The Princess Wei Yang Chapter 72 - Part 2
Chapter 72: Midnight Ambush
Aboard the carriage, they headed directly to the Prime Minister’s Residence. Having arrived at the West crossing, they suddenly heard someone outside say: “Xianzhu, Liu Yu shi’s carriage had overturned, we have to take a detour.”
Bai Zhi lifted the curtain and saw the chaos outside with the said horse carriage in the middle of the road and frowned: “Xiaojie, we should take a different road.”
Gongzhu’s residence was in the outskirts of the Capital. The sky had turned pitch black. They must quickly return to the residence. Li Wei Yang glanced up at the sky and said: “Then take the detour route.”
Li Min De had never been so solemn. His appearance was exceptional. At the moment, the carriage was only illuminated with a single candle. Under the flickering light, his extraordinary appearance seemed flawless as his shadow swayed.
It occurred to Li Wei Yang that the youth before her seemed a bit distant, if not unfamiliar.
The first time they met, he was only a small, weak child, but now she had a strange premonition. It was like the Li Min De before her was only a shadow of his true self, something she had yet to understand as well.
Li Min De looked up to see Li Wei Yang staring at him and was startled.
Li Wei Yang saw his surprise and smiled.
Li Wei Yang’s complexion was delicate, and the emotions flitting across her face had a trace of the springlike clarity of the Jiangnan landscape. Although it could not match Li Chang Le’s beauty, when Wei Yang smiled, her dimples appeared and made her smile even lovelier. She had clearly experienced many hardships, but her smile was clear as the blue sky after the rain, as if the unpleasant times had never existed. Suddenly, Li Min De was left speechless.
Li Wei Yang asked: “Who did you meet today?”
Li Min De was taken aback. He immediately asked: “Meet who?”
Li Wei Yang did not pursue the question. She paused in thought before taking a jade hair piece from inside her sleeve. She removed the ornamental piece from Li Min De’s head and gently replaced with the jade piece for him.
“It’s your birthday today, have you forgotten already?”
Li Min De was momentarily surprised before cherishing the jade piece on his head, his fingers grazing past the jade as he asked: “Is it really?!” He had an impeccable memory, once he had seen something, he would not forget it, yet he could not remember his own birthday.
Li Wei Yang’s gaze was unclear. A while later, she began to say: “You see, time passes in the blink of an eye. You are a year older now.” She thought he was wholeheartedly dependent on her and believed every word she said, but she did not know when he began to keep many more secrets than she did.
One could hear a secondary meaning in her words. Li Min De was conflicted on whether or not he could tell her and trembled as he said: “If I could, I’d be willing to go back to the way things used to be.” Those words were sincere and from the bottom of his heart. He did not want Li Wei Yang to misunderstand, but the way things were now, he did not want her to worry either.
Seeing his reluctance to tell the truth, Li Wei Yang softly sighed: “You must be tired. Close your eyes and rest. I will wake you up when we arrive.”
Li Min De trembled. Li Wei Yang was always close to him and had never been so indifferent with him. The tone of her voice was reserved and solemn. He took a deep breath and bit his lip as he turned away, quietly saying: “I know you blame me.” There was a trace of loneliness on his face.
Li Wei Yang’s gaze softened, she suppressed the worry from the bottom of her heart and gently replied: “I don’t blame you.”
Li Min De curled up, shifting away from her, his expressions pale as a corpse. Li Wei Yang saw that his jade hair piece was crooked and instinctively reached out to fix it for him like she would in the past. Li Min De abruptly raised his head, his eyes bright red and determined: “There’s something I want to tell you!”
Seeing him so serious, Li Wei Yang wondered if she had been too harsh!
Suddenly, Bai Zhi heard a sound behind them. She peered out of the window and saw several silhouettes rushing towards them like the roaring winds. She shouted, “Xiaojie!”
The carriage was suddenly overturned, causing Li Wei Yang and the others to fall out from the carriage. LI Wei Yang was momentarily stunned before she pulled Li Min De behind the guards that had accompanied them. They had barely gone a couple steps before the dark figures had sprung out of nowhere, blocking their path.
It was difficult to say how many there were, perhaps about twenty or thirty people, all dressed in black garments. They advanced quickly, fighting the ten guards that were protecting the carriage of the Prime Minister’s residence. Travelers on the road chaotically dispersed, even if they did not run, they would find a place to hide far away.
