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Chapter 12

Bai Shuo’s breath stopped for a moment.

The legitimate daughter of the General’s Mansion had grown up attending poetry gatherings and night banquets of noble families. She had seen countless noble sons and refined scholars, but none had a face like this.

With slanted eyebrows like stars and being extraordinarily handsome, even with his eyes closed, this young man could easily captivate the hearts of all the girls in the city.

Of course, all the girls, except for the stone-hearted Bai Shuo, who was focused solely on becoming immortal,

“Wow! Is he dead or alive?”

The young man’s eyes were tightly closed, and his face was deathly pale. Bai Shuo’s breath had stopped because she thought she had touched a corpse. It wasn’t until she felt a faint breath at the tip of his nose that she patted her chest in relief.

“Good, he’s alive. Where is this place?”

After regaining her composure, Bai Shuo heard the sounds of bandits drinking and eating meat in the front hall. She remembered being tricked by a donkey and knocked unconscious by the bandits. Rubbing her head, she got up and looked out through a window hole. She saw that the area was surrounded by high mountains, with a single wooden village nestled in the middle. This wooden village was strange; although it was a bandit den, there were no sentries or patrols, and the guards were very lax.

How could they dare to proclaim themselves kings of the mountain and rob passersby with such lax security? Bai Shuo was speechless. But, after all, it was a bandit den. If her identity was exposed, it would be a minor embarrassment compared to the trouble of being dragged back to the capital by her father. She had escaped from an arranged marriage and was determined not to go back.

Bai Shuo quickly stood up and ran to the door. With a gentle push, the firewood shed door opened easily. Overjoyed, she was about to slip away when she suddenly thought of something and turned back to look at the half-dead young man on the ground. Gritting her teeth, she returned.

Bai Shuo quickly threw her own outer-cloth coat over the young man.

“At least it will keep him warm.” She muttered, squeezing his hand. “Brother, sorry, but I have to become immortal. I can’t die here. Take care!”

She stood up to leave, but stumbled and almost fell. Looking down, she saw a dark object rolling out of the young man’s waist.

What is this? Bai Shuo picked it up out of curiosity. As soon as it touched her palm, it began to glow. Startled, she threw it, and it hit the young man’s head with a thud before losing its light.

The young man groaned, his brow furrowed, and a bump quickly formed on his forehead. His face grew even paler, but he did not wake up.

“Did I kill him?” Bai Shuo’s heart skipped a beat. She nervously checked his breath and was relieved to find he was still alive. “Brother, sorry, it was an accident.”

As she retreated, her hand brushed against the object again, causing it to light up once more. This time, Bai Shuo was calm. She picked it up and examined it closely.

It was a round, chubby wooden piece, half the size of a palm, resembling a cute small pig. It emitted a soft, flickering light, illuminating the surroundings.

“Wood can glow?” Bai Shuo’s eyes lit up. Looking at the unconscious young man, she thought, “Could he be immortal? Did I meet an immortal? No, no, how could an immortal be captured by bandits?”

Shaking her head quickly, she bent down to place the wooden piece back on the young man but stopped.

“It’s so dark in the mountains; this could be useful. Maybe it’s a treasure.” She glanced at the young man, tucked the glowing wood into her clothes, and ran toward the door.

Just as she stepped out, her clothes were torn. Surprised, she turned back to see the young man tightly gripping her pant leg.

“I didn’t mean to take your stuff; I just needed a light!” Bai Shuo hurriedly offered the wooden piece to the young man, but he remained unconscious, his eyes closed, holding her pant leg with a stubborn, cold expression.

Feeling a bit guilty but eyeing the dark forest outside, Bai Shuo held the glowing wooden pig tightly. With a swift kick, she freed herself from the young man, pushed the door open, and disappeared into the night.

In the main hall, the bandits were in high spirits, drinking and gambling. Wu Yong, the second in command, remembered the two delicate boys locked in the firewood room and asked drunkenly.

“Boss, those two delicate boys in the firewood shed are useless. Why didn’t we just get rid of them? Why bring them here to waste food?”

“You don’t understand. Their good looks are valuable. We’ll find some herbs for the injured one, nurse him back to health, clean him up, and sell him to the brothel in the city for a good price,” Zhang Chao replied, taking a large swig of wine and laughing heartily.

Wu Yong frowned with some concern. “Boss, no one can enter Muxiao Mountain from outside. Where did this kid come from?”

Zhang Chao paused. “Did you search the mountain thoroughly?”

“Yes, we did. The brothers turned the mountain upside down. There’s no sign of an outsider entering. This kid just appeared out of nowhere. It’s eerie,” Wu Yong said, lowering his voice. “Could he know the secret of our village?”

Muxiao Mountain, located near the imperial city, had never been cleared of bandits despite numerous attempts. The bandits were not particularly fierce, but the imperial soldiers could never find their hideout, which was quite strange. Moreover, the bandits only robbed merchant caravans and never killed, so the local governor kept it quiet to avoid imperial wrath.

Zhang Chao and Wu Yong were from Mu Jia Village in the mountains. The villagers had retreated here to escape war centuries ago, living in seclusion. Zhang Chao, the village head, learned the village’s secret from his dying father: their ancestors, after extinguishing a mountain fire, were protected by the mountain spirit. Only native villagers could find the hidden village; outsiders would be misled by the fog.

Zhang Chao decided to turn to banditry, leveraging this secret. Every couple of weeks, they would raid passing merchants, leading a comfortable life. This was why their bandit hideout had no guards.

Wu Yong’s reminder made Zhang Chao nervous. “Today we brought that kid from the foot of the mountain. Forget him. Go wake the unconscious one and bring him here.”

“Yes, Boss.” Wu Yong hurried away with his men.

With a loud creak, the firewood shed door was pushed open. The torchlight illuminated the empty room, and Wu Yong’s face turned pale.

Under the faint light of the waning moon, the dense forest, with its gnarled old trees and eerie gusts of wind, seemed ominous. Bai Shuo, with the young man tightly bound to her back by a piece of cloth, struggled to move through the mountains. She wore the flickering wooden pig around her neck and marked trees with a moon symbol every few steps to keep track of her path.

“Brother, I don’t think you’re meant to die young. If we make it down the mountain alive, you owe me a favor!” Bai Shuo was sweating profusely.

The sinister atmosphere of the forest frightened her a little, so she comforted herself by speaking out loud.

“Don’t think about repaying me with your body. I don’t need gold or silver, either. But this glowing treasure… it’s quite something. Whew… If you know any immortals, you must point me to them. Wait…”

Bai Shuo paused, panting, and looked around. She saw the half-moon she had drawn on the nearby tree, her own mark.

“What’s going on? Why am I going in circles?” Her face turned pale. The chilling wind in the forest made her shiver in fear.

“Could it be ghosts?”

Bai Shuo believed in ghosts and spirits. Just as she was trembling with fear, a wolf’s howl echoed through the forest. She panicked, falling to the ground. The cloth binding the young man tore on a branch, causing him to slip off her back. His head hit a tree hard, swelling up symmetrically with the previous bump on his forehead.

The impact shook the entire tree, sending birds flying. Bai Shuo quickly crawled over to check on the young man. Feeling his breath, she momentarily forgot her fear and couldn’t help but admire him.

“Brother, you’re tough. Impressive, impressive…”

“There’s light over there! Let’s check it out!”

The voices of the bandits suddenly rang out behind them, and the flickering firelight approached from a distance.

“Damn, they’ve caught up.”

Panicking, Bai Shuo hurriedly hung the wooden pig back on the young man’s chest. As expected, the wooden pig stopped glowing.

In the darkness, Bai Shuo carried the young man on her back and ran forward. Suddenly, she stepped into a void, and, with a scream, the two of them rolled down a slope. There was a sharp thud as the young man hit something, making a crisp sound.

Although Bai Shuo landed on the young man, her arms and fingertips were scraped, bleeding from the rocks and branches. She reached back to check on him and felt the wooden pig on his chest.

No one saw it, but the fresh blood from Bai Shuo’s fingertips was absorbed by the wooden pig. The wooden pig instantly jumped to her chest, continuously drawing in her blood, and then emitted a bright light. A beam of spiritual light shot into the young man’s forehead.

At that moment, the young man suddenly opened his eyes, meeting Bai Shuo’s gaze.

Bai Shuo had never seen such cold, clear eyes before. They were bone-chillingly cold, yet so beautiful that she couldn’t look away despite the icy fear they invoked.

The young man frowned, showing faint displeasure. He was about to speak when she suddenly covered his mouth.

“Shh, don’t talk. Someone’s chasing us!”

Bai Shuo whispered, one hand covering his mouth and the other pointing upward.

“Keep searching! Quickly! Don’t let them escape!” Firelight flickered above as the bandits scoured the area with their torches.

Bai Shuo turned back, meeting the young man’s icy gaze again. They were mere inches apart, and the breath from his mouth dampened her palm. Her heart skipped a beat, and just as she was about to speak, a sudden force struck her neck from behind.


“Damn it, knocked out again! Which bastard did this time?”

Bai Shuo cursed in her mind as she slowly lost consciousness, collapsing to the ground.

A pair of hands caught her. The young man frowned, puzzled by his own actions.

The wind transformed into a robust, stern-looking young man who knelt on one knee before the boy.

“Master, Cangshan apologizes for arriving late.”

Not far from Mount Muxiao, a group of riders approached swiftly.

Chong Zhao gripped the reins tightly, his expression anxious. The guards following him, their eyes sharp and alert, were evidently elite soldiers.

One rider returned from the distance, and Chong Zhao waved his hand to halt the group.

“Young Master!” The rider, Chong Gui, Chong Zhao’s personal guard, reported in a low voice, “The trail of the Second Miss disappeared near Weicheng.”

Chong Zhao’s expression changed. “A Shuo’s trail disappeared? How could that be? Continue searching!”

“Yes.” Just as Chong Gui was about to leave, another guard shouted.

“Young Master! There’s someone here! It’s a woman!”

Chong Zhao turned, and the group raised their torches to illuminate a nearby grove. There, a girl in white lay on the ground, covered in blood.

“A Shuo!” Chong Zhao’s breath caught.

He leaped from his horse and stumbled toward the girl.

Under the moonlight, the girl raised her head, looked at the boy’s anxious expression, and stretched out her hand.


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