Chapter 4: Woman in the Water
“Fatty, run quickly.” Lu Pingchuan yelled at fatty.
The fatty had already chased the shop-assistant into the main house and right now he was defending the entrance gate to ensure nobody came out. When he heard Lu Pingchuan’s yell, he immediately discarded the rod and ran outside.
“Nan Feng, take care of yourself.” Lu Pingchuan didn’t wait for fatty to come out and immediately started running northward.
“Run fast, run fast.” Even while running, Fatty didn’t forget to grab that dead chicken.
Nan Feng discarded the machete and ran southward.
“Hey, you’re going the wrong way.” Fatty shouted from behind.
“Follow me quick.” Nan Feng yelled.
The fatty turned southward as soon as he heard him, but while he was going out of the small gate, the medicine shop’s assistant just happened to come out. Fatty saw the situation not looking good, so he could only turn back towards the north.
Nan Feng was powerless to join him, so he could only yell out, “You must not go back.”
“Go where then?” Fatty replied.
Nan Feng didn’t answer. He himself didn’t know where to go. Right now the most important thing was to find a safe place to hide, as they definitely couldn’t be caught by the officials.
After running a few paces, Nan Feng fell. He had fallen deliberately to lead the two men to chase after him. The fatty couldn’t run too fast, if the two guys were to chase after him then they would catch him pretty quickly.
As the two people were hesitating on whom to chase after, once they saw Nan Feng fall, they just directly went towards him.
As soon as the two people came near, Nan Feng quickly clambered up and ran madly towards South and after entering the alley, he turned towards West, after running a few faces towards the west, he again turned south. After running through a North-South lane, he once again shifted his direction towards East.
Seeing that the two guys were no longer in sight, he changed from running to walking briskly. Dawn had already arrived, and there were very few pedestrians on the street. Running wildly would arouse the attention of others.
Nan Feng had grown up on these streets and he was very familiar with the surrounding environment. While walking briskly he was also thinking of appropriate hiding places.
After thinking a bit, he quickly decided to go to East City. In recent days, East City has been holding a large-scale Dharma Assembly. Going there to hide would be the safest. An ordinary person wouldn’t dare think of going there to avoid prosecution for murder. Nobody would expect that not only did he dare to show his face in public but that he even dared to go to such a crowded place.
After deciding upon the destination, Nan Feng began paying attention to the dwellings and shops on both sides of the road. The tattered unlined garments that he was wearing were too conspicuous. He had to think of a way to replace them, as he couldn’t let others see that he was a beggar.
Even after walking for four-five li, he was not able to obtain any clothes. By this time, he had reached the borders of East and West City aligned to the North-South Main Road.
Even though Nan Feng had grown up in Chang’an city, but he was not familiar with East City and the reason was very simple. Inside the city, the beggars had their own fixed locations, if one ran to other person’s begging spot, then he would be beaten by the other beggars, and the extent of beating would depend on the other person’s mood. Even beating one to death wouldn’t be that big of a deal because no one cared about the death of a beggar.
Unlike the low-rise and densely packed houses of West City, the houses in East City were mostly independent houses with their very own courtyards, very large and very spacious. Even the houses had plenty of gaps between each other.
That dharma assembly or something must have started yesterday. Although he didn’t come, but he had heard that the Dharma Assembly would be held in front of Zhengyang Gate. The Emperor resided in the Imperial Palace, outside the Imperial Palace was the Imperial City, and the Southern Gate of the Imperial City was the Zhengyang Gate.
At this time, there were already stores selling breakfast and unlike the vendors from West city, the East City’s breakfast was made in the stores. However, this made no difference to Nan Feng, but regardless of whether it was a stall or a food shop, he couldn’t afford to eat.
However, one thing aroused his attention. That the early risers taking breakfast in the food shops were bearing a lot of weapons. At a glance, they looked like martial artists. There were even some Daoist Priests amongst them wearing all kinds of clothing.
He was lucky that he didn’t run into any of his peers. Following a fragrant incense, he arrived near the Zhengyang gate.
A very large wooden platform was set up in front of the Zhengyang gate. The wooden platform had a height of one zhang, and it was three zhang wide and more than ten zhang long.
The wooden platform was covered with a red carpet, with a few seats placed on it. Since people hadn’t arrived yet, the seats were covered with red cloth. At that top of the platform, there was a very large yellow silk veil, presumably for shade.
Below the platform, seats were arranged in two rows on both the North and South side of the wooden platform. Seating from east to west, every row had tens of seats.
There were many square shacks on both sides of the seats, each of which was as big as a two-room house. They had wooden tables and stools inside of them.
Soldiers could be seen standing at alert in the surroundings, and since the time was still a bit early, there were only some labourers dragging the stone roller to flatten the ground.
Looking around in the place, Nan Feng walked in the South-east direction. In the distance approximately two li away, one could see some willow trees. The tree leaves still hadn’t fallen, and the trees themselves could be climbed up.
As he came near, he found that these willow trees were growing beside the river canal. Outside the Imperial City, there was a moat, and this place was the moat’s drainage canal. The canal was about two zhang wide, and because of yesterday’s rain, the water currents in the canal were extremely rapid.
Nan Feng climbed up the largest willow tree, and after finding a tree branch sat down on it. This was a weeping willow, and the drooping branches provided him with very good cover.
Only now was he able to relax, but he immediately began worrying about Chu Huairou and the others. Originally, everybody had intended to make their way out of here, but they had never thought that they would have to change it all halfway, as the original plans got completely upset.
Nan Feng casually broke off a willow and began ruminating over his thoughts while holding it in his mouth. The incident happened in the wee hours of the morning, even if the medicine shop’s assistant reported to the authorities, the officials wouldn’t be able to send people to arrest immediately. At least they would have to wait until around 7-9 am for the orderlies to come to work. Moreover, the city gates open around 5-7 AM, before the authorities get around to arresting everyone, there would be plenty of time to flee the city.
Chu Huairou and Changle would very likely be able to leave the town, after all, Changle was the murderer and would be the main target of arrest for the authorities. Lu Pingchuan, Mo Li and even Big eye are all together. The target on the three is comparatively bigger, so the possibility of those three going out of the city is also big.
Chu Huairou and Lu Pingchuan are people with plans, he was not worried about them. He was most worried about Fatty. Fatty was comparatively simple and straightforward, and he didn’t have much ability to adapt to the circumstances, he is most likely to have been caught.
Seven people lived together for so many years, even if they went hungry or had a full meal, they still had company. No matter what happened, there would be someone to talk with. So, Nan Feng was feeling very sad about everyone scattering like this, but it was difficult to avoid the repercussions of Changle’s grudge. If Changle hadn’t killed that man, they would all be living together nicely at this time.
On the other hand, he also worried about the wronged Changle. If the fat doctor had really humiliated Chu Huairou, then what Changle did was right. He did what a man should have done.
Before separating, Lu Pingchuan had asked Chu Huairou if Changle had wrongly killed the person, but Chu Huairou didn’t answer so that thing remains unanswered.
“Ai.” Nan Feng leant over the tree branch and sighed.
Before climbing the tree, he had seen a crow’s nest. At this time, he was very close to it, the only issue was the point of view. After leaning a bit, he found that the nest seemed to have a white thing on it. Even though he didn’t know what it was, but it was definitely not bird feathers.
With doubt in his heart, he climbed up the tree branches to arrive at the side of the crow’s nest. As he slanted his head to look, he saw a pair of blue cloth shoes, and below the shoes was an ash-gray small packet.
Nan Feng reached out for that pair of cloth shoes. The size of the shoes was very small and should probably be a pair of woman’s shoes.
Nan Feng tucked the shoes underneath his armpit and grabbed the baggage. After untying it, he found a neatly stacked set of women’s clothing, underwear, inner garment, and even a set of green robe. The clothes bore fragrance, should be women’s clothing.
In addition to the clothing, the packet contained some sundry items and a small purse. As he opened the purse, there were some copper coins inside, and there were even several pieces of silver.
Seeing the silver, Nan Feng felt overjoyed, and his first reaction was to seize this opportunity to rush straight to buy some clothes.
While he was coming down the tree while holding the packet, a woman’s voice came from below, “Return my clothes to me.”
Nan Feng followed the source of the voice to see the woman who had spoken, but he didn’t expect was that this person was not on the ground, but in the water……