Chapter 8: Substitute Marriage(8)

“Miss, Young Miss?”

Maidservant 1 delicately called out, her voice as soft as a cat, lightly and softly nagging.

”What? What’s going on?” Ling Miaomiao scrambled up in shock and with a wave, lifted up the muslin. Her hair stuck up in all directions and her eyes looked like copper bells, scaring the maidservant into retreating a few steps.

“No… nothing huge.” She stammered out an explanation, “The lord said that Young Noble Liu and Miss Mu are in the front hall eating tea and cake. He wants you to go accompany them.”

Ling Miaomiao went ‘Oh’ and then rubbed her sleepy eyes. She sat there for a while in a daze before slowly getting off the bed.

She dipped the ivory comb into the bowl of flower-laden fragrant water to brush through her hair. When she groaned while combing through the tangled parts of her hair and the split ends, the comb got stuck so maidservant 1 grabbed a bottle of aromatic ointment to help her lightly massage those parts.

In an instant, a strong smell assailed her senses and Ling Miaomiao sneezed: “Why does it have to be so annoying? Just cut it.”

Maidservant 1 turned pale with fright: “That… I’m afraid that’s…”

“Come, let me.” She looked through the drawers for a pair of scissors before snatching her hair from maidservant 1’s hands. With a few snips, she cut off a ball of hair, a few scattered hairs falling onto the makeup table. “It is what it is. Cutting it will allow it to grow properly, don’t treasure this hair too much.”

Ling Miaomiao put down the pair of scissors. Then, like a wet dog, she flung her head around to get rid of any loose hairs on her clothes before falling into a daze again.

The person in the mirror had swollen eyelids that drooped down slightly, which made her look somewhat lifeless.

“Young Miss, did you not sleep well last night?” The maidservant asked gingerly.

“That’s not it.” Ling Miaomiao had a headache so she massaged her temples. Even though last night was the first step between her and Mu Sheng becoming good friends, she should’ve had a sweet and blissful sleep.

However, the moment she closed her eyes, she would get assaulted by nightmares.

In the nightmare, torchlight was reflected on the mirror-like pond. The heatwaves they gave off was enough to scald one’s face. Row after row of people in disheveled states kneeled by the gate, their faces covered with mud. Indistinctly, weeping could be heard coming in waves, painting the skies. Soldiers held onto some girls while tearing at their hair. The girls had their hands tied behind their backs as they were forced forward staggering and stumbling. Just like they were broken burlap sacks being dragged along the ground.

The cries seemingly covered the heavens. The struggling people were like fish thrown onto a chopping board, frantically twisting about. In the next moment, a broadsword swung down and beheaded them, warm fishy blood spurted out, gathering to the side of the executioner’s boots. When he lifted his boots, they made a squeaking sound like they were drenched in water.

Many wooden boxes were piled up upon each other. Some were open, revealing a small point of hazy light under the unnailed wooden plank. It was shaking butterfly hairpin. It’s wing stuck out yet there was no one there to admire it. Far away, a horse whinnied and a crippled soldier prepared to move the box onto the cart. He was knocked into a side of the cart by a robust figure and the two started fighting.

The night was crimson and everyone was agitated. Perhaps insanity, perhaps death.

Miaomiao looked at her maidservant, whose face was still small and hadn’t grown. That day they captured the water mirror, this maidservant’s teeth chattered from fear and her face was ashen. But now, it had recovered, red as an apple. Youthfulness begets some toughness after all.

“How old are you?”

The maidservant was doubtful, “Fourteen. What’s wrong, young miss?”

In the nightmare, Miaomiao saw her face. A fourteen year old young lady, in that chaos-filled night, was defiled and choked to death. Thrown onto the muddy ground with both of her wide eyes open.

This was the final ending of ‘Ling Yu’s family that the book of <Demon Hunter> never revealed.

When that all happened, where was Ling Yu? Did she pass through the green bamboo forest or did she go to Apricot Town? Did she ever think of her family as well as the people that she had left behind, and what fate they would end up facing?

She lowered her eyes: “Nothing really, let’s go. Let’s head to the flower pavilion.”

