"I..." Not expecting this sort of response from Li Mo, Yun Ruoyan stalled. "No, I'm not!" she hurriedly exclaimed, thinking that the man in front of her could really be quite unreasonable at times.
"Then why were you so bothered?" Li Mo was now questioning her, rather than the other way around.
After all, Zhuo Yifeng was an ally with whom she'd struggled through life and death. Yun Ruoyan didn't have many friends, so she was particularly concerned for those that she did have. This time, the only reason she hadn't fought alongside him was because his opponent was Li Mo. Otherwise, Yun Ruoyan would certainly have helped him out.
Of course, this was only part of the reason—the other part of the reason was that Zhuo Yifeng was so weak in comparison to Li Mo that Yun Ruoyan, who had been similarly disadvantaged in her youth, sympathized greatly with him.
Furthermore, Li Mo had killed his father and so many of his tribesmen. Even if it was under the guise of war, wasn't some sympathy for Zhuo Yifeng rightfully deserved?
Yun Ruoyan hadn't experienced a real battle, so she didn't understand how brutal and cruel war could be. Neither had Li Mo truly demonstrated his cruel side to her before. But Yun Ruoyan didn't want to reveal these emotions of hers to Li Mo, so she remained silent once more.
"Well, why aren't you talking?" Li Mo turned to her. "Do you think me cruel, and Zhuo Yifeng pitiful? Should I feel guilt about having my hands drenched in beastkin blood?"
Yun Ruoyan retreated under Li Mo's intent gaze.
"This is war. War, where one of two sides must perish. I've already been quite compassionate not to target the beastkin any further after that slaughter, don't you think?"
Yun Ruoyan knew in principle that Li Mo was right, but she couldn't accept this reality. She thought back to the description of that legendary slaughter: the Slaughtering King had commanded thirty thousand beastkin soldiers to be killed, dyeing the river bordering the Li kingdom red, releasing the iron tang of blood in such great quantities that the northern wind blew it all the way to the capital.
How could Li Mo have commanded such cruel slaughter? Wasn't morality important even in war?
Li Mo saw Yun Ruoyan's face turn red, as if she were ready to explode in anger. "I didn't hurt Zhuo Yifeng. He hurt himself with his attack."
"What do you mean?"
"As a ninth-rank blademaster, you can master a skill that subconsciously protects your body against a sneak attack by forming a barrier of spiritual energy all around you," Li Mo explained patiently. "And when any external force hits this barrier, that force will be reflected against the attacker as long as the barrier holds. In other words, because Zhuo Yifeng's cultivation is far lower than mine, the entirety of his attack was reflected. Indeed, the person who injured Zhuo Yifeng was none other than the person himself."
This was the first time that Yun Ruoyan had heard of such a miraculous skill, and she took some time to react to the revelation.
“You’ve maligned me, my little Yan’er,” Li Mo concluded.
“I… I’ve maligned you?”
Li Mo nodded.
“But you didn’t have to use that barrier skill, did you?” Yun Ruoyan continued.
“I came today for an urgent matter. Come daybreak, it won’t be possible any longer.” Li Mo ignored Yun Ruoyan’s question.
“What matter?” Yun Ruoyan replied hesitantly. Whenever Li Mo sought her out, she had always been embroiled in one conflict or another!
“To be a savior of the masses. Will you go?” Li Mo extended a hand to Li Mo.
When Yun Ruoyan once again soared up into the skies with Li Mo, she found that they were heading in the direction of the Yuelu Villa.
“You’re bringing me to Yuelu Villa?” Yun Ruoyan shouted against the wind’s bluster.
“To save whom?”
As they were about to reach the Yuelu Villa, Li Mo brought out two masks from his pocket dimension: one with the face of a green demon, and another with the face of a red demon.
Yun Ruoyan recognized these masks as representing a legendary pair of demons from folklore, the green-faced one the female of the pair, and the red-faced one the male. According to folklore, these two demons would infiltrate the homes of the wicked and consume their hearts in the middle of the night.
Li Mo handed Yun Ruoyan the green-faced demon mask.
“You’re not intending on bringing me to kill people, are you?” Although Yun Ruoyan didn’t enjoy killing, she would make an exception for the wicked.
“Yan’er, if you want to kill people, I won’t stop you,” Li Mo replied as he put on his mask.
Yun Ruoyan also put hers on.
Li Mo directed the sword toward a hidden part of the villa.
“Why aren’t we entering directly?”
