Chapter 22: Feral Wold Ravine
Wutian county, one of the two counties under Zhi* city’s jurisdiction. Wutian was a bordering county of West Zhi, blocked by Snow Jade Mountain to the west, a mountain range steep with snow caps year round, uninhabited. Less than ten Li in the north was the infamous Feral Wolf Ravine, known for the common appearances of wolves.
*A different Zhi
Because Feral Wolf Ravine had a complex layout of thick fields of grass and dense forests, even expert huntsmen did not dare to enter too deeply. However, the feral wolves would not enter the populated county either. So although Wutian and Feral Wolf Ravine were fairly close, it was relatively peaceful.
Because Wutian was surrounded by the Snow Jade Mountains to the West and Feral Wolf Ravine to the north and did not have any regional specialties, although it was considered part of West Zhi, it was forgotten, unregulated, so many wanted fugitives, swindlers, murderers and the like amassed here. Here, military might was everything! But no one knew that two years ago, someone had secretly infiltrated and was secretly controlling Wutian in the palm of their hand.
The only pub in the entire county was Xiaoyao tavern, so it was well known. Although many ruffians had visited, no one dared to cause a disturbance. After all, the lady boss was very powerful, a beauty more than thirty years old known as the Third Phoenix Lady.
The phoenix lady was not known for her martial arts, but for her connections, friends with powerful figures of the underworld and the righteous alike! Actually, the phoenix lady was very famous across the land during her younger years, but she had stirred quite a bit of trouble, breaking many marriages, so she ran to Wutian and opened up this not quite big yet not quite small tavern.
Currently, the phoenix lady reclining on a luxurious chair, a red dress of satin wrapped coyly around her curvaceous body, revealing half of her chest. Her gaze was misty as she watched the young man in white facing away from her on the lower floor.
The young man had a slender body, as thing as a girl, but the phoenix lady knew this man did not act like a girl at all. Instead he was very… powerful! The young man had arrived three days prior. The moment she laid eyes on him, she had been attracted by his beauty and elegance, but when she attempted to lure him, she was brushed off seamlessly, defeated at her first attempt. But even on the second and third try, she failed miserably. Not only that, his warning gaze, his eyes smiling yet not smiling, left her apprehensive. This young man was not to be trifled with. Furthermore, every single person who visited the young man was deferential, some of the visitors even including power of Wutian county she had failed to make connections with. She did not fear them, but she didn’t want to have to move again, so she could not afford to offend the young man.
Her gaze became somewhat bitter. Such a powerful and beautiful young man would never fall for her, but she only wished for a one night stand. Was that not okay? Her gaze grew fiery, boring holes into the young man’s back, but the young man did not seem to sense it at all, gracefully continuing to drink tea. However, the servant in black next to him couldn’t bear it anymore and shot a glare.
The phoenix lady humphed. She could tell that the servant was a girl crossdressing, merely a pretty face, nothing compared to her alluring figure.
“Young master, she’s watching you again!”
Ye Yin glanced at Qiu Xing. “Why does it matter? Let her look. What are you getting mad for? Are you jealous?”
“Young master!” Qiu Xing stamped her foot, biting her lip. She tilted her head and peered again at the phoenix lady. “Young master, that lady keeps on trying to enter your bedroom at night. Are you really going to let her go?”
“It’s not as if she’s overstepped her boundaries. As long as she doesn’t do anything excessive, let her be. Also, the phoenix lady is no small figure. It’s better to not offend her. Perhaps one day we will need to use her.”
“But young master, if she continues like this, there will be a day when she…”
Ye Yin broke her off. “Don’t worry. She is very observant. In the future, she will not try anything. Enough. Let’s return to our rooms. Dong Chen is back!”
In their room, Ye Yin finished listening to Dong Chen’s report. “In other words, Wutian has now all been taken care of?
Dong Chen nodded. “Everything has been prepared as young master instructed. His highness has sent sir Li to take charge of the military. However, young master, his highness and sir Li asks if young master would like to meet them*.”
*Damn, they were fairly differential when asking Ye Yin to see them.
Ye Yin shook his head. “No need. I have already met the middle men. It’s best to let sir Li take over all responsibilities. Dong Chen, you are in charge of maintaining contact. As for me, there is one more matter I must deal with personally!”
“Young master, what is it?”
“I must go to the northern land to bring reinforcements.”
“The north?” Qiu Xing cried out in surprise. “Young master, must you go to the north?”
Ye Yin nodded lightly. “If not, Wutian alone cannot bring about large successes. Wutian people all have complex backgrounds and are hard to control. We would not be able to attack Xingjian county or cities with more elite soldiers.”
“But young master, you must pass through the Feral Wolf Ravine is to reach the northern land, so it’s dangerous. Also, the north is considered very mysterious. No one knows what is there. Young master, how can you go to such a dangerous…” Dong Chen worried.
Ye Yin waved offhandedly, cutting her off. “I know what you want to say, but I must go. The Mong* people of the north are independent, not controlled by any nation. These past years, they have the principle of not offending anyone, so although they border Xili, Beiqi, and West Zhi, none of the three countries have sent troops after them. But do you think none of the countries really has the intention to?”
*Means barbaric race literally. I’m fairly sure it refers to the Mongols of ancient China, but it doesn’t seem right that there are Mongols in this story and kinda rude to refer to them as barbarians. Also, it’s supposed to be Man in pinyin, but Man people sounds weird so I’m english-fying it ish to sound more like Mongolia. (And the way English speakers think of the pronunciation of Mong is probably more similar to the right way to pronounce Man.)
Dong Chen and Qiu Xing glanced at each other. Ye Yin said profoundly, “A long time ago, Beiqi sent troops to the northern land with the intention of seizing the territory for itself, but was completely obliterated. From then on, no one dared to send troops to the northern land. The northern territory is shaped like a triangle, one side the Snow Jade Mountains, tall as the skies, one side the Dragon River that rushes and froths madly, and the last, the natural protective Feral Wolf ravine. Seizing the northern territory required either climbing over Snow Jade Mountain, crossing the Dragon River, or passing through the Feral Wolf Ravine, each dangerous. The northern territory is essentially a natural fortress. This is why although surrounded by three territories, the Mong people live in peace.”
“But young master, how are you going to find troops? And how are you going to pass through Feral Wolf Ravine?”
Ye Yin smiled. “I already passed through Feral Wolf Ravine two years ago. Also, the Mong Chief owes me a favor. It’s about time she pays me back.”
Qiu Xing and Dong Chen exchanged worried glances. Ye Yin continued solemnly, “Dong Chen, you must remain here to manage the current situation. Tomorrow early morning, Qiu Xing and I will go to the northern territory.”
“Young master, are you only bringing Qiu Xing? That’s not enough people. Why don’t you ask for some men from his highness or sir Li to accompany you?”
Ye Yin waved offhandedly. “It’s not like I’m going there to fight. What’s the point in bringing so many people? The more people, the more troublesome.” Dong Chen was about to speak, but Ye Yin added, “Enough.”
Feral Wolf Ravine was very close by. In no more than an hour, Ye Yin and Qiu Xing had already entered the ravine. Glancing around anxiously, Qiu Xing reaffirmed the grass was truly thick, the surroundings desolate and uninhabited. Like the rumors at the marketplace said, no one dared to hunt here, even though there were many prey.
The wind blew the thick weeds back and forth. Qiu Xing’s heart pounded. It was very calm. With a dense forest before them, they could not see nor hear anything. Qiu Xing grew even more apprehensive. Although the four of them had each learned a certain martial art under Ye Yin’s instructions, using ten years to become somewhat skilled, handling second rates was nothing too difficult, but if she faced large numbers of wolves…
Sensing Qiu Xing’s fear, Ye Yin laughed. “Silly girl, relax. I’m not going to make you fight those wild wolves. Although the wolves here are known for being savage, they won’t injure anyone for no reason. I guarantee we will pass through without a problem.”
“The wolves are numerous and vicious, but they have a master.”
“Right. How do you think Feral Wolf Ravine became a natural barrier for the Mong people? The wolves are specially trained to deal with invaders, but also to not pass a certain point. Otherwise, how could they remain living in harmony with Wutian at such a close distance?”
“Young master, are you saying the wolves were raised by the Mong people?”
“Mm. Before the Mong people of previous generations started raising them, there were not that many wolves. Now, there are around ten thousand or so. They were also bred using selective breeding. Their numbers don’t grow any more, but eat one is much more powerful… They are kings among wolves.”
“Young master, why would they limit the number of wolves? Isn’t there strength in numbers? And why are the domestic wolves called feral?”
“What they need are wolves that are more powerful than ten wolves combined. If there are too many wolves, they would destroy the food chain and harm the Mong people instead! And these wolves are not domesticated like sheep or chicken. Look at the forest.” Ye Yin motioned for Qiu Xing to scan the forest. “These trees are hundreds of years old, able to sustain the Mong people. The Mong know how to coexist with nature, able to raise wolves and control them with a secret method, very powerful.”
“What is the secret method?”
Ye Yin rolled his eyes. “Do you think I’m an all-knowing god? Only the Mong Chief of each generation knows.”
Qiu Xing pouted. Ye Yin picked off a leaf from a tree and held it to his lips, then started to blow. Shocked, Qiu Xing asked, “Young master, how are you able to blow a tune with a leaf?”
“Of course you can. But I only know one song. And if I didn’t know, then we would be feeding ourselves to the wolves!”
Seeing that Qiu Xing was baffled, Ye Yin added, “This song is used by the Mong to control the wolves. Only the person who blows this tune will be able to pass through safely.”
“But what about me, young master? I can’t do that!”
“Silly girl! If you accompany me, you won’t be attacked. Stay close. I can bring with me one or two people at least.”
He started to wholeheartedly blow the leaf. They could only hear slightly rustling, as if something were moving, but nothing ever appeared. Qiu Xing remained fearful, keeping close to Ye Yin, eyeing the surroundings warily.
The forest was thick and the road long. Ye Yin blew the same tune the entire way, not daring to stop for breath. It was strenuous, but he had to persevere. It was the only way they could pass through the Feral Wolf Ravine.
After traveling for approximately four hours, a small brook appeared before them. Ye Yin immediately appeared much happier. He let the leaf go and took a deep break. “We’re finally here!”
His face was somewhat pale, his step uneasy. Qiu Xing hurriedly supported him. Not only did he had to blow the entire way, they had to use the Qi arts to go quicker.
Ye Yin steadied his breathing and then pushed away Qiu Xing’s hand and lightly brushed his white clothing, smiling faintly. “Let’s go! We will go to see that person!”