After enjoying the forest scenery and cool, fresh air from their vantage point, Li Mo brought Yun Ruoyan to find a place to rest.
“Ah! You’re not intending on having me sleep here, are you?” Yun Ruoyan glanced at the sight in front of her in surprise: a gigantic bird nest nestled between gigantic trees.
“What, you don’t like it?” Li Mo hopped into the bird’s nest with Yun Ruoyan.
“No, no.” Yun Ruoyan hurriedly shook her hands. “It’s just, it’s just too surprising—isn’t this bird’s nest too large?!” The nest had to be at least ten feet wide in length, and it appeared even larger because it was circular in shape. What sort of bird could have made such a nest in the first place?
Yun Ruoyan jumped atop the nest as though she were a little kid, and found to her surprise that it was highly elastic.
“This is a night owl’s nest. Night owls rest during the day and operate at night, so we’ll borrow its nest for one night.”
“A night owl! Isn’t there a possibility that it might return in the night while we’re sound asleep?”
“No.” Li Mo had already lain down in the nest comfortably. “Even if it comes back, there’s no need to fear.”
“Is that so?” Yun Ruoyan sat by Li Mo’s side, her hands hugging her knees. Jokingly, she continued, “Because you won’t sleep and will keep guard over me the entire night?”
“There’ll be someone keeping guard, but it won’t be me.” Li Mo whistled shrilly, and a bird responded from quite a distance.
“Ah, I forgot Mo’er was here too!” Yun Ruoyan smiled—Mo’er’s birdcall had been sufficient to leave dozens of beasts sleeping for the better part of a day, so what did she have to fear? Not long later, the silver-feathered Mo’er flew in from afar and stopped by the side of the nest. Under the moonlight, its eyes sparkled as it cocked its head toward Yun Ruoyan.
Yun Ruoyan reached out and patted it.
“Where did you go?” She prodded Mo’er’s sharp beak with a finger. “I killed a giant bull this afternoon, and Zhuo Yifeng made me some beef tongue at night. It was so delicious that I almost swallowed my own tongue. What a pity that a glutton like you weren’t there!”
Mo’er clearly seemed able to understand Yun Ruoyan’s words, because it began hopping and chirping along the edge of the nest, looking quite regretful indeed.
“Yan’er, stop teasing that stupid bird.” Li Mo sat up and leaned against the edge of the nest, more indolent than Yun Ruoyan had ever seen him. His long, black hair was draped behind his back, revealing his jadelike features. He was smiling as he sipped from a flask of wine. Li Mo wasn’t drunk, but his eyes seemed glazed over.
Yun Ruoyan stared at Li Mo, enraptured, before Mo’er’s sudden, protesting chirp broke her out of her reverie.
“Alright, alright,” Yun Ruoyan said. “I’m at least half your mistress, aren’t I? Of course I’d leave you something good!” She took out a little square of beef tongue wrapped up in a leaf, then fed it to Mo’er in bite-sized chunks.
When Mo’er consumed it all, it let out a loud burp, causing Yun Ruoyan to burst out in laughter. Li Mo reached a hand out and pulled Yun Ruoyan into his lap. She didn’t resist, not until Li Mo pushed her down and began to kiss her forehead, her nose, and her lips. Only when he got to her neck did she push him away.
“Li Mo, you promised to wait for me to reach adulthood,” Yun Ruoyan panted lightly. “After this year, I’ll be an adult the next.”
“Yan’er…” Li Mo didn’t break his kiss. Indistinctly, he continued, “During this training, we’re going to make sure you reach eighth-rank. Before entering the alternate dimension, I want to marry you. Yan’er, I really can’t wait.”
Despite what he said, Li Mo ultimately stopped touching Yun Ruoyan, restraining himself despite his extreme mental and physical longing for her. He was now a peak ninth-rank blademaster. Once Yun Ruoyan became a peak eighth-rank blademaster, they would be able to couple, and Yun Ruoyan’s unique constitution would allow him to break through the bottleneck of ninth-rank and become a sword saint.
After that, it would be far more likely for him and Yun Ruoyan to return from the alternate dimension safely. As a result, increasing Yun Ruoyan’s cultivation during this training would be paramount.
“I heard that those students who don’t make it to eighth-rank during the training can consume a pill instead,” Yun Ruoyan began.
“That pill steals from your future potential, and will be immensely harmful to you going forward. I’d never let you consume it, Yan’er.” Li Mo seemed disgusted by the thought. “Do you know why I chose the training to be hosted in this gigantic forest?”
“No, I don’t. Is there a reason?”