“Mission Reminder: Mission 1: 1/4 complete. Scene continuation: Host must grow intimate with the character [Liu Fuyi] while following [Ling Yu]’s plotline. Warning ends here.”

She suddenly received a notification and the pastry in Ling Miaomiao’s mouth turned tasteless.

“Peh.” She carefully spit it out on her palm.

”Not to your taste?” Liu Fuyi smiled as he sipped his tea. Then he good heartedly pushed Miaomiao’s teacup closer to her. 

“From what I see, Miss Ling still hasn’t woken up yet.”

Mu Sheng butted in with his fake smile. He also only went to sleep around 2 in the morning yet his face was white and healthy red. There wasn’t even the slightest hint of a blemish under his eyes.

Feeling Mu Sheng’s gaze, Ling Miaomiao subconsciously trembled slightly under those dark pupils. With a blink, the illusion of a blaze once again engulfed her. Her stomach started to turn.

Ling Yu had been searched and seized, and it was not unrelated to this youth in front of her.

Mu Sheng saw her face pale and fiercely took a sip of tea of water. Seeing that he gave her the cold shoulder, she turned towards Liu Fuyi and asked in a weak tone: “Brother Liu, does my complexion look bad?”

She looked completely focused with her eyes ablaze that Mu Sheng’s expression grew rigid for a moment.

In the flower pavilion, there was only Miaomiao accompanying the group of main leads. Her mayor father had been busy with government affairs since morning. His original words were: Young people should talk more with other youths. He was old and couldn’t keep up in conversation. He would only make the guests feel awkward.

To be honest, Miaomiao knew that the mayor had other intentions in letting this group of capable superhumans stay here for a period of time. It was in case another thorny demon appeared in the county, he could easily request for their help. However, it wasn’t right for him to use his status to pressure them so he threw the heavy responsibility onto his beloved daughter. He eagerly hoped for Miaomiao to become close with them, and it’d be best if she could establish some friendships.

”Oh, it doesn’t very good.” Fuyi carefully inspected her pale face. He slightly wrinkled his brows, “Where do you feel uncomfortable?” The two of them were very close to each other and when he lowered his head to inspect, it created a rather ambiguous angle. Liu Fuyi had the halo of a male lead and with his unique temperament and his focused stare, even aunties and married women would blush.

Miaomiao bravely stared back, ignoring the hint of red spreading across her nose: “I just… couldn’t sleep well at night.”

Past Liu Fuyi’s shoulder, she saw Mu Yao’s posture in drinking tea suddenly freeze for a moment. She then lifted her cold eyes and vigilantly watched them.

Miaomiao moved even closer to Fuyi before quietly muttering: “It was after catching that mirror demon. Ever since then I’ve been having nightmares”

She purposely lowered her voice to the point that Liu Fuyi subconsciously moved closer to her to hear better.

At this sight, Mu Yao’s eyebrows slightly puckered up.

Hearing the two words ‘mirror demon’, Liu Fuyi’s expression congealed as he carefully inspected her for a while. Then he consoled her with: “Miss Ling is a normal person. You might’ve been affected by that great demon.” He then took out a plain white silk brocade bag from his clothes, “Miss Ling, you might as well try this. There is mugwort and daylilies in here, it can help calm your nerves.”

Ling Miaomiao snatched it over with a death grip and even neatly used a pitiful tone to pretend to decline, “Can I really take it…?”

Liu Fuyi didn’t know whether to cry or laugh: “You can.”

Ling Miaomiao put it into her clothes and she couldn’t suppress the curl in her mouth, “Then I’m really going to take it?”

”Take it. It’s already been given to Miss Ling.” Mu Yao’s voice was light as his gaze shot over. “If you don’t like the scent, I still have more here.”

Ling Miaomiao laughed in her heart, the atmosphere in the room was extremely awkward. Only Liu Fuyi was completely unaware of it all, magnanimously speaking in a normal tone.

A female’s intuition was very sharp. No matter how insensitive a woman was, they would feel a subtle hostility against any females near their partner. They would unconsciously puff up their feathers warning others from plying their ‘gentle’ traps. Although Mu Yao’s words flowed smoothly, her body was stretched taut: Her fingers tightly gripped around her cup gave her away.

