Li Qianhan nodded. “He wants you to keep his secret to himself, otherwise…”
“Don’t worry, I have no interest in revealing others’ secrets.” Yun Ruoyan broke Li Qianhan off. Although she was still very curious as to Li Mo’s identity and even wanted to ask Li Qianhan about it, she chose to ignore the mystery.
Who cared if Li Mo was man or beast? Regardless of whether he was the Slaughtering King or the Beast King, what did that have to do with her, Yun Ruoyan? She was a simple girl. She had no interest in courtly intrigue or secrets beyond her ken—all she cared about was getting stronger, and others’ affairs didn’t concern her at all!
“I hope you’ll remember your promise. If there comes a day when you speak of this secret to anyone, both you and that person will surely die,” Li Qianhan replied gravely.
Li Qianhan wasn’t a grave man, so the fact that he spoke with such solemnity emphasized the importance of the matter.
Before Li Qianhan could continue, Yun Ruoyan swore to the high heavens of her own accord, and he nodded in satisfaction.
“Also, because you saved him last night, Uncle’s granting you a favor—anything he can do, he will. Don’t you dare refuse this! The Slaughtering King’s promises are priceless.” Li Qianhan emphasized this latter point because Yun Ruoyan had once refused Li Mo’s pills in the past, but the reason she had done so was because she wasn’t aware of his identity or motives.
Now, Yun Ruoyan certainly wouldn’t refuse such a tempting offer. In fact, she did have something she needed his help with. “Yun Moxiao is my brother. I’d like the Slaughtering King to keep him safe for three years.”
“I’ll let him know on your behalf,” Li Qianhan affirmed.
After a satisfying meal, and with her brother’s safety guaranteed, Yun Ruoyan was sent home by Li Qianhan himself.
In a hidden chamber in the Slaughtering King’s manor, Li Mo was sitting cross-legged while he mediated.
Su Bei and Li Luo entered his chambers to give him their respective reports. Su Bei began, “Your Highness, Miss Yun has been sent home by the third prince.”
“Is she alright?” Li Mo’s eyes were still closed.
Li Luo replied, “Miss Yun is in good health, but her mental energy was rather severely damaged by the poison. With the antidote, she should recover in due time without any permanent impact.”
Li Mo nodded, and Su Bei and Li Luo left his chambers together.
“The master seems to be particularly interested in this young miss,” Li Luo commented.
Su Bei turned to her and replied expressionlessly, “As subordinates, we need only perform our duties as the master requests. Do not attempt to guess his intentions, Li Luo.”
Li Luo lowered her head.
At exactly ten in the morning, Li Qianhan’s carriage arrived by the Yun manor.
“The second miss’s back, she’s back!” When the servant guarding the door saw Yun Ruoyan get out of the carriage, he hurriedly ran into the manor and shouted. Yun Ruoyan wasn’t used to the commotion; when had the Yuns begun caring so much about her?
Li Qianhan offered to send Yun Ruoyan inside, and she didn’t refuse. Just as the two of them were about to step into the manor, hoofsteps rang out from the roadside.
From how loud it was, there had to be at least ten horses rapidly approaching them. By the time Yun Ruoyan turned to the source of the noise, the horses had arrived at the entrance of the manor.
Yun Ruoyan instantaneously recognized the man riding on the flaming steed at the very front. Yun Moxiao was decked in red, a cape billowing behind him. After long years of separation, the siblings finally reunited once more.
“Brother!” Yun Ruoyan called out.
Yun Moxiao didn’t immediately recognize his sister. The girl in front of him was dressed in a pale green gown. With the wind blowing at her back, she appeared graceful in the extreme. Her lush black hair was styled simply, and she wore a gauze patch on her face of the same color as her dress.
“Brother, I’m Ruoyan!” Yun Ruoyan began walking quickly toward him.
“You’re… Ruoyan?” Yun Moxiao finally recognized his sister’s appearance as he leaped off the horse and walked toward her.
“Brother, you’ve finally returned!”
“Ruoyan, I’m back!”
The siblings stood looking at each other, Yun Ruoyan so happy her eyes were brimming with tears, and even Yun Moxiao’s eyes were turning red.
Compared to the last time she’d seen him, Yun Moxiao was even more mature and imposing than before, but his features had remained the same. That was how Yun Ruoyan was able to pick him out at a single glance.
On the other hand, Yun Ruoyan’s changes were far more dramatic. Not only had she grown taller, her aura had completely transformed.
Yun Moxiao remembered his sister as a timid and rather depressed girl. Even when she smiled, her smile was tenuous and forced, as if she were hiding a darker undercurrent of emotion underneath. “Ruoyan, you’ve changed. You’ve grown more and more beautiful.” Yun Moxiao reached out and helped pat down his sister’s hair, which had come loose in the wind.
“Brother, why haven’t you changed? You’re still as dashing as ever.” Yun Ruoyan stood on tiptoe as she patted Yun Moxiao’s shoulders.
The siblings gazed at each other as they broke out in laughter, which spread all the way to the interior of the manor.
“Well, I won’t impose on you any longer.” Li Qianhan smiled. He’d been worried that Yun Ruoyan would be criticized upon her return to the manor, so he’d wanted to explain the situation to Yun Lan himself. Now that Yun Moxiao was here, however, surely no one would dare to pick on her.
His long years stationed at the army barracks meant that Yun Moxiao was unfamiliar with the third prince. Only when Yun Ruoyan introduced them to each other did he hurriedly bow in greeting.
Li Qianhan smiled politely, exchanged a few pleasantries with him, before turning to leave.
“Young Master, Young Miss, please come in.” Housekeeper Wu walked out from the manor and rushed the two siblings along. “The old madam and master are waiting for you in the great hall.”
The two siblings chatted as they walked inside the manor.
Yun Moxiao told Yun Ruoyan that he’d arrived at the manor last night. When he heard that Yun Ruoyan had been captured by a demon, however, he rushed to the west with a few trusted guards immediately, not resting for even a moment despite the long, harrowing journey.
“We went all the way till dawn, to the forest of dead souls,” Yun Moxiao continued. “I guessed that you were likely abducted into the forest and was just about to enter when the forest suddenly began to blaze. There was no wind, but the fire spread incredibly quickly. Soon, the entire forest was alight.”
When Yun Ruoyan heard her brother’s recounting of the event, she was immediately certain that Li Mo had sent someone to burn up the forest. The hundreds of demons and creatures within had clearly seen Li Mo’s true appearance, and they’d all been killed as a result.
It seemed as though Yun Ruoyan truly was the only one who had been spared from death.
She couldn’t help but feel a little shocked. Knowing that that was the policy was one thing, but hearing about what had happened to the unlucky observers was another affair entirely.
“Ruoyan, quick, let me see if you’re alright!” the Yun matriarch spoke from quite a distance away.
Yun Ruoyan walked into the hall and hurriedly approached her grandmother. “Grandmother, I’m safe. The Slaughtering King saved me.”
When Yun Lan saw that his daughter was safe and sound, he too let out a long breath. “Yan’er, do you know where the Slaughtering King is? Since he saved you, it’s only natural that we should pay him a visit and express our gratitude.”
“The Slaughtering King was injured after fighting with the demon, and he’s currently recuperating. Now’s not an opportune time, Father,” Yun Ruoyan replied, before turning to the side and meeting Madam An, Yun Ruoyao, and Yun Ruoyu’s gazes.
When the three of them saw Yun Ruoyan safe and sound, they revealed identical expressions of shock and consternation on their face. They quickly looked away, trying to hide the growing unease in their hearts.
Yun Ruoyan stepped up to Madam An. “Mother, why are you still sitting here?”
Yun Ruoyan’s sudden question startled everyone present.
“Ruoyan, I’m so glad you’re alright. We didn’t hear from you for an entire day and night, and I was worried sick!” Madam An responded without blushing.
Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help but be impressed at Madam An’s acting ability. “Mother, have you forgotten what caused me to be abducted by that demon in the first place?”
“Sister Ruoyan, Mother was also tricked by that Daoist!” Yun Ruoyao defended Madam An. “She was only trying to help restore peace to the family. Surely you can’t blame her?”
Yun Ruoyan scoffed. Did they think her suffering would be washed away with a few simple words? Did they really think that she would be satisfied with excuses like “I was tricked,” or “I did it for the family’s greater good”?
“Father, I have a question for Mother.” Before Yun Ruoyan could speak up, Yun Moxiao interrupted. “Yesterday, I heard people claim that Madam An invited the demon who snatched Ruoyan away. Mother even claimed that Ruoyan was a demon during Grandmother’s birthday banquet, but it’s now evident that that was a lie. Mother, don’t you think you should take responsibility for your own actions?”
Having been stationed by an army barracks for years, Yun Moxiao’s actions and speech were unwaveringly direct.
“Mother onl—” Yun Ruoyao wanted to continue defending Madam An, but Yun Moxiao snorted. “I’m talking to Mother, not you. Be quiet.”
After hemming and hawing for an uncomfortably long moment, Madam An finally replied, “Ruoyan, this was truly my fault. I apologize to you for my thoughtless actions, Ruoyan.”
“Mother, you framed me and tried to publicly humiliate me in front of the entire Yun family. I can’t accept your apology.”
The Yun matriarch looked worriedly at her granddaughter. Although Madam An was indeed at fault, she was still in charge of the family. It wouldn’t be appropriate to punish her harshly, and the Yun matriarch had indeed forced her to reflect on her errors by kneeling in the ancestral hall for the entire night. She hadn’t expected that Yun Ruoyan had suffered so much that she wasn’t willing to let the matter drop so easily.
“Ruoyan, Grandmother has already punished me for my wrongdoing.” Madam An was still hoping to smooth things over. “You must have suffered after being out for the entire day and night, so why don’t you go rest in your rooms?”
“Grandmother,” Yun Ruoyan suddenly exclaimed, “everyone knows that Mother didn’t make a mistake! She’s made mistakes like this countless times now, and I’ve suffered and suffered all the more for it. If I just keep letting her do as she wishes, she’ll only keep hurting me, so I won’t give in! Grandmother, are you just going to let this slide once more?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter