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Chapter 4

Yuan Zhong laughed heartily in the pond, splashing water everywhere without feeling embarrassed at all. The maids on the bank were flustered, trying to pull him up, but he was having fun. He splashed water at anyone who came close, leaving everyone soaked as if they were chickens caught in the rain.

Several new maids, unfamiliar with this scene, paled with fear. Suddenly remembering that there was still a maid of the High Priest nearby, they hurried to find Tanyin. One of them was nearly on the verge of tears, clutching Tanyin’s sleeve and choking, “Sister, look… what should we do?! If other immortals see this, will we be expelled?”

Tanyin was also a bit flustered. Honestly, she had never encountered anyone as mischievous as this High Priest, and she didn’t know what to do.

She could only first comfort the nearly crying maids: “It’s okay, it’s okay, I’ll handle it.”

She walked to the edge of the bank, keeping a safe distance from the water, and bowed, saying, “Your Highness, High Priest, please come up quickly. What if you accidentally swallow water?”

As she was about to finish her sentence, she was drenched with a handful of water poured over her head, soaking half of her body. Yuan Zhong grinned mischievously in the water, tilting his head to look at her, his eyes full of teasing. “Xiao Ji, it’s so hot today; come into the water and play.”

…Xiao Ji? What kind of address was that? This High Priest seemed far from the demeanor of an immortal! The maids were indignant.

Water dripped down Tanyin’s chin onto her clothes, but she didn’t bother to wipe it. She leaned forward a bit more and squatted down, extending her hand. “Your Highness, High Priest, grab my hand, and I’ll pull you up.”

Yuan Zhong sighed. “If you come down, then I’ll come up.”

Tanyin didn’t move. She stubbornly kept her hand out. This person’s whimsical antics were beyond comprehension, and she was starting to get annoyed.

Yuan Zhong made a face at her and chuckled. “Come down quickly! Do you want me to show you a face-changing trick?”

He rubbed his hand across his face, instantly changing his appearance. Though still unremarkable, it was completely different from before. With another rub, it changed again. He changed his face more than a dozen times in a row, each one different from the last. Everyone, including the maids on the bank and even Tanyin, was dumbfounded—how many masks did he have on his face?

“Xiao Ji, do you want to see my real face?” Yuan Zhong, amused by his own antics, splashed around in the pond, his head held high as he smiled at her. Despite his plain features, a hint of charm unexpectedly emerged from his ordinary eyes and brows.

He said, “Come down, and I’ll show you.”

Tanyin hadn’t had a chance to react yet, but the other maids were secretly excited. None of them had seen the true face of the High Priest before. Every newcomer to Fangwai Mountain would be deceived by his various masks. People had asked other immortals what the High Priest looked like, and some had even asked Tang Hua, but even Tang Hua shook his head in ignorance. In the vast Fangwai Mountain, no one had seen his true face; he had guarded himself so tightly.

Seeing Tanyin still unmoved, Yuan Zhong sighed again. “Alright, I’ll take off my mask. I don’t believe you’ll still be so stubborn after seeing my face.”

The maids held their breath as they watched him raise his hand and slowly peel off a very thin layer of skin from his chin. He played it up, deliberately peeling it off slowly, taking forever to reveal his chin, smooth as jade and beautifully shaped. Slowly, his lips and nose are all perfect. While the maids were stirred by his appearance, they also had a vague feeling of familiarity.

With a flick of his hand, the whole mask fell off, and sunlight streamed onto his face, momentarily dimming the beauty of the entire garden. The maids covered their mouths in shock, speechless, for a long time.

He chuckled as he touched his chin. “So, how do I look? Is my face handsome?”

One of the maids, who had been stunned, weakly tugged at the sleeve of the person next to her and asked in a low voice, “Is… is that Lord Tang Hua’s face?”

Yuan Zhong, with keen ears, had heard her words and snorted. “Let me tell you a secret: Tang Hua copied my face.”

The maids, seeing him speak so lightly and act so mischievously, didn’t hold him in as much awe anymore. One of them, emboldened, said, “We’d sooner believe in ghosts than in you!”

Yuan Zhong laughed heartily, rubbing his fingers across his face, and in the blink of an eye, he changed to another ordinary face. He winked at the young maids. “The face of the High Priest is an invaluable treasure, little ones, don’t underestimate it.”

Though the maids found him frivolous, they didn’t dislike him. Besides, the face he wore now was just a disguise, which left more room for imagination since they couldn’t see the real one. Involuntarily, they felt a sense of closeness to him and couldn’t bear to leave. With one person in the water and a group on the bank, they chatted and laughed, creating a lively atmosphere.

Tanyin had squatted by the pool for a long time, but he still wouldn’t come up. She had no choice but to sit down where she was and silently wait for this mischievous High Priest to come ashore on his own.

Yuan Zhong joked with the young maids, but out of the corner of his eye, he watched Tanyin. Half of her body was still wet, with a few strands of long hair sticking to her cheeks. She was hidden in the shade of the trees, appearing both quiet and lonely.

Yesterday, all the information about Tanyin’s life arrived in his hands. The Fox Clan had existed for nearly ten thousand years, and without a vigilant heart, they would have perished long ago. But he couldn’t find a single suspicious point in her life. Born in Yuancheng, she was orphaned early and raised by her uncle and aunt, who had also passed away recently due to illness, prompting her arrival at Fangwai Mountain. Everything about her parents, her uncle and aunt, and even her ancestors for eight generations had been investigated, but there was no doubt. She was truly the most ordinary girl from the most ordinary family.

Was he overthinking things? And what about that Qiankun Bag?

As the sun gradually set, the maids by the pond also began to disperse. After all, they came to Fangwai Mountain to work, not to flirt. Occasionally stealing a glance at the beauty of the immortals was normal, but doing so all day would be foolish.

The once noisy Pine Pavilion quieted down; only the sound of water flowing gently remained.

Yuan Zhong pushed his damp hair back behind his ear and waved to Tanyin in the water. “Xiao Ji, I’ve been soaking in the water for over two hours. Can you bear to leave me here?”

Clearly, he was the one causing trouble, yet he calmly shifted the blame onto her! Tanyin felt some anger in her heart but soon felt helpless. With her status, why bother arguing with this troublemaker?

She stood up, dusted herself off, and continued to plead, her voice filled with resignation. “Your Highness, High Priest, could you please come up quickly?”

“Nope,” YuanZhong replied, making a face at her and lying on his back in the water, sighing dramatically. “Oh, is that all you can say?”

Tanyin thought for a moment and changed her approach. “Staying in the water for too long will make you catch a cold.”

He didn’t know whether to be immediately annoyed and jump onto the bank or roll around laughing in the water. After holding it in for a while, he sighed heavily, propped up his chin, looked up at her seriously, and admonished, “Xiao Ji, let me tell you, if a girl is too serious, men won’t like it, especially someone like you. Anyway, help me up.”

He reached out, as if to come up.

Tanyin breathed a sigh of relief and hurriedly grabbed his arm, but he suddenly reached back and grabbed her wrist, giving it a tug. Tanyin lost her balance, unable to let out a cry, and was pulled with a splash into the pool, water splashing everywhere.

Yuan Zhong laughed heartily, clapping his hands. “Isn’t it nice in the water?”

Tanyin thrashed about in the water like a panicked cat. She couldn’t swim! The pond was so deep! In her panic, she flailed her arms, although the shore wasn’t far away. But for her, a landlubber thrashing about only took her further away. Unfortunately, the pond was unfathomable; sometimes she floated up, sometimes she sank, unable to touch the bottom with her feet.

Yuan Zhong seemed to have no intention of helping at all. He watched Tanyin struggle in the water with a smile until she finally sank down, leaving only a trail of bubbles on the surface.

Oh my, could someone die from this?

He leaned against a rock on the shore, watching the gradually calming surface of the water. She hadn’t surfaced again; had she really sunk? Despite everything, she was still a beauty; it would be a pity if she swelled up or drowned. He silently dove underwater and indeed saw Tanyin still weakly struggling.

He swam over, grabbed the back of her collar, and her flailing hands finally found something to hold onto. He quickly brought her to the surface, his clothes almost torn apart by her. Drowning people oddly had immense strength; she was pulling at his clothes so hard he could barely breathe.

“Let go…” Yuan Zhong’s face turned blue. “You’re going to strangle me.”

Whether she could hear him or not, he lifted her out of the water. Tanyin felt her hands and feet firmly touch the ground, but then she collapsed, feeling weak all over, gagging, and vomiting out a lot of water, almost suffocating.

Faintly, she heard Yuan Zhong saying, “You’re so stubborn. Would a few cries for help cost you your life?”

What right did the instigator have to say that!

Tanyin coughed until her eyes turned red, unable to get up for a long time. Suddenly, her collar was rudely lifted, causing another violent coughing fit.

“Alright, we’re ashore now; let’s go back.”

Yuan Zhong roughly pulled her and dragged her forward. Tanyin was completely helpless, sometimes lifted, sometimes falling to the ground, and dragged along. She was as embarrassed as she could be.

She couldn’t suppress her anger anymore; he had just dragged her into the water and remained indifferent to her struggles. How could there be such a vile person in the world?

Tanyin pushed him away forcefully, her voice filled with anger. “Let go of me!”

Yuan Zhong glanced at her, unmoved, his demeanor cold and indifferent.

Since she had known him, he had always been either smiling or joking around, never displaying such indifference.

“Are you angry?” He gave a faint smile, his tone as if he were going to add fuel to her anger.

Tanyin glared at him, her gaze involuntarily falling on his wet black gloves. He didn’t seem to have any intention of taking them off and wringing them dry.

She was stunned for a moment, then suddenly looked away, walking forward without saying a word.

She had to endure; she had gone through so much to get here. No matter what happened, she couldn’t show any emotion.

After walking a few steps, she heard footsteps behind her. Yuan Zhong suddenly caught up, smiling gently as he pulled her sleeve. “Sister Xiao Ji, I was wrong; I was just teasing you. Please don’t be angry. Come on, give me a smile.”

There really were such rascals in the world.

Tanyin still remained silent, just burying herself in moving forward, leaving all his noisy antics behind.

(End of this chapter)

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