Along the way, flags fluttered in the air as drumbeats echoed in the skies. The people hurried out of the city and were greeted with this sight. The armored military guard was protecting the entourage at the side. Its magnificence was comparable to an Emperor's outing.
At the area where the Tang Empire's horse carriages had reached, one of its curtains opened, revealing the Prince of Tang behind it. He was dressed in a bright yellow robe along with a yellow fur coat draped over his shoulder. He stepped off the carriage and strode forward, holding his head high. If it were not for his bruised face, he would have looked perfect.
Everyone's expression, including Zhao Che and Chu Qiao, squelched at the sight of the Prince. This sight saddened even the emissaries from the Tang Empire. No one would have expected the Prince to appear in public in such a state!
Poor Zhao Qi and the rest of the officials from the Xia Empire, everyone was not prepared for this. All of them were stunned and dazed, not sure of what to do. However, luckily for them, the elders of the court were present to deal with this situation. The Elder of Wei family, Wei Guang, bowed deeply as he said, "We heard that Prince Li Ce has a talented and romantic personality with a handsome appearance. Now that I have the honor to see the Prince, you are indeed glowing, brighter than the moon and the stars."
Just after Wei Guang finished his sentence, everyone hurriedly fell on their knees, with the civil officials creating poems for the Prince, praising him as if he was the best in the world, the handsomest man to have ever walked the Earth. However, the military officials were not as good with their words; they merely gave him a thumbs-up while praising his looks with their limited vocabulary: Pretty, handsome, beautiful.
Li Ce laughed in delight but started to cry in pain as the wounds at the corner of his mouth hurt. He waved at the officials as he said, "Thank you, thank you." He had accepted the praises wholeheartedly. No one would know how the Emperor and Empress of the Tang Empire would feel if they were here.
After using every possible way to coerce the Tang Emperor's dearest child into the carriage, they were finally on their way. Bugles were played the whole way as they marched majestically towards Zhen Huang City. Who would have known,but after just a few steps, Prince Li Ce commented, "Why does the fanfare sound like I am going to war?"
Zhao Qi was stunned as he was secretly relieved that he did not have to personally meet him again. This bugle piece was specifically made for such ceremonies, there were pieces that were used when heading for battle, pieces that signified a successful conquest, and pieces that were only used for the Emperor's travels. For welcoming esteemed dignitaries, there was a piece to be played with respect to their rank. Now that everything was in order, why would the Tang Empire be unhappy?
After over half an hour of negotiation, the Xia Empire had no choice but to make a concession. Within moments, extravagant tunes started to play. Immersed in tunes that were played by young women in bright clothes, the army finally started to move once again. Li Ce did not seem bothered about the wounds of his face as he repeatedly opened the curtains of his carriage., waving towards the ordinary people as he smiled, seeming amiable and approachable.
Chu Qiao sighed secretly as she rode on her horse, following the battalion of the Dauntless Cavalry Camp as they sent Prince Li Ce all the way into Sheng Jin Palace.
Zhao Che and Vice-General Cheng followed the Prince into the palace as Chu Qiao and the troops returned to camp. When they reached the gates, they saw a black hawk soaring overhead. An archer saw it as he pulled out his bow and tried to shoot it out of the sky. Who knew, but another arrow was shot directly at his arrow, deflecting his arrow from the hawk.
Seeing that, the hawk started to get arrogant as it squawked loudly, circling around them a few times before flying away.
"Instructor Chu! Why did you deflect my arrow?"
Chu Qiao gazed coldly at the soldier as she sneered at him, riding her horse into camp.
After a few days of hard work, there was finally time to rest. When everyone returned to camp, except for the guards at the sentry post, they fell into deep slumber. Dressed in ordinary clothes, Chu Qiao sneaked out from the side gates.
The weather was getting warmer and the Chu Shui Lake had already defrosted. Looking from afar, a tall and graceful male dressed in white robes was standing on the bank of the river, looking graceful as the wind blew past him.
Chu Qiao came forward and smiled, "Whom are you posing for?"
Yan Xun turned and smiled gently, looking up and down at Chu Qiao, he said, "Are you afraid?"
"Nope." The girl smiled slyly.
"Stubborn." Yan Xun laughed as he continued, "The whole capital already knows about it, you have become a celebrity this time."
Chu Qiao was stunned. "Everyone in the Capital knows? No one reported it?"
"Zhao Che said that he didn't see you hit anyone and the entire cavalry camp followed that story as well. Even the Tang Prince did not admit that you hit him, insisting that he had fell on his own. Even the victim did not pursue this matter, so what could the Emperor do?"
Chu Qiao covered her laugh as she said, "If I knew that this was going to happen, I would have hit him harder."
"AhChu, are you used to life in the army?"
"It's okay," said Chu Qiao as she nodded. "Zhao Che still does not trust me. I have tested it a few times, but it isn't that bad. Everything is under control."
Yan Xun nodded slightly as he said, "Okay. You have to be careful. If some things are not meant to be, don't force your way through."
"I know. Don't worry."
"Then I won't bother you any longer. This token is able to make the people of Da Tong guild to work for you. You may find this useful when you are outside."
Chu Qiao held the piece of wood that had a quaint style. On it, there were engravings of a huge Gyrfalcon with the word "Tong" carved onto its back.
"I'll leave now."
"Yan Xun!" The man turned as he looked at her with a puzzled look. Chu Qiao was also stunned that she had lost her cool. She smiled sheepishly and said, "You got to be careful on your way."
