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After eating lunch, Fu Shen noted that Yan Xiaohan was in a bad mood, thus persuaded him into taking a nap. After he woke up, they both went out to seek the doctor from yesterday to do a checkup on him.
Kuangfeng City couldn’t compare with the county cities in the capital’s outskirts, only having one or two reputable medical facilities. That human skin mask of Fu Shen’s had been applied by Du Leng and he wasn’t able to put it back on after peeling it off, so the doctor simply couldn’t recognize him at all when he came in in the morning. “Why didn’t that young brother from last night come?” he asked with a good bit of curiosity. “He entrusted this patient to you?”
There was really too much of a difference between ‘Ren Miao’s boring face and his own. Fu Shen had no choice but to brace himself and blurt out some concoction. “Yeah, he left before this. You can tell me if you have something to say.”
They walked the whole way to the clinic. Though Fu Shen was wearing his conical hat, it didn’t stand a chance with Yan Xiaohan at his side, who still stared at him no matter where he was. The old doctor’s eyesight was even more unforgiving, and upon seeing them support each other into the entrance, his question was short and to the point. “You two are a family, yes?”
Even Yan Xiaohan was a bit startled. “How could you tell?” Fu Shen asked.
That sentence was clearly a question on the surface, when it was in fact an admittance. The doctor had Yan Xiaohan sit down, searching for his pulse as he spoke. “In addition to medical knowledge, this old man has learned a bit of the art of visage-reading. You two show the traits of being destined to be married together – a priceless natal chart, with your two stars shining on each other. Your happiness was fraught with hardships in past times, and you will certainly have later fortune in the future.”
When he said that much, Yan Xiaohan’s eyes revealed a bit of a smile. “Thank you for your encouraging words.”
The doctor took his pulse with full concentration, then withdrew the wrist pillow a short while later. “I told this Young Master this morning that ingesting fallnight white develops an addiction. The use of medicine is not a good treatment, so you have no option but to rely on abstaining from it on your own. You’re still young, and right in the strong and vigorous period of your life; the drug might wear your vitality down some, but you’ll be just fine with a bout of rest. Moreover, I heard that you took it by mistake. Since you have the mind to break off with it, so long as you resist the temptation and suffer through it, you’ll be able to give it up in about a year.”
“Is the withdrawal painful?” Fu Shen asked with a frown.
Yan Xiaohan understood his unsaid meaning, placing a hand on his. “It’s not a problem. As long as I’m able to get rid of it, a bit of suffering is nothing,” he consoled in a warm tone.
The old doctor shook his head. “Fallnight white is just like being given a loan. You borrow coin to indulge to your heart’s content, and it brutally exploits you when it comes time to pay it back. This old man urges you to be prepared. The error of drug addiction is not something ordinary people can withstand and live with — if abstaining from it really was so easy, then why is the mainstreet filled up with sick ghouls who have fallen into destitution?”
Bearing with difficulties was not a big deal, as far as Yan Xiaohan was concerned. He’d been wading through a mountain of knives and sea of flames from his entry into the palace ’til today, so his persevering nature didn’t need to be elaborated upon. Fu Shen, however, couldn’t watch him being tormented. “Is there no way to alleviate it a little?”
The doc swept his eyes over him, giving him a once-over from top to bottom, and answered at a snail-like pace. “…There’s no way to completely dispel it, but…”
“But you’ll need to work a bit harder.”
“What do you mean?”
“According to what this old geezer’s seen, after this Young Master took the drug last night, he was overly impassioned, and it was hard to restrain himself. That’s consistent with one of fallnight white’s effects, which causes one’s spirits to soar as if they’ve fallen into paradise, their qi and blood to upsurge, and their desire to overflow. Therefore, I’m thinking that since you are spouses, when his addictive urge flares up, you can give this method a try to allay it slightly.”
“…It’ll work?” Fu Shen asked hoarsely.
“Fallnight white’s effects are nothing more than causing the heart to be filled with delight,” the doctor explained to him in detail. “Worldly happiness can be generally divided up into three layers. The first layer is the happiness of food and drink, and being able to fill one’s stomach when starved is then satiation. The second is the happiness of the shared bed, as when two people are in matrimonial harmony and blend together like water and milk, that is elation. The third is the effect of stimulant drugs, which turns one’s soul and upside down, and that is bliss.*
The delight fallnight white is capable of bringing out far surpasses that of eating and sex, but they might be able to make up for the deficiency in small part. For example, if someone was hooked on sweets and wanted to cut back on sugar, immediately cutting it off would of course be unbearable. It needs to be given in increasingly smaller increments, and only after many day would they then be no different than an ordinary person.”
“Got it.” Fu Shen nodded. “Give him a little something sweet when his craving flares, and then it won’t be so hard to deal with, right?”
“That’s exactly it.” The old physician stroked his beard. “There’s just one point you need to keep in mind: you absolutely mustn’t allow him to take fallnight white again when you see him in pain. Soft-heartedness is too much of a risk.”
Fu Shen did not immediately reply this time, turning his head to give Yan Xiaohan a look instead.
Yan Xiaohan smiled appeasingly towards him, his features sallow yet especially warm. “What are you looking at me for? Afraid that you won’t be able to harden your heart enough?”
“Yeah.” Fu Shen tugged him by the hand to get up, sighing with emotion. “Is this a treatment for you, or me?”
They came out of the hospital, each carrying a bag of medical ingredients for a kidney-based male performance booster. Yan Xiaohan left a verbal message for the Prince of Qi in the native bank they were using for communication, informing him that clues about whitedew had cropped up in Brook Hill and the rest of them should go on ahead to Jing Prefecture beforehand, as he himself had to stay behind for a few days in order to investigate.
Taking advantage of their free time, the two went for a stroll around the county city. April was a good month for the spring’s heat and bloom, and the South was especially humid and warm. Kuangfeng County was rich in all kinds of fresh fish and lotus root, which had a more distinctive sort of flavor compared to the capital’s. Though Yan Xiaohan’s addiction was yet unsolved, he was no different from usual when the withdrawal wasn’t acting up. He restrained his own gloom and depression very well, and with roaming around hand-in-hand with Fu Shen, he didn’t feel like this day was that hard to deal with, too.
Asking about in all directions, they then came to finally, fully understand what ‘fallnight white’ was.
Its source was a flowering, fruiting plant. According to legend, Chang’e gifted it to the previous dynasty’s emperor when he had dreamed of a trip to the Palace on the Moon, and it commonly bloomed on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, hence the name ‘fallnight white’. Its flowers were white as unsullied snow, and its fruits were milk-like after being ground, warming up the bodies of those that downed it and intoxicating them. The juice assumed the shape of light brown filaments after crude processing, which could be smoked in an opium pipe. Finely processed fallnight white would then turn into a semitransparent brown lump similar to amber, and the higher the purity, the stronger the drug’s effect. After it’s milled into a powder, only a little was needed to be roasted over a fire for it to give off a unique fragrance that could mesmerize people — that was the kind of ‘whitedew’ Yan Xiaohan and the rest had found in the capital.
There were quite a few households that grew fallnight white locally, and even more that crudely processed it all along all along the mainstreet. Because of the drug’s warm-feeling effect, it was often peddled in flower alleys. Any and every brothel that sold fallnight white would hang a white, flower-shaped lantern before the entrance to act as an indicator. Refined fallnight white was an exceedingly hard to come by rarity, a saying among the people being “one tael of fallnight is one tael of gold”.
For a lucky break within a calamity, the fallnight white Yan Xiaohan encountered in Brook Hill was merely the villager’s crudely processed kind, and had very many impurities when ignited as well as not being a very large quantity of the drug. If he had really been down on his luck and came across the refined whitedew, he had been shut up in that building for so long that they could forget about even getting up to go see a doctor – he likely would have entirely wasted away.
