"Missy, you are talented, courageous, and compassionate. Without concern for your own safety, you saved everyone. We are completely loyal to you, and only under your banner, could we be spared. Please become our leader!"
"Please become our leader!" the entire army roared in unison, and all the proud warriors knelt on the ground. The sound of their knee guards hitting the ground sounded like rumbling thunder!
Standing on a boulder, Chu Qiao braved the raging night wind with her frail body, and looking back at the passionate eyes filled with hope. She finally shook her head and replied, "I am sorry, I cannot agree to that!"
A cacophony arose. Holding up her palm, Chu Qiao signalled for the crowd to quiet. Finally she declared, "But I can promise with my life that the soldiers of Southwest Emissary's Garrison will definitely receive treatment befitting of the achievements you have accomplished. To be a soldier means absolute obedience. Even if one day, Yan Bei is to order my death, you must give the killing blow ruthlessly. Only then are you worthy to be truly called a soldier."
The heavens instantly went completely silent. The dim moonlight shone down from above, illuminating the slowly billowing clothes of the young woman. She firmly reaffirmed her declaration, "I will not agree to become your leader, but I want to remind you of a fact. Yan Bei only has one leader that you should be faithful to. And that person is Yan Xun."
Under the bask of the silvery moon, along with her fluttering clothes, Chu Qiao seemed like a goddess for a split second. The soldiers could only stare at her in reverence as they were all lost for words. She seemed to have embedded her speech with magic.
"Missy, what about you?"
"Me? I will fight alongside you. I have my own dreams and ambitions."
"What is Missy's ambition?"
The corners of Chu Qiao's mouth curled upwards, as her serious expression was replaced with one of happiness and hope. "While I am still alive, I want to see him reign supreme in this world."
As though it was all a coincidence, the moment she said those words, a strong gust of wind suddenly blew, and carried these words toward the North, rustling the distant forests before disappearing into the distance.
"Missy!" A voice resounded from the distance, and a scout returned with his shoulder bleeding. "We have been ambushed at the front!"
"Ambushed?" He Xiao immediately stood up and loudly asked, "Who were they? What is their strength?"
"Only seven men, and it was unclear who they were. Before we could ask, they already brandished their blades, ready to fight."
Chu Qiao stood up and grimly said, "Go, bring us there."
The soldiers of the Southwest Emissary's Garrison all stood up as well, and following the young women in front, rushed forth.
30 men against seven, the results was obvious before the combat had even begun. By the time Chu Qiao arrived, the scouts had already apprehended the seven assailants. As it was still unclear who sent these soldiers, they had not killed anyone, but almost everyone had been injured, and it was an unsightly mess.
With a quick glance, Chu Qiao felt they were familiar, but before she could open her mouth, one of those men shouted in joy, "It is Miss Chu!"
Chu Qiao frowned, and asked, "You recognize me?"
"I am the subordinate of AhJing, Song Qian!"
"You were sent by AhJing!" Chu Qiao instantly understood, and told the others, "They are friendlies. Seems like it was a misunderstanding."
He Xiao was surprised as well. Having just arrived in Yan Bei, he was already anxious. But the first thing that happened was conflict with the local troops, how could he not be scared? He quickly untied those men, and tried to make things up to them.
"What are you doing? Wearing these civilian uniform? Are you on a mission?" Chu Qiao asked.
Upon hearing that, their faces turned pale. Song Qian thought for a second, and awkwardly replied, "Missy, we are on a mission. Please hurry to Xi Ma Liang. His highness has been waiting for you, and still has not left."
The soldiers of Southwest Emissary's Garrison all heaved a sigh of relief when they heard that. Prince Yan had taken this huge risk of waiting for all of them. Could he really have not wanted to abandon them back at the capital, and Miss Chu had been telling the truth all along?
Chu Qiao did not have show any sign of happiness, and frowned instead. She asked, "What mission are you on?"
"Missy, it is a secret mission." Song Qian tried to cover it. "We do not even dare to wear our uniforms. It is a bit difficult to say it with so many people around."
"What is there that cannot be said?" The young women frowned even deeper, and sternly warned them, "When the Prince does something, he will never lie to me. Right now, we are starting a battle with the royal capital, only to see you trying to secretly head toward the direction of the enemy. What exactly is your mission?"
Her fury completely stunned those men. Song Qian was trembling as he struggled to come up with an excuse, but was unable to produce anything from his mouth.
"Confess! Are you spies by the Empire!"
"We are not!"
Whoosh! Chu Qiao drew her blade, and her eyes turned cold with ruthlessness. "Tell me, are you, or are you not?"
Song Qian was already terrified. He dropped on all fours and confessed, "Missy, we are not spies. We are merely obeying the orders to protect Thirteenth Prince back to the capital!"
"Thirteenth Prince?" Chu Qiao's look changed. "What did you say? Where is he?"
"He is…he is…"
"Where?" The cold steel of the blade pressed onto Song Qian's neck. The young woman's face was already completely devoid of any sympathy, ready to kill anytime.
