Of course, there is a difference.
Jiang Yanchi had never imagined that there could be such a misunderstanding. He hurriedly took a few quick steps, circled around to stand in front of Chu Xie, and his dark eyes were tinged with red, full of grievances. “I do like you, not like I would a little cat or dog. Ah Mu, I…”
Chu Xie coldly took a step back. “Your Highness, I am not Ah Mu.”
His voice seemed to carry an unyielding chill.
“I am Chu Xie.”
“Even if I’m not a little cat or dog, Your Highness should think it through. If you keep me in the capital for a day, I will only bring endless troubles to you.” He felt that his persuasive skills were top-notch and believed he had identified Jiang Yanchi’s weaknesses.
Indeed, Chu Xie noticed a subtle change in Jiang Yanchi’s expression.
Chu Xie was confident in his persuasive skills and believed he had found a chink in Jiang Yanchi’s armor.
So, he continued to build on his argument.
“That ‘Chu Xie’ during the day is not easy to deal with, is he?”
The gaze was indifferent.
When he felt the timing was right, Chu Xie revealed his ultimate goal.
“Your Highness, send me back to the Northern Territories.”
The plot doesn’t necessarily have to follow a fixed path. After all, he wanted to keep Xu Chunmu by his side, ensuring he could protect him. As for Jiang Jingan, he can let him go.
Chu Xie understood the young crown prince’s predicament as the main character, needing to protect his career, and was willing to compromise.
His only goal was to protect Xu Chunmu and return to the mortal world. He didn’t want to see the young crown prince facing insurmountable difficulties or a world in chaos.
“Northern Territory?” Jiang Yanchi asked in return, then pondered for a moment before murmuring, “The one who wanted to go to the North Territory is you.”
He had initially assumed it was daytime Chu Xie who was determined to go to the North Territory to kill Xu Yi.
However, he hadn’t expected it to be Ah Mu making this request.
Jiang Yanchi recalled that when Xu Chunmu took Chu Xie to the Northern Territories to bury, it was during the night.
Xu Chunmu had seen Ah Mu during that night.
As he had described, the daytime Chu Xie was difficult to handle, so how had the refined Xu Chunmu managed to control the daytime Chu Xie?
Too many questions weighed on Jiang Yanchi’s mind, leaving him confused.
He could only start by asking about his motives, “What do you want to do in the Northern Territories?”
Chu Xie was caught off guard and mumbled a couple of vague words, “I don’t like the capital. Going to the Northern Territories, at least with Xu Chunmu…”
Hearing that name mentioned by Chu Xie, Jiang Yanchi’s expression darkened. He furrowed his brow and said, “You trust him that much? Do you know what Xu Yi…”
“Xu Yi is Xu Yi, Xu Chunmu is Xu Chunmu.”
Chu Xie sighed, mixing truth and falsehood. Jiang Yanchi was pressing for his purpose, so he had to improvise on the spot. “The world is vast, but when I was facing condemnation and criticism, the one who protected me at the coffin was only him. He’s the only one I can trust.”
The meaning of his words was clear – he was politely declining.
But Jiang Yanchi seemed to have detected an underlying message and his face instantly changed.
His eyes gained a hint of fierceness.
“You, you’re not about to tell me that you and him…”
Chu Xie reacted quickly, knowing that the Crown Prince’s mind was always filled with love and romance. With just a few words, he could imagine some dramatic love-hate entanglement.
He promptly interrupted his daydream.
“Your Highness, you’ve misunderstood. I don’t have that kind of relationship with Young Marquis Xu.” He explained clearly, “I don’t like men.”
This explanation caused Jiang Yanchi’s heart to fluctuate.
It was as if he had fallen from one icy cave into another.
However, his gaze softened, and he reluctantly lifted the corners of his mouth. “If you only want to live a peaceful life, why go to the Northern Territories? I can…”
“I just want to go to the Northern Territories.”
Chu Xie emphasized again.
It seemed like he didn’t want to explain any further and wasn’t open to negotiation.
Although he spoke gently and had a kind disposition, the manner in which he asserted himself through conversation was exactly the same as daytime Chu Xie.
Both were strong-willed and unwilling to yield an inch.
One was fierce on the surface but tender inside, and the other was gentle on the surface but resilient inside.
Both presented challenges.
Jiang Yanchi couldn’t handle either of them, so he could only stall for time. “I will consider it…”
Seeing that he looked a bit dejected, Chu Xie felt some sympathy. After all, he was a seventeen or eighteen-year-old young man just starting to experience love, and he had to deal with such a complicated situation.
He was afraid that he would be scarred and too afraid to love in the future.
If he left after completing his mission, Jiang Yanchi might develop trauma as an emperor. What if he becomes a monk? It was a bit disheartening considering he had watched him grow up.
Seeing Jiang Yanchi with his brows furrowed, Chu Xie reached out and ruffled his head, realizing that he had grown slightly taller than himself.
“Your Highness, you’re still young. You’ll find mutual love in the future.”
With that, he turned to leave, but he felt his sleeve being tugged from behind.
Chu Xie was stunned.
Jiang Yanchi, with red eyes and a choked voice, said, “No.”
He said, “There’s no one else.”
“How can there be no one else? Our Highness is handsome, talented in both literature and martial arts…”
Jiang Yanchi just tightened his grip on Chu Xie’s sleeve, stubbornly repeating, “Without you, there will be no one else.”
Listening to the choked words, Chu Xie’s scalp tingled.
It was this moment of hesitation that led the Crown Prince to embrace him from behind. His chin rested on Chu Xie’s shoulder without applying any force, and Chu Xie felt the moistness at his neck.
“I know you don’t like me. But please, don’t leave.”
“I know you dislike being in the capital, but please, stay.”
Stay, please stay.
This question pierced Chu Xie’s heart.
Jiang Yanchi sensed that the person in his arms seemed to be frightened by something. He had been gentle, and with a sudden shiver, he got rid of the embrace, turning back. “Your Highness, you’re going to be the emperor in the future. Acting like this… It’s not fitting.”
Jiang Yanchi, however, took the opportunity to get closer. Their heights were quite similar, and he reached out, grabbing the other’s arm and pulling him in. He pressed his forehead against the other’s forehead, his hand on the shoulder. Their breaths were close but without crossing any boundaries.
Under the moonlight, the two figures intertwined, and for a moment, it seemed as though they were intertwined and lying together, creating an illusion of a tender embrace.
Their noses brushed against each other.
“I don’t want to be an emperor. It’s you who pushed me into this position. Chu Zhangyin, you have to take responsibility.”
Those eyes, so close, were tinged with a hint of red, mixed with a touch of resentment and a trace of expectation.
In this moment, it truly seemed like he was a heartless lover.
“How could this be appropriate…”
“Then tell me, what is appropriate?” Jiang Yanchi pulled him even closer, and tentatively lowered his gaze, settling on the other’s lips, as if he wanted to draw closer. “You’ve lectured me with so many grand truths, but I simply don’t understand.”
“Stay, don’t leave. If you want me to be a certain kind of emperor, I’ll be that kind of emperor. How about that?”
Their lips were about to meet, but Chu Xie moved aside, and Jiang Yanchi’s lips only brushed against his cheek. Sensing his firm resistance, Jiang Yanchi’s eyes showed a hint of unyielding determination, but he didn’t press any further, releasing Chu Xie.
Chu Xie had come to negotiate with him, but the eccentric antics of the Crown Prince had bewildered him.
Feeling a bit embarrassed, he took a few steps back and headed inside. “It’s cold outside. I’ll go in first.”
Jiang Yanchi watched the retreating figure and the pitiful light in his eyes faded, replaced by a deep pool of loneliness. Gradually, a glint of determination appeared in that depth.
Following Chu Xie inside, he had barely touched the bed when a foot came his way.
He caught that delicate ankle and instantly became captivated once again.
But he obediently said, “I’ll just lie down for a while. I have to attend court in half an hour.”
Chu Xie drew his foot back, curling up and sleeping against the wall.
Jiang Yanchi thought he looked cold with his back against the wall, so he pulled him into his arms. He didn’t want to be misunderstood, so he began speaking softly while Chu Xie was half asleep.
“The Northern Territories aren’t a good place for you. It’s bitterly cold and barren. How can you go to the north when you’re so afraid of the cold?”
“Xu Yi… isn’t easy to deal with either. Xu Chunmu only knows how to lead troops into battle and doesn’t understand people’s hearts. If you want a peaceful life, give me some more time. At most a year…”
“For the next few months, just stay here and take care of your health. Don’t go anywhere. How about that?”
As he spoke, he noticed that the person in his arms gradually fell into an even breath.
It was dawn. Jiang Yanchi pressed down the feeling of exhaustion on his forehead.
He gently set the person in his arms down, and instead of having him tied up, he left a letter for him to read when he woke up.
He called in a few more people to watch over him and then left.
This busy period lasted for most of the day.
It wasn’t until lunchtime that he returned.
As he entered the Eastern Palace and went straight to the sleeping quarters, he naturally saw Chu Xie who had just woken up, sitting on the bed and sipping hot congee prepared in the small kitchen.
“Is it tasty?”
Jiang Yanchi was dusty and disheveled. He let the palace maids help him remove his outer robe and untie his jade belt. In front of Chu Xie, he took off another inner layer and replaced it with a comfortable silk robe, then draped a cloud-patterned silk outer garment over it.
Chu Xie didn’t respond.
His gaze never left Chu Xie for a moment.
After changing his clothes, the person finished his congee.
Jiang Yanchi instructed someone to bring the medicine.
Chu Xie was only around 70% full when he noticed the smell of the medicine and found it suspicious. “This isn’t the medicine I had yesterday.”
It was a medicine used to treat hysteria.
Jiang Yanchi didn’t outright explain but replied, “I won’t harm you.”
Chu Xie seemed to sense something and suddenly smiled. “Jiang Yanchi, what kind of game are you playing? You promised to give me an explanation, but where is it?”
The Crown Prince had his attendants escort Chu Xie outside but left the door ajar and posted Little Xizi to guard the stairwell, ensuring no one would approach.
He was indeed creating a negotiating atmosphere.
“I can help you kill Jiang Jingan, but it has to be done my way.”
After saying this, Jiang Yanchi picked up the cup that Little Xizi had just brought and took a sip of strong tea.
Chu Xie noticed and said softly, “If you’re tired, you should rest instead of trying to stay alert with tea.”
It seemed like an unnecessary remark, but it caused Jiang Yanchi’s hand holding the tea to pause briefly. He nodded slightly, “Alright.”
“So, tell me how you want to do it.”
“First, release Jiang Jingan outside the city.”
Chu Xie sneered, “Crown Prince, are you trying to deceive me?”
“No.” Jiang Yanchi pointed at the bowl of medicine in Chu Xie’s hand. “Once you drink this, I’ll explain everything.”
Without a word, Chu Xie drank the entire bowl of medicine, not minding its temperature.
The medicine made his lips appear even redder, and his cheeks flushed with a rosy hue.
The Crown Prince, momentarily distracted, gazed at Chu Xie’s captivating face and thought of the regret from last night when they almost shared a kiss.
Sensing Chu Xie’s calm and inquisitive gaze, the Crown Prince let his fingers play with the collar of his robe and felt a strange warmth in the autumn breeze.
“I heard that before entering the palace, Chu Zhangyin was a merchant conducting business with the borderlands’ barbarians. Since I’m helping you fulfill your wishes today, there will naturally be conditions for our exchange.”
Jiang Yanchi took another sip of tea, its bitterness sliding down his throat.
Unable to fathom Jiang Yanchi’s intentions, Chu Xie could only ask, “What does the Crown Prince want?”
Jiang Yanchi placed the cup he was holding back down, and his expression was devoid of any playfulness.
His eyes met Chu Xie’s face.
“I will use Jiang Jingan’s head to exchange for you becoming the Crown Prince’s consort of Great Wei’s Three Books and Six Espousals.”
“Lord Chu, do you agree?”
A loud crash echoed as Chu Xie smashed the medicine bowl into two halves. The broken pieces fell at Jiang Yanchi’s feet.
Little Xizi heard some commotion outside but hadn’t entered yet when he overheard Jiang Yanchi’s low voice, “Step back. Don’t come in for half an hour, no matter what you hear.”
He could only back away once again, uncertain about what was being discussed inside. It seemed like they wanted absolute privacy.
