After Shen Yi Yao finished listening, she was so shocked her mouth was agape. All sorts of feelings welled up in her heart.
She couldn’t help but recall the scene where she met Yan Ting for the first time, long ago….
That year under the magnolia tree, she had been startled into turning around. She saw a handsome man who looked like an immortal.
He was tall and upright, his features chiseled. His eyes were deep and mysterious, his nose-bridge tall. He had a valiant air with a hint of elegance.
Seeming to have noticed he had startled her, he smiled apologetically.
At that moment, she seemed to have smelled the blooming flowers.
Their ill-fated relationship began at that moment.
This scene had appeared countless times in Shen Yi Yao’s dreams. Now that she was awake, she finally understood it had all been a joke.
The deeper the love, the greater the hatred. A blissful dream leads to a painful awakening. All that love, adoration and sweetness had turned into a joke. Now that she heard about this sort of thing, apart from feeling some additional overwhelming disgust, she didn’t feel anything else.
Shen Yi Yao hadn’t noticed that her entire body had started trembling lightly. This sufficiently expressed how shocked she was.
After a long, long while….
“Is this for real?”
Yan Yan nodded and looked at her with some concern.
Shen Yi Yao took a deep breath before calming down.
“Don’t concern yourself with this. This time, mom will definitely divorce him.”
Shen Yi Yao’s expression was extremely ugly. Yan Yan couldn’t help but feel some regret for not listening to Luo Huai Yuan. She shouldn’t have spoken about this in the heat of the moment.
This sort of faint worry stayed with her until she left the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, and hadn’t faded after she returned to the fourth prince estate. When she saw Luo Huai Yuan, she couldn’t help but mention this matter to him.
“Mother-in-law wasn’t sad or upset?”
Since Yan Yan hadn’t been in the estate, Luo Huai Yuan naturally went out as well. Having stayed in the palace for so long, although everything could be done remotely, there were still some affairs to take care of. Luo Huai Yuan had returned soon after Yan Yan. The first thing he did was bathe and change before sitting in front of Yan Yan.
Yan Yan shook her head. “However, mom’s expression wasn’t good.”
“Forget it, she would find out sooner or later anyway. Knowing sooner means being able to free herself sooner.” Luo Huai Yuan drained the tea in his cup and signaled Yi Meng to bring him another. When Yi Meng left, he said quietly: “However, I feel this matter is a little difficult. The other side won’t let mother-in-law divorce.”
Yan Yan also felt this way.
“In my opinion, it’s better to make a move earlier instead of letting that scourge remain.” After speaking, Luo Huai Yuan couldn’t help but glance at Yan Yan’s expression.
Yan Yan pursed her lips and didn’t speak.
At this time, the two didn’t realize that a major matter had occurred in the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
Shen Yi Yao wore a simple white little jacket embroidered with golden flowers and butterflies. Below, she wore a court dress with flowers, grass and mist. Her hair was done in a slanted bun pinned in place by a sapphire hairpin shaped into a bouquet of flowers. This hairpin shone with an inexplicably gloomy light under the lamps. It gave Shen Yi Yao a simple and elegant air of aloofness, as though she were a mysterious maiden from the heavens.
Yan Ting was dazed and seemed to have seen the teenage version of Shen Yi Yao.
At that time, she was well-educated, bright and innocent. She would tear up at the slightest thing, and would blush bashfully at his slightest smile….
He didn’t know when things had changed. Everything had changed. Just why had things changed?
Yan Ting felt his mind tighten up. Whenever he recalled those memories, he would feel a dull ache. The image of the beauty alternated between far off and close by, becoming extremely shaky. It made him suddenly feel dizzy and nauseous. He heard his own hoarse voice.
“Do you realize what you’re saying?”
She said something once again.
He suddenly felt a blazing fire in his heart, almost burning him to pieces. He didn’t realize his current expression was sinister, the veins in his temple throbbing and his eyes bloodshot, almost bulging out.
“What do you understand? You understand nothing! You dare disdain me? Do you know who’s to blame for my current situation? It’s all because of you. It’s all because of you people surnamed Shen. You sit in your ivory tower, looking down on me. You all aren’t satisfied unless you trample me into the dirt….”
