It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 28 Assassins
Taking advantage of the fierceness of the battle, Tang Shishi slid quietly to the other side by bending her waist down.
It was dark now. Shadows were dancing in the woods, and the wind was blowing. Tang Shishi took advantage of the woods and left quickly. When she left, the battle seemed to be more intense. Tang Shishi silently prayed for Zhao Zixun in her heart and whispered, “Shizi, it’s not that I ran away, but I rather choose the solution with the least harm. You wait. I’ll call someone back to save you.”
After leaving the fighting field, Tang Shishi did not hide and ran quickly. At this time, a sword stabbed Zhao Zixun in the back, but Zhao Zixun did not notice it. Zhou Shunhua gritted her teeth and stood in front of Zhao Zixun.
The tip of the sword pierced Zhou Shunhua’s abdomen, and Zhou Shunhua suddenly groaned. Zhao Zixun turned around and found that it was Zhou Shunhua that groaned in pain. Zhao Zixun kicked the assassin away without hesitation, then wrapped his arm around Zhou Shunhua, and quickly said, “Shunhua, how are you?”
Zhou Shunhua could not speak because of the pain. She covered her wound with her fingers, and instantly her hands were soaked with blood. She exhausted all her strength and said intermittently, “Shizi, go quickly.”
Zhao Zixun embraced her, glanced around quickly, hugged her horizontally, and ran in a certain direction. The leader of the assassin waved his hand and ordered in Turkic, “Chase!”
“Leader, the other woman is missing.”
The leader of the assassin frowned tightly and said in a bad tone, “Who is she?”
“I don’t know, but she appeared before Jing Wang and Shizi. There were originally two women, but now there is only one left, and the other disappeared.”
“Not good.” Someone in the team said, “She went back to call for reinforcements.”
The assassin leader’s face was gloomy. It was his negligence that left out a person. Initially, he did not see the woman clearly, as he was determined to deal with Zhao Chengjun’s son. He did not expect that he was pecked by the wild goose all day long and was calculated by a woman.
This woman was smart, she did not faint and did not try to save Zhao Zixun foolishly. Instead, she knew how to go back and call for reinforcements. The target of the assassins was Jing Wang. If she managed to pass on the news, they would have to lose all of the efforts they had made.
The leader gave a malicious look, “Black Hawk, you go after that woman. The others follow me, and we must kill Zhao Chengjun and his son.”
In the camp, Zhao Chengjun was reading the memorials in the tent and suddenly heard a familiar voice. Zhao Chengjun put down the memorials and listened attentively. This time the movement became more obvious, just outside his tent.
Zhao Chengjun opened the curtain with a cold face, and the soldiers on duty outside were catching the little fox. When they saw Zhao Chengjun coming out, they quickly pleaded, “Wangye, have the fox disturbed you? These subordinates are derelict in his duties, so I will take it away…”
Zhao Chengjun raised his hand, and the soldier’s words naturally stopped. The little fox felt the familiar smell and moved to Zhao Chengjun’s feet. Zhao Chengjun lowered his head and looked at the little thing quietly.
Zhao Chengjun asked, “Where is Tang Shishi?”
“Miss Tang?” The soldiers looked at each other in surprise, “I don’t know. Is Miss Tang not here with Wangye?”
Zhao Chengjun was silent. Tang Shishi said she went out to look for the fox, but the fox was in her tent and did not run out at all. What did Tang Shishi do?
Zhao Chengjun said with a cold face, “Someone come, search the woods.”
This lake was quiet and secluded, some distance away from the camp, which was why Zhou Shunhua chose it in the first place. Unexpectedly, these advantages now became deadly poisonous arrows at Tang Shishi.
After running halfway, Tang Shishi was terrified to hear footsteps behind her. She ran as hard as she could but was still being chased.
Tang Shishi did not dare to look back. She was too petrified and did not pay attention to her feet and accidentally tripped over a stone. At this moment, an arrow swept past the end of her hair. If it were not for Tang Shishi’s sudden fall, the arrow would have hit Tang Shishi’s back.
Tang Shishi was so scared that she did not dare to stay on the ground and got up quickly to continue running. At this time, several more arrows passed by her side, and Tang Shishi staggered to avoid them. Finally, she slipped and fell on a pile the dead leaves.
Tang Shishi wanted to get up, but the person behind her was getting closer. The assassin drew his blade, and the blade reflected a little light. His face was covered and could not see his face clearly, and there was no emotion in his eyes, it was filled with cold killing intent only.
Tang Shishi kept retreating, still speaking and trying to divert the assassin’s attention, “This brave man, I am just an ordinary maid in the team. I usually do some cumbersome and rough work, and I can’t even see Jing Wang’s face. It’s no use for you to kill me, it’s just a waste of time. Aren’t you working for others for money? I have money in my family. We can discuss how much you want.”
The man in black turned a deaf ear to Tang Shishi pleads. He approached Tang Shishi step by step, and slowly raised his blade. When the last fluke in Tang Shishi’s heart was extinguished, she suddenly opened her throat and shouted, “Your Highness Jing Wang, there is an assassin! Ah… “
As soon as Tang Shishi shout out, the man in black was afraid that his tracks would be exposed. He immediately slashed at Tang Shishi with his blade. Tang Shishi closed her eyes in fear. She thought that she was about to confess her life here. At the moment of death, her thoughts were not on the male and female lead, nor the Empress Dowager position that she dreamed of, but on her hometown far away in Linqing.
When she left, she held her breath and refused to look back at Linqing. At that time, she wanted to get ahead in the Imperial Palace, and then return with grandiose. She boarded the official ship going south, without hesitation or nostalgia.
So, was that her last look? When it came to this, everything was her own choice. There was nothing to regret. Tang Shishi just regretted that she failed to go back to Linqing to see her mother and Tang’s family.
Time seemed to slow down at the critical moment of life and death. Tang Shishi heard the sound of the blade and even felt the wind passing when the blade swept past her face. There was a faint sound of arrows from behind, then a muffled hum, and a drift of heat rushed to Tang Shishi’s face.
Tang Shishi closed her eyes tightly. Only when there were a lot of footsteps around her did she wake up and find that she was not dead. Tang Shishi opened her eyes and gasped for air. A white horse slowly paced to her side and the horse’s hoof was curled up.
Zhao Chengjun put away the bow, still sitting on his horse, and said leisurely, “Come out to find the fox? Just walking in the woods?”
Tang Shishi was stunned for a long time. A few drops of blood hung on her eyelashes and suddenly fell. Tang Shishi woke up and struggled to get up in a hurry, “Wangye, there is an ambush in the woods.”
“Shizi was surrounded by assassins. I’m afraid it’s a lot worse now.”
“Zhao Zixun?” Zhao Chengjun seemed surprised, but he felt it all made sense. No wonder Tang Shishi would appear here, no wonder she lied to leave the camp.
It turned out that it was all because Zhao Zixun was also here.
At this critical juncture, Zhao Chengjun did not pursue Tang Shishi’s deception, but asked, “Where are they?”
Tang Shishi wanted to get up, but she had no strength. She tried several times and could not succeed. She supported herself on the ground and tried to point in the direction with her fingers, “By a lake, the place is very secluded. Probably going in this direction…”
Tang Shishi has been making gestures for a long time, but still could not tell the direction clearly. She struggled to hold the ground, “I will lead the horse, I know where the path is.”
“No need.” Zhao Chengjun said with a calm face, “There is no time. Reach out.”
Tang Shishi was not clear, so she looked at Zhao Chengjun doubtfully, “What?”
Zhao Chengjun leaned over and extended his arm to Tang Shishi. Zhao Chengjun’s fingers were slender and well proportioned, and his joints were even. At first sight, it was a pair of pampered hands and there were slight calluses on his knuckles, which made it even more powerful than elegant.
Zhao Chengjun’s complexion was cold and dull, with no special expression, as if in a hurry, “Give me your hand.”
