Yun Ruoyan dove back into the water. Because it was night, she couldn’t see far into the depths, and Li Mo’s body was nowhere to be found.
She wanted to dive to the bottom of the lake to search for Li Mo, but her dress produced a considerable amount of drag. In her rush, she floated back up to the surface, tore off her dress, took a deep breath, and dove back in again.
This time, she successfully swam all the way to the bottom of the lake, where she finally saw and rushed toward the man in silver.
Li Mo seemed to be lying peacefully on the lake floor. In a short amount of time, a large number of strange fish had gathered around his body. Yun Ruoyan couldn’t see what exactly the fish looked like, but each dark shape was easily thrice the size of a regular fish.
Yun Ruoyan wanted to approach Li Mo, but the swarm of fish actually attacked her. Having no other recourse, she pulled out a dagger from her leg and waved it at the fish. After finally dispersing the swarm, she began to drag Li Mo back to the surface.
But the fish weren’t so easily dealt with. Although they didn’t attack Yun Ruoyan or Li Mo, they surrounded them and stopped them from moving further. One of the fish even bit on Yun Ruoyan’s dagger, fighting to take it from her.
With only a few lungfuls of air left, Yun Ruoyan couldn’t muster up the strength to grab hold of the dagger, and the fish actually managed to snatch it from her. The tussle had drained the last of her oxygen. Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help opening her mouth; as she did so, water rushed into her body and her head began to spin.
Just then, Li Mo suddenly opened his eyes. His cold blue eyes shone like gems, exuding a power that repelled the fish far more effectively than Yun Ruoyan had been able to.
With a last-ditch effort, Yun Ruoyan actually managed to swim back to the surface with Li Mo in tow. As she broke the surface, she gasped and took in large mouthfuls of air as she dragged Li Mo to shore.
When they were finally back on land, she was so tired that she just lay on the shore, gasping and coughing. Life as a regular human without spiritual energy was far harsher than she remembered.
After finally recovering a little strength, Yun Ruoyan turned to check on Li Mo. His face was serene, his breathing regular, as if he were simply asleep. When she confirmed that his vitals seemed to be fine, Yun Ruoyan lay back down.
After resting for a longer period, she mustered her strength to pull Li Mo further up the lakeshore.
“You’re really heavy, you know?!” Yun Ruoyan began huffing after just two steps, and it took a whole fifteen minutes before she finally dragged his dense body to a flat, dry, and relatively covered location.
By that time, Yun Ruoyan was damp all over and both hungry and tired. Although it was a summer night, she still felt chilled to the bone. She forced herself to stagger upright and look all around her. The area surrounding the lake was a rather wide expanse, and there wasn’t a forest nearby.
That meant that the two of them were free from demons and beastkin for the moment. With this thought, Yun Ruoyan relaxed, hugging her knees as she sat by Li Mo’s side. Exhaustion from the day’s travails instantly overcame her. Yun Ruoyan’s body slanted as she fell right asleep on Li Mo’s body.
Su Bei, along with a troop of black-clad guards, began their search for Li Mo westward of the Yun manor. At daybreak, they finally found Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan.
By that time, Li Mo had just woken up, but Yun Ruoyan was still deep asleep. She was wearing only a thin layer of clothes, which were still damp. Over the course of the night, her body’s temperature had only kept dropping, and she was icy cold all over. Li Mo sat up embracing her.
A silvery-white Li Mo sat by a patch of dry ground, a girl in his arms. As dawn broke, light drenched the couple in a golden tinge.
This was how Su Bei found Li Mo.
“Your Highness, I apologize for our tardiness.” The group of seven or eight black-clad guards stood far in the distance; Su Bei rushed forth and knelt in front of Li Mo.
“You’re not late,” Li Mo said, his tone actually somewhat mirthful—a rare sight for Su Bei, who was used to his master’s icy demeanor.
Su Bei couldn’t help but raise his head, finding the barest traces of a smile on his master’s face. He didn’t know what had happened to make his master so happy, but it surely had something to do with the girl.
“Your Highness, is this the second daughter of the Yun family?” Su Bei asked.
Li Mo nodded.
“Has she seen your true appearance?”
He nodded once more.
With some hesitation, Su Bei continued, “According to the usual rules, anyone who’s seen your true appearance is to be killed, Your Highness. How shall we deal with this Miss Yun?”
Li Mo turned to the sun, which had barely peeked over the horizon. “As long as she doesn’t abandon me, I won’t kill her. Bring her back to the manor and take care of her.”
After sleeping for what seemed like forever, Yun Ruoyan finally woke up. She didn’t want to open her eyes; she was lying on what seemed like soft down, so comfortable that she didn’t want to wake up.
Just then, a pair of eyes appeared in Yun Ruoyan’s mind: a pair of icy-cold eyes staring straight at her.
Yun Ruoyan jerked up in fright.
What she saw as she opened her eyes were purple veils all around her, and a soft, comfortable mattress underneath her body. There was birdsong coming in from the windows streaming with light, and it seemed to be early morning.
