“It’s a pity that I don’t have any extra clothes for you to wear… It will be much colder after nightfall in the autumn. If only we had a few sets extra just to keep you warm enough…” Cui Er looked at Yang Kai with sympathy after realising that he only had frail and tattered clothing on. Worst of all, he was skinny to the bones, his ribs visible and his belly almost concave.
Even with the dirt smeared all over his face, Cui Er could tell that Yang Kai was young from his delicate features and bright, youthful eyes. [To think that such a young man has to endure hunger and coldness… how pitiful…] Cui Er thought.
Her words brought warmth into Yang Kai’s heart. With a pale smile, he spoke, “It’s okay.”
“Alright… If you are still hungry, there is plenty of food over there. Don’t have to be afraid to take more. No one will complain.” Cui Er stood up and walked back to the two ladies to continue to serve them.
After a night of silence, a new day arose. At the break of dawn, the carriages began to move once more. During the past two days, Yang Kai would sit next to Old Man Wu’s side in the morning, watching the old man whipping the horses, skilfully augmenting their speed at will. When it was break time, Cui Er, the maidservant, would come over to have a chat with him.
Yang Kai would manage to figure out their approximate location from his conversation with Cui Er. They were about three days’ distance away from a place called Sea City, which was their destination. These groups of people were also originally from the Tong Province and had some authority over there. However, less than half a year ago, the Master of the house died and the Madame of the house was currently leading the Young Lady to the Sea City to meet her late husband’s best friend. As for the exact reason to why they were travelling, Cui Er refused to share anymore; it was obvious that she did not dare to reveal too much. Nonetheless, the information he had gathered was useful enough.
[No one would be so willing to leave their home, their native land, particularly a widowed mother and her daughter. To travel so far, taking the unnecessary risk and worry, it had to be their last resort. Otherwise, why would they ever make this decision? The House Master must have offended many people in the Tong Province. After his death, the Madame and Young Lady must have had no choice but to escape to another region, now that they did not have anyone to rely on.]
The number of martial artists travelling together with them further solidified Yang Kai’s guess. According to Cui Er, half of these martial artists were trained by the House Master. After his passing, they took the effort to escort their late Master’s wife and child. Once they have completed their mission, they plan on returning to the Tong Province to look for new jobs.
During their travel, they encountered numerous bandits along the road. However, even in such strong company, they were lucky to lose nothing.
Yang Kai tried to inquire about Sea City, but since Cui Er had not visited the place, she did not know much. The only things she knew came from the Madame’s mouth, that the place was a coastal city, with scenery unavailable to those who lived further inland.
(Silavin: LOL… I was expecting something more than what had been pretty much guessed…)
[So, it’s a coastal city!] Yang Kai was curious to know the great distance he had travelled using his Step Technique. Without it, he would have never come so far. When he heard that they were close to the Sea, he knew that he had travelled all the way to the southern edge of the Great Han Dynasty – on the border of the Endless Sea. This was further affirmed by Cui Er’s remark that Sea City was at the southernmost border of the Great Han Dynasty.
Yang Kai welled up with anticipation as magical images were conjured in his mind. He continued to travel alongside the carriages.
Although he remained in the messy state, he did nothing to fix it. [The first impression is always the strongest. Since they already have a preconceived notion of me being a Little Beggar, I should try to avoid suspicion by suddenly becoming presentable.]
After spending the second day next to Old Man Wu observing the movements of the carriage, he came to the realisation that this old man’s horse whipping skill produced an indescribable charm.
(Silavin: WTF! I never thought that Yang Kai was an M… shall reconsider my evaluation of him…)
The whipping wasn’t too loud yet wasn’t too strong, but it was sufficient enough to spur the horses on. Taking into account Old Man Wu’s cultivation level of the True Element Boundary and his age, it was obvious that this whipping action had as much to do with his achievements as it did his understanding of martial arts.
