Woman, please. You’ve already fallen so far, yet you’re still as arrogant as ever. I’m not going to babysit you.
Zu An was not one to simp.
“Are you waiting for me to beg you?” Yun Jianyue had a thoughtful look on her face. She seemed to have read his mind.
Zu An quickly denied it three times in a row. “Nope, not at all. That’s nonsense. Of course, if you speak to me civilly, I just might change my mind.”
Yun Jianyue chuckled. “Sure. I’ll just tell whichever guard comes by that you’re my accomplice, and that you used your status as a golden-token envoy to let us assassins in. What do you think about that?”
Zu An stared at her, speechless.
Fine, you win!
Helpless against her threat, he said, “It’ll be difficult to get you out of the palace right now. Hide out in my place and wait out the storm. We’ll make our move when you’ve recovered.”
It was unlikely that he could help her escape in the same way as Qiu Honglei had. Furthermore, the Left and Right Guard Generals, Zhuxie Chixin, the Guerilla Warfare General, and the rest of the guards were scouring the imperial palace for her. A single misstep, and he’d run right into them. With the injuries Yun Jianyue was carrying, she might not even be able to make it over the palace walls.
Yun Jinayue did not reject his offer. “All right.”
Zu An scouted the area ahead. Noting that it was all clear, he waved towards her. “Let’s go.”
Yun Jiayue stood, then staggered. She was clearly a little dizzy.
Zu An frowned. “Let me help you.”
She knew that there was no way she would let him carry her, and he didn’t deliberately make things hard for her.
Yun Jianyue nodded and slowly stretched her hand towards him.
Zu An was not impressed.
She looked like a concubine who was out for a stroll or something, with him playing the part of a lesser eunuch.
Fine, I’ll let you have your way, out of respect for Honglei.
He held her hand to lend her some support, and they slowly made their way to his residence.
“You won’t show up and kill me in the future just because I held your hand, will you?”
He had clearly been affected by his previous experience. Just touching the crown princess had brought him a heap of trouble. He didn’t want to go through all the effort of saving someone only to end up not only without reaping any benefits, but in a heap of trouble instead.
“Why would I kill you?” Yun Jianyue looked at him weirdly. “Just because you touched my hand?”
It was now Zu An’s turn to be shocked. “Do men often touch your hands?”
She’s used to such a thing?
He quickly remembered that she was from the Devil Sect, which helped explain quite a bit. However, it still seemed rather strange to him.
Sigh, we men have some deep-rooted tendencies. Why do we all turn into idiots when we come across a beautiful woman?
“I do suddenly feel an urge to kill you after hearing what you just said, though,” Yun Jianyue replied with an angry huff.
Oddly enough, Zu An was pleased by her reply. So, no one else has touched you… Very good, very good.
Yun Jianyue frowned. “We’re wasting time with idle chatter. There are guards scouring this place right now, and I don’t want to run into them.”
Ordinarily, her divine senses could easily stretch across a range of a few dozen li. Nothing within that area could escape her detection. Unfortunately, her significant injuries had compromised this ability.
She was so used to easily sensing her enemies that she felt deaf and blind without it, which unsettled her immensely.
Zu An chuckled. “Don’t worry, there’s no one around us.”
Yun Jianyue was confused. She didn’t know where his confidence came from. Had he reached the stage of cultivation where he could extend his divine senses outward as well?
As they moved through the palace, though, she grew more and more impressed. Several times, Zu An pulled her to the side. Her first instinct was that he wanted to take advantage of her, but she quickly noticed guards walking by, and realized what was going on.
They managed to escape the notice of the guards several times. It was as if he had known where they would be ahead of time.
Yun Jianyue finally couldn’t resist her curiosity. “How are you doing this?”
Zu An smiled. “That’s a secret.”
He obviously couldn’t extend his senses, but he had other methods that achieved similar results.
He had the jade badge, which allowed him to control the surrounding small creatures. The imperial palace was full of greenery. There were trees, plants, which concealed all manner of cats, mice, birds, and other creatures. The guards would never see these creatures as a threat, and there was no way they could know that these had become his eyes and ears.
