Chapter 213 (II): Bloodshed (II)
“Protect the Marquis of Anping!”
Thunderous roars sounded from outside the flower-hung gate when despair had fully gripped everyone. It sounded like a crowd of a hundred!
The assassins judged the defense too hard to penetrate and were even less inclined to continue the fight now that reinforcements had appeared. At the same time, men dressed in ordinary clothing wielding axes, metal bars, wooden clubs, and knives poured in. Qin Huaiyuan could tell with a glance that they were the Azure Justice!
Though the rebel organization was a civilian-organized one, the leaders were boxing teachers and rogue fighters. They streamed in to see the three dozen assassins making their escape. Azure Justice chased after the attackers without skipping a beat, the Silver Masks joining in the pursuit as well.
And so the danger to the manor was suddenly defused.
Qin Huaiyuan oversaw fire extinguishment efforts from the survivors, sending others to search for any who might still be alive and others for the doctor.
Tardy help from the fire department also finally arrived.
Qin Huaiyuan hugged his daughter to himself and put her down in the outer study, which was untouched by the fires. He set Jiyun on guard. Due to the high number of injured and dead in the manor, née Sun, Jin-mama, and Qiulu were sent to look after the old dowager, second madame, and others.
The full list of casualties was generated when the fires were extinguished.
Half of the 39 inner resident servants were dead and only 10 outer residence guards and servants still lived. From the second branch, Concubine Lin, the sixth miss, the seventh miss, and the first wife were gone. From the third, the third madame and her son the ninth master were also sadly departed.
The heavily wounded Qin Yining and eleventh master Qin Zong were in comas. Countless others had injuries of varying degrees.
The old dowager broke into tragic sobs when she heard that her favorite daughter-in-law, eldest granddaughter-in-law, two charming granddaughters, and even her loyal Jixiang and Ruyi had been summoned by the underworld. She almost fainted several times.
The imperial physicians and doctors entered the manor, frantically attending to the wounded.
Qin Huaiyuan, the second and third elder master were beside themselves with picking up the pieces, burial matters, and setting up memorials.
When men from the Warden’s Office arrived, they thoroughly scoured the manor with Qin Huaiyuan leading the way, deathly afraid of any remaining assassins hiding in the shadows. However, no one noticed that three black-clad men evaded the Warden’s Office reinforcements and rushed to Qin Yining’s room.
The fourth miss’ shoulder wound was three inches deep, running from her shoulder blade to her upper right chest. There was also a cut one inch deep in her right arm. Thankfully she’d created a makeshift tourniquet in time, or she never would’ve hung on until the imperial physician arrived.
Stitching her wound up took a little bit of time. The physician rushed off to look at the injured eleventh master when he was done.
Jiyun held a chilled handkerchief to Qin Yining’s forehead. She was so worried she wanted to break out into tears as she watched over her mistress’ uneasy, feverish sleep. She knew that the fourth miss was in a coma not only because of blood loss, but even more so due to guilt towards the rest of the family.
Songlan had died to save Qin Yining.
The sixth miss and seventh miss had died in front of her; Concubine Lin had committed suicide with hate in her heart.
These were all overwhelming blows to the honest and kind Qin Yining.
Just who were the assassins and why had they said those words? Many of the survivors had lost family members, what if they hated Qin Yining for that? How would she continue to live with the Qins from henceforth?
A sudden, violent shudder coursed through Jiyun when her thoughts turned to Pang Xiao. She was supposed to protect Qin Yining, but the miss had suffered such a severe injury. The prince would probably take her skin off if he knew…
She abruptly sensed abnormal movement from the roof as her imagination ran wild. Jiyun stood up alertly in front of the bed, her eyes darting to and fro as she scanned her surroundings.
Thanks to the bright lamp, despite the decorative lace covering over it, she saw a smidgeon of dust fall from the roof rafters.
Alarm sounding wildly, the guard blew out the lamp and unfurled the soft sword from her waist. Her weapon glinted coldly in the minimal light.
Roof tiles fell in explosively at the same time. A man clad in black landed from the skies and ran at the bed, brandishing his sword. Jiyun blocked him with a move as two more burst in through the windows, also wielding swords.
Their leader sneered. “Little girl, get out of the way if you want to live. We won’t kill you.”
“Just who are you and why are you trying to kill my mistress?!” Face full of sweat, Jiyun adopted a ready stance in front of the bed. She didn’t back down in the slightest. “I won’t leave the miss behind!”
“Haha! Since you’re such a loyal servant, I’ll tell you why so you can go to hell with your questions answered!” The man carved a fancy pattern in the air with his sword. “We’re here on behalf of His Imperial Majesty of Great Zhou! Don’t they say that this nation won’t fall as long as this little girl exists? The emperor wants us to get rid of this talisman!”
“You!” Flabbergasted, Jiyun had never thought that the Great Zhou emperor was behind these men! No one knew better than those by Qin Yining’s side just how talk of a ‘talisman’ had come about. It was something made up so the fourth miss could escape being eaten! “Does the Faithful Prince of the First Rank know you’re here??”
“Hrnn! You little girl know a thing or two, hmm?” The man snorted and couldn’t be bothered with an answer. He raised his sword for a charge.
Jiyun hastily parried it, but quickly realized that these three were much higher skilled than the previous mass of assassins. She couldn't take them on just by herself!
Many things were becoming clear to her. That large group earlier had killed indiscriminately because they didn’t know who their target was, while these three had remained in the shadows to ensure the success of their mission.
And indeed, Qin Yining lying here for treatment had given away who the Qin fourth miss was. Now that the manor was a chaotic mess and everyone was preoccupied, that created an opening for these three to slip in.
Jiyun met each move with great difficulty, but she grit her teeth and hung on grimly. She wouldn’t allow anything further to happen to Qin Yining on her watch. She’d be dead meat if she did! Besides, she genuinely respected and loved the Qin fourth miss now, how would she possibly let the miss die?
However, martial arts was just like stamina, not something that could be increased just because one wanted to. Jiyun slowly faltered and suffered several blows. She cried out loudly for help, but no one answered.
When all seemed bleak, a white light flashed past the window. The assassin that was about to bring his blade down on the bed suddenly halted.
The room door was kicked open and a white figure dashed inside, freezing the other two where they stood with a quick reach of its hands.
All three assassins had been apprehended in the blink of an eye!
The figure panted. “Sorry I’m late!”
Jiyun had suffered shallow injuries in several places and was also huffing wearily. But she refused to relax her guard. “Who are you?”
The person produced a fire-starter from his clothes and lit the lamp again.
Jiyun took a close look and exclaimed with surprise, “You’re… Sir Mu?”
The newcomer was in his early twenties, tall, skinny, sporting delicate features, and wearing patched robes. His breathing was unsteady due to the great rush he’d been in. Mu Jinghu answered with a frown. “That fox had me race here when he heard the news. But it looks like I was still a bit too late.”
He turned back to look curiously at Qin Yining, cocking his head and considering the unconscious girl on the bed for a long moment. He nodded solemnly and spoke without a change in tone, “Oh, no wonder he had me come. She’s a beauty.”
Jiyun finally heaved a sigh of relief and collapsed on the footrest. She pointed at the three immobile assassins. “Sir Mu, what about them?”
“Do you want me to kill them? I actually think it’s better if we capture them alive.” Mu Jinghu rifled his worn sleeves for a small packet. “This is some medicine I put together.” He turned back and jabbed roughly at the three assassins’ acupuncture points.
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