As the skies grew darker, Yun Ruoyao and Wang Meng continued trudging down their path. No matter how quickly Yun Ruoyao walked, Wang Meng was always one step behind her, and this filled her with a considerable amount of unease.
In the beginning, the two of them had chatted—perhaps not all too amiably, but it at least provided a sense of normalcy. Now, however, they exchanged not a single word.
“It’s getting dark, so let’s head back and meet up with Pei Ziao and Yi Qianying,” Yun Ruoyao halted and said.
“Alright, let’s head back!” Wang Meng didn’t oppose her decision. Now, he was all but certain that Yun Ruoyao was Wang Kuang’s killer. However, he didn’t want to kill Yun Ruoyao just like that: it would be too small a price to pay for his brother’s death.
When he thought back to how his brother had died in the imperial territory, without even a corpse to be brought back to his family, he felt that even the harshest torture this world had to offer wouldn’t be enough to satiate his need for vengeance.
“You… why aren’t you turning back?” Yun Ruoyao had looped back around, but Wang Meng was standing still behind her and staring at her in an exceedingly strange manner.
“You first,” Wang Meng said. “Your cultivation isn’t high enough yet, and I’m better equipped to deal with sneak attacks from the back.”
Wang Meng’s words were faultless, and Yun Ruoyao did feel somewhat more relaxed. His cultivation was far higher than hers, and if he wanted to attack her, he didn’t need to do it from the back. Even if they were to fight head-on, Yun Ruoyao didn’t think she would be able to exchange more than three blows with him.
Somehow comforted by the large disparity in power between them, Yun Ruoyao walked happily forward. Wang Meng continued following from behind, mulling over how to best punish Yun Ruoyao. Naturally, he would have to extend the punishment to Yi Qianying and Yun Ruoyu; the results of his investigation showed that Yi Qianying, Yun Ruoyu, and Yun Ruoyao were all on very good terms with each other, and they had been together during the imperial expedition.
Even if Yun Ruoyao’s two sisters weren’t themselves culprits, they still had to be accomplices or bystanders. Since Yun Ruoyu wasn’t present during this trial, he would punish Yi Qianying first and deal with Yun Ruoyu after returning to the capital.
Pei Ziao was slated for death, and Jin Fei’er had already detailed how he wanted him to die. Just like that skinny monkey Dou Yao, his tongue would be cut out, his body skinned, and then his mutilated body would be marinated in brine.
Wang Meng suddenly realized how interesting it was to control the lives and deaths of the people around him. This was the first time that he’d discovered something even more interesting than pillmaking, and his spirits even began to rise.
“I feel some spiritual energy emanating from that location!” Not long after walking into a clearing, Yun Ruoyao suddenly stopped and pointed at a particularly dense patch of foliage in the distance.
Wang Meng hesitated for a moment, broke off his train of thought, and looked where Yun Ruoyao was pointing. The area was secluded and devoid of any light. Wang Meng sent his spiritual energy out in that direction and indeed discovered a strong resonance.
He stood still for a moment before being overwhelmed by a sense of rapture. He had been leading the other three on a wild goose chase for a made-up spiritual treasure in order to get himself alone with Yun Ruoyao, but it seemed like a marvellous spiritual treasure really did exist! Based on his many years of pillmaking experience, such concentrated spiritual energy implied a treasure of remarkable origin.
As a man devoted to pillmaking, nothing was more exciting to Wang Meng than the prospect of finding a new spiritual herb. In that moment, Wang Meng had forgotten all about his thoughts of revenge for his brother and focused all his attention on that spiritual treasure.
“Young Master Wang!” When Yun Ruoyao saw the changes in Wang Meng’s expression, she was certain that they’d discovered something good. “Young Master Wang, is that the spiritual treasure we’re looking for?”
Wang Meng finally turned to Yun Ruoyao, glancing at her with shining eyes. Despite his obvious excitement, he didn’t speak for quite a while—as though he were both so excited that he was speechless and simultaneously trying to perform a large number of calculations in his mind.
Wang Meng’s unusual behavior once again made Yun Ruoyao somewhat apprehensive. “Young Master Wang, are you alright?”
“It’s nothing, I’m just too excited,” Wang Meng replied. “There indeed is a treasure over there, and it’s something quite incredible, too.”
“Really?” Yun Ruoyao’s expression brightened further. “A treasure that can excite even you, Young Master Wang, must be extraordinary.”
“The spiritual energy emanating from that source is so potent that I’ve never seen its like before. It’s an order of magnitude stronger than even a high-grade spiritual herb, and I suspect it might be a sage-grade spiritual herb!”
Wang Meng didn’t hide his thoughts; in his eyes, Yun Ruoyao was akin to a dead person, and there was no need to keep a secret from the dead.
“Sa—Sage?!” While there was rumored to be a sage-grade that transcended even high-grade, it was the matter of legends. Allegedly, all sage-grade existences had perished millennia prior along with the downfall of the demonkin, so how could a sage-grade herb suddenly show up within the testing grounds of Kongming Academy?!
“But an herb of such potency will undoubtedly be protected by a ferocious beast, and it won’t be so easy to acquire it,” Wang Meng added.
“In that case, what should we do?” Yun Ruoyao knew little of spiritual treasures, and she had no ideas of her own as to how to deal with the guardian that Wang Meng had brought up. “Should we find Qianying and Young Master Pei first?”
Wang Meng shook his head. “I’m not trying to be selfish, but such sage-grade treasures surely wouldn’t exist in great quantities—perhaps a sprig of a spiritual herb, or one, two spiritual fruits at most. Do you really want to share this treasure with two others? After all, this is a once-in-several-lifetimes opportunity.”
Yun Ruoyao shook her head without hesitation.
“Alright.” Wang Meng nodded, satisfied. “Let’s have a look at the situation first. If the beast is really too strong and we can’t handle it on our own, then we’ll go find others to help.”
Wang Meng took Yun Ruoyan’s hand in his and pulled her deep into the forest. Yun Ruoyao stilled: in all her life, she’d never held hands with a man before. Even Young Master Li, whom she’d been on good terms with, had never made skin-to-skin contact with her.
Yun Ruoyao felt a curious sensation flowing from Wang Meng’s hand to hers, and her cheeks blushed a faint red as she allowed Wang Meng to drag her into the forest. Wang Meng noticed the changes in her expression, and his eyes narrowed. Hidden from Yun Ruoyao’s sight, his lips formed a cold, cruel smile.
Back in Yun Ruoyan’s oasis, Rong Yueshan was facing off against Yun Ruoyan and the Lin siblings.
“Yun Ruoyan, are you a human or a demon?” Rong Yueshan asked.
“What do you think?” Yun Ruoyan replied expressionlessly. “Do I look like a human or a demon?”
Yun Ruoyan’s half-white, half-black face was brought to sharp contrast by the darkening skies. The pale side of her face became even paler, and the dark side of her face looked almost as though it had been consumed by the night. She looked unusually strange and ugly, but it was too far a stretch to call her a demon.
“You look neither like a demon nor a human,” Rong Yueshan judged. “How could my sister have lost to the likes of you? How could she have died to you?!”
Although Rong Yueshan and Rong Yuehong didn’t share any semblance of sisterly love, Rong Yueshan had always treated Rong Yuehong as her role model. She had been present at the flower-viewing party that fateful night when Yun Ruoyan defeated Rong Yuehong. From Yun Ruoyan’s aura, however, she was not much stronger than Rong Yuehong, and her sister’s sudden defeat came as a great surprise to her.
From then on, Rong Yueshan had suspected that Yun Ruoyan was hiding her true strength and deliberately spreading rumors that she was a useless, ugly waif.
Later, when she became familiar with Yi Qianying, she asked Yi Qianying about her notorious cousin. According to Yi Qianying, Yun Ruoyan was a demonlike existence. She had suddenly gone from an ugly little shrimp to an arrogant swan, and her cultivation had advanced in leaps and bounds. Even more frightening was Yun Ruoyan’s gaze. She used to avoid meeting anyone’s eyes, but now her gaze was penetrating and deprecating, even supercilious.
Yi Qianying confided to Rong Yueshan that Pei Ziao’s murders at the Yichun brothel, a drama that had swept the capital by storm, was orchestrated by Yun Ruoyan single-handedly. Pei Ziao had succumbed to her demonic arts.
Rong Yueshan hadn’t believed this at first: after all, she had seen demons personally, and Yun Ruoyan didn’t feel like a demon to her.
However, just then, the chubby youth who had been allied with Rong Yueshan had been bewitched before her very eyes. If Rong Yueshan hadn’t seen it for herself, and if she hadn’t been prepared for such an eventuality, she would undoubtedly have died.
The day prior, Rong Yueshan had even seen Yun Ruoyan release a barrier of spiritual energy to protect her body underwater. That was something that was only possible at the peak of eighth-rank.
During the flower-viewing party, Yun Ruoyan had only given off the aura of a fourth-rank blademaster. However, at the time, Rong Yuehong had been a sixth-rank blademaster, and yet she had somehow fallen to Yun Ruoyan. Now, a few months later, Yun Ruoyan now appeared to be an eighth-rank blademaster.
These countless mysteries left Rong Yueshan shocked and confused. Before she could unravel the truth behind Yun Ruoyan’s cultivation, she wouldn’t have dared to lay a hand on Yun Ruoyan. However, the events that had transpired at that lake were a great opportunity for her, and she decided to make use of the Chen kingdom team she had met without any hesitation.
She would use this chance to seize Yun Ruoyan, then discover the secrets behind her existence.
“Your sister died of her arrogance and conceit. As for you…” Yun Ruoyan’s once-expressionless face morphed into a half-smile. “You’ll die because you overestimated yourself!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter