One soldier wasn’t able to dodge in time. The horse was bearing down on him and his face paled in fright. But just as his life was about to get snuffed out, the black colt forcefully leapt over his head and took off.
Fu Yanlin immediately turned his horse around to give chase. That the black colt was still able to jump at such a speed demonstrated that it was a rare trophy. He could not lose it.
Mu Huanqing didn’t think that she would get separated from the others in the mountain forest.
A heavy fog had descended suddenly. She tried following the noises in through the fog but as it dispersed, she could no longer see the others around her.
As she was still in a confused state, a butterfly flew into her line of sight. She looked at it strangely.
Was it a coincidence that this butterfly was the same pattern and colour of the one in her study?
While she was pondering this, she heard the whinnying of a horse. Her heart jumped and she immediately took off in the direction of that sound. The butterfly also didn’t fly away, instead, it began following her.
Mu Huanqing thought the butterfly was a mere coincidence and didn’t take it seriously. Plus her mind was focussed on finding the horse. According to Li Yuan’s scouting, the robbers would also be in this forest. She needed to be careful.
It didn’t take long until she found the black colt. Immediately she recognised this as the steed she was currently looking for.
It took her a month of hard work to tame this horse. It was a given that people who raised and owned horses were knowledgeable about them, Mu Huanqing was not an exception. Normal people may not be able to distinguish between a horse's appearance, but Mu Huanqing could tell with one glance.
She immediately walked towards the horse. When the horse saw her, it looked surprised.
Mu Huanqing took out the prepared red crabapples and threw them towards the black colt. These crabapples were the horse’s favourite fruit. If the colt was hungry, she had to give it food first so it would relax. Perhaps it may even remember her.
The black colt smelt the crabapple so it lowered its head and snorted before eating. Sure enough, when it lifted its head, it recognised her and its tail swayed as it walked towards her.
Mu Huanqing happily rubbed its black mane. The fact that the black colt was found was a great fortune in the middle of adversity.
“Come, let’s go back home.” She said to the black colt. She pulled its reins, intending to leave. Unfortunately, she celebrated too early as a cold order sounded out at that moment.
“Stop right there.”
Mu Huanqing stilled. Her hand went to the hilt of the sword at her waist as she turned towards the noise. With one glance, her heart jumped.
“Release that horse.” He ordered in a deep voice.
Mu Huanqing’s heart was beating loudly. She never thought that they would meet here. Because she was leading the horse, her body was blocked by it and Fu Yanlin could not see her appearance clearly.
“Who are you?”
Mu Huanqing did not want him to recognise her. She took advantage of the horse’s body to quickly use a kerchief to block her face. Only her eyes could be seen.
She no longer had anything to do with Fu Yanlin, but she didn’t want to cause extra trouble for herself so she hid her identity. Unknowingly, she didn’t want him to know about her horse-raising business.
“You won’t answer this official’s question?” His cold tone was a warning now.
Mu Huanqing only walked out after she made sure her face was covered. “I am the owner of this horse.”
Fu Yanlin only realised it was a woman when he heard her voice. The other party also had their face covered which was very suspicious.
“You’re the owner of this horse? Where’s the proof?”
When they had been originally transporting the horses, they had prepared the transaction receipts and documents to prove that the horses were theirs. But when Wu Gang and the others encountered bandits, naturally the proof had also been lost.
“My people met bandits. They stole horses and killed people. The proof is gone.” She replied.
Anyone familiar with horses could tell with a glance that this black colt was a rare find. Even if you had a thousand gold pieces, this prize steed was difficult to get. Fu Yanlin naturally did not believe the other party’s words.
“So you’re saying that you cannot produce proof that the horse is yours?”
Mu Huanqing furrowed her brows. It seemed that Fu Yanlin did not acknowledge that the horse was hers.
“Although I cannot produce it, it doesn’t mean that this horse isn’t mine.” She turned to lead the black colt away.
With a step, Fu Yanlin used qinggong to arrive in front of her and block her path.
“This official doesn’t want to argue with you. You, leave.” He had his hands behind his back as he coldly looked at her. His frosty tone indicated that this was his last warning.
Mu Huanqing wasn’t afraid of him. She knew that it was useless to keep talking. She flipped onto the horse in a flash and pulled on the reins, intending to gallop away.
Fu Yanlin sneered. “Hmph! Unable to tell good from the bad.” With another step, he soared upwards and, like a big eagle spreading its wings, stretched out his palm in her direction.
When the palm wind attack came at her, Mu Huanqing drew her sword and swung it towards his direction. Fu Yanlin immediately retracted his hand and jumped backwards, avoiding her sword energy.
Mu Huanqing didn’t intend to hurt him. She only wanted to prevent him from pursuing.
“Go!” She urged the horse to run, not wanting to fight with him. But Fu Yanlin was not a person that was so easily thrown aside.
“Want to run?” He frostily snorted. He leapt into the air and shot like an arrow in her direction. As he neared, he took out the horsewhip by his waist and threw it at her. The whip curled around one of her arms, dragging her violently off the back of the horse.
