Chapter 23: Danger
You, you b*stard.
Could you please stop asking questions one after another that I can’t answer!
“I… I’m feeling better now,” Chu Xie reflected for a moment, thinking that it might be because his body had suffered severe injuries last time and hadn’t fully recovered yet, causing insufficient blood supply to his brain, which made him struggle to respond today.
He had no choice but to change the subject again, very awkwardly. “Shall we go to the lantern festival?”
Jiang Yanchi stared at him for a while, then glanced at the vermilion door again.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Chu Xie walked ahead, and Jiang Yanchi followed slowly. When they passed by the door, Jiang Yanchi suddenly swept his sleeve and the door latch fell to the ground with a loud noise, causing the door to swing open.
Chu Xie’s heart leaped to his throat, and he exclaimed, “You!”
As far as his eyes could see, there was nothing inside.
Xu Chunmu was gone.
Chu Xie broke out in a cold sweat, swallowed hard, and lowered his voice even more, “You… why did you break the door like that?”
Jiang Yanchi withdrew his gaze, a hint of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “Oh, I lost my balance for a moment and used it to support myself. I didn’t expect the door to be so fragile, and it just opened when I pushed it.”
This lie came so easily, you little rascal.
Clearly, he heard some movement inside and became suspicious, thinking there might be assassins.
In any case, it’s a relief that Xu Chunmu is clever. He narrowly escaped danger.
“What kind of lantern do you like?” Jiang Yanchi walked with him out of the dark alley, entering another bright and bustling world. The crowd was dense, and Jiang Yanchi reached out to grab Chu Xie’s delicate wrist to make sure he didn’t get lost when he turned around. “Pick the one you like, and I’ll buy it for you.”
“No need, I…”
Jiang Yanchi’s voice was low, and he suddenly turned to Chu Xie. “You’ve been rejecting me all day.”
“Ha– have I?”
Jiang Yanchi let go of his hand, and his fingertips, slightly curved, reached towards the mask on Chu Xie’s face. “Isn’t this mask cumbersome? Why don’t you take it off?”
Chu Xie immediately stepped back. “No, there’s no need! I don’t want people to see that we have a close relationship…”
Jiang Yanchi chuckled softly. “You see.” He silently withdrew his hand. “Today, it seems like you can only say ‘no’ and ‘can’t’.”
“Then what can I do? Tell me.”
Chu Xie picked up an ordinary lotus lantern nearby. “How about this one? I quite like it.”
He didn’t want to buy it, making Jiang Yanchi unhappy, but by pretending to agree, he felt even more frustrated in his heart.
But on the surface, he still smiled and said, “Okay.”
Turning around, he noticed a bright red celosia flower reaching out from the wall, its buds about to bloom, adorned with a few fully bloomed ones, swaying in the night breeze. He seemed to remember something and approached, plucking a branch from it.
“When I used to live in the Cold Palace, every year in June and July, the pear blossoms in the southwest corner would be in full bloom,” Jiang Yanchi held the branch, and there was a hint of sadness in his smile. His eyes were a bit red, and he continued, “My mother loved flowers, but she can’t see them anymore.”
Even his nose was turning red, showing that this scene truly touched his heart.
How come they can’t grow celosia flowers in the Southern Territories, where various strange flowers and plants flourish?
Upon careful thought, he realized that it had been more than three years since he last let him see his mother.
In seven days, he was afraid he would “depart this world.” Now that Jiang Yanchi had grown up and understood the gravity of the situation, it was time to arrange for this matter. He needed to secretly reunite the mother and son.
As he looked at Jiang Yanchi’s current appearance, he suddenly recalled the young boy from a few years ago, when he had just taken him out of the Cold Palace. Back then, he was ragged and worn, yet his face still had that youthful charm with rosy lips and white teeth.
Back then, his chest was high with youthful vigor.
Other people’s children grow up so fast.
Jiang Yanchi was momentarily stunned.
Chu Xie reached out and pinched Jiang Yanchi’s face, pulling it forcefully. “Don’t grieve like this. Pain and suffering are only temporary. Your better days are ahead, Your Highness.”
