Chapter 2: Salvation
One should die on the sands of the battlefield, fighting for one’s country and honor! What need is there for one’s body to be returned with pomp and circumstance?
“You destroyed my Western Que, killed my royal father, and still dare dream that I would fall at your feet?” Jun Huang’s laugh was a cold bark. She swayed on her feet for a second, and quick as thought, lunged towards Emperor Zhou. Her sword screamed through the air as she stabbed straight at him.
The emperor hadn’t thought that Jun Huang would still have strength left in her after taking the blow from the concealed weapon. In that crucial moment, he yanked Jun Yu, who’d been standing next to the emperor, in front of him to take the blow. Blades go only where they are commanded, and Jun Huang’s full strike cut deeply into Jun Yu’s arm.
“Ah!” A ghastly scream ripped through the air as Emperor Zhou saw Jun Yu’s arm hacked off. He lifted a foot and kicked ruthlessly at Jun Huang. Pain exploded from her abdomen and she lost her grip on her sword, flying backwards through the air as she spewed out a mouthful of blood.
“I’ll give you one last chance.” The emperor’s expression was dark. “Surrender, or die!”
The cliff was behind her. Jun Huang wiped off the blood on her lip with a swipe of her hand and threw her head back in a laugh. “Surrender?” She painfully clambered to her feet, her face a mocking parody of the emperor. She was one person against thousands of cavalry, but not a hint of fear could be found on her face. Her tiny figure seemed to glow with a heroic air that towered to the skies that made it difficult for someone to look directly at her. Framed against the sky and the earth, her expression and posture could only be described with one word… brilliance.
The light in Emperor Zhou’s eyes suddenly dimmed. He’d always dismissed the saying that one who possessed the blood phoenix would have the world, but he’d finally found an inkling of understanding in that moment. “But what about a dead blood phoenix?!” His expression was dark as he clenched his fist to give the order. Spears in hand, his men surged towards Jun Huang like an unending wave.
I was born a citizen of Western Que, and I will die a ghost of Western Que! As if she’d let herself fall into enemy hands even in death! “Although I die here, my vengeance for the crimes against my family and home will never abate!” Jun Huang’s words, along with her laughter, was heartbreaking to hear. With that last threat left ringing through the air, she turned on a single foot and leaped off the cliff without the slightest hesitation.
Emperor Zhou’s expression changed drastically. He charged right up to the edge of the cliff, but Jun Huang had already been swallowed up the darkness of the abyss. Seemingly bottomless, there seemed to be no way that Jun Huang would possibly survive!
Meanwhile, outside the capital of Western Que.
A troop of cavalry quickened their paces and flew towards the direction of the Western Que capital.
“Report!” A scout quickly galloped towards the rear with an urgent report. “We’ve discovered the armies of Eastern Wu ten kilometers ahead! There are roughly five thousand men advancing on our position!”
“Eastern Wu is retreating?” The leading general asked in a low voice, “Western Que has fallen, is there news of its princess?”
“No sign of a prisoner carriage, no prisoners of war!” the scout replied swiftly.
The general remained silent for a moment and suddenly gave the order, “All troops lay in wait, we await the enemy!”
The two armies clashed together and gave birth to rivers of blood.
“How goes counting the prisoners?” The heavily armored general’s footsteps were sure and strong.
“In response to the general, we captured 324 enemy soldiers. The commander of the Wu army has fled, Commander Meng Yao is in pursuit.”
“Have you learned of the whereabouts of Princess Jun Huang of Western Que?” The man took off his helmet and revealed a handsome face with clearly delineated features. It was a shockingly young face with highly spirited brows, bright eyes, a high nose, and thin lips. However, there wasn’t the slightest expression on his resolute face, and he was as cold as nine meters of hard stone.
“This subordinate has interrogated the prisoners, the princess of Western Que was… forced off a cliff.”
“Off a cliff?” The man’s footsteps halted as the look in his eyes sharpened. “Send out search parties! I want to see her if she’s alive, and her corpse if she’s dead!”
“I live deep in the mountains, ladidadida~ I don’t close my doors at night, lodidodido~” A white haired old man was wearing a wicker basket on his back and humming a strange tune, threading through the forest with a meandering route. Although his hair was white, his face was youthful and he was wearing clothing of white hemp. He had a piercing gaze as sharp as a hawk’s. “Eh? Wait!” He suddenly halted and wrinkled his nose, his brows slowly knitting together. “The smell of blood?”
He began searching as he muttered to himself, suddenly glimpsing a bloody person hanging off a tree branch. The sight shocked him into violently retreating a few paces. However, randomly strewn rocks were behind him and he was instantly tripped with this motion, crashing to the ground as he lost his balance.
“Oh my bones, oh my waist!” He cried out in pain and rubbed his butt, glaring ferociously at the person in the tree. “How dare you scare me! How dare you! I’m going to fix you up right and proper, I am!”
When he looked closely, he realized that it was an injured girl.
The white-haired old man hauled Jun Huang onto the bed with much effort, panting with great exertion. “Now I’m darned tired! How many herbs and medicines will I need to recover from this?” He took Jun Huang’s pulse as he sighed over his hardships for a while. However, his expression suddenly grew serious. “Tsk, now this pulse doesn’t seem right! She’s definitely poisoned, but it’s a kind I’ve never seen before!” He tugged his ears and scratched his sideburns for a while, musing, “Whatever, I’ll try some medicines first. You darned chit, how dare you scare me! See how I’m going to fix you up right and proper!”
He trotted off to fetch a large amount of herbs, “This is for nourishing nether regions and lungs, let’s try that first! …no reaction? This is for relaxing tendons and promoting circulation—will she die from blood loss after losing all that and then using this? Ah whatever, let’s just try it first. …still no reaction? Then this…”
He filled the girl up with an endless stream of medicines, but the girl on the bed had no reaction whatsoever. He couldn’t help but sigh with amazement, “This chit is something huh! Any ordinary person would be screaming and begging for death after all of these medicines, but you don’t make a peep…”
His eyes suddenly lit up with a gleam as he slapped his thigh, “Ah yes! I happen to lack a test subject! You’ll make the perfect one since you can take them all so well!”
In the depths of the night and pearly splendor, the pure moonlight travelled through the windowsill to spill over the diminutive body on the bed. Her ashen face seemed even more fragile beneath the moonlight. “Royal father, royal mother, no, no! NO!!” Jun Huang abruptly sat up in bed, her chest heaving. The ghastly deaths of her father and mother in her dreams were tormenting her almost to the brink of insanity. Western Que was no more, her royal parents had died in a devastating way, her baby brother was missing, and she… she had nothing anymore.
The scenes from her dream repeated themselves and roiled in her mind over and over again, with the faces of the emperor of Eastern Wu and Jun Yu switching out for each other over and over again. She stared blankly outside but started with a shake of a head. She… wasn’t dead!
She stared at her hands with incredulous disbelief. She was alive! She’d jumped down from a cliff, but she was alive!
“Ha, haha! Hahaha!!” She laughed lowly at first, as if possessed by an internal demon, and her voice grew louder and ever more heart wrenching. The heavens had taken pity on her and left her alive! Since she was alive, she had to avenge Western Que and find her brother!
“And what’re you carrying on about in the middle of the night! How is anyone supposed to sleep through all this racket!” The door banged open as a white-haired old man with youthful features came charging in huffily. He pointed at Jun Huang’s nose and started cursing loudly.
Jun Huang had long since noticed that her wounds had all been dressed. She knew that the person in front of her had saved her. She took a deep breath in, “Many thanks for your kind act in saving my life. I have important matters about me and dare not disturb further. I will leave now.”