Chapter 602: Empress’ Flight

Zu An was quite familiar with these dark streaks of light. They had shown up a few times on his way to the capital. These were the arrows of assassins! They flew much faster than regular arrows and covered large distances almost instantly.

Eunuch Lu, who was hiding in the shadows, rushed out in front of the pearl curtains, flinging his spacious sleeves outward. The arrows, which seemed powerful enough to blast apart rocks, were crushed by the strange, flexible force within his sleeves.

Without breaking stride, he flew straight out like a bolt of lightning. He planned to quickly deal with the assassins outside.

Since they were in the imperial palace’s inner courtyard, there shouldn’t have been many assassins. If he acted immediately, he could quickly contain the situation.

He realized his error as soon as he rushed out. There were assassins everywhere, and they were engaged in a vicious battle against the palace guards.

Eunuch Lu was shocked. “How is this possible?” He even wondered if King Qi had finally rebelled and brought his own army in.

He did not slow at all. He snapped the spines of the two assassins closest to him, then rushed back inside. Protecting the empress was his top priority.

However, things didn't go as planned. Someone suddenly rushed out at him from within the group of black clad men. The two of them exchanged three palm strikes.

Eunuch Lu was alarmed. Ninth rank!

He was instantly on guard. He knew that it wasn’t possible to evaluate an assassin’s strength by their cultivation alone. They often trod the line between life and death, and so their real strength was much greater. They could often defeat cultivators of higher rank than themselves.

Eunuch Lu sharpened his focus immediately. He had overcome his initial alarm, and found calmness again. The assassins before him weren’t soldiers. King Qi hadn’t rebelled.

These fellows looked like assassins from the Shadow Group. Hmph, the Shadow Group cares more about money than lives after all. They even dare to attack the empress!

He knew that, as long as he could hold these people off long enough, the palace's military would provide assistance. These assassins would all be dead once they were surrounded.

Zu An felt a piercing headache. Why did he run into these things wherever he went? How could there even be an attack on the empress’ Palace of Peace? No one would believe him even if he told them!

Unfortunately, the intense sounds of killing outside and the blood spraying against the windows reminded him that all of this was real.

He instinctively turned to look at the empress seated behind the pearl curtains. Her expression hadn’t changed, although she was slightly paler than before. She was still much more composed than the people attending her. The eunuchs and maids around her were shaking with fear.

He looked for little Zhuo and little Gui. They weren’t with the others, but huddled together in a corner of the hall, trembling. Clearly, they weren’t important enough to be allowed by the empress’ side yet. 

There was a loud bang, and the doorway was smashed open. Several palace guards flew through it, their bodies covered in blood.

They were immediately set upon by several black-clad assassins, who hacked madly at them.

Little Zhuo and little Gui stared at the sight, their mouths wide open.

They began to shake even more fiercely.

The black-clad assassins paid them no attention. Their focus was on the woman behind the pearl curtains. They charged at her, blades in hand.

Eunuch Lu had been keeping an eye on the situation inside. When he saw this, he flung his sleeves out, and the blades that had fallen to the ground immediately shot out at the assassins running at the empress like bolts of lightning, impaling them to the ground.

Zu An felt a chill run through his body. Ninth rank cultivators could harmonize with the world’s natural power. The speed and power of an idle attack wasn’t something an ordinary person could handle.

After all, these assassins that had just rushed in were also cultivators, yet they had all been dispatched from so far away.

Zu An thanked the heavens that he had the Sunflower Phantasm. If not for this miraculous technique that allowed him to avoid clashing with these types of experts head on, as well as his other pile of trump cards, he would have died a hundred times over on his way to the capital.

Eunuch Lu groaned. He’d been distracted while dealing with the assassins inside, and his opponent was not about to let such a glorious opportunity slip by. He dealt him a serious blow.

Eunuch Lu was more or less spent. He had managed to even the odds a little, but he was in no state to help out with what was going on within the palace hall.

Another batch of assassins stormed in, charging ruthlessly at the empress.

Zu An sighed. He couldn’t just look on without doing anything. He was now a court official, and had even been made an embroidered envoy. He would face a long list of crimes if he didn’t try to save the empress.

Of course, he wasn’t hot-headed enough to rush straight in and put his life on the line. He had no relationship with the empress, and he refused to believe that she didn’t have anything up her sleeves.

This was a world of cultivation after all, where status was often decided through strength. Even though he gradually understood that this rule wasn’t as absolute as he previously thought, and that many great clans were able to place mediocre people in official positions, generally speaking, strength still reigned supreme. The emperor was the strongest person in this world. Even though the empress was likely not ranked second, she should at least be a top-level expert.

That was why he chose to only confront two assassins, one at the fifth rank and the other at the sixth rank. Even if someone questioned him later, he could defend himself. After all, in the eyes of most people, he was but a fifth rank cultivator. The fact that he stopped two assassins on his own would have been considered taking a great risk.

More guards of the Palace of Peace entered the fray as well, but were stopped by yet more assassins. They could only look on as the assassins who had made it past them ran at the empress.

Zu An’s eyelids twitched. Who had the home advantage, and who were the attackers? Why were these armored guards at a disadvantage instead?

In a heartbeat, the four assassins had already made it to the empress.

The maids and eunuchs at the empress’ side mustered their courage and leaped in front of the empress. After all, they were her personal guards, and they wouldn’t be let off the hook if something happened to the empress. These individuals seemed like they had been trained, but the fact that they were servants meant that their cultivation talent was ordinary at best. Even though they had some cultivation, none could stand against these vicious assassins.

There was a quick succession of pitiful screams, as servants dropped into puddles of blood one after another.

The empress frowned. She finally made her move, sending her fair palm outward. Her movements were clearly extremely slow, yet the assassin across from her just couldn’t avoid it. Her hand touched his head.

This assassin loved heading to the brothels and entertainment districts in his free time, and he loved being pampered by the girls’ soft hands. This hand was much more beautiful, fair, and soft than the hands he was used to… If he ever caught a glimpse of such a beautiful hand in a brothel, he might have climaxed right away.

He was rising now too, but he felt as though he was getting lighter and lighter. Afterwards… there was no afterwards.

Everyone in the hall looked on in shock. Even Zu An couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He’d expected the empress to be strong, but wasn’t this a little overboard?

Her fair palm moved again, touching the chest of another assassin. The assassin wanted to dodge it, but the air around him seemed to have solidified. He couldn’t get out of the way. He could only watch despairingly as that beautiful yet terrifying palm inched towards him.

Just as it was about to touch him, however, it suddenly stopped. The empress coughed out a mouthful of blood.

Zu An was even more perplexed by this turn of events.

This assassin, who survived by the skin of his teeth, was overjoyed. “Her cultivation went astray in her earlier years, and she never fully recovered. Everyone, attack!”

He sent a fist flying towards her as he said this, causing her to retract her palm. The other assassins, who had been immobilized a moment ago, frantically brandished their blades at the empress.

The empress gritted her teeth. These assassins would have been nothing for her to deal with if she hadn’t been wounded!

She quickly raised her hands, preparing to deal with her attackers. Even though it was hard for her to muster any strength, her sight still remained. She barely managed to avoid or deflect the incoming blows of the assassins. 

Unfortunately, she couldn’t evade the fist behind her. That fist flickered with an earthen-yellow radiance. Her attacker was an earth element cultivator who had harnessed the power of the earth, and his fists carried tremendous power.

The fist smashed into her lower back. Blood gushed out from her mouth, along with the last bit of her strength.

She tried to use the momentum of the blow to propel herself outside. Eunuch Lu was outside, and the palace guards as well. They were much more useful than the eunuchs and maids inside.

However, she underestimated her long-term internal injuries.

Midway through her flight, her ki suddenly ran out. Her body fell out of the air, directly towards Zu An, who was below her.

Zu An subconsciously caught her. What the hell

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