Yun Ruoyan glanced all around her. This was a strange, unfamiliar room, richly decorated though it was. Just like her bedroom, this room was divided into two segments comprising an inner chamber and an outer room, separated by a red curtain.
Where was this? Where was Li Mo? Yun Ruoyan was just about to pull off her blankets and get off the bed when she found that she was only dressed in her undergarments. A severe frown on her face, she covered herself up with the blanket once more.
“Li Mo, are you there? Is anyone present?” Yun Ruoyan tried to call for help.
With a groan, the outer door opened and an unfamiliar girl walked in.
“Miss, you’re up!” the girl greeted Yun Ruoyan before placing the bundle of pale green clothes in her arms, along with a similarly colored gauze patch, by her bedside table.
She was seventeen or eighteen, fair and graceful, a beauty in her own right. Dressed in a sky-blue muslin dress, she had put on neither makeup nor accessories. She didn’t look like a young miss or madam, but neither did she have the bearing of a servant.
When the girl saw Yun Ruoyan’s confused expression, she smiled. “Miss, your clothes were all damp, so I helped you out of them.”
When Yun Ruoyan heard these words, she finally relaxed. “Sister, who are you? And where am I?” She still had no clue where she was, but the other party seemed polite enough.
“This is the Slaughtering King’s manor,” the girl responded. “My name is Li Luo, and the Slaughtering King sent me over to take care of you, Miss.”
“The Slaughtering King’s manor?”
“That’s right, Miss,” Li Luo smiled. “These are the clothes that His Highness bade me prepare for you. Please see if they’ll fit.”
“Where’s Li Mo? He seemed to have suffered a rather severe injury. Is he still alright?” When Yun Ruoyan asked this question, she subconsciously touched her own neck. Li Mo had attempted to strangle her quite fiercely, and she didn’t know if there were still any remnant bruises.
“That’s indeed the case, Miss.” Li Luo nodded and continued, “But he should be fine after a period of rest and recuperation.”
Yun Ruoyan felt as if a burden had left her body when she was told that Li Mo would recover, a curious sensation—given how vicious he was to her, shouldn’t she be happier if something were to happen to him?
But not only did Yun Ruoyan choose to save Li Mo, she even seemed to care for him subconsciously.
The only explanation she could come up with was that, after all, he was her savior and benefactor. If he hadn’t rushed to save her from the centipede spirit, this entire fiasco would never have happened. Right, he saved my life, and then I saved his. We’re even!
As she put on the clothes that Li Luo had prepared, she turned to the mirror by the dressing table. Although she had prepared herself mentally, she was still shocked when she saw her appearance.
Yesterday’s ordeals had certainly taken a toll on her, but what caught her eye immediately were the large, red scratches on her right cheek, no less frightening than her birthmark.
When Yun Ruoyan thought back to what had happened, it was clear that those were her own scratches from when the poison had left her insensate.
“This is from His Highness, Miss.” Li Luo put a white porcelain bottle on the dressing table by her side. “Although your wounds aren’t minor, if you keep applying this salve, you won’t end up with a scar.”
Yun Ruoyan picked up the bottle and sniffed its contents lightly—it was the familiar fragrance of fish oil and snow lotus honey. Without a doubt, this was the salve that Li Mo had previously prepared for her.
She had long since used up the two bottles that Li Mo had left by her table once upon a time. Only when Li Luo brought this bottle out did she remember that she still owed Li Mo for all his concoctions. This fact allowed her to shore up her rationalization for saving Li Mo further.
As expected, Yun Ruoyan also had a few tender bruises on her neck. Luckily, the clothes that Li Luo had prepared were high-collared, and she could easily hide her neck from plain sight.
After washing up, Li Luo informed Yun Ruoyan that someone wanted to see her, so she followed her out into a garden. In the garden was a pavilion, and a black-robed man was sitting inside. Li Luo bowed toward Yun Ruoyan before departing, leaving her alone with the man.
Yun Ruoyan walked toward the pavilion. Hearing her footsteps, the man turned around, revealing himself to be none other than the third prince, Li Qianhan.
“Are you feeling better?” He smiled as he gestured at her.
“Still alive, at the very least!” Yun Ruoyan sat right opposite him. On the table were green bean pastries, lotus cake, biscuits with phoenix-orchid filling, and a white tureen.
Yun Ruoyan eyed the snacks greedily and tucked in, a pastry in her left hand and a slice of cake in her right. She took turns eating from both hands, completely disregarding her image as the wife-born daughter of a noble family.
“Your style of eating…” Li Qianhan shook his head as he laughed, before uncovering the white bowl and scooping a bowl of white fungus soup for Yun Ruoyan. “Eat more slowly—you don’t want to choke, do you?”
Yun Ruoyan took the proffered bowl of soup and began gulping it down immediately. It was clear and sweet, neither too cold nor too warm, and left a refreshing aftertaste behind.
“I bet you like meat, but Uncle wouldn’t let you have any,” Li Qianhan continued. “But you seem happy enough with what’s available, so…”
Yun Ruoyan didn’t expect that Li Mo would be such a thoughtful man, but she didn’t believe that he would be providing for her unconditionally. “Does he have any requests for me?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter