Chapter 66: Surrounded

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With the prince’s departure, that not so peaceful night passed by in the blink of an eye. At the break of dawn, Ah Man was already up and about, eager to send out that letter she wrote.

Beside her was the butler of Prince Yue who accompanied her on this littler excursion. Seeing the man, the officials didn’t dare to stall on this matter and immediately sent out the letter upon receiving it.

With that settled, she made her way to the manor with a light skip in a step. Yet just as the manor came into sight, she saw team after team of armed warriors surrounding the manor of Prince Yue.

These warriors were all the personal guards of Marquis Li Yu’s estate. All were equipped in iron armor that radiated with cold murderous intent.

Standing in the middle of that was a youth whose entire arm was wrapped in bandages. Ah Man immediately recognized who that youth was even at this distance; it was that brat of a young master.

The butler swiftly pulled the girl to the side and prevented her from advancing. These men were obviously here with hostile intent, as a butler of this estate, he mustn’t allow their guests to be implicated.

However, what the butler didn’t know was that these men were her precisely because of the girl next to him right now and Ning Chen. The estate was in fact, the one who got implicated in this matter.

It was then that Prince Yue walked out of the manor. Staring at the airtight ring of soldiers, he couldn’t but furrow his eyebrows at it. Within his eyes were hints of curiosity and anger.

This Marquis Li Yu actually dared to surround his manor, did he even see him as a prince?!

“Search the place!”

Seeing the door which they had intended to break through open up, Li Yuntang ordered his men to rush in with a wave of his hand and a furious yell.

“Understood.”

Row after row of troops rushed into the manor like obedient soldier ants.

“Impudence!” Prince Yue exclaimed with an increasingly dark expression on his face. “Li Yuntang, you’re taking things too far!”

“Prince Yue, don’t blame me for not giving you face, just blame yourself for sheltering a person you shouldn’t have!” Yelled the youth who had given up on all pretenses in a fit of murderous rage.

It was then that the teen in question calmly rolled into the scene having heard the din outside. Surveying the surrounding warriors, he sighed in his heart. Looks like this is going to be another fight.

It goes without saying that he looked down upon this willful young master, despised even. He instigated this issue and was even the one who attacked first, yet after losing he still had the gall to call for more people?

Seeing Ning Chen, Ah Man gingerly walked to the back of the former and uneasily asked, “Is it going to be another fight?”

“Mhm.”

Ning Chen nodded his head. In all likelihood that was what was about to happen and he had just promised Prince Yan yesterday that he wasn’t going to fight yet here he was breaking it one day later.

“That’s him, capture him, I don’t care if he’s dead or alive!”

“Hold it.” Prince Yue stepped forward and exclaimed.

“Capture him!” Yelled Li Yuntang, not intending to heed the Prince’s command at all.

“Understood.” The sonorous clang of the soldier’s footsteps rang out across the scene as they rapidly surrounded the pair.

“This Prince wants to see how many of you dare to do so.” A strange glint flashed across his eyes as his face contorted in fury. Taking a few steps forward, he shielded the pair behind me.

“Drag him to the side.” Despite his anger, he still had enough sense to know that this prince wasn’t someone he could afford to injure.

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“Understood.” A couple of personal guards stepped forward and cordoned off the prince to the side.

“You!” With a helpless look on his face, he threw an apologetic gaze at Ning Chen who returned it with a bright smile. In his heart however, he coldly harrumphed to himself. How fake can your acting get? As if a prince like you would allow yourself to be restrained so easily?

This whole farce was probably to just to measure his own ability at which point this “helpless” prince would step in at the last second and perhaps even “risking” his life to save him. Next would be the sappy scene of him swearing undying loyalty to the prince due to his unpayable debt.

This bit of worn out story development? He had probably retold it to Ah Man countless times already. The key however, laid in whether the other side was willing to accomodate you and unfortunately for him, he was really good at fighting and didn’t need his help at all.

At the side, Ah Man wasn’t paying attention to the sinister act playing out before her but was instead glancing around the manor. Not seeing the prince’s shadow, she couldn’t help but ask, “Where did Senior go?”

“He left on a long trip.” Ning Chen answered.

“Oh.” She softly murmured before revealing an excited look in eyes, “So does that mean you can fight?”

