Faced with the guards’ demands, Bai Yuqiao had no other choice. But she dragged her heels as ever as she glared at the guard and turned on her heel. “Just wait!”
By the time Bai Yuqiao shut the door and walked behind the folding screen, she saw everyone in the room looking at her--except Ning Jing, who was still clutching her baby as their cheeks touched. Mother and daughter were exceptionally still as if nothing in the world could disturb them.
Mu Linger was sobbing soundlessly as she shook her head at Bai Yuqiao. Both the midwife and servant girl found it a pity as they too, shook their heads to say no. Bai Yuqiao ended up standing around for a long, long time. Even if it was a few more seconds, she wanted to fight for them for Ning Jing and the little baby’s sake.
Yet soon enough, the head guard was pressuring her again. “Miss Bai, it doesn’t matter if we wait, but don’t delay too long for His Highness Duke of Kang.”
“Miss Bai, you know His Highness Duke of Kang’s temper too.”
“Mu Linger, hand over the child and I promise it won’t come to any harm! Otherwise...heheh!”
Ning Jing’s head whipped up at the remark as killing intent flashed through her eyes. Mu Linger was so furious that she scrambled off the bed and screamed, “I’ll go kill that son of a b***h!”
“Are you seeking death?” Bai Yuqiao rebuked her.
Mu Linger pursed her lips before turning to burrow into the sheets. If she refused to look or listen, would none of this ever happen? Bai Yuqiao approached Ning JIng step by step. Ning JIng simply stared at her with a fierce look that had grown frightfully dark. She had no idea whether the birth had grieved her too much, but suddenly felt a lot, lot older despite being a young woman in her twenties.
Bai Yuqiao stopped short of her and said, “Ning Jing, I really can’t help you anymore.”
“I know,” Ning Jing’s voice was very low.
“I…” Bai Yuqiao didn’t know what else to say before reaching out her hands for the child.
“I...I’ll send her off…” Ning Jing murmured.
Before Bai Yuqiao could react, Ning JIng had picked up the baby and gotten off the bed. Bai Yuqiao hastened to support her, but Ning JIng avoided her hands. “No need, I can walk.”
She placed her daughter on the bed before changing into a different set of clothes and straightening up her hair. Then she quickly applied some makeup to hide her wan and exhausted features. After all that, she didn’t look like a new mother at all, but was as lofty and lovely as always. Yet it was impossible to hide the emotions in her eyes. She cradled her daughter and wanted to give her one last smile, but couldn’t bear to stir her from her sleep. She ended up walking all the way to the door before turning back to speak.
“Miss Bai, lead the way.”
“Sobsobsob…” Mu Linger finally lost it and lifted her head to sob, “I don’t want this! I don’t!”
Ning Jing smiled faintly. She picked the right time to cry. Of course. With her daughter about to be taken away, she should be sobbing her heart out. The guards outside heard Mu Linger’s cries and knew the baby had been picked up, so they stopped pushing them to hurry up.
If Ning Jing was so strong, why couldn’t they be strong as well? Bai Yuqiao sniffled once before adjusting her feelings and stepping forward to open the door. Mu Linger’s cries grew louder at the sound until they filled the entire courtyard and added an extra chill to the cold morning.
As soon as the head guard saw Bai Yuqiao’s empty hands, he grew unhappy. “Miss Bai, the child…” Then he saw Ning Jing striding out with an infant in swaddling clothes.
Bai Yuqiao glanced at the guard and stayed silent. Ning JIng swept her eyes across the guards before resting on their leader. In a cold voice, she said, “Sir soldier, this is Mu Linger and Gu Qishao’s child as well as Han Yunxi and Long Feiye’s niece. You should know better than I do what she means to Your Highness Duke of Kang.”
The guard moved to take the child, only for Ning Jing to demand, “Where’s the wet nurse?”
It would take days to reach the battlefields from here. How was the baby supposed to eat without a wet nurse after just being born?
“Miss Jing doesn’t need to worry. The wet nurse has been waiting outside for a while now. We’re even more nervous about this baby than you, Miss Jing, so please tell Mu Linger not to worry,” the guard smiled. “Heheh, it’s better if she looks after herself instead”!
He stepped forward and extended his hands for the baby. Ning JIng was so calm that it was painful to watch. Those who didn’t know the truth would never guess that she was the baby’s true mother.
“I’ll pass on the message,” she didn’t hesitate and handed over the child. As soon as she finished, she turned away. Although she had been nothing but self-possessed and aloof, her face broke down as soon as she looked away, flooded with tears!
She desperately wanted to see her daughter one more time, even if it was a glance. But that was impossible. She couldn’t do it! She couldn’t stop herself from crying, either.
Daughter, I’m sorry. Mother wasn’t strong enough to hold it together.
Not daring to tarry, she quickly walked into the rooms. But a fresh tiger roar soon filled the courtyard. Thanks to last night’s experiences, everyone was on high alert. Ning JIng whirled back and saw a giant tiger pounce down from the roof, heading straight for the guard and her daughter.
