What to do?!
Bai Yuqiao never thought that all of her finely planned ideas would disregard the unstable element of Su Xiaoyu. She was even planning to stay here a couple of days--one to lure over her master, second to finish her plots. Who expected her master to be showing up any time now?
“Why are you panicking?” Ning Cheng lectured sternly.
“Aren’t you nervous? You have absolutely no time to prepare anything.” In the end, Bai Yuqiao still feared her own master. She was so anxious she couldn’t even think straight. Her heart even entertained the idea of poisoning Ning Cheng and stealing all his money instead before running away with Su Xiaoyu to find her senior brother.
Yet before she could make a move, Ning Cheng said coldly, “Do everything according to the plan. I’ve long made preparations.” He narrowed his eyes and warned, “Bai Yuqiao, you better calm down and cooperate with me. If anything amiss happens, you won’t survive the thousands of archers surrounding Blacktower even if I die!”
Bai Yuqiao gave a start before growing still. She thanked the stars that she hadn’t been impulsive. What a Ning Cheng. So he’s long set his traps!
No wonder he took such a huge risk despite knowing nothing about poisons to work with her. Bai Yuqiao couldn’t help but mock herself. In the end, she’d underestimated the Di Clan Head. How was she supposed to escape with Su Xiaoyu when he had so many archers waiting in ambush?
“Take me to see Su Xiaoyu,” Ning Cheng interrupted. Naturally, it was for the sake of the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion.
Bai Yuqiao couldn’t help but remind him, “I’ve interrogated her multiple times before, but that girl’s lips are sealed shut. I suggest you don’t waste time there. If my master shows up now, it’ll all be for nothing.”
Ning Cheng hesitated before deciding not to go in after all. Instead he said, “Make your move.”
Without a word, Bai Yuqiao turned to leave. In less time than it took to brew a cup of tea, she had poisoned to death all of Blacktower’s guards, which were then replaced by Ning Cheng’s men. The originals were all brought here personally by Bai Yuqiao herself. Bai Yanqing neither knew them nor cared.
“You’ve dealt with everything cleanly?” Ning Cheng asked.
“Don’t worry, I didn’t leave a single soul,” Bai Yuqiao said before she smiled. “Ning Clan Head, arrows don’t have eyes. You have to keep to your word and leave me an escape route after all this.”
She wanted Ning Cheng to promise. While she sneak attacked Bai Yanqing from the shadows, Ning Cheng could summon his archers to surround Blacktower and kill Bai Yanqing unawares.
“Don’t worry,” Ning Cheng said frostily. He saw Su Xiaoyu hanging like a dead person off her cross in the distance. After some hesitation, he made up his mind and turned to leave the rooms. At this, Bai Yuqiao approached Su Xiaoyu and found the best hiding place in the room. She wasn’t stupid enough to really sneak attack her master. Instead, she was going to take advantage of all the chaos to take the girl and flee.
When she approached Su Xiaoyu, Bai Yuqiao tugged at the corner of her robes, but the girl was unresponsive. She was waiting for Han Yunxi and Long Feiye to rescue her, so despite being surprised by Bai Yuqiao’s sudden appearance, she pretended to be unconscious all the same. By ignoring the older girl, Bai Yuqiao was convinced that she was still out cold. She had already mapped out an escape route and gotten the key to Su Xiaoyu’s restraints. Now she hid herself away. In the silence, her heart pounded loudly. She gripped the key in her hand as she willed herself to stay calm. As long as I can survive this, I’ll stay with senior brother for the rest of my life. I’ll tell him outright that I’ve liked him for years!
Bai Yuqiao entertained the fanciful thoughts of a girl in love as she gradually relaxed. She waited silently as if for a wonderful dream and beautiful future to arrive. However, Ning Cheng had never planned to let her go. By now, he had left Blacktower behind to meet with the archers lying long in ambush around the place. Currently, he was standing next to a red coat cannon and patting it playfully with his hands as if it was a pet. But red coat cannons weren’t gentle creatures. Once the fuse was lit, it’d destroy everything in its path.
Once he found out Jun Yixie had 90,000 battle horses in his hands, his first act was to redistribute his red coat cannons. The ones at the Three-Way Battlefield were left there to defend against Jun Yixie, but he never expected to use them on Bai Yanqing now. As long as the man entered Blacktower to interrogate Su Xiaoyu and got sneak-attacked by Bai Yuqiao, he’d set the cannons against them first. Only then would he follow up with the Pear Blossom Raindrop Tear needles, then the attacks from the archers. Have four separate contingencies had to be enough to apprehend Bai Yanqing. He didn’t want the man alive anymore, because he could trick Jun Yixie just as well with a corpse!
Although Su Xiaoyu knew the whereabouts of the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion, which made it a pity to kill her, he would only make Bai Yuqiao suspicious if he’d brought her away with him beforehand. Moreover, he’d lose Bai Yuqiao’s alliance in the process. The surrounding woods were silent as everyone waited quietly. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were waiting as well, but she felt a bit uneasy. They hadn’t arrived last night when the shadow guards came to report that there was a huge team of archers lying in ambush around Blacktower. Han Yunxi’s first thought was of Ning Cheng, because he had used the same tactic against Bai Yanqing in the Tianning imperial grounds. Moreover, she had just witnessed the man walk into Blacktower after Bai Yuqiao, which alarmed her greatly.
