Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Spring flowers were in full bloom when ZhongYan first arrived at Green Summit, a stark contrast to the present early autumn scenery. The interweave of golden autumn, red maple and cypress leaves dyed the layers of forests in their colours; every mountain in Green Summit was painted in gorgeous autumn colours.
While the bright moon illuminated the quiet autumn night, ZhongYan sat cross-legged by the window viewing the layer of silver frost-like moonlight outside the window. Despite going to great lengths to save the villain, he was deemed as a villain in the end, an absurd yet irrefutable outcome indeed. Nonetheless, ZhongYan’s attitude was rather positive, neither downhearted nor resentful.
He just felt a little homesick on such an autumn night. He asked the system, [Can I go home once I’m done with the mission?]
The system probably detected his melancholy as its answer was lightning fast, [Of course. We will return you to the exact moment in time.]
After finding some solace, ZhongYan started pondering again, wondering if Gu XuanYan would miss him if he were gone. After all, they went through thick and thin together. Following which, he began to reason with himself. At the very least, Liang Zheng and Qing You would probably miss him, so why focus on Gu XuanYan?
Just as the thought popped up in his mind, it was knocked away the moment a pine nut hit his forehead, rendering him speechless. The sorrow of parting welling up in him dissipated right then. As expected, when he lifted his head towards the window, he found Gu XuanYan standing in the courtyard with his sword.
Noticing ZhongYan’s eyes on him, Gu XuanYan went over to the window side and asked softly, “A penny for Senior Brother’s thoughts?”
Since the window sill ZhongYan was sitting on was a tad higher than the floor, ZhongYan had to lower his head a little to meet Gu XuanYan’s eyes. ZhongYan found his elevated viewpoint awkward and felt the two were too close.
Still, instead of getting away, Gu XuanYan raised his head as he waited for ZhongYan’s reply. As the two locked gazes, the air around them seemed as though they were recreating a scene of a romantic poem, ‘Await the moon below the western chamber, Welcoming the wind, the door is half ajar.’ 1
Alas, neither was Gu XuanYan the lover described in the poem, nor did ZhongYan feel as though he was the author of the poem. ZhongYan swayed his legs about on the window sill, “I can’t sleep, so I’m moon gazing.”
Gu XuanYan seemingly let out a light chuckle, “The back of the mountains is a better spot for moon gazing.” As Gu XuanYan noticed ZhongYan looking at him, the amusement in his eyes grew, “There aren’t much green plums left there. But I plucked a few some time ago and fermented them. The bottle of wine is buried under the tree; does Senior Brother want it?”
ZhongYan’s eyes twinkled, but he still let out a cough, “It’s past the curfew hours, so it probably isn’t a good idea.”
Gu XuanYan nodded solemnly, as if convinced, “Well said, Senior Brother. Forget it then.”
ZhongYan was stumped for words.
Gu XuanYan chuckled as he saw the regret on ZhongYan’s face before taking half a step back, “Let’s go, Senior Brother.”
The bright moon hung high in the peaceful night sky. Their hangout was still the same—that particular tree in the back of the mountains. The two shared a bottle of plum wine on the tree.
Back then, they snuck away to pick plums there during the afternoon break. Yet again, right now, they snuck out in the quiet of the night to drink.
When the thought crossed ZhongYan’s mind, he realised he hadn’t been doing much good whenever he was with Gu XuanYan…
Still, their time together was fun.
Although green plum wine couldn’t be considered quality wine, the mix of sweetness and sourness gave it a delectable tang. ZhongYan had always been a lightweight drinker. After three rounds of drinking, the helix of his ear started growing pink. The illumination from the dew-like gentle moon rays made the flush even more noticeable.
Completely unaware, ZhongYan began nagging at Gu XuanYan. “Can you stop trying to kill me? Do you know how hard it is to save both others and myself?”
“Junior Brother, can you stop with your killing? I don’t have many points left to be deducted.”
“I’m starting to miss my home… how can the Sect Leader think I’m a traitor?! What injustice is this? 2 This is just too much!
No way would he utter those nonsense if he were sober. Luckily, words of a drunk were never coherent. Moreover, as ZhongYan’s voice was soft, Gu XuanYan couldn’t make out much of his ramblings.
Gu XuanYan only responded by taking ZhongYan’s cup away, “Senior Brother, you are drunk.”
