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Let’s All Be a Multi-faceted Person ;)

On July 15, 2017, Posted by , In Updates, With 4 Comments

We’re back with some True Star and Ti Shen. Just one chapter of each, I’m afraid. Hopefully, that’s enough to tide you over. If not, well, maybe next time. Patience is a virtue! :D

Speaking of which, we could really use some more translators and proofreaders. Otherwise, we really might be defunct in a couple months. Come help us! You don’t want to still be reading True Star while you’re in your 80s, right?

True Star: Chapter 11
Ti Shen: Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Difficulty Breathing

On July 15, 2017, Posted by , In Ti Shen, tagged in ,, , With 8 Comments

Ran Feng Ge dilly-dallied slowly after Su Yi Mo down the corridor. Su Yi Mo pushed open the door leading into the private room he had reserved, indicating for Ran Feng Ge to enter. As soon as Ran Feng Ge entered the room, Su Yi Mo promptly closed and locked the door.

Touching his nose slightly, Ran Feng Ge asked, “Don’t tell me you still want to fight?”

Instead of answering, Su Yi Mo turned around and silently stared at Ran Feng Ge. His gaze was no longer as cold as it had been before.

Feeling uncomfortable being stared at, Ran Feng Ge stepped deeper into the room, making a beeline straight for the table once he spotted it. He sat himself on top of it, swinging his legs slightly. Not wanting to look up at Su Yi Mo, he could only continue looking at his toes as he asked, “So, what’s the matter?”

“I have something I need to ask of you.”

“Ah, is this what they call the carrot and the stick?” Ran Feng Ge replied with a raised eyebrow and a look full of reluctance.

“You started it first by attacking me without any reason.” Su Yi Mo emphasized, “I was only defending myself.”

“Tsk!” Ran Feng Ge clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes, “If you were being sincere, you’d stand there and let me hit you.”

“Why should I just stand here and let you hit me?”

“…That’s why I say you are insincere!” Ran Feng Ge refused to admit that the reason he played Su Yi Mo to trick Jing Qiu Han was because he was afraid of Su Yi Mo. That was why he decided to take the initiative to fight with him.

Besides, Su Yi Mo knowing that Ran Feng Ge pretended to be him to try and trick his little lover would make him very unhappy. Therefore, letting him do a little work out to soothe out those feelings would help.

See, isn’t Su Yi Mo so much more manageable now?

Su Yi Mo realized that it was getting a little difficult to maintain his iceberg persona.

He used to be someone who was very resolute in everything he did, one meant one, but now that Ran Feng Ge was in the picture, he found it very difficult to retain the same attitude. Even if he did try, what was the use if the other party refused to acknowledge it?

Just like now.

That fellow wearing a face identical to his own, sitting with both his legs dangling off the table, a look of stubbornness etched on his features, even Su Yi Mo was unable to find the drive to get angry.

Even though he had already let his anger out, he found that he was now filled with a feeling of helplessness.

“Can you first change your face back?” Su Yi Mo asked, resisting the urge to sigh out loud. Then, with a few strides, he stepped in front of Ran Feng Ge. Looking at his identical double before him, Su Yi Mo couldn’t help but feel as though it was some kind of out-of-body experience.

With a brief scratch on the cheek, Ran Feng Ge stated, “Why should I change back? I think this is quite nice.”

“I find it very awkward!” Seeing that Ran Feng Ge had no intention of doing anything, Su Yi Mo reached for the mask with the intention of ripping it off.

“Aiyah! Hurts, hurts, it hurts, be more gentle!” Ran Feng Ge had no choice but to follow the movement of the arm before him, as his face was being manipulated without his will. He was unable to form coherent sentences, “I’ll do it myself, I’ll do it! Let, let go… Argh…”

With a start, Su Yi Mo felt his spirits lift as he watched his doppelganger’s face turn red from his manipulation. Whatever he was pissed off about before.

Seeing the sides of Su Yi Mo’s lips curl upwards, a glimmer of relief shone through Ran Feng Ge’s eyes.

So long as he’s no longer angry…

Knowing his limits, Ran Feng Ge carefully felt along the junction of his cheek and ear base. He then retrieved a bottle of transparent makeup removal, which he carries along with him at all times. After what seemed like half a day, the mask was finally pulled off!

“Hu…” Releasing a breath, Ran Feng Ge glanced at Su Yi Mo from his peripheral vision and said, “So, we’ll talk about serious matters now?”

Su Yi Mo found himself staring at the slightly oxygen deprived face before him, blotches of red amid all that handsome smooth whiteness. Of course, it was only but a moment of distraction.

“Because of your little prank, I was indeed very angry. However, now that I have calmed down and have given it some thought, rather than hiding things from you, I might as well show you all my cards. Now that you’ve met Jing Qiu Han: his character, his movements, how he reacts in different situations… I am sure you should now know them like the back of your hand. Therefore, I would like you to listen very carefully to what I want to say next…” Su Yi Mo’s voice suddenly became very serious.

“Qiu Han is in fact being forced to do this. Throughout the years he has been by my side, he has indeed provided Lan Kuang information on Falcon, which led to the demise of my family’s business.”

“I did wonder at the beginning when I first accepted Qiu Han, if he approached me with a motive, but he has yet to let me down even after numerous trials.”

“Besides, I did use him to get back at Lan Kuang too… Thinking back, I suppose we can call it even.”

“The main reason Qiu Han refuses to be honest with me is because his little sister is still in the hands of Lan Kuang.”

“Therefore…”

“Therefore, you want to use this to your advantage. Provide me with some privy information and have me act as Jing Qiu Han to meet up with Lan Kuang to negotiate and rescue his sister. This way, both brother and sister will be under your protection, right?” Ran Feng Ge has always been quick to catch on. Su Yi Mo had just finished explaining himself and Ran Feng Ge was already able to guess what his next step was.

Ah… He is indeed an infatuated moron! Having already planned everything, even willing to sacrifice his own gains to come out on top in the end.

Su Yi Mo did feel a little guilty. When he first signed the contract with Ran Feng Ge, he had no intention of dragging him this far in. His only duty had been to mimic and act as Jing Qiu Han for a year in the entertainment circle to ensure that no suspicion was raised.

Alas, in the end, the plans of men are fallible. Now that Jing Qiu Han’s identity as a undercover spy was unknowingly exposed by Ran Feng Ge and Qiu Han did come clean to him, there was no way he could ignore the wellbeing of Qiu Han’s little sister. Therefore, the only choice was to rely on Ran Feng Ge.

He is capable of protecting himself, right?

Being dragged into all this… It shouldn’t… It shouldn’t be too dangerous right?

“I will add another 10 million to the contract fee for you.” Su Yi Mo muttered quietly, feeling very inadequate at the moment.

Not knowing what to say, Ran Feng Ge could only look down at the freshly removed mask in his hands. Pulling it this way and that, he said with an enigmatic voice, “You treat your little lover very well!”

“So… you…” Su Yi Mo didn’t know what was going on with his heart and all he could do was stutter uneasily.

