"As for AhChu, I have some words for her. Help me tell it to her." Zhao Song's voice went even deeper as he stepped forward.
As the soldiers saw that he stepped up, everyone placed their hands on their blades, ready to strike. Yan Xun, however, stepped forward.
"Tell her, I..."
At this very moment, a dull impact was heard. Following a small bump, a searing pain spread out from Yan Xun's chest. Zhao Song's dagger had deeply buried itself in Yan Xun!
"Kill the assassin!"
Zhao Song's face was completely oblivious to the surrounding havoc. He pulled out the blade and swung it down again! The guards were still several steps away, and Yan Xun was left to fend for himself. Holding his blade, Yan Xun stepped back. But the wound on his chest was bleeding so profusely that he could barely muster any strength. Zhao Song was still able to close in on him!
In that split second, as Zhao Song's dagger was about to strike into Yan Xun's heart, Yan Xun's blade swung up. If Yan Xun slashed horizontally, he could easily rip Zhao Song's throat. But at that instant, memories of the past flooded his mind, and Yan Xun slanted his wrist at the very last moment. The sharp blade sliced into Zhao Song's blade wielding shoulder, making a clean cut!
Cling! The dagger fell to the ground, along with a fountain of blood and a broken arm!
"Ah!" Zhao Song shrieked in pain as he dropped to the ground. Curling up in pain, he grabbed his wound. Likewise, Yan Xun lied on the ground, with scary amounts of blood gushing out from his chest. Panicking, the guards rushed forward. Lady Yu glumly opened her mouth, but before any words could come out, she heard sounds of weeping from a nearby food cart. A soldier who had been wearing an oversized uniform ran out, and upon closer inspection, it was the Xia Princess—Zhao Chun'er!
Lady Yu called out harshly, "Quick, get the doctor here. And I want to see these two beheaded!"
"Wait!" Yan Xun squeezed out in a hoarse voice filled with pain. His face was growing paler by the second. "Let them go!"
The surrounding people were completely taken aback by his declaration. AhJing called out, "Your Highness?"
"I said…let. Them. Go!"
AhJing was about to continue talking, but Lady Yu stopped him, and said to Yan Xun, "Master, I will arrange for people to send them back to Zhen Huang City."
Yan Xun painfully nodded, before his head slanted to one side and he fainted.
"Your Highness!" AhJing shouted in anguish. Turning around, he picked up his blade and walked toward Zhao Song. Lady Yu held him back, and stared at him firmly in the eye. "Do you want me to lose Master's trust?"
AhJing was taken aback by her stern words, and innocently asked, "Lady?"
"I want a carriage prepared. Pick ten of the most obedient soldiers to send them back! Give them medical treatment along the way, and do not let them die!"
The servants unwillingly complied, and went ahead with preparation. Zhao Chun'er held her brother, who had fainted in his pool of blood, with an expression of hopelessness. This pure and innocent girl had already been utterly overwhelmed by the fact that two people whom she held closest to her heart had almost managed to kill each other.
The military doctor arrived shortly afterwards. The old doctor observed for a few seconds before looking Lady Yu and solemnly saying, "His lungs are wounded. I cannot guarantee his survival."
Lady Yu looked at the old man and firmly declared, "Master must be safe. You must ensure he survives."
The old man frowned and sighed. "I will try my best."
On the path leading to Liuhe County from Xi Ma Liang, an entourage was waiting patiently. The moonlight dimly lit up this group of people who numbered in the ten thousands. Even then, these men were dead silent, all looking at the path in the east, as if waiting for something.
Just as Lady Yu entered the main tent, the men inside stood up. The woman's brow was locked, but her tone was calm as usual, "Has there been any news?"
"Not yet." A man wearing a green outfit and dressed like a scholar stood up. This graceful man looked slightly thin, and his complexion was a dull yellow. He went on, "Lady, you need not worry. Since Mister Wu asked that we wait here, I am sure nothing will go wrong."
"I am not worried about ambushes." The lady's unnaturally pale complexion was in great contrast to the black circles around her eyes. It was obvious that she had not gotten proper rest for a while. While rubbing her temples, she sat down and elaborated, "We have scouts covering up a 30 mile radius, so ambushes are near impossible. I am more worried about Master's injury! It was lucky that Daoya arrived in the nick of time. Otherwise, I really could not imagine what those useless doctors could do!"
The other people's expressions were similarly clouded with worry. With severe injuries, Yan Xun insisted on not leaving Xi Ma Liang. Even though the army left the place while he had fainted, he stubbornly snatched a horse and went back to Bie Ya Slope. It was the first time the crowd had seen such a stubborn and immature side of their Young Master. At this time, everyone was stressed out, and they were not in the mood to talk.
Lady Yu sighed, and said to the man in green, "Kong Ru, how many men did Daoya bring to fetch us? Have those soldiers been arranged orderly?"
"3000 soldiers came. Actually, you have already entered Yan Bei territory. The Liuhe County up ahead is actually under the leadership of the Southwestern Logistic Chief of the Da Tong Guild, Mister Meng."
