Chapter 15 - Chase
Lin Mu stopped in his tracks upon hearing the voice. He hoped that things would not progress as he was imagining them. He turned back to see four men standing behind him; he had seen them standing in the tannery when he was selling the Snow veiled hare.
As many people were staring at Lin Mu when he was carrying the Snow veiled hare, he had not noticed that these four men had a greedy look in their eyes when he sold the Snow veiled hare for 70 silver coins.
"Hey brat answer us, where did you find the Snow veiled hare?" said the man who had called Lin Mu.
"And tell us truthfully or you'll have to face the consequences." Added another man.
All four men looked rugged and gave off vibes that they were up to no good. Lin Mu had not seen these guys ever before, so did not know whether they were hunters. If they were hunters Lin Mu would not worry as much, as they would not do anything rash, but if they were not, then it would be a different situation.
"I found and caught the Snow veiled hare in the western edge of the forest." Said Lin Mu lying through his teeth.
Lin Mu did not want to expose the location of the hunting shack where he was living in. These men did not look like they were decent and would definitely come to Lin Mu if they did not find the Snow veiled hare. Not to mention all the secrets of the ring which he did not want others to find out about.
"Is that so, huh? So you wouldn't mind showing us the place yourself?" the man standing at the front asked with an evil smile on his face.
The other men already looked like they were already getting impatient and would attack Lin Mu if he did not agree.
"Uh, ok, I'll show you guys." Spoke Lin Mu.
Lin Mu had no intention of following through with the intentions of the men. He would find a suitable opportunity and run away at the first sight of danger. Lin Mu even wondered that if he did not get an opportunity to run, he would just take them to the area which was destroyed by the unknown beast and try to hoodwink his way out from there.
But before he could continue his train of thought, the man spoke again,
"If you're sure of it, then you should have no problem handing over the silver coins you got from the clerk to us."
"We'll give it back once we catch a Snow veiled hare and besides there are many thieves these days, the money will stay safe with us." Another man spoke with an obvious threat in his voice.
Lin Mu now understood that these men never wanted to get the location of snow veiled hare but rather just wanted to get their hands on his money. Knowing that talking anymore would be useless, a plan quickly formulated within Lin Mu's mind. He would have to take a certain risk but would be able to save his money and get away from these men.
Lin Mu took a few steps backward and in the blink of an eye broke into a sprint before those men could grab him.
"Where are you going, BRAT? STOP!!!"
Lin Mu put all his strength in running from the men. The training he did increased his endurance and allowed him to run for a longer time. Even still Lin Mu was only in the 4th stage of the body tempering realm and there was no way he could keep up this pace.
The thieves who were after him were in a higher stage than him. Two of them were in the 5th stage of the body tempering realm and the other two in the 6th stage of the body tempering stage. The thieves would eventually catch up with Lin Mu, so he could only hope his plan works.
Lin Mu kept on running towards the main part of the town. Once he reached there, the presence of the guards should be able to dissuade the men from pursuing him. Halfway to the town Lin Mu's legs grew tired and revolted in pain but he kept on running; he realised that he had overestimated himself after yesterday's training.
"That brat will not be able to run for much longer, speed up."
"He's just a weak twerp, I'll show him a taste of what it's like to offend me."
The thieves were yelling at the top of their voices, trying to intimidate Lin Mu. Then the worst thing that Lin Mu feared for happened. He started to lose feeling in his legs, and they had grown too sore after running for 10 minutes straight. Lin Mu was still 5 minutes away from the town, and the thieves had reduced the distance between them.
In this desperate time, Lin Mu had a sudden moment of enlightenment. He chanted the Calming heart sutra, and its waves started to spread through his body. Even though his legs still felt sore and he was out of breath; Lin Mu was able to pull through and sped up once again putting more distance between him and the thieves.
The thieves finally noticed that not only Lin Mu was not slowing down, he actually increased his speed.
"How's this brat still running?"
"Keep on running, he should be on his last legs."
Lin Mu finally entered the town, but he was still away from the area where there were more guards. There were some people around who noticed the madly running Lin Mu and then saw the men chasing him. Seeing the people around and no guards, Lin Mu started the next part of his plan. Lin Mu pulled on the coin pouch tied to his waist and shouted with all his mouth.
"THIEVES WANT TO STEAL MY MONEY HEEELP!"
The People around heard Lin Mu's cries and became alert. Some people clutched their coin pouches while others pulled out their weapons.
Thieves were not uncommon in the town but it was rare to see them trying to rob from people in broad daylight that too while chasing their victim through the open streets where people would notice.
The Thieves chasing Lin Mu gritted their teeth in rage. They knew that even if they catch Lin Mu and get his money, they will have to leave the town or the guards would definitely imprison them. Now that even Wu Lim city's guards were here in the Northern town, the town's own guards seemed to be on edge, punishing crooks for the slightest grievance.
"I'm gonna split that brat's legs once I catch him." One of the thieves furiously spoke.
Seeing that he had caught the notice of people and alerted them, Lin Mu did something that surprised the thieves. He threw his coin pouch in a small crowd of people and shouted,
"LEAVE ME, I DON'T WANT THE MONEY ANYMORE."
The coin pouch hit one of the person standing in the crowd but did not hurt him and just plopped down, not exactly how a pouch heavy with coins would. The thieves gawked at this action of Lin Mu.
"Haha, looks like that boy finally gave up."
"That's a shame I was itching to break his bones."
The thieves stopped chasing Lin Mu and went towards the crowd. The man that was hit with the pouch was now holding it in his hand and had a confused look on his face. The thieves approached the man holding the pouch and pulled out their daggers and clubs.
"Give us the coin pouch and no one has to get hurt." The man leading the thieves spoke.
To their surprise, the man straight up held out the coin pouch for them to take. The thieves had expected some resistance or negotiation, but this was completely different.
"Can't believe thieves have such low standards now." The man who was holding the coin pouch spoke with a hint of disdain in his voice.
The thieves were a little confused by the man's statement but did not mind it as they had heard much worse before and did not want to get into a conflict if they were getting the easy way out.
Once the leader of the thieves held the coin pouch in his hand and felt its weight, he understood the man's statement and his face fell. He peered into the coin pouch and found a meager sum of 5 copper coins in it.
"GODDAMMIT, that brat fooled us."
The other thieves looked at the leader with a puzzled look until he emptied the pouch in his hand and showed them the loot. All the thieves felt anger rise by a few notches at being fooled by Lin Mu, and their eyes turned red.
By the time the thieves got the coin pouch, Lin Mu had already ran far ahead and reached an area where there were plenty of guards around. Though just as an extra precaution, he still kept on running and turned towards a desolate alley. When he stopped to catch his breath and rest his legs, he found himself in front of a familiar shop.