Seeing his troubled expression, Ran Feng Ge felt a tug at his heartstrings and decided to quell the foreign emotion rising within him. Gripping the mask tightly in his fingers, Ran Feng Ge hopped off the desk, “Okay, deal!”

Before Su Yi Mo was even able to open his mouth to say his thanks, Ran Feng Ge continued, “But I want to see the money in my account first this time! Only once I have confirmed it will I do anything!”

“No problem! I will immediately call my people to transfer the funds into your account!” A rare expression of ecstasy to appeared upon Su Yi Mo’s face.

Silently, a mysterious emotion flashed through Ran Feng Ge’s eyes.

Su Yi Mo clasped his hands on top of Ran Feng Ge’s shoulders, “Even though you are paid to do this, I really need to thank you!”

“Then, I shall accept your thanks.” Ran Feng Ge replied nonchalantly.

Su Yi Mo gave those shoulders a tight squeeze, “Then I shall go and make the arrangements, we shall discuss more about this when we get home.”

“Okay.” He answered, flashing a perfect smile, without a hint of weakness.

Once Su Yi Mo had exited the room, the smile that had been plastered on Ran Feng Ge’s lips grew stiff. He lowered his head in a daze and stared at the wrinkled piece of fake skin. He lifted it up to his chest and wondered to himself. Why was he feeling so uneasy here? It was as though there was a huge rock sitting right on top of his chest making it very difficult to breathe.

Lang Ting Hotel: Presidential Suite

“Boss, this is the information you requested!”

“Just put it there!” Lan Kuang waved his hand absentmindedly. After placing the document carefully next to the tea set, his subordinate exited the room Leaving Lan Kuang alone in the vast room.

It still seemed as though he had very casually dressed himself. He wore a pure white robe that was secured loosely at his waist while a glass of whiskey appeared to be glued to his hand at all times.

This was exactly what Lan Kuang was like, sprawled lazily across the sofa with half his bathrobe hanging off him, his well-sculptured chest exposed to the world.

If one were to look carefully, one would find that there was a very faint scar marring the surface of that otherwise perfect chest. Of course, that scar was already so faint that it was unnoticeable unless one knew where to look.

Actually, the scar that was on Lan Kuang’s chest was very similar to the one that can be found on the body of An Mu. They were both marked with an ‘X’.

Except, one of them was obvious, and the other was barely visible anymore.

Lan Kuang sipped at his whiskey slowly, enjoying the taste of it on his tongue. He leaned forward and reached for the document that had been placed down by his subordinate and balanced it on his knee, flipping it over to the first page.

It contained pictures of An Mu when he was still with him, newspaper articles, rumors – Everything.

His gaze shifted to another photograph, one that was blurred.

It was a group picture of two men.

Actually, it was not really a group picture. It was taken by a reporter, which Lan Kuang had intercepted. He then had the photo developed.

It’s been two years since then.

Both men’s faces were unable to be recognized, but even from the photo, both had an imposing aura.

The one that was in the midst of falling on to the bed, had on a Vampire Knight mask. While the other stood tall at the bedside looking like a dominatrix, had on a Demon mask.

That had been the night of a costume party. Normally, Lan Kuang was not one to join in on events such as that. However, it was a party organized by a few of his sponsors so Lan Kuang had been pressured to attend.

That night, Lan Kuang had donned a Vampire Knight mask. An Mu had been the one under the Demon’s mask.

All that was visible that night had been that pair of mesmerizingly cunning eyes that were peeking out from under the eyeholes of the Demon mask.

One look was all that was needed to entrap Lan Kuang’s heart.

 

Next:
Previous: Chapter 8: Force Over Words
Return: Main Page

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Translators: joeypoonie
Proofreaders: dinoj, Lyrick

Chapter 11: The Hidden Trap Within Words

On July 15, 2017, Posted by , In True Star, tagged in ,, , With 13 Comments

Lu Tian Chen stared at Tang Feng. He wanted to obtain some sort of answer from the actor’s eyes, but he couldn’t find anything within the other’s beautiful irises.

It wasn’t the first time that Lu Tian Chen had tested Tang Feng, but it was a bit different this time around. Rather than staring at Tang Feng with an interrogating gaze, Lu Tian Chen was gazing at the actor with a sense of appreciation and obsession, transmitting across an emotion that even he didn’t suspect.

As an actor, Tang Feng believed that he understood the emotions behind different gazes. What could Lu Tian Chen mean by gazing at him that deeply?

The intensity of the president’s gaze made Tang Feng unable to look away. It was like a blaze trying to burn him alive. He wanted to escape from the reaches of the fire, but he felt as if he’d been glued to his spot.

Who didn’t desire the love of another?

Humans naturally paid more attention to individuals who were kind to them. People would remember who smiled at them that morning, who bought breakfast for them, and who helped them carry their bag. They would commit those faces to memory and recall them when they next came across the person.

As humans, it was natural to crave attention, to crave love, and to crave recognition.

When Tang Feng had walked onto the path of an actor, was it also to obtain the attention he couldn’t receive in his normal life? As an abandoned orphan, he’d already been denied the recognition he deserved as a human being. He needed to prove that he wasn’t worthless in the eyes of society. There was a meaning to his existence. He wasn’t born so that he could be abandoned.

People often said that Fiennes was a miracle. He’d turned from an abandoned orphan to an actor loved by millions. As Fiennes, he knew that his fans loved him, but he craved the love of the people around him much more than the love of the audience separated by the screen. Only the people close to him knew what he was like in real life, and not as the Fiennes that the media and his agency had created.

“Good night.” Lu Tian Chen leaned forward and kissed Tang Feng on the forehead. He got up from the bed and turned the light off.

Tang Feng stared at the ceiling in the darkened room. “Lu Tian Chen, what exactly is this supposed to be?”

“A warm up for your performance tomorrow,” Lu Tian Chen replied calmly, as if it were completely logical.

“You know what I mean, don’t change the topic. Explain clearly, we aren’t children here.” Tang Feng blinked forcefully and opened his eyes again. He turned his back to Lu Tian Chen and pulled the blanket up to his chin.

As the two of them were sleeping in the same bed, there were two sets of blankets. Tang Feng had the habit of hugging his blankets while sleeping. He didn’t like sharing them with another person; it meant that he had to hug something else in order to sleep.

“Then what kind of answer do you want from me?” Lu Tian Chen’s low voice sounded like a poet’s recitation in the dark. Every word was a story, a poem.

“You… Do you have feelings for me?” Tang Feng clicked his tongue lightly in annoyance.

After asking his question, Tang Feng found that he didn’t quite want to know the answer. Whether it was yes or no, he wasn’t happy with either.

“If you mean whether I want to sleep with you, then the answer is yes.” Lu Tian Chen’s blunt reply made Tang Feng smile. The man continued, “Do you remember what I’ve said? I may be a businessman, but I am also a man. If you’re so keen on seducing me, then I’m not against having an office love with one of my employees.”

