Chapter 6-Suspicions (1)
“True! My luck has never been better since I became a commander. Escape was impossible but with your help earlier…” Su Ming laughed as his words trailed off. Finally in a good mood, Su Ming felt a rush of energy in his body. He ignored his arms that were beginning to numb as he carried Lilia. Although she looked slender, she was unexpectedly heavy.
Talking to Lilia made his heart grow lighter. She showed great interest in whatever topic he chose. She listened intently to every word he said as if each word had its weight in gold. Most women would find conversations about military matters uninteresting or inappropriate.
She was really a strange child. She was wandering alone in the forest wearing strange clothes and speaking in a strange manner. He had some suspicions about her identity: from a daughter of a merchant to something mystical. Seeing the magical black box she used to make a man faint made his heartbeat race in excitement on a possibility of her true identity.
Suddenly, Su Ming heard incomprehensible voices. He quickly stopped walking and let Lilia down. He dropped to the ground allowing the tall grass to partly hide his body. He signaled Lilia to do the same. Lilia looked hesitant for a moment but quickly followed suit when she too noticed the noise. Su Ming cursed inwardly. He already unsheathed his sword.
It was already lucky enough that they got this far without being caught. But he still had faint expectations that they could escape this place without encountering those men again. He just hoped there weren’t too many of them. Once again the magical wooden block was in Lilia’s hands. He must remember to asked about the strange bag on her back. There were no strings or openings on it, so where did that magical item come from?
Multiple voices rang out. Su Ming’s eyes that were sharp and focused began to turn round in surprise and delight. He quickly stood up and shouted back.
“Over here! I’m here!”
Lilia was surprised by Su Ming’s sudden action. From behind trees and grass, men appeared, some of them injured. When these men saw Su Ming they immediately showed a look of delight and immediately ran towards him.
“Hahaha! I knew that was the voice of the commander!”
“Li Ren! Old Chen!” Su Ming laughed in delight.
“Friends?” Lilia asked curiously.
“Allies! These are my men.” He replied. When they were near each other these men immediately did a military salute.
“Milord, I am so pleased you are not seriously hurt.” Old Chen quickly checked Su Ming’s condition and was relieved that his injuries were only light. He was an elderly man with a full head of white hair and a beard that reached up to his chest. He was a loyal servant of Su Ming’s father. Instead retiring and spending the rest of his days peacefully, he followed Su Ming to the battlefield and acted as his lieutenant.
“To think we would still meet again commander. The Heavens are truly smiling upon us!” Li Ren laughed. He was a retainer of Su Ming’s uncle that was tasked to serve and protect him. With his large physique and heroic air, he was always mistaken as the leader of the 500-man unit. He is currently a 100-man commander.
Su Ming immediately helped them up. He couldn’t believe he would see them again. Was this a result from sharing luck with Lilia? When they were ambushed and surrounded, they knew they would be defeated with only twelve men against more than forty fully armed ambushers. Left with no choice, they forced Su Ming, their commander, to escape. Old Chen, Li Ren and the rests were left to hold off the opponents.
“I am glad you were able to survive!” He looked behind the trees, expecting more men to appear but was disappointed. “Where are the others?”
Other than Li Ren and Old Chen, there was only three other people. One of them was even heavily injured.
Li Ren shook his head in reply. Even he, himself, was only able to escape after sacrificing one of his arms. He wouldn’t be able to use his sword without feeling excruciating pain for weeks.
“Maybe it was the wrong decision to go there.” Su Ming sighed. He understood that it was already a blessing that six men could escape from that trap.
“We must quickly escape from this forest. I was just being pursued just a while ago. Chances are they are still around…”
Su Ming’s words trailed off as he noticed his men weren’t listening to him. They were all staring behind him. When he turned, he saw Lilia smiling helplessly as she looked at his men.
“My lord. Who-”
“Ah! Right! Right! This child is Lilia. She greatly helped me escaped from the people who were chasing me earlier.” He laughed out loud. Su Ming forgot his sadness as he remembered his lucky escaped. Hearing her name Lilia slightly bowed.
“Li Ya? Lil Ya? Is she from a travelling troupe? Her clothes are quite… unique.” Li Ren frowned. He didn’t have a good impression of Lilia. He was wary of this girl who appeared in these mountains.
Old Chen stroked his beard thoughtfully as he looked at Lilia from head to foot. Li Ren lowered his voice so others can’t overhear their conversation.
“My lord, this is definitely suspicious. Is there a chance that she is a spy?”
“Hmmm… That is a possibility but extremely unlikely. If she were a spy, then she is quite a lousy one. She would get apprehended or kidnap as soon as she steps in a village. She is too eye-catching.” Su Ming replied.
“Then what is she doing here, in the middle of the mountains? Could it be she made a mistake and was caught by you, captain?”
Su Ming shook his head. He remembered at her panicked when she was taken hostage, her clumsiness as she ran and not to mention that magical block of wood.
“I have my own suspicions.” He voice held a secretive tone as he spoke. “The truth is I think she is someone from the Jade Forest.”
Both Old Chen and Li Ren looked at him in disbelief. Li Ren was the first to react.
“Are you sure commander? Those from the Jade forest are usually companions of powerful men. To find one so easily and all the more in this place is very unlikely.”
“I am not sure. But it is well-known that those from the Jade forest all have three things in common. They are all beautiful women. They have unique abilities. And the men they picked will have heaven-defying luck.”
“There are a lot of pretty women in the world captain. As for helping you before, it might be a coincidence or maybe she really has some skills. But saying she is from the Jade Forest, might as well say that a random piece of pebble is actually a gold nugget. It is too much of a coincidence.”
“If only these two points I would not have this suspicion.” Su Ming looked at his two subordinates in the eye, his expression serious. “She has a magical object that renders its target unconscious. It makes a loud sound then before you know it, you are on the ground.”
I had to stop myself from naming this chapter “Gossiping”, “Gossiping old men”, “Gossiping fearless military men.” Yup! So tempted.