The only thing I want to do is kill you and take revenge for my family. I will kill you! Ki― No! Wait.
How can I kill you so simply?
You murdered so many people. You took away my parents. You took away my sister, her husband, and their child!
In the end, you killed my only remaining brother… Do you think your life would be enough for all of this?
How can it be enough to atone for all the crimes you’ve committed!
“Nightclaw died?” Cas lifted an eyebrow, rather pleased at the news.
He hadn’t heard the results of the battle, but Yin Qie Zi was standing in front of him alive and well and telling him the story. He naturally concluded that Nightclaw had lost the battle and died.
Yin Qie Zi shook his head and said, “He didn’t die. Physical spirits won’t die that easily. He did suffer some heavy injuries. When I was about to kill him, he begged me to spare his life. He was even willing to use jewels and treasures to barter for his life. In the end, I picked out this sword and gave it to Owen.”
“You didn’t kill that goddamn animal? Simply for a sword?” Cas growled angrily.
Yin Qie Zi paused in surprise. He didn’t spare Nightclaw simply because of a sword. It was because the spirit beast had promised to leave with his pack and not chase after the army anymore. That was enough for him. It wasn’t like he had no other choice but to kill Nightclaw.
Yin Qie Zi hadn’t expected Cas to loathe Nightclaw this much. After thinking a bit, Yin Qie Zi decided that it was normal for Cas to have such strong feelings of hate for Nightclaw. After all, the spirit beast hadn’t done anything worth praising when they first came across him. If Nightclaw had never appeared that day, they might have led those happy and carefree lives for a bit longer…
Yin Qie Zi shook aside the weak thoughts and said, “The story is over. Isn’t it about time for you to explain why you’re here?”
Cas frowned and replied, “I would’ve forgotten if you hadn’t reminded me. Why did you bother dueling with that Gawain earlier today?”
“I only wanted to see whether my shoulder has healed or not.”
“Do you know what he’s saying behind your back?” With a semblance of a smile, Cas recited ferociously, “He’s only a commoner. How is he qualified to take the Warlord’s daughter as his wife? Does he think he’s become one of the aristocrat just because he’s wearing some fancy clothes?”
After repeating Gawain’s words, Cas looked over at Yin Qie Zi, waiting for the other’s reaction.
Yin Qie Zi found the whole situation rather laughable. He replied, “Did you think I would be upset over something small like this? I’m not an ignorant little girl anymore.”
“Humph! Of course I know that!” Despite saying so, Cas was still disappointed by Yin Qie Zi’s lack of reaction. He asked crossly, “Do you know who that Gawain is?”
“Isn’t he just Gawain?” Yin Qie Zi answered with that, but he knew Cas wasn’t referring to Gawain’s name, but his status. Gawain seemed to know Chris, he even called the latter uncle…
“He’s Chris’ nephew. Meaning he’s one of the candidates to succeed the position of commander of the Xialan Spiritmancer Regiment,” Cas explained simply.
Yin Qie Zi came to a realization after hearing that Gawain was “one of the candidates.” Feeling a rising wave of disgust, he asked spitefully, “Is that why he wants to marry Mila? Instead of ‘one of the candidates,’ he wants to become ‘the only candidate?’”
“Miss Mila’s fiancé was Prince Edward. Nobody dared to vie for the same girl with the prince. After you appeared, however, everybody gradually learned that the prince had no plans to marry Mila. If that wasn’t the case, why would he allow some other man to hang around her all day long?”
Cas then added cheerfully, “The Paladin Clan isn’t a small gold mine. After losing two sons, Warlord Paladin only has the twins left. It would be a profitable gain no matter which twin those greedy aristocrats get their hands on. You’re going to experience all sorts of trouble in the future!”
So Cas is excited to see how I’m going to suffer from this. Yin Qie Zi didn’t especially mind the troublesome news. In any case, his goal wasn’t to marry Mila. There wasn’t any need for him to think about something unrelated to his goal. It was enough for his plan if he could get closer to Mila in the next three months. It would be even better if Mila trusted him enough to leave Fenny aside. That would guarantee him success… in killing her!
Cas suddenly interrupted his thoughts and spoke, “That was a great expression just now. You looked as if you would go for the kill no matter who stood in front of you, even if it were the past Mila.”
Mila… Yin Qie Zi felt a sudden ache in his heart. He growled, “Don’t intentionally talk like that. You weren’t like this before.”
“Intentionally?” Cas broke into a flamboyant laugh. “I haven’t ‘intentionally’ said anything. The only Cas you know is the ten-year-old Cas from back then. He was a kid who needed to be taken care of by his brother. Do you think I’m still the same as I was back then?”
“You aren’t like this in front of the prince!”
Cas’ expression froze at the other’s retort. He said sardonically, “A dog has to act like a dog.”
Dog? Yin Qie Zi stared at him blankly for a moment before asking, “So you really are working for the prince?”
“The king.” Cas stretched lazily and said, “l’m lent out to the prince right now, to teach him how to use assassins. Though when he succeeds the throne, I really will become his dog.”
At that moment, someone knocked on the door. Yin Qie Zi jumped in fright at the sudden noise. Just when he was about to tell Cas to leave, a voice sounded outside the door: “Master, who are you talking to?”
It was Litelli. Yin Qie Zi felt his anger rising when he recognized the voice. He’d almost been frightened to death by his own servant!
“Master?” A curious expression appeared on Cas’ face. He then understood and asked confidently, “Is it the shorty from the Servile Spirits Tribe?”
“He’s Lequilier, right?”
Yin Qie Zi glanced at Cas. He wasn’t too surprised that the other had found out about Litelli’s secret identity. The one who was most knowledgeable of his past was none other than Cas. It wasn’t unexpected for him to have guessed correctly.
Litelli continued knocking and yelling “Master” outside the door.
“Stop knocking! You can come in.”
Litelli stepped through the door and immediately froze. He’d never seen a stranger come looking for Yin Qie Zi before.
Cas sat on the bed and gave Litelli an once-over. Litelli, however, was covered from top to bottom by a cloak. Besides Litelli’s height, Cas couldn’t see any other distinguishing features. He taunted, “What’s the use of hiding under a cloak? You can’t hide your shortness from anyone.”
Only then did Litelli finally come out of the shock that Yin Qie Zi was meeting with a stranger. When he heard Cas call him short, he ripped off his cloak and puffed up his chest. He yelled, “I’m not short. I’m very tall!”
Cas took in Litelli’s appearance. The other was about 150 centimeters tall. Despite having a short and small stature, Litelli’s eyes were much bigger than average: they occupied at least a third of his face. Lifting an eyebrow, Cas stood up and walked over to Litelli. The top of Litelli’s head barely reached his chest. The other had to tilt his head back to be able to stare at him properly.
“In his tribe, Litelli is considered rather tall.” Yin Qie Zi’s lips quirked up in a smile. For once, he decided to help out Litelli and explain for him. “The average height for Servile Spirits is only around 130 centimeters. Most females barely reach 120 centimeters. It’s pretty rare to see Servile Spirits as tall as him. He could practically pass off as a short human.”
“Exactly as I was saying!” Litelli nodded in satisfaction. When he lifted his head, he suddenly noticed the scar on Cas’ left eye. He paused in surprise before letting out an earsplitting cry, “Y-you’re the one who’s here to take revenge… The one who injured Master last time!”
Yin Qie Zi immediately reminded quietly, “Litelli, lower your voice. Don’t go around scaring people in the middle of the night.”
“Master, w-why are you speaking alone with this dangerous fellow? What if he suddenly starts attacking you?”
Finally remembering that Cas was an enemy, Litelli took a step backwards and put himself in front of Yin Qie Zi, a cautious expression on his face as he prepared for battle.
Cas wanted to laugh when he saw a shorty like Litelli move into battle position. He then recalled that Litelli was actually the well-known Lequilier. Plus, Yin Qie Zi was also in the room. If they were to work together… Cas immediately pulled out his daggers.
Seeing this, Litelli reached inside the leather bag he had hanging around his waist. When he pulled his hands out, he had test tubes holding various liquids wedged between his fingers. The liquids came in all sorts of colors and seemed to be alive as they bubbled inside the test tubes struggling to get outside.
Watching those strange liquids dance inside the test tubes, Cas knew he couldn’t let Litelli come out of this skirmish alive. His hands tightened on the handles of his daggers, ready to cut the other’s neck at any moment.
Yin Qie Zi shouted, halting the other two in their tracks. He turned his head and growled at his servant, “Litelli, leave!”
Litelli started in fright. He cried, “How can I do that? If he attacks you―”
“Litelli! Put those medicines away!”
Seeing the severe expression on Yin Qie Zi’s face, Litelli didn’t dare disobey the order. Even if he was known as a rebel within his tribe, he still couldn’t disobey a serious command from a physical spirit. Litelli put away the test tubes, but still stood between Yin Qie Zi and Cas.
“Cas, put down your daggers!” Yin Qie Zi shouted, “Without an order from me, Litelli wouldn’t attack you.”