Hearing those words come out of Lu Tian Chen’s mouth made Tang Feng feel as if he were watching a dry comedy.

Tang Feng burrowed his head into the blankets. He said with a voice slightly muffled, “I said I haven’t been seducing you. Why don’t you go back to your own room and sleep?”

Not two seconds later, Tang Feng felt a warmth slide up his back and spread toward his limbs. Lu Tian Chen was hugging him from behind. Even through the layers of blankets, the heat between them was enough to burn. “You’ve been really fragile lately.”

“Oh… I’ve been trying to get in touch with my character. Can you let go a bit? It’s too hot.”

“Hot? Since when did you wear pajamas to bed?” Lu Tian Chen chuckled. Tang Feng could feel the other’s hot breath on the back of his neck. “Are you afraid that I would attempt something? Did you know? A person is at their least appealing state when they are completely naked. It’s in bad taste and only makes them appear low.”

“Wait a second…” Tang Feng frowned. “Are you trying to make me take my clothes off?”

Lu Tian Chen farfetched reasoning wasn’t convincing at all.

“You can take it that way.”

Heavens, he didn’t know that a serious man like Lu Tian Chen also had a thick-skinned and perverted side to him. Truly, one shouldn’t judge another by their appearance. Tang Feng covered his face with both hands. Exactly what was happening? “No, I feel like you’re trying to drag me into a trap. From this moment on, I’m not answering any of your questions. Why don’t we just sleep, all right?”

MOVIE: SATAN’S ALLEY

SCENE 12

EXT. INSIDE A CHURCH—NIGHT

The days passed by one by one. With night’s fall, the monks of the church had already returned to their own rooms. All that remained behind in the church were brightly burning candles that danced in the salty sea breeze, and one solitary monk.

Tang had been at the church for three months already. He believed that news of his crime would never cross the sea and reach where he was. He had to believe that was the case. Wearing the simple black robe, Tang knelt in front of the figure of God and prayed. He prayed that God would forgive his lies, for he had lied to everyone at the church here.

The fake letter he had given them, none of them knew the truth.

Occasionally, he’d wake up during the night, ears ringing with the accusations of his past companions. They accused him of being dirty. The foul words and glaring eyes threatened to swallow him like the sea outside. He was drowning in the waters, sinking deeper and deeper. He couldn’t breathe and the light in front of his eyes dimmed bit by bit. Finally, he sank into a cold and painful world filled with darkness.

Tang continued to pray and memorize the scriptures.

The sea breeze outside crashed against the windows, making the old, wooden frames creak in protest. Some of the candles went out with a whoosh.

After half an hour of praying, Tang felt much better. He could feel his heart calming down with every word of prayer. He opened his eyes and looked around; he was the only person left in the church.

It was about time for him to return to his room. He had to wake up early and water the garden tomorrow morning. The monks at the church lived a self-sufficient life. As a foreigner and a newcomer, he was responsible for a large amount of work around the church. Tang didn’t complain, he knew it was God’s way of punishing him.

Tang walked toward the candlesticks. He picked one up and blew on it, the dancing flame quickly extinguished itself, leaving behind a smoldering wick.

He turned and blew out the remaining candles one by one.

Soon, Tang heard footsteps behind him. They were clear and steady, like the approach of a sudden breeze.

Tang turned and looked in the direction of the footsteps. The person he saw was concealed from head to toe by his black robe. Their monk robes all came with a large hood. With the hood pulled up, all that could be seen from the outside was the person’s chin.

The person walked through the door and stopped three steps away from Tang. He reached up with pale hands and pulled off the hood of his robe. Tang knew the man; it was the first person he’d seen after waking up: Chris.

Aside from the first few days, Chris hadn’t spoken to him again. Tang understood, no one liked talking to someone who couldn’t respond. But he could often find Chris standing in different places observing him with a deep gaze.

Chris’ attention made Tang tense and uncomfortable. He could feel his heart racing, trying to jump out from his chest.

“You’re here.”

Chris walked toward him. Tang stared at the other monk, not knowing what to do. A burning candle remained gripped in his hand, forgotten. The molten wax streamed down the body of the candle and dripped onto his hand. Tang jolted at the pain and instinctively dropped the candle.

The white candle landed on the ground and cracked into two. The wax flowed like tears down its body and collected into a pool on the cold, hard ground.

Tang stared at the broken candle. He bent down to pick up the pieces, but Chris grabbed his wrist. The voice that was as enticing as the devil’s sounded beside his ear.

“I know…I know you have your own secret. You might have fooled the others with that letter, but you can’t fool my eyes, Tang.”

Tang raised his head and looked at Chris. There was a battle in his eyes, patience fighting with fear and fragility. At the same time, Chris cradled Tang’s face and kissed him on the lips. Tang struggled in the other’s hold, sweeping more candles onto the ground in the process.

The candles rolled across the ground and threw light all over the dark church. The wind outside crashed against the walls with a frenzy, while the broken moonlight reflected their intertwined shadows onto the figure of God.

At that moment, a streak of lightning flashed across the sky.

 

Next:
Previous: Chapter 10: Warm Up
Return: Main Page

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Translator: Nannyn
Proofreaders:

Biscuits Are the Key to Solving World Problems

On July 1, 2017, Posted by , In Updates, With 1 Comment

Hi guys! Sorry for the late update. After six months, we finally have another chapter of Gong Hua for you guys. Trying to translate 15 pages during the semester is an impossible task. That’s why there was such a long wait. Anyways, enjoy!

That’s all we have for this time. Yup, that’s it… I can already hear people screaming in anguish at the lack of True Star, and Ti Shen. Alas, your neighborhood translator hasn’t looked at anything besides Gong Hua since May. Maybe next time. :)

Gong Hua: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: A Beautiful Future…An Unforgettable Past

On July 1, 2017, Posted by , In Gong Hua, tagged in ,, , With 5 Comments

It hurts! It hurts! It hurts!
Why does my chest hurt so much? My other injuries are more serious, but why does my chest hurt much more than all of them combined?
What do I need to do to stop it from hurting?
Would it stop hurting if I took revenge?
Revenge—Kill West, just like Cedric had planned to kill me.
It would be easy. I can use the vines to kill him in a split second.
Even if a battalion stood in front of me, I can kill them all. Like before, when Owen was still here, I only need to use the vines to kill everybody, and then take the head of the “General.”
Owen had often said to look for the General and kill him first. The battle would end faster that way… Would it also end my pain?
West…
Where are you?
—Gong Hua

When he stepped into the study, Yin Qie Zi immediately noticed Cas. When the door shut behind him, he turned to see that Owen hadn’t followed him in.

“Don’t panic,” said Edward from behind the desk. He smiled. “I told Owen to stay outside. We’ll be discussing the strategies that we’ll employ to protect the Leaves. It’d be best if fewer people knew of our plans.”

“You don’t trust Owen, but me?” Yin Qie Zi wasn’t under the impression that he had such a good relationship with the prince.

“It’s not a problem of trust. From birth, Owen had been destined to be Warlord Paladin’s successor. Later on, he also became Commander Chris’ student.”