A wave of sleepiness coursed through the giddy ZhongYan as he handed over his cup obediently. However, the worry of Gu XuanYan killing others while he was asleep hit him right after.
Truth be told, if ZhongYan were just a little more sober then, he would realise the present Gu XuanYan wouldn’t kill anyone willy nilly nor did he have a nemesis he urgently had to tear into pieces. His wild imagination stemmed from both his drunken stupor and the painful lesson he learnt after being fooled by Gu XuanYan.
Thus, he inched closer to Gu XuanYan and tugged at his sleeves.
Presuming ZhongYan had something to tell, Gu XuanYan turned his head over and asked softly, “Senior Brother, what is it?”
Instead of replying, ZhongYan continued grabbing Gu XuanYan’s sleeves for quite a while. As a shred of worry still haunted him after pondering, he decided to simply lie his head down onto Gu XuanYan’s lap. Let’s see how you can escape this time.
Proud of himself for settling the matter with his wits, the satisfied ZhongYan ended up being overcome by his sleepiness and dozed off right on Gu XuanYan’s lap.
Meanwhile, Gu XuanYan was utterly stunned by the action ZhongYan took right after, having no response ever since the question he asked when ZhongYan first tugged his sleeves. Only when ZhongYan’s breathing gradually stabilised did Gu XuanYan come back to his senses and gaze at the sleeping ZhongYan on his lap.
ZhongYan’s clothes were slightly dishevelled due to him fumbling about just then. With his face flushed red and his chest moving up and down slowly, he appeared to be in a deep sleep
Gu XuanYan couldn’t help himself from recollecting. When did I first take notice of him?
It was probably during the night Li YunJi was killed. While delivering tea, he chanced upon Gu XuanYan, who was just done with the murder. Even now, Gu XuanYan could still remember the fear in his eyes. Nonetheless, Gu XuanYan didn’t give him any chance to cry for help as he pierced his sword through his left chest instantly.
After all, killing a disciple in Essence Condensation stage was a piece of cake to Gu XuanYan.
Gu XuanYan didn’t even feel a ripple in his heart when he attacked. The only thought crossing his mind then was how unlucky that guy was for entering the room at the wrong time.
To Gu XuanYan’s surprise, he somehow survived. Having no idea what went wrong, Gu XuanYan was compelled to take notice of him as he planned on silencing him when the right opportunity arose.
In the end, things just got utterly out of hand.
Gu XuanYan began pondering as he drank.
What’s so attractive about this guy? He isn’t stunning; has a mediocre cultivation base; is full of himself whenever he gets smart; and loses his temper, looking as if he’s going to bite, when he gets fooled.
The only positive side of him is probably him saying, “I won’t abandon you.”
That was the first time Gu XuanYan heard that from someone.
Lurking in the darkness alone for years, Gu XuanYan had never once caught a glimpse of light. However, when he came across a ray of light, he began to hunger for any bit of warmth the world could give him.
Cang Luan discovered this Achilles heel of his, so he used ZhongYan’s life to threaten him and was certain he would come to him. The sect leader’s undiscriminating conviction further ignited the fires of Gu XuanYan’s wrath. Surprisingly, the killing intent flashing across his heart then was even heavier than what he felt when he faced Li YunJi previously.
When desire grows, it brings about weaknesses and allows vulnerabilities to be more noticeable. But, so what?
After finishing the bit of wine in his cup, Gu XuanYan narrowed his eyes as he twirled his winecup in his hand absent-mindedly. He lowered his head to gaze at the ZhongYan on his lap before bending down, kissing him on the lips.
The kiss was light; a mixture of sweetness, sourness and faint smell of alcohol still lingering on his lips.
The autumn wind swept across all over, sending the two’s robes fluttering.
Who in the entire universe could stop him?
Neither the Sect Leader, Cang Luan nor the Heavenly Way could.
- A poem by Cui YingYing in ‘Romance of the Western chamber’. The latter part of the poem: Brushing the wall, the shadow of flowers moves. I think it is my beloved at the door.
The poem depicts Cui YingYing waiting for her lover, Student Zhang
- Literally: This is just like the injustice of Dou E! From Wiki:The story is about a child bride turned widow, Dou E, who is wrongly convicted of crimes by a corrupt court official for actions perpetrated by a rejected suitor. More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Injustice_to_Dou_E