As everyone drew their weapons and sized up the opposition, Xiao Yan’s disadvantage was readily apparent
Don’t be fooled by the way they rallied around Xiao Yan, or how they glowered at Xiao Ting’s supporters. In truth, they had no confidence at all, especially after the door slammed shut. Many of them doubted they’d ever leave the main hall alive.
The appearance of the veiled woman broke through the tense atmosphere. Between her disdain for Xiao Ting and the way she invited Xiao Yan and his confidantes to follow her, they saw a thread of hope.
This was despite the fact that they had no idea who the woman was. Regardless, they started gathering around her.
No one made any sudden movements. The veiled woman simply gazed flatly up at the throne and at Xiao Ting. It was only when Xiao Yan and all of his companions gathered around her that she turned away.
Without another word to Xiao Ting, she walked slowly towards the main door.
“You think you can leave?” shouted a white-mustached elder. Although he looked aged indeed, his movements were as smooth and powerful as a man in his prime.
His hands clawed viciously at her shoulder, but before he could touch her, a fierce wind howled through the palace, sending him flying. The elder slammed hard right into one of the hall’s coiling dragon pillars.
Everyone’s eyes widened in shock. That old man was a peak diviner expert! And yet, that veiled woman sent him flying without so much as a moment’s hesitation. The others got the vague sense that she was walking so slowly on purpose.
It was only eighty meters to the door, but it took a full ten minutes, enough time to enjoy a cup of tea.
Despite this, after seeing her strike like lightning, no one tried to stop her.
When she reached the doorway, Xiao Yan’s followers hurriedly opened the doors and left, protecting Xiao Yan all the while.
The woman, however, paused in the doorway.
“Are you sure you’re just going to let us leave?” she asked without so much as turning around to face those still in the hall. “Think carefully. Once we leave the palace, you’ll have no further chances. This is your last chance. Are you sure you don’t want to at least give it a shot?”
Everyone knew who she was talking to.
Their gazes landed on Xiao Ting. They could see his hands quivering on his armrests and light flashing through his turbid eyes.
It seemed he was inwardly conflicted.
The veiled woman made no attempt to leave. She just stood there, waiting. Finally, a sigh echoed throughout the hall.
The veiled woman sneered, then stepped through the doorway.
A gust of wind howled by. It slowly pushed the door shut. Just as the door was about to close, the veiled woman turned and looked at the crowd. Peering through the crack, they could see that the wind had lifted her veil.
When the elders saw her, their pupils constricted. “Young Miss!”
Just as they wanted to take another look and confirm her identity, the door slammed shut.
After the doors shut, someone re-lit the wall torches. At the same time, he pointed outside the gate and exclaimed, “Emperor, the family head’s golden seal is still in that traitor Xiao Yan’s hands.”
He’d only just recalled the seal, but Xiao Yan and his followers had already retreated, taking the seal with him. None of them had considered this problem until it was too late.
Xiao Ting didn’t even look at the man. The man knelt; he, too, realized he’d misspoken. He apologetically retreated to the side, only for one of the elders to chime in.
“Emperor, just now…. Wasn’t that the Young Miss?” The other elders all nodded. Just before the door closed, all of them saw her face.
When they said this, Xiao Ting’s hands trembled. He hurriedly pulled an envelope of powder from his pocket, emptied into his hands, and inhaled.
His tremors stopped, and he let out a deep, relaxed breath.
A little while later, he seemed to have calmed down completely. He twisted his neck and addressed his followers, “It’s just a seal. What, is a seal more important than I am?”
He gazed down at them, his gaze carrying a hint of a warning. “In the future, no one is to bring up my daughter. She died a long time ago!”
“Yes, sir.” The elders knelt and quivered on the ground.
“From now on, Xiao Yan’s name is to be removed from the family registers. Same for all those who left with them; erase their names from the registers. If they were from our subordinate clans, announce that they will no longer receive our protection. I’m tired, so all of you are now dismissed.”
Everyone banged their heads against the floor. Xiao Ting disappeared from the throne without a trace.
“Young Miss!” Many of those she’d led outside recognized her too.
“It’s me,” she said. “I’m back.” She nodded and chuckled. The elders let out gratified smiles.
Xiao Yan, however, couldn’t help but say reproachfully,
“Big Sister, why did you come? Don’t you know how dangerous that was?”
“If I hadn’t come, wouldn’t my stupid little brother have died back there?” she laughed and patted him on the shoulder.
“....” Xiao Yan’s face flushed red, and he didn’t dare meet her gaze. He forced himself to look away, then looked at the tightly shut gates. “What do we do about those inside?”
“It’s none of your business, is it? If they’re willing to follow Xiao Ting, let them. As for those who remained neutral, there’s no need to waste time recruiting them in the future either. Even if you do, if something goes wrong, they’ll just back and watch,” snorted the veiled woman.
Xiao Yan thought it over and realized she was right.
“Then what do we do now?” Although Xiao Yan had acted as family head for a hundred years, with his big sister around, she seemed to have lost his capacity for independent thought. He felt compelled to ask for her input before making any decisions.
This wasn’t really his fault; he’d had this habit since he was a little boy.
“Did the foxes reach out to you before you arrived?” she asked.
“Are we really joining forces with the nine-tailed foxes?” asked Xiao Yan.
“Why shouldn’t we?” She pressed her lips into a smile, then addressed the group. “What do you all think?”
They were briefly stunned. Foxes…. Weren’t they yao?
The Xiao Family had always detested the other two races. The younger generation was less discriminatory, but the elders’ aversion to yao was particularly strong.
But now that they’d left with Xiao Yan, they were all in the same boat.
Furthermore, they had no particular aversion to the foxes.
“That could work. The foxes have always remained neutral, and we have no deep grudges against them. We’ve split off from the Xiao Family, so we’ll struggle to establish ourselves anywhere on the Divine Mountains. Almost no one will be willing to take us in. Seeking out the foxes is a pretty good choice,” said an elder. The others nodded along.
The Xiao Family was just too terrifying. Now that they’d split off from the rest of the family, aside from each mountain’s Holy Land, no one would dare help them for fear of the Xiao Family’s reprisal.
But the Holy Lands weren’t so starved for manpower that their group would make a difference; they had no reason to help. Worse, if they took in Xiao Yan and his confidantes, they’d worry that they were secretly double agents or spies.
Taking refuge with the foxes was a pretty good idea.
It was the veiled woman who couldn’t help but shake her head and laugh. “Who said we were going to the Fox Clan? Naturally, we have to stay on the Divine Mountains.”
Everyone started. They couldn’t think of a single face place for them on the Divine Mountains.
They turned to her, and she laughed radiantly, her cheeks suddenly flushed with red. “We’ve got to find my man!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter