Amidst the thundering horse hooves, the coattails of the soldiers fluttered wildly in the night. Hidden behind the cover of darkness, one could barely make out the cotton covers tied around the horse hooves as they galloped past in an instant.
Ning Chen’s eyes narrowed even more as he sighed to himself mentally. That Lady Strategist was truly a thorough person who didn’t miss out on a single detail. Exactly how effective were those cotton covers? Truthfully, not really. Simply put, it was a matter of being heard at ten li 5km) versus nine.
Yet on the battlefield, a single li could lead to a completely different outcome. The Lady Strategist naturally didn’t miss out on this fact.
The division’s commander was an expert. Closing in by the second, his formidable aura became ever more apparent. With a clear a shot to the officer, Ning Chen slowly drew back his curved bow and nocked an arrow. However just as he was about to fire the arrow, he paused for a second and then lowered the bow.
“Is Her Majesty’s safety guaranteed?” He whispered to the girl beside him.
Qing Ning nodded. Currently, Zhang Sun’s tent was guarded on all sides by the experts of the marquis’ army. As long as they didn’t dispatch the same expert they used to assassinate the marquis, there was no way she would be in danger.
The assassination a few days ago might have resulted in Marquis Taiping being taken out of commission because of his severe injuries, but those three swordsmen weren’t any better off either. There was no way they could recover within the short term and strike once more.
“Then there’s nothing for me to worry about.” Having said that, Ning Chen wheeled himself down from his vantage point. “Sister Qing Ning, let’s send our greetings to the Lady Strategist of the Mongols.”
Since he could only fire off one arrow, there’s no reason not to save it for that woman.
Hearing that, Qing Ning’s eyes opened wide in shock for a moment. However, she chose not to stop him in the end. With her by his side, he shouldn’t get into any trouble.
A moment later, a carriage set out from the military camp and swiftly disappeared into the cover of night.
The distance of 200 li wasn’t that far away when one thought about it. Riding a fast horse, one could cover that distance within a couple of hours. Naturally, a carriage couldn’t be compared to a fast horse but it still managed to reach the camp in just three hours.
Ning Chen chose a vantage point that was at a slightly higher elevation than the Mongol camp in front of him, before drawing back his bow once more.
Within a tent in the Mongol camp, Fan Lingyue stood there basking in the cold winds of the night, silently staring in the direction of Grand Xia’s army camp. There wasn’t a single ripple in her eyes as she did so but even more so, there wasn’t a shred of emotion within them as well.
With her simple yet dignified light blue dress, there was no mistaking her identity at all. Looking at her blue sleeves, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia. Focusing his eyes upward, his body suddenly shook.
It’s her, that girl he met by accident in Yue Luo City, Yue Ling.
Fan Lingyue, Lingyue, Yue Ling, fate truly loved to toy with people…what a pack of lies…
No wonder the Eighth Prince’s death was so thorough; her appearance then was for that very matter.
Naturally, once you drew back your bow, there was no turning back. Seated amidst the chilly winds, Ning Chen’s eyes grew terrifyingly cold.
Just like what she said, both of them were very similar people: hidden underneath their calm exterior was a ruthless heart.
However, despite their commonality, and even despite their jocular acquaintance, that didn’t dampen their resolve to kill each other.
Amidst the chilly winds of night, the arrow raced across the night sky like a comet, its silvery light ever so radiant as it left behind a trail in the dark. Yet, before one could even react, the resplendent arrow had already closed in on its target.
However, such an astonishing arrow was actually caught by someone’s hand. It was the young officer who appeared before Fan Lingyue and as if to blot out the skies,he reached out and grabbed that ruthless arrow.
“Sister Qing Ning, let’s leave.” Ning Chen said in a soft voice.
The two boarded their carriage and promptly left the scene, disappearing into the night a few scant seconds later.
Standing in front of the Mongol Camp, that young officer peered into the direction of the arrow’s trajectory. He couldn’t help but frown as he mulled over the identity of that assassin.
“It was Ning Chen.”
She flatly threw down those words before promptly turning around to leave for her tent. In the end, their confrontation was inevitable.
“Too bad for those three thousand light cavalry.”
There was no doubt in her mind that today’s camp assault would fail. She had once said that they were very similar people, not only in their ruthlessness but in their cunningness as well. That old general in Grand Xia’s camp was a dud but Ning Chen wasn’t. Just the opposite, he was an extremely intelligent person.
Under the cover of darkness, a vague shadow could seen rushing alongside a galloping carriage. Within the carriage, Ning Chen sat there slightly pale-faced. That single arrow was simply too much for the current him.
While he was already prepared for failure, he still had to say…
That young officer didn’t seem that much older than him but he was already at the peak of Ninth-grade. When did geniuses become as commonplace as dogs.
He trained so hard and for so long. He had the continuous guidance of experts which even included Xiantians, yet after all that cultivation, he ended up regressing back to the level of fourth-grade and fifth.
That b*tch, Fate, was just so f**ki* unfair.
By the time the pair returned to the camp, the battle had already ended. The three thousand light cavalrymen had basically turned into pin cushions. While there were a couple hundred who managed to escape thanks to the darkness, that didn’t change much.
Noticing their return, Zhang Sun frowned and asked, “What were you two up to?”
Disembarking the carriage, he truthfully answered, “We went to greet the Lady Strategist.”
Qing Ning nodded her head to confirm his words.
Hearing that, Zhang Sun didn’t press the issue any further but merely harrumphed. “Next time, don’t be so rash.”
The two of them turned to face each other in unison and turned away simultaneously as well. Looks like Her Majesty was in a good mood –she didn’t question them too much or scold them.
The intruders travelled light for this assault. Their horses had died and their armor were broken thus there really wasn’t much to loot. Even so, this was still a victory that raised the morale of the troops who were roused out of their sleep.
It turns out the Empress had already guessed that the Mongols would ambush them at night. The moment that news spread across the camp, the sounds of salutations echoed across the army camp of Grand Xia.
Accepting their praise, she encouraged the troops once more before returning to her tent with a light skip in her step.
At the side, Ning Chen practically wanted to scream, that was me, that was all me!
However, he didn’t dare to do so.
The officers and men needed a hero to take the stage, a hero that rode the winds of fortune. Clearly, the esteemed Empress was the best person for this role. A general’s household begets a tigress; Zhang Sun fit this bit in every way.
By now, Ning Chen had returned to his tent as well. Of all the people awake that night, he had to be most tired of them all. That single arrow had expended all of his energy and yet it failed in the end.
No matter what, he had to remove that young officer from Fan Lingyue’s side. That was Ning Chen’s last thought before the darkness overtook him.
On the second day, Qing Ning unceremoniously walked into his tent after noticing that the teen hadn’t appeared after so long. Yet just as she was about to throw him off the bed, she suddenly noticed that something was wrong. Placing her hand against his forehead, she got the shock of her life.
It was burning hot!
The military physician was immediately summoned and after checking the teen’s meridians, his face darkened.
His pulse, it was even more chaotic than the military marquis’.
Hearing of this news, Zhang Sun rushed over as well. As she gazed at the sickly red hue of his face, her eyebrows furrowed.
“He was fine just last night, what happened?” She asked angrily.
Seeing the Empress lose her temper, the physician became even more tense and hurriedly answered, “Reporting, Your Majesty, his condition was caused by a cold.”
“A cold! How could he catch a cold!” Her anger boiled over as her worries overwhelmed her usual motherly image.
“That.” The physician couldn’t answer that question. He didn’t know a thing about this teen at all. All he knew was that he was a close confidante of Her Majesty and always accompanied her.
“Your Majesty.” Qing Ning stepped forth and whispered something in Zhang Sun’s ears.
“What nonsense!” After hearing what she had to say, her anger erupted once more. “His foolishness is one thing but how could you be as foolish as him and even abet his rashness!”
Last night, she didn’t question them too much as she assumed that they merely scouted the Mongol’s camp. Who would’ve thought that they were so bold as to try and assassinate that Lady Strategist. Let alone fighting, it was difficult for this kid to even maintain consciousness at the best of times. Why couldn’t he let her worry less about him!?
“Treat him, this Empress wants you to treat him, if you can’t treat him, I’ll have your head on a platter!”
“Yes.” The physician shakily answered before hurriedly leaving to prepare some herbs and hot water.
Six hours later, Ning Chen woke up. Gazing at Zhang Sun, he muttered a few sentences before passing out once more.
“Your Majesty, no matter what, we must hold position. Also, write a letter to Old Master Marquis and ask him to lead a division to cut off their supply lines. There’s no need for too many troops, 50 000 or so will do.”
“And, should Fan Lingyue really decide to mount a full assault, just sacrifice those 30 000 cavalrymen, Your Majesty. Grand Xia can afford the losses and can afford to drag it out. Swapping 30 000 of our troops for 20 000 of theirs is still worth it.”
“Other than that, even if it means giving up 150 000 troops, we mustn’t retreat. Our troops retreating is akin to a mountain collapsing,don’t forget, she has 100 000 elite cavalry, this is a fight we mustn’t retreat from.”
Even in the midst of his sickly stupor, Ning Chen’s words were still as collected as before, as ruthless as before to the point where it sent chills down one’s spine. With just one advice, he gave up on 30 000 cavalrymen and even all the troops in the camp.
“Just rest first, we can talk about the other matters when you get better.” Zhang Sun couldn’t bear to do so thus she neither agreed with nor rejected his advice but merely reassured him in a gentle voice.
Ning Chen smiled weakly but before he could reply, he fainted.
At the side, Qing Ning couldn’t help but shiver slightly as she heard his words. This was the first time she had witnessed his ruthlessness.
“Does it not feel like he has turned into a different person.” Even without turning around, Zhang Sun could guess what she had on her mind.
“Mhm, it’s disconcerting.”
“The more weakened one is, the less adept he is at disguising himself. Ning Chen wasn’t much of an emotional person to begin with. The shyness and harmlessness he usually displays is nothing more than a facade. The more you interact with him, the more you feel his bone-chilling coldness.”
Having said that, Zhang Sun lightly sighed before continuing, “In this entire camp, as long as you and me are safe, he probably wouldn’t care even if everyone else died. At most, he would sigh before leaving without keeping the matter in his heart.”
“This Empress feels more and more fortunate that she dragged him into Weiyang Palace the first time she met him. Otherwise this person would turn into a second Lady Strategist should he ever go against Grand Xia.”
Hearing that, Qing Ning became more astonished by the second. She had never expected Her Majesty to speak so highly of the teen who didn’t even dare to speak out in front of her, or even fear him for that matter.
“Your Majesty, Ning Chen would never turn against Grand Xia.” Qing Ning couldn’t help but chime in at that moment when she heard the wariness in the Empress’ voice.
“Haha, there’s no need to worry. This Empress doesn’t mean anything else but what she said. While he might be ruthless, he holds in the highest regard that last bit of emotion he has in his heart. This Empress has never thought that he would turn against Grand Xia. Of course, all that was assuming that both of us were still alive.”