Yuxiao shuddered with pain on the ground and from his tightly pressed lips leaked a trickle of blood, but still, he didn’t say a word. The other four Nie cousins were scared, however, and they persuaded Hong, “Fourth Prince, let’s go. If our clan elder knew about this, it wouldn’t be good.”
Hong was a little frightened by now, too. He was used to lording over others, but had never fought with qi. He only ever used Qi at home while training. Today, he just wanted to scare Yuxiao, but when his hateful thoughts came out, so did the fire. Seeing the shaking Yuxiao, he was a little stunned. Hearing his cousins’ words, he quickly fled with them toward the plaza where the Qi exam was taking place.
The five young men disappeared from around Yuxiao. Watching them leave, Yuxiao seemed older than his years. Gritting his teeth, he stood up. His clothes were dusty. He tied a knot where the hole was and hobbled toward outside the town.
Ordinary people only had one chance at the Qi exam plaza, when they were close to coming of age. If there was Qi found on the testing stage, the military, the Xue, or the Nie family would invite them to join.
While people in the Xue or the Nie family went to the exam for the coming-of-age ceremony, it was mostly to show off how much Qi they had cultivated. Yuxiao knew he wouldn’t test well anyway. He made up his mind, thinking, If no one in my family respects me, and I am bullied by the Nie family, too, I might as well leave and try it on my own.
Yuxiao hobbled his way to a street vendor who wrote letters for people. Asking for some paper and a brush pen, he wrote a “leaving home” letter and paid a coin as thank you. He then went to the letter carrier pavilion and asked for it to be sent to the Xue family.
Yuxiao next found a medical pavilion and had the doctor check out his burned buttocks. He got some burn ointment as well as medicine and left fifty coins as payment. He went to the city gates and asked the soldiers where there was war and how to win medals there.
Seeing Yuxiao’s difficulty in walking, they made fun of him. “Keep heading south. The border area might have a war.”
Yuxiao, trusting their advice, headed south. Passing him were mostly strongmen on horseback, as well as people in carriages. Very rarely were there pedestrians. Yuxiao, carrying his sack of medicine, frightened others into avoiding him for fear of contracting any mystery illnesses.
Yuxiao was used to no one playing with him in his family, and spoke little, so he was familiar with being lonely. He kept following the road to the south.
It wasn’t until dark that he reached a small village. His stomach grumbled. There were no inns to be seen. After asking around, he learned there was no such thing here. The closest inn was twenty miles away.
Yuxiao was exhausted and starving, plus his wound hurt; he had to stop. He looked at an older woman standing at a doorway and said, “Ma’am, please give me some food and let me stay one night. I’ll leave as soon as it’s light out. I’ll pay whatever you ask.”
Perhaps Yuxiao’s plain face didn’t seem threatening. The lady said, “We have some leftover food. Do you like buns? If you do, we’ll heat some up. No need for money. We have no rooms, just a storage shed for firewood. Not sure if it’ll do.”
Yuxiao squeezed out a smile. “That’s great. I can make do in the shed. Sorry to trouble you.”
The woman told him, “No trouble at all. C’mon in. I’ll get my son.” She shouted toward the inner rooms, “Da Niu, come greet our guest!”
“Huh? We have guests?”
A muscular man came out of the house, speaking in a dense voice.
“Isn’t he a guest? Take him to the living room and let him rest. I’ll go heat up food.” The woman went toward the kitchen.
Da Niu grinned at Yuxiao. “C’mon in.”
Yuxiao said, “I'll go to the shed. I have a wound and don't want to mess up the living room.”
Da Niu scratched his head. “We all eat in the living room. If you don't go there, we can't feed you.”
Yuxiao had no choice but to follow Da Niu inside, and sat down in spite of the pain. As they chatted, the older woman brought out the food. Yuxiao ate ravenously. When he finally paused, Da Niu was amazed. “Brother, you don't look like a laborer. How could you eat this much? You ate up all of our food.”
**Originally from BadNovels. Check badnovels.com
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