A full face, initially concealed by the shadows, became visible like the rising of the moon from the ocean end. That split second of clarity and brightness, or rather shocking realization, punched Meng Fuyao into a state of unconsciousness.
Immediately upon waking up, she cursed over and over again, albeit inwardly. As she shifted backward with a panicked look emerging on her face, she quietly felt about for her soft whip.
Before she could reach it, her fingers jolted backward, as if flicked by an invisible force. Opposite of her stood the man, smilingly retracting his hand while shaking his head. "Lady, lady, acting doesn't work all the time."
The moon hung high and bright as the man's robes fluttered in the night breeze. Carrying a careless smile on his face he moved forward unhurriedly, allowing his baggy sleeves to fly with the wind. He almost resembled the mythical phoenix that lived above the ninth heaven.
There was a kind of pure vibe that some people radiated.
There was also a kind of charm that others exuded.
Yet, few managed to achieve the perfect blend between both. Those who did had a unique aura and magnificence about them. There was carefreeness within elegance and concealed depth within warmth.
The sandstones produced crisp sounds as a faint, unusual fragrance permeated the air. The man gracefully, yet shamelessly, inched closer toward Meng Fuyao, turning his face slightly to the side.
She could almost feel her windpipe swelling up, making it hard to breathe.
His sharp brows carried a high but soft arch that reminded people of the willow trees by the jade springs in March – radiant and fresh.
As for his beautifully-lined profile, no light in the whole of heaven and earth could resist taking a rest beneath his deep-set eyes.
Such immortal beauty made people lose their ability to speak, and Meng Fuyao was no exception.
In contrast, the man was at complete ease. He casually brushed away the dust around, but seeing that the ground couldn't be cleaned easily, he stopped bothering. Instead, he reached his hand out to pull her in.
Flustered, Meng Fuyao rolled out of his embrace and plonked onto a wet area. "You... what are you doing?"
Using his arm as a pillow, the man simply remained at rest position and looked at her. A dusky smile made its way to his lips as he replied, "What? I'm cold. Sleeping alone will make it worse, so I'm going to sleep with you."
With a blushed face, Fuyao responded weakly, "Hey... I can't possibly take advantage of this situation..."
"But I'd like it," the man reassured before flinging his sleeves outward and over her waist, and pulling her close once more. "Hush, be good and listen."
The faint aroma that his body emitted smelled like fine wine, and intensified with the quick movement of his sleeves. The scent was beyond intoxicating, and as though her brain was inflammable, Fuyao felt something ignite within her head, wiping out all rationality. Unable to react, she froze in her spot while wallowing in the low chuckle that rang close to her ear. His breaths lingered over and tickled her face ever so lightly.
It was a magical kind of tingle that shot straight to her heart. Meng Fuyao could hear the quick thumping within her chest. Gradually, her face started to heat up, and she fell into a state of dizziness.
This new experience left her body limp, but whatever traces of reason she possessed in her mind reminded her to stay sober. Wanting to struggle free, Fuyao used both hands to push against his chest. Suddenly, her palms turned hot.
Following which, warmth surged like a river through an open dam, first attacking the area of contact and then her limbs, her bones, and even her meridians. It was as if a hot spring had exploded inside her body, spreading a mellow and rich sensation throughout.
That warmth was like a pair of tender hands, doing its magic within her body and healing her injured meridians one by one. Aside from dispelling the poison, it also collected and condensed the little energy that was left within her pubic region, leaving it more abundant than ever.
Slowly but surely, her pale face regained rosiness. Meng Fuyao opened her eyes wide in shock as she stared at the man who had his eyes closed but smile on. How did he know of her situation? And why was he helping her?
Letting her curious gaze fall all over his body, she made some observations. He was a man from the Five Region Continent who liked to wear all sorts of status-symbolizing accessories. From that, she was able to gather that he conducted himself in a way different from most. Apart from his quality yet unobtrusive garments, he had nothing else.
Meng Fuyao's eyes ultimately landed on the right palm that he was slowly retracting. She now had a clearer view of the petal-like mark.
Despite sensing her gaze, the man never once opened his eyes. In a gentle voice, he started, "The internal energy I've lent you will only be effective for 3 hours, so make the most out of it if you want to."
She snapped out of her daze and jumped up. Overwhelmed with shock, she stammered, "Who are you? How do you know... know..."
"Even while knowing that over-consuming the Single-Layered Frost would lead to internal injuries, you chose to eat four at one go. Seeing that you're also rushing to readjust and recover your body, you must be itching for revenge?" The man sat up and raised his brows at her. "Just let me remind you. Pei Yuan's family isn't ordinary. You willing to continue?"
"She can't ride on her family's coattails everywhere she goes," Fuyao commented with a laugh that revealed an air of arrogance and craftiness. "A feud must be settled! As for the future, I will not disturb her as long as she does the same. If she comes for me, I'll run, and when she lets her guard down, I'll bite. You must know that as a wanderer, I do have more freedom at times."
Her words left him with praises. "Good. Very good."
Meng Fuyao threw a graceful smile in return.
"What a rascal."
Not setting his eyes on Fuyao's blackened face, the man continued, "A pity there are so many members in Mystic Essence Sword Sect. Pei Yuan's skills aren't dismissible. Winning her is hard, even with your earlier condition, so how are you going to punish her without alarming the rest?"
Fuyao glared at him. The thought that this man had witnessed all that had happened on the cliff was absolutely triggering. "That's my business! You did nothing earlier, and now you're acting all kind?"
"I wasn't here earlier, and merely caught sight of your movements," he explained, anger-free. "What do you think? I'll take it back if you're not going to use it."
Remembering that the energy in her body was his doing, she shouted unhappily, "I want it!"
Immediately, the man let out his signature chuckle. Although his eyes were bright as usual, there was an unconcealable ridiculing tone in his voice as he added, "Oh... you want it?"
That "oh" was gentle, drawn-out and provoking. Fuyao, who had planned to retaliate, simply lost all will to speak as her face gave way to more flushing. Before she could collect her thoughts, the man pulled her hand. "Your wish is my command..."
Under the bright moon and cool breeze lay Meng Fuyao, nestling in a beautiful man's arms.
Could there be anything more romantic and blissful than this?
While Indulging in it all, Fuyao's face had undergone a full-blown transformation from flashy red to scarlet red, crimson red to rose red and finally her usual complexion. She cast a glance at the shamelessly perfect man before her before declaring in all righteousness, "If that's the case, I'll just have to make do."
With a swift move, she hid a few steel needles between her fingers.
'Touch me, and I'll jab you to death,' she thought.
Amid the close contact between their hands and cheeks, a fat guinea pig appeared to cause a scene.
There couldn't possibly be anything more ridiculous than this.
Before she could push or jab, Lord Yuan Bao flew over from god knows where, and made a backflip and split in the air with its claws wide opened before stepping on their faces.
Straight away, Fuyao slapped Yuan Bao away and retreated.
Lord Yuan Bao fell right into the man's extended palm and instantly held onto his fingers, crying.
Appearing to give that little fellow a disdainful look, Fuyao was actually thankful for its help. 'But isn't it being over-possessive?'
She shifted her gaze from that tantrum-throwing creature over to the man. Having roamed about for years, Fuyao did develop a keener sense of judgment. The man in front seemed to be joking all the time, but his eyes contained only magnanimity and nothing like lust. There was no evilness in him.
Did he really offer help because of what he had witnessed?
The Mystic Essence Sword Sect had quite a high position within Taiyuan, evident from the regular visits made by many high officials and noble guests. Was this guy's sudden emergence related to the sect? If he had connections with the sect, why would he offer her help?
Meng Fuyao inhaled deeply and chose not to ponder over this temporarily unanswerable question any longer. This man wasn't a simple character for sure, but since she was unable to probe anything out of him and since he could easily squash her if he wanted to, there really was nothing she could do at this point.
There were other pressing issues to be tackled.
Instead of fretting over uncontrollable events, she would rather focus on taking down those who had hurt her.
Fuyao regulated her breathing, kept her sleeve pouch, and fished something out from her clothes to smear onto her handy dagger.
It was the juice extract of the Invulnerable Flower, a product of Fufeng in Qing Continent. The juice itself wasn't poisonous but would cause a wound to rot upon permeation, making it almost impossible to heal.
Fuyao tossed it up and down, feeling rather regretful that she had no poison on her. 'Pei Yuan, Pei Yuan... your exceptional looks and beautiful complexion draw men toward you like bees to honey. They call you a jade doll, don't they? Imagine if their little jade doll has a rotting wound, releasing a stench that drives all the flowers and butterflies away... Would you still be able to keep that fake, aristocratic smile of yours on?'
Fuyao smirked coldly while applying more juice on her dagger, layer after layer.
Hugging his knees, the man smiled at her, admiration flashing across his eyes.
Seeing Fuyao getting ready, he stood up and pointed toward Mystic Essence Manor. "You probably don't know this, but there's a secret passage leading to your sect. You'll be able to avoid the guards if you travel by that route." At this point, his expression turned strange. "Also, your Master, Senior Brothers, and Sisters are currently entertaining their guest, so you can lay an ambush in Pei Yuan's room first."