"Not at all, please" Ming Yue answered.
Liqiu's father came in and found a seat, facing the courtyard.
"I see that you have made yourself comfortable" he said, "I'm not going to beat around the bush, why are you so ready to help us? What are your intentions? If I find anything strange then I will have to ask you to leave. My daughter speaks highly of you and even I have heard of you before, however you are still a stranger."
With that, he released a faint bit of power from his body, pressuring Ming Yue. Of course, this was not enough to scare her and she looked at him, right into his bright red eyes.
He stared back and stood up, "At the very least, you are a just person. However, you are but one person going against two noble families. As much as I want to trust my daughter's belief in you, I just cannot see you rectifying our predicament."
This was a rather large problem, Ming Yue had only herself and Xuan Yin helping them. Hei Yue and Xiao could also be considered part of their force as well but they were against maybe hundreds. Exterminating them would be an impossible task. But confidence was not the driving force in her decision to help, of course she knew that she would be going against people above her in status and power.
Rather it was conviction that drove her, to help those in need, those who are taken advantage of, the victims. She could not help everyone but she would do as much as she could. Ming Yue may be a warrior but at heart, she was a healer, one raised by her own father. Nothing could change that. Even if she could not fix the situation, she would alleviate to the best of her abilities.
She said nothing to him as he left but he could almost sense the determination within her. Her eyes were clear, her judgement was not clouded. She knew what she was getting into.
"If you need any help, please do not refrain from asking me directly", he said, leaving her room.
She looked at him as he closed the door before looking back at her sword.
"Wow, that was a bit intense", from the courtyard, a shadow umped down from the roof. Xuan Yin walked into Ming Yue's room with some snacks in her hands.
"You want any?" she pushed her hand outward, shoving a wad of treats and food in front of her face.
"I ate already", Ming Yue nodded, tending to her sword, cleaning and sharpening it.
"So, I've been outside for a bit and heard some interesting things", she said, popping a piece of candy in her mouth, "There is someone from outside the city that apparently saved the Yong and Shi Family from certain doom."
"I know, I saved several guards of the Zhao from one of the young masters of the Yong Family, Yong Ren. He was boasting about some benefactor for helping them" said Ming Yue.
Xuan Yin smiled, "Bet you don't know that this benefactor is actually a woman. People say she offered her body as a reward to which ever family takes down the Zhao! She must be quite pretty to do so but I wonder why she has such hatred for them. Maybe we should ask the Zhao Patriarch?"
"No, we should determine whether these rumors are true or not. We'll make a visit to them at night", Ming Yue interjected.
"Sure, which one you want to check?"
"Okay! I'll check out the Shi estate and you get the Yong then."
Deciding their plan, the both of them prepared for the coming task. Ming Yue switched out her clothes for jet black robes, something she had bought from Gold Honor as a back-up to her Floating Breeze Robes. As for Xuan Yin, she already dressed for stealth. As the moon rose, the two of them vanished from the Zhao Estate, running off to their destinations. They blended with the crowds, sometimes taking empty streets and alleys.
Ming Yue traveled for several minutes before landing on the roof of a store, opposite of the road to the Yong Estate. A large mansion comprised of three houses, stone walls and multiple guards enclosed the space. Compared to the Zhao estate, it was half the size. Their coffers were most likely used with their conflicts against the Shi. However, she noticed a fair bit of construction with the roof of the houses. Despite their inadequate wealth, they were still able to improve their estate, adding another floor and there were numerous additions for decor.
Finding an opportunity, she slipped in, moving on the rooftops. She dropped down onto the garden and hid herself behind some bushes. Ming Yue did not bring Parting Sun with her and only had her dagger. Xiao Yin was high up in the sky, watching for any incoming patrols.
As she moved around the mansion, she overheard some discussions from the passing guard patrols.
"Why do you think the patriarchs of the Yong and the Shi are following that woman's orders? Is she that pretty? I always see her face covered with a mask."
"With a body like that, how can she not be a beauty. Maybe she is so pretty that she has to hide her face in case she charms us by accident, hehe."
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"That can't be it! She provided the two families with chests of gold. She must be someone of power."
"That's true. But still, why is she so hellbent on destroying the Zhao Family? It's to the point where she would even offer her body."
"Her body? Why would she do that?"
"Just money isn't going to convince the two families to just forget their enmity. She must have offered something else. If anything, she probably offered her body."
"Ah, I swear. The only thing in your mind is women and sex. Come on, we should stop talking and focus on our duty."
As the guards passed by, Ming Yue hid behind a rock.
"So that's it", she thought, "she must have something other than just gold to convince the two families."
Ming Yue continued to lurk around the estate before finding Yong Ren strolling around with his guards.
"If I ever catch those guards again, I'm going to deal with them myself", he huffed, still angry from today's earlier demonstration.
"I wonder what father called me for. The servant said that I must meet with him and our benefactor to discuss some things" he talked to himself, walking through the garden.
"A meeting!? I should follow him" Ming Yue stalked him from the shadows until he entered one of the smaller houses. From there, she followed him from the outside, leaping from the first floor to the second and then the third. Hearing his footsteps stop, she stopped as well and proceeded to move one of the roof tiles. It was just enough for her to look inside but not enough to be noticed by the people below.
Inside, she saw multiple figures. There was Yong Ren, an older man that looked similar to him, most likely his father, the Yong Patriarch, and a masked women. This was the benefactor, that Yong Ren spoke about, the one that supplied them with gold.
"Miss Ling, about the agreement", the Yong Patriarch said, " Have you given it some thought?"
A sweet voice came out from under the mask, "I'm still deciding. To marry into your family once you have destroyed the Zhao Family is a rather important decision. However, that is if you manage to complete this task before the Shi. Until then, this question will remain unanswered."
"I see... Well then, I bid you a good night."
"Wait, that was it?" Yong Ren asked questioningly.
"Of course not, Yong Ren, escort Miss Ling back to her quarters and do it properly" the Yong Patriarch ordered.
Yong Ren straightened and led her away. Ming Yue looked from above and followed them back to Miss Ling's room where the two said their farewells. Ming Yue did the same as before and watched her from the roof. Miss Ling sighed and moved around the room, walking towards a small table with a mirror. She put her hand on her mask and took it off. Her hair blocked Ming Yue from finding out what she looked like but when she turned, Ming Yue could not help but be shocked.
She did not have the face of a beauty, instead it was a face with innumerable scars!
They ran up and down her face, across it, diagonally. She stripped down her clothes, revealing a body filled with even more signs of injuries. Burns, cuts, everything one could imagine, it was on her body.
Ming Yue stepped back without thinking, snapping a twig in half. The crisp crack broke the silence of the night.
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