The Romantic Horseback Journey
Time gradually slipped by. Eventually, the sun started to set on the western horizon, which left only the cold, winter wind circling around the reddening sky. In this time, Feng Nu had used her Nine Flame Qi twice to protect Zi Qing Meng against the cold. On the road, the Zi siblings seldom talked, particularly since the normally cheerful Zi Qing Jian was so obviously dejected. Both Nian Bing and Feng Nu knew why, but they didn’t say anything to avoid an awkward situation.
In the beginning, Nian Bing didn’t feel too much because of Feng Nu, but after four hours of horse riding, the jolting of the horse gradually became too much. All of his bones felt like they were shaken loose, especially his hips. At this moment, he was leaning against Feng Nu’s body, gripping her waist to reduce the impacts he was receiving. Fortunately, he was vigilantly controlling his body so something like before wouldn’t happen again. The faint fragrance emanating from Feng Nu’s body was a major motivator for him. Despite his discomfort, resting his head against her long, pink hair, sniffing that delightful scent, and feeling the touch of her wonderfully supple body had made him less than inclined to end this journey too soon.
“It’s dark out. Let’s rest for a bit,” Ka Luo’s voice filtered backwards from up front, then the horses which had been charging forward began to take smaller strides. Under Ka Luo’s command, everyone stopped at a gentle slope. One after the other, the warriors dismounted, speaking volumes about their training; the pace of this journey had been relaxing for them.
“Hey, let go of me. Haven’t you hugged me enough?” said Feng Nu, reproach evident in her tone. It was only then that Nian Bing reacted, reluctantly letting go of Feng Nu. A gust of hot air suddenly blew through him. Nian Bing felt his body become light. Something beneath his feet shook, and he found that he had fallen on the ground. Feng Nu then tugged on his arm.
The sore, swollen feeling of his hips made Nian Bing temporarily lose the ability to walk. He forced himself to move and thought to himself, This horse riding business is nothing good! Fortunately, he had been accompanied by a beauty; otherwise this journey would have been unbearable.
The Zi siblings walked over to them. Although Zi Qing Meng looked exhausted, she was in far better shape than Nian Bing. After all, a mage’s greatest flaw was their physical strength.
Feng Nu let go of Nian Bing’s hand and went behind him. She pressed her palm against his lower waist, and immediately, a shot of Nine Flames Qi surged through him. The stream ran along his vessels, instantly travelling through Nian Bing’s body. The scorching feeling was very comfortable, almost making Nian Bing moan. The discomfort in his body had mostly disappeared, leaving him warm and indescribably relaxed.
He turned to look at Feng Nu. The journey had taken merely four hours, but Nian Bing clearly felt that he and Feng Nu had become much closer. “Thank you, it’s a lot better.”
Feng Nu smiled. “What’s there to thank me for? I didn’t do it because I wanted to help you. If I didn’t fix your body’s condition then how would you be able to make me any food? Didn’t you want to show off your culinary skills to President Ka Luo? It’s best if he agrees to bring more non-rations ingredients into the mountains.”
Nian Bing attempted to hold Feng Nu’s hand, but she dodged his arm and glared at him. Nian Bing chuckled. “It’s fine, there is still more trail to trod.” His meaning was very obvious. Before they got to Tian Dang City, he could still hold onto Feng Nu as they would be riding for some time.
Feng Nu added in a huff, “Just go and cook.”
Nian Bing laughed and said, “As you wish. I shall fulfill my duty.” He walked over to President Ka Luo.
Zi Qing Jian looked at Zi Qing Meng. “You go and help Nian Bing. With this many people, it might be too much for him.”
Zi Qing Meng gave her older brother a look. She knew that he still hadn’t given up on Feng Nu, but nodded and followed Nian Bing.
Feng Nu was not going to avoid Zi Qing Jian. She walked over to a large rock over to the side and sat down. Zi Qing Jian followed after her, taking off the broadsword on his back and setting it aside. He passed a waterskin to Feng Nu, then said, “Miss Feng Nu, have some water.”
Feng Nu smiled and shook her head. “Big Brother Qing Jian, you also have to rest for a bit. I don’t want to drink. I was going to wait here for a while before eating Nian Bing’s delicious food!”
Zi Qing Jian somberly took back his waterskin and drank from it. He sat down next to her. “Miss Feng Nu, how did you train your martial arts? You’re really amazing. I’ve trained since I was young, but I only have the strength of a great swordmaster.”
Feng Nu answered, “Martial arts cultivation must be taken step by step. It’s probably because my techniques are much more precise. You aren’t that old and have already reached the great swordmaster realm. That’s already really good. Also I can tell that at most three years, you’ll become a martial master. Train hard, and you will definitely succeed.”
Zi Qing Jian looked at Feng Nu’s moving smile and couldn’t help but be struck dumb. “Miss Feng Nu, are we friends?”
“Of course, we’re already friends.”
Zi Qing Jian lowered his head and said, “How did you and Nian Bing get to know each other? It looks like you both are very familiar with each other.”
“We’re fairly familiar,” she replied. “Nian Bing’s a good person and makes delectable food. Actually, we haven’t known each other for very long; not even half a year.”
“Not even half a year?” Zi Qing Jian’s voice betrayed his excitement.
Feng Nu smiled faintly. “Although we haven’t known each other for long, we are the same kind of people. We both have a goal that can’t be changed by outside circumstances. He’s like that, and so am I. That’s why we’re friends, like why you and me are friends.” Her eyes were filled with a deep emotions as she looked at Zi Qing Jian. Then she closed her sky-blue eyes and sealed her lips.
Zi Qing Jian blanked for a moment. Although he was honest and straightforward, he wasn’t an idiot. He knew what Feng Nu was trying to say, but he wouldn’t back down because of that. Instead, he thought optimistically. He believed that maybe since Nian Bing didn’t want to get into a relationship with Feng Nu, she might want to become closer to him.
While Zi Qing Jian and Feng Nu were talking, Nian Bing was showing off his near perfect cooking skills. When Ka Luo saw Nian Bing had taken out the dazzling Proud Sky Knife and was using seasoning and flame to turn the plain rations into delicious food, he really couldn’t believe his eyes. Especially at the end when Nian Bing took out a giant pot, condensed ice, and added a smattering of ingredients to make some piping hot soup. He had to use all four limbs to support the pot as he brought it over.
This simple meal had ingratiated Nian Bing with the warriors of the mercenary troop. Though conquering their stomachs might not conquer their hearts, it was enough to make these strong warriors acknowledge his existence.
After the meal, everyone rested for a moment before tramping along the road to Tian Dang City. Of course, Nian Bing still rode with Feng Nu, easily hugging her alluring, slender waist. What made Feng Nu laugh was his body couldn’t adapt to the long-distance riding. His whole body was practically stuck to her back, making the contact between them more intimate. Nian Bing also thought about the rarity of such a great opportunity. If he didn’t take advantage of it to its fullest, wouldn’t that be a big loss? Finding another chance like this would be hard. Also, since Feng Nu was so stunning, how could Nian Bing not be moved? Fortunately, he was a lot more restrained than he was before. His little brother listened to him, no longer raising the flag.
“Nian Bing, your seat should be pretty good already; you’re body shouldn’t be feeling that terrible. Just now, when we ate, I already helped ease your tendons and vessels,” said Feng Nu in displeasure.
“Ah! Sorry, When Senior Zi Xiu and I were competing I used a lot of my spirit power, and we also spent half a day travelling. I’m so tired. I’m just a mage! I can’t compare to martial arts cultivators like you. Feng Nu, your qi is so strong, so support me for a moment. I’m going to sleep.” He even directly rested his head on Feng Nu’s shoulder and breathed in her sweet scent. So beautiful!
Feng Nu was both embarrassed and angry. She wanted to shrug off Nian Bing but was afraid that he would fall. Moreover, his body heat made Feng Nu’s beautiful figure go weak, making her unable to use her qi against him. “You bastard, sit up! What do you think this looks like?”
Nian Bing said lackadaisically, “I’ve been hugging you for half a day already. Perhaps most of the people here think that our relationship isn’t so ordinary. Since it is like that, just let me sleep for a bit. Feng Nu, you’re too thin, your shoulder is bony…”
“You, you scoundrel…”
“Eh, how did you know my childhood name?”
“Oh, you even know my formal name.”
“I’m going to throw you off…”
“Then there won’t be anyone to make you food.”
