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The reason the Prince was hard to handle was that he was someone that went with the flow — at the very least, he didn’t look like an individual that could forge down a path to its shadowed end. Of course, he had done just that in secret, but, unfortunately, those that knew the score did not exist in the world of the living.
When he was secretly recuperating in the posthouse the Great Shaman stayed at in the capital, starting from the time he could talk normally without being on his dying breath, he used his glib tongue in a hundred different ways to harass Wu Xi.
If it was before, Wu Xi would have likely gotten confounded by his troublemaking, but now that he had ascended a level in rank, it was as if even his mind had gotten a bit more open than before. Abruptly, he realized that this man’s brain was entirely used for amorous affairs; it wasn’t clear how many years of rolling in a heap of cosmetics it took to roll out such a gilded-outside, rotten-inside prodigal. Not one drop of the ink in his belly was missed in being used to cajole others, and he was absolutely skilled in sweet-talking — for instance, he never called on any sappy words, and yet whatever others loved to hear, he would say.
One moment, Wu Xi was being teased by his honey-coated words like a kitten was scratching at his heart, but the next minute, he was remembering exactly how this mouthy ‘kung fu’ had been practiced, and got super upset. He simply kept a straight face, responding to every change with no change — ‘thou may take up post in any direction, I myself will remain motionless as a mountain.’
That day in the carriage, Jing Qi pondered over things for a long time, then had an epiphany, thinking to himself that the little toxin was pretty calculative; he believed that the other was angry on the inside, hated to see him be so skilled at this, and overall thought that he had an oil-slicked mouth, which threw his sincere heart into a river and made him feel the loss. Thus, he closed his eyes in rest, and then thought up a different plan.
This bad-luck, wastrel man had a new idea, which signified that Wu Xi was going to be vexed again.
Wu Xi bafflingly discovered that the man that had been senselessly looking for trouble all over the place suddenly calmed down, leaning motionlessly to the side with eyes shut like an old monk entering meditation… his lips said nothing, but he was honestly severely frightened by the state of Jing Qi’s injury. If he wasn’t, then, according to his sharply efficient personality, he would simply want to leave as soon as his work was done, not dilly-dally by staying in the capital for an entire three months.
Carefully taking note of his complexion and breathing, he felt that they were as steady as ever, and when he had looked over his wound just then, it didn’t seem like there had been any change. Now, he merely took the other for resting, having worn himself out from messing around since his energy was poor.
It wasn’t until the afternoon at medicine time that he found out something was wrong with him.
He clearly wasn’t sleeping, but he also didn’t give a reaction when Wu Xi brought the medicinal soup up to him. The latter frowned, used a small soup spoon to pick up the medicine, and lightly bumped it against his lips. It was good medication, but the taste was a bit hard for one to bear. Every day at this time, Jing Qi would become unmatchably straightforward, and carry on the doctrine of getting it over with as opposed to drawing it out. After downing it in three gulps, he would instantly refuse to smell any more of its stink.
This day, however, Jing Qi remained unresponsive, merely opening his eyes apathetically, sweeping him a look, then slowly turning his gaze to the side to not see him anymore.
Once that lazy and careless smile vanished off his face, his sallowness became apparent. The medicine that was as densely black as ink nearly looked shocking when compared with his lips that were so pale, they seemed transparent.
Only then did Wu Xi realize that his trick for handling Jing Qi was being returned to him untouched. Slightly upset, he resembled how he was back when he forced him to eat food — holding the bowl and persisting, immobile.
Unexpectedly, Jing Qi was even more persistent than he was right now. Gazing straight outside, all the floating lights of the pathway streaked across the surface of his eyes, but it seemed like not a trace of them would get left behind. He was silent, as if unconscious… while at the same time viciously thinking to himself, this Lord once sat without budging for sixty-three years. Is wasting time with you anything much? And yet, after a while, he felt listless. He was really getting more and more ‘promising’, to have seriously been reduced to playing a game of tug-of-war with this little toxin.
Despite dissing himself like so in his head, his expression pretended to be serious. The weather was freezing, and the heat in the bowl was rapidly dissipating — if it genuinely did get cold, its properties would likely change. Wu Xi hadn’t anticipated that Jing Qi would get mad at him, so he was a bit unsure of what he should do.
Following a long deadlock, he finally relented. “Drink it,” he said, voice hushed.
