Book 1: Winds Begin to Blow in Tai Yuan
Chapter 40 – Sudden Thunderclap
The sound of a sharp arrow breaking through the air had never sounded so despairing. That arrow split light with its afterimages, chasing the wind and catching lightning. At a speed the physical eye had no way of seeing, it directly shot towards Meng Fuyao!
At the same time, from the first palace gate suddenly exploded a tremendous sound, followed by the noise of shouting that surged over like the tide. The leading general was wearing black armor and a yellow cloth, and his two streaks of eyebrows so long they connected together – it was precisely Fang Minghe.
Qi Xunyi’s joy changed his face color, loudly shouting, “Minghe, you’ve come!”
Fang Minghe loudly laughed, that sound injected with some inner strength to travel over from far away. “Congratulations Your Highness for succeeding!”
Hearing these words Qi Xunyi was instead startled, but before he had time to say anything, Fang Minghe had already flourished his sleeve while smiling, “On the road here, we’ve killed to our satisfaction!”
The very last third palace gate was almost a li away, yet even when separated by such a far distance, one could still smell the fresh blood of the soldiers’ iron armors, and the heaven-rushing killing intent that had strode over human heads to travel here!
It could be imagined that just then, when Fang Minghe’s great army thought that Prince Qi had succeeded and charged through the palace gates to murder a path into the imperial city, how many corpses were strewn, how many human heads had fallen to the ground, how many blazes of fire had started, and how many lives wept!
Fang Minghe emanated vigorous spirit, looking forward to the beautiful future of himself becoming a senior official that followed the new Emperor. He did not notice Prince Qi’s face changing, nor the Yuan Zhaoxu beside him who was smiling while shaking his head.
But Yuan Zhaoxu’s eyes were not on the great army in front surging into the city. He was watching that arrow that he had shot at Meng Fuyao.
The arrow arrived! In the air it whistled as it flew, however right before it neared Meng Fuyao in mid-air, it suddenly changed a direction. With a “pa ta” sound the arrowhead strangely dropped down, and the arrow body collided with Meng Fuyao’s horse.
The steed felt pain, madly neighing as it reared up, then chaotically galloped and jumped as if it were crazy, sprinting forwards all the way.
Meng Fuyao was jolted so hard that her body couldn’t help but jerk up and down, and she clenched her teeth and tightly gripped the reins to not let herself be thrashed off the horse. The violent galloping shook her until her whole body’s bones felt like they were going to fall to pieces. Biting her lip, Fuyao struggled to tie the reins around her wrist, then exerted great effort to turn back her head on the horse, looking back at Yuan Zhaoxu.
When she turned her head back, her scattered black hair flung out into a stretch of ink-colored brocade, covering over half of her face. In between those silk thread strands shone out her eyes, complex and their meaning unclear.
That gaze was like a bridge, in a blink passing across the chaotic human tide. As if crossing a heavenly chasm, it tread over the river of forgetfulness, and directly arrived at the other side.
Before her was the roiling tide of iron armor; behind her was the pursuing guards of Prince Qi; all the while, there was the still faintly smiling Yuan Zhaoxu. His robes fluttered as he stood still where he was. In a lift of his eyes he received the complicated stare of Meng Fuyao, and his lips moved slightly.
A strand of sound transmission entered her ears, belonging to that person’s calm voice that would not change even in the face of Mount Tai collapsing.
Fuyao’s heart thumped, after which she felt another jolt underneath her. After falling to the ground, that arrow just then actually bounced up again, extremely precisely hitting the flank of the horse yet again. The steed angrily neighed, raising its hooves and bringing Meng Fuyao with it as it sprinted out like lightning.
With her body like it was in the middle of ocean waves, Fuyao couldn’t control her rising and falling, and was carried by the horse directly rushing towards the second gate. When she saw the gate in front half opened due to Fang Minghe’s charge into the palace, saw the thousands of completely armored, strictly lined up soldiers, and saw Pei Yuan holding a sword guarding in front of the palace gates, a bit of a dismal emotion spontaneously arose in her heart – hey, how is it possible to charge out like this?
Striving to look back at Yuan Zhaoxu, even she didn’t realize that her eyes contained a strand of rarely seen misery.
Yuan Zhaoxu raised his eyes and calmly watching her. Because the always strong and courageous Meng Fuyao, in an instant of danger, had revealed this kind of emotion in her eyes, his heartstring quivered. His smile lessened by a couple degrees, yet his eyes seemed to have some more tender gentleness.
What she is afraid of, is not death …
The steed charged forwards. Behind, Prince Qi waved his hand and the guards were about to chase, when Yuan Zhaoxu lightly said, “Prince, the Crown Prince looks like he has not escaped through the palace gates, you should intensify your search of the imperial city. The people here need not be all stuck here.”
Qi Xunyi’s face color was ashen, and he vacillated for a while. Yuan Zhaoxu then said, “You personally bringing people to search for the Crown Prince is more appropriate, as for here … this subordinate can help you share the burden.”
Qi Xunyi gave him a glance, feeling that this person was not that trustworthy either. However right now Fang Minghe needed to marshal the troops, the Yan and Pei families needed to guard the gates, and there was no one else he could use. When he thought about his own troop strength that was mostly here right now, and the area after area that one person was unable to completely comb through, he immediately agreed. Personally going to search the palace, he also hurriedly sent a signal to let Fang Minghe dispatch a unit of men to obstruct all the roads that led to the large guard base.
“Then, it will be up to you Sir. This pair of suspicious man and woman, please be sure of capturing them.”
Yuan Zhaoxu gave a laugh, replying, “Rest assured!”
Qi Xunyi left. Yuan Zhaoxu suddenly lifted his head, giving a smile towards the gate tower, then waved his hand to bring the guards to “chase” Meng Fuyao.
On a horse in front, Yun Hen’s whole body was crouched low on the horse’s back, continuously deflecting the flying arrows in front to protect Meng Fuyao. However when he saw the gradually nearing troops in the half-opened gate gap, and that tightly blocking guards of the second palace gate, he also couldn’t help but give out an almost forlorn sigh inside his heart.
… in the end it turned out that the Crown Prince didn’t leave from the palace gates. Then, it was him that had brought harm to her. No matter what, even if he had to risk his life, he still had to protect her.
Opposite them, General Pei examined the man and woman charging over. Such a pair of skinny people, in the middle of the long and vast imperial streets, only seemed like a meager little dot. Yet behind himself was thousands upon thousands of soldiers and horses, and seemed as if with only a light wave of his hand, he could have them crushed to death. General Pei and Pei Yuan scornfully smiled, but they still didn’t want to be carelessly negligent. Abruptly they waved their hands!
Arrows like a torrential rain burst out from the far away second palace gate, transforming into an oppressive stretch of dark cloud. In mid-air they whistled like bitter ghosts weeping, and in a flash they had traversed the long space, punctured the layers of clouds, and directly pierced towards that lonely man and woman in the corridor.
The horses miserably neighed, in an instant being shot into honeycombs and neatly falling down dead.
With a clear shout Yun Hen leapt up, his body springing out in a half-arc like a flying fish in the air, while his dancing sword was like flowing light that materialized into a circular radiant wall, safely protecting Meng Fuyao in the center. That defending sword became a rhythm, transforming himself into a patch of revolving wind – that wind didn’t sweep and didn’t tumble, only surrounding that one person besides him from start to end. Nowhere was it not present, and nowhere did it not block.
The Yan Lie guarding the third gate and General Pei guarding the second gate were both famous martial experts, their vision extremely good. With one glance they could see that this youth was pushed to desperation and had actually resorted to using the supreme martial sword art Controlling Sword Technique – transform the blade into air, hard like strong iron. The two of them couldn’t help but reveal some amazement, then, a bit of a cold smile on the corners of their lips.
