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?
Where are you?
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.”
“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.”
“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!”
Previous: Chapter 1: The Object of Revenge…The One Who Suffers
Return: Main Page
The Leaves didn’t want me. The Tree died. Mila died. In the end, Owen died as well.
Why did Owen have to die? Why? Why?
I don’t have anything to protect anymore. I can’t return to the Tree either. What else can I do?
Right, I still have Cas. But I killed so many of the people that he loved. I-I’m his enemy…
“If someone has killed the people you loved, then he is your enemy. You need to take revenge for them… Because Big Brother said you have to take revenge. You must make your enemy pay with blood for their crimes. That’s why you need to take revenge.”
…Revenge! West, I will make you pay with blood!
“Owen and Mila’s biggest enemy was me!”
Cas was only slightly shocked after hearing Yin Qie Zi’s outburst. With a mocking expression, he said, “Oh, so you knew? If only you hadn’t destroyed that town back then, they’d probably be still alive. My brother too…”
Cas trailed off, leaving the sentence unfinished. Rather than wouldn’t, he couldn’t finish his sentence. The scorn on his face disappeared as he abruptly reached out and grabbed Yin Qie Zi’s collar. He pushed and shunted at the other, until the spirit binder’s back slammed heavily against the wall. Seeing that there was no room for Yin Qie Zi to escape, Cas leaned down and snarled, “Why did you destroy that town? Why?”
“I… I went insane!”
Yin Qie Zi gritted his teeth, but decided to explain. Cas had the right to know the truth, even if knowing the truth wouldn’t change anything.
“Back then, the Spirit Tree died. I was overtaken with immense pain and went insane. I couldn’t control my own powers and ended up destroying that town,” Yin Qie Zi said.
Cas didn’t the show the slightest bit of surprise at Yin Qie Zi’s reply.
Was he already aware of this? Yin Qie Zi paused, then understood the reason. If Mila was aware of the specificities of the Leaf Tribe’s lifestyle and even the existence of the Flower, it was natural for Cas, who had been chasing after him, to know of it as well. Moreover, Cas even tracked him to the territory of the Servile Spirits.
Cas was probably the only person on this continent who understood him the most. Cas probably knew more about him than he did himself.
Cas moved closer to Yin Qie Zi, making the latter think that his time had finally come. But Cas only stopped beside his ear and whispered, “Did you really think that would change anything?”
“No, I never had that thought.” Standing so close together, Yin Qie Zi’s attention was caught by the scar on Cas’ left eye. The scar was light, almost the same color as undamaged skin. When standing some distance away, it wasn’t noticeable at all. However, with only a few centimeters of breadth between them, Yin Qie Zi could see that the scar was sunken into the flesh. Clearly, he had given Cas more than a little scrape twenty years ago. He could even see a line of red in Cas’ eye that lined up with the scar. It too was obviously the result of the injury he had inflicted.
Yin Qie Zi turned his head away; away from Cas’ stare, away from the scar on his left eye.
Although he knew it would be useless, Yin Qie Zi still held a tiny hope inside his heart that Cas would forgive him, but apologies never worked in the end. He didn’t want Cas to know that he still yearned for forgiveness, however slight a hope it was.
“Look at me!”
Pain exploded across Yin Qie Zi’s scalp. Startling out of his reverie, he found that Cas had grabbed onto his braid. He yelled, “Don’t touch my hair!”
Rather than loosening his hand, Cas tightened his grip. He yanked backwards, forcing Yin Qie Zi to his knees.
Staring at the other’s face, Cas asked in sadistic curiosity, “Does it hurt?”
Yin Qie Zi was in such great pain that he couldn’t even hold back his tears. He gritted his teeth and suppressed his screams. He forced out a reply, “Let go…”
Seeing the tears on the spirit binder’s face, Cas finally released his grip.
Yin Qie Zi was wracked with both pain and humiliation. He knew that the assassin was completely unscrupulous and would take any opportunity to harm him; however, he hadn’t expected Cas to seize his hair.
Was it a mere coincidence or was it on purpose? Seeing the lack of surprise on Cas’ face despite his agony, the assassin had probably done it on purpose.
Cas started laughing, howling like he didn’t have a care in the world. Yin Qie Zi stared blankly at him. He didn’t understand why Cas was laughing. He didn’t understand why someone could sound so miserable, so mournful, despite laughing.
“I want you to remember this pain! In the coming days, you’ll have to live each and every day with this pain. That should be enough for you to repay your sins. Hahahahaha—”
If he hadn’t destroyed that town, Owen and Mila wouldn’t have died. Owen would never have killed Cedric, and Cas would never have turned out this way.
A slight shake of the hand and a billow of foul, grey smoke wafted out of the medicine jar in front of him. Yin Qie Zi frowned at the sight. He had messed up.
The process of making spirit medicine was precise and delicate. A slight shake of the hand could send ten hours of hard work down the drain.
Not only did a small mistake send time down the drain, it also sent down quite a fortune as well. The medicine he was making required all sorts of expensive special spirits. Fortunately, the rarest of the bunch was something he had in abundance―the hair of a Flower.
Staring at the jar that was still billowing smoke, Yin Qie Zi felt a bit helpless and tired. Obtaining a Flower’s hair wasn’t hard for him. He also had plenty of stores for the other materials he needed. However, the process of treating all of those spirits and combining them together was long and irritating.
Litelli peered over at him, a mischievous smile on his face. “Aha! Just now, you reminded me of your clumsy self when you first started learning. You broke so many jars and bowls just from making a simple healing potion.”
Yin Qie Zi started clearing up the mess in front of him. “That’s because I was having trouble moving around due to my injuries.”
He glanced around the room. Luckily, Prince Edward had made sure the room was fully equipped with all the tools he required. That should reduce the amount of time he needed to prepare a new batch of medicine.
Originally, he thought the prince would allocate him a normal room. Unexpectedly, he had been brought to a spirit binding lab. The lab was spacious and stocked with all sorts of tools used for spirit binding. The collection was so complete that it even contained extremely rare and odd tools that were almost never used. Additionally, two huge cabinets lined two walls of the lab, containing all sorts of basic spirits and other starting materials inside.
Spirit binding was a complex art that required many different types of starting materials. It would have been exceedingly difficult to compile this collection of basic spirits. The lab could not have been put together for him at the last minute. Prince Edward had probably driven out the spirit binder who had been working here to leave it open for him.
Yin Qie Zi was surprised that Prince Edward saw him in such a favorable light. Was it because Mila planned on getting married to him and the prince wanted to rope him over to his side?
It was an effective method. Yin Qie Zi couldn’t help but to admit that he quite liked the lab.
“You were injured and had a bad temper,” Litelli reminisced. “You cried and made a fuss both day and night. You even flung things all over the room when you were angry.”
Hearing the stories of his past, Yin Qie Zi turned and glared at Litelli.
Litelli continued to mumble, “Ah, you were so adorable back then. The older you get, the less adorable you become. Ah! Children are indeed children, they cease to be cute once they grow up.”
“I look the same as I did back then. The concept of growing up does not apply to me!” Yin Qie Zi coldly retorted.
“I was talking about your personality! Personality!” Litelli shouted. He glanced sideways at Yin Qie Zi. “But you do look a bit older now. Could you still be growing?”
“I’ve only grown a bit taller.” Yin Qie Zi didn’t care much about his appearance.
“You really don’t spare a thought on your appearance,” Litelli responded unhappily. “Don’t you know how hard it is for me to grow even just a little bit? If you hadn’t grown that slightest bit, no one would have been able to tell whether you were a man or a woman. Rather than seducing the beautiful Mila, it would be more appropriate for you to seduce Owen!”
“I have never seduced Mila!” Yin Qie Zi snapped.
“Oh, so you won her over without any seducing!” Litelli nodded in satisfaction. “That’s great! Then when you do start seducing people, you’ll have plenty of beautiful women to choose from.”
Yin Qie Zi decided to ignore Litelli altogether and focused on cleaning. He wanted to start remaking the medicine immediately, but the world was bent on interfering with his work. At that moment, the sound of knocking came through the door.
Although he heard the knocks, Yin Qie Zi had no plans to open the door.
“Coming!” Litelli was quite happy for the interruption. He leapt over to the door and pulled it open. A shadow immediately fell over him and he had to bend his neck until it was parallel to the ground to be able to see the other’s face. He cried, “Wow! You’re so tall!”
