“And if they hadn’t demonstrated their true strength, would you have killed them by my hand?” Zhuo Yifeng interrogated the malicious spirit coldly.
“Of course not!” The spirit didn’t hesitate at all. “It would have been troublesome if you had killed any of those swordsmen. Why would I want to create trouble for both of us?”
“As long as you’re aware,” Zhuo Yifeng replied. “I hope you won’t force me to kill myself.”
“Got it, got it! I’m not an idiot, after all,” that malicious voice replied. “As for you, don’t keep trying to threaten me by killing yourself. You must be weary of life, huh? Not daring to do what you want to do, not daring to kill whom you want to kill, not even daring to confess to the woman of your dreams—you might as well let me live out your life for you.”
“If you dare speak of that again—!” Zhuo Yifeng thundered.
“Alright, alright, I’ll stop!”
Although Zhuo Yifeng had almost injured his opponent badly, nothing serious came out of the incident. Luckily, the Feng city guards weren’t petty people, and Zhuo Yifeng quickly gained everyone’s forgiveness. By the end of the fight, Zhuo Yifeng’s cultivation seemed to be nearing that of a first-rank sword saint, and although the gathered swordsmen were surprised, they weren’t particularly suspicious.
After all, Zhuo Yifeng was currently a peak ninth-rank blademaster, and the advancement in his cultivation and spiritual energy made it seem as though he was nearing a breakthrough. Indeed, the gathered swordsmen all called out to him in congratulations.
Old Lin, the head of the Feng troops, specially had a private conversation with Zhuo Yifeng, where he imparted to him a few words of wisdom regarding his preparations for advancing to the realm of a sword saint. Zhuo Yifeng was very thankful for the advice: his initial reason for joining the city guards was to find a place that would accelerate his rate of cultivation, but he had also gotten close to the guards themselves after a whole year of training with them.
He was even contemplating the idea of bringing Zhuo Lin’er to the Feng city with him three years later to settle down here, having finally found a place that was suitable for permanent residence, where they wouldn’t be discriminated against.
But the peaceful days weren’t to last. Not long after their heist, the Pi family started harassing the Feng family again, and troops composed of Feng, Wu, and Chen swordsmen began to attack a few towns on the outskirts of the Feng and Hua families’ purview.
This time, however, both the Feng and Hua families were prepared. The Pis’ sneak attacks failed, but they continued attacking so incessantly that a few dozen skirmishes had taken place within a single month. Each family had begun sending out its secret troops, so almost each battle involved a fight between first-rank sword saints, and the fights would only grow more and more intense.
After more than a month, swordsmen from all sides were beset by injuries and death. The Feng family was still slightly weaker in terms of manpower, and even with experts like Li Mo and Feng Bo overseeing the battles, the Pi family had still managed to take over five small towns. As spring dawned, the two families sued for a temporary ceasefire, one that would last half a month. After the spring festival was over, fights would resume once more.
Despite the losses that the Feng city had incurred during the fighting, the citizens of the Feng city continued to celebrate the spring festival, decorating their homes with lanterns and paper confetti. Li Mo brought Yun Ruoyan out to the market to buy a few banners and lanterns, and they returned with a full storage ring’s worth of merchandise. Yun Ruoyan carried two bright red lanterns in her two hands, and her mood quickly lifted from the weariness of war. Li Mo’s mood improved as hers did.
Just as they arrived at the manor, an old, shabby beggar suddenly began heading in Yun Ruoyan’s direction. In general, anyone who behaved so suspiciously would have been stopped by Li Mo or the like, but this beggar seemed not to have a single shred of cultivation. He shambled up to Yun Ruoyan and knelt down in front of her.
Yun Ruoyan blinked in surprise, and Li Mo stared warily at the old man.
Given the current state of affairs, both the Feng and Pi families surely had spies in enemy territory, and the Pi family bore significant ill will toward Yun Ruoyan. It wasn’t impossible to imagine that they would send someone to the Feng city to assassinate her.
As a result, even though Li Mo hadn’t drawn his weapon, he was still guarding her from the front. He handed a few spirit crystals to the beggar, who didn’t reach out to take them. Instead, he raised his head in an impassioned plea, rubbing at the dirt on his face. “Miss Yun, Master Li, don’t you recognize me?”
Yun Ruoyan cocked her head at the beggar, finding his mustache uncannily familiar. Her eyes brightened as she pointed at him. “Aren’t you Housekeeper Hu?”
Li Mo frowned. Although the beggar had gotten a little darker and a little thinner, he was clearly that high and mighty housekeeper from the Pi family.
“Miss Yun, you finally remember me!” The housekeeper stood up in excitement.
“Kneel!” Li Mo thundered, shocking the housekeeper so much that he immediately went back onto his knees. “As the housekeeper of the Pi family, what are you doing here?”
“I—” The housekeeper’s expression crumpled. “It’s a long story. Miss Yun, Master Li, it was my fault for being so arrogant in the past. I beg of you to save my poor young master, Pi Yang! He desperately needs help!” Tears began streaming down Housekeeper Hu’s eyes.
“Pi Yang? What about him?” Yun Ruoyan walked out from behind Li Mo. “Stand up and let’s talk.”
Housekeeper Hu stood up, then wiped his face with two dirty sleeves. “Please, follow me. I’m afraid that if we wait too long, he’ll be gone.” He brought Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo down two streets, then into a desolate temple in great need of restoration. By the corner of the temple lay a hooded youth.
Before Yun Ruoyan could see his face, she noticed the fiery-red hair sticking out from underneath his hood, and her heart tightened. “Pi Yang,” she called out, walking to his front.
Lying amidst the rubble was none other than Pi Yang, but the youth that lay in front of her was hardly the same brash, arrogant youth she had seen the first time they had met. His face was worn and haggard, as if he had aged two decades since their last encounter. His eyes were listless, and both his arms had been chopped off. He drew breath so infrequently that it seemed he was inches from death.
When Pi Yang heard Yun Ruoyan’s voice, he slowly opened his eyes and looked toward her, a dash of life returning to his eyes. “Yun… Yun Ruoyan.” Pi Yang began to wheeze after saying his name, as though his voice might fail at any moment.
“You—what happened to you?!” Yun Ruoyan asked in disbelief, horror creeping into her features. Although Pi Yang was from the Pi family, and although he had once been her and Li Mo’s enemy, he had never been as vitriolic toward her as Pi Yan or Pi Batian, and he had even helped her more than once. If nothing else, she was grateful to him for his help in her times of need.
“It’s good to be able to see you. I hadn’t thought I’d have a chance to see you again,” he finally forced out, after what seemed like an eternity of wheezing. His eyes shut, but the corners of his mouth curled up in a smile.
“Second Young Master, Second Young Master!” Housekeeper Hu rushed up to grab his falling body and began to bawl.
“Pi Yang, Pi Yang!” Yun Ruoyan also shouted.
Li Mo walked to Yun Ruoyan’s side, then took Pi Yang’s pulse. “He’s not dead yet. We should still have enough time to save him.”
When Housekeeper Hu heard Li Mo’s words, he immediately turned to Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan. Kneeling once again, he began to kowtow repeatedly. “Please, I beg of you, please save my young master! If Lord Pi hadn’t discovered that he helped you save Miss Yun, Master Li, he wouldn’t have hurt him so badly after chopping off his arms. I know how badly I’ve treated both of you in the past, but surely my young master has provided both of you with assistance? Please, please, save him!”
Housekeeper Hu was still snivelling against the ground when Yun Ruoyan called out from afar, “Aren’t you coming?”
He raised his head to find no one in front of him. Outside the temple, Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo were already quite a distance away, and Li Mo was carrying Pi Yang on his shoulders. Housekeeper Hu immediately clambered to his feet and chased after Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan.
They brought Pi Yang back to her manor, where Li Mo infused some spiritual energy into him to prolong his life. Then, he forced a high-grade life restoration pill down Pi Yang’s throat, finally saving his life from the clutches of hell.
However, his injuries were so serious that Feng Bo would be needed to treat his wounds. Because Feng Bo was off on an errand for Lord Feng, they could only hold Pi Yang in a form of stasis by continuously feeding him spiritual pills until Feng Bo returned.
Pi Yang would only be conscious and coherent for small stretches at a time, and talking was so much of an exertion that Yun Ruoyan posed all her questions to Housekeeper Hu instead. “What happened to Pi Yang’s arms?”
“Lord Pi chopped them off,” Housekeeper Hu replied. He had explained it to Yun Ruoyan within the temple, but she was still in disbelief about the situation. As far as her impressions went, Pi Yang was quite pampered within the Pi family. Did Pi Yan chop off both his arms just because he had helped Li Mo out?
“To cripple his own son…” Yun Ruoyan murmured. He might have chopped one arm off in anger, but two? How could Pi Yan do that to his own son?
“Ah, well, in the end, that’s your fault,” Housekeeper Hu sighed. “You chopped off both of Pi Batian’s arms, so Lord Pi grafted my young master’s arms onto his…”
“What?” Yun Ruoyan recoiled in shock. “Pi Batian’s still not dead?!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter