No, how could it be Xiao Rong, how could it be Xiao Rong?! Did he see it wrong, or was this just a person who looked like Xiao Rong?
Xiao Yuan couldn’t help but approach a little closer, wanting to investigate. The young man in the water prison was drenched, his body pale and bloated, his hair sticking to his face; he had passed out because of suffocation. Compared to his miserable, wretched state, even someone like Mu Yingyang could be called immaculately dressed.
A voice sounded behind him: “Elder Meng?”
It was the guard patrolling Suoxian Prison. Xiao Yuan said, “I’m just taking a random look. This Xiao Rong…”
The guard thought that Elder Meng had come to check Xiao Rong’s situation on purpose and said, “Please rest assured, Elder Meng, we did everything according to the Lord’s orders.”
…… So, this was indeed Xiao Rong. Now that Xiao Yuan thought about it, he had been in Xingtian Sect for half a month and he had not seen Xiao Rong. He initially thought that Xiao Rong was hidden by Xiao Du in a golden house built for his beloved younger brother. He could never imagine Xiao Rong would be locked up in Suoxian Prison, not to mention being tortured in the water prison.
Why did Xiao Du do this? Even if Xiao Rong did something wrong, Xiao Du would not abuse him so much; he would reprimand him with a few words at most. Could it be that Xiao Rong’s mistakes were inexcusable in Xiao Du’s eyes?
No matter what, Xiao Rong was Xiao Du’s younger brother. With Xiao Du’s dedication to his younger brother, any mistakes made by him could be forgiven.
Xiao Yuan remembered that he had also made a mistake when he was still Xiao Du’s brother.
At that time, Xiao Du was travelling together with Xiao Yuan when he overheard the whereabouts of an ancient divine weapon. The two of them went deep into a tomb thousands of years old to see what a legendary ancient divine weapon really looked like. The ancient tomb was full of traps and dangers. Fortunately, Xiao Du was there, and the journey went quite smoothly.
Later, the two of them arrived at the place where the coffin of the tomb’s owner was placed. Xiao Yuan accidentally caused the thousand-year-old corpse in the coffin to transform. It happened so suddenly that he didn’t have time to dodge at all. It was Xiao Du who pulled him into his arms and took a hard blow for him. In the end, they didn’t find the ancient divine weapon. Although Xiao Du sealed the corpse eventually, he was also poisoned and seriously injured by the corpse.
Xiao Yuan looked at his blackened wound. Feeling guilty and anxious, he hurriedly helped him deal with the injury and said in a muffled voice: “I’m sorry, Gege, I didn’t mean it.”
Xiao Du stretched out his hand to tuck Xiao Yuan’s drooping hair behind his ears, “I know that Ah Yu would not deliberately harm me.”
Xiao Yuan’s eyes were sore, “Ge, does it hurt?”
“It doesn’t hurt,” Xiao Du said, “Don’t cry, Ah Yu, it hurts when you cry.”
Xiao Yuan whispered, “I don’t want to cry. Ge, hit me, please, I’ll feel better if you hit me.“ As Xiao Yuan said it, he lowered his head in front of Xiao Du, “It’d be best if you make a bump appear.”
Xiao Du smiled and rubbed Xiao Yuan’s head, “No, I can’t bear it.”
Since then, Xiao Yuan never went to the places that might be dangerous with Xiao Du again. He didn’t want to be the one dragging him down.
Coming back from his memories, Xiao Yuan felt even more puzzled. Xiao Du didn’t blame him for being poisoned back then. The identity of his ‘younger brother’ was a golden token that guaranteed being immune to injury and death from Xiao Du. It was impossible for Xiao Rong to be treated so cruelly by Xiao Du. Unless… unless he didn’t have that golden token.
After Xiao Yuan got out of Suoxian Prison, he went to Meng Chi to restore his appearance and change back into his clothes. Seeing his troubled look, Meng Chi asked, “What’s the matter?”
Xiao Yuan told Meng Chi everything he had seen in Suoxian Prison and asked, “What happened to Xiao Rong?”
Meng Chi didn’t want to talk about it: “That…”
“He is not Xiao Du’s younger brother either. Xiao Du has found the wrong person again?”
Meng Chi sighed and said, “This matter shouldn’t be told to you by me.”
A strange feeling rose in Xiao Yuan’s heart, “Does this still have anything to do with me?”
Meng Chi’s eyes flickered, “I didn’t say anything.”
Xiao Yuan couldn’t get anything else from Meng Chi, so he could only go back to his house.
At the entrance of Chanxin Courtyard, Le’er was looking around, stretching her neck. When she saw Xiao Yuan coming back, she said with joy: “Master Xiao, you are back – His Lordship is here!”
Xiao Yuan paused and walked into the courtyard.
Xiao Du stood under the plum blossom tree, his red clothes like fire and his features deep. Xiao Yuan saw him holding a frost-blue jade fan in his hand, carelessly picking up a branch of plum blossoms, his eyebrows picturesque and romantic. Hearing the sound of footsteps, he turned around and looked at Xiao Yuan.
Xiao Yuan nodded to him, “My Lord.”
Xiao Du looked at Xiao Yu dressed in black, raised his eyebrows and asked, “Where have you been?”
Xiao Du smiled with a bit of self-deprecation, “You’re willing to call her Jiejie?”
“If Your Lordship doesn’t like it, I won’t call her that.”
Since Xiao Yuan had promised to be obedient, he had never said anything negative in front of Xiao Du and whenever Xiao Du said something, he would always agree. But seeing him so docile, Xiao Du didn’t feel the joy he expected, only a deep sense of powerlessness.
He didn’t know why this was happening. Obviously, as long as Xiao Yuan was by his side, willing to look at him and willing to talk to him, he would get what he wanted. But he was not satisfied. Even if he forced Xiao Yuan to give him all this, he still wanted more.
“It’s okay.” Xiao Du said, “You can call her that if you want.”
“Good. Is something the matter since Your Lordship has come to see me?”
Xiao Du said, “I want to eat the dishes you cook.”
Xiao Yuan said, “Doesn’t Your Lordship practice fasting?”
“Yes, but I just want to have a meal.” Xiao Du said, “Ah Yu, will you cook for me?”
Xiao Yuan tried his best to make his tone sound less forced, “I will do it now.”
Xiao Yuan took the jade fan that Xiao Du handed over; it was Bihai Chaosheng that Xiao Du gave him last time that he refused. The moment his fingers touched Bihai Chaosheng, an indescribably strange feeling rose from Xiao Yuan’s chest, as if he had been waiting for this day for a long time and finally his waiting had come to an end. He didn’t deny that he liked Bihai Chaosheng; even if it was given by Xiao Du, he still liked it.
Xiao Yuan looked it over, then turned the fan, put it in his hand, and said, “Thank you, Your Lordship, I’m going to go cook.”
“En,“ Xiao Du said, “I’ll be waiting for you here.”
Someone had prepared the ingredients long ago and Xiao Yuan only needed to cook them. Of course, he would not cook with his own hands every step of the way as he used to cook for Xiao Du. He preferred to set cooking formations. But it was the first time he cooked with Bihai Chaosheng; he didn’t know enough about the power of this artifact and, as a result, he overcooked many of the dishes and even ended up with two scorched ones.
Xiao Yuan served the food to the table, “Your Lordship, please taste it.”
It was not hard to see that Xiao Yuan didn’t put his heart into cooking this meal at all but Xiao Du didn’t mind. He took a bite of everything without exception, even of the two that were scorched.
Xiao Yuan smiled and said, “Your Lordship just eats it like this, aren’t you afraid that I will poison you?”
Xiao Du asked back: “Did you?”
Xiao Yuan’s expression made it difficult to distinguish whether he was telling the truth or lying, “Yes.”
Xiao Du looked at him meaningfully for a long time, “Then you shouldn’t eat it.”
Xiao Yuan raised his eyebrows, scooped a bowl of soup for himself, lowered his head and took a sip.
Xiao Du curved his lips silently with a bit of joy in his heart and then felt sad for himself. Had he fallen to the point that he was happy just because Xiao Yuan had not poisoned his food?
Xiao Yuan thought about Xiao Rong, hesitated again and again, and then said, “My Lord, Xiao Rong, he…”
Xiao Du’s expression changed slightly, “Ah Yu?”
The words were on his lips, but Xiao Yuan did not ask. It was better not to make a big deal out of it, since the matter had come to this. If Xiao Du didn’t say anything, he would pretend he didn’t know anything.
Xiao Du ate the meal that was not good either in colour or flavour, but he ate it all. After the meal, the maid reminded him: “My lord, it’s time for you to change your medicine.”
“Got it.” Xiao Du said, “Ah Yu, once I detoxify the poison, we’ll exchange hearts to remove your Gu.”
Xiao Yuan knew that Xiao Du’s injury was inflicted by the people of Yunjian Pavilion, but where did poison come from? Yunjian Pavilion prided itself on following the righteous path, they would hardly do things like coating a sword with poison. But no matter who poisoned Xiao Du, it was not a bad thing for Xiao Yuan; at least it bought him time. He asked, “How long will it take?”
Xiao Du didn’t seem to expect Xiao Yuan to ask this question. After a moment of silence, he said quickly: “Soon, it will definitely be before the antidote is used up. I will not let you suffer from the Acacia Gu again.”
Meng Chi personally took care of Xiao Du’s poisoning and his injuries. Those two were quite tricky, and Meng Chi could see no signs of improvement even though Xiao Du was taking medicines for a few days. She was so busy that she was overwhelmed, and at this moment Li Yanzhi came back from somewhere with an injury.
When Xiao Yuan went to find Meng Chi, she was furious with Li Yanzhi: “Do you have nothing better to do? If you only know how to look for trouble, just stay at Xingtian and grind my medicine.”
Li Yanzhi said gloomily: “How could I have known that he was that good.”
Li Yanzhi was one of the most powerful people in Xingtian Sect after Xiao Du. His sword Yehuo Sanzai (karma fire three calamities) could clean up the surroundings in all directions at once. When he fought with the elders of Six Peaks of Yunjian Pavilion that day, he directly sent the elder with the title of True Lord to the Yellow Springs. He also looked like a resolute man; Xiao Yuan liked him quite a bit. It was a pity that Meng Chi didn’t like him, otherwise she wouldn’t yell at him. Xiao Yuan particularly wanted to develop muscles like his. When he said that, Meng Chi screamed that he can’t, and he also knew that he can’t do it, so he had to give up with tears in his eyes.
Xiao Yuan used the jade fan to open the bead curtain and walked into the room. He smiled and said, “Is there any excitement to watch? I want to see it.”
The two of them looked at Xiao Yuan. Li Yanzhi was half-naked, his body bronzed, and there were two gaping sword marks on his sturdy lower abdomen, with the traces of frost vaguely visible around the wounds.
Xiao Yuan said, “I have never seen this kind of sword mark before. Who is so powerful that he can cut Guardian Li like this.”
Meng Chi’s tone was subtle: “Ask him.”
Li Yanzhi scratched his head, “Didn’t Ah Chi say the day before yesterday that she had run out of ruthless hua for the antidote to Acacia Gu? I just wanted to help her find a couple of plants. I inquired everywhere and learned that Gu Louyin had exchanged his natal sword for a ruthless hua when he was in Baihua Palace. There was news that he was on the snow-capped mountain outside Luling City. I went up the mountain to find him, trying to steal the ruthless hua for Ah Chi, and then…” Li Yanzhi spread his hands, “Ended up like this.”
Xiao Yuan was taken aback for a moment and heard himself ask, “Was it Gu Louyin who hurt you like this?”
Li Yanzhi said in embarrassment: “I underestimated the enemy. I thought how capable could a swordsman without his natal sword be! Who would have thought that he would turn frost and snow into a sword, tint it with moonlight and beat me to the point that my mother would not recognize me. I was the one who disgraced Xingtian Sect.”
Meng Chi teased: “Gu Louyin was originally born with a heavenly spiritual body, and his cultivation had increased greatly after he was demonized, so if someone wants to snatch something from him, I’m afraid it could only be done by His Lordship himself. However, his cultivation base is being exchanged for his life. If the loss is not stopped in time, I am afraid that he will live no more than ten or twenty years, so…” Meng Chi paused with a look of regret on her face, “Oh, it’s a pity, such an immortal-like gentleman. By the way, Ah Yu, are you looking for me?”
Xiao Yuan: “…”
Xiao Yuan recovered and said, “Do you have time to spar with me? I want to try out Bihai Chaosheng.”
Meng Chi made an “Oh” sound. “The level of the weapons is different, but no matter what, I am also one of the guardians of Xingtian Sect. Aren’t you underestimating me?”
“I dare not,” Xiao Yuan said, “I just like Jiejie and want to learn from Jiejie.”
Meng Chi was amused, “Okay, I will compare notes with you after I finish the medicine for Li Yanzhi.”
After they set a time and place, Meng Chi realized that Xiao Yuan had indeed improved a lot. Using the jade fan with extreme lightness and dexterity, she didn’t get much advantage over him even when she was serious.
Li Yanzhi watched from the side, only to feel that the jade fan matched the beauty holding it very well and it was very pleasing to the eye.
After several clashes, Meng Chi found an opportunity, took a jade hairpin from her bun and stabbed at Xiao Yuan. She stopped abruptly when the hairpin was only a finger away from the center of Xiao Yuan’s forehead and said with a smile: “Ah Yu was distracted.”
Xiao Yuan applauded and smiled, “Jiejie is amazing.”
“Who made Ah Yu so absent-minded?” Meng Chi asked leisurely, “Your Shidi, His Lordship? Or… Gu Louyin?”