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He had seen Ji Han’s sword before; when the latter was practicing, he had inadvertently glimpsed some of his styling, and had come to clearly understand his foundation. He had also heard of his skills from jianghu people before.
If they were fighting one-on-one, these three would never be Ji Han’s matches. With two-on-one, Ji Han would still likely have a precarious victory. Supposing that all three attacked at once, however, and employed some despicable means, he might be able to gravely injure one or two of them, but he himself would certainly lose, no doubt about it.
They had come to take his life, so if he lost, that life would inevitably be no more.
“Creed Lord Ji, if you don’t struggle, you’ll die a bit more comfortably,” Shi Ge suddenly said, immensely pitying.
Ji Han gazed coldly at him, not saying a thing.
The other had to sigh. “What a shame.”
Xu Jingying frowned in disgust. “What are you, cherishing beauty? Can you quit saying such nauseating trash before we kill this guy?!”
Shi Ge was obliged to shut up.
Zhao Jiangui only became even more worried. Many famous young people would overestimate their own true strength, and he feared that Ji Han would do the same.
If he wasn’t overestimating himself, then he surely would have known that he was bound to lose this fight — but if he hadn’t, why did he decide to fight? Did he just want to stall for time until the rest of the Creed got here?
Zhao Jiangui really couldn’t see through this, but now was not the time to think about these things. Even if his sword wasn’t here, he could find something else to replace it.
Even if he had to rely on his palms of flesh, he would definitely guard Ji Han’s life.
Caned Sun suddenly smiled weirdly. “Let’s not waste time, then. Draw your sword, Creed Lord Ji.”
Ji Han said nothing, yet his sword’s hilt was already in hand.
Caned Sun wielded an iron cane, Xu Jingying had a sword, and Shi Ge used a long whip.
Ji Han’s sword had only just unsheathed when that whip came hacking all-encompassingly towards his face. Shi Ge had just been quite sympathetic when speaking to him, yet not an iota of compassion was left in this attack, his style vicious and cruel, as if Ji Han had instantly become an enemy that he couldn’t share the same sky with.
Xu Jingying and Caned Sun also attacked in unison. Zhao Jiangui’s heart was almost suspended in his throat.
The Elder Maid was rigidly protecting him behind her, as if she regarded him as someone on his last breath. Right as he thought to push her away, Caned Sun’s cane suddenly changed trajectory to swing in his direction.
In the faces of these people, the maid’s arts really didn’t amount to anything — her flexible sword would be completely unable to stop this move. Zhao Jiangui grabbed her arm and quickly drew back to avoid the cane.
Caned Sun let out strange yells from his throat. “Zhao Jiangui! You better fight me!”
Zhao Jiangui suddenly felt a bad premonition. Attention indeed disturbed by Caned Sun’s remark, Ji Han withdrew his sword and twisted backwards.
His style was pure offense, no defense, leaving him no means of escape. Forcibly drawing back this jab partway through caused him to immediately feel the breath in his chest roil, darkness forming before his eyes.
Shi Ge, of course, was not going to let go of this prime opportunity. His whip was longer than Xu Jingying’s sword, and practically the moment Ji Han turned around, he viciously thrashed it into his back. Caned Sun’s cane made another sudden veer, then smashed heavily into Ji Han’s chest.
Ji Han desperately used his internal strength to protect his heart, but this maneuver still caused him heavy injury as it hit. He vomited up a mouthful of fresh blood, forced to use his sword to prop himself up on the ground.
As it was, Caned Sun’s former swipe had been nothing more than a feint. They had thoroughly studied Ji Han’s style long before — the purpose of that had been to force Ji Han to draw back his sword, then take advantage of when his qi was unstable to join forces and kill him.
A grin appeared on Caned Sun’s lips. This had been a pretty great strategy, to be able to make even the Demonic Creed Lord die at their hands.
Before he could laugh, though, he felt a sharp pain that he had never sampled before. Upon bowing his head, he saw that a sword had stuck through his lower abdomen, its tip coming out of his back.
It was Ji Han’s.
Caned Sun stared at him in disbelief. He was so angry, he wanted to use his cane to bash his face in, but his hands had lost their strength.
He collapsed.
Ji Han had almost exhausted the final trace of his power, yet Xu Jingying’s sword was coming in.
With no time to think more on it, Zhao Jiangui seized the Elder Maid’s flexible sword, then sliced it towards Xu Jingying’s wrist. To avoid it, she was forced to incline her own sword away.
He didn’t actually know how to use one of these; he was just making a show. She didn’t know that he didn’t know, but since jianghu called him the number-one swordsman, she couldn’t help but be a little apprehensive.
The Elder Maid went pale with fright. She quickly threw herself over to Ji Han’s side, sealed several of his acupoints, then took out some emergency healing pills from a pouch at her waist.
He was nearly comatose.
Shi Ge and Xu Jingying had never thought that Zhao Jiangui would actually move in to attack. With Caned Sun dead, even if they joined up to deal with him, things would be difficult.
Angered and exasperated, Xu Jingying whispered angrily at Shi Ge. “Didn’t you say that he wouldn’t be able to move well?! You liar!”
He frowned with anxiety. “That was what the Demonic Creed’s subordinates had spread around, so I’m not sure… don’t tell me… don’t tell me that…”
He looked at the unconscious Ji Han, then seemed to realize something.
This was the Demonic Creed, so the words its subordinates spread around would naturally favor their master.
“I understand.” He nodded. “The one who feels out of sorts is Lord Ji.”

Despite their arguing, their gazes never once left Zhao Jiangui.
Caned Sun had died, and yet they didn’t appear to be a tiny bit saddened, as cold-blooded and ruthless as assassins ought to be. They simply stared straight at Zhao Jiangui, carefully guarding against his next action.
The latter’s mood was complicated.
Xiao Lin and he were only working together to deceive Ji Han for the Vast Alliance’s sake. Ji Han taking it as true would be fine, but he had never thought that the other would actually risk himself to protect him, the one that ‘couldn’t move’.
This was the first time he had ever seen such a responsibility-bearing Creed Lord.
He released the maid’s flexible sword. Since he didn’t know how to use it, it was of little use to him.
Ji Han’s sword was diagonally stuck through Caned Sun’s abdomen, as he hadn’t the strength to pull it back out again after that thrust.
Something at the bottom of Zhao Jiangui’s heart seemed to be faintly leaping up, causing his emotions to be unbelievably tangled. After grasping this sword’s hilt, he calmed down, bit by bit.
It was narrower, longer, and lighter than his own, yet still felt easy to use.
This was a good sword. His heart settled entirely.
Shi Ge and Xu Jingying finally detected something amiss.
An assassination that failed the first time could succeed the second. They were not about to throw away their lives here — even if they still got to keep those, if they were missing an arm or a leg, what would they be doing for the rest of their lives?
“Hero Zhao, if we three start fighting, we’ll certainly all be injured,” Xu Jingying said. “How about we all take a step back—“
“Stop talking.” Zhao Jiangui held the sword, heart like still water. “I won’t ever let you two leave.”
“Draw your sword!”

Elder Wen finally scrambled over with people.
Xu Jingying had been gravely injured, and Shi Ge was practically at the end of his life. The Creed’s people captured and subdued them. Elder Wen walked over to Zhao Jiangui’s side, appearing to be quite concerned. “Hero Zhao, are you alright?” he asked out loud.
Zhao Jiangui had suffered a wound from Xu Jingying’s sword on his right shoulder. It wasn’t a deep cut in the least, but since he wore white clothes, he looked terrifyingly blood-soaked.
“These two will be dealt with by the Creed for right now,” Elder Wen said. “You have no objections to that, yes?”
The other looked at him, expression slightly complicated, then nodded. Elder Wen thereafter looked at Ji Han, who was heavily wounded and unconscious. “Please don’t worry, Hero Zhao. I will send someone to seek out Doctor Yan.”
Zhao Jiangui had wanted to ask where Xiao Lin was, as it would not have taken this much time to fetch a sword. He feared that he might have been killed by Jackdaw, but this Elder Wen… was a little off.
