“How can I do that? Big brother, we swore to be in it together, regardless of happiness or suffering. I am not leaving! If we have to die, we will die together,” second-in-charge said.
“Who said anything about dying?” first-in-charge chided and continued in a gentle tone, “This time, I am afraid that we could not defend this place. No matter how strong the Dragon-breaking Stone is, it cannot withstand the attack of artillery. Plus, Peng Wu, the little traitor, knew where the secret passageway is. If we do not evacuate immediately, we would be blocked and killed. None of us would be able to escape. Even if we lose Hei Feng Gang, we could always return back to Qing Long Fang and wait another day to make a comeback.
Second-in-charge was indignant. “We’ve suspected many brothers in the stockade but we didn’t think of suspecting Peng Wu! I don’t get it! How could he betray us?”
First-in-charge sighed. “It is hard to fathom a person’s mind.”
“That rascal! If I catch him, I would tear him into pieces,” second-in-charge cursed in rage.
“Alright, we will talk about this later. Just make some quick preparations, we will leave today,” first-in-charge said.
“What about third brother?” second-in-charge asked.
“Second brother, you and I are the real brothers. As for third brother… we cannot bring the whole stockade of people with us! There has to be someone here to keep watch, otherwise, none of us will be able to escape. Third brother would just have to count his luck!”
The more she heard, the angrier Ye Jiayao got.?You f*cking pigs!???You have been suspecting Chunyu since the beginning! Now that the stockade is about to fall, you only care about escaping by yourselves! You’re using Chunyu as a cannon fodder to protect you.
Despite her anger, Ye Jiayao was aware that if first-in-charge found her eavesdropping, he’d kill her on the spot. She crept out of the courtyard silently before calling loudly, “Second brother, second brother!”
First-in-charge walked out from the house, smiling eccentrically. “It’s sister-in-law!”
“Oh big brother, I didn’t know you’re here as well! I came to deliver food for second brother.” Ye Jiayao smiled as she met him halfway.
First-in-charge sneered slightly. “Hand it to me. I still have some things to discuss with second brother.”
“Sure, then I shall trouble you.” Ye Jiayao handed the lunch box to first-in-charge.
After taking two steps, she turned back, and asked, “Big brother…”
First-in-charge raised his eyebrows in question. “What other matters concern you, sister-in-law?”
Ye Jiayao hesitated a little, saying, “I heard from Song Qi that Chunyu went to guard Pan Long Mountain Ridge. He won’t be in danger, right?”
First-in-charge smiled. “The Dragon-breaking Stone is very resilient. It would not be so easy for the army to destroy.”
Ye Jiayao clutched at her chest, acting as though she heaved a sigh of relief. “Then I shall rest assured.”
After seeing Ye Jiayao leave, the corner of first-in-charge’s lips raised up into a sinister smile.
After leaving second-in-charge’s place, Ye Jiayao walked briskly to look for Auntie Jiang. Although she knew some people in the mountains, she could only really trust Uncle and Auntie Jiang. She had to let Chunyu know the news of first-in-charge’s and second-in-charge’s?plan to escape.
After hearing Ye Jiayao’s words, Auntie Jiang’s face lost color. “Seriously?”
Ye Jiayao nodded her head earnestly. “I heard it directly from him! We?have to come up with a way to inform third-in-charge, otherwise, we would all be dead.”
Auntie Jiang hurriedly replied, “I am getting my old man this instant.”
Ye Jiayao continued, “Don’t let a word of this matter spread out. First, let’s just inform third-in-charge secretly. We’ll let him make the decision in case we arouse unrest.”
Auntie Jiang nodded her head solemnly. “I would avoid it.”
Xia Chunyu was deploying the combat plan when he heard that Uncle Jiang was looking for him outside. He glanced at the door and couldn’t help but feel apprehensive. Uncle Jiang was someone on his side that he had ever since he came up the mountains. He had previously ordered Uncle Jiang to guard the Dragon-breaking Stone’s mechanism and await his order. Now that Uncle Jiang had rushed over, could it be that something major had happened? He sent away his attendants and invited Uncle Jiang in.
Uncle Jiang whispered the news Ye Jiayao heard to Xia Chunyu.
A hint of surprise flashed pass Xia Chunyu’s eyes, and he called for Song Qi.
Song Qi entered. “Third-in-charge, what are your orders?”
Xia Chunyu knitted his eyebrows with indecision, telling himself time and again to remain calm. This moment was a critical period. A slight change would cause a butterfly effect, a wrong move would cause defeat, so every decision he makes has to be carefully thought out.
Xia Chunyu muttered, “Third madam said that she heard that when she went to deliver food?”
Uncle Jiang affirmed, “That was what my old woman said.”
Doubt niggled at the back of Xia Chunyu’s mind. There should always be someone guarding outside second-in-charge’s place. Would they really allow Ye Jinxuan to eavesdrop? Unless there was no one in the courtyard.That’s very suspicious.?First-in-charge and second-in-charge were discussing classified matters and there was no one keeping watch outside. It also just happened to be at the same time that Yao Yao was delivering food. Did they say that on purpose for Yaoyao to hear or was it really just a coincidental negligence?
If that was a trap, wouldn’t him rashly?rushing over to intercept it expose his knowledge of the whereabouts of the secret passageway? If they found out that he knew of the passageway, his identity as the spy would be revealed.
However, if the news was true, allowing first-in-charge and second-in-charge to escape would cause his efforts for half of the year to just go down the drain.
To cut weeds you have to eliminate the roots!
Maybe, he could spread the message of first-in-charge’s escape. This was a good opportunity to create chaos. His only problem was how to pass the news to He Lianxuan so that they could synchronize their attack.
Xia Chunyu had to think fast.
At this particular moment, a bandit from outside reported that the imperial court sent a person over.
Xia Chunyu was suddenly relieved.?Indeed, heaven is on my side!
Ye Jiayao was alarmed and restless as she paced around the courtyard. Had Auntie Jiang found Uncle Jiang? Had Uncle Jiang passed the message to Chunyu? What would Chunyu do in response? First-in-charge and second-in-charge would be escaping in a few moments. If the gang knew that its leader had gone, the stockade would be in a mess. If that were to happen, she would persuade Chunyu to lead the gang of brothers into surrendering. Perhaps he could even earn himself a position as an official and wash clean.
Only… Chunyu hated the imperial court so much. Would he agree to surrender?
No. She had to do something.
After thinking about it for some time, Ye Jiayao decided to go to second-in-charge’s place again to see if she could stall him and buy some time for Chunyu. However, when she arrived at second-in-charge’s place, he was not around. Ye Jiayao knew the entrance to the secret passageway was near the meeting room, so she rushed towards it.
From afar, she saw Song Qi run towards the meeting room. She wanted to call out to him but someone covered her mouth from behind, dragging her away.
The other party had exceptional strength, and Ye Jiayao could not struggle. She was helpless as she got dragged into a room where she was pushed down.
“Sister-in-law, what are you doing sneaking in the meeting room? Are you afraid that I would abandon you?” an obscene voice echoed.
Ye Jiayao raised her head. Wasn’t that second-in-charge? He eyed her up and down, laughing lewdly. How could she have not known that the huge second-in-charge was such a vulgar person deep down?
Ye Jiayao pretended to be calm, smiling embarrassedly. “Second brother, I’m so glad it was you! You gave me a fright.”
“Well, I’m glad that you’re at ease with my presence. You have the perfect timing! Leave with me! I will care for you.” Second-in-charge approached with the intention of embracing Ye Jiayao.
Ye Jiayao dodged, scared and angry on the inside, yet, outwardly smiling. “Second brother, are you drunk? Why are you saying nonsense like these? I am your sister-in-law.”
Second-in-charge grinned evilly. “Originally, your family wanted to send you to me. Sending you to third brother was just a way to test him out. Now, there is no need, and you can return to my side.”
The news struck Ye Jiayao unexpectedly, leaving her stunned. “What… what did you say? What do you mean my family sent me to you?”
Second-in-charge shook his head, saying sympathetically, “Sister-in-law, you have no home to return to. Third brother is not even your real husband. Come on, just come with me.”
Ye Jiayao’s voice trembled as she spoke. “Make… make yourself clear.”
Just when second-in-charge was about to open his mouth to explain, the door was pushed open. First-in-charge walked in, his jaw set straight and his eyes cold. “Second brother, do you realize the kind of hurry we’re in? I don’t know how you still managed to find the time to flirt.”
Second-in-charge replied with embarrassment, “Big brother, what is the situation outside?”
First-in-charge ignored his question as he stared at Ye Jiayao.”We’re not keeping that woman.”
Ye Jiayao’s heart stuttered. Was he planning to silence her? Could it be that they already knew that she eavesdropped on their conversation?
“Big brother, there’s no need for that. Isn’t she just a woman? Tie her up and decide when everything is over.” Second-in-charge was obviously unwilling to kill off Ye Jiayao.
“What do you know? Third brother did not fall into the trap. Now that the imperial court’s envoy had come up the mountains, matters are getting more problematic. Third brother should never know about this,” first-in-charge said.
Ye Jiayao was suddenly enlightened. They purposely let her overhear their conversation and everything was a trap to set up Chunyu. She could not guess the specific details but she was certain that they were willing to go to great lengths to keep this conspiracy quiet. They would silence her to have Chunyu continue to risk his life for them.
Second-in-charge was put in a difficult position. He looked at Ye Jiayao with reluctance, still unable to let her go. “We are still not at ease with third brother, so why don’t we use this opportunity to -” Second-in-charge made a motion of slitting his throat.
Ye Jiayao held her breath, fearing that one wrong move would end her life.
“Then I’ll leave it to you, make it quick.” First-in-charge left after throwing those words out.
Second-in-charge brought a piece of rope and tied Ye Jiayao up, saying, “Third brother is good-looking, but good looks can’t feed you. To tell you honestly, big brother does not believe that Peng Wu is the spy. This is most probably staged by third brother. It was a pity we could not get a hold of him. Don’t worry, if there is a problem with third brother, big brother would not be keeping him anymore. Just stay here first, and when everything is settled, we can leave together.”
Peh! I don’t want to leave with a pig-head like you!
“It hurts! Second brother, please, go easy on me.” Ye Jiayao purposely pushed her hands further apart so that there would be space between the rope.
“Second brother, did you really mean what you said? I don’t want to die, you have to protect me.” Ye Jiayao stammered, acting coquettishly.
Second brother was seduced by her delicate voice and pitiful glance, that he could not help but go easy on her. Anyway, he was certain that she was not going to be able to escape.
“Be obedient, okay? I love you.” Second-in-charge caressed her soft and tender cheek, leaning in for a kiss. It was only first-in-charge’s voice calling him that made him forgo his affection. He raised his hand and hit her hard and swiftly on the back of her neck.
Ye Jiayao felt a sudden pain in her neck and her sight grew dark as she passed out.