Let’s go! I’ll take you away (of the tower)
On the day when the final leaf descended from the treetop, the sky above appeared grey and misty.
The eerie silence in the capital was abruptly shattered by the ominous cawing sounds of a group of crows, transforming into black shadows in the gloomy atmosphere.
As Ming Qin was guarding Murong Wan, she suddenly caught sight of her master’s wife, Gu Yun, in the dark alleyway.
“Qin Qin,” Gu Yun called out, her typically gentle expression now tense.
Hurriedly approaching the pair, she whispered into Ming Qin’s ear, “The Emperor has just passed away.”
In an effort to compose herself, Gu Yun passed a bundle of ropes to Ming Qin and retrieved a package of oil-paper from her pocket.
“Take the Eleventh Prince and seek out Princess Chongwen with this.
Flee quietly and make your way to Wanjia Lane.
Your senior sister will be waiting for you there.”
As Ming Qin accepted the weighty oil-paper package, her mind struggled to keep up with the situation at hand.
Without further words, Gu Yun quickly gathered up Murong Wan and fixed her gaze upon her beloved pupil with a solemn expression.
“Qin Qin, this matter concerns the imperial succession and was the Emperor’s dying wish.
You must exercise extreme caution!”
Ming Qin nodded gravely, ready to depart, but was halted by Murong Wan, who clung to her garments with a trembling body and tear-stained eyes.
Kneeling down, Ming Qin regarded the boy with a tender expression.
“The Eleventh Prince and I will be venturing to a new battlefield, but we will emerge victorious, won’t we?”
As the young prince fiercely bit his lip and emphatically nodded, Ming Qin felt reassured and began to take her leave.
However, as she turned to depart, her smile faded and her heart was thrown into disarray.
With the Emperor’s demise, what would befall the capital city? The Crown Prince possessed all the power and was undoubtedly resolute in his bid for the throne.
Amidst the complex circumstances, one thing was unequivocal: Ming Qin needed to escape with Murong Yan.
She had to flee the confinement of the Crown Prince’s stronghold before the situation spiraled out of control.
Ming Qin hastened her steps, arriving at the towering edifice she had ascended countless times before, now praying it would be her last.
Bounding into the room, she exclaimed to Murong Yan with bated excitement, “Let’s depart! I’ll take you with me!”
Murong Yan raised her head from her sea of books, surveying the sudden visitor with a composed expression that was as placid as when Ming Qin had first scaled the tower.
With a hoarse voice tinged with emotion, she nodded in agreement.
Time was of the essence, yet as Ming Qin helped Murong Yan don a woolen-lined coat, she softly inquired about any possessions she wished to bring along.
From a concealed compartment within the coffee table, Murong Yan retrieved another pomegranate earring tucked away in a tea canister and a black ribbon, requesting Ming Qin’s aid in donning them and tying her hair.
As for everything else, they were mere mundane items.
She had no need for them.
With the iron hook of the rope securely lodged within the wooden window frame, Ming Qin perched upon the windowsill, clutching the rope with one hand and Murong Yan’s waist with the other.
In the dimly-lit room, Murong Yan surveyed the vista below the towering edifice, a sight she had longed for during her six-year imprisonment.
It was a vision of freedom, yet it also represented the unknown.
Her frame quivered faintly.
She chuckled at herself.
It appeared that she wasn’t as courageous as she had previously believed.
Contrary to her expectations, she had become timid.
Ming Qin felt the emotions of the woman in her embrace and regarded her with sincere eyes, speaking in a gentle tone, “Do you have a fear of heights? There’s no need to worry.
I won’t let you go.”
As she spoke, she clutched Murong Yan tightly, hoping to have her bury her face in her neck to avoid seeing the view below.
“I’m alright,” Murong Yan responded in a raspy voice, hearing the reassurance in her ear.
With determination in her eyes, she lifted her head and gazed down at the expanse beneath her feet.
In that moment, all of her trepidation vanished, and she declared, “Let’s proceed.”
She wouldn’t cower; she desired to witness her own liberation from the chains with her own eyes.
Taking a deep breath, Ming Qin grasped the rope tightly with one hand and faced downward, ready to make the jump.
The slick bricks made it a challenge for her to land firmly, especially with Murong Yan in tow.
Worried about frightening her companion, the shadow guard gradually loosened the rope.
Her hands, reddened by the cold, were slightly scratched by the rough surface of the rope.
Once they landed, Ming Qin retrieved a small knife from her pocket, threw it to cut the dangling rope on the window sill, and hoped to delay the time before they were discovered.
Ming Qin quickly adjusted Murong Yan’s robe and picked her up before using her light skills to dash towards Wanjia Lane without looking back.
Ming Qin moved soundlessly and arrived at Wanjia Lane to see a delicate, small carriage.
Cao Yun and Song Shu Qing, disguised as a coachman and maidservant, stood beside it.
Ming Qin rushed towards her senior brother and sister with the person in her arms.
She could see the relief in their eyes as she put the person down.
Song Shu Qing quickly bowed to the princess before turning to Ming Qin with an urgent question, “Did Master’s wife give you the things? Have you received them?”
Ming Qin patted the cloth bag around her waist and nodded.
“This is no place to linger.
Let’s leave the city first and talk later,” she said.
Cao Yun opened the carriage door and gestured towards the partition under the seat inside the carriage.
“Please let the princess board first, then Qin Qin can hide inside,” Song Shu Qing added.
When Ming Qin was safely hidden away, Cao Yun lowered the partition and gestured to Murong Yan.
With Song Shu Qing by her side, Murong Yan slowly climbed aboard the carriage.
Although it was small, the interior was plushly cushioned with soft fox fur, making for a comfortable ride.
As Cao Yun set the carriage in motion, Song Shu Qing took out a pen hidden in her sleeve and whispered to Murong Yan, “Excuse me.” She then carefully began to sketch her features.
In her past life, beauty bloggers had always said that the most important aspect of makeup was the eyes and eyebrows, for they could truly define a person’s overall look and temperament!
So Song Shu Qing focused on drawing Murong Yan’s originally elegant eyebrows, making them blacker, thicker, and changing the angle of the eyebrow peak, giving the outstanding woman a less sharp and more approachable appearance.
As she finished, Song Shu Qing thought to herself that it was a good thing there was no bronze mirror in the carriage.
If the princess saw her “masterpiece,” she would be in danger.
At that moment, a commotion erupted outside the carriage, as soldiers checked passage documents in rough voices mixed with Cao Yun’s smooth responses.
“What are you doing? The city gate is about to close!”
“Please, sir, we do have urgent matters at home.”
“What urgent matters? It’s already dark!”
“My young miss heard this afternoon that her great-grandmother at home is sick, and she is anxious to go back and visit.
We hastily decided to leave the city.”
“Oh! She’s filial.
Alright, let me see.” The soldier reached out and opened the curtain to inspect the two people inside the carriage, and after not finding anything unusual, he retreated.
With that, the sound of Cao Yun rummaging through his money bag filled the carriage.
“Sir, you have worked hard.
This is from the young lady.”
“Hey! Although your young lady has thick eyebrows, she is a good person.
Alright, alright! Hurry up and go,” the soldier said, pocketing the coins.
As the carriage began moving again, everyone let out a sigh of relief.
After a while, Murong Yan stared expressionlessly at the person in front of her, dressed as a maidservant, and took out a handkerchief to silently wipe her face.
In this cramped space, Song Shu Qing felt uneasy and embarrassed as all eyes were on her.
She forced a smile and spoke, “Hahaha, I had no other option.
Your Highness, please don’t be angry.
I beg you!”
Thankfully, Ming Qin didn’t witness the princess’s altered appearance, or else she would have faced certain death at her hands.
Song Shu Qing’s forehead was damp with sweat as she pondered in silence.
As they rode on, the passengers failed to notice the dust kicked up from the hastily drawn portrait of Murong Yan, which was presented to the checkpoint even before their carriage had traveled far.
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