The duo met more than just one group of experts on their way. Every time they encountered a group, Xue Wei's face would become a picture of innocence, his voice would be filled with emotion, and he would trick every single group.
Sweat was beading on Xue Wei's back every time they encountered such a group, but his acting did not display any such emotions.
"Why are you going this far to protect me?" Hei Gou finally asked after they had met the seventh group on their way.
Xue Wei gave him a long glance and pondered for a moment. "Why indeed," he said after a bit of time.
"I told you, I think it is because you are like me, all alone in a world of pain and danger. Also, right now, your life depends on me. What kind of person would I be to let you die when I hold your life in my hands?"
"You are an insane person," Hei Gou could not help but chuckle. "Every other human would love to have my life in their hand and end it personally, but you are doing everything in your power to keep me alive."
"You know that every single group we meet poses a great threat to us. You know that even if my cover isn't blown, the fact that I am this wounded means that basically anyone can kill us right now. We are only alive so far because of luck."
Xue Wei shrugged his shoulders as he steadied his grip on Hei Gou. "I don't care. My life is on the line no matter what I do, so traveling together with you might even prove to be beneficial to me," he said after a bit of thinking.
Hei Gou looked at Xue Wei, his eyes filled with complicated emotions. It was clear that he was having a hard time understanding what exactly Xue Wei meant, and why this human went out of his way to assist him.
"Perhaps you can answer a question for me," Xue Wei suddenly asked as they were moving further away. "Fierce Beasts avoid me, no matter what. The few times I have encountered them, they have done everything in their power to avoid me; some even committed suicide when confronted by me. Back when I was merely an Ordinary Warrior, a few of those beasts had fear creeping into their eyes, and there was even a time it happened when I met the eyes of a beast equivalent to a Sky Warrior."
"They fear you?" Hei Gou was surprised as he looked over Xue Wei once more. The youngster nodded his head seriously, "I have been in contact with the Ice Harpy a few times," he continued. "Could it be that her scent or something got attached to me, making them fear me?"
"Hmm," Hei Gou paused and looked at Xue Wei. His face went closer and closer until he was almost touching Xue Wei's face before he sniffed.
"This is odd," he said, puzzled. "My senses are weakened right now because I used my secret technique, but there is indeed some sort of strange scent to you."
"I myself have never met the Ice Harpy so I do not know if she smells like this, but it does not smell like a Primordial Beast I have ever met before. Nor does it smell human."
Hei Gou continued to sniff, which made Xue Wei feel increasingly uncomfortable, until he could no longer stand the strange black dog in his handsome human form being that close to him and pushed him away.
"Hey! I'm an injured person," Hei Gou called out frantically as he staggered backwards and fell to his butt. "Ugh," he winced in pain when he landed, but his eyes when looking at Xue Wei were filled with wonder.
"So did you notice anything from my smell then?" Xue Wei asked impatiently as he hoisted Hei Gou up once more and slung his arm over his shoulders, ready to continue their advance.
"Well, you smell good," Hei Gou said. "Embarrassing as it might sound, there is something sweet to your scent. I don't really understand it – do you think perhaps there is a third race in this world? A race that is neither beast nor human?"
"What are you talking about?" Xue Wei asked with a snort. "I have read so many books but I have never encountered anything of the sort. There are no traces of other lifeforms than humans and beasts, so I don't think it is possible."
"You never know," Hei Gou was not keen on giving up. "In the innermost regions of the Northern Taiga there are both fairies and sprites. They are not beasts, and they are not humans either."
"I heard that there are other creatures spread all over the world in hiding, mainly in the danger zones or in desolate areas. I know that they are hiding from humans and beasts alike, never allowing anyone to see them."
"Sprites? Fairies?" Xue Wei was shocked and looked at Hei Gou with narrowed eyes filled with disbelief and skepticism.
"Hey, don't look at me like that," Hei Gou laughed before starting to cough, causing a bit of blood to trail out of the corner of his mouth. "I only saw the sprites once. It is really difficult to locate these creatures, and when you do locate them, actually seeing them is even harder. They are very skittish, so the slightest sound makes them hide away."
"You are joking with me aren't you?" Xue Wei was puzzled. Why had this black dog suddenly opened up to him? Was he even more wounded than Xue Wei had expected, or was he seriously starting to consider the fact that Xue Wei had saved his life?
"I'm not joking. Why don't we go together to see them one day?" Hei Gou was smiling as if he had reached an answer to an important question. He seemed relaxed and comfortable, and his change in behavior caught Xue Wei completely by surprise.
"Uh, well, I don't think it will be possible for me to go into the innermost regions of the Northern Taiga," Xue Wei said after a bit of time. "I might be able to avoid some Fierce Beasts, but I have this thought that the beasts within the Northern Taiga are far stronger than just the Warrior rank. In fact, I imagine that there are even Saints in there. I am not sure my little life will manage to survive there for long."
"Well then, we will find sprites and fairies other places," Hei Gou said with a dashing smile on his handsome face, as if he was talking about something very natural, but Xue Wei narrowed his eyes so much that they were slits so thin he could barely see through them.
"We? What do you mean we?"
"You saved my life, take responsibility!"
"What do you mean responsibility? You're not some woman I've taken advantage of,"
"Oh mister, please be gentle. Mister, I was not ready for this, please take your time?" Hei Gou's voice was high pitched and sounded like a woman's, making Xue Wei shiver all over in fright.
"Stop that!" he exclaimed, and Hei Gou laughed out loud, which once more caused him to cough.
"Well, it does not matter what you say or mean," Hei Gou wiped the blood with the back of his hand. "I am a dog, and dogs are loyal creatures. You saved my life, and have given me a new leash on it. I will follow you from now on; anything you ask of me I will do, and I will not bat an eyelid even if that is to fight other beasts or humans."
Xue Wei stared at the dog, and Hei Gou looked back at him with a smirk on his handsome face, his expression one of a puppy that had just found its owner.
"You want to follow me?" Xue Wei asked disbelievingly, and Hei Gou nodded his head solemnly. "I would have died without you. I am quite curious about what exactly you are. I believe you are neither human nor beast...or so I think because of your scent...."
"My family won't care what I do. I am just one of many Celestial Dogs in our pack. Even if I had been killed by these humans, no one would have cared about it. Even my parents do not care about my life and death. As such, the only one I have ever met who actually cared is you."
"Since you cared enough to save me, is it not only okay that I also repay you? I mean following you will be fun, I have no doubts about it."
"So you want to follow me because you think it will be fun?" Xue Wei asked with a speechless look on his face. Hei Gou looked at him and smirked. "Well, that is one reason, but I am genuinely happy about the fact that you saved me."
Xue Wei shook his head. "Do as you please," he said after a bit of time. The two once more began moving forwards in search of a safe spot where Hei Gou would be able to recuperate from the wounds and the injuries he had sustained.
"So tell me, how long are you going to stay like this? You won’t suddenly become a big black dog, right?" Xue Wei asked anxiously. Although Hei Gou was seriously injured, he was still in his human form, and they were capable of tricking anyone who had come their way, but if he suddenly lost control of his shape, then Xue Wei knew that they would be in serious trouble.
"I can stay in this shape as long as I am conscious," Hei Gou said casually as if the wounds were not troubling for him. "I will only return to my original form if my mind is no longer able to be held together by my willpower, and that's if I collapse from wounds and injuries."
"I see," Xue Wei suddenly felt much safer after hearing this. He could not help but sigh in relief.
"Well, we are almost out of this area, and then the chasers who are after you should no longer be someone we will run into," Xue Wei said tentatively as he considered what they had gone through so far. "I would have liked it if we could enter a small town and heal you there, but I am afraid that's not an option for us right now."
"Why not?" Hei Gou asked curiously. To him it did not matter where he healed as long as he could heal, but he was curious about this human who had killed other humans to save a Primordial Beast.
"I told you already, did I not?" Xue Wei asked. "The humans want to kill me. In fact, they want to kill me even more than they want to kill Fierce Beasts. My bounty might even be higher than some Primordial Beasts."
"Why? That is quite rare," Hei Gou asked curiously. Xue We glared at him in return. Hei Gou’s curiosity was truly not caring at all for how sensitive the subject might be for him.
"I was deemed someone who colluded with the Primordial Beasts, someone who is known as the Ice Harpy's brother."
"If you are her brother, then why are you all alone right now?" Hei Gou asked in puzzlement. Xue Wei just shook his head.
"She tricked them into believing that was the case. In fact, I think her goal is to make me suffer as much as possible. My uncle is a famous Primordial Beast Hunter, and I think there might be some sort of history between them."
"Well, don't worry too much about it. You might not have been guilty before, but now you are in fact colluding with a Primordial Beast," Hei Gou laughed out loud as if he found everything amusing.
"You picked it yourself as well, so now we will be loyal to neither humans nor beasts."Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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Betareader: Soultorrent & Norwegian Viking