Yan Xun laughed, his smile as gentle as a spring breeze. He galloped away as his robes fluttered in the wind.
Chu Qiao stood silently for a moment as she watched him vanished from the horizon. She then strode back to her camp.
Yan Xun pulled his horse to a stop as he jumped off it. The said in a deep tone to the people that came forth, "What happened?"
AhJing hurriedly replied, "Wei Jing sent his men to collect information about the Lady beating up the Prince of Tang overnight. They had also bribed two soldiers from the cavalry camp to be witnesses. They are now rushing towards Sheng Jin Palace."
"Wei Jing?" said Yan Xun as he halted. His gaze turned cold as he said, "Notify the Night Team, and let them deal with it."
AhJing was stunned as he muttered, "Prince, what do you mean?"
"Kill Wei Jing." The man's gaze turned incredibly ferocious within moments. It could be compared to a wolf's. There wasn't a tinge of gentleness from before as he said in a heinous tone, "He has lived long enough."
It was already late at night but the Sheng Jin Palace was still immersed in the sound of music. The cool moon hung high in the sky, emanating a pitiful glow. Beyond Zi Wei Square, it was considered already considered the Imperial grounds that were heavily guarded. It was dead silent, especially at this hour. Although Zhen Huang City did not have a curfew, no one walked around at night. Those that did were not ordinary civilians.
More than 100 cavalry troops came together to form a shuttle formation, where more troops were at the front and started to narrow at the back. The long street was silent except for the clopping of horses' hoofs. In such a quiet night, it sounded crisp and clear. The troop's armor got colder by the second as they inched on by the city wall. More than 15 minutes had passed, but they were not even on the main road that led to the palace.
Most of the cavalry troops congregated in the middle of the formation with the guards on the flanks holding their shields high. There were two lanterns at the front and back of the formation. It was complete darkness in the middle. No one could see what was actually going on, but they could definitely tell that the formation was guarding someone important.
The vanguard held razor sharp weapons such as swords and spears, preparing to both attack and defend. On the left and right sides of the formations, there were 20 cavalry troops, forming a wall of defense, carrying swords. They donned thick armor plates for protection. Their armor reflected a silvery glint; one could tell that it was cast from the armor of the western regions with a glance. Even if an archer shot a regular arrow at them from the high walls, it would not bother them.
With such a tight defense, one could say that even water would not leak from it. Since the mysterious death of Muhe Xifeng of the Muhe clan, the noblemen within the Capital feared for their lives, plunging into a state of panic. Wei Jing had also started to cherish his life even more so, with his armored entourage by his side everywhere he went.
Gusts of cold wind caused the snow on the ground to billow, causing the atmosphere to become increasingly stern and icy.
"Second Young Master," a servant came forward on his horse as he said in a deep tone, "we will reach the north of the Yuan An Gates in a bit. We will sneak in quietly; the master of the household will not detect our presence. Eunuch Qin is already waiting for our arrival in front of the Palace Gates. Once the booklet in is their hands, Prince Yan and that woman will have nowhere to run."
Wei Jing nodded coldly, his gaze as ferocious and bloodthirsty as a wolf's. The corners of his mouth arced into a devious gloomy grin.
High in the sky, clouds accumulated, causing it to be a moonless and starless night.
The man in the dark was dressed in dark clothes. His eyes narrowed as he perched high above the palace walls. A gust of cold in blew past his slender body, making his figure seem arrogant and lonely, distinguishing him from the common crowd. 30 men in black were seen on both sides, squatting or lying on the ground as they stayed in the shadows, waiting for their moment to arrive.
Suddenly, the earth shattering palace music played with occasional bells and drums playing in the background. The man knew that the time had come; the musicians had started to cover their operation. They only had 15 minutes.
A loud scream pierced into the sky, shattering the silence of the night, breaking the uniform clicking of the hooves. Wei's troops were taken aback, looking at the shadows around them in panic.
At this time, arrows swooshed through the air as the 30 crossbows high above the walls fired in unison. The arrows glinted as they flew by, aiming for the horses instead of the men. The warhorses neighed in pain as they kicked up their hooves, causing the troops to fall of their horses. Cries of pain filled the air. Wei Jing was safely protected in the middle as he roared in fury and confusion, "Who are you?"
The man in the dark sneered as he raised his golden crossbow into the air, shooting out another arrow. Before the arrow could reach its target, he had leaped off the wall in a flash, his fellow soldiers following in his footsteps. He then whipped out the hook in his hand as he flew through the air, landing steadily on the ground. With a sweep, the man pierced his sword mercilessly into an armored soldier. Another soldier rushed forward with his sword aloft. Before he could take another step, the golden arrow reached its target, piercing right through his throat.
Sounds of pitiful screams echoed down Zi Wei Street.
Following close behind, the gods of death that were hiding on the walls leapt onto the ground, heading for their kill.
Almost half of Wei Jing's men had perished, with their horses howling in pain, rearing their hooves in panic. Many were wounded by arrows and were flung to the ground, perishing under the chaotic stampede of the horses' hooves. The formation had been destroyed; the armored entourage of 100 guards seemed to be on the brink of collapse.
"Traitor Wei! You have framed and discriminated others, trying to usurp the throne, Muhe Xike will now carry out God's Will to take your life! Die!"
From afar, sound of hooves could be heard; Wei Jing knew that the Imperial Guard was rushing over. He calmed his nerves and roared, "Traitorous Muhe, you are fighting with death, come at me if you can!"