Despite having fallen to one knee, Gu Beiyue was already clutching a small golden dagger in his fingers. This time he was using his left hand, because he had no way to lift his right arm anymore. But, Chu Yunyi knew him too well and knew he still had a weapon, so he had kept his distance. Instead, he aimed an arrow at Gu Beiyue’s left shoulder next.
This traitor. So, he’s defected to Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s side after all.
Gu Beiyue saw Chu Yunyi raise his arrow from a distance as his clear gaze grew turbid and complex. Because the Nether and Shadow Clans had worked together for generations, Gu Beiyue had never once expected Chu Yunyi to suspect and plot against him. Neither did he expect someone as shrewd as Long Feiye to fall into Chu Yunyi’s trap. In the space of time it took one to brew a cup of tea, his still and serene face was already in marked contrast to the stormy depths of his heart. His thoughts were in chaos, leaving him distracted and unfocused.
This time, however, he knew he wouldn’t be able to protect Miss Yunxi. There was only one choice left for him. Although it was just a temporary solution, it could at least preserve Miss Yunxi’s life and keep her from getting injured.
And that was to reveal her true noble identity!
The Nether Clan was overweeningly ambitious. They had been searching nonstop for the West Qin imperial heir just so they could control them as a puppet and rule in their name. Yet, if he told Chu Yunyi about Han Yunxi’s identity, the man would still fear and respect her too much to injure her! Even if he could block Chu Yunyi’s next arrow, there was no telling whether he’d be able to dodge a third or a fourth. Thus, Gu Beiyue made his decision!
But Han Yunxi chose that moment to move from her hiding spot behind him!
The entire time, Gu Beiyue had been paying attention to the woman behind him, worried that she’d become frightened or hurt. But now all he felt was an overwhelming killing intent! Unless one was a high-level martial arts expert, it would be impossible to sense the powerful aura emanating from her form. Nor was it possible for anyone who didn’t know martial arts to give off such a presence!
This woman not only knew martial arts, but wanted to kill him!
Gu Beiyue’s taut lips suddenly drew up into a self-mocking smile. For the first time ever, even I’ve been tricked! Is this what they mean by ‘caring makes one careless?’
The woman behind him wasn’t the real Han Yunxi at all. Neither was the fallen man by his feet the real Long Feiye!
What a black bellied Long Feiye! He’s fooled us all!
As Chu Yunyi released his arrow, Gu Beiyue turned sideways to avoid the weapon, which narrowly flew past the fake Han Yunxi. Chu Yunyi saw this and smiled inwardly. Gu Beiyue isn’t on close terms with Long Feiye’s group at all. Looks like he’d rather pick self-preservation in the face of certain death.
“Someone come, apprehend him!” Chu Yunyi commanded. He would never let Gu Beiyue go after the man had shown his true face today.
Aside from the self-deprecating smirk, Gu Beiyue’s face didn’t reveal any other expression. His shoulder wound wouldn’t affect him much beyond a handicapped limb in battle, but his injured leg directly affected his shadow arts. It would be difficult for him to escape with a bad leg!
But as long as Han Yunxi was truly safe, he didn’t care.
Chu Yunyi had the majority of his archers move to surround Gu Beiyue while he went after “Han Yunxi.” He thought he could take his time against a woman who didn’t know martial arts, but as soon as he shot his arrow, the fake dodged out of the way and leaped onto the ginkgo tree. By the next arrow, she had shot a signal flare into the air!
Chu Yunyi suddenly realized that he’d been tricked by the Duke of Qin!
Long Feiye didn’t come? Han Yunxi hadn’t really come either. But I clearly saw them get into their disguises to stand by my side. Did someone replace them during the journey? His heart grew flustered from the sudden shock! Since Long Feiye hadn’t come, he was the oriole stalking the mantis after the cicada in this dog-eat-dog game! Heaven only knows what kind of scheme Long Feiye had put in place after the fake Han Yunxi’s signal flare? In truth, Chu Yunyi dreaded the man even more than he did the Western Zhou imperial clan.
“Someone come, hurry and find what we’ve come for. Prepare to withdraw!” Chu Yunyi ordered immediately.
Of course, he didn’t forget to shoot the fake Han Yunxi either. Now that he knew the woman had martial arts, he put up his guard. Within five arrows, she was dead. Meanwhile, a few poisons masters disguised as court ladies approached the thousand-year ginkgo tree to search for the Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons.
Chu Yunyi still couldn’t bring himself to accept the deceit. He approached the fake Han Yunxi’s body and ripped off her face veil to verify that it was indeed a completely different person. Then he went to pull off the fake Long Feiye’s beard and found the same thing.
“Long Feiye!” Chu Yunyi gnashed his teeth in loathing, but it was then that the dead “Long Feiye” sprang up and stabbed him in the arm! Chu Yunyi had shifted to dodge at the first sign of movement, but he was still late by a step. The dagger sank deep into his right arm! For archers like him, that was their important shooting arm! Now that it was injured, his arrows would be less powerful than before!
The fake Long Feiye had clearly planned out all this in advance. Perhaps his only mission here was to injure his arm so as to cripple his Driving Arrow Arts!
“Abominable!” Chu Yunyi kicked at the man who was on death’s door already. The force of his foot sent him sprawling down to the ground again, but his mission had already been accomplished.
On the sidelines, the Western Zhou guards saw that the dead man wasn’t His Highness Duke of Qin at all. Though puzzled and bewildered, they wanted to seize the chance to rescue their empress. Unfortunately, the old mama currently held her in her grasp.
After taking care of the fake Long Feiye and Han Yunxi, Chu Yunyi immediately took out an arrow and aimed it at Gu Beiyue, who was currently evading a mess of arrows flying at him from all directions. But he didn’t even get a chance to shoot before the archers overwhelmed and captured their target. Gu Beiyue was perfectly capable of escaping now that he didn’t have anyone to protect, but the cost this time would be too great and would only injure him further. Moreover, he couldn’t be sure whether Long Feiye had planted any ambushes beyond the temple. With his current situation, he’d never be able to escape from the man if caught. Compared to the Duke of Qin, it was relatively safer for him to stay in Chu Yunyi’s hands.
Now that Gu Beiyue was in their custody, Chu Yunyi was even more anxious to leave.
“Have you found it yet?” he yelled at the poison masters he had brought along. The situation was turning more disadvantageous by the minute, so they had to speed things up and withdraw quickly. The Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons wasn’t a simple toxin if it could hide in the thousand-year ginkgo tree all this time without negatively affecting the plant. All of the poison masters here were personally trained by Witch Aunt to hunt down the Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons, but their endless circling around the tree yielded no results. It was basically impossible to find the poison in such a short amount of time!
“Clan Head, as things stand, we can’t find it without a few more days’ time!” the head of the poison masters reported urgently.
“Useless!” Chu Yunyi was both tense and furious. “Pull up this tree by the roots, we’ll just take it back with us!”
He’d hardly spoken, when a mocking voice filled with laughter carried over in the air. “The Nether Clan Head is so overbearing!”
Chu Yunyi whirled around to see three masked figures dressed in black appear out of thin air. Whoever had mocked him had used the technique to change their voice so that he had no idea who was speaking. Still, he was certain that this had to be Long Feiye and his men!
“Long Feiye, you tricked this old man! Where’s your sense of trustworthiness?” Chu Yunyi loudly denounced him. He was obviously raising his voice so that everyone else could hear. No matter what, he wanted to drag Long Feiye down with him so that the man would forever be Emperor Kang Cheng’s enemy. This way, Western Zhou would never ally itself with the southern central regions of Tianning once the Chu Clan had withdrawn to Western Liang.
But the masked man only burst out into savage laughter. “Trustworthiness? Long Feiye’s long thrown his trust to the dogs, don’t you know this?”
The masked man was laughing so brightly that anyone could tell he was in an excellent mood. Moreover, his laughter convinced them that he truly wasn’t the venerated Duke of Qin!
Who is he? Does he have a grudge against Long Feiye?
Chu Yunyi was dumbstruck. He glanced at the other two masked figures, but saw that they didn’t budge. Now, he couldn’t help but feel muddle-headed. Did Long Feiye really not come?
Or perhaps, he was one of the two other masked men. Chu Yunyi didn’t dare turn careless, but signaled all of the archers to surround the ginkgo tree and shoot them!
The masked trio immediately scurried towards the base of the tree, dodging arrows and killing archers as they went. Chu Yunyi quickly joined in the fray. But abruptly, thorny vines burst from the ground like so many tentacles and began to spread wildly around the area as they reached for the archers. Meanwhile, the masked trio attacked them simultaneously from above, leaving the front line in a huge mess. Panic and confusion took over the archers, who had never seen such strange techniques before.
“Don’t get distracted! Kill them with all your might!” Chu Yunyi roared as he unleashed an arrow right at the base of the vine, severing it from its root. Seeing this, the archers refocused themselves and began to shoot with precision again---until three of them suddenly toppled without explanation to the ground.
“Hidden weapons! Everyone be careful, they have assassination tools!” one archer cried out, milliseconds before a needle pierced him through the throat and killed him!
Chu Yunyi was a clan head and a formidable opponent himself. He’d sensed something peculiar as soon as the first hidden weapons appeared and sacrificed a few archers as shields before spotting the man who was using them. Right now Chu Yunyi had his eyes narrowed, arrow aimed at the man’s heart while he was dodging the steady storm of arrows.
“Go die!” Chu Yunyi finally released his arrow. The first person to notice the weapon was the masked man who had been laughing at him.
He turned and cried out, “Be careful!” At the same time, he kicked his companion aside just as a second thunderous arrow came flying at him in place of the first. Meanwhile, a fresh storm of them were approaching him from the other side.
His allies were both besieged by arrows of their own and had no way to help him.
But then the lash of a whip filled the air. Following the sound was a streak of gold from the whip itself like a dragon in flight. Its swift and fierce attack easily cut down half of the incoming arrows.
Who had arrived now?