Yin Qie Zi paused in his movements and turned around to see Jin Qi Er standing outside. For a Danya who was above 200 centimeters and a Servile Spirit who was 150 centimeters at most, the height difference between them was like that of a father and a young child.
Despite being faced with such a laughable situation, Yin Qie Zi was incapable of laughing. Standing beside Jin Qi Er was Yan Er, the red-haired female Leaf he had met before.
Once Jin Qi Er stepped inside, the spacious lab instantly became a bit suffocating. As the Danya glanced at the piles of medicine littering the tables, a satisfied expression appeared on his face. He said, “I’ve brought the Leaf over to you. She should be able to help you out since Leaves make adequate spirit charmers. She’s already promised me that she won’t attack you or try to escape even with her fetters off. The Leaves live by their promises, so you don’t need to worry.”
I know she won’t attack me! Yin Qie Zi was a bit angry. Having a Leaf around would probably be seen as welcome help to any spirit binder in the country, but he didn’t need her help. He would only become distracted if she were around.
Yan Er stood quietly behind Jin Qi Er, occasionally stealing glances at Yin Qie Zi. She hadn’t spoken a word since entering the lab.
“She’s very beautiful.” Jin Qi Er stepped aside and motioned for Yan Er to come forward. “She also has a lot of energy in her. You’ve picked a good one. If not for the fact we that need a blue-haired Leaf, I would never have used her to exchange with you. It’s hard to find an energetic Leaf like her anymore. The Leaves are becoming weaker and weaker with every passing year.”
The Leaves are becoming weaker? Yin Qie Zi shook aside his suspicions. He asked, “There’s a blue-haired Leaf in the peace offerings, wouldn’t that one work?”
Jin Qi Er sighed. “No, that one’s a male.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Litelli yelled, “Do Danyas enjoy bulling female Leaves? Your statures are huge while they are so small. Aren’t you afraid you’ll squish them beneath you?”
To a Servile Spirit, the Leaves who range around 170 centimeters would be seen as quite tall. However, to a Danya, “small” would be an accurate description with plenty of room leftover.
“Litelli!” Yin Qie Zi spoke in a warning tone. His knew his own reaction was a bit brash, but he couldn’t keep quiet upon thinking about the aftermath of those Leaves.
Standing by the side, Yan Er shuddered.
“Don’t worry about that.” Jin Qi Er glanced at Yan Er. “Most Danyas would never force the Leaves into that situation. We only want their knowledge on plants. We also need their cooperation to allow us to have good harvests. Everything else is secondary to that.”
“Only most?” Yin Qie Zi remarked scornfully.
“Only most,” Jin Qi Er replied lightly. “The way we treat the Leaves is better than how the humans treat them. You could ask her. Does she want to stay with the humans or the Danyas?”
Yan Er lifted an eyebrow and snorted. “I don’t want either!”
Yin Qie Zi frowned at her response. In his memories, Leaves weren’t supposed to be brash and loud-spoken. Then again, he wasn’t quite sure how Leaves were supposed to act. He had never interacted with them much and after all these years, his memories were already blurry…
At that thought, Yin Qie Zi paused in disbelief. Were his impressions of the Leaves already so faded?
Despite being shocked, it was only natural that his memories had been eroded by the passage of time. After leaving the Leaves, so many things had happened. Whether they were happy or painful moments, the memories were etched deep onto his heart. In contrast, the years that he had spent underneath the Tree were peaceful and bland. There wasn’t anything that was worth remembering.
The only impression that remained from those years was the ceaseless loneliness he felt.
Jin Qi Er looked at Yan Er with curiosity and puzzlement. “You really are energetic. If every Leaf were like you, it would lessen White’s burdens. Maybe I should bring you back―”
“I want to stay with him!” Yan Er immediately hid behind Yin Qie Zi, as if deeply dreading that Jin Qi Er would take her away.
The Danya stared at her, he hadn’t expected to hear that kind of answer.
Litelli smiled and moved closer to Jin Qi Er. As if to curry favor, he said, “Isn’t my master amazing? If he wanted, thousand or tens of thousands of beautiful girls would throw themselves at him. Of course, that includes girls from every tribe!”
Jin Qi Er didn’t believe a single word of Litelli’s and responded with an offhanded “Amazing.” Jin Qi Er scratched his head and ultimately assumed the Leaf was scared of him because he was built tall and strong. He asked, “How far have you gotten in the medicine?”
“I’m still in the middle of making it,” Yin Qie Zi replied as he continued to clean up the mess on the table. He didn’t plan on telling Jin Qi Er that he had just wasted a Flower’s hair due a small mishap. In any case, the Danya wouldn’t understand what he was doing.
After tidying the table, Yin Qie Zi asked causally, “Why do you need a blue-haired Leaf? Is there a special meaning to the color blue?”
Jin Qie Er furrowed his brows, and responded simply, “It’s a gift for a friend. He likes the color blue.”
“A friend? Is he the same person you’re gifting the medicine to?” Yin Qie Zi continued to question. He was surprised by his own urgency. In order to hide his identity, he shouldn’t be asking so many questions, but he couldn’t help but to want to learn more about Indigo and Aquamarine.
“Why are you asking about that?” Jin Qi Er immediately put his guard up.
“I’m only curious about what will happen to the blue-haired Leaf that you had exchanged with me.” Yin Qie Zi forced himself to appear unperturbed. He added calmly, “She appeared to be on her last legs. If your friend is the type who likes tormenting others, then this red-haired Leaf would be more suitable.”
Jin Qi Er replied indignantly, “Indigo would never torment the Leaves. If news of anyone ever doing so reached his ears, he would never let them off!”
“Then why does it have to be blue?” Yin Qie Zi wasn’t willing to rest on the topic.
Yin Qie Zi’s relentless questions had made Jin Qi Er thoroughly wary. The Danya then noticed that even Yan Er and Litelli seemed curious about finding out the answer. Yan Er even came out of her hiding place from behind Yin Qie Zi. Her ears were pricked and she appeared to be listening attentively, afraid to even miss the tiniest detail.
Was it really only out of curiosity? Seeing the other two’s expressions, Jin Qi Er helplessly abandoned his wariness. He explained, “My friend is one of the Four Colors, Indigo. He and a Leaf had once talked about getting married. She had a head of blue hair. Eventually, she died.”
“Did she die because of poor health?” Yan Er couldn’t resist asking.
“No, she died during battle.” Jin Qi Er sighed.
That’s not right. She had died at the hands of a Flower! Yin Qie Zi lowered his eyes and started clearing away the clutter on the table. He didn’t want to know the reason for Aquamarine’s death; he knew better than anyone else how she had died.
“Danyas can marry Leaves? Can you have children together?” Litelli exclaimed.
Marriages between tribes were possible, but rare. After all, contact between different tribes were infrequent. The differences between lifestyles were also great. One also couldn’t count out the dissimilarities between body types and structure. An intertribal marriage would rarely result in children.
Jin Qi Er shook his head. “Of course not. If it were possible, we wouldn’t need to spend so much money procuring Leaves from other continents.”
“Isn’t Indigo one of the Four Colors? If he can’t have children together with the Leaf, why would he marry her?” Having traveled over the continent for years, Litelli was quite knowledgeable about the Danyas. He continued doubtfully, “A childless marriage could be considered a taboo among the Danyas. Not to mention, he’s one of the Four Colors. Wasn’t there anyone who was opposed to his marrying a Leaf?”
Yin Qie Zi glanced at him. Did Litelli voice out that question because he knew Yin Qie Zi wanted to know the answer as well? Perhaps he was thinking too much. Litelli’s curiosity was higher than an average person’s by two or three folds.
“Can you humans stop digging into things?” Jin Qi Er was irritated, but taking into account that Yin Qie Zi was making spirit medicine for him, he explained, “Indigo is very influential within our tribe. In addition, White also thinks highly of him. When Indigo had announced that he was going to marry a Leaf, nobody other than White would have been able to oppose his decision. White, however, didn’t care who he married.”
“You don’t sound like you approved. Then why are you gifting him a Leaf?” Yin Qie Zi felt the whole situation was strange. Jin Qi Er was a considerate friend and thought frequently about Indigo. Their relationship seemed better than that of brothers. But when it came to marriage, he was opposed to Indigo taking a Leaf as his wife… But now he was planning to gift a Leaf to Indigo. This was strange no matter how he looked at it.
Jin Qi Er said, “If he continues like this, forget about having children, Indigo’s going to die first! After Aquamarine died, he seemed to have died along on the inside. Now he truly is on the verge of death!”
