“It’s not about killing you or not, I just felt like you were very dangerous and doing anything to you would cause more trouble! Also, when have I ever saved you?” Ye Lang asked, confused.
“Have you forgotten… I was underwater and…” Zhao Yarou blushed again. Thank goodness they were alone or other people would’ve been in shock at her response.
Zhao Yarou’s odd moods were the times she did the most terrifying things.
“Oh, you’re talking about that? That was just an impulse I had, I couldn’t bear to watch you die so I saved the witch that you are,” said Ye Lang. He did not sound regretful-- he did not regret it.
“Li Yue's the witch, I’m not a witch!”
“You’re right, you’re not a witch. You’re a monster,” said Ye Lang.
Zhao Yarou was silent. She just walked with him as they walked around the huge prison to look for a place to stay. This was just the beginning, they had to live together for ten years.
She did not want to talk much now, they had too much time to do that.
“Zhao Yarou, why are you always following me around?”
As they walked in silence for a while, Ye Lang finally asked.
“Who else would I follow? We’re the only ones here. You’re the only person I can rely on, my brother-in-law…” Zhao Yarou held his hand breezily, like a little girl that needed protection.
Zhao Yarou could be mesmerizingly adorable sometimes if one did not think about her psychotic side. But Ye Lang was the only person to see this.
At this moment, he did not notice this. He just shook his head. “I’m not talking about now. I’m talking about before this. When I was locked up, you didn’t have to come. Why did you follow me?”
“...” Zhao Yarou didn’t expect him to ask or notice.
“I don’t know. Maybe there’s something wrong with my brain. I abandoned my good life as an empress to be locked up with you in jail.” Zhao Yarou finally answered after a very, very long time. Ye Lang hadn’t spoken as he waited for her to answer his question.
After she spoke, he said, “You’re lying!”
“...” Zhao Yarou fell silent.
“Just be honest with me. We’re the only ones here, there’s no need to hide anything,” said Ye Lang as they walked.
“...” Zhao Yarou fell silent once more, her expression complex. She hesitated to tell him her secret.
She had hidden this secret for too long. She felt like it wasn’t worth telling him right now. But just as he said, they were alone. They had to get along for ten years.
Anything could happen in ten years. Could she really hold a secret for that long?
Also, once ten years passed, her objective would’ve been completed. What’s the use of keeping it in?
“No, I won’t tell! I’m not telling you before I rule the world!” Zhao Yarou finally decided not to tell him. Even if they had to spend ten years together, or her dream was attained, she couldn't say it.
She chose not to tell him. This was something she had been holding on to for more than ten years!
“That’s fine, I know the answer even if you don’t. I’m not that dumb,” said Ye Lang mildly. There was some emotion in his voice, as if he knew something.
“What do you know?” asked Zhao Yarou nervously.
“I know it’s because you’ll miss me!” he said with a grin.
“You shouldn’t rely on your brother-in-law like that, this is a serious matter.”
After some silence, she looked up at the ‘sky’ and said wistfully, “I’ll miss you and I want to rely on you but you’ve always shut me out. You never let me follow you around, you say I’m a madwoman…”
Ye Lang seemed to have recalled incidents that he’d forgotten.
“I want to prove to you that I can do everything you say. Then you won’t shut me out anymore… But just for this, I had to lock you up for ten years, I won’t be able to see you… It’s too long, I cannot accept it!”
“And that is why I followed you here!” vented Zhao Yarou, telling him her heartbreak and dilemma!
Ye Lang fell silent. He could feel the pain in her. He realised that his heart ached too. He was aching for her.
He did not know, he just understood somehow that everything Zhao Yarou had done, everything he thought was psychotic, was probably because of something he said.
If that was the case, how will he face her, how will he face anyone else…
This was absolutely horrifying!
Zhao Yarou was deep in thought. She felt like the biggest idiot in the world but she did not regret it. She did not regret coming here, she did not regret giving up on all her hard work for the past years.
She wanted to keep him here for ten years to solve the problem being a hindrance to her ruling the world. Once he was locked up, she would be free to act.
But she did not want him to die. If he were anyone else, she would’ve killed them. But she couldn’t do it to Ye Lang.
Hence she could only put him on house arrest. But he was going to escape any place she locked him up in. That was just a matter of time.
That was how she thought of this place, a place specially for locking up alchemy prodigies. It was the most restricted prison in the Tiangongyue tribe. Even regular alchemists weren’t locked dup here.
Zhao Yarou had already thought about all the possibilities. Ten years was the best time span. She could do five years but it was very likely that her goals wouldn’t be completed in five years. Hence, she chose ten years.
But ten years was so long. When he was outside and not with her, at least she received intelligence on his activities. That had been enough for her.
She would not receive any news about him for ten years. She could not accept this.
She felt so horrible that she decided to give up everything, give up all her plans and her position as the empress.
T was a huge dilemma. This was supposed to be the key step to the success of her plan, yet it was also the downfall!
This was the dilemma of life. Sometimes, one had to make choices so abruptly. Choices sometimes required sacrifices.
It was a tough decision to make. These fleeting decisions had to be made quickly or the opportunity would be lost forever.
You had to be very sure and decisive about what you wanted or you’d regret it for the rest of your life.
Just like Zhao Yarou. She had such a short time to make her decision, yet she still chose what she wanted. Other than being a decisive person, Ye Lang was just too important to her.
What Sha Lan said five years later was correct. Zhao Yarou did not like him less than anyone in this world!
This was a kind of stubbornness that only Zhao Yarou would understand!
Perhaps Ye Lang could sense it too.
“What did I say to you? What have I ever told you to do?” asked Ye Lang, confused. He couldn’t remember what he said as a child.
He wasn’t mean, he just couldn’t remember. At that point, part of his soul had been missing. He was a very clueless person then, he couldn’t remember much.
If Zhao Yarou never mentioned it, he would’ve never remembered it. Other than special circumstances, he didn’t recall much.
“Nothing… Nothing matters now…” Zhao Yarou smiled and pulled him ahead.
They weren’t walking without an aim, they weren’t wasting time.
They were actually walking towards a building. Yep, there was a building in this peculiar space.
What building was it? A sign of civilisation? Was there anyone else here?
Neither of them knew the answer. But they did not think it was odd that a building would be present.
The reason was simple- this was a prison, there should be a room for them. Although this place looked more like a luxurious garden.
“Perhaps they lock up many people in here at a time?”
Ye Lang entered the garden houses.
He estimated at least a hundred rooms in these groups of houses. There were even pathways that connected these garden houses. And these walkways had roofs with tiles, not just simple paths.
At least a hundred people could live here. If more than two people lived in a room, probably more.
Both of them wondered how many people were locked up here. More than ten? Even ten was a very small number for such a large area.
WAs this even prison? This was a place better than many people’s houses in their lifetimes. With such beautiful scenery and the fresh air, it was a holy place to cultivate.
“Not bad. At least we’re not exposed to the elements for ten years,” she said with a grin.
Exposed to the elements? There are so many rooms here. It’d be enough even if there were ten of you. The facilities were all very complete.
“Zhao you, I’ve checked! There aren’t just bedrooms, there’s a hall, a dining hall, bathrooms, cultivation arenas, drawing rooms, laboratories… Basically, they have everything you can imagine!”
Ye Lang ran around to tour the place while Zhao Yarou sat in the courtyard feeding fishes. Not sure what kind, she just knew that they were very lively and very pretty.
It wasn’t because she didn’t want to go with him, he was just too quick. After losing sight of him, she sat in the courtyard to feed fishes.
“What kind of place is this…” Zhao Yarou was stunned when she heard him.
“I don’t know. I think it’s just a good place for anyone to cultivate here. They could train and break through instead of plateauing in their cultivations. I also saw a library tower, there are many lost books in there! Zhao Yarou, I’ve got much to do for these ten years…” Ye Lang was very excited.
“What?” She was quite surprised.
They both didn’t know that although the Tiangongyue people locked people up, they still provided the best cultivation environment so the prisoners could immerse themselves in cultivation and not waste time.
Wasting time was a shameful thing. As alchemists, they understood this. Most of the Tiangongyue people understood this, as they were alchemists.
That was why they prepared the best of everything, even the best books here. They made copies of the best books across the mainland.
All of them were technical books, not on literature or history. Perhaps alchemists didn’t like these subjects and thought they were a waste of time?
That was why Ye Lang could only read about magic and alchemy. He wouldn’t know what happened in the past.
But this was enough to excite him. These were alchemy knowledge that had been lost over the generations.
Ye Lang now had access to knowledge that built the ancient ruins.
The value of this far exceeded what was outside!
This wasn’t what Zhao Yarou expected too but she didn’t mind. She just wanted him to see her rule the world, that didn’t mean she wanted to.
Theoretically, if she didn’t enter this place, she wouldn’t mind if Ye Lang destroyed everything she did when he came out after ten years. Her goal would’ve been achieved, nothing would matter.
“A laboratory’s useless, you can’t use magical essence here. Just a setup,” said Zhao Yarou.
“Alchemy isn’t just about magic, there are many things too. You’d spend your whole life learning them all.” He shook his head.
“That would be best. How else will I spend my ten years? I don't want to see you every day,” she teased.
“You don’t want to see me? That’s fine. You can live over there and I’ll live in this room. Then we won’t meet each other.” Ye Lang pointed at the building from the other side of the courtyard. It was quite possible for them to not see each other ever again.
“No way, I’m too scared. Brother-in-law, I want to follow you around.” She hugged his arm lovingly.
“Hey, hey stop it. I’m not used to this at all.”
“Don’t worry, you just have to get used to it! We have ten years…”
Ye Lang fell silent and said seriously, “No, I will find my way out. I won't stay here for ten years. It would’ve been fine if I was alone, but with you…”
“What? I’m not even disturbing your work? I’m keeping you company out of kindness, yet you’re abandoning me,” she said, annoyed.
“It’s the same whether you’re with me or not, what’s the difference?” he asked. He sounded quite mean.
Although it was true. It was the same for him. Just another companion. And he didn’t even like her that much.
She also knew his personality well. She knew that it was useless arguing. Perhaps he would feel differently if she were Zhen Xiaoyan or Tigress.
“I know I’m not important to you, that it’d be the same even if I’m not here but I feel like it’s quite different…” said Zhao Yarou. She wasn’t upset.
“Is it different? Whatever, I’m just going to figure out the way to escape. This place was built by humans, there must be a way to break free.” He smiled, anticipating the day.
Perhaps he was more interested in breaking free than anything. If no one had broken out before, that just means it was a difficult problem.
A difficult problem was the best way to kill time. Even if it was a meaningless problem, it was still great to kill time. The things he learned along the way would be more useful.
Sometimes, the process was more important than the outcome!
That was how they started living together, form this peculiar situation. As time went on, the situation became more and more interesting.
Three years later…
“Brother-in-law, time to eat! Stop hiding in there already!”
Zhao Yarou was clad in a leisure outfit usually seen on housewives. It seemed to accentuate her beauty.
At this moment, Ye Lang was sitting in the courtyard, staring at the fishes deep in thought. There was a messy pile of books next to him. He was thinking about something
“...” Ye Lang did not answer, perhaps he didn’t hear her.
When she noticed, she tiptoed towards him with a mischievous look on her face.
“Brother-in-law!” She shouted in his ear.
“Ah… Zhao Yarou, what are you doing?” Ye Lang was startled as he sprung from his chair and went into a battle stance.
“Hahaha…” Zhao Yarou laughed happily. She did not cover her mouth, she did not care about how she looked.
Jaws would drop if other people saw this. They did not know their cold empress would have a mischievous side.
At the same time, her outfit was shocking. And the table of vegetables, did their empress cook her own food? It was unbelievable.
Over five years, Zhao Yarou and Ye Lang had gradually grown closer. It was only natural. Zhao Yarou had always been very nice to him and Ye Lang wouldn’t be mean to anyone who treated him well...
[Countdown to finale chapter: T-7]