“Someone come! There’s assassins!” Empress Xue screamed. All of the monks and real servants raised successive cries of alarm as the scene descended into chaos.
“That’s Tianning’s Duke of Qin! He wants to destroy the thousand-year ginkgo tree!”
“Heavens, Tianning’s Duke of Qin has slipped in here incognito!”
“Tianning’s Duke of Qin is collaborating with the assassins. Men! Hurry and call for the imperial guards!”
Chu Yunyi snatched Empress Xue from the old mama’s grip and threatened, “None of you move, or else I’ll kill the empress!”
Empress Xue was so frightened out of her wits that she didn’t even dare to scream. She never thought that this would happen, while the rest of the crowd had been cowed into silence by Chu Yunyi’s aggressive air. Only then did they focus on Chu Yunyi disguised as a guard. Soon, someone recognized his face.
“That’s the Chu Clan’s old elder!”
“What…? Heavens, that’s General Chu’s older brother and Eldest Young Master Chu’s uncle. I’ve seen him once in the palace! It’s definitely him!”
“That’s General Chu’s brother! The Chu Clan’s allied themselves with the Duke of Qin! They’re planning to rebel!”
As everyone started shouting, Chu Yunyi simply stared at them coldly until they all shut up. Meanwhile, the tall, whiskered guard he had pushed out was still wearing his full beard. If Chu Yunyi hadn’t called him His Highness Duke of Qin, nobody would have recognized him now. Despite being shoved into the spotlight, he hadn’t made any move. By his side was the court lady who had been standing next to Chu Yunyi.
“This is your so-called ‘disturbance?’ Nether Clan Head, how very unexpected of you,” the tall guard laughed coldly.
As he spoke, reinforcements had arrived to surround them at the same time all of the archers in disguise formed a protective circle around Chu Yunyi’s group. Truthfully speaking, the guards who’d rushed onto the scene saw it was hopeless as soon as they spotted the empress being held hostage. Despite their shock, they hemmed in the offenders and remained on alert. A few of them had already quietly slipped away to report the news to Emperor Kang Cheng. Chu Yunyi didn’t stop them because he didn’t care about Emperor Kang Cheng finding out anyways!
“Duke of Qin, the Chu Clan cannot stay in Western Zhou any longer. Kidnapping the empress is the best choice for my Chu Clan. If you want the Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons, hurry up and grab it! With Empress Xue in our hands, the monks on guard won’t dare to try anything against you. Once you’ve gotten the poison in your hands, this old man is leaving!” Chu Yunyi declared.
“Alright!” the tall guard grabbed the court lady by his side and turned to fly towards the thousand-year ginkgo tree.
Meanwhile, Chu Yunyi turned to the man behind him and said coldly, “Beiyue, kill them.”
Yes! It was Gu Beiyue in disguise as the thin and weak looking guard behind Chu Yunyi. He looked towards the two figures heading for the ginkgo tree and didn’t move, yet muttered back, “What’s the rush? The monks guarding the tree haven’t even shown themselves yet.”
“Heheh, fine then! We won’t rush.” Chu Yunyi smiled craftily.
Although the entire area had been surrounded, Chu Yunyi could still afford to wait. What did he have to fear with Empress Xue in his hands? Even if her guards went off to call for reinforcements, he was still unmoved. Long before coming to Thousand Buddha Cave, he had already made arrangements. There was no one left at the Chu Estate now and Emperor Kang Cheng would be facing imminent mutiny from his soldiers. He would have no time to focus on what was happening here. Today, he had steeled his heart to kill Long Feiye and Han Yunxi before leaving with the Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons in his hands.
Soon enough, the three monks in charge of guarding the ginkgo tree flew out from all directions to block Long Feiye’s way. All of them looked like savage fiends with their fierce eyebrows and massive killing intent. Despite their being monks, they bore down menacingly against Long Feiye as they launched an assault. Long Feiye shielded Han Yunxi with one hand as he wielded his sword with the other, weaving and twisting amongst the monks like a slippery fish. Gu Beiyue watched with a complex expression, finding something slightly off about it all. But he couldn’t see what exactly was wrong.
He was about to take a closer look when Chu Yunyi walked over with the empress and chuckled coldly. “Esteemed Empress, are you going to have those three retreat quietly, or…” He plucked out a hairpin and placed it against her face, preparing to scratch her skin.
“No! Don’t!” Empress Xue was scared out of her wits as she shrieked. “Don’t do it! Don’t, ah…”
Everyone including the soldiers, the three monks, and Long Feiye all looked back at the empress. She who resembled a fairy above all mundane matters of the world was now overwhelmed with emotion. It was quite an ugly and unsightly sight! Chu Yunyi creased his brows removed the hairpin before the empress quieted down.
“Hurry and have them withdraw!” he snapped impatiently.
“Stop it! This empress commands you all to stop!”
“Do you hear me? All of you, withdraw!” Empress Xue sobbed and shouted, her runny makeup leaving her face looking ghastly.
None of the three monks were happy at the news. To them, Tianning’s Duke of Qin was wholly undeserving of his reputation as Celestial Mountain Sword Sect’s most outstanding disciple. His martial arts skills were only average at best. If they had more time, they could definitely defeat the duo before them.
“Fall back! Do you hear me? This empress orders you to all withdraw!”
Under Empress Xue’s shouts, the three monks had no choice but to sheathe their swords and back off to one side.
“Your Highness Duke of Qin, the thousand-year ginkgo tree is a sacred Buddhist artifact. You can’t just do as you like!”
“Duke of Qin, why do you have to take out your grudge against the Western Zhou imperial clan on us Buddhists instead? Isn’t that an insult to your dignity?”
