Sorry for the long wait. It has been a tough semester for me. I still have my thesis defense next week, but after that, I am free. I hope I still can get H1~~~ Anyway, enjoy!.
This chapter is edited by Remy ?
Gu Yun went out of the office and headed straight towards Xing Bu’s prison. While running to the prison, she felt something was off. There were no guards! d.a.m.n! Gu Yun silently cursed and bursted into the prison. Entering the prison area, sure enough, she saw a scene that she wasn’t willing to see: there were dozens of yayis lying on the inner walkways of the prison area. A dark shadow had pa.s.sed the last yayi and was entering a cell door.
“Where did you go?” Gu Yun’s cold voice tore the silence of the prison at dawn, startling the dark shadow that was about to enter the prison. After clearly identifying Gu Yun, Ao Tian’s face stiffened.
Her eyes swept over the yayis who were lying on the ground. The undulating movements of the chest showed that they were alive. Gu Yun was secretly relieved. Her guess was right; Ao Tian wasn’t the kind of person who would kill innocent men. This also proved that he didn’t kill yayis the last time. Gu Yun glared at the Ao Tian was walking towards her. With a somewhat annoyed voice, she asked, “You had escaped once. Wasn’t it enough?”
She didn’t know what method the a.s.sailant used to lure Ao Tian out but during that time, Xiao Yu-er died. This time, the terror attacks happened and he still wanted to go out. The a.s.sailant was really leading Ao Tian to the point of no return!
Ao Tian pretended like he didn’t see Gu Yun. No matter what she said, his dark eyes coldly looked at the outside. His big hands pushed Gu Yun’s slender body aside, insisting on going out.
“Ao Tian!” How could Gu Yun possibly allow him escaping like this? She turned around and using her small hands, she grabbed Ao Tian’s wrist and pulled him back into his cell. With his hand being pulled, Ao Tian’s brows were slightly knitted, he twisted Gu Yun’s hand and pressed Gu Yun’s shoulder. As long as Gu Yun released her grip, she would be able to escape Ao Tian’s big hand, but it also meant giving Ao Tian an opportunity to escape.
Gu Yun was secretly surprised but she didn’t dodge. Her clutch on Ao Tian’s hand didn’t loosen for a second. As a result, Ao Tian’s big talon-like hand twisted her arm while he pressed her shoulder blade. The pain made Gu Yun groan. She bit on her lips and still stubbornly held onto Ao Tian. A slightly desperate expression came across Ao Tian’s eyes. He knew that she was stubborn so he couldn’t help but lower his strength. With a cold voice he said, “Let go!”
“I won’t.” The pain on her shoulder made Gu Yun angry and growl, “I always thought you weren’t an impulsive person. How could you act so rashly this time?!”
Ao Tian moved his body. Gu Yun exerted more force to grip his hand. Ao Tian faced the other side. It looked like he didn’t bother to explain the problems. Finally he said, “Ye Mei was captured by them. If I don’t go out, she will die.”
“Who told you Ye Mei was kidnapped?” When Ao Tian was escorted to the prison, the terror attacks had just begun. How could he have known that Ye Mei was kidnapped?! Gu Yun pulled Ao Tian’s sleeve and urgently asked, “Who was the person who keeps on threatening and trapping you? Who gave you the information? It’s obvious that you know everything, why won’t you speak up?”
Gu Yun’s head was only up to his chest and the pair of hands were still desperately clutching onto him. Her clear eyes gazed straight at his face. It was as though she could ‘read’ things from his face. He always knew that she had a pair of sharp eyes, so he awkwardly looked away and said bitterly, “Qing Mo! Don’t make me raise a hand against you!”
“Even when you escape, there are no guarantees that Ye Mei will still be alive. You obviously know that this is a trap, yet why do you need to rush into it?” He escaped the gaze of her eyes. He sure enough was clear about everything! Gu Yun simply ignored Ao Tian’s threat. Ao Tian was somewhat angry; she simply thought that he wouldn’t raise a hand against her, didn’t she?! Annoyed, Ao Tain raised his hands to grab Gu Yun’s slender neck and coldly said, “My business has nothing to do with you!”
Gu Yun’s neck suddenly felt tight. In a flash, she couldn’t breathe. Bing Lian at her waist felt Gu Yun’s strange atmosphere and restlessly shook. The temperature surrounding her dropped quite a bit. Gu Yun’s face was already red but she refused to raise the sword. Her hands that held Ao Tian’s sleeve were trembling slightly. A pair of cat eyes looked at him coldly. Gu Yun was gambling now! The truth was, as long as she drew her sword, both of them could escape from the danger, but what she wanted was the truth!
Just as Gu Yun’s face gradually blackened, Ao Tian frustratedly took his hands back and growled out of control, “What exactly do you want?!”
Once the grip was loosened, Gu Yun awkwardly gulped for air. With a hoa.r.s.e and unstable voice she asked, “Tell me the truth, or else, you will only leave this prison over my dead body!”
“You!” Ao Tian was furious. The woman in front of him had more persistent eyes than anyone he knew. He was helplessly unable to endure those cold eyes anymore.
“Ye Mei is my sister and also my only family member. I couldn’t just stay still seeing her die.” The deep voice male was cold but Gu Yun knew that she had won the gamble!
So… Ye Mei was his sister. This information didn’t surprise her. Gu Yun asked while adjusting her breathing, “Who is that silver-haired man?”