“During nighttime, there’s a barrier surrounding the Yuelu Villa from above,” Li Mo explained. “Furthermore, after Li Luo and your brother saved someone from the duelling arena, the security around the area was increased. I certainly don’t want to be discovered without achieving anything of merit beforehand.”
Li Mo brought Yun Ruoyan to the high walls surrounding the villa. By the moonlight, she could see that they were about seventy or eighty feet high.
With her seventh-rank blademaster cultivation, she could only leap about forty feet into the air, so this was an insurmountable distance for her. The wall was slippery and unable to be climbed, so without swordflight, Yun Ruoyan had no idea how they could get over it.
“Get on.” Suddenly, Li Mo leaned down and motioned toward Yun Ruoyan.
“On my back, hurry!”
Yun Ruoyan hesitated for a moment before obeying.
“Hold on tight!” Li Mo stretched out his palms, each emitting the silvery glow characteristic of spiritual energy, before placing them on the slippery surface of the wall. Somehow, his palms stuck to the wall as if suctioned.
Yun Ruoyan knew of a martial art that allowed one’s body to stick onto a surface, and it was likely what Li Mo was using to scale the wall. She was incredulous that someone like Li Mo, the Slaughtering King himself, would actually stoop to such a thief-like method.
Actually, what Yun Ruoyan didn’t know was that Li Mo had undergone harsh, severe training in the army. Part of his training involved being a scout that would sneak into the enemy’s barracks to perform reconnaissance. As a result, scaling a wall was just a trivial matter to him.
They climbed up the wall in a matter of moments. The wall was naturally guarded, but Li Mo easily and silently dealt with him.
“Come over.” Li Mo motioned to Yun Ruoyan, who grabbed his hand as they jumped down into the villa from above.
Not only was the wall guarded, there were quite a few troops patrolling the villa. However, these troops were nothing to Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan, and it required only a small amount of effort to stay out of their grasp.
Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo dodged three such patrols and successfully entered one of the courtyards in the villa. This particular courtyard seemed rather desolate, and didn’t have the inlaid moonstones that other courtyards possessed. As a result, it was dark all over.
Luckily, both of them had enough spiritual energy to allow for night vision. Surprisingly, the yard contained not a single structure, but rather a large variety of trees, grasses, and fake mountains.
“Where are we?” Yun Ruoyan couldn’t resist asking.
“Shh!” Li Mo immediately shushed her before pulling her behind one of the mountains.
He walked around the mountain carefully and with a distinct rhythm, almost as if he were dancing. Yun Ruoyan knew that he was trying to overcome an array, just as he’d shown her the first time they’d entered the underground market.
When Li Mo stopped moving, Yun Ruoyan found to her surprise that the scenery all around them had shifted. They were situated in a barren space above which twenty or so iron cages hung. Some of the cages were empty, but others had men, women, and even children chained in them.
“Who are they?” Yun Ruoyan exclaimed in surprise. She’d heard that there was a slave trafficking business on the Chenyuan continent, but this was the first time she’d seen anything of the sort in person.
“They’re all beastkin that have been sold to the villa. The empty cages either contained beastkin that were sold or that had died within the duelling arena,” Li Mo explained. “We’re here to save them.”
After a moment of shocked silence, Yun Ruoyan calmed down. This was an unexpected affair, certainly, but she had known that he was somehow intimately connected to the beastkin.
“This is a key. Unlock the cages.”
Yun Ruoyan took over the key and began unlocking the cages one by one, and the sleeping beastkin became alert almost immediately. They were all very excited to know that someone was here to rescue them. The twenty beastkin all huddled up in a circle as they watched Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan.
“Be silent,” Li Mo murmured. “I’ll bring everyone out of this array before opening the doors to the villa. At that point, rush out together to the south. I’ve arranged for someone to pick you up.”
The crowd nodded. Li Mo stood in the middle of the crowd, extending his arms, as spiritual energy shone out of him with such intensity that Yun Ruoyan was blinded.
By the time the light vanished and Yun Ruoyan struggled her eyes open, she found that she was standing with the crowd in that surprisingly empty courtyard, with all the fake mountains around her smashed to pieces.
Li Mo had caused such a large commotion that the guards were aroused almost immediately.
“The beastkin are escaping!” someone yelled out.
“What’re you waiting for? Run!” Li Mo shouted, before pulling Yun Ruoyan and soaring into the skies, a green sword aura underfoot.
Li Mo waved a hand, and the guards blocking them from the front fell dead to the ground. The beastkin behind him roared as they charged, so ferocious that it seemed as if the entirety of the Yuelu Villa was trembling.Previous Chapter Next Chapter