Chapter 151: Ice Field
Liu Zhongming reluctantly broke free from the entanglement of the nightmare and forced himself to regain his composure. However, as he was about to leave the bedroom, his heart clenched.
He remembered that not long ago, he had watched Mu Jingchen’s carriage disappear, and with a soulless stride, he dragged his feet back.
By the time he returned to the courtyard, the crescent moon was already hanging overhead, indicating the beginning of curfew.
But now, that silver curve still remains in the east.
He bit his hand to confirm that he was no longer in a nightmare and finally realized one thing – he had slept the entire day. Today was the second day of the month.
Shuo Ye had passed.
He sprinted through the side door and rushed into the guest room. By the time he crossed the threshold, his legs had already weakened.
The room was too quiet, eerily quiet without a trace of human presence. The two curtains were tightly closed, and he didn’t have the courage to reach out.
Was he the only one left in this world…?
Mu Jingchen hung the curtains on the golden hook and gestured for him to look at the person on the bed.
“Shiyan said he has a strange poison that acts up during the New Moon night. He asked me to tie him up and prepare nourishing soup and medicine.”
“We both have been guarding him for a day, struggling since last night. We thought he had calmed down, thinking that the effect of the medicine had passed.”
“But in the end, Shiyan didn’t handle it well. Several doctors came to see him, and they all said that he might not make it. No matter what, they thought you should see him one last time.”
Liu Zhongming stood numbly by the bedside, not daring to approach.
Qu Chenzhou’s face was pale, devoid of any trace of color. Although his mouth and cheeks had been wiped, there were still fresh bloodstains on his neck and behind his ears. The blood from the pillow had flowed down to the bedding below.
It was unimaginable how much blood he had vomited.
“New Moon…” Liu Zhongming trembled his lips, as if afraid to wake the person, and asked softly, “Where is Shiyan…? Shiyan didn’t… give him the antidote? Why didn’t Shiyan… give him the antidote?”
But now, the antidote… it’s already too late.
He felt as if he had fallen into a chaotic state where none of the paths led anywhere, yet he had no strength left to find the answers to his questions.
Even if Shiyan had let him go, how could he forget about the antidote? If only he had known, how could he have remained indifferent?
Why… is there no antidote?
“…Shiyan never mentioned the antidote.”
Mu Jingchen was taken aback, looking at his dazed and bewildered expression. Many questions and reproaches couldn’t be spoken, so he could only explain, “He had planned to find you himself, but now his condition is not good either. He’s lying in the east wing, and I have the house physician watching over him. When he wakes up, you can ask him.”
Liu Zhongming’s mind couldn’t hold anything anymore.
The motionless person in front of him overlapped with the recent nightmare, and he had no strength to distinguish which one was real. He only became more certain of one thing.
He hated Qu Chenzhou to the core, but he couldn’t bear the reality of losing Qu Chenzhou.
Sitting by the bedside, his trembling hand took a long time to gently touch Qu Chenzhou’s face.
There was no warmth left.
His pulse was so weak that it was almost imperceptible. Even his pupils began to dilate. When Liu Zhongming touched him, there was only a slight spasm in his body, indicating that the torment of the New Moon night had not yet ceased.
“Jingchen, he… he still has a faint heartbeat.” Perhaps it was his own heartbeat, or maybe just his imagination, but he still clung to hope.
“He always said he had a tough life… He can’t just die like this.”
“Tell the house physician to bring the medicine! I can afford any medicinal ingredients!”
“I… I already collected a top-grade flower called ‘Golden Well Jade Lan’ for him! Bring it all for his use!”
“If we give it to him… he can… recover…”
Liu Zhongming’s lips trembled, repeating without stopping. He knew better than anyone that even without the New Moon night, Qu Chenzhou had already been tortured to the brink of death by him.
He had never imagined that one day he would truly lose him.
He would have to witness Qu Chenzhou’s death with his own eyes, and live in a world without the little fox.
“Chenzhou… don’t die… don’t die…”
Mu Jingchen saw him becoming increasingly delirious and frantic, and sighed softly, his brows furrowing. “It won’t work. The house physician said there’s little hope left. Even if there is medicine, its effects would be intense, and his body can’t handle it.”
Liu Zhongming pressed the already icy hand against his face, feeling the bone-chilling coldness enveloping both of them.
“Bring it all… I can use… the Blood-Warming Medicine… he can withstand it, he definitely… can survive.”
He was trapped in this coldness, unable to free himself, and even the hot tears rolling down his cheeks turned into ice beads.
He couldn’t let this person die in front of him again.
If only one of them could survive between him and Qu Chenzhou, if there could only be hatred between them, he was willing to choose… to give up himself.
Thunder roared overhead, rainwater poured on Qu Chenzhou, making it impossible for him to open his eyes. He didn’t have time to wipe his face, only vigorously shaking his head, listening attentively to the sounds around him.
Even without rushing to the water’s edge, Qu Chenzhou knew his current appearance.
The ground seemed far away, and when he lowered his head, he could see his large body covered in scales. The wings behind him flapped, producing a howling wind, as he continued on the winding path.
Bird wings and serpent movement… What kind of monster is this?
He vaguely felt that he could recall something, but he had no time to dwell on it.
When he opened his eyes, he realized that the situation was completely different from the last time. Right from the start, he was aware.
This time, his body was covered in wounds, unable to withstand the torment of the New Moon night. He feared that he had no chance to escape, and even less of a chance to see those two doors again.
But he couldn’t accept it. After overcoming so many hardships, none of them were able to claim his life. How could he willingly fall down halfway through!
A thunderbolt streaked across the sky, and almost reflexively, he rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding the lightning strike that hit the ground where he had just been.
A tremendous shockwave spread in all directions. A tree as thick as several people’s embrace fell with a whoosh. Amidst the swaying branches, countless dark figures pounced out with piercing cries, biting at him.
Qu Chenzhou roared fiercely, rolling and struggling desperately. His wings flapped, crushing those things into mangled pieces of flesh. He didn’t know how many more wounds he had sustained, but he managed to shake off the shadows that had bitten onto him.
In the muddy ground, along with the flowing rainwater, there was not only black-red blood but also numerous feathers of his own.
He couldn’t hold on much longer.
He gasped for breath in the pouring rain, silently gazing at the countless predatory eyes lurking in the shadows.
He didn’t know what those things were, but he knew they coveted his flesh and blood. Perhaps if he faced another attack, he wouldn’t be able to break free.
Last time, it wasn’t this difficult. He knew exactly where the problem lay.
The birthmark on his lower back was a blazing fire that couldn’t be extinguished by the heavy rain. It was his best shield, as if someone was always protecting him.
In that previous instance, he wielded the flames, cutting through obstacles, and those wicked demons were incinerated by the blazing fire.
But this time, there was nothing left, nothing to protect him.
In a momentary lapse of concentration, a sudden pain struck his back. A monkey-faced creature had landed on him, baring its teeth and biting into his wing.
Despite several attempts to shake off the monster by flapping his wings, he was overwhelmed by several others that took advantage of the opportunity. He rolled in a frenzy, crushing the ground beneath him, leaving behind a trail of mangled flesh.
The ground rapidly approached, and he swiftly fell to the ground, no longer the colossal creature he was just moments ago—he had lost his crushing power.
Everything was different now. Qu Chenzhou saw his own knees kneeling on the ground.
Supporting himself on the ground were hands that were all too familiar, splattered with blood, gripping a pair of flying daggers. They were the ones the person had repeatedly commissioned craftsmen to modify, specifically designed for him. He had used these daggers to face that person time and time again.
“If I’m not by your side,” the person had repeatedly instructed, “you must protect yourself.”
Qu Chenzhou let out a fierce roar, suddenly throwing the creature clinging to his back to the ground. With both daggers, he stabbed it through, piercing a hole in its body.
