Chapter 22 Sycamore Tree
“How does the prince want me to resist?”
Liu Zhongming asked these words, a little stunned.
How to resist?
He watched Qu Chenzhou being abused several times. Each time, he endured it without saying a word and he would feel a fit of momentary anger for his misfortune.
But when the other party asked this back straightforwardly, even he didn’t know how he would struggle in this situation.
Qu Chenzhou lowered his gaze, as if he didn’t need his answer, which made Liu Zhongming even more frustrated.
For a moment, he felt as if the other party was sighing with his naive question.
“Let’s go.” He stayed for a while, then pulled the iron chain in his hand to enter the reception pavilion together.
The people guarding outside the reception pavilion were a little surprised. They asked a few words softly, and then left. Not long after they came back with a few people who laid out the meal and two sets of bowls and plates on the table by the window, who then left quietly.
Liu Zhongming took a few steps, then sat down. He coldly called out: “Let’s eat together.”
Qu Chenzhou wanted to remind Liu Zhongming that with his status, he could not be at the table, but when he thought about it, he threw away the idea, then sat down on another chair.
This time, he adjusted his sitting posture a bit, no longer curling up into a ball. He started moving after Liu Zhongming raised his chopsticks.
The gaze of the other party from beginning to end stayed on him, watching him calmly chew and swallow. His gestures couldn’t hide his proper education.
The other party’s begging for death was unsuccessful, so now he simply broke the jar and didn’t even cover up his manners.
Liu Zhongming couldn’t eat, he felt that he had been taken advantage of again.
He felt that he was crazy to suspect Qu Chenzhou to be a spy. How could a person who can have so many flaws be a spy?
Otherwise, the person who sent him out was crazy.
But no matter who was crazy, Fang Wuyang’s investigation results cannot be wrong. How did such a small slave who has been locked in Qisheng Building for ten years learn the etiquette of the palace?
And why did he appear in his dreams so many times?
But the dreams were outrageous. Except for Bai Shiyan, he had not even mentioned it to his parents, let alone the person in front of him. Otherwise if it was known that he was having a spring dream with a slave, it would be better off to just let him die.
“Who are you?” He didn’t want to go around in circles anymore, and asked straightforwardly: “Thinking about it all morning, have you considered it?”
Qu Chenzhou felt complicated about his current status. If he could, he wanted to live, even if he was subjugated.
If he can’t survive, he also hoped that the person who would end his life would be Liu Zhongming, and he would treat it as if he paid his debt again.
For a moment, he even wanted to expose everything and ask for relief. But it was impossible for him to be so selfish and cruel, to have Liu Zhongming who was perfectly fine to know about things that hadn’t happened.
Many things that happened after the rebirth had deviated from the original trajectory. He was like an unexpected guest, stirring the stable world into turmoil, and he didn’t know what future was waiting for him at this time.
“If I answer the prince’s question, will the prince believe me?”
“If you speak,” Liu Zhongming hesitated: “I will believe it.”
“My name is Qu Chenzhou…” His eyes fell on the face opposite to him, both familiar and unfamiliar. He replied very softly: “I have been selling myself in Qisheng Building since I was young…”
“I ran away because I wanted to escape back home… But I don’t know where my home is.”
“My master is Du Quan. Shopkeeper Du.”
“No one asked me to do anything.”
“There is no one in the mansion who is my inside person. I made my way over by myself.”
His eyes were calm and his voice was soft, without a trace of flinching or trembling. The timidity that shrank into a small ball that night was wrapped in a hard shell, preventing outsiders from easily snooping.
Although none of these responses gave him the answers he wanted, Liu Zhongming seemed to be stunned and had lost his soul in this clarifying, pure gaze.
There was a throbbing in his heart, a pain that made him unable to look away.
He didn’t know if the person in front of him overlapped with the person in his dream, or if he had fallen into nothingness again.
This night, as expected, he had another weird dream, but he was the only one in the dream.
He was very cold, but he couldn’t see where he was. There was only blood red in front of him, as if something was flowing down, which fascinated his eyes.
His hands and feet were bound, unable to move, otherwise he would have gone crazy.
Even in the dream, the piercing pain was still so strong, so clear that he thought he would faint.
“Zhongming!” Someone called mournfully in his ear: “There are still one hundred and fifteen, can you sustain it?”
Through the misty blood, something gleamed like the silvery light of a sharp weapon in front of him.
Right, that was the Sheyuan penetrating bone needle.
But…what exactly was the Sheyuan penetrating bone needle?
He was in a trance as if he could almost recall something, but it wasn’t clear enough, and it hurt too much.
“Jingchen,” he heard his dying voice say with a hint of joy: “After I die, you will become the emperor. Don’t let everyone down.”
Jingchen cried bitterly in his ear: “Zhongming, he is dead. How can a person come back from death? Don’t do stupid things!”
“Don’t cry… this is not a stupid thing, as long as… I have a chance to see him again…”
Liu Zhongming struggled to wake up from the nightmare, shaking all over. The pain in the dream seemed to penetrate through. He looked down at his arms and chest, still convulsing uncontrollably.
It was too real.
It was so real that even reality became sinister. He touched the cold sweat from his brow, stared for a long while sitting on the edge of the bed, then shouted: “Someone come!”
Outside of the yard, a vigil servant immediately trotted over. He called out from outside: “Master”
He was silent for a moment: “Go bring Qu Chenzhou.”
After dinner, Qu Chenzhou had laid down early on. Just when he was half asleep, he was called and led to the bedroom from before.
“Master, the person has been brought here.” The young man on duty after listening to the orders inside, turned and left.
Qu Chenzhou knelt outside the door alone, quietly looking at the closed door. Kneeling all night was not uncommon for him, but he never thought that he would kneel outside the door of Zhongming.
But the door opened quickly, and Liu Zhongming put on his coat and looked down at him from the threshold.
He kowtowed towards the lover who had treated him like a jewel that also hated him, and said, “This slave Qu Chenzhou greets the prince.”
“Come in.” Liu Zhongming turned and walked inward, indicating the direction of the sarong covering: “Lie down.”
Qu Chenzhou looked down at the ground, walked over slowly, and laid down on his back.
“Are you sleeping in your clothes?” Liu Zhongming asked with a frown.
The cold sweat had dried out, and his breathing gradually calmed down, especially after seeing this person. He realized unexpectedly that when the real thing was here, it would rid him of his nightmare.
Qu Chenzhou got up from the bed, took off his coat silently, and slowly pulled off the belt of his coat.
Liu Zhongming was about to lift his foot back into his room when in the corner of his eye he saw the snow-white clothes slipping from the gauze-wrapped shoulders, and his knees almost went soft.
“What are you doing!” he yelled angrily.
Qu Chenzhou pulled his shirt on his chest with one hand, then raised his eyes to look at him, wondering: “Isn’t the prince… calling me to wait on him in bed?”
The sun began to reach above the high surrounding walls, climbing up the side of the western wall. There were still dewdrops hanging vigorously in the morning. At this time of the day, the sun was already high up in the sky.
The smell of summer was already in the air.
Qu Chenzhou was still sitting on the steps outside the study. With his back leaning on the porch, he put his hands in his sleeves and half-closed his eyes.
In these past few days, his days had passed like this. Fortunately, this season was not cold, and it was not difficult to endure even if he was locked outside the door.
He quickly found a sunny place, enjoying the sun like a lazy cat.
After Fang Wuyang left that day, Liu Zhongming didn’t ask him for his ambiguous answers. He just didn’t understand why, in the middle of the night, he suddenly asked someone to take him from the east wing to his bedroom.
At present, with his status, if he was called to the master’s room in the middle of the night and told to lie down, even if he knew that Zhongming had always kept himself clean, he couldn’t think of anything else it was for.
Unexpectedly, before he even finished taking off his clothes, Zhongming shouted at him to get lost, then went back inside angrily.
He was stunned for a long time, not knowing if he really had to get lost, so he sat in the dark on the edge of the sarong bed. He listened to the sound of sleeping that gradually became heavier inside and he couldn’t help but lift the corners of his mouth.
Just sitting there quietly, he felt that maybe God was not so mean to him.
He thought he would endure all the suffering, but after a meeting on the Breaking Soul Stage, he didn’t expect him to be able to live again, and to be so close to Zhongming, surrounded by all these familiar smells.
Even if they would never be intimate like their previous life, it would still be good.
As long as no one discovered his value anymore, as long as he would no longer be used by others, it would be fine.
Before the drowsiness hit, he actually had a somewhat childish thought——if he had known that he could still see it, he would not suffer so much for nothing. It would be better to end this crippling life when Zhongming escaped from the capital.
As the warm wind passed by from high above, countless bells swayed from the sycamore trees and the pink colored flowers wavered, dazzling people’s eyes.
A flower was engulfed by the wind and rolled to the dead corner under the stone steps. The sepal was half buried in the moist soil, and the curled petals were still fresh.
He reached out and picked it up, stroked the dirt on it, and held it in the palm of his hand.
The aged sycamore tree was too tall and would block the sun. Sycamore trees were not something planted in the palace, so he had not seen sycamore flowers for a long time.
The flower in his hand was blown away in the wind spreading it’s smell, did the sycamore flower originally have such a light fragrance?
Qu Chenzhou leaned on the porch with a little smile, as if he could still see the embarrassed appearance of the stable young man in front of him pretending to be calm while stuffing him with sycamore flowers.
Except for the few left in the book, the other flowers were buried by him after they dried up, leaving only the exquisite eight-treasure box in the end.
He really wanted to know… After opening that box, what would Zhongming look like when he saw a box full of ash?
Will he remember how they were when they were young, or will he hate him even more?