As the rosy sun disk gradually disappeared into the river mouth, sails could be seen coming and going at the canal wharf. Lu Sui stood in the temporary tent bidding farewell to Zhu Jing and Jiang Heng.
Behind him were two boats heading south, carrying the old and young from the compound.
Since the decision to rescue Li Yi had been made, Lu Sui, as a scholar, was of little help. It was better to take these people and leave the capital to the south. Once Li Yi was rescued, everyone would face arrest. It was better to settle the elderly and weak first and avoid any future worries.
Zhu Jing lifted a bowl of water wine and clinked it against Lu Sui. “Be careful on your journey and take care.”
Lu Sui finished the wine and promised, “You don’t need to worry about me. Everything will be arranged properly.” He added, “For now, let’s hold off on contacting everyone. Once you rescue His Highness, you will have a leader to rally the people. It’s not a pity to wait for now.”
Both of them agreed.
Jiang Heng had been following Lu Sui since he was in his teens and had become his lieutenant over the past decade. At this moment of separation, he was afraid that he would burst into tears as soon as he opened his mouth. He just drank the wine with his head down, unable to speak.
Lu Sui also felt that there were still some things he had not said to Jiang Heng. However, at this moment, a thousand words became one sentence, “I’ll be waiting for you in Lingnan.”
The river was vast, the oars were flipping waves. Zhu Jing and Jiang Heng watched as the two boats gradually disappeared into the distance and vanished into the sky.
That night, although Li Yi was feeling better than the previous day and could fall asleep, he had nightmares one after another and woke up drenched in cold sweat.
He got up and went to the outer room to take a look, seeing no one there, he finally relaxed. He felt like he was almost driven to insanity by Zhao Yuan.
Li Yi slowly lit the lamp, sat down at the table, picked up the teapot to pour water and quench his thirst. Suddenly, the candlelight went out. He was puzzled and got up to investigate.
A figure appeared in the darkness.
Li Yi stepped back and was about to speak when the person covered his mouth from behind. He struggled immediately.
“Your Highness, it’s me.”
Jiang Heng’s voice sounded in his ear, and Li Yi stopped struggling.
Zhu Jing took a few steps forward and Jiang Heng stepped back to stand with him, bowing to Li Yi.
At this moment, Li Yi finally came back to his senses and realized what was happening in the room. The shock was even more terrifying than encountering a robber.
These two were so bold that they managed to sneak into the Regent’s residence!
He stared at the two of them with widened eyes, wishing he could pinch himself to wake up from this nightmare.
“Your Highness, please follow us quickly!” Jiang Heng urged.
Li Yi instinctively backed away, his mind too chaotic to think clearly. He could only grasp at the most pressing issue: “You must leave now! Su Wang already knows about the conspiracy!”
Zhu Jing and Jing Heng who heard it froze. Li Yi quickly said: “While the Court of Imperial Sacrifices hasn’t found concrete evidence yet, I’ll keep Su Wang occupied, and the farther you can get away from here, the better.”
Jiang Heng snapped out of his daze and exclaimed, “Your Highness, how can we leave you in the hands of that butcher! It’s better that we let the world know. With Your Highness presiding, loyalists from all corners will gather and success will be within reach!”
Upon hearing Jiang Heng’s words, Li Yi couldn’t help but feel that both Jiang Heng and Zhu Jing had lost their minds.
He retorted rapidly, “It has been two years since the founding of the new dynasty. Forces from all directions have been crushed and are barely surviving. The world is far from being as stable as a rock. If you want to raise an army under the watchful eyes of Zhao Yuan, can you find anyone capable of opposing him?!”
“If you don’t leave the capital immediately, not to mention all these distant and endless plans, Zhu Jing, you yourself are part of the imperial guards, don’t you know that a dragnet has been set up? If you’re even a step too late, not a single person in that courtyard, including women and children, will escape!”
Zhu Jing stopped Jiang Heng, who wanted to argue further, and said to Li Yi, “With Your Highness present, the kingdom remains intact. If Your Highness is trapped here, what future are we even talking about? Instead of watching Your Highness suffer here, what face do we have to survive in this world? Rather than enduring the agony of being pierced by a thousand arrows every day, it’s better to risk our lives and rescue Your Highness first, as there might be a slim chance of survival.”
