Phoenix's Requiem - Chapter 194: Rescue
Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng brought Zhao Ming’s corpse out of the oasis. Following the route that Zhao Xu had traced out on the map, they headed west in the direction of a rather large oasis.
After about an hour of walking, the skies began to darken. As they walked, Yun Ruoyan noticed the auras of two humans ahead of her, and she stopped short. Zhuo Yifeng also stopped, clearly having noticed their presence as well.
“They might be scouts,” he suggested.
Yun Ruoyan turned around, her gaze lingering on Zhuo Yifeng’s back. Behind him was towed a makeshift litter carrying Zhao Ming’s corpse.
The days of the desert were scorching, but the nights were freezing. The lack of moisture in the air meant that Zhao Ming’s body hadn’t undergone any significant decomposition; instead, it even seemed to be drying out.
Yun Ruoyan was certain that, if they left Zhao Ming’s originally muscular body in the desert sands, that he would become human jerky in a matter of days.
“They must have waited for us for quite a while,” she began, turning back to the front.
Neither she nor Zhuo Yifeng were weak in terms of cultivation, but they were at a numerical disadvantage. Furthermore, with Lin Qingchen and Lin Qingxue as hostages, the two of them didn’t intend on a direct confrontation. They hid their auras and silently moved in the direction of the two humans.
“We’ve waited the whole day! Where are they?!” A brown-clad youth stood in the distance, watching his surroundings with an impatient look on his face. Because of the heat, he had rolled up his sleeves and pants.
“Given how many people we have, it’s likely that Yun Ruoyan ran off and left her own cousins behind,” his flabby companion said. He had removed his shirt entirely, exposing a vest and two fatty shoulders.
Yun Ruoyan recognized that both youths were good-for-nothings from Rong Yueshan’s party.
“In that case, well, we’ll have fun tonight, won’t we? Heh heh.” The brown-clad youth cackled.
“What fun?” The flabby youth clearly didn’t understand what his companion was insinuating.
“Heh heh. Brother Li told us that, once everything’s dealt with, we’ll get to do whatever we want with the two Lin sisters. They’ve always been so prideful, so reluctant to interact with us, that we have to show them how impressive the young masters of the capital are, no? Heh heh, we’ll each have one girl to play with, and we’ll just cycle them around our band of brothers, heh heh heh…”
Yun Ruoyan, who was hiding in the bushes nearby, wanted to strike him dead on the spot. The ‘Brother Li’ that he referred to so affectionately was none other than the pale-faced youth who always followed behind Rong Yueshan, and Yun Ruoyan had also assigned him the death sentence.
As a spark of hostility flashed from her eyes, she pointed at the brown-clad youth before making a slashing gesture in Zhuo Yifeng’s direction. Before he could react, Yun Ruoyan had already darted out from her bush.
She was lithe and agile, and when she imbued her legs with spiritual energy, she could almost slide twenty whole feet in a single movement. In two steps, she had darted all the way to the two youths. They were still chatting away with each other, unsuspecting that their prey had already snuck up behind them, when they suddenly felt a hostile killing intent from their backs.
With smiles still plastered on their faces, the two youths turned around to see Yun Ruoyan’s figure and their eyes widened in shock. Yun Ruoyan sneered: before the two youths could scream out, her dagger had sliced the air in front of her like lightning, decapitating the brown-clad youth’s neck.
Fresh red blood sprayed out of his throat and onto his flabby companion’s head and bare shoulders. The youth’s head rolled onto the ground, its expression of shock as though the youth was still trying to process what had happened when his life was taken away from him.
Because Yun Ruoyan’s birthmark had been washed away, she had made a rather haphazard fake birthmark with medicinal herbs which she found in their original oasis. Presently, her face was half-beautiful and half-covered by some sort of strange, blackened substance.
The bare-shouldered youth looked at Yun Ruoyan as though he had seen a ghost. Yun Ruoyan stared back icily. She stepped forward, and the youth was so scared that he fell onto the ground.
“Lead us to the Lin sisters, or we’ll kill you on the spot,” she declared.
The flabby youth was so scared that he couldn’t even speak. He nodded fervently, then began to lead Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng into the oasis.
Lin Qingchen and Lin Qingxue were tied up by two trees next to a small lake. Their mouths had been bound with cloth, and their hands and feet were tied up tightly. Their hair was tousled, and they had small cuts and minor bruises all over their body. Although they didn’t look like they had any severe injuries, their overall appearance made their suffering apparent. Most likely, they had tried to escape, been caught, and were punished.
Yun Ruoyan felt very sorry for her two cousins, and their abject appearance sent another pang of pain through her heart. She wanted to rush forward and free them on the spot.
