The last bit of sunset also disappeared without a trace. The night soaked the sky like ink.
Early in the evening, Zhuque Street had resumed its usual tranquility. The two stone lions in front of King Guang’an’s mansion gate stood quietly, overlooking the patrolling soldiers passing by in pairs. The vermilion gate was closed, but through the bright light that shone through the gap, one could see a glimpse of liveliness from inside the gate.
Today was King Guang’an’s mansion banquet.
It was also the banquet to see Ni Lie off to a station on the frontier.
Towards the end of the feast, most of them were already drunk, shaking and toasting around.
On the right side of Ni Lie sat Zhou Dawu, who also drank a little too much. It was precisely because of this that he hooked Ni Lie’s shoulders like close pals, pulling him in to speak about some trivial matters.
“You’re already eighteen, it’s time to start a family.” Zhou Dawu’s tongue widened, his eyes a little misty and he approached Ni Lie, “Last time you asked me about that thing… I can see the girl seems to be the one, you should let the brothers see her later.”
Ni Lie didn’t speak, he always looked cold, solemn and stern whenever he didn’t talk. If Zhou Dawu didn’t know of his temper, he would think Ni Lie was arrogant and aloof, but he knew this young man was not like that at all.
When they were ambushed on the way to transport money that year, Ni Lie and the remnants of the soldiers had already escaped from the trap. Seeing that he had fallen into a thief’s den, he told the soldiers to transport the money and proceed to leave first, while he rushed into the enemy camp alone with a long spear. After a bitter struggle, he escaped from the siege of more than a hundred bandits with serious injuries. No matter what, he was always silent and taciturn, but he always took the lead and always stood at the head of the people commanding between advance and retreat. Therefore, although he was promoted to a general at a young age, no one in the mansion refused to accept him.
Zhou Dawu was inevitably devoted to him: “You shouldn’t look at our faces covered in dirt all day. Because when you have a family, you will know how beautiful it is to be held in a woman’s embrace, to carry two babies, that internal feeling, tsk, what a man wants in his life is nothing more than that.”
“Getting married and settling down, you first have to get married then worry about settling down on your job. But you boy turned the order upside down now. You’re really an incredible b*stard, you’re eighteen, yet you’re already the leader of the county garrison. Just watch, which girl in LIngnan would not constantly have you in their mind?”
He belched before speaking in a sincere and earnest tone: “If the girl does not make terrible shortcomings or illness, you definitely have to live up to her expectations. There is a blaze of color before your eyes, let’s not screw it up too much, understand?”
Before he could say anything more, a slightly muffled voice behind him suddenly interrupted him: “Dawu, how much have you drunk?”
Zhou Dawu turned back, it was actually King Guang’an who came over. He was still wearing the claw-mang robe from today’s ceremony with a purple and gold crown. Perhaps he drank too much that his eyes were spent, Zhou Dawu actually felt that there was a touch of cold displeasure between his eyebrows.
He immediately sobered up a lot, put down the wine cup, stood up, and respectfully bowed toward him: “Your Highness.”
Ni Lie also stood up.
Li Yuanmin gestured to make him get up, grabbed a token from his sleeve, and handed it to him.
“After Ni Lie goes to the frontier, everything in the mansion will be handed over to you. ”
Looking at this majestic tiger head token, all of Zhou Dawu’s remaining tipsy feeling immediately disappeared. He took the bronze medal with both hands respectfully, sincerely and fearfully. He solemnly bowed his head: “This subordinates will definitely live up to Your Highness’s trust.”
After Ni Lie took over as the leader of the county garrison, the position of the mansion general must be vacated for replacement. Although Zhou Dawu knew that in terms of seniority that this position was almost his own, it was inevitable that he was still excited to really take over the tiger head token representing the general position of the mansion soldiers.
“This subordinate will take good care of the mansion!”
Li Yuanmin nodded. Reminded of something, he grabbed a sack embroidered with the Ruyi Xiangyun pattern from his sleeve and handed it to him, “I heard that Jun’er will have his birthday tomorrow. This is nothing much, so please help Ben Wang deliver this to him. Buy a few more new clothes too, our young masters from Guang’an mansion can’t be too shameful.”
Zhou Dawu took it with a loud voice. He weighed it a bit, then secretly wondered if such a weight was not only just to buy a few new clothes.
Obviously, he was King Guang’an, who was noble, alienated and feared during the daytime ceremony, but he treated people so leniently, gently and meticulously in private. If it is said that eight years ago Zhou Dawu had the heart to repay the favor for General Li Lao and to come to the Lingnan realm to assist him without fear of death, the him nowadays could be said to be already thoroughly set on following Li Yuanmin.
He no longer declined, and only bowed deeply, “Many thanks, Your Highness.”
Li Yuanmin only then glanced at the youth next to Zhou Dawu. The tall man had no expression on his face, only his pitch black eyes were drooping down, looking at him like that.
Tomorrow, Ni Lie will leave him again.
Li Yuanmin’s heart darkened, and he silently withdrew his gaze and spun away.
He had also drunk a lot of wine today, his face was red, his body was very hot, and he paced to the edge of the bridge to enjoy the night wind, while watching the lively scene in the courtyard from a distance.
In the middle of the night, the breeze around him suddenly stopped, and Li Yuanmin looked up, it was Ni Lie who followed behind him.
He took the cup of hot tea in his hand and handed it to Li Yuanmin.
“Your Highness drank too much. ”
Li Yuanmin smiled and shook his head, but he opened the lid of the cup, looked down and took a sip, and then placed the tea cup on the porch.
“ Isn’t today a happy day, it’s okay to have a few more drinks.”
There was a burst of laughter and scolding in the distance, it may be assumed that someone with bad luck had guessed the wine-drinking game wrong and lost again. They were probably being persuaded to drink. Separated by light and shadow, the voice was a little ethereal.
The breeze was gentle, and the two of them seemed to be cut off from the world in front of them, standing in another unknown place.
Li Yuanmin reverted his gaze and raised his head, a snow-white face already covered with beautiful flushing. He looked at Ni Lie, who was blazing hot without concealing his desire. For a long while, he sighed with sorrow:
“A Lie, you’ve grown up.”
At today’s grand ceremony, tens of thousands of county defenders stood solemnly, and the young man standing at the head of the group was lofty and tall. His eyebrows were cold and solemn and Li Yuanmin felt at that time that no one else could be more courageous and heroic than the child he had raised.
He took a slight step back, leaning against the railing of the bridge, but his gaze did not leave the youth in front of him at all. At this moment, he wanted to raise his hand to touch the warm and firm cheek with the little hard stubble. He even wanted to boldly reach over and bite that Adam’s apple that slid up and down. However, he did nothing, and he could not do anything.
On the outside, here at this place, and at this moment, they’re forever master and subordinate relationship.
Their relationship was indescribable, like a moss that can only be hidden in the shadows, growing madly and confusedly in the dark; but in the sun, they cannot have any excess.
No one understood the deep entanglement between them, so even if Zhou Dawu had exhorted him to marry a wife, he could not stand up and say half a word about it.
Perhaps it was because of this cup of wine, all kinds of inexplicable emotions surged into his heart, but Li Yuanmin finally swallowed all his grievance, that stinging, bitter heart water. He gently instructed him: “A Lie, go to the frontier and take good care of yourself.”
Ni Lie did not answer him, but only took a step forward. Retaining a distance that could smell the fragrance of his body, it was so he would not look too ambiguous in front of outsiders and he looked at him with his droopy, deep, and hot gaze.
“Your Highness…” He whispered, “Let me stay with you tonight.”
The two of them naturally knew what this sentence meant.
It meant stickiness, hot flashes, jerking motion, suppressed moans, insurmountable complaints, and unbearable desires.
Of course he would allow him, how could he not.
Li Yuanmin thought about it, and a bold and hot thought arose in his mind.
” No, just wait for me in your courtyard.”
Late at night, Ni Lie was preoccupied, lying on bed with his hand behind his head and on the pillow. He stared at the relief sculpture of the sun and moon on his bed while lost in thought. Tomorrow he will leave for the frontier, it will take him two or three months to return.
However, he had to go, he had to take over the largest armed force in the Lingnan region, and only with this military power in his hands could he have enough power to protect his Highness.
——He will always be the sharpest knife in Li Yuanmin’s hand.
Ni Lie took a deep breath, dissipated the inexplicable energy in his heart, and thought about Li Yuanmin’s words on the bridge. That man, with that kind of look, told him to wait for him. His body started to warm a bit.
With a creaking noise in his ear, Ni Lie had been attentively waiting. He suddenly sat up violently, and rushed to the source of the sound in a heartbeat. Under the dim light of the night, that man was smiling and looking at him like a spring flower, amorously looking at him.
Ni Lie stepped forward two to three steps and carried him sideways.
“A Lie, don’t! The other person shouted urgently, “I’ll take you somewhere else.”
Ni Lie breathed heavily, but obediently let him go.
Li Yuanmin stood still, and met with something hard poking into his stomach. He blushed and hurriedly threw him a bundle.
When Ni Lie opened it, it was a human skin mask and a stealth suit.
Only then did he find out that Li Yuanmin had worn the rarely worn black suit today, with his long jade body and a thin waist that was enough to fit in one hand when being held.
His eyes darkened, but he didn’t even ask, and just changed his clothes according to Li Yuanmin.
Li Yuanmin looked at his completely different face, the corner of his lips pulled up and he took his hand and quietly pushed open the courtyard door.
The two people climbed over the high wall like children. Ni Lie wrapped his arms around Li Yuanmin’s waist, jumped in one breath, and landed steadily on the flat ground outside the mansion.
A wild cat on the side of the road was startled, it squeaked and fled into a dark corner.
In the corner of the wall, Ni Lie saw two precious horses blowing out loud noises from their noses waiting there.
He looked down at Li Yuanmin, whose eyes were shining. He took his hand and walked toward the two horses.
During the night curfew period, there was no one on the street and the horses of the two men galloped on the bluestone slab road, somewhat ear-piercing.
Soon, they came to the city gate. After disguising themselves, Li Yuanmin handed the gatekeeper a token and a document, the guard inspected it, and then returned to the guard room for verification, before opening the small door and letting the two out of the city.
It was late at night, the outskirts seemed to be somewhat colder than the city and the sound of horses’ hooves, the sound of the wind were loud.
Li Yuanmin used his identity as King Guang’an to sneak a favor. He sneaked into his subordinate’s room in the middle of the night, just like a frivolous lecher to stealthily smuggle a person out.
The night wind was blowing on his face, yet he only felt carefree from all over his body. He had not relaxed like this for a long time. He ruthlessly squeezed the horse’s belly and the horse’s speed became faster and faster.
Ni Lie followed closely behind him.
The two wandered freely among the mountains and rivers in the suburbs.
It wasn’t known how long it took to ride the horses like this, until the two men and two horses went around a bushy forest, and their vision suddenly became bright, a gleaming reflection of waves sparkled crystal clear under the moonlight.
Li Yuanmin cheered, got off his horse, rushed forward a few steps, and stared excitedly ahead.
Ni Lie had no idea how he had found such a place, it seemed like an uninhabited place with a type of tranquility that was cut off from the outside world.
Li Yuanmin released the skin mask, took off his shoes and outer shirt, and was only left in plain undergarmnets. He gasped for a moment and then pulled out the hairpin from his bun, shook his head, and the black hair on his head scattered out like snow.
He glanced back at Ni Lie and smiled.
How to describe that smile. Ni Lie could not use any words to describe it, his heart trembled, only to feel that under the night sky, the person in front of him was like a gorgeous goblin in the dense forest.
He couldn’t help but take a few steps forward, but the other party only ran towards the mirror lake with his snow-white feet, barefoot. Under the moonlight, the slender figure was like a dancing white butterfly, then he heard a pop, Li Yuanmin had jumped into the lake.
Ni Lie’s heart jumped out of his mouth through his throat, his sanity shattered into powder in an instant as he rushed a few steps following him and jumping down.
He searched anxiously for his figure in the deep black water. His waist tightened, but it was because a man wrapped his arms around his waist, just like a snake. He sprang up in his arms, his lips sealed with softness.
Ni Lie’s heart jumped, he wrapped his arms around the person in his arms, deepening this sudden kiss.
When the two of them surfaced, Li Yuanmin had already lost all his strength. He wrapped his arms around Ni Lie’s neck and gasped violently, his forehead pressed against Ni Lie’s forehead, muffled in laughter.
“Is it pretty?” He asked Ni Lie.
He replied in a hoarse voice, but he didn’t know whether he was answering for this boundless sight or the person in his arms.
In such a quiet environment, there was nothing worldly, no identity, only the two of them. Li Yuanmin could disregard everything but his heart.
Under the moonlight, the two were like two happy fish, chasing and playing in the lake, like immature small children.
When the two wet people came up from the water, Li Yuanmin sat up on his knees. He looked at the tall young man lying on the grass, grabbed his hand, and ran towards the dense forest.
Surrounded by trees, a wooden house was hidden there.
Li Yuanmin paused and pulled Ni Lie before running over.
It was like when they were thirteen years old and the two fled the capital, acting childishly, they held hands and headed for their future.
No, they had no future, only unknown secrets.
Pushing open the door of the wooden house, the faint fragrance of the wood struck. Li Yuanmin pulled the youth in and locked the door with his hand behind his back.
The running made his chest rise and fall.
He lifted his crow feather-like eyelashes and looked at Ni Lie who was looking attentively at him.
He raised his hand and placed it on the already wet undergarments, then with a gentle pull, the tie was loosened.
The wet and soft piles laid at his feet.
He pulled the rough palm of the youth and pressed it against his cold, slippery, snow-white cheeks.
“A Lie…” He called to him, softly, gently and flirtatiously, “There is no one to control us at this place now.”