“He won’t die.” Yin Qie Zi placed a bottle in the Danya’s hand. “I’ve finished making the first bottle of the medicine, but you’ll have to wait for two weeks before it’s ready for consumption. Though after you return to Xiasha and finally give it to Indigo, two weeks would have long past.”
“You’ve only made one bottle?” Jin Qi Er frowned. “Why didn’t you make all five at the same time?”
“I did make five!” Yin Qie Zi waved his hand in frustration. He was tired of dealing with Jin Qi Er’s never-ending suspicions. “The bottles are different in composition. I’ve written numbers on them. You have to make sure he drinks them in order.”
Jin Qi Er turned the bottle around in his hand and quickly noticed the “One” written on the glass.
“The bottles that are drunk later are more difficult to make.” Unlike usual, Yin Qie Zi made an effort to explain, mainly because Jin Qi Er had spoken quite a bit about Indigo and Aquamarine. “The fifth bottle takes at least two weeks to be completed.”
If nothing went wrong, he would only need nine or ten days to complete the fifth bottle. He was merely giving himself a buffer by saying it would take two weeks. He was thankful he did. The bottle he had just ruined earlier was the fifth bottle that would take the longest. Just a slight shake of the hand had cost him a day.
“I see.” Jin Qi Er nodded. Noticing that Yin Qie Zi was becoming slightly irritated, he quickly added, “Please don’t be angry. I’ve known Indigo since we were kids. He’s more like family to me than my actual family members. He’s also my savior. However, he’s in terrible condition right now, so I can’t help but to want to ask for more details.”
Yin Qie Zi was a little annoyed, but at the sight of Jin Qi Er apologizing to him, he felt like he shouldn’t be so petty. Besides, with his status as a high-ranking Danya emissary, Jin Qi Er had no reason to be humble to him. Jin Qi Er’s careful mannerisms also ascertained that he wouldn’t secretly sell the medicine for money, and would definitely make sure it reached Indigo’s hands.
With that thought, Yin Qie Zi nodded with satisfaction. He said, “I admire the friendship between you two.”
When he heard the spirit binder’s response, Jin Qi Er thought he had finally succeeded in melting a bit of Yin Qie Zi’s cold exterior. However, in the next second, Yin Qie Zi added, “If you have nothing else to say, then you can leave. You’ll be interfering with my work if you stayed here.”
The Danya almost coughed out blood in indignation. Although his status was below that of the Four Colors and the family leaders, it was still quite high among their tribe. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been sent to Zhan Yan as an emissary.
On the other hand, Yin Qie Zi didn’t hold the slightest bit of power. He wasn’t even part of the nobility, yet he was more arrogant than Prince Edward… No, he was more arrogant than the king! Even the king wouldn’t say a blunt “You can leave” to an emissary from Danya.
“I’m rather curious of how you’ve developed such a personality.” Jin Qi Er smiled despite his anger. “If you were faced with the king, would you still tell him ‘You can leave?’”
“Of course I wouldn’t say that to the king. But I would say it to Prince Edward, because he really is irritating.” Yin Qie Zi replied straightforwardly.
Jin Qie Zi burst into laughter. “This is the first time I’ve heard someone describe the prince as ‘irritating.’ I suddenly think you treat me rather well!”
Yin Qie Zi tilted his head. He decided that he wouldn’t tell the Danya that he thought of him as “super irritating.” Jin Qi Er was at least as irritating as Owen, and the two of them were only slightly below Litelli in the level of irritating.
“Then I’m leaving. I won’t disturb you for the next few days,” said Jin Qi Er. He turned to Yan Er and instructed, “You need to wait upon your master carefully. Don’t mess around with the medicine.”
Yan Er’s eyes held a thoughtful look for a moment. She replied respectfully, “Yes.”
After Jin Qi Er shut the door, Yan Er immediately looked at Yin Qie Zi. “Flower―”
“You’re not allowed to call me that!” Yin Qie Zi said angrily, “My current name is Yin Qie Zi. I’m not called Flower. I’m also not your Flower!”
“Yin Qie Zi?” Yan Er was shocked at the other’s behavior. She questioned, “Why is it Yin Qie Zi? That’s the Leaf Lord’s name.”
“Ah, it’s obviously an alias,” Litelli explained. “Master’s true name is Gong―”
“Litelli!” Yin Qie Zi cut in harshly with a face full of anger. He had already reminded Litelli countless times to not call him by that name, but Litelli never remembered… All it did was remind him on a daily basis that he once had another name.
However, the one who had given him that name was no longer alive. He only felt pain every time he heard that name.
“You can get out! And don’t bother coming back!”
Litelli stared at him in shock. Flustered, he said, “Master, I still have to help you make spirit medi―”
“I can make them myself!” Yin Qie Zi wasn’t willing to accept any excuses.
“Master, we are short on time! You also need to protect the Leaves in the palace. You don’t have enough time to do everything at once!” Litelli had never expected Yin Qie Zi to drive him out without considering the results. He panicked and yelled, “Master, don’t drive me out! Litelli promises that he will never bring up your name again!”
“You’ve already made plenty of promises,” Yin Qie Zi replied coldly.
At those words, Litellli knew that the spirit binder was serious. It left him as anxious as an ant on a hot pan. He contemplated left and right before taking notice of Yan Er. An idea flashed across his mind and he yelled, “Master, even if you’re not thinking of yourself, you have to think of her!” He pointed at Yan Er.
Yin Qie Zi stared at him, not understanding how Yan Er factored into the situation.
Litelli pulled on the spirit binder’s sleeves while shouting, “Master, think about how dangerous your tasks are! In those moments, do you really have the mind to take care of her?”
Yin Qie Zi understood. He also understood that Litelli was right. Unless he didn’t care about Yan Er at all, he had no other choice but to let Litelli remain with him… If he truly didn’t care about her, he should have given her to someone else right away. He could have given her to Owen or to Jin Qi Er, as long as she wasn’t here serving as a distraction to him.
“You can stay.” Yin Qie Zi surrendered in the end, but he warned harshly, “If you ever breathe a word about all the things I’ve forbidden you to mention again, you will leave immediately! And I don’t care what’ll happen afterwards!”
“Litelli wouldn’t dare,” Litelli vowed repeatedly. He didn’t forget to make himself appear as pathetic as possible. His egg-sized eyes were filled with tears, appearing quite pitiful. However, Yin Qie Zi was past the age of falling for those sort of tactics.
“Get the spirits that we need for the fifth bottle ready.”
It was a tedious job, but Litelli didn’t dare complain. For once, he diligently ran up to the cabinets and began pulling out the spirits they needed.
Yin Qie Zi turned to Yan Er and said sternly, “You can never mention my true identity out loud. You have to remember that I am Yin Qie Zi right now. I am your master and you never knew who I was before this, understand?”
Despite not being used to the Flower’s manner of speech and behavior, Yan Er wasn’t as scared after seeing it numerous times. Instead of not knowing how to respond like before, she asked quietly, “What if someone asks? Would I have to lie? But I-I don’t know what to say…”
“Then don’t say anything!” Yin Qie Zi didn’t expect the Leaves to lie, but he couldn’t let Yan Er expose his identity. He took a step forward and threatened, “If you divulge anything about my identity, I…I’ll kill you! Do you understand? I will kill you!”
Even though she understood that the Flower was acting strange, Yan Er was still struck dumb by Yin Qie Zi’s threat. A bad feeling came over her and she asked, “Will you save the other Leaves? The ones who are still locked in the prison, will you save them?”
“Why do I need to save them?” Yin Qie Zi coldly retorted. He then ordered, “Go help Litelli. Aren’t you a spirit charmer? Even if you don’t know how to link spirits, you should still be able to help him find the materials we need.”
“You are our Flower!” Yan Er exclaimed in disbelief. “You should be protecting us!”
Yin Qie Zi’s thoughts was sent into turmoil by her words. Twenty years had already passed. He no longer possessed a Flower’s power. He had long stopped thinking of himself as the Leaf Tribe’s Guardian Flower. There was nothing wrong with that decision. But right now a Leaf was standing in front of him claiming that it was only natural that he should go save the Leaves in the prison. He felt…a tremor inside his heart.
The Leaves had abandoned him. Many years had passed since he had last seen a single Leaf. Plus, his mind was filled with thoughts on revenge. Despite adding everything up, he still felt a tremor!
Yin Qie Zi calmed his heart and snarled, “No! You had abandoned your Flower by the shores of the ocean. He walked back to the Spirit Tree and died alongside it!”
