Li Wan'er trembled when she heard what Chen Mu had just said. Her cool, expressionless face turned pale. She stared at Chen Mu, rendered speechless for quite some time. She had a lost and dazed look in her eyes.
She had no idea how things had turned out this way. She didn't think that she liked Wang Baole. She merely didn't dislike him. The incident with Wang Baole in the cave had been an accident, and she had chosen to distance herself from him after that. However, the Art of Longevity incident had drawn them together again.
Despite that, she continued to retain a sensible and reasonable mind. She hadn't committed anything inappropriate with Wang Baole. She had even numbed herself and stopped herself from overthinking this.
Now, Chen Mu had ripped the concealment away and exposed everything in the open. He left her no room for explanation or defense. Li Wan'er's face grew paler, and the tone of her voice softened for the very first time.
"The relationship between Wang Baole and me is not as you imagined. Let me explain…"
"Silence, slut!" It would have been fine if Li Wan'er hadn't said that, but she did. That made Chen Mu even more sure of himself. His eyes shone with poison as he snorted.
"If you really don't feel any shame, you can retain your authority. I give you one day to think this through!" Chen Mu, done speaking, turned around and flung the door open. He was about to leave when he suddenly paused in his tracks. He turned and gave the pale Li Wan'er a look of contempt.
"Another thing. If you had found someone who had looked slightly better, I might have simply left it at that. Why did you choose the pighead Wang Baole? Some people just have perverse tastes." Chen Mu finished what he had to say, then shook his head. He felt at ease inside. He strolled out of the office, slamming the door shut with a heavy thud.
The slam was loud, but Li Wan'er didn't seem to hear it. She stood there silently, her face turning from a deathly pale to the color of cold rage. The lost look in her eyes turned to that of grim determination.
"If that's the case… so be it!" Li Wan'er murmured after a long moment of silence. The decisiveness in her eyes intensified. She seemed to be relieved as well. It was as if she had suddenly shed an invisible burden off her shoulders.
No one knew the dispute that had occurred between her and Chen Mu. Wang Baole wasn't aware of Chen Mu helping him unintentionally. When he reached the office, his mood had been bright as usual. He sat in his chair, munching his snacks while flipping through the proposal on the next batch of mass migration.
It was then that Li Wan'er arrived.
As usual, she had no expression on her face. As usual, she was cold and distant, as if trying to push everyone away. After entering Wang Baole's office, Li Wan'er threw a jade slip onto Wang Baole's desk.
"City Lord Wang, I received a complaint regarding what is happening in Mayor Wen Huai's city zone. Vice Mayor Liu Daobin has been abusing his authority and erecting statues. News of this has reached the Governor. She has ordered us to investigate this matter!"
Wang Baole frowned. He instinctively felt that something was amiss with Li Wan'er today. She was always cold, but she always tried to control her hostility. Today though, something seemed to have changed. Wang Baole couldn't tell what exactly the change was, though.
He only had a feeling that the Li Wan'er today was almost the same as the Li Wan'er who had first arrived at the Dao Mountain Mist Academy back then.
Maybe she woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Wang Baole thought. He picked up the jade slip and browsed through its contents. Indeed, there had been a few people who had lodged a complaint against Liu Daobin. There was also a reply from the Governor, instructing the administration of the new city to investigate this matter and handle it on their own.
From her reply, it seemed like this matter wasn't being treated that seriously. The Governor had no time for this and had therefore instructed the new city's administration to handle the matter. To a certain extent, this wasn't even really a problem. Wang Baole thought about it for a while. Then, he nodded.
"I understand. You can leave now."
Upon hearing Wang Baole's unconcerned tone of voice, Li Wan'er frowned and said coolly, "In that case, how does the City Lord feel that this matter should be handled?"
"How do you think it should be handled?" Wang Baole was instantly displeased by Li Wan'er's forceful stance. He raised his head, and his eyes had turned cold.
"Teardown all statues, remove Liu Daobin from office, and get him to agree to us investigating him," Li Wan'er answered bluntly, her tone harsh.
"Is it that time of the month?" Wang Baole raised his eyebrow and snorted. To think that she was handling such a small matter in this manner. She was clearly trying to make things difficult for him, which was why he had said something so sarcastic.
