Chapter 41 – Depart

Lu Yang came to the stall selling pancakes again.

The pancake seller was a senior sister, who skillfully made dough from flour, water and yeast, and shaped it into pancakes with her hands, wrists, arms and body using a certain kind of technique that seemed to be a way of exercising body coordination.

She put the dough on the forging table, and with a big iron hammer, she hit it hard, making a loud noise and sparks flying, leaving small holes on the ground. After quenching the dough with cold water, a pancake was quickly made.

Lu Yang was amazed by the combination of cooking and refining tools at Bai Lian Peak.

“I’ll have a pancake,” he said.

The food in the cafeteria was really cheap, and Lu Yang saw many good things that caught his eye. If it weren’t for his limited contribution points, he would have wanted to buy them all.

The next morning, Lu Yang met up with Meng Jingzhou and the others at the gate of Seek Tao Sect as agreed.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” Meng Jingzhou said, waving his hand at Lu Yang. Behind him was a carriage, the same one that took them to Seek Tao Sect before, pulled by the same old horse. The only difference was that the third person was now Man Gu instead of Yun Zhi.

Man Gu had been studying hard while waiting for them. He was wearing a big Confucian robe that covered his muscles, looking like a tall and big scholar.

“Do we need to take a flying boat?” Lu Yang had prepared to take a flying boat. Although his shrinking technique was convenient, it was not as fast as a flying boat.

Meng Jingzhou patted the carriage and said proudly, “This carriage is a treasure with a space array inside. When we’re inside, it feels slow, but to others, it’s as fast as a flying boat.”

It made sense. Meng Jingzhou came from the imperial city, and it was impossible for him to walk all the way to Seek Tao Sect. The carriage used an array to speed up on the way to Seek Tao Sect, and slowed down when approaching it as a sign of respect.

Lu Yang had only seen the carriage slow down before.

The three of them got on the carriage, which was still as spacious as ever. It wasn’t until now that Lu Yang realized how valuable this carriage was.

“By the way, where are we going? What’s the mission?””Oh, did I not tell you? We’re going to a place called Qinghuai County. Let Man Gu explain the details, since he’s the one who found the mission,” said the speaker.

Man Gu placed a bookmark in his book and closed it before speaking slowly. “I heard about this while on a mission from a passenger on a flying boat. He’s a leader of a group of merchants and knows things that ordinary people don’t. He told me a story that’s circulating among the merchants about a terrifying presence in the mountains between Qinghuai County and Yanjiang County. The presence is driving away the local hunters who rely on the mountains for their livelihood…”

Night fell, and the branches of the trees that grew haphazardly blocked the moonlight. Thunder rolled, and heavy rain poured down, turning the ground into a muddy mess that made it impossible to find a foothold.

Seven or eight people were tied together with ropes around their waists to prevent anyone from slipping and falling down the mountain.

The sound of the pouring rain was so loud that even if someone fell and shouted for help, it would be difficult to hear.

They wore raincoats, carried baskets on their backs, and held hiking poles. Every step was taken with great caution, afraid of stepping into a deep hole.

The bone-chilling rain made them look disheveled. Looking up, the dense rain curtain blocked their vision, and they could only follow the lead of the old hunter in front of them.

“Be careful of your footing. The mountain road is slippery on rainy days!”

“Don’t stop even if you’re tired. Keep going. We’re almost there. If you stop now, it will be even harder to continue!”

“I…I can’t do it anymore…help me! I’m falling!”

Someone slipped and had no place to find support, sliding towards the steep cliff at the edge of the mountain road.

The merchants felt the force at the end of the rope and realized that someone had fallen behind. They immediately stopped and frantically pulled the person back up.

“Ayue, pull the rope tight. Let’s all pull together!”

“I can’t do it anymore.” Ayue was suspended on the cliff, tied with a thick rope around his waist to prevent him from falling.

He was tired and hungry, and couldn’t summon any strength. Even if he wanted to climb up the rope, it was difficult.

The experienced old hunter calmly directed everyone while personally pulling Ayue up.

“You guys hold onto the big tree and don’t let the seven of us slide down!”

“The rest of you wrap the rope around your wrist. I’ll count to three, and we’ll all pull together!”

“One, two, three, pull!”

“One, two, three, pull!”

After exerting a lot of effort, they finally pulled Ayue up. The exhausted group of people could barely stand.The old hunter didn’t relax and nervously checked on AY’s condition: “AY, how did you slide down? Did you feel someone push you?”

AY shook his head in confusion, not understanding why the old hunter asked him. Of course, he slid down by himself. Could someone have harmed him?

“Old Sun, what do you mean?” Qi Wu asked. He was the leader of the merchants and vaguely sensed a problem from the old hunter’s question.

The old hunter shook his head and pointed to the broken temple ahead: “Let’s hurry and get to the Mountain God Temple before we talk.”

In the pouring rain, it was not a good time to discuss matters. Qi Wu nodded and said a few encouraging words, urging everyone to hurry to the Mountain God Temple for shelter.

When everyone arrived at the Mountain God Temple, they didn’t care about their appearance. They took off their raincoats and sat on the ground, panting heavily. Then they quickly checked to see if the things in their backpacks were soaked. If they were, they would have made the trip for nothing.

“Fortunately, we used waterproof cloth to wrap them up in advance. Thank goodness for Brother Qi’s foresight.”

The Mountain God Temple wasn’t great, but it was spacious. Three old and dusty statues of mountain gods sat in the center, surrounded by mud and feces. The nameplates with the mountain gods’ names were nowhere to be found. The offerings had been eaten by wild beasts a long time ago. Both doors were missing, and the windows were broken, letting in a cold and chilly wind.

The group didn’t care much. For them, anywhere that could shelter them from the rain was a good place.

Qi Wu took out some goods from his backpack as offerings and gave them to the three mountain gods, thanking them for letting them take shelter in the Mountain God Temple.

The three mountain gods were made of clay and carved with mediocre skill, but there was a noticeable difference between them. The one in the middle held a gentleman’s sword and had a righteous look on his face. The other two were in civilian and military positions, respectively. One wore a Confucian robe and held a book, while the other exuded pure yang energy and was in a martial position. Their levels were distinct and orderly.

“May the mountain gods bless us with a safe journey.”

Qi Wu felt that the three mountain gods were very spiritual, as if they were alive.

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