Commander Sun was very satisfied with Xiaocao’s weak appearance. He said, “Mhm, compared with this little girl, you are less likely to arouse the suspicion of the traffickers. Rest assured, I will have the archers hide in ambush on top of the houses nearby. We will prioritize the safety of you and the children, and do our best to ensure that you won’t get hurt. But, you should also know that scene would become chaotic at that time and that the swords don’t have eyes… If you’re afraid, you can choose not to go…”
“No! I’ll go! My younger brother is still waiting for me to save him!!” Yu Xiaocao recalled the blood stain on the handkerchief. If her younger brother was injured, she had mystic-stone water in her hands that could give her younger brother and the children timely treatment.
Commander Sun revealed an admiring expression and nodded, “Women are indeed not inferior to men! Such a good child!”
After making all the arrangements, Commander Sun led a group of soldiers and anxiously searched around in the market. The child traffickers, who were hidden in the dark, observed their movements.
“Boss, I heard that the young master of the commander’s family is lost, so Commander Sun is personally searching for him with his men. As for the people from the yamen, a child was reported missing. Knowing this, the county magistrate sent the bailiffs out to patrol!” Old Fifth entered a dark alleyway, where Boss Yin was waiting with an unconscious child.
Touching the big mole on his face, Boss Yin said to Old Fifth, “Tell the brothers to act according to the circumstances. If things don’t work out, then return to the base camp first. There’s already a lot of goods, so there’s no need to take the risk.” Old Fifth replied in assent, probed his head out to look outside the alley, and then walked into the crowd with his hands clasped together as if nothing happened.
Commander Sun took his subordinates and shuttled through the market several times. After that, he had the soldiers split into groups and quietly hid near the rundown house that the children were locked in. They hid on the roofs and waited for his orders.
“Father, Mother…” Yu Xiaocao cried out as she walked slowly on a remote street, weeping. She was playing the role of a child who got separated from her parents. Today, she wore a semi-new cotton garment made of ordinary fabric. There weren’t any patches on her clothes, and she appeared clean and refreshing.
When parents took their children to the market, they usually took out their best clothes and put them on. In the eyes of the traffickers, she was a child from a family with decent living conditions in the village. They brought their child to play in the town, but she ended up getting lost in the crowd. How could the trafficker give up on such a good opportunity? She was soon targeted by one of the traffickers.
The trafficker had a fair and refined appearance, and he was dressed in a long robe. If he didn’t have a shifty gaze and an evil glint flashing through his eyes from time to time, he looked just like a student from an academy.
He walked in front of Yu Xiaocao with a warm and gentle smile, and softly said, “Little girl, did you get separated from your family?”
Yu Xiaocao blinked her eyes, which had turned red from her rubbing, and sniffed her nose. She glanced at him with a slightly timid gaze, and then lowered her head again. She nodded hastily and replied in a low voice, “Mhm…”
The refined-looking trafficker said, “Which village is your family from? I’ll see if any of my classmates came from the same village. Don’t be scared. I’m not a bad person. I’m a student from Qingfeng Academy. The school break just started today, so I came to buy New Year goods…”
Yu Xiaocao feigned a relaxed expression and named a village that was about thirty to forty kilometers away from town. She lifted her small face and said, “Our village’s Older Brother Li Lei is a student of Qingfeng Academy. Do you know him?”
“Of course I know him!” Seeing that his prey had been hooked, the trafficker quickly said, “It’s great that you know someone in our academy! Li Lei plans on going back tomorrow. Why don’t you come to the academy with me, and he can take you along when he goes back tomorrow? What do you think?”
“But…I need to find my parents…” Yu Xiaocao wiped the corner of her eyes with a handkerchief that was soaked in ginger juice. With tears flowing down her face unceasingly, she cried very pitifully.
The only doubt within the trafficker’s heart was also dispelled, and he inwardly rejoiced at his luck. He feigned a concerned expression and said, “There’s so many people on the street. You might not be able to find your parents even if you search until nightfall. Why don’t… we go get your Older Brother Li Lei and go search for your parents with you, okay?”
Yu Xiaocao nodded reluctantly. The trafficker led the way in front, and from time to time, he would turn his head to say a few words of comfort to her. Gradually, there were fewer and fewer people, and the streets were becoming more and more remote. Yu Xiaocao pretended to notice that there was something wrong, and asked with slight panic, “You… where are you taking me? This doesn’t look like the way to the academy?”
The trafficker forced out a slight smile and said, “The academy is where students study, so it’s naturally not located within the bustling market. We’ll reach Qingfeng Academy soon. Do you see that alleyway? It’s inside that alleyway.”
Yu Xiaocao shook her head and wanted to go back as she said, “When we came out, my father told me that I can’t follow a stranger, especially to a place with little people. Big brother, I’ll wait for you here while you go get Older Brother Li Lei…”
Seeing that they weren’t very far from the base camp and there wasn’t anyone in sight, the trafficker revealed a ferocious expression and sneered, “Now, there’s nothing you can do! Come with me obediently, or else don’t say that I didn’t warn you!!”
