Old Wu and Chen Beiming had risked their lives to redeem some precious time for Qin Sheng and Han Bing such that Qin Sheng managed to drag Han Bing running along a great distance away. Qin Sheng had grown up in the hills and this was a great advantage to them. On the other hand, Han Bing left Han Village for Shanghai only when she was sixteen. Han Village was not only her parents’ hometown, it was hers as well. She used to play around the hills, therefore she was also very familiar with the surrounding area.
At first, Qin Sheng was worried that Han Bing would run back because of her willfulness. There was no room for nostalgia, neither was this child’s play, but a matter of life and death. He was not going to let Han Bing mess things up, which was why he simply carried her in his arms and ran.
Fortunately, Han Bing weighed merely 100 pounds, which was not too heavy because she had always maintained a lean figure. Qin Sheng simply treated the escape as an armed cross-country exercise. Unaware of how long he had running, Qin Sheng finally could not take it anymore. Moreover, Han Bing kept struggling and Qin Sheng was holding on to her hips. This made Han Bing blush with embarrassment.
Qin Sheng was panting heavily when he put Han Bing down. He had really reached the limit. Nevertheless, it was thanks to his extraordinary stamina. A commoner would not make it this far.
However, Qin Sheng did not dare to take a longer break as he was afraid that the enemies might catch up with them. After he regained his strength, he held on to Han Bing and continued to run. This time round, Han Bing could almost keep up with Qin Sheng’s pace.
“There are a number of motorways around this hilly area. Do you know where the nearest and the furthest ones are?” Qin Sheng asked softly after they continued running for another 10 minutes. He did not want to be grabbling blindly for directly, the city would be the safest place to be. Also, he was ready to contact that friend Jiang Xianbang mentioned.
Han Bing was not sure too. She took out her mobile phone and realized that luckily there was still phone signal. Having found her bearing with GPS, she said, “There are motorways in all directions of north, south, east and west. There is Lianhuo Expressway to the north and east, while the expressway to the west and south are tourist routes linking up Maiji Caves and Jingtu Temple.”
“Which direction would be the nearest?” Qin Sheng asked.
“The expressway to the east,” Han Bing replied, while she passed her mobile phone to Qin Sheng.
After some serious consideration, a frowning Qin Sheng said, “Let’s try to get onto Lianhuo Expressway. Hopefully we could hitch a hike from some cars. If not, we would have to think of other means. It would be wise not to trust any strangers easily.”
Han Bing was happy to oblige with Qin Sheng’s decision. She would trust everything Qin Sheng said because this was her last amulet…
Where Chen Beiming and Old Wu had gotten into an accident, the men had combed through every inch of the surrounding area but there was no sign of Han Bing. The leader of the men could not help but start cursing loudly. “What have all of you done so far? There are so many of you, yet you allowed them to escape?”
“Boss, we have been fooled. We thought there were all here,” one of the men said with frustration.
Once again, the leader cursed, “Where would we look given such an extensive area within the hills? We have to succeed, we have taken the payment!”
“Boss, we have to come out with a plan!” one man suggested.
Another man came running to the leader. “Boss, someone said the police had sprung into action. Someone had reported to the police.”
“Shit! Let’s settle the bodies first. After that, we have to leave this place,” the middle-aged leader continued swearing and cursing as he instructed his men to dispose of the dead bodies.
Unaware of how long they had been running, Qin Sheng and Han Bing were utterly exhausted and they finally got onto Lianhuo Expressway. The traffic volume was tremendous, but no one stopped at their attempt to hitch a hike.
Eventually, their patience wore thin and disregarding all dangers, they planted themselves at the middle of the expressway and switched on the torch on their mobile phones in an attempt to stop the cars.
Finally, a Toyota Camry stopped for them. At first, Qin Sheng did not dare to open the car door, fearing that he would be mistaken to be a robber. Han Bing would be the one to make use of her beauty as an advantage.
Han Bing pretended that they were a pair of friends who got lost in the hills and finally found the way to the expressway to hitch a hike, and the two men in the Camry were taken in by her words and agreed to take them to Tianshui. After all, they were also on the way to Tianshui city center.
As the Camry drove off, Han Bing was finally able to relax. Suddenly, she embraced Qin Sheng and started to weep bitterly. On one hand, she really thought she would have died and on the other hand, they had no idea whether Chen Beiming and Old Wu were alive or dead.
“It’s alright, it’s alright now.” Qin Sheng tried to console Han Bing while he also worried if the two men in the car would misunderstand him to be some kidnapper or human smuggler.
After a little while, Han Bing was exhausted from crying and fell asleep leaning on Qin Sheng. How could she adapt to this when what she experienced in the past few hours was a great contrast to her previous life?
It was only after Han Bing had dozed off that Qin Sheng took out his mobile phone to dial that number. The call went through after a few rings. Apparently, Jiang Xianbang had given that man Qin Sheng’s contact number because when he picked up the call, the first thing he said was, “Is this Qin Sheng?”
“Sorry to trouble you, Uncle Zhao,” Qin Sheng said politely.
This man’s name was Zhao Quan. At first, he started off doing illegal businesses but after he turned over a new leave, he became a very powerful man in Gansu.
Zhao Quan explained, “Old Jiang and I are friends of many years. Since you are his god son, you are also my son. There is no need for you to observe the formalities.”
Although Qin Sheng was displeased with how Jiang Xianbang had taken advantage of him in this way, he understood Jiang Xianbang’s intention. Zhao Quan, who was totally unrelated to him, would be willing to help him unless he was someone of influence.
“Do you have someone you can trust in Tianshui, Uncle Zhao?” Unlike the way he interacted with Jiang Xianbang, Qin Sheng did not dare to speak casually to Zhao Quan. After all, he knew how to be diplomatic and tactful in his social relations.