In the end, he said nothing.
The Creed followers sealed the two’s acupoints and detained them, and were also occupied with cleaning up Caned Sun’s corpse, as well as treating the guards outside that had been injured. It was all way too practiced and orderly, as if the Creed had assassins coming in and people dying on the regular.
Zhao Jiangui no longer wanted to speak.
The Elder Maid was nervous-looking as she stood watch by Ji Han. Zhao Jiangui went and picked up the sheath that was on the ground, returned the sword to it, then placed it at the other’s side.
Ji Han’s face was as ghastly white as paper. He had just spat out blood, stains of it spotting his lips. Zhao Jiangui crouched down, carefully looking him over; he had wanted to reach out and wipe that foul blood off for him, but abruptly recalled that there were a lot of people in this room staring dead at them, and that would be too ambiguous of an action. Thus, he probed for Ji Han’s breath with a stiff posture, then sighed in his heart — mn, he wasn’t dead.
Thankfully, he wasn’t dead.
Zhao Jiangui let out a sigh of relief. Upon raising his head, he noticed the Elder Maid was staring at him. He felt like he should say something, but suddenly wasn’t sure what would be good to, as the scriptbook hadn’t ever mentioned what to do when Ji Han was injured.
“Don’t worry. He’ll be fine,” he had to dully say.
The Elder Maid still said nothing, making these words seem like a self-comfort, instead. He felt quite awkward.
She looked all around, then suddenly whispered to him. “Don Zhao, I… I know you’re lying to the Creed Lord.”
He felt a shock in his heart, believing that she had seen that he had come here for the purpose of seducing the Creed Lord.
“You’re not unwell at all, and nothing happened last night.”
Oh. She was actually talking about that…
He creased his brow, carefully pondering how to deal with what had trasnpired, but she just sighed. “Be at ease. I won’t tell him.”
He had a face full of confusion.
“I can tell that you really adore him, else you wouldn’t have been so angry for him just then.”
There seemed to be a misunderstanding, here.
“You’re going about it wrong, however. If you love someone, you should be candid towards them. This time is fine, but I hope that you don’t lie to him again in the future.”
How was it fine…? Wasn’t this little lie obviously pretty serious?!
“The Lord refuses to talk much, but after this battle, I can tell that he’s going to love you, too.”
“Don Zhao,” the maid wrung her handkerchief as she was moved to full-on tears, “I wish for you two to be happy!”

Doctor Yan was a young man, not much older than Ji Han, yet was forever fond of putting on a haughty face and being slightly irreverent, looking like everyone owed him eight-hundred-thousand taels of silver, at least.
Still, they all held respect towards his presence.
He simply crouched down, took a cursory look at Ji Han’s wound, then said haughtily, “He won’t die.”
Zhao Jiangui did not like this guy.
Doctor Yan made someone put Ji Han on the bed, then said that he didn’t like other people watching him do treatments, so he drove everyone out. Zhao Jiangui was waiting anxiously outside the door, while many Elders and Hallmasters of the Creed hurried over with people.
Protector Hua arrived the slowest. Her subordinate followers were carrying the unconscious Xiao Lin, about to bring him to Doctor Yan.
“After someone knocked him out, he was thrown into the rock garden,” she said. “Patrolling guards found him.”
Zhao Jiangui went over to take a look. Xiao Lin indeed had a swelling lump on his head, but it was just a light wound, at best.
The guards outside of Ji Han’s door had been seriously wounded, if not killed. Jackdaw had been violent towards them, so why would they show leniency to a servant like Xiao Lin?
Zhao Jiangui wasn’t sure if he was over-worrying, or if there were some hints therein.

The door opened. Doctor Yan came out from inside, then was asked by Protector Hua to see to Xiao Lin’s injury.
Zhao Jiangui hustled into the room. Ji Han’s qi had calmed down by a lot; he was still unconscious, but his complexion overall looked pretty good.
He sighed in relief. Although Doctor Yan was annoying as a person, his medical skills were brilliant.
