Chapter 137: Camp Raid [Volume 3 - The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace]
Song Zining spread open another piece of drawing paper, held his brush and gathered his concentration. Ye Mulan smartly kept quiet as she watched him finish and discard yet another drawing.
Song Zining put down his pen and walked to the table. Ye Mulan hurriedly poured him a new cup of tea, to which Song Zining accepted before saying gently, “She’s one of Qiqi’s.”
Ye Mulan’s hands tightened beneath her sleeves, but her expression didn’t change when she spoke, “Speaking of Qiqi, she is way too disrespectful of you. She is lacking in even the smallest of courtesies! I heard that her mother has stood by the second young master’s side…”
“Mn,” Song Zining expressed a non-committal hum. As usual, he never expressed a clear standpoint on this subject.
“Zining, my older cousin Gu Liyu of the Gu Family has run into a little problem lately. Do you think you can help him? I believe that he’ll be very useful to us in the future if we can win him to our side.”
“Mn,” Song Zining nodded without even asking a single question.
Ye Mulan didn’t think that the biggest objective of her visit tonight would be accomplished this easily and was surprised for a second. That being said, it shouldn’t be that surprising considering that Song Zining had given her plenty of access for the past year without asking many questions at all. It was obvious that he trusted her. She herself was aware that she had splendidly performed the few tasks the Song household had entrusted to her. She believed that she was deserving of this level of trust.
But before Ye Mulan could get a chance to feel happy about this, she noticed that Song Zining’s gaze had returned to the person inside the portrait. Her face stiffened. Then, she worked hard to relax her facial muscles as she walked to the table and began collecting the discarded sketches, speaking softly, “That Xiaoye must be a lowborn if she is willing to attach herself to Qiqi this way. It’s not really a choice…”
Suddenly, Song Zining spoke up, “Of course she followed Qiqi out of her own choice.”
Ye Mulan felt a skip in her heartbeat, but still she maintained her facade and picked up the tidied papers, “Rest early, Zining.”
Ye Mulan gently closed the door of the study before walking to a secluded corner. Then, she suddenly gritted her teeth and tore the two drawing papers into pieces. Choice? Since when did the seventh young master of the Song Household care about a woman’s choice?
The maid next to her was caught off guard by her actions. She hastily looked around them to make sure that no one was passing by before she crouched onto the ground and picked up all of the torn paper bits. She advised her in a very soft voice, “Miss, it’s just another woman that the young master fancies for the novelty. It’ll pass.”
Ye Mulan said coldly, “We don’t even know who that bitch is yet! Qiqi is obviously toying with Song Zining. How should I put this? Zining is too softhearted when family is involved,” By now she had recovered her composure, and she left the place with her maid nonchalantly.
A moment later, Ye Mulan’s maid sneakily went out to the outer courtyard. The Song household bodyguards were not the only ones staying here. There were some landed gentry who had attached themselves to the Song household living here as well.
Song Zining had only brought with him a guard of fifty soldiers and twenty or so personal attendants. As a result, there were several unoccupied houses at the outer courtyard big enough to fit a hundred people. Therefore, these gentry did all they could to stay in the courtyard. They didn’t care even if they had to stay inside a single room with six or seven other people; they only needed to stay there for one night anyway. The important thing was that they could declare that they had stayed inside the Song household’s courtyard after they returned from the spring hunt. It was a matter of great honor.
The maid walked into the last room of the eastern area where only three people lived. They were all young gentry of foreign surname who had came to stay in this house by asking Ye Mulan directly, or asked for an introduction from the Ye family’s elder. It was obvious that the treatment they received was much better than the other dependents.
Moreover, this room was relatively bigger because it was situated at the highest floor of the house, and it had an extra window that made the room look brighter and more spacious. The room became available because Ye Mulan had forcefully adjusted the Song bodyguards’ accommodation arrangements.
The maid hadn’t stayed for too long. The paper she was holding in her hand had vanished, however.
