“I was tired of the mundane world when I took my life that day. The only thing tying me down were my little brother and Xiao Ju, who I had grown up with. My benefactor told me that you’d found them a nice place to settle down. For that, I’m grateful to you. I’d always wanted the best for them, but it was beyond my ability. I thought marrying into the imperial family would get me and Tangtang out of the poor excuse of a home, but alas, it was never meant to be. I resent no one. It’s all what fate has arranged for me!”
“However, I ended up alone as a spirit with no body, and no temples would provide me sanctuary. Wandering around the earth, I was bullied by the more vicious ghosts. Thankfully, I ran into my benefactors. The husband and wife allowed me to stay in this porcelain bottle, safe from the inhumane abuse!”
Broken sobs took away her voice at the end of the story. Lin Haihai felt a pang in her heart. She hadn’t expected Lin Yuguan to suffer such misery. It was her fault. She should’ve looked for her. Remembering what Fa Hai had said, Lin Haihai asked, “Did a monk seek you out some time ago?”
Lin Yuguan combed through her memory and said, “A monk did come to me when I was not yet fully awake. He dismissed me after asking me a few questions!”
Lin Haihai fumed. Fa Hai had known how difficult her situation was. As a master monk, he chose not to send her to the afterlife, but instead spent all his time thinking about how he should slay demons and destroy Lin Haihai. He was lucky that he had had a change of heart, or Lin Haihai wouldn’t have let him get away with this. It was fortunate that Lin Haihai had run into the couple, or Lin Yuguan’s torment would’ve continued on with no end in sight!
“What can I do for you?” Lin Haihai asked eagerly. She wanted to help her.
Lin Yuguan looked up with hopeful eyes. “I’d like you to bring me to Xiao Ju and let her pay tribute with incense and chanting. Then I’ll be able to enter the wheel of reincarnation and get out of this endless misery!”
“Alright, I’ll bring you to her now!” said Lin Haihai.
Lin Yuguan looked at the sky worriedly. “Isn’t it a little too late now?”
“It’ll only take a moment!” Lin Haihai smiled mischievously, imagining how Xiao Ju would react when she saw Lin Yuguan. She would be beside herself with joy!
Lin Yuguan nodded in understanding. This young woman must be extraordinary! Mind at ease, she entered the bottle in a puff of green smoke.
Lin Haihai opened the door and scanned around to make sure no one was near. Guihua had already retired to bed. With a single step, she soared into the air. Like she said, it took only a moment for her to make her way to the North Court.
Xiao Ju covered her mouth and burst into tears when Lin Yuguan manifested herself from the bottle, and Lin Yuguan started crying without a sound as well. Lin Haihai quietly took her leave, allowing the master and maid to have their reunion.
Dressed in plain clothes with her hair down, she walked along the street shrouded in darkness like an eerie ghost wandering the world. The night was cool and breezy, and the thick darkness was illuminated only by the faint moonlight peeking from behind the clouds. Thankfully, the sky was still adorned by a smattering of stars, breaking the monotony of the night.
An imposing presence approached her. Lin Haihai sighed. It was a quiet and beautiful night, and meeting this man would only sour the mood. Still, she put on a faint smile and crossed her arms as she watched the man slowly walk up to her.
Yang Xiaoyun was surprised to see Lin Haihai. Why would a woman appear on the street in this unkempt state with no servants accompanying her, and why would she seem so at ease? Was she hiding something, or simply too naive to realize how dangerous the capital could be?
“Physician Lin, we meet again!” Yang Xiaoyun said with a smile.
Lin Haihai sighed. The man was meant to be a tyrant. The blue silk shirt he wore would’ve seemed graceful on anyone else, but it failed to conceal his fierce presence. “What’s so special about that? The world isn’t vast, and I have a feeling that we’ll meet again and again in the future!”
Lin Haihai smiled, lazily looking at him with curved eyes. The wind sent her hair dancing in the air. She was deadly alluring to men like this.
Yang Xiaoyun narrowed his eyes at her as appreciation rose in his heart, unbidden. Regular women wouldn’t be as calm and collected as she was. However, she was Lun’er’s princess consort, and she was bound to become his enemy. He never allowed any of his enemies to live. They would be at each other’s throats the next time they met. This amicable front they put up would be no more!
As if to make up for the regretful situation they would be in, he made his invitation, “Would you be interested in having a drink with me at the tavern ahead of us, Physician Lin?”
No man would invite a woman late at night without ulterior motives. Lin Haihai looked up at the dim moon and said, “I believe the tavern must have closed for the day. Isn’t it better for us to enjoy the beautiful moonlight and stroll through the street?”
The moon wasn’t exactly beautiful tonight, but she wanted to find out what he was up to.
Yang Xiaoyun’s sculpted face was still smiling. He was suddenly curious how the woman would react if she knew he was her husband’s enemy. Would she be able to maintain her calm smile? He was certain this woman was far from ordinary. It would be worth it to spend some time getting to know her.
Lips curled into an insidious smile, he arched an eyebrow and said, “I can’t possibly turn down the company of a beauty like you!”
Yang Hanlun had been following Prince Pingnan, but he had now returned to his residence, entrusting his personal soldiers to take over. Lin Haihai knew there were people following them. Prince Pingnan must know as well. However, he didn’t seem to care, and a faint smile remained on his face. Was it the cool breeze, or was it the beautiful woman by his side? He was in an unusually good mood. Even he himself didn’t have an explanation for it.
“Ah, I haven’t asked about your name!” Lin Haihai spoke up.
“Yang Xiaoyun!” He didn’t hide it from her.
“Yang. You’re part of the imperial family!” Lin Haihai was surprised that he would admit to her his identity just like that. Someone as cunning as he was shouldn’t be so honest to others. Perhaps he simply deemed her harmless to him!
“Actually, you should call me Imperial Uncle!” A faint smile tugged at his lips, and his eyes warmed a little.
Lin Haihai put a hand on her head to stop her hair from flying, her eyes twinkling as she put on a pure and captivating smile. “Imperial Uncle? It seems that you know who I am already. That’s just as well. I’m tired of beating around the bushes!”
Yang Xiaoyun narrowed his eyes, and his expression darkened. She knew? Why would she keep up the act, then? He had underestimated her. She must have figured out who he was back in the hospital but pretended to not know.
“Aren’t you afraid of me?” A scheming glint flashed through his eyes. “You must know that you’ll be a great pawn if you end up under my control.”
“You won’t! Prince Pingnan can’t possibly resort to taking a woman hostage, or you will be the laughing stock of the entire world. You won’t suffer such humiliation!” Lin Haihai taunted him fearlessly, her fair face still adorned with her usual faint smile.
“Hahaha!” Yang Xiaoyun burst out laughing suddenly. Then he continued in a low and silky voice, “This Prince regrets not meeting you sooner, or you would’ve become my greatest treasure!”
The traces of adoration in his eyes shocked Lin Haihai. She didn’t expect Prince Pingnan to be this frivolous. Unnerved, she put on a smile and said, “You’ve crossed a line!”
“I’m going after your man. How does that make you feel?” Once war broke out between the two factions, the hundred thousand elite soldiers under Yang Hanlun’s command would be an impenetrable wall. To tear it down, he would have to damage the soldiers’ morale, and the best way to do that was to take away their commander. Once Yang Hanlun was at his mercy, the hundred thousand soldiers would be nothing but a swarm of headless flies, easily crushable.
“Nothing. You may do as you please!” Lin Haihai responded with a smirk, her eyes unreadable like a clear pond.
“Who are you exactly?” Yang Xiaoyun was the first to lose his patience.
“A woman!” Lin Haihai said, looking up at him with innocent eyes.
“Don’t try to play games with me. You won’t be able to bear the consequences!” His expression darkened suddenly like a quickly brewing storm, and his arrogant eyes pierced through Lin Haihai.
“There’s this problem with me: I don’t play games. My friends often complain that I’m like a stick in the mud. It’s true that I won’t be able to play your games!”
Lin Haihai looked at him with a wide smile, and her hair swept past his face. He reached out to hold onto her neck, his dark icy eyes shining fiercely and his face wrought with murderous intent.
Lin Haihai closed her eyes and opened them with steel in her gaze. Yang Xiaoyun felt a dull pain in his chest, and the soreness in his hand made him let go of her. He threw up a mouthful of blood, looking at Lin Haihai in disbelief. She remained her graceful self, her cool eyes twinkling slightly with a faint smile.
“I don’t play games. I do everything seriously. Don’t ever think about hurting my man, or you’ll meet a terrible end!” She was talking about Yang Shaolun.
Yang Xiaoyun took a deep breath. He wasn’t hurt. She wanted only to drive him away rather than hurt him. What wouldn’t he be able to achieve if he had someone like her on his side? He began brewing plans in his head.
“I never wanted to hurt him. Why are you so worried?” No matter how powerful she was, she was a woman. There would be ways to make her do his bidding. There was no rush. He would take his time taming her.
“You’re their uncle. What’s so important about the throne? If you’re confident that you’ll be able to manage the nation well, the throne may be passed to you. Why must there be a bloodshed?”
Lin Haihai hated the fight for power. She threw Yang Xiaoyun a cool parting glance before turning to leave.
The soldiers watching them from a distance couldn’t hear them. They could only make out their expressions. It confused them seeing the pair seemingly having a pleasant conversation. Why would the princess consort have anything to do with Yang Xiaoyun?
The next day, Yang Hanlun maintained a calm front when he listened to his soldiers’ briefing, but a storm was brewing in his heart. He remembered how Lin Haihai had gone missing the day Imperial Elder Brother was assassinated. She had reappeared as soon as his brother returned safely! There was something fishy about the matter, and her excuses had been far-fetched.
The time she got kidnapped by the men in black was strange as well. Why would someone happen to show up and rescue her? Even if that was what had happened, her savior must be an unusually skilled martial artist to be able to save her from more than ten assassins. All signs pointed to her being the suspicious one!
Lin Haihai had assumed Chen Luoqing’s people were keeping an eye on Prince Pingnan, so she didn’t pay the matter any mind. Chen Luoqing knew more about her. She wasn’t worried about him misunderstanding her. Unfortunately, she had made the wrong guess this time, and her negligence almost led to a great disaster.
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