Huang Luan held Jian Chen tightly in a quiet but comforting embrace. No words had been voiced, but the feelings and thoughts that had welled up inside her had finally exploded out. Just like a volcano erupting after a period of buildup, the resulting momentum was both fierce and hard to control.
Jian Chen was dumbstruck. His entire body had gone rigid without moving for a long period of time. Even with memories from two worlds, he never remembered being hugged by a female before, so this was the very first time he had experienced the warmth of one.
This was not a woman with a beauty that could bring the downfall of a city, but a woman with a beauty that could bring an entire kingdom to its knees.
Time in this dubiously quiet place slowly passed by. A beautiful moment was fleeting; this one was no exception.
Huang Luan and Jian Chen had remained together for an unknown amount of time before Huang Luan finally loosened her grip on Jian Chen. Slowly standing up, Huang Luan looked up at Jian Chen with her bashful eyes. Then, tilting her head down, she slowly began to smooth out the wrinkles in her messy robes. Both of her cheeks had gone red in the prominent display of a shy girl.
This appearance of hers caused Jian Chen to be dumbfounded. From the very beginning of when he came to know Huang Luan, she had given Jian Chen the feeling of being icy-cold and habitually silent. There was never a time where she had revealed such a shy expression.
“Is this the same Huang Luan I first came to know?” Jian Chen couldn’t help but question himself. In his mind, the Huang Luan he knew and the one in front of him were two completely different people.
Jian Chen sucked in a deep breath and was hit with the sweet-smelling fragrance coming from Huang Luan’s body once more. His entire mind had been intoxicated by it, this scent combined with her throwing her arms around him was as good as a bewitching medicine concocted against a man. If it were not for Jian Chen being a Heaven Saint Master with impressive willpower and an impressive mind, it would be very likely that he would have lost all self-control.
Slowly bringing himself back to a calm, Jian Chen stared at Huang Luan with a complex stare. Hesitantly, he opened his mouth to ask, “Miss Huang Luan, are you alright?”
Huang Luan shook her head slightly and slowly brought her head up to look at Jian Chen. After a brief period of time, the expression on her face finally returned to normal. Although there was still the remains of a blush on her cheeks, it enhanced her charm.
Seeing the handsome and stalwart face of Jian Chen, Huang Luan’s eyes gradually reverted back to a blur. A face like his was like recieving an increased dosage of Yang qi after half a year of not having any.
Jian Chen felt goosebumps arise on his skin from Huang Luan’s stare. Unconsciously, he retreated several steps as if he was afraid of this look. Jian Chen wasn’t a naive three year old, he knew just what that stare meant in Huang Luan’s eyes. This stare left him with an extreme amount of trouble in his heart. He was already shouldering plenty of worries. Although it seemed that Jian Chen was a person with a far future, he was still just a Heaven Saint Master in strength while also being an Imperial Protector for the Qinhuang Kingdom. Jian Chen was fully aware of how much pressure the future had in store for him, so today, he wanted to spend all of his efforts on improving his own strength. There was simply no time to even think about settling down.
“Jian Chen. From our departure in Mercenary City to now half a year later, have you thought about me?” Huang Luan whispered to Jian Chen with a soft voice. Right now in terms of emotions, Huang Luan was far more honest than before. She was no longer the secretive, daredevil, and heroine figure from before. Compared to You Yue, they were as different as black and white in personality.
“Eh…” Jian Chen hadn’t thought that Huang Luan would actually ask a question like this. In his period of distraction, Huang Luan’s temperament suddenly flared up in way that Jian Chen felt contrasted quite heavily with her usual icy expression.
Jian Chen quickly recovered, and still slightly stupefied, he answered, “I have!”
Hearing this, Huang Luan’s face broke into a happy smile. Unknown to her, Jian Chen’s thoughts of her had been completely different than how she had thought of him. When Jian Chen had said that he had thought of her, he had only thought of the occasional times where he thought of the past, but there was no longing in them.
Yet, this smile of Huang Luan did not last long. Her face quickly grew dark; a concentrated amount of sadness and worry mixed into it.
Seeing this expression of hers, Jian Chen disregarded the abnormality of Huang Luan’s previous actions. Jian Chen’s heart dropped, he could already tell that Huang Luan had perhaps come across some sort of trouble.
“Miss Huang Luan, are you fine?” Jian Chen asked again. When Huang Luan had first hugged Jian Chen, he had a strange feeling in his heart. Now this worried expression of Huang Luan had brought him to an indescribable level of anxiety. Right now, Jian Chen himself wasn’t sure if this anxiety was because of Huang Luan or not.
Huang Luan’s reluctant eyes lingered on Jian Chen’s handsome face and the chest she had buried herself against. With a soft sigh, she slowly turned back to the windows so she could stare out of it with a look of despair.
During the split second Huang Luan had turned around, Jian Chen had caught a glimpse of a teardrop beginning to fall from Huang Luan’s eyes.
Jian Chen’s heart had immediately grown heavy for some reason. He didn’t know why, but the sight of Huang Luan caused his own heart to hurt. Just faintly, he could sense that something terrible had happened to Huang Luan.
After a long while, Huang Luan finally opened her mouth, “Jian Chen. Did you know, my father has already betrothed me to the second young master of the Huanggu clan.” Huang Luan’s voice was weak and without strength. Pain was easy to detect in her voice, and just a slight sob could be heard as well.
Jian Chen was startled to hear this. Although not a single woman had ever crashed their way into Jian Chen’s mind before, Jian Chen’s heart couldn’t help but grow heavy when he heard Huang Luan speak. Perhaps it was because of Huang Luan’s current state, but Jian Chen’s heart had begun to bubble with a strange sensation. He certainly did not wish for a beautiful woman to be betrothed to a man she did not love.
