The slender neck was wounded by a sharp weapon, and it was as tragically beautiful as a dying white crane.
“Do you know what kind of person I am? Do you dare to like me? Jiang Yanchi, which me do you like? The current Chu Xie, do you like him or not?”
A strand of hair hung down, and the enigmatic smile on his lips gradually softened and turned deceptive.
Chu Xie and Ah Mu.
Jiang Yanchi’s throat moved, and he was almost led astray.
He had to take a closer look; those eyes were so bewitching.
It was as if a pair of scissors had pierced his heart, causing it to skip a beat.
Chu Xie was a complete lunatic!
He was completely lost in thought and decided to take a step back first. “Let’s talk. Put down the scissors first.”
He laughed, could they still talk if he put it down?
“Now, issue an immediate decree to stop Jiang Jingan from leaving the city.”
“Alright, I’ll issue the decree.” Jiang Yanchi was pushed into a corner, took up the brush, and quickly wrote a royal decree, which he sealed with the imperial seal. He handed it over to Chu Xie to review and then dispatched it.
He wondered how this task could be completed to earn a five-point score. Did he really have to kill Jiang Jingan himself? Would it count if he used the Crown Prince to kill him?
Chu Xie was calculating in his mind, and Jiang Yanchi seized an opportunity. He kicked the scissors out of Chu Xie’s hand. The tip of the scissors barely grazed his chin, leaving a shallow red mark.
With a swift motion, he knocked the fallen scissors into a corner, creating a loud sound. He saw that the scissors were shattered into several pieces.
Seeing the man take two bold steps forward and no longer act as cautiously as before, Chu Xie sensed trouble. He instinctively moved backward, still issuing threats, “You need to think carefully. If I want to die, he won’t live. You…”
There was no time for further words. Jiang Yanchi, afraid of him biting his tongue, forcibly stuffed his mouth and pushed him onto the bed, spreading out his long limbs, binding them. Chu Xie’s body was feeble, incapable of struggling much so the restraints he had tied offered some room to maneuver. They were tight enough to prevent escape but not too uncomfortable.
Little Xizi brought clean clothes over, and the door was left ajar. He watched the scene from a distance and accidentally dropped what he was holding.
This… this… this scene, no matter how you look at it, is rather sensual.
“Chu Xie,” Jiang Yanchi lowered the blanket, carefully examining the injury on Chu Xie’s neck, which he found wasn’t deep. He had Little Xizi bring some ointment for the wound. He pressed Chu Xie’s shoulder down as he leaned over, his dark hair sweeping against Chu Xie’s chest. “Try moving again.”
He really didn’t move.
Bound like this, it was hard to assess the injury properly, but releasing Chu Xie would be risky. Jiang Yanchi decided to take off his boots and slip into the medicinal-scented blankets. He ran his hands carefully down from Chu Xie’s neck, ensuring there were no new wounds or bleeding.
The cold fabric pressed against Chu Xie’s skin, and the sensation behind him was enough to make anyone blush with a hint of embarrassment.
Jiang Yanchi didn’t notice, just focusing on checking the wound. Once he confirmed there were no new injuries, he breathed a sigh of relief. Without waiting for Little Xizi to bring fresh clothes, he realized that he and Chu Xie were nearly the same height. So, he took off his own inner garment and helped Chu Xie put it on loosely. With one hand free, he gently maneuvered one of Chu Xie’s hands into the sleeve and tied it, with the care and patience one might use with a doll.
After a while, Chu Xie buried his head in the blanket and fell silent.
Chu Xie had quieted down.
With nothing else to do, Jiang Yanchi laid under the blanket, feeling the warmth of the breath in his ears, and suddenly, his heart began to race.
It was quite noisy.
His throat moved, and he turned to look at Chu Xie, who was now extremely close, just an arm’s length away.
Chu Xie appeared to be awake, but he kept his eyes closed, seemingly wanting to ignore the world.
