Volume 4, Chapter 9: Wedding Joy Turns Tragic

Roulan promptly pulled her hands back, exclaiming, “So cold! Why are elder sister’s hands so cold?” She gazed with bafflement at Yue Qingyan. Why were this bride’s hands freezing when the princess’s hands were so warm and soft?

Smiling apologetically, Yue Qingyan replied, “It’s because elder sister’s health is poor, causing my extremities to be cold.”

Thinking it over, Roulan declared, “Is elder sister’s health poor? My daddy and great granddaddy are both great doctors. In a few days, elder brother Hai will definitely bring elder sister to pay a visit to Daddy and Mommy. When the time comes, we can have Great Granddaddy take a look at elder sister’s illness.”

A helpless smile flashed across Yue Qingyan’s face, as she whispered, “It’s useless …” Her voice was extremely soft. Even Roulan, standing at her side, did not hear her words.

However, Li Lin, standing behind Roulan, had a clear view of Yue Qingyan’s face. That face was filled with downhearted despair and helplessness. Although Li Lin was young, he completely understood what that look signified, because he had seen such expressions before. Within the army, Li Lin was not a little or young master who lived like a prince. Although he was still too young, so much so that he could not lift up weapons, Li Xian would practically always bring him along. Li Lin had frequently seen these expressions before on the faces of captured enemy spies or soldiers who violated military regulations, and were about to be executed by his father. Every time, at this moment, regardless of how any of them begged pitifully or remained unafraid of death, Li Lin would always be able to see looks of helpless despair, so similar to the eyes of hunted beasts on the verge of death. Li Lin knew that individuals with these expressions were the exceedingly terrifying and dangerous. One time, because he had sympathized with a soldier about to be executed, he had walked over and tried to console him. However, that soldier unexpectedly broke free from his bounds and attempted to take Li Lin captive to force Li Xian to allow him to leave. Although the soldier was ultimately killed by a crack archer in the army, saving Li Lin’s life, Li Lin from that point onwards would always be vigilant and wary of those with such expressions. He pulled Roulan behind him. With a gaze filled with hostility, he stared at Yue Qingyan.

Roulan glanced with confusion at Li Lin, not understanding what he was trying to do. However, Roulan could sense Li Lin’s tension and taut body. As a result, she smartly did not make any effort to resist.

At this moment, Yue Qingyan suddenly forced a smile onto her face, reaching out with her hands to pull on Roulan. Li Lin’s actions caused the entire atmosphere in the rear hall to become extremely awkward. Roulan pulled gently on Li Lin’s sleeve, while Li Lin obstinately refused to permit Yue Qingyan from approaching Roulan. In his young mind, there was only one thought: to prevent anyone from being allowed to harm the little elder sister behind him.

Lady Xue walked over. With practiced ease, she picked Roulan up. When Li Lin was about to stop her, Lady Xue had already pulled Roulan into her embrace, causing a look of humiliation and anger appeared on Li Lin’s face. With a smile, Lady Xue stated, “Young Miss Lan, Qingyan’s temperament is poor, presumably causing young Miss Lan to be startled. This is because Qingyan is nervous and anxious. Who made this very moment the most important for women? In a few days, when Qingyan has gone to pay her respects to your esteemed father, I will definitely have her apologize to the young miss. Young miss, how about going to pay a visit to the Marchioness? These last few days, she has had poor health, such that she has been unable to attend the wedding. Were it not for the need to increase luck, we wouldn’t have agreed for Qingyan to be married over so hastily.”

A look of bewilderment flashed across Roulan’s eyes. Regardless of how clever she was; she was still only a child after all. Lady Xue’s long-winded words left her completely mystified.1 However, with Lady Xue speaking thusly, the atmosphere in the hall became quite gentle and natural.

At this moment, an icy voice suddenly spoke up from outside the hall, “Young Miss Roulan, the elderly mistress is inviting you over.” That voice was as remote and cold as a spring hidden deep within the mountains. Within the voice were hints of feminism, a graceful voice pleasant to the ear, causing everyone to feel as if they had swallowed an ice cube.

Roulan was overjoyed, as she cried out, “Uncle Shun!” Then she ran outside in high spirits. Li Lin was startled momentarily before also following her out. In the hall, they saw a young man in azure robes standing with his hands behind his back. His face, as cold as ice, had a sincere smile upon it. Happily, Roulan leapt forward with practiced ease. Well-coordinated with her, the young man in azure lightly gave her a push on the soles of her feet, allowing Roulan to easily take a seat upon the young man’s shoulders. With elation, Roulan asked, “Uncle Shun, why are you here? Don’t you always refuse to leave Daddy’s side?”

The young man in azure robes smiled faintly and replied, “Young master has dispatched me to protect the young miss.” His eyes flicked past Li Lin. When those eyes swept past him, Li Lin felt as if his five viscera and six bowels were completely seen through. Li Lin greatly wanted to take a step back. However, he was prevented from stepping back further by his intense feelings of humiliation. Instead, he glared at the young man.

Just then, Lady Xue’s shadow appeared in the doorway. However, she did not walk out. Instead, she retreated back inside. There was a look of shock on her face, as she asked herself in a whisper, “How come there is a man here?”

Wet nurse Li who had been sent over by the Marquis’s family glanced out the door and explained, “Reporting to My Lady, that is Lord Li from young Miss Lan’s household and has always been permitted to come and go from within the inner residence without any obstructions. There is no need for My Lady to become concerned.”

A look of understanding appeared in Lady Xue’s eyes, and she exchanged looks with a maid standing in the corner of the hall. Killing intent flashed across the maid’s eyes, almost as if she wished to step outside. However, with a cold and strict look from Lady Xue, the maid halted, a look of discontent flitting across her eyes. Afterwards, the maid’s gaze fell upon Yue Qingyan, giving her an inquiring look. Yue Qingyan nodded her head slightly, biting down upon her lips. Her makeup-less lips were originally pale and completely bloodless. Presently, there was a hint of blood. Subconsciously, she used her right hand to grasp her left wrist to check her pulse. Under the concealment of her red wedding clothes was a red damask handkerchief fastened to her left wrist.

When the auspicious time arrived, the bride was escorted out. The husband and wife exchanged the proper ceremonies—bowing to the Heavens and the Earth and the ancestors. Li Xian stood on the side with a smile on his face. His eyes fell upon two individuals standing in a corner of the hall. One was a middle-aged man with a tall stature and an arrogant expression on his face. At his side was a young man of about twenty-four to twenty-five. What piqued Li Xian’s interest was that the faces of both men were too apathetic and tranquil. This in itself wasn’t anything strange. However, these two were the bride’s kin—the family head’s uncle, Yue Wujiu, and the bride’s older full brother, Yue Hanwen. During a day of such celebration, even if they were emotionally disinterested in the bride, they would still assume an expression of joy, let alone the fact that Yue Qingyan was Yue Wenhan’s only full younger sister. Moreover, the relationship between brother and sister was supposedly very deep. Li Xian looked around, discovering numerous other unusual circumstances. The expressions on the faces of the two envoys from Southern Chu were somewhat strange. Fu Yulun, the vice emissary, had a somewhat tense and flustered expression. As for the main emissary, Lu Can, he was leisurely and calm, a faint smile on the corners of his mouth.

Just as the new couple had bowed to the Heavens and the Earth, parents, and each other, and were about to be sent into the bridal chamber, the bride’s elder brother, Yue Wenhan, suddenly shouted, “Marquis, this little nephew has a matter that requires your decision.”

The Marquis of the Eastern Sea, Jiang Yong, was startled. Displeased, he replied, “Wenhan, regardless of what it is, it would only be proper to wait until after the ceremony has concluded to discuss.”

Yue Wenhan laughed cruelly, his aloof and distant features revealing a look of ridicule. He said, “It is best if this matter is discussed publicly. After all, this matter is of interest to everyone present.” After he finished speaking, his eyes scanned the assembled individuals in the hall one by one. There weren’t many individuals with the qualifications to be in the main wedding hall. Aside from the emissaries from Great Yong, Northern Han, and Southern Chu, the only others present were the Marquis’s trusted subordinates and people from the Yue family. Even the Hai uncle and nephew did not have the qualifications to be within the hall. As a result, everyone present had illustrious identities, experienced with war or the machinations of the bureaucracy. How could they be suppressed by Yue Wenhan’s aura? Were it not for their consideration towards the Marquis, they would likely have lashed out long ago.