"He is…over there!"
Chu Qiao's expression remained frigid as she walked toward the direction Song Qian pointed to, taking big strides. After brushing aside a thick layer of grass, a giant cave appeared. Holding torches, the inside of the cave was clear as day. And upon seeing it, everyone was completely pale.
Chu Qiao stood in front of the cave, and her hand gripped her sword tightly. Her brow was completely locked together, and her chest violently heaved up and down, trying to suppress the overwhelming bloodlust within her.
Three naked Yan Bei soldiers panickedly looked at Chu Qiao and were trembling non-stop. Behind them was a woman, her clothes already torn to pieces, her body tied up and her face swollen. Dried blood could be seen at the corner of her mouth, and her hair was ruffled up like a bird nest. Her entire body showed signs of abuse, and her lower body was a soggy mess. She laid there without any movement, and if not for the groans of despair that could occasionally be heard coming from her throat, one would think that she was already dead. Her tears had already been dried into two streaks down her cheeks.
At the end of the cave, a man who was left with only one arm, was unconscious in a corner. The ropes that tied him up had already rubbed off one layer of skin, and his entire body was a bloody wreck. With just one glance, one could tell how much he had struggled. Right now, even fainted, one could see his face grimacing in overwhelming rage!
"You three, come out." Chu Qiao's voice was hoarse, like a broken recorder. The surrounding soldiers were completely stunned by the tone of her voice, and turned their gazes at her.
The young women very quietly repeated herself as she pointed at the three men inside the cave. She said, "Yes, you three."
The three men ran out holding their clothes. The soldiers of Southwest Emissary's Garrison avoided them like the plague.
Whoosh! With a quick strike, a head flew up in the sky. The blood from his neck spurted up into the sky like a fountain. The other two soldiers were aghast, and prepared to fight back with their weapons. Seeing that, Xiao He drew his blade as well, and walked up.
"Xiao He," stepping on the corpse, Chu Qiao walked toward the cave after completing her sentence, "give this two a painful death."
The sounds of fighting began, but Chu Qiao could no longer be bothered. She tried to obscure the cave from the rest by using those tall grass, and walked into the cave that reeked of lust. Standing beside Zhao Chun'er, she tried to piece back her clothes which were in tatters.
"Lady! Pardon us! AHH!!" A shriek of anguish could be heard, and soon the two soldiers were pleading desperately for their lives again. The threat of death made them lose their composure. They shouted in desperation, "This was ordered by his highness! We are merely following orders!"
"Lady! Forgive us!"
A teardrop fell from Zhao Chun'er's eyes. Trailing along her pristine white skin, it fell on her body, and flowed past those vulgar traces. Like a broken doll, her tears started flowing again. Right now, her brain was completely blank. Those pure and innocent days were like the wind in the winter, leaving from her life forever. Memories of those good days had never seemed so ironic, showing her how naively stupid she was. She tightly bit her lips as the tears continued to flow, while she tried not to cry out loud.
Chu Qiao's hand became stiff as she listened to the noise outside. She lowered her head, but no matter how she tried, she could not piece those torn clothes together. Chu Qiao's eyes reddened, and her face had never seemed so pale. Chu Qiao undid her own outer robe and put it on Zhao Chun'er before moving to her back, and combing her hair.
"Can you still stand?" Chu Qiao stood in front of Zhao Chun'er and quietly asked.
Zhao Chun'er finally had a slight response. She lifted her head and looked toward Chu Qiao. Chu Qiao stretched out her hand and continued, "I will bring you out. I will bring you home."
Suddenly, an intense hatred flashed before Zhao Chun'er's eyes. She grabbed her hands, and she opened her mouth. Like a maddened beast, she bit her!
Flesh blood flow down Chu Qiao's wrist, and drop by drop, dripped onto Zhao Chun'er clothes. This deranged women continued to bite with all her strength, and refused to loosen up. Chu Qiao clenched her teeth in pain, but slowly squatted down, and with her free hand, she embraced Zhao Chun'er. At that moment, tears poured out from her eyes as well. With her hoarse voice, she said, "I am sorry, I am sorry."
"Uu… Wahh!" Loosening her jaws, Zhao Chun'er finally stopped trying to suppress her sorrow. At the top of her lungs, she started to bawl. The prideful princess now seemed so worthless, as her body had been completely ravaged by those barbarians. She hugged this women whom she had hated for eight whole years, and howled in wretchedness, "Why? Why was I treated like that? Die! Die!"
Chu Qiao motionlessly let herself be hit by Zhao Chun'er, as she turned her gaze to the man who had fainted in a pool of blood. Looking at his grimacing face and tightly locked eyebrows, she was unable to relate this man to the youth in her memories. So many bits and pieces of memories flashed before her eyes like a thunderstorm. In one of which the handsome young man stood before her grinning from ear to ear. "AhChu, I am finally of age to build my own palace, and to marry!"