“No problem. Once we get to Tian Dang City, I will make you some soup that revitalizes your qi. I guarantee that once you drink it you won’t be angry.”
Nian Bing resisted the urge to smile. As he heard Feng Nu’s labored breaths, a wave of fatigue hit him, and he fell asleep. It was hard for him to find such a comfortable posture, so of course he wouldn’t move.
Feng Nu’s shy feeling gradually disappeared. Because Nian Bing was closely plastered on her back, she could clearly feel Nian Bing’s long, steady breaths. This bastard, h-he actually fell asleep on my shoulder! Eh, there’s some kind of cold sensation on my shoulder. Turning her head to look, she was infuriated to find that Nian Bing had drooled onto her shoulder. When the wind blew, the cold sensation intensified.
Nian Bing, I’m going to kill you. Feng Nu tightened her grip on the reins, her mind awhir with ideas on how to torment Nian Bing. However, when they arrived at Tian Dang City, she didn’t plan on carrying them out at all. His sleeping expression had been so serene, only a single line of saliva dribbling out of his smile. He looked so satisfied, his face unlike his mischievous personality. He looked so child-like that Feng Nu didn’t have the heart to wake him.
“Aiyo,” an intense jolt and pain awoke Nian Bing from his slumber. Rubbing his eyes, he looked about himself in a daze. His surroundings were pitch black, and a cacophony of voices as well as the neighing and clattering of horses made his mind tumultuous.
“Get up, we’re here.” Feng Nu’s voice caressed his ears, immediately setting Nian Bing at ease.
“Feng Nu, we got here so quickly, I’m still tired. Let me use your shoulder as pillow.” Nian Bing climbed up from the ground, looking for his comfy pillow.
“Ah! That’s hot! Feng Nu, what are you doing?” Nian Bing jumped from a lick of scorching flame.
Feng Nu leaned close to him, grabbing his lapels. Rancorously she said, “Nian Bing, I didn’t think that you were that bad. Hmph, just you wait.”
Nian Bing blinked, not comprehending. “H-how am I bad?”
Feng Nu pointed to the drool marks on her shoulder. “Look at this. See what you did?”
NIan Bing went blank. With the red brilliance of her qi, he could faintly discern a damp patch on her shoulder. “C-could this be my…”
Feng Nu pinched his arm fiercely. “Stop talking nonsense. If it wasn’t you, then who could it have been? How are you going to compensate me?”
He looked at her with embarrassment. After thinking for a moment, he answered, “If that’s no good, how about I sleep a bit more on your other shoulder and leave another mark on you. I reckon the visual effect will be much better.”
Not waiting for Feng Nu to rip into him, Nian Bing turned tail and ran. At the moment, his vision had recovered. He was able to see the door to an inn, bathed in the pale yellow of two lanterns. Ka Luo was directing the horses into the courtyard to settle down.
“President Ka Luo, we’ve arrived in Tian Dang City so quickly?” Nian Bing ran over to greet him.
Ka Luo smiled and said, “With a beauty in your arms, of course you would feel it went quickly. But your friend’s horsemanship is stellar! Even our fiercest horse was tamed. Nian Bing, you don’t lack luck with women! When the time is right you must make your move. Don’t squander your youth! Hehe.”
Seeing Ka Luo with the deviousness of an old man, Nian Bing felt embarrassed. “Wh-what are you talking about. When could I have made a move on her? There will probably be another opportunity.”
Right then, a soft, alluring voice suddenly came from inside the courtyard. “President Ka Luo, you’re here. Uncle Li De and I were afraid that you wouldn’t make it today.”
Nian Bing’s whole body shook. That was a voice he was all too familiar with. Not waiting for his response, a sweet woman’s figure wrapped in a white fox skin emerged from the inn. However, from her pale yet comely face it was obvious that she had lost some vitality. She was the daughter of the Ice Moon Empire’s Mage Association President, Long Zhi: Long Ling, the Gentle Girl.
“Nian Bing? Is it, is that really you?” Long Ling’s face was growing more pale, her eyes were reddening, and her gaze was becoming incredulous as she looked at Nian Bing. Her soft lips trembled slightly.
“Ling’er, what are you doing here?” Nian Bing’s heart ached when he saw Long Ling. He hurried over to take her hands. Long Ling’s hands were like ice, ice that could send a chill through people’s hearts.