The Romantic Horseback Journey
Nian Bing loosened his grip on Feng Nu slightly. He wanted to move backwards, but the saddle wasn’t big enough. If he wanted to move, where could he go? What he wanted even more was his little brother to go back down, but his little brother didn’t listen and stubbornly remained erect. Feng Nu’s bottom was rubbing against him and sent waves of pleasure through him, driving Nian Bing insane. His muscles tightened, and he lowered his head to whisper urgently into Feng Nu’s ear, “It, it’s not listening to me! Feng Nu, I really didn’t do this on purpose, please don’t take this the wrong way.”
Feng Nu was close to tears now. The weather was so cold, but her heart felt like it was encased in flames. “C-can’t you think of something else?”
Nian Bing laughed awkwardly. “Um, uh, I don’t have a way to deal with this. Besides stopping and taking a rest, Feng Nu, why don’t, uh, why don’t you endure it for a bit. After a little while we should be able to take a break.”
Feng Nu elbowed him hard in the ribs. With a hint of anger she said, “How could I endure this? Nian Bing, just die. If only I had known earlier I wouldn’t have ridden with you.”
Nian Bing withstood the pain, his thoughts immediately shifting. “Feng Nu, I’m just an ordinary man! Who told you to be so attractive?”
Feng Nu whispered harshly, “Idiot, can’t you use ice magic? Use it on yourself and see if that thing won’t go away.” When she was saying this, her pretty face was red as an apple. Fortunately, everyone else was facing forwards so no one discovered her predicament.
Nian Bing hesitated and said, “But that could injure me. Feng Nu, let’s just keep talking like this. The more we talk the more distracted you’ll be.
Feng Nu inhaled deeply, her words choking in her throat, “Nian Bing, I hate you to death. How am I supposed to face people from now on?”
Nian Bing nearly jumped in fright. He hadn’t thought that Feng Nu, who he had always thought of as strong, would actually cry. Instantly, it was like a bucket of cold water had been splashed on his face. His little brother finally retreated, returning to its usual position. Lowering his head, Nian Bing still held onto Feng Nu’s waist, though he maintained a distance between them as much as possible. Because of his touch, Feng Nu had cried. What did that mean? His heart, which had been burning because of Feng Nu, gradually cooled down. He said quietly, “Feng Nu, I am sorry. When we arrive and meet up with the mages, I’ll sit in the carriage. I will make sure that something like this never happens again.”
As the little brother behind her retreated, Feng Nu immediately returned to normal. Nian Bing’s calm tone of voice made her feel a bit strange. She wiped her tears as she said quietly, “What’s the use of saying sorry. Also, sit properly; if you sit that far away you’re going to fall off when we turn. Y-you, didn’t you want to talk? What should we talk about?”
Nian Bing’s heart thudded, and he once again wrapped his arms around Feng Nu’s willowy frame. Smiling, he asked, “Then let’s talk about you. How did you train in martial arts? I used to look down on you, but you were actually that awesome.”
Feng Nu sighed lightly. “There is nothing in this world that can be achieved without hard work. It’s true that I am here today because of my body’s constitution, but I also cultivated for many years. I don’t know who my parents are; I was raised by my seniors. According to them, the moment I was born they used all kinds of herbal baths on me to help bring out the characteristics of my body and raise my potential. When I was three years old, I started cultivating qi with the help of my seniors. When I turned seven, I had already become an advanced warrior. In that respect, I didn’t have much of a childhood. My childhood was spent cultivating. This year, I am nineteen; I have lived for nineteen years and have cultivated martial arts for nineteen years.” When she said this, her tone was laced with faint sorrow.
Nian Bing thought for a moment, then said, “That is to say, the special characteristics of your body is definitely the Nine Flame Body that Principal Zi Meng spoke of?” At this moment, his state of mind was stable. Even though Feng Nu was alluring as ever, his logical reasoning was taking hold. He wouldn’t forget himself like he did before.