Mu Sheng was like a weather doll that was hung up on the window of Mu Yao’s room for he was able to sense some things before Mu Yao herself could even come to realize them. Because of this, he looked at Miaomiao with a gaze that possessed a trace of profoundness.

“Sister Mu also has a scented sachet? Just like Young Noble Liu?” Miaomiao played with the scented sachet in her palm as she curiously asked.

When bullying people, you can’t go overboard. She had originally planned on making a joke and making Mu Yao’s face red. She also wanted to break past this awkward atmosphere. She didn’t want, for the sake of farming intimacy with Fuyi, to cause a small hiccup in their relationship.

However, Ling Miaomiao had no experience with emotions. She couldn’t have expected that a random teasing sentence, in the ears of Mu Yao, could somehow turn into a malicious probe. Feeling that her sovereignty was provoked, the word ‘yes’ was just about to leave her mouth—

“No.” Mu Sheng deliberately replied.

“This is not the case. Demon hunters would always carry a scented sachet with them to drive away malicious things.” Liu Fuyi explained seriously at the same time.

Ling Miaomiao was stunned. So awkward, what should she do now?

Mu Yao’s face turned from white to red and then back to white, she then got up with a stomp and said, “I’m going to return first.”

“Sis, let me send you back.” Mu Sheng eagerly waited for this kind of outcome as he hurriedly followed Mu Yao, smiling like the blooming flowers of spring, a flowery light blossoming in his eyes.

Liu Fuyi sat up straight and watched Mu Yao’s silhouette. His eyes were filled with worry yet he turned around to face Miaomiao.

“You should hurry up too Brother Liu. Many thanks for the scented sachet.” Miaomiao very cleverly opened up a path for him.

Yet, Liu Fuyi didn’t go. His long slender fingers took out an empty talisman, taking the scented sachet from Miaomiao’s hand. He folded the talisman into a small square before stuffing it in, “This is my talisman paper. It has my aura on it. If your nightmares were caused by a demonic force, as soon as it senses this, it won’t dare bother you anymore.”

Ling Miaomiao was moved by the male lead’s righteousness. She very carefully closed the scented sachet, afraid of breaking it: “Many thanks Brother Liu…”

Liu Fuyi smiled before finally dusting off his clothes: “I’ll go take a look at Yao’er.”

Outside the desolate west sideroom, a person’s silhouette passed by the pond. A spring breeze brushed past the pool of water, causing ripples to form on the surface. Willow branches swayed in accordance and a tender youth with an attractive face broke off a piece of it.

Pinching the green sprout-like willow branch in his hand, he twirled it around before completely emotionlessly tossing it into the pond. Watching as it sunk into the mud.

Mu Sheng felt extremely irked inside.

“Sis, from what I can see, that Miss Ling has some intentions towards Liu Fuyi.”

“Don’t speak nonsense.” At this moment, Mu Yao sat on the bed, her expression placid.

Feeling happy that his sister’s feelings were in a mess, he purposely tried to rile up her jealousy: “It looks like Liu Fuyi doesn’t detest Ling Yu.”

“Mu Sheng.” Mu Yao frowned, “If you’re so free, then go train your spells. Don’t wander in front of me.”

”Sis, don’t be mad.” He softened his tone, “I’m just worried, what if Liu Fuyi…”

“Fuyi isn’t that kind of person.” Mu Yao interrupted him. Her eyes were clear and bright, not the slightest hint of doubt within.

He most loathed his sister’s complete trust in that person.

The wind blew up his soft hair but carried with it a streak of yellow, flying towards him like a butterfly. Mu Sheng reached out and grabbed it, finding that it was a tattered piece of yellow paper. The dark red words on it nearly gone, only a corner of it was left. It wasn’t quite legible.

His expression suddenly changed, for this was Liu Fuyi’s talisman paper.

And that redness wasn’t the redness of cinnabar, but blood.

TLN: Reading this again a month after I translated it, I wanna puke blood. ;0


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