The sharp blades flew through the air with a sharp cutting sound. Trying to parry, the leader held up his blade, but apart from a spark that resulted from the two pieces of metal brushing past each other, it was to no avail. The assailant sliced his throat with ease. Without any further sound, the man dropped down, limp.
The ceremonial officials had yet to step down from the carriage they heard the sound of projectiles flying through the air. In a flash, the arrows hit the officials and they fell, their bodies looking like porcupines.
A blood-curdling scream resonated, sending a shiver down any witnesses' spine. The waves of arrows followed, and with nothing but a thin layer of the carriage in between their body and the deadly projectiles, the innocent ceremonial officials were ruthlessly killed.
The guards drew their blades and tried their best to put up a fight. But the ambush was so well coordinated. Before they could put up an effective resistance, the assault had already broken through. Roaring, and with some pained shrieks mixed in between, the two parties fought to their deaths. Without a chance to ask for each other's allegiance, the men could only raise their blades and smash into each other's bodies. But completely outnumbered, the few guards were overwhelmed within a few moments, sinking into the shadows.
Amidst all this, waves of cheers sounded in the distance. As if reminding everyone of the joyous event, fireworks dotted the night sky. But it was precisely these cheers that drowned out the bloodthirsty screams. No one would know, no one would see, and no one would think that with such a beautiful banquet, there would people so daringly fighting out in the open.
The guards roared in anger, not giving up in their last bit of resistance. The enemy poured in like a flood from all corners. Their enemies were faces twisted in anger and their eyes were bloodshot, devouring the last bit of hope within the guards' hearts.
"Hang in there! Reinforcements will soon arrive!" But alas, what they did not know was that these assassins had come straight from their beloved nation. They were the team destined to be sacrificed for the sake of the empire!
Yan Xun's carriage was full of holes. No one would think that he would still be alive. Out of the over two hundred guards, there were no survivors. Whether they had resisted or surrendered, it did not matter. All of them were massacred.
At this very instance, a particularly large firework went off in the capital. The colors were radiant and lit up the city. A thunderous wave of cheering roared in stark contrast to the quiet bloodbath on the battlefield.
Ba Lei paced over and pushed away the subordinate whose face was aghast. A young man wearing a fancy Chinese robe leaned in the carriage, but his body was riddled with arrows. As he looked at Ba Lei, he tried to spit out the blood in his mouth, but fell into a coughing fit.
Ba Lei's face was completely filled with fury. Coldly, he asked, "Where is Yan Xun?"
The man smiled in jest. Without another word, Ba Lei snapped out his blade and with a swift blow, beheaded the man.
The subordinate's face was completely horrified. Trembling, words came incoherently out of his mouth, "Gen-general..."
Ba Lei turned around and coldly said, "With an ambush of eight hundred men with an additional three hundred surrounding the area, all armed with the best weapons and sufficient preparation, you still managed to let him escape? What do I need you for?"
"General, we can go to the outer ring where Wei was lying in wait. Perhaps he was caught already."
"Fine." Ba Lei nodded. Holding on to the tiniest bit of hope, he went to mount his horse. But a thunderous wave of horse steps sounded. The entire earth felt like it was shaking. Ba Lei raised his head in fear, only to see a cramped row of torches at the other end of the road, approaching rapidly. With trampling war horses and razor sharp murderous intent, an entire cavalry army had arrived.
"It is the Yan Bei soldiers of Southwest Emissary's Garrison!" Ba Lei finally lost it, as he quickly turned and ran. "Retreat!" By now, running was already too late. With human legs, it was impossible to outrun the four legs of the horse. It was no longer a battle, but a massacre.
"I am the Ba Lei General of the Batuha family! We have the Emperor's order!" The panicking voice sounded off. As Ba Lei saw how his subordinates fell to the galloping tide, he attempted to use his identity as a last attempt to hold off the enemy. But who would believe him? The warriors who were mobilized by the Yan Bei prince were completely in murderous moods. Since the fall of the Yan family, the Southwest Emissary's Garrison, became one class lower than other armies and were frequently being bullied by other camps such as the Dauntless Cavalry Camp and Green Army. This was such a good opportunity to achieve something, who would stop to think about the words of the assassin? Daring to carry out a large-scale assassination within Zhen Huang City, these people must be out of their minds.
Roaring, the soldiers continued the slaughter. The black tide of soldiers swept through the street, before opening a path for a man completely donned in red. His gaze was like that of an eagle and despite his smile, one could feel his pressing aura.
"Prince! Without disappointment, all enemies have been eradicated, not a single one escaped!" The vice-commander of the Garrison, He Xiao approached on his horse.
Yan Xun nodded and smiled. "Commander He, your achievements have been great. Saving my life, I will not forget such a huge favor."