Cas put away his daggers without hesitating. It was best for him that things ended like this. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to survive if he were to fight both Yin Qie Zi and Litelli with his strange medicines at the same time.
“Yin Qie Zi… Are you okay?”
Yin Qie Zi froze in shock and turned to look at the door. The voice seemed to have been Owen’s. He immediately motioned at Cas to leave with his eyes. At the same time, he called out to Owen, “Nothing. My servant did something stupid. I was just scolding him.”
Hearing this, Litelli stared unhappily at Yin Qie Zi with his big eyes. Yin Qie Zi ignored him as usual. Litelli could only stomp the floor silently in frustration.
Cas took two steps towards Yin Qie Zi and said quietly, “I’m actually here to tell you that there’s no way to save the lives of those peace offerings. As for the one you’ll take away, it’ll probably survive.”
Yin Qie Zi stared at him with wide eyes. Cas merely smirked and leapt out the open window.
“Yin Qie Zi, why don’t we go eat breakfast? …Yin Qie Zi?”
Instead of answering, Yin Qie Zi looked at the window, ruminating over Cas’ words. His expression was ugly enough that Litelli didn’t dare say anything rash like before. Owen continued calling Yin Qie Zi’s name outside the door, his voice becoming more and more worried each time.
Cautiously, Litelli quietly reminded Yin Qie Zi, “Master, there’s someone calling for you outside the door. Is it all right for you not to answer?”
Yin Qie Zi slowly drew his eyes away from the window. He yelled in the direction of the door, “Stop yelling. I was only changing my clothes. Do you have to yell like that? I’ll be out in a moment.”
He heard Owen go “Oh” outside the door, as if he had a sudden epiphany.
Yin Qie Zi turned away from the door and started changing. While doing so, he ordered, “Litelli, I want you to go to the palace right now as Lequilier and offer to be one of the king’s advisors!”
Litelli started in fright at the other’s command. Was Yin Qie Zi going to abandon him? He said quickly, “But I’ve already decided to serve you! You also agreed to let me serve you―”
Yin Qie Zi cut in and added, “This is a task I want you to do. I want you to go to the palace and learn whether or not Zhan Yan is leaning towards starting a war with Danya. I want to know which side is going to make the first move. Also… I want you to do all you can to protect those Leaves.”
Upon learning that it was an important task and that his goal was to protect the Leaves, Litelli immediately forgot his habit of adding unnecessary embellishments to his speech and responded, “No problem! Master, I’ll go prepare right now!”
Yin Qie Zi turned towards the window. Seeing that Cas was indeed gone, he went and opened the door. As expected, Owen was the one standing outside.
Yin Qie Zi explained simply, “I was ordering my servant to go find some rare medical ingredients, but we had conflicting ideas.”
Unexpectedly, Owen didn’t probe any deeper into the matter. Instead he said quietly to Yin Qie Zi, “Father wants to see you after breakfast.”
Yin Qie Zi paused in his steps, both surprised and alarmed. “Wes… Warlord Paladin wants to see me? What for?”
“Promise me you won’t be angry when you hear…”
Yin Qie Zi directed a glare at Owen, the latter braced himself for disaster and explained, “Father seems to have something he wants you to do. It’s probably nothing more than wanting to test your skills. After all, Father treasures my sister deeply. He wouldn’t let her marry you that easily.”
“You make it out as if I’ve already decided to take your sister as my wife,” Yin Qie Zi replied bad-temperedly.
Owen tensed at the other’s answer. He asked, “Don’t tell me you don’t want to marry her?”
Yin Qie Zi was silent for a moment, not knowing how to reply. After thinking, he managed to force out an answer, “I haven’t thought about that yet. After all, I haven’t known her for long…”
Owen sighed in relief and said, “That’s true.” He then trailed off in thought. Considering Yin Qie Zi’s personality, he must be somewhat interested in Mila as he didn’t out-rightly refuse the marriage.
Owen’s mood lightened at that thought. It didn’t matter what kind of tests his father came up with, he and Mila would help Yin Qie Zi pass them. If they really had no other option, they could get Edward to help. There wasn’t anything they couldn’t solve together. However, Yin Qie Zi’s own desires were the most important. If he really didn’t like Mila, then this marriage would be hard to pull off.
“Hahaha. My brother-in-law, which day―”
Yin Qie Zi glared at him ferociously.
“…I was just saying that Mila has been waiting for a long time. Let’s quickly go eat breakfast.”
After quietly changing what he was going to say, Owen found he probably wouldn’t be happy that he was going to have a brother-in-law like Yin Qie Zi. He was already being bullied by his own sister. Now he was going to have to deal with a brother-in-law as well.
He could look past it if it were Mila doing the bullying. After all, she was his adorable little sister! But if he was going to be bullied by his brother-in-law as well, that’d really be… Is there no god in this world?
Owen knocked on the door to the study. No matter the time or the situation, he was always a bit nervous to face his father. He wasn’t like Mila who treated their father as someone to act spoiled with. Unlike him, Mila wasn’t the slightest bit afraid of their father.
Owen didn’t dare act like that around their father. He didn’t dare let any hint of weakness show in his expression, not to mention acting spoiled. If his father were to see it, he’d receive an immediate scolding and even physical punishment.
Yin Qie Zi glanced sideways at Owen. “What are you doing being more nervous than me?”
Owen forced a smile at Yin Qie Zi’s remark. Quickly afterwards, they heard a “come in” from inside the study. Owen replied straightaway, “Yes!”
Yin Qie Zi was unused to seeing Owen’s serious and proper expression. Mila had already told him that Owen lived under strict rules when it came to his father, so Yin Qie Zi wasn’t especially surprised at the other’s sudden change.
Owen opened the study’s door with an apprehensive face. Seeing that his father wasn’t alone in the room and that Chris was also inside, Owen stretched taut with even more tension. His expression became severe and his back ramrod straight, appearing like a model soldier.
On the other hand, Yin Qie Zi’s expression was slightly unfriendly. He had to force himself to forget that West was the one sitting in front of him before he could put up an unperturbed front. Despite all his efforts, he barely managed to remain expressionless. Anyone who looked at him closely could tell he was being slightly hostile.
After walking in, Owen greeted the two men inside seriously. “Teacher, Father.”
Chris nodded back at him, but West completely ignored his own son. West looked directly at Yin Qie Zi and asked, “I heard you’re quite good at martial arts?”
Yin Qie Zi initially wanted to give a friendly reply, but ultimately found he couldn’t accomplish such a thing. If not for the fact that West’s grey-haired appearance was radically different from how he looked twenty years ago, Yin Qie Zi felt he wouldn’t be able to resist pulling out his sword and attacking the other right then and there. In the end, he only replied blandly, “I’m about average.”
West frowned at Yin Qie Zi’s reply. His daughter had already told him that Yin Qie Zi had an indifferent personality and asked him to be tolerant of his behavior. But when did anyone dare act this indifferently towards a powerful Warlord like him? He couldn’t help feel displeased at Yin Qie Zi’s attitude.
Unexpectedly, Chris said, “You don’t need to be modest. Although I was unprepared for your last strike yesterday, I feel I still would’ve lost to you if we truly fought to the end. Going by your age, calling you a genius wouldn’t even be enough!”
Owen almost jumped in surprise when he heard Chris’ reply. He knew Yin Qie Zi wasn’t weak, but he never expected him to be strong enough that even his teacher wouldn’t be able to defeat him. He then suddenly remembered that Yin Qie Zi was older than he looked. He was at least an “old man” over fifty years old. He might even be older than Chris. It wasn’t strange for him to be that strong.
After hearing Chris’ praise, West’s mood lightened greatly. He was initially opposed when he learnt that his daughter had chosen a weak-bodied spirit binder as a potential husband. He was helpless against the choice as Mila had asked for the right to select her own husband for her birthday present. West agreed to it, but didn’t expect the spirit binder his daughter selected to be this arrogant and obstinate. However, if Yin Qie Zi was someone who could fight hand to hand with Chris, then it was understandable for him to be arrogant.
“I have a task I want you to do.”
“May I ask what it is?” Yin Qie Zi made an effort to be humble. His words were definitely more humble than before, but he couldn’t change his tone of voice.
“I want you to protect the peace offerings Zhan Yan will be presenting to the Danyas.”
Yin Qie Zi paused in shock. Cas had just told him that someone was after the lives of those Leaves. Now West was sending him to protect them. This kind of lucky coincidence made him slightly suspicious. He asked in mistrust, “You’re really entrusting such a large task to me?”
Chris spoke up, “We haven’t entrusted the job only to you. We merely want you to act as a guard for them. There have been many assassination attempts on the lives of those peace offerings. The prince is currently having difficulties thinking of how he’s going ensure their safety.”
Yin Qie Zi was again reminded of Cas’ warning when he heard “many assassination attempts.” His heart thudded rapidly inside his chest, almost as if it were going to jump out at any moment.
“Father, Teacher, Yin Qie Zi has already agreed to make a few spirit medicines for the Danya emissaries. He can’t guard those peace offerings for these two weeks,” Owen explained hurriedly.
If Owen hadn’t reminded him, Yin Qie Zi would’ve completely forgotten about his promise to Jin Qi Er. Despite that, it didn’t pose much of a problem for him. If he didn’t have time to make the spirit medicines, he could just leave them for Litelli to do. But this was difficult to say out loud, after all, Litelli was merely his servant in name.
West snorted at his son’s reply and said sternly, “It’s because the emissaries are waiting on your spirit medicines that they’ve decided to stay for another two weeks. If not you, who else am I going to entrust this guarding task to?”
Hearing his father’s harsh tone, Owen didn’t dare add anything else. He only turned his head and leveled a questioning gaze at Yin Qie Zi.
In order to avoid rousing West’s suspicions, Yin Qie Zi said, “I will need my servant to come with me to the palace. I will also need a room to allow me to prepare the medicines. It would be best if the room is near the prison the Leaves are locked up in. I will do my best to protect the Leaves and make the medicines at the same time.”
Seeing Yin Qie Zi’s proactive attitude, West finally felt that the young man wasn’t a bad match for his daughter. Yin Qie Zi was capable of making high-quality spirit medicines and was also a strong spiritmancer. He at least made a barely suitable match for Mila.
“Very well. You may leave for the palace after you make preparations.” West then turned and directed an order at his son, “Owen, you will be the one to arrange the rooms he will stay in.”
“Yes!” Owen replied quickly. He then added with a slight tremble, “Father, may I also participate in this mission? I feel I could be of some help.”
West thought for a moment and responded, “It would be good for you to have some experience. Don’t be a hindrance, understand?”
Owen immediately replied in agreement.
West waved his hand and said, “All right, you may leave now. I still have things to discuss with Commander Chris.”
Chris turned and spoke to Yin Qie Zi, “Since you have a job to do, it won’t be easy to seek battle advice from you anymore. If there is an opportunity in the future, we definitely have to compare notes!”
Yin Qie Zi nodded indifferently and left the study with Owen. Before the door closed, the two of them caught a snatch of the older men’s murmurings inside the room:
“Exactly what is going on? Who’s trying to assassinate the peace offerings?”
“I thought it was you…”
Owen perked his ears up as far as they could go and eavesdropped on the conversation. The door was shutting at a snail-pace rate, but in the end, it closed before they could hear anything else. Owen turned and whispered to Yin Qie Zi, “The one who said ‘I thought it was you,’ wasn’t it Teacher Chris? D-does that mean my father wanted to kill the Leaves?”
Yin Qie Zi was pondering over the same question. He replied uncertainly, “He probably just suspects it was your father, but he doesn’t seem very sure of it. Plus, your father already denied it with his earlier question.”
“Then should he have admitted that he was the one who did it?” Owen added unhappily, “Unless Teacher Chris is an accomplice, my father would never admit to it.”
That was true. Yin Qie Zi nodded and asked, “Do you think your father was the one who ordered the assassination of the Leaves?”
Owen scratched his face and replied, “I don’t know. Even if he were the one behind it, I wouldn’t be too surprised. Considering that he told the two of us to go protect the Leaves just now, it probably wasn’t him. Or could that just be a diversion tactic?”
Yin Qie Zi didn’t know how to continue after hearing Owen. He replied snappily, “How should I know if you don’t even understand your father’s way of thinking?”
“True. Let’s just stop guessing. You should start packing. I’ll go to the palace first and ask Edward about the situation. I’ll also arrange a room for you while I’m there.”
“You don’t need to pack?”
“Yehv returned. He’ll help me pack,” Owen said. Then as if he’d just remembered something, he added, “What do you think about sharing the same room? It’s easier to discuss things that way.”
“No! I don’t like living in the same room with another person. Plus, I need to use the room to make spirit medicines. I won’t have room for you to sleep,” Yin Qie Zi immediately replied in a chilly voice.
Owen scratched his nose at the other’s response and nodded helplessly. “All right. It’ll be fine if l live in the room next to yours, right?”
Yin Qie Zi nodded in agreement.
“If Mila knows you’ll be living at the palace from now on, she’ll surely be unhappy.”
Thinking of Mila, Yin Qie Zi blurted out, “She can come over to the palace to look for m―us.”
Owen rolled his eyes and said, “If Father ever catches wind that you’re acting lovey-dovey with Mila while on a mission, he’ll probably just pull you off the mission. Even worse, he might decide that you aren’t worthy of her. Whatever the case, Mila can’t come over to the palace frequently!”
“Is that so?” After knowing that he wouldn’t be able to see Mila’s smile or her sunflower-colored hair for a while, Yin Qie Zi suddenly felt a weight on his chest.
