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The distance from the place Xiao Yin was performing to Hua Zhu Yu was a bit far. When the bear-like beast appeared, he rushed towards Hua Zhu Yu but who would’ve thought that before he could reach her, the beast attacked.
Moreover, at this point, there was no way to make the beast retreat. Xiao Yin employed his lightness skills to quickly reach Hua Zhu Yu and pull her into his chest, but there was no time to escape. He could only turn around and shield her with his body, receiving the beast’s devastating blow.
Hua Zhu Yu could hear the bones of Xiao Yin’s shoulders breaking. No matter how much internal force he had, he was still injured.
At that same moment, the arrow in Hua Zhu Yu’s hand flew out like lightning, stabbing towards the white fur beneath the beast’s jaw. Letting out a roar, it staggered backwards and fell to the ground. It’s miserable roars continued, progressively getting softer and softer until it finally ceased entirely.
The beast’s vulnerable spot was it’s chin, the softest area on its body. When she stabbed its chin, she felt as though there was already a sharp object embedded there. This was strange but she didn’t have the time to investigate.
After stabilizing herself, she laid Xiao Yin down on the ground and examined his injury. Her hands were stiff yet somewhat trembling as her heart pounded frantically in her chest. She had witnessed countless deaths on the battlefield but she had never felt as nervous as she did in this moment.
Many people had been scared senseless as the mountain finally restored to its previous serenity.
“How, how are feeling?…” Hua Zhu Yu nervously gazed at Xiao Yin. Beneath the moonlight, his healthy wheat-color skin had turned deathly pale as blood constantly seeped out at his shoulder.
His face was pale as snow, making his eyes appear even darker and unfathomable. His pair of deep purple eyes locked onto Hua Zhu Yu as though confining her, not allowing her to struggle free. A relieving smile appeared on his lips.
“Your Highness, how are you? Is the injury severe?….” His four bodyguards came running towards them. Hui Xue anxiously asked as Lui Feng quickly helped Hua Zhu Yu up and tore the clothing at Xiao Yin’s shoulder to examine the injury.
The severity of the injury made everyone take in a deep breath, but Xiao Yin made it appear as though it was nothing and said, “It’s nothing, it’s fine…” His voice was getting softer and softer. As though they had not been careful and placed pressure on his wound, he furrowed his brows and lightly coughed as streams of blood seeped from the corner of his mouth.
Huangfu Wu Shang was carried to safety by the guards and the Emperor quickly called for an Imperial doctor to come take a look at his injury. Amidst this scene of chaos, a miserable growl erupted as a callous black shadow approached from behind the Emperor.
After the run in with the beast the Imperial guards had lowered their guard, not expecting another beast to appear. From a glance, this beast was even larger than the previous. It appeared to be a male and was coupled with the previous beast. After witnessing its partner murdered, this beast was even more aggressive, throwing a few guards backwards and charging directly for the Emperor.
These two beasts were completely uninterested in the guards, one charged towards Huangfu Wu Shang while the other charged towards the Emperor. At this moment, in the group of guards protecting the Emperor, one stepped forward, brandishing a rope. He wound it around the beast’s two ankles and forced it to stop. Although its momentum was impeded, the strike it directed at the Emperor was still enough to slam him to the ground and cough up blood.
A number of officials rushed over in a flurry of steps to surround and protect the Emperor. Hua Zhu Yu furrowed her brows and observed. She recognized that the guard employing the rope to tie the beast’s ankles was one of the three figures beneath Ji Feng Li- Tong Shou. Unexpectedly, Tong Shou was not guarding Ji Feng Li but was protecting the Emperor.
Hua Zhu Yu watched on with indifference in her eyes. She saw Ji Feng Li within the crowd of officials surrounding the Emperor. His eyes were narrowed and there was no elegant smile upon his lips. But he did not appear to be anxious at all, just reserved and cold. Lan Bing stood on the side guarding him, as though he was afraid Ji Feng Li would suffer an injury.
Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t help but scoff in her heart. A person like Ji Feng Li didn’t need someone to protect him.
This Tong Shou’s martial arts was truly outstanding. He employed the rope to wind around the beast and tied the other end to a large stone. The beast let out a dauntless bellow and reached out to yank the rope with a violent force. Unexpectedly, the stone was pulled and dragged along.
The group of people that were protecting the Emperor all backed away and the Imperial Army charged forward but did not dare to approach the beast too closely. They raised their bows and arrows and aimed at the beast, launching a rain of attacks. It was uncertain whose it was but an arrow at last had hit the target under the jaw and the beast let out a wretched growl as it fell.
After this frightening turn of events, everyone was extremely anxious. In the end, three important figures were injured, requiring the care of the imperial doctors.
The night was already late and it was impossible to return to the summer palace so the Emperor instantly ordered the Imperial Army within the summer palace to rush over and spend the night guarding outside. Several campfire were lit around the camp, burning through the night.
Hua Zhu Yu stayed to wait on Xiao Yin as he did get hurt because of her. His camp was divided into two parts, an inner and outer. Hua Zhu Yu waited in the outer camp as she watched the imperial doctor rushing in and out of the inner camp, making her feel somewhat anxious.
Finally, the imperial doctor took his leave.
Hui Xue went to boil the medicine while Lui Feng said Xiao Yin had invited her to come in. Lui Feng, Qing Yun, and Bi Yue then all tactfully retreated.
Inside the camp the candles gently flickered. Xiao Yin was leaning back against the bed, his shoulder wound was already treated and bandaged with thick white gauze. His complexion appeared much better compared to when he was first wounded. Fortunately, the beast struck his shoulder, if it had struck his back, it was uncertain whether he could be resting in bed like this.
Recalling that incident she realized what a risky move it was.
Hua Zhu Yu sat down on the chair, gazing at the wound on his shoulder for quite a long time before asking in a hoarse voice, “Does it still hurt?”
Xiao Yin swept aside a few disorderly strands of hair on his forehead and replied with a smile, “No, it’s just a minor injury, merely insignificant.” Once he finished speaking, a sadness appeared in those deep purple eyes as he continued, “That day I shot a barbed arrow at your shoulder, now I know how much pain you must’ve felt back then. This shoulder injury can be considered my retribution. Yatou, you need not worry about it!
Xiao Yin still clearly remembered all the times he had hurt Hua Zhu Yu. Often, when recalling such events he would be full of self-blame.
Hua Zhu Yu felt it was hard to breath.
Xiao Yin traveled thousands of miles to find her and even risked his life to protect her. His actions not only moved her but also planted the seeds of an unfamiliar feeling in her heart.
She lowered her gaze, concealing the tears that threatened to emerge. When she looked up again, she said with a smile, “Your Highness, you don’t have to feel guilty about things of the past, those matters, there’s no need to mention them again. The things that you owe me, you’ve already completely repaid them.”
Having heard what she said, Xiao Yin’s eyes became increasingly bleak.
He did not face her as he fixed his gaze on the candle’s flame. It seemed as if he had to employ every last ounce of strength to ask, “The debt is paid? Your meaning is we no longer have the need to see one another, is that it?” After a long silence, he turned around to look at her and slowly spoke in a hoarse voice. “Could it be apart from this debt, there is really nothing else between us?”
Hua Zhu yu was slightly startled.
Like a sharp sword, this question pricked her soft heart.
“Disregard our identities, is there nothing …..” his voice somewhat choked as it was difficult to speak such things aloud when he was sober like this.
Within the camp, the atmosphere sunk to an impasse.
“You don’t want to follow me, alright, I won’t force you. But what you are doing here is too dangerous! The appearance of those beasts tonight is definitely not a coincidence. I think you also recognize that. Letting you remain in this turbulent southern Kingdom’s Imperial Palace, I truly don’t feel at ease,” Xiao Yin slowly said.
Hua Zhu Yu also knew that tonight’s affairs wasn’t something that happened by chance. Especially those two beasts which did not harm others but specifically targeted the Emperor and Huangfu Wu Shang. She was certain there was someone pulling the strings behind the scene. And today was merely the beginning. It was uncertain how the situation in court could change tomorrow.