Edward continued, “From my current knowledge, Warlord Paladin and Commander Chris have reached an agreement on a certain subject. However, I have yet to discover what this subject entails. If they belong to the pro-war faction, then Owen would undoubtedly be pro-war as well. I have no other choice but to take precautions against him, lest holes develop in our plan to protect the Leaves.”

“I currently live at the warlord’s estate. I’m also good friends with Owen. If my guess is correct, Owen has also been trying to set me up with his sister. Despite all this, you don’t consider me as one of the warlord’s men?” Yin Qie Zi replied.

Edward smiled and stood up. He walked around the desk and stopped beside Yin Qie Zi. He indicated with a hand that the spirit binder should take a seat.

The prince picked up the intricate teapot sitting on the table. “Do you like black tea? I’ve heard from Mila that you rather like tea.”

Instead of feeling flattered from the attention, Yin Qie Zi had a great urge to escape from the room. He had a nagging feeling in the back of his mind. A normal person probably craved the chance to get into the prince’s good graces, but Yin Qie Zi would rather the prince treat him as if he were invisible. He didn’t want any branches tripping him up on his road to revenge.

While pouring two cups of tea, Edward explained unhurriedly, “Mila is a very opinionated girl. Her actions are not controlled by Warlord Paladin. Owen, however, is the opposite. If he wants to succeed the Racing Flames, he cannot go against his father.

While the prince’s eyes were on the teapot, Yin Qie Zi snuck a glance at Cas. Having not taken a seat, the assassin was standing behind the prince.

He noticed the smirk on Cas’ face. He didn’t understand why Cas was smiling, but if the assassin was smiling, then whatever was coming up would probably make him want to cry.

Edward picked up a cup of tea of took a sip. Seeing this, Yin Qie Zi followed suit and picked up his own cup. The black tea was especially fragrant and delicious, but Yin Qie Zi would much prefer it cold than piping hot. After one sip, he placed down the cup.

“I’ve heard Owen say that the quality of spirit medicine has been dropping lately. It’s practically impossible to buy a bottle of good quality stuff these days. The problem has become too serious to leave it alone. I’ve already informed my father. He has decided to initiate a full-on investigation and punish the spirit binders who have been selling low quality goods.”

Yin Qie Zi frowned at the prince’s declaration.

“You don’t agree with my decision?” Edward noticed the minute changes in the other’s mood.

Yin Qie Zi nodded and explained, “There is a market for low quality spirit medicine. Not every spirit binder is capable of producing high quality goods. Additionally, there isn’t an exact line separating spirit medicine into high and low quality. Spirit binders wouldn’t know where to start.”

Edward proposed, “What if we used your medicine as a standard?”

“Then two-third of the spirit binders in the city would be out of a job. They are incapable of making anything that would meet my standard. If you really are determined to do it, then the amount of spirit medicine on the market would drop greatly,” Yin Qie Zi said.

Edward looked more perplexed the longer Yin Qie Zi explained. He asked, “Then what would you do?”

Yin Qie Zi looked at Edward and made sure that the prince was actually asking for his advice instead of merely testing him. He answered, “I would introduce three quality tiers into the market, each with their own set price. For each tier, I would pick out three medicine and make a sample bottle as a standard to measure against. Anything that falls short of the standard would be prohibited from sales. I would also send spirit binders out for quality checks at regular periods. Spirit binders whose medicine meet the required standards should be awarded a certificate and praised for their good work.”

Edward’s eyes brightened at his suggestion.

“I’ve spoken to Owen about this before, but the problem with decreasing quality hadn’t been as severe back then. He’d probably forgotten all about it.”

Yin Qie Zi’s voice was calm, but he was a bit irritated on the inside. He and Litelli had spent such a long time investigating the situation, all for the sake of catching Owen’s interest. Who knew that Owen wouldn’t even pay any attention to him! His goal had been completed in a roundabout way, but he couldn’t help but feel that all the energy and time he had poured into the investigation were wasted.

Edward thought to himself and felt that Yin Qie Zi’s plan could work, but he still had questions. “Your plan seems like it will work. But even with the sample bottles on hand, how difficult would it be to determine the quality of a medicine?”

“It’s very easy for spirit binders to determine the quality of a medicine.” Yin Qie Zi knew the crown and military had spirit binders in their employment. The number probably wasn’t small either.

“If the plan works, then I will report back to my father about your contribution.” Edward reached for the tin box on the table and opened it to reveal the biscuits within. He pushed it toward Yin Qie Zi. “Would you like a biscuit?”

The prince had poured him a cup of tea because he’d wanted advice on how to solve the matter of spirit medicines and their decreasing quality. What did he have in mind with the biscuits?

“Your Highness, exactly what do you seek from me?” Yin Qie Zi couldn’t stand the testing way the prince had been phrasing his questions. He tried to be respectful with his tone, but Owen had always told him that people could easily see through the thin layer of respect in his words down to what he really meant.

Edward smiled. Knowing that the other didn’t like to beat around the bush, he said directly, “I want you!”

“Me?” Yin Qie Zi was a bit shocked. He asked in confusion, “Why would you want me? I’m only a commoner, what can I offer to you the prince?”

“Only a commoner?” Edward’s smile disappeared. “News of your duel with Commander Chris has already spread within Qi Feng. Everybody’s talking about how you had broken the commander’s sword and made him lose completely.”

Yin Qie Zi paused, and explained, “I made my move when he was unprepared. It wasn’t during the actual duel. That doesn’t count at all!”

Edward took a drink from his cup. “That doesn’t matter for the citizens. It counts for them. Commander Chris and Warlord Paladin have aged much over the years. What the people need now is a hero of the new generation.”

Yin Qie Zi wasn’t willing to accept the mess that the prince was trying to push toward him. He quickly offered up other names. “Owen, Anselo, and Gawain are good choices.”

Edward shook his head. “They all have fathers in high positions. Everything they achieve in their life will be attributed to their fathers’ influence. They can never become true heroes in the people’s eyes. Unless they are truly outstanding, like Commander Chris had been. The three of them are good, but not enough for people to see them differently.”

“They’ve already been taken into different spheres of influence. They aren’t suited for what His Highness has in mind,” Cas added unexpectedly.

Edward turned to look at his guard. He was surprised that the man had spoken out loud.

Left Eye never liked drawing the attention of others. If anyone beside him was present in the room, Left Eye would never speak out loud. Why did the assassin decide to do so this time? Did the topic raise his interest? Or was it the person…

At that moment, Yin Qie Zi finally understood why the prince called him here. The prince wanted to build an organization that was purely under his power. He was a stranger who had turned up from nowhere. A stranger who could become Mila’s husband in the future. To the prince, he was the ideal person. Additionally, he had “defeated” Commander Chris… He shouldn’t have broken the commander’s sword. Yin Qie Zi greatly regretted his impulsiveness back then.

