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“Yangyang, you must be careful at all times. Call me if anything happens,” Long Tianze reminded her worriedly.

“Got it, rest assured. Take care of everything at home. I’ll be on my guard at all times,” said Mei Yangyang as she tiptoed to give him a kiss.

Long Tianze nodded earnestly.

Jin Qingyan and Mei Yangyang set off to B City in his car. Jin Qingyan had also instructed for his private jet to tag along, so as to shorten the duration needed for the journey home.

It was noontime when they arrived in B City. He immediately sent An Xiaoning a text message to inform her about their plan to switch places. However, the latter had yet to reply.

Naturally, there was no way she could make it out of the palace during the daytime, especially since security was tight in the Autumn Palace. Servants and bodyguards would only be allowed to leave when they were told to do so by their masters or superiors.

They waited near the entrance of the Autumn Palace for a long while, during which Jin Qingyue called to inform that Mrs. Jin fainted and came to repeatedly. The pain was so unbearable that Mrs. Jin expressed her desire to die and end her suffering. She was practically in a living hell.

As much as Jin Qingyan was panicky and anxious, he nonetheless continued to wait patiently for nighttime to arrive.

They had to reduce the chances of getting exposed during the switch in order to let An Xiaoning make a trip back home.

However, An Xiaoning still did not reply to the text message he had sent her during noon.

At almost seven o’clock in the evening, she finally replied, saying that she could come out of the palace immediately.

Jin Qingyan drove toward the main gate. Shortly after, An Xiaoning showed up and zoomed toward the car.

“Let’s go back,” she said, panting heavily.

“Let Yangyang take over your duties.”

An Xiaoning refuted, “No need for that. I’ve already applied for leave, which was approved by Her Highness. I’m supposedly allowed to take a day off every month, but Her Highness has been in a bad mood recently and initially refused to let me go home. I had no choice but to lie to her.”

“How did you lie to her?” Jin Qingyan asked while speeding toward the airport.

“I said that my boyfriend was on the brink of death.”

Jin Qingyan turned to glare at her abruptly. “Do you think I won’t beat you up into a pulp?”

“I said my boyfriend was dying, not my husband. Why are you getting so worked up? A bodyguard whom her Her Highness carries a torch for was secretly executed. She only agreed to let me come out because I lied to her. I have to make it back to the palace by tomorrow evening, though,” An Xiaoning explained after taking a few sips of mineral water.

“That’s good. I activated the private jet while on my way here. We’ll fly home instead. I’ll get someone to drive the car back,” said Jin Qingyan.

“What exactly is the situation? Tell me about it again,” An Xiaoning asked.

“Let’s talk on the plane,” Jin Qingyan answered, keeping his eyes fixed on the roads ahead as he raced toward the airport.

As soon as they arrived at the airport, they hurriedly boarded the private jet back to A City.

Jin Qingyan explained the situation to An Xiaoning again on the jet, after which he asked, “What do you think is going on?”

“Both the mediums you consulted said that it wasn’t a spirit’s doing?” After pondering for a moment, she continued, “Maybe they’re not skilled enough to tell, or perhaps it could be because of another reason. I’ll know exactly what it is once I go back to take a look. But, who told you to look for Yuan Mingzhu?”

“I didn’t want to find that woman who replaced your position either, but I really didn’t have another choice.”

“Sis, how could you hide it from me? If Brother-in-law didn’t ask me to switch places with you, Tianze and I wouldn’t have guessed that you’d be so brazen as to step foot into the Autumn Palace. But, is it even possible to find any clues in such a huge place?” Mei Yangyang asked.

Shaking her head while leaning back against the seat, An Xiaoning answered, “I don’t know, but searching for my parents would be akin to finding a needle in the haystack if I don’t go inside. So, I must give it a try no matter how slim the chances may be.”

“Sis, I believe you’ll definitely find them someday. But it’s really way too dangerous in there. Besides, you’re under the disguise of a mask, so you must be very, very careful at all times,” said Mei Yangyang.

“Got it, I’ll be on my guard.”

They arrived at the airport in Wei Ni Estate half an hour later.

Instead of heading to the mansion straight away, An Xiaoning returned to the villa to retrieve the necessary items as well as some amulets before leaving with Jin Qingyan.

Mei Yangyang tagged along out of curiosity.

As soon as they arrived at the living room of the mansion, they heard Mrs. Jin’s shrieks.

She was bawling in agony, as if she was being stabbed by a million daggers.

An Xiaoning felt her stomach twist into a knot and proceeded to enter the bedroom together with the two of them.

Upon sight of her, Jin Qingyue hurriedly said, “Sis-in-law, quickly come and take a look at Mother.”

Mrs. Jin reached her hands out and exclaimed in misery, “Xiaoning, hurry and save me. Mother… is dying because of the pain!”

Regardless of what she said or did to An Xiaoning in the past, this 58-year-old woman in front of her was her mother-in-law, after all.

“Mother, what are your birth characters?” An Xiaoning asked.

Mrs. Jin immediately revealed the details of her birth.

An Xiaoning again asked, “Who else did you reveal this information to?”

Just as Mrs. Jin was about to answer, she began shivering uncontrollably and soon turned as pale as a sheet. An Xiaoning hurriedly took out the amulets and chanted a spell, after which the amulets abruptly flew toward Mrs. Jin and glued themselves onto her face, leaving only her nose exposed.

Mrs. Jin instantly stopped quivering so vigorously and appeared to be sedated.

An Xiaoning held her breath throughout. Noticing that Mrs. Jin had blacked out, An Xiaoning said to Jin Qingyan, “The condition is not optimistic. Someone has put a death curse on her.”

Jin Qingyan and Jin Qingyue were instantly dumbfounded.

“Sis-in-law, save Mother. You must save Mother,” Jin Qingyue spluttered incoherently.

“Qingyue, I just read her birth characters. I don’t know how to explain it to you, but the curse is extremely sinister and evil. Let me try and think of a solution,” said An Xiaoning.

“There are no outsiders here. Were you able to tell Mother’s destiny by reading her birth characters?” Jin Qingyan asked.

“Yes, I analyzed the aspects of her fate and I’m afraid she won’t be able to survive this ordeal. The curse was too sudden and overpowering. The curse should’ve been put on her yesterday. The effects of such death curses are rapid and menacing. Besides, we’ve already procrastinated for an entire night… I reckon the curse is potent not only because the perpetrator has gotten hold of Mother’s birth characters, but also because they have her personal belongings. The usage of unholy substances must’ve been involved as well.”

Jin Qingyue burst into tears upon hearing her words.

A deafening silence filled the room as they plunged into a somber mood.

At the same time, Yuan Mingzhu could sense that the effects of her curse had been suppressed. She thought to herself that it was probably because they had sought the help of another medium.

She was not flustered at all, however.

She proceeded to bring a kettle of boiling water into the ritual room.

She walked toward the altar and poured the boiling water over the puppet, drenching it from head to toe while chanting a spell. She only stopped when the puppet was fully submerged in the boiling water, which was still fuming with steam.

After placing the kettle back inside the kitchen, Yuan Mingzhu knelt onto the praying mat and began chanting incessantly.

She did not stop until she deemed it appropriate.

Coincidentally, she received a call from Xu Youran.