Li Yi was trying to figure out how to persuade the two of them to leave quickly when Zhu Jing continued, “In fact, the concern that Your Highness has can be completely resolved tonight.”
Resolved? What did he mean?
Li Yi looked at him in confusion.
Zhu Jing’s eyes flashed with a fierce light. “Your Highness just needs to discreetly point out Zhao Yuan’s bedroom. Jiang Heng and I will sneak in and, with our combined strength, we can eliminate him, thereby eliminating any future threats on the battlefield!”
Li Yi looked at the two in horror.
Jiang Heng had already grabbed Li Yi’s right hand and pulled him, “Your Highness, we’d better act now! Let’s do it tonight!”
Suddenly the house shook, and there was a piercing banging sound.
The door of the room was torn apart like a rag, and rows of windows were thrown into the air and fell to the ground, with wood chips splashing everywhere.
In just a few moments, the whole room was torn apart, and dozens of ceremonial guards armed with swords rushed in through the broken doors and windows one after another.
In the blink of an eye, the shining white blades formed a mountain of knives, and the inside and outside of the room were densely surrounded, with no way out.
Countless torches and candles were lit at the same time, and the surroundings were as bright as daylight, making it difficult to open one’s eyes.
Zhao Yuan, dressed in a dragon robe, came over while clapping and walking.
His appearance clearly showed that he had been waiting for the prey for a long time, and there was no sign of rushing over.
Li Yi suddenly realized that he was trapped in this huge royal palace, and even if Jiang Heng was familiar with the terrain, he might not be able to find him for a while. It was clear that Zhao Yuan had deliberately loosened this line of defense.
“I didn’t want this trap to catch the prey, but you two insisted on breaking in, and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Zhao Yuan said.
Upon hearing these words, Zhu Jing and Jiang Heng were furious. They believed that Zhao Yuan not only imprisoned Li Yi but also used him as bait to lure the two of them into a trap.
Enough is enough.
“You treacherous thief! Prepare to die!”
Since there was no hope of reconciliation, they might as well fight their way out.
Zhao Yuan sneered, “Come at me!” He even signaled to Zhou Yi not to intervene, indicating that he would handle it personally.
Zhu Jing and Jiang Heng abandoned any pretense of martial etiquette and were about to attack Zhao Yuan simultaneously to take him down as quickly as possible. However, Li Yi swiftly positioned himself between the two parties.
Fortunately, both sides quickly retracted their weapons, avoiding any accidental injuries.
Li Yi had stepped in front of Zhao Yuan, blocking their path. “I willingly chose to follow His Highness. You should retreat now!”
With Zhao Yuan being held back by Li Yi, Li Yi winked at Zhu Jing. Though Zhu Jing was still hesitant, he couldn’t ignore Li Yi’s implicit suggestion. He also noticed that Zhao Yuan could have easily shaken off Li Yi’s grip but instead took a step back, wanting to exchange positions with Li Yi.
Without further hesitation, Zhu Jing reached out and pulled Li Yi, pressing the blade against his neck. He swiftly led Jiang Heng towards the door.
Zhou Yi was shocked by the sudden turn of events and quickly turned to look at Su Wang. Zhao Yuan’s face had turned ashen, and he sternly commanded, “Make way.”
The armored guards inside the room immediately split into two neat rows.
Zhu Jing had temporarily grabbed Li Yi, but deep down, he had little confidence. The outcome of this gamble relied entirely on how much Su Wang cared about Li Yi.
Once the three of them stepped out of the room, they saw even more armed guards stationed in the courtyard.
With a slight raise of their heads, they could see seven or eight archers aiming their arrows from the rooftops of nearby buildings. Having once been the champion of the imperial Guards, Zhu Jing couldn’t help but feel a cold sweat forming in his hands as he witnessed the formidable formation of these elite soldiers.
Li Yi spoke in a low voice, “Just use me as a shield.”
In this world, there are things that are destined to happen. Since the Regent Prince’s residence had taken over the Duke Jin’s residence, Jiang Heng and Li Yi exchanged a glance, understanding each other’s thoughts.
Under Jiang Heng’s guidance, with Zhu Jing holding Li Yi hostage, the three of them cautiously retreated into the palace garden, heading straight for the artificial mountain.