Soft moonlight spilled onto the forest floor. The Dragon Seeker Forest was as peaceful as ever.
The sound of horse hooves thundered beneath the trees as a large party of cavalry passed through. It was the Imperial Army, 2000 men strong. Feng Ji Xing himself was personally leading the imperial guard. Their mission was the find Princess Tang Xiao Xi of the Seven Seas, and they were not to return until she was found. This was the emperor’s command.
Feng Ji Xing was very worried.
Following behind him was delicate figure with a exquisite sword strapped across her back. Her mantle was blown open by the night’s wind, revealing a beautiful face. It was none other than her Imperial Highness, Princess Qin Yin. “If Xiao Xi comes to harm, I will seek out all the sellswords in the kingdom and eliminate them!” “There will be blood!”
Feng Ji Xing kept silent. He knew that Qin Yin meant every word. If it were not for her deep affection for Tang Xiao Xi she would not have snuck out of the palace.
Lan Yan City, the Imperial Capital.
Lin Mu Yu hurriedly returned to the temple. He picked out a horse from the stable and was about to leave, when, from a distance, a person wearing gold star called out to him “Lin Zhi! What are you doing out so late? Don’t you know it is forbidden to leave the temple at night?”
Lin Mu Yu did not answer him, but turned the horse about and urged it go onwards.
“Stop where you are!”
The figure swooped in and grabbed the reins: “You arrogant boy, I told you stop, did you not hear?”
Lin Mu Yu could now see the man’s face clearly under the moonlight. It was the one and only Ou Yang Qiu, an instructor with a gold star. He was an extraordinary swordsman with the reputation of being the number 1 sword hand of the temple. It was too bad that he was Zeng Fan’s subordinate so they often met on opposing sides. If Lei Hong had not covered him, Ou Yang Qu could have cut open his neck.
“What’s going on over there.” The deacon Ge Yang’s called out as he approached them: “Master Ou Yang, Lin Zhi, what are you two doing?”
“This kid, Lin Zhi, took a horse and was about to ride off. He has broken the rules of the temple. Please, deacon, you must punish him!”
Ge Yang wrinkled his brows. “Now, now Master Ou Yang, we must not be hasty. I’m sure Lin Zhi has a perfectly good explanation for leaving in hurry. Let us give him a chance to explain.” He said placatingly.
Ou Yang nodded gruffly.
Lin Mu Yu, still atop the horse, pleaded anxiously: “Please, Deacon Ge Yang, my friends are in the Dragon Seeker Forest and must be in danger. It could be a matter of life and death, I can’t not go, I have to go. Please, let me leave!”
“Who is your friend?” Ge Yang asked.
“Tang Xiao Xi.”
“The Princess Xi?” Ge Yang was stunned. “Lin Zhi, you actually know the River Princess?”
Ge Yang smiled. “The River Princess is in the Dragon Seeker Forest because of an assassination attempt. It is not clear right now if she is alive or dead. The people in the capital are very worried. But don’t fret, the Imperial Guard has already been sent out to search for her. Even though she is your friend it may not be necessary for you to go.”
“But she is in danger because of me….” Lin Mu Yu suddenly stopped himself before he revealed too much.
“Because of you?” Ou Yang scoffed. “What do you mean?”
Lin Mu Yu remained silent.
“Well,” Ge Yang said with a smile. “I suppose I can give you three days. I give you my permission to leave these walls, but you must return within three days. Do you understand?”
“I thank you Master Deacon!”
With a flick of his whip, Lin Mu Yu charged headlong into the night.
Ou Yang turned to Ge Yang with a look of astonishment. “Deacon Ge Yang, why did you allow that?”
“Come now, brother, aren’t we all people of the temple with our own matters to attend to.” Ge Yang cheerfully patted Ou Yang on the shoulders. “We shouldn’t concern ourselves too much with that boy. Come, come, come, I have just brought back some venison from the market, I guarantee it is very very fresh! It would be a shame for you not to try it!”
“Yes, very well...” After all, Ou Yang Qiu is just an instructor. His rank does not compare to Ge Yang’s so he could not oppose.
The mountain was pale and ghostlike as the moonlight stretched across the forest. Armed horsemen rushed through the trees. The peace of the Forest was broken.
Feng Ji Xing sniffed the air and a dark expression came across his face. He raised his sword, “Slow down! Careful, I can smell blood.”
“What is going on, Feng Ji Xing?” Qin Yin asked.
Feng Ji Xing gritted his teeth. “Your highness, we are now deep in the Dragon Seeker Forest, where no man has ever been. This is a forbidden place. Not even the Imperial maps have accounts for it. The beasts here are very strong. At any moment we could be ambushed by a wild pack. So it would we wise for us to slow down and not cause too much noise.”
“Ah.” Even though Qin Yin was very worried about Tang Xi, she knew that some things could just not be rushed.
Suddenly, a deafening howl cried out from the trees in front of them. It was a beast of the forest! The peace of the Forest was broken!
“Commander!” A soldier cried as he ran toward them. “A fire breathing snake has appeared ahead of here! Nobody saw it in time. The frontlines... the frontlines have lost hundreds of brothers!”
“What?” Feng Ji Xing brandished his sword in fury. “Follow me!”
Qin Yin quickly whipped her horse to follow.
Moonlight spilled onto the forest, flames lit up the sky. The gigantic body of a snake slithered through the trees. Men and horses were wrapped in it coils. Presently, it opened its mouth wide and swallowed a person whole, and he did not even have time to cry.
Feng Ji Xing took in the scene and hardened his heart. “Men, on me! Protect the princess. We are retreating. There is nothing we can do here.”
