The cold wind blew against them, making Shen Yi Yao’s cheeks hurt.
She was unable to raise her head due to the penetrating winds, and could only bury her face into Lady Hui’s shoulders.
“Lady Hui, are we able to escape?”
Their pursuers chased after them persistently. Luckily Lady Hui was agile and she was also fast enough. Although it took a lot of effort, they were able to maintain their distance for now.
The masked men in black on horses could only shoot their arrows from far away to vent their anger. However, due to the distance and the heavy wind, it was hard for them to hit their target. Lady Hui’s face wasn’t flushed and she wasn’t breathing hard as she sprinted. Her ears perked up and the whip in her hand seemed to have grown eyes as she flicked it behind her and knocked the arrows from the sky.
“Don’t worry madam. I’ve set off a Cloudpiercing Arrow. Our reinforcements will soon arrive.”
After Luo Huai Yuan created the Cloudpiercing Arrow, he had given the Zhenguo Duke a batch. Just in case, he had also given one to Lady Hui. Unexpectedly, it truly came in handy today.
However, Lady Hui wasn’t telling the truth. This place was too far from the capital. Even if the Cloudpiercing Arrow was sent out, she was afraid no one would see it. The reason she released it was just to scare the enemies into thinking they had reinforcements, while also leaving behind a lifeline for Xue-shi and Cui Qiao.
As for their own lifeline, it would depend on her efforts.
Their pursuers were gaining on them. Even though Lady Hui’s lightweight arts was extraordinary, her stamina was already wearing thin. Especially since she was carrying another person on her back.
As the distance grew shorter, the arrows that were shot over increased as well. Lady Hui had gone from occasionally waving her whip to doing so continuously. Occasionally, there were thuds that sounded out as the arrows buried themselves into the wooden board on Shen Yi Yao’s back. The impacts interrupted Lady Hui’s rhythm and caused her to stagger.
Shen Yi Yao who was on her back could feel all of this.
Lady Hui was burning with anxiety.
If she wasn’t carrying someone, she would have long since escaped. Carrying someone was like wearing shackles, making her movements less agile and also making her worry whether Shen Yi Yao would get injured. After all, the wooden board only covered her head and back. The rest of her was exposed. Otherwise, Lady Hui wouldn’t have to bother blocking the arrows.
She looked at the dense trees on the side of the road and her heart stirred.
She was outnumbered and they had horses. It seemed like relying on her efforts to escape wouldn’t be possible. It was better to stall for time and see if she could wait for reinforcements. Hopefully some of the guards were able to escape and get help from the capital.
“Madam, keep yourself covered. Lady Hui has decided to go into the woods.”
Shen Yi Yao quietly let out an “en” and shrunk herself lower.
After speaking, Lady Hui changed directions and dived into the dense forest.
The terrain within the trees was rugged, but that came with its benefits. It meant that the horses couldn’t follow. Although Lady Hui had to slow down, their enemies had to do the same.
The pursuers saw Lady Hui enter the forest and abandoned their horses, pursuing on foot.
Over by the carriages, the masked men had divided their forces. The majority pursued Lady Hui while a small group remained behind to battle with the guards.
Soon, one of those guards signaled with his hand and they scattered in all directions.
These ambushers were ruthless and their methods were sinister. Based on their method of attack, they were clearing trying to wipe everyone out. In a group battle, Shen Yi Yao’s guards were naturally no match. However, if they fought individually, especially with the goal of escaping, they weren’t able to stop them.
In the blink of an eye, those who were still able to run had escaped, leaving behind a field of corpses.
The masked men started clearing the scene. They took away the bodies of their group while two of them went to check on the situation in the carriage. One of them went towards Shen Yi Yao’s carriage. It was already full of damage, with arrows sticking out of it like a large hedgehog.
The doors of the carriage had remained obstinately in place, though it looked a little wretched with a couple of holes. He pulled the door open and saw two women inside. They had arrows sticking out of them and lay in a pool of blood. After looking at their appearances, the man in black slammed the door shut with a bang.
“The boss was right. They weren’t trying to lure us away.”
Actually, these people had suspected they were trying to lure the tiger from the mountain at first. However, the boss knew that their target had a woman skilled in martial arts beside her. When Lady Hui appeared and then fled, the large group of people were hesitating whether or not to pursue. They thus left behind a small group to avoid being tricked.
This was also why those guards had been able to escape. They weren’t the targets. These people were after Shen Yi Yao who was taken away by Lady Hui. They had seen a portrait of her before and neither of these women in the carriage were her.
The boss gave the order and the group vanished into the forest.