“What did you call me?”
Didn’t Duan Se call him that? Chu Xie suddenly realized that Xu Chunmu should not have met Duan Se.
Calmly, he took the branch of celosia Flowers from Jiang Yanchi’s hand and explained as if unintentional, “Your Highness, I apologize for being presumptuous by calling you ‘Ah Yu.’ It was inappropriate of me.”
“It’s not inappropriate. My mother used to call me that too.”
Jiang Yanchi then picked two fully bloomed celosia flowers from the branch, crushed them in his palm, and said, “Do you know that celosia flowers have other uses? I used to make something with my mother using these.”
Jiang Yanchi held Chu Xie’s hand again and gently rubbed the crushed petals onto his pinky fingernail, the touch feeling cool and gentle.
Chu Xie thought that Duan Se had really raised him like a girl. What is he teaching him?
Seeming dissatisfied with the color, he repeated the application several times until the faint red gradually became more vivid. Then, he let go of Chu Xie’s hand and asked, “Doesn’t it look nice?”
It’s strange. What guy would apply bright red nail polish to their fingernails, especially on their pinky?
Chu Xie remained silent.
“Is it not nice?”
When you firmly secure the throne, you can do this every day for your mother. Don’t drag me into it.
Jiang Yanchi held the fair and delicate hand, his gaze darkening as he looked at the snow-white fingers adorned with a touch of plum blossom-like redness.
“Let’s go, I’ll escort you back to the Chu Mansion.”
The Chu Mansion was in the heart of the capital city, just a couple of streets away.
As Chu Xie took a step forward, the steward from his own mansion stopped him. “May I ask who you are, my lord?”
D*mn, this mask is really effective. Even our own mansion’s steward can’t recognize me.
Chu Xie glanced at the nearby Crown Prince and turned back to raise his voice a bit. “Your Highness, why don’t you go back first?”
“Since I’ve arrived, I’ll watch you go inside before leaving,” the young crown prince said as he approached. “What’s the matter?”
Don’t ask, it’s a headache.
Footsteps approached the door again, and they must have said something to the steward inside. He hurriedly welcomed the person in. “So, it’s Young Marquis. My apologies for not recognizing you immediately. Please come in.”
Chu Xie’s heart returned to its place.
“Then I’ll go in first.”
Jiang Yanchi simply nodded and watched as the person entered Chu residence before leaving.
Chu Xie found the red color on his fingertips somewhat striking. He had never liked the color red.
So, he had someone fetch a basin of clear water for washing. Surprisingly, even after washing multiple times, the color didn’t fade. He asked Tao Li about it, and Tao Li said, “Why would master dye his nails with celosia flowers? There are plenty of good dyes available outside. Only children from poor families use this.”
Tao Li took another look at his fingertip. “It’s dyed so deeply. It won’t fade for at least ten days or two weeks. Oh my, what should we do? There’s a palace banquet in five days, and we can’t let people see this as a joke.”
Hearing this, Chu Xie’s heart sank, realizing that this could turn into a big problem.
In a hurry, he had Tao Li pick some celosia flowers and, with a basin full of flowers, went to knock on Xu Chunmu’s door in the middle of the night.
Xu Chunmu was in the middle of packing.
“Why are you packing?” Chu Xie put down the basket of flowers.
“Didn’t you not want me to stay at your mansion,” Xu Chunmu said, without any hint of anger. “It’s fine; I can move to my brother’s place.”
“No need to rush like that,” Chu Xie said, sitting down next to him in a friendly manner. “How much did you hear today?”
Xu Chunmu didn’t answer directly and asked, “Why did you lie to the Crown Prince and say you’re the little Maruis of the Xu family?”
“If you don’t want to answer, that’s fine,” Xu Chunmu seemed to have some guesses but didn’t rush to question him.
“But I need to ask you for a favor.”
For the first time, he used the word “favor.”
Xu Chunmu paused his packing and glanced at the celosia flowers. “Speak.”
Chu Xie extended his hand, showing Xu Chunmu the crimson tint on his pinky finger, and said, “Could you… maybe dye your nail like this too?”