The expression on Jiang Yong’s face became cold and grave. He was no longer the father who was celebrating his beloved son settling down. At this moment, he had returned to his identity as the head of the pirates of the Eastern Sea, the overlord of the Eastern Sea. He gently waved his hand. With tacit understanding, all of the subordinates of the Marquis took control of every single entrance and corner of the hall, slightly surrounding everyone within the hall. Jiang Haitao’s originally jubilant expression became extremely frigid. Shaking off the red damask handkerchief wrapped around his arm, he withdrew to his father’s side.

However, Yue Wenhan did not seem to be disconcerted by these developments. He callously stated, “The Yue family began through shipping by the sea. If someone attempts to become our adversary, the Yue family will naturally not be afraid. However, the Hai family’s sudden rise suppressed our Yue family such that we dared not speak up. The reason why the Hai family is more powerful than us is because they control the technology to build giant ships. Moreover, they also have Uncle’s elite navy to serve as escort. It is no wonder that they have been so successful.2 Although Uncle has forgotten the help provided in secret by the Yue family in the olden days, this little nephew does not dare to demand repayment for our former grace. In addition, the Yue family does not crave much, only that the Hai family hands over the ship designs and the sea maps. The Yue family has the confidence that we will able to protect our own merchant convoys.”

Jiang Yong did not speak, glancing at Jiang Haitao. Understanding, Jiang Haitao replied, “Cousin’s words are incorrect. Doing business relies upon one’s abilities. What does the Hai family’s ability to build those large ships have anything to do with the Yue family? If the Yue family wants to cooperate with the Hai family, you should, reasonably speaking, go discuss this in private with Lord Hai. Why are you here disturbing little brother’s happy occasion?”

An indescribable look showed in Yue Wenhan’s eyes, as he asked, “Who doesn’t know that the behind-the-scenes supporter of the Hai Family Shipping Company is Uncle? Isn’t it Uncle’s wish to see the Hai family monopolize the ocean trade? If Qingyan and I complete the marriage alliance with you, you will probably provide some benefits to the Yue family as we are relatives. However, you will definitely not provide the large ship designs to the Yue family. When the time comes, when my little sister has already become part of your Jiang family, she will be the same as a hostage. When that happens, wouldn’t the Yue family have suffered losses in vain? It is best that all of this be discussed now.”

“What’s the meaning of this? This is my Eastern Sea, not your Fujian,” countered Jiang Haitao with indignation. “If cousin wants to interfere with this business, you must come with cold, hard cash to discuss this matter with us. Does the Yue family always use this kind of sophistry3 to do business?”

Yue Hanwen callously explained, “It is said that power is reason. This lowly nephew is attaching serious importance to righteousness and is unwilling to lightly betray allies. That is why I am only demanding the ship designs and the sea maps. If we followed the intentions of the manager, we would have invited Uncle to divide up the assets of the Hai family long ago. What’s the point in relying upon someone else’s leftovers to survive? Wouldn’t it be better to completely control the moneymaking operations?”

Jiang Yong’s complexion changed several times. Listening to this point, he coldly expressed, “The Hai family is Eastern Sea’s ally. Are you trying to force our Jiang family to abandon this alliance and betray our ally? Who could have thought that you are actually such a person? Fine … for the sake of your aunt, I will allow your Yue family to depart. You can take Qingyan with you. Our Jiang family does not deserve to take a daughter of the Yue family.”

At this moment, the quarrel between the two families had disturbed the entire island. The Yue family troops dispatched to escort the bride had drawn near the wedding hall. All of them had weapons hidden on their bodies. As for the subordinates of the Jiang family, they had responsibility for the entire island’s security, and were full equipped. Both sides confronted each other outside of the wedding hall. As a martial household, the Jiang family had dispersed all of the guests and their servants, arranging for the guards of the distinguished guests to rest temporarily in the side halls. The Jiang family subordinates’ reactions were swift. Aside from the people of the Yue family who had prepared long ago and had already arrived before the wedding hall, everyone else had been placed under house arrest for their protection.

Pretending as if he didn’t see these developments, Yue Wenhan actually laughed humorlessly. He shouted, “My Yue family’s daughters are very respected. Even if the Jiang family desires to wed one, it may not necessarily be successful. Qingyan, since the Jiang family is not impressed by you, come back then.”