“Damn it, these bastards even dare to beat young girls up…” Zhuo Yifeng was likewise enraged and began walking furiously toward them.
“Wait,” Yun Ruoyan suddenly commanded, before stopping. The bare-shouldered youth was walking in front of her with Yun Ruoyan’s knife to his throat, and he too was forced to stop. “Why are you two the only ones on guard? Where are the others?”
“They… They’re all slaughtering beasts nearby, and the four of us were the only ones left behind. The two of us were supposed to be guarding the oasis up in front, and the other two to look after the two Lin sisters,” the youth responded with a quavering voice.
Why would they leave only four youths behind, knowing that Zhuo Yifeng and I were relatively strong and would be showing up today? “What’s going on? Don’t try to lie to me, or else!” Yun Ruoyan suddenly whispered into the flabby youth’s ear.
“I… I’m really not lying! You guys didn’t appear even after half a day, and tomorrow’s the last day of the trial, so everyone decided to kill some more magical beasts first. Now… now that it’s almost dark, they should be back soon.”
The bare-shouldered youth was so scared of Yun Ruyoan’s antics that he was about to cry, and it seemed as though he truly were telling the truth.
“I still think there’s something amiss,” Zhuo Yifeng leaned in and whispered. “There’s likely an ambush around here.”
If there really were other youths intentionally hiding in the vicinity, Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng’s cultivations weren’t so advanced that they could detect them.
Yun Ruoyan nodded. “Even if there’s an ambush, though, we still have to save them. I’ll run out and get them now. Stay behind and cover me.”
Zhuo Yifeng nodded, taking out his makeshift bow, nocked a tiger-canine arrow, and prepared to fire. Yun Ruoyan knocked the bare-shouldered youth unconscious with a blow to the back of his head, restrained her aura, and darted toward the lake.
“Oh, you two beauties, don’t worry. If your cousin doesn’t show up even after tonight, we brothers will definitely take good care of you tonight, hehe.” A rather muscular youth stood in front of Lin Qingchen, a lascivious look on his face.
“That’s right, don’t be anxious. Feisty girls like you two are the best.” The other youth also began to cackle.
Two clear, whistling sounds rang out in the dark, and the youths’ laughter was stopped abruptly short. Their necks turned cold as they looked behind them to see Yun Ruoyan’s smiling face, half-white and half-black. They opened their mouths wide, but were unable to make any noise beyond breathless groans.
Yun Ruoyan ignored the two youths as she continued walking forward in the Lin sisters’ direction. Behind her, the two youths collapsed to the ground.
“Mmmmmph! Mmmmmph!” As Yun Ruoyan walked closer, Lin Qingxue and Lin Qingchen’s eyes widened as they tried to speak. However, their mouths were gagged shut so tightly that they could only make an incoherent hum.
Yun Ruoyan immediately strode forward and untied them. They had been tied to a tree for so long that their limbs were aching and powerless, and they fell limply to the ground.
“Qingchen, Qingxue, are you alright?” Yun Ruoyan asked affectionately as she untied their gags.
She removed Lin Qingxue’s gag first. Her lips were cracked, and it was evident that she hadn’t had water for quite a long time. However, she forced out with her parched throat, “Ruo… Sister Ruoyan, leave! There’s an ambush!”
“I’m here to save you. We’ll leave together!” Yun Ruoyan began dragging Lin Qingchen and Lin Qingxue’s prone body with one hand each.
“Sister Ruoyan, leave on your own! If you don’t, there won’t be any time left!” Lin Qingchen was equally anxious as her sister, but it was so difficult for them to croak out any words that they could only watch on as their cousin struggled to carry them futilely.
“Ha, leaving now? It won’t be so easy.” A male voice came from a nearby bush. Yun Ruoyan looked over to see a tall, fat youth. “Do you think it’ll be that easy to leave after killing my brother?”
“Is your brother Zhao Ming?” Yun Ruoyan guessed that this was a member from the Chen kingdom team.
“Who else?” he replied viciously.
“I wasn’t the one who killed Zhao Ming,” Yun Ruoyan replied. “The killer was Rong Yueshan.”
“Haha.” Rong Yueshan’s voice then came from another nearby bush. “Oh, Yun Ruoyan, it’s useless to deny your crime now.”
Yun Ruoyan stood in front of Lin Qingchen and Lin Qingxue, her half-white, half-black face making her look both sinister and cold. She glanced at the Chen kingdom youth and gritted out, “I wasn’t the one who killed your brother. If you don’t believe me, there’s nothing I can do. Do you want a one-on-one fight, or are you all going to gang up on me?”