“Rest assured, I’ll be fine. I’m sure you know what it is that I want to accomplish. If I don’t do this, even if I continue on living it would be no different from dying. So don’t stop me, if ….if …I’ve handled this matter, perhaps I will look for you in Northern Kingdom,” Hua Zhu Yu slowly said with lowered lashes, concealing the emotions in her eyes. No matter what he said, she still would not leave this place.
Xiao Yin turned around to look at her, deep in the depths of his eyes appeared a trace of surprise. His purple eyes burned brightly, enough to cause apprehension in others. He had thought that Hua Zhu Yu hated him and wanted to sever the relationship between them. He did not expect her to say that she would willing return to find him.
His large hands stretched out to wrap around her slender, lily-white ones.
“The medicine is here.” Hui Xue raised the curtain to carry the medicine in.
Hua Zhu Yu stood up, intending to give the chair to Hui Xue but she didn’t expect Hui Xue to reject it and instead say, “Princess, today His Highness was wounded because of you, you should withstand the hardship a bit and feed him his medicine!”
Hua Zhu Yu could only reluctantly receive the bowl of medicine. Peering inside she saw a concentrated viscous liquid making her knit her brows. She brought the medicine to Xiao Yin and said, “Good medicine is bitter, you should quickly drink it!”
Xiao Yin did not move and looked at her with a relaxed smile, “You’ve been an eunuch for so long, yet you don’t know how to feed a patient their medicine?” He was actually really happy inside because he could tell she’d never done this before.
It was true that Hua Zhu Yu had never done this before, not in the military nor inside the palace. Huangfu Wu Shuang had so many people to serve him that work like feeding medicine was not required of her.
She had never done this for someone else.
Hua Zhu Yu furrowed her brows and looked at the wound on Xiao Yin’s shoulder and it appeared he wouldn’t be able to lift his hand. She weakly smiled, raised a spoonful of medicine, blew on it, and brought it to Xiao Yin’s mouth.
Xiao Yin quickly opened his mouth, and Hua Zhu Yu very quickly fed him. Xiao Yin drank just as quickly. This scene really confused Hui Xue who was standing on the side watching with knitted brows.
Instantly, the bowl of medicine was finished.
Early next morning, Hua Zhu Yu heard that both the Emperor and the prince’s conditions had stabilized. However, due to the Emperor’s age his internal organs and inner qi were damaged.
Therefore, the Emperor had to stay in Qing Jiang Palace to recuperate.
The Emperor entrusted matters of the court over to Kang Wang Huangfu Wu Shang to manage and ordered the Left Chancellor Ji Feng Li, Imperial Tutor Wan, and Right Chancellor Nie to assist him.
The Crown Prince Huangfu Wu Shuang was completely forgotten.
Hua Zhu Yu knew something wasn’t right.
She feared the Emperor was suspecting Huangfu Wu Shuang to be involved in last night’s incident, however he had no evidence otherwise he would’ve deposed him of the Crown Prince position already.
The emperor was suspicious of Huangfu Wu Shuang for two reasons. First, he was fond of animals and enjoyed participating in animal competitions. Moreover, when he went to Jiangbei to handle the disaster relief fund, he had passed by the summer palace. He had stayed outside for more than a month which could have given him the opportunity to gather the two beasts for the attack. Second, the Emperor was paying more attention to Kang Wang Huangfu Wu Shang recently, intending to motivate Huangfu Wu Shuang, but Wu Shuang always felt pressured. Particularly, when he had lost to Wu Shang in the archery competition. Furthermore, the Emperor had been scolding him repeatedly recently. Huangfu Wu Shuang would inevitably carry grievances in his heart.
Combining all these factors, the Emperor increasingly felt that Huangfu Wu Shuang was the prime suspect.
Kang Wang Huangfu Wu Shang nearly lost his life during yesterday’s incident so he was not a suspect.
Furrowing her brows, Hua Zhu Yu recalled that the beast already had something sharp embedded in its chin before she stabbed it. It appears an expert had already made a move before she did. Huangfu Wu Shang had already fainted on the ground so it was unlikely to be him. She was certain that someone else was protecting him besides her at that time.
Thinking up to here, Hua Zhu Yu decided to bid farewell to Xiao Yin and went to look for Huangfu Wu Shuang.