As for the other creatures, it was as if they hadn’t seen the carnage. They screamed and pounced at him.
He felt his body growing heavier, rain mixed with blood obscuring his vision. With only one hand supporting himself on the ground, he desperately used his other hand to fend off the attackers. His arms and back were pierced by sharp teeth, causing excruciating pain.
But it seemed that everything was conspiring to bring him to his demise. Suddenly, a chilling coldness enveloped the surroundings. Before he could react, snowflakes began to fall, the torrential rain turning into ice crystals, clattering as they struck the frozen ground.
His leg and one hand were frozen to the ground, and the rainwater that soaked his entire body instantly turned into stiff ice. He couldn’t stand up, nor could he move.
The snowlight dispersed the darkness completely, allowing him to finally see the countless greedy eyes, the horrifying and chaotic creatures cautiously treading on the frozen mud as they approached him step by step.
“I cannot die!” he shouted in a desperate voice. “I cannot die!”
He had deceived Zhongming, risking everything and exhausting all means. There was still such a long road to travel, so many villains to drag into h*ll., how could he turn into a pile of bones halfway through?
His voice sounded particularly harsh in the silent falling snow. The creature at the forefront seemed provoked and pounced on his shoulder, biting down with a single bite.
The oppressive pain accompanied the sound of shattered ice.
Fiery heat erupted from between the creature’s teeth. He had expected to see a splatter of red, but instead, he suddenly heard a deafening and mournful roar.
Something landed on his arm, shattering the ice that bound him and turning it into stardust. The thing fell onto the monster’s body and instantly reduced it to ashes.
Qu Chenzhou lifted his head and saw numerous fiery red sparks descending from the heavens, as if someone were igniting thousands of fireworks.
The flickering sparks fell, but they turned into blazing crimson flames. They rapidly spread outward from his surroundings. The monsters that had been eyeing him were burned by the intense fire and scattered in all directions, wailing in agony.
He felt as if he were immersed in molten lava and flames, yet the fire did not harm him in the slightest. It roared and whirled around him, initially burning wildly with gusts of wind but gradually subsiding until it dissipated completely.
After the flames receded, the scenery outside had completely transformed.
There was no more torrential rain or ice and snow. He stood on lush green grass, soft and fuzzy as if it had just sprouted. The greenness extended in all directions, and the air was filled with the vibrant scent of growth.
Qu Chenzhou gasped for breath, his heart still racing. He raised his hands in front of him, and the wounds on his arms rapidly healed, retaining their familiar warmth.
It was as if the birthmark had never been seared away.
“Zhongming! Is it you?” He sprinted forward with all his might, tears flowing like rain. “Is it you? Is it you?”
He didn’t know where to go, only that he had to run desperately.
“Whom are you looking for?” a voice from the void laughed and spoke up. “Are you looking for me?”
Qu Chenzhou abruptly turned around and saw, upon the expanse of lush greenery, two gigantic doors standing out of place. A young man seemed to be sitting on the wind, suspended between the two doors.
“We meet again,” the young man smiled, gesturing to both sides. “Since we are old friends, I won’t waste words. One side is reality, the other side is falsehood. This time, which one do you choose?”
Qu Chenzhou wasn’t someone easily bewildered, even in such circumstances, yet he felt as if his feet were rooted to the ground. After a moment, he murmured in disbelief, “I… I didn’t die?”
Now that he had encountered this young man, the torment of the Night of the New Moon had reached its end.
His heavily injured body… had somehow managed to endure until now, perhaps because of the raging flames that had protected him.
“You want to die that badly?” the young man smiled, flicking his finger lightly. “Two enemies, but unfortunately, someone doesn’t want you to die.”
Following his gesture, Qu Chenzhou looked up at the sky and saw a dagger slicing through a blood-drenched wrist. The gushing crimson seemed akin to the fiery sparks that had fallen from the heavens earlier.
Then, he saw his own body.
Someone fiercely took a bite from the wrist, sucking the blood and feeding it to him along with tears.