The light of dawn dispelled the darkness. Three people on two horses entered the forest by the stream of water to rest and eat. This river continued from the White Hun Tribe and it would sometimes become an underground river in the mountains, and sometimes bubble out from underground, becoming a little river again. Only Dayetia and Szlamy knew where it led and they could follow its flow through this mountainous area.
The two horses’ reins were tied to some branches while the three of them ate. Even a body of steel wouldn’t be able to hang on without rest after a whole night of fleeing, especially Xia Lei. He had gone through a life-and-death battle and used up a whole lot more energy than Dayetia and Szlamy. He urgently needed time to rest and recuperate.
Xia Lei’s clothing was full of holes torn by flying rock shards. The fabric was also covered with dark bloodstains. His face was dirty and bloody, his hair a mess. He looked like a warrior who had just returned from the frontlines - battered, but with a wild, valiant edge which was very attractive.
Dayetia and Szlamy were in no better shape. Their faces were dirt-smeared too and their clothes had been torn by branches and twigs, revealing large areas of skin. They had a wild, valiant attractiveness too. If they and Xia Lei were to be compared to lions, then they were the lionesses while Xia Lei was the lion.
“Xia, eat some beef jerky.” Szlamy handed him a piece.
“Thanks.” Xia Lei took the jerky and pulled off a portion to chew. He was dog-tired and the dried meat was like a delicacy.
“Come, drink some water.” Szlamy opened her water bottle and fed Xia Lei some water.
Xia Lei felt a little embarrassed but he did not reject Szlamy’s offers. Szlamy didn’t just feed him water - she also wiped the water which dribbled out of his mouth. She squatted before him with her legs slightly open and her snowy thighs showed under her tattered skirt. A white thing could be seen too - her hand-sewn underwear, with stitches which were not up to par. The sight of a certain partially-covered area which one would not dare look at directly was presented to Xia Lei’s eyes, and was very stimulating. All these made Xia Lei feel like the water he was drinking had the effects of alcohol.
“You have many wounds on your body. I’ll help you treat them.” Szlamy went into the role of field doctor after feeding Xia Lei water.
“Ahem!” Dayetia couldn’t take it anymore and she coughed before Szlamy could play field doctor. “What are you doing, Szlamy? You are our tribe’s best marks-woman, not a nurse and definitely not a little lover girl who fawns over a man.”
What Dayetia did not say was actually ‘You’re tarnishing the pride of the tribe!’
“Yeah? Why am I taking care of you?” Szlamy wrinkled her brows. “Xia, you should be the one fussing over me… Massage my legs. My legs are sore.”
Xia Lei rolled his eyes at her and got up. He walked towards a tall, lush tree.
“Where are you going?” Dayetia softened her tone; she thought she had angered Xia Lei.
“You two sleep first. I’ll keep watch and let you know when it’s time to switch,” said Xia Lei.
The two White Hun women exchanged glances but did not speak. They then watched as Xia Lei climbed up that huge tree like a monkey, jumping just a few times to get into the dense canopy of the tree.
“Is he a monkey? Wow. The stinking men in our tribe are like domesticated goats in pens compared to him.” Szlamy’s blue eyes were filled with excitement and awe. Xia Lei’s display of startling jumping power and nimbleness was impressive but as the White Hun Tribe marks-woman, what Szlamy admired more was the godly gunman-ship he had shown last night.
Dayetia gave Szlamy a look. “Have you fallen in love with him?”
Szlamy’s babyish face reddened. “I… No, I didn’t. I’m just playing around. You know how it is. Aren’t we women in the tribe all like that? Men are like clothes.”
Dayetia let out a sigh. “He’s definitely not a businessman. We saw how powerful he was with our own eyes last night. The enemy had three helicopters and he took one out with a sniper rifle. The other twenty-something men were all elite soldiers with very advanced equipment but they were unable to break through his defences. He not only withdrew in one piece but also ensured our safety as we retreated. What is the true identity of a person like this?”
Szlamy shook her head. “I don’t know but I know he is our friend. He was willing to risk his life to protect us last night. We should trust him.”
“Of course I trust him,” said Dayetia, “Don’t you understand why I’m saying this? I mean for you to control your emotions. Don’t get in too deep.”
“I’m not in too deep.” Szlamy thought for a bit and stretched out both hands, forming a circle with her left thumb and index finger, then sticking her right index finger into the circle, up to the fingertip, saying in deadly earnest, “About this deep. My relationship with him is this deep.”
Dayetia rolled her eyes and lay weakly on the ground. She couldn’t be bothered with this ridiculous person anymore.
Szlamy shrugged and also lay down on the grass to sleep.