Where was Gu Qishao?
“Could Gu Qishao have fallen into Ning Cheng’s hands?” Han Yunxi murmured. From what she understood of the man, Gu Qishao would never agree to work with Ning Cheng again after receiving her letter. He should have taken Bai Yuqiao away himself and looked for Gu Beiyue independently. Now it was Ning Cheng and Bai Yuqiao entering Blacktower, so where were Gu Qishao and Mu Linger?
“Could something have happened to Gu Qishao and Mu Linger?” Han Yunxi was getting anxious.
“You don’t need to worry. Nothing big will happen to him,” Long Feiye intoned. Although he’d already said so much, he still didn’t reveal the secret of Gu Qishao’s undying body.
“Then could something have happened to Linger? She’s in Ning Cheng’s hands instead?” Han Yunxi asked next. Unless Gu Qishao had specific reasons, he’d fight desperately against Ning Cheng until the end! Why would he give the man such a huge advantage?
Long Feiye had many people mired as scouts at Blacktower. They were hard to find, but it wasn’t convenient to ask them to probe around now with the archers in ambush. “It’s useless to think too much,” he said instead. “Bai Yuqiao must have teamed up with Ning Cheng. We can just watch the show.”
“It’s unlikely they can deal with Bai Yanqing,” Han Yunxi lowered her voice. She silently cursed Ning Cheng for being so impulsive and underestimating Bai Yanqing after fighting one bout against him already. If Bai Yanqing’s poison couldn’t be kept in check, even Long Feiye wouldn’t dare to be careless!
Long Feiye’s lips curled into a cold, wordless smile. They were hiding in the thick grass while Baili Mingxiang and Xu Donglin stood behind them. Time always passed slowly when one was waiting. A long, long while later, Bai Yanqing still hadn’t shown up. But it was at times like this that demanded patience. Han Yunxi sat in her wheelchair while Long Feiye crouched by her side, his hand holding hers. Xu Donglin kept watch on their surroundings and every breath of wind against the grass. Baili Mingxiang was kneeling in the meadow, tightly clutching the secret object in her sleeve. She mentally repeated the words His Highness had left with her when handing over the object.
He had said, “Look clearly before you use it. Your life is in your hands.”
This item was none other than the Tang Clan’s number one assassination weapon, the Raging Flame Lotus (烈火莲花 liehuo lianhua). It was a long-distance projectile weapon that didn’t require her to get close to Bai Yanqing. If she could grab the perfect timing, she’d not only kill the man, but preserve her own life. Of course, why wouldn’t she be fearful at the prospect? It was only His Highness’s words that gave her warmth and strength. Although it was an honor to sacrifice oneself for the sake of East Qin’s revival, and although she was willing to die for His Highness’s sake, his words at least proved that her life was worth more than a pittance in his eyes, and not to be tossed away carelessly. As she held the weapon and looked at His Highness’s proud back, Baili Mingxiang mentally thought, Your Highness, those words of yours have given Mingxiang a life without regrets.
Time trickled by via the shifting shadows of the trees above them. When the sun finally crept overhead at noon, the sound of hoofbeats broke the silence of the forest. Very soon, a familiar figure appeared before their eyes.
“He’s finally here,” Long Feiye muttered.
Han Yunxi slowly narrowed her eyes in silence. Xu Donglin and Baili Mingxiang were both a little nervous, especially the latter. She unconsciously tightened her grip on the Raging Flame Lotus.
On the other side, Ning Cheng had already settled to crouch next to the red coat cannon and finished preparations around the perimeter. Like a fully nocked arrow, the cannons were really to shoot at a moment’s notice.
Bai Yanqing had hardly reached the entrance when a few guards hastened out to welcome him by kneeling all in a row with their heads bowed. Long Feiye silently admired Ning Cheng’s efforts. His soldiers were capable of taking on monumental tasks and didn’t betray a single detail. Someone came to take Bai Yanqing’s horse as soon as he dismounted and went to take off his dusty cape. No one hidden in the meadow dared to make a move. Many more had already held their breaths. If they hadn’t hidden themselves well ahead of time, it’d be impossible to escape Bai Yanqing’s eyes and ears. Even so, their target still turned to sweep his eyes across his surroundings with a severe expression.
Long Feiye and Han Yunxi remained extremely calm. If Ning Cheng hadn’t upset their schemes, they would be fighting the man outright instead of hiding in the grass. Long Feiye’s martial arts were better than the old man’s, making him the superior for in a match without poisons. But precisely because Bai Yanqing had poison skills, Long Feiye needed to bring Han Yunxi along to even fight with him. Han Yunxi’s legs were currently crippled, so that added another additional burden for Long Feiye. Thus, it was hard to tell which one of them would be the victor. However, Long Feiye’s side still had a hidden ace in the form of Baili Mingxiang, so they had much better chances. There was no need for the two of them to feel nervous at all.
By contrast, everyone else was nursing some level of anxiety. Uncle Cheng was about to speak from the other side of the red coat cannon when Ning Cheng silenced him with a stern look. His right hand had already clenched into a fist, while Baili Mingxiang was so frightened that she had squeezed her eyes shut, afraid to see any more.
The tension in the woods rose to its limits as Bai Yanqing swept his eyes over their hiding spots. Abruptly, his gaze stopped at Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s location…Previous Chapter Next Chapter