Feng Nu’s delicate frame trembled slightly. She said quietly, “Nian Bing, I know that you are very smart, but don’t make wild guesses about this. I know that it won’t do you any good. Do you get what I mean?”
Nian Bing smiled and said, “As long as you don’t say anything to other people, how would anyone else know what I do about you? For you to have been raised to have such strength, your backing must be extremely powerful.”
She replied, “Let’s not talk about me. Let’s talk about you. You already told me that your parents died and you self-cultivated your magic. How could someone with no guidance become a great mage at this young of an age? And you are also cultivating Ice and Fire Source magic. I think that you don’t have any less secrets than I do. Nian Bing, sometimes I feel like you are just an ordinary boy, but at other times, you seem like a contemplative sage, neither happiness nor anger flowing through you. J-just now was the first time I felt that you’d truly let loose.”
Nian Bing sighed. “Actually, I am not as mysterious as you imagine. There is only hatred in my heart, and because of this hatred, everything else is dispensable. I cannot live under the same sky as my parents’ enemy. Right now, I only have two goals. First, to carry out my master’s dream and to develop my own culinary arts further, and second, to avenge my parents. However, my enemy is far too strong, so even I do not know when I will have the strength to match up to them.”
Feng Nu said, “Maybe I could help you. Who is your enemy?”
It was an attractive proposition. Feng Nu was already close to martial saint realm. With her help, the chances of getting revenge would improve greatly. However, Nian Bing shook his head, “No, this revenge is mine alone.”
Further ahead, Ka Luo slowed down drastically, breaking away from the main group. He waited for the other riders to pass him, drawing level with Nian Bing and Feng Nu. “Nian Bing, you’re a mage. Are you all right with riding for this long?”
Nian Bing smiled and replied, “I’m fine. It should be fine temporarily. Feng Nu is a very good rider and this horse runs very steadily. President Ka Luo, where are we going?”
Ka Luo said, “We are going to the Tian Dang Mountains which are about six hundred kilometers from Profound Orchid City. According to the map, we can find the treasure trove there. When we get to the mountain range, we’ll ditch the horses and proceed on foot. But no need to worry, I have already made arrangement for warriors to help you and the other mages to traverse the mountain roads.”
Feng Nu made a sound of surprise. “The Tian Dang Mountains are on the easternmost portion of the Profound Orchid Empire. Past that is the Profound Orchid Sea. It can be said that the Tian Dang Mountains are the Profound Orchid Empire’s natural border. No matter how the ocean churns and surges, it cannot break through the hundreds of kilometers of mountains. And, because the Tian Dang Mountains and the Profound Orchid Empire are so close together, there is no land to plow near the mountains. So the Tian Dang Mountains are extremely desolate and signs of human habitation are rare.
“If we go there to search for the treasure trove, the logistics of supplies will become problematic. Also, the Tian Dang Mountains are not of importance to the empire, so there aren’t any roads there. With tangled and wild undergrowth and craggy passages, it seems that this quest will be very difficult!”
Ka Luo looked at Feng Nu with renewed surprise. “I didn’t think that Miss would be so familiar with the geography of the continent. What you said is exactly the same as what I’d researched. The situation with the Tian Dang Mountains is complex. There are many unknown dangers there. If not, this treasure trove would not be called a cursed treasure. However, you don’t need to worry about surprises. The association has spent a large sum of money to buy several high quality space rings which can store large quantities of goods. It should be enough for several months’ worth.
“Also, the treasure trove is located on the northwest part of the mountain range, not too far from where we enter. So, if everything goes smoothly, it might take us just half a month to complete the mission. If we meet meet danger that we cannot deal with, we should have enough supplies for us to leave the mountain range. Of course, I hope that such a situation wouldn’t happen. All in all, I am very confident about our prospects.”
Nian Bing nodded. “I hope that it will go just as smoothly as you said. For food, I suggest you prepare vegetables, rice, and seasonings. We can replenish meat directly from the mountains, and it would be best to pack some simple medicines. Of course, large quantities of freshwater are absolutely necessary. If we only bring rations, everybody will become nutrient deficient, and our strength will take a hit. As for what herbs can be used in cooking, I can give you a list and you just need to go buy them. They’re all good for muscles and nutrition.”
