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1

Many hours later, they heard shouting in the distance. The sound of galloping hooves and clashing swords increased in volume until they heard a man near the pit shout: "Daughter! Master Chen! Where are you?"

"Father! Father! We're here!" Princess Fragrance called.

The heroes leapt out of the pit and saw Muzhuolun, sabre in hand, galloping towards them with a ragged bunch of Muslim soldiers behind, fighting bravely. Princess Fragrance ran to him crying "Father! Father!"

Muzhuolun took her in his arms. "Don't be afraid," he said soothingly. "I have come to save you."

Xu jumped onto the back of a horse to get a better view of the situation. He saw a great cloud of dust rising to the east and knew the Manchu armoured cavalry were coming.

"Master Muzhuolun!" he called. "Let's retreat to that high ground to the west!" Muzhuolun immediately ordered his troops to comply. They started out from the pit with the Manchus close behind, and as they reached the hill, saw another force of Manchu troops moving in from the west.

"Huo Qingtong was right," Muzhuolun thought glumly. "I should not have accused her like that. She must be feeling very bad."

They threw up temporary defences on the hilltop and settled down to wait for an opportunity to escape. With the Muslims firmly established on high ground, the Manchus did not dare, for the moment, to attack.


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