After a long, long time, Xue-shi who was lying in the pool of blood suddenly opened her eyes. She gritted her teeth and sat up, nudging Cui Qiao with her hand.
Cui Qiao climbed up and said with a trembling voice: “Eldest madam, your idea was truly effective.”
Heavens knew how scared she had been just then. She was terrified her act would be discovered. She could only keep the eldest madam’s words in mind as she pretended she was already dead.
Xue-shi smiled bitterly: “It was just a desperate gamble.”
Xue-shi had started racking her brains when she heard Lady Hui’s parting words. She knew Lady Hui was leaving them a lifeline, but this lifeline needed to be seized.
Seeing the enemy split up and their guards escaping in all directions, Xue-shi had a flash of inspiration and picked up two arrows from the carriage. She cushioned some silk inside her clothes and stabbed the arrow inside, making it seem like she had gotten shot. To make it more realistic, she and Cui Qiao had both used the arrowhead to cut their arms, wiping a lot of blood in the area and then sprinkling it around them.
The two of them felt dizzy. A small amount of blood wouldn’t have been useful. In order to make it convincing, they had gone all out. The wounds of their wrists couldn’t be stemmed by handkerchiefs.
Cui Qiao was unable to stand up either due to fear or loss of blood.
Seeing Xue-shi in the same predicament, she couldn’t help but laugh bitterly: ‘Eldest madam. Don’t tell me we’ve escaped these villains’ blades only to bleed out?”
Xue-shi repeatedly said “Pei”1. At this moment, she appeared bedraggled and her hair was a mess. She looked extremely wretched. The usually neat person now appeared listless, her lips pale.
“That shouldn’t be the case. Sis-in-law’s guards should still return.”
These words were actually just Xue-shi comforting herself. Those guards were for Shen Yi Yao’s protection. Now that she had been taken away by Lady Hui with her survival uncertain, how could they come back to look for them?
Blood continued to flow out from her wrist. Xue-shi couldn’t help but regret her impetuousness a little. However, there hadn’t been time to consider things thoroughly. Having escaped one danger, they now encountered another.
There seemed to be the faint sound of voices. Xue-shi quivered.
“Cui Qiao, listen. Is someone coming?”
Cui Qiao shook her head in a daze but couldn’t shake herself awake.
At this moment, the doors of the carriage were opened. Two extremely wretched figures appeared.
From their appearance, they were two of the guards who had escaped earlier.
“Eldest madam, the two of you are still alive? Your wounds are serious. Let this subordinate treat you.”
The two men leaped into the carriage and lifted Xue-shi up, examining the wound on her chest.
Xue-shi gathered her spirits and shook her head: “This wound is fake. She pulled the arrow out from her chest and threw it aside. She then lifted her arm. “This is the life-threatening wound. She’s the same way.”
The two of them were astonished, but they understood what was going on. They marveled at Xue-shi’s intelligence and hurriedly took out blood-clotting powder, pouring it onto their wounds.
There was a sizzle as Xue-shi cried out in pain. Cui Qiao had teared up on the side.
One of the guards explained: “This medicine is painful but it’s extremely good at stopping bleeding.”
Seeing that their wounds were no longer bleeding, they poured some more on it before wrapping it up lightly.
“How is sis-in-law? Did some of you follow behind them? It’s probably very hard for Lady Hui to escape by herself.”
The guard’s expression froze. “We escaped separately and regrouped afterwards. We already sent two people back to the capital and another two to chase after them. The two of us were sent to check for survivors.”
“All dead?” Cui Qiao asked with a pale face.
The guard nodded silently.
Actually it wasn’t unexpected. The reason Xue-shi and Cui Qiao survived was because of Xue-shi’s idea, but mostly because the carriage was truly extremely sturdy. There were almost no arrows that managed to penetrate it. The only arrows that fell in had entered through the window.
The other two carriages for the servants couldn’t compare. They had long since been turned into hedgehogs.
Xue-shi gritted her teeth in anger: “If I find out who is responsible, I will definitely skin them and swallow them whole!”
Afterwards, the people got off the carriage. One of them went to see if they could find people or horses to take them back to the capital.
The other accompanied Xue-shi and Cui QIao as they hid in the trees. The scene was extremely tragic, and it was also in the middle of the road. It was truly eye-catching. It would be good if they encountered someone kindhearted, but they might also encounter someone who would loot a burning house. Since they were all injured, it was better to remain hidden.
Shen Yi Yao had lost count of how many times her face and arms had been scratched by branches, but she didn’t dare to make a sound.
Lady Hui was in a sorrier state then her. She was covered in dirt and her face was full of scratches.
The people behind were pursuing closely. Lady Hui had used all sorts of methods to try and escape but those people refused to be shaken off. During this time, Shen Yi Yao had told Lady Hui countless times to leave her and escape by herself, but Lady Hui had ignored her.
Shen Yi Yao’s tears had left tracks that dried and then turned wet again.
The sound of voices rang out along with a few more arrows. Because of Shen Yi Yao on her back, Lady Hui could only forcibly knock the rain of arrows down. She turned on her heel and dove into the trees once again.
One of the pursuers couldn’t help but curse: “This woman is really like an undying cockroach.”
The person next to him smiled contemptuously: “Her stamina is already lacking. This place is far from the capital. Even if they had reinforcements, we have sufficient time to eliminate the target before they arrive. Everyone should move a little faster. Don’t lose them.”
The two people who were sent back had gone separately in case the enemy still had backup to block them.
One of them was quite lucky, encountering a mule-drawn carriage on the way. He pounced over, seized the mule and left behind a piece of silver before rushing off. He completely ignored the owner’s crying and shouting.
This guard’s morals were pretty good, but unfortunately he wasn’t familiar with the market price. A good mule was worth around twenty to thirty taels. The silver he threw over was only worth around five taels. No wonder that person was crying and cursing his mom.
As he approached the capital, he took out a signal flare from his robes. He lit it and threw it into the air.
This was the method of communication for the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Although it wasn’t as amazing as Luo Huai Yuan’s Cloudpiercing Arrow, it was still pretty useful. They were grouped into many different colors, and each color had its own meaning. The red flare he set off this time indicated a matter of extreme urgency.
This sort of flare was something only the masters and mistresses’ personal guards possessed. There were countless people under the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Quite a lot of them recognized this signal and they would naturally hurry over to help.
Coincidentally, one of the capital’s major troop’s three thousandth barracks had a group of people training in the outskirts. The leader was one of Shen Ding’s subordinates. He was naturally able to recognize the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s signal flare. Seeing the urgent red color, he hurriedly ordered one of his soldiers to go and investigate.
When that soldier returned, there was someone sitting behind him on the horse. That person was extremely bedraggled and full of injuries, but he wore the outfit of the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s guards.
Petty Officer Chen hurriedly called that person over, and the guard reported everything.
When he heard that the old duke’s precious pearl was ambushed on her trip, all her guards were dead or wounded and her survival wasn’t certain, Petty Officer Chen immediately cursed “fucking bastard, which son of a bitch ate a leopard’s guts?” and waved his hand, preparing his troops to go to the rescue.
The soldiers were readily available and after ordering someone to report to the Zhenguo Duke Estate, Petty Officer Chen took his soldiers and followed behind the guard.
There were quite a lot of people in this group, around two hundred or so. There were both infantry and cavalry. The mounted soldiers went ahead while those on foot ran after them.
They were quite a sight as they thundered along the road. Those who were unaware might assume that a mob had broken out somewhere that needed to be suppressed.
By the time the Shen household received the news, the matter was already being wrapped up.
Those men in black were extremely cunning. They seemed to have arranged sentries. By the time the people from the three thousandth barracks rushed over aggressively, the group had already vanished. There were no traces left behind.
Lady Hui was already spent. When she saw her pursuers disappear, she had thought it was a trick and didn’t stop running for their lives until she ran into the soldiers who were looking for them.
Xue-shi’s group had long since been found. After seeing Shen Yi Yao, the two hugged each other and cried.
The person who came from the Shen household was Shen Ding. The Zhenguo Duke hadn’t been in the estate because the emperor had called him to the palace.
After Shen Ding arrived, he saw his sister’s messy hair, unsteady feet and face filled with scratches. After finding out what had happened, he couldn’t help but suddenly grow furious. Since everyone was injured, they didn’t dare delay and took Shen Ding’s carriage back to the capital.
After getting back to the Zhenguo Duke Estate, the Zhenguo Duke had already sent Yan Yan and Luo Huai Yuan the news.
“There wasn’t the slightest trace remaining?”
Shen Ding furrowed his brows tightly and shook his head. “I had my subordinates basically dig three feet into the dirt. This group was weird and their actions were vicious. They were extremely disciplined. It’s said that they had their own dead and injured, but none of the bodies were left behind.”
The Zhenguo Duke slammed the table in his anger, and it immediately split apart.
Not only was Shen Ding and his wife unmoved by this, Luo Huai Yuan, Yan Yan and even the servants on the side didn’t blink an eye. Over the years, the amount of tables the Zhenguo Duke had broken was countless. It was no longer anything new.
The Zhenguo Duke laughed coldly: “Within the capital, there are only a few who are able to use such a method. It has to be one of those people. But why would they target Yao’er?”
He had naturally thought about the reason. However, Shen Yi Yao was a woman who never left the inner residence, and she was also extremely kind. She never formed grudges with anyone, let alone those few people with the power to do something like this. The Zhenguo Duke couldn’t help but wonder if this was actually a move against the Zhenguo Duke Estate.
Shen Ding thought about it and shook his head.
Yan Yan’s expression was rigid. She wanted to speak but hesitated.
Luo Huai Yuan saw this and said: “If you have some suspicions, you should voice them.”
Yan Yan looked at the Zhenguo Duke and said something to Luo Huai Yuan.
Luo Huai Yuan put on an astonished appearance: “You suspect it has something to do with that matter?”
The Zhenguo Duke couldn’t help but ask: “What matter?”
Luo Huai Yuan smiled and didn’t conceal anything: “It’s nothing much. Little Ah Yan had just accidentally let that matter slip to mother-in-law.”
That matter? What matter could be called “that matter” by you?
The Zhenguo Duke frowned and gave Second Madam Shen a glance.
She went into the inner room.
At this moment, Shen Yi Yao was inside laying on the bed. The Zhenguo madam was accompanying her.
After a while, Second Madam Shen came out and said: “Little sis-in-law had truly argued with Yan Ting about that matter. The two of them had a huge falling out. Yan Ting seemed deranged and almost injured sis-in-law. Luckily Lady Hui was there.”
Another bang sounded and the small table on the Zhenguo Duke’s other side also shattered.
Luo Huai Yuan twitched his mouth. This was the third table he had seen him smash.
“Bastard, bastard, he’s really a bastard. This old man didn’t eradicate that scourge since Yan Yan had just gotten married. He’s really great, even making a move on Yao’er.”
Yan Yan stood up with a swish. Luo Huai Yuan hurriedly held her fast.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to kill him!” These words were spoken through gritted teeth. It was sufficient to show just how angry she was.
“Enough, enough.” Luo Huai Yuan pulled her back into her chair. “Even if he has to die, it won’t be your turn to make a move.”
Shen Ding revealed some doubts: “Yan Ting doesn’t have such influence. How could he have so many deathsworn warriors under him?”
The Zhenguo Duke sneered disdainfully: “He doesn’t, but that lover of his does!”
At these words, everyone’s face turned red.
Luo Huai Yuan praised the Zhenguo Duke in his heart. Older ginger was spicier after all. This old man was even able to figure out such a complicated relationship. Luo Huai Yuan had actually suspected Xu Xiang Rong already, but that was based on all his accumulated observations. Unexpectedly, the Zhenguo Duke had deduced the same thing.
This was truly a possibility. The relationship between male lovers was always hard to understand.
Xu Xiang Rong was sinister and cunning, and he planned far ahead. He was cautious in everything he did. He actually went against the Zhenguo Duke Estate for Yan Ting’s sake? Could this be true love?
Luo Huai Yuan sat there happily letting his imagination wander, his expression frighteningly weird. Every now and then, he would chuckle mischievously.
Yan Yan couldn’t take his weird appearance and secretly pinched his waist. Luo Huai Yuan grimaced in pain and scrunched up his face. His eyes begged for forgiveness, his appearance extremely comical.
Keep pretending! She clearly didn’t use any force!
On the other side, the Zhenguo Duke, Shen Ding and his wife were still analyzing the situation.
“Xu Xiang Rong doesn’t seem to be such an impulsive person. Especially since sis-in-law divorcing Yan Ting doesn’t conflict with him at all. How could he send assassins to kill her? Furthermore, he’s always been cautious and far-sighted. At this time, Senior Concubine Xu’s and the empress’s factions are struggling fiercely. The Jingguo Duke has made a huge fuss about the second prince not leaving for his vassal state. How could they have time to deal with a weak woman? Furthermore, would they risk offending our household at such a time?” Second Madam Shen said.
Shen Ding muttered to himself and said: “Xu Xiang Rong doesn’t have the time, but that doesn’t mean Yan Ting isn’t free. As Xu Xiang Rong’s, cough cough, trusted aide, it shouldn’t be hard to send his deathsworn warriors on a small mission.”
If Yan Ting was really responsible, it meant that his relationship with Xu Xiang Rong was extraordinary. Just based on this, it would seem Yan Ting had already entered Senior Concubine Xu’s inner circle.
Everyone understood what this meant.
The Zhenguo Duke clenched his fist and muttered: “Yan Ting can no longer be left alive.”
Since this matter had a lot of implications and the Shen household didn’t want it to get out, they didn’t report it to the authorities.
The cleanup was left to Shen Ding’s subordinates. However, while such a large matter could be kept from the public, it couldn’t be kept from the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. So many of the estate’s servants had died so this matter caused quite the stir.
The old madam lying in the Rongan Hall almost fell off the bed laughing. Especially hearing that those villains were after Shen Yi Yao, she was filled with schadenfreude. She even said that the heavens finally had eyes and was dealing with this pest. She also said it was best if Yan Yan could be taken care of at the same time.
Regardless, the old madam whose temper had become violent after being bedridden was in an unusually good mood today.
The third branch’s Chen-shi’s had a similar reaction. Since she was in a bad spot, she couldn’t bear seeing others doing well. Now that someone else was in a bad spot, she was extremely happy. Such dark thoughts were quite plentiful.
However, for the sake of appearances, she still had to go check on them. Since Shen Yi Yao was still at the Zhenguo Duke Estate, the fish in the pond who had suffered calamity, Xue-shi, had to accept this visitation.
The news had also reached Yan Ting’s ears.
After finding out about it, his expression was extremely ugly. He didn’t go to the Zhenguo Duke Estate, and went to the private residence instead.
“Trash, a bunch of trash!”
Xu Xiang Rong who was sitting behind the desk had a sunken expression. His usual smile was nowhere to be seen.
“So many people yet you couldn’t catch two women. Tell me, what use are you!?”
The ordinary-looking man standing there cupped his hands and lowered his head without moving. He didn’t dare argue.
“Was everything swept clean?”
“Lord heir can rest assured. I guarantee they won’t find anything.”
Xu Xiang Rong nodded his head and had him leave.
As the person left, he happened to run into Yan Ting. Yan Ting gave him a glance and went past him into the study.
“What did you come at this time?”
Xu Xiang Rong leaned against his chair, his graceful and calm demeanor once again on display.
Yan Ting seemed to be a little stirred up. His expression was troubled and his breathing heavy.
“Was this matter done by you?”
He stared directly at him and spoke one word at a time: “My wife Shen-shi went to offer incense outside the city and was ambushed by a group of masked men in black.”
Xu Xiang Rong seemed a little astonished and said jokingly: “Who has such guts to make a move against the Zhenguo Duke’s precious pearl?”
Yan Ting breathed heavily and yelled: “Stop acting. It was you, wasn’t it?”
Xu Xiang Rong stopped smiling and looked at Yan Ting weirdly, “Why would I make a move against Shen-shi?”
This question completely stumped Yan Ting. He froze for a moment before roaring: “Regardless, you don’t have to concern yourself with my matters in the future!”
After speaking, he slammed the door and left.
Xu Xiang Rong sat there with a strange smile that remained for a long while.
After some time, the steward came in.
“Lord heir, do we need to give Lord Yan a heads up? The Zhenguo Duke Estate’s probably going to make a move.”
Xu Xiang Rong gave him a glance, “No need.”
The steward hurriedly lowered his head. “This subordinate spoke superfluously.”
Major spoilers for next chapter in second part of author’s notes.
Every time this author sees girls and maids get implicated by the female lead in stories, movies and on TV, I want to mock them. What are you hugging each other and yelling for? Don’t you know to act unconscious? Don’t you know to play dead? But instead it usually ends up like the following scene:
A sinister looking bearded large man rips open the carriage doors. Inside were two beautiful young misses (or beautiful young women) holding each other and screaming their heads off. That large man chuckles (or laughs vulgarly or cruelly). Either he kills the two of them with a single blow or he brings them back to his evil lair as his wife….
Just a joke. Back to the topic below.
Why would Yan Ting go question CEO Xu in humiliation? Why does the steward ask CEO Xu if they need to give Yan Ting a heads up, but CEO Xu said it wasn’t needed? Why did his attitude change so much? Why did he make a move when he shouldn’t? Why did he offend those who shouldn’t be offended? Why did he score an own goal? What is CEO Xu thinking?
The scummy dad dies in the next chapter. Everyone can discuss how he should die.
Actually this author has already decided how to deal with the scummy dad. Those who can put together the pieces and figure out this author’s plans will get a small reward (just a single sentence doesn’t count. The clues have to be all put together). Hahaha, we’ll treat it as a guessing game. I trust that with such smart people, there will definitely be people who guess it. There are so many plot geniuses….