Restraining the emotions in his mind, Jian Chen asked, “Huanggu clan? Could this be another strong clan that can rival your Huang family in strength?”
“The Huanggu clan is incomparably strong in comparison to my Huang family. The Huanggu clan is a family that has stayed in isolation similar to my Huang family, the Shi family, the Jiede clan, and the Dugu family. Families that have stayed in isolation like ours have several thousand years worth of history like a Saint Ruler appearing from the family. They also have unbelievable strength.” Huang Luan explained.
“Isolated families? Does that mean every Saint Ruler has come from a clan or family that hid itself away?” Jian Chen asked curiously.
“That’s not it. A family in isolation and a family that isn’t are different. To be called an isolated family is to be in an isolated state and to not have contact with the outside world. Only by doing that can a family be said to be isolated. Our Huang family for example has been stationed deep within the mountains for many years without many of our disciples exploring the outside world. That has led to only a small amount of people knowing who we are. The other isolated families are like this as well.”
“I heard about what happened with the Saint Ruler’s skeleton from uncle Feng and uncle Yun. If it weren’t for the fact that the Qiangan Kingdom had found and leaked the news of a Saint Ruler’s skeleton to us, our Huang family would never have stepped foot out into the outside world unless it was something important.
“On the outside, there is still many other strong powers that overwhelm those isolated families like mine. For example the Eight Great Powers and the Three Great Empires. There are also the ancient clans whose strength outstrips the isolated families and are a part of everyday life where they are located. Among the isolated families, there are only an extremely small few that can even compare in strength to the Eight Great Powers or the ancient families. As for the Three Great Empires, we are still an era behind. Only the mysterious ancient families would be able to contend with them.”
Jian Chen felt like he was another step closer to understanding the strength of an isolated family after Huang Luan explained it to him. However, he hadn’t thought that above these isolated families would be the even more gigantic ancient clans.
“How strong are these ancient clans?” Jian Chen asked curiously.
“You cannot even imagine!” Huang Luan spoke. “I’ve only read about the ancient clans in the ancient records of my Huang family. I’ve never heard anyone talk about them before though, so I only know that these ancient families have existed for tens of thousands of years and more. Although they’ve existed on the continent, no one knows where.”
“The records had it written that unless something major happens on the Tian Yuan Continent, these ancient clans won’t appear at all. That is because they truly are clans that lives in isolation.”
“I had no idea that the waters of the Tian Yuan Continent would be that deep.” Jian Chen spoke. His perspective of the Tian Yuan Continent had changed quite a bit.
Along with the progression of his strength, his domain of understanding had increased as well. In the beginning, he had only been at Wake City to hunt for monster cores to cultivate. A lowly third-rate city where Great Saint Masters were considered far and few and Earth Saint Masters to be the apex of experts with the power to call the wind and summon the rain. As for Heaven Saint Masters, whether it was the Blue Wind Kingdom or the Gesun Kingdom, they were highly respected almost like gods. Heaven Saint Masters represented a kingdom’s strongest source of power, and in a war, an individual like a Heaven Saint Master was the same as several million elite soldiers.
Now that he had came into contact with a major family like the Huang family, Jian Chen felt as if he had stepped into a whole new domain where the pinnacle of power was no longer a Heaven Saint Master. There was an even higher level — the Saint Rulers who comprehended the mysteries of the world. A Heaven Saint Master was nothing more than a median of strength.
Jian Chen tilted his head down to think, “Miss Huang Luan, I’ve heard of the predicament your Huang family faces from your ancestor. Your betrothment to the Huanggu clan is surely because the Huang family wishes to tie the Huanggu family behind your family banner.”
“Your guess is correct. Although it seems quite calm and quiet on the surface of our family, the core disciples are all aware of how bad the predicament is for our family. If we do not find any outside help, I’m afraid the remaining days for our Huang family will be numbered. The hatred between the Huang and the Hongfu clan has gone on for generations now, there is no other way to resolve this bitter hatred now. From our two families, one of us has to die. With the power of the Hongfu clan, they can control our Huang family now. It is only by uniting with the Huanggu family that we stand a chance against them. They will think twice about attack, and I, I will be offered to the Huanggu family as the only present.” Huang Luan spoke.
Jian Chen had nothing to say after Huang Luan spoke. He just stood there in hesitation for a long time — his eyes sparkled with a light that seemed like some sort of internal conflict.
After a while, Jian Chen bit his lower lip and finally thought of an idea. “If I am able to find some help for your Huang family, would that be enough for your betrothment to the Huanggu family to be annulled?”
Huang Luan’s body shook violently for a moment before slowly turning to meet Jian Chen. Looking at the earnest face of Jian Chen, Huang Luan’s own face did not have a happy smile on it; instead, there was a helpless and mourning expression.
“Jian Chen, I know that you are the Imperial Protector of the Qinhuang Kingdom, presumably you have not been one for long either. That means your position within the kingdom is still unstable as well. This betrothment was the proposal of my father and has the support of the ancestor. The two of us alone are unable to do anything, so it is best you not get involved. Otherwise, there will be even more trouble for the Qinhuang Kingdom and the other men of power within the kingdom will no longer agree to let you do as you please.”
Huang Luan’s face had grown helpess beyond helpless. Both eyes looked to Jian Chen with a shallow smile, “Actually, to be able to hug you at this moment and leave behind my fragrance on you is more than enough for me.”