He Xiao shook his head. "Your highness, you are exaggerating. Protecting the safety of the capital was originally my duty. All the more, when Your Highness also came from Yan Bei, it was impossible to stand on the sidelines."
Yan Xun laughed. "I will surely submit a complete report to the Emperor. I believe very soon, the vice in your 'vice commander' will be removed!"
He Xiao grinned and said, "If that is so, I will express my appreciation in advance."
At this point, a junior commander walked up and whispered to He Xiao, "Sir! Something is not right!"
Stunned, He Xiao turned around and inquired, "What happened?"
The junior commander, with his brow deeply furrowed, quietly said, "Sir, please follow me."
He Xiao quickly ended the conversation with Yan Xun and went with his subordinate. Body by body, he felt more and more chills go down his spine, and by the time he saw the body of Ba Lei, he almost fainted and fell off his horse.
When Ba Lei entered the city, he made a huge ruckus, and as a result, few would not recognize him. As the commander who was in charge of crowd control, how could he have not known Ba Lei? Upon seeing how that arrogant man was now just a lifeless body, full of arrows in his chest, He Xiao felt like vomiting blood.
Forcing himself to stay conscious, the young vice commander was still disillusioned. Perhaps it was just an independent assassination by the Bahatu family to rid the empire of the Yan Prince. Afterall, there were conflicts between Old Batu and Yan Shicheng, which was well known throughout the country. But when he identified the huge number of soldiers from the Dauntless Cavalry Camp, he instantly knew what happened was merely a murder orchestrated by the empire. For him to bring out his soldiers to sabotage this operation and having saved the Yan Bei Prince, what would become of him? In that instance, He Xiao only had one thought. To take down Yan Xun and to make up for his error!
"The one who wanted me dead was none other than the Xia Emperor."
At that instant, everyone was stunned!
Yan Xun sat tall on his horse and nonchalantly glanced at the numerous soldiers before fixing his eyes on He Xiao. Indifferently, he continued, "Commander He, to have brought you into this mess, I am really sorry. But if you and the rest of Southwest Emissary's Garrison were not from Yan Bei, capturing me might allow you to change your fate." His speech jolted everyone back to reality. Looking at Yan Xun's face, devoid of any hints, everyone suddenly understood something.
The Southwest Emissary's Garrison was already trapped. If it were other troops, the fratricide could be explained with the maintenance of public order. But as the troop that had garnered attention from the empire already and was repeatedly suspected of helping betrayers from Yan Bei, the Southwest Emissary's Garrison could never escape from being accused treason. The Empire wouldn't forgive them, the Grant Elder's Council wouldn't forgive them, and the Sheng Jin palace all the more wouldn't. Even trying to backtrack would mean certain death. The commander's eyes were bloodshot and a voice screamed in his mind. He knew everything! He purposely laid the trap! But he said nothing. After a short while, the murderous intent vanished from his eyes, and in its place, desperation arose.
Within the tens of thousands of soldiers on the street, any clear minded person would know what had just happened and what would become of them. Even though peace had already returned to the area, they could almost feel the ground wobbling. Everyone looked at He Xiao, or Yan Xun, or even at the heavens, seeking inspiration as to how to get out of this predicament alive.
He Xiao jumped off his horse and raised his hands. Facing the soldiers behind him, he bellowed, "Brothers! There are some words I had to swallow for eight whole years! Today, I am finally going to say them! Those years, who was the one who suppressed the rebellion of Cang Lan King and broke out of the encirclement at Sheng Jin palace to save the Emperor? Who was the one who chased thousands of miles to Bai Ma Pass to save the Grand Elders and Officials of the Empire? Who was the one who defended the lands of Yan Bei Highlands, protecting our family from the northern savages? It was the King of Yan Bei! Master Yan Shicheng! But what did this loyalty invite? A massacre of his whole family! For eight years, our Yan Bei soldiers had been bullied by those b*stards from the Dauntless Cavalry Camp and the Green Army. All these years, we tolerated it. But now, the empire, for no apparent reason, wanted to get rid of our old Master's only blood descendant! And with such despicable means! As soldiers of Yan Bei, are we going to let it be?"
"No!" Thunderous cheering suddenly arose. Many soldiers raised their weapons and it was at that moment the legends of the invincible Yan Shicheng, were once again reignited among the soldiers, making their blood boil. The repression they felt over so many years exploded within them like lava erupting from a volcano.
"Brothers! We are soldiers of Yan Bei! Tonight, we killed these people, and we are now in the same boat as the Prince. If our Prince is gone, we would be no better. You tell me, can we sit and do nothing?"
"We must not die!"
"The Emperor repaid loyalty with cruelty! He is not fit to lead us!"