Liang Shaoqing was slightly moved. After a long while in thought, he said, "You're left with this. If you give it all to me, what about you?"
"I'll be fine," Chu Qiao smiled and replied. "If not for me, you wouldn't be in this state. Although it was partly your fault, I can't deny any responsibility. Keep it. Be careful in future, and don't meddle in other affairs."
Liang Shaoqing did not talk back. He held the banknotes in his hands, remaining silent.
Chu Qiao took a deep breath and leaned on a pillar. She gazed at the moonlight outside, the look in her eyes serene. Her normally fierce look had been shed; what was left was a more demure appearance.
Liang Shaoqing looked up and gave her a peculiar look. Suddenly, he blurted out, "Where are you going?"
"Me? I'm going home."
"You live in the Tang state?"
"No," the young lady shook her head lightly. "My home is far away. I still have a long way to go."
"It's not peaceful now. You're a girl, you have to exercise extra caution."
Chu Qiao smiled, remaining silent. Her look was gentle, her eyelashes were long, forming small shadows on her face in the moonlight. Liang Shaoqing, seeing that she did not answer, added, "I'm going to the Tang state."
Chu Qiao responded softly, "Oh."
Liang Shaoqing's voice suddenly sounded joyful, as if he was describing a big achievement. "I'm going to Tang Jing to visit Old Mister, Cao Zhongmou."
"Cao Zhongmou, the senior scholar in the Tang State's ceremonial department?"
"Yes! You know him too?"
Chu Qiao nodded. "Mister Cao is unrivaled in poetry. His name is well-known everywhere."
"You're right," Liang Shaoqing said. "I've journeyed a long distance just to visit him. I must see him personally, face to face."
"It's good to have someone to idolize. However, it's not necessary to be near him. It would be a pity if you left empty-handed."
"Why would that be?" Liang Shaoqing was annoyed. "Mister Cao is scholarly and well-known. Why would I be disappointed?"
"Is he?" Chu Qiao laughed and said, "I wish you all the best then."
The wind outside drifted into the temple, causing the torches on the ground to clatter. Liang Shaoqing thought for a long while before probing, "Why are the officials after you?"
Chu Qiao did not look up. "Don't you know?"
Liang Shaoqing was stunned. "What do I know?"
The young lady was unimpressed. "Didn't you say it? I'm a kleptomaniac. You're right, I got caught stealing, so they are after me."
Liang Shaoqing was dumbfounded. Chu Qiao turned around and smiled. She said, "Correct. The food you're eating, the banknotes you're holding, I stole them all. The money I used the first time I bailed you out, I stole it. You know your plight now. Do you still want to refuse the money and food, like an upright, seven-foot-tall gentleman?"
"I…I…" Liang Shaoqing stuttered for a long while. Chu Qiao laughed, giving a radiant smile. Her white teeth nearly blinded the scholar's eyes.
In this instant, Chu Qiao suddenly frowned, the smile disappearing from her face. She turned around fiercely, her primal instincts taking over. She perked her ears up, detecting countless footsteps approaching the temple from the distance.
At this moment, Liang Shaoqing sensed that there was something amiss. Nervously, he leaned over and whispered, "Is it Boss Mu?"
Chu Qiao did not reply, discounting this possibility in her heart. Given Boss Mu's capabilities, he would never be able to mobilize such a large army. In addition, the footsteps of the people approaching showed that they were well-trained in martial arts. She stood up slowly, feeling for her sword. Slowly, she said, "You must follow behind me. Whether you live or die is up to you."
As she spoke, a silver gleam suddenly appeared in front of her. Danger! With great agility, she moved her body to the side and dodged the sword flying towards her. With a thud, the sword landed in the chest of the unknown assailant. A cry of agony erupted from outside. The opposition was hell-bent on killing her. There was bound to be danger this night!
"Follow me!" Chu Qiao hissed. With a somersault, she made her way to the window, brandishing her long sword to welcome the flurry of arrows. Noisy footstep sounds echoed by the door. A swarm of arrows, like hornets, flew towards the two of them. Countless shadows dashed into the temple. Without a sound, they brandished their swords to begin their assault!
The moonlight was bright. Two men, dressed in black, approached Chu Qiao. Before she had time to react, one of them held his sword at her head.
Retaliation! A grab at the wrist! Chu Qiao's moves were electrifying. With the sounds of bones breaking and swords falling, the men in black fell on the ground, screaming in agony.
"Fool! Follow me!" Chu Qiao grabbed Liang Shaoqing, who had been scared out of his wits. She leaped up and kicked another man ruthlessly in the chest. The sounds of bones breaking were heard again. The man spit out a mouthful of blood, falling backward a great distance. The young lady moved swiftly, drawing her sword again. With great survival instincts, she rushed forward, dodging the enemy exquisitely and retaliating with precise blows. In an instant, the remaining people were scared of the young lady, not daring to approach her.
"Attack! Attack!" The leader ordered his subordinates, who were stepping back. Chu Qiao turned her head to look at him coldly, giving a sinister smile. She took her last dagger out, and threw it at the man, hitting him with precision. The man's eyes widened, and he collapsed on the floor.
The entrance of the temple was narrow. Not many people could enter the temple at one time. Wherever Chu Qiao moved, there was a mess everywhere. She killed all of the men with a single stroke each. What was important was that Chu Qiao did not have any weapons with her; she depended on her limbs. However, it was enough to kill the enemy. At that moment, she was invincible; it was a sight to behold.
Suddenly, Liang Shaoqing let out a cry behind her. Without thinking, Chu Qiao turned back, feeling an acute pain in her left rib. Before she had time to check on her injury, she used the Poyue Sword, which she held in her hand, to hack off the head of her assailant. Blood splattered onto Liang Shaoqing's face. The timid scholar, who had never even slaughtered a chicken, let out a loud cry, louder than that of the guy whose head had been chopped off!
The young lady was unbelievably fast despite being injured. Her petite frame moved around with agility in the narrow, confined space. Shortly, the bodies of the enemy littered the floor.
"Hold me tight!" the young lady suddenly hissed. Before Liang Shaoqing had time to respond, another big group of enemies approached from the distance. The man could not comprehend why a slave seller would go to such great lengths to apprehend him. Chu Qiao unfastened the harness around her waist, throwing it over the pillar on the roof. She leaped onto the roof using the rope as a support. Liang Shaoqing could not grab onto her in time.
Another flurry of arrows approached the both of them. Chu Qiao squatted on the pillar, using the hook on the rope to grab onto Liang Shaoqing. She held the other side of the rope tightly, jumping down onto the ground. In a flash, they had exchanged places!
"Quick! Release the arrows!"
"Hold the rope!" Chu Qiao ordered. She tugged at the rope, climbing onto the roof with a few swift motions. An arrow embedded itself in her shoulder, causing blood to gush out.
"Ah! You're injured!"
"Cut the crap!" Chu Qiao hissed. She dislodged a tile on the roof, climbing out while holding Liang Shaoqing.
The arrows lodged themselves into the pillar. Another voice echoed, "The target has escaped through the roof. After them!" However, Chu Qiao was nowhere to be seen when they got onto the roof. The men in black stared at each other, removing their outfits after a while. They said in fury, "She escaped despite this trap! We have lived in vain all these years!" Under their black outfits was a layer of military outfits.
Another man shook his head, saying, "We have suffered many casualties at Tang Ma Ridge. If she was a normal lady, the capital wouldn't have promised us such luxuries."
"In my opinion, it's fine if we give up."
"We shall continue." The man shook his head and said, "It's going to be even harder to catch her in future."
"How are you?" In the darkness, Liang Shaoqing carried Chu Qiao, walking along a narrow alley. The injury on her shoulder was manageable, but the one on her left rib was serious. Blood oozed non-stop out of her wound.
Chu Qiao grunted and gritted her teeth. "Put me down."
"Put me down!" The young lady said sternly. "They did not chase after us."
"Who said we did not chase after you!" A low voice suddenly boomed out in the darkness. The two of them were shocked to see Boss Mu walking out, accompanied by over 20 men.
Liang Shaoqing exclaimed, "It's you all right!"
Boss Mu did not even stare at him in the eye. His gaze was fixed on Chu Qiao instead. Smiling, he said, "Rascal! You have many enemies, yes? I've been trying to find you. I never expected it to be this easy."
Liang Shaoqing stood up and reached out both his arms to defend Chu Qiao. With gusto, he retorted, "Capture me if you want! Don't hurt her!"
"Don't hurt her?" Boss Mu sneered. "I won't let anyone off!
"Men! Capture this rascal. He looks quite handsome. He will be able to fetch a good price."
The men advanced forward, subduing the heavily injured Chu Qiao and the defenseless Liang Shaoqing with ease.
Boss Mu waved his hand, gesturing. "Let's go! Back to the market!"