The large bearded man was very well aware that when people faced their death, they were more likely to become more fearful with every little movement. Thus, he deliberately made each step forward at a slow pace. As he raised the large cutlass in his hands up in an exaggerated manner, the expression on his face immediately congealed right before he was about to slash in Xiaocao’s direction.
He Wanning looked over in the direction that he was looking when she noticed the scared expression on his face. She unexpectedly saw a dark colored barrel pointing in the direction of the large bearded man’s chest.
“A gun?” He Wanning shouted in surprise, “Why didn’t you take it out earlier if you had something like this on hand? You really scared me to death, making me think that I’d have to sacrifice myself to save you two from this bandit!”
“It wouldn’t be fun if I took it out early, right?” Yu Xiaocao steadily pointed the gun in her hands at the large bearded man, who had cold sweat dripping down his back, as she regarded him in a steely manner. A cold smile flashed on her face, “Oh ho! You recognize what this is, ah? Looks like you’ve already experienced the might of the Great Ming Empire’s new weapons! What’s wrong? Since you know that our firearms are powerful, you still decided to rashly attack a royal prince. Were you tired of living and wanted to court death?”
“Ah...it’s a misunderstanding. It’s all a misunderstanding!!” The big bearded man couldn’t be more terrified now. He squeezed out an uneasy smile, “I’ve been strapped for cash recently. Young Master, you accidentally revealed your wealth at the inn, which caused me to become quite greedy, leading to uncouth thoughts. I never wanted to do anything that would cause permanent harm, so please, Young Master, be generous and merciful. Give me and my brothers a way out alive.”
“Don’t listen to him ah! Fire the gun and let this criminal die!” He Wanning had been stoked into a fury by this man’s insults and words. Now that they had the upper hand, she needed to make sure that his man ate his words!
“Don’t, don’t! My little ancestor, I was the one who didn’t have eyes and offended you. If you feel unhappy, you can use your whip on me a few times to relieve your temper…” This large bearded man apparently knew when to bend and grovel. He immediately revealed a flattering smile and even began to slap his own face a few times.
Yu Xiaocao impatiently pointed the gun at him and shouted, “Aren’t you going to drop your weapon and quickly tell your subordinates to stop? Or do you really want to have a taste of what our Great Ming Empire’s guns are like?”
Clatter! The large bearded man immediately threw his cutlass onto the ground and screamed at his subordinates, who were slowly losing the fight, “Back off, you bastards. Stop fighting for f***’s sake!”
“Second Older Brother!” A large man, who seemed as sturdy as a bear, opened his large eyes wide and aggressively charged towards Xiaocao. Despite his hulking size, he wasn’t the least bit clumsy as he sped over with a longsword in his hands that he swung in her direction.
Bam! That sturdy fellow staggered a couple steps forward and finally stumbled to the ground. He fell about three steps away from Xiaocao and lay on the ground near the bearded man’s feet, no longer moving.
The large bearded man slowly looked at the man at his feet and discovered that the other man’s chest had a large hole in his chest. Copious amounts of blood oozed from the wound. Then, he turned his head to look at that young master dressed in white and discovered that the youth had switched out the gun in his hands for another. The gun that had been used to kill his subordinate was now in the hands of a short bodyguard, who was currently reloading the still steaming muzzle.
Just when did the new Great Ming Empire’s firearms become so cheap? A tiny, insignificant royal prince actually had two of them on hand! Didn’t they say that the empire’s firearm factories had trouble manufacturing these guns in large quantities, which was why civilians were prohibited from carrying them? Was that just fake news that their spies had obtained?
This was also the first time Yu Xiaocao had killed someone. Her back dripped with cold sweat as her heart trembled inside. However, none of her tumultuous emotions could be seen on her cold, serious looking face. Her eyes glittered with an icy light as they stared fixedly at the large bearded man. The loaded gun in her hands was pointed steadily in the direction of the large bearded man’s chest.
Their current guns had an annoying flaw as they were only able to hold one ‘bullet’ at a time. Thus, after they were fired, they needed to be reloaded before being used again. Because of that limitation, the soldiers within the firearms barracks were trained to have half of their men shoot the first batch and then step back to allow the other half to shoot while the first patch reloaded...that was the cycle they used now.
Yu Xiaocao rejoiced in the fact that she had two guns on hand. The first one had been given to her by the emperor as he had been worried about her safety on her journey. The other one, well, that had obviously been given to her by her beloved fiancé so that she would have a way to protect herself. This time she had brought both guns along and they truly proved their worth right now.
Yu Xiaocao felt her heart swell with courage when she thought of Zhu Junyang, who was currently on a bloody battlefield, defending the country. She took the reloaded gun from Chunhua in her left hand and pointed at the dumbstruck bandit in front her. She coldly laughed and said, “Do you want to experience the might of my Great Ming’s legendary weapon? This royal prince will gladly allow it!”
“I don’t dare, I don’t dare!” The large bearded man immediately quelled any sneaky thoughts and deflated completely, “Spare me, Your Highness. Please spare our worthless lives ah!”
“Spare you guys? I guess I could consider showing mercy!” Yu Xiaocao paused for a second and then waved a hand at the bodyguards under her. She commanded them, “Round up these bandits and strip them dry. Then leave them hanging at one of the small forests next to the road! As for when they might obtain rescue from their fellow compatriots, that would have to rely on their own luck and fortune!”
The corner of the hidden guard’s lips twitched as he obeyed her orders. He Wanning was still upset though, “Are we going to let them off that easy ah? It’s not like you didn’t hear the horrid things that brigand said earlier!”
“Do you hear that? Older Sister He over here is quite dissatisfied by your earlier words and insults and has no desire to let you off that easily! Now that I think about it, she’s right. If it weren't for the fact that this prince had guns on hand, who knows what would have happened by now? We can forget about everyone else, but as for you ah…”
“If you don’t keep your word, you’ll reap the consequences!” The large bearded man regarded the gun pointed at him with a look of pure fear as he howled.
“I only said that I would spare your life but I never said that I would allow you to leave completely unscathed!” The smile on Yu Xiaocao’s face was enough to freeze a person’s heart. “Destroy their right arms such that they will never be able to pick up weapons again!”
“As for you ah! You’re the leader of this vile group so you need to pay a higher price! Otherwise, that wouldn’t be fair!” Yu Xiaocao turned towards He Wanning and said, “His mouth is foul, so you can go wash it for him!”
He Wanning picked up a rock from the side of the road that was about as large as a man’s fist and pelted it viciously at the large bearded man. The bandit screamed in pain and almost half of his teeth fell out of his mouth. His lips were swollen like sausages as blood dripped onto the ground.
“Vented enough ah?” Yu Xiaocao slanted a look at the other maiden as she asked.
“Mmm, just a bit ah!” He Wanning’s eyes flickered as she said, “Lend me that gun of yours. I want to destroy an arm and leg of his. That’ll be enough to sate my temper. Otherwise, if I hold it all in it’d cause problems for me in the future!”
Yu Xiaocao’s eyes twitched. This lass spoke so much only for the sake of playing with the guns, right? She put the gun that the emperor had given her into He Wanning’s hands. She warned the other girl repeatedly, “Play as you wish but don’t hurt yourself. Make sure you keep his worthless self alive. This prince doesn’t want to have a stain on my reputation because of him.”
The unspoken implications were clear. As long as the man was kept alive, everything else was negotiable. After she finished, Xiaocao gracefully marched away, leaving He Wanning with the large bearded man. The other girl waved the gun in her hands excitedly towards the man, making him turn pale out of fear. He was frightened that she might accidentally discharge the gun at him and end his life!
He Wanning ultimately aimed at the large bearded man’s right leg. Pow! The man howled as if he was a pig at the slaughter.
“Oh ho ho! Looks like my aim was poor and I wasted a bullet!” He Wanning sighed regretfully. While Chunhua reloaded the gun for her, she snapped her whip at the large bearded man’s face as she asked, “What are you screaming for? I didn’t hit you. Just look at you, your courage is smaller than an ant, yet you dare to come out and cause trouble!”
“Screw you——” The large bearded man wasn’t able to finish his string of profanities when the reloaded gun was pointed in the direction of his chest. He hastily swallowed down what he was about to say.
“If you make this young maiden even more unhappy, I might aim poorly and hit the wrong place! At that time, it’ll be my mistake and not Royal Prince Guo not keeping his word, right?” He Wanning felt her temper sate as she watched the large bearded man in front of her sob and beg piteously.
“Stop playing around! If this continues on for too long, we won’t be able to make it to our next rest stop in time!” Yuan Xueyan shouted towards He Wanning as she followed Xiaocao from behind.
He Wanning shot the large bearded man in the knee and then also shot the man’s right arm as well. The man howled grievously in pain while he was being tied up a large tree. After that was done, she hurriedly caught up with her two good friends.
“What’s wrong?” When she got to Xiaocao’s side, she found out that the younger girl’s complexion looked wan while her hands and feet trembled.
Yuan Xueyan supported Xiaocao as she gently patted her back. She answered He Wanning’s question, “I’m not sure. Earlier she seemed just fine but she began to vomit when we got here. She also can’t seem to stand up straight.”
“...” He Wanning took out her waterskin and had Xiaocao drink a few sips as she worriedly inquired, “Was she scared silly from earlier? She seemed quite calm and confident just a few moments ago. That demeanor, that expression, I almost became her die-hard fan after seeing that! Who would have thought that she would also be frightened by what had happened?”
Ning Donglan had finished cleaning up the remains of the battle and walked over. When he saw this scene, he stated, “The first time I killed someone my hands also trembled and my heart felt uneasy. Did anyone bring any calming pills? Give her one. This is something that has shadowed her heart and only she can walk out of it.”
Qiushi hurriedly took out a pill that gave off a refreshing fragrance from the small medicine box she carried on her. After helping her master take it, she muttered guiltily, “It was all this subordinate’s fault for allowing the young miss to get frightened so much!”
“I’m fine! I’ll be perfectly alright in a few moments! No need to worry about me!” Yu Xiaocao sat down on a rock at the side of the road and inhaled a few deep breaths through her nose. She could still smell the scent of fresh blood in her nose. Blarghhhh——she vomited again.
Yuan Xueyan personally fed some water into her mouth and helped her rinse. Then she gently hugged Xiaocao as she comforted, “That person deserved to die! If you didn’t fire your gun, then we would be the ones who are dead now! Killing a bandit to save the people most close to you was the right decision! There’s no need to put pressure on yourself over this!”
“That’s right ah! Earlier you were so cool! You were able to accurately hit him from such a far distance, which means you must have practiced before! I was unable to hit something even from such a close distance. So embarrassing ah!” He Wanning sat next to Xiaocao as she chirped and jabbered at the younger girl in an almost worshipful manner.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: Guns ablazing! That’s the name I was tempted to use for this chapter.