Everyone knew that using true qi to control a sword over an extended period of time was a completely suicidal battle method; at best one’s cultivation would greatly decrease, at worst it would cripple their martial arts and lead to death.
Yan Lie’s eyes shone with a thread of scorn – being so desperate, he is courting death! While coldly smiling, he uncaringly turned his head away.
However, the Yun Hen right now had already stopped thinking about anything else. Only one thought was left in his mind, to protect her! She was dragged into this mess by him, so he definitely couldn’t allow her to be shot to death by thousands of troops at this palace gate!
The sorrowful wind fiercely howled, and the pale moon dipped. Those black arrows shooting over with duo duo duo duo sounds were again deflected flying with duo duo duo duo sounds, piercing out in every direction towards the ash-black skies. They burst and scattered the floating clouds in the four directions, bursting out countless painful gaps in the heavens, after which infinite amounts of starlight beamed through those gaps.
Under the starlight the youth’s face was like snow. His white teeth bit on his lips, the lips vibrant like a drop of blood.
He swung with the sword, flourished with the sword, blocked with the sword … completely without awareness of himself, that arm had already pained and numbed to the point of losing feeling. The only thing left was instinct and muscle memory.
His entire consciousness was on Meng Fuyao with no spare capability left to look after himself. A cold arrow that was forcefully vibrating due to its inner qi diagonally pierced over, slid past his vigorous qi, and with a xiu sound it shot into his shoulder. It jabbed into his tendons, and he felt a heart-drilling pain with every slight movement.
Meng Fuyao, who had been previously suppressed by his qi aura, now quickly looked up. With this raise of her head, her facial color that was even paler than Yun Hen by a few degrees came into view. The always bright and unyielding eyes shimmered like crystal.
That crystalline shine was illuminated by the moonlight from the broken and scattered clouds, and it seemed like it bloomed out a sky of radiance.
The moment Yun Hen lowered his head, he saw that always unrelenting and fearless girl, and her luminously bright eyes filled with tears. His heart faintly shook, then pained, as if the cold arrow had pierced there as well.
Biting his teeth, he didn’t look towards Meng Fuyao. He quickly back-slashed and cut off the arrowhead. His whole shoulder was splattered with fresh blood, yet he seemed completely unaware. In a blink of an eye that revolving wind contained a few hints of blood color, like a moving light red veil that wanted to tightly seal all of the killing and hurt outside of it.
However, even though he fought with his whole strength, he could only protect Meng Fuyao from the arrow rain pounding down in front. There was no longer any way to take into consideration the chasing troops from the back. Glancing behind him amidst frantic preoccupation, the corner of his eye caught that the soldiers behind had already chased over under the command of that man, separated from them by not more than several steps. And in front, because their distance had neared, the bow and arrow troops suddenly retreated. A unit of silk-robed soldiers swiftly advanced, their guns facing forward as they kneeled on the ground. Shoulder by shoulder the people carried jet-black long muskets, the dark holes of the gun openings coldly aimed towards Yun Hen and Meng Fuyao.
With a sinking of his heart, Yun Hen instinctively lunged over to block in front of Meng Fuyao’s body.
When nothing else could be done, he could only use flesh and blood to block.
Yun Hen’s heart dimmed, yet he saw Meng Fuyao’s gaze resplendent like the starry sky, radiant and bright, light shining out.
In only that instant of his heart darkening, the sky suddenly darkened as well.
Starting, Yun Hen thought his strength had run out and his eyes blurred from almost falling unconscious. All of a sudden, he heard a low shout above his head, deep and vigorous. It was as if a peal of thunder had exploded above the Nine Heavens, in a flash arriving above him. The majestic lightning glow and whistling of torrential storms, arrived in that moment!
With a raise of his head, Yun Hen sensed a blackness above him. A bundle of dark cloud slammed down from the top of the buildings like a falling storm. Thunderous rumbling sounded, and a yell came that was even louder than the thunder.
“I’ve come to kill!”