Perhaps in all of Zhen Huang City, only Chu Qiao knew Yan Xun's true extent of authority. From his perspective, eliminating Li Ce was no doubt a good strategy. Should Li Ce die, Zhen Huang would sink into chaos, as the trust between the noble families and royal family would be instantly shattered. The Tang and Xia Empires would muster troops for war, the Song Empire would take this opportunity to rebel with the Quan Rong people following suit in the north. The entire West Meng continent would descend into anarchy and become engulfed in the flames of war. At that point, the Xia Emperor would have no effort to spare to confront Yan Xun and might even have to rely on Yan Bei's armies to resist Quan Rong in the North. In that instant, Yan Xun would instantly be impregnable and gain the upper hand.
If this incident was truly by the hands of Yan Xun, then should she find ways to expose her tracks, dispatch Li Ce, and divert the blame to the noble families? If Yan Xun was not the mastermind, then since she had already understood the potential benefits for Yan Bei, and considering the big picture, should she take this opportunity to go along with the flow?
The agents code of conduct would say to think of the big picture at all times. No sacrifice is too great for the exchange of the greatest possible advantage for friendly forces.
Chu Qiao's hand clenched tightly. The dagger hidden at her waist glistened with a macabre glint that almost pierced her skin. She refused to think of how she made it to the shore after fainting, how Li Ce carried her and staggered through the forest. How he cried out her name again and again with worry and anxiety.
Without me, he would have died in the initial assassination. Measure for measure, the heavens are very fair.
Chu Qiao narrowed her eyes and her fingers slid towards her dagger. Composing herself, she quickly erased those unpragmatic emotions. She always knew what she needed to do, as if carrying out a mission. These eight years, the desire to go to Yan Bei had never left her mind. Apart from that, nothing else was important.
With inconspicuous engravings, the light and compact meteoric iron dagger was concealed in cloth. Considering the metallurgy maturity at the time, this was already a high-tech product beyond the technical expertise of this era. The moment she touched the weapon, she became clear headed. All the emotions that were not supposed to exist disappeared in an instant, and she swiftly returned to being a fitting iron-blooded agent. Pinching the blade with her middle and index finger, she unsheathed it, pivoted it into the grasp of her palms and out it went!
Everything happened in the blink of an eye, as Li Ce's abruptly pounced over, panicking and shouting, "Qiaoqiao, be careful!" A large hound came from behind Chu Qiao. In a split second, it bit Li Ce's wrist, which he had used to shield Chu Qiao. From where Li Ce's body was, an even larger hound sprung out. The menacing dagger's path did not change. Following its momentum, it stabbed the canine's carotid artery. With an extra twist, she jerked the dagger horizontally! Blood splattered! Howls shrilled! Chu Qiao spun around and landed a kick on the waist of the other hound. With a shriek, it fell on its side.
Six men in black appeared in a flash from within the woods, their faces covered by scarves. Their fierce stare and steady footsteps spoke of their immense proficiency in martial arts. Chu Qiao inched forward and pulled Li Ce, who had been surprisingly firm in bearing with the pain from his wound. Slowly drawing out the Moon Shattering Sword, her cold gaze affixed to the six people.
When masters fight, the pace would be rapid until the climax. The Moon Shattering Sword, like a hot knife cutting through butter, smashed through the blades of two men and sheared the shoulder of another man. Following up with a kick to the leg, Chu Qiao's left hand clawed into another man's neck. With a crisp snap, the sound of bones dislocating resonated. Without time to even let out a scream of anguish, the man dropped limply on the ground; a lifeless corpse. In merely one instant, one was dead and one injured. Her combat prowess was unparalleled.
At this point, the other four had already split up and rushed forth. Two towards Chu Qiao, and two towards Li Ce. As Chu Qiao spun around, from her peripheral vision she saw an assassin going toward Li Ce. With a frown, she lobbed the Moon Shattering Sword. The blade made a shrill sound as it cut through the air, giving an impression of a thunderous strike. In the blink of an eye, the loud sound of cracking bones boomed. The sudden onslaught was lethal and swift. Before they could react, their vision turned black. Blood, mixed with their brains, spurted out.
At almost the same time, a cry of anguish came from in front of Li Ce. Just as the assassin was about to strike him, a sharp blade pierced through the assassin's back and came out through his chest. The blood-soaked blade stopped steadily, just short of touching Li Ce.
White as a sheet, Li Ce was aghast. But before he had a chance to let out a scream, the last assassin leapt forth. The young lady sailed forward and pulled out the Moon Shattering Sword from the dead assailant's body. In one swift motion she cut off his wrist, turned the blade around, and sheared off his elbow. Snatching his blade, she pivoted her body and cut open his stomach.
With agile movement like flowing water, the assassin, who was fiercely bloodthirsty moments ago, was left in disbelief. Having being disemboweled, blood poured out from his enormous wound, and with a loud thump, he crashed to the ground.
The young lady then resumed her original posture. The cold wind brushed over her body, and the blood in her hair dripped down. From the moment of the ambush to now, everything had happened in a few mere blinks of the eye. But in those few moments, the courage, judgement, speed, and skills of both parties were put to the test. Obviously, as the outcome suggested, this marvelous agent from the 21st century would be slightly better.