His face looked demonic. His eyes burned as he walked forward one step at a time.
Yan Ting’s appearance frightened Shen Yi Yao, making her repeatedly step back. Only when she bumped against the bedside cabinet did she snap out of it.
“What are you doing? Stay away from me!”
Shen Yi Yao waved her hands in terror. Seeing him continue to approach, she couldn’t help but try to push him away. Yan Ting grabbed her hands and stuck his face over. The two of them were very close to each other, and could feel each other’s breath.
Shen Yi Yao smelled the scent of alcohol. Yan Ting smelled a fragrance that seeped into his soul. He couldn’t help but forcibly pull her into his arms and take a deep breath. He buried his face into her hair and a pressing urge arose in him.
This sort of feeling, the sort a man had for a woman, was something he hadn’t felt in a long time. Thinking of this, his thoughts turned ruthless. Everything was their fault, those people of the Shen household….
Shen Yi Yao struggled fiercely in his arms but Yan Ting seemed as if he didn’t notice. He stared blankly. Only when she started screaming for help did he snap out of it and cover her mouth. His other hand started pulling at her clothes.
“What are you yelling for? Who would dare come in? You are my wife, it’s only proper that you serve me!”
As he spoke, Yan Ting pressed her onto the bed.
Shen Yi Yao felt extreme regret at this moment. She regretted that she underestimated the degree of his shamelessness, and also regretted her decision to leave him some dignity. She had especially chosen to discuss this matter in the bedroom, and had even sent the maids out.
However, how could something like that be discussed in front of others? She would be fine if they knew, but how was Ah Mo supposed to face others in the future….
Shen Yi Yao hated her weak and powerless self. Why didn’t she practice martial arts back then? When she was younger, her daddy had wanted to teach her. However, she didn’t like it, her mom didn’t like, so this matter wasn’t mentioned again. If she had learned martial arts, she wouldn’t be in such a predicament….
Heavens, who can come save her….
Whenever Shen Yi Yao thought about Yan Ting touching her body with his own, she felt a wave of disgust. She could feel her clothes getting taken off piece by piece and a sense of despair filled her heart….
Suddenly, she felt the weight on her disappear. She heard a thump as someone fell to the floor. She hurriedly grabbed her clothes and sat up.
Lady Hui didn’t have time to respond to her. When Yan Ting fell to the floor, he immediately sprung back up. He threw a flurry of attacks towards Lady Hui. Yan Ting’s appearance was deranged, and attacked without any thought of defense. Lady Hui still had some misgivings so she was repeatedly forced to retreat in the face of his attacks.
However, he was striking a stone with an egg. Lady Hui aimed at the open door and sent Yan Ting out with a flying sidekick.
Everything happened extremely quickly, within the blink of an eye.
Having heard that things didn’t sound right, Cui Qiao and Cui Ping had gone to find Lady Hui. At this time, they also rushed inside and happened to see the lord marquis being sent flying against the wall and falling down. They then looked at the madam and saw her disordered appearance, her clothing not covering her body. Cui Qiao cried out in shock and hurried over to help Shen Yi Yao put on her clothes.
Yan Ting lay on the floor, and only climbed back up wretchedly after a while. A trickle of blood flowed from his mouth.
Shen Yi Yao straightened her clothes and got off the bed. Her face was flushed in both shame and anger: “Yan Ting, you and I are divorcing for sure. I’ll give you five days to consider. Otherwise, I will invite my father over!”
Yan Ting wiped the blood from his mouth. He looked at Shen Yi Yao like an evil wolf before turning and leaving.
Only now did Shen Yi Yao start crying.
She trembled all over, and even her limbs were shaking. Seeing this, Cui Qiao helped her over onto the bed and covered her with the blanket. Cui Ping brought over two hot water containers. She put one under her legs and had her hold the other. She then went to brew some jujube almond tea and had her drink it while it was hot.
Shen Yi Yao only calmed down after a long while: “Lady Hui, thank goodness you arrived when you did.”
Lady Hui said: “Madam, it wasn’t a big deal. The miss assigned me to protect madam and young master when she left. It’s all thanks to Cui Qiao and Cui Ping who came to call me when they saw things weren’t right.”
“It’s all my fault for being blind. It’s also my fault for underestimating that brute’s shamelessness!” Shen Yi Yao shed tears silently.
Cui Qiao and Cui Ping stood with their heads lowered and didn’t dare respond.
Lady Hui pondered and said: “Madam, should we tell the miss?”
Shen Yi Yao wiped her tears and shook her head: “Better not. We can’t always let the children worry about their mom. Regardless, I will definitely divorce him this time. If he doesn’t respond within five days, I’ll go back to my maternal family and invite father and brother over.”
Lady Hui nodded and no longer spoke.
Yan Ting rode on his horse and galloped away from the estate.
The night was cold like water and there wasn’t even a moon.
Yan Ting didn’t know why he had left the estate. He only knew he wanted to get away from there. Only when he reached the doors of the private residence did he realize where he was.
The guard seemed to have heard the sounds and came over.
That person saluted and went to take his horse. He didn’t notice Yan Ting’s terrified expression.
Yan Ting thought about it. He didn’t want to go back so he might as well stay the night and go straight to work tomorrow. Xu Xiang Rong wouldn’t come here for no reason. Yan Ting knew he wasn’t here so he was very at ease.
There were very few servants at the private residence. If they weren’t called for, they wouldn’t appear in places where they shouldn’t. The steward leading Yan Ting asked if he needed someone to serve him but Yan Ting waved his hand and refused. He walked into a room and without lighting the lamps, walked with familiarity to the bed and lay down.
He fell blurrily asleep, but was suddenly awoken in the middle of the night. He realized there was a light in the room.
A familiar face appeared in front of him. Yan Ting was startled.
“Why did you come?”
Xu Xiang Rong wore a sapphire blue robe with silver lines. He had a black jade cap and a gold and jade belt around his waist. It was unobtrusive but also had an air of luxury. This man would never be described as handsome but his aura was extraordinary. It was both elegant and unhurried, reserved yet revealing some nobility.
He merely smiled and said: “The steward reported that you had come. I happened to still be awake and thus came over for a look.”
After a pause, he used his hand to wipe Yan Ting’s mouth, “What? Who hit you?”
His gaze was calm as he looked at the blood on his finger, as though nothing had happened.
Yan Ting froze before turning away: “It’s nothing.”
Xu Xiang Rong didn’t ask further. He took off his outer clothing and got on the bed.
The faint smell of sandalwood permeated the room, gradually seeping into Yan Ting’s nose. This was the incense Xu Xiang Rong often used. It was extremely expensive.
He got in bed and leaned over, wrapping one arm around Yan Ting’s waist. Yan Ting’s body turned rigid. Only after seeing that there was no further movement did he relax.
The night passed without words.
Xu Xiang Rong’s slender fingers knocked against the table as he asked.
The steward nodded his head.
“What were the results of the investigation I ordered?”
“Because time was short, it wasn’t possible to find out the details. We only know that Madam Yan seemed to be making a fuss about divorcing Lord Yan these days. Prior to coming here, Lord Yan had come out from Madam Yan’s place. Prior to entering he was fine, but after leaving he seemed to be injured.”
Xu Xiang Rong smiled meaningfully, “What, a tiger doesn’t beget a dog? Is she also a heroine like her daughter?”
His voice was very apathetic, with a hint of mockery.
The steward shook his head. “In response to lord heir, the Shen household’s only daughter Shen Yi Yao has always been gentle and quiet. She does not know any aspect of martial arts.”
Xu Xiang Rong knocked on the table and waved his hand for the steward to leave.
The ruckus at the Jinse Pavilion that night didn’t disturb the rest of the estate.
The Jinse Pavilion had also ordered for it to be kept secret. Therefore, the boat passed without a trace and it seemed as if it had never happened.
Yan Ru had been married for a while but her stomach still showed no signs of movement. Yan Ru’s mother-in-law wasn’t anxious but Xue-shi was burning with anxiety. She burned incense every day and prayed to Buddha. She even asked around for secret methods to increase the chances of pregnancy.