“You’re insane,” Chu Xie pointed at himself, “I am…”
“I know, you are Chu Xie.”
Jiang Yanchi finished the cold tea in his cup in one gulp, his tone firm, though his expression was relaxed. “I want to marry you. This time, I’m not mistaken.”
This… what kind of development is this?
How did they suddenly reach the point of discussing marriage?
“Chu Xie, the Emperor is gravely ill, I am his only son, the Crown Prince of the empire, and most likely to become the next Great Wei Emperor. When I ascend the throne, you will be the Empress. The power you desire, the prestige you value – I will give you everything. Think it through. This transaction will not be unfavorable for you.”
Chu Xie was shocked. “Do you even know what you’re saying?”
Jiang Yanchi, resolute, stood up, accidentally crushing the remaining half of the medicine bowl underfoot with a harsh crunch.
“You’ve done so much, all to have a puppet at your command, right? I know your background. You’re a survivor of the Shen family from the former dynasty. You joined forces with Su Mingan to avenge your grudge.”
He spoke so directly, leaving no room for evasion.
“If you know all this, why would you still grant me power? What benefit do you get from it?”
Jiang Yanchi’s gaze remained downcast, his expression momentarily hesitant before resolute once more.
His eyes were fixed on this cunning fox in front of him, and he spoke without missing any subtle expression on his face.
“The benefit I gain is no longer wasting time and energy in internal conflicts with you. You must promise me that from now on, you’ll trust me, not deceive me, and have no ulterior motives against me. Chu Xie, can you do that?”
For a moment, Chu Xie’s momentum was completely suppressed.
He inexplicably felt a bit uneasy.
But he didn’t let any anomaly show on his face.
As long as he agreed, Jiang Jingan would die.
He felt that Jiang Yanchi wouldn’t deceive him for some inexplicable reason.
“I don’t have the energy to mediate between us. We’re in the same boat. Chu Xie, think it over. Such an opportunity won’t come again.”
Jiang Yanchi was close to convincing him.
If he were truly Chu Xie, with Jiang Yanchi’s heartfelt words as a guarantee, perhaps he could genuinely turn the tables on his life.
But he wasn’t.
He wanted to return to the real world, as a wandering spirit that didn’t belong here.
Seeing Chu Xie’s hesitation, Jiang Yanchi knew his nature was distrustful and gave him time to think.
Chu Xie realized that Jiang Yanchi had shown genuine sincerity.
For the sake of the illusion he created to make himself fall in love with him, this young man had already bet everything, trying to solve all the problems of his original existence.
But he really wanted to go home.
At this point, he had to seize this opportunity.
He needed to use Jiang Yanchi, complete the plot, and fulfill his mission.
Having thought it through, Chu Xie nodded seriously, “I promise you.”
Jiang Yanchi’s tense body finally relaxed a bit.
“You won’t regret it,” Jiang Yanchi said, “Trust me, we won’t lose.”
Chu Xie struggled to maintain his composure.
He steadied his current form and prevented his hands from trembling.
I won’t regret it, but you will.
You only like the person I portray, who doesn’t really exist.
Jiang Yanchi, you will regret it.
Thinking like this, Chu Xie clenched the bedding tightly. “Mmm.”
Jiang Yanchi seemed to let out a big sigh of relief, and his voice was lighter. “You have to promise me that you won’t act recklessly in the future, and you won’t plot or plan on your own. In this capital city, other than me, you can’t trust anyone. That includes Su Mingan.”
“I know you might not fully trust me right now. No problem, I will give you the head of the Lingcheng County Prince as my utmost sincerity. Then you’ll know that I’m not deceiving you.”
Half a quarter of an hour passed by, and Little Xizi pushed the door open to find a messy room.
Jiang Yanchi leaned down by Chu Xie’s ear, as if speaking softly.
“Control me, Chu Xie, make me the sharpest blade in your hands, to cut down anything you deem unworthy of existence.”
Chu Xie’s expression, however, turned pale at an angle Jiang Yanchi couldn’t see.
The author has something to say: Just in case, let’s clarify once again, I’m writing about an insane gong, an insane gong, an insane gong (in bold).
He’s not a pure loyal dog. If you want to see a loyal dog, you need to be cautious, this gong will turn dark later.