“…” Upon hearing that, Ning Chen threw her quizzical look. He knew that this girl was very forthright and lively but still…shouldn’t the normal reaction be to worry about whether someone was going to protect them or not?

Considering carefully however, she wasn’t wrong about that. Since Prince Yan isn’t here, the most direct effect is that he can now fight.

It turns out that the unease in her eyes wasn’t because she was afraid of the trouble who came knocking on the door, instead she was worried about the prince finding out.

She was quite a stalwart lady to think about these matters in such a precarious situation.

Looks like this was a fight that had to be fought. Glancing once more at the surrounding soldiers, Ning Chen softly asked, “Do you want to watch beside me or from a distance away?”

“I want to watch the fight from here, will that hinder you?” Ah Man asked in a slightly troubled tone.

Ning Chen gave the soldiers another look, pausing over them for a second before saying, “It’s fine, they are weak enough that I can handle them easily.”

“Then I’ll just watch from here.” Ah Man answered without any hesitation.

The conversation between the two of them took place in soft whispers yet who here wasn’t a graded martial practitioner? The faces on the soldiers immediately darkened as they glared at the arrogant teen.

“Attack.”

With that resounding bark, the soldiers rushed forward, blades drawn and armor clanking loudly.

Yet Ah Man wasn’t the least bit worried as she stood beside Ning Chen. Instead, there was a glint of excitement in her eyes as she stared the incoming flash of iron.

Ning Chen said that he would protect her so she definitely wouldn’t come to come.

*clang*

The Ink Sword flew out of its sheath and in one fell swoop, knocked way the incoming blades. Rolling forward half a step, Ning Chen deftly avoided the attacks from the back.

Standing right next to the teen, it might look like she was in grave danger but in truth, she was actually in the safest spot. The majority of the soldiers were aiming for Ning Chen with only a couple of stray attacks swinging towards Ah Man by accident. These were swiftly deflected by the Ink Sword.

The majority of these soldiers were all below the fifth-grade unlike the Shadow Guardsmen. However, that was only to be expected given that they were only soldiers of a marquis’ estate and not the Emperor’s personal guard.

Compared to the Shadow Dragon and his lackeys, these were merely small fries, not to mention the fact that Ning Chen was no longer that beginner martial practitioner of yore. However, in consideration of existence known as Marquis Li Yu, Ning Chen didn’t want to slaughter these men either. Thus, his moves were mostly defensive and suppressive in nature.

As time progressed, the number of standing soldiers began to shrink, not only that, their astonishment grew as well with each move. Only now did it start to dawn on them that they stood no chance against this teen at all.

*bang bang*

A couple of silhouettes slammed into the tiled walkway nearby and laid there incapacitated for the time being.

“Kill!”

Suddenly, three of the soldiers burst forth with their entire might, swords circling around the teen as they dove mercilessly for the harmless girl.

This sudden change caught Ah Man completely off guard but thankfully, Ning Chen was able to react to this. He knocked away two of the swords with a diagonal slash of his Ink Sword. Following through with the remaining momentum, he swung forth.

An instant later, the air was filled with the pungent smell of blood as the third soldier fell to the ground, eyes wide open as he gurgled from the blood in throat. A gush of blood spurted forth three inches into the air as the man fell the ground lifelessly with a deafening thud.

Ning Chen’s expression had grown frighteningly cold. He held back because he didn’t want to thoroughly offend the marquis but that didn’t mean that he was afraid of killing them.

“Ah Man, step back.”

Ning Chen gently pushed the girl behind him before turning around, eyes deathly cold as he stared down the soldiers who even now were trying to surround him.

Since you all wanted to die so much, then there’s no need for you all to live.

An instant later, Ning Chen’s sword flickered and his wheelchair disappeared from sight as well. All the soldiers saw was a snowy flower drifting gently before their eyes and then darkness. In that very instant, the Ink Sword danced fluidly in the ever reddening wave of frost leaving behind a bloody rose in its wake for every corpse that hit the floor.

Astonishment descended upon the scene once more as within the blink of an eye, the figures around the wheelchair all fell to the ground dead.

Li Yuntang was shocked and so was Prince Yue whose eyebrows had disappeared into his forehead. Neither of them had expected this teen to be so strong.

