Chapter 228: Abnormal kidnapping
"Senior Luo..." Han Yunxi was about to speak when she drew back and took a light breath. Then she looked out the window. Since things had already gotten to this point, it'd be pointless to question the old man. If she wanted to know everything, she should ask Gu Qishao instead. Who knows if he tagged along?
Luo Zuishan had been treating Han Yunxi as air the entire time. When he noticed she stopped her question halfway, he couldn't help but feel curious and give her a few more glances. He thought that Han Yunxi would speak up again, but she actually went outside, leaving him a little disappointed. After a while, he muttered in low-spirits, "Girl, why didn't you speak up if you had something to say?"
Hearing this, Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue were astonished. So this arrogant old man took the initiative sometimes too!
Han Yunxi grinned at Gu Beiyue before slipping back inside the carriage and coming straight tot the point. "It's just the crown prince's illness. This junior has a few points she doesn't understand and would like to consult with senior."
Luo Zuishan refused her without a second thought. "I won't discuss the illness with anyone before the consultation time. That includes you two."
Han Yunxi dearly wanted to roll her eyes. Right now they were all on the same boat. Would she really tell his secrets to Xi Yubo?
"Senior Luo, this junior won't ask any questions. I just want to verify one thing, and that's whether this junior's previous diagnosis was right or wrong," Han Yunxi said seriously.
Things would be much more complicated once Long Tianmo's illness was taken to the Council of Elders for consultation. It wouldn't just be a case between her and Emperor Tianhui anymore, but all of the factions at the medical academy's Council of Elders. After all, Luo Zuishan and Xi Yubo were representatives of different wings. Since things had come to this point, Han Yunxi didn't want to find any more trouble for herself. She only wanted to confirm that she hadn't misdiagnosed and forget about everything else.
Luo Zuishan didn't reply immediately, but gave Han Yunxi a long, considering gaze before speaking in a low voice, "This old man can give you a clear answer, but you'll have to answer one of my questions first."
"Please speak, senior," Han Yunxi didn't hesitate.
But Luo Zuishan's question went beyond her expectations. He asked, "Han Yunxi, what's your relationship with Gu Qishao?"
It really was Gu Qishao who'd invited him here!
"What's your relationship with Gu Qishao?" Han Yunxi blurted back, only for the carriage to stop abruptly. The next second, the horses reared up on their back legs and gave a frightened whinny!
"Careful, there's assassins!" Gu Beiyue cried out as he strove to control the horses. Han Yunxi wanted to look outside but didn't get the chance. She and Luo Zuishan tumbled about in the carriage, a testament to the severe shaking. Soon enough, the sounds of close-quarter combat rose up from outside and grew more and more intense. Qinwang Rong had brought along a sizable amount of troops, but it looked like there were plenty of assassins too.
Who were these assassins aiming for?
Everyone's first thought went to Han Yunxi. Who told her to meet with calamities so often? Thus, most of the guards rushed in her direction. Unexpectedly, this time the assassins were aiming for Crown Prince Long Tianmo. In the midst of the chaos, the young medical assistant was knocked off his carriage and replaced with two assassins. By the time everyone realized what was happening, they were already preparing to escape.
"All guards, protect His Highness Crown Prince!" Qinwang Rong shouted as he unsheathed his sword and pushed aside the closest guard. He was the first to charge forward.
Unfortunately, there were simply too many assassins. Qinwang Rong was hopelessly outnumbered and trapped in place, forced to watch with his own eyes as the carriage carrying Long Tianmo drew further and further away.
Once the carriage gained some distance, the assassins scattered. Unwilling to accept this, Qinwang Rong sliced through the halters of a horse and chased after them on horseback. None of the guards dared to ignore him when this happened, but were quick to follow behind. Soon enough, the scene was emptied of all people except for Han Yunxi and company.
Luo Zuishan repeatedly smoothed out his beard without saying a word, but his rapid movements betrayed his inner turmoil. It would be best if Qinwang Rong could chase back Long Tianmo; otherwise, Emperor Tianhui would have full rights to send forces against Medical City. He had taken the lead on this matter, which meant he'd have the most trouble later on if Long Tianmo was lost.
Dammit, what were the origins of these assassins, and why had they kidnapped Tianning's crown prince?
When a long time passed without Qinwang Rong returning, Xi Yubo couldn't suppress his impatience anymore. He looked coldly at Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue before remarking in a peculiar tone, "This...heheh...it's simply a conspiracy!"
Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue stood to benefit the most if Long Tianmo was kidnapped and killed. To put it another way, it was highly possibly that Han Yunxi and them had purposely planned out this act! Of course Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue caught onto his insinuations, but neither could be bothered to retort.
Instead, it was Luo Zuishan who smiled mockingly and jeered, "Are Tianning guards nothing but rice buckets1? Can't they even protect a single carriage?"
These words implied that Xi Yubo feared the consultation by the Council of Elders and losing as a result, and so had colluded with Qinwang Rong to act out a farce.
"You!" Xi Yubo was enraged. He was full of self-confidence and couldn't wait for the consultation so he could stomp Luo Zuishan beneath his heel.
"Hmph!" Luo Zuishan sneered. He too, was full of self-confidence and wanted to use the consultation to thoroughly crush Xi Yubo this time.
