The rain intensified, and it became a torrential downpour. The thunder rumbled in the sky.
The Crown Prince had no choice but to find a rundown relay station at the foot of the mountain to take shelter. He asked the innkeeper to heat water and brought several charcoal braziers to dry their wet clothes. Chu Xie drank a steaming bowl of ginger soup and changed his clothes. He wrapped himself in a blanket and hugged a warmer to warm up.
Jiang Yanchi unfastened the belt around Chu Xie’s waist and hugged him from behind. He slipped his hands under Chu Xie’s clothes and began removing the wet layers of fabric.
Occasionally, when they encountered a part that was stuck, the person in his arms would shiver slightly but didn’t make a sound.
Luckily, the wounds had already scabbed over, and the medicines were of the highest quality. The imperial physician had said that there shouldn’t be any scars in the future.
Jiang Yanchi noticed the faintly visible ridges on Chu Xie’s back under the thin blanket. The muscles on his back were as smooth as jade, and his slender shoulders were exposed.
The Crown Prince pulled the blanket up a bit, covering up to the neck.
“Are you cold?”
Listening to this deep and muffled reply, the Crown Prince couldn’t help but feel that the person in front of him now was like the daytime one, but also like the nighttime one.
Could it be that the treatments by the royal physician had some effect? The two personalities could actually merge.
Jiang Yanchi was ecstatic.
The nighttime personality, Ah Mu, had a pure heart but was too easy to take advantage of, like a fragile glass lamp that could be shattered with just a little carelessness. The daytime personality, Chu Xie, was tough but had too many enemies, less gentle and cautious, and often acted impulsively.
If they could merge…
It would be perfect.
It seemed that Physician Liu was indeed a skilled therapist for psychosomatic disorders. He would have to teach him a bit more when he returned.
Now, he needed to figure out whether the person in front of him was more like the one during the day or the one at night.
He started to move his hand down, intending to grab his pants, when he heard a cold voice, “Jiang Yanchi, don’t go too far.”
Alright, it was the daytime one.
He stopped his hand and said, “You’ve been in the rain. I need to check your injuries.”
He made it sound quite righteous. During the two weeks of recuperation in the Eastern Palace, his injuries had improved considerably. Jiang Yanchi often used this reason to share a bed with him and get handsy.
He had encountered people like this in his previous life too.
When they saw someone who couldn’t resist, they liked to find a noble reason to keep them around and gradually consume them. This was the instinct of a predator.
But this desire could also be exploited.
Just like how he used Huchi Er, just like how he used Jiang Yanchi.
Many scattered memories from his previous life resurfaced. Since coming to this world, he didn’t want to remember many things from his previous life and wasn’t willing to think about it.
He only remembered one thing deeply: he needed to go back, and Little Yin needed him.
So he didn’t resist, and Jiang Yanchi continued to move down. However, he only went so far, exploring the limits of his boundaries but never crossing them.
“Your Highness has really grown up,” Chu Xie remarked, feeling that he couldn’t just see the Crown Prince as a child anymore. “You’ll be eighteen next month, right?”
Eighteen years old, in this world, that was already considered an adult.
“Yes, the Zhangyin never forgets my birthday; I almost forgot it myself.” Jiang Yanchi leaned closer. “That ‘you’ has been appearing for shorter and shorter times recently. Have you noticed anything unusual?”
Anything unusual? No.
It’s all me.
The reason I do this is that I thought this personality would be easier to mediate with you, fearing that your kind personality couldn’t handle your soft and tender tricks.
“Is it you suppressing him, or is he unwilling to ‘come out’?” Jiang Yanchi pursued with some thoughts.
“Don’t forget, you promised me you wouldn’t lie,” Jiang Yanchi interrupted him when he started to speak, thinking he might make up something. He decided to preemptively criticize, “I’m just worried about you. You don’t have to be so guarded.”
“It’s that he doesn’t want to ‘come out,'” Chu Xie said, relying on his instincts to choose the latter option.
Feeling the Crown Prince’s heavy breath behind him, he laid in silence for a long time. When he was about to get up to blow out the last remaining candle, the Crown Prince said, “Sleep.”
As he laid there, Chu Xie felt the person behind him tightening their hold around his waist, pressing closer.
Chu Xie felt uncomfortable and feigned drowsiness. He turned over and pretended to be sleepy, wanting to break free from the embrace. Just as he turned around, he saw through a slightly opened slit of his eye that Jiang Yanchi wasn’t sleeping at all. He was gazing intently at something at the end of the bed, as if deep in thought.
Chu Xie controlled his breathing, closed his eyes, and was about to turn back when he felt a pair of warm hands touching his neck. It was a wound that he had pretended to cut not long ago, and it had already fully healed.
But Jiang Yanchi covered his body and leaned over, his lips about to kiss the scar.
Chu Xie couldn’t help it. He pushed the approaching person away with a sudden force.
Jiang Yanchi realized that Chu Xie was only pretending to sleep. He held that hand and struggled to control him, his hot breath next to his ear and a tickling sensation behind it.
“Ah Xie, I helped you kill Jiang Jingan. Give me some reward, isn’t it reasonable?”
Outside, the rain hit the windowsill with a pattering sound, and the low voice, along with the howling autumn wind, passed through the corridor, making several camellia petals fall from the table.
The kiss became deeper and turned into gentle nibbles.
Chu Xie could no longer pretend to be asleep and used a strict tone to push the person away, along with the blanket. “Jiang Yanchi, control yourself!”
In the pitch-black room, Jiang Yanchi wiped his lips on the back of his hand and leaned closer again, this time with a hint of anger in his tone. “I will control myself. How about you control yourself a bit?”
