The black bear’s burgeoning growth quickly filled the entirety of the tree hollow.
“Stop, stop!” the wild boar and weasel shouted at the top of their lungs, “If you keep growing, the old tree’s going to collapse!”
But the black bear didn’t care. As he grew, his nose became larger, his sense of smell far more pronounced. He continued sniffing during this transformation and began to salivate as he did so.
“So fragrant…” The black bear’s eyes gleamed with greed as he lowered his head toward Li Mo. “Little fox, who’s that behind you? Why does she smell so good?”
The black bear pounced and opened its jaws wide as it rushed toward Li Mo.
Li Mo stomped on the bear’s chest with such force that its gigantic body began flying away. The tree spirit quickly widened the entrance to its hollow, and the black bear was launched back out into the forest.
“You’re asking for death!” Li Mo shouted in an icy-cold tone.
Behind him, Yun Ruoyan could see his yellow robe and red hair suddenly turn silver. An unbelievably strong aura began emanating from Li Mo’s entire body.
The black bear’s body broke countless trees before all the force dissipated, and then it fell to the ground with a low, resounding thud. The commotion seemed to make the whole forest shake for a moment.
The wild boar and weasel were both dazed as they looked at Li Mo. He turned slightly, sweeping over them with cold blue eyes. The two beastkin felt their legs go numb as they knelt down, trembling all over.
Even Yun Ruoyan, standing behind Li Mo, was staring at the scene in shock. No matter her mental fortitude, it would be hard to digest her shock at seeing Li Mo’s transformation and sudden release of aura.
He turned around, his gaze finally landing on Yun Ruoyan. She met his icy gaze, his charming, otherworldly face.
This face was both strange and familiar to Yun Ruoyan. In her mind’s eye flashed a pair of blue eyes that would often appear in her dreams. They were equally cold, and they had silently gazed at her with an icy aura for many a long night.
“Was it you?”
“What?” Li Mo raised his silvered brows. “Who?”
“The man at the pond the day of the flower-viewing party. Was it you?”
Li Mo’s smile vanished. This damned woman still remembered what happened?!
He’d initially thought that Yun Ruoyan would have forgotten about the entire episode after she had recovered from the aphrodisiac, but…
Li Mo had never had a more wretched night. It was rare enough that he would feel interested in a woman, let alone be discarded by that same woman at a most inopportune period, then left floating on the pond, alone, for what seemed like an eternity.
He didn’t want anyone to know about that wretched moment, especially not Yun Ruoyan.
“No!” Li Mo replied coldly.
Yun Ruoyan opened her mouth, ready to ask another question, when Li Mo stopped her. “I’m still hurt, so I can’t maintain this form for long. We have to leave.”
He grabbed her arm and dragged her out of the hollow. They’d only talked for moments, but there had to be over a hundred beastkin gathered by the forest. Within the darkness of the night were countless pairs of glowing eyes.
Except for beastkin, there were also will-o’-the-wisps floating all around them.
“Who are you?” the black bear spoke up. Li Mo didn’t answer his question, and the black bear continued persistently. “Why do you smell like the Beast King? Who are you?”
“Scram!” Li Mo shouted coldly. “If you don’t want to die, get out of my way!”
Because of Li Mo’s aura, none of the spirits or demons dared approach, but they weren’t retreating either.
They all seemed to listen to the black bear. If he didn’t command them, none of them would move. However, the black bear stood in front of Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan, blocking their way like a sturdy brick wall.
Li Mo let out a dragon’s roar with a majesty that cowed all present.
Amidst the roar, the black bear slowly stepped back before kneeling down, and the other beasts all around them followed suit.
“Long live his majesty, the Beast King!” the black bear shouted emotionally, as did the crowd mere moments later. They repeated the gesture, more and more beasts gathering amidst the commotion, as if night had turned to day.
Yun Ruoyan grew more and more shocked, the mysteries that plagued Li Mo rearing their head and momentarily leaving her befuddled.
“Go.” Li Mo’s voice suddenly rang out by her ear, and then Yun Ruoyan found herself floating in the skies in Li Mo’s embrace.
“Beast King, don’t go!”
“Beast King, we’ll forever serve you!”
“Come back, Beast King!”
