I’m sorry for the delay! I arrived late today, and it was already 9 PM when I got off the car and arrived at the hotel. I’ll be staying outside these days, so I might be updating late. Plus, there’s no WiFi here, so I can only use my phone as a hotspot to connect my computer. Tut.

Although I’ve mentioned it before, let me explain again. Volume Four is a prequel, and now we’re already in the second-to-last volume. Volume Five is set in the present and will be the final volume, resolving all the remaining plot points. I really want to update more in a day! However, my typing speed and energy are limited, so I’ll do my best. If you can’t wait, please be patient. If you decide to continue reading, thank you very much, and let’s enjoy the story together in harmony!

Good night!

Hearing him mention the medicine, Xie Lian turned around and looked inside the room where the king and queen were resting. After a moment, he said, “I can find another way for the medicine. Please keep it.”

He insisted on giving it, and Feng Xin, puzzled and amused, shrugged his shoulders and picked up the broken fan from the ground to continue fanning the fire for the medicine. He said, “Alright, I’ll keep it for you. Whenever you want it back, just let me know.”

Xie Lian shook his head and said, “I won’t ask for it back. You can handle it however you want.”

With the acquisition of the Red Mirror, they had some financial flexibility, and they finally enjoyed several good meals. Recognizing the queen’s amazing cooking skills, Xie Lian politely asked her to focus on taking care of the king and not to cook anymore. He would handle the ingredients himself. Although he lacked experience, he had seen enough to know how to prepare food, which relieved everyone’s hunger.

After the argument with the king, Xie Lian actually regretted it in his heart, but he couldn’t bring himself to apologize to his father. He silently took care of him to the best of his ability. Knowing that coughing up blood should be avoided, he provided his father with more blankets and a stove.

The soldiers of Yong’an were tightly pursuing the escaped members of the Xianle royal family. Soon, the city was put under martial law. Just as they had finally settled down, they had to leave again.

This was already the nth city that Xie Lian and his parents had passed through during their escape. To be honest, what they had seen along the way was much calmer than Xie Lian had imagined. The most devastating place was the Xianle Imperial City. However, many places outside the capital seemed to be less affected.

After all, the king, the crown prince, the imperial city, and the nobles were extremely distant entities for ordinary people, almost like the legendary immortals. Changing the ruler didn’t seem to make much difference. Especially when the new king wasn’t a tyrant and didn’t enforce any strict laws, there was nothing more to feel except for more lively discussions over tea and meals.

“King Xie, I also work the same few acres of land under the surname Lang. What difference does it make?” Xie Lian heard someone say.

The statement was true. But what puzzled him was the surprisingly united attitude towards the crown prince, who was rumored to have gone from invincible in battle to repeatedly defeated. It seemed that as soon as he was mentioned, everyone instantly transformed into patriotic citizens of Xianle. Xie Lian couldn’t understand or accept it.

However, he didn’t have much mental energy to care about these things. After selling the Red Mirror, the money they received only lasted a few months before it was exhausted.

Curing the coughing up blood was already difficult, and with the king’s pent-up emotions, he required a continuous supply of medicine to maintain stability. Once the medicine was stopped, his condition would inevitably worsen. Xie Lian had nothing left to sell, and on this day, after wandering the streets for a long time, he finally turned to Feng Xin and said, “How about… we give it a try?”

Feng Xin looked at him and asked, “Try what?”

They had hesitated and talked about “giving it a try” before, but they hadn’t made up their minds. Moreover, during one of their conversations, when the hidden meaning leaked out and reached the ears of the king inside the house, he flew into a rage and vehemently forbade Xie Lian from resorting to such shameful acts for money. Otherwise, he would rather not take the medicine. They had to give up. At this point, they didn’t need to say more. They understood each other. Xie Lian nodded and wrapped his face more tightly with white silk. Feng Xin said, “You don’t need to come. I can handle it alone. That way, if the king asks, there won’t be any problems!”

After saying that, he took a deep breath, held it for a while, and suddenly shouted loudly to the people passing by on the street, “Dear fellow citizens, don’t miss out on this opportunity as you walk by—”

The pedestrians on the street were startled by his shout, and they gathered around in groups, asking in confusion, “Why are you shouting so loudly?” “What do you do?” “Do something impressive to show us your skills!” “I want to see you shoot an arrow through a stone!”

Feng Xin took the bow off his back, mustered up his courage, and said, “I… I’m known as the ‘Divine Archer,’ capable of hitting the bullseye from a hundred paces. I’m here to show you a little something. If you enjoy it, please, offer a few rewards!”

What “Divine Archer,” what “show off,” they had learned those phrases from watching others perform on the street. Although they always claimed that they would never resort to performing, unconsciously, they had long been paying attention to how others did it. The crowd shouted, “Stop the nonsense! Get on with it!” “We’ve been waiting for ages! Hurry up!”

Feng Xin strung his bow, pointing at a bystander in the crowd who was munching on a fruit and said, “Sir, please step forward and place this apple on your head. I can hit it from three hundred paces away!”

The bystander shrunk his head back into the crowd and said, “No way!”

Feng Xin reassured him, saying, “I won’t hit you, don’t worry! If I do hit you, I’ll compensate you with however much money you want!”

The bystander replied, “I’m not a fool! Even if you hit me, your money won’t be of any use. Since you’re street performers, don’t you have any belongings? Shouldn’t you shoot the person next to you instead?”

The crowd agreed, saying, “That’s right!” Xie Lian also said, “Let me do it.” Someone from the crowd threw a fruit at him, and Xie Lian caught it, intending to place it on his own head. But Feng Xin never intended to involve Xie Lian, so why would he call him? In his haste, he snatched the fruit and quickly ate it. Then he turned the arrow towards a colorful flag hanging from a high building nearby and said, “I’ll shoot that!” With that, he let the arrow fly. His archery skills were superb, and he naturally hit the target. The crowd burst into laughter, saying, “Impressive! You’ve got some skills!” Amidst the laughter and commotion, a few people even threw some money.

The small coins rolled on the ground, and Feng Xin went forward to pick them up while Xie Lian silently squatted down to collect them as well. But deep inside, he felt a sense of loss, as if he had lost something.

Feng Xin used to be a prince’s attendant, and even ordinary officials and courtiers would be polite to him, even trying to curry favor. It was already frustrating for him to carry stones and transport soil under the command of a small foreman, and now he had to endure being treated like a performing monkey. The skill of hitting the bullseye from a hundred paces was supposed to be used in battle, not for the amusement of others. It was truly an unpleasant feeling.

Just then, a sharp female voice shouted, “Who was shooting arrows recklessly on the street?!”

Xie Lian’s heart tensed as soon as he heard that. The crowd pointed at Feng Xin and said, “It’s him!”

Feng Xin was bewildered as the crowd parted, and several women approached, holding an arrow—it was the one Feng Xin had shot. The women surrounded him and said, “You brat! Was it you who shot this? How dare you openly shoot weapons and damage the folding screens in our courtyard! Tell us, how will you compensate?!” “Yes, you even scared away many of our guests!”

It turned out that when Feng Xin’s arrow hit the colorful flag, it continued its trajectory and landed in someone’s courtyard. Feng Xin didn’t like dealing with women in the first place, and these women were heavily made-up, overwhelming with their powders and perfumes. They seemed to have a bad background, which made him hesitant and take a step back. Xie Lian quickly stepped in front of him and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. He didn’t do it on purpose. As for compensation, we’ll figure something out…”

The angry women pushed and shoved, saying, “Who do you think you are?! You…” Unexpectedly, the white silk that covered Xie Lian’s face accidentally slipped down, and when those women saw his face, their eyes lit up, and their tone suddenly became sweeter as they said, “Oh, what a handsome young man!”

Xie Lian: “???”

One of the women clapped her hands and smiled, saying, “Good! It’s decided! You two are together, right? We’ll make you compensate!”

Xie Lian: “???”

Before he could react, the women dragged him away, bringing him in front of a magnificent building. When he looked up, he saw women who were extravagantly dressed, and the place was filled with the sounds of their coquettish voices. Only then did Xie Lian realize that he had been taken away by a group of brothel madams!

He immediately felt a chill run down his spine and said, “Wait, I have no money. I really don’t have any money!”

The madams cackled and said, “Of course you don’t have any money. We brought you here to earn money!”

Xie Lian: “Sorry, but I’m a man?”

The madams scolded, “We know you’re a man, we’re not blind!”

Feng Xin, who had broken free from the crowd, finally rushed over and shouted, “Let him go… Let him go!”

The two of them looked disheveled, trying to run away, but realizing they were in the wrong, they didn’t dare to fight back. Angry madams called over twenty or thirty thugs, and they chased them throughout the city. They had never seen such a scene before, and in short, they would never dare to come near this area again.

However, once the two of them decided, they realized that street performances could indeed make money. They found a new location and set up their performance. As newcomers, the local people found them intriguing, and with Feng Xin’s handsome appearance, they attracted quite a crowd during the first few days. They managed to earn some money to cover their food and medicine expenses. But their good fortune didn’t last long. Less than half a month later, some people approached them.

