I Rely on the Collapse of the Character Setting to Survive in the Hands of the Male Lead Chapter 36

Chapter 36

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Lin Qingyang heard a scream and looked over, but the scene in front of him remained abstract, and he couldn’t see what Chu Lishu had done.

But soon, he heard Yu Zhang crying.

“I’ll talk, I’ll say everything,” Yu Zhang said.

Lin Qingyang: …What happened to your previous determination not to talk?

Yu Zhang looked at the enlarged tip of the knife in front of him, almost close enough to touch his eyeballs. Perhaps if the person in front of him shook his hand lightly, he would be blinded. However, his hand didn’t move a bit. Within his line of sight, he could still see the corners of the person’s mouth slowly lifting, a cold and ruthless smile that sent shivers down Yu Zhang’s spine.

Yu Zhang, having spent a long time in such establishments, naturally possessed an instinctive judgment of people. Faced with Lin Qingyang, he might still be able to deceive for a while, but facing this person, he always felt that as long as he harbored any ulterior motives, the other party would not hesitate to take action.

Because those were the eyes that could kill.

Not wanting to endure any suffering, Yuzhang willingly cooperated and disclosed everything.

The incense in the censer was a type of addictive substance called “Illusion Brain Incense.” The addiction process was simple and not easily noticeable, but the final effect was astonishing, and withdrawal was manageable.

Lin Qingyang’s various speculations about it were all correct. The addiction had infrequent episodes with long intervals, and maintaining the addiction only required once a month. There were no other symptoms, making it quite different from other addictive substances, such as traditional incense, so it wouldn’t be easily detected by others.

Even though Lin Qingyang had suffered so much before, he still couldn’t be sure because, in the memories of the original body, there was no manifestation of being captivated by scents. The meetings with Yu Zhang were solely due to Lin Qingyang’s affection for him, not because of the incense. The reaction to the withdrawal of this particular incense would only intensify during detoxification, but it wouldn’t make him recall feeling uncomfortable because of a specific fragrance. It would only create a sense of something missing, until the scent appeared again, affecting his body.

If he had not missed the detoxification period this time and Yu Zhang hadn’t hurriedly sent the provocative clothes over, arousing Lin Qingyang’s suspicions, enduring this time would have been equivalent to a successful withdrawal.

Burning Illusion Brain Incense would subtly damage the smoker’s brain, making it difficult to concentrate, causing irritability, and leading to memory confusion. Gradually, it would make the person experience hallucinations even during the daytime, ultimately resulting in madness.

If the original body continued like this, within a year, he would become a madman. This gradual transformation wouldn’t raise any suspicions, allowing those who wished to harm him to be worry-free, without fearing exposure.

However, in the original plot, it was the male lead who intervened, whereas now it was Lin Qingyang who took over the role.

As Yu Zhang explained, it became evident that he was truly just a pawn, not even worthy of being called an accomplice.

This type of incense was a new product from a neighboring country, something Yu Zhang wouldn’t be able to obtain on his own.

Someone had initially given him an upfront payment to carry out a year-long task. If successful, the remaining payment would be handed over, an amount large enough to allow Yu Zhang to buy his freedom and live a comfortable life. Yu Zhang, naturally tempted, especially since it didn’t involve direct killing and didn’t burden him much psychologically.

After agreeing, someone regularly delivered the goods for him to supply to Lin Qingyang. Yu Zhang had no idea about the person’s identity, as he only carried out the tasks for the money.

The last delivery person informed Yu Zhang when Lin Qingyang didn’t show up, explaining that once the addiction period passed, the craving for the incense would cease. Afraid of repercussions if the paymaster found out there was no money to collect, Yu Zhang anxiously tried to find a way to trigger Lin Qingyang’s memory and make him come back for more.

“Scheduled deliveries? When will the next one be?”

“At midnight tonight.”

“So coincidental?” Lin Qingyang exclaimed.

Chu Lishu gave a suspicious look, and Yu Zhang hastily explained, “I am not lying. Since you didn’t come last time, the incense I had here wasn’t used up, and the person didn’t replenish it. He comes to check every five days, and if it’s used, he’ll replenish it. Tonight is the fifth day, at midnight, he will be waiting at the back courtyard gate for me.”

Hearing this, both Chu Lishu and Lin Qingyang simultaneously had an idea. Chu Lishu wanted to communicate with Lin Qingyang through eye contact but remembered he couldn’t focus his sight. He leaned close to Lin Qingyang’s ear and whispered, “Tonight…”

Lin Qingyang felt his ear itch as the sudden release of hot air surprised him. Unable to resist, he shrunk his neck and then pointed to his eyes. Although they could catch someone in the act, if they didn’t recognize the servant, they would continue to track him. There must be a way to find out who was behind it. But for now, he was a burden.

“I don’t know how long it will take to recover.”

“Then we’ll play it by ear.”

Lin Qingyang thought for a moment and then asked Yu Zhang more questions: How much money did they give him, what did the person look like, any distinctive features, etc.

After questioning for a while, Lin Qingyang realized that Chu Lishu hadn’t spoken for a long time. A voice in his heart said, “This is bad. Could it be that, just like in the original story, the male lead is associating the use of the addictive substance with harming people?”

Just as Lin Qingyang worried, he suddenly heard Chu Lishu speak, “So you’re saying that every time he stays overnight at your place, he is directly put into a daze by the incense, having hallucinations in his dreams, making him think he spent the whole night with you when you weren’t even in the room?”

Lin Qingyang: ???

Yu Zhang: “Um, yes. Although the incense burner is placed in the bed, I’m afraid of the harm it might cause to me if it spills out, so basically, after Young Master Lin falls asleep, I leave and come back in the morning to create the false facade.”

Lin Qingyang reacted for a moment and then exclaimed, “So, I have never touched you?!”

Yu Zhang looked embarrassed and said, “I didn’t willingly become a male prostitute. If I can avoid accompanying clients, I naturally avoid it.”

Lin Qingyang couldn’t help but laugh, “You’re really something!” This Yu Zhang, taking money to harm him on one hand, and also taking money for the original body’s overnight stays. As a result, Lin Qingyang never successfully spent a night with Yu Zhang. It was truly the epitome of being taken advantage of.

Lin Qingyang felt a bit sympathetic towards the original body.

Wait a minute, if Lin Qingyang has never touched Yu Zhang and there are no memories of anyone else, does that mean in the original story, the first time for the original body was given to the male lead? No wonder the male lead almost got messed up, because the original body had no experience, only fantasies in his mind. Probably didn’t even know it would end up so badly.

This… is quite a twist of fate. Fortunately, he managed to intervene in time and prevent a tragedy.

“You seem quite regretful? Do you need him to make it up to you?” Suddenly, a voice with neither warmth nor coldness came.

Although Lin Qingyang’s vision was still an illusion, unable to discern Chu Lishu’s expression, the tone sounded displeased. Lin Qingyang responded firmly, “Fortunately, I haven’t been taken advantage of! If I had been both taken advantage of and harmed, I would have been miserable.”

Yu Zhang’s face twisted slightly upon hearing those words. “Young Master Lin once said he really liked my face.”

After all, the first time Lin Qingyang came to this place, he was indeed attracted to Yu Zhang’s resemblance to Xu Wenze. However, Lin Qingyang refrained from acting on that attraction during the initial visit. It was only on the second visit that Yu Zhang had already been bought off by someone else.

“Do you still have the nerve to say that?” Lin Qingyang responded in disbelief. “Haven’t you caused me enough misery? Even if I were to come here as a client, I should have treated you fairly.” In the memories, the original body was extremely gentle and generous to Yu Zhang, often giving gifts and even considering redeeming him, although his funds were insufficient for that.

Yu Zhang retorted, “In such a cutthroat place, one has to look out for oneself, right? Besides, Young Master Lin didn’t show much sincerity towards me. You said you liked me just because I looked like someone you admired. Since you weren’t sincere with me, why should I be sincere in return?”

Lin Qingyang felt a sudden chill, and then Chu Lishu commented, “I see. No wonder it felt like I’ve seen you somewhere before.”

Lin Qingyang nervously coughed. “It’s all in the past now.”

Chu Lishu cast a sidelong glance at Lin Qingyang. If he couldn’t have Xu Wenze, he would look for a substitute. Even though he hadn’t succeeded in bedding the substitute, the intention itself was unpleasant. Lin Qingyang wondered if, in the future, Chu Lishu would try to find someone similar to him as a stand-in.

Chu Lishu felt extremely displeased at the thought of being used as a substitute. Not just anyone had the privilege of being his stand-in.

Lin Qingyang was nervously chuckling when he heard Yu Zhang’s exclamation, “What did you give me to eat?”

“Poison. If you don’t want to die, you’ll cooperate with me honestly tonight. Keep everything as usual, don’t arouse any suspicions. Once we successfully capture the culprit, you’ll receive the antidote. But if you lie to us or betray us, you’ll die a slow and painful death.”

Yu Zhang was terrified.

As midnight approached, Lin Qingyang’s vision fortunately returned. The two, along with Yu Zhang, positioned themselves at the back door, ready for the ambush.

Soon, a person arrived—a short man dressed in plain gray clothes, resembling a servant from somewhere. However, he was definitely not someone Lin Qingyang and Chu Lishu knew.

Upon seeing the man, Yu Zhang hurriedly approached and said, “You’ve come.”

“You’ve used it?”

“Yes, Young Master Lin is here tonight and has already used it,” Yu Zhang cooperated honestly.

“Did he suspect anything?”

“No, he’s been ill recently, so he misunderstood it as a result of his sickness.”

The other party didn’t seem to suspect anything. Probably having enough information about Lin Qingyang’s situation, there was no need to verify the truth of Yu Zhang’s words. The person took out the packet of incense, completed the task, and then left, treating it like a routine mission. Since they didn’t know this person, Lin Qingyang and Chu Lishu had no choice but to continue tracking.

However, both of them kept a safe distance and remained inconspicuous in the bustling crowd. When they turned a corner, suddenly, someone blocked their way.

Chu Lishu halted, but Lin Qingyang was anxious, trying to go around the person. Unfortunately, it was too late, and the person they were following had disappeared.

Lin Qingyang was furious and turned to look at the person blocking their way.

It was a young man in his twenties, dressed in blue, with a fan-shaped jade pendant hanging from his waist. His features were delicate, and a playful smile played on his lips.

Chu Lishu frowned slightly and spoke, “Young Master Yue?” He instinctively pulled Lin Qingyang behind him.

To Lin Qingyang’s surprise, it was an acquaintance of the male lead?

However, the man just smiled and said, “You guys are too obvious. Come, follow me.”

Surprisingly, the other party knew their purpose. Lin Qingyang looked astonished, but Chu Lishu quickly caught on, grabbed Lin Qingyang, and followed Yue Chen’s steps.

Soon, Yue Chen led them onto a carriage.

“What is Young Master Yue planning?” Chu Lishu asked.

Yue Chen grinned, “We have a common goal with a rare encounter, why don’t we join forces?”

Chu Lishu raised an eyebrow, “Common goal?”

Yue Chen candidly admitted, “Recently, we’ve discovered a new batch of drugs in the capital, and before the Great Zhou Dynasty, substances causing addiction were heavily suppressed. Consequently, the unscrupulous dealers in such items were almost wiped out. However, in the past six months, a resurgence has occurred, including the type of aromatherapy you encountered tonight. We are keen to find out who the sellers are.”

“We discovered Yu Zhang because the scent on him inadvertently spread to another customer, and I happened to notice. I have expertise in addictive substances like aromatherapy, so we traced it back to him, unexpectedly encountering you. Since Young Master Lin is a victim, wouldn’t it be mutually beneficial for us to cooperate?”

“Moreover, we have individuals skilled in martial arts, making our actions more convenient than yours. If you had continued trailing, you might have exposed yourselves. The other party is not someone without martial skills that you can easily follow.”

Lin Qingyang was taken aback; where did this clever person come from? This intelligence is catching up to the male lead’s.

Chu Lishu, however, quickly grasped the situation, “The other party is not an ordinary servant but rather someone connected to the seller behind the addictive substance.”

Yue Chen responded, “Smart!”

Chu Lishu and Lin Qingyang exchanged a glance, both realizing they had been misled. It wasn’t necessarily Yu Zhang intentionally deceiving them. He did mention two people—one providing money, and the other supplying the addictive substance. The one providing money was the real threat, while the one supplying the addictive substance was essentially an accomplice, placing orders with the seller and arranging periodic deliveries.