Edward stared at Cas with an odd feeling in his heart, but the latter had already returned to the calm impassivity of a guard. He couldn’t guess at what the other was thinking, but Left Eye’s personality was strange to begin with. This wasn’t the strangest thing he’d done, so there wasn’t a need to make a mountain out of a molehill.

The prince turned his attention back to Yin Qie Zi. The spirit binder appeared a bit irritated. He obviously didn’t appreciate all the focus that the prince was giving him.

The other’s reaction was within Edward’s expectations. The spirit binder was a candidate to become Warlord Paladin’s son-in-law. Coming into contact with the royal family would be a must for Yin Qie Zi in the future. It wasn’t necessary for him to be surprised at the spirit binder’s reaction. Yin Qie Zi had a cold personality to start with. In Owen’s eyes, Yin Qie Zi was a stubborn spirit binder who wouldn’t listen to anyone, but Edward thought it was more accurate to describe Yin Qie Zi as gifted.

He tossed out another specially prepared lure: “We have a total of three spiritmancer regiments protecting the Zangxia Gates, the Old Zhan Plains, and Qi Feng. Our forces are strained tighter than we’d like. Lately, my father has been in talks of starting a fourth regiment under my authority.”

The king wanted to start another spiritmancer regiment. Yin Qie Zi frowned at the news. Was the king truly pro-war?

Edward smiled. “You are young, but I like you. I would like you to join the regiment that I’m building.”

“I am not an aristocrat.” Yin Qie Zi didn’t plan on getting involved in more complicated matters. Plus, he hated anything having to do with war. He didn’t want to be dragged into a war again.

“You will be one after you marry Mila.” Edward smiled, not giving Yin Qie Zi a moment to argue. He added, “But that’s all in the future. At the moment, our task is to protect the Leaves. As long as we complete our task, my father will elevate you to the title of Warrior, skipping War Solider entirely.”

Yin Qie Zi’s expression flipped, but Edward quickly explained with a smile, “Don’t think too much into it. The only reason we’re giving you a title is because you can’t marry Mila honorably without at least a title of Warrior.”

Since when had his marriage to Mila been officially settled? Yin Qie Zi was a bit puzzled. He was sure that Mila didn’t know about it either. If she knew about it, she would probably be furious rather than happy.

Yin Qie Zi asked, “Does Mila know that you and Owen have been blatantly trying to set us up? Does she know that you’re trying to rope me over to your side?”

“Uh…” Edward looked a bit sheepish. He implored, “Please don’t tell her that I’m trying to rope you over to my side. She’d be furious!”

Yin Qie Zi finally understood why Owen and the prince were good friends. Edward was too amiable and easy to approach for a prince. It was too easy for him make friends.

Was it the same for Cas? He glanced secretly at Cas.

“You seem interested in my guard.” Edward caught Yin Qie Zi’s glance. He asked curiously, “Do you know each other?”

Yin Qie Zi’s heart skipped a beat, but said calmly, “I don’t know him, but Jin Qi Er mentioned that he’s very strong.”

“Is that so? It seems I haven’t introduced you two yet,” Edward said with a smile. “He’s my guard, a very strong one. He doesn’t like using his real name, so you can just call him Left Eye. I shouldn’t have to explain why he’s called Left Eye, right?”

The prince continued with a joke, “But don’t try to ask where he got the injury on his eye. I’ve been asking him for years, but he hasn’t answered me at all. He gets angry at me all the time.”

Left Eye. Yin Qie Zi nodded and took caution to remember the name, lest he accidentally called the assassin “Cas.” As for the prince’s reminder, he didn’t bother taking it to heart. He knew that he wouldn’t ask after the origins…of the scar that he had created himself.

“Left Eye, you need to take good care of Yin Qie Zi from now on,” the prince said earnestly. “I expect good things from you two. You have to get along.”

Cas’ lips lifted in a smirk as he nodded.

Yin Qie Zi nodded as well.

Edward said to the two of them, “I’ve already given Left Eye total responsibility on the matter with the Leaves. I’ll leave it to you to discuss your next steps with him. The Leaves’ safety is tightly connected to the peace between our country and the Danyas. I hope you two can work together to complete this important task.”

Work together with Cas? Despite the strange feeling in his heart, Yin Qie Zi forced himself to say, “Don’t hesitate to give me any advice.”

Cas lifted an eyebrow. “There’s no need for that! You will do whatever I tell you to do.”

Yin Qie Zi stared at him in surprise. He’d thought that Cas would at least pretend to be amiable to avoid rousing the prince’s suspicions. He hadn’t expected the assassin to act like always and speak to him as if he were asking for a fight.

“His personality is like this. Don’t take any offense,” the prince said apologetically.

Did Cas act like this normally? Yin Qie Zi replied, “Don’t worry. I’m not the easiest person to get along with either.”

Edward felt a sense of defeat come over him when he heard Yin Qie Zi. He also had an urge to sigh at the heavens. Why did he always have to take a liking to people with strange personalities?

***

Yin Qie Zi followed Cas out of the prince’s study. The two of them were silent on their trek to the prison. Occasionally, people who recognized Cas as the prince’s favorite guard stopped to greet him, but all Cas gave in return was a cold nod in acknowledgement. He didn’t even bother to speak.

“Warlord Paladin wanted to test me, which is why he told me to join the current efforts to protect the Leaves.” When the two of them were finally alone, Yin Qie Zi started to explain. He didn’t want Cas to think that he had asked to join the mission himself. If Cas were to misunderstand and think that he still had lingering attachments to the Leaves, then it wouldn’t pose well for the Leaves in the prison.

“The warlord?” Cas stopped and turned around. He glanced at Yin Qie Zi from head to toe, making the latter want to squirm in discomfort. He chuckled coldly. “It was the prince!”

“The prince?” Yin Qie Zi asked in confusion, “He wanted me to protect the Leaves?”

“Would a single person like you make a difference in the efforts to guard the Leaves? If you still had your powers, then maybe,” Cas remarked harshly. He then explained, “His Highness wants to take advantage of the chance to pull you over to his side. He suggested to Warlord Paladin that you should join the mission to guard the Leaves. The reason being that the prince himself wants to test whether you are qualified to be Mila’s husband.”

Was that the case? The reality of the situation suddenly dawned on Yin Qie Zi. It made sense. The prince was the only one who seemed motivated about protecting the Leaves, whereas the warlord had only met with him once on the subject.

“The prince has gotten along well with Owen and Mila since a long time ago. They can be called childhood friends. Warlord Paladin saw no reason to question the fact that the prince wanted to test you. If you could gain the prince’s respect and support, the obstacles blocking your way to marrying Mila would be greatly lessened. During your task, you would also become closer to the prince. That’s why the warlord gave his approval.”

“I thought the prince and the warlord didn’t like each other.” Yin Qie Zi didn’t understand. A moment ago, the prince had been talking about how he would like to start up another spiritmancer regiment. He obviously didn’t see the forces under the warlord as his own.

“What nonsense!” Cas scoffed. “The prince and the warlord get along fine. Then again, the prince is friends with pretty much everyone. He’s a rather capable prince really. He has a hand in practically every circle of influence there is in the country.”

“Do you have a good relationship with the prince?” Yin Qie Zi asked curiously.

“A good relationship… Hah! I was a fool to think it was good!” Cas’ expression darkened. Disregarding whether Yin Qie Zi would understand him, he muttered angrily, “I thought he would let me go after he succeeds the throne, but all he really plans to do is control me from a different position! So what if my job changes from that of an assassin to a spiritmancer’s? When the time calls for it, I would still have to go out and assassinate someone!”

Yin Qie Zi opened his mouth to speak, but didn’t know what words he could say. No matter what he said, it would be wrong. If Cas hadn’t met him all those years ago, he would never have become an assassin. He might have become a well-known spiritmancer instead.

When Yin Qie Zi’s eyes darkened at his words, Cas knew he had successfully hurt the other. He sneered and said, “Although the prince is talented, he is still too naïve. The only proper place for assassins is the dark. If he wants me to face the light of the world, then he’ll have to pay the price sooner or later. As for you…”

Cas glanced at Yin Qie Zi. The spirit binder stood in nervous anticipation. To his expectation, Cas added harshly, “If you could forget everything having to do with Owen and Mila and forget about taking revenge for them, you might have a bright future waiting for you.”

Hearing Owen and Mila’s names fall from Cas’ lips, Yin Qie Zi was silent. No matter how much he owed Cas, the assassin wasn’t allowed to tread upon Owen and Mila’s names with disrespect.

“That’s right! The only obstacle to that future is you!”

Cas stood still at the unexpected answer.

“You’ve been provoking me at every turn. Do you really think I’m incapable of silencing you?” Yin Qie Zi pulled Nightclaw from its sheathe. The cold blade reflected silver light off Cas’ face, making the assassin narrow his eyes out of reflex.

“Hah… Then do it!”

Cas smiled and stepped forward. He rested his neck against the edge of Nightclaw. Yin Qie Zi felt his heart tighten at the sight, but it wasn’t long before a wave of anger took its place instead.

He snarled, “Do you think I wouldn’t do it? Don’t provoke me!”

Cas’ smile deepened. He leaned into the blade, the sharp edge effortlessly made a cut on his skin. His bright blood followed the edge of the blade and dripped onto the ground below.

The assassin reached out and wiped a finger on the sword. His skin came away bright red.

Yin Qie Zi gazed with widened eyes as the other licked his finger clean of blood.

Cas smiled and said, “Aren’t you going to do it? What are you waiting for? My neck is right against your sword. Only a slight cut and there won’t be any obstacles in your way. Your future would be bright and…” Cas’ voice had been calm, but then he added ferociously, “Do it! Why haven’t you cut my neck yet?”

The wound on the assassin’s neck deepened in his agitation. His blood poured out in a big gush and soon dyed the entire blade red.

Yin Qie Zi quickly sheathed his sword, preventing Cas from injuring himself any further in his frenzy.

“Are you insane?” Yin Qie Zi said furiously. He quickly pulled out a jar of healing medicine and poured its whole contents on Cas’ neck. He pulled out another jar and handed it to the assassin. “Drink!”

Cas shrugged and accepted the jar. He swallowed the liquid and felt a warmth spread within his stomach and neck. He felt the skin on his neck with a hand; all that remained of the wound was a thin scab.

“This medicine actually works!” Cas was shocked. As an assassin for the crown, he’d drank his share of spirit medicine, none of which had worked well. He examined the empty medicine jar in his hand. Rather than a “Jar,” it was more accurate to describe the container as a “tube.” He asked, “Why is the container so small?”

“I’ve concentrated the medicine. It’s easier to carry around this way.”

Cas lifted an eyebrow. He asked, “Is it all healing medicine? Do you have any that can raise speed?”

Yin Qie Zi shook his head. “I don’t have any on my person. I only carry healing medicine around with me.”

Cas said disdainfully, “Assistive medicines are the key to protecting your life during a battle!”

“Spirit medicine don’t work well on me.”

Cas understood the meaning of Yin Qie Zi’s words and smiled with ill-intention. He said deliberately, “It’s not a good idea to tell me that. I have information I can use against you. I also know your weakness. Now I even know that spirit medicine doesn’t work on you. Killing you would be too easy!”

Yin Qie Zi was silent. He then said calmly, “You don’t need to go that far if you simply want to kill me.”

He pulled out a small leather bag and handed it to Cas. The assassin stared at it in confusion before opening it to see five tubes of medicine.

Cas stuffed the bag into his pockets. “Remember to bring me some speed medicine next time.”

Although Cas’ tone of voice wasn’t the nicest, Yin Qie Zi didn’t bother arguing with him. He asked, “You don’t need any for strength?”

“I’m strong enough that I can pierce a person’s heart with just one strike. There’s no point in getting stronger. They’ll be dead whether I pierce only the front or pierce through their back. I can’t make a person die twice. So what’s the point in more strength?”

Cas had a point. Yin QIe Zi was a bit envious of the assasin’s strength. What he lacked the most was strength, but spirit medicine practically had no effect on him. Even if he wanted to augment his strength through medicine, it wouldn’t work. He could only train to improve his techniques.

“Do you need any smoke medicine?” Yin Qie Zi said snappily, “Assassins always come asking for it!”

Cas wanted to say that he had plenty of smoke medicine in stock. And he truly did have a cupboard full of the medicine. Poisonous, not poisonous, ones for escaping, ones for choking the enemy, he had a stock of every kind. But Yin Qie Zi’s medicine was truly better than most. The effect of the smoke medicine he made was probably even better.

Moreover, Yin Qie Zi’s medicine was the concentrated sort, yet the quality hadn’t dropped at all during the process. Small objects were easier to carry and hide. It was a definite plus for an assassin.

“What is it?” Yin Qie Zi glanced at Cas. He didn’t understand why the other was quiet all of a sudden.

“What kind of smoke medicine do you have?”

He was thinking about the types of smoke medicine? Yin Qie Zi rolled his eyes. He snapped, “I have every kind you can imagine!”

“Well, aren’t you talking big!” Cas said, “Then give me some of every kind!”

Yin Qie Zi felt he had just dug himself into a hole. Then again, he didn’t have any time to make smoke medicine right now. Litelli would end up making most of it. He didn’t have to worry about anything.

“Let’s go. We’ve wasted too much time. The prison is over here.” Cas pointed toward the turn in the hallway.

“The location changed again?” Yin Qie Zi asked in suspicion.

“We had to change. Assassins had broken into the previous location again. It was just a normal room. It wouldn’t be able to protect against anything. It’s all those stupid Danya’s fault. The royal prison was just fine, but they were adamant about changing it to a normal room¾”

“More assassins?” Yin Qie Zi interrupted. “Are the Leaves safe?”

“One is injured. But it’s a small injury. He’ll be fine after drinking some medicine¾”

“Leaves aren’t built as strongly as humans!” Yin Qie Zi interrupted again. He said angrily, “Even if they look fine on the outside, they might still be injured on the inside. They could experience residual pain!”

