The person who showed up was a silver-haired man, a silver not as pure as the holy maiden’s, but beyond everyone she had seen save for Li Mo and the holy maiden herself. In order to not arouse unwanted attention, Yun Ruoyan had also dyed Li Mo’s hair a silvery-gray before he entered the silver dragon palace.
“Holy Maiden, shall we play together?” the man asked, walking briskly toward Yun Ruoyan and the holy maiden. The holy maiden stopped short, so Yun Ruoyan also stopped behind her.
“Yin Xiao, what are you doing here?” she began coldly. “Didn’t you learn your lesson after the silver dragon elder’s punishment?”
Yin Xiao ignored the holy maiden’s anger. “Father’s already punished me for last time, and I was forced to spend a month in house arrest. Don’t begrudge me too much—we’re a family, after all.”
Yun Ruoyan sensed Yin Xiao looking at her as she spoke. Initially, her head was lowered, but when Yin Xiao seemed to have no intention of looking away from her, she finally met his gaze. Her small, beady eyes, crooked nose, and thick lips so scared Yin Xiao that he shielded his gaze with his hand, as if something had blinded him.
The holy maiden turned to look at Yun Ruoyan, then at Yin Xiao. She smirked. “What’s the matter? Are you alright?”
“Where do you keep finding servants like this?!” Yin Xiao’s eyes were still closed, but he was pointing a trembling finger at Yun Ruoyan.
“What’s wrong with my servant?” the holy maiden asked. “She’s my favorite of all the servants I’ve had to date, and I plan on continuing to use her. If there’s nothing else, I’m going to go now. I recommend you not stop by frequently.” The holy maiden stalked away, and Yun Ruoyan obediently followed.
When she again felt a gaze at her back, she whirled around, met Yin Xiao’s eyes again, and smirked as he clutched his eyes with a pained shout.
Yun Ruoyan walked away with the holy maiden.
Only when Yin Xiao could no longer hear their footsteps did he remove his hand from his face. “Her physique’s wonderful, so why’s her face such a mess? This holy maiden has to be deliberately choosing such ugly servants—I’m going to have nightmares tonight! Do you think you can stop me with these petty tricks? Just you wait!” Yin Xiao stormed off.
Once they were out of earshot, the holy maiden began to giggle. “Oh, did you see his face when he saw you for the first time? Haha!”
Yun Ruoyan asked, “Is that man the silver dragon elder’s son?” As far as Yun Ruoyan knew, the silver dragon elder was of the same generation as the demonic dragon forefather, so he had to be thousands of years old at least. How could he have such a young son?
“He’s the silver dragon elder’s only child,” the holy maiden replied. “And an annoying brat.”
The silver dragon elder had had quite a number of children in the past, but they had all passed away. Yin Xiao was the silver dragon elder’s youngest and now most favored child, and he was essentially able to do whatever he wanted within the palace.
The holy maiden warned Yun Ruoyan about Yin Xiao’s sexual proclivities. “My past servants, those that were at all beautiful, all ended up in his grasp—either by force or by sweet-talking,” she emphasized.
“Was that why you had Madam Li find you an ugly woman to be your servant?”
“Yes: not only ugly, but also agile. As the holy maiden, it might appear that I’m in a position of authority, but I don’t really have any power to my name. You should also have noticed that my cultivation isn’t particularly advanced, so if you encounter some sort of danger, I might not be able to protect you. You need to be able to protect yourself, or you’d better leave.”
“But… why? Aren’t you the holy maiden of the silver dragon clan? How could you be unable to protect even a single servant?” Yun Ruoyan was somewhat flummoxed. She had learned from Empress Xue Tong how important the holy maiden was to the clan, but she hadn’t asked how much authority they had.
“That’s how it is. From a young age, it was clear to me that my position was merely symbolic, without any real purpose,” the holy maiden replied. “A year ago, a servant who had been with me for many years fell prey to Yin Xiao. He sent his men to capture and drug her, and then he raped her. When that servant told me about what had happened, I escalated the matter to the silver dragon elder, but Yin Xiao claimed that my servant was the one who had seduced her, and then—”
The holy maiden’s cheeks puffed up with anger, and she seemed so upset that she didn’t even finish her sentence.
“And then what?” Yun Ruoyan pressed. “Did the silver dragon elder believe your word or Yin Xiao’s?”
“My word, but he still punished my servant heavily regardless. Meanwhile, he only put Yin Xiao under house arrest! Shamed and distraught by the reality of what had happened, my servant committed suicide.”
Yun Ruoyan was roused to anger by the holy maiden’s words. “To think that Yin Xiao would be as daring as to attack your servants—and to think that the silver dragon elder would shield him so!”
“Luckily, I’m still the holy maiden, so whatever Yin Xiao’s intentions are, I’m protected from them,” the holy maiden sighed. “But this position will cost me my whole life’s worth of freedom and happiness.”
“There’s something I don’t understand,” Yun Ruoyan began. “If the holy maiden is so important to the silver dragon clan, why don’t you have any authority of your own?”
“Actually, the holy maiden used to have considerable power, second only to the silver dragon elder himself. However, something happened a century or so ago that caused all future holy maidens to be stripped of their power.”
Apparently, a century ago, the previous holy maiden had left the Jiyuan continent of her own accord for a lower-realm continent, never to return. The entire silver dragon clan had been incensed by the incident, and from then on, the position of holy maiden was merely symbolic.
Of course, that holy maiden must have been Empress Xue Tong. What surprised Yun Ruoyan was the holy maiden’s subsequent words: “The past holy maiden really was very brave. If I could, I’d also love to escape from this place.”
“You’re really willing to give up your position?”
The holy maiden chuckled bitterly. “What’s there not to give up? I’ve been trapped in this palace for my entire life. Even if I have to die, I’d want to free my soul from it.” Everyone cares about the existence of a holy maiden, but not who she is. All the authority of the silver dragon clan rested within the silver dragon elder’s hands, and the holy maiden was just one of his puppets. If he wanted to depose her, a next holy maiden would soon show up.
What that meant was that, even if Yun Ruoyan and the others were to kidnap the current holy maiden, they wouldn’t be able to use her to threaten the silver dragon elder. However, a new target had appeared, and the holy maiden seemed like she could be a useful accomplice. Yun Ruoyan believed that, as long as the holy maiden was willing to help her, it would be easy to lure Yin Xiao out of the silver dragon palace.
Yun Ruoyan thought up a new plan in her mind, but rather than start laying the groundwork for it immediately, she decided to discuss the matter with Li Mo beforehand.
Over the past few days, Li Mo had been carrying out his part of the plan: trying to find Long Yin, presumably somewhere within the silver dragon palace, and getting close to the silver dragon temple.
Just as the demonic spirit had described, the silver dragon temple was under heavy guard, and all the guards around the temple were experts. Even if he were to sneak in somehow, the bindings within would easily trap him just like they trapped the demonic spirit.
The objectives of acquiring some holy water and retrieving Empress Xue Tong’s physical body thus had to be put on hold temporarily. However, Li Mo had gleaned some new information regarding Long Yin’s whereabouts.
During a regular patrol, he had overheard the guard captain talking about a secret prison within the palace, where some prisoners from other races were being imprisoned. Although the guard captain didn’t mention who the prisoners were, Li Mo’s intuition told him that Yun Ruoyan’s father—his father-in-law—was locked up there.
In the deep of the night, after the holy maiden had fallen asleep and Li Mo had just finished a shift, as planned, he snuck into Yun Ruoyan’s room. As the personal servant of the holy maiden, Yun Ruoyan naturally had her own room.
Both Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo missed each other, especially Li Mo. These last few days, he had only been able to watch over her from a distance, never to touch her. When Yun Ruoyan noticed his glances, she would always smile at him, riling him up but leaving him unable to do anything about it.
As a result, when Li Mo entered Yun Ruoyan’s room through her window, he had hugged her tightly before she could properly stand up from bed and call out his name. He kissed her, but didn’t push her down onto the bed, because she was pregnant with another baby again. Li Mo’s hand caressed her abdomen. “Is the baby doing fine?”
Yun Ruoyan smiled. “I’m only one month pregnant, so it doesn’t feel like anything at the moment.”
Li Mo also smiled. Ever since he became a father, he had started to enjoy the feeling of fatherhood. Carrying a newborn in his arms had given him an unusual sense of accomplishment.
“Right, I have something very important to tell you,” Yun Ruoyan said, sitting upright.
“I have something very important to tell you too,” Li Mo replied. “You first.”