Jing Qi didn’t even turn around, as if his soul had vacated him.
After thinking about it, Wu Xi lowered his head, took in a big mouthful of the black liquid, pinched Jing Qi’s chin, pulled him over, and then force-fed him the medicine. Jing Qi hadn’t expected this method of his, getting caught off-guard with the addition of that flavor that was so bitter, it made one’s body and soul both resentful. He harshly pushed him away on the spot, choking and coughing.
Wu Xi wasn’t anxious, slowly patting him on the back while waiting for his coughing to stop, because he planned to pour in another mouthful for him. Jing Qi, at last, realized that pretending to be dead wasn’t going to work, so he shot him a wrathful look, took the bowl, and gulped it all down.
Valiantly drinking it to completion, Jing Qi reached up and wiped his mouth off. With a fling of his raised hand, he accurately threw the bowl onto the table, stood steadily, then crossed right past Wu Xi, slapping the carriage door and shouting, “Stop!”
He was used to ordering people around, and with the low shout he used, the driver didn’t know who was talking, promptly stopping the carriage. Its door opened with a clack from inside. Jing Qi, not fearing the cold, jumped out of it while wearing only an inner robe, and left without looking back, as if he recognized this road.
The Great Shaman’s carriage had stopped, so the surrounding Nanjiang warriors also, of course, stopped with it. They looked at each other as they witnessed the handsome young man jump out. Shortly after, Wu Xi sighed, picked up an outer robe, then caught up to the other’s not-too-far self, bundling him in it.
Jing Qi, however, didn’t accept his compassion, dodging to the side, pulling a step back, and slipping away like a swimming fish. “Don’t trouble yourself, Great Shaman,” he sneered.
Frowning, Wu Xi went to grab his arm, but Jing Qi retracted his elbow and crooked his fingers, deftly flicking right at his meridians. Wu Xi cast the cotton robe upwards at lightning speed with one hand, while the other was set to slide up on an incline from the back of the man’s hand. Soon after, he used force to yank on his upper arm and pull him into his embrace. Then, the robe came falling down, landing right on top of Jing Qi.
It was all done in one go, without a bit of strength squandered.
Following that, Wu Xi said flatly, “Helian Yi believes you to be dead. If you go back to the capital, that’ll be a deception of royalty.”
Jing Qi smiled falsely at him. “Great Shaman, you surely don’t believe that my Estate, after so many years, only has that bit of property in the capital to it? I won’t hide it from you; there’s nothing other than a good number of farmsteads, as well as several shops, under this Prince’s name. If you go to the Dongting region right now and inquire around, you’ll find a silver pawn shop of the same breed under the name Lord Seventh, and if I’m gone, it’ll all be subjected to the voice of their Grand Shopkeep… I just hope that you’ll still let our Estate’s Grand Steward free.”
Ping An had properly handled the Prince Estate’s ‘after-matters’. In fact, he was following the accompanying procession in disguise, but Wu Xi had subconsciously separated him from Jing Qi, not expecting that the man would know anyway.
Astuteness, used entirely in useless areas.
Wu Xi was speechless for a moment, only listening to Jing Qi continue on. “What is it, Great Shaman? Will you be making this Prince get silver to redeem folks with? From now on, all will eat the meal of jianghu. A convenience for others is also, for me, a—“
He didn’t get to finish, as Wu Xi got impatient with hearing his drivel, so he stooped over, grabbed the bends of his knees, and picked him up in a princess carry.
Jing Qi immediately shut up, nervously clutching Wu Xi’s shoulders — he was no delicate maiden, nor was he fat, or possibly weightless. He was just afraid that Wu Xi’s hands would slip.
Wu Xi, ultimately of profound power, didn’t find it strenuous to carry such a big man. After taking large strides back, he ordered, “Open the carriage door.”
The coachman quickly opened it, and Wu Xi kept holding him all the way inside. “Hurry up on the road,” he ordered again. “Don’t stop without my command.”
After that, he threw the door shut, disconnecting the gazes of all observers.
With a bellow, the ranks proceeded to the journey ahead.
Wu Xi sat down, but didn’t put Jing Qi down at all, his pitch-dark eyes staring fixedly for a minute at Jing Qi’s face, which was somewhat pale from fright and somewhat dark from anger. “I just…” he then said quietly, sounding like he was sighing, “don’t know what I should say to you.”
The majority of Jing Qi’s temper was feigned, and upon hearing that, he was dumbstruck at once, thinking himself to have gone overboard with the acting. A feeling of guilt bubbled up in his heart.
He was about to say something, but Wu Xi unexpectedly continued quickly after, in that same exact tone. “Tell me; if I strangle you to death, will my heart be in less limbo afterwards?”
Jing Qi’s words got blocked right in his throat. He looked at him, completely speechless; especially because Wu Xi’s hand happened to be placed in the vicinity of his neck, not wandering anywhere else. “Young man, impulses are the devil,” he squeezed out ages after.
Wu Xi smiled indiscernibly. “You don’t care about anything, anyways. You don’t care about living, and you don’t care about dying. Helian Yi thinks you’re precious, but you truthfully don’t care whether you are or not. From day until night, you drift idly by in life without changing. You don’t care about yourself, so, naturally, you don’t care about me, either. I…”
It would’ve been better to have not said those things. As soon as he did, he felt grievances that were difficult to restrain surging up in his chest. Those days of apprehension, those days of on-end marching, those days of watching Jing Qi all night long when he was unconscious from his heavy injury, not sleeping — every single thing that he had suppressed fought to be the first to come out in his words, clogging up. He attempted to swallow all those emotions back down, like he was peeved and didn’t want him to see them.
An arm tightly reined Jing Qi in by the waist, as if it was about to snap him in half.
Jing Qi was taken aback for a moment, then couldn’t resist bursting out into laughter. Straightening up with effort, he wrapped his arms around Wu Xi’s back and sighed. “That’s just an enormously wrong accusation. When have I ever not cared about you?”
Without waiting for Wu Xi to speak, he laughed of his own accord again. “You’re of firm conviction that I’m oily-tongued, and think that I’ll say nice words, but not spend any money. What would you have me do, then?”
Immediately after that, he remembered something, and suddenly pushed Wu Xi away with an expression like he had suffered quite a fright. “I say, Great Shaman, this Prince has already promised my devotion to you once before. Could it be that… be that… you want to hear an oath of undying love?”
Wu Xi abruptly spluttered, his face a bit marveled.
Following a burst of looking worried and pained, Jing Qi spoke in a way like he was really racking his entire being for answers. “That… is something I truly haven’t said to anyone else prior, but I can handle a few sentences of it. You want to hear, ‘when mountains flatten, rivers dry, winter thunders, summer snows, and heaven and earth collide — then, I will dare part with you’? Or do you want to hear, ‘our parting will wait until the green mountains rot, steel weights float on water, and the Yellow River is completely parched’—“
Before he finished, he caught sight of goosebumps jumping up one by one on Wu Xi’s neck. It was the latter’s turn to go pale to dark, then dark to pale in the face, making him laugh loudly and heartlessly.
Corny and compelling at the exact same time — that class of skill, and that class of shamelessness, were not things everyone had.
It wasn’t clear whether the laughter had pulled at his wound or what, but he bent over lightly from pain, a hand pressed against his chest in spite of his unceasing expression of mischief.
“You’re still laughing?!” Wu Xi shouted with a frown. “Don’t move, let me take a look.”
Jing Qi obediently quit laughing and allowed him to check the injury. His smile gradually fading, he recalled something all of a sudden. “You once asked me about a poem, back in the day. Do you still remember it?”
“Huh?” Wu Xi carefully unwrapped the bandages on his chest.
“You asked me about ‘Drum Strike’…” Wu Xi was reapplying medicine to him, and his brows lightly wrinkled from the pain he felt. He didn’t say anything about it, merely pausing, then continuing. “‘Lament for the distance, for we shall not live. Lament for the expanse, for we cannot keep true…’ life and death are heavy, but they aren’t as important as unity and separation. I had been thinking of that sentence, yet you came.”
Wu Xi’s motions paused for a time, but he didn’t look up at him, only giving a low mn.
This, in actuality, was a way he coaxed people… but, Wu Xi felt that, if it made him say things like this, then even if he genuinely was only coaxing him, he would allow the act with delight.
‘A promise in life and death made with our beloveds, to take their hands and grow old with them’… that was it.
I thought of you, you came, and that was it.
 Gods Above!, author unknown. (Read a full version here.)
 From “The Bodhisattva Rough: A Thousand Different Hopes, Sent Fully Out Before the Pillow” (菩萨蛮·枕前发尽千般愿). Author unknown.