The water was moving too quickly. Even as Ren Heming shouted, he was rapidly being swept away. Seeing this, Dong Zheng jumped into the water without hesitation. Using the current, at least he could maintain an equal distance with Ren Heming.
If he chased on shore, he was worried that the changes in terrain wouldn’t be conducive to running and he would easily lose sight of the other person.
The moment he entered the water, the icy chill wrapped around Dong Zheng and he shivered. But he only sucked in a deep breath and swam toward Ren Heming.
His speed was faster than Ren Heming, allowing him to quickly narrow the distance between them by only a few meters. Three miles ahead, the stream turned at a sharp angle, following the curve of the mountainside. Dong Zheng saw a piece of fallen log stretched out horizontally across the surface of the stream.
“Grab onto the log in front!”
Dong Zheng gathered his energy. This was a good opportunity for him to push Ren Heming up. He followed the other person, not forgetting to notice that the Jinyiwei team leader had already drunk several mouthfuls of water, but he was oddly not affected at all.
Ren Heming struggled to keep his eyes open. He stretched out one hand strenuously and as he rushed under the log, he grabbed hold of a raised branch.
With his other hand, he pulled himself up. His clothes were soaked with water, adding extra weight, and so he had to exert a lot of effort. Dong Zheng also grabbed hold of a branch. Using his body, he pushed Ren Heming up and climbed after him.
Ren Heming knelt on the ground, coughing, as water dripped from his body. Dong Zheng bent down next to him and patted him on the back, asking, “Shixiong can’t swim?”
Ren Heming waved his hand tiredly and said, “A little bit, but I’m not proficient. The water was so fast, I choked as soon as I fell in.”
Dong Zheng thoughtfully rubbed his chin, and when Ren Heming finished coughing up the water in his mouth, he pulled the other person up.
As Ren Heming wrung the water from his clothes, Dong Zheng looked at Ren Heming’s horse still struggling in the water. It was ensnared in the stream and could not get up at all. Nor could it hold onto the log as Ren Heming had done. Dong Zheng could only helplessly watch.
Ren Heming naturally lacked the strength to pull it back up. Horses were not like people; they couldn’t cooperate and they’re heavy. This made it all the more difficult for them to drag it out from the stream. In the end, they could only watch as the horse that had accompanied them all the way here was swept away.
After Ren Heming wring out most of the water from his clothes, he pulled out the stack of wet talisman papers. The cinnabar patterns had smeared and couldn’t be used anymore. Fortunately, he gave Dong Zheng half of his stacks.
Dong Zheng’s horse had been following him, so even though one was gone, at least they still had this one. As Ren Heming rested, Dong Zheng took a talisman paper out from the horse bag and lit it. The evil spirit’s path had now slightly deviated.
Upon seeing this, Ren Heming immediately stood up and said, “No more wasting time. Let’s go.”
Since he suggested it, Dong Zheng naturally wouldn’t refuse. They followed the direction provided by the talisman and crossed the log to the other side of the stream.
Leading the only remaining horse, they followed the trail through the mountains. As they passed by a section of the path, the horizon in front of them widened. On the far side of the path was a Dashi mountain village. Although it looked normal, it was utterly silent.
There were no sounds of human activities nor any livestocks or birds.
Because they were at a higher elevation and the wind was blowing downhill, they couldn’t smell anything. But Dong Zheng still came to an abrupt stop. He and Ren Heming looked at each other, both guessing that this was probably the plague village the convoy had spoken of.
Unexpectedly, by following the river, they had arrived at the village despite having taken another route.
“This is a problem.” Ren Heming gave a wry smile. He had tried his best to catch the evil spirit before it reached Dashi and had wanted to avoid this village, but he still ran into it anyway.
Dong Zheng frowned, and said in a low voice:
Xixi: Just about ten more of these chapters left. Phew! I’m getting a little tired of them.