“Commander,” Luo Lie said urgently. “This snake is still young. If we attack together we can kill him!”
Feng Ji Xing said through gritted teeth. “Do you not see the two raised marks on the snake’s head? That is a Ten Thousand Year Dragon Snake. It has just entered its shedding phase. It will soon ascend into a Dragon. Its strength will be too much for us. Now, quickly, protect Her Highness!”
At that moment, the snake seemed to understand their speech. It released the person it was about to swallow and released a mass of flames directly into the army.
“Protect Her Highness!”
Hundreds of horsemen charged forth with sword and spear, hacking and piercing at the snake’s tough hide. But try as they might, none of their attacks were very effective.
This Giant snake knew it must kill the most important person among the soldiers, that is, the girl in the gold cloak! She is the heart of these people!
A dense stream of Qi burst forth from Feng Ji Xing’s sword. With a loud battle cry, he raised the sword into the air and the shape of a wolf formed around his body. This was his Martial Spirit, 2nd level Beast Spirit, The Violet Wolf!
The blade cleaved into the snake’s head!
The snake recoiled with a terrible hiss. Feng Ji Xing’s sword had cut through the hard scales of creature’s head, leaving a fissure that exposed a white bone underneath. But Feng Ji Xing knew that wasn’t the beast’s skull, it was the snake’s horn, evidently on the verge of breaking through the head anyway. This snake would soon become a dragon!
The snake let out a piercing shriek. Feng Ji Xing took a direct hit from the sonic wave, causing him to spit out blood. How could he have known a giant snake could grow so strong in such conditions!
After the snake defeated Feng Ji Xing, it slithered across the forest floor. Its powerful, muscular tail swept through horse and horseman alike, smashing them into a bloody pulp with each powerful undulation. The smell of blood filled the air.
Qin Yin knew she was no match for the creature, but she could not outrun it either. With no other alternative she turned to face the beast and quickly thrust her palms forward. A dazzling gold chain appeared in the air. It shot through the air towards the snake and wove itself tightly around the creature’s mouth. The snake’s mouth was wrapped shut! Who knew the Princess possessed such a cultivation? But it was no time to celebrate. In an instant the snake tore the Spirit Binding apart! It was free!
Qin Yin suppressed a groan. Blood spilled out of the corners of the snake’s mouth. With a great roar, its great maw charged towards her.
Its venomous fangs sank into the princess’ chest. Feng Ji Xing blade suddenly appeared. It cleaved 7 inches into the body of the snake.
“Aoo, aooo” (wailing)
For the first time, the great beast’s body twisted in pain. It abandoned its attack on Qin Yin to make his counterattack on Feng Ji Xing.
Qin Yin sobbed, her body slumped on her back of her horse. She felt a burning sensation in her chest. The color of her skin also started to turn purple. Her horse agitatedly dug its hooves into the forest floor. Then, like a bullet, her swift horse shot into the forest, leaving her distant from the cavalry that could not keep up with her own horse’s speed.
Presently, a shadow galloping across the mountain road burst through the bushes and bumped into maiden and horse.
“Eh? What is this?”
Lin Mu Yu had no chance to react. A soft and delicate body suddenly thumped onto his chest. The pair thrown off their horses and rolled down the rocky cliffside, through the bramble and thorns.
With a quick glance Lin Mu Yu could tell that the figure in his arms was a beautiful young woman. He quickly used his own body to protect her from the rocks and thorns. Fortunately, his “Refining Skin” turned out really well. They rolled down several meters until they reached the valley.
Qin Yin, with a pale face, raised her head to see a handsome young man holding her in his arms. She reflexively removed herself from him. “Don’t touch me!”
The dignified princess has never been intimately held by a man before.
“Well who wants to anyway...” Li Mu Yu took one look at her and understood everything. “You’ve been poisoned. Let me treat that or you will die!”
“It’s none of your business.” Qi Yin was still suspicious of him.
Lin Mu Yi’s heart was panging for Tang Xi’s safety and also didn’t feel like meddling. He staggered up and walked away to pick up his sword, which had fallen a short distance away.
Qin Yin noticed that his body was scratched up by stones and thorns and her heart softened. She realized now that this person was protecting her as they were falling into the ravine. She felt her body getting weaker little by little. If this person doesn’t save her then she will really die.
“Can you.. Can you really heal it?” She murmured. “This is the venom of a 10,000 Year snake...”
Lin Mu Yu sneered discreetly. I am a master of the medicine refinement, what poison can I not cure?
He extended his hand, said “1000 gold coins and I will save you. This is non-negotiable.”
Qin Yin stared at him blankly, her face turning green. “You… You! You! Do you really think I am carrying around that much money right now?”
Lin Mu Yu inspected her fine silk Jade clothes. “How about we make that your IOU? You want me to save your life and yet you act too rudely. Tsk, tsk. You don’t have any tact...”
Qin Yin was so furious she wished she could just die from the poison at that moment. Suddenly a feeling of faintness came over her and her body started to convulse.
Lin Mu Yu quickly rushed to her side, talk of money completely forgotten. The venom was indeed very serious. His fingers gently probed her shoulders, injecting strong Qi into her body. “I stopped the venom from spreading through your veins. But now I have to leave you to look for ingredients for the antidote. Please prop yourself up here and wait for me. Is that alright?”
Qin Yin was on the verge of collapse. She blinked a pair of beautiful eyes and looked at the handsome face of the young man in the moonlight. She nodded a little distractedly. “Yes, please hurry.” 5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2018 So Far