Tang Shishi was stunned, not until Jiaoxue stepped on the horse’s hooves impatiently, then she cautiously extended her arm to hold Zhao Chengjun’s hand. As soon as Zhao Chengjun came in contact with Tang Shishi’s hand, he immediately grasped her hand and lifted her up, and put her in front of him.
In the blink of an eye, Tang Shishi sat on the horse and her back was Zhao Chengjun. She suddenly froze, dared not move, “Wangye…”
“Stop talking nonsense, there is no time. Show the way ahead.”
Tang Shishi could only rigidly turn her neck and stare at the path ahead like a puppet. She sat in front of Zhao Chengjun. Zhao Chengjun’s arm wrapped around her waist and held the reins as if holding her in his arms. Tang Shishi tried not to pay attention to Zhao Chengjun’s broad and powerful chest behind her, which permeate with warm and strong body temperature, and ubiquitous breath.
She tensed her back and reminded Zhao Chengjun to “turn left” and “turn right” from time to time. Even if the horses in the woods could not run fast, they were much faster than humans’ feet. Soon, Zhao Chengjun and a group of guards arrived at the place where the Tang Shishi was attacked just now.
Tang Shishi sighed and she could not avoid being suspicious by others. She held Zhao Chengjun’s arm and looked to the ground, “Impossible, they were still here just now.”
Zhao Chengjun’s eyes were as bright as eagles. He quickly scanned the marks of fighting on the ground, quickly locked on a direction, and took the lead by kicking his horse, “They ran towards there. Chase!”
Tang Shishi did not know what Zhao Chengjun used to judge the direction of the assassins and Zhao Zixun’s departure. He rushed out of the woods and chased them all the way to the edge of a cliff.
When Tang Shishi saw the cliff, she felt bad. The lead characters were hunted down as soon as they arrived in the woods, and then they were chased all the way to the cliff and fell down. Could the story of Zhao Zixun and Zhou Shunhua be so old-fashioned?
Zhao Chengjun paced Jiaoxue on the edge of the cliff, “Someone has fallen.”
Tang Shishi’s heart sank, and she blurted out, “Is it Shizi?”
Zhao Chengjun’s expression was also not good. He calmly said, “Yes or no, we’ll find out once we go down and see. Come and search for people under the cliff. If they are alive, I want to see the people but if they died, I want to see the corpses.”
The bodyguards clasped their fists on the horse, then lined up in two lines and quickly ran down the cliff. A group of guards guarding Zhao Chengjun’s side, and said earnestly, “Wangye, you are a noble. You shouldn’t take risks. There are humble guards here. Please go back to the camp and have a rest. “
Zhao Chengjun shook his head, “I’m not a woman. How can I be so delicate? Zhao Zixun hasn’t been found yet. What can I do when I go back?”
After that, Zhao Chengjun glanced at the guard’s horse and ordered, “Get your horse out. Call a team to escort her back.”
Tang Shishi realized that Zhao Chengjun was referring to her, and immediately said, “No. Wangye, whether Shizi and Sister Zhou are still alive or dead also unsure. I hate that I cannot replace them. How can I go back to rest by myself? I also want to stay here to find Shizi.
Zhao Chengjun did not believe a word of hers, and still said, “Send her back.”
Seeing that Zhao Chengjun could not be fooled by her beautiful words, Tang Shishi quickly said, “Wangye, cannot be done. You are outside, and so is Shizi. I will be the only one in the camp. If the assassins attack the camp at night, wouldn’t I be more danger?”
The guards on both sides had just released their horses, and when they heard Tang Shishi’s explanation, they went subtly silent. Miss Tang… Why was she different from what they thought?
Zhao Chengjun knew that this was the truth, he thought about it, and it made sense. Most of the guards were searching for Zhao Zixun outside, and the camp was indeed not considered safe. Zhao Chengjun changed his mind, “Never mind, you should continue to follow. Fan Yong, bring the horse here and look after her.”
