Chapter 386: Unbelievable

While passing by Zhuo Yifeng, Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help but feel a strange sensation. It wasn’t the first time she had felt its like; the same, strange sensation arose whenever she saw Zhuo Yifeng. She couldn’t quite explain it, but she kept feeling that her budding familiarity with Zhuo Yifeng had somehow been nipped off and replaced with a growing sense of alienation.

As they brushed by each other, Yun Ruoyan turned to glance at Zhuo Yifeng. His tall, thin stature seemed to be covered with a sheen of black fog, one that furthered her sense of unease.

Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo walked past a patch of greenery on their way back to their rooms. In the shadow cast by the shrubbery, Yun Ruoyan was barely able to make out a girl’s form. “Qingxue,” she called out.

“Sister Ruoyan,” the girl replied.

“Why haven’t you gone to sleep this late at night?” Yun Ruoyan walked up to Lin Qingxue, only to find her eyes red and puffy, as though she had just cried. Her heart fell, and she couldn’t help being reminded of Zhuo Yifeng’s presence. Her cousin had always been outgoing and affable, and the only one who could make her cry seemed to be Zhuo Yifeng.

“Why are you crying? Did Zhuo Yifeng bully you?”

“No, no, he didn’t,” Lin Qingxue hurriedly denied the allegation. “It was just the wind. Sister Ruoyan, I’m going back to sleep now. You and Li Mo should rest soon too.” Lin Qingxue ran off before Yun Ruoyan could call her back.

The next day, Yun Ruoyan focused particular attention on Zhuo Yifeng and Lin Qingxue, only to discover that they no longer seemed to be on speaking terms, without any of the closeness that had previously tied them together. The main difference was Lin Qingxue: Zhuo Yifeng had always treated her somewhat coldly, as if wanting to dissuade her advances. In the past, Lin Qingxue had always been the one to initiate conversation; now that she was actively avoiding him, they had stopped talking entirely.

Yun Ruoyan didn’t know what had happened between Lin Qingxue and Zhuo Yifeng while she was in Peak Darkness and while she had been unconscious, but she didn’t think that Lin Qingxue would be petty enough to not want to speak to him even if he had rebuffed her advances.

Instead, she turned to Lin Qingchen.

“I suspect it’s because Brother Zhuo has made his feelings for Qingxue clear,” Lin Qingchen replied. “It’s not a bad thing, by any means. He’s never harbored feelings for Qingxue, so it’s good that she’s finally gotten the message.”

“As for Zhuo Yifeng,” Yun Ruoyan sighed. “Lin Qingxue’s such a wonderful girl. What isn’t there to like about her?”

“Perhaps he’s interested in someone else,” Lin Qingchen suddenly replied, her expression somewhat strange. 

Yun Ruoyan turned to her. “Do you know something that you’re not telling me? Has Zhuo Yifeng fallen in love with some woman from the Feng city?”

“No, I’m just hazarding a guess.” Lin Qingchen was currently in her yard drying spiritual herbs that would help restore Lin Tianming’s constitution, but after Yun Ruoyan’s question, she dropped what she was doing and turned to her solemnly. “Sister Ruoyan, I think you should let Qingxue handle this on her own. I know her personality well, and nothing will go wrong.”

Despite Yun Ruoyan’s concern, she trusted that Lin Qingchen knew her sister better than she did. Furthermore, when it came to matters of love, there wasn’t anything she could do for Lin Qingxue.

That night, Li Mo was responsible for covering the second night shift. Yun Ruoyan woke up to an empty bed. Because she was plagued by concerns for Lin Qingxue, she was unable to sleep no matter how hard she tried. Instead, she decided to get up and walk around the manor. 

Yun Ruoyan draped a blanket over her body, one that Li Mo had just bought for her, then walked out of her rooms. Not a few steps away, she heard a familiar female voice. Frowning, she walked closer toward the source of the voice. It was the small patch of greenery in which she had found Lin Qingxue yesterday. Zhuo Yifeng and Lin Qingxue were standing in the shadows, talking. Although Yun Ruoyan couldn’t see their faces, she was so familiar with their silhouettes that she could recognize them with a single glance.

It seemed like an inopportune time to interrupt, but it wasn’t appropriate for her to listen in, either. Just as she was about to turn to leave, Lin Qingxue suddenly began to cry. “Brother Zhuo, you’ve told me that you’ll never like me, and you’ve told me to try not liking you any further. I’ve tried, but I simply can’t do it.”

Lin Qingxue’s quiet, repressed sobs struck a note in Yun Ruoyan’s heart, and her anger toward Zhuo Yifeng rose in direct proportion to her pity for Lin Qingxue.

“Brother Zhuo, won’t you try to like me instead?” Lin Qingxue asked. “If there’s anything you don’t like about me, I’ll try to change it, alright?”

“Qingxue,” Zhuo Yifeng finally spoke up. “There’s nothing wrong with you. I just already have someone else I’m interested in.”

Lin Qingxue stilled. “You’ve already had someone else you’re interested in—no, that’s impossible! Ever since I’ve met you, I’ve never seen you close to any other girl before. Even in Kongming Academy, there were no senior or junior sisters whom you were familiar with. Brother Zhuo, do you have to lie to me just because you dislike me?”

Yun Ruoyan reflected on Lin Qingxue’s claim. She hadn’t seen him close to any other girl before, and he rarely spoke to anyone outside of his small circle of friends. Zhuo Yifeng, you big dummy! Even if you’re lying to Qingxue, can’t you find a more believable lie?

However, Zhuo Yifeng seemed completely serious. “Qingxue, I’m not lying to you. I do have a girl that I like. It’s true that I haven’t interacted with other girls since meeting you, but you’re not the only girl I’m close to.”

“If not me, then…” Lin Qingxue hesitated. “I suppose you also know my sister, but you don’t seem all that close to her at all…”

“It’s not her!”

“If it’s not my sister…” Lin Qingxue was completely mystified. “If not my sister, who else could it be? There’s no one!” Lin Qingxue suddenly gasped. “Unless… the girl you like is Sister Ruoyan?”

Zhuo Yifeng didn’t respond. His thin lips were tightly pursed, his face expressionless. It seemed as though he were tacitly agreeing with Lin Qingxue’s guess.

“It really is Sister Ruoyan!” Lin Qingxue was flabbergasted. She had never imagined that Zhuo Yifeng would like Yun Ruoyan. After all, Yun Ruoyan was Li Mo’s wife, the consort of the Slaughtering King!

Equally flabbergasted was Yun Ruoyan, still some distance away. Her mind had completely blanked out: Zhuo Yifeng liked her? She hadn’t even noticed! She only thought of Zhuo Yifeng as a loyal friend and companion, and had naively imagined that he viewed her in the same way. How could a relationship have occurred under those circumstances?

“Yes,” Zhuo Yifeng’s word was a revelation that sent shock reverberating through the two females. “I do like Yun Ruoyan, and I’ve liked her from the very beginning. Unfortunately, this is something that I can only keep hidden in my heart.” Zhuo Yifeng turned to Lin Qingxue. “It isn’t so hard to pretend to not like someone. If I hadn’t said anything, who would have known that I was in love with a woman who could never love me back? Qingxue, I believe you can do the same. If you pretend you don’t like me, you’ll slowly discover that I’m not that important to your life after all.”

Lin Qingxue cried, bawling in such a broken-hearted fashion that, despite her clutching her mouth with both hands, her cries still echoed throughout the yard.

The next day, Lin Qingxue locked herself in her rooms and refused to step out. After having overheard Zhuo Yifeng and Lin Qingxue’s conversation last night, Yun Ruoyan, who wasn’t comfortable dealing with her own emotions, didn’t know what to think. She glanced at Zhuo Yifeng somewhat evasively, but he looked as though nothing had happened. He ate when he was supposed to eat and cultivated as he usually did, as though he hadn’t been affected by the revelation at all.

Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help but be a little impressed. When she made eye contact with him, Zhuo Yifeng’s gaze didn’t seem to contain any affection toward her; rather, she saw only a calm veneer. Was that also fake? Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help feel a chill saturate her body. If Zhuo Yifeng had been wearing a mask for so long, keeping his true self under lock and key…

That afternoon, Feng Bo summoned them all to Feng Yicheng’s residence. “I’ve had my men thoroughly investigate those seeking to enter the Feng city,” he began. “I’m highly suspicious of one particular merchant caravan, and my men are keeping it under close scrutiny.”

“Why not oust them?” Qin Feng asked.

“We can’t,” Feng Yicheng replied. “The Feng family has always maintained an open trade policy, so we can’t easily deal with these merchant caravans without sufficient evidence.”

“Brother Feng, you mean that we have to wait until they try to attack us before we can defend ourselves?” Li Mo asked archly. His tone was somewhat displeased: Yun Ruoyan had barely escaped her last trial with her life, and he didn’t want to put her in any danger.

“Brother Li, I understand your concerns,” Feng Yicheng quickly replied. “I’ve already informed the head of the Feng family about this, and he’s personally given the order that, as long as this troop of swordsmen dares to make a commotion in the Feng city, they’ll be defeated to the last. We’re prepared to catch a few stragglers to direct the blame to the Pi family, so our attack will be considered reasonable retaliation by any standards.”

The Feng family heavily relied on their relationship with other cities, and it was natural that they would prioritize it first and foremost. Although their main concern wasn’t for Yun Ruoyan’s safety, Li Mo couldn’t find fault with what they had suggested.

“Let’s go with Feng Bo’s plan,” Yun Ruoyan said.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter