Ling Miaomiao was walking very slowly, limping as she walked. Even though the wound on her leg didn’t hurt that much, the moment her right leg touched the ground, it would go numb for a moment, reminding her that she was injured.
Not being able to increase her pace made her so anxious, her back was drenched in sweat.
Don’t get angry, don’t get angry, it’s all a ruse to trick the enemy… She continuously tried to build up confidence within herself as she walked. If she didn’t make herself lame today, Mu Sheng would make her lame tomorrow… that’s right, mhm…….
She followed the footsteps into the darkness. Into the depths. Gradually, the crisp sound of water gurgling started to fill the air.
Eh? There’s actually a small creek in the forest.
In the next moment, a blurry and indistinct human figure in the water suddenly came into view. The moonlight illuminated the pure white hairband in his hair, reflecting cold but bright light in all directions. Only then did Ling Miaomiao recognize it, coming to a stop.
The temperature in the nights within the forest was extremely low, the creek water even more so. He sat motionlessly within the icy waters. His eyes were tightly shut and it appeared he had been sitting there for a long period, as frost had already adorned his eyelashes.
Ling Miaomiao watched him for a good while, pondering the situation in her head: Since the black lotus was taking a bath, why didn’t he take off his clothes?
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The area was empty and deserted, there were only the two of them there.
He instinctively grew tense, his handsome face becoming suffused with a thread of vigilance, “Your highness, where’s Yao’er?”
Princess Duanyang was startled and swallowed, “She… she went to draw water.”
Liu Fuyi stared at her eyes that hid from his and a shred of doubt flit through his heart. However, he didn’t show it on his face at all, only asking in a warm tone, “Then what about Miaomiao? Just now when I was unconscious, I think I heard her calling me.”
That damn Ling Miaomiao!
Duanyang cursed internally while putting on a reserved smile, “…She and Mu Sheng left together. I don’t know where they went either. Before she left, she called for you a few times, wanting to see if you would wake up or not.”
Liu Fuyi stared at her face for a good minute, feeling a deep-seated sense of unease within his heart, “Is that so?”
”Yes.” Duanyang’s heart hardened, “Brother Liu, your wound is still not healed yet. How about you lay down again, rest for a bit?”
Liu Fuyi shook his head, using one hand to support his temple. His gaze fell upon the dead leaves littering the ground and his brows immediately scrunched up tightly, “Why is there blood on the ground?”
Ah shit…. Duanyang’s heart was in a fluster and her gaze followed his, seeing that there was a small piece of ground stained by black blood at the place where Ling Miaomiao had just been.
“Your highness, “ Liu Fuyi’s face was no longer smiling. His voice was very light but she could clearly see that now he was somewhat angry, “What happened earlier?”
The piece of ground stained by blood seemed to stab at Princess Duanyang’s painful leg. From a young age, she had never harmed someone like that before. Even if she were to wipe her hands as clean as she could possibly get it, she would still have Ling Miaomiao’s thick and warm blood on her hands… her hands shook and her vigor drastically fell. Timidity seemed to bloom out of her every orifice, “I… I……”
Upon seeing her appearance as such, Liu Fuyi knew that he had basically guessed 80-90% correctly. He grew more and more anxious in his heart, tone also growing similarly cold, “I will ask you again. Where did Mu Yao go?”
Duanyang’s face became ashen. After a pregnant silence, she spit out a cry, “Brother Liu…. Exorcist Mu… she went to chase the dark shadow…..”
Liu Fuyi’s heart thumped. This was Tao Ying’s domain, who knew just how many tormented ghouls there could be here. With enemies on all sides, the road ahead would be hard to fathom, Mu Yao definitely couldn’t underestimate their foes.
He understood her personality. She was a girl who was soft on the outside, firm on the inside but also cold on the outside but warm within. She was both stubborn and strong. She must’ve done it for him, eager to take revenge for him. She left by herself to take action.
He felt a painful stab in his heart, almost unable to suppress his franticness. He grabbed Duanyang and asked, “Which direction? How long has it been?”
Duanyang felt as if everything had gone as terribly as could be. She sobbed as she pointed shakingly at the dense forest, “It’s been an hour.”
Liu Fuyi’s scowl grew even colder. He let her down and rose when Duanyang pulled at his sleeve.
The princess had always been haughty and headstrong. Now though, she looked just like a little girl afraid of being tossed aside. She had shrunk into a ball, appearing like a mess from crying so uncontrollably. She called for him in a whisper of a voice, “Brother Liu, don’t go….”
Liu Fuyi recovered his mind, letting her pull him. Only then did he realize how muddle-headed he was. He had discarded the princess in the illusion, the princess who had no way to resist or defend herself. Immediately, he bent over and pulled out a talisman.
He bit the tip of his finger, using his blood in place of cinnabar to draw. Then, he stuck it onto the tree and began to blurrily draw a circle on the ground, saying to Princess Duanyang in a rushed voice, “Your highness, don’t worry. I have already made you an array. Filthy things cannot enter. Wait for me under this tree, understand?”
Since Liu Fuyi used his own fresh blood to draw the talisman, the effects of it were extremely potent. Any normal demons that appeared would have no way of breaking through.
Duanyang stared into his limpid eyes before nodding slightly at him with her swollen eyes.
“Mu Sheng! Mu Ziqi!”
He heard a familiar voice enter his ear. Mu Sheng suspected he was hearing an apparition when he opened his eyes. However, he immediately saw the figure who he had been spending the past hour trying to push out of his mind and chest, standing right before him.
Suddenly seeing her, all of those thoughts and images that should not have appeared all came surging back in one wave. His breath became rugged and heart agitated. He immediately put a cold mask over his face, “Why did you come here?”
Ling Miaomiao’s forehead was beaded with sweat and her face was pale. He found it both funny and somewhat infuriating, “This forest doesn’t belong to your family, are you the only one allowed to come here?”
She didn’t sound happy at all.
He suddenly discovered that a large portion of her clothes were stained in blood. There was even a small, exquisite dagger stabbed into her leg still. The handle of the dagger was inlaid with glimmering agate. It was resplendent and bright, clearly not an ordinary product. He had seen this dagger before, this was in Liu Fuyi’s private stash.
She had lost so much blood, carrying this weapon in her over such a far distance…
A surge of fire suddenly erupted, charging all the way to his throat: Did Liu Fuyi go crazy? To dare stab her?
His gaze darkened, “What happened?”
Ling Miaomiao was anxious and panting, completely missing his question, “Hurry and save Sister Mu! She was captured by the dark shadow!”
For the sake of exaggerating the urgency of the situation, she didn’t give the black lotus any time to dally, asking questions. She added more fuel to the fire, embellishing the story to an unimaginable degree, purposely making the situation multifold times more important.
Mu Sheng leaped from the water with a splash, the corners of his clothes still dripping water onto the ground. His eyes were pitch black, staring rigidly at her. His gaze was flicking and nearly shocked her, “What did you say? What happened to my sister?”
Miaomiao watched his expression and paused for a moment. She pointed to the side and answered calmly, “Hurry, that way. She has already been gone for an hour.”
”Wait here for me.” Mu Sheng’s figure flashed, passing by her like the wind, immediately disappearing.
Miaomiao shut her eyes. The moonlight before her was glaringly bright shining down on the empty space within the forest. The surrounding spruce trees towering above her were like imperial bodyguards, very closely surrounding her. She tossed a stone into the clear waters, causing a crisp splash and ripples to go everywhere.
Her pale face faced the moonlight and lightly smiled.
Not far away, a bird crowed, leaving the branch it was perched upon and the flapping of its wings echoed through the forest.
Princess Duanyang sat by herself underneath the Phoenix Tree. Gust after gust of wind blew by, causing the tree and forest to shake and rustle. To her, it sounded just like countless mouths whispering. She shrunk herself into a small ball, her dark pupils watching the surroundings with great alarm within them.
“I can’t be scared. I can’t be scared… I have to wait here for Brother Liu to return….”
She arrogantly raised her chin, looking back and forth, “I am the stately Princess Duanyang. How could I be afraid of being alone for a mere hour?”
The shriek of the wind grew increasingly louder and she could feel the skin of her arms shiver from the cold. So cold….
“Your highness Duanyang?” All of a sudden, she heard a faint voice calling her.
She was startled at first but then exhilarated. There were other people in this forest that recognized her?
Having to rush about for long periods at a time and being locked within this illusion, her mood had long reached the precipice. She had fantasized countless times that if the people her consort mother sent out could find her and then bring her back to the palace, how wonderfully lucky that would be.
“Your highness Duanyang, your highness…..”
But as the voice grew closer and closer, she couldn’t help but feel alarmed instead. She couldn’t feel at ease —- the demons and monsters in Xingshan Temple could also talk, if……
No! She couldn’t think, the more she thought the more terrified she became….
She summoned up her courage and stared tenaciously at the branches of the tree not too far away. She stayed silent as she started to count the innumerable leaves on the tree.
That voice became clearer, “Your highness Duanyang, something happened to Liu Fuyi.”
“Something happened to Brother Liu?” She was immediately shocked out of her mind and let her voice slip out of her mouth.
”Yes, your highness.” The voice was clearly very anxious, “He has been surrounded, we have to hurry and go assist him. Your highness, please follow me.”
Duanyang immediately stood up, about to take a step out but immediately froze in place. She had fallen into a dilemma. Brother Liu had told her to wait for him under this tree….
”Your highness, it’s almost too late, please follow me!” The voice urged her.
Duanyang was both anxious and panicked. She was stuck between a rock and hard place. She took a long second before asking, “Did he find Mu Yao?”
If he had saved Mu Yao, there would be no way he could become mired in danger. They might’ve still had a thread of strength to fight their way through.
Unfortunately, the voice was stunned for a moment before replying, “Sigh. How could he save others when his own life was already hard to keep.” He paused and then continued to urge her, “Your highness, Liu Fuyi only has you to go save him right now, please follow me!”
Only she could save…. Duanyang felt her head buzz as hot blood rose to her cranium.
Not too long ago she had made an oath. She had thought to herself that she could make sure that Brother Liu would never suffer another injury. And since she said she would, then she would act on it too.
“Wait for me then, I’m coming.”
She thought to herself again, turning around and ripping off the talisman on the tree. She turned back around and stuck it onto the inner lining of her sleeve.
This was the talisman her beloved Brother Liu had drawn himself. As long as she wore it on her, it would keep her safe right?
Duanyang was oblivious to the fact that the moment this talisman with incredibly powerful demon suppressing powers was ripped off the unique position it was on the trunk, it had become a completely normal piece of useless paper.
She had stuck useless paper onto the inside of her sleeve. She then walked out of the safe area with no hesitation in her step. She took two steps forward and then saw a hunchbacked old man standing in the forest. He wore black hemp clothes as he squinted at her. She hurriedly asked, “Where is he? Hurry and bring me there!”
The old man whose hair was completely white was looking around. His eyes faced the air as he smiled friendly, prudently saying, “This lowly old man’s eyes cannot see too clearly. Your highness, please follow very closely.”
Duanyang followed him for a while until he passed through a patch of towering grass. She silently crouched down and hid behind the clump of grass.
”Your highness? Your highness?” The person in front seemed to sense that she was no longer following him, turning back and looking in all directions.
Behind the clump of grass, she covered her mouth with both of her hands as best as she could, trying to not let out a single peep. She shook violently and tears rushed down her face.
For this old man had no legs.
TLN: Oooohhh scary scary xD I’m posting this at 3:30 am like the good member of society I am, hope you all enjoy 🙂