Xue Xue was standing beside Chu Liuyue.
She looked at it.
The beast pounced, immediately understanding what she wanted.
Despite its enormous body, the white lion ran so fast that it vanished in the blink of an eye—it appeared before Elder Meng in an instant.
The moment Xue Xue moved, the elder realized he was in danger. Thus, he started running for his life.
After he took a few steps, he saw a flash of white. The lion stood in front of him, blocking his escape route.
Elder Meng gathered force at the heart of his palm and attacked hurriedly. “Dragon Fist Strike!”
A look of menacing mockery filled Xue Xue’s icy-blue eyes, and it raised its paw.
The elder’s strike was torn apart, and there were even several lines of red claw marks on his arm!
Elder Meng backed a few steps away from the invisible force, which almost knocked him down. When he finally steadied himself, he saw the lion gradually advancing toward him.
The elder ran.
Xue Xue’s roar resounded in the middle of the forest.
Elder Meng barely took a step when his body froze abruptly. Then, blood flowed out of his ears.
He fell face down onto the ground, breathless.
Unsurprised, Chu Liuyue walked over.
An extremely powerful fiend could shatter a stage-five warrior’s innards without breaking a sweat.
Chu Liuyue used a twig to remove the elder’s black scarf, revealing an old and unfamiliar face. She then turned toward Rong Zhen with raised brows.
The latter forced herself to calm down and explained slowly, “This is Si Meng, an elder from the Si family. F-for many years, he has been protecting me secretly.”
“He’s from the Si family?”
“I’ve never heard of him.”
“He faked his death 20 years ago. Actually, he has been working for my mother all these years.”
Chu Liuyue instantly remembered that the current Empress—Si Huijing—was the Si family head’s sister. “It seems that the Empress and the entire Si family have their reservations toward His Majesty.”
“No, the rest of the family is unaware of this.” Although Rong Zhen had a grudge against the Empress, she didn’t want to implicate the Si family in this again.
Chu Liuyue pondered for a moment. “You have Si Meng by your side. What about Rong Jin and Rong Qi?”
Rong Zhen shook her head. “The palace is heavily guarded. Mother dares not go too far. Si Meng was protecting Rong Jin, but Mother assigned him to me after I was injured.”
The last shred of hope in Rong Zhen’s heart died with Si Meng.
As Chu Liuyue listened, she took out a jade bottle from her Cosmic Bag and poured a bit of its contents on Si Meng’s body.
Rong Zhen knew what she was doing, but she cowered and remained silent.
Sure enough, Si Meng’s corpse disappeared without a trace after a short while!
Rong Zhen could only watch with widened eyes as her heart pounded against her ribs.
After Chu Liuyue took care of the little problem, she turned her attention toward Rong Zhen again.
Rong Zhen was clearly scared beyond her wits because she retreated involuntarily.
Chu Liuyue condescendingly gazed at her with a smile on her lips. “Well, you can start talking now. Tell me about that secret.”
The Empress returned to the palace after she gave Rong Jin detailed instructions. Too much had happened today, leaving her feeling exhausted.
Everyone in the palace heard about what happened at Tian Lu Academy. They knew she wouldn’t be in a good mood at a time like this, so they were extremely cautious around her.
The Empress sat at the dressing table in her residence. She saw herself in the bronze mirror—it was a face that was both dignified and beautiful but old and tired.
She reached out and caressed the wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. No matter how much effort she put in to maintain her looks, she couldn’t escape the fact that she was getting older.
She was no longer young.
Si Huijing detested her own face, let alone the Emperor. Even if she could turn back time to ten years ago, her face wasn’t the one that he loved the most.
At this thought, frustration welled up within her. She swept the jewelry boxes away from the dressing table, knocking everything to the ground.
The handmaidens beside her immediately fell to their knees. “Please calm yourself, Your Majesty!”
The Empress wanted to lash out and torture everyone to their deaths. In the end, she curbed the impulse.
None of this matters. As long as Rong Jin retains his status as the Crown Prince, there is hope! I will be the sole winner. This thought soothed her. “You can relax. I’m just exhausted; it was an accident. Put everything away.”
“Y-yes!” The handmaidens quickly picked up the scattered jewelry piece by piece and put them back into the boxes.
“How is the Fourth Princess today?” the Empress asked.
One of the maidens replied, “Your Majesty, Her Highness refused to step out of her residence today. She stayed in her room the whole day, and her meals were untouched.”
The Empress frowned. Since she hit Rong Zhen a few days ago, her daughter had refused to come out.
Even though she regretted her actions, the Empress thought it was time to tame Rong Zhen’s wild temper. Given the current situation, it wasn’t her place to be arrogant.
Instead of sharing her mother’s and Rong Jin’s worries, Rong Zhen only cared about herself. Did she really think she was still the well-loved Fourth Princess?
The Empress thought it would be good if her daughter could take a few days to reflect and learn her lesson. Alas, it seemed impossible now.
She stood up and said, “I will go and see her.”
It was already evening when the Empress arrived at Rong Zhen’s bedchamber.
The princess’s servants were surprised by her presence. “Good day, Your Majesty!”
The Empress scrutinized the surroundings, but she failed to see Rong Zhen. “Where is the Princess?”
“Your Majesty, the Fourth Princess is in her room.”
The Empress was getting upset by her daughter’s behavior. She had taken the first step to come here. Rong Zhen definitely heard the announcement of her arrival, but the former continued to shut herself behind closed doors.
What a spoiled brat! The Empress collected herself and made a beeline toward the bedchamber.
“Zhen Zhen, I’m here.”
Silence greeted her.
“Zhen Zhen?” the Empress called out, louder this time.
Again, there was no response.
She ran out of patience and ordered the servants to open the door forcibly. Then, she stepped into the room.
“Rong Zhen, you have gone too far! You…” The words got stuck in the Empress’s throat.
Nobody was in the room! Her daughter was gone.
She looked around. “Zhen Zhen!”
This time, the Empress panicked. She did a quick search around the room, and Rong Zhen was indeed missing.
The Empress looked at the handmaidens and the servants with a mixture of shock and anger. “Where did the Princess go?”
The crowd fell to their knees fearfully. “You are wise, Your Majesty! The Fourth Princess has been staying in her room for the past few days; she never set foot outside at all!”
“Then, where is she now?”
With so many witnesses testifying that Rong Zhen hadn’t left her room, the latter couldn’t have just gone for a walk.
“W-what a bunch of useless… Argh!” The Empress grabbed a teacup and hurled it at the servants. “Get out there and search for her! Now! If you can’t find the Fourth Princess, I’ll behead you!”