Yin Qie Zi ran in the direction of the prison. When he made the turn, he noticed the two guards standing in front of the door. He walked up to them.

As he approached them, the guards readied their weapons. If not for the fact that Yin Qie Zi appeared more like an aristocrat than an assassin, they would’ve already attacked. Assassins had been coming after the Leaves one after another; the guards were unavoidably tense.

Yin Qie Zi didn’t dare approach any closer. He didn’t want to get into a meaningless battle. He looked back and saw Cas strolling over. The assassin said calmly, “Not that one, it’s the room over there.” He pointed at a room on the opposite side.

Yin Qie Zi stared at the room in question. There weren’t any guards in front of the room. How could they keep the Leaves there?

Cas said to the guards, “This is Yin Qie Zi, a new helper His Highness has given us. Remember how he looks. Don’t do anything to offend him. The prince has taken a liking to him. If you even harm a hair on his head, you’ll have to face the consequences!”

Yin Qie Zi stared with surprise at Cas. He couldn’t believe that the assassin was joking around with the guards.

The guards, on the other hand, wasn’t the slightest bit surprised at Cas’ words. They smiled rascally, appearing radically different from the serious guards they were before. They saluted Yin Qie Zi like they were putting on a show. “Please look after us! Commander.”

“They are my subordinates. They’ve been with me for a long time.” Cas pulled out a set of keys and opened the door opposite of the guards. “The one with brown hair is Andon. The black-haired one is Wynter.”

Yin Qie Zi glanced back at the guards. Andon looked especially mischievous with his wink. Wynter was slightly more serious. Compared to actual spiritmancers however, the two of them appeared less disciplined overall. Despite that, when they’d been standing seriously in front of the door a moment ago, they didn’t seem all that different from the royal spiritmancers.

When Cas opened the door, Yin Qie Zi immediately rushed in. Cas didn’t even have time to hold him back. “Wait¾”

The second he stepped into the room, Yin Qie Zi saw something bright flash before his eyes. He quickly dodged sideways, but a silver light sped in his direction… It was the metal tip of an arrow!

He leapt sideways and rolled across the ground. An arrow shot in his direction again and he spread himself flat on the ground to avoid it. He knew if would only become harder for him to avoid the arrows if he were lying down, but he didn’t have any other choice. In truth, if not for his speed, the first arrow would have hit him.

“Stop!” Cas yelled.

Cas’ shout halted the arrows. Yin Qie Zi stopped dodging, but cold sweat streamed down his back. He finally noticed the three archers with crossbows inside the room. The three of them had shot in turns, which was why there had been no spaces between the arrows. If Cas hadn’t stopped them, Yin Qie Zi wasn’t sure if he could continue avoiding the arrows.

“You idiot!” Cas yelled. “If you want to die, then tell me! I’ll kill you right now!”

Yin Qie Zi was a bit ashamed, but the focus of his attention wasn’t on Cas or himself right now. He looked left and right. The beds were arranged in orderly rows around him. The Leaves were sitting or standing around the beds, staring at him with wide eyes. They obviously didn’t know how to react to his sudden entrance.

Yin Qie Zi looked over the Leaves. He even noticed the blue-haired Leaf from the auction in a corner. However, he couldn’t tell which Leaf was injured. He asked, “Who’s injured?”

The Leaves stared at Yin Qie Zi, their gazes finally regaining some clarity. Cas understood the importance of the situation and yelled, “Everybody get out! Go conceal yourselves outside and wait for my orders!”

Beside the archers, a fourth person stepped out from his hiding place in the closet. Another person then came out from behind the curtains, then another from underneath a bed. Counting the archers, ten people had been hiding inside the room.

When the guards walked out and closed the door behind them, Cas finally turned to frown at Yin Qie Zi. The spirit binder was still questioning the Leaves. “Who was the one injured in the last attack?”

A red-haired Leaf walked over. “It was me.”

“Hong Yan?” Yin Qie Zi stared at him in surprise. He hadn’t expected it to be Hong Yan. He quickly asked, “Did you cough up blood when you were injured?”

Hong Yan was slow to react. When Yin Qie Zi asked his question again, the Leaf quickly replied, “I didn’t. It was only a knife wound. It has already healed, so please don’t worry.”

“You didn’t experience any physical beating? None at all?”

Seeing Yin Qie Zi’s serious expression, Hong Yan didn’t dare answer carelessly. He thought back to the attack, and said with confidence, “None at all.”

Yin Qie Zi examined Hong Yan’s face. The Leaf’s complexion was better than the last time he had seen him. He finally let the tension and worry flow away. He then heard a loud laugh come from behind him.

“I’ve never seen an idiot like you who lies to themselves. I can’t believe you can say that you don’t care for the Leaves. Who are you trying to fool?”

Yin Qie Zi understood that he couldn’t fool anyone with his actions. He had wanted to control himself, but he’d reacted like a bird startled by the snap of the bow-string. When he’d killed Aquamarine with his own hands, he’d been wracked with so much pain that he’d wanted to destroy everything in his path. After that, he couldn’t stand to see a Leaf die in front of him. Otherwise, he would surely go crazy.

Hong Yan stared curiously at Cas, and then at the Flower. He’d guessed that Cas was aware of the Flower’s true identity, but before he was sure of that, the word “Flower” could not pass through his lips. If humans became aware of the existence of the Flower, then the Flower would be in danger.

“I’m going by the name of Yin Qie Zi right now,” Yin Qie Zi told the Leaves of his alias. If Hong Yan accidentally refers to him as Flower, then everything would be over.

“The name of our Lord?” Hong Yan exclaimed. He looked at Yin Qie Zi’s hair and asked in confusion, “Are you pretending to be the Leaf Lord?”

“No,” Yin Qie Zi replied sheepishly. “I’m pretending to be human. The name was something I’d come up with on the spot. It was the only name I could remember…”

“So that’s why? Did the Lord tell you his name personally?” Hong Yan said with distress, “The Lord has always carried a sense of guilt toward you. He was so tortured that he didn’t have the courage to talk to you. He felt that if he did speak with you, then he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to leave you behind. Did he give in and speak to you in the end?”

Didn’t have the courage to talk to him…

“If he did speak with you, then how could he abandon you? That isn’t like him,” Hong Yan remarked.

Yin Qie Zi quickly explained, “He’d only spoken with me before he boarded the ship.” He was surprised by the hoarseness of his own voice.

“I see.” Hong Yan asked, “What did he say?”

“He told me his name…” And what else? Yin Qie Zi was sure that the Lord had told him something else, but he couldn’t recall what it was at all.

“What kind of person is the Leaf Lord?” Cas suddenly asked.

Yin Qie Zi frowned at Cas. He didn’t understand what the assassin was trying to imply with his question. He didn’t believe that Cas was actually interested in the Leaf Lord.

Although Hong Yan thought it was a bit strange that a human would be interested in the Leaf Lord, he didn’t ask anything. He knew that the assassin was aware of Yin Qie Zi’s identity. If the Flower trusted him, then there was no need for him to be suspicious.

