Chapter 219: Clearing the Riffraff Around the Emperor
Sent out as a scout into the capital, Ole Five rushed back with a murmured report. “There’s some troop movement in the city, but they’re far away from here. We’ve got at least an hour and a half to make our move. By the way, the Qin guards and servants add up to around twenty.”
“Hah! There’s nothing to be afraid of with twenty people! With our skills, we kill them all in thirty minutes!”
The boss wiped his mouth with the back of his hand after putting a water bottle down. “Our goal is to kill today is to first kill the wench, second to rescue those three idiots. We’ll hide in the city when that’s done and wait for Great Zhou’s army to win.”
It wasn’t easy for them to leave since the capital was surrounded. They had to wait for their side to win so they could collect their reward from the emperor.
Morale was high after this speech. Masks affixed and blades unsheathed as everyone rushed for the burial site.
The caskets were placed by holes in the ground. Qin Huaiyuan led the family in burning paper money while the servants and guards sobbed loudly. Jiyun knelt behind Qin Yining and Mu Jinghu crouched indifferently next to the fourth miss, his attention on the surroundings.
After burning paper money, the marquis gave a speech and had servants bring out the three assassins. Blades for their execution were sharpened.
“Today, we use the flesh and blood of these three to mourn those who are gone!”
Another tremendous round of wailing sounded at this proclamation.
An executioner tied each of the assassins onto stumps of wood on the ground, forcing them to adopt a spread-eagle position. Little knives to pick out bones were readied on the side.
The three assassins were covered in wounds after vast amounts of torture and completely out of beans to spill. But still they were to be treated like animals for the slaughter and have their limbs pulled off after all that?? Out of their minds with fright, one of them even begged for mercy with trembling lips.
Cries for lenience struck a particularly ironic tone in Qin Yining’s ears. She rose and looked at them coldly. “Mercy? So now you know to fear death? Why didn’t you think whether my family was afraid when you were killing them? You didn’t spare even my eleven-year-old cousin or two younger sisters! You lost your humanity long ago and don’t deserve to live! You want me to let you go? Never! Do it!”
“Understood!” The executioners brought blades down onto the assassins.
The peak of the mountain was a flat clearing. A ways down would bring one to forest and a winding path. The Qins and their people had circled the execution ground and was wholly focused on things within.
The three dozen assassins waiting to complete their mission grew anxious when they heard the ghastly shrieks from their comrades. Having spent all this time building up their strength, they charged out like tigers when the boss barked an order, hacking and slashing indiscriminately.
Qin Yining took shelter with her father, uncles, and brothers. Guards huddled and formed an outer ring of protection around them.
The assassin boss snorted coldly. “Qin Si, step forward to die! If you’d done so, fewer of your family would’ve died that day. Well? Are you still afraid of death? Aren’t you worried that the vengeful spirits of your dead kin will pop out from the ground to grab you?!”
She wasn’t the least bit affected. “Who knows who will live and die today!”
When her voice sounded, lids on the caskets were suddenly flung open and three dozen Silver Masks leapt out from within.
Though their leader wasn’t tall, her black outfit couldn’t conceal her voluptuous figure. With a wave of her sharp sword, her men surged forward in practiced moves. Though they didn’t make a sound, their aura was awe-inspiring nonetheless and killing intent permeated the air.
Blazing fires erupted at the same time, surrounding the clearing at the mountain peak. Black smoke billowed to the sky, trapping everyone in a circle of flames.
The assassins panicked with the turn of events. They were evenly matched with the Silver Masks in terms of numbers and skill, and there might be even more enemies waiting in the shadows! They could only fight for retreat, but their backs halted in front of the sea of flames before long.
Qin Yining smirked jeeringly from her safety within the crowd. “Well? How does it feel to have pursuers nipping at your heels and fire ahead of you?”
These circumstances mirrored what the Qins had faced that day.
“You slut! I’ll send you to hell first before I die!” The assassin boss waved his sword furiously, but was struck in the temple by a pebble before he could do anything. A mouthful of spat blood later, his eyes rolled up in his head and he crashed to the ground.
This development stunned everyone present, especially Cao Yuqing standing next to Qin Huaiyuan. Qin Yining also looked at Mu Jinghu with surprise.
The gentleman dusted off his hands and explained diffidently, “It’s not good that he cussed at you.”
He was very put out that someone had yelled at his friend’s wife. That guy would probably die a worse death if that fox was here, which was why he’d taken action without hesitation.
Her senses returning to her, Qin Yining smiled gratefully at Mu Jinghu.
The swift reaction cowed the assassins, and the would-be attackers were slowly defeated and captured alive from the Silver Masks’ fierce onslaught.
Coincidentally, the fires weakened at the same time. This was when the assassins realized that firebreaks had been dug around the peak. The blazing flames had just been to hem them in and wouldn’t have caused a forest fire. Sadly, they’d failed to notice something was amiss in their rush to get to their target.
The Silver Masks dislocated all of the assassins’ jaws before turning them over to Qin Huaiyuan. The marquis had the new captives bound with the original three for dismemberment.
Having completed her part, Cao Yuqing raised a silent cupped fist salute to Qin Huaiyuan in the distance. The marquis smiled gratefully at her and raised his hands in return.
The concubine blushed and ducked her head, avoiding his smile. She turned to form a line with her men.
The third elder master suddenly broke out in tears and laughter when he saw all of the assassins trussed up like chickens. “Good! Damn this is good!”
Throwing an arm around the third elder master for comfort, Qin Huaiyuan whispered, “Don’t worry, third brother. They don’t have long to live.”
“Yes brother, I believe you.” The third elder master wiped his face with a hand. Though he itched to slay these vermin where they stood, he still had to consider the greater picture and not ruin the plan.
The procession descended the mountain with great fanfare, assassins in tow.
“Have our people get ready. We’ll parade the captives on the street in a short while,” Qin Huaiyuan murmured to Qitai.
“Understood!” Qitai nodded and whipped his horse for greater speed.
The people had been frothing with rage all this while, particularly the refugees at Ning Park. This fury boiled over when the latter learned of how the Qins, loyal servants to the people, had almost been exterminated and the culprits captured.
They’d had been terrorized by the specter of their nation falling for far too long. When the Great Zhou emperor had unilaterally ripped up the successful peace accords, hatred of him reached new highs. It was easy enough to imagine the fate of the butcherers of peace when paraded out on the streets.
So the emperor forbade the Qins to dismember the assassins? Alright, they wouldn’t then.
But surely it wasn’t the fault of the Qins when the assassins were the victims of an angry mob.
Qin Yining lifted her window curtains to see the assassins being prodded along like animals at the rear. Satisfaction hummed in her veins. The boulder pressing down on her heart in the last few days was finally rolled away.
So was the rest of the family. The two elder masters occupied the same carriage, carrying on a hushed conversation on how to handle the actual burial.
Qin Yu was remembering his wife and cried all the way back, his hands drooping helplessly in front of him. Qin Han silently offered what comfort he could.
Just as the procession reached the city gates, they noticed a disturbance in front of the walls. A chaotic mess of civilians and soldiers milled around, obstructing passage completely. This struck the marquis as odd and he sent servants on to inquire. The news he received however, was utterly shocking.
“What did you say?! The Prince of Ning entered the city with ten thousand men?!”
“In response to milord, yes! The prince summoned one thousand from the Firearms Division, the Division of Three Thousand, and six thousand from the Division of the Five Armies as soon as he received the command token! He’s surrounded the palace and charged in with some of his men. His war cry is that the trampress is causing the destruction of the nation and that the riffraff needs to be cleared from around the emperor!”
Qin Huaiyuan blinked, not sure what his next step should be. The marquis never would’ve thought that mutiny would be the prince’s first move once he took control of the armies!
Cao Yuqing and the Silver Masks abandoned their current mission when they heard this and headed for the palace. Meanwhile, the assassins bound in a line attracted the people’s attentions.
Hem hem, y'all see why the teaser was title withheld? XD
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