The exit was a wide seam that appeared to have been formed from an axe tearing open a rift in space itself. Had it not been for the golden light illuminating it, Ning Chen would’ve probably missed it thanks to the sheer darkness of the surroundings.
This damned world just seemed to be full of damned things that were just so inexplicable, like Xiantians or that piece of scrap paper that gave off a golden light.
He truly felt like his worldview from Earth was like a mirror that had been chucked onto the ground; broken beyond repair.
As man and beast passed through the crack, they experienced a sense of surrealness with their first step onto snowy ground.
It turned out that he still couldn’t accept what he had just experienced down there.
As they reached the end of the tunnel, the scenery took a drastic change from the pitch black darkness of the underworld to snowy white plains.
With a swish of its mane and an ardent look within its eyes, the white foal raised its hooves; as its first action since it left that underground world, it galloped straight into the nearest pile of snow. With its head buried in the frosty pillow, it began furiously lapping up the snow with its tongue.
Hmph, such an uncivilized hick. Ning Chen tossed the young horse a scornful look before proceeding to scoop up a handful of snow and…shoved it into his mouth. He violently chewed down on this icy snow mixture without a moment’s delay.
Man and beast threw their heads back, a look of happiness apparent on their faces as they looked up at the sky.
Those days in the Underworld Court were truly hellish with nothing to eat or drink, not even snow. After all that, just the thought of being able to eat a mouthful of snow was a blessing in itself.
Having swallowed a mouthful of snow, the inflammation in his throat cooled down significantly. He discarded the remaining pile of snow in his hand and turned towards the horse to find it still in the midst of eating. His eyebrows jumped at the alarming sight. With a swift smack of the horse’s rump, he scolded it:
“Are you trying to kill yourself?”
At the rate it was gulping down the snow, it wouldn’t surprise him if it really killed itself. After all, everything had its limits; with their bodies currently in such a weak condition, such a rapid change could end up killing them.
The white foal glanced at the human for a moment before taking a couple of steps back and continued to eat without paying him any further heed.
Blood immediately rushed to Ning Chen’s head as his anger threatened to boil over, yet as he was about to scold the horse, he noticed the puddle of water resting around the feet of the foal. The snow around it had completely melted from its body heat!
His eyes widened at the shocking sight. Exactly what was that pearl it swallowed! How many days had it been already, yet it was still affecting it?!
His brows furrowed in worry, but after seeing that horse was still happily eating its snow, he no longer moved to stop it.
“Wait here and don’t run about.”
Saying that, he rolled his wheelchair off into the distance. A while later he came back with a deer carcass on his lap. The carcass was not particularly large, but it was enough for Ning Chen and his horse to eat.
He wasn’t sure if the white foal ate meat, but even if it didn’t, now wasn’t the time to be picky.
With the Chinese matchsticks used up and no deadwood in sight, lighting a fire wasn’t a possibility either. It went without saying that he was unable to create fire from nothing either seeing as his cultivation hadn’t reached the realm of the Divine Child who could change the heavens with just a move.
After a simple dissection, he suppressed the swelling disgust he felt and quickly shoved a piece of meat into his mouth. As the bloody smell of raw meat assailed his nose, his empty stomach spasmed from its long abstinence and caused a backwash of stomach acid.
Despite the discomfort, he knew that he had no choice in this matter. Without eating, there’s no way his body could survive the trip out of the snowy plains.
After roughly shoving down two slices of meat, he cut off a piece for the white foal as well.
The white foal clearly didn’t want to eat it and immediately puked it out.
Ning Chen’s face darkened as he yelled.
Seeing its master lose his temper, the white foal whined softly before it licked up the raw meat from the ground and swallowed it with a look of disgust on its face.
Feeling that he went a little overboard with his yelling, he gave a soft sigh and gently patted it on the head. “Just endure it for now, as long as it means we can live, a little hardship is worth it.” He gently whispered into its ears.
The young horse snuggled its head against the teen’s chest with a wronged look in its eyes.
“Alright, don’t be so wishy washy about it and eat,” said Ning Chen in an impatient tone as he pushed away the horse.
Since they had never gone through processing, the meat slices still had an overwhelming bloodiness to them. The foal barely got them down and Ning Chen nearly retched with each slice. As man and beast walked through the deserted plains, each took turns taking a slice of meat under the watchful eyes of the other; neither willing to lose out and allow the other to eat fewer slices.
The deer of the snow plains were mostly skin and bones thanks to the harshness of the environment, so it didn’t take long before there was only one slice of meat left. Staring for a moment at the meat, he shoved it into the foal’s mouth before cleaning off his hands with the snow on the ground.
“Let’s go.” He blandly said.
The foal’s face contorted slightly as it forced down the last slice of meat before obediently trotting alongside the teen, its stomach churning all the while in disgust.
By now, the snowstorm had finally ended though the sun hadn’t risen as yet. It would not be an understatement to say that this storm was a disaster for the north, with the majority of the region covered in snow.
With his surroundings similarly covered in a field of white, Ning Chen wasn’t able to tell heads from tails as he wheeled about the plains; he didn’t even know where he was currently located at the moment.
A common hazard while traveling through snow was snow blindness which was an overexposure to UV rays reflected off ice and snow that caused a temporary but painful loss of sight. In order to prevent this, Ning Chen would cover the white foal’s eyes from time to time before doing so to himself as well; during this time both of them would proceed forward based on their sense of touch alone.
It wasn’t like they knew where they were going anyway so it made no difference as long as they kept moving.
Yet as the saying goes, when one was unlucky, even drinking cold water would clog your teeth.
Just as the pair finally saw a ray of hope in the form of a distant city, a man dressed completely in white came into view a short distance away.
The moment the white clothed man laid eyes on the pair, he was just as stunned as they were to see him. In this deserted snowy plains, such a combination of man and beast was simply too unique and easily recognized.
Sometimes no matter how much you looked for something you would never find it. Instead, you would end up finding it when you least expected it.
Ning Chen’s skin bristled from the unbridled killing intent that radiated from the man. His eyebrows furrowed at the unwelcome guest but before he could even figure out the situation, a cold flash of steel immediately dominated his vision.
The man drew his sword and rushed forward, with his sword pointed ahead it formed a spearhead of wind as it pierced through space with a speed that promised certain death.
Fingers clashed with sword in an explosion of snow as Ning Chen deftly caught the sword’s blade between two fingers of his left hand. Pinching down on it firmly, he locked down the sword and redirected it to the side with a turn of his wrist, nullifying the force as he did so.
At the same time, his Ink Sword left its sheath and swung forth in a half arc of icy sword energy that sprayed a curtain of frost at the man.
His face unchanging, the man reached out with his left hand and grabbed the Ink Sword, causing a burst of sparks as he did so. His hands were actually protected with a pair of pig iron gauntlets!
Ning Chen’s eyes narrowed, he pressed down harder on the gauntlets with 30% more force.
A crack began forming along the metallic surface, widening rapidly as the pig iron gave way to the inky black sword and allowed it to sink in by half a finger deep.
Threads of red began to flow down the edge of the Ink Sword; this was the first time the white clothed man had seen his blood in a while. Gripping down harder on his sword, the white clothed man gave it a twist. Instantly, the blade of the sword split apart to form another sword that dove right at Ning Chen’s chest.
Ning Chen cursed at the man in the heat of the moment even though he was equally as shameless most of the time.
A sword within a sword, truly a move that was hard to defend against. Still, Ning Chen had encountered a situation even more dire than this and thus wasn’t fazed by it at all as he reacted immediately.
His wheelchair rolled forwards rather than back, and with a quick spin, rotated in a tight circle with the Ink Sword swinging around like a reaper’s scythe as it slashed a inky black line across the air.
It was a swift slash, the move was a tricky one as well, yet Ning Chen’s eyebrows furrowed in displeasure. He couldn’t muster his full force; the slash ended up slower than what he had intended.
At the very least, this slash was slower than what he had performed against the undead horsemen.
The man swiftly retreated backward three steps and avoided the lethal slash, but he was not able to avoid it completely.
His clothes ripped apart as a bloody rose bloomed forth from the seams.
Ning Chen was in a foul mood at the moment. He was extremely dissatisfied with his performance just now. His body seemed to react slower than he expected while his wheelchair simply could not keep up with him. This was to be expected, after all, this was reality and not that illusory world. Turning a move he learnt in there into one that could be used in the real world wasn’t as simple as he thought it would be.
The white clothed man was equally as irritated by the situation. He discovered that even with his fifth-grade cultivation base, he wasn’t able to completely suppress the teen before him. Not only that, in a clash of skills, he seemed to have come out short in the end.
As Ning Chen sat on his wheelchair, he slightly lowered his eyelids to prevent his eyes from revealing his inner thoughts. In that short exchange, he could clearly feel that this man was weaker than that old eunuch. It’s just that the long sword in his hands was troublesome.
However, he truly had to thank those hellish days in that illusory world. Had it not been for that, he would have still been that idiot who merely had a cultivation base with nothing to back it up.
At the end of the day, martial arts was meant for fighting, body strengthening was nothing but a load of horse sh*t.
The old sword master once said to him while they were training that the sword was meant for killing people, other than that, it was useless. People who wielded the sword, swordsman, were killers who were proficient in the sword.
