Chapter 206: Murderous intentions, nobody knows
The thing that Han Yunxi couldn't fathom was Grand Concubine Yi's attitude. Her high aspirations were famous throughout the imperial clan as someone more onerous than the empress dowager. Just what reason made her so willing to lower herself for Murong Wanru's sake? After all, Murong Wanru's marriage had been a humiliation to begin with. For a person who placed as much emphasis on face as Grand Concubine Yi, how could she pretend nothing at all had happened so soon? Now she even treated Marquis Pingbei's estate as relatives by marriage, an unimaginable thought.
Wasn't it too much of a sacrifice?
The Ministry of Appointments had real power, while the third-ranked minister had position and prestige. Now both of them had to rely on Marquis Pingbei's estate to have face. For the sake of raising up Marquis Pingbei's estate, Grand Concubine Yi had spared nothing to lower her posture. Leaving aside how close she'd gotten with them over the past few months, just going with these three families today to the Spring Hunt would spread rumors. The positions of these three families would rise in a straight line in the capital, earning changes in social attitudes from other big and influential noble families. Grand Concubine Yi had done this for Murong Wanru's sake, but had she ever consulted with His Highness Duke of Qin first? His Highness Duke of Qin had already stepped out to give Zhangsun Che a position at the Ministry of Personnel. Was it still insufficient?
The present respected position of the Duke of Qin's estate was all due to Long Feiye's existence. Without him, Grand Concubine Yi's high aspirations would be nothing more than that of an esteemed imperial concubine past her prime. For the sake of the foster daughter who failed to live up to expectations, she lowered her own social status. This didn't seem like the usual actions of someone with her personality. Han Yunxi had a hundred questions and no answers. She faintly felt that Grand Concubine Yi had started doting on Murong Wanru even more after she was married off. Even after getting on the carriage, Han Yunxi's brows were still furrowed. Meanwhile, Murong Wanru hadn't sat in Marquis Pingbei's carriage, but in their own. She sat next to Grand Concubine Yi while holding her hand.
Long Feiye also found himself at a loss. He looked at the distant silhouettes of the departing carriages and asked coldly, "Why the early departure this year?" He hadn't traveled with Grand Concubine Yi in the previous years, but she would always set out after her noonday rest.
"Gui mama from esteemed imperial concubine's courtyard said that this was esteemed wangfei's idea. She said that leaving earlier would leave more time to see the scenery along the way. She also mentioned that to avoid the other caravans, she chose the royal ravine as her path. It's rather remote and out of the way," a guard reported in a low voice.
Han Yunxi's idea? For the sake of watching the scenery?
This woman's hobbies weren't bad, but had she ever considered the issue of safety? A flash of unhappiness went past Long Feiye's eyes. He didn't ask much more, but said icily, "Instruct Chu Xifeng to go along with the plan."
"Yes!" the guard obeyed and left, his heart puzzled. Why didn't His Highness express any views on esteemed imperial concubine traveling with the three other families?
As the carriage sped along, it quickly went out of the imperial city. A carriage in charge of clearing the path led the way, followed by Grand Concubine Yi's carriage and the other three families. On the road, Murong Wanru accompanied Grand Concubine Yi for small talk, and the two got along just like a mother and daughter pair. One sentence of Murong Wanru's was enough to amuse Grand Concubine Yi. As they led from one topic to another, it felt like the conversation would never end. Nestled in one corner, Han Yunxi couldn't fall asleep even though she wanted to. The topics they were chatting about were all unfamiliar to her, so she couldn't join in.
She was too lazy to join in the fun anyways, so she leaned on the window to look about the scenery passing by. But gradually, Han Yunxi felt that something was wrong. Why was the carriage path turning more desolate and wild? Turning back, she asked, "Mufei, we're not going via the main road?"
There was a main road that led directly from the capital city to North Pond County. It was level and extremely easy to traverse. Though Han Yunxi knew nothing about roads, she was sure the one before them wasn't a major thoroughfare! Grand Concubine Yi was happily chatting and didn't hear Han Yunxi's words clearly. Carelessly she asked, "What?"
"Mufei, did we take the wrong path? Where is this place?" Han Yunxi asked seriously.
Only then did Grand Concubine Yi's suspicions rise. She was about to rise and look out the window when the carriage suddenly came to a stop!
"Ah...!" Grand Concubine Yi and Murong Wanru cried out at the same time as they both fell forwards. Luckily, Han Yunxi reacted quickly. With one hand braced on the window, her other hand reached out to grab Grand Concubine Yi's hand, stilling her in place. It was Murong Wanru who crashed into the doorframe.
Before they could recover, the guards yelled from outside, "Assassins, protect the masters!"
"Assassins? Heavens!" Grand Concubine Yi shrieked as her face paled. She shrank inside as much as she could, not because she lacked self-possession, but because she'd rarely met with danger in her life.
Murong Wanru's eyes flashed coldly before she withdrew to Grand Concubine Yi's side and asked in a rush, "Mufei, what to do? Why would there be assassins?"
How would Grand Concubine Yi know? Quickly, mother and daughter ended up hugging each other. Meanwhile, the sounds of combat grew louder and louder as the weapons clashed. It made one alarmed to hear it. Judging by the sound alone, there had to be countless assassins!
"Wanru, take good care of mufei!" Han Yunxi left these words before quickly deciding to get off the carriage. Seeing this, Murong Wanru was both surprised and delighted. Han Yunxi, ah, Han Yunxi, I never expected you to have the guts to leave. Since you have, it'll be much easier to accomplish my goal! Thinking up to here, she feigned terror as she hugged Grand Concubine Yi tighter. Meanwhile, her other hand silently drew out three acupuncture needles out of her sleeve and waited for her chance. Han Yunxi would've never expected that to happen. Grand Concubine Yi and Murong Wanru were people who were so close that they could share a single heart. Leaving that mother and daughter pair on board should've been the safest choice.
As soon as she left the carriage, she saw their guards fighting off black-robed assassins. The few carriages behind them were in the same situation. She stood to the side without making a move, coldly surveying the movements of the assassins around them.
Why did the carriage take a side road instead of the main one? Even supposing that this was the normal path, who in the capital city and all its environs had the guts to attack the Duke of Qin's carriage? Did these assassins came to rob them, or were they after the occupants inside? Han Yunxi immediately thought of Northern Li's Duke of Kang, but these assassins weren't skilled experts. They still couldn't win after prolonged fighting with the guards. Northern Li's Duke of Kang shouldn't have such weak subordinates, right?
While Han Yunxi was still thinking, a black-robed assassin broke through the guards and flew towards the carriage with sword in hand. Han Yunxi's eyes turned cold as she raised her hand and aimed. A single needle flew out from her wrist and accurately hit the man between the eyebrows!
Seeing this, all the guards were astonished. The assassins, too, looked over. Of course, all of this happened in an instant before they quickly resumed fighting. Han Yunxi's lips rose in a smile before she carelessly turned around and ended another assassin who sought to sneak up on her from behind. She was serious yet controlled when facing an expert like Chu Xifeng in their bout, but now she had free rein to let loose against these assassins! It was rare to have first hand battle experience. With so many people around, Han Yunxi's mood spiked. Gradually, she left the carriage behind her and claimed an unworthy place in the struggle.
When the assassins saw her coming, they all rushed towards her. But her figure was as quick as a wild goose, her every movement elegant beyond compare. Even so, that elegance silently sent out needle after needle that dropped the assassins one by one. The sight was enough for the guards to stop without thinking, while the assassins stopped surrounding the carriages to surround Han Yunxi instead, 20 of them altogether. Han Yunxi wasn't a bit afraid, but played to her heart's content. She dodged the assassin's sword on one end while shooting needles from the other. Sometimes she'd lean back, sometimes she'd bow forward; sometimes she'd turn her body sideways, sometimes she'd spin in place. Her movements grew easier and smoother as it gradually approached the realm of floating clouds and flowing waters. It was as if she was performing a stirring dance all her own.
On one side, the concealed Chu Xifeng watched until his mouth started twitching. He wasn't sure how to judge this woman anymore. Again, he had to suspect: was she really a waste at martial arts? Meanwhile, the Long Feiye standing behind him was also watching with rapt attention, his icy lips rising in an indulgent smile. They were planning to lie in ambush for Northern Li's Duke of Kang, but other assassins had arrived instead. Of course, he didn't plan to reveal himself.
None of the passengers in the other carriage dared to get off, while all of the guards had turned into spectators. While Han Yunxi enjoyed herself, Grand Concubine Yi...was stuck on the border between life and death! Inside the carriage, Grand Concubine Yi was huddled up into a ball, her mouth gagged. She stared disbelievingly with wide eyes at Murong Wanru. Her face was three parts paler than that of a corpse. The daughter who had been holding her hand and chatting happily just then was now planning to kill her!
The daughter she'd doted on for ten years with all her heart actually held murderous intentions?
Just why was this?
Grand Concubine Yi couldn't believe her own eyes. Even if this was a dream, she never imagined that she'd have this sort of nightmare! She'd always been timid and cowardly, but now her shock exceeded her fear.
No, she couldn't accept this reality!
Murong Wanru allowed her to stare as she calmly took out three acupuncture needles and amusedly counted them one by one. Her fine, exquisite face gradually revealed a cold, twisted smile as she spoke in a soft, slow voice that made one shiver. "Mufei, do you know? A doctor once told me, as long as one...firmly stabs the Mingkong Point with three needles, it's guaranteed...that the person, will die!"
Finally, Grand Concubine Yi was afraid. Fear exceeded her shock until her red eyes were glancing between Murong Wanru's face and the needles in her hands. She couldn't stop shaking her head, afraid, as muffled sobbing came from her throat. Her tears turned her eyes red as if they were filled with blood.
"Why are you looking at me like that, mufei?" Murong Wanru's voice was all innocence. "Mufei? Why are you crying? Counting back, I've called you mufei for so many years..." At this point, her voice turned sharp and fierce.
"Were all those 'mufei's for nothing?"
She suddenly drew closer at those words, the point of the needles resting over the acupoint on Grand Concubine Yi's neck. The icy, sharp tips of the metal made Grand Concubine Yi convulsively shudder as cold sweat broke out on her body. She could even sense blood flowing out from the point of contact as it slowly trickled down below.
"Sobsob...sob..." She didn't dare to shake her head, but burst out with frantic muffled crying that grew louder and louder.
Murong Wanru understood her all too well. She pressed even closer and patiently asked, "What do you want to say? That despite raising me, I'm repaying your love with hate? That despite how well you've treated me, I'm being ungrateful?"
Grand Concubine Yi wanted to shake her head, but was too afraid to move. She only replied with muffled noises.
Murong Wanru smiled disdainfully. "Grand Concubine Yi, you've always considered yourself high and mighty above the rest. You even need others to be overwhelmed with gratitude when you favor them with small alms. Do you know how tiring it's been for me to live at your side all these years?"