“Are you disappointed?” Owen said with a grin, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder! If you do well in the mission, then my father won’t have any other objections to you becoming my brother-in-law!”
“Who’s your brother-in-law!”
“Of course that depends on who’s marrying my sister!”
Owen regretted his remark the minute it left his mouth. If Yin Qie Zi denied the marriage, then things would turn out bad. What was he doing forcing the other into this sort of corner?
Unexpectedly, Yin Qie Zi didn’t say anything to deny Owen’s remark. Yin Qie Zi’s expression froze, but he remained silent. He then turned around and left abruptly.
“Wow…” Owen widened his eyes and stared after Yin Qie Zi. He said admiringly, “My sister is amazing! She managed to nab a difficult fellow like Yin Qie Zi in just a month! He’s going to end up as my brother-in-law any day now… Ah. That means my days of being bullied by both my sister and brother-in-law is just around the corner. Ahhh―”
Yin Qie Zi pondered deeply on the situation on the way back to his room. When he opened the door he saw Litelli rummaging through the chests and drawers. Yin Qie Zi was surprised at the sight, but it seemed like Litelli was looking for something. After Litelli found it, he’d know what the other was looking for. He wouldn’t get an answer even if he asked Litelli right now; the latter’s favorite pastime was keeping others in suspense.
Yin Qie Zi sat down on the bed and continued wondering whether his new mission would be beneficial or detrimental to his revenge. Even after thinking, he couldn’t obtain an answer. What he did remember was that he should call off the order he had given to Litelli.
“Litelli, you don’t need to have an audience with the king as Lequilier anymore. You can come with me. We’ll be moving into the palace.”
Litelli almost coughed out blood at Yin Qie Zi’s words. He turned around and yelled, “Why didn’t you tell me earlier? I was going though great trouble looking for all that stuff!”
“Looking for what?” Yin Qie Zi looked at him confusedly.
“Clothes, weapons, and the high-quality medicines I’ve made before!” Litelli yelled desperately, “How can I go in unprepared if I’m to make the king believe that I’m Lequilier? I spent that much time looking for everything, but then you tell me that I don’t need any of it and can just accompany you… For what did I spend all that time looking for that stuff then? It’s a complete waste of effort! A complete waste of time! Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
Yin Qie Zi’s eardrums rattled with the force of Litelli’s voice. He couldn’t resist growling, “Stop yelling!”
Litelli closed his mouth, but a look of exasperation was still on his face. His stared at Yin Qie Zi with bulging eyes that appeared as big as fists.
“Don’t stare at me like that. Warlord Paladin gave me a mission. I’m to go to the palace and protect the Leaves. So go and pack up all our luggage, or would you rather stay here and keep an eye on Mila?”
“Okay!” Litelli unhappily started cleaning up the mess in the room. While doing so, he grumbled, “Why did you have to make everything so difficult? We’ve already infiltrated the warlord’s estate. Between the two of us, it wouldn’t be too hard to kill the warlord. Why do we also have to kill his children? Moreover, you aren’t even satisfied with one of them. No, we have to kill both of them. Now we got saddled with a mission from the enemy. What kind of a mess is this!”
Catching wind of Litelli’s grumbling, Yin Qie Zi felt his thoughts tumbling around inside him. After leaving behind a “Call me when you’re finished,” he stepped outside the room. He didn’t expect to see Mila just outside his door. She was accompanied by Fenny like usual, but Yin Qie Zi was already used to pretending that the maid wasn’t there.
After meeting each other’s eyes, both of them froze in their spots. One of them hadn’t expected the other to be right outside his door; the other was hesitating over whether she should knock or not.
In their hesitation, Fenny said timely, “The flowering season for the Xialan flowers has just started! Miss Mila wants to go for a walk in the garden. Yin Qie Zi, would you like to come along?”
Yin Qie Zi nodded in response. He knew going for a walk was just an excuse; Mila had especially came looking for him. He walked up to Mila and took over the handles for her wheelchair. Following the excuse they’d made, he pushed her towards the garden.
As the flowering season had just started, not many Xialan flowers were in bloom. Most of them were still pink flower buds. They swept their eyes over the swatches of pink that dotted the garden. Despite being buds, they weren’t in any way inferior to the fully bloomed violet Xialan flowers. However, neither Yin Qie Zi nor Mila had the heart to admire the beautiful sight before them.
The two of them stepped onto the path that wound around the garden. Pink flower buds that were brimming with life surrounded them, but neither of them felt any cheeriness at the sight. Mila suddenly asked, “I heard from Owen that you’ll be moving to the palace?”
“Yes, Warlord Paladin ordered me to protect the Leaves.”
Mila replied quietly, “I’m sorry that my father forced you to do something like that. It’s something that doesn’t have anything to with you at all.”
Mila was extremely worried. It was good news that her father was willing to test Yin Qie Zi; it meant he believed that Yin Qie Zi had the qualifications to become her husband. However, she knew Yin Qie Zi didn’t like to be ordered around. She was afraid he’d be angry at this, so much that he’d leave and never come back.
Yin Qie Zi was silent, but then said in a low voice, “Actually, I’m quite happy to have the chance to go to the palace and protect the Leaves. Do you remember? I’m a Flower. Even if I don’t want to save them, I don’t want to hear news of their deaths.”
Mila stared at him in a surprise. A slight smile finally graced her face afterwards. She really had forgotten that Yin Qie Zi was a Flower. She’d been worried that Yin Qie Zi would be angry at being ordered around by her father. She’d never expected the mission to have played exactly to his wishes.
“That’s true. If it’s like that, you don’t have to worry anymore. You can protect them personally! However, remember to be careful, okay?” Mila urged anxiously, “Don’t force yourself when things become dangerous! Your safety is the most important thing!”
Yin Qie Zi couldn’t resist asking, “Does that mean you don’t want me to succeed in my mission? If that happens, then…” He suddenly clamped his mouth shut. No matter what, he couldn’t possibly say something like: “If that happens, then I probably won’t be able to marry you anymore.”
Although Yin Qie Zi didn’t finish his words, Mila had already guessed what he was going to say. She immediately blushed to the tips of her ears.
Despite her embarrassment, Mila couldn’t calm the worry in her heart. She urged, “Yin Qie Zi, promise me you won’t risk your life to protect those Leaves. Otherwise, even if I have to beg, I will have my father call off the mission.”
Risk his life… Would he really risk his life to save those Leaves? No! The most important thing to him right now was revenge. He wouldn’t bother with anything that threatened his revenge, even when it came to the Leaves!
“Okay,” Yin Qie Zi readily agreed. “I definitely won’t risk my life. You don’t have to worry.”
Even though she had obtained the answer she wanted, Mila suddenly felt strange. She didn’t believe Yin Qie Zi was someone who would abandon the Leaves and not care about them. She even personally thought of him as a hero who would save the Leaves. However, this hero had just answered her request with a straightforward reply. This was strange no matter how she looked at it!
She turned to look at Yin Qie Zi and asked, “Exactly how do you see the Leaves?”
Yin Qie Zi gazed at her silently. He saw the initial curiosity in Mila’s eyes gradually turn into uncertainty. Just when she was about to open her mouth to say something else, he swiftly cut in and said, “I don’t know! You told me that they had a reason for abandoning me. Because I would lose my mind when the Spirit Tree died. They didn’t have any choice but to abandon me.”
In actuality, the Leaves had made the correct choice. If they had taken him along, then the boats they were riding in would’ve met the same aftermath as the town from back then. The only difference would be that one had sank into the ground while the other would sank into the bottom of the ocean.
After knowing the truth, he had no reason to hate the Leaves for abandoning him. Yet even knowing the Leaves hadn’t done anything wrong, he couldn’t find it in himself to forgive them.
“Why did the Tree give birth me? What’s the point of leaving behind a Flower that would go insane once It died?” Yin Qie Zi asked self-deprecatingly.
He’d even imagined scenarios in which the Tree never gave birth to him. How many people would still be alive? Owen and Mila would never have died. Cas would never have lost his family or become an assassin.
“Yin Qie Zi, Yin Qie Zi―”
“I’m not Yin Qie Zi!” He cut in harshly.
Mila stared at him in surprise. She wasn’t the only one shocked at his answer, even Yin Qie Zi himself paled upon realizing what he’d said. He wasn’t worried that Mila had heard him, but Fenny was another question. He reflexively turned around and searched for Fenny. Unexpectedly, the maid was still standing by the entrance of the garden some 50 meters away from them.
Despite standing far away from each other, Yin Qie Zi’s harsh voice had raised Fenny’s attention. She stared pointedly at him and seemed to be planning to walk over. Mila, however, waved her hand in dismissal, only then did Fenny step back.
She already feels it’s safe enough to stay that far away? Yin Qie Zi was somewhat shocked at this new discovery. If Fenny was that far away, then there was no doubt he could successfully kill Mila.
“If you aren’t Yin Qie Zi, then who are you?”
Yin Qie Zi turned around, Mila was looking at him with her head raised. Her gold hair gleamed in the sunshine, almost blinding him with its light. Although she had asked him that question, not much curiosity could be seen in her expression. An easy smile graced Mila’s face and she spoke as if they were simply having a normal, everyday conversation. She didn’t seem to care whether he answered the question or not.
“Do you have another name? That would make sense. When you were a Flower, you probably didn’t go by your current name, right? Did you change your name to Yin Qie Zi?” Mila asked casually, but Yin Qie Zi saw through her act and knew she wanted to know the answer. She was merely doing her best to suppress her curiosity.
Mila didn’t want to force Yin Qie Zi to answer. She carefully maintained a casual expression and kept her eyes on the flower buds that surrounded them, as if she were appreciating their beauty. However, she couldn’t resist sneaking an occasional glance at Yin Qie Zi. Her green eyes glittered with mirth, appearing like a child who was doing something naughty.
Yin Qie Zi couldn’t resist a chuckle at her actions. He bent down and used Mila’s wheelchair to hide himself. He said quietly to Mila, “Don’t tell anyone else, okay?”
Mila didn’t know what it was that she couldn’t tell anyone else, but Yin Qie Zi was crouching beside her feet and looking up at her. Instead of his usual cold expression, he looked as if he were pleading with her… At that moment, Mila felt there wasn’t anything she couldn’t agree to when it came to Yin Qie Zi.
She nodded in promise, but Yin Qie Zi didn’t react. Mila felt something was wrong and opened her mouth to speak. At that moment, Yin Qie Zi’s head of silvery-purple hair started changing color at the ends. Into black!
At first, Mila didn’t notice that the ends of Yin Qie Zi’s hair was turning black. But as the black gradually climbed its way up to the roots of his hair, it was hard not to notice.
Mila stared at Yin Qie Zi in shock. He stared back at her with a somewhat shy expression. His inky black hair matched well with his snowy skin, but worry clouded his red eyes. Mila had a sudden urge to pull Yin Qie Zi into a hug and tell him that he had nothing to worry about.
Of course, she wouldn’t really hug Yin Qie Zi. Putting aside whether it was an appropriate action for her or not, it was somewhat ridiculous for a wheelchair-bound girl to comfort a mighty spiritmancer and tell him he had nothing to worry about. But rather than a spiritmancer, Mila felt that Yin Qie Zi appeared more like a scared child at that moment.
“Black hair really suits you!” Mila couldn’t resist adding, “Can I touch your hair?”
Yin Qie Zi hesitated for a second and a blush rose up on his cheeks. Mila’s request troubled him, but she’d said that his black hair was beautiful. As that made him slightly happy, he didn’t want to reject her.
After arguing left and right with himself, Yin Qie Zi said quietly, “You can only touch it once! Just once!”
Hearing his childish response, Mila almost burst out into laughter. She immediately promised him, “All right, just once. I won’t touch your hair any more than that.”
Mila slowly reached out her hand. Yin Qie Zi lowered his head, practically burying his face into Mila’s skirt.
He can bury his face into a young lady’s skirt but is embarrassed about someone touching his hair? Mila couldn’t refrain from smiling at that thought. She had already noticed long ago that Yin Qie Zi was sensitive about someone touching his hair, which was why she had especially asked him for permission. If he agreed to her request, then to her, it was proof that their relationship had moved another step further.
Like she promised, Mila only touched Yin Qie Zi’s hair once. Her movement was especially soft, but she didn’t remove her hand afterwards, instead she let it rest on Yin Qie Zi’s head. She wasn’t deliberately breaking her promise. She was merely surprised. After touching Yin Qie Zi’s hair, Mila found that his hair wasn’t like human hair at all. His hair was smooth and felt a bit wet, the hair strands were also a lot thicker than a human’s.
Breaking out of her thoughts, Mila was about to remove her hand, but she noticed that Yin Qie Zi hadn’t protested the whole time her hand was on his head. He was still leaning on her knees quietly. Although she can’t see his expression, she noticed that the tips of his ears were red…
Seeing this, Mila suddenly had an inkling of how this was affecting him. She blushed at the realization, but still didn’t remove her hand. She held it lightly on Yin Qie Zi’s hair, afraid to let it move even an inch.
Mila then asked quietly, “Yin Qie Zi, will you tell me your real name one day?”
“…Okay. I will tell you one day.”
Yin Qie Zi rested his head on Mila’s knees, not letting her see his expression. He didn’t even know what kind of expression was on his face at the moment.
Mila, I promise you, I will tell you my real name the day I kill you.
Proofreaders: dinoj, Sherry