Ji Han needed to recuperate, so the Elders, Protectors, and other such people departed in succession, the implications contained in the gazes they threw at Zhao Jiangui prior to leaving really giving one food for thought. With so many people looking at him, he felt really awkward, and had to leave, himself.
The Elder Maid quickly stopped him. “Don Zhao, I’ve already ordered for a space to be put into order for you. You can stay here.”
Zhao Jiangui was taken aback. “A space?”
She nodded in deadly seriousness. “The consort chaise.”
She hesitated. “Um… maybe you want to sleep in the Lord’s bed?”
“He will be handed over to you, then. If you have any commands, just tell me or Xiao Lin.”
He suddenly understood — she wanted him to take care of the heavily wounded Ji Han?
Strictly speaking, personally tending to someone was indeed considered a good seduction opportunity. Still, he was a bit hesitant.
“If the Lord sees that you’re by his side when he wakes up, he’ll surely be quite happy, Don Zhao.”
“I’ve never looked after someone before…”
“There’s a first time for everything.”
“With us helping you, everything will go smoothly.”
But Ji Han had been injured so badly. What if he accidentally screwed it up and killed him?
Seeing that he was still hesitant, the Elder Maid couldn’t resist sighing. “Don Zhao.”
“One needs to have some initiative in life,” she solemnly said.
She pat him on the shoulder. “Opportunity waits for no one! The Heavens reward the diligent! Make an effort together with the Lord!”

Zhao Jiangui had no idea what to do right now. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Xiao Lin woke up. The swelling on his head had not yet faded, but he was so pumped-up, it seemed like he was itching to drag Zhao Jiangui outside to run a hundred laps.
“This is a great opportunity, Hero Zhao! A great one!” the other said in a hushed voice.
“What… what should I do?” Zhao Jiangui asked. Without the script book’s guidelines, he suddenly had no clue what to do with himself.
“The Creed Lord got injured in order to protect you! You should be very concerned right now!”
He was a little concerned, but that hadn’t reached the extent that Xiao Lin had described.
“When the Lord wakes, if he sees that you’ve been keeping watch by him day and night, losing weight because you haven’t rested for days on end, and eventually unable to bear with it, falling asleep at his bedside, he’ll definitely be quite moved!”
“Trust in me, Hero Zhao!”
Zhao Jiangui tentatively did. He moved a chair over to sit beside Ji Han’s bed.
Sitting motionless like this was pretty boring. Seeing as Ji Han didn’t have the slightest indication that he was going to wake up, Zhao Jiangui lightly shut his eyes and began to silently recite internal arts mantras in his mind.
It was now dawn.
Through the nights, he had eaten some meals and wasn’t that tired, so he just returned to Ji Han’s bedside. The Elder Maid thought that he was unable to sleep due to being too worried; after urging him a few times and seeing that he was still insistent upon not sleeping, she quietly burned some mind-soothing incense.
He wasn’t knowledgeable in incense, and there was always some burning in Ji Han’s house, so he couldn’t tell what kind of junk she was lighting up at all. He was already getting a bit tired now, and once it was after midnight, the incense seemed to be getting even stronger. He leaned against Ji Han’s headboard, then unwittingly fell into sleep.
He guessed that he had slept for about a shichen. Someone was coughing next to him, so he opened his eyes — some dawn light was faintly casting outside the room, and upon turning his head, he saw that Ji Han was already awake, but only coughing non-stop, unable to talk.
Hearing the noise, the Elder Maid and Xiao Lin quickly had someone go ask Doctor Yan to come over while they entered the room. Zhao Jiangui had no idea what to do for a second, but since Ji Han was coughing so terribly, he went to help him up and pat on his back to even out his breathing.
He forgot that Ji Han still had that whip wound… which was on his back.
The Elder Maid wanted to call out to stop him, but she was too slow — Zhao Jiangui smacked Ji Han’s back, and despite him not using much force, it was still quite painful.
Ji Han sucked in a breath out of pain, then looked up in a want to glare at him, only to start coughing even worse.
Oh no, Zhao Jiangui thought, I really messed up.
While that was just streaking by his head, Ji Han spat out a mouthful of blood.
Zhao Jiangui instantly panicked. He grabbed Xiao Lin’s hand. “Where’s Doctor Yan?!” he babbled.
“He should be here soon, Hero Zhao, don’t panic—“
“I made your Creed Lord vomit blood from hitting him!”
The Elder Maid, unruffled, poured a cup of warm water, then slowly helped Ji Han drink it. The latter’s coughs stopped right as Doctor Yan rushed in.
He drove out their group of idlers again.
Zhao Jiangui was quite vexed. “I messed up,” he whispered to Xiao Lin, dejected.
“You don’t need to blame yourself like this, Hero Zhao,” Xiao Lin consoled.
“There’s no need to even talk about moving him emotionally. He probably hates me now.”
“…Don’t worry, our Lord isn’t that petty of a person.”
Zhao Jiangui had a heart full of dead ash. “What should I do, now?”
“Don’t worry, Hero Zhao. I have another plan,” Xiao Lin said, tone flat, as if it held certainty. He took out a bag of pine nut candy from his pocket. “The Lord hates bitter things and doesn’t like drinking medicine. Bring this bag of candy with you, and whenever he drinks the medicine, give him some.”
Embracing this final sliver of hope, Zhao Jiangui accepted the bag with a face full of worry.

Doctor Yan left behind a prescription and informed the Elder Maid of some matters that required watch. Ji Han was in a good foundation of health, so he estimated that he would be able to get out of bed and walk in a few days, with a full recovery after a month of recuperation.
Zhao Jiangui still had his head bowed in dejection, though, quite upset as he thought about how his slap had made Ji Han spit up blood. He sat in a corner far away from the bed, watching the Elder Maid and maidservants help Ji Han with eating a bowl of rice congee. Since the medicine was not yet decocted, they then helped him to lay down and rest.
He did not want to lay down, however. He said something into the Elder Maid’s ear, after which she turned and walked over to Zhao Jiangui with a deeply meaningful look. “Don Zhao, the Lord wants you to come over and speak with him.”
Zhao Jiangui believed for an instant that he had misheard.
She giggled. “You can’t really make him be the one to come over, hm?”
Thus, he went. Ji Han already had color back on his face, but his lips were still pale, his breathing was weak, and his speech seemed powerless — it made Zhao Jiangui inevitably feel even guiltier.
If it hadn’t been for him faking discomfort, Ji Han wouldn’t have been injured. If it hadn’t been for him trying to regulate Ji Han’s breathing, he would never have vomited blood.
He had almost ruined the whole thing.
Ji Han looked him in the eyes, then slowly called out his name. “Zhao Jiangui.”
The other lowered his head in shame.
“I suffered a serious internal injury, so there was clotted blood coagulated in my chest.”
“I should not have pat you on the back,” Zhao Jiangui answered, upset.
“What I spat out was the stagnated clots in my chest. It didn’t bleed because you smacked me.”
“But that did still hurt.”
While he said that, his expression was placid. He didn’t appear to be angry at all.
“I made a mistake.”
“You don’t need to admit your faults.” Ji Han thought for a bit. He hesitated, but still went on to say, “How… how much sleep have you missed?”
Zhao Jiangui was caught off guard. Before he could say anything, the Elder Maid interjected. “After you fell unconscious, Don Zhao didn’t ever close his eyes.”
Ji Han’s expression looked rather complicated.
“I did sleep, actually,” Zhao Jiangui said.
“Lying on the edge of my bed?”
“For martial artists, that’s nothing.”
The other creased his brow, then turned his head to order the Elder Maid to tidy up the neighboring room.
“Since I’m awake, you don’t need to keep watch here anymore,” Ji Han said to him. “I’ll have them clean up the room over. Go get a proper sleep.”
With that bag of pine nut candy carried in his pocket, Zhao Jiangui thought about how Ji Han hadn’t yet taken his medicine. “I’m fine, I just took a rest,” he said hurriedly. After calculations, he added on, “It was for a little over a shichen. That’s more than enough.”
Ji Han said nothing else, seemingly feeling weary.