Mu Huanqing exclaimed in surprise and rolled on the ground a few times. The horsewhip contained internal martial arts. She could not shake it off so she was pulled from the horse and fell hard.
Seeing that he was about to attack her without mercy, she immediately raised her hand and shouted.
“Stop!” Her sudden shout caused Fu Yanlin to stop. Taking advantage of this gap, she quickly spoke. “I surrender. The horse, you have it. Goodbye!” As soon as the whip loosened, she immediately used her qinggong to leave.
Fu Yanlin didn’t expect the woman to give up so readily, escaping so quickly her shadow couldn’t even be seen anymore. Because her face was covered and he could only see her eyes, he didn’t know what she looked like.
He intended to catch the black colt, not people, so he let her escape. He turned his head and quickly found the steed in question. It hadn’t run far and had stopped under a tree. He strode towards the black colt. When it saw him approaching, it immediately turned its head to flee.
Fu Yanlin also quickly used qinggong to sit on the horse and pulled up the reins.
The black colt had been tamed by Mu Huanqing and only recognised her. Suddenly it was ridden by a strange man and he began to buck to throw him off.
Fu Yanlin was violently thrown off by the horse. He turned through the air and managed to land safely. He did not want to give up. He wanted to go back and tame that horse. He hadn’t yet approached when there was the sound of an explosion and a dense fog appeared in front of his eyes. He was startled and immediately retreated, holding his breath at the same time fearing that it was poisonous.
The next second, he felt a prick on his neck. He thought that he had been bitten by a bug and reached to touch it. In the end, what he touched was a very thin needle. His body began to feel numb and he startled, instantaneously his mind began to shout that this was very bad.
He fell softly on the ground and immediately began using his internal energy to try to force out the toxins. The fog began to scatter and a woman’s figure slowly appeared in it. It was the masked woman from before.
Fu Yanlin stared at her darkly, his gaze was icy and murderous. Even though he was sitting on the ground, he was still dangerous. Like a ferocious beast who could attack to kill at any time.
Mu Huanqing was not afraid of his threatening gaze. If he hadn’t provoked her, she wouldn’t use these tricks on him. She had used a hidden weapon similar to a blowdart. The needle that was shot out was coated with a liquid that would temporarily paralyse people. Only with this concealed defensive weapon could she temporarily stop this troublesome guy.
“Don’t worry. This type of anaesthetic will not cause death. It will only make you unable to move for a short time.” This medicine was estimated to last half an hour. It was enough time to take the black colt and go far away.
At last, there was no one obstructing her way. She turned around and walked towards the black colt but if she knew the extent of Fu Yanlin’s capability, she would not have turned her back towards him so easily.
He had once given his life on the battlefield and attacked the enemy whilst being soaked in blood. He was the Zhenyuan Marquis, the top scorer in the martial arts exam. A person able to sit in the position of the Lord General, would not fall from a mere needle coated with an anesthetic.
Mu Huanqing had only taken two steps before feeling a chill down her back. She turned her head and almost came face to face with Fu Yanlin.
Her heart tightened unexpectedly. It was too late for her to strike back, he had clutched her neck and pressed it to the ground.
Impossible! Her eyes widened in alarm as she watched his whole body emit an insolent vicious air. His strength terrified people, as if he was the ascended King of Hell, staring at her like he was demanding her life.
“Hmph! This official wants to know who dares to plot against me!” He stretched his hand towards her mask. But before he could see it clearly, she had punched him so hard he was looking at the sky.
Mu Huanqing attacked his face and at the same time used her feet to kick him away from her. Quick as lightning, she got up and rushed towards the black colt. She jumped on his back and hurriedly galloped away, leaving behind Fu Yanlin who was still on the ground.
The anesthetic was still effective, but his physical capability was too strong so the onset was slowed.
He stared at the sky, blood slowly flowing out from his nose.
Damn woman! She had better pray he never found her. No one could steal his horse, plot against him, even hit him, and still be allowed to sleep peacefully.
He swore that he would definitely find her!
He Guan squatted beside Fu Yanlin’s body, thoroughly entertained. He ignored Fu Yanlin’s ashen complexion and shook his head. Look at this handsome face, she had made his nose bleed. Could that woman really bear it? This was still her husband!
He had been watching the whole thing from beginning to end. These two were really a pair of star-crossed enemies. He expanded effort to create such an opportunity for them to meet. Even if this woman, Mu Huanqing, didn’t grasp at the chance, she didn’t have to cover her face! For one horse, she didn’t even acknowledge her husband!
Naz's interesting note: In the original text, 'star-crossed enemies' was written as 冤家 which had two meanings. It can either mean enemy/foe or sweetheart/destined love. It depends on context, but as this context seems to mean both of them, I changed 'star-crossed lovers' to enemies.
Another interesting thing, well more poetic but still interesting, is that the idiom used for Fu Yanlin’s "to give one's life on the battlefield", the original literal translation would be “to be buried in a horsehide”. Signifying his dedication to the battlefield.
Apologies for the late update, I will try to stop procrastinating on literally everything and get the next update sooner rather than later. >< As always, appreciate all the reactions or comments you guys have!