After Nan Ge Er slept with the company of Mo Shu, both of them went to the dining room for dinner.
The aroma of food caressed them once they stepped in through the door.
“Hungry yet?” Mo Shu chuckled, tidying Nan Ge Er’s hair while asking him.
Nan Ge Er shook his head. He didn’t feel much hunger, only lightheadedness.
“Not feeling hungry isn’t great,” Mo Shu looked at Nan Ge Er, a little troubled, “It is much better if you feel hungry.”
Nan Ge Er lifted his head and smiled, before sitting together with Mo Shu.
An array of dishes filled the table, yet only Zhi Niang accompanied them. The others stood by the side respectfully, waiting upon them.
“Xian sheng.” Zhi Niang greeted them with a smile, shifting her sight to Nan Ge Er, who was beside her, “This must be Nan Ge Er.”
Nan Ge Er smiled towards her.
“Yes.” Mo Shu made Nan Ge Er sit beside him, before answering Zhi Niang.
The slight difference in the way Zhi Niang and Mo Shu conversed as compared to others in Guang Tian could be detected — it seemed to be a little more caring and amiable.
“Zhi Niang 1 only hurried over to meet with Xian sheng today because Zhi Niang was informed that Xian sheng would be coming over.” Zhi Niang chuckled. She cast a glance at Nan Ge Er before continuing, her words containing a deeper meaning to it, “Zhi Niang feels relieved knowing that xiansheng still bears exceptional grace now.”
Seemingly clueless about what Zhi Niang implied, Mo Shu dazed for a moment before smiling, “Thank you for your concern.”
Zhi Niang laughed, “I have specially instructed the cooks to prepare Xian sheng’s favorite dishes. Please dine.” Then, she smiled towards Nan Ge Er, “Zhi Niang has specifically asked around about Nan Ge Er’s favorites; hope the dishes prepared today are to your fancy.
Nan Ge Er glanced at the dishes on the table—half of them was sweet, while another half was what Nan Ge Er preferred, dishes with a heavier dash of spices. The glistening appearance of the food made them mouth-watering.
“Xiao Nan has a weak body,” Mo Shu gave a swift reply, “he can only taste them sparingly.”
Nan Ge Er shot a look at Mo Shu in an instant—It’s rare for me to have an appetite, I’m not going to care about that. Are you looking after a child?
Mo Shu stroke Nan Ge Er’s head, “Be good; you can have whatever you want after you’ve recovered.”
Be good, my arse! Nan Ge Er smacked Mo Shu’s hands away, as a bunch of black lines appeared on his head.
Zhi Niang giggled by the side, “If that is so, please do as you wish then, Nan Ge Er.”
Although Zhi Niang was said to be accompanying them, in truth, she didn’t really move her chopsticks much. She only gazed at Nan Ge Er and Mo Shu blithely as they ate, looking gentle. After dinner, the three of them went to the hall and had a small chat. Next, someone came over, informing that the arrangements were done and Mo Shu could visit that Chu Yi now.
Mo Shu asked Nan Ge Er if he wanted to come along. Nan Ge Er was obviously uninterested in unfamiliar people.
He sat on the bed-stove2 and refused even to move, seeming to find contentment in his wish to sleep.
Hence, Zhi Niang accompanied the dispirited Mo Shu, and they left together.
After a while, light footsteps rang out.
Nan Ge Er, who was browsing the language book in boredom with his body bent, raised his head and smiled towards Zhi Niang.
“Nan Ge Er is such an ingenious person.” Zhi Niang grinned before dismissing the servants in the hall with a wave of her hand.
“If Zhi Niang has something to say, I, a young one, definitely must listen well.” Nan Ge Er smiled.
Zhi Niang got on the bed-stove. After pouring a cup of tea and blowing the bubbles away, she stated softly, “Zhi Niang has already known about the matter in regards to Nan Ge Er’s ill condition during the journey.”
Nan Ge Er’s smile froze.
He wasn’t quite willing to recall that incident, as it constantly reminded of him going insane then, and Mo Shu’s chilling gaze.
“We, who lived outside, do have a clear idea of Xian sheng’s temperament since we have to pick up the pieces frequently.” Zhi Niang chuckled, “As for Guang Tian’s citizens, probably only the doctor, the advisor, and those who regularly go out together with Xian sheng know about it.”
Nan Ge Er looked at Zhi Niang in silence.
“Actually, it is no wonder Nan Ge Er would get shocked,” Zhi Niang spoke lightly, “it is common for people to be incapable of handling it when witnessing that.”
“That time, Xian sheng’s mother also got startled by it, and almost miscarried,” Zhi Niang sighed, “since Nan Ge Er and Xian sheng take to each other, the advisor and others must have been quite troubled when the both of you left Guang Tian.”
Nan Ge Er was silent for a long while before nodding his head, “Mn.”
“After all, they are worried that the incident Xian sheng’s father experienced would repeat itself.” Zhi Niang told him softly, “Since we received Xian sheng’s protection, it is natural for us to hope Xian sheng would live a healthy, blissful life. Moreover…”
“Moreover, Xian sheng has already lost too much.” Zhi Niang murmured.
Nan Ge Er didn’t quite understand the meaning behind Zhi Niang’s roundabout words. Of course, his disordered mind was one of the reasons too. Thus, he lifted his head in puzzlement and looked at Zhi Niang, “I don’t quite understand.”
“Do you know the identity of Chu Yi, who Xian sheng is seeing this time around?” Zhi Niang smiled lightly, seemingly planning to change the topic.
Nan Ge Er shook his head. I don’t even know who that person is, how would I know his identity?
“Chu Yi would be the future magistrate of Guang Tian,” Zhi Niang grinned, continuing after a moment of pondering, “Alright. It isn’t quite fitting to phrase it as ‘Magistrate’ in front of you. I should have referred Chu Yi as a candidate of Guang Tian’s future leader.”
Nan Ge Er nodded his head. The absolute impossibility of Mo Shu’s ability being innate was a no-brainer. He must have been drilled in some kind of training to be able to possess all sorts of nearly perfect capabilities.
“There’s even a Chu Er, Chu San, and so on…3” Zhi Niang giggled, “a total of four candidates.”
Nan Ge Er had some questions, but thought, since Zhi Niang told him that, then his queries wouldn’t really be needed; she would definitely go over all of it.
“Xian sheng’s father was his predecessor, so Xian sheng has to be a candidate. It is the rule; one of the descendants of the leader has to be a candidate. Xian sheng doesn’t have any siblings, thus he has to become one. The other three consisted of orphans with remarkable potential, and are raised separately.”
“Every leader of Guang Tian is capable of killing ever since they were toddlers and raised like a wild beast,” Zhi Niang appeared to be reminiscing, recalling an unpleasant memory.
“After that, they are taught in a way as though disciplining a wild beast. While their wildness and brashness are unrestrained, their aggressiveness and im-pul-ses are constrained. Then, they fight with one another. In the end, the victor is given responsibility, while the losers are given glory. Xian sheng emerged as superior among all, living up to his expectations.”
“This is the path Mo Shu-xian sheng walks. He was taught like that since young, so that is what he always does. This is a rule passed down through generations, and the foundation that allowed Guang Tian’s citizens to live peacefully. It is a sacrifice of his, a piece that he lost. We provide him the ultimate respect, and absolute loyalty as a compensation.
“With the exception of Guang Tian’s citizens, every single person is just an ant in his eyes; that was instilled in him since young.” Zhi Niang sighed. “Hence, I will not beg you not to be scared of him. I only ask of you to not leave him due to fear…” She gave a bitter smile, “I had witnessed his father dying in a melancholic death with my own eyes; I do not want Xian sheng to follow his footsteps.”
After looking at Nan Ge Er’s expression, Zhi Niang started talking in details about the training Mo Shu had when he was young, the experiences he encountered in the past, and the challenges he faced.
Nan Ge Er listened in silence to Zhi Niang recalling the course of events Mo Shu came across when growing up. After that, he curled up a smile, “Mn, I won’t tell him that I’m afraid of him; I won’t get him in such a dilemma that he has to make me drink medicine to forget him.”
“Thank you.” Zhi Niang gave Nan Ge Er a slight nod solemnly and seriously, “Thank you very much.”
Nan Ge Er smiled without a reply.
There’s still a ton of stuff I have no idea about, Mo Shu. But, it’s a good thing that there still is a long time to go. There will definitely be a chance, and time for it.
He had no plans of changing anything, as he knew such strict and harsh rules are necessary to maintain the peace in Guang Tian. To win some, one had to lose some; while Mo Shu was in charge of Guang Tian’s matters, the Guang Tian citizens working hard outside didn’t really have an easy life either.
Who knew how many generations of hard work was accumulated to turn Guang Tian into what it was at present. Although he felt it was a little unbearable in his heart, he still wasn’t willing to destroy even the tiniest bit of that.
“Rest well,” After Zhi Niang confided sincerely to Nan Ge Er, quite a bit of detachment faded away from her face. She held her hand out, patting on Nan Ge Er’s hands, “You will reach Bei Jun after leaving this town.”
Nan Ge Er nodded his head, “Mn.”
Zhi Niang smiled before getting down from the bed-stove, “Do you want to eat something, Nan Ge Er?”
“No need.” Nan Ge Er continued flipping the book, too lazy to go back, “Anyway, if Mo Shu notices that, he will start nagging again.”
“How obedient.” Mo Shu entered with a bit of chilly wind following him. He reached his hand out to stroke Nan Ge Er’s head after walking towards the bed-stove, “I’ll cook for you once your condition is better.”
Nan Ge Er held his hands out with his arms outstretched, “What kind of child is Chu Yi?”
After freezing momentary, Mo Shu untied the flag outside. He got on the bed-stove, sitting beside Nan Ge Er, “Did Zhi Niang tell you about it?”
“Wonderful,” Mo Shu chuckled, moving closer to rub Nan Ge Er’s cheeks, “Xiao Nan is getting to know my world bit by bit.”
“Just a prize forced onto me,” Nan Ge Er muttered
“That kid reacts fast,” Mo Shu grinned, “I played with him for a bit.”
Played… It’s probably just you toying with him one-sidedly!
Remembering the details of the training that Zhi Niang talked about just then and its degree of harshness, Nan Ge Er lifted his head and gazed at Mo Shu blankly.
“What’s the matter?” Mo Shu frowned while looking at Nan Ge Er’s seemingly displeased expression.
Mo Shu still appeared to be as graceful as he ever was, just like an elegant gentleman who could only possess such grace due to being raised in a good environment.
…Raised like a wild beast, taught in a way as though disciplining a wild beast.
He probably doesn’t know at all. He assumes such a lifestyle is normal. Just like how he thinks everyone who isn’t from Guang Tian has no value at all. However, that is just because Mo Shu’s life is warped.
He didn’t know how to describe the slight ache in his heart.
Nan Ge Er stared blankly at Mo Shu for some time. He only returned to his senses when the other party touched his face with his fingers and his eyes contacted with a pair of faintly worrying eyes.
“No, nothing.” He laughed after grinning.
After thinking for a bit, he reached his hands out to hug Mo Shu’s waist, while leaning against his shoulders.
“Nothing, you don’t have to worry.”
No need to be in a dilemma, no need to worry. Just live in a way that comes natural to you. Then, let me accompany you along that twisted life of yours.
1speaking in third person:(From wiki) In imperial times, the pronoun for “I” was commonly omitted when speaking politely or to someone with higher social status.
2Bed-stove: it is a heatable brick bed; more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kang_bed-stove
3Chu+number: Chu = reserve; Yi=1; Er=2; San=3. So the potential leaders’ names are something like, Reserve 1, reserve 2 etc.