The Elder Maid pulled Zhao Jiangui out the door. “You should go rest, Don Zhao,” she said. “Don’t have it be that when the Lord’s injury is not yet healed, your own health collapses.”
He had no choice but to nod. Upon going to the neighboring room and washing his face at random, he thought about what had happened these past few days, some confusion still in his head.
He needed to go and talk to Ji Han about what he thought about Elder Wen, but now was not the time. The other’s injuries were too serious; informing him after some days passed wouldn’t be too late for it.
There were also those two assassins. He wasn’t sure what the Creed would be able to interrogate out of them — who their customer was would likely be extremely difficult to get. He was also concerned that if one assassination failed, there would be a second, and if that succeeded by a fluke, that would be bad.
Someone suddenly knocked on his door again.
He recognized her as the maid that had been in Ji Han’s room. The young lady was wearing a green dress and holding a carved food box in her arms, smiling happily as she handed it to him.
“The Lord heard that you haven’t eaten yet, so he ordered this maid to bring food over.” She blinked. “He hasn’t been allowed to even see greasy food these days, so these are all some light dishes. I’m not sure if you’re okay with that or not.”
“Many thanks.”
She wasn’t in a hurry to leave. “The Lord also said that if you aren’t okay with this, what would you want to eat? You can just order the kitchen to make it. The chef’s skill is pretty good.”
“I’m fine with this.”
The young lady skipped on back to make a report. He opened the food box; apart from the plain congee, there was only bok choy and bean curd. It indeed was quite bland.
Still, this was what Ji Han had specially ordered to be delivered. He picked up some veggies with his chopsticks, then put them in his mouth.
With Ji Han’s attitude towards his reaction today, Zhao Jiangui knew that he was not far off from succeeding.
He sighed. For some reason, he felt listless, and not joyous at all.

He woke up early in the morning. Upon learning that Ji Han was still asleep, he went and had breakfast by himself, then practiced his martial arts for some time, after which his mind and qi felt refreshed.
The bump on Xiao Lin’s head had cleared, and he was running over to find him in utter elation. “Hero Zhao! The Creed Lord is awake! He’s going to take medicine!”
Also feeling a burst of excitement, Zhao Jiangui hurriedly went for Ji Han’s room.
The maids had long known about his and Ji Han’s relationship. They acted like they didn’t see the man barging into the Creed Lord’s room, as if they had gotten used to it.
Ji Han’s hair was loose, and he leaned against the headboard with his outer robe draped over him. Upon seeing the other come in, he simply looked up, then proceeded to look down again, staring at the bowl of thick, black medicinal liquid he held.
He managed to make up his mind with difficulty, took a sip, and immediately grimaced.
As soon as he saw this, Zhao Jiangui knew that he had come just in time. He busily felt for the bag of pine nut candy and shouted, “Ji Han!”
Ji Han’s hand jolted in fright, nearly spilling the brew all over the bed. “It’s so early in the morning. What are you randomly shouting for?” he asked with a cold face.
Zhao Jiangui coughed lightly. “I lost my manners.”
The other took another sip, not saying anything.
“You’re taking your medicine?”
“It looks bitter.”
Ji Han ignored him.
“Do… do you fear bitter things?” Zhao Jiangui cautiously asked.
I’ve got a whole bag of pine nut candy in my pocket!, was the sentence he was fully prepared to say.
Ji Han, however, suddenly raised his brows. “What are you talking about?” he asked, frosty. “This Lord isn’t afraid of bitterness! Not at all!”
Zhao Jiangui’s mind was completely blank. “Huh?”
“I’m a big manly man! Why would I fear bitterness?!”
“That’s not—“
Ji Han tilted back his head and downed the whole bowl in one gulp.
Wasn’t this different from what Xiao Lin had said…?
Then, the other man covered his mouth with a face full of suffering, looking like he would puke out everything he had just swallowed.
It was long time before Zhao Jiangui returned to his senses. “Are… are you okay?” he probed.
“Of course I’m okay!”
After saying that, Ji Han covered his mouth again, face ghastly pale.
…Young people loved to act tough.
Zhao Jiangui quietly put the candy away.
Ji Han finally calmed down. “This Lord isn’t afraid of bitterness,” he grumbled. “This Lord isn’t afraid of it at all.”
Zhao Jiangui felt that the scene in front of him was very familiar, resembling that of his Master coaxing his youngest junior into drinking his medicine. He nodded, then casually said, “You really aren’t. What a little hero.”
“…Little hero?”
Thinking that a Demonic Creed-goer might not be happy to be coaxed like a child, Zhao Jiangui efficiently corrected himself. “Little demon.”
Ji Han was flabbergasted for a very long time. “…You should take some medicine, too, Zhao Jiangui.”
“You are my medicine,” the other answered, completely smooth. He could now say that without a hitch, nor a bit of blush.
“Shut up. Who’s your medicine? You can’t take me.”
Zhao Jiangui suddenly remembered something from that long-forgotten scriptbook.
“You can’t be taken?” He tried hard to recall the contents of the lines. “Of course you can be.”
“What are you blabbering about, now?”
Zhao Jiangui gazed into his eyes, voice soft. “Your beauty is a drug.”
As a seriously injured person, Ji Han really didn’t have the strength to fight him. Letting the guy eat some tofu wouldn’t lose him two catties of meat, so he might as well let him off.
He thought as much as he lowered his eyes, but Zhao Jiangui had not once looked away from him.
After he had said that sentence, for reasons unknown, only it remained in his mind.
His beauty was a drug.
His beauty really was a drug.

The Elder Maid walked into the room with a bag of candied fruit. She looked at the empty medicine bowl in shock for a moment, then became a bit angry.
“You refuse to take your medicine again, my Lord?” she fumed, hands on her hips. “Where did you dump it? How many times have I told you that dumping medicine in flowerpots will kill the flowers?!”
“I didn’t…”
She got even madder. “You’re still quibbling?! Your wounds won’t get better if you don’t drink it!”
“I actually did drink it…”
“Whenever you’ve been injured in the past, you dillydally with drinking it for at least the smaller half of a shichen! Today, I did nothing other than go out to fetch some candied fruit, yet your bowl’s already empty! You must have secretly dumped it out!”
Ji Han curled his lip, looking utterly wronged.
Zhao Jiangui had to help him explain. “He really did drink it.”
“Don’t help him lie, Don Zhao,” she answered, still doubtful.
He wasn’t sure how to react to this. “I want him to get better as soon as possible. Why would I help him lie?”
“Then… he really did finish it all?”
She seemed to believe him, blinking. “It’s rare to see the Lord take his medicine so efficiently. The power of love is truly outstanding.”
The power of saving one’s goddamn dignity was even more outstanding.
“Don Zhao, this maid has something to request.”
Zhao Jiangui was a bit stunned. “What is it?”
“Please take on the work of helping him take his medicine from now on!”
Her face was brimming with sincerity.
Ji Han: “…”
Zhao Jiangui: “…”
Ji Han: “Never!”

After the Elder Maid withdrew, the two looked at each other, not saying a thing.
Ji Han seemed to be tired, leaning back against the headboard. He was dressed in only plain inner clothes, the inky robe he normally wore draped over his shoulders, and his long, loose hair hung over his lapels, making him lack his typical proud, detached grandeur.
Zhao Jiangui had been wanting to talk to him about Elder Wen, but he noticed that Ji Han had slightly hooded his eyes. Several times, he thought to speak, yet stopped himself, and eventually didn’t.
Ji Han looked tired. Leaving these words for a few days later would be fine.
As he thought so, he momentarily felt like he had nothing to do, so he simply stared at the other’s face again.
Ji Han appeared to be bothered by his staring, and couldn’t help but open his eyes to ask, “Is there a flower on my face?”
“No,” Zhao Jiangui returned quite readily.
“Then what are you staring at me for?”
“You look better than a flower.”
Never before had the other had such leisurely elegance, after all. How could one look away from admiring a blossom?
He had been thinking that Ji Han would get mad because of what he said, but the other only furrowed his brow and softly sighed.
He didn’t understand why he did that.
Ji Han was quiet for a short moment, then asked, “What were you wanting to say to me just now?”
Zhao Jiangui hesitated a bit.
Not sure what the other was thinking of, Ji Han frowned. “If you have something to say, just say it. Don’t hide it in your heart.”
“It’s something to do with your Creed. I’m an outsider, so I shouldn’t say much.”
Ji Han nodded. “There’s no harm in it.”
“That day, after you fell unconscious, Elder Wen ran over here with people.”
“I know of this.”
“You were the one unconscious, yet the first thing he asked was if I was alright.” Zhao Jiangui creased his brow. “I’ve been thinking that that was weird this whole time; shouldn’t he be worried about you, first? But then, after that, he only gave a casual look at you, and didn’t seem even a little concerned.”
Ji Han just sighed in relief, though. “So that’s all it is.”
“That’s normal?”
Zhao Jiangui really didn’t understand.
“Elder Wen has never liked me. A lot of people in the Creed know this.”
The other was slightly shocked at heart. “Then, was it him…?”
Ji Han lightly shook his head. “No. He doesn’t like me, but he’s not stupid enough to try to kill me.”
They both went quiet for a long time.
“Can I ask… why he hates you?” Zhao Jiangui suddenly asked.
The more clear-cut the network of Creed relationships were felt out to be, the more that would benefit the Vast Alliance. However, he had some suspicions; Xiao Lin had never brought this up to the Alliance before, to the extent that he had no idea that a Creed Elder had hidden enmity with his Lord.
As a spy for the righteous faction, that was rather a bit too negligent.
Ji Han didn’t open his mouth to answer. Zhao Jiangui began to feel that his question had overstepped.
“Not many in the Creed know the reason well. You’re someone in the righteous faction, so this shouldn’t be told to you.” Ji Han lightly sighed. “But, you’re… I think that it won’t matter if I tell you.”
Zhao Jiangui was a bit touched.
“I am not the former Lord’s blood-related son. He was only my sworn father.”
“I know that.”
“There have always been rumors in jianghu about this. Some say that he received retribution for his evil acts, so he couldn’t sire his own blood. However, likely none of you know that he’s had a son by blood this whole time.”
“I indeed did not.”
“My father didn’t want for him to live a jianghu life of blades and carnage. He raised him up to ten years old without ever teaching him martial arts. Since he was born the son of a Creed Lord, there would be no way for him to escape the bloody storm of jianghu, though.
“That’s why he sent him out of the Creed, and into the home of normal people… he preferred for him to live a lifetime of bland work than hope that he would take a half-step into jianghu.”
Zhao Jiangui wasn’t sure what to say. He thought about what things would have been like if his Master hadn’t taught him sword arts, but he couldn’t imagine it, compelled to sigh. “This is probably the love parents have for their children, huh.”
“His age is similar to mine. He should be a little over twenty this year.” Ji Han looked a little lonesome. “He might have become a farmer, a merchant, or a scholar, but he will never be one of jianghu, with no free will to act for himself.”
The other understood. “There must be a lot of people who think that you’ve gotten a huge boon.”
The Demonic Creed paid particular attention to inheritance by blood. People in the Creed not liking Ji Han because of that would be normal.
Ji Han pursed his lips, saying nothing else.
“Have you… always envied him?” Zhao Jiangui asked.
Ji Han seemed to suffer a start. “Why would you say that?”
“Just taking a wild guess.”
They both went quiet for a minute. “At times,” Ji Han answered.
Zhao Jiangui silently watched him.
“To tell the truth, I don’t like swords that much, either,” the other whispered.
That sentence was so light, it was nearly a whisper in the ear. Zhao Jiangui nearly believed that he had misheard.
All of a sudden, he found Ji Han to be quite pitiful.
“Do you like me, then?” he blurted out.
That phrase had not been in the scriptbooks. They had probably damaged him, somehow.
Ji Han was taken aback for a long while. “How… how are you and swords comparable?”
Zhao Jiangui nodded, extremely sad. “I get it. In your heart, I can’t surpass even those.”

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