Of course there weren’t that many people who were worthy of the title swordsman. The old sword master said he could at most be considered half a swordsman, which meant that the white clothed man before him could not even be considered half a swordsman!
His mood grew ever fouler by the second. Perhaps it was simply the raw meat in his stomach talking or perhaps it was the snow blindness irritating his eyes, either way this snowy plains wasn’t conducive to him fighting.
The white clothed man threw the teen another glance before rushing forward in the span of a breath with his sword aimed at his life.
As he did so, he couldn’t help but wonder: why did this teen seem so distracted all of a sudden?
Ning Chen gently turned his attention back to reality, and with a swift wave of his sword, blocked the man’s stab right before it reached his throat. With a twist of his head, he ducked to the side and ran his sword right along the flat top of the man’s sword, followed shortly after by a flick of his wrist. A spurt of blood splattered onto the snowy white canvas as an arm fell to the ground right as Ning Chen drew his sword back in.
Looking at the spray of fresh blood on the floor, Ning Chen let forth a soft sigh. Looks like his speciality was still severing arms; the arm was, after all the closest thing at his current eye level.
In the very next instant, his wheelchair spun on its axis sending the Ink Sword spinning in another lethal flash of inky blackness that sliced clean through the man’s throat, filling it with blood.
The man’s eyes widened in horror before slumping to the ground, his body still maintaining that attacking pose as it landed with a thud never to stand up again.
Ning Chen heaved violently, spitting out a mouthful of blood which he impatiently cleaned off with a rough wipe of his hands. He leaned forwards from his seated position to loot the man’s body. With that done, he gave the white foal a slap on its rump and said, “Let’s go, it’s time for this young master to enter the city.”
The white foal gave a quick reply and obediently trotted behind the wheelchair as it slowly rolled towards the distant city.
The ancient city was quite a distance away from the pair. By the time they arrived, the sky couldn’t get any darker. Along the streets, the warm illumination of the lamps began dying out as even the inn started to close for the night. However, this was forcefully interrupted by Ning Chen. He was starving right now and so was his brother, the white foal.
The manager threw the teen an irritated look, but upon seeing his fistful of taels he immediately did a complete one-eighty, welcoming the teen in as if he was his ancestor.
Ning Chen silently threw the white foal a look as if to say, “How’s that, mixing around with this brother has its perks doesn’t it?”
The white foal lowered its eyebrows and gave Ning Chen prim and proper affirmative with its eyes, which pleased him greatly.
“What does Young Master wish to eat?” Asked the manager with a grin that stretched to his ears, his eyes as thin as crescent moons.
Ning Chen glanced at the billboard hanging at the front of the hall before waving his finger across the air with a look that screamed nouveau riche. “Other than these few, I want one serving of everything on the menu, no wait, two servings.”
Hearing that, the grin on the manager’s face grew impossibly wider as he asked in a tone full of false concern. “Young Master wishes to have the rest in a doggy bag?”
“Nope, the other portion is for him.” Ning Chen pointed at the white foal standing at the entranceway and said in an impatient tone.
“Young Master wishes for this horse to eat here as well?” Asked the manager in an astonished tone.
“And there’s a problem with that?” His impatience grew even more as he retorted. Stop beating around the bush, at this rate he’ll starve to death.
“That…that’s against the inn’s regulations.”
The manager gave the teen an awkward look; this is a place for humans to eat after all, how could he let a beast enter.
Ning Chen tossed him the silver ingots in his hand and said, “These are yours.”
“Haha, your words are the law here.” Without saying another word, the manager promptly turned around and left for the kitchen.
As the pair sat there waiting for the food, the two starving ghosts began downing pot after pot of tea until finally, just as Ning Chen was about to lose his temper, the first few dishes were brought in by the waiter.
The head chef was dragged out of bed by the manager just moments ago to work and barely had time to walk off his grogginess before he began cooking. Thus, the food was of a lower standard than usual, yet this didn’t stop the two of them of wolfing it down with eyes that glowed with desire.
Being understaffed at the moment, the manager ended up having to help out in the kitchen in order to rush out the dishes. After finally finding some time to catch his breath, he decided to check out the situation in the front hall and was immediately taken aback by the gluttonous display of the teen and his horse.
The surrounding area was a total mess with a bunch of scatter plates laying around their feet. By now, there was barely any clean space left for a person to step on. At the side, a young waiter watched the pair eat with a pale face and his eyes wide open. This was the first time in his entire life that he had witnessed such a horrifying scene.
Man and beast clearly weren’t aware of the trauma they had caused the service staff today nor did they care at all. Their shamelessness and standards were things that were well ahead of this era after all and couldn’t be understood by these plebeians.
So the crowd of stunned onlookers grew ever larger as more and more people entered the front hall and watched the strange pair eat…