Hei Gou was able to move on his own now. He could fight for brief amounts of time, and his complexion had improved significantly. However, Xue Wei knew that it was not that simple.
He had consumed almost all of the blood essence he had within his body, and it was something that took a long time to be restored, which could be seen in how short of breath he was while fighting.
Hei Gou’s Qi was constantly being purified while they were traveling and as a result his strength was skyrocketing, but the fundamentals of his body were still weak.
This was why they continued to move at a slow speed. Hei Gou's body could simply not sustain traveling faster than they were.
Fortunately, none of the Primordial Beast Hunters had been able to track them down after losing sight of them, and their current circumstances were much safer than they had been before.
Day after day went past in a blur. Xue Wei and Hei Gou survived in the wilderness by living off of plants and roots, occasionally coming across mortal beasts for a change, but all the Fierce Beasts were gone from their sight. It was as if they fled as soon as they caught a whiff of the two experts.
Finally, after traveling for a full eight days like this, they reached a wide-open prairie. This prairie was rather large, and both Hei Gou and Xue Wei were filled with excitement as they left the bush and reached this area.
The prairie was now known as the Flowing Blood Prairie. It was a place filled with different tribes that were always fighting one another. The original name of the prairie was Purple Cloud Prairie because long ago legend had it that a purple cloud had appeared over the prairie and gifted every cultivator within with exceptional cultivation talent.
Now, the name had changed to the Flowing Blood Prairie. Since then, many wars had erupted between the different tribes, and massacres were a normal sight in the prairie. A completely different set of rules applied to those who lived here: the tribesmen were not even expected to join the army.
The Flowing Blood Prairie was considered a no-man's land. It did not belong to any particular kingdom, and it was instead the border between Heping Kingdom and three neighboring kingdoms: the Great Fire Nation, Zhanshi Kingdom, and the Empire of Danmai.
These three nations were also considered outskirt kingdoms of the continent, but they were many times more developed than the Heping Kingdom just from the fact that they were closer to the center of the continent.
The Kingdom of Heping’s territory was like a crescent moon from north to south on the east side of the continent. This was also the reason why it was possible for Xue Wei and Hei Gou to escape the boundaries of the kingdom as fast as they had. It was a narrow country, and by traveling west, they managed to quickly leave.
"I am not hallucinating am I?" Hei Gou asked hesitatingly as he looked at the Flowing Blood Prairie that was right in front of him. He rubbed his eyes and soon a smile appeared on his lips.
"We did it!" he exclaimed loudly. "We really did it! We have escaped that damn place, and now the hunters won't hunt us any longer!"
"That is true," Xue Wei smiled too, but he was a bit more hesitant. "I don't know if they will completely give up on capturing us, but I know for a fact that our journey starts from here on out."
"To be honest, whether we’re being chased or not changes nothing. We are on our own, and we will have to rely on our own abilities to make it through the difficulties we face in the future."
"But for now, the biggest issue will be whether or not we can pass the Flowing Blood Prairie alive. You would normally be fine with your Sky Warrior strength, but I am a mere Earth Warrior. Not to mention you are severely wounded still."
"We will fight our way through the prairie!" Hei Gou said with a grin on his face, but he was slightly more worried now than he had been before. "If we have to go down, then let us live a life of no regrets. Let us live every day as if it is our last. If we have to go down in this Flowing Blood Prairie, then we will go down in a blaze of glory!"
Xue Wei smiled wryly. "Of course, but we will do everything we can to stay alive first. Don't be eager to die."
Hei Gou embarrassedly rubbed the bridge of his nose as he smiled. "I know," he said. "I will do everything in my power to let us survive!"
The two grinned, and slowly moved towards the Flowing Blood Prairie.
Back in Heping Kingdom's capital, Shen Mu and Luo Zhirou were held for questioning. They were known to be good friends of Xue Wei, and thus many were looking at them with hostility.
A trial was held to determine whether or not these two experts were aware of Xue Wei's real agenda, or if they had been tricked by that convincing act of his.
By now, there was no doubt amongst any of the people in the entire Heping Kingdom that Xue Wei had tricked Xiao Lei into believing that he was his nephew when in fact he was planted by the Primordial Beasts with some strange purpose that had yet to be determined.
The commoners and most of the nobles were of the expectation that Xue Wei had been planted by the beasts with the sole purpose of killing Xiao Lei. Because of this, many had offered themselves to hunt him down, but the higher-ups in the kingdom all declined these people taking justice into their own hands.
