A blazing bonfire burnt brightly in the darkness of the woods. The flames danced about, giving off crisp, crackling sounds as its warm glow illuminated the faces of all who were around.
Three people huddled up close to the bonfire – two were seated and one was lying down. The one lying down was curled up underneath a thick, woolen blanket, while he lay on a luxurious rug made of Inferno Tiger skin. This tiger skin was fire-affiliated by nature, and it naturally warmed the person who rested on it.
These three people were Ye Xiuwen, Jun Xiaomo and Rong Ruihan. It was night, and the temperatures had plummeted. Furthermore, they had no choice but to spend the night under the stars, in the midst of a swathe of thick fog. The resultant cold was so sharp and chilling that it cut through the bone, straight to the marrow.
After Ye Xiuwen started the bonfire, he was concerned that Yao Mo, who had fallen asleep on the floor, would catch a chill. Therefore, he gingerly placed Yao Mo on a rug and covered him with a warm blanket, wrapping him up into a tight warm bundle, leaving only his head peeking out.
Now that the effects of the Euphoria-Stimulating Incense had finally been dispelled, coupled with the snuggling warmth of the blanket and the bonfire, Jun Xiaomo subconsciously displayed a look of contentment on her face. Two precious dimples surfaced on her cheeks and accentuated her features. It was extremely dear and adorable.
Moments later, Jun Xiaomo began to stir. Perhaps she had been wrapped up too tightly, and it was getting a little too warm and uncomfortable for her. Jun Xiaomo subconsciously ran her hands along the edges of her blanket until they emerged from the blanket and were exposed to the elements. She even mumbled and grumbled slightly in her stupor.
Ye Xiuwen loosened her blanket for her, before adjusting her hands and setting them by the side of her face. Then, he patted her arms tenderly.
Jun Xiaomo reflexively grabbed onto Ye Xiuwen’s hand and pulled it close to her face. Then, she affectionally rubbed her cheeks against Ye Xiuwen’s hands, even letting off a gratified murmur as she did so.
This time, the object of her murmur wasn’t “martial brother” any longer – it was “brother Ye”. Ye Xiuwen was initially about to retract his hand when that light gentle murmur inadvertently strummed across Ye Xiuwen’s heartstrings gently. Just like that, he decided to leave his hand on her cheeks.
Jun Xiaomo looked as though she was having a pleasant dream right now. She subconsciously smiled in contentment once more and revealed her adorable little dimples. Then, she fell into an even deeper sleep.
Rong Ruihan sat at the side as he continued to observe all these in silence. He could tell for himself that the interactions between Ye Xiuwen and Yao Mo left no room for a third person to interject. Yet for some reason, this left him feeling slightly agitated and frustrated.
Just then, the sound of flapping wings rang out not too far away. Even though this was a sound that would ordinarily be barely noticeable, it was incredibly ostensible in juxtaposition with the stillness of these woods at night. Rong Ruihan was about to put up his guard when he saw that the flapping sound came from a small paper crane that was flitting its wings clumsily as it hovered over and landed on Ye Xiuwen’s shoulder.
This was a Messenger Paper Crane to Ye Xiuwen.
Ye Xiuwen furrowed his brows, wondering who could possibly have sent a Messenger Paper Crane to him in the middle of the night.
Could it be an emergency within the Sect?
As he speculated, Ye Xiuwen opened the Messenger Paper Crane. Immediately, Di Yue’s voice leapt out of the paper crane as he anxiously reported, “Martial brother Ye, the Inferno Kingdom’s Grand Vizier is probably chasing after you and Yao Mo right now. Hurry up and leave this county. Don’t come back!”
The Messenger Paper Crane also contained Di Yue’s handwriting. This handwriting was irregular and haphazard, and even barely legible at times. It was evident that Di Yue had written this in hastily and anxiously.
Ye Xiuwen’s expression froze in shock, and his lips stretched out grimly.
He never expected that the incident tonight could have resulted in such a serious backlash. Logically speaking, the injuries that he had left on the second prince’s body would never be sufficient to attract the ire of the Grand Vizier.
Those injuries were light at best, and the second prince would fully recover from them with the aid of an ordinary recovery pill. How could his actions earlier have possibly invited so much trouble?
How would Ye Xiuwen have known that all this trouble had been singlehandedly caused by the first prince seated within earshot from him? After departing the second prince’s residence with Jun Xiaomo, the frenzied first prince had fought his way through the second prince’s residence, before swiftly delivering a near-fatal blow to the second prince which left a gaping hole in his chest.
At the same time, the first prince did not have any recollection of these actions of his. Therefore, he raised his eyebrows slightly and even revealed a shocked expression as he questioned Ye Xiuwen, “What have you done to offend that old geezer?”
“I’ve injured the second prince while I was rescuing Little Mo.” Ye Xiuwen responded with indifference as he spared the first prince the details of the genesis of the entire incident.
However, Rong Ruihan understood the second prince’s personality well enough. With one glance at Yao Mo’s appearances, he could vaguely hazard a guess of what had transpired.
The second prince was still the same after so many years – he knew nothing apart from that lustful desires of his. Rong Ruihan’s eyes flickered with a trace of disgust and contempt for the second prince.
“No wonder that old geezer wants your life now. My ‘dear’ brother is that old geezer’s darling. Even a simple scratch on the second prince could incense that old man and incite his wrath.”
Rong Ruihan explicated with a contemptuous voice. When it came to matters pertaining to the Grand Vizier or Rong Yebin, his tone of voice would invariably be frigid and filled with hatred.
However, it seemed like Ye Xiuwen didn’t catch Rong Ruihan’s explanation. Ye Xiuwen tossed a few dried twigs into the bonfire, and his entire being seemed to be deeply immersed in his own thoughts.
Just like that, the night passed by slowly but uneventfully, and the first light of day once again shone on the ground. Having been tormented by the effects of the Euphoria-Stimulating Incense for half a night, and then sleeping the other half away, the crisp morning calls of the birds around began to rouse Jun Xiaomo from her slumber.
She opened her eyes. Moments later, she finally seized her thoughts and realized that she was no longer resting on the bed in her inn, but she was now in fact located at the small woods beside Xingping County.
“You’re awake?” Ye Xiuwen noticed Jun Xiaomo’s stirring, and he turned his head to look at her.
Ye Xiuwen had not managed to catch a single wink of sleep last night, and his condition wasn’t too great right now. His eyes were slightly bloodshot, and his voice even carried some traces of hoarseness.
“Brother Ye, your veiled conical hat…” Jun Xiaomo locked eyes with Ye Xiuwen’s obsidian-black pupils, realizing that he was no longer wearing his hat.
Ye Xiuwen patted Jun Xiaomo’s head as he warmly responded, “I won’t wear it anymore.”
Previously, Ye Xiuwen had worn that veiled conical hat because he disliked how others would always look at the terrifying scar that was sprawled across his face and stare at him with a peculiar gaze in their eyes. Furthermore, that incident with the young Jun Xiaomo had hurt Ye Xiuwen so much so that he developed the habit of always wearing his veiled conical hat as a manner of self-preservation.
However, seeing how Yao Mo had time and again drawn closer to him without regard for the scar on his face, the walls that Ye Xiuwen had built up around his heart since young began to crumble and fall, and the warmth of acceptance once again filled his heart. He finally understood that there were still people in this world who would not look at him with judgmental looks and shun him just because of his appearances.
In fact, when Yao Mo removed his veiled conical hat last night, Ye Xiuwen had already decided that he would no longer pick it up again – ever. He did not mind the judgmental looks from others at all. It sufficed for him that those whom he cared about could look beyond his scar and treat him as he was.
Jun Xiaomo chuckled. She stretched out her hand from within her blanket and gripped tightly on Ye Xiuwen’s hands. Her eyes curled up into squinches as she encouraged, “It’s fine if you don’t wear your hat either. We’ve already found the Blackmoon Grass. So long as we can locate that one final medicinal element, I can help brother Ye refine the medicinal pill to cure the scar on your face!”
Ye Xiuwen’s heart was filled with warmth. Yet at the same time, when Jun Xiaomo mentioned the Blackmoon Grass, he couldn’t help but be reminded of the incident with the second prince which had now drawn the ire of the Grand Vizier.
“Little Mo, I’m afraid that we must separate for a period of time.” Ye Xiuwen patted Jun Xiaomo’s head as he tried his best to speak with a composed and collected voice.
“Why?!” Jun Xiaomo anxiously sat up, and she immediately gripped Ye Xiuwen’s arms tensely as she asked.
“Because of that incident last night, the Grand Vizier of the Inferno Kingdom has set us in his sights. I’m afraid that he’s going to give us some trouble in the near future. I was the one who had hurt the second prince, and it has nothing to do with you. As long as I draw his attention away…”
“No way!” The rims of Jun Xiaomo’s eyes reddened, “I was clearly the one who started this entire incident. If I didn’t enter the lion’s den of my own volition to retrieve that stalk of Blackmoon Grass, you would never have had to duke it out with that fella to begin with!”
