From atop the tent, two figures suddenly flew out as a loud explosion sounded at the same time. Blazing flames soared, accompanied by thick smoke permeating the air along with a pungent odor.
Emerging from the clouds of smoke, the two figures headed towards Hua Zhu Yu. She saw that it was Rong Lou accompanied by A’Gui who was carrying someone in his arms. As they came into view, she realized that it was Madam Xuan.
“Huangfu Wu Shuang, you’ve gone crazy! You won’t spare even your own mother,” A’Giu chided callously.
Huangfu Wu Shuang’s lips lifted in a cold smile as he said, “The two of you sure have nine lives.1”
“Huangfu Wu Shuang, she’s your mother after all. Don’t you care whether she lives or dies?
Let my grandma and Huangfu Wu Shang go and we will let you and your mother go,” Hua Zhu Yu proposed.
Huangfu Wu Shuang laughed mockingly and said, “She’s already near death’s door, what would I save her for!”
Hua Zhu Yu looked at Madam Xuan and suddenly noticed that her injury was not light, her clothes had been dyed red with blood. It seems she could no longer hold on as she sat on the ground panting, holding out her hand towards Huangfu Wu Shuang. She sadly called out, “Feng’er…..my Feng’er, these years…..mother missed you dearly. Feng’er…..I know you hate my identity, I….actually was the Empress’s maid. Back then the Empress and I were both pregnant and had….given birth on the same day. The Empress gave birth to a princess and I… I had given birth to a baby boy…..the Empress had announced to the people of Mo that……. she had given birth to a prince ……a prince named Mu Feng. Later, Hua Mu had secretly brought you into the palace. In hopes of restoring the country, mother…..agreed….. thinking back now, I regret it deeply. I should not have sent you into the palace… I should not have separated us mother and son for so long…. I also had no choice…. Feng’er.” She then bent over as another bouts of violent coughs interrupted her, making her spit out a mouthful of blood.
Hua Zhu Yu hurried to Madam Xuan’s side. It turned out that Madam Xuan was really the Empress’s maid. What she told her back then wasn’t all lies. It seems from the moment they were born, she and Huangfu Wu Shuang were destined to be entangled in the sentiments of gratitudes and grudges. Hua Zhu Yu felt as if a knot had formed in her heart, a bitterness that was hard to describe. Originally, towards Madam Xuan and Huangfu Wu Shuang, she harbored a trace of hard feelings in her heart but in this moment, she could only sigh at their twisted fates.
“Feng’er, mother deeply regrets it….that throne….it can’t compare to the reunion of us mother and son. Feng’er, listen to mother, let’s stop…..the throne……was never yours to fight for in the first place. Listen to mother and let go! ” Madam Xuan panted as she tried to persuade Huangfu Wu Shuang. With every word she spoke, blood spilled from the corner of her mouth, dying her clothes an even darker shade of red.
Seeing her like this, there was only sadness in Hua Zhu Yu’s heart. She looked up at Huangfu Wu Shuang who was standing there indifferently with no expression on his face from beginning to end, not saying a word. She sadly said, “Huangfu Wu Shuang, she’s your mother. Can’t you say a few nice words and send her off in peace?”
Huangfu Wu Shuang looked up at the night sky and continued to remain silent. Beneath the silver moonlight, his face was illuminated and Hua Zhu Yu could see the expression on his face clearly but to her disappointment, it was calm as water without an inkling of compassion.
Huangfu Wu Shuang grew up in the palace surrounded by wealth and luxury. There were horses and palanquins to take him from place to place; there were silver and gold for him to squander as he wished. Having enjoyed all the riches the world had to offer, he grew up with an arrogant and haughty disposition as a result. He even ascended the throne and stood above the rest of the world with the power to determine someone’s fate with a mere word. That was until the throne was seized from him that day. But fortunately, he was still a Crown Prince, even if it was just the previous dynasty’s Crown Prince. But now, he wasn’t even that. He was merely the son of the Empress’ maid, merely a pawn in a grand scheme to restore the previous dynasty.
“Mother, I hate you!” Huangfu Wu Shuang finally spoke after a long silence. He believed that this person in front of him was his mother but he hated her, hated her for sending him to the palace, hated her for not allowing him to grow up experiencing maternal affection, hated her for sweeping him into this game of throne, and hated her for telling him to stop now.
Upon hearing him, Madam Xuan smiled. “Good… good, you’re finally willing to call me mother. I’m very content,” she said as she stretched out her hand longingly towards him but unfortunately she was out of time and could wait no longer as her hand slowly fell down lifelessly.
Huangfu Wu Shuang stood there in the dark night, his back, a vision of loneliness. Suddenly, he looked up towards the skies and laughed aloud, a laughter that was uninhibited and unrestrained. In the quiet night, his laughter was carried along with the wind, echoing in the far distance.
Hua Zhu Yu reached out her hand and slowly placed it over Madam Xuan’s open eyes to close them. Then, she gently placed her on the ground and slowly turned to look at Huangfu Wu Shuang. “Huangfu Wu Shuang, listen to your mother and stop this. You’ve already sent her off in peace. Don’t take any rash actions willfully, else you’ll just be hurting yourself in the end.”
“Rash actions willfully?” Huangfu Wu Shuang asked with a raised brow. He coldly acknowledged, “Yes, I’m willful and reckless. But do you know why? It’s because I have nothing! No father! No mother! No family! No country! No love! I only have this willfulness and recklessness!” For him, in truth the throne was not so important. What’s important was family and love but in this life, no one gave him the chance to experience the warmth of a family nor the warmth of affection.
“Don’t you want to see your grandmother?” Huangfu Wu Shuang suddenly asked. He clapped his hands and immediately a soldier led a horse to him. He mounted the horse and said, “Let’s go!” Stretching out his hand, he pulled Hua Zhu Yu up to sit on the horse with him.
At this time, in the distance the sound of a loud horn could be heard as the ground seemingly shook. A large cavalry was approaching and a scout rushed forward to report in a panicked voice, “Reporting to Crown Prince, the Southern Army is launching an attack at our base camp!”
Huangfu Wu Shuang brandished his horse whip and said, “What are you panicking for? Head off to battle!”
But Huangfu Wu Shuang was aware that without a general leading the rebel army, he would surely lose. He urged his horse forward with the whip and took the lead as he descended the mountains with a team of elite troops, traveling through the rugged roads of the dense, mountain forest against the strong gusting wind.
Rong Luo and A’Gui did not chase after them. When she rode away, Hua Zhu Yu vaguely saw Rong Luo fall to the ground. Was he injured, she wondered. But she also thought it was for the better that they didn’t follow since it had nothing to do with them anyways. As for her, she needed to save her grandmother and Huangfu Wu Shang. She knew that Ping, An, Kang and Tai must be following her in the dark.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
Not long after, Huangfu Wu Shuang led her to a hidden cave in the deep mountains. He did not deceive her as her grandma and Huangfu Wu Shang were truly held captive there.
“Huangfu Wu Shuang, we have known each other for a long time but we have never fought. How about a duel tonight? If I win, you will let my grandma and Huangfu Wu Shang go. How about it?” Hua Zhu Yu proposed.
“As long as you leave with me, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to duel in the future!” Huangfu Wu Shuang said with a smile.
Hua Zhu Yu stared at him for a moment. Then slowly a smile floated across her lips as she asked, “What? You don’t dare to? If you win, I will leave with you willingly!”
When he heard this, Huangfu Wu Shuang’s black eyes flashed with a trace of happiness as he gazed at her. Seemingly, the moonlight became hazy and the murky cave grew somewhat warmer.
“Alright!” He replied in a loud voice.
Instantly, Hua Zhu Yu drew her sword and charged at him.
This was the first time they had fought. She realized he was highly adept at wielding the sword and his movements were strong and powerful, moving at a ghastly speed that made his attacks highly unpredictable. It was evident his martial skills were not taught by Hua Mu. He must’ve been personally taught by the Retired Emperor Yan in the palace. He was skilled in martial arts but had kept it hidden for so long, disclosing not even half of his real abilities.
After a few moves, she realized she could not hold out for much longer. Her internal force had not been fully recovered, moreover she was currently with child. After just 10 moves, she felt a dull pain in her abdomen.
Hua Zhu Yu glanced at the soldiers holding her grandma and Huangfu Wu Shang captive and her heart grew anxious. Ping, An, Kang, and Tai made their appearances and made a move to rescue the captives but Huangfu Wu Shuang’s soldiers fended them off.
If this continued on like this, she feared that not only could she not save her grandma and Huangfu Wu Shang but she may even be captured as a result. What should she do, she wondered anxiously when suddenly the sound of a group approaching could be heard on the mountain roads ahead. She looked up and saw Xiao Yin riding briskly towards her, accompanied by his four guards behind him. Against the strong wind, his cloak quivered violently as his purple eyes narrowed with urgency. Hua Zhu Yu was stunned that he would suddenly appear here. She thought he had already sailed back to Northern Kingdom. She even heard that the Northern Army was attacking at the borders. As she was preoccupied with these thoughts and doubts, Xiao Yin had suddenly reached her side, extending out his sword to block Huangfu Wu Shuang’s attack.