Li Min De frowned deeply. Li Wei Yang took his hand. Their hands were already sweaty and clammy when they came in contact.
“Xiaojie, what do we do now?” Bai Zhi was drained of color, fearful as she held onto Mo Zhu. The two were holding onto one another, trembling.
“You people…” Their objective was Li Min De and her. Wei Yang turned around and whispered, “Do not panic. Find somewhere to hide far away from here, the farther the better!”
Bai Zhi and Mo Zhu tentatively nodded. Bai Zhi murmured: “Xiaojie, you must be careful!” She knew she would only be a burden to Xiaojie if she stayed whereas she could run to find help instead! For that reason, she pulled Mo Zhu along and ran.
The dark figures saw Bai Zhi and Mo Zhu leaving, but those two were not their targets, so they did not pursue. They spread out into a semi-circle, surrounding the guards. The guards disregarded their lives and surged forward to protect them. But in the end, there were too many assailants. They had strength in numbers.
A breeze gently blew past, raising the stench of blood into one’s face. A coldness sprung forth. Li Wei Yang discovered something was not right and quickly shielded Li Min De. It was a good thing because in the blink of an eye, the gleam of a sword flared. Two guards risked their lives, combining their strengths to protect Li Wei Yang and Li Min De in the center.
Li Min De raised his voice: “What kind of people are you?!”
The dark-garbed assailants did not waste their breath and advanced. The two guards were cut down. Li Wei Yang pulled Li Min De back as they retreated. The assassins raised their bloodstained pointing at them! At that moment, a brilliant gleam of a broadsword intercepted the assassin at the lead. Li Wei Yang was stunned to see Tuoba Yu on horseback, quickly approaching with at least ten guards behind him.
They entered the fray and immediately turned the tides. The dark-garbed assassin saw this and smiled coldly, suddenly raised his head up and whistled loudly. Roughly another ten assassins emerged from the shadows. It seemed as if they had already been there, waiting.
Their objective was Li Wei Yang and the others, and more importantly, it was to kill. They did not hesitate to cut down the guards by Tuoba Yu’s side, intending to force them out. Two weapons clashed against one another. Li Wei Yang heard a “kacha” sound by her ear and spun around to see Tuoba Yu split the blade of his opponent’s dagger with his sword. As if struck by a fierce blow, fresh blood spewed from the assailant’s mouth, and he fell backwards.
Li Wei Yang knew Tuoba Yu had trained in martial arts for many years and excelled in other matters, but she did not think he would be this skilled!
Tuoba Yu threw his hand up, sending the signal flares within his sleeve flying straight up into the sky. Above, the signal flares illuminated the sky!
Li Wei Yang understood. Tuoba Yu was gathering his forces. Her fiercely pounding heart could not begin to feel at peace.
The dark-garbed assassins saw the situation and became even more ruthless.
Li Wei Yang heard footsteps behind her and had thought that Tuoba Yu’s reinforcements had arrived. She turned to look and saw individuals in the same dark uniforms as the assassins in front of her that surged forward with murderous intent.
Tuoba Yu had not expected his reinforcements to be delayed, not to mention more assassins had arrived. His face grew solemn as he blocked the swords in front of them. Countless gleaming blades lunged at them. The sound of the blades upon contact were deafening.
Li Wei Yang pulled Li Min De closer. Caught in the center of the fray of the battle, the killing intent and stench of blood were almost suffocating. It was the first time she felt death come as close to her as this. She saw a guard in front of her being beheaded, blood overflowing from his body. Her body became numb, but her mind stirred with countless possibilities.
Was it Da furen? Had Da Furen sent people to kill her?!
No, that wasn’t it. This was within proximity of the Capital. Da Furen would not attempt something as daring here! Moreover, she had attended Gongzhu’s banquet. There were countless influential nobles and officials on the roads. If the assassins had mistakenly targeted anyone else, it would be traced back to her. Da Furen was not that foolish! If so, then who was it, who else would want her life?
Tuoba Yu struggled to fend off the assassins on his own. More than half of his guards were dead. Raw blood ceaselessly darkened the ground beneath them, inspiring fear in others at the sight of it. The road ahead and the one behind them had been blocked off. Even if Li Wei Yang wanted to find someplace to hide, she could not.
A while later, a guard fell down. The protective circle suddenly had been broken. Seeing the gap, the assailants rushed at them with their swords.
In a fleeting moment, Li Wei Yang felt a numbing chill from within her, leaving her rooted to the spot in the most urgent moment. Li Min De suddenly pushed her aside and shielded her. Li Wei Yang was horrified and was about to call him back because the gleaming sword was about to touch Li Min De’s hair. Li Wei Yang was drenched in sweat and unnerved by each gust of cold wind that blew against her.
However, Li Min De saw the assailants collapse to the ground, blood running freely.
“Reinforcements have arrived!” Li Min De saw about ten masked individuals in blue garments rush forward, slashing and stabbing amongst the assassins. Relief surfaced in his eyes.
However, Tuoba Yu fearfully called out: “No, these are not my reinforcements!” He did not stop swinging his sword, taking advantage of the confusion, the assassins scattered.
Seeing as they were not his own, Tuoba Yu’s thinking shifted. He whistled once and a white steed came. He shouted: “Onto the horse!” He cut down an assassin and waved her over. He helped Li Wei Yang up onto the horse. Naturally, he had no intention of saving Li Min De.
Li Wei Yang firmly pulled the reins and stared meaningfully at Tuoba Yu. Tuoba Yu was startled, then he frowned and pushed Li Min De forward, allowing him to get onto the horse: “Quickly, go!” After that he sent the horse off, spiriting away from the circle.
Li Wei Yang only registered the shrieking winds in her ears as if there was a sharp arrow piercing through the air, pursuing them. She held her breath and held onto Li Min De’s hand. Two arrows streaked past her hair. Li Wei Yang lowered her voice: “Min De! Crouch down!” After that, she raised the reins and urged the horse forward, leaving the assassins behind.
Her surroundings flew past as if she were flying. She did not know how much time had passed. The horse was still racing ahead, the farther they went, the quicker everything disappeared.
Once she saw that there were no more pursuers, her heart began to calm down. The evening wind had its familiar chill, as scathing as a knife across her face. She slightly bowed her head, “Min De…” Li Wei Yang paused for a breath, only to take in the cold wind and a chill that seeped into her very bones.
She called Li Min De’s name twice, but he didn’t respond, as if he didn’t hear anything. Li Wei Yang thought he hadn’t heard her and called two or three more times, but he still didn’t respond.
Terrified, Li Wei Yang turned around and examined his face. His face was ashen, his eyes closed shut with sweat pouring from his forehead as if he were trying to suppress something.
Li Wei Yang immediately sensed that something was wrong and could not help but murmur: “Min De, what’s happening to you?”
“San jie…” Even Li Min De’s voice was trembling. He only managed to utter two words, but it was as if he was using all of the strength he had, “I… I…”
Li Wei Yang felt her heart drop.
Seeing Li Wei Yang and Li Min De had fled, the assassins and the individuals in blue uniforms wanted to chase after them. However, Tuoba Yu’s reinforcements had arrived, the military official leading the guards rushed over: “Dianxia!”
Tuoba Yu threw out his arm: “Capture them alive!”
The individuals in blue were very perceptive. They whistled once and quickly retreated like the receding tide. The remaining assassins had yet to react before they were surrounded by Tuoba Yu’s guards.
In the woods, Li Wei Yang pulled the reins back. The horse neighed and stopped.
Li Wei Yang wanted to examine Li Min De’s condition more closely, but the horse had just stopped. Behind her, Li Min De, who had always been holding onto her waist, not uttering a word, fell straight to the ground! Li Wei Yang panicked and quickly pulled him back, but she did not have enough strength, so they both fell off the horse. Frightened, the horse bolted away as if driven mad, Li Wei Yang let it go and rushed to examine Li Min De.
“Min De!” She called out his name, but his eyes were still tightly closed, not responding to her words. Li Wei Yang saw that something was off and checked his back, only to discover a strange dampness. She could faintly make out what it was under the moonlight; it was damp, fresh blood. Eyes brimming with fear, Li Wei Yang looked closer and discovered a short arrow protruding from Li Min De’s back - he must have been struck by the arrow earlier!
She clearly remembered telling him to crouch down, how could he not listen to her? In a heartbeat, she understood. If Li Min De had crouched down, then her back would have been exposed to the enemy, and the person wounded would certainly have been her! As the thought crossed her mind, she felt her heart ache, constricting and making it hurt to breathe.
“Min De! Min De!” Li Wei Yang could not think anymore. She looked around. Earlier, in their flight of panic, she did not have the chance to examine her surroundings closely. Now, she did not see the assassins, much less a single person’s silhouette around.
What to do now? Was she to watch Li Min De die?!
No! She couldn’t! Absolutely not! She had promised San Furen, and she must keep Li Min De alive, regardless.
Li Wei Yang helped Min De up and tore his clothes. She began to carefully examine the short arrow behind his back - the wound was not large, but the blood flowing from it had turned black. Naturally, the arrow must had poison!
Li Wei Yang did not need to think. She firmly pulled the arrow out, and then placed her mouth over the mouth of the wound, using her strength to suck out the poisonous blood. Taking the blood in and spitting it out, fearing that she may be unable to save Li Min De’s life! She lost track of how much time had passed before she discovered the black blood on Li Min De’s back had slowly turned red again. She breathed a sigh of relief and ripped a piece of fabric from her skirt to use to bandage his wound with.
Suddenly, a rapid burst of footfalls thundered against the small road, alarming Li Wei Yang.
She had barely turned around. The cold blade of a dagger was already against her throat.
“Xianzhu, as long as you don’t do anything, we will not harm you.” The voice that rang out was cold but sensible and reasonable.
Li Wei Yang ran through countless possibilities in her head. The assassins had charged at them with swords, clearly after their lives, but this person had not taken action immediately, so they must not have been with the assassins. In any case, he had a sword against her throat, which proved that he was not part of the reinforcements Tuoba Yu sent. Only three different groups had been present, and given process of elimination, that left the individuals in blue.
Li Wei Yang suddenly recollected herself.
She was someone who had died once. Living once more was the Heavens’ grace. From the moment she returned to the Capital, she had always kept her calm. Now, even if she was going down a dark, obscure road, she would not allow herself to panic! She had yet to reach a dead end, there was still a chance!
“Who are you?” Her gaze fell on the person in gray in front of her
Although the individual in gray wore a mask, there were noticeable gray hairs on his head. One could tell that he was no longer young, but his eyes were bright and piercing, with a coldness of its own. When he looked over Li Wei Yang’s calm, collected face, unspoken praise crossed his eyes. It could be said a person’s true nature could be revealed in desperate times. This xiao guniang was only thirteen or fourteen years old, yet she could remain calm in the face of life and death. Others could not help but look at her differently.
Li Wei Yang glanced at his gray uniform. A number of possibilities raced through her head, but they quickly disappeared before she could determine the most likely reason. The person in gray noticed Li Min De lying on the ground and suddenly panicked. He withdrew his sword in order to check on Li Min De’s condition!
“You know Min De?” She asked.
He paid no mind to her. After checking, he saw that Li Min De was still breathing, and the poison in his blood had been removed. He then breathed a sigh of relief.
Li Wei Yang coldly looked at him. Under the moonlight, her youthful face resembled that of a statue’s, only her eyes were bright and clear. Her eyes trained on the person in gray and his every action.
He calmly returned Li Wei Yang’s stare: “Xianzhu, we don’t have any ill intentions.”
We? Li Wei Yang scanned her surroundings and noticed numerous silhouettes in the shadows, all in blue uniforms, their presence like that of ghosts.
These people had soundlessly surrounded them in the blink of an eye, and she had not sensed anything at all. Li Wei Yang could not say a word.
The situation settled into a strange calm.
“You were the individuals in blue that saved us earlier,” Judging from his facial expressions, Li Wei Yang knew she was right.
Even if she was brilliant, she could not explain why a group of assassins suddenly appeared, intent on taking their lives. As for why Tuoba Yu intervened, it could be said that it was a matter of returning a favor. If so, then, these individuals in blue, what were their intentions?
Li Wei Yang recalled the worried look the person in gray had when he saw Li Min De and thought of one possibility.
“If you truly are honorable and righteous, you would not mind taking off your mask.” Li Wei Yang coldly continued, “If you do not, there is nothing more that needs to be said.
The person in gray paused for a moment before taking off his mask. He came closer, revealing his face. Unlike most, he had a tall, dignified form, perhaps around forty years of age.
“We do not have any intentions to harm you two at all. Xianzhu, please do not misunderstand. If we had such intentions, we would not have saved you earlier.”
Even if they weren’t assassins, they had yet revealed their intentions. Li Wei Yang inwardly scoffed coldly: “You still refuse to state your objective?”
Once the words left her, a sword was suddenly up against her throat. It seemed as if she could hear the sound of the blade, slicing through her skin. Then, there was blood, flowing and burning against her skin.