A hand slowly extended, stealthily reaching for the Eastern Palace insignia on his waist.
Chu Xie was trying to steal his Eastern Palace insignia.
He had insisted on protecting Chu Xie in the midst of this chaos, but the person only seemed interested in plotting against him.
Even the moments of tenderness they had shared earlier appeared to be nothing more than an illusion, like a cold bucket of water being poured over his head, washing away any bittersweet pleasure he had felt.
Jiang Yanchi finally understood why Chu Xie had managed to capture three commanderies in such a short time when dealing with Huchi Er. This man was skilled at seizing opportunities and acted swiftly and decisively.
Most of the time, he was ruthless and formidable, keeping people at a distance.
But for some reason, he was also a delicate and elegant beauty that tempted people into seeking him out. Just like a vibrant and poisonous fruit.
However, anyone who dared to approach him would be bitten back, their blood spilled, and they would meet their end in agony.
Sensing that the insignia at his waist had been removed, Jiang Yanchi hesitated for a moment and then made a resolute decision.
He reached out and grabbed the hand that was trying to take his insignia, saying in a cold voice, “You certainly have quite a few tricks.”
Visible to the naked eye, the person’s back had gone stiff. Jiang Yanchi waved his hand, dispersing the person who had just applied the medicine. The room was filled with a strong herbal scent, masking the faint fragrance on Chu Xie.
This also suppressed Jiang Yanchi’s momentary wandering thoughts.
“Last time, your hand was almost chopped off. Haven’t you learned your lesson?” Jiang Yanchi pinched his wrist, applied a bit of internal force, and the person winced in pain, releasing their grip.
How could he have known that his hand had almost been chopped off by Huchi Er?
Chu Xie hesitated for a moment, but Jiang Yanchi quickly retrieved his Eastern Palace insignia.
He pulled the person’s hand and made Chu Xie fall onto him. Jiang Yanchi tore the torn cloth and proceeded to bind his hands before taking a bowl of medicinal paste and applying it to the wounds on his back.
His movements were swift, like that of an emotionless machine.
It seemed as if he just wanted to finish applying the medicine quickly and be done with this matter.
Chu Xie was truly in pain, but the man’s actions showed no hesitation.
Sensing that the Crown Prince’s hand was now tugging at the ties of his lower garment, Chu Xie suddenly struggled again. Jiang Yanchi lowered his head and pressed it down, saying, “What are you doing?!”
If it were a maid or a physician applying medicine to him, Chu Xie wouldn’t have minded. But now, there were only two people left in the room, and he was being asked to undress completely. Chu Xie felt extremely uncomfortable and protested, “You… you call a maidservant to help me apply the medicine!”
Jiang Yanchi thought that this was another one of his strange thoughts. Without saying a word, he pulled at his belt, hooked his fingers under the lower garment’s ties, and pulled them off, leaving them aside.
Then, he untied the pristine white silk undergarment without hesitation.
Seeing the injuries up close, Jiang Yanchi couldn’t help but gasp. The injuries on the lower half of Chu Xie’s body were far more severe than those on his back. When he had given the order to execute him back in the prison, the jailer had been ruthless, and the first twenty-something blows had been brutal. It had almost taken this man’s life.
He couldn’t help but recall the image of Chu Xie lying unconscious in the dimly lit cell at that time.
Jiang Yanchi’s breath caught in his throat.
Why hadn’t Chu Xie mentioned that he was Ah Mu at that time?
He cut the remaining fabric with scissors while thinking about how this person had been taken to the bitterly cold northern territories again. The Xu family couldn’t afford to keep him, so he had to carry his injuries and follow Xu Chunmu, roaming and fleeing in that frigid region. He hadn’t received proper care for this whole month.
The western region erupted in conflict, and he didn’t know why he had fallen into the hands of the Northern Xiong again. It was only with great difficulty that he sought help from Xu Chunmu and finally managed to escape alive.
This escape had been even more perilous than the last.
Yet, the fact that this person had returned to his side unharmed was incredibly lucky.
His hand, holding the scissors, was trembling slightly.
Perhaps it wasn’t just luck.
Perhaps he was very clever.
The process of cleaning the tattered, unhealed areas and reapplying medicine was quite lengthy. Back when Jiang Yanchi was in the Cold Palace, he was once beaten by the eunuchs from the outside in an almost life-threatening manner just for stealing some charcoal. His hand’s bones had almost been shattered. He had returned and treated himself according to medical books without daring to tell Duan Se.
He also pretended to be hurt many times in the past.
But it’s nothing compared to the severity of the injuries he has now.
Looking at Chu Xie’s arrogant and domineering appearance, who would have thought he was so badly injured on the inside.
“Back in Zhao Prison, didn’t you ever think I might really kill you?” Jiang Yanchi’s tone was steady as he applied medicine, his eyes slightly red. He asked, “Why didn’t you say anything…” He stopped halfway, unable to continue.
At that moment, he had clearly silenced Chu Xie himself.
Chu Xie rolled his eyes in silence, thinking you didn’t give me a chance to defend myself back then.
“Aren’t you afraid?”
Jiang Yanchi lowered the fabric, wiping Chu Xie’s legs. He supported him by the waist, feeling that this man was indeed too thin.
Chu Xie still didn’t answer, silently muttering to himself, “Is being afraid of you going to change anything? If I were, you wouldn’t have killed me?”
“Chu Xie, do you have something you’re afraid of?”
He had been holding his breath, not wanting to engage in this pointless conversation, but Jiang Yanchi’s persistent questioning wore him down. Unable to resist any longer, he buried his head and asked, “Jiang Yanchi, do you find this amusing?”
The question was sharp, but it carried a hint of embarrassment.
Jiang Yanchi finally sensed that something was off.
Chu Xie’s ears were turning red.
Before, when he saw the gruesome injuries all over Chu Xie’s body, he was horrified. But now, hearing the unusual tone of this question, he suddenly realized something.
It felt like a fire had been lit in his chest, a burning sensation in his throat.
He had no intention of humiliating him.
After applying the medicine, Jiang Yanchi pulled up the blanket to cover Chu Xie’s pale body. He bundled up a part of the blanket and laid it beside him.
The blood-stained clothes and underwear were thrown to the side.
Chu Xie, with his back turned, still had red ears. Jiang Yanchi’s heart began to feel a peculiar emotion, looking at the man’s silhouette and thinking of Ah Mu, who wore a mask under the pear tree at night.
Chu Xie during the day and Chu Xie at night were fundamentally two completely different personalities.
How did he suddenly connect the two?
Physician Liu, who specialized in treating psychogenic disorders, was secretly brought into the Eastern Palace. Jiang Yanchi described the symptoms in detail, and the physician nodded, saying, “Indeed, this is a rare condition caused by severe childhood trauma. But it’s exceedingly rare, and I don’t know how to treat it. I also don’t know what Lord Chu will be like in the future…”
“Is it possible for these two personalities to merge?” Jiang Yanchi asked.
“I’m not sure, but I had a fellow villager who was like that. They said he was possessed by a spirit. They consulted witch doctors, but it was futile. He was gentle and honest during the day, but at night, he would get up and kill people. In the end, he couldn’t be cured, and he took his own life…”
As the physician uttered the last few words, the prince’s gaze became filled with hostility.
The physician quickly changed the subject.
“Rumor has it that this person was scared by witnessing someone commit a murder at night, which led to his illness. Your Highness might want to have a heart-to-heart talk with Lord Chu, try to find out the deep-seated issues in his heart that he can’t resolve… A troubled heart requires heart medicine.”
The physician took a few steps toward the half-open door and peered at the man lying down inside. He asked, “Which personality is he now, and may I go in to see him?”
“He’s the more aggressive one.”
“In that case, perhaps next time.”
Physician Liu wiped his sweat and motioned the Crown Prince to step into the corridor, away from the door. He whispered, “These are some calming and soothing medicines. I’ve already examined them, and they don’t conflict with the medicines used for treating external injuries. You can take them together without any harm to your body. However, I cannot guarantee any effects. Mental illnesses and hysteria are incredibly complex, and these peculiar symptoms are rarely seen, mostly just in ancient texts. I’m helpless, and I’m afraid I can’t be of much help.”
Jiang Yanchi took the medicine and heard some movement from inside the room. He handed the medicine back to the physician, saying, “Go brew it.” Then he turned and entered the room.
He had been too careless. Even though he had only left for a moment, he should have assigned a couple of people to watch over this person.
Chu Xie was still in the same position as when he’d first arrived, as if he hadn’t moved an inch the entire time. This made Jiang Yanchi doubt whether he had misheard anything earlier.
He had a slight build, was injured, and now his hands were bound.
What could he possibly do?
Jiang Yanchi was both skeptical and cautious. He carefully surveyed the room and found nothing out of the ordinary compared to when he had left. His gaze then settled on the bedside medicine bowl, where he noticed something was missing.
It was the pair of scissors.
The scissors that the medical officer had brought to cut Chu Xie’s clothes had disappeared/
Listening to the man’s feigned even breathing, Jiang Yanchi approached slowly, sitting by the bedside. Before he could say anything, the person under the covers moved slightly.
“Did you think you could kill me with those scissors?” Jiang Yanchi sneered. “Give them to me.”
The scissors were indeed sharp, and he didn’t want him to accidentally injure himself.
He didn’t say the second half of that thought out loud.
Seeing that Chu Xie didn’t make any movements, Jiang Yanchi reached out to grab them. But he saw that Chu Xie had already cut the bandages binding his own wrists. He didn’t wave the scissors to harm the crown prince but rather placed them against his own fair and delicate neck.
Jiang Yanchi’s pupils suddenly contracted, and he dared not reach further.
“You know my secret, don’t you?”
“Then you should also know where the person you’re looking for is.”
Chu Xie was the most cunning and sly fox in the world. He could swiftly identify people’s weaknesses and exploit them, hitting the mark every time.
The mockery at the corner of his mouth was so piercing.
Jiang Yanchi could no longer maintain his composure. He abruptly stood up, his emotions in turmoil.
“So you like ‘me’ after all.” Chu Xie extended the scissors, the sharp tip piercing his own skin. A drop of blood oozed from his fair neck.
“What do you want? Just say it,” Jiang Yanchi said in a deep voice. He appeared composed, but his trembling hand within his sleeve betrayed his true emotions.
“Jiang Jingan can’t leave the city.”
Chu Xie got straight to the point, his icy eyes boring into the depths of Jiang Yanchi’s soul. “Listen carefully. I want him dead.”
“He can’t die. If he dies, all fingers will point to both of us in the capital city. I, as the Crown Prince, may have some room for negotiation, but you…”
“I don’t care.” Chu Xie tightened his grip on the scissors in his hand, making a gesture as if to plunge them deeper. “Jiang Yanchi, my affairs are none of your concern.”
Jiang Yanchi’s face turned pale, and his tone was no longer as indifferent as before.
“If you want to kill Jiang Jingan, there’s no need to rush. Give it some more time…”
Leaning on his elbow, Chu Xie slowly sat up. His deep brown eyes were like the autumn wind rustling through the trees, shaking the new leaves on the branches.
Although his body was hidden under the thick blanket, it couldn’t conceal the deep hollow of his collarbone and his fair, almost porcelain-like shoulders.
“I don’t want to wait.”
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