Their reason was that they had already sent a group of Primordial Beast Hunters to capture him, and sending anyone else would be the same as sending them to their own death.
Rumors of what had happened in Lingyun Town quickly spread throughout the entire kingdom and many were stunned silly. If there had been doubt before about him colluding with the Primordial Beasts, this doubt had now been extinguished completely as he had moved under the cover of a beast horde.
Shen Mu and Luo Zhirou were both stunned silly when they heard this. Both of them felt betrayed and unaware of what exactly had happened. No matter how much they thought about it, they could not make sense of any of it.
Xue Wei had not been able to cultivate initially, for a long time. He had been hated and looked down upon by everyone, but then he started to rise like a shining star, becoming much more magnificent than the others.
Had he perhaps struck a deal with the Primordial Beasts back then? Shen Mu could not help but consider this.
"I don't think he did," Luo Zhirou shook her head at Shen Mu when he suggested it. "I don't think that he was actually siding with the Primordial Beasts before this, but he had no other option than to turn to them after we pushed him away. I think that humans pushed him towards the Primordial Beasts."
Luo Zhirou's voice was steady but low. She knew that this was something she was never allowed to say, and the only reason she dared to do so was because Shen Mu was the one standing in front of her.
Shen Mu panicked when he heard her words. "Don't ever mention it again," he whispered frantically while looking around to see if anyone had heard the words spoken by the young woman.
Luo Zhirou looked at Shen Mu with a bit of a complicated look in her eyes. She pitied the man who had to forget all about friendship for the sake of his family’s survival, the man who had to do what the majority wanted as heir to his family and the city lord’s successor back home.
At first, Shen Mu had feared that the Crown Prince would withdraw all the support he had given them before, but strangely enough the Crown Prince did no such thing.
In fact, it was the Crown Prince that in the end managed to support Shen Mu and Luo Zhirou enough to make the jury believe that they had been deceived by Xue Wei.
Shen Mu and Luo Zhirou were quickly forgotten by the common people, but the nobles never stopped monitoring them. If they displayed even the slightest sign of betraying humanity, they would be killed right away.
While the capital was filled with trials to check whether or not people were connected to Xue Wei, there were more and more members of the team of Primordial Beast Hunters that gave up their hunt for Xue Wei.
Although they were tempted by the bounty on Xue Wei’s head, they all knew that it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. They had all lost their window of opportunity to find him.
The only group continuing their hunt was the company controlled by Yuan Chao. He would never give up hunting for Xue Wei.
There were multiple reasons for this captain of the human army to want to continue his pursuit of Xue Wei.
First off was the fact that Xue Wei was his target. His entire company had been tasked with the capture of this young man, and they would never step down before they saw his head severed from his body.
The other reason was that Yuan Chao was a very just man. He wanted to protect the citizens as much as he possibly could, and he was very loyal to the kingdom.
When Yuan Chao was a child, his parents were both in the army, and both died in a trap laid down by humans who had colluded with Primordial Beasts. This trap had killed an entire battalion of soldiers and there were no survivors.
When Yuan Chao learned about this, he felt his heart burning with agony and sadness over the fact that humans would turn against their own kind, and now that he was tasked with finding such a person, he would give it his all to ensure that no others would end up as victims to such cruel methods.
Yuan Chao was a very renowned hero in the army. He did nothing for the sake of improving his military career, all he did was kill Fierce and Primordial Beasts.
Many expected him to become a Primordial Beast Hunter the moment he broke through to become a Heavenly Warrior.
"Everyone, the beast and human has passed through this place!" Yuan Chao exclaimed excitedly as he observed the dead person that was right in front of them.
"These people have all been killed in one move. Some of them are killed by claws, and some of them have their heads severed."
"The speed with which they travel is slow considering how long that goes between the killings. I imagine that we will catch up with them when we are in the Flowing Blood Prairie."
"Captain," someone called out, "please enlighten me, are we truly going to leave the kingdom and enter a no-man’s land for the sake of capturing that kid?"
"Exiting the territory of our kingdom is nothing," Yuan Chao said decisively, "We will enter the center of the continent if we have to! We will chase him to the ends of the earth to give justice to all the lost souls that he has harvested!"
"Be aware, we have killed his martial brother Tie Haolong. His Royal highness has decreed for us to not return empty handed. His Royal Highness has informed us about his wicked deeds, and we have thwarted his plan to kill Xiao Lei. It is expected that one day, if we do not kill him, he will return to kill us! This is something we can never allow to happen, and thus we will capture him and kill him in the name of justice!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Betareader: Soultorrent & Norwegian Viking