Lady Lu raised an eyebrow and asked, "Isn't Mister Meng the private teacher within the Major's Residence? Since when did he become the Major himself?"
Kong Ru smiled in response. "Liuhe County is a small county, so it is no wonder that Lady Yu did not know. The previous person sent to supervise Yan Bei was a greedy fellow, and from the moment he assumed his position, he started to sell government positions for money. Mister Meng spent a huge sum of money and bought all of the positions that govern the cities along the route from the Capital to Yan Bei. It was all in preparation for today."
"Lady!" There was an flurry of footsteps from beyond the door. Lady Yu hurriedly walked forward, and opened the veil. Biancang breathlessly jumped down from the horse and said, "Mister Wu requested that we hold our positions here, and wait for him and His Highness to return."
Lady Yu frowned forlornly, but could not do anything about it. She said, "Bring 200 cavalry there, and if anything happens, please immediately head back to report."
Lady Yu suddenly remembered something, and hurriedly shouted out, "Biancang, who did AhJing arrange for to send the Thirteenth Prince back?"
Just as she said that, everyone's expression soured. Even the soldiers on guard duty outside the tent seemed to be teeming with rage. These guild members of Da Tong were all recruited from the lowest ranks of society, and some were even originally from the ranks of slaves. Under the oppressive rule of the Xia Empire, there had been huge rifts between the ruling family and the common people, and the lowest caste bore a particularly strong grudge against the ruling government. Right now, a prince of the Xia Empire had just severely wounded their master, but was allowed to leave safely, moreover under their guard. The soldiers no doubt bore a huge grudge.
Biancang obviously knew that now was not a good time to talk about this matter. He intentionally replied ambiguously, "I am not too sure as well. It would be better if you could check directly with AhJing after he comes back."
Unexpectedly, Lady Yu lifted an eyebrow and sternly admonished him, "Nonsense! If I could wait until he returned, why would I ask you?"
Biancang's face flushed red, and he anxiously rubbed his hand. In front of the most reputable leader in Da Tong Guild, he dared not be too careless. He muttered, "AhJing seemed to have personally picked ten men from the 12th Camp."
Lady Yu was not satisfied with this reply, as she continued to grill him, "Are you sure they were personally picked by AhJing?"
"Huh?" Biancang was taken aback, and replied vaguely, "Um, yes, I think so."
"So was it, or was it not?"
"Yes!" Biancang replied, "He personally picked them!"
Lady Yu heaved a long sigh of relief, as her remaining worry was finally cleared. "If so, then I am relieved."
"Lady, shall I take my leave?"
The sounds of horses galloping resounded as Biancang left the main tent and arrived at the barrack tents. Picking out 200 men detachments, he headed toward Bie Ya Slope on Xi Ma Liang.
The cold night went on in silence. Many times, what changed the entire course of history was just a few lies. The one who said the lie did not care, and the one who was lied to did not think about it seriously either. Those small matters were like grains of sand that dropped into a gushing river where no one would mind, no one would know. But in that corner that no one knew about, that small piece of sand would miraclely reach the floodgates, and trigger the collapse of the floodgates, resulting in the torrent that would flood great swathes of land. The population would then claim that heaven had been unfair, but who could have known that the disaster had been born from within their own hands.
Biancang had not known that that night, AhJing had not personally picked the guard to protect Zhao Song. He was panicking from the fact that Yan Xun had been injured in the assassination attempt, and in his consternation, he delegated this task to his subordinate. His subordinate was a man of great strength and martial arts prowess, and could easily swing around swords that were over hundred kilograms. To him, being handed a task like this made him feel like his abilities were being wasted. With a swing of his hands, he shouted, "Whoever wants to go, just go!" And with that, the warriors who had an overwhelming hatred for the empire from all the oppression they had received, rushed forth to take up this mission. Ultimately, ten of the men with the loudest shouts and the most unyielding attitudes were selected for the special honor to protect Zhao Song and Zhao Chun'er on their way back to the Royal Capital Zhen Huang City.
Everything took a twist here. That included dreams, love, and destiny.
"Master," Wu Daoya slowly walked up the slope. Wearing a green cape, Daoya's well defined eyebrows were lined with a streak of silver. Yet his footsteps were surprisingly firm coming from a man of his age. With a hoarse voice, he continued, "The wind is strong here, let's go back to the tent to wait."
"It is okay," a deep voice replied coldly. It was a short sentence, but the intense fatigue and grief was apparent. The weather was not cold, but Yan Xun wore a white overcoat. The white fur of the coat embraced his neck, further emphasizing his unhealthy pale complexion. He rested on a reclining chair that had been modified from a stretcher, and his leg was covered with a thick layer of white silk. Lightly sighing, he muttered, "Let me feel the Yan Bei wind. It has been so many years since I last felt this."
Before Yan Xun finished, Wu Daoya already understood what he meant by "so many years". Daoya nodded his head in agreement. "Indeed, so many years."
Yan Xun chuckled. "I still remember how back in the capital, I told Chu Qiao that the wind in Yan Bei is sweet from the scent of the snow lotus growing in the Hui Hui Mountains. But now, I can no longer smell it. If she came, she would think I was lying."