"City Lord Wang, please mind your words. I'm discussing a serious matter with you!" Li Wan'er was clearly not in her right mind today. The anger that she constantly carried with her, without reason or cause, was instantly ignited by Wang Baole's words. She slammed the desk suddenly and inappropriately.
"Li Wan'er!" Wang Baole was angered as well, slamming the desk with equal force. He rose to his feet and roared.
"Are you still aware that this is a serious matter? Just because of a few statues, you're not only proposing to tear them down but to strip Liu Daobin of his office? Are you unaware of his competency? Can you not see his contributions? Do you not know that there hasn't been a single practitioner of the Art of Longevity in the area he is in charge of?
"How about you? You're biting onto this matter like a rabid dog. He might be in the wrong, but he's done good things as well. We can simply issue a verbal reprimand. Is there a need to remove him from office and conduct an investigation?"
"Besides, this is the new city, not the Colony Disciplinary Order. Don't apply your rules in the Colony Disciplinary Order here. And, do remember this clearly, in this place… I'm the City Lord!" Wang Baole was angered as well. As a subordinate, she had dared slam her fist on his desk. She had gone too far.
"Leave now, immediately!" Wang Baole slammed his palm on his desk as he said that.
Li Wan'er's reaction was strange. She didn't continue to fight him. She had a strange look in her eyes as she stared at Wang Baole, then she began to discuss the matter of the next batch of mass migration.
Her tone was calmer than before, and she even gave a few suggestions. They were a great help to perfecting the proposal. Wang Baole was stunned. He couldn't get over the drastic and sudden change in attitude—the former forceful and interrogative tone of voice, to the sudden deferential and supportive attitude.
Wang Baole thought about it but was unable to come up with anything. He continued to put up with the entire thing. Li Wan'er left after giving her suggestions. Then, he sat down and scratched his head. There was suspicion and doubt in his eyes.
There's something wrong with this Li Wan'er. Why is she behaving like a mad person… is she plotting something? Wang Baole thought for a very long time, but there was no answer to this. He raised his guard, though. The skies turned dark, and nothing happened, causing Wang Baole to grow even more suspicious.
Maybe it's really that time of the month? Wang Baole found that highly possible. He tidied his desk up and left his office. He returned to his residence, set his thoughts aside, and began his meditation. He was going to train and study the Heavenly Evocation of Dharmic Armaments.
As he immersed himself in his learning, he sensed his understanding of the Heavenly Evocation deepening. He had already instructed Lin Tianhao to prepare the materials for the Dharmic Armament as well as the Artifact Spirit.
The search for materials and the Artifact Spirit continued to be in progress. That was why Wang Baole planned to send his mind out wandering again. He wanted to familiarize himself with the idea and also try to summon a few spirits.
With such a thought in mind, Wang Baole returned to his residence and immediately went straight inside his secret chamber. He began to meditate, continuing until late into the night. When he ended his training, he opened his eyes and retrieved his Dharmic Armament. He was going to rely on the aid of the Dharmic Armament and try to sense the remnants of the Artifact Spirit that remained between the heavens and earth. It was then that suddenly, his voice transmission ring and the main gates of his residence rang simultaneously, at a frequency he was familiar with.
Wang Baole froze. He stared at his voice transmission ring and heard Li Wan'er's voice traveling out. Through his residence's array formation, he saw Li Wan'er standing outside his main gate like she had every day in the past when she had arrived for treatment.
But I've told her the last time that there's no need for further treatments. She's recovered fully… Wang Baole hesitated as he rose to his feet and walked out. He opened his door and saw Li Wan'er at his doorstep. She didn't give him a chance to speak. She walked in, expressionless, and headed straight into the secret chamber…
Wang Baole stood at the door. He stared at the gates, then at the secret chamber. He felt lost. At the same time, his heart rate suddenly picked up without any reason. An incredulous, unbelievable thought popped up in his head.
What… does she want?
Wang Baole hesitated for a moment. He didn't expect himself to shut the main gates, but he did. He walked into the secret chambers, and a strange expression appeared on his face again. The lights in the secret chamber… had been turned off—by Li Wan'er.
A strange atmosphere permeated the air, in their silence, and in the darkness…