Ning Chen mutely sheathed his Ink Sword as he suppressed the clutching pain in his chest: his old wounds were beginning to act up again.

The prince had forbidden him from fighting for a reason and that reason wasn’t one to let him forget its existence so easily. Should he ever expend his True Qi recklessly, his old wounds would immediately flare up.

“Ah Man, wheel me away.” Ning Chen gently called out to the girl.

“Oh , alright.” Ah Man broke into a light jog and upon reaching him, began wheeling him back into the manor.

Before entering the manor, Ning Chen turned around and looked at Prince Yue. “Many thanks to your highness’s assistance earlier, Ning Chen is grateful for that.” He respectfully called out to the prince.

Prince Yue’s eyelids jumped at the comment and after a forced smile, said, “You’re welcome.”

Ning Chen then turned to Li Yuntang and blandly said, “Little Marquis Scion, I suggest you think of a way to think explain away today’s incident. I’m certain that Marquis Li Yu isn’t aware that you dispatched his troops for your personal affair, good luck with that.”

Today’s incident was something that both of them were equally complicit in. Dispatching the troops the surround a prince’s estate without authorization was a high crime but so was killing a marquis’ troops. If one was strict about this, both their heads would have to roll.”

As long as the marquis didn’t want his son to die, he would have to secretly suppress this incident.

Returning back to the estate’s bedroom, Ning Chen finally couldn’t suppress his old wounds and violently heaved into his hands, blood dripping onto the floor an instant later.

Ah Man’s face paled. Rushing forward, she anxiously wiped off the blood with her sleeves while sobbing, “Don’t scare like that, don’t die please.”

“……” Ning Chen could only show a helpless expression in front of that reaction. Who said that spitting out blood would definitely lead to death, in that case he would’ve died many times over already.

Seeing that she was on the verge of crying, he forcefully endured to urge to spit out blood once more and tried his best to comfort her, “Don’t worry, I’m fine.”

“Really?”

“Really.” He nodded.

“Ah Man.”

“Mhm?”

“Can you leave the room for a moment, I want to change my clothes.”

“Alright.”

Having cajoled the girl to leave, Ning Chen covered his mouth and spat out another mouthful of blood. As the torrent of blood gushed between the crevices between his fingers, it didn’t take long before half his clothes were covered in blood.

Thankfully, Ah Man was an honest girl. Whatever he told him, she most likely believed it.

……

In the Northern Plains…

A young general stepped into the command tent and respectfully bowed, “Reporting in, Lady Strategist, Prince Yan left Saint’s Abode last night.”

At this very moment, Fan Lingyue was seated behind her desk, eyes closed and deep in thought. After the span of three breaths, she calmly asked, “Has the Fourth Sword left already?”

“This morning, yes. They should arrive in Saint’s Abode in three days.”

“Very good, you may leave then.” Fan Lingyue answered with a nod.

“Understood.” The young general saluted his superior and then promptly left the tent.

Only after he left did the girl slowly open her eyes and stare at the wooden box on the table. With a light sigh, she muttered, “I hope you’ll enjoy the opponents I prepared for you.”

The Prince’s departure was something that she had staged. In this world, the only place where the Prince could go and Ning Chen couldn’t was the palace, at the same time, the only person who could command the prince to return was the Xia Emperor.

While she couldn’t control the Xia Emperor, she could control his subjects. Amongst all the Confucian officials in his court, not all of them were as patriotic as they showed to be.

All she did was simply have four of them submit a complaint while spreading rumors that the prince had colluded with the enemy, within the entire Imperial City.

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The prince’s trip to the Man Dynasty was one that was known to the entire world after all. Being a paranoid man, the Xia Emperor was sure to recall this sibling of his even though he knew that it was merely a rumor.

Now that Zhang Sun wasn’t by his side and Prince Yan had just left, Ning Chen was at his weakest. All she needed to do was seize this opportunity and send someone to assassinate him and her worries would be laid to rest.

Sometimes, fate was such a cruel mistress. These two were so alike and could’ve been the best of friends had it not been for their opposing standpoints.

However, there were no ifs in this world and she definitely wasn’t one to show mercy because of such sentimentality. Compared to the Mongol Horde’s future, her personal emotions weren’t even worth mentioning.

For this goal of hers, she could sacrifice anyone, even herself.

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