The Emperor’s Strategy

Qing Yao

Chapter 10

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Scene 10: Everything Changes

 

     She turned around to walk back, as she pa.s.sed a lane, she saw a group of soldiers escaping through the city gates. A soldier whose face was filled with blood cried out, "The city is broken, the city is broken, quick escape!"

 

  When Su Li Li saw Claw Face, she already felt scared, now that she saw this face full of fresh blood crying for help, it should have been scarier than seeing Claw Face but somehow it was not as scary as she thought it would be. Now, she only wanted to return to the shop.

 

  Although she was in male garbs, her body was weak, she did not know who pulled her, Su Li Li did not recognise the soldier, she waved her sword and quickly ran away. She heard someone say, "He is running towards the city gates, he must be a spy, catch him!"

 

  There were the noisy sounds of horses' hooves and a flash of the sword swiped pa.s.s her eyes. She felt a long arrow sweep by her face and entered someone next to her. Su Li Li did not think further, she grabbed the arrow and slashed at the person's neck. Su Li Li was dazed, and in that moment, she felt herself being lifted onto a horse and she fell onto the horse's back.

 

  She screamed and struggled, but the person riding the horse held her hands tightly, she could not move. That person stopped the horse and said in a deep voice, "Boss Su, please stop fidgeting." 

 

  Su Li Li felt that the voice seemed a little familiar, but the tone seemed overly silent and calm, she could not identify it immediately. The person placed Su Li Li properly on the horse saddle and commented, "You chop people cleanly, but when you do so you must avoid being so frantic."

 

  Su Li Li gazed at Qi Feng Xiang's handsome face which had traces of smoke, their gazes met with only the distance of a few fingers apart. Qi Feng Xiang watched as Su Li Li frightenedly looked at him, the stern expression originally on his face changed into a smile, and he had a few traces of his usual teasing att.i.tude. He said, "Is the coffin I ordered ready?"

 

  "Ah?" Su Li Li's brain had jammed. 

 

  "I said I will come and collect the goods in the tenth month, you can't have chop it up for firewood?" Qi Feng Xiang was still smiling.

 

  Su Li Li returned consciousness, she nodded her head, "It is done."

 

 She realised that both his hands were on her waist, she was sitting on his horse and half leaning on his body, she quickly pushed him away and said, "The coffin has been ready long ago, only waiting for you to collect it." 

 

  Her hands brushed by his cold armour, she lifted her eyes to examine it, Qi Feng Xiang's suit of silver armor was grand and dashing. 

 

  He naturally and gracefully released Su Li Li, and placed her down the horse, he commanded a soldier, "Bring her to Gentleman Ying."

 

  He turned to Su Li Li and said gently, "Don't be afraid, just follow him. When you return, polish up the coffin, I will collect it tomorrow." When he finished, he smiled, patted the horse, and dashed off on the long street. 

 

  The soldiers behind him followed him, quick as a lightning they attacked towards the centre of the city. 

 

  Su Li Li followed the soldier and they went outside the city gates, there were about a hundred soldiers here guarding a simple large carriage. The soldier announced, "Gentleman Ying, Third Master commanded me to bring this person to you."

 

  The person inside the carriage said indifferently, "I see."

 

  There was no movement from the carriage in half a day. 

 

  After standing outside for a while, Su Li Li coughed and said, "Gentleman Ying, if there is nothing else, I will leave first."

 

  Suddenly a person came out of the carriage, Su Li Li realised that it was the white-faced scholar she had seen in the building that day. "Mr Ha" of the "Heng Ha" duo. 

 

  "Mr Ha" smiled, "So it is Miss, pardon me for being slow, would you come up to my carriage for a while?"

 

  Su Li Li looked at the large carriage and declined, "It's not necessary, I will return first."

 

  The white-faced* gentleman said, "Miss had better come up. The city is in chaos, within ten steps, you may be killed by someone. Wait for Brother Qi to settle everything and then I will send you back."

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  Su Li Li sat on her bed, she did not know for how long, when she heard Yu Fei had fallen deep asleep, only then did she leaned down on her bed and blearily tried to sleep.

 

  In her daze, she saw the mountain valley she had stayed temporarily before, she was sitting on the ground, it was empty and quiet, so cold it did not seemed like a place on earth. Far away there was a carriage, it held a bright red lantern, and on this lantern was the character "Su". Su Li Li could not see clearly, so she stood and shouted "Uncle Cheng, Uncle Cheng". 

 

 The donkey that pulled the carriage stopped in front of her. There was no one in the carriage, only an unpainted thin-skinned coffin. Su Li Li softly cried, "Uncle Cheng". But there were still no traces of Uncle Cheng. 

 

  She hesitated then went forward, she pulled open the coffin by an inch, she saw Mu Tou's face, it was so pale that it did not have a trace of blood. He was lying in the coffin as if he was dead. Su Li Li was shocked, she wanted to push away the coffin and pulled him out, but there was no way to push off the coffin cover. 

 

  Su Li Li reached out her hand to touch his face, it was extremely cold, there were no one around her, not a single soul could help her save him, only the emptiness. In a moment, her gaze was filled with tears, and she shockingly awoke from her dream. She reached out her hand and her face was all wet. She quickly got up and washed her face. The water was cold, the wind pierced her bones, the moon lit up the yard. 

 

  The dream still appeared clearly before her eyes, but there was a feeling that told Su Li Li with certainty: Mu Tou will not die! Such a person like him would not die, even when he was so seriously injured he did not die, since he has recovered, even more he will not die. 

 

  But her heart had another uneasiness, as if something was directing her, she slowly went to the door in the inner yard, she opened the door and saw the shop hall. 

 

  Su Li Li walked step by step out, there was a broken piece on the floor, there was a coffin that was half burnt, there was a rocking chair that she had sat on before, there was the door sill that she had stepped on so many times. Outside this door sill, Uncle Cheng silently laid on the floor, under the moon light, his face was so white that there were no traces of blood.

 

  Su Li Li walked and knelt next to his body, as if begging, she nervously cried, "Uncle Cheng."

 

  Uncle Cheng did not respond, his fingers tightly holding onto the door sill of the Su Ji Coffin Shop, he was already dead. 

 

 

  

*I didn't go into the connotation of what this meant earlier but it's literally translated as "little white face" which means pretty men. The connotation is usually that these men are so pretty they live on women's money! Haha, or cheat women's feelings. 

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