Chapter 87: Intricate Trap

"Brother?" The same question exited everyone's mouth at the same time, including Xue Wei. 

Xue Wei started struggling, only to realize that he was in a tight grasp and that he would not be able to free himself. Rather, every time he moved, he caused extra wounds to open on his body. 

Xue Wei's killing intent started soaring to the heavens. He understood what the Ice Harpy was planning, which made him feel a burning anger rise in his chest.

"Who is your brother?!" Xue Wei sneered at Chu Huiyin, who just snorted in reply, "If it weren't because I want them to hate you as much as I do, then I would have never called a disgusting human like you my brother." She grimaced as if it truly was the most disgusting thing she had ever experienced. 

Xue Wei was puzzled. "Why not just kill me then?" he yelled at her, feeling utterly powerless, but he did want to at least be able to control the terms of his death. He was not willing to be tortured to death by this woman, so he was already starting to rotate the Qi in his body with the intent to self-detonate his dantian, seeking to kill himself and possibly her in the process.

"You want to die?!" the Ice Harpy screeched aloud, laughing, "Why don't I help you? If you survive this, then you will be the enemy of both beasts and humans alike. This is truly gratifying!" Chu Huiyin laughed out loud, her voice tinged with madness. Suddenly, her claws released their grip on Xue Wei's shoulders, causing him to fall through the air. 

Chu Huiyin had carried him far into the sky, and they were now very far away from the capital, so when he fell, Xue Wei realized that it would be impossible for him to survive this fall unless he could lessen the impact somehow. 

He had looked down and saw that they were so high up in the sky that everything beneath him looked like ants. They were on top of a forest, but every tree seemed to be so far away from him that he could reach out and grasp them. He felt the wind against his head as he plummeted to the ground, and although he was falling fast, the forest seemed to stay far away from him.

He activated the Forbidden Rush movement technique and started to merge with the wind. Unfortunately, his body was rather wounded from the talons that had been piercing his shoulders, leaving behind large, bleeding gashes around them, so he couldn’t perform at his peak. 

As he fell, he managed to slow his descent enough to drift down almost like a leaf that fell from the sky. His falling speed diminished drastically, but he was still falling towards the ground, towards a massive forest. And the closer he got, the harder it was to control the Forbidden Rush movement technique due to his wounds, meaning his descent to the ground started picking up in speed again.

Xue Wei was losing a lot of blood, and his head was spinning. He lost consciousness the moment before he reached the crowns of the trees, losing control over the Forbidden Rush movement technique as he plummeted through the canopies without anything to cushion his fall. 

One branch after another slowed his fall, but these branches were large, so although they were shaking and creaking, they did not fall or break from the impact. With only the first hit, he broke a few ribs, and the second one caused him to get a concussion. 

When he finally was laying on the ground, his entire body was riddled with cuts, bruises, and some gaping wounds that were bleeding profusely. 

Xue Wei awoke to a hammering pain in his entire body. Only then did he remember what Lan had told him about the Azure Dragon Scripture’s shapeshifting ability– to not use the dragonization on his arms since it could cause a misunderstanding. 

It was he himself who had made it possible for Chu Huiyin to take advantage of the other experts' doubts to proclaim that they were brother and sister. 

"Now it is clear that they will see me as a Primordial Beast," Xue Wei grimaced and then hissed in pain. "If they don't assume that I am a Primordial Beast, then they will at least assume I have sided with the beasts. This is a great plan, you damned bird woman."

Xue Wei gritted his teeth and tried standing up, only to realize that his body would not listen to his commands. Instead, he dragged his sore and wounded body to the foot of a great tree, where he sat down and started circulating the Qi within his body to slowly heal the wounds. 

At the same time, in the Capital of Heping, the entire army was in an uproar. "The Crimson Devil was too inhuman; it is only obvious for him to be a Primordial Beast. I should have guessed it before," someone muttered and others nodded their heads. 

"His clothes were so soaked in blood that they had turned black. This is not something a human can achieve – he is a monster! I wonder why he infiltrated our army though? What were his plans?" another pondered. 

"If he was a Primordial Beast, then why did he fight for us?" someone asked tentatively, but he was quickly glared at by the others, so he ducked his head and kept the questions about what really happened to himself. 

The commander's face was ashen. His eyes filled with unreconciliation when he saw how many people the human side had lost. After making a headcount of the dead, he lifted his head and roared to the heavens. 

"We lost so many experts in this battle," he began to speak soon after. His voice was injected with enough Qi to be heard at the furthest ends of the capital, to ensure that all could hear what he was saying. 

"These experts were new to the battle, but this was also the biggest battle we have had for a very long time. To have their first battle against such a beast horde is truly unfortunate."

"As to why these beasts have decided to strike at such a strange time, we do not know."

Suddenly, a gleam appeared in the commander’s eyes. He almost smirked, but just before the smile appeared on his lips, he raised his hand to cover his mouth, scratching his cheek, and straightened his face.

At that moment, he looked like a cunning old fox that had everything within his grasp, and he seemed as if he was well aware of what was happening. In fact, he did not seem to really care about the massive losses they had gained. Everything seemed to be going according to plan.

All of this lasted for less than a moment. It was impossible for those who noticed the strange expression on his face to fully grasp what they had seen, and before they could comprehend it, the commander continued his speech, stressing each and every one of the next words.

"We lost many of our comrades, but there is one man who can never be forgiven!" 

"Xue Wei, the traitor of humankind! We will start a hunt to kill him. He is much more dangerous than the deserters, he is far more shrewd than the normal Primordial Beast!" 

"We do not know whether or not it is a Primordial Beast who has pretended to be Xiao Lei's nephew after killing the real one! In fact, I assume it is!" 

"We all know that Xue Wei’s entire family was killed by a Primordial Beast, leaving just him alive. This was likely a way to con the hero Xiao Lei and make him believe that this abnormality was his nephew!" 

"He has tricked the hero of our nation, and I would believe he has done so for the sake of killing him! We cannot let this youngster live! He is a terrifying Primordial Beast; we need him to die!" 

"Genius Camp members, follow me!" 

Having said this, the commander left the battlefield, and everyone from the Genius Camp followed behind him towards the old tent camp.

"I have a special task to all of you," he announced. "All of you have to give chase! We will turn the entire country upside down and send a message to all other neighboring kingdoms with a portrait of him. We will not allow for him to slip through our net, and we will only rest when his head is severed from his body!" 

The commander ordered the execution of Xue Wei as simply as if he was trying to kill someone else. Many were puzzled. Was this truly the right way to go about things? Was Xue Wei not innocent until otherwise proven? Had the Ice Harpy not just tried to frame him? 

Although many questions swirled in the minds of these experts, none of them spoke up. If the commander had made his decision, then it was likely that he had a reason to do what he had done. 

In fact, not many cared about Xue Wei. He was but a tool to get close to Xiao Lei, and he might even be a hindrance since everyone knew that Xiao Lei only had eyes for his nephew. 

Many of the geniuses were eager to start hunting him. They had never liked Xue Wei, and now that he was less fortunate, they were finding pleasure in another's misery. 

Only a handful of the experts present were deep in contemplation, Tie Haolong being one of them. 

Things did not add up, but they could do nothing. All of them were just recruits, whereas the commander was the leader of all new and old recruits, with decades of experience under his belt. Going against him was simply impossible, and all of them could feel that the general mood was not in Xue Wei's favor. 

The group of geniuses was quickly reorganized. Many of the teams had lost a member or two, resulting in them being mixed up once more, after which they were sent out to search for Xue Wei. 

In truth, this was a desperate measure. In fact, no one knew how strong the Ice Harpy truly was, and since they had left together, one would assume that they were still together, but the commander was blinded by rage. 

"When you find them, send a message back to us instantly. We will then dispatch our Primordial Beast Hunters," the commander managed to once more hide the smile on his face as he sent them out on their mission, and all of the geniuses split into their groups before they spread out to begin the hunt of Xue Wei and the Ice Harpy.

Another thing, which puzzled many, was how the Commander dared send the Genius Camp. Was Xue Wei not currently being protected by the Ice Harpy? If he was, then it was suicide to throw all of these experts to find him, unless perhaps the commander knew something the others did not? 

While the geniuses rushed in the same direction that Chu Huiyin had flown, Xue Wei was sitting still under the tree, directing the Qi flow through his veins by meditation. He was shocked to find that his regeneration speed was much faster than he had expected. It would take him at most one month to be fully healed, something that was completely unbelievable considering the seriousness of his wounds. 

Xue Wei's soul energy was constantly spread out to the limit on vigil to see when someone arrived close to him, and he could sense that many beasts came close, but as soon as they caught a whiff of the scent of blood from him, all of them turned tail and ran as fast as they could in the opposite direction. 

"I should have listened to Lan," Xue Wei complained to no one in particular. "I just had to get caught up in the moment and display my Azure Dragon arms; I could not contain the excitement and allowed my bloodlust to get the better of me." 

"Now I am definitely seen as a deserter, if I am lucky. A conspirator with the Primordial Beasts if I am somewhat unlucky, and as a Primordial Beast if my luck is all the way down the gutter." Xue Wei shook his head, but then he got dizzy and grunted. 

“I hate her! I want to kill her!” Xue Wei growled. He felt the anger rise within him again. He felt betrayed. His heart felt as though split into two parts, one part telling him that he should rush back to the capital and explain that it was all just the Ice Harpy playing games with him and another part telling him that it was now too late.

His life had been turned upside down and he felt powerless. He had lost all power to control his own life, and he was now on the run. Beasts and humans alike would kill him if they got the chance to do so, and he knew that there was no one who would support him anymore.

The despair of the situation crept up on Xue Wei. He started to understand what it truly meant to be all alone against the entire world. 

Previously, he had been alone because he had wished for it, but now that he was forced down a road of solitude, he felt the weight of having let his uncle down weigh heavily on himself.

“Will I ever see Uncle again?” He muttered to himself as he felt his eyes sting with tears. “Will he believe me, or will he think that I had something to do with the Primordial Beasts? Will he also come to hunt me like the others?”

“No! Uncle will believe me!” Xue Wei clung unto the final hope he had and tears started dropping from his eyes. “I can never become a Primordial Beast Hunter now... instead I am likely to be grouped together with the enemies of the kingdom.” 

“I don’t know where to go. What am I to do with my life from now on?” Xue Wei’s voice was trembling, and he truly felt all alone against the entire world. “What can I do now? What am I to do? Should I just go back and let them pass judgement on me, hope that they will be lenient?”

“It is all that damn bird’s fault!” Xue Wei felt the anger rising within him again. The sadness and despair was pushed aside by the anger and the indignation. “If she had not done all of this, then I would have been fine! For how long has she been planning this?!” 

"And to think that I thought she couldn't kill me. How full of myself I am," he snorted. "She can kill me as easily as she wishes to, but there are things worse than death. How am I to ever face Uncle now? Will Uncle even believe me or will he believe the others? Will he also begin hunting me from now on?" 

"Will I ever be able to gain fame and recognition? How will I make Xiaoyun's family acknowledge me when I am known as someone in cahoots with the Primordial Beasts?" 

Xue Wei sighed as he felt hopelessness wash over his body. How was he supposed to do anything now? His aim of becoming a revered Primordial Beast Hunter had been ruthlessly destroyed by some random action from Chu Huiyin. 

Xue Wei suddenly felt completely listless. All his dreams, all his plans, everything had been destroyed by Chu Huiyin. 

"I guess what I should do is to go to Lingyun Town," Xue Wei sighed to himself after a bit of time. "First, I need some sort of goal. At least I have gold coins and money on me. I should be able to manage this trip. But I need to disguise myself somehow." 

Xue Wei thought deeply about it. 

"When I reach the Northern Taiga and the Lingyun Town, my wounds should have completely healed, and then, depending on what I find, I can start on a new path."

"Although one path is shattered, others open up. If all goes bad, I will go to the center of the continent and find that phony prophet. He told me to find him, but then again he might betray me in a heartbeat if he learns of the bad name I have now." 

Xue Wei was indecisive about his future plans. There seemed to be negatives and benefits to everything he could do.

“I guess I should understand myself before trying to understand someone else,” Xue Wei muttered to himself. “The Primordial Beasts were said to have killed my family. I want to see if this is truly the case. I cannot remember anything at all about what happened in the past, all I remember is the days together with Uncle. If I want to move forward, then my memories must be a good tool to understanding myself and the situation I am in.”

"Okay, first Lingyun Town," he decided and struggled to get to his feet. "Then I can see what to do afterward. For now, I have to know of my roots!"

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Author: Tinalynge

Editor: Melinum

Betareader: Soultorrent & Norwegian Viking

Proofreader: Tue