Standing majestically at the side, the silent bride bowed slightly. Then a lily-white hand the color of a snow rose pulled the red damask veil off of her phoenix crown, revealing an absolutely beautiful mien. The pupils, as ice-cold as the cold river in winter, of her eyes, as clear as limpid autumn waters, were seen clearly by everyone in the hall. Lowering her head and controlling her eyebrows, Yue Qingyan walked to and stood by Yue Wenhan’s side.

The smiling and silent Yan Wujiu suddenly spoke up, “Niece, since the Jiang family is heartless, there is no need for us to be compassionate. Niece, please demand justice for yourself.”

Everyone was stupefied when hearing this. Everyone would understand if Yue Wujiu had ordered the Yue family subordinates outside of the hall to attack. However, Yue Wujiu actually ordered Yue Qingyan to act. This was completely unimaginable. A daughter of the Yue family was a precious young lady both in name and fact. How could she have the methods to attack someone? However, everyone still raised their guard. Since Yue Wujiu had spoken thusly, then Yue Qingyan definitely had some special skills.

Yue Qingyan’s gaze turned to Yue Wenhan. Seeing her brother lightly nod his head, a look of distress flashed across Yue Qingyan’s eyes. She closed her eyes. In this split second, the guards defending the entrance to the wedding hall suddenly let out blood-curdling screams, collapsing to the ground unconscious. Jiang Haitao was greatly alarmed. Pulling out one of the guard’s sheathed sword, he charged towards Yue Qingyan, yelling, “Witch! You dare to use poison here? Die!”

Jiang Yong frowned and warned, “Tao’er, do not be reckless!”

However at this moment, Jiang Haitao had already exchanged blows with the defending Yue Wenhan. Yue Wenhan’s martial arts were mediocre. With only a few exchanges, Jiang Haitao had already forced Yue Wenhan aside. Jiang Haitao charged to Yue Qingyan’s side. Just as he was about to raise his hand to seal Yue Qingyan’s acupoints, her eyes opened. That pair of eyes that glittered like a clear spring were now filled with blood. She revealed an icy smile. Jiang Haitao felt as if his organs were burning from the pricks of acupuncture needles. With a miserable scream, he collapsed to the floor. Yue Qingyan slowly looked around the hall, her eyes falling upon one person. With one look, that person felt dizzy, falling to the ground. In red dress, Yue Qingyan seemed like a beautiful rakshasa from hell, and like a rakshasa, able to frighten everyone stiff.

The Prince of Qi, Li Xian, suddenly spoke up, “Heart Toxin Insect! You are using the Heart Toxin Insect!”

Yue Qingyan’s gaze fell upon the Prince of Qi, her blood-red eyes carrying a look that seemed to agree with an idiom by Confucius: despair is the greatest sorrow.4 Afterwards, she lightly frowned, a bead of sweat rolling down her forehead.

Li Xian unfeelingly stated, “Young lady Yue, there is no need to trouble yourself. Although the Heart Toxin Insect is formidable, this Prince has an amulet capable of warding off evil. Your Heart Toxin Insect is incapable of harming this Prince.”

Yue Qingyan’s brows furrowed, as she replied, “There aren’t many treasures capable of warding off evil in the world. Which item does Your Imperial Highness have on your person? The Evil Warding Lavender Jade Pendant or the Sea of Bitterness Bodhi?”

Li Xian smiled faintly. Stretching out his hand, he took out a thin, black gold chain. On the chain was a jade pendant the color of purple and palm-sized. It was engraved into the shape of the mythical lion-like animal that warded off evil. It had a faint aura of an amulet; the color of its jade was luminous. Startled, Li Kang shouted, “Imperial Father actually bestowed this jade pendant upon you?” Hot rage appeared on his face.

Lin Bi smiled. “I have long heard that the Evil Warding Lavender Jade Pendant is capable of repelling poisons and warding off evil. Surprisingly, Your Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, actually is wearing it upon your person. It seems that we are truly fortunate. Young lady Yue, although your Heart Toxin Insect is formidable, it is powerless before the Evil Warding Lavender Jade Pendant. In addition, in order to use the Heart Toxin Insect, you are also harming yourself as you harm others. Young lady Yue, why not cease using this?”

Yan Qingyan’s gaze fell upon Lin Bi, a hint of savage hatred flashing across her eyes. Just as she was about to utilize the poison, Yue Wujiu shouted, “Second Miss, how can you use the forbidden Heart Toxin Insect? Did the young family head know of this beforehand? What about the family head? Why didn’t you inform uncle of this beforehand?”

A smile of ridicule appeared on Yue Qingyan’s face, ceasing her attempt to use the poison upon Lin Bi. She stated, “No, Daddy does not know. Elder brother knows about this though.”

Yue Wujiu’s complexion changed, as he replied, “As the manager, this subordinate is truly incompetent and failed my duties. The young family head is of mind to annex the Eastern Sea. This lowly one was unable to persuade him otherwise and could only comply. Who could have thought that the young master would actually collude with the Miss and use the Heart Toxin Insect to harm others? Although this subordinate is an underling, I dare not obey such chaotic commands. Young master, Miss, it is best to wait to be captured, returning to beg for forgiveness from the family head.”

These words spoken by Yue Wujiu were filled with sincerity. Those experts from the Yue family blocking the doorway exchanged looks of dismay. One of them stepped out and stated, “Young family head, what the manager has said is correct. Young master and Miss, please do not use such poison to harm others, and return with us to be punished by the family head.”

Yue Wenhan and Yue Qingyan’s faces simultaneously revealed expressions of understanding. Yue Wenhan callously declared, “You are all subordinates of the Yue family. None of you have the qualifications to speak here. Qingyan, if anyone dares to disobey, take their life.”

Yue Qingyan smiled slightly. Her eyes that had gradually turned black suddenly became blood red again. Simultaneously, the Yue family subordinate who had walked out and spoken up collapsed to the ground, his complexion terrible, dying. Almost in unison, everyone took in a cold breath. Yue Qingyan cruelly stated, “Everyone set down your weapons and surrender. All those who disobey will die. Your Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, although you are protected by an amulet, you can only protect yourself. Your elder brother and your subordinates do not have a hope for surviving. If you don’t surrender, I can temporarily leave you alive.”

Lin Tong’s eyes were filled with alarm, gently pulling on her elder sister’s sleeve, asking, “Elder sister, what is the Heart Toxin Insect?”

Lin Bi gazed at Yue Qingyan. As Yue Qingyan turned her head, Lin Bi sighed and replied, “The Heart Toxin Insect is one of the most peculiar venoms from the southern frontier. This kind of venomous insect is fond of the yin-principled cold, only fond of consuming the blood of young girls. It’s also known as the king of the venomous insects, because as long as one is poisoned by its toxins, then it will be impossible to survive. Raising the Heart Toxin Insect requires a young girl who has just reached marriageable age. They must be fed everyday with blood and medicines. In addition, the young girl must keep the Heart Toxin Insect King by her side, being attached upon one’s skin day and night. One must not be remiss in raising it, requiring three to seven years of care to raise them depending upon the young girl’s body and natural endowments. After several years, after the insect king has been raised, this Insect will take up residence as a parasite in its host’s chest. The insect and the girl will be as one. As long as the host wishes it, the insect king will spread its children to the target’s body. Afterwards, the one poisoned will have his or her life in the hands of the host. This poison has a distinctive characteristic. Once someone has been so poisoned and takes the drug produced by the insect king, the person poisoned will be connected with the host. No matter how far apart they are, there is nothing that can prevent them from having similar thoughts. That is why it is called the Heart Toxin Insect. Miss Yue presumably has an exceptionally good body, suitable for raising such an insect, able to raise the insect king in less than three years. She probably has spent much effort in raising it.”

Finished speaking, Lin Bi gave Yue Qingyan a pitying look. She continued, “Tong’er, the most fearsome aspect of this venomous insect is that it is capable of not only harming others, but also harming its user. The insect must consume its host’s blood every day. As it grows with each passing day, as the host harms others, the insect requires massive quantities of blood. Miss Yue’s qi and blood deficiency, and her appearance as pale as snow, is all probably a result of this consumption. This by itself can probably be dealt with. One must know that although the toxin of this insect is formidable, there is a way of restraining it. If Miss Yue were to die and bleed, then the insect king would break out of her body, completely consuming Miss Yue’s blood. Afterwards, the insect king will be able to live completely freely upon this world. Wherever he takes up residence, within a perimeter of ten li, there will be neither human nor animal surviving. Even if there is no blood shed and the insect king does not have any way of breaking out of the body, dying with Miss Yue, then all those who have been poisoned with its venom will die simultaneously. This is all if Miss Yue is capable of controlling the insect king. If Miss Yue’s blood supply is insufficient, then she will be consumed by the insect. The result will be that Miss Yue will be incapable of controlling the Heart Toxin Insect. This is why the world has forbidden such a method. It is only that the Heart Toxin Insect inheritance has long been thought to be extinct. Who would have thought that there was someone capable of nurturing it?”

Yue Qingyan’s face was completely glazed over, as her left hand could not help but grasp her right wrist. There, under the damask silk, were the scars from where she used an acupuncture needle to let blood out.

Lin Tong lamented, “Aiyah! Elder Sister Yue, this Heart Toxin Insect is truly fearsome … how … how much blood do you have to feed it? It is best to think of a way to remove it as soon as possible.”

Warmth flashed across Yue Qingyan’s eyes. Just now, she had allowed Lin Bi to explain everything, intending to use Lin Bi’s words to sow terror in everyone’s heart. This would better allow her to control everyone present. However, seeing Lin Tong so deeply concerned, she was deeply touched. In her mind, she resolved to not kill her. Yue Qingyan’s eyes fell upon Jiang Yong. She asked indifferently, “Uncle, why haven’t you handed over the design and maps yet?”

Agony appeared in Jiang Yong’s eyes, as he responded, “You were originally the distinguished daughter of an influential family. Why have you developed such a vicious, demonic technique? You must know that even though your current power is impressive, your life will be like a flower, short. Who was it … who was it that had you develop this kind of technique?”

Yue Qingyan revealed a hint of resolve, as she apologized, “Uncle, pardon me.” Finished speaking, she was about to utilize her venomous technique when the golden drum outside of the hall sounded. The Yue family guards defending the door screamed repeatedly. Everyone looked, seeing that those guards’ vital points were pierced with arrows.

Yue Wujiu frowned. He walked to the door and looked out. He saw that a hundred paces away, behind layer upon layer of protection from shields were archers in the uniforms of the Eastern Sea’s marines, waiting with bows notched. A large man shouted, “Everyone inside, listen up! This location has already been surrounded! We of the Eastern Sea don’t have much, but we have plenty of skilled archers. If you dare to continue to be unbridled, don’t blame us for being heartless!”

Finished speaking, the man raised his bow and loosed a whistling arrow. Following, over a thousand arrows flew out. Yue Wujiu was greatly alarmed, promptly kicking closed the door to the hall before ducking to the side. A sound similar to hailstones could be heard as the door was pierced through by the sharp arrows. From outside, the large man’s voice was heard again to shout, “Your Lordship, please give the order! If there is anyone who dares to disobey, in a quarter of an hour, I will set fire to the building.”

Yue Wujiu’s expression fell heavily. He cried out, “Your Lordship, I have heard that every naval squadron of the Eastern Sea has a number of crack archers who can pierce a willow leaf at one hundred paces5 and take someone’s life. They are as powerful as the sound of thunder. Seeing them today, they truly deserve of their reputation. Your Lordship, please order them to temporarily withdraw, otherwise, if Qingyan is harmed, none of us will likely be able to escape the insect king’s slaughter.”

“This is the Eastern Sea, not someplace that any outsiders can make decisions,” replied Jiang Yong indifferently. “Niece Qingyan, are you able to cease and withdraw the poison in Haitao’s body?”

Yue Qingyan’s complexion was pale as paper, and she glanced at Yue Wenhan. Yue Wenhan calmly and impassively answered, “Uncle, since things have progressed to such a state, we already have no route of retreat. In addition, as long as Qingyan is given some time, it will be impossible for those archers to escape the venomous, secret attacks.”

“Yes, Qingyan is capable of utilizing that toxic technique,” replied Jiang Yong with a smile. “However, she must consume a lot of her blood to do so. Are you not afraid that she will be consumed by the insect king?”

Yue Wenhan uncaringly stated, “There’s nothing bad about it if that happens. Everything will be destroyed here. Dying together with all of these high-ranking officials and dignitaries will allow Wenhan and my sister to perish without regrets. Uncle, you should understand. If information of Qingyan’s possession of the Heart Toxin Insect were to spread, countless individuals would likely come to punitively attack her. They would not rest until they forced Qingyan to immolate herself. The people of the world are the enemies of us brother and sister. There is no harm in taking a few extra people with us. If Uncle does not order your subordinates to set down their bows, I’m afraid that this little nephew can only offend you.”

