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