There was a giant cascade of snow that came with the deafening roar. Maomao knew that it was called an avalanche from her knowledge.
The snow surged like a waterfall from behind the cliff’s top. The snowy cascade quickly stopped, not flowing all the way down to where Maomao was, but the place she assumed was the storehouse disappeared under a flurry of snow.
Maomao watched that scene from the balcony.
Due to the underground explosion, most of the workers had run away, and the ones left were fighting the fire. Moreover, the other people would have to split up if there was an avalanche coming. There were soldiers flying out from the outer wall – she could see that they were dumbfounded by the situation.
Then, there were people who couldn’t escape that situation.
White somethings broke into the outer wall that had become short-handed.
She couldn’t see them clearly with their protective colouring from a distance. However, they confronted the panicking soldiers, and she could see something red flying.
Blood splattered on the pure white snow.
The white somethings were invaders. When they took off and threw away their white overcoats, they revealed themselves as soldiers.
Maomao recognised the one leading them.
Even though he had changed his clothes into armour, it was detestable that his elegance was still the same. His hair danced with every swing of his blade. Even though he was on a bloody battlefield, it looked like she was watching a sword dance.
(Did he come to suppress them?)
A high ranked consort escaping from the inner palace, was equivalent to treason. Furthermore, with her family having barricaded themselves in this kind of fortress, they had no excuse.
Then she looked at Jinshi’s appearance.
Those with the social position to wear bluish purple on their body were limited. She wouldn’t think that Jinshi was at this place as a eunuch.
It was a little relieving, but she still can’t let down her guard yet.
There was still the stench of sulfur in the air. She could end up getting poisoned, being here for such a long time. How was the situation underneath? The fire wouldn’t spread much as the fortress was built of brick and stone, but she had to pay attention to the smoke.
Even if not, it wasn’t limited to not rousing Shenmei’s frenzy either. Basing on how she treated Maomao, the woman might not have realised that she was related to the weirdo monocle. Also, she didn’t think Rouran would slip her mouth.
Had it turned out like so, Maomao had planned to jump down from the balcony, land on the snow and run away, but-
That would be the worse case scenario.
From the balcony, Maomao looked at the prone children who look like they were sleeping. It was just pitiful that they were pale, not breathing and had no pulse either.
(We should have just run away.)
That went for Rouran, and for herself as well.
Maomao had no idea what Rouran was going to do from here on, but she felt that she only understood why Rouran brought her here.
It was due to that reason that Maomao couldn’t leave this place.
Intense footsteps approached. She heard the sound of metal.
The door was kicked opened just as she heard something fall heavily.
A soldier in a white overcoat came in. The overcoat was patterned like red dots scattering on a white background.
In his confusion, he squinted at Maomao.
“Oi, what is it?”
Approaching them was a voice she recognised. It was the mongrel she knew who unexpectantly appeared.
“Is this person the one?”
He asked the mongrel soldier, Rihaku, for confirmation.
Rihaku crossed his arms and tilted his head. He approached her with his brows furrowed.
“Awkward question. I have a feeling that you look like a girl called Maomao who works in the imperial court.”
“I’m that person.”
Rihaku was asking a stupid question, but he was in armour rather than his usual official robes. There was a staff in his hand.
“Why are you here?”
“It seems I was abducted.”
The angle of Rihaku’s head tilted down even more to almost horizontal.
“Hey, is your daddy….”
“It’s probably as you imagine. Please cease from mentioning that name. I’ll understand if you call him that old man or something.”
Rihaku stopped speaking in response to Maomao’s request, but he was blatantly shuddering. Afterward, he smacked his fist into his palm, looking like he strangely understood.
What did he understand in his thoughts? She had no idea, but it was somewhat aggravating.
Rihaku pointed to Maomao and said, “It’s this person, this person”. The subordinate made a dubious expression as he pulled out a flute from his breast pocket and blew it.
“Welllll, my bad my bad, it’s like this if you say so. That aside, you look filthy. Huh? Your ear hurt?”
He was a rude guy as usual, but he came over peering at her in concern. The military official with a somewhat detestable personality was also bathed in blood splatters, stinking of iron when he came closer.
“Stop it with the injuries. That old man, he said that he was going to come along even though he couldn’t even move properly. He couldn’t move as expected.”
He really used “that old man”.
It must be that old man who thought up this strategy. Even the avalanche occurring, there was no mistaking that old man did something, Maomao thought.
She had wondered if Rihaku was a guy who didn’t get a sense of wariness, but then he instructed his subordinate to stand by the door as a lookout.
“What is this? Are the children sleeping?”
Maomao spread out her arms and stopped Rihaku from getting closer.
“They’re not breathing. They seem to have drunk poison.”
Rihaku’s face contorted at Maomao’s words.
He must think it is a cruel scene. However, even if they were alive here, their only path is to go up to the gallows.
Even with the attempted assassination of a high ranked consort, the person concerned was sentenced to hanging, and their clan more or less had their fortunes seized.
This time there was no other way but that.
It didn’t matter whether they were woman or children. Everyone would be executed.
Maomao wanted to ascertain a certain matter from Rihaku who was displaying a pathetic expression.
“The executed ones, are they thrown away?”
“Of course not. They are interred in a dedicated graveyard. It’s only just that they are cremated.”
“Can we let them, at least, have a memorial service with their mother?”
At Maomao’s words, Rihaku made an indescribable expression. He tugged his hair roughly and groaned.
“I don’t know. This kind of thing ain’t my job.”
However, Rihaku came closer and lifted up one of the children. He ripped up the blanket, tore up half of it and bundled the child in it.
“They look like they’re sleeping. I thought about getting them together, but they’re quite heavy.”
Rihaku said, and he wrapped the next child with the rest of the blanket. He ripped up the bedsheet in the same way, and bundled up the next.
When she thought that there wouldn’t be enough cloth for the last child, he ripped up the overcoat of the subordinate who was keeping a lookout at the door.
“Oi, call for another two people to come.”
Saying only that, he then carried the children under both of his arms.
“We can’t hold a memorial service for them together, but leaving them here is also like that, right? We can just secretly bury them close to the graveyard then.”
Rihaku grinned, showing white teeth.
“Would you get accused of a crime?”
“Who knows. But, in that time you can do something for me.”
“Even if you say something.”
Maomao crossed her arms sullenly, and Rihaku made a look like something had occurred to him.
“Oh, you have a good hand.”
“What could it be?”
Rihaku said, and his lips curled into a grin.
“If you call him papa even, wouldn’t that old man do whatever you ask?”
It goes without saying what kind of response Maomao made to those words.
“…sorry. That was nothing.”
Rihaku immediately looked away and apologised.
It seems she had made that face.
T/N: Short chapters, how have I missed you so…