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    Chapter 63: Li Rouer Has Vanished

    Once an escaped criminal was discovered in a family, every member would be implicated.

    Peng Wang and his fellow law enforcers would also face punishment for their negligence.

    Therefore, no one dared to take this matter lightly.

    Matriarch Old Mo spoke up first, "No one is missing from the Mo family."

    Fang Chuanzhou followed with his report, "None are missing from the Fangs."

    "Sir, Li Rouer is gone..." Li Yuer cried out loudly, her tone tinged with excitement.

    Li Yuer was only happy that her annoying half-sister was no longer around, failing to realize the severe consequences her family would soon face.

    Peng Wang's face darkened. He instructed the other officials, "Light the torches. Search every inch of the ground if you must, but find that girl for me."

    "Yes, sir," the officers answered in unison, brandishing their torches as they began to search for any trace of Li Rouer.

    Mo Jiuye whispered to He Zhiran.

    "I suspect that Xie Lin has been taken hostage by Li Rouer."

    "Hmm, I had the same suspicion when I heard Li Yuer's cry just now."

    Their conjectures aligned once more, and they fell into a temporary silence, both deep in thought about Li Rouer's motive for abducting Xie Lin and where she might be hiding.

    Seemingly struck by an idea, Mo Jiuye led He Zhiran over to Peng Wang.

    "Sir, my wife and I wish to assist in the search for the missing person."

    Peng Wang had an inexplicable trust in the couple, Mo Jiuye and He Zhiran, and believed in their integrity – they would not abandon their family to flee secretly.

    Without hesitation, he agreed to their offer.

    "Very well, but you must return here before dawn, regardless of the outcome."

    Before leaving, He Zhiran didn't forget to remind Peng Wang, "Magistrate Peng, please take care of my mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, and little aunt while we're away."

    "Preston," Peng Wang assured her with a wave, urging them to hurry on their way.

    Mo Jiuye held He Zhiran's hand as they first went to the spot where Lu had last seen Xie Lin.

    From there, they scanned their surroundings meticulously, not missing any clues.

    In their minds, they were also calculating the best escape route and direction if they were to start from that position undetected.

    The most advantageous direction would be towards where the officials were resting, assuming they could avoid being noticed.

    The officials were all outside the fire circle, hunting down the wolves, so when Li Rouer had fled with Xie Lin, the area was deserted, with tents providing cover to evade others' sight.

    After bypassing the officials' tents, a narrow path emerged behind them.

    Following the trail, they inspected every detail, not even sparing the roadside bushes.

    After walking about a hundred meters, they reached a fork in the road ahead.

    In perfect sync, the duo split their ways, one to the left and the other to the right. After taking just a few steps, He Zhiran crouched down to pick up a piece of shredded cloth from the ground.

    Seeing this, Mo Jiuye hurriedly approached her. "Did you find something?"

    He Zhiran held up the palm-sized scrap of cloth before Mo Jiuye's eyes.

    "If I'm not mistaken, this is a piece of Xie Lin's head scarf."

    She vividly remembered touching Xie Lin's head earlier that day. She had even chuckled inwardly at the time, thinking that ancient people didn't seem to mind the irony, as a boy was adorned with a green head scarf.

    Mo Jiuye clenched the head scarf in his palm.

    "Come on, let's keep following them."

    The pair continued along the path, scrutinizing their surroundings more meticulously...

    Back in time, half an hour earlier.

    Li Rouer, watching the officials rush outside the circle of fire to fend off the wolves, knew her opportunity had arrived.

    For safety, she planned to observe from a spot with more people.

    Upon arriving at the resting place of the Xie family, she spotted Xie Lin standing alone amidst the crowd. Gathering her courage, she approached him, firmly covering his mouth and stealthily dragging him away.

    Her escape route was precisely as Mo Jiuye had predicted – behind the officials' tents.

    With one arm dislocated, Li Rouer found it incredibly challenging to control Xie Lin using only one hand. Moreover, he was persistently struggling.

    She quickly slipped into a tent, grabbed a sock that an official had yet to put on, and stuffed it into Xie Lin's mouth. The pungent smell momentarily disoriented him, allowing her to seize the moment and bind his hands and feet with a rope.

    Then, lifting Xie Lin, she dashed swiftly down the side path.

    As they approached a fork in the road, it was clear that one path was more trodden than the other, indicating that it was frequently used by people.

    Given her current fear of encountering others, He Zhiran resolutely chose the path with fewer signs of passage.

    It was at that moment that Xie Lin made a concerted effort to dishevel her hairpin, letting it fall to the ground, providing precious clues for He Zhiran and Mo Jiuye.

    Assuming Xie Lin was just a lightweight child, Li Rouer had overestimated her own stamina. After running only a short distance, she began to feel the strain and struggled to continue.

    Peering behind her, she noticed no signs of pursuit. Thus, she led Xie Lin into the roadside bushes for concealment.

    She thought to herself that as long as they survived this night, the officials, eager to continue their journey, would abandon the search. By then, Xie Lin, this young one, would be of no further use and could be dispatched to the afterlife, sparing him the agony of accompanying the convicts...

    To her surprise, while Li Rouer was daydreaming in the underbrush, she heard footsteps nearby.

    Instantly on high alert, she pulled Xie Lin protectively in front of her.

    From somewhere, Li Rouer produced a sharp stone, which she held against Xie Lin's throat.

    Once discovered, she would use Xie Lin's life as leverage to create an opportunity for her escape.

    Mo Jiuye was not only a master of martial arts but also possessed extraordinary perceptual abilities.

    As he passed by the cluster of bushes, he paused and sharply glanced in the direction where Li Rouer was hiding.

    By then, the eastern sky had started to glow with a faint tinge of dawn.

    He distinctly caught sight of an unusual color amidst the grass – a corner of Xie Lin's clothing.

    "He Zhiran, what kind of skill is it to threaten with an innocent child's life?" He Zhiran ruthlessly exposed Li Rouer's intentions.

    This revelation startled Li Rouer and made her realize that she could no longer remain hidden.

    In order to escape unscathed, she forcefully suppressed her anger towards He Zhiran.

    "Zhiran, I know I've done many wrongs to you these past few days. That was because I couldn't accept being exiled at that moment. Now, I realize my mistakes. For the sake of our sisterly bond, can you let me go?"

    "That's impossible." Before He Zhiran could utter a word, Mo Jiuye responded to Li Rouer with an icy tone.

    In his mind, what Li Rouer had done to He Zhiran was unforgivable, completely disregarding their former sisterly bond. How could he show leniency towards such a person? Forging ahead to answer, he did so out of concern that He Zhiran might momentarily soften her heart.

    If those words had come from He Zhiran, Li Rouer might have found them slightly easier to accept.

    After all, the two of them had reached a point of no return in their conflict these few days.


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