Being this close allowed Jiang Yanchi to see every one of Chu Xie’s eyelashes clearly, as well as the strands of hair at his temples. The porcelain-white skin was delicately laid over the slender muscles, with faint veins visible in the neck.
The scent of cypress seemed to be embedded in his very bones. After struggling and sweating, his body was warm and fragrant, like soft jade.
Chu Xie seemed to be genuinely tired now. Jiang Yanchi removed the cloth from his mouth.
Chu Xie’s nose was slightly pink, and his lips, now tinged with the scent of medicine, appeared even redder than usual.
He had been looking at this face for four or five years, yet he felt like he hadn’t realized before just how breathtakingly beautiful this person was.
Despite the arrival of autumn, the room felt unusually warm to Jiang Yanchi.
After tossing and turning for a while, a cool and slightly resigned voice came from behind. “I couldn’t sleep last night either. Can you untie me? I want to get some proper rest.”
There was a hint of complaint in the voice, quite normal, but the Crown Prince managed to detect a bit of helplessness.
“You tied me up, and I can’t sleep.”
Seeing that Jiang Yanchi didn’t respond, Chu Xie made his request more seriously.
“I’m really tired.”
Jiang Yanchi turned to look at Chu Xie’s profile and asked, “Are you planning to take your own life?”
“I wasn’t planning to do that.” Chu Xie snorted. “I just wanted to take advantage of you. Please untie me. Don’t forget, if you tie me up, you’re also tying him up.”
He was not sure if it was the last sentence that had an effect or something else, but Jiang Yanchi hesitated for a moment and then loosened the rope that bound Chu Xie’s feet.
Chu Xie tasted a little sweetness in his success and immediately turned to look at Jiang Yanchi with half-closed, drowsy eyes. “Untie my hands too.”
Seeing Chu Xie so close made Jiang Yanchi’s spine tingle.
Silently, he untied Chu Xie’s hands.
Though the bindings weren’t too tight, two faint red marks could still be seen on Chu Xie’s wrists. He rubbed his wrists irritably, rolled over, and tried to sleep.
However, Jiang Yanchi found himself unable to doze off. He couldn’t help feeling confused.
Ah Mu was like the bright moon in the night sky, distant and out of reach. But Chu Xie was like the snow-covered red plum, alluring and vibrant.
It’s clearly one person, yet split into two extremes of good and evil.
Clearly, they have two personalities, but somehow, they always feel somewhat similar.
In some aspects, neither of them has any guard up. He’s lying beside him like this, and yet, he can sleep so peacefully. In one moment, he threatens fiercely as if his life depends on it, and in the next moment, he accepts the situation, curling up obediently beside him.
Jiang Yanchi gazed at the fair neck peeking out from his clothing.
It’s just like the one who taught me to play the zither and perform music that day, Ah Mu.
Be it Chu Xie or himself, they may seem to hold high positions, but they are just lost souls in the world, with no one to rely on, caught in the endless struggles of the capital city. Only by climbing upward, even at the cost of their lives, can they gain a sliver of a chance to survive.
Perhaps they are one and the same person.
If not for Chu Xie’s ruthlessness, how could kind-hearted Ah Mu have survived to this day?
His heart softened a bit more. After taking the painkillers, Chu Xie fell into a drowsy state, and Jiang Yanchi held him gently, his delicate waist nestled against him.
This man was quite frail, and he needed to be well taken care of.
He was obviously quite sensitive to the cold; as soon as he felt warmth, he pressed closer. He was quite different from when he had awakened, so irritable and demanding.
Chu Xie slept through the entire afternoon and woke up only in the late evening.
He abruptly opened his eyes and found the Crown Prince right next to him. The Crown Prince was frowning in his sleep as though he was burdened by various worries. This sight immediately set Chu Xie’s heart racing, making him feel uneasy.
He looked at the bright moonlight outside the window. It was nighttime.
To his surprise, he found his hands and feet were free. After some recollection, he remembered that he had uttered a few conciliatory words to Jiang Yanchi when he was extremely tired. In response, Jiang Yanchi had decided to untie him.
