Xingtian Sect was located in the northern territory and all its four seasons felt like winter. Xiao Yuan had just come from the warm Baihua Palace and for a while he was not used to it. He couldn’t help but think of the warm jade that Gu Louyin gave him. In hindsight, he shouldn’t have taken the nine-tone snail but taken the warm jade instead when he went down the mountain; at least he wouldn’t be freezing.
It snowed all day, freezing the earth. Plum blossoms were blooming in the courtyard, elegant and quiet in the wind and snow. Xiao Yuan was wearing snow-white fox fur, sitting under the porch, watching in boredom as Le’er swept the snow. The girl’s face was flushed with cold and she stopped from time to time, bringing her hands to her mouth and breathing on them.
Xiao Yuan regretted the warm jade again and said, “Leave it alone, I will do it.”
Le’er smiled and said, “I’m used to doing all these jobs. Young master will never be as fast as me.”
Xiao Yuan raised his eyebrows, “Who said that, you step aside.”
Xiao Yuan walked to the courtyard, knelt down on one knee in the snow, raised his right hand and glanced around. In fact, he was not sure in his heart. But his words were already spoken and he was in front of a girl. It would be too unmanly to retreat at this time.
Xiao Yuan was accumulating strength in his right hand, and Le’er saw strands of heat coming out of his hand. Then he suddenly inserted his hand into the snow.
The snow seemed to be burned by fire, melting at a speed visible to the naked eye, and it didn’t take long for a small area around Xiao Yuan to empty out. The snow turned into water that wetted his clothes.
Le’er was very enthusiastic and said excitedly: “Young master is amazing!”
Xiao Yuan forcibly decided that the blush on her face was her admiration for him. Seeing that she was happy, he was in a much better mood, his eyes smiling as he said, “Come, come, say it again, who’s faster, you or me?”
Le’er held the broom, shaking with laughter, and said, “But young master, the yard is so big, can you clear the rest of the snow?”
Xiao Yuan hesitated: “Ah, that…” He only had so much spiritual power altogether and he had to save it for a big event, could she not push him that hard?
Suddenly, the snow under the feet of the two swept outward like a tide, melting on the way. In the blink of an eye, the formerly snow-capped yard was restored to its original appearance, wet like after a heavy rain.
Le’er was stunned and amazed: “Young master, are you an immortal!”
Xiao Yuan looked at the man who appeared at the door and the smile in his eyes faded. “No, but your lord is.”
When Le’er turned her head and saw Xiao Du, her face paled with fright. She hurriedly saluted: “My Lord.”
In fact, Xiao Du didn’t look scary. He actually had a handsome and romantic appearance. If it weren’t for his moody and vicious temperament, his face alone would be able to attract many beauties to cling to him.
Xiao Du said, “Go bring the meal.”
Xiao Du was already practicing fasting and the last time he ate seriously was when Xiao Yuan personally cooked for him. Xiao Yuan said, “Do you want to eat here?”
Xiao Du looked at him with burning eyes, “I will eat with you.”
The table was laid under the plum blossom tree. Xiao Yuan felt very regretful as he watched the delicious dishes on the table. What a waste. If he ate alone, the taste would definitely be hundreds of times better.
The two sat facing each other. A gust of wind blew, and the petals seemed to be dripping like rain. Xiao Du raised his hand, casting a spell that blocked the falling plum blossoms. A plum blossom petal that had missed the net fell on Xiao Yuan’s shoulder.
Xiao Du stretched out his hand, trying to pluck the petal for Xiao Yuan. Xiao Yuan retreated instinctively, a frown between his eyebrows.
Xiao Du’s eyes sank, seemingly resigned, but he still plucked the petal. Looking at the pinkish white in his fingers, Xiao Du said, “Ah Yu, do you remember when you and I had dinner together for the first time?”
“I remember.“ Xiao Yuan poured himself a glass of wine, looked down at the liquor in the glass and said, “You told me to call you ‘gege’. I said no, what if I wasn’t, but you asked me to do it anyway.”
Xiao Yuan’s tone was calm; he didn’t sound sarcastic or complaining, but every word plunged into Xiao Du’s body like a knife. “Later, you called me that.” Xiao Du said solemnly, “You recognized me as your brother.”
Xiao Yuan said decisively: “No.”
A smile appeared at the corner of Xiao Du’s mouth, “I mean two years ago.”
“Not even two years ago.”
Xiao Du’s face was instantly grim. Xiao Yuan hated him and blamed him, but he couldn’t bear Xiao Yuan to deny the time when the two of them lived in harmony. In those six months, he loved Xiao Yuan unreservedly and did everything to make Xiao Yuan smile, but in the end what he got in exchange was just a sentence, “I never recognized you as my brother”? He didn’t believe it.
Xiao Du said solemnly: “I don’t like to hear this kind of nonsense.”
Xiao Yuan put down his chopsticks and said, “Do you remember what I said the last time we used the nine-tone snail to transmit sound?”
Xiao Du’s expression stiffened.
“I said I never wanted to come to Xingtian Sect, nor did I want to be your younger brother. The reason why I called you ‘gege’ was only because the circumstances forced me to.” Xiao Yuan pursed his lips and smiled, “Do you understand? During those six months, I was just acting in front of you.”
Xiao Du forced himself to say, “That’s enough.”
“I am very good at acting,” Xiao Yuan continued, “otherwise you wouldn’t send me to Gu Louyin, would you?”
Xiao Du got up suddenly, his chest heaving violently – how could Xiao Yuan sting him with just a few light words? He knew he was wrong, he knew he was wrong, okay?
Xiao Yuan looked at him blankly. Irritating Xiao Du was suicidal, but he was not afraid. Xiao Du did his best to find him and asked Meng Chi to remove his Gu, which was enough to prove that Xiao Du didn’t want to kill him, nor would he kill him. He could take this opportunity to figure out what Xiao Du wanted to do.
He had never been able to see through Xiao Du’s mind, nor could he understand what he was doing. Xiao Du infected him with Gu but was furious that Gu Louyin took his blood. He said that he wanted him to return to him in one piece and gave him a heart-protecting spell. Such contradicting things were not something that a normal person would do.
As for Xiao Du’s wretched and injured look, he had not expected it. Xiao Du, high and mighty, had always been the one who admired the appearance of others struggling to survive, why would he be actually shocked by his few words?
Xiao Yuan did not give Xiao Du a moment of peace and said: “A man like you, when loving allows one to live and when hating wants them to die, is cold and heartless, with deep and dark intentions. Who would dare to treat you sincerely? Not me anyway.”
Xiao Du seemed to be driven to the end of the rope, his face bloodthirsty and twisted. He walked up to Xiao Yuan step by step and clamped his palm firmly on his lower jaw, forcing Xiao Yuan to look directly at him. “Anyone in the world can say that about me, but you can’t,” he said coldly.
Xiao Yuan raised the corners of his mouth, “Why can’t I? I think I am more qualified to say that about you than anyone else. Xiao Du, actually, I’m curious. Is the reason why you have been looking for me for two years is because you can’t find a more suitable person to help you steal Qingyan? No, there must be more than one or two beauties of Xingtian Sect. You can find someone who is more docile and obedient to help you get Qingyan.”
Xiao Du bent down, his fingertips almost touching Xiao Yuan’s lips, and he said in a hoarse voice: “Why I was looking for you… you are so smart, don’t you really know?”
The back of Xiao Yuan’s neck was slightly sore. He said, “Gu Louyin became demonized after he rebelled against Yunjian Pavilion. It makes no sense to target him again. I don’t know what else I have that you can use.”
Xiao Du’s pupils shrank slightly. Xiao Yuan’s sentence, “I don’t know what else I have that you can use” pierced his heart like ten thousand arrows, making him bleed all over
“How could I use you again?” Xiao Du’s breath was sharp and uneven, “Listen carefully, I want you to stay with me – it’s you I want.”
Two years, he had lived without Xiao Yuan for two years. In front of everyone, he was as perverse and evil as ever, and as unpredictable. After learning about Xiao Yuan’s death, he had said only one sentence: “It’s a pity”. Even his confidante Meng Chi felt that Xiao Yuan was just a chess piece for him. Only he knew that after Xiao Yuan had left, his heart became unsteady. He deliberately maintained his ‘as before’ appearance. He still considered it his mission to overturn Yunjian Pavilion and worked hard for this, but his heart was empty.
He was Xiao Du and he could do almost anything. Now that he knew that he couldn’t live without Xiao Yuan and he had also confirmed that Xiao Yuan was his younger brother, Xiao Yuan could only stay with him.
Xiao Yuan didn’t hold back a smile and said, “You want me to stay with you? You sent me to Gu Louyin because you wanted me to stay with you?”
“No,“ Xiao Du confronted his deepest thoughts for the first time in front of Xiao Yuan, “I pushed you away because you made me uneasy.”
