Just when Claire was in deep thought, a cold voice came from behind her.
Claire did not look back. Of course she could tell who it was. It was the one who had always gazed at her disfavorably, Eric!
"Oh? Is something the matter?" Claire asked indifferently. She still hadn't turned around.
"What's with your attitude? And what's what your attitude towards Father!" The ice cold voice now contained a trace of anger.
"Excuse me, who are you to talk to me like that?" Claire yawned lazily. Only now did Claire remember her haughty second brother had only one virtue: filial piety. In other words, this second brother of hers had come to admonish her rude attitude towards Father?
"I am your elder brother!" The voice was on the verge of exploding.
"What a joke, since when have you acted like you were my brother? Now you're pretending like you are." Claire laughed disdainfully. Slowly, she turned around, derision in her eyes.
Eric's originally fiery expression froze.
"Venerable second brother, I advise you not to learn from your father, never fulfilling the responsibilities of a father, but stepping in once his daughter's accomplished. Don't t you think that's ridiculous? Shameless?" Claire scoffed. She leaned back on the pillar lazily. "I don't mind fighting you right now.
Eric's expression instantly darkened. The girl before him was not a coward who could be scared off by just a few words any more.
Claire's expression suddenly turned icy, not a trace of warmth in her eyes. "But be aware of the price of fighting me. I might just kill you without batting an eye. Do you think you're my match currently?" Her voice was even more frigid than her gaze, radiating a murderous aura. An enormous, terrifying power burst out abruptly, then disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.
Chills ran down his spine and he trembled. The sensation the girl gave him was so alarming and cold.
"Another word of advice. No matter if you support the crown prince of if you are a spy sent by the second prince, no matter how could fight, do not involve Mother. If anyone hurts her, no matter who, I will slaughter them." Claire smiled lazily, as casual as if she were chatting with some friends, but the coldness that seeped through told Eric the girl was definitely not lying!
"Remember my words." Claire laughed lightly, then walked passed Eric.
"The crown prince is the true successor of the emperor!" Eric's determined voice came from behind.
Claire glanced over from the corner of the eye and saw the nearly mad loyalty in Eric's eyes.
"I don't care," Claire waved offhandedly. "Just remember my words," she said, then left.
Eric didn't move, watching Claire's retreating figure, his gaze complex. He turned and looked towards the greenhouse. When he saw the crown prince smiling, his eyes softened. Then, he clenched his fists tightly. The crown prince was his god, the true successor of the empire! He had to assist the prince until he was sitting on the throne!
The capital. Slowly, winter creeping in:
Cold wind blew past, slightly chilling.
Nightfall. Claire walked through a colonnade, planning on finding Lashia and give her her old storage ring. The space inside was more than enough for Lashia to use.
A breeze blew past. Claire frowned and gazed past the courtyard, then relaxed. She lept onto a rooftop, then hurried off into the distance.
Jean appeared from behind a pillar, watching silently as Claire's figure disappeared into the night. He did not give chase.
Perched on Jean's shoulders, White Emperor and Black Feather conversed. As for what they were saying, no one would know.
Jean gazed into the night without moving, a lonesome figure.
It was Leng Lingyun. It was Leng Lingyun who had been inside the courtyard, so Jean didn't follow.
What did he come to find his lady for?
Jean stood silently, staring into the night for a long time.
Leng Lingyun flew and Claire followed. They flew all the way out of the city and finally arrived at a secluded area. After a moment, Claire realized it was where Alice and her cousin had ambushed her during one of her breakthroughs. Leng Lingyun descended and stood there silently. The wind ruffled his long, silver hair. He looked like he had stepped out of a painting.
"What do you need me for?" Claire said indifferently and also descended. She could not treat Leng Lingyun the same as before after what she had seen at the Temple today.
"Claire..." Leng Lingyun turned to look at Claire, his gaze distant.
"I am very grateful for your yell that awakened me, helping me control of myself. I am truly not the match of the pope. I sincerely thank you for saving me once again." Claire's voice was emotionless and cold.
When Leng Lingyun heard her words, he felt as if his heart had been sliced.
"Do not think I am mocking you, it's true," Claire added indifferently when she saw Leng Lingyun's expression.
Leng Lingyun bit his lip. "I let Shack and the girl go. I told them to get as far away as possible and not to let me catch them again, that if I caught them again, perhaps I would not be alone. Then I would not be able to let them go," Leng Lingyun forced out with difficulty.
Claire froze. In Leng Lingyun's violet eyes, she saw confliction and pain.
"Everyone has someone they treasure the most. For me, that is Xuanxuan. For her, I am willing to have blood on my hands and descend into hell. But I wish that Xuanxuan will be pure forever." Leng Lingyun's voice trembled slightly, his eyes full of anguish.
Claire's eyes flashed with realization. "When you found the knight and girl, was the Divine Princess the one who attacked?"
Leng Lingyun fell silent. Slowly, he unclenched a fist, frowning. "I had no way of saving them. I could not give up Xuanxuan for them..."
Claire fell silent, understanding instantly. Leng Xuanxuan required medicine supplied by the Temple to survive. Leng Lingyun's every action was to help Xuanxuan live more comfortably. He knew the Temple was fraudulent, but kept his mouth shut for Xuanxuan, striving his best to assist her disability.
"Your life sure is exhausting." Claire sighed, sorrow in her heart.
Every individual had someone they treasured the most and for this person, they could do things others would find hard to understand.
"Claire, in truth, you are already aware of the hypocrisy of the Temple. But I do not wish for you to fight the Temple and be harmed." Leng Lingyun finally revealed the purpose of his visit.
"I know, I am not the pope's match. The pope's strength is unfathomable." Claire frowned, thinking. "His strength is far above Master's. Even with Master's recent breakthrough, he is not the pope's match."
The pope's strength is not something easily read." Leng Lingyun sighed. "And there are so many archbishops and cardinals. I do not wish for you to face them." His underlying meaning was, I do not wish for you to get hurt.
"Thank you for your concern. I will not be as rash as I was today again." Claire's tone was now genuinely sincere.
However, Leng Lingyun understood the true meaning of her words. Not being as rash meant she had other plans.
"Claire, remember, the pope's strength is unfathomable," Leng Lingyun warned again, worried.
"I understand. Thank you." Claire nodded.
"Also, the struggle between the princes is becoming more intense. At the end, the Temple of Light will definitely choose a side," Leng Lingyun said in a low voice, "And the Hill clan will also choose a side. If both support the same prince, there would be nothing to be worried about, but if not, your position would be very special."
Claire fell silent, pondering. Duke Gordan had ordered Jean to support the second prince secretly, but her second brother Eric supported the crown prince publically and Duke Gordan did not show any disapproval. What did this mean?
Seeing Claire deep in thought, Leng Lingyun couldn't help but ask, "Has the Hill clan already chosen a side?"
Claire shook her head. "I do not know." She sat down on a nearby stone and patted on the spot next to her. "Sit down, I have something to ask you."
Leng Lingyun paused for a moment but still sat down.
"What kind of person do you think my grandfather, Duke Gordan, is?" Claire asked seriously. "I want to listen to an objective viewpoint."
Seeing Claire's solemn expression, Leng Lingyun understood Claire was serious. After some thinking, he responded sincerely. "He is no simple individual. Someone who is able to maintain the Hill clan's status for so long and even able to have the emperor fear them is no ordinary person." Leng Lingyun paused, then added with hesitation, "This individual is extraordinarily cunning."
Claire switched to another topic. "Has the Temple not chosen a prince yet either? In other words, the pope is waiting to see which prince has a better chance?"
"I believe so." Leng Lingyun nodded.
Claire frowned, switching back. "Grandfather must be waiting also. His position is not definite."
"But I have heard the captain of the Griffin Squad, Eric, your second brother, is very close to the crown prince whereas rumors say you are close to the second prince." This was the reason why no one could tell which prince the Hill clan was supporting.