Return of the Swallow Chapter 291: Deep in the Mountains I

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Chapter 291: Deep in the Mountains (I)

Truly, the heavens didn’t want to consign her to doom!

With the hot spring beneath her, she wouldn’t have to worry about covering her footprints anymore!

Qin Yining ran along the snow-covered ground for a while, purposely leaving a set of tracks going in the other direction. Then, she pushed off a shrub to land in a patch of soil covered in pine needles, taking a few careful steps forward.

White steam wafted out from the ground, warming even the soles of her feet. Afraid of leaving new footprints and seeing that the way ahead was carpeted with snow again, she shoved her cape into her waist and adroitly climbed up a large, tall pine tree. Picking a denser patch of leaves, she settled herself in on a more-or-less sturdy branch.

The crown of the tree shook slightly when she did so, shaking some snow loose. However, it melted into nothingness as soon as it touched the ground.

Finally, Qin Yining dared take in a few deep and silent breaths.

Footsteps sounded as she did so.

She quickly held her breath and focused, forcing herself as rigid as a block of wood. She didn’t dare move at all and became one with the pine.

Two masked bandits came into view not too far away. One was wielding a steel blade, the other a wooden club as thick as a wine jug. Their heads were lowered as they tracked the footprints on the ground, advancing on the decoy trail that Qin Yining had just left.

They came back before long, likely because the trail abruptly disappeared. No other prints were to be found after searching the area covering the hot spring. The two were walking around randomly as they looked for clues, so it didn’t take long for the scene to be an utter disarray of their own footprints. The trail was cold.

The two met each other’s eyes and cursed loudly.

“How could a wench just shake us off like that!” The northern accent marked him as someone from Great Zhou.

“The marquis told us we had to find and wipe out all the Qins. I’ve no idea if we’re chasing one!”

“No matter if we are or not, we can’t let her easily get away like this.”

“There’s no way she really vanished! Let’s keep looking, maybe she’s hiding in a tree?”

……

The two started searching all the nearby tree cavities and naturally occurring caves and holes.

To everyone’s surprise, they did find a patch of snow that had fallen in, revealing an enormous water hole below. That looked to be the source of the hot spring. A faint, pungent odor emanated from it, and there was no guessing how deep it was. Only a dense shroud of mist could be seen, the mist turning the snow around the hole into ice.

The two didn’t dare inch any closer, deathly afraid as they were of the snow beneath their feet suddenly giving way. What if they too fell into this water hole of unknown depth? There was danger lurking around every tree in the mountain. They were already so far in that not even the hunters dared venture into this area. 


They circled around this danger zone and looked closely at the surroundings again.

Qin Yining was just fine where she was, perched on the tree. She waited two hours before cautiously sliding down the tree, finally assured that the two weren’t returning.

She didn’t dare remain here either, turning instead to head deep into unexplored forest. She broke of a branch of withered leaves, paying attention to clear away her traces as she ran.

This circumspect journey continued until nightfall, in which she really was too tired to run anymore.

A tree trunk made for a good spot to lean against. She heaved for breath as she looked around. Everywhere looked the same to her. The only bearings she could get were whether she was going up or going down.
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