The further they walked into the city, the more shocking the sights that entered their eyes. On the same day of the capital’s Golden Crow Guard case, the disturbance caused a panic; the Flying Dragon Guard had done a rigorous investigation regarding whitedew, itching to all but flip Clear Void Monastery on its head. However, on their entire journey within Kuangfeng City, they saw no less than ten establishments hanging lanterns on their doors, not to mention even further innumerable private dealers among the citizenry that processed their own fallnight white.
Even on the street, partitioned by a wall from the makeupped, fancily dressed prostitutes, was a dirty, unkempt beggar in dire health, still clinging to an opium pipe and refusing to let it go.
The scene was both luxurious and enchanting yet indescribably bizarre and bleak. Fu Shen felt a burst of upset as he looked on. “This really is evil. Is it worth it ruin yourself like this for the sake of a stupid drug?” he puzzled.
By means of the cover of his robe’s sleeve, Yan Xiaohan took the other’s hand. “You haven’t taken it. I can actually understand it a bit, now. With how much suffering life has, once you’ve experienced bliss yourself, you can no longer deal with this world.”
“What about you, then? You planning to take off to Heavens right now?” Fu Shen asked, not very happily.
Yan Xiaohan turned his face to look at him, gaze calm and tender with a small smile. “The time of bliss in all this humble one’s lifetime is still the moment the Marquis and I loved on each other.”
“…You still don’t have a speck of propriety! Get lost!”
He flung his hand away and scurried off like an honest woman that had been harassed by a despot. A short while later, he stopped up in front to wait for Yan Xiaohan to slowly catch up, then grasped his hand anew.
They both had a meal and took a bath in the evening. Everything was as normal. Yan Xiaohan’s situation had been stable the whole time, with no indicators of a craving flare-up to be seen. Fu Shen uneasily asked after him a good couple of times; it was his first time reacting to something like this, and though he looked unperturbed on the surface, he was inevitably worried on the inside. Yan Xiaohan observed him being as restless as if he had nails sticking into his ass, and bluntly drew his entire body over for a hug. “Didn’t you tell me not to be scared? Why are you the first one to be pacing around in a mess?”
“What crap. I’m scared, too.”
“Scared of what?”
“Scared that this Marquis won’t be able to satisfy you,” he replied sarcastically.
Yan Xiaohan buried his head into the side of other’s neck, stifling a fit of giggles.
He laughed and laughed, then suddenly made a very soft intake of breath.
“What’s wrong?” Fu Shen promptly asked.
“It’s okay. Don’t be nervous.” Yan Xiaohan took the man’s hand and placed it right over where his heart was, having him feel its gradually quickening beat. “It’s flaring up… hh, I can still barely tolerate it.”
Very soon after, though, he couldn’t.
Accompanying the violent throbbing was a painful itch emerging in his heart, like infinite ants were biting it, which spread to his entire body immediately after. His limbs began to tremble unawares, muscles twitching, and his whole person involuntarily pitched forward, to be swiftly caught by Fu Shen.
He could detect the incessant shaking of the one in his arms. “What do you feel now?” he murmured.
Yan Xiaohan held him like he was clutching a life-saving branch, his teeth chattering as he mumbled. “…Cold.”
Fu Shen had one arm around him, and the other intertwined their fingers, his warm palm grasping knuckles that were akin to chunks of ice. Yan Xiaohan did everything he could to suppress the dryness racing through him, having to use a hundred percent of his effort into restraining his hand’s strength so as to avoid hurting Fu Shen by accident. Yet, the instant he shut his eyes, he seemed to have gone back to being in the similar futile struggle of a trapped beast from that night.
“Don’t be scared. I’m here.”
Fu Shen slowly stroked along his spine, like a comfort as well as a seduction, and whispered into his ear with a rarely-used, gentle, and husky voice. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get you nice and warm straightaway.”
Yan Xiaohan hadn’t misspoken; the aftereffects fallnight white left on him really couldn’t be compared to the seven-year obsession that Fu Shen had carved into his flesh and bones.
The man lit a bunch of flames in his dantian, ever the more roasting and roaring, yet he wasn’t at all willing to yield at this time. Those callused, not soft or delicate yet abnormally deft hands hit at several acupoints all over him, one by one. He used moderate force to knead at him, as if he were massaging his stiff muscles.
The soothing feeling of contentment was like sudden drops of sweet, non-stop rain pouring into his unbelievably scorching, parched mouth. Though not enough to extinguish the pain, it allowed him to struggle on the brink of his demise for a brief period of time.
After he wasn’t so tense and had relaxed a tad, Fu Shen grabbed a pillow to cushion him behind his back. He had wanted to get Yan Xiaohan to lean against the headboard, but unexpectedly, the man held on to him and wouldn’t let go for anything. All he could do was smile in exasperation, undoing the belt at his waist as he teased him. “So clingy. You want to hold on so bad?”
With core-affecting kisses and private whispers, those two hands that had held swords and reins, stained with blood and the Northland’s elements, sent him up to Heaven with ease.
That hard-to-endure impatience was temporarily resolved due to this bit of sweetness. Yan Xiaohan gasped for air for a set amount of time, then was barely able to retrieve a smidgen of sobriety. Recalling that old doctor’s theory on “cutting back sugar”, he felt that it genuinely did have some reason to it, but needed to allocate for people, too. If he’d done this by himself, it certainly wouldn’t have Fu Shen’s very outstanding results.
Fu Shen let go of him all of a sudden, leaning out of the bed to fetch something, then filled up a censer in the headboard with that something.
Yan Xiaohan watched his actions. “What did you put in there?” he asked belatedly.
“A little harmless fragrance for inducing heat.” Fu Shen’s lips hooked upwards, that excessively, bitingly frigid handsomeness softening from the smile, becoming even more charmingly alluring than the wafting fragrance. He composedly removed his own clothes, moving over to kiss Yan Xiaohan on his lowered eyelids. “Come on. I’ll give you a taste of something even sweeter this time.”
Fragrant fog curled about.
It burned all the way until midnight, when the censer stove went out at last.
Yan Xiaohan embraced Fu Shen sideways, who was dead asleep from exhaustion, and stamped a kiss right between his slightly creased brows, a myriad of rueful emotions in his heart. He’d originally believed that the doctor’s theory was merely a mental comfort, but he hadn’t expected that, for the purpose of him kicking his drug cravings, their Marquis’s tricks and methods would be so over-the-top.
The author says: *This segment referred to an online diagram detailing the influence of diet, love, and narcotics on the amount release of dopamine, which is executed as embellishment for this text. I couldn’t find the original source of this diagram, hence its tag as originating from the internet. I can’t post a picture, so interested readers can find the image by searching with the keyword “pleasure rank”. [T/N: It’s this, but that’s useless if you don’t know Chinese.]
Also: I know all the readers have their IQs online, but just in case, I want to give a serious explanation; the fallnight white mentioned in this novel uses the poppy as a model, a type of fictional drug similar to a narcotic. Its medicinal effects, addiction mechanism, and manner of withdrawal are all made up and have no basis off of anything real. Actual drug addiction cravings are way more horrible than this novel portrays. Do not try it by any means. Cherish your life and stay away from drugs.
 Couldn’t find an English source for this; 相人/xiangren is a folk practice, similar to western palm reading, where you can tell someone’s personality and life just by looking at their face.
 I must share something; the original phrase 水乳交融 is kind of weird, sure, I wouldn’t ever mix water and milk. But what’s important is that in the jjwxc raws, the 乳交 part is censored, and that’s because those two characters mashed together means… tittyfuck. That’s like saying the word “associate” and someone censors the ass.