The named guard clasped his fists and responded loudly, “This subordinate obeys the order.”
Tang Shishi changed to another horse, led by Fan Yong, and slowly tailed the search team from behind. The wind at night was very chilly and Tang Shishi hugged her arms, feeling a little cold.
Zhao Chengjun noticed that, but on the surface, he remained calm, he took off his cloak and threw it on Tang Shishi. A piece of red cloth suddenly flew in front of Tang Shishi, and she was shocked. She was rather surprised to see that it was Zhao Chengjun’s cloak. She secretly looked at Zhao Chengjun, who looked ahead with a cold expression, and she could not see any emotions. Had it not been for Zhao Chengjun’s cloak in her hand, Tang Shishi would have thought it was an illusion just now.
Tang Shishi whispered her thanks and wrapped his cloak around her. The cloak also carries Zhao Chengjun’s body temperature, which was warm and roomy, with a hint of fragrance faintly infused in it.
Tang Shishi did not know what kind of fragrance it was. The scent was very light, but it had a long aftereffect that was tranquil and elegant, which was the smell of Zhao Chengjun. Tang Shishi sighed that a person’s origin and class could not be covered up. Zhao Chengjun guarded the frontier and often dealt with warriors. He was a rough man in theory. However, his every move carried the unique fineness of the imperial family.
Incense was a habit of the Imperial Palace and wealthy families.
While Tang Shishi was in a daze, a soldier’s cry came from the front, “Wangye, there’s blood here!”
Blood? Tang Shishi’s spirit was shaken, and all her thoughts returned instantly. She knew that Zhao Zixun was injured. Was this pool of blood left by Zhao Zixun?
Zhao Chengjun also had the same suspicion and said in a solemn voice, “Follow the bloodstain and continue to look for it.”
Sometimes there was no blood, and it was not easy to identify it in the dark. They followed the bloodstain to a cave, and the soldier who opened the way ran back to report, “Wangye, the bloodstains have disappeared in the cave.”
The cave was dark and looked like a natural cave. Zhao Chengjun dismounted, stood at the entrance of the cave, was checking it out for a while, and said in a low voice, “Everyone on alert. Search slowly.”
The men all gathered around the cave entrance. Tang Shishi worried about Zhao Zixun’s whereabouts, so she also dismounted. She saw Zhao Chengjun stop in front of a stone, and stepped forward, “Wangye, what’s the matter?”
If Zhao Zixun entered the cave, there should be bloodstains around the area. Zhao Chengjun stared at the blood on the edge of the stone, did not speak, but frowned his eyebrows slowly.
The blood stains were long and thin, and the edges were spreading out, which were formed from splashes only. If these bloodstains were left by Zhao Zixun, they should be dripping rather than splashing.
Zhao Chengjun realized that it was not good, and immediately said loudly, “Withdraw, there’s an ambush here.”
After Zhao Chengjun suddenly made a sound, the assassin realized that their whereabouts were exposed and immediately began to attack them. While Tang Shishi was concentrating on looking for traces, many people jumped out to her side without warning, and then many arrows came soon after her.
With Zhao Chengjun’s sudden reaction and with darkness everywhere, the assassins could not see clearly who was giving the orders. They only knew that Jing Wang was wearing a red cloak. However, it was Tang Shishi who was wearing his cloak now.
Zhao Chengjun realized it was not good and immediately grabbed Tang Shishi and pulled her behind him. Tang Shishi did not know what happened, and her wrist was suddenly being held. She staggered for a while, and vaguely heard Zhao Chengjun say to her, “Take off the cloak.”
Tang Shishi did not understand why, but she still obediently went to untie the cloak immediately. However, it was too late, the assassins discerned the direction and attacked her together. Zhao Chengjun had no problem getting out of it alone, but if he wanted to protect Tang Shishi, he had to immediately fall behind. Zhao Chengjun was forced to retreat two steps and entered the cave with Tang Shishi. At this time, there was a rumble, and a huge rock fell from the top of the cave entrance and sealed the exit firmly.