“You go save them!” Xiao Yin said to her.
Hua Zhu Yu was originally anxious to rescue her grandma and Huangfu Wu Shang. Upon hearing Xiao Yin’s words, she withdrew from the fight without a second thought and left him to deal with Huangfu Wu Shuang as she went to deal with the soldiers.
These soldiers were skilled and they attacked ruthlessly. With their large numbers, they combined their forces and surrounded her in an attack. After a long while, Hua Zhu Yu finally found an opening out of their encirclement. Seeing that Huangfu Wu Shang was closest to her, she decided to save him first and go back for her grandma. But when she turned back around, a soldier had placed his sword on her grandma’s neck.
“One more step forward and I’ll kill her,” he said maliciously as his hand exerted force and blood flowed from her grandma’s neck.
Though her grandma’s accupoint had been sealed and she could not speak, her face was a picture of serenity, there was no fear nor panic. Hua Zhu Yu eyed the weapon in his hand coldly as her heart raced. She slowly took two steps back and said, “Alright, I’ll retreat. Don’t harm her.”
Her mind raced as she came to a conclusion. The only way to save her grandma was to take Huangfu Wu Shuang hostage and make him release her.
Hua Zhu Yu turned around and saw Xiao Yin and Huangfu Wu Shuang still fighting but when her eyes swept over Xiao Yin, she was stunned.
The smell of blood had seemingly invaded her nose as the glaring red assaulted her eyes, blinding her vision momentarily.
She suspected her eyes were deceiving her and closed them for a moment. When she opened them again, it was still the same. In front of her, Xiao Yin was still covered in blood.
His cloak had been slashed by Huangfu Wu Shuang’s sword. Half of his purple robes were dyed a scarlet red by the blood ebbing from the numerous wounds over his body. In contrast, his face was exceedingly pale as if he was running out of blood yet he was still holding on, fending off Huangfu Wu Shuang’s attacks.
Meanwhile, his guards were fighting the soldiers but upon seeing the state he was in, they were anxious to come to his aide.
Hua Zhu Yu quickly ran over to Xiao Yin but before she could reach him, Huangfu Wu Shuang suddenly raised his hand and his sword gleamed coldly in the darkness before it descended rapidly, slashing against Xiao Yin’s chest.
The sound of metal slicing against solid flesh was so jarring to Hua Zhu Yu’s ears.
When she finally got to him, he was staggering backwards unsteadily. She extended her arms to support him and as he fell, his lips inadvertently brushed against hers(translator: LOLOL), filling her senses with the smell of blood.
Hua Zhu Yu supported him to stand but she didn’t dare to hold him tightly in fear of touching his wounds. Over his body there were numerous wounds on his shoulders, chest, arms, waist, and legs where blood continued to flow.
“Yatou, are you alright?” Xiao Yin asked in a low voice. Contrary to the state he was in, his purple eyes shined and creased with smiles. However, in the next moment, a mouthful of blood spewed from his mouth and splashed onto his robes, adding another blood stain to his already bloodstained robes. He was seriously injured and was not able to stand even with her support. His body shifted unstably and he fell backwards once again.
Hua Zhu Yu quickly stretched out her arms and caught him in time before he fell to the ground. With her hand propped against the wound on his back, she could feel his blood spilling as it wrapped around her hand.
Hearing him call her yatou, she suddenly realized he remembered her. When did he get back his memory? Was it the night of the prison break? Or perhaps earlier when they had ran into each other on the streets or even earlier when he and Dan Hong had entered the palace together.
She tried to hold back her tears but it was to no avail. She cried out, “Elder brother!”
She held him and quickly retreated back a few steps. No matter what, she couldn’t let anything happen to him.
At this moment, Rong Lou suddenly came running out from the forest. As he came upon this scene, his footsteps suddenly halted.
He stood there quietly beneath the moonlight as his veil was lifted by the wind, exposing his defined jawline and the bitter smile resting on his lips.
Moments later, Rong Lou had made his way over to stand in front of Huangfu Wu Shuang and unsheathed his sword, directing his weapon at his opponent with a murderous air.
Peering at the cold gleam of the sword pointing at him beneath the moonlight, Huangfu Wu Shuang merely smiled haughtily.
- He doesn’t say exactly that they have “nine lives” but that they have “big lives” . But saying they have “Big lives” sounded weird so I went with “nine lives” which has the same meaning.
- yatou: could mean slave girl but here it is used as a term of endearment