“Ao Jie. My father’s younger brother”
Father’s younger brother, it should be his uncle, right? Why didn’t he call him such? It looked like Ao Tian didn’t want to call that person ‘uncle’. Ao Tian was really a ‘wood log’ (Chinese Idiom: for slow witted). Gu Yun didn’t ask so he didn’t elaborate. She could only continue to ask, “Why did he harm you?”
Ao Tian was once again submerged into his own thoughts. In the dark cell, Gu Yun couldn’t clearly seen his expression but she didn’t urge him and silently waited. However, she didn’t release her hold on his sleeve. Ao Tian low voice was heard, “Ju Ling Dao (Dao = Island) is a secret island in the eastern sea. The Ao ancestors brought the clansmen to live on the island. For generations, they were paid a.s.sa.s.sins. As long as the price and conditions were met, Ju Ling Dao could a.s.sa.s.sinate people regardless if the target was a man on the street or a country’s ruler.”
Gu Yun slightly frowned. Ju Ling Dao could be said to be an organised murderer group. However, if they were that ‘good’, why could no one pay them to murder Yan Hong Tian of Qiong Yue? Thinking again, she realised that Qiong Yue’s prosperity and power wasn’t only due to Yan Hong Tian himself, but also Lou Xi Yan and Su Ling. It was impossible to eliminate the three of them at once (My own interpretation because I couldn’t make sense of this sentence 转念一想，穹岳强盛也并非只是因为一个燕弘添而已，总不可能把楼夕颜、夙凌都灭了吧。Any suggestion?)
“The Ao Clan is divided into several sub-clans. Every ten years, a compet.i.tion is organised and the winner becomes the clan leader. All Ao descendants (clansmen) must obey the leader’s orders. The clan leader can lead Ju ling Dao for a decade.”
“Was your father a leader?” Gu Yun could guess that these men troubling Ao Tian must have been related to the dispute within the leaders.h.i.+p.
“No, but he was the most likely to become the clan’s leader.”
“Then?” Gu Yun continued asking.
Ao Tian’s face turned colder. The dark shadow emitted a cold repressive aura. Gu Yun thought that he didn’t want to reply. After a while, she heard a calm voice reply, “He fell in love with an outsider. After the woman got killed by the clansmen, he killed himself (Translator’s note: It is a proverb and there is extra ‘in the name of love’ but I found it is kinda too cheesy to be said by Ao Tian so I deleted it, hahahaha).”
He said it really casually but didn’t want to speak further. Gu Yun could hear within those words, his deliberately concealed pains. With both parents dead at the same time, little Ao Tian and Ye Mei had suffered many pains such that they grew into the way they were now. Every effect had a cause.
Not wanting to expose the other’s scars, Gu Yun changed the topic, “Ao Jie could become a clan leader candidate himself. Why must it be you? Why can’t it be any other?”
Gu Yun didn’t persist in asking about his past so Ao Tian sighed in relief, “Not all Ao family members have silver hair. Only those with silver hair have the right to compete. Ao Jie lost in the compet.i.tion ten years ago so doesn’t have right to compete again this year. In our subclan, only Ao Jie and I have silver hair.”
“If it is so, Ao Jie did all of this to force you to return to Ju Ling Dao to compete for the leaders.h.i.+p and make you unable to stay in Qiong Yue?”
Ao Tian nodded indifferently. Gu Yun comforted, “Right now, Ye Mei is their most useful bargaining chip. They won’t kill her.” By killing her, they would lose the thing to control Ao Tian. They weren’t that stupid.
Ao Tian’s facial expression didn’t warm up, but grew colder, “You don’t understand their ways. Being dead isn’t the scariest thing in their hands. If I don’t go today, even if we can rescue her in the end, it will be fortunate if she only suffers a broken leg or arm.”
Gu Yun’s heart tightened. How could she have forgotten that they were organised murderers! In addition to murder, they would have quite a few torturing methods. No wonder Ao Tian acted so rashly. If she told this to Dan Yu Lan and Su Ling, would they believe her? Would they help Ao Tian? The answer was unclear, but Ao Tian wasn’t an idiot. He obviously understood that he couldn’t get support from their side, especially not after the terror attacks. Gu Yun couldn’t persuade him, so her only option was to support him. She asked, “Do you want to find them now?”
Ao Tian resolutely nodded.
A little later, people from Xing Bu would notice the abnormality and rush over. At that time, there would be more casualties. Thinking about it, Gu Yun said, “I will go with you.”
“No!” Ao Tian coldly coughed and turned around to leave.
Gu Yun quickly tightened her grip on his wrist and answered, “Then, don’t even think about leaving.”
Gu Yun’s grip was very strong, as if her fingers were buried in his muscle. Ao Tian loudly sighed and replied, “Okay. I will bring you with me. Release my hand now.”
“I don’t know qinggong. If I release you, I wouldn’t be able to pursue you.” Gu Yun didn’t really believe him, she bent down and took a yayi’s waist belt. She tied their hands together with it. Her palm was warm (temperature). Her palm was small yet very warm (feeling). Ao Tian’s heart throbbed slightly. Sweat started to form on his forehead. She was determined to follow him. Ao Tian was in a dilemma.
After making sure that the tie was strong enough, Gu Yun looked at Ao Tian and smiled, “Didn’t you say that time was precious? You should decide whether you want to continue dawdling here or go out!”
Ao Tian’s dark eyes flashed. Sunrays had already begun to light the sky, he really didn’t have much time left! Hugging Gu Yun’s slender waist, he flew outside. He really didn’t have much choice. Ye Mei needed to be rescued. He won’t let her get harmed!
The dawn from the peak of a high mountain was a breathtaking scene. It was as if the rays in the sky could be touched with one’s fingertips. The air had a slight moisture and a fresh aroma, uplifting people’s mood. If this was any other time, Gu Yun would have definitely taken some time to appreciate the moment. Currently however, her entire concentration was focused on the two similar looking men who emitted completely different auras in front of her.
Ao Jie glanced at Gu Yun who was beside Ao Tian. He had a strange creepy expression on his eyes. His wet lips formed a chilled smile, making people’s hair stand up.
Ao Tian coldly asked, “Where is she?”
Both of Ao Jie’s arms were folded in front of his chest. He gleefully replied, “Don’t worry. She was quite hard to catch so I couldn’t bare to kill her.” The hoa.r.s.e voice dripped with self-satisfaction, making the wrinkles on both Gu Yun’s and Ao Tian’s forehead tighten.
“Release her and I will go back with you to Ju Ling Dao.” Ao Tian’s indifferent tone, making people unable to predict what he was thinking.
Ao Jie burst out laughing, “Ao Tian, do you think I would believe you? Once I release Ye Mei, you will definitely do your best to hide her and escape the compet.i.tion day. Then, both of you would be safe, right?”
The ear-piercing laugh made Ao Tian want to punch Ao Jie’s face. Although his fists tightened, at last, he was still able to bear it down.
Ao Tian secretly gritted his teeth, “What do you want?”
“It’s not like it’s impossible for me to release her. As long as you can do one thing, I will believe that you are serious about going back with me to Ju Ling Dao! Or else, I can only only use Suo (lock) Xin (heart) San (break) on Ye Mei!” Ao Jie was talking while making a disgusting snake-like expression towards Gu Yun.
Gu Yun slightly tilted her head to meet his eyes. How many drug dealers and murderers who treated human lives like gra.s.s (like nothing) were executed by her? Why would she be afraid of him?!
Gu Yun’s calm peaceful and expression made Ao Tian slightly surprised. Gu Yun could feel Ao Tian was acting unusual like something was wrong. When Ao Jie said Suo Xin San, Ao Tian’s back went rigid. Although she didn’t know what that was, she knew it couldn’t be a good thing!
Ao Tian’s voice was somewhat hasty when he said, “Tell me what you want.”
Ao Jie proudly raised his lips. With a pale hand, he gradually pointed at Gu Yun and with a harsh voice followed by laugh, he slowly said, “Kill… her!”
Gu Yun was surprised. She didn’t expect Ao Jie to make such a request but she wasn’t really terrified, probably because Ao Tian was standing beside her. Gu Yun was keenly staring at Ao Jie when she suddenly realised something off with Ao Tian. She turned to glance at Ao Tian. Ao Tian’s eyes were cold and bloodthirsty, his palms had tightened into fists beside his body. It was so tight that his blue veins were bulging like individual vines. The tensed body was like a cheetah ready to tear its prey. Gu Yun had never seen this side of Ao Tian, making her unconsciously hold her breath. Her forehead was also covered in thin layer of cold sweat.
“As long as you kill her, I will believe that you are serious about going back to Ju Ling Dao and will also release Ye Mei.” He had investigated this woman. She was Su Ling’s woman. Her eldest sister was the beloved newly-wedded wife of Lou Xi Yan while her second sister was just appointed as Consort Qing and currently pregnant. If Ao Tian killed her, he would offend Su Ling, Lou Xi Yan and Yan Hong Tian all at once. In that case, there will be no shelter for him in Qiong Yue, or even in the six countries! At that time, he’ll have no choice but to go back to Ju Ling Dao!
Meeting Ao Tian’s cold violent eyes, Ao Jie’s heart shook a bit. The expression was identical to his father’s! Ao Jie intentionally wanted Ao Tian to personally kill his loved one to let him suffer for a lifetime! The more he thought about this, the more excited Ao Jie became. Pointing at Gu Yun, he somewhat frantically yelled, “Kill her! Kill her!”
“Enough!” Like an animal pushed to its limits, Ao Tian’s roar echoed in the silence of the mountains. Gu Yun looked at Ao Tian whose every muscle in his body appeared to be trembling. Her heart was filled with a touch of bitterness and unbearable pain.
One was his love interest and the other was his closest family member. These options would make anyone mad! Ao Jie had a delighted expression. Suddenly, he wasn’t rus.h.i.+ng Ao Tian to make a decision. This torment should persist a little bit longer. Dark red lips formed a strange demonic curvature. A hoa.r.s.e voice pretending to sympathise laughed, “Please don’t say I, your uncle, didn’t love you. I’ll give you time to think about it clearly. Tonight at rat hour (Zi s.h.i.+, 11pm-1am), I will be here waiting for you. Whether it is to save her life or Ye Mei’s will be entirely your decision!”
This man was truly sinister! Gu Yun grabbed Bing Lian onto her hand, wanting to capture him. Let’s see if he would still be this arrogant!
As if he could read Gu Yun’s thoughts, Ao Jie looked at Gu Yun with his eyes and smiled, “Oh yeah, before rat hour, I won’t meet Ye Mei. However, I have given an order: if I am not back at cow hour (1-3 am), she will lose one of her hands. At tiger hour (3-5 am), one of her legs will be lost! Ao Tian, think about it carefully! Don’t rus.h.!.+ Hahahahaha!”
d.a.m.n it! Gu Yun secretly swore. Now, even if they captured him, it would be useless and Ye Mei would suffer even more. Gu Yun’s tight grasp on Bing Lian powerlessly loosened. Her eyes glared widely at Ao Jie’s shadow exiting her gaze. The tensed Ao Tian beside her finally moved and chased in the direction where Ao Jie disappeared.
“Ao Tian!” Gu Yun’s body moved as fast as a cheetah. Before, she was afraid that the bindings on their hands would put him at a disadvantage when fighting so she had loosened the knot. Now, she couldn’t catch up to him. Gu Yun’s eyes flashed and she shouted to Ao Tian, “I have a way to find Ye Mei!”
The clear voice echoed in the valley. Gu Yun’s eyes were firmly fixed on the backside of the figure far away. Fortunately, as she had hoped, Ao Tian finally halted. He stood there, unmoving, for awhile. Gu Yun quickly caught up and seized Ao Tian’s wrist again. She gently but firmly said, “Believe me!”
The warmth from her soft palms made him want to free his arm, yet he was also reluctant to do so. He was afraid that those pair of hands would become ice cold under his arm (killed by him). He should distance himself from her… the further, the better… Yet, his feet weren’t able to step away.
Of course Gu Yun was unaware of the battle occurring in Ao Tian’s heart at that moment, but she just believed, they shouldn’t give up any hope until the last second.
Gu Yun led Ao Tian back to General Manor. Su Ling wasn’t home. She took a bundle of fabric from her chest pocket. It wasn’t clear what was inside the wrapping. Ao Tian only saw her giving it to a small thin cold man while whispering something in his ear. Then, she went with him to Ti Xing Department.
Just when the two arrived on the door, yayis from Ti Xing Department quickly drew their swords and surrounded them. Gu Yun and Ao Tian stood together and were surrounded by swords. Ao Tian coldly snorted and wanted to fight back, but Gu Yun grabbed his wrist. At this time, Lu Jin had received the news and rushed over there. Seeing Gu Yun grabbing Ao Tian’s hand, he frowned slightly but still silently watched the two.
Gu Yun released her grip on Ao Tian’s hand and asked, “Have Dan Yu Lan and Su Ling come back?”
Lu Jin nodded.
“I want to meet them. It’s urgent!” Gu Yun pressed. Lu Jin guessed that she must have discovered something. In addition, she brought Ao Tian back. Speaking of Ao Tian, at the moment, there was something different about Ao Tian. He was usually cold and arrogant, but today, his whole body seems to emit an impetuous and ruthless aura
Lu Jin could feel the sense of urgency. He didn’t dare waste time and quickly escorted the two into the office.
In the office, Dan Yu Lan was sitting solemnly on the wooden chair while Su Ling, who is sitting beside him, had a very dark expression. In addition, there was Lou Xi Yan who faintly smiled and Zhuo Qing who had a strange expression.
Seeing this kind of setup, Gu Yun frowned. Lou Xi Yan and Zhuo Qing also came. The case this time had much more impact and was more difficult to crack than the previous ones!
Zhuo Qing had a good look at Gu Yun once again and asked quietly, “Are you okay?” (Direct translation asks this in negative way like: did you have trouble)
Gu Yun shook her head. Everyone’s eyes moved from her to Ao Tian. His back was facing them and he was standing outside of the office. From his arrogant att.i.tude, uninformed bystanders would never think that he was detained! Ao Tian’s indifference made Cheng Hang unable to resist yelling at him, “Ao Tian, do you think Xing Bu’s prison is a place where you can come and go as you please?!”
Ao Tian kept silent for quite awhile, he didn’t even turn his head to face them. Seeing Cheng Hang’s rashness, Gu Yun replied, “We went to meet someone.”
We? What a good affectionate word! Su Ling’s cold face became colder, but he still didn’t speak up.
Dan Yu Lan asked, “Who?”
“The person who kidnapped Ye Mei.”
Everyone in the room was surprised. If Ye Mei had been abducted, then the kidnapper should be the real arsonist. Cheng Hang urgently asked, “Where is he? Weren’t the both of you able to capture him?” While Gu Yun’s martial arts weren’t weak, Ao Tian’s were high skill! If he didn’t capture the person, it must have been because he wasn’t willing to capture him!
Gu Yun explained, “We could capture him, but if we did so, Ye Mei would be in danger.”
Cheng Hang had always been admiring Qing Mo. However, this time, he thought Qing Mo was protecting Ao Tian. He was very unhappy and coldly said, “No one is clear whether Ye Mei’s disappearance is due to her escaping or being kidnapped. Maybe, all of this is part of Ye Mei and Ao Tian’s plan to ruin the celebration! Miss Qing, please don’t be tricked by them!”
Did he question her judgement?! Gu Yun sharp eyes narrowed and coldly said, “I have my own judgement and am capable of thinking critically. You don’t need to worry about me. If the Yamen (Chinese Feudal Government office) wants to say that Ye Mei is the arsonist, then let’s talk about the evidence. First, you personally drew the shoe print on the wall. Just from a glance, it’s clear that it’s the size of a male foot. I have seen Ye Mei before, and her shoe size isn’t that different from normal women, so it is impossible for her to leave shoe print that big.
“Secondly, Mo Bai said that at 9.30 pm, he was separated from Ye Mei. This proves that Ye Mei didn’t have time to commit the arsons. I have two pieces of evidence to prove that Ye Mei isn’t the real arsonist, do you officials have proof to say otherwise? It is just a gold mask and red clothes? That kind of outfit can be imitated by others. In regards to the memo left behind, Ao Tian took a look at it, and he is positive it is not Ye Mei’s writing. Just from a piece of writing, some clothes, and a mask, you suspect Ye Mei as the arsonist? Don’t you think you are being too hasty?”
Gu Yun’s forceful argument blocked Cheng Hang’s mouth, rendering him speechless. This even made the entire Ti Xing Department lose face (feeling ashame). Zhuo Qing secretly shook her head. In terms of interrogation and thorough a.n.a.lysis, how could these people be compared with Gu Yun?! They were looking for trouble, weren’t they? She was born to catch criminals. Moreover, she was also an expert in cracking cases!
Mo Bai’s eyes showed a rare look of admiration. This group of big men couldn’t see as methodically as this little girl!
Dan Yu Lan sighed slightly and helplessly said, “Miss Qing, it’s not like we do not believe you, but if you and Ao Tian do not tell us the entire story, it will be difficult to solve this matter!” Of course, he knew that the evidence was insufficient, but all of it seemed to point to Ao Tian and Ye Mei. If he didn’t start from them, how would he be ‘responsible’ to the Emperor and envoys?
It would be hard to locate Ye Mei without support from Xing Bu and General Manor. Gu Yun looked at Ao Tian. Ao Tian’s eyes squinted, which could be considered as his permission for her to tell the whole story. He would have never talked about it before today. However, now, he just wanted to look for Ye Mei as soon as possible, before the rat hour!
Having gotten permission, Gu Yun began to tell, “Truthfully, Ao Tian and Ye Mei are, in fact, siblings. Their father was a member of Ju Ling Dao. Everything that has happened the last few days were the actions of Ao Tian’s uncle, Ao Jie. It was done to force Ao Tian’s return to the island and entry into the organisation’s leader election. The murders, the arsons, Ye Mei’s kidnapping, and the disruptions of the celebration were done for this purpose. Ao Jie is hiding Ye Mei. If we capture Ao Jie now, Ye Mei will be in danger, so we need to rescue Ye Mei first before capturing him!” Gu Yun had explicitly explained Ao Tian’s background, hoping that they would help think of a way to save Ye Mei. As long as Ao Jie no longer held Ye Mei hostage, ‘finis.h.i.+ng’ him won’t be hard.
At the mention of Ju Ling Dao, Su Ling and Lou Xi Yan’s expressions simultaneously darkened. Ao Tian turned out to be someone Ju Ling Dao had been looking for. No wonder they dared to burn emba.s.sies and bathe the celebration with blood. There was nothing under this sky that Ju Ling Dao was afraid to do.
Lou Xi Yan squinted and gazed at lonely figure of Ao Tian outside the door. He then looked back again at his ‘small aunt’ (小姨子, XiaoYiZi, wife’s younger sister) and said, “The explosion at the emba.s.sies has infuriated the emperor. After hearing the a.s.sailant’s threat for Ao Tian’s release or else the celebration will turn into a mourning, he became further incensed and sent an order. If the a.s.sailant cannot be captured or if the arsons keep on occurring, Ao Tian is to be decapitated before the celebration begins!”
Decapitated? Before the investigation concludes, they shouldn’t determine Ao Tian as a convict! In addition, he didn’t partic.i.p.ate in the actual act of terrorism. How could they just behead people when they are told to chop?! Was this the power of the so-called absolute monarch? Gu Yun cynically smiled. Oh yeah, when the case of missing heart wasn’t solved in time, Dan Yu Lan, the so-called second rank official was casually punished with three years of imprisonment. How could Ao Tian be important in Yan Hong Tian’s eyes?!
Gu Yun’s hands unconsciously clenched together. Zhuo Qing quickly said, “Now, it is useless to say anything. The most important thing is to find Ye Mei and also Ao Jie. There are only five days left before the celebration, we don’t have much time.”
Although Zhuo Qing was also very disgusted with Yan Hong Tian’s authoritarianism, she also understood that the concerns and honor of a ruler cannot tolerate any provocation (作为君王的顾虑和不容挑衅的尊严). Though Yun would definitely acknowledge it, in Zhuo Qing’s world, right is right and wrong is wrong. Because Ao Tian didn’t kill anyone, he shouldn’t die!
Now, Zhuo Qing could only hope that they could rescue Ye Mei within 5 days or she couldn’t guarantee what would Yun do at that time!
No–not 5 days–there were only several hours!
The others didn’t know this fact but Gu Yun and Ao Tian were clear. Ao Tian who had kept silent finally turned around and stared at Gu Yun, “You said you had a way to find her!” He could only hope that she didn’t lie to him!
Gu Yun wanted to speak up when a yayi from outside came and interjected, “Minister, two people claiming to be soldiers of Su Manor are looking for Miss Qing Mo.”
Gu Yun urgently replied, “Let them in.”
The yayi looked to Dan Yu Lan. Seeing a nod, he quickly ran. Soon, he brought back a big tall man and a slender man. Both men entered the room and greeted Gu Yun, “Boss.”
Seeing that Su Ling was also present, Leng Xiao and Ge Jing Yun once again respectfully greeted, “General.”
Su Ling expressionlessly nodded. She was really great, she could make these boys unfalteringly loyal to her that they actually forgot who was the one who really paid their salary!
Gu Yun extended her hand and asked, “Did you find it?”
“En.” Leng Xiao nodded and took out the piece of linen that Ao Tian saw this morning. He handed it to Gu Yun and whispered some words. Her first smile today finally emerged. Finally, she found it!
Gu Yun smiled confidently and opened the linen wrap and said, “Actually, there is a trace clue from the two bombings. From the burnt pits of both emba.s.sies, I found these.”
What had she found? Cheng Hang quickly dashed to Gu Yun’s side. Seeing small dark green pieces of cloth in her hand, he asked, “What is that?”
Placing the wrap into Cheng Hang’s hands, Gu Yun replied, “At first, I didn’t know what they were, but I figured it out just now. This is a special kind of paper used to wrap gunpowder and firecrackers to protect them from moisture. If I am not wrong, the arsonist used this to contain the gunpowder and then threw them together into the emba.s.sies.”
Cheng Hang placed the wrap on the desk in front of Dan Yu Lan, letting them see the evidence. He continued asking, “Then, what does it mean?”
“During the celebration festival, all people and goods that come in and out of the capital must have undergone a thorough check. Things like explosives are impossible to smuggle in. Then, where did they get their explosives? In Qiong Yue’s streets, everyday there are soldiers patrolling 24 hours. Who can carry a big bag of explosives on the street without attracting people’s attention?”
Lu Jin was more astute than Cheng Hang. Upon hearing her explanation, he was immediately enlightened, “Do you mean… this arsonist might have nested somewhere in the vicinity of a government gunpowder warehouse?”
Gu Yun nodded. Cheng Hang’s eyes immediately lit up, “In the capital, there are only two gunpowder warehouses. One is located in the West Gate and the other is near Cheng Nan Clothes Store (I a.s.sumed it is a company name, I want to say a clothing line/fas.h.i.+on outlet, but it is too modern ? ). We can split the soldiers for both locations and surround them!”
Gu Yun made a flicking sound with her finger and answered, “I was also thinking the same! Lu Jin and Cheng Hang can go the warehouse in the West Gate while Leng Xiao, Ge Jing Yun and I will go to Cheng Nan Clothes Store. What do you think Minister Dan?”
She had arranged everything so well, was what he could have said. Dan Yu Lan only nodded and replied, “Since we found a clue, we naturally need to investigate it.”
Gu Yun was satisfied. She smiled and left with Leng Xiao and the team. Mo Bai who had been like Lou Xi Yan’s shadow (following him all the time) said, “I will go with you!”
Gu Yun’s steps slowed. She looked at Lou Xi Yan and didn’t see any surprise on his face. He just smiled at her and nodded. Gu Yun shrugged her shoulders. If Lou Xi Yan didn’t have any objections, she naturally wouldn’t object either.
The group exited the office. Dan Yu Lan looked at Ao Tian and said, “Ao Tian, you cannot go.” If he escaped again, the reputation of Xing Bu would completely fall into disgrace!
Ao Tian only coldly snorted. His eyes emitted disdain and coldness, evoking slight fear in Gu Yun. This Ao Tian was different than usual. At this time, if they didn’t allow him to search for Ye Mei, he wouldn’t be as lenient as last night! Gu Yun quickly opened her mouth, “Let him go. After all, Ye Mei is his real sister. Minister Dan, I promise you, I will bring him back.”
Only Gu Yun could be considered to give Dan Yu Lan enough ‘face’ (Chinese idiom, giving enough respect?). Bluntly speaking, none of his yayis were able to locate Ao Tian, wasn’t it?!
Dan Yu Lan appeared sullen and didn’t speak a word. Lou Xi Yan who was beside him dismissively responded, “Just quickly go and come back early. Rescuing people is the first priority.”
Lou Xi Yan had spoken the words, so Gu Yun left with Ao Tian and Mo Bai. They divided the soldiers into two groups to cover both locations. Each group went to its allocated place. In the large office, there were only four people left, Zhuo Qing, Lou Xi Yan, Dan Yu Lan and Su Ling.
Zhuo Qing raised her brow slightly and glanced at Su Ling who had been sitting there with a cold expression. With a ridiculing tone, Zhuo Qing asked, “General Su isn’t going?” According to her observation, Su Ling had fallen in love with Gu Yun for quite some time. When she watched at Gu Yun and Ao Tian coming in and out together, several times, she thought Su Ling would flip out. However, he was actually indifferent.
Su Ling squinted and glanced at Zhuo Qing who seemed curious. He stood arrogantly and said to Dan Yu Lan, “The arsonist is likely to commit more arsons, I will take a look at the emba.s.sies. If there is any progress, do let me know.” Finished speaking, he didn’t wait for Dan Yu Lan’s reply nor did he bother to even glance at Zhuo Qing and Lou Xi Yan. He simply stormed out with the cold air.
Using her hand to support her head, Zhuo Qing gazed at Lou Xi Yan and smiled, “Qing Mo always said that Su Ling was a fiery and poisonous man, but how come I don’t see it?”
“Do you know how people from other countries describe General Su?” Lou Xi Yan faintly smiled.
Zhuo Qing quickly shook her head, appearing blatantly curious.
His thin lips raised to form a shallow arch. Lou Xi Yan replied, “Cold faced War G.o.d.”
“Oh!” Zhuo Qing immediately understood, “I see.” Actually, General Su’s temper was very dependent on the target.
Dan Yu Lan helplessly shook his head. Did this couple of newlyweds come to see a ‘drama’ or to investigate a case?
Gu Yun and the others brought 10 Su soldiers dressed in civilian clothes and went by Cheng Nan Clothes Store. Arriving there, Leng Xiao reported his initial findings to Gu Yun, “In this warehouse, there are ma.s.sive amounts of ready to use firecrackers, but the flints are fewer. However, the location and surroundings are much more complex; there are many cloth and embroidery shops around here.”
After listening to his report, Gu Yun didn’t mull over it but quickly arranged, “Start from the warehouse centre. Leng Xiao, bring several quick-witted soldiers and search in the residence area. Do not arouse suspicions, quietly observe. If you find something out of the ordinary, report back immediately. Ge Jing Yun, take some soldiers to search the shops. Upon entering, be sure to identify yourselves.”
“Yes.” The two quickly left to do their a.s.signed tasks. Ge Jing Yun couldn’t understand why they didn’t search the shops quietly, but since Gu Yun followed his team, he didn’t ask.
Ao Tian and Mo Bai chose to follow Gu Yun and the team to examine the shops. Two hours had pa.s.sed and the sky gradually darkened. Half of the stores had been checked, but nothing had been found. Some soldiers were becoming tired while Ao Tian and Mo Bai had became increasingly impatient.
Coming to a small embroidery shop, the hall was so small that with that amount of people, it was a bit crowded. The owner was a skinny man in his early fifties. Seeing them enter the shop, he quickly approached them and asked, “Who are you? What do you want?”
“We are government officials in the middle of an investigation. Currently, we are looking for a fugitive,” Ge Jing Yun expressionlessly disclosed his ident.i.ty.
The owner immediately smiled and explained, “We are a small embroidery shop. In the houyuan (literally means backyard, but figuratively it is a term to describe ‘the inner house’ where women in a particular family live), there are only my wife and daughter who are doing the embroidery. There are no other people! How could there be a fugitive?”
Ge Jing Yun lifted the curtain at the back of the store that led to a small garden with two simple temporary wooden housings (barracks?). The door was still open. Everything could be seen at a glance, there was nowhere to hide. Ge Jing Yun was cautiously a.n.a.lysing. Just as he planned to bring some people to the backyard for a more careful inspection, Gu Yun asked with faint smile, “It seems like the store is not doing well.”
Gu Yun leaned against the wooden cabinet that was used to display embroidery. Her fingers gently brushed over the dust on the cabinet. A faint smile graced her face and a pair of cat-like eyes looked directly at the store owner.
The owner was slightly stunned and with a hint of embarra.s.sment, he replied, “Yes, the embroideries are not that good so there aren’t many sales.”
“Is it?” Gu Yun straightened her body and slowly walked across to an identical cabinet opposite to the first one. She took a piece of embroidery and smiled, “The embroideries in this cabinet must be a very special. Many people must have looked into them, there is less dust and dirt here.”
The owner’s face went stiff. Gu Yun coldly smiled. His acting was good, however, it unfortunately still couldn’t escape her eyes. Upon seeing the silver haired Ao Tian and blue eyed Mo Bai, the small store owner didn’t show the slightest sign of fear. He must be well-informed.
Gu Yun lifted the silk on the wooden cabinet and her delicate hand gently caressed the cabinet part.i.tion.
The owner’s eyes revealed a murderous aura and suddenly drew a dagger from his sleeve. He charged towards Gu Yun’s back …
From the moment Gu Yun started speaking, Ao Tian and Mo Bai had been alarmed. The dagger had just barely saw light when the owner’s hands had been rotated to his back and the dagger fell with a ‘bang’ sound.
Gu Yun could not see what was happening behind her back, but she believed as long as Ao Tian and Mo Bai were there, no one would be able to do anything criminal under their watch! She was certained that the cabinet had a trick, but she couldn’t find it.
Ao Tian pressed the owner onto the cabinet and asked, “How is this opened?”
The owner struggled a bit when suddenly a growl came from his throat and his entire body twitched.
Gu Yun frowned, “How could this happen?”
Ao Tian’s black eyes showed obscurity. He released the owner and angrily replied, “He poisoned himself.”
Confirming his words, the owner tightly grasped his throat while his mouth continuously spat black blood. His face turned from green to black. At that moment, it appeared that he was dead. Gu Yun frowned, after being caught, taking poison?! What kind of place is Ju Ling Dao?!
Seeing Gu Yun struggle to crack the trick, Ge Jing Yun said, “Let me try.”
The big hands firmly grasped both sides of the wooden cabinet, forcefully trying to push it apart. He tried it several times until his face became red, but it still couldn’t be opened.
“You can’t use force.” Gu Yun lightly tapped Ge Jing Yun’s shoulder and moved him out of the way. She said again, “Go to the backyard and grab some fine soil.”
Ge Jing Yun didn’t ask why and just directly went to the backyard. With the soil in his hand, he came back to Gu Yun.
Grabbing a handful of fine soil, Gu Yun gently blew it towards the wooden cabinet. Not only were the soldiers occupying the room were curious, even Ao Tian and Mo Bai were wondering, what the h.e.l.l was she doing.
After blowing, the soil lightly covered the wooden cabinet, leaving a trace on some areas. They only saw Gu Yun frowning in front of the cabinet for a long time and finally, a light smile appeared on her face. They saw her use her hands to lightly knock on the side of the wooden cabinet. The wooden cabinet that Ge Jing Yun had been trying so hard to open, suddenly opened up, revealing a pa.s.sage which led underground.
None of them understood how Gu Yun solved the trick, but the most important thing now is to rescue the person. Ao Tian and Mo Bai quickly entered the pa.s.sage. The underground was not very deep. Very soon, they could see a faint light. Apparently, under the embroidery shop, someone had dug a hole as big as the previous one. It wasn’t known where it led to.
Beside the hole, there was a set of table and chairs. At a corner, straw was scattered all over the place. Gu Yun went to the corner and very quickly discovered there was a trace of red material underneath the straw. She poked through the straw to take a look. It was… Ye Mei’s Yan Hong Whip (嫣Yan= Captivating 红Hong= Red)! Gently lifting the whip, Gu Yun shouted, “Ao Tian!”
After clearly seeing the item in Gu Yun’s hand, Ao Tian’s entire body tensed up. He quickly took the whip and without thinking, raced towards the pa.s.sage.
The room was still well-lit with oil lamps and the straw felt warm. They certainly hadn’t went away for long, it must be! Closely following Ao Tian, Mo Bai also went into the tunnel.
Not knowing where the tunnel led to, she wouldn’t agree to them taking a risk, but she was powerless to stop them. She could only send Ge Jing Yun and his team to report the situation here to Xing Bu while she, herself, went into the tunnel.
This tunnel was much longer than the previous one. Gu Yun needed to crawl for about half an hour before she could see the end. The tunnel led to a small mountain cave. The entrance was covered with leaves, so even if people were near it, they wouldn’t notice there was a cave here, unless they observed attentively. Exiting the cave, the sky was already dark. Looking ahead, there was only darkness. There were no human sounds in the surroundings and she couldn’t see Ao Tian and Mo Bai.
Gu Yun’s heart grew worried. Mo Bai could go back alone, but Ao Tian? If he couldn’t find Ye Mei, where would he go?
Gu Yun had searched the area surrounding the cave for a long time, in addition to shouting, but there was no response at all. Just as she was about to give up and figured she wouldn’t be able to find Ao Tian, the aloof figure appeared at a slope not far away.
Gu Yun quickly rushed there, meeting the arrogant back figure that stood against the wind. This caused Gu Yun, who wanted to get close, stop her steps. The silver hair flew wantonly with the wind. The red whip in his hand was grasped so tightly, it appeared embedded into his hand. Just from his back figure, Gu Yun could feel his pain. He had been so close to Ye Mei, yet he still couldn’t rescue her!
Standing behind him for a long time, so long that the moonlight had begun to appear, Gu Yun whispered, “Let’s head back and see if Cheng Hang found something. They must have more than one den!”
He and Gu Yun went back to Ti Xing Department. They had just entered the office when Dan Yu Lan prompted, “How was it?”
Gu Yun looked around. Su Ling wasn’t there and Cheng Hang also hadn’t come back. Meanwhile, Lou Xi Yan and Zhuo Qing, who hadn’t left, firmly sat there. Steam from the tea cups on the table was visible. Slightly annoyed, Gu Yun shook her head as the answer. Dan Yu Lan looked at the red whip that Ao Tian was tightly gripping. It looked like they had found the place, but the a.s.sailant escaped.
Lou Xi Yan and Zhuo Qing also saw the whip in Ao Tian’s hand, and then understood. No one was speaking anymore and the study became very quiet. Fortunately, soon there were footsteps rus.h.i.+ng towards the study. Everyone looked up. It was Cheng Hang and Lu Jin. The weird thing was that Mo Bai was with them. Gu Yun asked, “Did you find something?”
With a face covered in sweat, Cheng Hang replied, “The area 10 miles surrounding the West warehouse has been searched and nothing was found!”
Dan Yu Lan could see the disappointment in Gu Yun’s eyes and the cold expression of Ao Tian. He quickly gave some words of comfort, “A sly person will have more than one plan. Ju Ling Dao has been in the a.s.sa.s.sination business for a very long time. They must know the holes in all six countries, so they are very careful and pay attention to detail! Although the capital is quite big, there are still five days left. It isn’t like we don’t have anymore chances.”
Dan Yu Lan’s words just finished when Gu Yun suddenly looked at Ao Tian and shouted, “Stop him!”
Mo Bai, who was beside Ao Tian, was the first one to move. Leng Xiao and Ge Jing Yun were also quick on their feet. Cheng Hang and Lu Jin couldn’t just watch and do nothing. Ao Tian hadn’t moved but he was already surrounded!
Ao Tian’s cold eyes glared at Gu Yun. Gu Yun didn’t hesitate to glare back. Did he think that him rus.h.i.+ng like this could save anybody?!
Something was wrong with Yun today! Especially the knots between her eyebrows, they hadn’t disappeared at all since she and Ao Tian came back! She had been secretly exposing her irritability. Previously, although there were so many tough cases, Zhuo Qing had never seen her like this! Zhuo Qing went to Gu Yun’s side and suspiciously asked, “Are you hiding something?”
Facing the bright and sharp eyes of Zhuo Qing, Gu Yun tilted her head. Zhuo Qing was positive something was wrong with her. She grabbed Gu Yun’s arm and said, “Don’t lie to me!”
Sighing, Gu Yun finally answered, “We don’t have five days. Tonight at the rat hour (11pm-1am), it is either I die or Ye Mei will die.”
Zhuo Qing was shocked. She didn’t have enough time to thoroughly ask when a deep male voice full of anger came from the outside, “Say it clearly!”