Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The clashing of blades sounded almost like the splattering of rain. Although turning her head to look was strenuous, Chu Yu stole a quick glance. She could not help but continue to hold onto Huan Yuan as she managed to force out a strained assurance, "Hold on for a while longer. Soon, this will all be resolved."
Just as she said that, a series of sword clashes and screams could be heard, which was followed by the racket of heavy objects falling in succession. Almost immediately, someone came to support her body so that she did not continue to slide down the face of the cliff. At the same time, Yue Jiefei came forward and rescued Huan Yuan.
Liu Sang cautiously supported Chu Yu who was extremely exhausted. She had dirt stains on her clothes, and her hair had been chopped off. Without uttering a single word, tears trickled down his face.
Chu Yu did not know whether to laugh or to cry. She leaned on Liu Sang and gasped for air, then she slowly stretched out her other hand and patted his head slightly. "Why are you crying? Don't cry anymore. Everything is fine now."
Feeling the exhaustion take over her, she was shocked that she had managed to muster the strength to hold on for as long as she did. However, now she was drained, feeling like she had expended many days of strength all at once. Even her bones felt hollow and empty. The only thing she wanted now was to find a flat piece of ground and lie down without a care in the world.
At that moment, Chu Yu remembered the red clouds that she had witnessed earlier. She struggled to turn her head again. However, at this moment, there were no red clouds on the mountain top. There was not even a sliver of red.
Chu Yu asked Liu Sang in a confused and uncertain tone, "Did someone come to help us out just now? Why have they already disappeared?"
Liu Sang replied in between sobs and sniffles, "It's Brother Hua. B-brother Hua helped us and left."
'Brother Hua? Who's that? If he's Brother Hua, then I'm Lady Hua!' Chu Yu blinked and turned to Yue Jiefei who had a perplexed expression on his face. Questioning him with her eyes, she continued to think to herself, 'Liu Sang mentioned a Brother Hua. You wouldn't be the one he referred to as Brother Hua, would you?'
Yue Jiefei did not disappoint Chu Yu's expectations. He answered her unvoiced question matter-of-factly, "It's Hua Cuo. His health isn't great, so he's already left after getting us out of the predicament. He returned to the Princess's Imperial Residence to recuperate."
Chu Yu was astounded.
She knew this name as someone in the Imperial Residence who was allegedly very sick. He was said to have a chronic illness, and his life was hanging by a thread as he relied on precious medicinal herbs to keep him alive.
She sighed inwardly at the thought of Princess Shanyin's desire to achieve a variety of beautiful young men to the extent that even a chronically ill man like Hua Cuo was not spared.
Chu Yu knew that she would give herself away if she continued to ask so many questions, so she gave an expression to indicate that she knew what was going on. Then, she asked Liu Sang to aid her back into the pavilion.
As she sat in the pavilion, she enjoyed the mountain breeze and slowly recovered some of her strength. She suppressed her feelings of uneasiness and looked at Yue Jiefei, who was searching through the dead bodies of the five assassins lying on the ground. Surprisingly, they discovered that apart from the scars on their bodies, there was a wound on all five of the assassins' throats, shoulders, brows, and chests. The gash was no larger than a fingertip. Furthermore, there was fresh blood flowing out from the wounds, leaving the floor all around them stained red.
Chu Yu pondered for a moment, then posed a question to Liu Sang, who was helping Huan Yuan to bandage his wound, "Give me an accurate account of what just happened."
Liu Sang naturally would not comply with this request. From his recount of the incident, Chu Yu learned that Hua Cuo had suddenly appeared, and with his extremely superior swordsmanship, briskly killed the five assassins and swiftly left.
Chu Yu curiously asked, "Is Hua Cuo's swordsmanship really that great? Is it even better than Yue Jiefei's?" Both Liu Sang and Yue Jiefei had attempted to tackle the assassins for such a lengthy period of time, yet they still could not defeat them. On the other hand, it only took Hua Cuo a short while to finish them off. This difference in performance seemed too vast to believe.
The expression on Yue Jiefei's face darkened, then he quietly turned around and went on to search the next body.
Liu Sang shook his head and responded, "That might not necessarily be the case. The reason why Brother Hua accomplished such defeat so swiftly was that those assassins were too occupied dealing with Brother Yue that they let their guards down. Consequently, they didn't expect a surprise attack from the side. If we were to imagine a match between Brother Hua and Brother Yue, the defeated would likely be Brother Hua because his physical strength can't withstand combat for a long time. In addition to that, he lacks the strength."
Chu Yu nodded her head, understanding Liu Sang's logic now. Hua Cuo was called Brother Hua while Yue Jiefei was Brother Yue, and Huan Yuan was Brother Huan. According to this logic, Rong Zhi would then be considered Brother Rong.
Noticing the disheartened expression on his face, she gave Liu Sang an encouraging caress of his hair and remarked, "Liu Sang, you also did very well today and managed to hold off an assassin."
Liu Sang bit his lip as he lowered his head, somewhat embarrassed. "Thank you, Princess." Then, he suddenly raised his head as if he recalled something. His face revealed an expression of lingering fear as he confided, "Luckily, Brother Rong asked me to bring the dagger along today. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to help you even if I wanted to."
What a coincidence! She was thinking about Rong Zhi a few moments ago, and now Liu Sang incidentally brought his name up. Chu Yu quirked her brow.
Suppressing all the other thoughts in her mind, Chu Yu asked Liu Sang with a smile, "What do you intend to do in the future?" She could see that despite his young age, his swordsmanship skills were quite impressive. Even though it may not be of much use, she thought that perhaps it could land him in an adequate position as an official.
Upon hearing her words, Liu Sang raised his face promptly as a slight blush appeared on his tender cheeks, not just from excitement but also bashfulness. He was straightforward in answering her, "When I grow up, I want to become your lover, Princess!"
Chu Yu's face blanched with shock, and she even suspected that she had heard him wrong. However, Liu Sang's genuine expression confirmed his desire to be the Princess's lover. She quietly swallowed a mouthful of blood.
She could not help but acknowledge that Princess Shanyin was rather nurturing and disciplined, making her successful.
Rong Zhi tucked the chessboard away and escorted Mo Xiang out of the Snow Garden. However, he did not immediately return. Instead, he took a leisurely stroll around the Princess's residence. People greeted him along the way, and he returned their gestures accordingly with a slight nod of his head.
There was a faint smile constantly present at the corner of his lips and the expression in his eyes reflected serenity and calmness without any noticeable waves of emotions.
After strolling halfway around the Princess's residence, he slowly retraced his steps. Finally, he stopped in front of a desolate and secluded courtyard. A very strong herbal scent drifted into the courtyard. It was clear that this scent had been accumulated over a span of many years, and not just overnight.
The plaque at the top of the courtyard entrance was crumbling and was on the verge of collapsing. Nonetheless, there were five words that could be deciphered: 'Three Thousand Flourishing Blossoms Sword Styles'.
Even though it was still spring, the scene in the courtyard was utterly bleak. The flowers and shrubs had wilted and were scattered on the ground in an unorganized manner as if havoc had been wreaked upon them.
As he stepped into the courtyard, Rong Zhi caught sight of a slender sword protruding from the ground. It was slanted and there appeared to be red stains left on the blade.
He gave a fleeting smile. However, this time, his smile was wider and reached his eyes. He walked into the half-opened doorway of the Host Manor and then gently called out, "Ah Cuo."
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