Very soon, the two old men began to argue. Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue sat on the carriage while exchanging glances. Besides waiting for Qinwang Rong, they weren't sure what they should do next. Of course, they were convinced that neither Xi Yubo or Luo Zuishan was the true culprit behind the scenes. Long Tianmo had plenty of his own enemies already. Add that to his identity as the crown prince, and there were plenty of people in Tianning who wanted his life.
"To steal away the crown prince at such a critical juncture is rather interesting," Gu Beiyue chuckled softly.
Han Yunxi was still trying to puzzle things out when assassins suddenly surrounded them again from all sides. They were all dressed in black and carrying sabers. Luo Zuishan and Xi Yubo immediately stopped arguing to glower at each other in disbelief.
Why were there more assassins? Who were they after this time?
"Are you all part of the same group?" Han Yunxi asked loudly as she subconsciously reached out a hand to move Gu Beiyue behind her. She didn't know martial arts, but she could use hidden weapons and poison which was worth a round or two. Gu Beiyue allowed her to shield him as warmth flashed through his eyes.
The leader of the gang didn't answer Han Yunxi, but shouted, "Brothers, attack! Leave them alive!"
"You don't have the skills!" Han Yunxi snorted coldly and prepared to attack, only to be caught unawares. The group of assassins rushed towards Xi Yubo and Luo Zuishan. As sudden as a flash of lightning, the leader forcefully carried off Luo Zuishan and prepared to retreat.
Just...just what kind of tempo was this?
These assassins were here for Han Yunxi, either?
"Hold it!" Han Yunxi recovered quickly and sent her needles flying at the same time she shouted. Numerous poisoned needles went soaring towards the back of the leader's skull. But abruptly, he turned around and used Luo Zuishan as a human shield. In her haste, Han Yunxi had directly launched lethally toxic needles with the intent to kill. There wouldn't even be any time to use an antidote.
If Luo Zuishan died, she and Gu Beiyue didn't need to live, either. Han Yunxi wished she could take back all her needles, but it was already too late. As she watched them head for Luo Zuishan's forehead, Gu Beiyue suddenly slipped his hand out of his sleeve. The gentle, jade-like fingers were wrapped around a small golden flying dagger. Though it looked like he was clasping it gently, there was a sense of strength in the grip, as if dagger was an arrow on a fully drawn bow on the verge of being launched.
And yet, someone turned out to be even faster and more explosive than the flying dagger!
A man dressed in red appeared out of thin air, his luxurious robes fluttering about him like his hair, framing a face with Heavenly features. His graceful form hung in the air for a moment; by the next glance, he'd already kicked the assassin and Luo Zuishan out of the way before dodging Han Yunxi's poison needles by a hair.
The assassin wasn't so easy to deal with. Even after hitting the ground, he kept his hold on Luo Zuishan and dragged him upright before turning to flee without hesitation. At the same time, the other assassins all surrounded the red-robed man. By now, Han Yunxi had recovered her senses and immediately went to help with her Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain. A shower of needles submerged the assassins and got rid of the man's difficult position. He immediately gave chase after Luo Zuishan, but didn't forget to glance back and grin at Han Yunxi. The expression made his long, narrow eyes curve into slits. Despite the fact that his face was covered with a mask, it was still a sight lovely enough to cause the fall of cities-devastatingly beautiful.
Red robes, devilish charm, and warm, dimpled smile-who could this be?
Han Yunxi was certain that it was him: Gu Qishao!
Although the assassins had come on aggressively with formidable strength, Han Yunxi could set aside a hundred cares if it was Gu Qishao on their tail. This man was skilled in martial arts and the poison arts, so he'd definitely be able to save Luo Zuishan. None of the other assassins wanted to keep fighting with Han Yunxi's poison needles against them. Very quickly, they retreated one after the other. This time, Xi Yubo didn't have any mocking words. His face was full of unease as he looked towards Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue.
Were these assassins part of the same group or two separate factions? For what reason had they targeted the crown prince and then kidnapped Luo Zuishan? Was it simply a private grudge, or was it related to this time's consultation with the Council of Elders? The situation had suddenly turned incomprehensible. Would there be even more assassins? If they came, who would they kidnap next?
"As this old man sees it, we should head on our way. Once we scale that mountain, we'll be in Medical City territory. Then we'll see who dares to act rampantly," Xi Yubo said arrogantly, but in reality, he was afraid.
Han Yunxi rejected the proposal. "Director Luo should return very soon, so we'll wait here. If you're scared, you can leave first."
"Scared? What a joke. This old man, scared? This old man...hmph..." Xi Yubo was full of indignation, but ended up shifting behind Han Yunxi as he talked.
Would Han Yunxi be able to wait until Luo Zuishan returned?
By now, Gu Qishao had taken care of the assassin and safely rescued Luo Zuishan. However, he didn't head back immediately. Luo Zuishan carefully examined the assassin's corpse. His inspection convinced him that this assassin was a Northern Li man and an assassin with extensive training.
Gu Qishao had his arms crossed as he leaned against a tree and laughed. "Aren't they all human? What's the difference?"
"The bones are different," Luo Zuishan said as he lost himself in thought. He hadn't ever offended any Northern Li people.
Still, Gu Qishao was preoccupied with a completely different topic. He grinned and asked, "Hey, what do you think of that Poison lass?"
Only then did Luo Zuishan raised his eyes and looked over, his face full of disdain. "Nothing special."
1. rice bucket () - fan tong, a phrase that both means a "big/piggish eater" and a "fathead, good-for-nothing."