Chapter 266: Realization

Yun Ruoyan was momentarily tied up in combat with Pei Ziao, whereas Zhuo Yifeng and Guan Ruliu were tied up in fighting Rong Yueshan and Yi Qianying respectively. As such, neither of them were able to do anything against Guan Tianyu, whose sword was right about to behead Yun Ruoyan.

“Yun Ruoyan, watch out!” Zhuo Yifeng shouted.

As Yun Ruoyan fought with Pei Ziao over his spear, she suddenly saw the gleam of a blade flying toward her. In that moment, her gaze turned blood-red. Guan Tianyu saw the change happen, but his blade didn’t stop moving. Instead, deep within Yun Ruoyan’s mind, a blood-red eye suddenly seemed to open, releasing a red, bloody glow that shot out of Yun Ruoyan’s eyes at Guan Tianyu.

“Argh! My eyes, my eyes!” Guan Tianyu began to wail like a pig being led to the slaughter. 

The red beam had shot directly out of Yun Ruoyan’s eyes and into Guan Tianyu’s. Guan Tianyu instantly felt as though his eyes were burning, and bloody tears began to leak from them.

“My eyes! Someone, help, I can’t see!” Guan Tianyu threw down the broadsword in his hands and fell to the ground, crawling helplessly.

Meanwhile, Yun Ruoyan turned toward Pei Ziao. Guan Tianyu’s sudden blindness had so shocked Pei Ziao that he immediately shut his eyes when Yun Ruoyan turned toward him. A huge wave of spiritual energy seemed to strike him, immediately pushing him away. When he landed on the ground, he spat out a large mouthful of blood, clearly badly hurt.

The four remaining combatants all stopped fighting and looked toward Yun Ruoyan simultaneously. Her eyes a bloody red, she seemed like an entirely different person, one who exuded a murderous aura.

“Yun Ruoyan, are you alright?” Zhuo Yifeng and Guan Ruliu asked, concerned. 

As if she couldn’t hear them, however, Yun Ruoyan slowly leaned down, picked up Guan Tianyu’s broadsword, then began to move toward the helpless Guan Tianyu. As everyone watched openmouthed, she held the broadsword high above her head and made as if to strike at his head.

Moments before her sword beheaded Guan Tianyu, a green flash of light suddenly appeared from afar like lightning. Li Mo appeared beside Yun Ruoyan in the blink of an eye and quickly grabbed her wrist.

“Yan’er, what’s the matter with you?”

Yun Ruoyan looked toward Li Mo with her blood-red eyes, and he felt as though two hot coals had suddenly been dropped in his eyes. His pitch-black pupils turned an icy blue, quickly relieving the symptoms of her gaze. He touched his finger to a specific point in the back of her neck, causing Yun Ruoyan to close her eyes and fall unconscious into his lap.

“Master Mo, Ruoyan almost died in their hands!”

Li Mo held Yun Ruoyan in his embrace as his eyes swept over Guan Tianyu, Rong Yueshan, and Pei Ziao. “I’ve mentioned that you aren’t allowed to harm your peers during this training, and I hereby rescind your right to participate any further. Scram!”

“Master Mo, I contest this judgment!” Pei Ziao stepped forward. “Seniors Song Yi and Sun Yan both died to Zhuo Yifeng, and Senior Brother Guan’s eyes were injured by Yun Ruoyan! If we’re to be punished, then they should likewise be punished!”

“You contest my judgment?” Li Mo’s eyes turned black once more, but the coldness within it didn’t dissipate at all.

“Yes, Master Mo! I refuse to accept it!”

Li Mo swept his sleeve at Pei Ziao, generating a huge gust of wind that whirled Pei Ziao high up into the sky before forcing him down toward the ground, filling his mouth with blood. “Take Guan Tianyu with you and scram!”

This time, no one else dared dissent. Yi Qianying clutched Pei Ziao, and Rong Yueshan supported Guan Tianyu, his eyes a bloody mess. Each pair used a teleportation scroll to return to the forested treehouse.

“Mistress, Mistress, are you alright?” Amidst a patch of darkness, Yun Ruoyan seemed to hear Qiuqiu’s anxious voice. She slowly opened her eyes to find her lying in a strange, pitch-black place.

“Qiuqiu, where am I?” Yun Ruoyan called out, but Qiuqiu seemed to have vanished entirely. 

“We’re in your mind.” Although Qiuqiu didn’t respond, another voice did. This voice sounded somewhat familiar, as though she had heard it somewhere before, but she didn’t remember where.

“Who are you, and where did you say this was?” Yun Ruoyan immediately queried.

A red eye suddenly blinked open not too far ahead of Yun Ruoyan, from which shone an eerie red light.

“It’s you!” As soon as she saw the eye, Yun Ruoyan remembered the identity of the voice: the dragon soul that had lay dormant in the dragon ring, who had tried to get her to attack Lin Qingxue’s pet, Whitey!

“Right, it’s me.”

“Didn’t the demonic dragon elder reclaim the ring?”

“He did take the ring, but my soul remained,” the voice continued. “Under the first elder’s command, I’m to protect you when you’re in danger.”

“To protect me?” The sudden appearance of the red-eyed dragon soul was beyond Yun Ruoyan’s expectations.

“Right, to protect you. Before you can discover the truth behind your identity, I’ll remain in your body,” the eye explained. “But because your cultivation’s still too low, you won’t be able to support my existence for too long a period of time, and I’ll mostly be unconscious. Only when your life’s in great peril will I appear.”

“Who exactly are you?”

“I’m an enforcer of the demonic dragon clan,” the voice replied, before closing its eye once more. Yun Ruoyan’s surroundings again returned to pitch black.

“Mistress, Mistress? Can you hear me?”

“Yan’er, wake up!”

Qiuqiu’s voice and Li Mo’s voice rang out at the same time, and Yun Ruoyan finally awoke from the strange darkness that surrounded her.

“What happened to me?” Yun Ruoyan found that she was half-lying in Li Mo’s lap. Her last memory was of Guan Tianyu’s broadsword flashing as it flew down toward her.

“Ruoyan, you’ve woken up!” Guan Ruliu glanced at her in concern. “Do you feel uncomfortable anywhere?”

“Li Mo, Senior Sister Guan, what happened to me?” Yun Ruoyan tried to sit up but found herself weak and aching all over, with almost no spiritual energy left in her body.

“You’ve already been unconscious for two days,” Guan Ruliu began, her expression somewhat curious. “What fire-attuned spiritual technique did you use to burn Guan Tianyu’s eyes blind? I’ve never heard of such a domineering technique.”

Yun Ruoyan hesitated for a moment, then thought back to what the demonic dragon enforcer had mentioned. Combining it with Guan Ruliu’s words, Yun Ruoyan guessed that the red eye had somehow managed to blind Guan Tianyu to save her.

“Ruoyan, are you alright?” Guan Ruliu asked again, seeing that Yun Ruoyan was in a daze.

“Oh, I---”

“She just woke up, so let her rest a little longer,” Li Mo interrupted. Guan Ruliu nodded, walking outside the room. Li Mo silently stared at Yun Ruoyan, not saying a word, making her feel grossly uncomfortable.

“Li Mo, why are you staring at me like that?”

“Yan’er, are you hiding something from me?”

Yun Ruoyan stilled, then averted her eyes. After a moment’s silence, she suddenly realized that she hadn’t seen Zhuo Yifeng. “Where’s Zhuo Yifeng?”

Li Mo sighed and replied patiently, “Another wave of wild beasts rushed by a moment ago, and he went to investigate. I expect he’ll be back shortly.”

“What about Mo’er?” Yun Ruoyan looked all around her. “Why is Senior Sister Guan still with us? Wasn’t she supposed to take care of the two cultivators who had lost their cultivation?”

“These last two days, we’ve been seeing more and more stampedes, and the heavenly spirit fruit is getting closer and closer to maturity. I had the dumb bird scout the path forward.” Li Mo’s eyes remained on Yun Ruoyan’s face, keeping track of her every motion. “As for Guan Ruliu, I sent those two cultivators back to Kongming Academy, so she’ll be able to explore with us.”

“Oh, is that so?” Yun Ruoyan lowered her head, thinking about how to get past Li Mo’s questioning.

“Yan’er, if you have any other questions, I’d happily answer them for you,” Li Mo added. “I only have one question, and I hope you’ll be able to tell me the truth.”

“What question? Ask away!” Yun Ruoyan raised her head and met his eyes unflinchingly, knowing that he wouldn’t stop until he was satisfied.

“Why can I still sense the scent of that demonic ring on you? I thought it vanished, but could it have remained in your body instead?”

“I don’t know either!” Yun Ruoyan replied, with almost no hesitation. She knew that any deliberation on her part would lead to suspicion, but she had still underestimated Li Mo’s wariness.

“Yan’er…” Li Mo continued slowly. “If you responded this way initially, I would have believed that you didn’t know a thing, but given that you’ve been hemming and hawing and trying to avoid this question, I’m sure that you’re hiding a big secret from me!”

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