With a green sword aura underfoot, the two of them swiftly soared into the skies, leaving the anguished, excited cries of the beastkin behind.
Li Mo directed the sword aura straight toward the capital to the east.
Outside the forest of dead souls, they could finally see the moon once more. A strand of silver hair blew by Yun Ruoyan’s face, seemingly emanating a cold chill.
Yun Ruoyan grabbed the strand of hair. “Who are you?”
“The Slaughtering King, Li Mo.”
“Do you have another identity?”
Li Mo didn’t reply, clearly not wanting to answer this question.
“Truly, who are you?” Yun Ruoyan’s boundless curiosity demanded that she speak.
Li Mo finally murmured, “On the Chenyuan continent, anyone who knows my true identity has died, as have all those who have seen my true appearance. Your life is forfeit.”
As he spoke, a cold hand slowly tightened around Yun Ruoyan’s neck. His tightening grip made Yun Ruoyan feel as if she would suffocate.
“You… won’t kill me.”
“I won’t kill you?” Li Mo’s clear voice seemed on the verge of laughter, but Yun Ruoyan couldn’t identify what that signified. It was partially mocking, but there was something more nuanced.
“Why are you so confident?” Li Mo began to laugh.
Why? Surely it wasn’t because Yun Ruoyan was beautiful. “You… you spent so much effort… in order to save me, so… you naturally won’t… kill me.”
That hand continued tightening around her neck, just like a noose.
“Haven’t you ever heard that I’m a person who acts on my whims? I can kill you as easily as I can save you, and it all depends on my moods.”
Yun Ruoyan’s sight had gone blurry. The bright, clear moon slowly seemed to go dim.
No, no! Am I going to die like this?! With those last thoughts, Yun Ruoyan finally shut her eyes. But, at that exact moment, her world suddenly shook. The green sword aura began to shake and waver, as if Li Mo had lost control of it. His hand slid away from her neck, losing its grip, quickly followed by his entire body.
Yun Ruoyan didn’t know whether she should consider herself lucky that Li Mo fainted at this moment. Without his direction, the green sword aura returned to Li Mo’s body as a beam of green light. He hugged Yun Ruoyan tightly as they began falling once more.
At this height, without any sort of buffer, neither of them would survive. At least she had a cushion…? The whistling wind rushed by her ears as Yun Ruoyan screwed her eyes shut tightly, subconsciously holding onto Li Mo more tightly as she settled in.
Just as Yun Ruoyan thought herself dead, the two of them landed in a pool of water with a big splash.
Shocked and unprepared, water filled Yun Ruoyan’s mouth and nostrils, causing her to choke. With Li Mo binding her arms and legs, she couldn’t break free, and the two of them began to sink into the depths.
After gulping down a few mouthfuls of water, Yun Ruoyan finally understood that she was not, in fact, about to die. She quickly calmed down, began holding her breath, and tried to drag Li Mo’s arm away from her body.
Just as she was about to give up, she finally broke free. Before pushing Li Mo away, she turned back around to him.
In the dark water, Li Mo’s long, silvery hair and robe fluttered around his body, as if he were a slumbering silver dragon who would wake at any moment.
A pain in her chest left Yun Ruoyan with no choice but to head to the surface, paddling with her feet. At the same time, Li Mo’s body sank down and down.
When she finally broke the surface of the water, Yun Ruoyan took a few gulps of fresh, cold air to assuage her aching lungs and half-choked throat and neck. Once she felt a little better, she looked all around her. Aside from her, the surface of the lake was still. About seventy or eighty feet away was a patch of black, likely the shore.
Yun Ruoyan began swimming for the shore, but not two strokes later, she stopped again. She couldn’t help but think back to Li Mo’s voice from earlier in the night.
“Don’t worry… with me around, you don’t have to fear anything.”
Despite her two lives, this was the first time that anyone had comforted Yun Ruoyan while she was feeling scared. With him around, she truly felt like she had nothing to fear.
Her brain told her that she shouldn’t try to save him; that if she did so, Li Mo would likely kill her. But her heart vehemently objected—Save him! Save him now, or you’ll regret it!
Groaning, Yun Ruoyan took a deep breath before diving back into the lake.Previous Chapter Next Chapter