“Of course. A year ago, when I brought a team of students here for training, I found a heavenly spirit fruit, but it wasn’t yet ripe. Furthermore, there were quite a few high-rank beasts surrounding and protecting it, so I didn’t dare make any rash attempt to seize it. After I returned to the Chenyuan continent, I did some calculations and found that the fruit would ripen this month. When I bring the fruit to you, Yan’er, I’m sure your cultivation will reach eighth-rank in no time.”
“A heavenly spirit fruit! That legendary treasure that can help a cultivator break through any bottleneck?”
“Yes, but there’s a catch—although the heavenly spirit fruit can help cultivators break through their bottlenecks, it doesn’t work very well past ninth-rank. Furthermore, that cultivator has to have a strong enough foundation to be able to break through in the first place; having a regular human consume the fruit would achieve nothing.”
“If that’s the case, surely it’s being guarded by quite a number of eighth-rank and ninth-rank beasts?”
“Don’t worry, Yan’er. I can easily handle a few ninth-rank beasts.” Yan’er spoke as though it would be no big deal to him.
However, Yun Ruoyan knew that doing so would be a significant undertaking. The ninth-rank beasts of this gigantic forest would likewise be massive themselves, and she had struggled so much with the bull in the afternoon simply because of its size and bulk.
She didn’t want to imagine how large its ninth-rank equivalent would be!
“Yan’er, don’t worry too much about me—that dumb bird will be around to help.”
Yun Ruoyan glanced toward the side of the bird’s nest, where Mo’er had fallen asleep after sticking its head in the crook of its wings.
After an exhausting day, Yun Ruoyan also began to doze off, falling into a deep, dreamless sleep in Li Mo’s lap. She woke to a dull thundering, frowning as she stirred. The thundering came from beneath her, and Yun Ruoyan was just about to get up and check it out when Li Mo pushed her down. “It’s a beast stampede passing by. Don’t worry, and keep on sleeping.”
Yun Ruoyan turned to see Mo’er poking its head out, yawn widely, then go back to sleep. Only then did Yun Ruoyan let out a breath and do the same herself, relaxing and returning to Yun Ruoyan’s warm lap.
Li Mo clutched Yun Ruoyan’s waist more tightly as he murmured, “Yan’er, with me around, there’s no need to remain so alert.”
Yun Ruoyan closed her eyes and curled up against Li Mo. As drowsiness once again overcame her, Yun Ruoyan fell into a dream. She seemed to have arrived in a deep valley filled with greenery, peaceful and idyllic.
“Yuemei.” A clear male voice came from afar, and Yun Ruoyan turned toward its source. On a small path leading out of the valley, a man dressed in coarse hemp was quickly walking toward her. He was tall and broad, and his long black hair was tied behind his head in a rough ponytail. His gaze was sharp, his smile gentle like the spring wind.
“Yuemei?” Yun Ruoyan repeated the man’s words. “Why do you know my mother’s name? Who are you?”
The man walked directly past Yun Ruoyan, and she turned around and began chasing after him. “Hey, wait! Who are you?”
Out of nowhere, a thatched hut suddenly appeared behind her by the side of the lake.
“Yuemei, I’m back! I caught a pheasant, and I’ll make you a nourishing soup later!” The man rushed even more quickly toward the thatched hut. Yun Ruoyan’s heart suddenly began to thump as she increased her pace to keep up.
Just as the man arrived by the hut, its front door suddenly opened, revealing a woman dressed like a peasant. She wore a hemp kerchief about her head, a rough, patchwork dress, and an apron around her waist. Beneath that apron was a protruding belly. Despite her attire and belly, Yun Ruoyan easily recognized this woman as her mother, Lin Yuemei, with a single glance.
She stilled as she watched the man and woman talk and laugh.
“Long Yin, you’re sweating so much! Come, let me wipe your sweat off for you.” Lin Yuemei took a handkerchief from her waist and began wiping at the man’s forehead.
“Yuemei, look!” The man proudly presented her with the pheasant that he had caught. “I’ll go make a soup with it for you and my darling Yan’er.” Long Yin brought the pheasant to the side of the lake and began cleaning its carcass.
Lin Yuemei stood behind him, smiling. “How do you know it’s a girl?”
“Yuemei, I can’t be mistaken! Our daughter will be at least as good-looking as you, and I’m sure she’ll like the name I’ve chosen for her, Long Yan’er.”
“Long Yan’er does have a nice ring to it.” Lin Yuemei smiled blissfully.
“Long Yan’er, Long Yan’er, Long Yan’er…” The name echoed in Yun Ruoyan’s mind, stunning her.
“Yan’er, Yan’er! Wake up, Yan’er!” Li Mo whispered into her ear. Yun Ruoyan struggled to open her eyes, and Li Mo’s face appeared in front of her.Previous Chapter Next Chapter