Chapter 89: A Life-Risking Rescue
Qin Yining screwed her eyes shut tightly with fright. This was the end of the road for her!
And yet, fierce air displacement sounded next to her ears in the next moment. Someone seemed to dart in front of her, blocking the sunlight. Her hand was enveloped by a warm, large, and callused hand. She opened her eyes to see Sir Yao’s slanted body in front of hers, holding her hand with one hand and grasping the arrow with the other. Cold light gleamed darkly off of the arrow tip, less than an inch away from her neck!
Time moved slowly for her. Unceasingly warmth traveled to her hand from his on this cold winter’s day. He’d yanked her behind him and obscured all vision with his large height. It took only him to partition off all blood and gore, filling her eyes with just his back. She couldn’t see his face or his exceedingly fast moves. She could only see cold light flash to him again and again, but he was able to beat them off again and again with deft and wily moves.
He’s not a merchant alright! No merchant would have such adept and strong moves or be so coolly composed in such a situation. Who is he? The assassins were showing him no mercy at all. Every move was fatal as they penned the group in. If it wasn’t for Sir Yao, her guards wouldn’t be able to put up a fight at all. They might even be already dead! Qin Yining knew that she’d misunderstood him. Even if Sir Yao’s identity was a mystery, he wasn’t with the assassins.
She covered the duchess’ and née Sun’s retreat into the house, but the assassins had already planned for this and blocked their way. She could only settle for the next best move of hugging the wall and slowly moving to the corner to remove themselves from the fight.
Pang Xiao and the other four guards put themselves in front of the women. The prince was torn between fighting off twenty or so strong opponents, evading the unexpected arrows, and calculating what angle the arrows were coming from. He was afraid that the girl behind him would get hurt if he dodged out of the way. Even though his martial arts skills were superb, there was no guarantee that he could fully protect her.
“Huzi!” Pang Xiao roared and flicked his eyes up the wall. The guard understood and immediately gave up protecting the women. He picked up a steel blade and charged outside the encirclement, trying to take down the two archers. Meanwhile, Pang Xiao had gotten to the bottom of the backgrounds of these assassins.
At first, he’d thought it was the Great Zhou emperor who meant him no good. The emperor had possibly figured out his movements and wanted to kill him in Great Yan territory. He could’ve bid his own men to wear Great Zhou army uniforms so that no one would suspect this had been an imperial mission.
But when he truly crossed paths with the assassins, he discovered that they possessed the same style and methods as the Tatars, enemies would often invaded Great Zhou! Although they were dressed like Great Zhou soldiers, their build and body odor were the result of spending many years in the plains. These details were impossible to ignore!
The Tatar khan  was extremely devious and slippery. The khan certainly knew that since Great Zhou was fighting Great Yan, the Valiant Tigers would be fully deployed to the southern borders. The Tatars dould take advantage of this to increase their invasion efforts in the north of Great Zhou. Ji Zeyu was probably holding back the Tatar invasion with all of his might, trying to buy as much time for Pang Xiao as possible. Neither of them had considered the possibility that the Tatar savages would travel through Great Zhou territory and make it all the way to the Great Yan capital for an assassination attempt!
Using the Great Zhou army uniforms is a stroke of genius! Pang Xiao thought through all of this in a quick instant. Meanwhile, Huzi had made it to the wall and bounded up to slash at one of the archers. When the other archer saw that his comrade under attack, he didn’t come to his comrade’s aid or run away. Rather, he took advantage of the time to kill a few more people.
Seeing that he was unable to harm Pang Xiao, he aimed his arrows at the females huddled by the corner. He fired off three arrows in a row before Huzi charged him, forcing the archer to jump down the wall.
Qin Yining saw the cold light come whistling forth again and only had enough time to turn and hug née Sun behind her. Her mother had long since been terrified into a mess of tears and snot. She thought she was done for when she saw the cold light arc towards her again, but Qin Yining hugged her tightly and interjected herself between the arrows and the two women.
Née Sun was both touched and horrified. She tried to push Qin Yining away, screaming gibberish. The duchess was transfixed with horror as she screamed, “Darling Yi!”
Pang Xiao noted the arrival of three more arrows and used all his strength to snap the neck of the assassin blocking him, flinging himself towards Qin Yining in the nick of time. However, the arrows were extremely fast. He hacked downwards with his blade but knocked aside only two of them. He couldn’t reach the third and didn’t think much in that crucial moment, thrusting out with his arm to block it.
Qin Yining only heard the sounds of weapons clashing and arrows clattering to the floor, then the muffled piercing of a sharp weapon into flesh. She looked back frantically and saw the familiar, tall, and strong backside in front of her. This time, the right side of his body was dyed red with fresh blood and the arrow had pierced through his shoulder. The arrowhead was protruding out beneath his shoulder blade!
She sucked a breath in and exclaimed, “Sir Yao!” He’d saved her again!
Pang Xiao looked quickly back at her, actually flicking an eyebrow up with a smirk! He didn’t hesitate to break off the arrow that was embedded in him and charged back in the fray. Blood continued to spread along his clothes, making Qin Yining twinge with phantom pain as she looked at him. But somewhere in the depths of her heart, she was strangely shaken.
She blinked rapidly and shook her head firmly, trying to sweep away that utterly handsome and assured smile from seconds ago. Née Sun was hugging Qin Yining tightly and drenching the girl’s shoulder with tears.
“Are you alright, daughter? Are you alright? You scared me!”
Qin Yining came back to herself and patted née Sun’s back comfortingly, giving another reassuring smile to the nervous duchess looking at her inquiringly. The duchess nodded, tears in her eyes.
The assassins were quickly cut down to half of their numbers after a while of hacking from Pang Xiao and Huzi. Roars sounded again from outside. This time, it was the reinforcements that Qin Yining had sent for.
There were only six assassins left, all wounded. Once surrounded, they looked at each other and shuddered once. Black blood trailing down from the corners of their lips heralded the crashes of their dead bodies onto the ground.
Pang Xiao sneered as he clutched his shoulder. Tatar deathsworn. They hadn’t killed him or their principal targets, but would manage to cause misunderstanding and friction between Great Zhou and Great Yan with these uniforms.
Huzi rushed up to his master and lifted up the prince’s shirt to take a look at the wound. He glared fiercely at Qin Yining. They say that pretty women bring trouble. Well, she’s big trouble!
“Are you alright, master?”
“I’m fine.” Pang Xiao shook his head and moved his shoulder still dripping with blood. “Mm. It didn’t harm the tendons or bones. It’s just a flesh wound.”
“But you’ve bled so much.”
Footsteps sounded from the yard as a man in black army uniform respectfully showed in a tall, bearded man in a luxurious, black fur cape. It was East Area Commander Xu Mao of the Warden’s Office  making way for Qin Huaiyuan.
Qin Huaiyuan was out of breath and took in the ghastly scene in the yard first, immediately looking at Qin Yining and née Sun after. He exhaled a long sigh of relief when he saw that they were fine, his expression finally taking a turn for the better. Whereas, Huzi clenched his fists so tightly that the bones cracked when he saw Qin Huaiyuan, and Pang Xiao’s gaze chilled as well.
Qin Yining inwardly relaxed when she saw her father arrive, feeling that everything would be fine now. Née Sun ran up with tears streaming down her face, grabbing Qin Huaiyuan’s arm and sobbing like a bullied child.
“You’re here, my lord.”
“Mm. I rushed here immediately when I received Sir Xu’s news. Are you alright?” Qin Huaiyuan straightened née Sun’s crooked cloak and nodded at the duchess. He finally completely relaxed when he saw that Qin Yining was unharmed despite her mussed up hair and some drops of blood on her.
“It was daughter Yi who protected us,” née Sun sniffled. “And Sir Yao. If it wasn’t for him helping, I’m afraid that we…”
Qin Huaiyuan followed her gaze to the young man who’d taken an arrow to the shoulder and was covered in blood. He was just a hair over twenty, tall, fit, and quite handsome. His eyebrows slanted upwards energetically and the look in his phoenix eyes was deep. This is an unfathomable character.
“Thank you greatly for your help, Sir Yao.” Qin Huaiyuan raised his hands in a cupped fist salute.
“You’re welcome.” Pang Xiao’s left hand was behind his back. He clenched it tightly and loosened it again, smiling faintly with the color drained from his face.