Xiao Yuan felt it was simply inexplicable, “What does that mean?”
Xiao Du’s adam’s apple rolled up and down. He said, “Ah Yu, I was…” The word “wrong” lingered on his lips but he couldn’t say it. He had never been a weak person, no matter who was in front of him.
Xiao Du said with difficulty: “I regret it.”
Xiao Yuan was quiet for a while and then said, “It’s your own business whether to regret or not. I don’t need to be responsible for your regret.”
“That’s what you think.”
Xiao Yuan looked at Xiao Du coldly. He should have been surprised by Xiao Du’s brazenness, but he didn’t think it was necessary. This was Xiao Du, and there was nothing Xiao Du couldn’t do.
“I want you to be responsible and to stay by my side honestly.” Xiao Du’s gaze softened and his voice became low and sultry, “I will give you the best in the world, so that you don’t need to look at anyone else.”
Xiao Yuan smacked away Xiao Du’s hand and said indifferently, “Pull back.”
Xiao Du: “…”
“What you think is the best is worthless to me.” Xiao Yuan rubbed his neck and said, “You’d better keep it for your younger brother.”
Hearing the words “younger brother”, Xiao Du looked at Xiao Yuan with a bit more sourness in his gaze. He stared at Xiao Yuan’s lips, wishing to block them so that they could not say a word he didn’t want to hear.
Xiao Yuan had lost his appetite, so he simply got up and said, “I’m full.” After he took a few steps, his wrist was suddenly grasped and he was forced to turn around and look at Xiao Du.
Xiao Du squeezed Xiao Yuan’s face abruptly; Xiao Yuan opened his lips in pain and saw him leaning over.
Vaguely aware of his intentions, Xiao Yuan was about to fight desperately, as if facing an enemy, when Xiao Du suddenly paused.
“You don’t want to?” Xiao Du whispered, “Haven’t you been dual-cultivating with many people, why do you still mind it?”
Xiao Yuan broke free, rearranged his crooked fox fur and said, “I don’t mind others; I mind you.”
Xiao Du’s hostility rose up sharply and he barely held back from lashing out at Xiao Yuan. At this moment Li Yanzhi, one of his guardians who had come to see him before, said he had something important to tell him. Xiao Du gazed at Xiao Yuan deeply and said, “Don’t be so heartless, I don’t want to force you.”
Xiao Yuan watched Xiao Du leave, only hoping that Meng Chi would soon remove his Gu. He really couldn’t wait.
Fortunately, Meng Chi didn’t make him wait too long. She came to Chanxin Courtyard to find him the next day, saying that she was almost ready to remove the Gu, only one last ingredient was missing.
Xiao Yuan casually asked what kind of ingredient it was. Meng Chi’s eyes flashed slightly and she didn’t answer the question: “Do you have someone you hate to the bone and, by the way, that person happens to have a high level of cultivation?”
Xiao Yuan said, “Are you talking about your lord?”
Meng Chi was taken aback for a moment, then raised her head weakly: “Has it reached the point of hatred?”
“It hasn’t.” His feelings for Xiao Du couldn’t be called hatred. To hate, he needed to spend all his time hating. If it weren’t for him being in Xingtian Sect, he wouldn’t even think about Xiao Du.
Meng Chi said, “His Lordship is out of the question. Choose someone else.”
“I don’t seem to hate anyone particularly.” Xiao Yuan said, “There are only some annoying people.”
“Then which people with high cultivation are annoying?”
Xiao Yuan thought for a while and said a half-truth, half-lie statement: “Yunjian Pavilion Master, Gu Hang.”
Meng Chi gasped for air, not knowing whether to laugh or to cry: “Your demands are really high.”
Xiao Yuan said suspiciously: “Why are you asking this?”
Meng Chi coughed lightly and said, “It’s okay, I’m just asking casually.”
Three days later, everything was ready for Gu removal, and Xiao Yuan was invited to Meng Chi’s residence. In addition to Meng Chi, Xiao Du was also there.
Meng Chi took Xiao Yuan to a room. Xiao Du stopped at the door and did not follow up. The room was full of incense fragrance, warm and pleasant. Meng Chi took out a porcelain vial, uncorked it and placed it under Xiao Yuan’s nose. Xiao Yuan smelled an indescribably weird smell and asked, “What is this?”
“Something that will stop you from feeling pain.”
“Will it hurt?” Xiao Yuan said curiously, “How on earth are you going to remove the Gu?”
