“Savior, I can’t believe you’re actually Miss Yun’s brother!”
Li Luo turned and smiled at Yun Moxiao. “My senior brother was the only thing on my mind at the moment, and I left in such a hurry that I actually forgot to ask you where you were staying. He’s been asking about you all day long, wanting to repay you for helping save his life.”
“Please, Miss Li, it was no effort at all,” Yun Moxiao hurriedly exclaimed. “Don’t worry about it. Miss Li, you don’t have to call me Savior either.”
“That’s right, isn’t Savior too impersonal?” Yun Ruoyan interjected.
“Alright, Young Master Yun,” Li Luo smiled. “I’m sure my senior brother will be very happy to see you.”
As Yun Moxiao looked at Li Luo’s beautiful face, gentle smile, and slight sheen of sweat on her forehead, he felt a sudden, inexplicable joy.
“Brother!” Yun Ruoyan nudged her brother as soon as she noticed him staring at Li Luo in stupefaction.
Yun Moxiao’s smile didn’t disappear, but his gaze turned from Li Luo’s face to the stove in front of her. “How’s Brother Duan doing? I have some excellent salves for injuries, which I can bring over some other day.”
“Thank you, Young Master Yun.” Li Luo didn’t reject his goodwill. As she fanned the flames, she explained, “My senior brother’s external injuries are mostly healed by now, but he isn’t feeling very good about the loss of his arm.”
After she finished brewing the tonic, Li Luo motioned for Yun Ruoyan and Yun Moxiao to follow her into her senior brother’s chambers.
Duan Tianyun was staying in the guest room on the eastern wing of the Slaughtering King’s manor, not too far from the kitchen. Mere moments later, the three of them had arrived by the outside yard. Before they could enter, however, they heard the sound of porcelain shattering and a man's vigorous cursing.
None of the three of them knew what was going on, so they hurried into the yard. A row of guest rooms bordered the yard. The room in the middle was the only one with a door ajar, and the noise had come from within. Li Luo rushed into the room, quickly followed by Yun Ruoyan and Yun Moxiao.
"Senior brother, what are you doing?!" Li Luo screamed.
The room was a mess: cracked porcelain lined the floor, and in the center of a room was a tall, sturdy, one-armed man. That man was trying to pull apart the bandages on his stump of an arm, and fresh blood dripped from the wound.
“Senior brother, stop it!” Li Luo hurriedly put down the tray as she tried to stop him from mutilating himself. “Your wound’s just recovered, so what are you trying to do?”
“Scram! I don’t want your help!” Duan Tianyun thundered as he tried to push Li Luo away and continue tugging at his bandages.
“You’re my senior brother. Apart from me, who else would care for you?!” Li Luo was very upset, her tone equal parts furious and pleading.
But when she next tried to approach him, Duan Tianyun slapped Li Luo on the face. “Why didn’t you tell me you were working for the Slaughtering King as a servant?! Have you forgotten how our parents and master died? How could you bear to work for your enemy? Today, I swear I’ll teach you a lesson on behalf of our master!”
Duan Tianyun raised his hand again, but Yun Moxiao rushed up to stop him before he could slap Li Luo once more.
“Who are you? Scram!” Duan Tianyun howled at Yun Moxiao, but he suddenly stopped short upon seeing his face clearly.
Although Duan Tianyun had been severely wounded that day in the duelling arena, he was still able to recognize Yun Moxiao’s face.
“Right, it’s me!” Yun Moxiao’s gaze was sharp as he stared Duan Tianyun down. "Think about how much effort Miss Li had to spend to save you! No matter what, you shouldn't lay a hand on her!"
Succumbing to Yun Moxiao's glare, Duan Tianyun could only sigh deeply and lower his raised hand. A pregnant silence engulfed the room. Li Luo's face quickly swelled up, but she ignored the throbbing pain. Her head lowered, she walked to the table where she'd left the tray and poured Duan Tianyun a bowl of medicine.
"Senior brother, have some medicine," she began.
Duan Tianyun didn't look at her. "I won't have anything from this manor." He sighed again, and turned to Li Luo, his eyes lingering on the swollen half of her face. "Junior sister, I apologize. I shouldn't have struck you when it was my own inadequacy to protect you that caused you to end up where you are today."
He stood up with determination. "Luo'er, let's leave the Slaughtering King's manor immediately."
But Li Luo shook her head. "Senior brother, I'm not leaving."
"What?" Duan Tianyun looked disbelievingly at his junior.
Her eyes pained, Li Luo turned to her senior brother. "I can't leave the Slaughtering King's manor, because I've been sold to the Slaughtering King as his servant."
Duan Tianyun pointed at Li Luo with a trembling finger. Only after a long while did he finally grit out, "Alright, if you won't leave, then I'll go alone!"
He was just about to step out of the room when Yun Moxiao blocked his path.
Duan Tianyun raised his head. "Savior, I won't ever forget your gratitude. However, please don't try to block me from leaving. As a beastkin, there's no way I'm staying in this wretched place any longer!"
"Brother Duan, you misunderstand me. Rather than trying to prevent you from leaving, I'm more worried about your wound. In this state, it's quite likely that you'll pass out on the streets if your wound keeps on dripping blood. Coincidentally, two of my beastkin friends are sheltering in my grandfather's estate at the moment. If you don't mind, Brother Duan, would you like to stay there temporarily as well?"
Duan Tianyun looked at Yun Moxiao, then back at his wound. With another sigh, he nodded. "Thank you for your boundless generosity, savior."
Yun Moxiao turned to Li Luo, who smiled gratefully. He nodded at her and brought Duan Tianyun straight to the Lin estate with him, while Yun Ruoyan stayed behind to accompany Li Luo.
In Li Luo’s rooms, Yun Ruoyan helped wipe dab at Li Luo’s swollen cheek with cold water in order to mitigate the swelling. “Your senior brother’s really quite fierce.”
“It is my fault, after all,” Li Luo responded dejectedly.
Yun Ruoyan’s hand stilled. “Sister Li Luo, I can tell that your senior brother’s a beastkin, but why can’t I tell that you’re one too? Are you a beastkin?”
Beastkin could be identified by their astonishingly bright eyes, like the Zhuo siblings and Duan Tianyun’s, but Li Luo’s eyes looked no different from those of a regular human. That was why Yun Ruoyan and even Yun Moxiao had thought her to be a human, but Duan Tianyun’s outrage at her made it very clear that she was, just like her senior brother, a beastkin.
“Because of my eyes? That’s because His Highness taught me how to hide their shine.”
Li Luo looked directly at Yun Ruoyan as her eyes began to take on a different form. Her lustrous eyes became even more luminous as her pupils darkened and her sclera whitened, turning a beautiful pair of human eyes into an even more dazzling pair of beastkin eyes.
“You really are a beastkin…” Yun Ruoyan was a little disappointed: her brother was interested in Li Luo, but how could the future head of the Yun family marry a beastkin? That would be a scandal!
“Miss Yun, do you think me a disappointment for serving a man who should be my sworn enemy?” Li Luo smiled bitterly, recognizing Yun Ruoyan's disappointed tone.
“No, no, no!” Yun Ruoyan hurriedly shook her hands. “Sister Li Luo, I wouldn't look down on you like that, really!”
Yun Ruoyan didn't know how to explain herself: after all, she could hardly tell Li Luo that her disappointment was because the large gulf between her status and her brother's status would end their ill-advised relationship before it even began.
“His Highness really isn’t as bad as everyone thinks,” Li Luo continued. “He bought me at a slave auction.”
“Oh?” Yun Ruoyan looked on with interest, waiting for her to continue. Slowly, Li Luo revealed what had occurred on that fateful day, recounting the memories that had been scorched into her mind, never to be forgotten.
She told Yun Ruoyan how she had been force-fed a pill that would turn her limbs jelly-like, how she had been caged and shown off to a room of interested bidders, and how Li Mo had, unbelievably, saved her from her doom.
When she found out that Li Mo was in fact the Slaughtering King, she was prepared to sacrifice her own life to kill him. However, rather than being humiliated or tortured at his hands, Li Mo had only given her an antidote for her limbs, treated her wounds, provided her with some silver, and granted her her freedom.
Instead of thanking Li Mo for his generosity, however, Li Luo never left. She hid around the manor and began cooking up plans in order to assassinate him.
“I attempted eight assassinations, failing each time.” Li Luo laughed at herself derisively. “But His Highness never made things difficult for me, and he always freed me after I was caught. Every time he released me, I felt less and less of a grudge toward the man who had ruined my life, but my desire for his death never lessened. During my ninth assassination attempt, I finally found the perfect chance.”
That was when she had accompanied Li Mo to the Yue kingdom. One time, she had followed him into the Minghuang Mountain. There, within the imperial territory, was a mysterious mountain cave. Li Luo followed Li Mo to the entrance, and she was about to walk in with him when an aura of immense power forced her out. In fright, she hid outside the cave, waiting for Li Mo to come out.
It was only in the morning of the second day that Li Mo finally walked out of the cave with grievous injuries. Li Luo recognized that this was an excellent chance to get her revenge, and she rushed up to him and attacked without any hesitation. Although her cultivation wasn’t particularly high, Li Mo was so wounded that he seemed unable to use his spiritual energy, and became tangled up with her.
In the end, their battle drew the attention of the guards, who surrounded both Li Luo and Li Mo. What left Li Luo shocked was the fact that Li Mo actually defended her, not only taking a blow meant for her but even risking death to flee with her.
“And from then on, I told myself that I would follow His Highness, even if I could only be one of his slaves.”
Yun Ruoyan listened to her story silently. She let out the occasional sigh, but by the end of her tale, she was feeling a little uncomfortable for reasons she couldn’t understand.
Both of them went silent until Yun Ruoyan suddenly jumped up from her seat. “Do you have any medication for swelling in your room? You have to apply some salve on your face, or the swelling will persist for quite some time.”
“Yes, in a white porcelain bottle on the table inside,” Li Luo responded.
Yun Ruoyan headed inside to search for the bottle immediately. Just as she was about to return outside with the bottle, she heard a familiar man’s voice outside.
“He hit you?”
Yun Ruoyan stepped out of Li Luo’s rooms to see her and Li Mo standing by each other, Li Mo’s hand on Li Luo’s cheek.
“Ruoyan, what’re you doing here?” Li Mo appeared somewhat surprised to see her.
“Yes, I came out at a rather inconvenient time, didn’t I?” Yun Ruoyan smiled acidly as she dropped off the white porcelain bottle and made to leave the manor.Previous Chapter Next Chapter