As a matter of fact, she heard that there was a temple of fertility in the outskirts that was especially effective. She wanted to pull Shen Yi Yao along and go offer some worship, seeking blessings for the two married misses.
Shen Yi Yao was preoccupied with the matter of divorce. She hadn’t wanted to go offer incense at first, but she couldn’t withstand Xue-shi’s persuasion. Her words were truly reasonable. The mother-in-law wasn’t anxious but the mom couldn’t help but be anxious. If the mother-in-law saw that her daughter wasn’t showing any signs, would she stuff people into her son-in-law’s room?
Shen Yi Yao recalled how her daughter and her son-in-law were planning to have children later. She couldn’t help but feel they were being a little impetuous. The fourth prince refusing a senior concubine was already a major issue. If Yan Yan didn’t show any signs, wouldn’t the palace have more of an excuse to send people into the estate?
She decided to find some time and mention this to her daughter. She might as well preemptively make a visit to the temple and get Yan Yan a blessing for later.
They decided to head out tomorrow. Once things were set, Xue-shi left.
The next day, the two of them left the estate in a carriage bright and early.
Shen Yi Yao and Xue-shi sat in the same carriage while the maids and grannies sat in a separate one. They also brought a certain number of her guards. The grand procession headed out of the city.
After the group passed, a shadowy figure flashed by in the corner.
This fertility temple was supposedly in the outskirts, but it was actually already outside the city limits.
It was a temple in one of the small surrounding towns, but had gotten extremely popular at some point. The matter of birth has always been important to women. Because this place was supposedly effective, the rumors spread repeatedly and word got around in social circles of the capital. Therefore, many noblewomen from the capital would come to worship at this temple and ask for a fertility charm to bring back.
It was said that as long as you were able to pick a bamboo stick with great fortune inscribed upon it, and also obtain a charm from the Daoist priest, if the person in question kept the charm close, they would give birth to a boy on the first try.
It was already almost noon by the time Shen Yi Yao’s group arrived at the temple.
Because this place was extremely popular, many restaurants and tea houses opened up in the area. The group first found a place to rest and planned on burning incense at the temple after eating lunch.
After they were rested, the group continued onwards.
The process was very smooth. Xue-shi and Shen Yi Yao both pulled bamboo sticks inscribed with great fortune. From their outfits, the priest saw that the two of them weren’t ordinary and took the initiative to offer up two charms. Xue-shi was in a great mood and handed over fifty taels as an offering. Shen Yi Yao did the same. Afterwards, they sat in the temple for a bit drinking tea before the two left with their people.
Actually, there were temples in the capital were the noblewomen usually went to offer incense. These large temples naturally couldn’t be compared to this shabby place. There would be monks who entertained the visitors and even vegetarian meals to eat. However, asking for blessings was for the sake of getting one’s wishes granted. Thus, they could only follow the local customs.
On the way back, having taken a long trip, the two were a little listless. Right as they were about to nod off, they suddenly felt the carriage screech to a halt. They also heard a tragic whinny as their horses fell to the ground.
In an instant, tragic cries sounded from all around. There were also noises of arrows raining down around them.
The sounds of crying, shouting and screaming never ceased, seeming as though they had fallen into hell.
Shen Yi Yao brought her guards whenever she went out. These were her personal guards. There weren’t too many, only around ten. They were marching along when they were suddenly met with a rain of arrows. Even the guards were at a loss, let alone the carriage drivers. Luckily their reactions were still swift. Seeing that things were bad, they stepped up to resist.
Unfortunately the opponent’s schemes and thoughts were sinister. This location was special since they were on a winding path. They were surrounded by trees and bushes. There wasn’t anywhere they could hide to avoid the arrows and they couldn’t run either. Some of the guards and the carriage drivers were shot and howled tragically as they fell. The guards surrounding Shen Yi Yao’s carriage were all injured.
The rain of arrows was too dense. Even though these people waved their weapons continuously, they couldn’t block all of it. Every now and then, someone would get hit.
They weren’t even able to see the enemy before suffering tragic losses. They were extremely stifled.
In the carriage, Xue-shi and Shen Yi Yao heard the thumping of arrows hitting the carriage. Their faces were tragically pale and they looked at each other in dismay. Luckily the carriage was specially constructed using high-quality wood. None of the arrows were able to get through.