With eyes full of fear, Yu Xiaocao’s complexion was pale and she was about to run away. She was blocked by the trafficker after only running a few steps. He impatiently grabbed her arm, and then covered Yu Xiaocao’s mouth and nose with a dirty handkerchief.
[Be careful, there’s chloroform on the handkerchief!] The little divine stone warned her in her mind. Just as the handkerchief covered her nose, Yu Xiaocao held her breath, relaxed her body, and slowly fell down. Fortunately, the trafficker was holding her arm, so she didn’t fall on the ground.
“To refuse a toast only to be forced to drink as a forfeit!” The trafficker looked around, lifted his prey onto his shoulder, and swiftly entered the nearby alley. Most of the alleyways in Tanggu Town were connected. After making seven or eight turns, he soon reached the base camp where the children were locked.
After he carefully knocked a secret signal on the door, and the door quickly opened from within. Monkey was the one who opened the door. After letting the refined-looking trafficker in, he looked behind him again. Seeing that nothing was wrong, he carefully closed the door again.
“Scholar, good going! You brought another back! You got a total of four goods today, which is the most among the brothers. When you receive the payment, remember to treat us, brothers, to a drink ah!” Monkey laughed as he patted the refined-looking trafficker’s shoulder enviously.
‘Scholar’ chuckled and said, “Rest assured! The quality of the goods is pretty good this time, so they should be able to sell for a good price. At that time, I will treat you guys to a feast at Zhenxiu Restaurant!”
“Valiant! Straightforward! You’re indeed a good friend!!” Monkey walked beside him and said, “Among the goods, there’s a son of an official. It’s pretty risky on the streets, so many of the brothers have come back ahead of time. Only you and Boss Yin successfully caught a prey.”
‘Scholar’ also nodded and said, “There’s enough goods already, so it’s better to be more cautious. Boss made the right decision!!”
Little Black, who was hiding in the thicket, almost jumped out, ‘What’s going on? Did Master Xiaocao also get kidnapped? What should I do?’
The chain on the door made a loud noise. The child supporting Sun Yaoyang quickly let go of his feet and squatted in a corner. Monkey opened the door and looked at the huddled children with a frown. He walked in and nudged Wang Xiaonian, who had been beaten unconscious, with his feet. He angrily shouted at them, “Who beat him? Come out!! You beat him until he looks like a pig’s head. How am I supposed to sell him?”
The children huddled together, and didn’t dare to look at him. Monkey was so angry that he gnashed his teeth and pulled a child out, wanting to vent his anger by hitting him.
‘Scholar’ put Yu Xiaocao on the ground and stopped him, “We’re changing locations tonight. Don’t cause unnecessary trouble…”
Monkey threw the child to the ground, and the child fell down. With a pout on his face, he looked very pitiful, as if he wanted to cry but didn’t dare to cry. When Monkey and ‘Scholar’ was about to go out, a timid voice sounded among the children, “The one hanging up there is about to die…”
‘Scholar’ looked up and saw Sun Yaoyang’s white and bloodless complexion. His lips were ghastly pale, and he appeared to be unconscious. Thus, he quickly said to Monkey, “Take him down! He’s one of the better-quality goods. If something really happens, then we’re the ones at a loss!”
Monkey took out a dagger, which was the one he confiscated from Sun Yaoyang. He cut the ropes around Sun Yaoyang’s hands, put him down, and got a bowl of water. He said to the children who were huddled together, “Give him a drink of water! If he dies, I’ll make you pay with your life!!” After saying that, he followed ‘Scholar’ and walked out of the room.
The chubby boy lightly pushed Little Shitou with his body and whispered, “Go, go take a look at Sun Yaoyang. He must feel so uncomfortable after hanging up there for so long… Hey, where are you going?”
Little Shitou crawled on all fours to the young girl, who was quietly lying on the ground, and softly called, “Sister? Second Sister?”
He moved away the strands of hair on Yu Xiaocao’s face and saw her face clearly. He anxiously pushed her and called in a low voice, “Second Sister, Second Sister, why are you also abducted here? Second Sister, quickly wake up ah!!”
The chubby boy was about to feed Sun Yaoyang with some water, but when he saw this, he quickly put down the bowl of water and went over to Little Shitou. He patted Little Shitou’s shoulders, and said, “Hey, your family is seriously quite unlucky to lose two children at once. Didn’t you just say that your second sister will definitely save you? Well, isn’t this great? She couldn’t save you and ended up getting caught herself. Ay… Can we still get out?”
Seeing that the bad guys had left, Sun Yaoyang stopped pretending to be unconscious. He comforted Little Shitou, “Don’t worry. Your second sister is just unconscious due to the drug. She will wake up after a while.”
Right after he finished talking, Yu Xiaocao stopped pretending and sat up from the ground. She calmly looked at twenty or so children of varying ages. She said to Little Shitou reassuringly, “It’s ok. I was afraid that you would be scared, so I purposely got kidnapped to accompany you!”
Little Shitou became anxious, “Second Sister, if you’re also here, then who will save us? Those bad guys said that they will take us away on a ship and sell us to the south!”
Yu Xiaocao gave him a reassuring expression, looked at Sun Yaoyang, who was lying on the ground with a face full of cold sweat, and said, “There seems to be something wrong with that child. Go feed him some water!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter