Chapter 378: Deciding to Leave

The gnarled black claw stopped a fraction of an inch away from Yun Ruoyan’s face, and her master’s billowing shadow aura pushed even hers aside. “Your cultivation was hard-earned and required a tremendous effort, so it would be a pity to waste your talent,” he said, withdrawing his claw. “I’ll petition Lord Pi for you to have a chance to redeem yourself.”

Only then did Yun Ruoyan open her eyes. “Yes, Master.”

“Everyone, leave. I have something to discuss with Master Shade.” Pi Yan dismissed Yun Ruoyan, Pi Yang, and Pi Batian.

“Brother, have you found Li Mo?” Pi Yang asked.

“No, but I’ve just received news as to where he might be, and I’m heading over now to take a look. No matter where he’s hiding, I’ll ferret him out!” He turned and walked away.

“Mute woman, the only way to prove your innocence now is to find Li Mo,” Pi Yang murmured, glancing at his brother’s back.

When Pi Yan and Master Shade were alone, Pi Yan asked, “Master Shade, is there something wrong with your disciple?”

“That’s not my disciple at all. I’m afraid she’s likely dead.”

Pi Yan had expected such a conclusion, but he couldn’t help becoming enraged. He squeezed his armrest with one hand so hard that it broke in two. “So this is the Feng family’s scheme?” His anger caused his voice to turn hoarse with fury. “I can’t believe there’s a third cultivator on the Mingyuan continent who’s familiar with the shadow arts, especially one that belongs to the Feng family!”

Master Shade hesitated. “The shadow arts are a secret technique passed down from the Jiyuan continent, and no records have leaked to the Mingyuan continent at large. The silver dragon clan elder himself told me this when he imparted the technique to me, and I’m confident that no one else on the Mingyuan continent is familiar with these methods, let alone someone from the Feng family.”

Although this Master Shade was purportedly one of Pi Yan’s men, he was actually one of the informants trained by the silver dragon clan elder himself. He was responsible for supporting Pi Yan; both men were loyal subordinates of the silver dragon clan elder and equal in status.

“In that case, where did this impersonator come from?” Pi Yan asked.

“I don’t know either. I heard that the daughter of the Lie family had been bitten by some monster and was poisoned by a so-called corpse poison, one of the secret techniques of the shadow arts. When I learned of this information, I paid the Lie family a visit. When I tested the impersonator just now, I found that her aura was very similar to that of the corpse poison flowing through Miss Lie’s body. Since this monster purportedly came from the Chenyuan continent, I suspect that this impersonator is likewise a cultivator from that realm.”

“You mean to say that this cultivator arrived at the Mingyuan continent along with Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan, then decided to work for the Feng family? She has to be excised immediately.”

Master Shade nodded. “That would be the most likely conclusion. Given how dangerous it is to impersonate someone like the mute woman, she must have an important task to accomplish here at the Pi manor. The reason I didn’t kill her outright was to test how she would respond. Perhaps it’ll help you lure out the person you’re looking for.”

“That’s quite possible,” Pi Yan replied. “Since she’s in cahoots with Li Mo, she’ll definitely try to contact him. As long as we pay close attention to this impersonator, we’ll definitely be able to find that odious traitor! To dare betray the Pi family, I’ll make his fate worse than death! Master Shade, I’ll leave this impersonator to you.”

“Alright, but I have a request.”

“What is it?”

“I want her,” Master Shade replied. While probing Yun Ruoyan, he discovered that the shadow aura wrapped around her seemed to be different from his own. Surprisingly, it seemed to be even more concentrated.

Master Shade, just like the mute woman, had originally been a mortal. Neither of them were able to produce shadow aura on their own; instead, they could only gather and refine shadow aura from their surroundings. However, this process was difficult, and the resulting aura wasn’t particularly pure. Not only could it harm one’s body, it might leave long-lasting problems with regards to cultivation. As a result, when he saw Yun Ruoyan, he was very excited: she represented a solution to a problem that had plagued him all these years, and he very much wanted to examine her closely.

Yun Ruoyan spent the night deep in cultivation. Over the last few days, she had been in close contact with the shade for long hours at a time, and she had discovered something unusual about her growing connection with the shade.

When Yun Ruoyan wrapped herself up in the shade’s shadow aura, she could feel a connection between that aura to a spot in her spiritual vortex, where her black spiritual energy was gathered. The connection was initially so weak that she didn’t notice it, but whenever she manipulated the shade, that black spiritual energy would react. After doing so repeatedly, Yun Ruoyan finally discovered the tenuous connection between the shade and her black aura.

Yun Ruoyan experimented with moving the black spiritual energy into the shade’s ring. To her surprise, she found that doing so would greatly augment the shade’s potency. It was initially incorporeal, but after she had steeped it in her spiritual energy, it was gradually gaining a physical form, which would significantly enhance the strength of its attacks.

At the moment, Yun Ruoyan was slowly extracting the black energy from her spiritual vortex and transferring it to her ring. Within the ring, the shade was slowly being strengthened, and its shadow aura seemed darker and gloomier than before.

Just then, Qiuqiu suddenly chirped, “Mistress, there’s a strange presence watching you from a corner.”

Yun Ruoyan’s heart thumped. She opened her eyes and noticed a black shadow darting across one corner of her room before quickly vanishing.

“It’s Master Shade!” Yun Ruoyan could easily distinguish his aura after the close contact she had had with him earlier that day. She thought that she had passed whatever test had been thrown her way, but it seemed that she had been exposed!

“Qiuqiu, it looks like I’ve been found out,” Yun Ruoyan murmured, in a somewhat deflated fashion.

“Mistress, you can’t risk yourself at this critical juncture. You have to find some way to escape!” Qiuqiu advised immediately.

Yun Ruoyan agreed, and she began to plot an escape on the spot. “You’re right, Qiuqiu. Since I’ve been discovered, I can’t just stay here and wait to be caught in a trap.”

She had wanted to infiltrate the Pi family as a trusted retainer so as to obtain information about her father from Pi Yan. However, now that her identity had been discovered, not only would she not get any useful information, she would be a hindrance to Li Mo and the Feng family if she were caught.

She immediately stopped meditating, drew the shadow aura in the air back into the shade’s ring, and tumbled out of bed.

“Mistress, are you planning on leaving now? I can sense a number of advanced cultivators outside, each at least a ninth-rank blademaster…”

Yun Ruoyan hadn’t sensed their auras, and she stilled when she heard Qiuqiu’s words. Her original intention was to release the shade to distract Master Shade as she took the opportunity to run, but she had to change her plan after hearing Qiuqiu’s words.

“It looks like I’ll have to get some help,” she sighed.

“Help? From whom? Mistress, are there people from the Feng family around?”

Yun Ruoyan didn’t answer Qiuqiu’s question. Instead, she straightened up, patted down her clothes, and walked out of her room in a natural fashion. Since Pi Yan hadn’t done anything to her despite knowing her identity, he had to have been waiting for her to do something. Yun Ruoyan predicted that, as long as she didn’t look like she were running, those guards surveilling her wouldn’t expose themselves.

Yun Ruoyan began walking along the corridor outside her room, as though she were taking a walk because she couldn’t sleep. She glanced all around her, noticing the not-insignificant number of guards on patrol. The Pi family’s draconic governing style had brought them quite a number of enemies, so their defenses had to be up to par.

It looked as though there were nothing in the vicinity of the inn, but there was actually a near-invisible barrier that had been set up around it, preventing entry from swordflight. The only way out of the inn was through the front doors, but there were three patrols stationed around the courtyard night and day. Even a fly wouldn’t have been able to get in and out unscathed.

Yun Ruoyan began walking to Pi Yang’s rooms.

“Pi Yang, are you asleep?” she called out.

Cultivators were generally rather alert even in their sleep. Soon after her call, Pi Yang’s room lit up.

“I just fell asleep. Give me a moment to dress.” Not long later, Pi Yang poked his head out the door in a rather large nightgown. He rubbed his eyes, not looking like he had just fallen asleep, but instead like he had been woken up in the middle of deep sleep. “What’s the matter?” He smiled wryly. “Did you wait until the middle of the night to say your farewells to me?”

Pi Yang had told Pi Yan earlier today that he would head back to the Pi city tomorrow.

“I still haven’t thanked you for speaking up for me earlier today.” Yun Ruoyan threw out the first convenient excuse she found.

“Come in and we can talk.” Pi Yang smiled and held the door open for her.

Yun Ruoyan shook her head. “Why don’t you step out and walk with me? It’s too stuffy in our rooms.”

“Alright.” Pi Yang stepped out of his rooms, following Yun Ruoyan’s footsteps along the railing.

“Second Young Master,” Yun Ruoyan began. “Do you think of me as a friend?” 

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