Meng Chiyu hesitated: “You just have to do as I say, close your eyes and use your qi to stimulate the golden core of your heart, and leave the rest to me.”
Xiao Yuan felt vaguely uneasy, not because he was afraid that Meng Chi would harm him, but because he felt that she was hiding something from him.
Meng Chi asked Xiao Yuan to meditate on a soft couch. Not long after, Xiao Yuan heard the creaking of the door. He quietly opened one eye and saw a dazed man walking in. The man had a serious look and seemed a bit familiar to Xiao Yuan.
“Who is this guy?”
Meng Chi was taken aback, “Didn’t I tell you to close your eyes? This is my assistant. It is quite complicated to remove the Gu, I am afraid that I will not be able to do it well by myself.”
Xiao Yuan stared at the man’s face, a little confused. Had he seen him in Xingtian Sect in the past, so he looked familiar? No, he and this man did not meet in Xingtian Sect but——
Xiao Yuan sneered: “When did an elder of Yunjian Pavilion become your assistant?”
This man was clearly one of the people of Yunjian Pavilion who were trying to capture and kill him in Dongguan Mountain back then!
Meng Chi’s expression changed drastically.
Xiao Yuan got up from the couch and asked, “What the h*ll is going on?”
Meng Chi wanted to say something but stopped: “That…”
“If you don’t tell me, I won’t let you remove the Gu.”
While Meng Chi was in a dilemma, Xiao Du pushed the door, looked at Xiao Yuan and said, “Tell him.”
Meng Chi had no choice but to say: “The Acacia Gu is a parasite living in the heart. If you want to get rid of the Gu, you can only remove it with your heart. And because of the golden core in the heart, we wanted to find you a person with a very high cultivation base.”
A chill climbed up Xiao Yuan’s back, “So that’s how it is.”
It turned out to be nothing more than that.
“This person is the Sword Seeker Lord of Yunjian Pavilion. It took us a lot of effort to use the soul-possession technique on him.”
Xiao Yuan felt so sick and nauseous that he almost vomited. “Thank you for your hard work,” Xiao Yuan said coldly, “but I am not from Yunjian Pavilion.”
Xiao Du narrowed his eyes. Meng Chi said, “What do you mean?”
“If I get rid of the Gu using his heart, how will it be different from Yunjian Pavilion using the blood of an innocent person to save its disciple.”
“But if you don’t remove the Gu, you can only suppress it with an antidote.” Meng Chi persuaded, “Ruthless hua is rare and you have to use it every month. You will run out of it one day.”
“You don’t need to worry about this,” Xiao Yuan curved his lips in a smile with an unmistakable sneer in his eyes, “I will find someone to help me.”
Meng Chi couldn’t persuade Xiao Yuan. She looked at Xiao Du and said, “My Lord, that…”
Xiao Du raised his hand; Meng Chi stopped talking and withdrew, taking away the Sword Seeker Lord of Yunjian Pavilion as well. He and Xiao Yuan were left alone in the room, silent.
After a long time, Xiao Du said, “If I can use the soul-possession technique on him, naturally I can also use it on you. Be obedient, don’t force me.”
“You can make me exchange hearts with him,” Xiao Yuan said, “but I can change it back too. Unless you want to use the soul-possession technique on me for the rest of your life.”
A crazy thought flashed through Xiao Du’s mind. He gritted his teeth and said, “If he is willing, will you take his heart?”
“The Sword Seeker Lord didn’t seem willing.”
Xiao Du said, “I’m not talking about him.” As soon as he said these words, Xiao Du felt stunned. He didn’t expect himself to say that.
He cared more about Xiao Yuan than he knew.
He really lost, he lost completely, and there was no way back.
“Then who are you talking about?”
Xiao Yuan’s eyes widened suddenly – did he hear that right? Xiao Du wanted to exchange hearts with him? According to Meng Chi, after exchanging hearts, not only would his golden core be affected but he would also have the Acacia Gu in his body. It was impossible for Xiao Du not to know this, how could he be willing to exchange with him.
“You… are you serious?”
Xiao Du said, “Just say one word.”
Xiao Yuan recovered and said quickly, “I don’t want it.”
For the first time in his life, Xiao Du experienced humiliation. “You don’t want it?” He said in a dangerous tone, “I am willing to remove your Gu and share my cultivation base – you don’t want it?”
“No,” Xiao Yuan said, “I would rather find a man to sleep with me every month than have your heart.”