Long Feiye and Han Yunxi allowed the three monks to rebuke and interrogate them as they continued to head towards the thousand-year ginkgo under everyone’s watchful eyes. Soon enough, they were at the base of the tree. Chu Yunyi smiled at the sight before he said, “Beiyue, this is the perfect chance for you.”
While the two of them were searching for the Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons, Gu Beiyue could successfully attack them undetected!
But Gu Beiyue simply kept his gaze hooded before he finally remarked, “Wait a bit longer. It’s not too late to move after Han Yunxi’s found the Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons.”
Hearing all this, Chu Yunyi began to have thoughts of his own, but he simply asked, “Do you think your skills can actually defeat Long Feiye? If you don’t seize the chance now, how are you confident that you’ll be able to kill him later?”
“Do you think you have the skills to find the Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons off the thousand year gingko tree?” Gu Beiyue shot back.
Chu Yunyi had naturally brought his own team of poisons masters, but he kept that fact to himself and continued to probe Gu Beiyue. “Even if this old man can’t get the Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons, I still want to kill Long Feiye! Beiyue, are you going to make your move or not?”
As he finished, he turned back to stare at Gu Beiyue. Though Gu Beiyue didn’t avoid the gaze, he knew he was now out of excuses to delay acting. Just as he prepared to capture Chu Yunyi himself, the man abruptly backed out of the way and shot an arrow at him! Chu Yunyi had the best archery skills in all of the Nether Clan. If not for Gu Beiyue’s quick reflexes, he would’ve gotten shot for sure!
An alarmed Gu Beiyue never expected Chu Yunyi to really make a move against him one day. In his moment of inattention, the other Chu Clan archers had already surrounded him on all sides. Although none of them had drawn their bows, they still presented quite the challenge to Gu Beiyue. As Chu Yunyi’s personally trained archers, some of them were even quicker than Chu Yunyi himself at the bow. A complicated look twinkled past Gu Beiyue’s eyes as he feigned ignorance. “Nether Clan Head, what’s the meaning of this?”
“What’s the meaning of this? I should be the one asking that question to you now, shouldn’t I? This old man was simply putting on a show of strength first,” Chu Yunyi said coldly.
While putting up his guard against Gu Beiyue, he had signaled his archers with a look. At once, the archers split up into two rows, each of them holding a single arrow in their hands. There were no bows in sight.
Upon seeing this, everyone else was stunned! No one had caught sight of the lightning-fast arrow that Chu Yunyi had shot at Gu Beiyue moments before. They originally assumed he’d used a bow, but now everyone could see these other archers were completed unarmed! They were going to use the Driving Arrow Arts instead!
The very same technique that had stirred up all of Cloud Realm Continent’s gossip mills recently, the one that belonged to the Nether Clan!
So that means...the Chu Clan is one of the Seven Noble Families and descendents of the Nether Clan!
Heavens, they’ve been in Western Zhou for ages! And now they even control its military!
Chaos broke out upon the scene. Only the single man and woman beneath the ginkgo tree didn’t react. They stood with their backs to the crowd, seemingly oblivious to all the commotion. Gu Beiyue grew anxious. Despite wearing a faceful of whiskers, one could clearly see the tension and fear on his features. Now he gave up all his scruples and cried out, “Duke of Qin, watch out!”
Han Yunxi would only be able to avoid all dangers if Long Feiye was aware of it in the first place!
Unfortunately, all of the archers shot their arrows as soon as Gu Beiyue cried out. Two of the weapons went flying straight for Long Feiye.
Shuaa shuaa shuaa!
The sound of whistling weapons rang through the entire Thousand Buddha Cave temple. Gu Beiyue’s figure flickered out of sight as he evaded the various arrows. Despite this, he still couldn’t extricate himself from their assault. Meanwhile, Long Feiye had brought Han Yunxi over to hide on the other side of the ginkgo tree to avoid most of the assault. However, the archers were quick to chase after them and hem them in on all sides! Chu Yunyi himself personally joined the fray, each and every one of his arrows aimed at Long Feiye. After missing twice, he landed a third in the man’s stomach!
Long Feiye pressed against his stomach wound with one hand while the other pushed Han Yunxi behind the ginkgo tree. He tried his best to stand up, but he tottered on his feet. There wasn’t even enough time to hold onto the tree trunk for support before fresh blood streamed out of the corner of his mouth. With a low groan, he slumped over and lay still!
Chu Yunyi was caught off guard! He had heard Witch Aunt speak of Long Feiye’s skills, but never expected to shoot him so easily! But here was reality lying unconscious right before his eyes. Chu Yunyi had confidence in his plan to begin with. Add that to the fact that Long Feiye had been tricked and then ambushed, his chances of success were quite high.
Utterly delighted, he motioned for the archers around him to stop shooting. Meanwhile, he angled his own arrow towards Han Yunxi’s leg. The Duke of Qin might be dead, but it was still useful to keep this woman around! Even if they were going to kill her, it should be Qingge doing the deed.
With a whoosh, Chu Yunyi’s arrow flew straight towards Han Yunxi’s leg. Just when it was about to pierce it, a white flash dashed across its path of flight, almost imperceptible to the naked eye. It stopped to reveal Gu Beiyue standing in front of Han Yunxi. One arrow shaft had gone straight through his right shoulder and out the other side, while Chu Yunyi’s own shot was buried in his leg. For the sake of saving Han Yunxi, he had rushed over here through a storm of arrows.
Fortunately, he had made it in time.
Despite the beard on his chin, Gu Beiyue’s smile at this moment was still as warm and gentle as always. But as he smiled, his leg gave out beneath him, forcing him down to one knee!