The serene, tranquil Yuelu Villa was in a mess.
"Let's goooo!" Every beastkin—man, woman, and child—let out a thundering roar as they charged forward. Their days of being sold as slaves would finally be over! For their freedom, they were willing to give up their lives!
As weapons, they clutched the chains and manacles that were used to lock them up, as well as stones that they'd picked up along the way. The men surrounded the women and children in a circle, and they rushed behind the green sword aura toward the front gates of the Yuelu Villa.
"Stop them!" Every guard on duty was currently rushing toward the main entrance to the villa in an attempt to stop the masked demons and the rampaging beastmen following directly behind.
Li Mo spread his arms wide, raising a barrier infused with spiritual energy directly in front of him. With a great shove, the barrier began advancing toward the guards blocking the entrance.
"Argh!" Those guards who were hit by the barrier immediately flew out into the distance, screaming as they were launched away.
And when the barrier reached the tightly shut entrance, it smashed it into smithereens. Having dealt with the frontal obstacles, Li Mo steered his sword to the back, where some guards were launching attacks against the beastkin.
Because the beastkin's spiritual energy had been sealed, they were relying solely on brute strength and the simple, unadorned weapons in their hands. As a result, three beastkin men had been killed during the short skirmish alone. With the protective circle broken, some women and children were quickly caught by the guards.
"Try to run off, will you?" A guard dragged a woman off by her hair.
"Mother!" A beastkin child yelled out and pounced on the guard, biting deeply into his hand.
The guard let out a pained yowl as he kicked the child away.
"My child!" The mother screamed as she too leaped toward the guard with newfound strength, just like a mother wolf.
On guard after the child's sneak attack, the guard raised the sword in his hand and skewered the mother in midair, blood spraying his body and face.
"Damn these beasts..." The guard wiped the blood off his face and kicked the female beastkin's prone body off his sword. She fell to the ground, her eyes still directed at her child lying a distance away.
"Mother!" the child shouted breathlessly.
"Little pup, I'll send you to your mother right this moment." The guard lifted his sword as he walked up to the child, the blade gleaming with a cold chill.
Yun Ruoyan turned around just in time to catch this horrifying sight. Before she could think twice about her actions, she'd already summoned up the Feilai Blade. With a single gaze, a beam of light shot into the guard's neck, causing blood to spurt like a fountain from his neck.
With his arm as a sword, Li Mo shot out bursts of spiritual energy and killed three or four guards in a single blow. Only with Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan's assistance were the beastkin able to continue running, and they successfully escaped through the front doors in the direction that Li Mo had pointed out earlier.
Su Nan was waiting on a side path with about seven or eight carriages in tow. When he heard the frenzied rushing and shouting coming from afar, he raised a torch in the air and revolved it around in a circle. This was the signal that they had decided on earlier. When the beastkin saw that torch, they rushed even more madly toward their one chance at salvation.
In order to give the beastkin more time to escape, Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan stalled by the main entrance to the villa. Some of the guards had sufficiently advanced a cultivation to avoid the Feilai Blade. Unfortunately for them, however, they had encountered Li Mo. After dealing with two eighth-rank guard captains, the remaining guards finally gave up on giving chase to the beastkin.
"Who are you? Daring to break into the Yuelu Villa and making a big ruckus...!" one of the guards at the very front shouted.
Yun Ruoyan didn't respond. Instead, Li Mo turned to glance at Yun Ruoyan as he shouted in a deep, hoarse voice, "We're the Demonic Duo!"
"The Demonic Duo?!" the guard repeated this unfamiliar name, his heart pounding. Neither of the demons in front of him were easy to deal with, and the male demon had a frighteningly advanced level of cultivation.
Although the Yuelu Villa represented one of the largest powers on the Chenyuan continent, there were still quite a number of cultivators hostile against it. However, very few of them possessed such inordinate strength.
Who could they have been? What were their goals for invading the Yuelu Villa?
"Tell Dong Tiehe to stop trafficking beastkin, or the Demonic Duo will continue their rampage!" Li Mo exclaimed.
Four years ago, Li Mo had advised Li Xiu to ban any further persecution of beastkin, a suggestion that Li Xiu had adopted. This included prohibiting the sale and export of beastkin as slaves.
As a result, no matter what people privately thought of beastkin within the Li kingdom, they wouldn't make any overt gestures against them. In the other three kingdoms, however, beastkin continued suffering from horrendous discrimination, and enslaving and trafficking beastkin was still permitted by law.
In order to satisfy the demands and desires of their guests, the Yuelu Villa had begun exporting beastkin slaves from the other three kingdoms for trade and underground dueling. They had ordered a large quantity of slaves, almost a thousand beastkin men, women, and children in all.
Because of the quantity, the slaves were sent in various batches. When Li Mo found out about this, he'd dispatched his black-clan guards to investigate the matter, and had saved almost eight hundred slaves by intercepting their transport on the road.
These twenty beastkin slaves still in the Yuelu Villa were those that Li Mo's men had failed to locate in time, or which had escaped from their attack. Li Mo's men could easily have arranged for their breakout, but their master had wanted to lead it himself—and bring Yun Ruoyan along for the ride.
When he heard Li Mo's words, the guard asked in shock, "Were you the ones who spirited the beastkin slaves away in the past, too? Don't you know what happens to those who oppose the Yuelu Villa?!"
Li Mo sneered. "Oh, I'll let that old geezer Dong Tiehe know what happens to those who oppose my command!" The two masked demons flew away.
Meanwhile, Su Nan led the procession of carriages forward, eight of them rushing quickly down a path composed of side roads. His role was to drive the carriages to the Fengchao Peak before daybreak, at which time the beastkin would be led away via special, hidden routes throughout the continent.
"Uncle!" Suddenly, a little head poked out of the window of the carriage right behind Su Nan, who turned around to see the face of an eight-year-old boy. Because he was thin and emaciated, his unusually large, bright eyes looked even larger. His face was smeared with blood, and his gaze was flecked with fear and unease.
"What's the matter, lad?" Su Nan tried to make his tone as warm as possible. "There's food in the carriages, so feel free to eat something."
He had had food prepared and left in each carriage, but the boy and his fellow companions had refrained from eating out of prudence. In the Yue kingdom, he and his mother had been caught as slaves because they had eaten a drugged pancake handed to them by a slave peddler.
"Uncle, where are you bringing us?" the child asked cautiously. Although he was young, his experiences as a slave had filled him with fear of the unknown.
Clearly discerning the fear in the boy's voice, Su Nan spoke even more gently as he replied, "I'll bring you to a place where you can be free, without discrimination or maltreatment—the beastkin's new homeland."
"Homeland?" That was a term he'd only heard in his mother's musings. His mother had told him that their homeland was at the foot of the Yueli Mountains, where large fields of fiery-red wuye flowers grew.
But now his mother was dead.
"But Mother told me that our homeland had been destroyed! That we'll never be able to return..." the boy's voice was laced with hopelessness.
"We can always rebuild!" Su Nan replied resolutely. "As long as we beastkin still live, our homeland can likewise be reborn!"
"Uncle, your eyes!" the child looked at Su Nan in shock. "Your eyes look like mine! Are you a beastkin too?"
Su Nan's dull, human-like eyes were currently glowing brightly.
"Yes, I'm as much a beastkin as you are!" Su Nan turned back to the front as he whipped his horse, driving the procession of carriages even more quickly.
Li Mo flew in the air above the procession, safeguarding them until they entered the Fengchao Peak. There, the terrain was so complicated that it would stymie anyone from following their trail. Given their prior arrangements, the beastkin would certainly be safe upon arriving at the peak.
By the time the beastkin were safely at the peak, it was daybreak. Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan flew back to the capital facing the rising sun, which slowly rose from the horizon ahead of them. This was their second sunrise together.
Their first sunrise together was at the top of a tower in Kongming Academy. Compared to her overwhelming emotions that first time, Yun Ruoyan’s feelings were now far more turbid.
In her past life, Pei Ziao and Yi Qianying had schemed against her, breaking her family apart and ruining her life. She had always thought herself unfortunate, and much of her attention in this life had been in planning her vengeance against the duo that had orchestrated her downfall.
But her experience last night had acquainted her with true tragedy. What the beastkin suffered from was endemic to their race, a remnant of history that none of their struggles would be able to overcome. Their discrimination and slavery in the hands of humans was utterly unreasonable.
Yun Ruoyan reflected on her own downfall in her past life. The reason she’d ended up in that miserable, wretched state was due to her own inaction, and could be ascribed to punishment from the heavens for her foolish weakness.
And yet, despite all her mistakes, the heavens had seen fit to grant her another chance at life. Yun Ruoyan’s plan had been to strengthen herself until she could take revenge on those who had hurt her in her past life.
But what if the heavens had granted her this boon for motives beyond her own revenge?Previous Chapter Next Chapter