With no better option available, it seemed impractical for Lin Qingyang to spend an extended period feigning madness and selling misery just to identify the person providing money. The one-year deadline was too long, and it would expose too many vulnerabilities.

Now, the only course of action was to locate the seller and determine who placed the order that targeted Lin Qingyang.

Chu Lishu’s eyes darkened momentarily, but he quickly put on a relaxed smile, “So, we’ll borrow the bait we found. We don’t have any other intentions. We just want to know who the buyer targeting my cousin is.”

“Naturally, a pleasant cooperation.” Yue Chen smiled and then turned to Lin Qingyang, who seemed a bit puzzled about his identity. He chuckled, “I assume Young Master Lin didn’t recognize me earlier due to your eye condition. We were just standing at the door. I am Yue Chen. Outside, tracking for you, is Huo Luo. He will leave some clues for us to follow.”

Lin Qingyang was instantly surprised, offering a vague greeting. Of course, he knew the renowned figures of these two.

Yue Chen, the young genius of the Lanxi Yue Family, one of the four major families, had achieved the top three in the imperial examination, gaining great fame. However, he politely declined official appointments, expressing a single-minded focus on studying the classics. Among the four major families, only the Yue Family had no concubines in the palace. The emperor appreciated the Yue Family’s non-confrontational stance, particularly admiring Yue Chen’s talents. Unfortunately, Yue Chen himself was not interested in official positions.

Huo Luo, the last male descendant of the Huo family, was the only remaining boy of his generation. When the protagonist’s army was defeated, the new emperor sought out the retired General Huo to lead his family back into battle. General Huo, along with his descendants, played a significant role in reversing the war situation, but this led to the decline of the family.

Similar to Yue Chen, Huo Luo was the top scorer in martial arts but chose not to take official positions or lead troops into battle. The emperor, considering the Huo family’s dwindling numbers, allowed Huo Luo to refrain from official duties, appreciating that he could continue the family line.

However, Lin Qingyang knew that their involvement in investigations wasn’t solely due to their reputation. They were considered ‘brothers’ to the male lead and were expected to eventually support him in ascending to power and governing the country.

However, in a battle during an external invasion, the male lead ordered Huo Luo to launch a strong attack. While successful in capturing the target, Huo Luo sustained severe injuries and passed away shortly afterward. Rumors circulated that his high achievements threatened the male lead, leading to his demise.

However, Lin Qingyang, while reading the story, found this explanation implausible. Given the protagonist’s personality, encountering someone with high achievements wouldn’t prompt such a swift death. The protagonist would likely keep him around and slowly exact revenge if he felt betrayed. Therefore, Huo Luo’s death was more likely an accident.

After Huo Luo’s death, Yue Chen directly withdrew from the limelight, abandoning wealth and power to live as an ordinary civilian in the countryside. Few people saw him again, unlike Huo Luo, who married and had descendants. Yue Chen lived a solitary life, leaving nothing behind.

Losing such a crucial ally laid the groundwork for the later subversion of the male lead’s brutal rule.

Unexpectedly, the male lead had an encounter with them so soon. In the original plot, they were supposed to meet when serving as study companion in the palace. It seems that unintentionally, Lin Qingyang has once again disrupted the progression of the plot. Hopefully, this won’t lead to any trouble.

Chu Lishu then inquired, “Is Xu Wenze also involved in this matter?”

“No, he’s genuinely accompanying us to relax tonight. We just wanted to lay some groundwork in advance and unexpectedly gained valuable information. We sent him away without revealing much,” Yue Chen replied with a smile.

Chu Lishu was already familiar with Yue Chen and Huo Luo. Back then, they were still young, but their talents were evident. This time presented an opportunity to assess their current abilities and determine if they were worth recruiting in the future.

Soon, the carriage stopped, and a heavy object fell from the top. “Come out, we’ve arrived.”

Yue Chen smiled and gestured for the two to disembark.

Chu Lishu held onto Lin Qingyang and got off the carriage first. There were still people around the carriage. Judging by the distance the carriage had traveled, it seemed they hadn’t left the East Market area. What appeared in front of them was a blue building.

Just as Lin Qingyang stepped off the carriage, a prompt sounded in his mind.

[Side Quest: Assist the male lead in obtaining the skill ‘Addiction’ to combat enemies.]

Lin Qingyang’s heart sank. This couldn’t be good.

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