Chapter 213: Bloodshed (II)
The Silver Masks were highly trained and immensely proficient. Four of them held off the assassins while the remaining one covered Qin Yining and company’s retreat throughout he back door. They took the small path of the rear garden to where fewer people were.
Qin Yining’s right shoulder was on fire and blood trickled down with every movement, dying half a sleeve a bright crimson red. Black spots appeared in her vision. She undid the handkerchief around her waist as they ran, wrapping it firmly around her shoulder as Jiyun fumbled it into a tight knot.
They met other Silver Masks escorting the old dowager and other family members before long.
Qin Huaiyuan and the third elder master were flanking a disheveled old dowager, Qin-mama stumbling closely behind them.
Née Sun was right behind them, fifth master Qin Xian in one hand and Jin-mama in the other.
Qin Han was holding six-year-old tenth master Qin Rong and gripping his wife née Meng with his other hand.
Senior master Qin Yu was carrying a bloody eleventh master Qin Zong while the second elder master supported the second madame, equally covered in blood. Several concubines, serving girls, maids, and granny servants followed. Guards and Silver Masks brought up the rear.
But where was the third madame? And cousin Qin Yu’s wife? And ninth master Qin Xuan, only eleven years old?!
Qin Yining’s mind buzzed loudly and the scene went dark before her eyes. If it weren’t for Jiyun holding her up strongly, she would’ve tipped over onto the ground.
“Darling Yi, are you alright?” Qin Huaiyuan rushed up and grabbed his daughter, keeping her on her feet. Color drained from the marquis’ face when he saw the girl half drenched in blood. “Where are you hurt?”
“I’m fine.” Qin Yining buried her face weakly into her father’s embrace.
“Where are my sixth and seventh granddaughter!” The old dowager shrilled urgently.
Frantically circling the crowd, the eighth miss wasn’t able to find the third madame or her birth mother either. She bawled, “Where’s my mother? And my auntie?” 
Eleventh master Qin Zong and the eighth miss were both born of Concubine Ge. The boy burst out in loud sobs, “Auntie!” The six year old boy would never forget the sight of his birth mother meeting a blade head-on in order to shield him.
The third elder master also broke down at the grisly memory of his wife holding their son, both pierced through with the same sword.
The scene was beyond chaotic. It was at times like these that everyone realized how horrifyingly close death was to them. The merest blink of the eye had been enough to part family members forever.
The assassins still continued their fierce offensive. Under the protection of the Silver Masks, the remaining Qins kept retreating. Men from the Warden’s Offices of the Five Wards should be here soon since they’d received word.
However, a Silver Mask hacked his way through to report to Qin Huaiyuan. “The outskirts of the palace are on fire and they’ve been attacked by assassins as well. Our leader and the Warden’s Office are guarding the imperial harem and can’t come. Our leader wants milord to take shelter!”
The others might not know who the Silver Masks’ leader was, but Qin Yining did. No wonder she hadn’t seen Cao Yuqing in the crowd! Something had happened at the palace as well. The fourth miss’ heart had settled down not long ago, but it leapt back to her throat upon hearing this.
The Warden’s Office had no men to spare for the Qins, but there were still three dozen highly skilled assassins left. Only ten Silver Masks and a few surviving guards were on their side; they wouldn’t be able to withstand the assassins in a prolonged battle.
Their people constantly fought losing skirmishes to just barely protect the enormous Qin family. Many residences were on fire, blocking off paths they would’ve taken. With pursuers to their rear and blazing flames staring them down, the harried family soon had nowhere to go.
The old dowager wailed with despair. “The heavens want to end us Qins, they want to end us!”
The second madame leaned on the second elder master, also shedding tears of hopelessness. At this moment, someone asked quietly in the crowd, “Didn’t the assassins want us to hand over someone just now?”
A singular cast stone could cause countless ripples. Another voice sounded amidst the miasma of traumatizing distress. “I heard it too! They wanted the fourth miss!”
Everyone’s gaze instantly converged on Qin Yining, barely holding onto consciousness in Qin Huaiyuan’s arms. The old dowager looked at her son’s back, her lips quivering without a sound. A variety of thoughts arose in this delicate instant.
“They want you! Why didn’t you die instead of your sisters!?” The trembling, raspy voice belonged to Concubine Lin of the second branch. She was the sixth and seventh miss’ birth mother and had almost lost her mind earlier when she hadn’t seen her twins. This revelation gave an outlet for all of her fury. “Isn’t it enough that you’ve brought all this down on us?! Do you want the be the death of the entire family??”
“Shut up, née Lin!” The second elder master commanded.
“Why must I shut up!? It’s all because of Qin Yining! It’s all the main branch’s fault! All of you caused the death of so many and killed my Shuang’er and An’er!” Concubine Lin seemed to have gone insane and dashed forward to push Qin Yining, but was halted by Qin Huaiyuan’s upraised arm.
The second elder master yanked his concubine roughly away. “What happened tonight isn’t anyone’s fault!” He admonished angrily. “What’s the meaning of this, née Lin!?”
The roaring fire was to her back and bloodthirsty assassins almost to her front. Both of her daughters were gone.
“Ah——“ Concubine Lin shrieked wretchedly and charged head first into a nearby wall.
A loud impact resounded as red and white matter splashed all over the ground.
“Sister!” The second madame choked out.
I caused another person to die.
As this tragic thought echoed in Qin Yining’s mind, she finally sagged weakly to the ground, unconscious.
“My dearest daughter, how are you feeling?!” Qin Huaiyuan completely panicked and he held onto his beloved daughter tightly, moving with her to sit on the ground. “Don’t scare me!”
Née Sun flew over and yanked Qin Yining out of his hands. “My child, my child!”
“Madame, the miss has lost too much blood. She’s going to be in a lot of danger if we don’t treat her now!” Jiyun applied pressure to Qin Yining’s shoulder and yanked harshly on the handkerchief around it. But this was treating only the symptoms.
Liberal amounts of blood made Qin Huaiyuan’s hands sticky. That was Qin Yining’s blood.
His only daughter’s life hung by a thread and his family was being hunted down like animals, with wounded and dead all around him. Was this to be his end after being a loyal subject all his life?
Had he done something wrong? If this was karma, why couldn’t it come for him alone?