Qin Yining nodded, clenching her teeth through the pain to turn back and smile at the man in black. “Thank you, Sir Mu.”
The man stiffened and responded woodenly, “You, I…”
“There’s no need to conceal yourself. We’ve known each other for a good amount of time now, how would I not recognize your body and eye shape? You’ve kept this rescue operation a secret from your uncle-master, haven’t you?”
Mu Jinghu pulled down his black face covering, looking guiltily at Qin Yining and not knowing what to do with himself.
“This is no place to linger,” offered Lu Heng. “We should leave and find a hiding spot.”
“Alright.” The three followed Mu Jinghu’s instructions out of the yard.
At the same time, Anari blearily opened her eyes and was startled into full wakefulness by the enormous pain at her neck. Just as she was about to struggle to a sitting position, she noticed a man’s boots in front of her.
The khan lifted her head to see a brocade wearing Siqin standing in front of her.
“My consort, you’ve come!” Anari rose, rubbing her neck with one hand and tugging on Siqin’s robes with the other. “Did you come looking for me after discovering my disappearance in the palace? That bitch Qin Yining seduced a random man to help her escape! She even injured me! My neck hurts so much!”
Siqin smiled sympathetically and pulled her into an embrace with his long arms. He massaged her neck and murmured lovingly, “Is this the spot?”
Anari closed her eyes and butted her forehead against Siqin’s shoulder. “That’s it. That Lu Heng grabbed my arms and knocked me out. He also has a very skilled martial artist with him, his servant’s stronger than my…”
Her words abruptly cut off.
She looked down incredulously at the bloody hole in her chest. It’d been formed by a dagger now dripping with blood.
A dagger wielded by the man in front of her, the man she deeply loved.
Another brutal stab, this time to her stomach.
Tremendous pain blossomed; shock crashed into her like a lightning bolt. Eyes widened, blood dribbled out the corner of her lips.
“Siqin, we have such a good life together. I love you so much, so why…”
After the third strike, Siqin slowly laid Anari down on the ground. Boundless tenderness in his eyes, his voice rasped softly, “Go in peace. I will rule Tatar and unite the world. I will also avenge your death at the hands of Great Zhou.”
Fresh blood continuously streamed out of her as Anari’s body convulsed. Her staring eyes screamed with rage and sorrow. She never thought that she would die at the hands of this man!
She suddenly recalled the repeated hints that Qin Yining had dropped, some subtle, others more overt. The princess consort had once mentioned that Siqin’s popularity with the people was too high, that he grasped too much power. Had the girl seen something then?
What a shame that she, the fool in love that she was, never gave Qin Yining’s words the full consideration they deserved.
“Ba, bastard!” Bloody froth bubbled from Anari’s lips as she glared viciously at Siqin. “You. will. die. like. a. dog!”
Siqin hugged himself and stooped in front of Anari with a chuckle. “You’re dying, so it’s not up to you how I die. Let’s call it even after enduring your temper for so many years and fighting for you all this time. If you don’t think it too much of a bother, go ahead and hate me.”
Anari opened her mouth and struggled to lift her arm, but didn’t manage it in the end. As endless darkness and cold swallowed her, the last sight etched into her eyes was that of her consort’s relieved smile, a great burden finally off his shoulders.
Siqin’s grin grew wider when he saw the khan spasm painfully for her last breath. Her body went slack, leaving only a pair of unfocused eyes still staring widely.
He plonked himself down on the ground and leisurely wiped off his dagger on Anari’s clothes, tucking it back into his boot. He then clutched the grimy late khan to his chest, like he was holding a sleeping child. Siqin ran one hand over her eyes, closing them as tears flowed from his.
“Khan, my khan! I will avenge you!” His sobs grew louder and louder as he wailed and howled with grief.
His followers disposing of the guards’ bodies in the yard came rushing in. The scene of the khan consort dyed red from the blood of his beloved, weeping for the end of his world greeted their eyes. Anguished keening rose and fell, as if he were a wounded beast on the brink of despair.
His followers knelt and lowered their heads, saluting their fallen khan.
Siqin abruptly lifted his head and gnashed his teeth. “The Faithful Princess Consort of the First Rank, née Qin, and the official son of House Lu, Lu Heng, conspired to kill the khan. All of you are to go out into the city immediately and capture these two alive! Also, have all of the officials immediately enter the palace for a court session!
“Understood!” His followers boomed back in ringing tones and dashed off to carry out their orders.
Siqin refused to let go of the late khan’s body and carried her back to the palace, wailing with broken-heartedness all along the way. An untold number of citizens came out to investigate the disturbance. They too fell into the throes of sorrow when they saw the bloody figure of the khan consort.
Qin Yining, Lu Heng, and Mu Jinghu were hiding in an abandoned shack in the depths of a narrow alleyway. Though no one knew when it’d been deserted, roof tiles speckled with weather and time and an enormous hole in the roof bore testament that it’d been empty for a very long while. Bunches of weeds called a corner home, already withered in this season. Meanwhile, only cracks and wooden windows devoid of window panes called the walls home.
“The southern gate is the closest way out,” Mu Jinghu whispered. “Shelter here for a bit while I prepare clothing, food, and water for you. Think of a way to get out when the city gates open at dawn.”
Qin Yining nodded with a smile. “Alright, thank you so much. I was very surprised and happy to see you today.”
The young man shook his head. “I just happened to bump into the Lu second master tailing the khan’s men. I followed because I was curious. I had no idea I would see the khan kidnap you in the middle of the night.”
“The khan’s long disliked me for a suspected relationship between me and her consort. Add to that the Soothsayer saying we have similar destinies… well, I knew she would want to kill me.” The princess consort shook her head with a wry smile. “I have a prior relationship with the priestess, I hadn’t anticipated that she’d want to harm me.”
Mu Jinghu lowered his head, hiding an expression full of awkwardness. Even he, someone who spent all his days with the Soothsayer, had no idea what his uncle-master was brewing. Why did she have to set the khan at odds with her consort, and then provoke the khan into killing Qin Yining?
Uncle-master can’t be bothered to share with me, maybe because I’m not smart enough.
But Mu Jinghu treasured his friendship with Pang Xiao at the end of the day, and also felt that Qin Yining was a good person. She shouldn’t lose her life here—which was what urged him onto night reconnaissance for peace of mind.
Then they’d actually run into some things happening.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Oh... oh Anari. As much as she annoyed the ever-loving hell out of me, this is really sad.