Under the cover of the thunderstorm, deep rumbling of horse hooves reverberated through the ground, closing upon the small tent.
"Someone is here," Zhuge Yue firmly declared before turning around and preparing his getaway by packing some gold and food. Having done that, he turned around and asked Chu Qiao, "How are you? Can you walk?"
Chu Qiao nodded, "Yes, I can."
Taking out his dagger, Zhuge Yue cut the blanket up. Ignoring the fact that the kid was still sleeping, he lifted the kid up and tied him to his back.
Drowsily waking up, the kid rubbed his eyes and curiously asked, "Uncle, where are we going?"
"Kid, those people who are after you are here," without skipping a beat, Zhuge Yue calmly told him.
Under the roaring winds and rolling thunder outside, the kid trembled on Zhuge Yue's back, yet he tried his best to reduce his trembling.
"Kid, are you scared?"
Pale as a sheet, the child clenched his teeth and loudly proclaimed, "I am not scared!"
With a cold smirk surfacing on his face, Zhuge Yue chuckled. Within his laughter, one could hear a clear sense of pride and confidence. Zhuge Yue replied to Mo'er, "Good boy. Remember this, those people outside are not good enough to make us scared."
In the darkness outside, torches that were drenched in pine oil were lit aflame. The flames produced wavered in the rain and wind but remained glowing with intense brightness. Someone shouted, "Hand the kid over, we will let you live."
In the darkness, a man turned around. His clear eyes that decorated his handsome face emitted a firm determination. With a serene gaze, he asked, "Can you do it?"
The ever so elusive entity known as time had seeped away from between their fingers. Chu Qiao vividly recalled that night many years ago, when he was sitting high on his horse, asking her the very same question: "Can you do it?"
Since then, their paths had been rough, filled with blood and death. They had stood on opposite sides of the war, and had even crossed blades many times, to the point they had almost killed each other multiple times. Even then, the overflowing crimson blood had not clouded each other's judgment. In the end, they chose not to swing the final blade that could end each other's lives. In this hesitation and indecisiveness, they even had days where they questioned their beliefs, their conviction. But at the end of all that, they still decided to pick up arms and fight back to back in this stormy night.
Without questioning each other's past, without questioning each other's future intents, without questioning each other's political views or alignment, they fought together.
There was only one reason for that—they must not die. Regardless if it was Chu Qiao or Zhuge Yue, they knew this place was not one that could die in.
Drawing a short blade, Chu Qiao lightly smiled. "If you die here, I will light firecrackers in celebration that I no longer need to return your favor."
A grin spread on Zhuge Yue's face, and was deeply etched into Chu Qiao's retina. This was probably the first time that Chu Qiao had seen him smile like that. It was so warm, so serene, without contempt, without sarcasm, without bitterness.
"I am afraid you will not get such a chance." Withdrawing that smile, Zhuge Yue's gaze suddenly turned complicated, as though it was as deep as an abyss, trying to conceal something underneath. It felt so deep that Chu Qiao could not help but to avert her gaze for a split second.
Spreading his arms open suddenly, Zhuge Yue gently embraced Chu Qiao, and whispered to her, "Follow me."
Chu Qiao sniffled as intense emotions rose within her heart. Solemnly, she nodded, and replied, "Be careful."
Suddenly, a few whooshing sounds resounded. Zhuge Yue frowned and jumped up. The kid, sensing Zhuge Yue's sudden movements, quickly covered his head to prevent being hit by the tent.
With a loud crash, the raging winds battered the duo, as Chu Qiao's hair scattered, fluttering in the night sky like a swarm of black butterflies.
As the kid opened his eyes, he realized that the tent had been dismantled by the crowd outside. Standing on the empty field, they faced thirty over cavalrymen who had completely surrounded them. Each of the soldiers wore brown uniforms that were tailored not to hinder their movements. Tall and big, they seemed overwhelming.
"Hand that kid over. Do not make any pointless efforts of resistance," the leader declared. Holding a sharp javelin, he coldly glared at Chu Qiao as though she was already defeated. However, his was met with a mere glint of a blade as Chu Qiao lurched herself into battle. He swiftly sidestepped to avoid the blow. His horse, however, was less composed than him, as it raised its front hooves in shock. At that moment, Chu Qiao's dagger had embedded itself deeply into its neck. With a hoarse shriek, blood spurted out, creating a rain of hot crimson liquid.
With that, that man had been flung off the horse, and he crashed into the ground. Before he could stand up, the dying horse stomped on his abdomen.
Another dying shriek reverberated within the stormy night. Before his subordinates could pull him to safety, the dying horse landed on him, dealing the final blow to his life!
The loud cracking of breaking bones was loud enough to pierce through the noise of the storm. One could almost imagine the state of the man under the horse right now. Then again, they hardly had time to think about that, as the man they were surrounding had dashed forth fiercely, much like a striking leopard! With a flash, an audible humming sound of the steel vibrating through air could be heard!
Coincidentally, at this very moment, a blinding lightning tore through the night sky, followed by rumbling in the heavens, while blood dyed the grass plains a crimson red.
The swirling winds around Zhuge Yue seemed to embody the flourishing of his blade, as he stormed forth on the offense with an intense aura of intimidation.
Chu Qiao was in such a weakened state that she had difficulty walking, but considering this life-or-death situation, she had little choice but to muster all her strength to fight. Initially, Chu Qiao thought that these people were from Xian Yang, and as such she could find help from Da Tong personnel, but she could not count on that anymore since Liu Xi had left Da Tong. In fact, she would only be faced with one possible ending if her identity was exposed. Her only way out was to break out of the encirclement.
After a flurry of clashing blades, Zhuge Yue forced back three enemies with a swing of his blade, but both sides had been injured. The enemies saw two wounded and one dead, while Zhuge Yue's chest had been cut by the enemy and was bleeding profusely.
"Uncle! You are bleeding!" the kid cried out in pain.
Upon hearing that, Chu Qiao disengaged with her opponent and jumped over. In the process, she kicked another enemy squarely in the chest. Losing his balance, that soldier fell back sitting onto the ground with a loud thump.
"How are you feeling?" Chu Qiao supported Zhuge Yue and enquired anxiously.
The enemies could see that Zhuge Yue was a greater threat, and focused their attacks on him. One could see that Zhuge Yue had already been injured on his chest, arm, and calf.
Spitting out some bloody saliva, Zhuge Yue shook his head wearily as his face sank deeper into solemnity. His originally crimson lips now look extraordinarily demonic. Lightly licking his bloodied lips, he forlornly replied, "I am fine."
At this moment, the sound of blades cutting through air echoed from behind. With a swift turn of his body, Zhuge Yue turned around and parried his blade.
As a bolt of lightning struck, the heavens turned a blinding veil of whiteness. Chu Qiao twisted her petite body under Zhuge Yue's arm, and with just one single strike, she pierced the assailant's heart. To make doubly sure that he would be down for good, she twisted the blade up with a forceful yank!
Under the thunderous heavens, the crowd came to a standstill. Who knew these two were so difficult to fight against? In just those few moments, they had already suffered over ten casualties. But alas! At this time, reinforcements seemed to have arrived.
Outside the outer campground, the silhouette of rows and rows of soldiers could be seen. They were certainly deployed to cut off Chu Qiao and Zhuge Yue's retreat.
"Xing'er, we can no longer escape."
Lightly raising an eyebrow, Chu Qiao actually smiled. She replied calmly, "So? Are we going to surrender?"
"HAHAHA!" Zhuge Yue laughed aloud. The soldiers who had been pacing around them in wait for an opportunity to strike were scared out of their wits by Zhuge Yue's sudden outburst of laughter, and panicked in unison!
"What do you think?" Zhuge Yue's delayed response followed his hearty outburst of laughter.
With that, the duo turned their heads toward the main tent that was hidden by the darkness. Situated there was the tent of Liu Family. Certainly, the mastermind behind the massacre, Liu Xi, would be inside!
They both decided to neutralize the boss as their last hope of getting out!
The kid on Zhuge Yue's back lost his initial fear, as though he had just been reminded of the bloody slaughter last night when his own parents died in front of his eyes. His relatives who would be smiling at him all became cold lifeless corpses. Uncle Meng had broken out of encirclement with him, but boiling blood poured out from the countless wounds he had sustained. The kid clenched his teeth, as his eyes turned bloodshot. Stretching out his chubby white fingers, he pointed at the soldiers in front of him, and his voice was overflowing with hatred.
"Uncle! Those are the ones who killed Mo'er's parents and relatives! It is them!"
Reaching into his chest, Zhuge Yue took out an intricately made firework. With a quick yank, a brilliant flew into the sky and blossomed into a golden flower.
The men who were surrounding them were shocked, as their morale dropped further thinking that they were calling for reinforcements.
Zhuge Yue turned to Chu Qiao and indifferently informed her, "Even if we die here today, someone will get revenge for us."
Chu Qiao gallantly shook her head while smiling. "We will not die here today."
Taken aback ever so slightly, Zhuge Yue started to laugh yet again. Loudly, he exclaimed, "Sure, let us break out of this encirclement together!"
"Xing'er, grab the horse!"
The duo turned on the offense, and with agile movements, they easily snatched two horses! As their horses started to gallop away, Zhuge Yue's blade was still embedded in an enemy's neck when another one took this chance to attack the kid on his back! With a cold snort, Zhuge Yue declared, "Despicable!" as he swung his scabbard right onto the assailant's head!
With an explosive crack of his skull, Zhuge Yue let out a warcry before kicking away another attacking soldier, then he shouted, "Xing'er, follow me!" With a forceful kick on the horse's rear, the horse darted forward like a bloodthirsty beast.
The encirclement that had been painstakingly built up by the soldiers ripped apart like a piece of paper as Zhuge Yue brandished his blade on the horseback. Leaving behind a trail of death, Zhuge Yue brought footsteps of war wherever he went!
"Protect the main camp!"
With a cry of hysteria, soldiers scampered into action towards the center camp.
"Protect the young master!"
"They are aiming for the young master! Kill them! Take down their horses!"
"Archers! Get ready, fast!"
It was chaos, as orders were shouted everywhere. It almost seemed as though the forces had been ambushed by one huge force.
In the downpour of blood and rain, Chu Qiao followed behind Zhuge Yue closely, protecting the child on his back. Brandishing her weapon with great dexterity, she did not even have a single scratch on her as Zhuge Yue had attracted the bulk of the attention. Even as the fighting escalated yet again, the long night showed no signs of dawn.