The man with the big beard snorted out a gust of air from his nostrils and grumbled, “Heavenly Teacher, Heavenly Teacher! The great king has been bewitched by that fellow and believes that dribble about ‘immortality medicine’! How could a stupid teenage girl possibly know any arts to make immortality medicine? In my eyes, that Heavenly Teacher, who we have no background information on, is the one who is suspicious!”
“Second Brother, hold your tongue!” The person who spoke this time was a middle-aged man who had a graceful and elegant demeanor to him. His face was pale without any facial hair and he was dressed in scholarly clothes. However, his eyes shone with a crafty light, which completely destroyed his outward elegant appearance.
“Eldest Brother, I’ve already asked around. The guests here contain one royal prince and the other two youths and girls are all the children of high-ranking officials. From their appearances, it doesn’t look like our target is among them. It’s better not to act rashly in case we end up beating the grass and scaring off the snake!” The man with the knife scar on his face looked at the middle-aged scholar as he quietly stated.
When the big bearded fellow heard this, his eyes immediately lit up, “The children of high-ranking officials? I’m sure they have a ton of cash on them. If we catch any one of them, we can eat and drink merrily for the rest of our lives!”
The man with the scarred face glared at him and huffed, “Did you get addicted to masquerading as a bandit ah? Do you think the guards they brought with them are pushovers? What’s her name, the royal princess, is lodging not far from town. If a ruckus happens here, do you think they wouldn’t be able to find out? Perhaps there are even their spies here already. It’s better not to introduce a new twist in our plans without thinking it through!”
The man with the beard sneered and replied, “Old Three, I think you’ve spent too much time here in the Central Plains. Not only do you speak all fancy now but you’ve also become more of a coward too! In my opinion, we should have our fellow brothers ambush them when these guys leave town. After they’re dead, we can plunder the loot. By the time that whatever royal princess comes along, we would have fled long ago!”
Although the middle-aged scholar seemed a bit tempted by this proposition, in the end, he decided to say this instead, “Official business first! The rest we can all figure out later!”
The little divine stone waited in the dark, listening for a long time. When it knew that these people had no intentions of harming its master tonight, it eavesdropped for a bit longer to learn their plans. After getting the information it was looking for, it turned around and silently left.
These foreigners would have never expected that their carefully thought out plans had inadvertently been leaked out without them even knowing what had happened. When the little divine stone got back to Xiaocao’s room, it told its master everything that these fellows had outlined. As she had expected, the enemy had set up an ambush at Wild Wolves Slope with about a thousand men there. They were all waiting for ‘Royal Princess Jinan’s’ carriage and escort to walk into the trap!
Yu Xiaocao knew that there were countless eyes in town staring at them, so it wouldn’t be convenient for them to send someone out with this information. Instead, she wrote down all of the details on a piece of paper and asked the little divine stone to carry it in its mouth to the decoys outside of town.
The little divine stone was displeased with her plan.
“Then do you plan on morphing into a homing pigeon? I can tie the paper onto your tail instead.” Yu Xiaocao retorted.
The little divine stone thought about its beautiful and elegant tail with a stupid piece of paper bound to it. It was still better for it to carry it in its mouth. At least it’d look less dumb that way. It grumbled a bit as it unhappily headed out with the note in its mouth, jumping through the window. It disappeared silently in the darkness of the night.
Since the foreign enemy wasn’t planning on attacking them tonight, Xiaocao went to sleep with a light heart. She slept deeply without any dreams. The next morning, after washing up, she saw He Wanning come out of her room listlessly with a pair of prominent panda eyes.
“What happened? Did you go out last night to steal some needle and thread from other people?” Yu Xiaocao couldn’t resist the urge to make fun of the other girl.
“Don’t mention it! Didn’t you say last night that there were countless foreigners in town with ulterior motives ah? After hearing that, she was anxious the entire night and tossed and turned, disrupting the entire room! Didn’t you always claim that you were bold and brave ah? How come you’re so cowardly now?” Yuan Xueyan spared no effort in ridiculing her good friend.
He Wanning righteously stated, “I have some skill in martial arts, so if bandits appear I can at least defend myself for a few moves and stall for enough time for the bodyguards to come over. I was worried for you, okay. You’re a weak and delicate young maiden. I was the one who brought you out so the responsibility rests on me to bring you back safe and sound. Last night, the reason why I didn’t sleep was because I was trying to keep a night watch, okay? Argh...I’m so sleepy. I’m pretty sure I can fall asleep while riding my horse today!”
Yu Xiaocao remarked out of guilt, “I was the one who wasn’t thoughtful enough. I should have sent either Chunhua or Qiushi over to protect you guys!”
“No need! Among the maids I brought, two of them also have some martial arts skills. Although they’re not as strong as Chunhua or Qiushi, even ten of me wouldn’t be able to beat any one of them. The enemy’s target is you, so it’s better that Chunhua and Qiushi stay by your side to keep you safe.” He Wanning yawned again and rubbed her eyes with a hand as she spoke casually.
As they talked, the Ning Brothers also exited their rooms. The two men seemed to be in good spirits and Ning Donghuan was as cheerfully happy as ever. When he saw them, he said, “Let’s go and try out some special breakfast foods in this area. I’ve already investigated everything. Not far from here is a small shop that sells barbecued donkey meat and almond milk. It should be decent.”
Another group of people exited the inn as they conversed. Yu Xiaocao could sensitively tell that there was an unfriendly gaze staring at them blatantly. She glanced over secretly and saw a large fellow with a giant beard looking at them as if they were a herd of fat sheep. The man had a vicious looking smile on his face.
Yu Xiaocao remembered what the little divine stone had told her last night and unconsciously frowned slightly. Did the bearded man still want to attack them for their goods? Xiaocao silently became wary at that thought.
While they were eating breakfast, Yu Xiaocao told her thoughts to Ning Donglan in order to make sure that he was prepared for the possibility of an attack. She also deliberately revealed some wealth in front of the bearded man when they were packing up their luggage to head out——a large embroidered pouch that was bulging with cash had been dropped right in front of him. A few golden coins fell out. She could distinctly tell that the bearded man’s breathing had quickened when he saw this happen and that his eyes had flashed with the light of greed. Aha! the bait had been cast and she didn’t have to worry that the quarry wouldn’t bite!
As expected, not long after they left town, their group heard the sound of hooves behind them chasing them when they reached a more desolate area. They slowed down their pace and a group of fifteen to sixteen gruffy looking men on horseback surrounded them.
“Fellow citizens, I’m not sure why you are blocking our way. Is there something that we need to be instructed on?” Ning Donglan went forward one step and greeted them in an official manner as he addressed the large bearded man who was clearly the leader of the scruffy group.
“Heh heh!” A vicious light flashed through the large bearded man’s eyes as he coldly laughed, “Instruct you? This old man doesn’t have the time! I’m here to send you to the next life early, so there’s nothing you can do except lament your poor fate!”
“You think you can do that with just a dozen small fish with you ah? It hasn’t been set in stone who will be sent to their next life yet!” Yu Xiaocao lightly brushed off some invisible specks of dust from her white clothing as she regarded the attackers with a look full of disdain.
“You little brat! You’re just arrogant ‘cause you have a few guards with you right? This old man has even fought against proper army soldiers from the Great Ming Dynasty. Do you think your little toys here can do anything? Brothers, let’s go! First come, first served. This little brat is marked by me, so don’t even think of trying to snatch him away!” The large bearded man waved the cutlass in his hands and slashed it furiously in Xiaocao’s direction.
Chunhua pulled her master back about ten meters in a hasty retreat. Out of the four hidden guards that the emperor had sent over, two of them rushed forward to engage the bearded man, flanking him on his right and left. The other people present weren’t to be outdone and quickly found their targets among the group as they ran over eagerly.
He Wanning and Yuan Xueyan were protected fiercely by their maidservants as they headed over in the direction of Xiaocao. Chunhua and Qiushi, as well as the other two hidden guards, grouped around the three maidens, keeping them safe in the middle.
The large bearded man thought that the noble young maidens and masters from the capital only brought a few guards along that weren’t very strong. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have brought along only a dozen or so friends along to chase them down. However, as soon as he began to fight, he discovered that something was off. Why did the two men fighting against him seem to be even stronger than the soldiers he had fought yesterday?
The large bearded man wasn’t a complete idiot as he knew he had hit a hard wall. He brandished the cutlass in his hands as he fought against the two soldiers. He hollered, “Muerhan! Geji! Come over and help me out!”
The two people he had named ran towards him and began to attack the two hidden guards fiercely. The large bearded man disengaged swiftly and rushed towards the direction of Xiaocao as he screamed, “There’s definitely something off with that white-clothed brat’s identity! Brothers, come up with me. No matter if we live or die, we need to capture him!”
In actuality, out of the guards that were protecting her, only the few hidden guards among them were truly great experts. The rest of the people were just ordinary guards sent by their families. When fighting against these fierce foreigners, at most, these guards could only fight them to a stalemate.
Immediately, a few warriors from the enemy’s side rushed over after hearing the bearded man’s commands. The other two hidden guards were quite skilled but they still needed time in order to fight off the enemy. Chunhua, Qiushi, and the other maidservants had all been engaged by the enemy. Thus, only Xiaocao and the two beauties of the capital were left standing alone by themselves.
The large bearded man had avoided the hidden guards and stalked the three people with an evil smile on his face. He Wanning waved the whip in her hands and stepped forward, keeping herself in front of the other two girls. She solemnly stated, “Xueyan, take Younger Sister Xiaocao away on horseback now! I’ll stall for now!”
“Haha! Little beauty, ah, do you really think you can stop me with just that measly little whip in your hands? It’d probably be better if you stripped naked now and show yourself to me! You two beauties, I may look rough but I still have tender feelings for the opposite sex. How about you two come and engage me? I’ll make sure to keep you two alive!” The large bearded man had a disgusting smile on his face. His mouth was wide open in a grin, revealing a row of yellow, revolting, uneven teeth.
How could He Wanning possibly not explode after encountering such a disgusting insult? She snapped the whip in her hand as she snarled angrily, “This lady will fight against you!!” Just as she was about to rush forward, she was pulled back by Xiaocao, who was behind her.
The large bearded man had never considered He Wanning, who had slender legs and arms, to be of any threat. He stalked forward as he continued to spew insults from his mouth. He wasn’t in any hurry to attack them. In his eyes, the fat little sheep and two beauties in front of him were all going to fall into his hands sooner or later.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: I’m sure Xiaocao has something up her sleeve.