“Chu Xie, do you think that by maintaining this personality with me all the time, I can’t do anything to you?” The Crown Prince’s voice was hoarse. He bent down to tuck the blankets properly, his movements gentle, but his tone was far from friendly. “You might be clever, but you’re still helpless. If I really want to do something, I can make you unable to say a word. If you don’t want to talk to me properly, then don’t blame me for not talking to you.”
“I already told you, it’s him who doesn’t want to ‘come out,’ not that I’m suppressing him!” Chu Xie got upset. The threat in the Crown Prince’s words was too evident. “If you’re going to be unreasonable like this, we might as well part ways from now on, each pursuing our own goals!”
Go their separate ways after so much effort and planning on his part, and all he got in the end were the words “part ways.”
Jiang Yanchi couldn’t help but laugh out of frustration.
“Hmm? Jiang Jingan is dead, and you’re having second thoughts now? Or were you planning this from the beginning?” Jiang Yanchi straddled him, pulling apart his clothes to reveal an attractive shoulder. “Do you think I’m one of those people you can use and then throw away?”
Chu Xie felt his scalp tingling.
Today, he had taken on an aggressive stance of “I’ll help you fulfill your wish, but you won’t get away with it without giving me something in return,” and it had left him overwhelmed.
But ultimately, you didn’t help me either. The completion of Jiang Jingan’s plot is still uncertain, with a few points not confirmed.
The Crown Prince observed his expression, seeing that he was genuinely hesitating, as if he had something to hide. He spoke more harshly, “Are you trying to play games, thinking I can’t do anything? Let me tell you, if I can’t have your heart, I can have your body.”
With those words, his hand moved down along the collarbone, with a completely different gesture than when he was examining his injury, carrying a touch of ambiguity that made the hair stand on end.
D*mn it, I really don’t like men.
“Chu Xie, do you know how good looking you are?” The Prince’s words were far from praise, every word carrying strong desire. “Have you, in all these years, achieved anything through your looks?”
His hands grew even more daring, tracing along his lower back, while the other hand carefully undid the ties on his inner robe, carrying a certain sense of intimidation.
Chu Xie grabbed his wrist, his hand trembling slightly, and though his strength wasn’t substantial, it was enough to halt Jiang Yanchi’s actions.
He looked down at him, “I’ll ask again, why has he been appearing less frequently at night recently?”
Chu Xie knew his earlier evasive answers didn’t satisfy him, so he had to improvise right there. “I… I don’t know. Lately, it’s just… it happens like this. I didn’t lie to you. Please don’t be angry. We can talk, we can talk…”
Chu Xie wondered how deeply Jiang Yanchi was obsessed with that phantom.
After saying that, he didn’t know why, but Jiang Yanchi didn’t press him further and instead helped him straighten his clothes.
At least he had managed to escape for now.
“Good. As long as you don’t have any ulterior motives to deceive me in the future, we can definitely ‘talk.’ I want to ask you, is there something you’re afraid of? Did you have any unpleasant memories from your childhood?” Jiang Yanchi suddenly inquired. “Can you remember anything?”
Chu Xie’s throat moved, and he sighed with relief. “I can’t remember much. And I’m very tired.”
Listening to the sound of the rain outside and the occasional distant thunder, the Crown Prince let out a sigh. “Go to sleep.”
He embraced Chu Xie again. This time, Chu Xie didn’t dare to struggle and allowed himself to be held. It was better than being taken against his will.
But after the inexplicable ordeal they had just gone through, Chu Xie laid in bed for a while and couldn’t fall asleep. He heard some strange noises behind him, and a hint of the scent of blood reached his nostrils.
He turned around abruptly and indeed saw that Jiang Yanchi was in the middle of undressing.
There were traces of blood seeping out around his chest, likely from a wound he had sustained a few days ago during their ambush. The recent movements had caused it to reopen slightly.
Chu Xie remembered that he had accidentally bumped into the same area with his elbow during the day; it wasn’t intentional.
As he reached forward to touch the blood, a sudden gust of wind blew the window shut with a creaking noise.
The room became dim, the wind was sealed outside, and everything inside fell into an eerie silence, as if cut off from the world.
Even though the blood from Jiang Yanchi’s chest was only slightly seeping, the blood seemed to be flowing endlessly, and the room was filled with a strong scent of blood.
Chu Xie could hear the buzzing of mosquitoes in his ears.
He spread out his palm and saw the blood, feeling dizzy in that moment. Jiang Yanchi quickly held his hand and guided him, gently placing him back against the pillow, asking, “What’s wrong with you?”
Jiang Yanchi saw Chu Xie shivering and struggling to speak. He immediately considered calling for an attendant but realized that Chu Xie had grabbed onto him. Chu Xie managed to stammer, “Open the window first, and then get a basin of water…”
“Get… a basin of water… quickly…”
After finally understanding his request, Jiang Yanchi saw how much Chu Xie was trembling. He hesitated about whether to call a physician, fearing he might startle Chu Xie. Instead, he sat down beside him and first opened the window as Chu Xie requested. Seeing Chu Xie shivering uncontrollably, he felt a sudden pang of concern. “Stay still, don’t move,” he reassured Chu Xie, “I’ll check to see if your wound has reopened, and then I’ll fetch some water for you.”
Chu Xie struggled to sit up, grasping at Jiang Yanchi’s inner robe. He tore off a piece of it. It was as if Chu Xie was a child having a tantrum. After catching his breath for a moment, Chu Xie stammered, “Go… get water…”
Puzzled, Jiang Yanchi decided to fetch the water first.
Jiang Yanchi, after washing the first basin of water, returned with another.
It was only then that he realized the reason behind Chu Xie’s trembling.
Chu Xie wasn’t shivering from pain; he was afraid of blood.