Xu Chunmu sighed as if a bit helpless. “You are quite meticulous in your actions.”
As a military man, Xu Chunmu should detest these feminine behaviors like painting nails. Chu Xie had originally thought he would need to put in some effort to convince him. Unexpectedly, Xu Chunmu extended his left hand toward Chu Xie. “Go ahead.”
Chu Xie, imitating Jiang Yanchi’s actions, first picked a few fully bloomed celosia flowers, crushed them into small clusters, and carefully applied them to Xu Chunmu’s clean pinky finger, being cautious not to touch the surrounding skin.
He was indeed quite detail-oriented.
After finishing the task with great care, Xu Chunmu thought for a moment, wanting to unfasten Chu Xie’s clothing to check the wound on his back. However, Chu Xie, holding a basket of flowers, walked while saying, “It’s alright. Tao Li will apply the medicine for me. Your medicine is very effective; I have to thank you.”
Hearing this thank you, Xu Chunmu frowned deeply.
He always felt that the Chu Xie in front of him didn’t quite match the image he had in his memories from his previous life.
But then again, he had never interacted with him so closely in his previous life. Many things he only learned after his death… Ultimately, he had never really understood what kind of person Chu Xie was.
In this lifetime, he was reborn without participating in the Jinhuan Gambling House incident, and he hadn’t even set foot in the capital.
He wanted to see what Chu Xie intended to do without his intervention, but in the end, Chu Xie still lost to the Crown Prince at the Jinhuan Gambling House, poisoned the Crown Prince in the Eastern Palace, and the Crown Prince survived.
Step by step, everything was the same as in his previous life.
Why was that?
Jiang Yanchi was a puppet he had carefully nurtured, so why was he killing him on one hand and trying to save him on the other?
This ambiguity in his attitude towards the Zhenguo Marquis Mansion was similar.
They had been in conflict for ten years, and several times he had barely escaped from his grandfather’s hands. Since taking power, he had been suppressing the Xu family everywhere.
However, he secretly acted as if he were from the Xu family, assisting the Crown Prince, trying to gain favor with the future new ruler—a ruler who had been residing in the capital for ten years without achieving any success. It was clear that this matter was related to him.
So why did he act like this?
But there was one thing Xu Chunmu was almost certain of—Chu Xie was definitely connected to the Yongan Uprising in countless ways.
That was why, in his previous life, he had gone mad and framed Chen Lianzhou, leading to his public execution by dismemberment.
He stared at the touch of crimson on his pinky finger, like a flame burning at his fingertip, scorching his usually cold soul.
He couldn’t let Chu Xie kill Chen Lianzhou.
If Chen Lianzhou died, Chu Xie wouldn’t live either.
All mysteries will eventually be unraveled, but before that happens, Chu Xie couldn’t afford to be caught in the murky and unpredictable undercurrents of the imperial city, as he had been in his previous life.
After a sleepless night, when Xu Chunmu woke up the next day, he heard that the Crown Prince was inviting him to go hunting outside the western city gate.
It seemed that Jiang Yanchi was frequently visiting the Chu Mansion these days.
Xu Chunmu declined his invitation with a calm tone, and when he bowed and saluted, the bright red on his pinky finger caught the person’s attention. Jiang Yanchi clearly noticed it.
After the man left, Little Xizi followed and muttered softly in Jiang Yanchi’s ear, “Your Highness, perhaps you’re being overly suspicious. Look, the young Marquis’s pinky finger also has marks on it, so that young master Ah Mu must be young Marquis Xu.”
Jiang Yanchi’s gaze was dark and complex. The streets were still sparsely populated at the moment, and he stared at the distant figure, lost in thought.
“Lift the city restrictions and open up the capital. There’s no need to search the whole city for him.”
Little Xizi felt as if he had received a royal decree but heard the next sentence, “Keep a close watch on the Chu Mansion and Xu Chunmu.”
Jiang Yanchi’s voice gradually turned cold, “That person is right beside Xu Chunmu.”
Singing this double act so well in front of me.
The Xu family is quite skilled.
Author’s Note: Xu Chunmu is in danger.
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