The trio surrounded the portrait and was absorbed in a discussion.
“This is a very troublesome matter. That Xiaoye is Qiqi’s female companion and bodyguard, right?”
Another person sneered disdainfully, “What bodyguard? Everyone knows what she’s really there for. We’re all rank six or seven already, and we’ve earned our ranks by war on the battlefield! Capturing this rank five girl will be a piece of cake!”
The third person pondered for a moment, “It’s not safe! Qiqi would kill us if she finds out! The Song household may not even help us if that happens.”
“You’re always so cowardly! Risk and reward are two sides of the same coin. If this was easy the Song household would’ve done it themselves, wouldn’t they? We absolutely cannot let such a great opportunity go by. We’re simply fitting the young master’s fancy, that’s all!”
The third person spoke up again, “Alright then! We cannot act now, of course. Every family has a courtyard to themselves, but they are too close to the main building. We will wait until everyone has entered the mountains and set up their camps. The mobilization and arrangements of personnel would definitely be a mess then. We’ll hide ourselves nearby and wait until that girl is alone, or we could just lure her out in the open, knock her out in a single punch and carry her away with her face covered! As long as we act carefully, we shouldn’t leave any traces behind. This matter cannot wait. We shall act by tomorrow night!”
“Heh! Do you think we should tie the girl up first before we deliver her to the young master, or strip her naked and stuff her directly into the young master’s bedsheets?”
“Tsk! Are you blinded by lust or something? Do you seriously think the young master would accept any woman you’ve stripped with your hands?”
“Hehe! I’m just saying it! Plus, that girl looks really hot, you know! My heart itches just looking at her!”
The volume inside the room went down, interrupted only by odd suppressed laughter once in a while.
A moment later, Song Zining welcomed two personal attendants in his own study.
The short but sturdy personal attendant called Song Jing reported the maid’s visit to the front yard before he asked with a little bit of concern, “Wouldn’t it be difficult to justify things to that Yin family miss if they did succeed?”
The corner of Song Zining’s mouth curled, and Song Jing immediately shut his own mouth. He couldn’t help but complain on the inside that the young master was pampering his future wife a little too much though.
Song Zining cast yet another glance at the female portrait on the study table. What did Ye Mulan mean by this action? There were plenty of ways to get a woman, but she had chosen the crudest method of them all. There was no way she wouldn’t know that the Song household’s reputation would suffer if this incident were to be revealed. The only way this could be averted was if the person she kidnapped was questionable to begin with, and thus could be used as a solid leverage against Qiqi if she were to fall in Ye Mulan’s hands.
The thin but tough young man called Song Ge next to Song Jing reported to him another matter, “Young master, I’ve acquired Miss Qiqi’s name list from Duke Wei’s residence. That female companion of hers is called Qian Xiaoye. She’s a rank five Fighter in a long-range battle position.”
There were at least ten thousand people participating in the Profound Heaven Spring Hunt, so only the data of the members of the families were provided. Naturally, the bodyguards, attendants, concubines, and maids were not included in the data. The only reason Qianye was even put on record was because he was one of the nine chosen members in the Yin Family’s hunting team. The data available on him was simplistic at best.
Song Zining frowned and muttered softly to himself, “How could this be?”
The two personal attendants exchanged puzzled glances with each other. Song Ge injected another line into the conversation carefully, “Miss Ye seems to be trying to obtain this name list through Captain Qiu too.”
“Delay her. Give her the name list after the spring hunt begins,” Then, Song Zining asked, “When was the last time she met Qiqi?”
Song Ge thought for a moment before answering, “Miss Ye had gone to the lower continent a month ago. She had probably encountered Miss Qiqi during Mayor Yuan Zeyu’s dinner feast at Xichang City. As for exactly what happened, I need a little bit of time to investigate it.”
Song Zining said, “Investigate it along with this Qian Xiaoye.”
“She’s one of Miss Qiqi’s people. Investigating her background may alarm Miss Qiqi.”
Song Zining said indifferently, “It’s fine. Let them know about it.”
The next day early in the morning, some teams were already departing towards the inner region of Profound Heaven Mountain Range from Duke Wei’s side residence. The great families had scouted the addresses of the camp since a long time ago, but they only started setting up camp a day before the spring hunt began for realism and excitement purposes.
The empire was a nation who experienced war for a thousand years. They demanded realistic combat even in an event like this spring hunt.
In order to guarantee gains, the hunting zones of aristocratic families and households were kept separate as much as possible just like the actual war zones. The reward and placing of the spring hunt came second to family honor and glory, not to mention that any landed gentry who managed to wow everyone with their performance would be able to rise to the top immediately. Some of these landed gentry were attached to a certain aristocratic family, while others acted independently.
The Yin Family’s chosen campsite was at a gradual slope at the center of a mountain. It faced towards a valley and a couple of streams, and it was suitably distanced from the mountain range and the forest. It was also not too far away from Duke Wei’s side residence and could be considered an excellent spot.
The camp was set up in a way that resembled an army camp. Three wooden houses were set up in a triangle at the center of the camp. This was Qiqi’s residence and possessed the functionality of tactical command, kitchen, and armory. Four rows of terraced houses made up the four sides of the camp. They functioned not only as the bodyguards and attendants’ residences but also as defensive structures.
Ji Yuanjia had come ahead of time to set up camp. A large majority of the camp had already been completely set up, and the only buildings that were done yet were the two half-built tool sheds side by side behind the terraced houses at the northeastern side. There were plenty of things to do when setting up camp, and it was already late afternoon when Qiqi and the rest of her men arrived. When they were more or less done setting up everything, night had long since covered the land.
Three shadows approached the camp slowly from inside the forest. Their figures were indistinct, and their presences were completely concealed. It was obvious that they were all experts in covert action. They made their way to a spot not far away from the camp and hid themselves there, carefully observing the activities before them.
Occasionally, there would be people busy entering and exiting the camp’s terraced houses, but they were all just servants and attendants. A group of three bodyguards patrolled back and forth around the area, and there were two such groups at the perimeter of the camp. It wasn’t a concentrated watch, but the patrols’ pathing was adjusted so that the main building was perfectly protected. The trio couldn’t help but feel that their task had become a little tricky.
It didn’t take long before they saw the target of their expedition, Xiaoye!
Xiaoye had walked out of the main building, and it would appear that she was living together with Qiqi. If this really was the case, then they would probably have to return empty headed today. No matter how good they were at hunting in the wild, they didn’t think that they were skillful enough to intrude the heart of the Yin Family’s campsite.
They quickly noticed that things had taken a turn for the better, however. Xiaoye appeared to be busy with something and actually hadn’t called out to any bodyguard or attendant to help her. Instead, she carried a large box on her own and headed to the back of the northeastern terraced houses. The trio adjusted their position and continued their observation. There, they could see two independent tool sheds. One of the tool sheds was built already, but the other one was still missing a roof.
Xiaoye paced back and forth a couple of times and carried a few large boxes into the tool shed. Then, the light inside the tool shed lit up. She actually stayed inside and didn’t come out. The trio looked at each other, and they all saw the light of excitement in each other’s eyes. This girl was such a compassionate person! She was delivering herself right into their laps!
That corner of the camp wasn’t completed yet, and it would appear that no one was staying nearby. The patrolling bodyguards would be missing for almost half an hour before they showed up here again, and it was enough for them to do their work. Right now, what they needed to do was to wait patiently for an opportunity to show up. After that, it was simply a matter of ambushing the girl, grabbing her, and running right away.
The trio slipped to a spot nearby the building, and they could see Xiaoye’s moving shadow clearly from the window. They waited until the patrolling bodyguards had passed by. Just when they were about to intrude into the camp, they suddenly heard the vague sound of human sounds coming from the forest behind them. They were immediately startled. There was no one in that direction, and it was the retreat path they had chosen earlier. So why was there suddenly someone in that area?