“Madam, what should we do, what should we do?” Cui Qiao’s face was deathly white. Her lips trembled and her words were incoherent.
A voice sounded from outside: “Which trespasser is responsible for this ambush? Do you know who is in this carriage? We are the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s guards, and the one inside is our estate’s eldest mistress. She has never wronged anyone. Did you perhaps attack the wrong target?”
There was no response. The arrows continued to fall.
A guard cried out quietly by the window: “Madam, it seems they are targeting us. There are too many of them and they aren’t showing themselves. They only use a rain of arrows to attack. I’m afraid my brothers….”
Before he finished speaking, a tragic cry sounded out.
The situation was already clear. These people were targeting the Zhenguo Duke Estate, or perhaps even targeting Shen Yi Yao. However, Shen Yi Yao was a kind person, a woman who never left the house. How could someone have a grudge against her, to the extent of wanting her dead?
Seeing that a peaceful resolution wasn’t possible, the leader of the guards yelled fiercely: “Since you’re targeting our Zhenguo Duke Estate, tell your esteemed master that no matter who they are, if our eldest mistress is injured in the slightest, they will be pursued until death wherever they go!”
After speaking, he cried loudly: “Those brothers who are still able to move, let’s stake everything against them.”
All this happened in the blink of an eye. They had yet to retaliate but had already suffered huge losses. Those who could still move were unable to poke their heads out. The horses had all fallen to the arrows as well. The horse pulling Shen Yi Yao’s carriage was the first to fall. These people’s thoughts were vicious, wanting to take them all out.
As everyone was trembling inside the carriage, Lady Hui who was sitting in the corner moved.
She pulled out the long whip around her waist and pulled Shen Yi Yao up: “Madam, I’ll take you and slaughter a path out.”
Lady Hui followed her gaze and looked at Xue-shi and Cui Qiao who were shaking all over. Her eyes flashed: “I reckon these people are after the madam. We can only hope that these people see me take the madam out and chase after us.”
Xue-shi’s cheeks were quivering but she gritted her teeth and smiled: “Sis-in-law, hurry and leave. She can’t bring us both by herself. This carriage’s walls are sturdy and the attacks won’t penetrate for now. Perhaps it’s really as Lady Hui says. Once their target is gone, they will leave us behind.”
Anyone could tell these were just comforting words. However, killing a path out may also lead to death. Through the windows, they could see that the arrows covered the skies. They could only put their hopes in Lady Hui’s skills, and hope that she was truly able to bring Shen Yi Yao out. Otherwise, once all the guards were dead, the rest of them would also suffer the same fate.
While she was speaking, Lady Hui had already pulled the curtains in the carriage down lifted the little table that was used for snacks and tea. She chopped off its legs with her hand and pulled Shen Yi Yao over, tying the wooden board to her back. She then lifted Shen Yi Yao onto her back and tied her tightly onto herself.
After doing all this, Lady Hui took a deep breath and gripped her whip tightly.
The scene was a mess. The remaining guards had charged into the trees without any hope of survival, and finally started exchanging blows with the hidden ambushers. Although they had less people than their enemies, they were able to disrupt the attacks.
It was at this time a loud bang sounded from the motionless carriage. The roof was sent flying and a figure shot out. That person was extremely nimble. While in the air, the roof of the carriage was sent flying towards the place where the arrows were most concentrated. A chorus of tragic cries sounded from those bushes.
During this chaos, Lady Hui’s cold laugh sounded in everyone’s ears.
“Wanting to commit murder with just this little plot? I’ll be taking my household’s madam away. Those brothers who have risked their lives in guarding us for so long, find an opportunity to flee. When I return to the Zhenguo Duke Estate, I will definitely have the lord duke take revenge.”
After speaking, that person swiftly left, carrying someone on her back. It was obviously these people’s target.
In the blink of an eye, that person had leaped several meters away and disappeared from sight.
Along with her fading figure, a loud bang sounded out. Above their heads was an extremely dazzling dark blue signal. It hung in the sky and remained there for a long time without fading.