Li Xian suddenly leapt forward. With one move, he slapped Yue Wenhan aside. Afterwards, the sword at his waist was unsheathed, pointing at Yue Wenhan’s throat. His movements were extremely fast and nimble. Everyone was afraid to act, in fear of harming each other. Who could have expected that Li Xian would be so bold? Although he was protected by the amulet, everyone present here was of precious status. If a few were to truly die, it would likely be impossible for Li Xian to justify his actions. As expected, seeing what had occurred, the expression on Yue Qingyan’s face changed, immediately utilizing her technique. The Prince of Qing, Li Kang, let out a miserable shriek and collapsed to the ground.

Li Xian’s complexion actually didn’t change. Smiling, he stated, “Miss Yue is addled. Have you ever heard of an imperial family that had any familial affection? As long as I, Li Xian, am safe and sound, what do I care about others’ survival? Miss’s affection towards your elder brother is deep. If you are willing to surrender, I am willing to guarantee that I will not harm you two. Moreover, does the Miss not desire to escape the fate of being consumed by the insect king? If Miss is willing, this Prince can petition the Emperor, convening the famous doctors of the world to treat Miss. Although there is only a shred of success, it is better than being resigned to your fate.”

Yue Qingyan seemed to waver. However, she swiftly regained her calm. Coldly, she replied, “I do not believe your words. You don’t even care about the life of your own elder brother, how can I be sure that you will keep your promises?”

Li Xian was overjoyed inside. Yue Qingyan had begun to waver. This was excellent. The expression on his face changed. “Miss Yue, since you are engaged to Haitao, you must understand the character of me, Li Xian. This Prince does not have any other good qualities except for never breaking any promises that I have made. It is only that this Prince’s temperament is queer. If someone tries to compel me, I will make things difficult for that person until the very end. Even if Miss kills my third elder brother, cousin, and nephew today, this Prince will definitely not bow my head and beg for forgiveness. However, this Prince vows that if Miss acts thusly, I will break out alone, and one day, there will be the time when Fujian’s Yue family will perish at my hands. I won’t perform the nine familial exterminations on Miss, only turning the entirety of the Yue family into slaves, forcing them to be stepped on by others for generations, as lowly as the mud.”

Yue Qingyan’s expression gradually changed. She hailed from a prestigious house and had studied the law, naturally understanding that slaves could never marry normal people. Those handsome men and beautiful women of slave backgrounds would almost always be reduced to become prostitutes or catamites. Li Xian’s threats were not only terrifying, but also quite direct. At this moment, Yue Wenhan suddenly threw his throat towards Li Xian’s sword. Li Xian immediately reacted, moving the sword point away. Yue Wujiu seized the opportunity to save Yue Wenhan.

Li Xian helplessly glanced at the hint of blood on Yue Wenhan’s throat. Smiling, he stated, “It seems that you have won.”

Yue Wenhan rose to his feet, ignoring Yue Wujiu’s help. Staggering, he walked over to stand by Yue Qingyan’s side. He said, “Your Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, please do not make any rash movements, otherwise don’t blame us for beginning the massacre.” Turning to Jiang Yong, he stated, “Uncle, please have your subordinates discard their weapons and surrender, otherwise this lowly nephew can only first take cousin’s life before speaking again with Uncle.”

Jiang Yong shook inside. Helplessly, he shouted, “Yuanxin, stay your hand temporarily! Wait for my command!”

A look of determination on Yue Wenhan’s face, while everyone smiled with bitterness inside. Why was this brother and sister pair so ferocious and unafraid of death? Children of an influential family were never in danger. Why were they going so far?

Footnotes:

云里雾里, yunliwuli – idiom, lit. amidst the clouds and mist; fig. mystified, puzzled
顺风顺水, shunfengshunshui – idiom, lit. sail with the wind and the current; successful
强词夺理, qiangciduoli – idiom, lit. to twist words and force logic; fig. sophistry, loud rhetoric making up for fallacious argument
哀莫大于心死, aimodayuxinsi – idiom, lit. nothing sadder than a withered heart; fig. despair is the greatest sorrow
百步穿杨, baibuchuanyang – idiom, lit. pierce a willow leaf with an arrow from the distance of a hundred paces; fig. shoot with great precision

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