Chapter 201: Unabandonable Warmth

Yun Ruoyan knew that a pair of eyes was still focused on them from afar. Whether it was monitoring or observing them, she couldn’t tell; at any rate, she had more important things to be worried about.

The spiritual energy that she’d stored up in the silver bracelet was at about the level of a fourth-rank blademaster. With the bracelet’s passive augmentation, she would be able to release a blow rivalling that of a sixth-rank blademaster.

Of her opponents, Rong Yueshan was undoubtedly the strongest. However, because she was injured and didn’t expect that Yun Ruoyan could retaliate, she certainly wouldn’t use her full power. 

“If you two are still too cowardly to kill them now, don’t you dare claim to know me when we get back to the capital!” Rong Yueshan jabbed at her two scared teammates.

Both the youths were fifth-rank blademasters and had done well enough while hunting beasts in the day, but they greatly cherished their lives. As a result, even after Yun Ruoyan’s four-man team had all been beset by paralysis, they still didn’t dare rush forward to kill them. However, it was exactly this reluctance to strike that saved their lives.

“Two useless, incompetent fools!” Rong Yueshan glared at the two youths who were slowly edging in Yun Ruoyan’s direction.

“Miss Rong, you’re not the one who has to attack them! We all know that those four are as sly and as ferocious as wolves, so what if they’re just trying to trick us to attack them?!” one youth rebuked.

“Exactly!” the other youth exclaimed. “The eight of us followed you blindly, and now we’re the only two left! I’m the sole male heir of my family, and my family’s bloodline can’t die with me! I’m entering Kongming Academy in order to learn real skills, not to give up my life for nothing.”

Neither youth seemed to dare get too close to Yun Ruoyan’s team. They’d tricked the Chen kingdom team into the beast horde that morning under the pale-faced youth’s lead. By the time the battle was over, the Chen kingdom team had completely perished, but a large number of the beasts had also been defeated.

The three of them had returned with a considerable number of beast cores, so even if they didn’t snatch the high-rank beast core that Yun Ruoyan possessed, they would still be able to enter the academy. There was no reason to take an unnecessary risk.

“Rong Yueshan,” Yun Ruoyan called out. “Don’t you want to kill me? Are you so cowardly that you won’t do it yourself?!”

“Right, do it yourself!” both youths shouted.

An arrow had pierced Rong Yueshan’s thigh, but her injury wasn’t critical. In addition, Zhuo Yifeng generally chose not to apply poison on his arrows. Although she was injured, Yun Ruoyan’s four-man team was paralyzed and unable to counterattack. The reason she hadn’t faced them on her own was because she was used to commanding her underlings, and she preferred not to sully her own hands.

“As you wish, I’ll claim your worthless lives myself!” The two youths and Yun Ruoyan had so enraged Rong Yueshan that she began limping toward Yun Ruoyan’s group with murderous intent in her eyes and a sharp steel sword in her hand.

Zhuo Yifeng forced himself upright, blocking all three girls behind him and looking definitely at the limping girl.

“Zhuo Yifeng, get behind me!” Yun Ruoyan hissed from behind.

Although Zhuo Yifeng had been paralyzed, he still held his back straight and ignored Yun Ruoyan’s words. 

Rong Yueshan was approaching relatively quickly, and Yun Ruoyan became more and more anxious. Her voice still lowered, she continued, “Quickly, get behind me! I have a method to deal with her!”

“Brother Zhuo, it doesn’t matter whether you die earlier or later. Just listen to Sister Ruoyan!” Lin Qingchen added.

Zhuo Yifeng turned back, his expression clearly torn. After a moment’s deliberation, he slowly fell back.

“Oh? What’s the matter? What happened to your heroic spirit, hmm?” Rong Yueshan taunted.

Yun Ruoyan spoke up. “This is a conflict solely between you and me, and they’ve simply been caught up in our affairs…”

All of you will die,” Rong Yueshan emphasized. “Almost all my teammates died at your hands, and yours will die by mine.”

“In that case, kill me first,” Yun Ruoyan suggested. “But remember that I’m a wife-born daughter, and you’re just a lowly concubine-born. If you kill me, the Yun family will surely focus its attention on you. Will your father spend the resources he needs to keep you alive, I wonder? After all, there are countless other concubine-born daughters of the Rong family waiting to take your place!”

There was a wide, insurmountable berth in status between wife-born and concubine-born heirs. For example, Rong Tianling had stopped at nothing to avenge Rong Yuehong’s death, even going as far as to command Rong Yueshan to kill Yun Ruoyan at any cost.

Yun Ruoyan wasn’t trying to scare Rong Yueshan and prevent her from attacking, but rather to incite her rage and anger.

I’m no worse than Rong Yuehong! Rong Yuehong had always been above Rong Yueshan. She had had first pick of any resources the Rong family acquired, be they weapons, pills, or herbs. Rong Yueshan had fought day and night to get to where she was today, but Rong Yuehong had had everything handed to her on a silver spoon!

“Once I kill you, my status will surely be elevated in my father’s eyes!” Rong Yueshan was so infuriated by Yun Ruoyan’s words that she couldn’t even feel the pain from her thigh any longer. She walked up to Yun Ruoyan with large strides, raised her steel sword above her head, and prepared to strike.

Rong Yueshan had heard Yi Qianying bring up Yun Ruoyan’s affairs. She knew that Yun Ruoyan had only become more favored by the Yun family over the last few months. In the past, despite being the sole wife-born daughter, she had been all but neglected by the Yun family. 

“Even if I kill you, I doubt your father Yun Lan will be all too upset!” She made a chopping motion, and her sword descended on Yun Ruoyan’s exposed neck…

“Ahhh!” Lin Qingxue and Lin Qingchen both began to scream as they shut their eyes tightly.

On the penultimate floor of the tall tower overlooking Kongming Academy were two couches. Li Mo lay on one of them, a full cup of alcohol in his hand. He stared at the cup, not having taken a single sip of its contents; his gaze continued darting to the empty couch in the room.

Once, on that very couch, Yun Ruoyan had curled herself up into a tiny ball. Li Mo knew that that posture was common to those who greatly lacked self-confidence and a sense of safety and security.

And yet that same girl who felt alone and isolated from her family had snuggled in his lap, reaching out to him and him alone. Her unconscious dependence on him caused the lonely and icy Li Mo to feel a familial warmth that had been lost to him ever since his childhood—and that warmth was so precious that Yun Ruoyan might have been the only one alive who could grant him such a boon.

The white-robed elder had brushed her plight away, claiming that there were all sorts of women in this world. But how many women could provide such indescribable warmth? How much would he lose if he were to cast her aside, his heart forever encased in ice?

Li Mo’s hand lost his grip, and the cup of wine broke against the ground. He staggered out of bed, rushed up the tower, and headed to the front of the all-seeing mirror. He would force it to operate even at night in order to observe her plight!

He placed both palms on the all-seeing mirror, driving a surge of spiritual energy into the artifact so strong that his inky robes began to billow. The surface of the mirror shone with a dazzling gleam as Li Mo forcefully pried its eyelid open. His finger against his temples, he extracted a glimmer of spiritual energy and directed it into the mirror.

In his own chambers, the white-robed elder stirred. His eyes suddenly shot open as he muttered to himself, “He’s forcing the all-seeing mirror to activate? Is that girl so important to him that he doesn’t care about the consequences at all?!”

Five other elders at Kongming Academy sensed the disturbance at the same time. The recruitment process was overseen by each of the six in turn; this time, it was the white-robed elder’s turn. The other elders were situated on the various peaks of the Kongming mountain range, each working on their own cultivation. In general, they didn’t tend to meddle in the academy’s affairs any longer.

However, the fact that someone was forcefully activating the all-seeing mirror was so unusual and serious an occurrence that it couldn’t be neglected. Along with the white-robed elder, all six flew to the peak of the tower where the all-seeing mirror was located.

As Li Mo’s spiritual energy entered the location of the trial, Rong Yueshan’s sword began moving toward Yun Ruoyan’s neck. At the same time, Yun Ruoyan activated her silver bracelet and prepared to counterattack. After being enraged multiple times by Yun Ruoyan, Rong Yueshan had struck with full power, but the bracelet’s counterattack was equally strong.

How could this be?! Rong Yueshan gasped in shock. How could she still be attacking me?!

Rong Yueshan grit her teeth as she summoned every last drop of spiritual energy she had for the onslaught. 

Paralyzed as she was, Yun Ruoyan would truly be defenseless if she couldn’t fend off Rong Yueshan with her last-ditch attack. Just as the output from her bracelet began to choke and sputter, however, Yun Ruoyan suddenly felt a huge burst of spiritual energy entering her body. 

It was an unfamiliar energy, one distinct from the silver bracelet’s and her own body’s. Although she was uncertain as to its provenance, she released the energy without hesitation. The beam of spiritual energy emanated from her palms and pierced Rong Yueshan’s chest, instantly catapulting her dozens of feet into the air.

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