Thankfully, the human sounds gradually faded into nothingness. It was only then that the trio relaxed once more.
However, it didn’t take long before the human sounds appeared once more, and this time they were even closer than last time. It vaguely sounded like someone talking. The group of people came closer but gradually went away again. It looked like they were moving in a large circle either scouting or searching for something.
When the human sounds inside the forest vanished once more, one of the trio ground their teeth and said, “We can’t wait any longer. Let’s move now!”
And so the trio leaped out of their hiding spots, climbed across the low wooden fences like ghosts and made their ways towards the small wooden house from a blind spot of the camp. They put a hand each on the door and window of the house, and a small burst of origin power instantly destroyed the bolt of the door. Then, they charged into the house at the same time.
Qianye was dressed in a black colored long dress that was almost in the same style as the one he wore during the Martial Hall dinner feast. It was just that the dark embroideries on the clothing were changed from blue to gold color. The large sleeves made moving around easier, and the ribbons on the clothing were pulled up and tied together. Qianye was currently standing in front of a long table that had one-third of its space dominated by a large amount of gun and crossbow parts. He looked up and stared at the three intruders who had suddenly entered his room in slight astonishment.
The trio was dressed in nocturnal light armor, and their faces were hidden behind pieces of cloth. It was obvious that they harbored ill intentions at first glance. What really surprised Qianye however, was that they consisted of one rank-seven fighter and two rank-six fighters. Did they seriously just intrude the Yin Family’s campsite with this little bit of strength?
In the trio’s eyes, Xiaoye looked overwhelmed by shock and was at her wit’s end. However, a beauty’s a beauty, and the more afraid she looked the more endearing—or should they say, ravishable—she appeared.
The trio thought that force might be unnecessary if this pretty little girl was so easily frightened, and so one of them said, “Look, the seventh Song young master has had his eyes on you, so consider today your lucky day! If you come with us obediently and serve the seventh young master well, you may even get a chance to become his concubine. That’s far better than following a woman with no status like Qiqi, am I right? The Song family is a grand household after all!”
Qianye couldn’t tell what expression he was wearing right now, “The seventh Song young master has his eyes on me?”
The trio immediately thought that their invitation was working. In their eyes, Qianye’s expression was translated as fear and joy, although any expression a pretty little thing wore was pleasing to look at regardless. None of them noticed that the beauty’s tone was a little low and rough, unlike the sweet and mellow tone of the average girl.
“Of course! He even drew a lot of your portraits! So come already, just don’t forget about us brothers after you’ve gotten rich, yeah?”
Another person said, “Yeah! A beauty like you can melt people’s bones with just your eyes, you know? Why would you waste it on being a personal bodyguard?”
The third person of the group took out a rope and a clean, white hand towel. He said apologetically, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to put this on just in case.”
Qianye couldn’t describe his current feelings right now, so he simply cracked his fingers and forced a single line from between his teeth, “Song Zining should just die already.”
A bad feeling suddenly assaulted the trio!
It was nighttime. Human voices rang from the forest where the trio was in earlier again, and suddenly a group of nine people broke into the open. They were all carrying a truckload of equipment, and they looked like they had just been through a war. Their faces looked tired, and their hair was disheveled. Even the robes were scratched so much that the armor they were wearing underneath was showing.
The leader of the group was tall, huge, and very awe inspiring. His clothes weren’t damaged, although he was currently enveloped in a faint brown yellow light.
The Wei Family’s secret art Thousand Mountains was famed far and away, but this man had used it to open a path through the forest and to protect his clothes instead. God knows how many lashes the Wei Family’s old lady was going to throw at his direction if she ever learned about this.
This youth was none other than Wei Qiyang; the guy who called himself the fancy title Potian (heaven shatterer). When he saw the camp not far away from his position and the huge flag with the “Yin” character flapping above the sky, he couldn’t help but laugh loudly, “I’ve finally found it. Goddammit, that took more than half the night!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter