Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 5
The sound of footsteps drew nearer and nearer. Eager to clear the path, the bandit ferociously hacked at the branches and shrubs that had fallen between him and his target. At once, he saw the wretched boy pulling farther away from him.
"You're very crafty, but where do you think you're going? I'm going to cut you in half with my blade."
His sight was focused on the fleeing young man while trying to catch up. His stance started to relax as he moved his blade from one hand to the other, confident that the scoundrel before him was almost completely burnt out.
He followed closely behind, hacking and slashing whatever obstacle came in between him and his prey.
The forest was deep and dense. Even though Pei Zi Yun was very familiar with his surroundings, he still constantly checked the ground. There had been rumours that the forest was littered with unutilized animal traps, which he knew he could use to his advantage. It was such a shame that he did not have the luxury of time.
The persistent rustling of leaves could be heard from behind and was getting too close for comfort. The bandit taunted, "You're not getting away slave! Your time's up!"
With his body hurting from fatigue, Pei Zi Yun took big strides in a desperate bid to survive. Although he still had his skills from the previous life, it would have been useless for going to blows with the skilled bandit. Even if he were to have more power, he would still fall to this bandit's blade. Thankfully he was familiar with this forest and thus had the upper hand. It initially seemed like he still had a little energy left to execute some moves; however, all the running had left him completely fatigued.
All of a sudden, Pei Zi Yun recalled that there was a small and narrow passage up ahead. This passage was actually an animal trail. He could make use of the traps scattered around there.
As he devised this plan in his head, his left hand stroked his blade, laughing emotionlessly. Taking big steps towards the passage, he ignored the pain in his lungs, determined to endure.
Disregarding the numerous shrubs before him, he continued rushing straight. Countless thorns pricked his body like knives cutting his flesh a little at a time.
The Black Wind bandit followed closely behind but slowed down to avoid being pricked by the numerous thorn bushes. However he was still moving at a considerable speed. Seeing Pei Zi Yun's mad dash through the bushes made him laugh.
This slave had already expended all his strength, and yet was still running. "He will be dead in no time!" The middle-aged bandit started laughing again at this prospect. He mechanically cut the leaves and plants in front of him and gradually gained ground.
The dense and thick forest soon lead to a small pathway. It went on for as far as the eye can see to the top of the mountain. The pathway was extremely narrow and seemed like it could only accommodate one person walking through at any given time. Huge waterfalls lined both sides of the path, and wild grass grew sparsely everywhere.
To see a small road after being stuck in the forest for so long was a pleasant surprise. Taking another ten strides before turning right and making a roll, he exited the forest and arrived at a plain. This field was halfway up the mountain, where several small trees were visible. There were also a number of berry trees, bearing fruits the size of a thumb. The fruits were sweet and sour and the bark of the trees were lined with thorns.
At this point, his mouth and throat felt like they were on fire. Without a care in the world, he plucked some berries off the trees and began stuffing his mouth. As soon as the skin of the fruit was punctured, succulent juices dripped out into his mouth, quenching his thirst almost immediately and making him gasp for breath.
So desperately thirsty was he that shoved the entire clump of berries and leaves into his mouth and began chomping down vigorously. Wiping his mouth, Pei Zi Yun turned his head and desperately listened for sounds from the pathway as he counted, 'One, two, three!'
Just as Pei Zi Yun had counted to three, he heard a rustling of leaves and someone moving.
Just as soon as the sound came, it went away. Then there was the sound of something breaking.
All he could hear was "kacha, kacha" as the leaves and plants began shaking violently.
'Oh no, the rope trap wasn't effective—time to run!' Pei Zi Yun only had this thought in his mind.
At this point, he heard a smack and saw the shrubs being split wide open, the middle-aged bandit revealed himself, stepping forward.
Just in front of Pei Zi Yun, there were several sweet potatoes scattered on the ground, almost as if there had been a wild boar here just seconds before, feasting. He was only ten steps away from, but he couldn't walk anymore. Thus, he spun around and faced the Black Wind bandit.
The middle-aged bandit tried to get a better look at the person he had been chasing all these while. He could not make out his exact features but noticed that despite the mud and dirt on his face, he had a somewhat soft and tender look about him. He was dressed in a shirt that had been patched up several times. Panting heavily from all that running and knowing that his prey could run no farther, the bandit looked at him and started laughing uncontrollably. He approached slowly, knife raised.
"Why aren't you running anymore?" The bandit mercilessly taunted as he crept closer to prevent his target from escaping again. He too was breathing heavily,exhausted from hacking all those trees.
In that moment, he stared dead into Pei Zi Yun's eyes. Then, he let out a sinister laugh and took advantage of the fact that Pei Zi Yun was catching his breath to survey his surroundings. The field they were on was at most ten metres wide. Should the other try to escape, a few steps was all it would take to catch up again.
Stepping forward and abrupting shouted, "Go to hell!", before rushing right at him.
Pei Zi Yun licked his lips and tasted the berry he had devoured earlier, sweet and sour, as if conflicted. He looked around the grassy plains, desperately.
The light from the moon barely reached this area,making it dark. The feeling of stepping into soft and mushy grass… He would never forget how, years ago, a girl with ponytails fell into a pitfall here.
"Thankfully I bought these clamps yesterday, how did you fall in?
Watching him jump into the pitfall, her tears flowed freely "Silly boy! Silly boy! Why didn't you call someone instead—jumping down here is dangerous!"
The memory flashed in his mind as he made a run for it again. The middle-aged bandit was reluctant to start chasing but broke into a run anyway. He covered six metres within four strides.
"Bam!" The middle-aged bandit stepped onto a patch of grass and felt his leg sink, an intense pain overwhelmed him. It felt like something had clamped hard on his leg. Blood trickled down, soaking his leg and staining his shoe.
"Ah! An animal trap!" shouted the bandit, immediately understanding what had just transpired. He had almost fallen into a trap just earlier, it's too much of a coincidence for it to happen again now.
The animal trap clamped down tightly, causing him to scream in pain. Looking up, he saw the person he had been chasing. With sweat and mud distorting his face, he raised his knife and shouted, "Die!"
Despite the fierce pain in his leg, the middle-aged bandit raised his knife in defence. The two blades met, producing red and golden sparks, some of which flew onto his face, prickling him.
Just a slight movement caused massive bleeding on his leg. This was a trap used by hunters to snare boars. The more the victim struggled, the deeper it clamped. Muscle and sinew were ripped by the contraption, causing his bleeding to intensify.
"Asshole, I'll kill you!" The middle-aged bandit struggled, looking down trying to free himself. In that split second, Pei Zi Yun plunged his knife downwards, towards the bandit, "Die!"
His voice sounded nothing like a young man's. This time, the middle-aged bandit failed to completely dodge the blow, and a huge gash formed on his left shoulder.
"Ah, how dare you slash me?" he asked pathetically. His impending death coupled with the agonizing pain wreaked havoc in his head, causing him to frantically wave his knife uselessly.
Watching the Black Wind bandit gradually losing his strength, Pei Zi Yun felt his heart lighten in immense satisfaction. He laughed in a crazed manner that echoed throughout the entire field. Before the laughter ended, he swung his blade again.
"Pu!" This time, the blade connected with the brigand's outstretched master hand and broke his wrist instantaneously, sending his weapon flying. In agony, he shouted " You really dare to kill me! The leader Black Wind Sect will avenge me!"
"Bring it on!" The blade came down again, splashing flesh and blood.
"Most people would surrender and hand the money over. The entire countryside is being patrolled by my Dao Brothers. Nobody dares to touch me. Yet you dare to kill me. Black Wind Sect will not let you go." In the face of death, this bandit began to shiver in fear.
Pei Zi Yun heaved out a sigh, staring down at this Black Wind bandit constricted by the animal trap; his past lives flashed before him. Yes, it is indeed time for his ending. Although his body had crossed its threshold, he still held onto his knife, forcing his legs to move step by step.
"The Xin dynasty is vast, and the Imperial Court is always focused on events within the capital, forgetting to rid the countryside of you brigands. In a few years time, the courts will send forth its troops to these remote places and hunt down the outlaws. You will scatter like smoke, and your fires will be extinguished—Black Wind Sect will be exterminated. Today shall be the day you are kept in check!"
As he was done and preparing to swing his knife for the final bow, this third elder of Black Wind Sect knelt down pleading for mercy in spite of his shackles. He begged, "I have old parents and children to look after…"
Pei Zi Yun glanced down right into his eyes and was about to kill him, when this bandit used his good hand to retrieve a dagger hidden at his side. He ferociously threw it at Pei Zi Yun.
The dagger shone under the moonlight, temporarily blinding Pei Zi Yun, and taking him by surprise. Rolling over to avoid the lethal object, he felt sharp pain across his face, and scarlet blood began to spill from his face.
"Meet death!" Pei Zi Yun did not hesitate this time, bringing the blade hard onto the top of the bandit's head. A dull thud was heard and as the bandit's skull cracked open. Yellowish and white brain matter oozed out of the crevice on his head.
"He's finally dead!" Under the moonlight, Pei ZI Yun huffed and puffed. He felt the air leaving him and fell flat to the ground feeling extremely fatigued. His entire body ached with exhaustion.
Withstanding the pain, the plucked out more than ten thorns from his body and wiped the blood off his face. He plucked a few forest berries and proceeded to eat them, sitting on the floor. He put his palms together, took a deep breath, and quietly recovered his energy.
After some time, his energy had returned to him. He looked at the bandit who had met his end in front of him.
Retrieving the belongings of the fallen bandit and ripping his clothes apart, he discovered another dagger. It was exquisite, reflecting light into his eyes.
He found a purse of money on the bandit, opening it revealed about ten silvers.
These were spoils of war. Pei Zi Yun sniggered to himself and broke out into a laugh. He stood up and looked far across to see mountains upon mountains, all interconnected. The wind blew right at him, making him feel good. Eyeing the village below, he saw smoke rising from beneath. He packed up his items, cleaned himself of the blood and mud and began his descent.
As he walked past a random tree, he heard sounds of approaching footsteps. He froze, instantly becoming tense before suspiciously shouting, "Who is it?"
After some time went without an answer, a quivering voice responded, ".... Is that brother Pei?"
The moonlight revealed Ye Su'er. Although her clothes were in disarray, and she happened to be missing one hairpin which turned her hair into a mess, it was indeed her.
Upon seeing Pei Zi Yun bloodied all over, she started to cry and ran into his arms.
Pei Zi Yun was startled. In the past life she did not manage to escape. How was it possible that she's out here now? Looking at the devastation in her eyes, he came to a realization.
This woman guessed his actions, and got frustrated with herself for not having the courage—like in the previous life—to run, so she came to find him.
Trying to find him under such circumstances was clearly a deathwish!
Pei Zi Yun suddenly realized that he understood. This was the original owner's bitterness, happiness and jubilee.