Huyan Xiong flinched as his maid rubbed the ointment on his swollen face. The old woman smacked Huyan Xiong's head and barked roughly, "Stay still midget!"
Of course, Huyan Xiong's body still recalled the feeling of fright whenever he pointed out that his old maid was the actual dwarf, and thus, refrained from making any remarks. The smell of the ointment, however, made it hard for Huyan Xiong to stay still. Finally, after getting his face dressed in bandages, Huyan Xiong looked at his old confidant and parted his lips before closing them silently.
"Worried about Rou'er brat?"
The woman asked gruffly while cleaning her hands. Her expression looked complicated, too. As a woman, Rou'er is supposed to grow beautiful, marry a handsome lad, and give birth to the next generation using those wide, baby-bearing h.i.p.s. Though mischievous, Lanrou never got out of hand. But today's incident was something even she couldn't tolerate.
"I really did it, huh," Xiong sighed. His thoughts were surprisingly, precisely the opposite of his old maid. To Rou'er, Xiong was just as much of a dad as he was a mother. He was still angry, but now, Xiong directed that anger towards himself and the roguish lad who made him bite the dust and his kicks.
"I embarrassed my daughter... and lost my family's face, too."
Xiong exhaled deeply as the old maid frowned and hissed out, "It ain't your fault, kid. I'll punish that brat when she comes home!"
Emerging from the rural region of the city filled with farms, the maid's accent was thick and heavy. Even when she spoke about punishing Rou'er with a hateful expression, Xiong could not rebuke her. The old maid loved Rou'er just as much and wanted to see Rou'er happy.
"And kid," The old woman showed surprising dexterity and jumped high enough to smack the back of Xiong's head and hissed, "You should'a start preparing for Rou'er's marriage. Quickly find a handsome and talented lad."
"Handsome and talented?"
Xiong muttered, as one of the few recollections of the fights, filled his mind. Isn't that roguish lad devilishly handsome and equally monstrous talent? Didn't he beat Xiong without obtaining any spirit rings?
"Why was I even angry?"
Xiong groaned in distress. It wasn't rational. While he might've been called one of the most irrational men under the effects of his martial spirit Golden Inferna Tiger Xiong was also one of the most astute businessmen out there.
"You were angry because you're a father, damn kid!"
The lady snorted and turned on her heels when, suddenly, Xiong's younger brother came rushing into his room with a pale expression.
"Elder brother, they are here! It's Rou'er," The man breathed deeply and exhaled, "It's Rou'er and Nik!"
"W-why aren't they all saying something?"
Lanrou muttered and shifted closer to Nik as she looked at all the dazed guardsmen of the Huyan Family. The moment they grew closer to Nik and Lanrou, he brought all of them into an illusion world. Nik's power of illusion was still unworthy of affecting the likes of Huyan Xiong since he had already tried to seize control of his mind during their previous encounter. The ordinary guardsmen, on the other hand, were not an issue for Nik, and he would rather avoid all the trouble of entering into an argument with the small fries and wait for the real target.
"So, did you grow up in this house?"
Nik inquired as he gazed at the grand mansion surrounded by a border of exotic flowers and vines decorating the wall. Hearing his words, Lanrou showed a strange expression, "Teacher... is this really the time to ask about my past?"
Nik smiled and bumped Lanrou's shoulder, "Try calling me by my first name. It's not that hard."
Puckering her lips at Nik's impertinent smile, Lanrou turned her face and grumbled out, "Don't wanna."
"You shatter my heart."
Nik replied with a forlorn glimpse when the gates of the Huyan Estate flung open, and Huyan Xiong silently walked towards Lanrou with a stable pace and silent fury. Seeing him, Lanrou gulped and tightened her grasp over Nik's hand and averted her gaze. Xiong came alone, and as Nik brought the guardsmen out of their illusion, they instantly muted themselves when they found Huyan Xiong in front of them rather than a maddened titan chasing after them.
"Look at me, Rou'er..."
Xiong spoke lightly. Private Courtyards covered Huyan Estate, so Xiong did not fear this spectacle getting exposed to the public, too.
Hearing Xiong's words, Lanrou felt even more pathetic. The sky was already darkening by the time Nik and Lanrou had started their journey for the Huyan Estate, and now, under the slight glow of multiple lanterns and outposts decorating he estate, Lanrou stood soundless under the scrutiny of her father.
Huyan Xiong began with a terrible expression. His heart ached whenever he thought of the position he put his daughter in due to his anger.
Nik smiled and waved his hand. In such a morose surrounding, Nik was the only source of cheerfulness.
Xiong clenched his jaws as indignant fury flashed within his gaze.
"It was my fault," Lanrou finally spoke up but still did not dare look up, "I lied to my friends and spread the rumor about Teach Nik kissing me to make him pay for Korra's mistake."
To Xiong and others, including Nik, Lanrou's words matched an elaborate scheme to commit a crime and then skillfully pin the blame on someone else. Heck, Xiong did not even understand anything ahead after Lanrou accepted that she lied.
First of all, who is Korra?
"I am sorry, dad. For everything."
Sobs broke out as Lanrou covered her mouth with her free hand. Never in her life did she feel so frustrated as she felt at this moment. Seeing the lady break into tears, Nik felt slightly depressed. He was now no longer the only source of optimism and succ.u.mbed to the gloominess of the situation.
"*Hic* I won't ever *sniff*," Lanrou stammered in her tears as Xiong walked towards her daughter with a somber expression. Without even itching to sucker punch the rogue who still held his daughter's hand, Xiong bear-hugged Lanrou tightly.
"Foolish lass. It wasn't your fault. It can never be your fault. It is the monster beside you whom I need to punish."
Huyan Xiong whispered tenderly as Nik sensibly let go of Lanrou's arm even if she was clutching on tightly. He looked at the guardsmen, and after a moment to ponder, he made his way towards the gate to give the father-daughter pair the time needed to mend their relationship.
A gruff voice called Nik out, and he turned back only to let his gaze fall on nothing. He frowned.
"Damn pole, get your eyes down here!"
Nik looked down as asked, and finally, he matched gis gaze with an older woman. Her shriveled face resembled a tree's bark, and her cold, dispassionate gaze put every dominatrix to shame.
Seeing her, Nik smiled politely and sat down to level his gaze with the beauty who was probably a popular one in her time and still the cause of wet dreams for many old coots.
The woman's face turned strange, and her gaze started to twinkle. With her wrinkles seemingly lessening, she turned her head and snarled, "Damn! Ehm, you better give me some handsome kids before I succ.u.mb to my old age
I meant with Rou'er, of course."
Nik smiled at her words. At least, he had a kind elderly's blessings!