By using these small creatures, Zu An was able to detect the guards ahead of time. That was why he had been able to calmly escort her to his own residence, despite the thorough and intensive search going on.
His mysterious reply stopped Yun Jianyue from pursuing the matter further. To cultivators, many of their personal skills were life-saving measures. It was truly unwise to reveal them to outsiders.
She made a mental note to ask her disciple about this in the future, to see what she knew.
Zu An used his command token to disable the residence’s restrictions, then invited Yun Jianyue inside. “This is my residence, granted to me as a golden-token envoy. No one else should come here, so you can take your time to recuperate.”
He even deliberately stuck out his chest when he mentioned his golden token. He wanted to flaunt his status to impress her slightly, but she showed absolutely no interest.
“Thanks.” Yun Jianyue looked around. This place was indeed quite secluded. It was suitable enough to weather the storm in.
Seeing that she wasn’t playing along, Zu An’s interest faded as well. “By the way, how did you end up in the rock garden? That place is rather close to the emperor’s imperial study. Weren’t you afraid of being discovered?”
Yun Jianyue eased herself onto a chair. Even though she was seriously injured, she carried herself perfectly. Her posture was upright, elevating her chest and making her waist look slim. The lines of her body were exceptionally enchanting.
Her lips parted, a slight chill entering her voice. “The most dangerous place is often the safest. It was precisely because of its proximity to the imperial study that the guards would subconsciously overlook that area. That’s why I was able to use Mirror Mirage to hide my aura and escape their detection. Of course…”
She paused for a moment and said, “If the emperor really was in the palace, I wouldn’t have dared take such a risk.”
Zu An’s eyes lit up. He remembered the task the emperor had given him and quickly asked, “How did you know that the emperor wasn’t in the palace?”
Yun Jianyue looked at him impassively. She clearly wasn’t planning to reply.
Zu An didn’t expect the conversation to take such an abrupt turn. He tried his best to continue. “What if I give you some information in return? Weren’t you curious about how I avoided those guards’ detection?”
Yun Jianyue sneered mockingly. “No way. Those two pieces of information aren’t of equal value. Besides, I wouldn’t tell you even if you had something worth trading. I won’t sell that person out.”
Zu An was slightly disappointed by her firm expression. I guess I have to try something else.
“How did you meet Honglei?” asked Yun Jianyue suddenly, staring at the embroidered envoy in front of her curiously. She knew her own disciple inside-out. Although she was kind to everyone and put them at ease, she was actually an extremely proud and aloof woman, who would never let any man close to her. She only treated them as playthings.
Yet, her precious disciple had befriended this person, and even taught him her ‘Mirror Mirage’ skill. On the other hand, this man was willing to risk having nine generations of his clan eradicated just to save her. They were definitely close.
Zu An’s first instinct was to use this information as a bargaining chip, but he quickly dispelled this thought. This wasn’t something worth hiding, since she would find out once she asked Honglei. He might as well give it up to score some brownie points.
Once he earned enough of these brownie points, he would make her realize that he wasn’t some easy prostitute.
The most expensive things in the world were often the things given freely.
“We met in Brightmoon City.”
Yun Jianyue felt a jolt when she heard his reply. “You’re Zu An?”
Zu An was slightly astonished, and removed his mask. “I didn’t expect you to know about me.”
“Hmph, it would be odd if I didn’t know about you.” Yun Jianyue recalled an intelligence report that she had received. Qiu Honglei was going to marry into the Chu clan as a concubine! Back then, she thought that the girl had merely been trying to find an angle in a plot against the Chu clan.
During Zu An’s journey to the capital, however, Qiu Honglei showed Zu An mercy several times, which was noted by the Solitary Eight.
Add the most recent interaction to all of that, and it would be stranger if there wasn’t something brewing between them.
Zu An was about to say something when he heard Zhuxie Chixin’s voice. “Eleven, are you there?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter