Chapter 3.3 A Xuan Mountain Night Passes Sudden as a Dream

Fengxi had won, but over yonder, Yan Yingzhou’s situation was worse than it had been before. Seeing the power behind each swipe of his sword diminishing quickly, the swordsmen facing him doubled down on their attack. Their four swords came like rain upon his body, leaving Yingzhou no room for escape. In the chaos, one of the sabres slipped through his weakening defenses and cut at his back, severing the straps that held the bundle to his back. It fell to the ground, spilling its contents: a box, which broke open to reveal an inky black object.

Upon seeing the object that had come tumbling out, the four people simultaneously abandoned Yan Yingzhou and flew towards the object. And Yan Yingzhou himself was shocked into shouting, and followed them shortly after.

Fengxi had just pushed back the six men fighting her when she heard Yan Yingzhou’s cry. Turning, she saw the men rushing towards the object by the wooden box. With a quick wave of her hand, the white silk unfurled to tangle around the object. Another wave, and the white silk jerked back towards her. She opened her left hand to receive the object. On touch, the thing was as cold as ice––this, indeed, was the object of so many people’s desire: the Xuanzun Seal.

Yet when Yan Yingzhou realised that Fengxi had the seal, he could not keep himself from screaming, “Don’t!” His voice was alarmed beyond compare.

Fengxi had begun to make her way to Yan Yingzhou’s side after she caught the seal, but upon seeing his fright, she knew he was scared of having it taken from him, so she placated: “Don’t worry yourself, we haven’t lost anything of yours.”

Seeing her at his side, Yan Yingzhou immediately picked up the cloth that had been wrapped around the seal and held it beneath Fengxi’s hands, saying “Let go, now!”

Noting his care towards the Xuanzun Seal, Fengxi could not help being a little disappointed. She loosened her hand, and the seal fell into the cloth. She said, lightly, “I won’t take your Xuanzun Seal.”

As she spoke, she waved her right hand, and the white silk flew with great force towards the four people who were bounding toward them. They could not dodge it in time, and in due course, they were swept to the ground.

Yet Yan Yingzhou immediately grabbed Fengxi’s left wrist, sealing her acupoint. Only then did he raise his head and urge, “Swallow the pills!”

Fengxi then noticed that her hand had already turned purple, and that the colour was spreading to her arm. Though Yan Yingzhou had already sealed her acupoint, he had only succeded in slowing it down a little. She immediately realised that the seal was covered with deadly poison, and that she had already touched it. At once, she took two Heart of Buddha pills from her lapel and swallowed them one after the other.

But the ten people she’d knocked to the ground had finally caught their breaths, and began to circle in on them.

Yan Yingzhou grabbed her right hand and took off, dragging her behind him as he all but flew away––at that moment, one of them was heavily injured, while the other had been badly poisoned, and they were no longer in any position to fight off the men. And who knew how many more would show up after those ten?

Yan Yingzhou fled with Fengxi in tow, and at first, Fengxi was still able to keep up with him, but gradually, she began to feel like all her strength was slowly being drawn from her, her body became weaker and weaker, her head more and more heavy, while her chest felt like something was blocking it. Even breathing was difficult, and her steps became sluggish.

As for Yan Yingzhou, it could only be said that he had injury on top of injury. His energy was long depleted, he was running on adrenaline alone, and this, coupled with his last burst of desperate running, meant that in only a short while, the last of his strength was gone. One stumble, and they both went down.

“You should save yourself,” Fengxi’s weak voice rang out. Her eyes were already blurring. She was running out of energy with which to even speak, and she couldn’t help mocking herself. In the past, it had been so easy for her to kill, and now it was her turn to be the lamb waiting for the slaughter.

Yan Yingzhou only gave her a look. The look felt as if he was returning some of her soul to her, gave her a little bit of clarity. She blinked a few times and looked at him, and realised that the face before her, though drenched with sweat, was actually an exceptionally handsome one, that the expression on said face was one of attachment and resolution!

He pushed himself to his feet, straining to carry her in his arms, and continued to run forward, but they were advancing so slowly, and they could already hear the footfalls of the soldiers who were giving chase.

“You really are stupid, what’s the use of dying together? It’s always better for even one of us to survive.” Fengxi muttered this angrily at him, but she knew that Yan Yingzhou had already decided that, even if they were to die, he would not abandon her. What kind of man…

Suddenly, she felt Yan Yingzhou’s body stiffen, and then he stopped. Upon raising her head to look, Fengxi realised that there was, in fact, no more road, but a sheer slope down the mountainside, atop which they now stood.

“Fengxi, let’s take a gamble. If we win, we’ll survive together. If we lose, then we’ll die together! Are you willing?” Yan Yingzhou asked her in low tones, though he could not prevent the hands around her from tightening.

“I’m willing,” Fengxi said placidly, and then she smiled a little. “Even if I die, I’ll be taking the General Fierce Wind with me, which is really quite a cost-effective arrangement.”

Yan Yingzhou suddenly lowered his head towards her. He was so close they could feel each other’s breath. Their lips were so close, and Fengxi could not help but to think to herself: was this statue of a man about to kiss her?

But he didn’t.Yan Yingzhou had a pair of eyes that were a deeper black than the night sky, which shown with a brighter light than the winter stars, and they stared unwaveringly at her, something particular hidden in them. Then he sighed, “To die alongside Bai Fengxi, I can say that I’ve died without regret!”

Having said this, he jumped, holding Fengxi tightly. As they tumbled down the mountainside, Fengxi could feel the pain and shock of her body striking the hard ground, but it wasn’t so severe. Yan Yingzhou had embraced her so tightly to him that he was bearing the brunt of the injury, but though it didn’t hurt so much, the pain, conversely, had found a home in her heart.

This was the first time a man had protected her.

She made a name for herself when she was still young, and since she made her first appearance as Bai Fengxi, no one, with the exception of Hei Fengxi, had been her rival. She’d never needed protecting, and there had never been someone who had thought that Bai Fengxi needed protecting. But now, Yan Yingzhou had stirred up some buried emotion, and her heart leapt without knowing why or how.

She just stayed quietly in his arms, reveling in what it was like in a man’s expansive embrace, sampling the indescribable warmth of being protected, and then, slowly, slowly, all sensation began to leave her…was this death? Was this how it felt to die? In reality, it wasn’t so scary––rather, it carried with it a faint sort of sweetness, a shallow sort of warmth!