A scene of lush greenery filled the horizon as the boat reached shore.
Xiao Shi came out of the cabin with a white yarn covering her beautiful face, only showing her glass-like, cold, desolated eyes. A personality reminiscent of Xiao Qi.
Hai Qinghan put down the board which allowed Chu Li to disembark from the boat and enter the woods.
Chu Li followed behind Hai Qingshan for about ten meters until they reached an empty meadow. In the middle of the woods, there was a huge green carriage led by eight fine horses.
"Brother Chu, do you know how to steer a carriage?" Han Qingshan asked Chu Li.
"Yes," he replied.
He had learned to steer a carriage when he wanted to go downhill with the coachman, Elder Chui.
"Then I'll leave it to you, Brother Chu," said Hai Qingshan.
Thus, Chu Li untied the reins of the horses and they went on their way.
Chu Li got onto the front of the carriage and spurred the horses as he let out two distinct cries. He then steered the carriage by trailing the horses ahead of him until they arrived beside a shore.
"Lady Xiao Shi, Chu Li knows how to steer a carriage. Shall we let him steer it and have Elder Guo rest?" Han Qingshan said with a smile on his face.
"Stop boot licking, young man! I'll steer the carriage. What can you do about it!?" Mulin coldly replied.
Hai Qingshan laughed and awkwardly looked at Xiao Shi.
"Elder Guo, come and sit with me. Let Chu Li steer the carriage." Xiao Shi said.
"Fine," Mulin helplessly agreed, but not before he gave Chu Li a cold stare.
"Fellow, if your riding skills are lacking, I'll punish you!" warned Mulin.
Chu Li saluted and smiled.
Mulin scoffed and assisted Xiao Shi onto the carriage.
The carriage had a wide and huge purple frame. It looked like any other carriage from the outside, just maybe a little wider. However, the interior of the carriage was decorated so elegantly it was soothing to the eyes. No matter how one sat, they would have felt comfortable.
"Don't mind what he said, Elder Guo is a good guy." Hai Qingshan whispered to Chu Li while patting his shoulder.
Chu Li smiled and nodded.
Words never hurt him anyways, as he did not care for the words of others about him.
Chu Li steer the carriage with great skill as if the horses knew what he was thinking.
He activated the Omniscient Mirror so he could see the surface and condition of the road ahead of them as well as the thoughts of the horses. He was able to adjust his control of the carriage easily and quickly. This made the carriage move at a relatively fast speed and with stability even when they were going through narrow roads.
After about half an hour, they arrived on the main road.
The six Grandmasters were separated. Four of them protected the four corners of the carriage, while another two covered the front and back of the carriage. Hai Qingshan was ahead of them, scouting for proper roads. He had a bad habit of often suddenly disappearing.
There was still one horse that they left without a rider. Hai Qingshan let the reins loose and had horse follow behind him with two big bundles tied onto it.
Chu Li ignored the others and only focused on his steering because he knew that Mulin was like a dictionary of insults and could burst out at any moment, except he did not have the right situation to use any of them. Mulin had to resist insulting Chu Li, which was a very tiring task.
Xiao Shi was holding a poetry anthology in her hands while Mulin took out a medical book to distract him from using his library full of insults. He quickly got immersed into the book and made gestures ever so often while looking excited. Time passed very quickly for the both of them as they indulge in their own activities.
Before they knew it, it was already noon.
Hai Qingshan hastened his horse to the front of the wagon, saluted and said, "Lady Xiao Shi, there is a pagoda up ahead where we can go and rest. You should also have a bite to eat".
"Okay," Xiao Shi said in agreement.
Hai Qingshan hastened the horses and lead the entourage while Chu Li waved the whip to speed up the carriage. In no time, they entered the woods where there was an old, dappled pagoda. This pagoda was built by the Public House and its main purpose was to provide a place for travelers to rest.
Hai Qingshan then untied the two big bundles from the horse where there were a few wooden boxes and leather water bottles. He carefully opened the boxes, took out four dishes and placed them on the stone table. He distributed some rations and stewed meat for Chu Li and the six Grandmasters.
Mulin and Xiao Shi sat at the stone table to have their meals while the six Grandmasters sat outside by the pagoda, guarding it as they ate their rations and stewed meat. They were also paying close attention to their surroundings as a precautionary step.