Seeing the other’s feverish expression, Yan Er was slightly scared. But she asked in confusion, “You’re still here. Why do you say you’ve died?”
Leaves were truly naïve and simple-minded. Yan Er couldn’t even understand the underlying ridicule in his words. Yin Qie Zi didn’t bother explaining. He coldly stated, “You can go help Litelli or you can go back to Jin Qi Er. It’s your choice.”
Yan Er hesitated, she didn’t want to give up asking him questions. But seeing Yin Qie Zi’s cold expression, if she pressed the topic further, she feared he really would send her back to Jin Qi Er.
“I-I’ll go help.” Yan Er finally dropped the issue. She walked over to Litelli and asked, “What can I help with?”
“Hah? You can look for this one, that one, and also…” Litelli immediately pointed at the cabinets.
Despite keeping busy and handling all sorts of spirits, Yin Qie Zi couldn’t focus on the job at hand. The other two’s conversation kept drifting into his ear. He slowed down his movements, or else he would end up destroying another bottle of medicine.
“Exactly which tribe do you belong to? Are you really human?” Yan Er’s voice drifted over to him.
“I’m a Servile Spirit! Aren’t I tall?” Litelli sounded rather proud.
“Servile Spirit? You mean that tribe of spirits that specifically serve physical spirits?” Yan Er voiced out her disbelief. “Did Flower…Yin Qie Zi allow you to follow him around?”
“Of course! I’ve received his permission,” replied Litelli in the same proud tone.
“Permission?” Yan Er was puzzled. “But why would Flower give you his permission? Aside from Leaves, Flowers would never pay anyone else attention. They also don’t have a deep understanding of the world. All they are capable of doing is protecting us.”
“Who said that? My Flower even knows how to link spirits!” Litelli sounded even prouder than before.
Those two… Yin Qie Zi gritted his teeth and turned around to scowl. “Don’t you hear how you’re referring to me? Are you not capable of understanding no matter how I teach you? Why don’t I just send both of you to Jin Qi Er?”
“Your name is Yin Qie Zi!” The other two lowered their heads in remorse. Yan Er quickly explained, “I’m sorry. I’m still not used to it. Besides, Yin Qie Zi is the Leaf Lord’s name. That’s w-why…”
Yin Qie Zi felt his anger deflate at her response. The Leaf Tribe was an honest tribe. If Yan Er started calling him Yin Qie Zi without any hesitation, he’d probably start questioning his own impressions of the tribe.
“If you can’t change the way you refer to me, then you need to stay silent when there are other people around! Do you underst―”
Before he could finish his words, a knock sounded from the door. Yin Qie Zi became even more irritated at the sound. He had been interrupted time after time while he was trying to link spirits. How exactly was he supposed to focus on his job?
He glared at the other two in the room to emphasize his warning. He then called out unhappily, “Who is it?”
“It’s me! Owen! Edward told me to get you.”
The prince probably wanted to discuss how they were going to protect the Leaves. Yin Qie Zi called out, “Wait a bit. Or do you want to come inside?”
“Oh… I’ll wait for you outside.”
Yin Qie Zi frowned and instructed Litelli and Yan Er to continue their tasks. He then picked up Nightclaw and walked toward the door.
“W-why are you taking a sword with you?” He heard Yan Er’s voice behind him. He paused in his steps, but he didn’t want to explain why he carried a sword―because he had lost his powers.
The Leaves might know why he lost his powers and even how he could regain them, but Yin Qie Zi couldn’t will himself to ask despite his deep thirst for revenge. He couldn’t stand in front of a Leaf and describe all that he had gone through before he had lost his powers.
To pour out his heart to a Leaf about all that he’d done and then describe his plans for revenge… He’d rather be killed by Cas.
Once Yin Qie Zi left the lab, he saw Owen standing nearby with ramrod posture and wearing a military uniform. He seemed more like a solider than usual. Owen had probably started paying more attention to his appearance since they were in the royal palace. Puzzled, Yin Qie Zi asked, “Why didn’t you come in?”
“Aren’t you in the middle of your job?” Owen scratched his nose and replied, “Edward had warned me beforehand. If you were making the common types of medicine, then there’d be no harm in me taking a look. However, the medicine you’re making right now is one of your special recipes. As a spirit binder, it would be one of your most important trade secrets. He told me to avoid snooping around and interfering in your job.”
Hearing his reason, Yin Qie Zi snapped, “Even if you were to look, you wouldn’t know what I’m doing. If Mila were the one here instead, she might learn something from me. But there’s nothing to worry about with you around at all.”
“Hey! I’m still a spiritmancer. Am I that useless in your eyes?”
“Spirit binders don’t think highly of spiritmancers’ pathetic spirit vision. What’s wrong with that?”
“…We’re going to be a part of the same family soon. Is there a need for you to be so mean to me?” Owen scratched his nose again. He felt his days of being bullied by his brother-in-law were just around the corner.
“Who’s going to be part of the same family as you?!” Yin Qie Zi retorted.
“Haha. Of course, that depends on who’s going to marry my sister.”
“Go! We’re going to find the prince.”
Yin Qie Zi had no desire to comment any further on the topic. He walked ahead of Owen despite not knowing where they were headed. But as the spirit binding lab was situated in a corner of the palace, there was only one direction they could walk. There was no worry of getting lost.
While walking, Yin Qie Zi couldn’t resist muttering, “I don’t understand you two. My temper is horrible, yet both of you can’t stop plastering yourselves to me. And you won’t leave no matter how much I yell at you.”
Not only the twins, he couldn’t understand why Litelli wanted to stay with him either. No matter how difficult he made it on Litelli, the spirit just wouldn’t leave. However, that could be attributed to the special characteristics of the Servile Spirits. But exactly what was going on with Owen and Mila?
Despite wanting to get closer to Owen, he couldn’t lower himself to the level of showering Owen with praises in order to get into his good graces. Contrary to his expectations, Owen seemed to like his prickly behavior. He also hadn’t expected to start anything with Mila.
Owen was silent for a moment, but then replied, “You tongue is quite sharp. But after hanging around you for a while, I’ve noticed that you are actually quite soft on the inside.”
Yin Qie Zi tightened his fist and snapped, “As if! My heart is as sharp as my tongue!”
He heard muffled laughter come from behind him. Yin Qie Zi blushed, feeling that he was acting stupider the longer the conversation went on. He quickly changed the topic. “Is Prince Edward looking for me to talk about how we’re going to protect the Leaves?”
“Yes.” Owen walked in front of Yin Qie Zi and made a right turn. He said helplessly, “Edward won’t let me join. He said that although he trusts me, he can’t trust my father or my teacher. If either of them were to issue an order, I wouldn’t have any way of resisting. Because of that, he kicked me out along with Anselo and Gawain. All we can do is stay inside the palace and avoid making a fuss.”
Yin Qie Zi frowned and replied, “Is he thinking of using the three of you to control the forces behind your families?”
“Probably.” Owen scratched his nose and continued, “Edward is probably doing it as a preventative measure. He’s a very cautious person. I don’t think he would do anything to us. If he did, then all three spiritmancer regiments in the country would explode. That’s not something to laugh about.”
Yin Qie Zi paused and asked curiously, “Do you want to fight?”
Owen hesitated, but answered, “Promise you won’t tell Mila?”
Seeing Yin Qie Zi nod, Owen steeled himself. “I want to fight. When the Danyas invaded twenty years ago, so many of our countrymen had died. We still haven’t paid them back for that yet. The Danyas are a belligerent tribe in any case. Even if we don’t make the first move, they’ll bring the war to us sooner or later. If that’s the case, the one who makes the first move will take control of the war. Twenty years ago, we were caught completely off guard. If not for that, we wouldn’t have had so many casualties.”
Yin Qie Zi was silent. They continued their way to the prince’s study. Before knocking on the door, he said quietly, “The Danyas made the first move back then, but they lost the war.”
“Walking, walking, walking. Looking to the east and to the west, looking under every stone. Oh great physical spirit, where are you? Lequilier is searching for you. It’d be great if you’d appear, but equally great if you didn’t. Lequilier isn’t that determined to find you.”
Lequilier hummed a song to himself as he walked. It wasn’t tuneless to the point of ear-grating, but it certainly wouldn’t be able to move a person to tears.
The song reflected his current situation. As one of the Servile Spirits, logically, he should have been attending to the needs and whims of a physical spirit. His tribesmen had been urging him to find a physical spirit to serve for quite a while now. However, he had lived among the humans and been revered as a great spirit binder for far too long. Whenever the thought that he would have to stoop to serve someone else crossed his mind―even it if were a physical spirit―Lequilier was quite reluctant to accept his fate.
He also found it strange that his tribesmen were pushing him to find a physical spirit; after all, very few of his tribesmen had been successful in finding a physical spirits to serve themselves. Even if they did find one, it didn’t mean that their work was automatically over. After finding a physical spirit, they had to obtain the spirit’s permission become they could follow them around. Servile Spirits who could complete that required step of the process were few in number.
Also, quite unfortunately, physical spirits were few in number as well. Of their small numbers, most were guardian spirits who made difficult communication partners. All that the guardian spirits ever had in mind was how to fulfill their duties; they didn’t need someone to wait and attend to them. Everyone outside of their spectrum of protection was meaningless to them. It would be an impossible task to get a guardian spirit to nod his head in permission.
If the obstinate guardian spirits who didn’t know the meaning of compromise were a closed path, then most of the spirits left over to serve were the cunning and merciless spirit beasts. Lequilier didn’t want to follow such spirit beasts for the rest of his life. He didn’t want to be ordered to kill or even worse―find food for his master.
Spirit beasts didn’t consume animals or plants. Most of the spirit beasts in Xi Zong ate humans, while in Xiasha, they probably ate Danyas. Lequilier didn’t want to be ordered to capture either of those two types of “food” for his master, and then have to watch as they got crushed inside the beast’s jaw.
That would be disgusting!
Soaring Phoenix was probably the only spirit beast who had a good reputation, but he was far too difficult to find. Lequilier didn’t even know how long it had been since anyone had last heard any word of Soaring Phoenix’s appearance. It would be a foolish dream to go looking for him!
Thus, Lequilier was very troubled by his dilemma. As a Servile Spirit, it would be a lie if he said he didn’t feel any urge to serve under a physical spirit. However, he still couldn’t accept the idea that he had to serve under someone other than himself. As a result, he didn’t especially want to find a physical spirit.
Then let’s go find Soaring Phoenix! If I can’t find him, then that’s to be expected. If I do find him and become his servant however, then I’ll become a legend within my own tribe!
“A legend… Haha, that’s going to be difficult.” Lequilier laughed to himself.
His tribesmen were satisfied with his choice. Up until then, nobody within the tribe had become Soaring Phoenix’s servant. Even though Lequilier’s choice was nothing more than wishful thinking, it could also be considered as an ambitious and magnificent goal if looked in another perspective.
With the blessings of his tribesmen, Lequilier set out towards the east.
In legends, Soaring Phoenix was said to live in Xiasha. The humans and the Danyas were still fighting a war with each other and unfortunately, the battlefield was right in the path Lequilier had to take to reach Xiasha. However, it seemed like the war was reaching its end. As long as he was careful, there shouldn’t be any problems, right? Even if he did come across danger, he could just hide inside the mountains and throw a few jars of spirit medicine at anyone who dared follow after him. Who would be able to catch him then?
With that thought, Lequilier hummed to himself and continued on his foolish journey. Despite his initial bravado, his song eventually grew weaker and weaker, until he finally stopped humming altogether. He paused in his steps and stared at the thicket beside him, feeling as if some strange, bloodthirsty beast would rush out at him at any moment!
No, it would actually be better if it were just a mere beast! Lequilier pulled a long face. He hadn’t expected to find the tracks of a physical spirit so soon. Plus, it seemed like the spirit was quite close to his current location.
Servile Spirits had a special ability: They could sense the presence of a physical spirit as long as it was within a certain range. The range differed with each person’s ability, but Lequilier was very talented, making him a well-known figure within his tribe. His tribesmen had always placed high hopes on him.
After discovering the presence of a physical spirit near him, Lequilier couldn’t help but feel tense. It couldn’t be Nightclaw, right?
Where there was war, there was Nightclaw.
Lequilier’s tribe was very knowledgeable on physical spirits. If he came across Nightclaw, he knew he would be doomed! Completely doomed!
As a Servile Spirit, he had no resistance against the pull of a physical spirit; the only exception would be if he already had a physical spirit to serve. If he came across a physical spirit, he would be drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Even if he were to be burned to ashes in the process, he had no way of resisting the allure of the flame.
Even if Nightclaw was one of the most troublesome spirits, many members of Lequilier’s tribe were still willing to serve him. Even worse, Nightclaw brought a large pack of beasts with him everywhere he went. Due to their large numbers, very few of Nightclaw’s pack would be averse to the idea of having an extra servant around to attend to their needs.
Did that mean he had no way of escaping once he came across Nightclaw?
The moment the question had formed in his mind, Lequilier obtained his answer. As if they had a mind of their own, his legs unfolded and sprinted toward the direction of the physical spirit. Even if he knew he was probably heading straight toward Nightclaw, he still couldn’t resist the pull.
“Woe is me!” Lequilier’s face crumpled with grief, but his legs only sprinted faster. Even if he was crying out in frustration on the surface, he was still very excited on the inside.
Although the physical spirit’s presence seemed to be close, Lequilier still had to run for a long distance. When he reached the shores of a lake, his footsteps finally came to a stop. He glanced around the lake and couldn’t help but to sigh in relief when he noticed the visible lack of ferocious beasts he had initially envisioned.
Everyone knew that Nightclaw always had a pack of beasts around him. If the spirit he had sensed was indeed Nightclaw, then there should have been numerous beasts lounging around the lake.
However, Lequilier didn’t spot any beasts even after glancing around for a while. But the physical spirit was close, very close.
Lequilier was mystified, the spirit was definitely there, but he couldn’t spot even a hint of their existence. Physical spirits weren’t hard to find. Once he had a sense of their direction, he could easily pinpoint their exact location. Rather, physical spirits radiated such an intense light that it was hard to ignore their presence.
However, everything within Lequilier’s sight was green. The blue-green of the trees, the dark green waters of the lake, and the bright green of the verdant grass, there wasn’t anything else around.
Could it be a plant-type physical spirit? But it should still shine brightly to my eyes…
Filled with suspicions, Lequilier made his way around the lake and began to search around. He even parted the branches of a small thicket to look inside, but immediately felt stupid in doing so. How could a physical spirit hide in that sort of place!
Lequilier felt more and more idiotic the longer he conducted his search. Finally, he stopped rifling around and stood still. He closed his eyes and focused on his sensing. He then moved a tiny step and paused again. Only after making sure that each step was taking him closer to his quarry did he make the next step…
Right in front!
Lequilier opened his eyes to the sight of a tree. He stared closely at the tree in front of him. There were physical spirits who took on the form of trees; the Spirit Tree of the Leaf Tribe was one example. However, no matter how he looked at the tree in front of him, it was a completely ordinary tree. It couldn’t possibly be a Spirit Tree.
What was going on? Lequilier scratched his head. The only thing he hadn’t done was knock on the trunk of the tree to see if there were anything special about it. Exactly where was the physical spirit?
“Hey!” Lequilier called out. “Is there a physical spirit around here? Answer me! Even if you aren’t one, answer me!”
Thoroughly discouraged, Lequilier had yelled without expecting a response. However, after calling out aimlessly for a few minutes, he heard a rustle come from underneath the tree. It was quiet, but there definitely had been movement.
The roots of the tree were crowded with an undergrowth of weeds that couldn’t possibly hide a person. Lequilier looked at it in surprise but couldn’t make sense of the problem no matter how he thought about it. He reached out and pulled out some of the weeds that covered the lower part of the tree. Unexpectedly, there was a pitch black tree hollow behind the screen of weeds. Lequilier couldn’t see into the hollow, but he knew there was definitely something moving inside.
Lequilier had the urge to laugh after his discovery. What was a physical spirit doing inside a tree hollow? It seemed like he had come across quite an interesting spirit. He called out, “Hey! What you hiding inside there for? Is it fun down there?”
The tree hollow was silent in response to his question. Then suddenly, a mass of black tumbled out of the hollow and crashed into Lequilier. He fell down hard onto the ground, thinking that he was going to be killed. However, after discovering that he hadn’t been injured, Lequilier quickly recovered from his shock and turned around to chase after the mass of black.
He followed the black shadow to the shores of the lake. Stepping out from the shade of the forest, Lequilier was met with a wide view of the lake. Splendid rays of sunlight struck down onto the surface of the lake, creating gleaming waves. Standing on the shores before the glittering water, there was a pitch black mass. At first glance, it appeared like a dark cloud. However, after closer examination, Lequilier discerned that it was a person wrapped in a cradle of twisting black hair.
“Hey!” Lequilier called out.
The person stiffened and turned to look at Lequilier. His hair waved about as if having a life of its own and exploded outwards in a sudden frenzy. The strands of hair morphed into knife-like shapes and danced about in the air, creating a menacing sight.
As the spirit’s black hair floated in the air, it exposed his patchy white, red, and black skin for Lequilier to see. Lequilier pondered over the appearance of the spirit, racking his brains for any memories of this kind of spirit. After examining the other’s body closely however, Lequilier discovered that the spirit’s patchy skin was actually made of burns: The wounds that were openly bleeding dripped red; the places that had been burned to the bone appeared white; and the areas that had scabbed over were black.
Lequilier’s eyes bulged at his discovery. He couldn’t believe that the person in front of him was actually a physical spirit. To his knowledge, no matter the type, physical spirits always shone with an unearthly beauty that made others unable to look at them directly.
They weren’t supposed to carry around injury-laden bodies that made them such a horrifying sight!
But the spirit in front of Lequilier was definitely a physical spirit. Being one of the Servile Spirits, Lequilier would never be mistaken about that. He called out lightly, “Y-you’re greatly injured! I have a lot of spirit medicine on me. Would you be willing to let me treat your injuries?”
The spirit didn’t respond to Lequilier’s question and instead stared intensely at him. His eyes were the same shade as blood: the pupils were red, even the whites of his eyes were threaded with red, making it appear as if he would cry out tears of blood at any moment.
Lequilier suddenly realized the danger he was in. Being so greatly injured, was the physical spirit even in a rational state of mind? Just from appearances, the spirit seemed to only have murderous rage left inside of him.
Lequilier swallowed hard and pondered over his next course of action. Should he stay and wait or should he turn around and escape for his life?
Seconds, then minutes passed, and to his grief, Lequilier found he was rooted to the ground. Even if logic was telling him to run for his life, it couldn’t win over the natural instinct of his tribe.
Fortunately, the physical spirit had yet to attack him. The spirit’s black hair still floated in the air, but the strands were no longer in the shape of lethal knives; they merely floated gently in the air.
However, if I were to move a single inch, his hair would probably instantly impale me and puncture a hundred holes in my body. Lequilier didn’t doubt the might of the other’s attacking ability at all.
The physical spirit suddenly turned around and sprinted toward the lake. He jumped and dove into the waters. Instead of moving his arms and swimming, the spirit willingly let his body sink into the depth of the lake…
To Lequillier’s eyes, he was obviously drowning!
Lequilier quickly rushed into the lake. The water near the shore wasn’t deep, so he was able to reach out and pull the other up to the surface. At first, the physical spirit was motionless as if he were unconsciousness. However, once they reached the shores, he started flailing around.
Lequilier quickly tightened his hold on the spirit, but his grip immediately dislodged something on the spirit’s body. He looked down to see a piece of skin in his hand and almost fainted at the sight. He didn’t dare use any more force, and the spirit took advantage of this and broke his hold.
The minute the spirit was free, the spirit slipped into the waters and disappeared without a trace. Lequilier was scared out of his wits. He quickly discarded his luggage onto the ground and leapt into the lake after the spirit again.
Luckily, the lake was well-illuminated beneath the surface. After swimming for a short distance, Lequilier spotted a mass of black at the bottom. He quickly swam in its direction.
When he reached the spot the spirit was at, Lequilier understood at once that he had done something unnecessary. The spirit wasn’t drowning at all.
The spirit’s eyes were tightly-closed, but he was standing straight up with his arms hanging weightlessly at his sides. As he stood at the bottom of the lake, his head of black hair drifted to and fro and fanned out around him. With the help of the sunlight that beamed down into the depth of the lake, his whole person glowed with a weak light. He appeared like…like a flower that only bloomed beneath the water.
If there hadn’t been any burns on his snow-white skin, he would probably have looked even more beautiful. Lequilier sighed in awe to himself, but couldn’t resist feeling that it was a pity that the spirit was injured.
Lequilier soon ran out of air and floated back to the surface of the lake. He looked to the east and then glanced back at the bottom of the lake. Finding that he couldn’t remove his eyes from the spirit, Lequilier swiftly made a decision.
He wasn’t heading to the east anymore.
Gong Hua opened his eyes. He knew he had been asleep for a long time; at least, long in human terms.
Despite sleeping so long, he still felt exhausted. He was surprised that he was able to wake up at all.
Although feeling fatigued in every limb, he still had important things he needed to do. Gong Hua lifted his spirits and started swimming toward the surface. Once he was floating atop of the lake, he headed in the direction of the shores.
He supported his arms on the ground and tried to crawl out of the water, but found every corner of his body wracked with pain. He glanced down at himself. His wounds had healed greatly during his time inside the lake, but that hadn’t taken away their severity. Most of his wounds were still inflamed and open; even the ones that had scabbed over still appeared red after the scab had fallen off. His snowy skin was covered with patches of black and red, making him a ghastly sight.
Suddenly, the sound of a clatter rang out on the shore. Gong Hua paused in surprise and looked in the direction of the sound. There was someone on the shore; there was even a makeshift camp.
When they had been on the run, Owen would always make a simple camp similar to the one on the shore: a campfire with two makeshift beds on the ground.
Was it him? Gong Hua quickly crawled up the shore, forgetting his pain in the process. Even if he knew it was impossible, he couldn’t help but call out the familiar name once he was near the camp. “Owen?”
The person in the camp turned around and jumped up when he noticed it was Gong Hua. The stranger couldn’t be any taller than 150 centimeters, but his voice was certainly over 150 decibels. “Oh, good morning! Master, I am Lequilier of the Servile Spirits. From today forth, I will be your servant!”
Staring at the short figure in front of him, Gong Hua mumbled in a daze, “You aren’t Owen…”
“Who is this Owen you’ve mentioned?” Seeing that Gong Hua hadn’t rejected him outright, Lequilier was relieved. He asked curiously, “Is he your target of protection? You are a guardian spirit, right? The feeling you give off is similar to a guardian spirit’s. You couldn’t possibly be a spirit beast. Were you injured so severely because you were trying to protect this Owen?”
Gong Hua ignored Lequilier’s questions and mumbled to himself, “Owen, Owen…”
Lequilier wasn’t all that surprised by their inability to communicate with each other. It only assured him of the fact that the other was a guardian spirit. However, he still didn’t know whether the spirit was willing to take him on as a servant.
“Would you like something to eat? Or rather, do you need to eat anything?”
Gong Hua seemed to not have heard the other as he stared blankly at the campfire, silent the whole time.
Is, is he crying? Lequilier was stunned. He stared as tears quietly streamed down Gong Hua’s face. Once again, he questioned whether the spirit in front of him was really a physical spirit. He seemed…too human.
“A-are you all right?” Lequilier asked, somewhat panicking. “Do you want to go find Owen? I can accompany you on your search! Can I follow you on your trip?” Despite panicking, Lequilier didn’t forget to add the last sentence; he was hoping Gong Hua would accidentally nod in agreement.
Unfortunately, Gong Hua didn’t seem to have heard Lequilier at all. He simply stared at the dancing flames. As he focused on it, it seemed as if he could still hear the screams. He could see that person turning into a pile of grey ashes before his eyes. He couldn’t resist reaching his hand out to the fire. His senses told him of the great pain he was inflicting on himself, but he merely watched as his skin started turning red, then black…
Black. Gong Hua stared as his hand gradually turned black like charcoal, turned black like Owen had.
Lequilier quickly reached out and pulled Gong Hua’s hand from the fire, but the spirit resisted his pull. Furious, he yelled, “What are you doing! That’s fire! You aren’t a fire spirit! Look at your hand. Your wounds were finally starting to look better, but look at it now!”
“No! I need to protect Owen. Owen… Owen!”
Gong Hua thrashed around, screamed, and cried. He wasn’t willing to admit that he had failed. No matter how strong he was, he wouldn’t be able to protect Owen anymore.
Lequilier used all his strength and pulled Gong Hua back from the fire, as far as he could. At first, he had been scared that Gong Hua would attack him out of anger, but then found out that the spirit had no energy to resist. He was even weaker than the average human.
Gong Hua continued to reach out toward the fire. The only thing he could do was call out that name.
Proofreaders: Rose, Xuan
Indigo: One of the Danji Yate’s Four Colors. The one responsible for leading the Danyas’ attack against the humans.
Aquamarine: A blue-haired female Leaf. Indigo’s lover.
Jin Qi Er: An emissary from Danya. Seems to be friends with Indigo.
Zhan ∙ Chris ∙ Wollier: Commander of Zhan Yan’s Xialan Spiritmancer Regiment.
Zhan ∙ Gawain ∙ Yves: Chris’ nephew. One of the candidates in line to become the next commander of the Xialan Spiritmancer Regiment.
Zhan ∙ Andrew ∙ Dinadan: Commander of Zhan Yan’s Qi Sheng Spiritmancer Regiment.
Zhan ∙ Anselo ∙ Dinadan: Andrew’s son.
Yan Er: A red-haired female Leaf.
Hong Yan: A red-haired male Leaf.
This volume was a pain to write!
I had to advance the plot while writing about the past and foreshadowing the future at the same time… Hahahaha! In the end, I still didn’t manage to finish writing about what had happened in the past. 囧!
I still haven’t finished writing about the onset of Gong Hua’s hatred and what happened afterwards. I hope everyone will wait for the next volume with a heart full of curiosity (or complaints)!
I’ll mention here that the next volume will be called “Choice.”
As the name implies, there will be many choices to be made. Gong Hua always says that he doesn’t have a choice, but now he will finally have the leeway to make a choice himself. However, it’d be difficult to say whether it would be considered good or bad if you had the chance to decide something.
In this volume, I tried writing about military matters and war. It didn’t take up too many chapters, mainly because I didn’t dare write too much. After all, military matters are one of my weak points. If I had to write about the specifics of war chapter after chapter, I think my brain would turn into a goopy mess. That is why it’s best to take it slowly.
I also tried writing about love. While going through reader comments after volume one’s release, it seemed like everyone had mistakenly assumed that the romance is between Gong Hua and Cas. However, I believe that this misunderstanding has been resolved after reading volume two, right?
I suddenly have no idea what else I want to add to the afterword. There are a lot of unfinished plotlines, but I can’t mention any of them here!
All right, let’s talk about the cover instead. The upside-down Cas on the cover is so handsome! The background is also detailed and beautiful! Monto, I love you!
To be honest, Cas’ upside-down position is rather marvelous. But what’s more marvelous is that…it totally suits his style! He’s exactly the type of deranged fellow who would strike such a mysterious pose.
How shall I comment on this?
Cas, nicely done! That upside-down position is so striking! It’ll make girls scream for you!
I’ll mention right now that one of the things Cas hates the most is when someone acts more deranged than him. (Therefore, as the author, I am the person he hates the most).
Is it okay for me, the author, to be this happy in the afterword after writing such a tragic book? What if someone tells me that the afterword ended up ruining the originally serious novel that is filled with sorrow?
I should delete every word in the afterword and rewrite the whole thing… No, I’m normally this happy in every afterword I write. If I’m not happy, then someone might as well cut me apart and allow me to reincarnate.
What? Are you asking me for the reason why the author is capable of being this happy after writing such a tragic novel?
…Well, you should try writing a novel, and only after two long, arduous months manage to hand in the finished manuscript. You’d be hopping mad with joy, I’ll tell you right now!
That is why I’m always so happy in every afterword. I’ll only be serious and emotional after writing the last chapter of a series. As there would be no subsequent volume, my happiness would always be dyed with a bit of melancholy.
Unfortunately for all the readers, this series is far from being finished. Therefore, I am very happy. I’ll ask everyone here to be tolerant of an author like me who’s more deranged than Cas, who had his entire family killed when he was young. Please don’t cut me apart and force me to reincarnate!
Off topic, I’ll be writing the seventh volume of The Legend of the Sun Knight after this. To be honest, I’m rather looking forward to writing it because it has a lot of [spoilers]. I’ve been waiting to write it for a long time now. I’ll finally have my wish fulfilled and can play around to my heart’s content.
To everyone who’s reading The Legend of the Sun Knight, please look forward to all my schemes! (Blush).
Proofreaders: Xuan, Sherry
Gong Hua, you have thousands of lives on your head. Your life is that valuable.
How could I kill you so easily? If I did, I won’t have anything left to take revenge on.
My dear baby Gong Hua, why don’t you repay your sins through a life of suffering?
I’ll hate you for the rest of my life and make you suffer for the rest of yours. But even then, this is barely enough for you to erase your sins.
“You know her?” Jin Qi Er asked in surprise.
Yin Qie Zi’s heart thumped rapidly. He immediately spoke to the red-haired Leaf in the Leaf language, “Don’t say anything!”
He then turned around and explained to Jin Qi Er, “I apologize. I’ve kept this hidden from you, but I’m actually descended from the Leaves.”
The Danya stared at him in shock, then said with suspicion, “No wonder why your hair color is so unique. So it is possible for humans and Leaves to have children together? It’s impossible for us Danyas.”
Hearing Jin Qi Er’s response, Yin Qie Zi was at a loss on how to react. He glanced at the red-haired Leaf; she was staring at him, but kept her mouth closed tight to show that she wouldn’t say anything rash. During that moment, another red-haired Leaf walked over to her and asked her what was going on in the Leaf language.
Seeing this, Yin Qie Zi turned to ask the Danya emissary, “Why do the Danyas like the Leaves so much? I wouldn’t think that it is purely because you admire their beauty.”
Jin Qi Er frowned but answered, “All right, I don’t think there’s any harm in telling you. It’s because the Leaves are knowledgeable in plants and the powers they have over spirits can increase harvest yields. My people are not well suited for farming. However, after having the Leaves with us, our harvests have become better than before.”
Yin Qie Zi chuckled. “The Leaves have such a power? Why haven’t I heard about this? There shouldn’t be that much of a difference in your harvests, right?”
“True, the difference isn’t great.” Jin Qi Er nodded in acknowledgement. “But with their guidance, our deficiencies in crop yields have decreased, which is of great help to us. My country suffers from severe shortages of food. If we were to miss two or three harvest seasons, I’m afraid we would have to rely on war and plunder other countries in order to survive.”
So that’s why the Danyas have been quiet for all these years. I didn’t expect this to be the cause. After the Leaf Tribe migrated to a different continent, the Danyas have been openly capturing and buying Leaves to bring them to Xiasha. Because the Leaves decrease their chances of having a poor harvest, they naturally wouldn’t need to plunder humans.
Yin Qie Zi nodded in understanding before putting forward a blunt request. “I want to have a good talk with them alone. Do you mind leaving?”
The Danya paused and asked hesitatingly, “You couldn’t possibly want to save them, right?”
“Don’t joke around,” Yin Qie Zi snapped. “If I had wanted to save them, I would’ve had Owen bring me here instead. I came here looking especially for you, and I even offered you the chance to stand guard outside the room. Should I also leave behind evidence for you so that you could label me as the criminal afterwards?”
After thinking a bit, even Jin Qi Er found his suspicion laughable. “I didn’t mean it that way. I apologize.”
“You don’t have to worry,” Yin Qie Zi said calmly. “Can I trouble you to leave now?”
The Danya nodded and left the room. Yin Qie Zi then turned around to face the Leaves. He looked around and noticed that every single Leaf had their eyes on him.
He intentionally avoided looking over at the red-haired female Leaf and instead directed his words to all of the other Leaves present. “I’m here to select and take one of you away. I won’t treat you as a slave, but you will have to come along with me on my adventures. Why don’t you discuss amongst yourselves to see which one of you wants to come with me?”
The Leaves looked around at each other in dismay. The other red-haired Leaf walked forward and said with a faint smile, “My name is Hong Yan. The one behind me is Yan Er. What’s your name?”
Yin Qie Zi opened his mouth to answer, but suddenly remembered that the alias he was using belonged to the Leaf Lord. If he were to utter that name aloud, he’d be in great trouble.
“My name is irrelevant.”
“What do you mean irrelevant?” Yan Er suddenly jumped out and yelled, “Your name represents everything you are. How can you call it irrelevant?”
Yin Qie Zi looked at Yan Er; she appeared to be the liveliest of all the Leaves gathered here. At that moment, Yin Qie Zi felt as though he had been transported to the past. For years, he had watched the lively Leaves walk past the Tree in high-spirits. Just simply looking at them, he had been able to feel some of their joy rubbing off on him.
Yan Er felt uncomfortable pinned by Yin Qie Zi’s unnerving stare and quickly hid behind Hong Yan. The latter looked at his sister and said, “I’ve never heard that humans and Leaves could have offspring together. You shouldn’t be a mixed descendant of human and Leaf, right?”
Yin Qie Zi was still gazing at Yan Er with a smile on his face. Hong Yan stared intensely at him, wanting to find traces of Yin Qie Zi’s supposed mixed heritage. He traced over the other’s red eyes, they seemed so familiar… Red eyes!
Hong Yan paused in shock and inspected the other’s face more closely. He couldn’t find any semblance of the proclaimed mixed heritage, but those pair of eyes and that face were becoming more and more familiar to him. Only Yin Qie Zi’s silvery-purple hair appeared off, but something like hair color wasn’t difficult to change!
Hong Yan stared dumbly at Yin Qie Zi’s face before speaking in an inconceivable voice, “…Flower?”
Yin Qie Zi froze in shock. After processing Hong Yan’s words, his expression flipped.
“I heard you were here.”
The door crashed open and Cas walked through. “Have you picked one out yet? Are you going to go with a male or a female? From what I can guess, you would probably choose the one who would make the best spirit charmer―”
Cas drifted off when he noticed the ugly expression on Yin Qie Zi’s face.
Seeing the door was open, Yin Qie Zi abruptly turned around and ran outside, even pushing aside Cas who was blocking his way.
“What the hell?” Cas frowned, then snarled ferociously at the Leaves, “I don’t care what had happened just now, but none of you are allowed to breathe a word of it to anyone else. Otherwise, you’ll be wishing for death once I’m done with you!”
After leaving behind a warning, Cas chased after Yin Qie Zi. Luckily, the latter hadn’t gotten too far away. Within a few steps, Cas managed to catch up to the spirit binder. He grabbed Yin Qie Zi’s wrist and stopped him in his tracks. However, Yin Qie Zi struggled and managed to break free of Cas’ hold, turning around to run off again.
“Stop running!” Cas spoke in a furious voice, “Do you think this is your backyard? If you really have a death wish, then continue your rampage through the palace!”
Yin Qie Zi froze, but kept his head down. He mumbled, “He recognized me as the Flower. He really recognized me.”
Cas’ expression stiffened when he heard Yin Qie Zi. He grabbed the other’s wrist and dragged him into a nearby room. After closing the door, he faced Yin Qie Zi and yelled, “Are you crazy? Do you think the royal palace is some type of secret hideout? I can’t believe you actually said that in the halls! If you’re really wishing for death so badly, then tell me! I’ll kill you right now!”
Yin Qie Zi stared distractedly into space and didn’t seem to have heard Cas.
“You good-for-nothing!” Cas frowned and asked, “Would the Leaves use this to threaten you to rescue them?”
Yin Qie Zi paused, and said dumbly, “Threaten me? How would that be possible? The Leaves would never threaten anyone.”
“Then that’s the end of that.” Cas snorted and continued, “And here I was under the impression that I would have to kill you now so that someone else doesn’t get to you first! As long as those Leaves never open their mouths, what’s the harm in letting them know about you?”
Yie Qie Zi turned to look at Cas, but couldn’t bring himself to reveal anything. For him, letting the Leaves know his real identity was worse than being killed. If the Leaves knew that he was their Guardian Flower, then they would also know that he, their guardian…had abandoned them.
“I think you’re just making things hard on yourself. You should have sent someone from the Paladin household to help you select one, but you came over by yourself and ended up being recognized by the Leaves. How could you be anything besides an idiot?”
“I only wanted to talk with them a bit…” Yin Qie Zi replied quietly.
“Would it make you happy to talk with them?” Cas’ lips lifted in a cruel smirk and he said viciously, “That’s not allowed! Don’t forget that I’m not going to let you experience any bit of happiness for the rest of your life!”
“I don’t want to anymore,” Yin Qie Zi said simply. “I don’t want to see them anymore.”
The second those words left his mouth, Yin Qie Zi knew he was in for trouble. Wasn’t Cas’ favorite pastime forcing him into doing the things he didn’t want to do?
As expected, Cas immediately ordered, “Go pick out a Leaf right now.”
Yin Qie Zi stayed silent, but then surprisingly nodded. “All right.”
After replying, Yin Qie Zi swiftly turned around and started walking toward the room where the Leaves were being kept in.
In shock, Cas stared after Yin Qie Zi for a moment before catching up to the other. He kept a suspicious gaze on the spirit binder. Yin Qie Zi’s response was a tad bit more straightforward than he liked. However, after thinking for a bit, Cas concluded that it was probably because Yin Qie Zi understood that he had no way to refuse and decided to forgo the needless struggle.
This was starting to become interesting.
Yin Qie Zi slammed the door open forcefully. The Leaves inside the room lifted their heads and turned to look at him. Unlike their previous lost expressions, a glimmer of hope now decorated their faces. Hong Yan and Yan Er immediately walked up to him.
“Don’t look at me with that sort of expression!”
Yin Qie Zi continued with a snarl, “Did you think I would rescue you? Stop dreaming!”
The Leaves stared at him in shock. But rather than saying they were dismayed by Yin Qie Zi’s words, it would be more accurate to say that they were scared of the Flower’s attitude… They had never seen a Flower roar at someone before.
Even Cas was surprised at Yin Qie Zi’s sudden outburst after following the latter into the room. He quickly turned around and shut the door tightly. If Yin Qie Zi continued yelling with the door open, Cas was afraid that every guard standing outside would end up learning about the “Flower.”
Yin Qie Zi eyed every single Leaf inside the room and said through gritted teeth, “The Leaves were the ones who abandoned me! Remember?”
Hearing him say this, the Leaves’ expressions changed.
“All of you walked by me day after day, yet none of you took the effort to pay me any attention. I sat alone under the Tree all that time! Your laughter rang in my ears constantly, yet I was forced to turn a blind eye and eat all by my lonesome!”
Yin Qie Zi stared at each and every Leaf inside the room. He was waiting… Waiting for one of them to voice out the reason why they had abandoned him: that he would go crazy after the Tree died! That he would kill them all during that period of insanity! That no one had the courage to talk to a Flower who was on the verge of starting a massacre!
Silence permeated the room. Yan Er swallowed forcefully and looked at Yin Qie Zi with tears and pity in her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Hong Yan began with thick regret in his voice.
“I would go crazy. Did you all know that from early on?” Seeing the Leaves nod, Yin Qie Zi continued coldly, “Then why didn’t you kill me before leaving?”
“Kill you?” Hong Yan repeated in alarm. “How could we do something like that? You are our Flower!”
“Did you never think that I would kill people once I started going insane?” Yin Qie Zi roared at him with fury and agitation.
“Kill…people?” For a long time, Hong Yan couldn’t speak out of shock. Finally, he said, “No! We never had that thought. It’s a part of the Flower’s natural instinct to return to the Tree’s side. There wouldn’t be anyone around the dying Tree. The Flower wo-would…become insane along with the Tree and die afterwards.”
In other words, he was a Flower that should have died but had failed to for some reason?
“Flower, did you kill?” Yan Er asked in a small voice.
Yin Qie Zi chuckled when he heard the question. Quietly, he said, “I’ve killed plenty. I’m…a Flower that grew up bathed in blood.”
While the Leaves stared at him with widened eyes in shock and distress, Yin Qie Zi said to Cas, “I’ll pick this red-haired female Leaf.”
He then left without turning back.
The two of them walked down the halls one after another. Yin Qie Zi’s steps were fast and precise; Cas almost had to jog to catch up.
“Stop! What the hell were you thinking just now?”
Cas grabbed hold of Yin Qie Zi and grounded him to a halt. Cas was alarmed; no matter how much he thought about it, something didn’t seem right. The Gong Hua he knew never acted like this. Even if Gong Hua was just acting as Yin Qie Zi right now, he would have never roared and cursed at the Leaves just because they had abandoned him in the past. Because of this, Cas couldn’t help but suspiciously wonder what the other was planning.
Even though he had been caught in a hold, Yin Qie Zi didn’t turn to face Cas. He merely said quietly, “Revenge.”
Cas jolted in surprise before he growled in complete disbelief, “Revenge? Did you believe you were cursing at the Warlord Paladin just now? Don’t lie to me!” He said in a warning tone, “Give me a clear explanation!”
Yin Qie Zi turned around and said sternly, “Did you think Owen and Mila’s only enemy was West? West had nothing to do with Mila’s death!”
Cas paused in shock before noticing that Yin Qie Zi’s face was covered with tears.
“Owen and Mila’s biggest enemy…was me!”
Proofreaders: Xuan, PiKairi