Zi Yun froze. He hadn’t anticipated Ye Zichen would threaten him in such a way.
Jadewave City’s Zi Family had fallen, and all of them were in the demons’ hands.
Given Zi Yun’s cultivation and methods, thoughts of saving them on his own were nothing but the ravings of a madman. Even if the elders woke up and their wounds knit back together, they had no chance at all.
A marriage alliance with Violet City was already out of the question. Now, it seemed Ye Zichen and the Great Sage were their only hope.
“Despicable,” said Zi Yun through gnashed teeth. He clutched the box containing the fragment.
“If saying that makes you feel better, go ahead and say it,” said Ye Zichen with a hint of a smile. “I’m no saint, nor am I the type to take pity on every unfortunate soul in the world. It’s true: my methods might be a little on the despicable side. But then, you’re not familiar with Gu Li or his methods. I, on the other hand, have crossed paths with him more than once, and I know him better than anyone. If I attempt to save your family, there will be peril at every turn. You’re asking me to risk my life. Trading your clan’s lives for an object that you can’t possibly protect, that will only bring you further calamity…. Don’t you think you’re coming out ahead?”
Ye Zichen shrugged, and a hint of a somewhat less than righteous smile flashed across his face. “For various reasons, I absolutely must obtain this Divine Mausoleum key fragment. It doesn’t matter how dangerous it is, or whether you call me despicable or not. Give it to me, and your family lives. If you refuse, don’t blame me for being heartless.”
The atmosphere grew increasingly tense. Zi Xia bit her lip as she stood between them. She had no idea what she was supposed to be.
Zi Yun frowned, then turned to the Great Sage. “Supreme Treasure, aren’t you supposed to like my sister? Are you just going to watch as her entire clan perishes?”
A long time passed in silence. The Great Sage averted his gaze and said nothing.
“Hmph. See, Zi Xia? This is your beloved Supreme Treasure. In order to reach their goals, they’ll resort even to threatening our family. Look at his cold, heartless expression. You’ve sure waited for him in vain,” said Zi Yun with a furious snort.
“I don’t think they’ve done anything wrong,” said Zi Xia, even in the face of her brother’s icy taunts. She simply smiled calmly, then explained, “They’re right: our Zi Family can’t possibly protect the key fragment. For a poor man, possessing a priceless treasure is a sin; it’ll only invite trouble. We’ve always understood this principle. If the key fragment is what brought us this calamity, why shouldn’t we give it to them?”
“What about me? Say it?” Zi Xia turned to her brother and sneered. “Big Brother, it’s like you’ve gone insane. Everything you say is irresponsible and contradictory. You’re the one who begged Supreme Treasure for help, and now, you’re the one pointing the finger at him? You’re the one who forbade me from being with him, as well as the one who agreed to let us be together. What do you think I am? What do you think Supreme Treasure is? Are we nothing but tools, pawns with which you can protect the clan?”
“What the hell do you know!”
“It’s true that I don’t understand, but I don’t need to understand. The true problem is right in front of you: do we give the key to Supreme Treasure’s friend and let him save our clan? Or do we keep it, or do we let this become the anniversary of our family’s deaths, the day we burn incense at their graves? It’s that simple.”
Zi Yun’s expression instantly froze, and he rubbed his hands together, deep in thought.
Don’t be fooled: although Ye Zichen presented as cold and indifferent, on the inside, he was nervous. He was afraid that Zi Yun would steel himself and refuse to give him the key fragment.
Just now, the Great Sage had stood there in silence, but Ye Zichen was sure….
There was no way he’d just let the Zi Family die. Given his feelings for Zi Xia, it just wasn’t possible. Furthermore, Ye Zichen couldn’t possibly be as cold as he pretended to be. Even if it were just for Zi Xia and the Great Sage’s sake, he’d have to help either way.
But at the same time, he absolutely had to obtain the key fragment. One way or another, he needed to get his hand on it.
In order to disguise his nervousness, Ye Zichen leaned back into a chair and crossed his legs. He gazed ahead, his gaze cold. He subconsciously reached into his bag and pulled out a cigarette.
Time inched on, second by second.
The room was so quiet, they could hear every breath. In Ye Zichen’s heart, each breath felt like the ticking of a clock, or some kind of countdown. Tick, tock, tick tock...
As time passed, he grew more and more anxious. Several extinguished cigarette butts were lying scattered around his chair.
“How can you guarantee the entire Zi Clan’s safety?” said Zi Yun, arching his brows and meeting Ye Zichen’s gaze.
“I can’t guarantee that.” Ye Zichen stomped on a cigarette butt, fully extinguishing it, then rose from his chair. “I don’t know what Gu Li has arranged for us, and when we’ve clashed in the past, I’ve never once held the absolute advantage or had any assurance of victory. Please forgive me, but I can’t answer your question.”
“I said I’d keep your clan alive, not that I’d keep every single one of them alive. I’ll do everything in my power to save your parents, siblings, and other immediate relatives. As for your retainers, servants, and guards, I’ll consider the situation, and save them if and only if it’s not too dangerous.”
Ye Zichen paused, then met Zi Yun’s gaze. “Perhaps that sounds unfair, but then, this world has always been unfair. On the battlefield, only generals, kings, and nobles receive protection. No one goes out of their way to protect ordinary soldiers. This is the advantage of status.
“Now, it’s the same for your family. All I can do is give my utmost to save the most important of them. As for the others, the best I can do is grieve silently for them, but you can’t blame me for their fates. At the end of the day, it’s your Zi Family that led them to harm, not me…. I’m just here doing business with you, that’s all.”
“Then why shouldn’t I just give the fragment to the demons?” asked Zi Yun.
“You can if you want to. It’s entirely possible that the demons will take it and go. Gu Li has at least that much credibility.”
“In that case….”
“But I said, I absolutely have to obtain that fragment!” Ye Zichen’s tone took a sudden turn. “If you give it to him, I’ll seize it. If that happens, and you or your family gets hurt, you can’t blame me for it.
“Alternatively, you can go under Gu Li’s protection. He could surely arrange you a residence in the Demon Realm. You’d be safe from me there. So, here are your choices: the God Realm or the Demon Realm. Make your decision!”
Zi Yun fell silent again. A while later, he looked up and nodded. “Alright, I agree, but I won’t give you the fragment until my family is safe.”
“That’s perfect. I look forward to working with you!”
Jadewave City, the Zi Family estate.
Ever since leaving Violet City, Gu Li’s expression had been unsightly. “Ye Zichen!”
His brows were tightly knit. He stared at his enraged, hideous expression in the mirror, then narrowed his eyes. His two attendants were the only other people in the room with him.
“Pass on my orders….” He explained his plan through gnashed teeth. Once they’d gone, Gu Li rose and looked out the window at the dusky, moonlit sky. “You’re always acting against me. Now, you even had to kidnap An Lu!” Gu Li clenched his fists, snorting in fury. “Whatever you do, don’t you dare disappoint me. You definitely have to come! So long as you dare stand before me, I’ll ensure you never, ever leave!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter