Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Raindrops knocked on the gutter tiles with patters, a crisp expanse of sounds. However, the room was silent and the night was icy, so his entire body seemed to be soaked in cold water, giving him chills. The candlelight was hazy in his vision, and the candle’s tears fell drop by drop onto the porcelain dish, the layers congealing into imprints of plum blossoms. Where could he go if he left Shen Jue? Only a place with people was called home, so if he didn’t have Shen Jue, then he wouldn’t have a home anymore, and he would once again become a duckweed without roots.
Xiahou Lian hung his head and loosened his hand holding Shen Jue’s wrist. His heart sank directly down, falling into a deep and bottomless dry well.
However, the instant he had just let go, his hand was grasped again.
He looked in surprise at Shen Jue.
“Xiahou Lian,” Shen Jue enunciated, gritting his teeth, “are you sick?”
He turned around and approached Xiahou Lian step by step. The dense candle shadows were cast on his face, giving it an icy glitter. Xiahou Lian was forced to retreat by him, and he gradually ran out of a path to retreat. His back was pressed against a wardrobe, and the copper bolt with a cloud cluster poked his waist, hurting slightly. Shen Jue grabbed his collar and gritted his teeth. “Sissy? Missy? Xiahou Lian, only you could think of these!”
Shen Jue was too close to him, and their faces were practically pressed to each other, so he could even feel Shen Jue’s breaths. He didn’t dare to look directly at Shen Jue, as Shen Jue’s hate-filled gaze was enough to make him so overwhelmed with grief he didn’t even want to live anymore.
He said hoarsely, “Young Master, I don’t have anywhere to go, you should kill me.”
He closed his eyes and waited for Shen Jue’s punishment. That instant seemed exceptionally long, his heart being tormented in a boiler. Outside the window, the night wind brushed past, the newly growing branches and leaves rustling. In the tranquility of the wind and rain mingling, Xiahou Lian’s chin was suddenly pinched by Shen Jue. He was forced to lift his head, and his lips were met with the same warmth.
Xiahou Lian opened his eyes abruptly, his pupils practically shrunk to a thin line.
The punishment he had been waiting for hadn’t come, but a kiss had.
For an instant, all was silent.
It was a warm and soft feeling, lightly grinding, as if exploring and also as if appeasing. His lips were held and caressed between Shen Jue’s lips, extremely gentle, deeply hiding many years of yearning he had dared to think but not say. His mind was blank, and it was as if an immobilization spell had been cast on his entire body as he stayed where he was. Shen Jue still continued, his burning hot tongue prying open Xiahou Lian’s teeth and directly reaching inside. Xiahou Lian reacted with a jolt and subconsciously wanted to retreat backward. The back of his head bumped into the cabinet door, making a clatter.
Shen Jue still didn’t let him go. He held his waist with one hand and pressed the back of his head with the other hand, half suppressing him and half appeasing him. His hand lightly massaged the back of his head, and his tongue unscrupulously probed in. Xiahou Lian had never encountered this kind of battle. He had lived for twenty-five years, but besides talking, drinking, and eating, his mouth hadn’t done anything else. He wanted to struggle, yet his heart also desired it. This taste was of bone-eroding ecstasy, even more intoxicating than alcohol.
He was kissed so hard he couldn’t breathe, and only until his legs trembled and his body shook did Shen Jue let go of him. The two people looked at each other in the light, their cheeks like burning red soldering iron. Xiahou Lian saw Shen Jue’s lips that were as beautiful as peaches and plums, and there was an even louder boom in his mind, blood boiling all over his body.
“Y-y-y-y-young…” He was so nervous he became tongue-tied, and he couldn’t even speak clearly.
Shen Jue, however, was calm and collected. On one hand, he felt happy, and on the other, he felt bitter. After flirting around for so long, it turned out that Xiahou Lian liked him too. Fate really played tricks on people, and the heavens were only happy after tossing the two of them around until they were dizzy. He looked closely at Xiahou Lian in the light, and only then did he see the wound under his bangs. He had kowtowed too sincerely, so there was a fingernail-sized cut on his forehead, and he didn’t know whether it would leave a scar. Shen Jue blew on it a few times and asked him, “Does it hurt?”
Xiahou Lian came back to his senses a long time later. He felt that this kiss had practically been like a pie that had fallen from the sky, knocking his soul out of its case. The tide of his blood had finally calmed down, but Shen Jue blowing on his wound made him lose control again. He grabbed Shen Jue’s arm and took a few breaths with difficulty. “Young Master, you don’t have a fever, do you? You… You like me?”
When he said it out loud so casually, Shen Jue’s face finally reddened. He turned his eyes away and coughed once before saying, “You have eyes but can’t look for yourself? We’ve already kissed and hugged, yet you still ask this.”
“When did this happen?” Xiahou Lian asked straightforwardly.
How could Shen Jue answer this? He couldn’t say he had taken a liking to him since childhood, could he? Shen Jue looked sideways at him in complaint and turned around, saying, “What when, how would I know, but anyhow, it was definitely later than you.”
Xiahou Lian didn’t make a sound for a long time, so Shen Jue looked back and saw his knitted brows and that he didn’t look very happy. His heart struggled a few times, and he turned his head away and said reluctantly, “It probably wasn’t much later.”
“Young Master…” Xiahou Lian called him in a low voice. “Why don’t you forget about today’s matters.”
These words were practical like a thunderbolt from the clear sky in his ears. He turned around abruptly and forced Xiahou Lian into the corner, his eyes filled with ferociousness. “What do you mean?”
Xiahou Lian looked at him quietly and said in a low voice, “It’s against nature, it would be bad for you.”
“…” The ferociousness in Shen Jue’s eyes slowly faded, and he was silent for a while before sighing deeply. This guy Xiahou Lian was young, yet he was like an old mother, his head filled with pedantic thoughts. It was really strange that such a seedling had grown out of Garan. Shen Jue took a breath and asked, “Then do you also plan on forgetting what happened in bed just then?”
Xiahou Lian’s entire body froze, and the two drops of blood he had seen on the mattress before were like two needles, piercing into his heart.
Shen Jue lowered his eyes, his tone containing sorrow. “A-Lian, you obtained my body, so now you want to run?”
Xiahou Lian hastily said, “I didn’t mean that!”
“Then what do you mean?”
Xiahou Lian’s face was so red it seemed like he had just crawled out of a boiler. He hesitated for a moment and asked, “D-Does it still hurt there?”
Shen Jue knew that this matter of them was completed; Xiahou Lian wouldn’t be able to escape from his palm in this lifetime. With lowered eyes, he adjusted Xiahou Lian’s collar for him, which was wet from being drenched in the rain just then. He said, “I’m fine, but as for you, you’re wearing wet clothes, careful you catch a cold. Go, I’ll take you back to change your clothes.”
“Young Master,” Xiahou Lian didn’t move and grabbed his sleeve, looked into his eyes fixedly, “you have to think it over. It’ll be an injustice for you to be with me.”
Shen Jue was slightly stunned. In the lights and shadows, Xiahou Lian’s expression was solemn, and only then did he understand why Xiahou Lian still wasn’t very happy after knowing that they loved each other. He didn’t have a pedantic mind, conservatively stuck to old conventions.
He was afraid that it would be an injustice for him.
“It’s not an injustice.” Shen Jue’s eyes were full of a warm desire for love. “It’s not an injustice at all.”
Xiahou Lian pulled his hand down and said, “This is clearly an injustice. Young Master, if you’re with me, you won’t have a large chair carried by eight men, and you won’t have successive banquets for three days and three nights. We’re both men and you’re also the governor. Thousands of eyes are staring at you, so this matter can’t even be publicized. However…” Xiahou Lian pinned the hair at the corner of his temple behind his ear, revealing his bright and clean face. “I’ll definitely treat you well. Let’s go to the ancestral hall tomorrow and worship my mother and Aunt Lan, tell them about this, and then choose a good day to have a table of wine. From now on, you’ll be my, Xiahou Lian’s, formally wedded wife.”
Shen Jue: “…”
He practically didn’t know whether he should be happy or worried. This put him in a difficult position; how should he make Xiahou Lian willingly obey him? He would never have thought that he had finally pursued his wife successfully, but he still had to think of a way to make him accept that he was the wife. Perhaps he would have to pick a time to deal with him, and he would gain interest and naturally obey.
Xiahou Lian was still rambling there. “We can get Lian Xiang to be our matchmaker, I’ll buy the marriage certificate and betrothal presents, and the three matchmakers and six formalities will be complete…”
Shen Jue coughed once and said, “Let’s delay the worshiping matter for a bit, I’m afraid your mother would be shocked.”
“You don’t have to worry about this, I think she quite likes you, otherwise she wouldn’t have given you Jingtie upon meeting you.” Xiahou Lian smiled and said, “Besides, even if she doesn’t agree, she can’t do anything, at most she’ll appear in my dreams and scold me.”
Shen Jue thought that she should appear in his dreams and scold him.
“And, Young Master, you have to start calling her mother now.” Xiahou Lian’s voice was soft, as if afraid he would be brusque.
Shen Jue was a little embarrassed, but he nodded and made a mn. He saw that Xiahou Lian’s lips were a little pale and imagined that it was because he had been kneeling for too long in the rain and caught a cold. He lifted his robes, turned, and walked outside, saying, “Let’s talk about the marriage tomorrow, come, go back and change clothes and take medicine, so you’ll feel better when you catch a cold later.”
Xiahou Lian said okay and took a step, wanting to catch up. Suddenly, his head felt dizzy, and he thought that he had really fallen into the trap this time; he hadn’t gotten sick in a few hundred years, but it had actually happened tonight. He leaned against the wardrobe and took a few breaths, and his feet also suddenly became weak. Only then did he notice that something wasn’t right. Two streaks of warm fluid flowed down his cheeks, and he dazedly wiped it with his hand. However, he saw that his hand was covered with blood, and he was instantly blank.
After stepping past the threshold, Xiahou Lian still hadn’t caught up, so Shen Jue frowned and turned around to look for him. “Why aren’t you…” His words stopped abruptly, as Xiahou Lian, who was still inside, had his back against the wardrobe and was covering his mouth and nose. Blood flowed out of the gaps between his fingers drop by drop, landing on the ground, and created spots of blood. His eyes were also bleeding, two bloodstains spreading on his cheeks. Under the illumination of the candlelight, he appeared extremely ferocious.
Xiahou Lian was barely standing, but he completely lost control of his legs and feet as his body slid down against the wardrobe. Shen Jue stepped forward and held him, frightened out of his wits.
“A-Lian, what happened to you, what happened?”
Xiahou Lian wanted to speak, but his throat was choked by blood, so he couldn’t speak. His limbs became number and number, as if a great burden was pressing down on him, and he couldn’t exert any strength. His vision became blurrier and blurrier, and Shen Jue’s voice calling for him also became further and further, as if his entire body was sinking into dark water. Everything was separated from him by a layer, and he dropped deeper and deeper, falling further and further.
In his daze, he heard that long-lost call again from extremely far away, coming from across the distant other side and stepping across the boundary between life and death:
Baili Yuan reached out and touched Chi Yan’s forehead. He was curled in blankets with his eyes closed, his face as pale as an ice sculpture. His eyelashes cast a layer of shadow on his cheeks, indescribably haggard.
“Gege is very quiet when he takes the medicine, not like the other assassins at all. Those who go crazy go crazy, and those who make scenes make scenes.” Baili Yuan propped her chin as she gazed at Chi Yan’s sleeping face. “Bliss Fruit makes people hallucinate, what do you think he’ll see? Mr. Duan.”
It had just rained outside, so the ground was suffused with sparkling light. Duan Jiu gazed at the dark night sky and didn’t say anything.
“What are you waiting for?” Baili Yuan asked him, “Are you waiting for news of Xiahou Lian’s death?”
“Yes.” Duan Jiu sighed. “He’s a child I watched grow up after all, so I feel sad that he’s going to die. This child has been mischievous since he was young, not memorizing saber scrolls properly and not practicing saber skills properly, and he was still a dabbler even at twelve years old. I hesitated for a very long time before I decided to train him to be Garan’s next abbot.”
Baili Yuan shook her legs as she sat on the chair. “How can he compare to Chi Yan?”
“He can.” Duan Jiu smiled and said, “At fourteen years old, Chi Yan’s saber skills had reached the level of a grandmaster. Shi Xin was full of hope when he brought him into Xue Mountain to pay a formal visit to the former Yama. Why do you think he returned crestfallen?”
“My parents didn’t like him, I know.”
Duan Jiu shook his head. “It’s because he has no heart. People without a heart don’t have weaknesses, so they can’t become the Yama’s puppet. At the time, Chi Yan was purely a killing weapon, and when I saw him, I knew that he had no way of becoming Garan’s abbot. But Xiahou Lian can. He has too many weaknesses, and randomly choosing one can make him die without a burial place.”
“But aren’t his saber skills very poor? If they’re so poor, how can he frighten the other assassins?”
“I originally also didn’t want to choose him. But Shi Xin rebelled, so I had to find an assassin that was strong enough to replace him. However, besides the Garuda and Kinnara, the Eight Legions are replaced frequently, so they weren’t enough to undertake the large responsibility. The Garuda was reckless, persisting in her own ways, and there was a saber hidden in the Kinnara’s smile, with deep shrewdness, so they both weren’t suitable candidates. If I picked from among children, looking at the entire Garan village, they were either beggars who didn’t know many characters or rogues who even stole things in the village. Garan’s children can indeed become a sharp weapon, yet they certainly aren’t enough to control other sharp weapons. I had to choose the best person available, so only Xiao Lian was slightly acceptable.” Duan Jiu said, “But this brat’s ignorance and incompetence shocked me. He assassinated three times and failed three times, and if it weren’t for seniors helping him, he would’ve been killed long ago.”
“So you used Shi Xin’s hands to forge the saber?”
“That’s right. A truly sharp blade must be cast with hatred and forged in blood. I recommended him to Shi Xin and Shi Xin killed his mother, so he became a sharp blade.” Duan Jiu slowly closed his eyes. “And I only needed a suitable time to tell him that the killer was Shi Xin, and then I persuaded him to kill Shi Xin so that Garan could have a stable replacement.”
“You told him, but you didn’t expect that he would run away after killing Shi Xin. That fatherly Shi Xin even gave him the antidote to Mid-July, letting him live safely until today.” A ridiculing expression arose in Baili Yuan’s eyes.
“No, I didn’t have time to tell him. That day when I went to find him, he was drunk, and his senses were muddled, his mouth full of nonsense. He was so preposterous after getting revenge, drinking and whoring, engaging in every addiction imaginable. He really was a pile of mud that couldn’t stick to the wall.” Duan Jiu frowned deeply. “But I didn’t expect that, half a year later, this brat would suddenly return and kill Shi Xin.”
“Who told him?”
“I don’t know. After he killed Shi Xin, he changed his head and replaced his face, escaping Garan. Chi Yan also went missing in Xue Mountain, and the assassins I sent to stop and kill Chi Yan all went missing. Only now do I know Shi Xin’s true intentions.”
“Was it to send his children to escape from Garan at the cost of his own life? The abbot died, so Garan would be in chaos, and this would be the best opportunity to escape.” Baili Yuan squatted down and poked Chi Yan’s forehead, poking out a light red imprint. “But you’re wrong, Chi Yan didn’t have the antidote to Mid-July. When I found him, he had been bleeding from the seven facial apertures. Shi Xin just made Chi Yan come to kill my father. He wanted Xiahou Lian to live and wanted Chi Yan to die. Chi Yan helped Xiahou Lian destroy Garan so Xiahou Lian could live on smoothly.”
“Oh, is that so?” Duan Jiu stroked the windowsill and let out a low sigh. “It makes sense, Chi Yan was Shi Xin’s chosen killing weapon from the moment he was born. He was born to live in order to kill the Yama of the Baili clan.”
Baili Yuan examined Chi Yan’s sleeping face. Perhaps because of her poke, he wasn’t sleeping peacefully, and his brow was tightly furrowed. Baili Yuan tilted her head and smoothed his eyebrows for him, murmuring, “My brother is so pitiful, it’s fortunate I found him. I want to take him and my sister back to Xue Mountain, and we’ll live together happily as a family.”
“Yama, you shouldn’t be so sentimentally attached to personal relationships.” Duan Jiu reached out and caught the rainwater dripping down from the eaves. “I’m old, and reorganizing Garan took up too much of my mental and physical strengths. My saber wounds that haven’t healed for years are taking away my life. Now, whether it’s tobacco or Bliss Fruit, there’s no way to sedate my pain.”
Baili Yuan turned her head and gazed at Duan Jiu’s dark back. “Are you about to die?”
“Yama, I’ve already chosen the new Eight Legions for you. They will replace me in frightening all of the assassins for you.” Duan Jiu took his hand back, icy rainwater dripping between his fingers. “Next, I will kill Shen Jue for you and aid a governor who is willing to cooperate with us to take office. I’ve already paved the path for you, so Garan’s future will be in your hands, Yama.”
Baili Yuan stood up, silent. She recalled many years ago when she had been standing alone in the ruins of the Linbei Marquis Manor, indifferently gazing at the twisted corpses under the buildings’ remains. Her parents, three older brothers, three older sisters, and one little brother had been in there. This man had walked out of the red sunset that filled the sky with a bloody color, stood outside the many doors, and saluted with clasped hands to her from afar.
“Duan Jiu of Garan, willing to die the cruelest death for the new Yama.”
Baili Yuan said softly, “I’ll give you a proper burial, Mr. Du…”
Baili Yuan’s words suddenly stagnated. Behind her waist, there was a firm feeling and the sound of silk wool tearing, and a black figure straightened up from behind her. Duan Jiu swiftly pulled her in front of him and shouted loudly as a sharp whistling swept past his ear. A short black arrow sliced through the icy air, piercing into the shoulder of the person holding a saber and pinning him onto the wall.
The wooden saber fell to the ground, emitting a dull thud. Duan Jiu picked up the wooden saber and lightly rubbed the sharp blade of the wooden saber with his finger, sighing, “Chi Yan, Xiao Lian has taught you many things, you’ve learned to sharpen wooden sabers and even learned to play pretend.”
Baili Yuan touched the back of her waist. Her coat had broken, and she touched the chainmail underneath, icy to her fingers.
“Is Xiao Lian going to die?” Chi Yan asked in a low voice.
“Gege,” Baili Yuan called him softly, “I’ll give you a chance and won’t punish you. Don’t think about Xiahou Lian anymore, okay? Xiahou Pei wanted him, not you, and Shi Xin also wanted him and not you. Why do you still like him? I’m your little sister, we’re the same, we’re both people who’ve been abandoned by their family.”
Duan Jiu lit a candlelight, and the dark room was illuminated. Elongated shadows were cast on the wall, dancing along with the swaying candlelight that filled the room. Chi Yan pursed his lips as he pulled the short arrow out of his shoulder. Blood spurted out and Baili Yuan wanted to go over, but Duan Jiu reached out to stop her.
“Chi Yan, you still have a chance. Go and kill Shen Jue, and I’ll give you freedom and let you see Xiahou Lian’s skeleton,” said Duan Jiu.
Chi Yan ignored him, covering his shoulder as he pushed open the door and walked outside. The icy air seeped into his undergarments, and the sounds of hooves came from outside the wall, very even. They became further and further, and gradually could no longer be heard. In his daze, he felt panicked. His heart shrank in its cavity, and his chest became suffocated, unable to breathe. He panted, but even the chilly air was choking. There was a sweetness in his throat, and a warm fluid flowed out of his mouth. Immediately afterward, his eyes, nose, ears, and white yarn cross collar were stained with blood, like silently blooming red plums in the dark and heavy night.
He finally knelt down, closed his eyes, and fell into the bottomless darkness.
My goodness….. just when they confessed and made future plans…. Also what happened to CY could he feel his brothers despair??! I knew DJ put something in the wine. What is DJ really planning? I can’t believe he doesn’t have a second plan?? So heart breaking yet again… beautifully written though. Thank you for the translation and editing!
WHY just why can’t we have a little bit of PEACE, istg i was so happy they confessed but
god, why does a-lian suffer so much?!?
regardless of that, i love how the author writes, i can’t get over how they show the care that a-lian has for shen, it’s so idk, it’s not obsessive it’s more like shen jue is the only thing he has left and asking him to kill him ☹️☹️ almost made me burst in tears.
thanks for the chapter, as always, it’s amazing and i love it!!!!!
holy toledo what a chapter. whew, I was gonna write a comment but I have too many thoughts!
What a cliffhanger!!! What’s going to happen to XHL and CY?? Was CY also poisoned?
I cannot believe that Duan Jiu was behind everything! Why is he so loyal to the Baili clan??? And I feel so badly for CY. I wonder if he knew what his mission to kill the former Yama meant.
Strange how Baili Yuan still likes CY even though he just tried to kill her.
Thank you for the chatper!
Does nothing ever go right for XL and SJ?! XL was given Bliss Fruit in that wine, it seems. Either he and CY have twin telepathy, or both are unlucky enough to be suffering the effects of withdrawal.
When can they just be happy? 😔
I think BY and DJ (a character I really want to see suffer… death is too quick) have really lost CY now. Can he live?
Another cliff hanger 😬
Thanks for translating and editing.
This is the most painful and heart aching novel I have ever read but the plot is very interesting. Thumb up for the author plus thank you for translating and editing.
Thank You for the chapter (๑ơ ₃ ơ)♥
NOOOOOOO MY CHI YANNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!