On this day, after closing their stall, Xie Lian and Feng Xin were approached by a group of burly men. Xie Lian was on high alert, fearing that they were soldiers from Yong’an. He had his hand ready to strike, whispering, “Who are you?”

The leader of the men snorted and said, “You’ve been on our turf for several days, and you still don’t know who we are?”

Xie Lian and Feng Xin were utterly confused. Another man said, “You’ve taken so much of our business. It’s not right if you don’t give an explanation.”

Finally understanding the situation, they realized that these men were other local street performers.

In every corner of the world, there were factions and territories among the martial arts community. Their arrival had scared away the original customers, causing others to lose money, so naturally, they sought revenge. However, Xie Lian and Feng Xin were not experienced martial artists and didn’t understand the intricacies of these matters.

Xie Lian thought, “If we had a choice, why would we want to compete with you for this business?” He calmly said, “There’s no need to fight over business. People will watch what they want to watch, and we’re not forcing anyone to watch our archery skills.”

But the other side refused to listen, and in a rough voice, they said, “You haven’t fought for it? We haven’t made much money these days, and you two have taken all the profits!”

“Boom!” Everyone was startled and turned their heads. They saw Feng Xin remove his fist from a nearby wall, leaving a large imprint and cracks spreading in all directions.

He coldly said, “Are you looking for trouble?”

The group of men had probably intended to cause trouble, but after witnessing Feng Xin’s strength, which was greater than theirs, their momentum instantly decreased by half. However, they were unwilling to let it go so easily. The leader of the group hesitated for a moment and changed his approach, saying, “Fine, let’s settle this according to the rules. We’ll have a showdown. The winner stays, and the loser packs up and leaves this area, never to set up a stall here again!”

Hearing the mention of a showdown, Feng Xin became happy. Of course, he was delighted. How could ordinary people compete with them? It was a guaranteed victory!

Xie Lian also breathed a sigh of relief and said, “That works for me. How do you want to compete?”

The man shouted, “We’ll use our special skills as street performers!”

As he spoke, two other men brought over several rectangular stone slabs. The man patted the stone slabs and said, “Breaking stones with your chest! How about it? Dare to try?”

He seemed very pleased with himself, indicating that this was his special skill. Xie Lian squatted down, touched the stone slab, and looked up, saying, “I have no problem with it, but do you?”

That man laughed heartily and said, “With your build, you should be worried about yourself.”

Feng Xin crouched down beside Xie Lian and asked, “Your Highness, should I do it?” Xie Lian shook his head and said, “No. You’ve worked hard these past few days. It’s my turn this time.” He had to contribute as well.

So, Xie Lian and the man lay down on the ground, placing a stone slab on their chests. Feng Xin picked up a large hammer, weighed it in his hand, and was about to strike when Xie Lian suddenly said, “Wait.”

Others asked in delight, “What’s wrong? Are you going to admit defeat? It’s fine to surrender now, and we’ll let you go!”

Xie Lian said, “No. I want to add another stone slab.”

Everyone was astonished, thinking, “Has he gone mad?”

Xie Lian calmly said, “Didn’t you all say that this is a competition? If both sides have the same number of stone slabs, there’s no difference. How can we call it a competition?”

The street performers were skeptical. Some thought he was foolish, while others believed he was bluffing. After some discussion, they reluctantly added another stone slab for him. Unexpectedly, Xie Lian asked them to add one more!

Now, everyone was convinced that he was acting foolishly, but they obediently added another stone slab. Thus, Xie Lian had three thick stone slabs on his chest, which looked quite terrifying.

Under the watchful eyes of the crowd, Feng Xin lifted the large hammer. Without blinking, he struck down forcefully, and the three stone slabs neatly cracked into more than ten pieces. Amidst the applause, Xie Lian remained unharmed, calmly getting up from the ground, dusting off his clothes. The onlookers were dumbfounded. The leader of the group had a pale face. Xie Lian thought, “Now they should know their limits and retreat.”

He assumed that the other side would admit defeat, and from then on, no one would bother them again. But to his surprise, the man’s expression changed repeatedly, and he gritted his teeth before suddenly saying, “Add two more for me! No, add three more!”

Everyone said, “Big brother, this is not necessary. This person must be using demonic techniques. You don’t need to humor him!” “Yeah, he must be cheating!”

Feng Xin angrily said, “What the hell? Just because you’re incompetent, you accuse others of cheating with demonic techniques?”