Ka Luo frowned. “Nian Bing, I’m afraid that won’t work. We mercenaries are not so pampered like you mages. We normally only prepare the most simple of rations. If we bring as many things as you say, then wouldn’t we need a chef to come with us to the Tian Dang Mountains?” Nian Bing was young after all, and though he greatly appreciated Nian Bing, he felt that his request this time was too much.
Feng Nu laughed. “You don’t need to worry about that. Nian Bing is not only an exceptional mage, but he is also an excellent cook. His food is the most delicious I’ve ever eaten.”
Ka Luo was stunned for a moment. “A chef? This…”
Nian Bing grinned sheepishly. “No need to feel awkward. Where are we lodging tonight? You will understand what I mean then. Please, don’t worry. I definitely won’t cause trouble for you.” As a top-class chef, his requirements for food were very high. Other than times where he’s as focused as he was when he was in the library completely consumed by magic research, he wanted to cook his own food as much as possible. Even if it was just a simple bowl of white rice, Nian Bing could produce a completely different flavor.
Ka Luo said, “Then we will talk about it again. Before we go into the Tian Dang Mountains, our last supply stop will be the closest city to the mountains, Tian Dang City. Right now, the other group must already be there, preparing the things we’ll need when we go into the mountains. Once we get there, we’ll rest up for a bit and then enter the mountains. If we travel through the night, we might be able to get there by midnight. Once the sky turns dark, we’ll find a place to eat rations, rest, and the continue on our way. Nian Bing, if you can’t keep up then just say it. It won’t be a problem if we are late.”
Ka Luo returned to the front of the troop; his concern made Nian Bing’s impression of the mercenary association president very good.
“Nian Bing, things might not be so easy,” said Feng Nu in a very grave tone.
Nian Bing made no movements nor sounds. “Why? Is there an issue?”
Feng Nu nodded. “The Tian Dang Mountains are very desolate, but there’s great danger there. From what I know, there’s a strange clan residing there.”
Nian Bing blanked out. “A strange clan?”
“Yes. They’re very strong. If possible, I suggest you advise President Ka Luo that it would be best to terminate this operation.”
Nian Bing barked out a laugh. “I’m afraid that isn’t possible. President Ka Luo mustered these many elite mercenaries obviously because he is determined to finish the task. Now, who could possibly dissuade him? Feng Nu, what is this clan like for you to be so concerned?”
Feng Nu sighed. “Although humans dominate the continent, there are also a few mysterious clans. Although they very rarely come in contact with humans and are completely self-centered, if humans encroach on their interests, they will ruthlessly attack and annihilate them. As for what kind of clan they are, I cannot say, but we should probably retreat.”
Nian Bing felt somewhat awkward. “But I already promised President Ka Luo; it would not be too good for me to back out now. Perhaps the treasure trove we’re looking for is unrelated to the clan you spoke of?” He was becoming more suspicious of Feng Nu’s true identity. But he knew that no matter how he asked, if Feng Nu didn’t want to answer, she definitely wouldn’t say anything.
Feng Nu sighed lightly again. “Since it’s like that, then I will accompany you for this trip. I hope it’s just as you said, that this operation is unrelated to that clan. After all, the Tian Dang Mountains are very big and there aren’t many of this clan. Perhaps they don’t live on the northwestern part at all. However, you must promise me, if we meet that clan you must immediately leave with me, even if it means abandoning your companions. If not, even I am not certain I can save your life.”
When he heard Feng Nu be so serious, Nian Bing felt somewhat doubtful, but when he thought of the ancient magic spells Ka Luo spoke of, all thoughts of escaping were dispelled. Although he did have understanding towards his Ice and Fire Source, he still wasn’t certain that he could fuse his two magics as he imagined. These ancient magic spells might be useful for deepening his magic and his cultivation. In order for revenge, he chose to take the risk.