Hai Qingshan greeted Chu Li and the both of them took the horses to a safe distance where they could untie the reins and let the horses feed on grass. Hai Qingshan sat on the meadow and began eating his part of the rations and so did Chu Li.
Xiao Shi took off the white yarn which allowed her to reveal her beautiful face. She ate the dishes slowly, elegantly and very politely.
She only ate vegetables and did not share any words with Mulin. The both of them abided by a rule to stay silent during meals. They ate in silence and also very slowly every day.
After their meal, Xiao Shi took out a silk handkerchief to clean the corners of her mouth. Then, she tied her white yarn back up, stood and left the pagoda to have a stroll in the woods. Her lake-green gown fluttered along her motions with immense elegance and grace.
The six Grandmasters followed Lady Xiao Shi closely and surrounded her. They maintained their positions and would not budge one bit.
Chu Li finished his rations and stewed meat very quickly but Hai Qingshan was eating it deliberately and slowly.
After another half hour, Xiao Shi returned to the carriage. Before Mulin entered the carriage, he stared at Chu Li and said, "Young fellow, what is the point of steering the carriage so quickly?"
"Very well, I shall lower my speed," Chu Li said as he saluted and smiled at Mulin.
Mulin scoffed out of annoyance at how Chu Li responded to him. He did not talk back to Mulin everytime he was scolded. Mulin also did not scold him out of thin air because it would have been too obvious that he was provoking Chu Li. The only thing he could do was scoff loudly as he entered the carriage.
Xiao Shi pursed her lips and gently laughed as she saw the situation unfold from her carriage. She shook her head and picked up her poetry anthology again.
Chu Li did not have any other thoughts besides safety. This was a secret trip and he had a duty to ensure that their location would not be leaked. However, Lu Yutong was very witty and astute, so Chu Li had to be extra careful to avoid detection.
With another scoff as he sat down, Mulin took out his medical book. Soon after, he asked, "What background did this fellow come from?"
"Elder Guo, he's the one that Third Lady thinks very highly of. She wants to train him"
"Oh, so he's Third Lady's trusted lieutenant," Mulin scoffed, nodded and did not make another sound.
"What do you think about him, Elder Guo?"
"If the Third Lady thinks highly of him, of course he's good," he replied.
"He's a clever person." Xiao Shi said softly as she looked at her poetry anthology.
"Hey!" Mulin shook his head. "It's such a pity young Xiao Shi doesn't like witty people!"
Xiao Shi smiled. The both of them did not realize that Chu Li was sitting right outside the wagon and had heard everything they said.
Chu Li forced himself to smile. Even though Xiao Shi looked so delicate and lovely, Su Ru was not wrong about her and she was exactly what he had been warned about. It was going to be harder to get close to her than it was with the Third Lady.
He continued to steer the carriage with great stability but went a little slower than he did the first time. This allowed the carriage to be much more stable than before.
More travelers started to appear on the roads and they often met someone who was riding a horse or rushing on a rickshaw.
Although the road was very busy, their group did not attract any attention at all because it was normal to see large groups of people walking on the main road.
A single carriage with a few riders was very common and although the one they had was a little wider, it looked normal from the outside, therefore they did not look rich.
Han Qingshan spurred his horse with the whip, turned and said, "Lady Xiao Shi, there is a town ahead. Do you want to rest there for the rest of the night?"
"Okay," Xiao Shi said in agreement.
"Turn left at the junction ahead. The Town of North Guard is fifty miles away from there," Hai Qingshan whispered to Chu Li.
Chu Li nodded. He then furrowed his brows as he looked over at the two riders who passed him. Hai Qingshan noticed the odd expression on Chu Li's face.
"What happened?" he asked Chu Li with a whispering voice.
Chu Li pointed at the two riders in the distance and said, "They're scouts."
"Are they going to engage us?" Hai Qingshan asked as his expression turned serious.
Chu Li nodded.
"Are they robbers?"
Chu Li waved the whip and with a shake of his head as he said, "I'm afraid they've come because of the Second Lady."
This caused Hai Qingshan's expression to turn sour. "Do you suspect that they're from the Ren Public House?"
Chu Li nodded.
"I'll go and check!" Hai Qingshan said.
He whipped the horse to chase after the two riders right after he finished his sentence. Even if what Chu LI suspected turned out to be false, they wanted to be safe than sorry. There would have been no harm done by being extra cautious.