Two days later, Su Qi leads a small team of people to set off to Mount Qi Yun, amongst them, that includes Yuwen Rui and I, as well as Meng Shao Jue.
As a hostage, Yuwen Rui naturally cannot be kept with me, he has been arranged to occupy the horse carriage at the very end on his own, along the way, there is a physician taking care of his health –– this is a request I made to Su Qi, he must ensure Yuwen Rui will have enough energy to walk on his own after we reach Mount Qi Yun.
As to why we are going to Mount Qi Yun……
This bring us back a little, back then when I had gotten hold of two treasure maps, I naturally could not keep them on me, and so when we passed by Mount Qi Yun on our way to Yun Ze, I had the sudden thought to keep the treasure maps buried on Mount Qi Yun. And the place where the treasure maps have been buried is very strange, is just happens to be beside a cliff.
Thinking about now, this treasure map hiding spot really isn’t bad.
When we arrive at Mount Qi Yun, it was already sunset, the dim yellow skies glows against the mountain, emerald leaves appear to have a double image, giving off a slightly bleak feeling.
The entire group rushed here for half a month, although extremely exhausted right now, they are hoping for a quick battle with quick decisions. I don’t drag this on either, directly pointing out the way, and so we head forth with great vigour in ascending the mountain, arriving at the cliff where I had buried the treasure map.
Su Qi’s voice sounds from outside the horse carriage: “Princess, we have already arrived at the cliff.”
I lift the curtain to take a look outside, stepping out of the horse carriage and say to him: “Your majesty, please have your people maintain twenty meters of distance.”
Su Qi nods, “Alright.” He turns back and lays out the order, the sound of horse hooves mixed with carriage wheels is instantly heard, approximately six or seven minutes later, they all come to a stop.
I smile, raising my skirt as I take a few steps forward, “Is your majesty able to give me a little hoe?”
Su Qi narrows his peach blossom eyes, “A little hoe?”
“Alright.” Su Qi beckons someone and says a few words, not long after, a little hoe is brought to me, “Princess.”
I take the hoe and weigh it in hand, saying with a smile: “May your majesty also stand twenty meters away now.”
Su Qi deeply looks at me, complications flashing in his eyes, “Alright.”
He takes the people attending to him in withdrawing back, stopping when he is standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest.
I take the hoe and walk up to the cliff, the cliff is still a desolate area, with no weed growing, the stones and rocks dry and cold, looking down, there is an endless mottled view, cold darkness that appears to be able to swallow people up, should one not be careful. I rub the goosebumps that have raised along my arms, finding a half covered stone in the ground, then take ten steps to the left and another three steps back, using the little hoe as I start digging.
In the distance, there are eyes fixed onto me, focused and burning. My hand holding the hoe cannot help but tighten, I can only concentrate more on digging the soil. Approximately five minutes later, the corner of a dark blue cloth is revealed amongst the soil, I take a deep breath, quickly throwing the hoe aside as I dig out the thing wrapped in the blue cloth.
Inside is precisely Yun Mi’s and Yun Zhan’s treasure maps.
I dust off the soil on the cloth, saying to Su Qi, who is in the distance: “The thing you want is here.”
A bright shine rapidly flitters past Su Qi’s eyes, “Very well, when is Princess prepared for me to release them?”
“No hurry.” I patiently say: “May your majesty bring me ten signal flares?”
“Signal flares?” Su Qi raises his brows, “What does Princess want those for?”
I lightly say: “Naturally to find people to take Cousin back.”
Su Qi hooks up his thin lips, neither agreeing nor disagreeing as he shallowly smiles: “But Princess has yet to give me the treasure maps.”
I also answer with a seeming smile: “What is your majesty afraid of, in this current situation, afraid that even if I plug in some wings, I cannot fly.” By the cliff, there are three paths to descend the mountains, the front path has been blocked by them, the left and right path may be empty, but with my two legs, wanting to outrun their horses……is not possible.
Su Qi has nothing more to say, telling people to wrap the signal flares in paper and then throw it over to me. I place the treasure maps into my sleeves, picking up the signal flares and light them, setting off one the first time, then set two off two minutes later, and set off another, stopping after using four of them.
Facing me, Su Qi’s party just quietly watches my actions.
I dust off my hands, looking at the green smoke in the air before nodding at Su Qi: “May your majesty wait a moment.”
Su Qi also nods, handsome face looking very amiable.
The autumn winds whistles, approximately a quarter of an hour later, several people in black nimbly make their way up the mountain, disregarding the alerted eyes and drawn out swords of Su Qi’s guards, they come up to me.
The leader amongst them say to me: “This subordinate greets Princess.”
This leader is no stranger to me, Yuwen Rui has taken me to see him before, and told me how to get in touch with them, hence how I was able to make use of him this time. I say: “Wait aside for now, get ready to take your master back later.”
The leader does not say much either, respectfully saying: “Yes.”
I once again glance at Su Qi, “Your majesty may bring Cousin out now.”
Su Qi slightly furrows his brows upon hearing this, turning to instruct the guard beside him: “Bring Yuwen Rui out.”
Not long after, Meng Shao Jue steps out from the horse carriage with Yuwen Rui. Yuwen Rui appears to look a lot better than he did a few days ago, just that he is slightly stumbling in his steps, clearly is still very weak. His clean and elegant face pale white like paper, such sight can truly be described as ‘of fragile willow posture’.
He spots me at one glance, long and fine eyes half narrows, the meaning contained within unclear.
Su Qi says: “Is this alright now?”
I clench my hands under my sleeves, my face unchanging as I say: “Let them take Yuwen Rui away first.”
“What about the treasure maps?”
“Wait until they reach a safe place and I will naturally give them to you.” I suddenly take a few steps back, glancing down at the bottomless cliff, my legs slightly trembles, heart also abruptly shrinks, but my face is still smiling as I say: “Your majesty, should the treasure maps fall down, would you still be able to find it?”
Su Qi stiffens, thin lips lightly twitches, “Princess sure have thoroughly thought this out, just that, should I release him whilst Princess keeps hold of two treasure maps, that will be a little unfair…..how about Princess give me one first, then give me the other later, this way, it is fair for all of us.”
I think for a moment, “Alright.”
One hand gives money, one hand gives product, is indeed the correct principle, to not give the product but give a deposit first is also reasonable.
The stunning face opposite me spreads a satisfied smile, “Then it is set then, I’ll release the person, Princess give me the treasure map first……”
“Cannot give!” A delicate shout suddenly sounds from the right, completely cutting off Su Qi’s words.
The hand holding the treasure maps abruptly tightens, this voice……
It’s Imperial Sister.
Imperial Sister’s face that I haven’t seen for so long is still so peerlessly stunning as before, but compared to before, there is vaguely an extra touch of firmness, a body of dark purple man’s attire revealing a strong and resolute demeanour, yet also carries the grand air of a monarch.
The current Imperial Sister……has also changed.
She fixes her gaze onto me, once again repeating: “Ah-Lan, you cannot give it.”
Su Qi also reveals shock upon seeing Imperial Sister, but very quickly composes himself, courteously saying: “So it is Yun Mi’s Emperor Zi, Emperor Zi sure has come at a perfect moment.”
Imperial Sister looks at Su Qi, traces of complications spreading in her eyes. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, when she opens her eyes again, cold resolution sinks into her orbs, “Emperor Qi, the treasure maps cannot be given to you today.”
“Cannot be given to me?” Su Qi scoffs, as though mocking her absurdity, “Could it be that the female emperor doesn’t wish to get back Yuwen Rui?”
Imperial Sister just shakes her head, “Yuwen Rui naturally needs to be saved, but not right now.”
I cannot help but to coldly laugh inside, if not now, then when? Are we going to wait until he reaches his dying breath?
“Oh……” Su Qi lightly laughs, “So this is what Emperor Zi thinks.” He turns his eyes to me, “What does Princess think of Emperor Zi’s words?”
I silently observe and scrutinise them, Imperial Sister, Su Qi, both of them were my playmates that had accompanied me in growing up since young, yet right now they are so unfamiliar, so ice-cold.
The Imperial Sister and Seventh Brother in my memories……where have they all gone?
Imperial Sister furrows her brows, “Ah-Lan, you cannot.”
“Cannot?” Su Qi harrumphs, lightly raising a hand, “Shao Jue.”
A frosty shine sweeps past Meng Shao Jue’s phoenix eyes, the sharp dagger is held in his hand, without any hesitation, he pierces it into Yuwen Rui shoulder –– precisely the spot where Yuwen Rui had been wounded last time.
Yuwen Rui’s originally powerless body is abruptly shaken, long eyes suddenly opens wide, pained yet produces no sound.
My heart feels like it had been pierced, without any hesitation, I fiercely spit out one word, “Exchange!”
Imperial Sister’s face instantly appears thoroughly displeased, “Ah-Lan!”
Su Qi cannot help but lightly smile, as though all was going as planned; whilst Meng Shao Jue slightly narrows his eyes; only Yuwen Rui has recovered his placid nature, just shallowly watching on.
“Exchange.” I say again, “Imperial Sister, I must have Cousin back.”
Between the treasure maps and Yuwen Rui, you choose the treasure maps, and the one I choose, is him.
“Ah-Lan……” Imperial Sister’s tone contains the dignity of a female monarch, “The map cannot be given to Su Qi.”
“Imperial Sister.” I shake my head, “I must exchange them.”
“Cannot exchange!” Yet another roar, just that this time it is not Imperial Sister, but is coming from a dashing man rushing in from the left side.
A mighty black steed, dark iron armour, that handsome face as though carved with a knife –– if not He Lian Chen, who else can it be?
But why has he come?
He Lian Chen has naturally brought a huge group of people behind him as well, the scene hence enters a deadlock. The paths filled with people and horses exchanging looks, murderous hostility running deep.
He Lian Chen’s thick brows deeply furrows, warm and attractive voice calling out: “Ah-Lan, come here, I’ll take you away.”
“Is Emperor Lian perhaps joking?” Imperial Sister ridicules: “Ah-Lan is zhen’s imperial sister, if she is to go, she will be leaving with zhen.”
He Lian Chen simply does not think much of it, “Zhen has already proposed marriage to your Yun Mi, Ah-Lan is soon to be Yun Zhan’s empress, naturally, she will be leaving with zhen.”
I raise my brows, looking left and right, He Lian Chen made a marriage proposal to me, to Imperial Sister? When was this? Turns out that during this time, such a matter has actually happened.
Imperial Sister coldly harrumphs, “Emperor Lian, if zhen hasn’t remembered incorrectly, zhen did not agree with your proposal?”
He Lian Chen responds with a cold laugh, so arrogant as though everyone around him are nothing but air: “As if zhen cares whether you agree or not, Ah-Lan will certainly be Yun Zhan’s empress in future, today, zhen will also be taking her away!”
“Stop.” Su Qi is filled with interest, leisurely saying: “Have you both perhaps asked Ah-Lan if she will leave with you?”
Imperial Sister and He Lian Chen instantly stops talking, two pairs of burning eyes turning to me.
I suddenly feel huge pressure.
Regarding this case, no matter who I leave with, it will cause great chaos……
“Imperial Sister, He Lian Chen.” I calmly speak up, “I will not be leaving with either of you.”
I then look towards Su Qi, “Su Qi, release him as agreed.” The fresh blood on Yuwen Rui’s shoulder has already dyed one half of his shirt red, his face also looking so pale as though he is immediately about to disappear, already unable to hold on anymore.
Imperial Sister and He Lian Chen sure knows to speak with the same mind this time, “Ah-Lan, no!”
“Don’t move.” I extend my hand over the edge of the cliff, the autumn wind whistles past, gently raising the map in hand, the wind lightly flows towards the bottomless abyss beneath my feet. I cannot help but feel a chill, yet my face remains unchanging: “One carelessness……and everything will be gone.”
That’s right, this is the legendary ‘threat’.
The only thing that can threaten them, are these two treasure maps.
Imperial Sister and He Lian Chen’s faces instantly darkens, whereas Su Qi appears thoroughly satisfied, “Alright.” He turns to Meng Shao Jue and says: “Release Yuwen Rui’s mute acupoint.”
Meng Shao Jue nods, eyes seemingly sweeping across me, extending his hand to release Yuwen Rui’s mute acupoint. Yuwen Rui immediately sounds a few coughs, then raises his eyes to coldly look at me.
“Yuwen Rui.” I lightly hook up the corners of my lips, eyes slightly squinting, “I am still not as intelligent as you are.” When he was captured, I was so powerless and desperate, wanting to save him but was met with continuous failure……then during the period of time I had disappeared, how desperate must he have been?
The autumn wind raises locks of hair that causes a slight itching sensation as it brushes over my cheeks, like a mischievous child persistent in teasing me, I reach up to bring them behind my ear, then continue to lightly say: “I will wait for you to once again come and take me back.”
I have always been so selfish, at least I am not being selfish this time today.
Yuwen Rui starts coughing again, eyes coldly sweeping across the three sides of people and horses, then finally holds his shoulder as he starts walking over to me. The crowds of people at the side eagerly holds up the weapons in hand upon seeing this, but all pauses under his cold gaze, suddenly, there’s actually not one person coming to stop him.
Su Qi, Imperial Sister and He Lian Chen, the three of them furrow their brows upon seeing this, enduring and enduring but ultimately says nothing.
He finally stands before me, pale face filled with coldness, “Have you forgotten what I had once told you?”
I pause, “Eh……” What?
“No matter who is dying before you, you are not allow to save them like this.” He glares at me, saying word by word: “How is your current actions any different to back then?”
I feel that I am a little mistaken, also feel a little wronged, suddenly don’t know whether to laugh or cry, “I……”
Me being so selfless, if it isn’t just to save his life?
Who would have thought that this person would glare and glare, then suddenly sounds a low chuckle, “But……” His words and tone contains deeper meaning, “I actually feel very happy.”
I quickly raise my eyes, that person’s long and fine eyes are filled with dazzling shine, thin lips curled up into a perfect curvature, “Very angry, yet also happy.”
I cannot help but to chuckle along with him, “En.”
He caresses my cheek, gently saying: “Give me the maps.”
I loosen up my hand, placing the treasure maps in his hand.
He wraps an arm around my shoulder, leaning half of his body weight onto me, all whilst facing the trio that had remained silent this entire time with a shallow smile: “Do the three emperor perhaps all wish to obtain these two treasure maps?”
The three of them stay silent, no one speaking up in response.
Yuwen Rui is not annoyed, clear and cold voice slowly saying “A hundred and fifty years ago, Yun Ze was a powerful nation, after seizing countless treasures from the three nations, they hid them all in one place. Yun Ze’s hidden treasure was originally a joyous matter for Yun Ze, but no one would have thought it would become the start of calamity. This hidden treasure has not only attracted the greed of the royal families from the other two nations, but has even more so attracted countless greatly capable and mysterious figures of the Jiang Hu, all sorts of different groups of people have started to scheme against Yun Ze, just for this treasure map. Within fifty years, Yun Ze had engaged in more or less five hundred battles, everyone’s objective is to gain this treasure map, everyone’s objective is to obtain endless wealth.”
On the cliff, aside from the howling wind, there is no other sound, each and every person is focused on listening to Yuwen Rui’s words.
He takes a pause, continuing to say: “A hundred years ago, the three nations finally broke out into a huge war, Yun Ze’s casualties totalling up to approximately five hundred thousand people, with fifteen cities left in ruins. Yun Mi’s casualties totalled up to approximately four hundred thousand people, with thirty cities left in ruins, Yun Zhan’s casualties totalled up to approximately three hundred and fifty thousand people, with forty cities left in ruins.” He lightly sweeps a glance across the three people, “But the matter of the treasure map has finally reached a consensus, the treasure map split into three, each nation obtaining one each, no longer belonging to just one side. Since then, the matter of the treasure map from a hundred years ago had finally been put to rest.”
“And today……” He coughs, face slightly turning ashen, “A hundred years later, the emperors of the three nations have simultaneously ascended their thrones, the subjects of each nation holds unstable loyalty, with no shortage of tigers eyeing for an ambitious opportunity, each of the new emperors hence turns to this treasure map, in hopes that in gaining these treasure maps, the three nations can be led by one.”
Hearing this, Su Qi’s, Imperial Sister’s and He Lian Chen’s faces all turns dark, clearly his words have hit the bullseye.
Yuwen Rui lightly chuckles, “Have the three emperors perhaps considered the current situations of the three nations?”
The three people remains silent, there’s actually not one person able to speak up.
“How about I piece it together?” Yuwen Rui does not wait for their answers either, speaking in accordance to himself: “In Yun Ze, Emperor Qi may have already ascended the throne, but the former empress’ clan still holds great power, within Yun Ze, one third of the military troops are all in their hands, another third of the military troops belongs to the Marquis of Nan Yang, the Marquis of Nan Yang may not belong to the empress’ faction, but does not belong to Emperor Qi’s faction either, maintaining middle ground.”
Su Qi’s stunning face is adorned with a seeming smile, a dark flash rapidly sweeping past his eyes.
“Yun Zhan……” He lets out a ringing laugh, “Emperor Lian holds seventy percent of military power, but the ascension to the throne has already offended many high officials of the court, not to mention that a few of them has been acting with burning ambitions, scheming for internal strife within Yun Zhan, time and time again……
“As for Yun Mi……” He turns to look towards Imperial Sister, “Yun Mi’s situation I need not say much, I believe Emperor Zi is already well aware.”
Upon hearing this, Su Qi, Imperial Sister and He Lian Chen all eye one another, then all look towards Yuwen Rui with hesitation.
Yuwen Rui once again laughs upon seeing this, “The three nations are in such a situation right now, hence the three emperors insistent on obtaining the power behind this treasure map, but have the three emperors perhaps given this some consideration, by obtaining the treasure maps, is it a blessing or a curse?”
The trio furrow their brows, all in deep thoughts.
Yuwen Rui bursts out laughing, “None of the three emperors knows whether obtaining the treasure maps is a blessing or a curse, yet no one wishes to give it up……nevermind, it is but human nature.” His body weighing down on me becomes heavier, slightly narrowing his long eyes, he says: “Today. the gathering of the three nations at Mount Qi Yun, is instead a great opportunity.”
The three people’s brows slightly loosen up, currently hesitating to speak, when they see Yuwen Rui extend his hand over the edge of the cliff, and in his hand, is precisely the two treasure maps.
“Yuwen Rui! Stop!” The three people widens their eyes as they collectively shout out, the whips in hands ready to lash out.
“Put down the whips in hand.” Yuwen Rui’s voice remains placid, “The three emperors sure cares about this treasure map a lot.”
“Yuwen Rui, the three nations can definitely talk this through, you mustn’t act impulsively right now.” He Lian Chen’s deep voice says, face slightly darkening.
Imperial Sister immediately goes along with him, “That’s right, there’s definitely a way to resolve all this!”
Yuwen Rui’s handsome face is still as carefree as ever, long and fine fox slightly squints, clear and cold voice saying: “As long as this treasure map remains in the world, the three nations will never have a day of peace. Today I may as well carry out this kind act, helping you all destroy it.” He suddenly smiles, lowering his head to look at me, “Ah-Lan?”
His brown orbs gives rise to a shallow smile, causing me to momentarily fall into a trance, unable to help myself from nodding, “En.”
Su Qi speaks up in this moment: “Yuwen Rui, I can let you and Ah-Lan return to Yun Mi, everything can be discussed!”
Yuwen Rui lightly says: “Three emperors, is the treasure map a blessing or a curse to you all?”
He slowly spreads open his palm, leaving the treasure maps to fall, allowing the breeze to lead it down the cliff, fading away.
“From what I see, this thing can only destroy nations, not save nations.”
Since the matter has come to this, Su Qi, Imperial Sister and He Lian Chen can only look at Yuwen Rui’s empty hand in a daze, seeming to have not gotten over the fact that the treasure that everyone has chased after for a hundred of years has just disappeared with the wind, just like that.
“Ke-ke-ke.” Yuwen Rui severely coughs, his entire person suddenly weighing down on me, “Ah-Lan, I’m going to faint.”
Having said that, he closes his eyes, falling into my arms just like that.
I half kneel on the ground as I hold his body, looking back at the bottomless cliff, then raising my head to lightly smile at the three people, “The treasure map is already destroyed, what are you all……waiting for now?” I deeply look at each and every one of them in the eye, “Imperial Sister, Seventh Brother, He Lian Chen……misfortune may be a blessing in disguise.”
Three pairs of eyes fixes onto me, faces looking troubled.
I no longer look at them, holding the person in my arms, the shirt he’s wearing is soaked in red from the blood, face so pale it’s practically transparent, yet he is still so handsome that one cannot look away from him.
I smile, be it dead or alive, perhaps there is no difference anymore.
To any Indonesian readers out there, Mbak Awan has very kindly started translations for Jiang Hu Road is Curved in Indonesian, so do follow the link below and give lots of love and support~
Already coming up to the final chapter next~