A bloodstained silver spear. With each of its strikes, a blood rose bloomed. Some of it was others but a lot of it was Qing Ning’s. The wound on her chest hadn’t healed and with each strike, it got even worse. The wound tore open with each move, spilling blood onto her robe dying it completely red.
The four blue shirt assailants’ target was Zhang Sun and not Qing Ning. Seeing their target flee further and further away, they upped the intensity of their attacks. Each attack was more ruthless and deadly than the other. Under their withering attacks, Qing Nin did not budge an inch. Instead she went all out on offense, pitting her strength against their four combined attacks.
Seeing another blade flash towards her, she chose to take the blow directly. With a mighty flick of her wrist, she turned the spear onto her attacker and drove it straight into his arm.
“A strike for a strike. How many more can you endure!”
The head of the blue shirts taunted her, an icy gaze flashing across his face. The assassination of Zhang Sun had failed so they would definitely be heavily punished when they got back. Even if they were to fail, they will at least get revenge on the palace maid responsible for it. Who would’ve expected that the maid accompanying Zhang Sun would be so powerful.
Qing Ning did not respond to their taunts. Perhaps she simply didn’t wish to or perhaps she wasn’t able to. Her white dress had been completely dyed red by her blood. As a light breeze blew past her, her hair fluttered in the air, behind it, a faint blood fog could be seen dancing in the air.
Seeing that she was at death’s knell, they closed in for the kill. Their curved blades danced as they circled around her like a blue dragon dancing in the air; their silhouettes blurring together to form a blue flash.
They rapidly closed in on her sealing off her escape, and as they got within an inch of her spear, they struck. All four launched themselves at her, determined to end her life.
With her weakened condition and their impeccable teamwork, escape was highly unlikely.
Seeing the fatal attack rush towards her, she knew it was now or never. Her lifeless eyes suddenly burned to life and shot out a dazzling light. Pieces of cloth danced in the air as she began her final attack. Her silver spear tore through her makeshift binding and started furiously spinning.
“I said it before, no one is stepping past this line.”
As she said this, she advanced, her silver spear furiously spinning by her side. A whirlwind began forming around her spear as it spun ever faster. The surrounding winds were even drawn into her attack. It was a Qi whirlwind.
This was a her last attack. One that exhausted her entire cultivation to unleash; all to defend this line. This was her last stand, and even more so, this was Zhang Sun’s last lifeline.
It was as if the heavens and earth shook as metal clashed against metal, displacing the surrounding soil into the air. Their weapons shattered under the pressure, their shards flowing through the air. The residual impact radiated from the epicenter, knocking everything into the air, even the people fighting in the distance.
In the middle of this maelstrom, the blue shirts spat out a mouthful of blood and began to wobble.
Not too far from them, a slender silhouette started wobbling as well. With her back supported by the carriage, she slowly slid down to the ground, her eyes slowly dimming.
Her last look in this life was one of happiness. She held the line and saved Zhang Sun’s life. She had no regrets left in this life.
“It’s a pity that I’ll never hear that kid call me Sister Qing Ning anymore.”
A sorrowful voice bursted into the scene at that instant. She turned her attention towards the source but her glazed over eyes were no longer able to see clearly. She only saw a familiar silhouette approach her before everything faded into blackness.
“Sister Qing Ning!”
Ning Chen rushed to break her fall, his eyes full of sadness. Looking at the four men nearby, an overwhelming hatred took over his heart for the first time.
He carefully placed her against the side of the carriage and then took out the copper stove he kept hidden with his left arm. With a flick of his wrist, he lit up a matchstick and set the oil wick sticking out of that stove, on fire.
This was a bomb he created on the way here so he wasn’t aware of its detonation time or effect. This was a huge gamble on his part which could backfire horribly, but he knew it was the only way to save Qing Ning. Upon seeing the wick rapidly burn down, he immediately tossed it at the blue shirts before grabbing Qing Ning and making a mad dash away.
The next moment, a thunderous explosion rocked the surroundings as the bomb exploded in a massive cloud of smoke and rubble. The four blue shirts were too injured to evade this bomb and were blown away by the force, their lives presumably gone.
Blood flew out of his mouth as he coughed. The shockwave was more powerful than expected and he had no choice but to use his body to shield Qing Ning. The shock wave had been severely weakened by the time it got to Ning Chen but it still managed to give his body a good thrashing, forcing to him to cough from the internal injuries.
However, he didn’t stop to check on his injuries. He knew that now was not the time for this and that every moment counted if he wanted to save Qing Ning.
Du An Pharmacy. This was where he had left Zhang Sun. At this moment she was standing at its door, calmly looking around. However, this was merely a facade, her eyes clearly betrayed the anxiety she felt in her heart.
A few minutes later, Ning Chen came into sight carrying a bloodied Qing Ning. By now, her facade was completely discarded as she rushed forward to check on her attendant. Upon seeing Qing Ning’s horrific wounds, her eyes turned red.
However years of being an empress had trained her to be calm and collected. A mere few seconds later, she managed to calm her distressed heart. She finally noticed the dishevelled state Ning Chen was in. His clothes were tattered and a trace of blood could be seen dripping from his mouth.
“Get in quick.”
She quickly led them to the backyard where it was safe from prying eyes. Du An Pharmacy was part of her private properties in the Imperial City.
Its manager frequently visited the clan’s estate to report the finances, and this was where she became acquainted with him. She helped manage this store’s accounts prior to entering the palace and therefore had plenty of opportunities to interact with him. It was this familiarity that led her to choose this pharmacy as her current hideout.
Ning Chen carefully laid Qing Ning onto a prepared bed and the manager immediately took out the hemostatic medicine and bandages. After staunching the bleeding temporarily, he checked her pulse and inspected the wounds. At the side, both Ning Chen and Zhang Sun were waiting with bated breath for the results. As they saw the manager’s face turn darker and darker, they knew that things were bad.
“How is it?”
Seeing that the manager was done with his inspection and had stood up, Zhang Sun stepped forward and anxiously questioned him.
“Miss Qing Ning’s organs were seriously injured. Furthermore, she had suffered severe blood loss. She’s beyond help.” He honestly replied and lightly sighed.
Zhang Sun’s body froze up as she heard, and a moment later she helplessly slumped to the ground; the color drained from her face.
Ning Chen on the other hand had a different reaction, the manager’s words had triggered a certain memory. His heart thumped furiously as he took out a small box from his robes and approached her.
This was the medicine that Mo Chengxue gave him. It was supposed to be his lifeline. As for whether it actually worked, he had no time to consider such a thing.
He stuffed the medicine into Qing Ning’s mouth and a moment later, it dissolved into nothingness. Seeing his actions and serious expression, Zhang Sun’s heart was filled once more with hope.
The manager stepped forward once more to check her pulse. After a long torturous wait, he finally turned around and shook his head, saying, “It’s not enough. Even though her life is preserved, she has lost too much blood. Your majesty, you should prepare for the worst.”
“I understand.” Her heart ached as she forced those words out of her mouth.
“What do you mean ‘I understand’?! Hurry up and start the blood transfusion!” Ning Chen immediately shouted; propriety be damned!
The manager and Zhang Sun were momentarily stunned by his words. What’s a blood transfusion?
Judging from their reactions, there was probably no such thing as blood transfusion in this world. Realising this, Ning Chen decided to skip the explanation and got straight to the point. Wasting no time, he said, “Manager, can you please find these items for me?”
He quickly scribbled the required items on a piece of paper and handed it over to the manager. Despite his urgency, the manager was puzzled by his sudden request and in the end, Zhang Sun had to step forward. After she explained the situation with Ning Chen, the manager finally realised who this eunuch was and quickly left to fulfill his request.
Thankfully, the manager’s efficiency was top-notch. A short while later, the manager came back with several metallic threads. Their thickness was different but they all had a common point. They were hollowed out.
This was a common item which one could easily find in a jewellery shop. The manager wasn’t entirely sure which would come in handy so he just bought a bunch and rushed back.
Ning Chen took the thinnest of the bunch and snipped at both edges, forming a sharp edge. He soaked the metal thread in alcohol to sterilize it and proceeded to pierce Qing Ning’s wrist with one end of the thread.
Zhang Sun’s jaw dropped as she saw his actions but before she could say anything, he had stuck the other end of the thread into his own wrist.
“Please let this work!”
Ning Chen’s brows tightened as he said this. In his previous life his blood type was ‘O’, but this did not mean that his current incarnation was as well. If anything went wrong, it would truly be the point of no return.
A minute slowly passes by. Ning Chen’s face had turned slightly pale by now and was getting paler by the second. His legs were starting to go limp but he still forced himself to stand. There was no such thing as blood transfusions in this era so the required equipment were all missing. He needed to maintain a certain elevation in order to force his blood to flow downwards into Qing Ning. Thus, he could not sit.
Barely 30 seconds had passed before Ning Chen felt a sudden spell of unconsciousness. He legs nearly gave way but fortunately, Zhang Sun was there to catch him.
“Go take a rest, I’ll take over.” She offered out of concern. Ning Chen’s pallid face was truly worrying.
“It’s fine, it’s better if less people are involved in this operation. I can still hold out.”
Ning Chen flatly refused her request. This entire operation was already a huge gamble. If Zhang Sun got involved, Qing Ning’s life would truly be in danger.
An hour later, Ning Chen finally collapsed from the blood loss. In order to take better care of the pair, Zhang Sun immediately got another bed carried in and had Ning Chen placed atop it.
The manager had boiled a medicinal soup in the meantime using medicinal herbs he grabbed from the pharmacy. Smelling the thick medicinal aroma, he knew it was ready and immediately brought it to the backyard. Due to Zhang Sun’s instruction not to reveal this matter to anyone, he had to perform all these by himself and this left him slightly flustered.
“The Western Palace!”
Her eyes narrowed as she singled out the most likely culprit of this assassination attempt. Under the watchful eye of the son of heaven, only the Imperial Concubine was able to arrange such a feat in a short moment.
If this was true, that meant that killing the Xia Emperor was mostly likely her idea too. But why?
Wealth? Not possible. Power? Killing her made sense but killing the Emperor would only harm her current position.
Unless…it was a different faction that did this.
Despite her long years in the palace, she was still unable to find the crux of this dilemma. However, as long as there was a lead, she could begin investigating it.
She had left the palace under the secret orders of the Emperor. Her destination was the Zhang Sun Estate. Her mission was to deliver a letter to her father, Marquis Qinghe, the head of the family.
Zhang Sun’s family wasn’t based in the Imperial City, but was instead based in the distant lands of the northwest. The regions of Tailing, Qinghe and The Three Cities of Tibet only answered to the their marquis. As a result of this, generations of Marquises sent a large portion of their relatives to stay in the Zhang Sun Estate in order to allay the Emperor’s fears.
With the impending threat of the mongol horde and the Emperor’s inability to dispatch troops, Zhang Sun’s family was the best solution to this problem. As long as Marquis Qinghe dispatched his troops to the northern lands, the Mongol Horde would think twice about attacking.
Due to Mars staying at Antares, Grand Xia must not be the one to start the war. However, this did not mean that he needed to endure this humiliation. While the Emperor was unable to openly dispatch troops, secretly dispatching Marquis Qinghe’s troops was still okay.
The reason was simple, Marquis Qinghe was situated sufficiently close to the mongols so as long as he carefully dispatched his troops, no one would discover it.
However, this matter must be kept secret. If this was revealed, it would be a huge scandal for the Emperor. With the omen of Mars staying at Antares hanging in the sky, the Xia Emperor would be labelled as a tyrant due to his irresponsible warmongering. This would place Grand Xia in a perilous position.
In this world, the people who were famous for exploiting the people’s hearts were the Eternal Night Cult. If they were able to get ahold of this secret, the consequences would be dire. Grand Xia could not afford to take this risk so they had to act carefully.