Ye Xiuwen sighed softly, before responding with a measure of resignation, “This is the best option we have, Little Mo. I’m still not aware of your background, but I can tell that you come from a place of decent backing. Go back to your parents. I’m sure they will have the ability to protect you.”
When it came to the Grand Vizier, Ye Xiuwen knew that his odds of coming out victorious were close to zero. After all, the Grand Vizier had already broken through to the secondary-tier Immortal Ascension stage of cultivation. On the other hand, Ye Xiuwen was only at the peak twelfth level of Qi Mastery. There was simply no basis for comparison.
My father is your master, you idiot! He’s not going to be of much help against the Grand Vizier either! Jun Xiaomo berated in her heart in exasperation.
Once again, the scenes from her previous life began to replay in her head. That heart of responsibility and duty had caused Ye Xiuwen to cede the opportunity to survive time and again to Jun Xiaomo. This had even resulted in his own death in the end!
“Brother Ye, I’m just going to say it as it is. If you insist on going your separate way, I’m going to place a Tracking Talisman on your body so that I can follow you wherever you go – just like your shadow!” Jun Xiaomo gnashed her teeth as she gave him her ultimatum. She glared at Ye Xiuwen in fury, like how a fierce animal would glare at the perpetrator who stepped on its tail.
Ye Xiuwen was extremely moved. At the same time, Jun Xiaomo’s expression was so peculiar that he didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. In the end, he could only helplessly tousle Jun Xiaomo’s hair as he remained silent.
On the other side, Rong Ruihan continued to observe the interactions between Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo. Deep in his heart, a faint trace of disappointment surfaced – one that even he was unaware of.
Just this moment, another flapping sound rang out some distance away. This time, the paper crane landed on Rong Ruihan’s body.
This Messenger Paper Crane was imbued with a special formation diagram that was unique to Rong Ruihan and his followers. As a result of this, only Rong Ruihan and a few special nominees of his were able to open this paper crane and read its contents. If others were to forcibly open this paper crane, it would immediately self-immolate and destroy its contents with it.
Rong Ruihan bit his thumb and dripped a drop of blood onto the paper crane, and it unfurled itself automatically and became a simple note.
Then after examining the contents of the little note, Rong Ruihan began to knit his brows together tightly.
Moments later, a ball of flame appeared in his palm. After Rong Ruihan had read the contents of that note, it automatically immolated and vanished into thin air.
“I’m afraid there have been some complications to this incident.” Rong Ruihan made a grim expression as he turned around and elaborated, “I’ve just received news from my eyes and ears within the second prince’s residence. Rong Yebin has been severely wounded, and the Grand Vizier is fuming mad. He’s prepared to personally settle the accounts with the culprits of last night’s incident.”
“Severely wounded? That can’t be right. Brother Ye and I don’t possess the ability to cause such serious injuries to him to begin with.” Jun Xiaomo sought to clarify with some measure of exasperation.
“The person who severely wounded Rong Yebin last night was me.” Rong Ruihan calmly responded, “I’m not exactly sure why, but after losing my senses last night, I somehow ended up going to Rong Yebin’s residence and inflicting grievous injuries on him.”
Rong Ruihan spoke rather matter-of-factly, without any trace of frustrations or emotions for that matter. After all, he knew that it was only a matter of time that he would be tussling with the Grand Vizier.
Rong Ruihan was also unsure about the extent of the “serious injuries” that he had inflicted on Rong Yebin as well. It was hard to say whether there would be any lasting effects on Rong Yebin’s body. Regardless, Rong Ruihan remained convicted that Rong Yebin deserved every bit of punishment that he had dished out last night. After all, he had long grown extremely frustrated at how Rong Yebin had sought to corner him and trip him up at every step of the way.
However, Rong Ruihan’s cool-headedness did nothing to soothe Jun Xiaomo’s anxious heart. She smacked her head in exasperation as she exclaimed, “It’s over, it’s over. The second prince has suffered serious injuries, and with that old fogey’s over-protective mentality, he’s bound to go all out against everyone remotely involved in last night’s incident.”
This was one of the main reasons why Jun Xiaomo had not resorted to using any powerful talismans or formation arrays last night. It was hardly a difficult thing to inflict serious injuries against the second prince – even for her. However, the main deterrence was the immense backing that the second prince possessed. Presently, Jun Xiaomo’s abilities could not even be considered ten-thousandth of the immense strength she had possessed at the peak of her previous life. Facing the Grand Vizier right now was no different from courting her own doom.
Does this mean that I’ll have to start escaping from my persecutors even earlier than I did in my previous life? Jun Xiaomo furrowed her brows and her heart sank.Previous Chapter Next Chapter