“I am in Tianshui right now,” Zhao Quan said. He was in fact having a social meeting with the leaders of Tianshui City at Yiyuan Hotel on Yihuang Road. “Old Jiang told me you have met with dangers in this trip to Tianshui. Since I have some matters to handle in Tianshui, I have arrived here two days earlier. Where are you now? Shall I send someone to pick you?”
“I have met with some trouble. I am travelling on Lianhuo Expressway right now. It will probably take another hour for me to reach Tianshui city center,” Qin Sheng said as a matter of fact.
Zhao Quan paused for a while and said, “Alright, come directly to Yiyuan Hotel. Don’t panic regardless of what happened. Although I can’t guarantee your safety in Gansu, no one would dare to touch you here in Tianshui.”
Although Qin Sheng was not sure if Zhao Quan had exaggerated his words or that he really was that powerful, Zhao Quan’s words did put him at ease. He was just worried that the enemies were too powerful for them.
After hanging up, Qin Sheng immediately requested the two men in the car to send them to Yiyuan Hotel, and promised to pay them 500 dollars in return for their help.
Although 500 dollars was not a lot of money, who would not welcome such an unexpected windfall? The two men, who were initially rather reluctant to give them a hike were now all smiles.
Leaving Tian Shui’s leaders to enjoy their meal at the table, Zhao Quan quickly made a call to Jiang Xianbang and ran him through what happened.
Jiang Xianbang, who was meeting with an old man in Sheshan, said with a smile, “I had to trouble you, Old Zhao. In this, I owe you a favor.”
“Don’t take it to heart. I wouldn’t be able to face you if something happens to the lad in my territory,” Zhao Quan said with a laugh.
After an hour, when Qin Sheng and Han Bing finally arrived at Hotel Yiyuan, Zhao Quan was in the mids of his business. He had Qin Sheng and Han Bing wash themselves up before he came over to meet them.
While at Han Village, the police had arrived. However, all they discovered were the two abandoned cars and nothing else, not even Chen Beiming’s and Old Wu’s body and the Han brothers. These evil people were good at what they were doing.
The police tried to gather evidence and seek public assistance. Eventually, they were able to find out the information about the two cars and it took just a while to contact the Han Family. The elders of the Han Family were shocked to hear the news and they called the Han brothers and Han Bing straight away.
While Han Bing’s phone kept ringing, Qin Sheng told her not to panic but to wait to discuss with Zhao Quan what to do first.
It was half an hour later when Zhao Quan was done and finally came to them, reeking of alcohol. Not only was he a good drinker, he had his subordinates who could drink extra on his behalf.
“Uncle Zhao,” Qin Sheng greeted.
After he sized up Qin Sheng a little, Zhao Quan said, “Take a seat, Qin Sheng. Tell Uncle Zhao what happened.”
Before Qin Sheng opened his mouth to speak, Zhao Quan spotted Han Bing, who was standing next to Qin Sheng. Squinting his eyes for a few seconds, Zhao Quan said, “Are you Han Guoping’s daughter?”
Han Bing was taken aback as she did not expect this man to recognize her. She was at a lost of what to do as she held on to Qin Sheng’s arm.
“Uncle Zhao, you are right. She is Han Bing, Uncle Han’s daughter,” Qin Sheng explained calmly.
On hearing Qin Sheng’s words, Zhao Quan smiled and said to Han Bing, “Don’t worry, your father and I are friends. He took care of me every time I visited Shanghai. But why are the two of you here together?”
Qin Sheng sighed and said, “Uncle Zhao, you may not be aware that Uncle Han had passed away. We have returned to Tianshui to bring Uncle Han back to his home.”
This was shocking news to Zhao Quan. Having paused for a long time, taking in the news, he finally said, “Guoping had passed away?”
“It’s a long story. Let me tell you the details later. Right now, I need your help, Uncle Zhao. We have some friends whom we are uncertain if they were alive or dead,” without further delay, Qin Sheng voiced out his request.
“Tell me about it…” Zhao Quan gestured for Qin Sheng to continue.
Qin Sheng narrated all that happened that night as Zhao Quan listened attentively. His expression became more sullen as he listened on. He knew these enemies were not easy if they even dared use a gun.
When Qin Sheng finished talking, Zhao Quan pondered for a moment and asked, “Do you want to resolve this quietly or do you want to rope in the police to investigate?”
To handle this quietly would mean to let them return to Shanghai safely and to let go of whatever happened in Tianshui. This would mean Zhao Quan did not have to risk offending anyone.
If they roped in the police for investigation, more people would be implicated and they may not be able to find the truth while it might drag on a longer time to resolve the issue.
Qin Sheng turned to look at Han Bing as if he were asking for her opinion. From her expression, he knew that Han Bing wanted him to make the decision, so biting the bullet, he said, “I believe it would best to let the police do the investigation. I guess this would also warn the other party not to be too daring.”
“Alright, I will make the necessary arrangement,” Zhao Quan said without hesitation.
“Uncle Zhao, if those people were of any threat to you and you are concerned, then don’t worry too much about us,” Qin Sheng said thoughtfully.
Zhao Quan nodded and felt a burden come off his shoulder after hearing Qin Sheng’s kind words.
Qin Sheng continued, “Uncle Zhao, if it’s possible, would you privately investigate the background of the people who were doing this? Once I know who is behind this, I will take over from there.”
Although Qin Sheng thought this was an abrupt request, and perhaps too demanding, he really wished to find out who was after Han Bing’s life so desperately. What happened this night had provoked him to anger. He would not give up finding the truth even if Han Bing let go of it.
“I will do my best,” Zhao Quan replied casually.