Taking notice of such details, Yang Kai also coincidentally realised that his whipping action, embedded with martial arts knowledge, had some unexpected similarities with his knowledge gained from the Movement Technique he was practising a few days ago.
(Silavin: … BDSM! BDSM! BDSM! I wonder what will happen with Su Yan in the future? …)
Throughout the journey, Old Man Wu continued doing the same thing. He would frequently fling the whip, and occasionally take a gulp of his strong liquor. Meanwhile, he would simply sit on the cowl in silence.
The carriages always stopped in the evening.
As usual, Yang Kai would separate himself from the crowd, finding his own secluded corner to sit in. While idling about, he pulled the weeds from the ground. After all, no one in their right mind would prefer a beggar’s company. With the entire group of martial artists despising him, it was obvious that Yang Kai could only ride with them on account of the Young Lady’s benevolence.
Moments later, the sound of soft footsteps approached him from behind. Yang Kai did not need to turn his head to know who it was.
“Hey there, Little Beggar,” The servant Cui Er called out to him.
Yang Kai responded with a feigned smile while rubbing his forehead, “I’ve already told you my name… can’t you call me by that?” [Calling someone a little beggar isn’t really pleasant to hear…]
“You little brat!” Cui Er’s eyes displayed irritation as she presented two chestnuts to the boy, indicating he had to peel the shells himself. [This girl would often come out to share some snacks with me. I don’t understand… doesn’t she find my appearance and poor beggar status to be appalling?]
With that boggling question in mind, Yang Kai asked Cui Er and understood that she once had a younger brother. When she was younger, she along with her brother were beggars as well. Her brother was unfortunate enough to starve to death while she managed to live and was eventually provided shelter by the Madame. Yang Kai was the same age as her brother before he died, so Cui Er had a soft spot for him.
“So, you stole this food from the Young Lady’s family?” Yang Kai rolled his eyes.
Cui Er stared at him in the eye and rebuked, “Steal?! I’ll have you know that the Young Mistress treats me exceptionally well! This was given to me by the Young Mistress herself! Naturally, since she gave it to me, I can share it with anyone I want.”
“So, why aren’t you there beside her taking care of her?” Yang Kai opened up the chestnut and chucked it into his mouth.
“Both the Young Mistress and the Madame are exhausted from the journey. They said they needed to rest, so I excused myself.” Cui Er replied and she closed one of her eyes while questioning Yang Kai, “Little Beggar, where will you go once we reach Sea City?”
Yang Kai shook his head, “I don’t know. I will probably just walk in any one direction from there.”
The corner of Cui Er’s lips perked up. “While it may sound pleasant to hear at first, aren’t you simply going to go around begging with a broken bowl in the end? I understand how it is since I’ve done it in the past…”
Yang Kai gave a smile in response without any further explanation.
“How about this: once we reach Sea City, why don’t you join us? We do actually have a need for some servants. I can tell that you are quite smart and having a young male servant around isn’t too bad. What do you say? With me to support you, the Young Mistress and Madame will definitely not have an issue with taking you in. After working for a while, perhaps you can find a good wife someday with the wealth you may accumulate with us!” Cui Er misleadingly tried to convince Yang Kai.
[Her fresh and open perspective on things is very charming… not to mention, she’s quite a beauty as well. Accompanied with the ambiguous expressions she gives while we talk, she becomes even more attractive…] Yang Kai cut into Cui Er’s speech with a compliment, “If I can get a wife like you, it would be my fortune.”
(Silavin: more for the harem route?)
Cui Er covered her mouth and chuckled, “You really have something wrong in your head, don’t you? You truly get what you deserve, being a beggar for life. Now that I think about it, it’s best I reconsider letting a wolf into the house…”
“You must seriously consider,” Yang Kai gave a serious look, though he had already decided that he would not join her. Coming all the way out here, he wished to further explore and learn. He simply could not settle down with the girl’s family as their young servant right now. However, it was best if he could avoid explaining himself and Cui Er rejects him.
“Alright then. I’ll stop spouting nonsense at you. I have never seen a beggar like you with such a glib tongue,” Cui Er gave Yang Kai an angry glance and stood up. “We will arrive at Sea City tomorrow, so rest well tonight. I’m tired right now, so I won’t be helping you to fill your bowl with rice.”
Yang Kai nodded. For the past few days, whenever it was meal time, Cui Er would help him take the food out of fear that he would get bullied by the martial artist guards around.
Yang Kai gazed at Cui Er as she entered the third carriage. Once she was gone, he took the weed in his hands to find the feeling he noticed from Old Man Wu’s technique (Whipping Technique).
(Silavin: Sorry, can’t help but write whipping technique.)
(Skoll: And I can’t help but change it ????)
(Silavin: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU. I added it back anyways ????)
After a long time, the food was finally done. A yell signalled that the meal is ready. The warriors around began to gather to receive their portion. Yang Kai also stood up and walked towards the pick-up point but within a few steps, he was blocked by a familiar person. Taking a glimpse at his face, he recognised him as the middle-aged veteran guard who carried him a few days back. The man was staring at him coldly.
“What’s wrong?” Yang Kai brows furrowed while he asked.
“Get lost. Tonight, there will be no food for you!” the middle-aged man snarled in a low and infuriated tone while his glare continued. Now, his gaze seemed to hold disdain for Yang Kai and carried a hint of threat within.
The corners of Yang Kai’s lips rose into a sneer as he continued to calmly look at the middle-aged man.
“Those eyes of yours aren’t bad,” The middle-age man slightly nods, “But if you would like to seek death, I will be glad to help.”
Yang Kai did not continue the conversation, instead turning around and sitting back down. He did not wish to incite any conflict with these people. He was already given shelter and a free ride. Cui Er herself has treated him really well thus far too. There was no need to cause more trouble over a simple meal. It was only one night void of dinner, it was not like he would starve to death.
“It seems that you are at least smart enough,” The middle-aged man snorted.
Yang Kai thought that he may have been overthinking things, but he sensed that the guard’s facial expression relaxed after he had turned around. This sudden change was worrying for Yang Kai. He quickly became vigilant of his surroundings as he notified the Old Demon.
Yang Kai looked around as anxiety and doubt filled his body. Normally, the places that they stopped were areas that were somewhat forested and had traces of people who have been there to rest. However, this place was completely desolate, as though no human would ever come across these parts. To elaborate, this was definitely a place that was best suited for body disposal.
[Something really seems off…] Yang Kai’s feelings grew warier.
Yang Kai looked up to the sky, noticing that it was moonless, devoid of any light source. Accompanied by the howling winds, the whole place seemed highly ominous.
On the other side, there were many martial artists queuing for food, chatting while they gobbled it down whole-heartedly. Although Old Man Wu was a cart driver, he definitely did not hold a low status. It was evident when some people fetched the old man his food. After receiving his meal, the old man continued to sit near the cowl with his trusty bottle of liquor.
Yang Kai decided that there was nothing going on, that maybe he was being ridiculous, being too worried.
The chatter did not pause after the meals were finished. Only with the veteran guard’s orders did they stop and organise themselves. Some were posted to night duty while the rest went ahead to sleep around the campfire.
Gradually regaining his calm composure, Yang Kai laid down and relaxed, closing his eyes as his mental state returned to that of peace.
An hour later, the Old Demon’s voice suddenly called him out, “Young Master, there is something wrong!”
Yang Kai’s eyes immediately sprung open. The martial artists sleeping around the campfire were all breathing heavily. On occasions where martial artists travelled through the wilderness, they would never fall into a deep sleep even in the security of fellow guards and friends. Their vigilance would always stay. They only ever closed their eyes to rest and restore some of their physical strength and mental state. However, this time all those asleep were in a deep slumber. This had never happened in the days before today. Yang Kai estimated that he would need to put in a copious amount of effort to wake them up.