The little crown prince appeared fearsome, but he actually preferred to have things go his way.
Chu Xie raised an eyebrow.
So easy to talk to, so easy to talk to.
He didn’t like men, but if it would help him complete the task and get what he wanted, whether it was coaxing or threatening, he was willing to try any method.
Coincidentally, it was nighttime.
However, since he had decided to take a more gentle approach, he couldn’t be too forceful. He needed to try a different strategy, a kinder one.
Planning is in the hands of man, while success is in the hands of heaven.
Just as he was about to make a slight move to get up, the hand wrapped around his waist immediately tightened, pulling him back into the embrace before he even fully awoke. Then, he saw a pair of drowsy eyes open.
In an instant, the clarity returned to his eyes, and his voice carried a hint of hoarseness and intimidation, “Where are you going?”
Chu Xie stammered for a moment.
Jiang Yanchi seemed to sense something and looked at the moonlight.
With a gentler gaze, he relaxed his grip and pulled Chu Xie closer to him. It was hard to resist.
“Wherever you want to go, I’ll go with you,” Jiang Yanchi said in a soft, soothing voice, like an obedient and loyal dog clinging to its master.
“I need to… use the restroom…”
Chu Xie was really feeling the urgency.
Drinking bowl after bowl of that medicine soup, who could hold it in?
“I’ll have someone fetch…”
“I don’t want to do it here, I…”
It was embarrassing to have servants waiting on him while he needed to relieve himself here.
Jiang Yanchi paused for a moment, then lifted the bedding to help Chu Xie put on a thicker outer garment. He kicked the messy cloth ropes and blood-stained torn undergarments to the side before Chu Xie had even gotten up.
He draped his raven-black cloak over Chu Xie and fastened the collar strap for him, but he wasn’t careful enough to avoid brushing over the neck wound with his fingertips.
A deep gleam appeared in Jiang Yanchi’s eyes.
“You just applied medicine. It’s difficult for you to move around. I’ll carry you.”
Jiang Yanchi helped Chu Xie’s hand to wrap around his neck. With ease, he lifted Chu Xie, whose body felt as light as a paper kite. “Don’t worry, I won’t look at you.”
The moonlight, as bright as frost, cast its glow on the blue bricks and white tiles.
With Chu Xie supported by Jiang Yanchi, they strolled in the garden, taking slow steps to help him relax his muscles and bones. If it were daytime, Jiang Yanchi would never let Chu Xie move around, let alone walk freely without being tied up.
Jiang Yanchi cherished this moment of tranquility immensely.
He wished they could walk together until daybreak.
“Your Highness, do you like me?”
Under the moonlight, in the pairs of shadows, Chu Xie stopped in his tracks. The cold mist behind the artificial hill moistened the tips of his shoes, creating a small dark spot.
“Do you truly understand me, Your Highness? Is your affection for me genuine?” Chu Xie’s gaze didn’t waver, displaying inner strength beneath his outward gentleness. “Your Highness’ feelings for me, are they truly out of affection?”
Jiang Yanchi seemed to anticipate what he was going to say and replied confidently, “Of course.”
Chu Xie shook his head. “Your Highness was born in the cold palace and was never well-treated since you were a child. I was one of the few people who cared for you. Your Highness, in your desire for this kindness, has mistaken it for affection.”
“When you see something you desire, you hold onto it and refuse to let go.”
The moonlight was shrouded by clouds and mist, making the shadows on the ground unclear. Even the expression on the person in front of him seemed to darken.
“Your Highness, this is not love at all. It’s merely wanting to keep something that seems good to you.”
Jiang Yanchi was stunned.
“No, that’s not it.” He hurriedly refuted, “How can you think of me that way? I know you’ve suffered a lot in the past. Right now, I don’t want to possess you; I want to protect you…”
“Your Highness’s infatuation with me is no different from how one might like a little cat or dog,” Chu Xie said, with a hint of nobility in his tone, and the reflection on the water’s surface was shattered.