Huang Rang had been missing for half a month. The Huang family had naturally searched for her, but Huang Shu wasn’t too concerned, and the servants only made casual inquiries. With so many children in the Huang household, missing one Huang Rang was no different than losing a cat or a dog.
Over the course of several days, not only did nobody in the Huang family care, but many rumors began to circulate.
The women in the rear courtyard of Huang Shu’s residence began to gossip, with some saying that Huang Rang, like her mother, couldn’t bear the loneliness at her young age and had run off with a wild man.
The rumors grew more convincing, and Huang Shu felt embarrassed, so he ordered that Huang Rang not be mentioned again in the household.
Xi Yin’s gaze grew even more vacant, while Huang Jun made inquiries in all directions, searching all the places Huang Rang frequented. But how far could she really go?
On this night, a carriage quietly entered Xiancha Town.
The nights at the Huang household were as usual, with the servants busy with their tasks and huddled in corners, gambling and drinking. The young masters of the house had long since disappeared.
Huang Shu’s concubines were still vying for attention and feeling jealous.
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But Xi Yin didn’t even glance at it. With a sweep of her arm, she knocked the food to the ground. Plates shattered, and the soup splattered everywhere.
“Why have you come back?” Her voice was hoarse, carrying a hint of exhausted hysteria: “You can’t even find a child, and you dare show your face here?!”
She scolded Huang Jun in anger, but Huang Jun remained silent, quietly cleaning up the spilled food and liquid on the ground. Qu Manying held Huang Rang’s hand tightly, and He Xijin patted her shoulder, signaling her not to act impulsively. The couple didn’t say a word.
As the night grew a little deeper, Huang Jun had already cleaned up the courtyard. Xi Yin still wasn’t sleeping, sitting dazedly in the courtyard. Her gaze stared blankly ahead, lost in thought.
Huang Jun also remained silent, standing quietly under the eaves, accompanying Xi Yin in her silence. In the courtyard, only a lantern hanging under the eaves emitted a faint, dim light. Such light couldn’t dispel the darkness. This small courtyard felt suffocatingly oppressive.
Huang Rang nestled in Qu Manying’s arms, listening to her heartbeat. This night, even just secretly observing, made Qu Manying feel breathless. But in fact, every day and night had been like this for Huang Rang since she was born.
She was born into disappointment accompanying Xi Yin. Not expected, not blessed. Even… disliked.
When she was very young, Huang Rang even thought that it must be because of her own shortcomings that her mother’s life was so difficult. But her rebellious spirit didn’t last long, quickly turning into defiance.
Footsteps came from outside, and heads poked out from the other courtyards. At this moment, the entire Huang household seemed to come back to life, like resurrected corpses lacking souls but having movement.
Huang Shu staggered into the rear courtyard.
In this rear courtyard were his dozen or so wives and concubines, not to mention the beautiful maids and court ladies who hadn’t officially joined his household. He stopped at the entrance to Xi Yin’s courtyard, and in a short while, he walked inside.
Just the sound of his footsteps made Huang Jun tremble.
Xi Yin’s expression changed as well. When Huang Shu entered the courtyard and saw Xi Yin sitting there, he immediately said, “What are you doing sitting here so late? Can’t you light a lantern? What bad luck!”
Xi Yin stared at him for a while before saying, “Ah Rang is missing, and we haven’t found her yet.”
“That wild girl probably went out to play!” Huang Shu said with a drunken breath, “When she’s had enough fun, she’ll naturally come back. Speaking of which, isn’t this your fault? As a mother, is this how you normally raise your daughter?”
Xi Yin didn’t speak, and Huang Shu seemed to remember something, and then sneered, “No manners, truly. It’s like mother, like daughter! What kind of mother you are determines what kind of daughter you’ll raise!”
Xi Yin’s eyes were red with blood, and she rushed towards Huang Shu like an angry lion, saying, “Huang Shu! What are you talking about!”
But Huang Shu, with a disdainful expression, pushed her to the ground and said, “What am I saying? Don’t you understand? What was your family like when you were with me? Have you forgotten so quickly? How did your father humiliate me back then? He said Huang Shu came from a humble background, not even worthy of a glance at your family’s gates. Yet I still thought his daughter was a noble lady.”
Xi Yin was so angry that she couldn’t say a word. She hadn’t closed her eyes for several days; her pupils were bloodshot, and her hair was a frightful mess.
“Look at you,” Huang Shu muttered to himself. “I must have been blind back then.”
With that, he walked up to Huang Jun. Her fear of him brought about a sickening excitement in him.
He reached out and touched Huang Jun’s arm through her sleeve, saying, “You’re quite cold; it’s just a bit windy and chilly. Why are you wearing such thin clothes?”