On the tree, Xia Lei stopped using his visual abilities on the mountaintop opposite. He had already surveyed their surroundings and had not found any American soldiers or CIA agents following them. This let him relax quite a bit.
Xia Lei sat on a branch and removed his rucksack. He took out the compass and held it in his hand to take a close look at it. This compass was indeed the one he had repaired long ago and the places he had welded were all visible to him. However, the pointing needle was not the original.
The compass needle pointed in the direction of the White Hun Tribe.
‘The experts excavated the needle in China and changed it on the compass, which led them to the White Hun Tribe. If I succeed in stealing the sword of Attila and building a hydropower station for the White Hun Tribe, would I get a new needle when I have the chance to explore the ruins? What if there’s no needle and the end of this secret is in the White Hun Tribe?’ thought Xia Lei.
These two possibilities were both plausible but he had to get the sword of Attila to the White Hun Tribe and build a hydropower station for them first. The second requirement was not that difficult - he just needed money. Building the hydropower station was the easiest but the getting the sword was difficult.
‘The Shinyeok Group is in South Korea, and Ahn Geungan is also an old-school politician there. He must have influence in both society and the underworld. Is there any other way for me to get the sword of Attila other than going to Korea to steal it? How am I going to do it if I’m going to steal it?’ Xia Lei’s head was filled with these thoughts.
A white shadow suddenly flashed by in the sky, interrupting Xia Lei’s thoughts. He used his long-range vision and saw that it was a Predator drone. It was not hovering in this place though, but zooming past.
‘The CIA will not give up on their pursuit of me. They will send drones to search for traces of me and even use American satellites. Looks like I’ll have to be very careful,’ thought Xia Lei as tiredness overcame him and he closed his eyes.
There was no need to keep watch with no enemies around. This was also an advantage of using his X-ray vision. Anyone else in his situation wouldn’t dare to relax.
Dayetia and Szlamy fell asleep quickly too and they did not take over watch duty from Xia Lei, perhaps due to their tiredness. Xia Lei did not wake them either.
They slept till the noon, when the sun had climbed from the east to the middle of the sky. Blinding sunlight came through the small gaps between the leaves and shone on Xia Lei’s eyes, waking him.
The rustling of footsteps came to his ear and he climbed up on the fork of the branch in alarm, casting his gaze at the sound. The leaves and branches quickly disappeared from his vision and he saw the source of the noise - Dayetia. She was walking off to the side of the camp, AK47 in hand and looking alertly in all directions.
‘Has she discovered an enemy?’ Xia Lei grew nervous right away and his left eyes searched the area in front of Dayetia. He saw nothing other than trees and wild grass.
At that moment, Dayetia walked to a patch of grass and lifted her skirt. She pulled down her handmade underwear and squatted urgently…
A small patch of grass was watered, and would probably grow more lush.
‘What the…’ Xia Lei smiled wryly and looked away, but he could not erase the sight of the secret garden he had glimpsed. He then suddenly remembered a set of tiles in mahjong.
Szlamy was awake too. She smacked her own forehead, then ran towards Xia Lei.
Xia Lei slid down from the tree and said with a smile, “I know you’re coming to switch shifts but there’s no need now. I overslept too.”
“You overslept too?” Szlamy laughed immediately. “Men are not reliable after all.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
Dayetia walked over too. She was unaware of the earlier situation and her attitude was still calm and cool as always. “Don’t let this happen again. It’s dangerous.”
Xia Lei responded quietly, “There won’t be a next time. Let’s go. I spotted a drone earlier. We have to be more careful. Those people will catch up to us quickly if we’re discovered.”
“Only our tribe know of this route. Don’t worry, the American drones cannot find us as long as we do not wander from the forest,” said Dayetia. After a pause, she added, “After we get out of this mountainous area we just need to cross a tribe’s territory and we’ll be in the Wakhan Corridor. That is not the territory of the Americans and it will be much safer for us.”
“We’ll follow your plan,” said Xia Lei.
Dayetia mounted her horse a few minutes later and moved onward, following the river.
Xia Lei and Szlamy’s buttocks were squeezed into a saddle once more, so intimately close that they could be one…
“I know that tribe. Our Chieftain and that tribe’s chieftain are on good terms. We just have to get through this part and we will be safe there,” said Szlamy.
“That’s great.” Xia Lei was also secretly happy that he wouldn’t have to pay his way through.
“Buy clothes for me when we get to China.”
“Sure, I’ll buy clothes for you. I’ll buy you a hundred and you can wear them till you’re sick of them.”
Xia Lei was speechless.Previous Chapter Next Chapter