry for a long time.” Xing Lan’s smiling expression became even more sinister as he said, “Young braver punishes the strong and helps the weak, so you should know what <Cut Meat Feed Wolf>¹ means, right? Hahahaha, they really are hungry…”
The surrounding mercenaries one by one drew their weapons, a few of them even had their arrows ready and pointed at Lin Mu Yu. Xing Lan raised his iron spear in the air and laughed heartily, “Lin Mu Yu, your head is worth 100 thousand gold Yin, so don’t blame us for this!”
Lin Mu Yu insipidly said. Chu Yao quickly sprinkled a bottle of Intoxicating Breeze onto the ground.
At the same time, the Green Gourd materialized through Lin Mu Yu’s body and transformed into a complete gourd-shape encasing the two riders and their horse. Ebony Scales also formed around it, blocking off the streams of arrows.
Xing Lan leapt up into the air with both hands gripping his spear. His martial spirit appeared through his body as rows of icicles formed on the iron spear. Xing Lan stabbed the spear down with his full strength onto the Ebony Scales!
The icy crystals shattered into pieces as Xing Lan was thrown back by the rebounding force. However, Lin Mu Yu was not much better off, as the attack had his blood boiling vigorously within. Flicking his hand, Sonic Blade shot out with a shrill whistling sound. In the next second, two mercenaries let of a blood-curdling scream as they were quickly killed.
1: <> is somewhat related the Buddhist story about a king who cut his own flesh and fed a hawk who was a god’s transformation.