The leader of the group loudly declared, “The stone slabs and hammers are our props. Isn’t it obvious whether there are any demonic techniques involved? This kid indeed has some skill, but it’s nothing special that he can stack three slabs. I can stack four! As long as we win, they have to leave!”

Feng Xin said, “It’s impossible. Give it up! Don’t risk your life.” But the man insisted on the competition. He had someone place the heavy four stone slabs on his body and said, “Watch closely!”

Xie Lian felt that something was wrong and whispered, “Feng Xin, should we stop him? Four stone slabs, an ordinary person can’t withstand that.” Feng Xin also whispered, “Let’s wait for now. It’s not like he wants to die. A few strikes should make him realize the severity.”

Xie Lian furrowed his brows slightly, nodded, and decided to observe the situation. Indeed, the subordinate holding the hammer timidly struck once, and the man’s face changed. The subordinate dared not strike again, but the man scolded, “Use more force! Did you not eat? How can you make it shatter like this?”

The subordinate didn’t dare to be careless and used all his strength for the second strike. With a loud bang, the man’s face turned red as if he had held back a mouthful of blood. Xie Lian and Feng Xin saw that something was off and quickly said, “Wait, don’t force it!”

The man cursed, “Who’s forcing? This is my special skill! Look, I’ll make you admit defeat!” The subordinate, with a bitter face, struck again. This time, the man spewed a mouthful of blood onto the ground, frightening the subordinate, who dropped the hammer. The others rushed forward, saying, “Forget it, forget it, big brother. Let these two stay here if they want. Your life is more important!”

Veins popped on the man’s forehead as he spat out blood foam, saying, “We can’t forget it! We’ve been unable to make ends meet for several days. If we continue like this, won’t we lose our lives? Keep going! I don’t believe I can’t beat this tender-skinned kid! This is my special skill!”

Xie Lian couldn’t bear to watch anymore and took the initiative, saying, “Fine. Since it’s like this, I surrender. Starting tomorrow, we won’t come here again! Feng Xin, let’s go!”

After speaking, he turned and left. The crowd cheered behind him, and Feng Xin followed, asking, “Your Highness, are we really giving up on this place?”

They had finally found a way to earn money, but now they had to give it up unwillingly. Xie Lian sighed and said, “There’s no other choice. After those strikes just now, he suffered severe internal injuries. He’s likely half-disabled by now. If the competition continues, someone might really die. We won’t be able to stay here either.”

Feng Xin scratched his head and cursed, “This man really doesn’t value his life!”

Xie Lian said, “Everyone is struggling to make a living.”

He felt a bit regretful. If he had known, he wouldn’t have stacked three slabs. It would have been better to concede earlier, so the man wouldn’t insist on stacking four slabs. Although reckless and impulsive, there were still admirable aspects to him. Xie Lian continued, “Besides, we don’t have to perform here. We don’t have to hang ourselves on one tree.”

However, when they returned to their hiding place at night, the Queen Consort’s face was filled with worry as she told him that the Emperor’s condition of coughing up blood had worsened. It seemed that he couldn’t endure the strain of travel and needed a period of rest. In other words, they couldn’t leave the city for the time being.

Xie Lian sighed again. He rummaged through boxes and cabinets but couldn’t find anything useful. He sat beside a box, lost in thought. Feng Xin was brewing medicine and humming a tune. As he hummed, his singing became more and more discordant, catching Xie Lian’s attention. He asked, “What are you doing? Are you in a good mood?”

Feng Xin looked up and said, “Huh? No, not really.”

Xie Lian didn’t believe him and asked again, “Really?”

He had noticed that Feng Xin had been acting strangely over the past few days since they started performing. Sometimes he would suddenly laugh for no reason, and other times he would start worrying out of nowhere. When Mu Qing was around, they were together almost all the time. But after Mu Qing left, Feng Xin had to go back to deliver food to the Emperor and Queen Consort or do other tasks, so there were periods when they were apart during the day. Xie Lian felt that something might have happened to him, but he didn’t have the energy to investigate further. Looking at the medicine jar in front of Feng Xin, Xie Lian fell silent for a moment and asked, “Is this the last packet?”

Feng Xin rummaged through the medicine packets on the ground and said, “Yes. If we don’t go… " He remembered that the Emperor was in the room and shouldn’t overhear, so he lowered his voice and continued, “If we don’t perform tomorrow, what should we do?”

After a long time, Xie Lian suddenly stood up and said, “You stay here and keep watch. I’ll figure something out.”

Feng Xin questioned, “Where are you going? What can you figure out?”

Xie Lian left without looking back and said, “Don’t worry about it. Don’t follow me.”