"Qiaoqiao!" Li Ce ran forth and hugged her in his arms. He shouted excitedly, "You are amazing!"
Indifferent, Chu Qiao pushed him aside. Her cold gaze stared into the depths of the forest and she boldly declared, "All of you can stop hiding!"
Li Ce was stumped and his jubilant expression was instantly replaced by that of seriousness. Turning around, four men also dressed in black casually walked out of the dense jungle. Their blades were still sheathed. Apparently they had just arrived.
The four stared at the frail young lady and felt a cold shiver go down their spine. They were just a couple of dozen steps behind the previous team, but in that short time, there were six dead and one injured. How much strength did this seemingly vulnerable girl have?
Chu Qiao's face brimmed with arrogance, and she coldly stared at the four mockingly. With a snort, she asked, "One by one, or all at once?"
The four cautiously ignored her question and steadily drew their blades.
With another snort, Chu Qiao dropped the Moon Shattering Sword. "Fighting with the likes of you, even bare-handed, would be considered bullying."
The four were taken aback, and subsequently, their eyes filled with glee. In their heart, they cheered that this stupid lady was really too full of herself. They might have seen idiots, but they had never seen idiocy to this extent. Being assassins, the morals and honor of Jianghu principles could be ignored anyway. Worried that they would lose their initiative, they let out a roar and simultaneously pounced towards her
The sharp blades glistened in the moonlight and the ruthless edges exuded an invisible menacing pressure that forced its way into Chu Qiao's pores. But the young lady stood still, with full composure. Her lips formed a sarcastic smile, as if completely ignoring them. The four cheered internally and wanted to take this opportunity to finally achieve their mission. Without further hesitation, all dashed forth with shocking and thunderous momentum!
Chu Qiao suddenly moved. With a mere flick of her wrist, four stinging knives appeared out of thin air. The blades were streamlined, with a mirror-like polished surface, as if it was a work of art.
Those four assassins were definitely not in the frame of mind to admire the beauty of the blades. Their faces twisted in shock, as their eyes were now filled with horror. Facing a murder weapon that was faster than the sword and harder to dodge, no one would be without worry or fear. But alas, it was too late to retreat. Chu Qiao flicked her wrist and the four knives, like reapers coming after their lives, shot out. In such a close distance, there was no way to possibly dodge. As if the blades had eyes, the four knives accurately burrowed themselves into the throats of each assassin in quick succession. Blood gushed out and the four assassins did not even have the opportunity to exclaim about the subterfuge before they succumbed to their wounds.
Seeing how the four assassins were so quickly annihilated, Li Ce was utterly stunned for a moment with his mouth agape. Only after a few moments, he expounded, "Qiaoqiao, that was so despicable!"
Unsure if that was a compliment or sarcasm, Chu Qiao just looked at him coldly and suddenly lost strength, slumping over.
"Oh gosh! Your wound is bleeding again!"
Chu Qiao was left without energy to concern herself with Li Ce. Looking at the last assassin who was lying in the distance, she instructed the man, "Go, kill him".
"Sure thing!" Li Ce swiftly replied, and after feeling on the ground for a while, he picked up a rock and ran towards the assassin who had fainted from losing too much blood.
"Hmph! Dare to ambush me? I will send you to your maker now!" With that, Li Ce lifted his arm and hit the man with the rock.
"AH!!" A blood-curdling scream resounded. Chu Qiao frowned and Li Ce did not look good either. His confident strike had not only not killed the man, but it woke the assassin up. Feeling pain, the man shouted, and it had definitely spread far. All enemies within a few miles must have been alerted by the noise.
Chu Qiao's gaze was already beyond that of fury. Losing his composure, Li Ce hurriedly covered the assassin's mouth, while the other hand swung the rock in a quick succession of hits. Within a few moments, the assassin's head was left a horrid mush of organic mass, with nothing recognizable.
Chu Qiao could not help but feel pity for the assassin. He was considered to be decently skilled in martial arts but died at the hands of such an idiot, and in such a bloody way.
"Qiaoqiao, can you still walk?" Li Ce walked over, his hands rubbing together in embarrassment.
Coldly looking at him, she used the sheath to support her body up.
The sound of the waterfall roared, the flames of torches shone in the distance, they were surrounded by enemies and did not know from which direction help the emperor would come. They could not afford to be careless.
"Qiaoqiao, that move just now was so powerful! Can you teach me?
"Qiaoqiao, do you think those few were killed by the flying blades or because they were so infuriated by you that they died? I think two of them did not close their eyes… Must be because they could not rest in peace."
"Shut up!" she fiercely snapped and turned her attention back to scouting the front. She had almost forgotten about the previous plan just a while ago. She thought of the hound just now that had inflicted Li Ce's wrist with an inch-long wound.
Well, let's just take it as interest and let him live a while longer.
Li Ce, who had been trailing behind, had not the slightest idea how that hound had saved his life. He merely looked at his serrated wound in anger, miserably complaining, "In my palace there is a pack of dogs. If I randomly picked one, it would able to easily beat eight or ten of them."