Chapter 196: Linked Horses Formation
Song Jiaoyue was extremely impressed when he saw how determined Bai Xiangxiu was. However, he still continued to warn her. “I’m afraid it’s impossible for you to enter Tranquil City. Even if you somehow find a way in, there’s no way for you to contact Long Heng. So…”
“I cannot sit around and wait any longer. I want to see what’s happening there with my own eyes, no matter what.” Bai Xiangxiu looked Song Jiaoyue right in the eyes to demonstrate her determination.
Song Jiaoyue gritted his teeth. It seemed like he had indeed failed to talk Bai Xiangxiu out of this. He had no choice but to name his condition for letting her go. “You may head for Tranquil City, but I insist that I come with you. We must bring another woman with us as well.”
Bai Xiangxiu didn’t expect that he’d be so considerate. She quickly nodded her head and said, “Alright.”
“We don’t have to leave so urgently either. We will use the old method of leaving tomorrow morning. I will wait for you outside.” After speaking his mind, he stole a glance at Long Lin. The little baby boy looked simply too similar to Bai Xiangxiu. He almost couldn’t take his eyes off of him.
Bai Xiangxiu instantly understood his meaning. He wanted her to spend one more night with her son. Bai Xiangxiu could feel her heart soften as she looked down at her son’s face, so she nodded. “Then we shall leave tomorrow morning instead. Are you fine with that, Yu Kuang?”
“I’ll take my leave with him and wait for you tomorrow morning then.”
Yu Kuang wasn’t the nosy type. Even though he liked Bai Xiangxiu, he wasn’t as crazy for her like Song Jiaoyue. At the very most, it was just a lingering attachment. However, warm feelings similar to that of kinship were slowly sprouting in his body. It was a kind of feeling that would likely be more permanent than those of love. This was why he seemed to react a little more indifferently. This made their relationship seem a little more like that of an old friend or an old couple.
After leading Yu Kuang out of the manor, Song Jiaoyue thought that the wulin head would find his own place to stay. However, Yu Kuang followed him all the way back to the Song Manor. Song Jiaoyue scrunched his brows together, “What is the meaning of this?”
Yu Kuang replied in a straightforward manner. “Since we’re leaving together tomorrow, let me stay at your place for a night.”
Song Jiaoyue opened his mouth like he were about to say something, but ultimately decided that there was no need to chase Yu Kuang away. So, he had someone arrange a bedroom for Yu Kuang and had Yu Se help him pack his things.
It was inappropriate for two grown men to go on a journey with a woman. Moreover, Bai Xiangxiu was sneaking out of the manor, so she couldn’t bring anyone with her. Thus, he made the decision to bring Yu Se with him instead. She was smart, an astute woman who was a suitable candidate to take care of Bai Xiangxiu while on the road. Everyone spent the night making their own preparations for the journey ahead. Bai Xiangxiu packed many things, especially money, since she now had the time to prepare. After all, how could a person go on a journey without money?
Moreover, due to the fact that Long Heng was such an unromantic person, she’d often receive money instead of gifts when he wanted to give her something. Bai Xiangxiu was really unfamiliar with the types of things from the olden times as well. If someone were to say that their gift was expensive, and Bai Xiangxiu also liked how it looked, she’d end up wearing it. There really weren’t too many things that she wanted either. Thus, she had managed to save up quite a sum of money after a while. Bai Xiangxiu entrusted Long Lin to Xiaoshi and the wet nurse after they woke up. She also told Xiaoshi about her plan to sneak out of the manor.
Xiaoshi had been by her side ever since she’d arrived in this world. Bai Xiangxiu probably trusted her more than anyone else. “How is that appropriate, Madame Xiu? A woman shouldn’t journey to such a place alone!”
“His Highness has a friend that owes him a favor. That person has agreed to escort me there. He worries about the safety of the prince as well and wants to find a way to save him.”
“B-But your reputation will probably be…”
“What use is my reputation if something happens to the prince?”
“Madame Xiu! Why don’t you let Xiaoshi follow you as well?!”
“That won’t do. I’m worried about Xiao Lin. You should stay and take care of him in my absence.”
“But there’s the old madame…”
“The old madame is filled with worry for the prince lately, so she might not be able to take care for Xiao Lin to the best of her abilities.”
“Enough buts. Xiaoshi, you’re the one that I trust the most in this manor. Take good care of Xiao Lin for me alright? Oh, and also Huo’er.”
“This servant understands.”
Bai Xiangxiu gently caressed Xiaoshi’s head. She genuinely felt that Xiaoshi had matured a lot lately. Bai Xiangxiu spent the entire night packing her bag and rewrote her letter as well. She wrote it with the most heartfelt words she could think of. Hopefully, the old madame wouldn’t chase her out of the house when she returned.
She had put in a lot of thought about the chained horse formation as well. She eventually recalled something from a story called Water Margin, one of the four famous stories of China. There was a similar sounding formation in that book. She believed that it was called the Linked Horses Formation? It wasn’t an easy formation to break, but she’d have to see it with her own eyes to really know.
The next morning, she tried to use the old method to sneak out of the manor. However, she soon realized that the vegetable merchant was no longer Sun Si’er. The basket on the new merchant’s carriage was so small she likely wouldn’t fit inside.
Is this Song Jiaoyue’s doing? Impossible! I didn’t tell him anything about Sun Si’er. Besides, he was the one who told me to leave the manor by the old method. What should I do now? How am I supposed to sneak out from here? While vexing over her unforeseen obstacle, someone tapped Bai Xiangxiu’s shoulder. She leapt up in fright. Afraid that others would notice, Bai Xiangxiu quickly covered her mouth with her own hands. When she turned around, she found Xiaohuan standing behind her. “Why are you here?” And why do you have that weird bag with you?
“I wish to follow you.”
“Follow me where?” Bai Xiangxiu feigned ignorance.
“This servant overheard your conversation with Xiaoshi yesterday. Xiaohuan owes her life to you. I must follow you no matter where you go.”
“Uhh… You say that, but there’s no way for us to leave right now!”
“This humble servant knows a way out, but…”
“What way? Anything is fine as long as we can leave this place!” I guess it’s fine for Xiaohuan to tag along. After all, didn’t they say that I needed to bring another woman with me?
Xiaohuan seemed hesitant at first, but she still led the way through several small paths and alleyways until they finally arrived at a place devoid of people. She then pointed at a corner of the wall. Most of the walls were made of mud in the olden days, but not the Prince Li Manor. The walls here were made out of stone. The wall right in front of her seemed to a remnant from before the manor was built. The old mud wall had a small hole dug out beneath it.
Bai Xiangxiu was a little speechless when she saw the hole. She looked at Xiaohuan and said, “Can we really leave from this hole?” It looks really small.
“The hole is actually quite deep on the inside. My younger brother would often crawl through this hole to bring fruit to me.” Xiaohuan regretted her words almost immediately. “Madame Xiu, can you please not tell anyone about this? Otherwise, this humble servant will be heavily punished.”
“I won’t tell a soul.” Without much of a choice, Bai Xiangxiu could only ignore how dirty the hole was and crawl in on all fours. She didn’t think that she’d make it at first, but the hole eventually deepened, just as Xiaohuan had said. All she needed to do now was bend over a little until she got to the other side. While she was crawling her way out, Bai Xiangxiu noticed something amiss. Why is there a pair of shoes on the opposite side?
Bai Xiangxiu slowly lifted her head and saw a pair of bright eyes staring back at her. She coughed lightly and said, “S-Sir Song, why are you here?”
Bai Xiangxiu had always been a goddess in Song Jiaoyue’s heart. He’d decided to wait for her at the back entrance because he was a little worried. However, when he heard her voice coming from within the walls, he’d stopped to take a look. As expected, she really did eventually pop out from the hole, and with a face that was stained by all sorts of grime and mud. He found it so hilarious that he couldn’t resist the urge to laugh.
“Can you stop laughing at me? Quick, give me a little pull.” Bai Xiangxiu reached her dusty hand out to Song Jiaoyue. Resigned to his fate and muffling his laughter, Song Jiaoyue quickly pulled her out from the hole.