“NO!” Ning Jing screamed and threw herself at them. But it was too late! The guard was sent crashing to the ground while the infant in swaddling clothes went flying. For a moment, no one could react except for Ning Jing. She made a leap into the air to catch the baby, but didn’t make it. Instead, a figure dressed in black robes suddenly snatched it out of the air!
After catching the child, he landed on the roof and hollered, “Mu Linger, have you cried enough? If you want the baby, get out this instant!”
What was going on?
Mu Linger’s sobs ceased abruptly. She scrambled to her feet and fell out of the bed, but ignored the pain to half crawl, half rush out the door. There she saw a white tiger chasing and snapping its jaws after the guards while Ning Jing and Bai Yuqiao stood on one side.
“Baby...the baby...where’s the baby?!” Mu Linger cried.
“Over here! Get up!” the black robed man said icily. It sounded like he was in a foul mood.
Completely clueless, Mu Linger looked to Bai Yuqiao and Ning Jing for help. Without a word, Ning JIng chased the man up the roof with Bai Yuqiao hot on her heels. Only Mu Linger, the idiot, was left standing in place. For some reason, she felt like the man on the roof was extremely familiar.
Do we know each other?
Did he come to save us?
“Mu Linger, are you coming up or not?!” the man shouted.
“Reinforcements! Reinforcements, come, there’s someone breaking out the prisoners! Someone come!”
“There’s been an ambush, hurry!”
The guards split their time between dodging the tiger and shouting for help. None of them knew why the poison tiger would lose control yet again, but it was obvious the black-robed man was here for a rescue mission. Countless guards were drawn by their cries, but another tiger soon threw himself at the guard shouting the loudest, aiming to bite him dead!
Everyone was stunned by the sight. If they assumed the tigers had lost control and were biting people out of madness, they knew better now. The tigers had rebelled! Were they listening to orders from the black-robed man? But the Duke of Kang had painstakingly tamed them to his command, then cultivated them into Poison corpse tigers. How could they turn back on him just like that?
The ten or so soldiers and 20 some guards were no match for a single poison tiger, let alone two. Bai Yuqiao had assumed the attacking tigers were merely a stroke of coincidence, but now she understood everything.
“Just who are you?” she demanded of the black-robed man.
The man ignored her and stared coldly at Mu Linger on the ground. He whistled once and the second tiger was soon bounding towards the girl. Mu Linger was scared to death and only stood frozen to the spot, even forgetting to flee for her life.
“Hopeless idiot!” the black-robed man’s tone was filled with scorn. Neither Ning Jing nor Bai Yuqiao moved, because they sensed the black-robed man had no ill intentions towards Mu Linger. At most, he scorned her.
As expected, the tiger simply bumped Mu Linger onto its back before pouncing onto the roof. Although he broke a few roof tiles, he still managed to deliver her to the man’s side. Mu Linger was both frightened and scared out of her wits. She didn’t even have the guts to get off the tiger as she stared between the man, Ning Jing, and Bai Yuqiao. Her red and swollen eyes soon filled with tears again.
“Are you going to die if you’re not always crying?” the man rebuked her.
Ning Jing quickly pulled Mu Linger off the tiger before she demanded, “Return the child to me!”
Meanwhile, the man held onto the baby before climbing atop the tiger’s back. “If you don’t want to die, then come with me.”
So speaking, he whistled at the other tiger in the courtyard, who slapped the final soldier dead beneath his paw before coming to sprawl against the ground.
“You…” Bai Yuqiao wanted to ask more questions, but the black-robed man simply stopped disguising his voice to resume his original tones.
“If you keep dawdling, we’re all gonna die!”
“Manager Jin!” Mu Linger exclaimed.
Both Ning Jing and Bai Yuqiao were taken aback. The latter quickly cried, “Take Su XIaoyu with you, I’ll cover your retreat!”
“Su Xiaoyu’s already gone. Are you coming along?” Manager Jin retorted.
Bai Yuqiao couldn’t believe it. She glanced towards the courtyard next door and saw that it was littered with guard corpses.
Heavens, what had happened in such a short amount of time?
Ning Jing glanced at her baby before jumping off the roof and onto the first tiger’s back. Bai Yuqiao soon joined her. Mu Linger was about to follow when Manager Jin pulled her back. “You sit here!”
Mu Linger had no room to refuse, because he soon stuffed the baby into her arms. In a mocking tone, he added, “No need to cry, just hold onto Gu Qishao’s seed!”
Just like that, Mu Linger ended up holding the baby while sharing a tiger with Manager Jin as they and Ning Jing and Bai Yuqiao escaped out of the compound. Outside, they saw nothing but dead bodies and enough blood to form a river. One of the tigers was siting beneath a large tree nearby, waiting to help them open up a path. Mu Linger was completely astonished and didn’t even have time to ask Manager Jin what was going on.
When they had almost followed the lead tiger into the woods, a wave of arrows came flying their way!
“Hurry, release the arrows! Those poison tigers have turned against us! Quick!” the messenger guard cried out.
In a flash, a storm of arrows descended upon the fugitives.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
So how'd you like them apples? :)
Tonight's chapter is quite overdue, but generously sponsored by the likes of:
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