Hong Yan thought for a moment before replying, “The Lord is someone who makes the heart ache.”

The Leaf’s answer raised not only Yin Qie Zi’s, but also Cas’ interest. He had expected the Leaf Lord to be on the same plane as the human king. However, the truth seemed to be different… No one would say that the king was someone who made the heart ache.

Cas asked, “What makes you think that?”

“The Lord is very young, yet he must carry the future of the tribe on his shoulders. Seeing him busy about every day, my heart truly aches for him.”

“He’s young?” Yin Qie Zi was a bit surprised, but then he didn’t understand his own surprise. He didn’t even remember the Leaf Lord’s appearance, much less his age.

“Yes.” Hong Yan nodded. “When the Lord assumed his post, he was a little above a hundred years old. Even now, he isn’t over one hundred and fifty years old.”

“How is a hundred years old youn¾” Cas paused mid-sentence. He finally recalled that the person in question wasn’t human. There had been rumors that the Leaf Tribe led very long lives. He asked out of curiosity, “How old would that be in human years?”

Hong Yan smiled wryly. “Maybe around fifteen or sixteen years old.”

Cas burst into laughter at the number. “You let a kid be king?”

“We did have other choices, but…” Hong Yan looked at Yin Qie Zi. “The Flower chose Yin Qie Zi. That’s why he is the Leaf Lord.”

Yin Qie Zi stared at him in surprise. He then said in realization, “Are you talking about another Flower?”

“No, I’m talking about you.”

“…Me?”

“You don’t remember?” Hong Yan asked in bewilderment, “How can that be possible? Flowers never forget anything. You guys should remember everything.”

Never forget anything… Yin Qie Zi clenched his fists. He snarled, “I’ve forgotten many things, so what?”

“So you don’t remember me either?” Hong Yan asked perplexedly. “I’d been responsible for bringing water to you. Although the Tree had plenty of water around it, a newborn Leaf must taste the water from all possible sources within our territory. That way, once you grow up and patrol the grounds, you can determine whether you’re still within our land by testing the water quality. Flowers would never leave their own land. They are incapable of drinking unfamiliar water.”

Yin Qie Zi was speechless. He couldn’t recall Hong Yan at all. He didn’t even know that the water he’d drank had been brought to him by the Leaves.

“I miss the old days,” said the blue-haired Leaf from the auction. “The Flowers always looked at us quietly from the side.”

“What do you mean quiet?” The Leaf beside her smiled. “I remember a Flower that especially liked to talk. Even when she was alone, she talked to herself nonstop.”

The blue-haired leaf smiled as well. “Are you talking about ? She’s a female Flower. They are always livelier than male Flowers. Male Flowers are very quiet.”

“Oh, I’ve never seen a male Flower before. When I was born, there weren’t any male Flowers left.”

“Is that so?” The blue-haired leaf said sadly, “I’ve seen two male Flowers. Both of them died while protecting us. Kui was the last Flower. After she returned to the Tree, it became weaker and weaker. It couldn’t give birth to another Flower.”

The other Leaves lowered their heads in remorse at her words. Hong Yan picked up the conversation and continued explaining to Cas and Yin Qie Zi.

“We lived for a long time without a Flower. It was a difficult period. Without the Flower’s protection, danger could be found everywhere in the forest. When Leaves became sick, we didn’t have the Flowers to heal us. In the end, selecting the next Leaf Lord became a problem as well.

“A Leaf Lord’s term can be long or short, it depends on the lord himself. If the lord is aging or wants to leave his post, then it would be up the oldest Flower to select the new lord.

“The lord at that time was already old, but he couldn’t leave his post as there wasn’t a Flower to select the next lord. When you were born, we were at our wits’ end, but the lord still conveyed his wishes to leave his post to you.”

At wits’ end…

Yin Qie Zi was silent. He couldn’t resist asking, “Did the Tree give birth to me to decide the next Leaf Lord?”

His voice came out in a burst, but the words were already out, he couldn’t take them back and say them again.

Hong Yan jumped at Yin Qie Zi’s accusation. He quickly said, “No… I don’t think that’s the case. Truthfully, we don’t understand why the Tree had given birth to you. If the Tree hadn’t, then it might have lived longer.”

Yin Qie Zi couldn’t listen to him anymore. He turned abruptly and left the room.

“Flower?” Hong Yan stared at Yin Qie Zi’s back. He felt that the latter was acting strange, but due to the fetters on his ankles, he couldn’t chase after him. He watched as Yin Qie Zi left the room and slammed the door behind him.

“Nice job! You didn’t disappoint me!” Cas laughed out loud. He remarked scornfully, “You’re more capable of hurting him than I am.”

“Hurting him?” Hong Yan repeated in shock.

Cas ignored him and left the room. He ordered the guards outside to hide themselves in the room again. He also asked the direction that Yin Qie Zi had left, before chasing after the spirit binder.

He soon found Yin Qie Zi in the garden. As it was the afternoon, the garden was filled with light, the heat rising in the air. Practically none of the aristocracy were outside viewing the flowers.

Yin Qie Zi was standing underneath a tree with his head upturned, staring at some unknown spot up in the branches.

Cas walked over and stared silently at Yin Qie Zi’s back. He waited for a while before grabbing the other’s shoulder and forcing him around.

“Did you think I would cry?” Yin Qie Zi expressed no signs of sorrow on his face. Rather, he appeared to be making fun of Cas. “I’m sorry that I’ve disappointed you.”

Cas’ expression darkened. He snarled, “I’m only here to warn you. You’re working under me at the moment. Who allowed you to leave without permission? Go back and take up your post right now!”

If Cas was determined to act like a superior, then Yin Qie Zi would act like his subordinate. He saluted the assassin. “Yes!”

Cas felt his anger rise at Yin Qie Zi’s answer. He deliberately added, “Everyone’s tired lately. I’ll give them a few days off, so you can go guard by yourself for two whole days.”

Yin Qie Zi knew that Cas was making things hard for him on purpose, but he didn’t care. “I don’t think I’m enough to guard the entire prison.”

“Of course not!” Cas scoffed. “Do you think you’re still the Gong Hua from back then? No one’s counting on you to guard the whole prison alone. I will have people work a day and night shift in turn. You have to be there for both shifts. You’re not allowed to enter the room. Stand in front of the door facing the prison and pretend to be a guard!”

Yin QIe Zi nodded and walked in the direction of the prison.

The minute Yin Qie Zi turned around, Cas’ expression darkened further. He knew that Yin Qie Zi didn’t want to see the Leaves right now, but he couldn’t allow Yin Qie Zi to stand guard inside the prison. If Yin Qie Zi were to change his mind and give up on his revenge and choose to escape with the Leaves instead, then everything would go to hell.

He couldn’t let Yin Qie Zi vanish from the face of the earth again.

“Gong Hua, I will never let you escape from me again!”

 

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Translator: Nannyn
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葵 (kuí), sunflower.
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