“What about Imperial Prince Jing’s residence on the mountain? Did anyone inform them?” Although there were a decent amount of guards there, the pirates also had a lot of people and they were cruel. Without the self-proclaimed martial arts expert Royal Prince Yang there, it wouldn’t be safe for Princess Consort Jing to stay in the villa.
Senior Servant Yang, who was in charge of the piggery, hurriedly stepped forward and said, “When we got the news, my husband went to the mountain residence immediately. At this time, the princess consort should be almost done preparing!”
Yu Xiaocao looked around the courtyard and saw that everyone was carrying a packed up bag that wasn’t too big so they could easily flee. It was likely they only packed the most valuable items in their residences for this trip. Yu Hai and Liu Hu had a bit more in their packs. Other than daily necessities, everyone also carried around twenty catties of grain, a steel pot, and some utensils. They didn’t know how long the pirates would stay and when they could finally come back. It was likely they needed to spend several days in the mountains, so the Yu Family and Liu Family needed to bring enough grain to last!
Yu Xiaocao entered her own room and packed two simple sets of clean clothing. She also took out the banknotes, silver bits, and some jewelry along. After thinking a bit, she also took her medicine box. Inside she had medicines to treat colds and other mild illnesses. In addition, she had medications to stop bleeding.
Before long, Princess Consort Jing and her twenty-some imperial bodyguards came down the mountain. Along with the twenty-some senior servants, stewards, and maids, her entourage made a grand sight and was much larger than the combined Yu and Liu Families.
Princess Consort Jing appeared exceptionally calm and she looked over everyone in the courtyard before she spoke to the now serene Yu Xiaocao, “When we came down the mountain, we saw that those people with questionable backgrounds were already very close to land. Have you decided everything yet? Are we really going to flee into the mountains? Don’t people say that there are a lot of ferocious beasts in there?”
Yu Xiaocao came up and held onto Princess Consort Jing’s arm reassuringly as she gently said, “Please don’t worry, Your Highness! We’re not going deep into the mountains, so we should not encounter any vicious beasts.”
“If we’re on the outside part of the mountain and the pirates come and find out there’s nothing to take, won’t they chase us up the mountain to find us?” One of the bodyguards, who looked on the younger side, frowned and remarked somewhat pessimistically.
Yu Xiaocao considered his question and then replied, “I know a ravine in the mountain that is pretty well hidden and the entrance is easily guarded and hard to attack. We should go there to hide. Even if the Wokou pirates find the entrance, with you guys protecting it, it’d be hard for them to get through.”
Princess Consort Jing gave her a knowing look and then asked, “Is that the ravine that has a lot of wild camellias and orchids? If that’s the place you’re talking about, it should be very well hidden.”
After she finished, she then gave a penetrating look at her two personal maids, Meixiang and Lanxiang. These two maids had once gone with Xiaocao to that ravine and they brought back a few rare specimens. However, the next time when they tried to go there themselves, the two maids couldn’t find the entrance of the ravine again. Meixiang had said that they clearly remembered every twist and turn to get there but they just couldn’t find the entrance again. It was as if that ravine had suddenly disappeared into thin air.
Yu Xiaocao nodded and agreed, “Yes, other than that place, I can’t think of another place that is suitable to hide a few hundred people!”
“A few hundred people? We need to take along all of the men, women, children, and elders from the village along? The more people there are, the more chances there are for mishaps. Miss Yu, you need to make sure you know what you’re doing!” The commander of the bodyguards didn’t seem to approve of this idea of bringing so many civilians along. The frown on his face became even more apparent.
“We’re all from the same village and some of us are even related to each other. We can’t just leave them alone to fend for themselves. Since we have the ability, what’s wrong with helping them?” It had been almost four years since she transmigrated over to this world. Other than a few special people in Dongshan Village, the vast majority of villagers were all pure-hearted and adorable. Their simple ways of life and warm interactions with each other caused Yu Xiaocao to consider this place more and more like her home. When danger was approaching, she couldn’t abandon any of them, even if they had treated her poorly in the past.
The Yu Family was already done preparing, but the people in the village were a whole other matter. The villagers were all running around in a panic. Many people couldn’t bear to let go of anything that was of any value, especially those of the older generation. Every needle and thread in the house required money to buy them, so they even brought along old bamboo baskets with holes in them.
It was getting closer to the time to leave and there were a whole bunch of people standing in front of the village chief’s home. The village chief saw a fellow with a giant pack on his left shoulder and a large wicker basket crammed full of items on his right. The man could barely walk as he staggered down the road and stumbled in the group. The village chief was incensed and scolded them, “Right now we’re running for our lives, not moving! Do you think you’ll be able to climb mountains and hide with all of that stuff you’re bringing ah? You’re just a sitting duck waiting for the Wokou pirates to catch you and then rip you apart! Everyone, open your bags for me now! Other than money, you should only be carrying along two changes of clothing and three days worth of food. Everything else, you need to throw away!!”
When he saw the villagers looking at each other stupidly but not doing anything, the village chief’s temper exploded again, “If you guys don’t want to listen to me, that’s fine! You are all in charge of yourselves! I’m not going to bother anymore, alright? Figure things out yourselves! Second Son’s wife and Third Son’s wife, you’re both in charge of taking care of the kids. Give all of your packs to your husbands and follow me!!”
When the villagers saw that the village chief wasn’t going to be in charge of them anymore, they immediately panicked. A lot of the villagers started opening their packs and taking out the stuff that wasn’t that important. After cleaning out their bags, they found a place to hide the other items. Although the packs were still pretty heavy, they no longer hindered their movements anymore. Once they finished reorganizing their belongings, these villagers pulled their families along to follow the village chief as they headed towards the West Mountains.
Those who still couldn’t bear to throw anything else away staggered behind the group of people. Before long, they were at the back of the pack. Among them was Madam Zhang and her family.
Madam Zhang carried a giant bamboo basket on her back. Other than grain, she also packed a bunch of daily necessities. She even couldn’t bear to leave behind some ceramic tiles at home and also packed that. Naturally, she carried all of the cash at home on her body. Even Madam Li didn’t know where her mother-in-law had hidden the money.
Behind Madam Zhang was Yu Dashan, who was carrying a giant wrapped pack. It was very obvious that they had packed even the large blankets at home. Yu Dashan currently resembled a small mountain and he could only walk a couple steps before huffing and puffing like an overburdened ox.
Madam Li carried a lot less than the other two people, but her body was fat and soft. She was usually very lazy and did the very minimal to get by, so she wasn’t used to walking so far and started to breathe heavily from exertion. It was obvious that she couldn't handle traveling so far along with thirty catties of luggage.
Gradually, these three people started to lag behind and were at the very back of the fleeing villagers. They walked one step forward and staggered for the next three. It was quite difficult for them to press on. Madam Li also kept turning back every three steps to mumble about her son, who was working at the docks. She was praying that there wouldn't be anything bad happening there.
At this time, the village chief’s family had already reached the foot of the West Mountains. In front of the Yu Family was Princess Consort Jing and her entourage of servants and bodyguards. After seeing the twenty or so strong and vigorous bodyguards, the village chief’s heart settled down a bit.
The village chief came forward and bowed respectfully to the princess consort before he spoke to Yu Hai, “Dahai, although you haven’t gone up the mountain much these past two years, you still spent a few years with Young General Zhao hunting there. I’m sure you have a much better idea of the terrain and area in the mountains than me. Where do you think would be a good place for a couple hundred villagers like us to hide in there?”
Yu Hai didn’t even have the chance to reply when a person jumped down from the nearby tree. It was the commander of the bodyguards, Commander Zheng. He had been observing the movements of the fleet of ships this entire time and, surprisingly, he had a pair of binoculars in his hand.
The look in the commander’s eyes was grim and he had a slightly worried look on his face as he yelled, “The fleet is about to land and they are truly Wokou pirates! All of them have knives or swords at their belts and they’re not here for a good reason! Your Highness, we can’t delay any longer, it’s time to go!”
The Yu Family lived at the foot of the West Mountains and their residence was on a higher piece of land. When the village chief heard the report from the commander, he looked in the direction of the ocean. Sure enough, there were around a dozen ships on the coastline and he could see around a dozen of people running on the beach. They were headed towards the direction of the village in a very aggressive manner.
The village chief then turned to look at the villagers and noticed that there were a dozen families who still persisted in carrying heavy luggage as they staggered in the very back. He screamed at those people, wishing his voice could become as loud as a megaphone, “Are possessions more important or your lives more important?? The Wokou pirates have already landed. Before long, they’re going to catch up with us! Throw away those giant bags on your backs, running away is more essential!!”
Yu Xiaoao saw Madam Zhang, who was at the very back and looked very old and haggard. She indifferently looked away. She walked to Princess Consort Jing and supported her into a chair sedan that was being carried by two strong and vigorous servants. She then motioned at the Yu and Liu Family to follow and started to head towards the mountain thickets that she was very familiar with.
When she was close to the piggery, she blew a clear and resounding whistle. A black figure suddenly appeared and whizzed towards her. On a closer look, it was Little Black, who had already reached the height of a grown man. He wagged his giant bushy tail and gleefully circled around Yu Xiaocao a few times. Once he got her approval, he followed her from behind with satisfaction and couldn’t bear to leave her.
Out of the two young wolves, Little White had a more untamed personality and often disappeared into the forests in the mountains to run around like a little tyrant. From time to time, he would come back to Xiaocao with some prey in his mouth. Most of his time was spent exploring the West Mountains. One time, he had apparently encountered a leopard and killed it, bringing it back. However, he also had some leftover injuries from that fight. Xiaocao used some mystic-stone water and herbal medicines to treat his wounds. Before long, his injuries had healed. This fellow very easily forgot his past wounds and pain. When the wounds just scabbed over, he ran back to the mountainous forests to play around again.
Little Black, on the other hand, was closer to humans. Every day, he was in charge of guarding and watching the piggery, so he ended up getting fed by the steward, senior servant, and Xiaolian who were there. His figure was becoming more and more like a pig’s. This fellow really knew how to sell himself and act cute. Although he was already taller than Xiaocao, every time he saw her, he needed her to hold him a bit. Despite the fact that Xiaocao could no longer hold him up, she still needed to hug him and stroke his head and body before he was finally satisfied. If she wasn’t already certain, it would be hard to guess that this fellow was a true and full-blooded wolf!
Yu Xiaocao walked at the front with Little Black. On each side of her, there were two bodyguards with their swords unsheathed to open up the way. Right behind her was Princess Consort Jing’s sedan with the commander of the bodyguards and a few of the more expert imperial bodyguards around her. They had her encircled tightly within their protection. Following them was the Yu Family and Liu Family. Eldest Granduncle Yu Lichun’s entire family had also been pulled up by Old Yu and was traveling along with the rest of their group.
Currently, in the eyes of the villagers of Dongshan Village, the Yu Family and the Liu Family were in the safest position because the remaining dozen or so bodyguards from Imperial Prince Jing’s residence were protecting the area around them. All of the bodyguards who were at the mountain residence were handpicked and experts at fighting!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: I can understand the positions of both Xiaocao and the bodyguards. Getting a bunch of civilians to flee marauding pirates in a timely manner is definitely hard to do and the bodyguards’ first priority is the safety of their mistress. At the same time, the nobility and royalty have the responsibility for taking care of the safety and well-being of the commoners. Hopefully, these villagers don’t drag them down and lead the pirates to their hiding spot.