With the owner of the stable suddenly asking, everyone suddenly increased their vigilance. Ban Zou and another hidden guard even moved to Feng Yu Heng’s side to protect her.
The owner of the stable was given a fright by their stature and repeatedly shook his hand: “That’s not it. That’s not it. Do not misunderstand. Someone entrusted me with a message for a girl with the surname Feng as well as leaving behind something to be passed along.”
Huang Quan coldly asked: “How did you know that our young miss’ surname was Feng?”
The person looked at Xuan Tian Ming and said: “Two days ago, a group of people came here to buy horses. Right before leaving, one of the gentlemen gave me ten taels, telling me that a group would come to Xiao Zhou in a few days. This group would be led by a male and a female. The female is around 12 or 13 years of age, and the man wears a mask made of gold.” While saying this, he shouted to a worker at the stable: “Quickly go and bring the thing that was left behind!”
Not long later, a young clerk ran over with a bag in his hands to Feng Yu Heng. The owner of the stable said: “This is the bag that was left behind on that day. I did not dare open it, but it feels very soft. It should be cloth.”
Ban Zou received the bag, and Wang Chuan went forward to open it. She then let out an “ah” sound. When she handed it over for Feng Yu Heng to look, she spoke with a trembling voice: “It’s young master’s clothes.”
Feng Yu Heng immediately recognized Zi Rui’s clothes. Right before leaving, that child was wearing this set of clothes. There were a few bamboo leaves on the sleeve that she had personally embroidered. The embroidery was quite ugly, and Zi Rui had laughed at her. But no matter how much he laughed, he still happily wore these clothes.
Xuan Tian Ming reached out and held Feng Yu Heng’s shoulder to comfort her. He then asked the stable owner: “Did those people stay in Xiao Zhou?”
The owner shook his head: “I don’t know about that. They only bought horses here then left money and this package. As for whether or not they remained in Xiao Zhou, good sir, look at how large Xiao Zhou is. If they went somewhere else to rest in an inn, I would not know about it!”
This person was speaking truthfully. Xuan Tian Ming nodded and did not continue to ask, but the owner of the stable thought a bit and asked: “Listening to good sir’s accent, you should be from the capital, right? That group from two days ago did not sound like they were from the capital. The accents that they had, they should be people from the North.” While saying this, he leaned forward and quietly said: “As I saw it, they did not look like good people. Good sir, you absolutely must be careful.”
Feng Yu Heng anxiously asked: “Did you see if that group had a child with them?” Saying this, she reached into her sleeve and pulled out a silver ingot, handing it to him, “Answer any question that I have. Speak the truth.”
The owner of the stable thought a bit and shook his head, “I did not see one. There was no young child. They were all grown men, and they were quite burly.” Reaching out to receive the silver, he nodded to give thanks.
But the young clerk to the side tilted his head and said with some doubt: “It seemed that they had a large dog!”
“Large dog?” This question was asked by Feng Yu Heng and Xuan Tian Ming in unison. This question gave the young clerk a fright, and his face turned pale. He no longer dared to continue speaking.
The owner of the stable kicked him: “What are you afraid of! If they tell you to speak, speak! That group of people did not seem to be good people. Presently, these people before us seem like good people!” In truth, he did not care about things like good people. He just felt that Feng Yu Heng had given him more money than the previous group. He also saw that although these people looked to be a little bit haggard and travelworn, their bearing was good, and the material of their clothing was high-class. If he took good care of these patrons, he would be able to turn a good profit.
His slick look was immediately seen through by Xuan Tian Ming, but this was the type of person that he was looking for. As long as there was money, he could get information from him. Originally, he had been planning to go to the military camp, thus he did not bring out much money; however, they had placed a large amount of gold, silver and banknotes inside Feng Yu Heng’s space. There were a very full five chests in Feng Yu Heng’s storage filled with gold and silver. Counting just the banknotes, there was one million taels of silver in value that could be spent freely.
Thus Xuan Tian Ming stared at the owner of the stable and said: “As long as speak honestly, there will naturally be benefits.”
The young clerk was woken up by the owner’s kick. Receiving Feng Yu Heng’s silver ingot, he smiled happily and immediately said: “Those people were carrying a large cage and covered it in a black cloth. There would occasionally be sounds of movement coming from inside. I once heard a shout come from under it. Those people said that it was a large dog, but that did not sound like a dog. Instead, it sounded like… a person.”
Feng Yu Heng’s legs suddenly gave out, and she nearly fell. Xuan Tian Ming supported her and pulled her into his embrace.
They did not continue to ask, as the hidden guards focused on choosing horses to immediately set out. Wang Chuan and Huang Quan went with Ban Zou to the nearby shops to buy food. When they set out once more, Feng Yu Heng thought that she had planned to come to this Xiao Zhou many times. She had even opened a Hundred Herb Hall and trained around ten young nurses. Especially since Yun Lu Academy was here, she had always wanted to come and greet head teacher Ye.
Unfortunately, her plans could not keep up with the changes. When she finally came to Xiao Zhou, she did not have the chance to greet anyone. She had to hastily chase toward the North.
The enemy was clearly trying to get them to chase North, but she did not know where the end was. Unless they could catch up along the way, it was very possible that they would enter Qian Zhou. Like that, they would be completely surrounded.
At this time, Feng Yu Heng and Xuan Tian Ming sat on the same horse. All of the horses at the stable were very large. None of them were suited to her size. Moreover, after not sleeping for two days and one night, Xuan Tian Ming was not at ease with her riding alone. She just leaned back against him and quietly said: “We must think of a way to stop them before they enter the North, otherwise… it would be too dangerous.”
Xuan Tian Ming nodded and gently rested his chin on her forehead, saying: “Departing from Xiao Zhou, we will need to pass through five towns and three villages before arriving in Qing Zhou. But from the last town to Qing Zhou, there is no dry road. Anyone that wants to pass through will need to travel by boat that travels for three days and three nights. I just left a hidden guard in Xiao Zhou. He will secretly get in contact with Ye Rong and borrow his messenger eagle to send a message to Qing Zhou. We have forces in Qing Zhou. As long as the enemy goes toward Qing Zhou, we will immediately be able to stop them.”
Only then did Feng Yu Heng slightly calm down.
Three days later, when they arrived in the second small town, Feng Yu Heng received Zi Rui’s shoes from the only inn in town in the same manner as in Xiao Zhou.
They rested for a night and continued the next morning; however, they continued on while desperately urging their exhausted horses. Like this, they managed to rush all the way to the end of the dry road, reaching the final town.
Xuan Tian Ming pointed at the river that was not far away and told Feng Yu Heng: “That is the Peng River. From here, we will need to abandon our horses and ride a boat all the way to Qing Zhou. We must quickly replenish our food supplies then rest on the boat.”
Wang Chuan also said: “That’s right. This servant sat on a boat to Qing Zhou two years ago. Although it has elegant rooms, they are truly lacking any proper food. If you want to eat anything good, you will need to bring it yourself.”
Feng Yu Heng did not think much of it. She always kept quite a few delicious foods in her space. In fact, she had even had the chef from Refined Deity Building prepare some food, placing them in food boxes, which were then placed inside her space. Either way, her space had the ability to preserve food’s freshness, thus she would occasionally place some delicious foods inside in preparation for when she needed them.
Everyone bought a large amount of dried food in this town. Ban Zou also brought someone to a ready-made clothing store to buy some clothes. Everyone changed into commoner’s clothes. Even Xuan Tian Ming and Feng Yu Heng took off their clothes and chose some clothes that were a little bit higher in quality. The mask on Xuan Tian Ming’s face was truly very eye-catching, thus he bought a bamboo hat to put on.
Finally, everything was taken care of. Everyone went over to the dock and looked at the boat that was set to depart that evening. From the elegant rooms to the average rooms to the lower level where only the corrupt would stay, they booked a room on all levels. The purpose was to make searching all areas of the boat easier.
The boat that was set to depart in the evening arrived at the dock in a very timely fashion. The people in the elegant rooms were brought on first. They were led to their rooms one group at a time. Although they were called elegant rooms, they were just rooms that had been separated. Aside from traveling alone, there was nothing else that could be ensured. In fact, the blankets still gave off a moist feeling.
Xuan Tian Ming furrowed his brow and called the boatman: “Take away all of these blankets.”
The boatman looked at him and very obediently took away the blankets. He just said to him: “My good sir, you must think this through. This river gets quite cold overnight. This lowly one sees that you did not bring much luggage. If you catch a cold, this boat does not have a doctor.”
Xuan Tian Ming waved his hand in irritation: “It’s fine. Go!” The boatman turned around and closed the door behind him.
Feng Yu Heng immediately began to clean up this small room. After thinking a little; however, she did not bring out the things inside her space. She just said to him: “We will bring out the blankets when it’s time to sleep. That way, nobody will find it strange when they see it.”
“Un.” Xuan Tian Ming nodded; however, he said to her: “It would be best if you went inside your space to rest for a while. I will stay here to keep an eye out.”
“I am not sleepy.” How could she fall asleep. After sitting for a while, the movements outside gradually became quieter. Everyone outside should have gotten on the boat.
Sure enough, the boat very quickly began to sway. They heard a loud shout come from the outside: “The boat has set out!” Immediately following this, the boat swayed quite a bit. After stabilizing, they could clearly feel that they were already traversing the river.
Ever since Feng Yu Heng had come to Da Shun, this was her first time sitting in a boat. She pushed open the door and walked out. She walked over to the railing at the edge of the deck. She looked out at the Peng River; however, she was unable to relax.
Huang Quan and Wang Chuan were staying next door. Seeing their two masters come out, they quickly followed. Wang Chuan held a cloak in her hand that was purchased in the town and placed it on Feng Yu Heng. She then reminded her: “The winds on the river are cold. Young miss, should go back after looking for a while.”
How could Feng Yu Heng continue to sit in that small room. Her mind was filled with what the stable owner in Xiao Zhou had said. A cage covered with a black cloth. The occasional sounds that came from the cage were said by that group to be from a large dog.
She clenched her fists and fiercely slammed it down on the railing. Damn! They actually treated Zi Rui like a dog and put him in a cage. The people of Qian Zhou, this grandaunty will definitely settle this debt properly with you! Ruler of Qian Zhou, there will come a day when it will be you that is in prison!
“Get up!” Suddenly, a man’s voice came from the side. Immediately following this, a young girl began to cry.
Everyone turned around and saw a young girl lying on the deck. She had shackles around her ankles, and her face was covered in stains. Her clothes were tattered and could not cover her body. She had clearly fallen, but the man with a full beard behind her was moving the whip in his hand and whipping her. At the same time, he said: “Quickly get up! If you don’t get up, I will break one of your legs!”
This was a scene that played out between slave owner and slave every day, but Feng Yu Heng’s gaze became cold, as she stared fixedly at that girl’s right ankle…