Huang Jun stepped back, and Huang Shu said, “One of these days, Daddy will have someone get you some new clothes, okay?” He was heavily intoxicated; his breath reeked of alcohol, and Huang Jun’s face turned pale.
Qu Manying hid behind the corner of the courtyard wall, trembling with anger.
She tightly gripped Huang Rang’s arm, causing her pain, but she didn’t move. This level of pain was too trivial for her. Childhood memories that she had never dared to dream of were awakened.
She seemed to be immersed in this thick, nauseating darkness, struggling to grow up and using all her strength to escape.
“You shameless dog!” Behind him, Xi Yin suddenly rushed forward, holding a hairpin in her hand, and tried to stab Huang Shu’s throat with all her might.
Although Huang Shu’s cultivation was not high, he ultimately proved stronger than her.
He grabbed Xi Yin’s wrist and twisted it forcefully, resulting in a crisp sound and Xi Yin screaming in agony. Her wrist had been twisted.
“You whore!” Huang Shu kicked her to the ground and delivered another vicious kick.
Qu Manying was about to intervene, but He Xijin blocked her, gently shaking his head.
Huang Shu pinned Xi Yin to the ground, and Huang Jun couldn’t help but step forward to intervene, saying, “Stop it!” Her voice was also weak, as if she were trying to restrain him.
Huang Shu had knocked Xi Yin to the ground, and Huang Jun couldn’t bear it any longer. She stepped forward to stop him, saying, “Please don’t hit her anymore!” Her voice was also weak, sounding like both an attempt to stop him and a plea.
Huang Shu finally stopped and angrily scolded, “If it weren’t for Jun’er’s sake, I would have killed you today!”
After saying this, he seemed to remember something and sneered, “Do you think you’re some extraordinary Miss Xi? If I were to kill you, I could leave your body lying at our doorstep, and no one would question it.”
He said this with great satisfaction.
Tears filled Qu Manying’s eyes.
The Xie family was a prestigious and noble clan, and Xi Yin was the biological daughter of Old Master Xie. She had been pampered and cherished since childhood.
Qu Manying’s background, calling her “sister,” was actually a bit inappropriate. But who could have imagined that she would be living this kind of life now.
Qu Manying lowered her head, unable to bear watching the woman lying in the dust. Huang Rang suddenly felt a cool sensation on her forehead, and as she reached up to touch it, she realized it was tears. They were Qu Manying’s tears.
It turns out that in this world, there are still people shedding tears for her. Huang Rang thought quietly.
Huang Rang had never seen Xi Yin at her most radiant.
When she was born, Xi Yin was already like this. Sometimes delirious, sometimes unusually silent. She looked at the women in the mansion with resentment and even treated Huang Jun and Huang Rang with scorn and abuse.
Where was the elegance of a “legitimate daughter of the Xi family”?
Naturally, Huang Rang didn’t have much sentiment about this. The warmth in her heart had been consumed during her difficult life.
And at this moment, she raised her head and used her small hand to wipe away Qu Manying’s tears. Qu Manying was taken aback for a moment, and then she tightly held Huang Rang’s hand.
As for Huang Shu, he had “taught a lesson” to Xi Yin. He held Huang Jun’s hand and said, “Jun’er, be a good girl. Come to your father’s room and have a little chat.”
After years of “indulgence”, Huang Jun had long since dared not to speak out in anger, and Huang Shu felt even more invincible.
He half-led and half-dragged Huang Jun, heading towards a side room.
Qu Manying handed Huang Rang to He Xijin, gesturing for him to stay and watch the child. He Xijin shook his head, indicating that he would go down and let Qu Manying stay here with Huang Rang.
Qu Manying disapproved of He Xijin’s handling of the situation and whispered, “This beast is despicable. You shouldn’t go down!” He Xijin still shook his head. This time, he had come secretly, naturally not wearing the attire of the Ruyi Sword Sect.
Over these years, sect master He had traveled extensively, so he had long learned the trick of concealing his identity.
He pulled out a set of clothes from his spatial pouch, put them on, and then used a piece of red cloth to cover his face—he became a bandit.
With a large golden ring sword in hand, sect master He jumped down from the courtyard wall. Xi Yin was crying in pain when she suddenly saw him jump down and was momentarily stunned. He Xijin didn’t say a word either. He knocked Xi Yin unconscious with a backhand blow and then rushed into the side room.
Inside the room, Huang Shu was taking advantage of his drunken state by acting indecently towards Huang Jun.
Seeing He Xijin’s attire, he was instantly shocked, and most of his drunkenness evaporated. “Who are you?”
Without a word, He Xijin dragged him out.
Although He Xijin was not articulate, he couldn’t be bothered to deal with him. He struck Huang Shu’s back with a sword, causing Huang Shu, who had lived a life of luxury for many years, to experience this kind of suffering for the first time. He screamed in pain.
The commotion alarmed the other family members, who got up one by one to see what was happening.
He Xijin dragged Huang Shu into the courtyard and waited until all the family members had gathered. Dressed as a bandit, sect master He wore a red cloth mask and carried a nine-ring golden sword on his shoulder.
He tossed out a bag and said, “Money!”
Because of his lack of eloquence, he could only say one word.
The Huang family naturally understood, but at this moment, everyone exchanged glances and no one made a move. He Xijin saw this and was quite satisfied.
He swung the golden sword towards Huang Shu’s thigh!
A white bone appeared on Huang Shu’s thigh, and blood sprayed everywhere. Huang Shu was stunned for a moment, then screamed like a pig being slaughtered, “Give him the money, give him the money!”
The Huang family members were flustered and finally took the bag that He Xijin had thrown, filling it with gold and silver. Naturally, He Xijin wasn’t satisfied; his killing intent was palpable. He cut open Huang Shu’s pants with a single slash! Huang Shu felt a chilling sensation around his waist. His blood froze, and he hastily yelled, “Give it all to him, give it all to him!”
But these members of the Huang family were all obsessed with wealth.
Huang Shu usually kept the money from the public accounts for himself. As for his concubines and children, who would be willing to dig into their own pockets for him? At this moment, they were just hoping he wouldn’t die.
So they were all dragging their feet.
But He Xijin didn’t care—was he causing trouble for money?
He lifted Huang Shu, using the lantern light to let the Huang family members see his miserable state. The Huang family members didn’t know where this ferocious bandit had come from and dared not make a sound. There was one audacious servant who tried to sneak up behind He Xijin to attack.
However, He Xijin seemed to have eyes on the back of his head. He swung the sword backhandedly, sending the servant flying several yards away. The servant was knocked unconscious and couldn’t get up again.
Seeing this, who else dared to approach?
In any case, Huang Shu had never shown kindness to anyone. At a critical moment, who would sacrifice themselves for him?
Everyone merely watched, and Huang Shu knew it wasn’t good.
He begged repeatedly, “Please spare me, sir! I have plenty of gold and silver in the Huang family. If you let me go, I will surely offer my gratitude to you…”
He Xijin’s response was to swing his sword towards the area between Huang Shu’s legs.
He Xijin’s knife was accurate, cutting off his vile part on the spot.
That nauseating thing flew a long distance, landing in front of the Huang family members in a gruesome mess. Huang Shu let out a miserable scream that got stuck in his throat; his eyes rolled back, and he fainted.
He Xijin dropped him to the ground, letting him soil himself.
The small bag that contained gold and silver was originally a spatial pouch. He Xijin picked it up, and seeing Huang Shu’s state covered in mud, he kicked him again before stepping onto the courtyard wall and leaving quickly.
When He Xijin swung his knife, Qu Manying had already covered Huang Rang’s eyes.
At this moment, she was holding Huang Rang and chasing after He Xijin, while the sounds of Huang Shu’s pig-like screams echoed in Huang Rang’s ears.
Huang Rang had seen many schemes and tricks, and even when Xie Hongchen dealt with Huang Shu, it hadn’t been this satisfying and cathartic. Held by Qu Manying, it took a long time for them to catch up to He Xijin.
“Well done,” Qu Manying praised her husband.
“If it were me, I would have cut off his neck.”
He Xijin grunted and squinted his eyes. Qu Manying said, “What should we do next? Are we just going to let him off so easily?”
He Xijin said, “He, he, he will, will, will ask, ask, the Immortal Sect for help.”
Qu Manying’s eyes lit up, and she said, “So, we can go and help them capture these ‘bandits’?”
He Xijin nodded and said, “Exactly! And then, and then…”
Qu Manying slapped her thigh in admiration. “He was publicly castrated; everyone knows. We can use this as an excuse to take Xi Yin and the sisters away!”
For the first time, Huang Rang realized that sect master He could also be a scheming person.
Sure enough, the next day, news of a bandit raid on the Huang family spread throughout Xiancha Town.
This bandit was extremely ruthless, not only robbing them but also… castrating the Huang family’s patriarch, Huang Shu, on the spot. The brutality of his methods was simply appalling.
Xiancha Town was in an uproar. Because this bandit was from the Immortal Sect and the court had no way to control them at the time, the town mayor had no choice but to report him to the Yuhu Immortal Sect. Coincidentally, sect master He was nearby.
So, sect master He of the Ruyi Sword Sect also came “to capture the bandits and uphold justice.”