SnCr 10

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Loud knocking jolted Zhu Li awake.

His face felt weird, his back kind of hurt, his joints were protesting… what kind of sleep did he even get?

In his fugue state, he twitched his fingers (why were the blankets so hard?), moved his legs to stretch them (why were they at such a weird angle?), rolled his shoulders back (why weren’t they hitting the mattress?), and picked his head up (why was the pillow so hard, too? and on his cheek?), propping himself up on his weirdly-shaped bed as he blinked at his light-filled bedroom.

After a few seconds of grogginess and fuzz filling his head, he registered that he wasn’t in a bed — he had fallen asleep at his desk, faceplanted on top of the journal he had been writing in. The ink had dried on his brush and inkstone in the time that had passed, bone-dry.

He didn’t remember falling asleep, nor when. It was hardly surprising that he had done so with how tired he had gradually become as the night had gone on, though.

“Doctor? Are you okay in there?” came Xin Junyan’s voice from the door. “It’s past noon, and you still haven’t come out.”

Ah… hm. If his memory served correctly, they had returned to the house at noon yesterday, then he had written in his journal until the sun started setting, and then… his memory trailed off.

Barely-sunset until noon the next day was a lot of sleep. If he still wasn’t caught up on sleep, he would feel that the powers that be had cheated him.

After calling out that he was fine to Xin Junyan, he looked down at the journal to see what he had worked on, which he could barely remember… oh.

Apprehensively, he flipped to the previous couple of pages that he had last written to confirm what he had done. After successfully doing so, he closed the journal up, then slapped the heel of his palm into his own forehead.

In his sleep-fueled haze of poor decision-making, he had listed every single interaction, and non-interaction, he had had with Chu Ran up until that point, listed out and dissected much like how he would write a log about the behavior of a breed of snake, or properties of a medicinal plant. Every single detail was written up, as were all of his personal comments on each, ranging from his garbage family, to his weird reactions, to his (semi-relevant) oversharing, to what he had been cagey about thus far.

They hadn’t even known each other for a month yet. That had apparently done nothing to stop Zhu Li’s subconscious mind from picking up various sorts of hints and cues, then writing an essay on them.

This was one of those things that would make one say, ‘Sure, it isn’t illegal, hurting anybody, or technically breaking any enforced social mores, but… why would you do this?’

It brought to mind Deng Xia’s suspicious hobby of keeping snakes, and one of his sect auntie’s hobby in collecting animal bones and keeping them strewn around her house for no discernible reason. People could dislike those acts all they wanted, but unless city law or sect rules banned non-venomous snakes kept as pets and bones excessively strewn about one’s own home explicitly, there was nothing to be done aside from throwing out claims of inauspiciousness.

Writing about a person like one would write about a wild animal was very, very inauspicious. And rude. And potentially able to jeopardize this entire thing, if anyone scummy broke in and stole it, or Xin Junyan barged in, read it, and told Chu Ran himself about it.

No one must ever know.

Standing up, he immediately headed for his bookshelf, took out his references for general talismans, and made the entire book its own talisman, binding it so that it could only be opened by him, permanently close to all others.

That alone did not really assure him, so he added on a charm that would make the book disintegrate into nothing if someone forced it open anyways. He calmed down for all of twelve seconds before he began to worry about someone deactivating the effects altogether, so he made yet more lines that would also disintegrate the book if anyone attempted to mess with the former charm effects.

There. One big, somehow-functioning mess of a talisman, which was the entire book instead of just one piece of paper.

He liked having all of his thoughts put down onto paper; tempting fate was something he didn’t like at all. There were too many details right now for him to keep solely in his head, hence why he didn’t simply get rid of it, but if he did lose it, that would be no huge loss. Ultimately, he was not the one heading this case, just a helper.

Following a round of hiding the journal and fixing himself up to be at least minimally presentable, he left the bedroom to meet up with Xin Junyan, who was standing patiently by the screened-off hallway. Upon seeing him, she smiled. “Are you feeling better, Doctor? You slept for quite some time. You slept through yesterday’s dinner and today’s breakfast; I was mighty worried that you would sleep through lunch, too! Are you hungry?”

“A little. What did the cooks make?”

“Cinnabar-dusted pigeon and dumplings. I’ll go get you some,” she answered cheerfully. “Before I go in, Ran told me to tell you that he sent a request to meet up with the Zheng family, Zheng Tonghao specifically. He’s extending the invitation to you, too, as you know them better than he does, but he said he understands if you don’t wish to meet with them.”

Zhu Li paused, frowning with furrowed brows out of the complex thoughts that were arising in his head. He looked down and to the side. “I…”

He what?

Zheng Tonghao had courted him consistently for years, starting from when he had taken care of her at the behest of her parents. She had been envenomed by a yao, where while they had stopped its spread via tying off her arm and using qi for good measure; they had been quite disappointed to know that the best ‘cure’ for venom was to force it back out of the body, either by circulating more qi in a certain way to force it back out, or barbarically sucking out a few mouthfuls of blood to get the majority of the venom out. A panacea for venom simply did not exist, and the logistics behind the different venoms of different snake breeds made it impossible to have what few working antidotes existed on oneself at all time, or readily procurable in the short amount of time envenomation gave.

However, his visit had not been completely useless, as the technique for forcing the venom back out was something easily botched by people not in the know. The substance not only had to be identified properly in the body, but forced back against the flow of qi and blood circulation the body naturally had, which could cause veins and meridians to rupture if done improperly. With not too much time at all, Zhu Li had forced the foreign venom out of Zheng Tonghao’s body, thus saving her life.

After that, she had apparently taking a liking to him, seeking him out and giving him things every time he had come to Xiyuan. He had never quite known what to do with the whole situation, though he was admittedly flattered, and had gradually been warming up to her, until…

Until she had thrown away years of effort by never visiting him in jail, never defending him from the false accusations, and not even bothering to show her face at the trial.

Years of interacting, forming a bond, telling him sweet nothings — all of it had been thrown away in a mere month of damning silence and inactivity. And then she had come knocking at the door of his new ‘home’, wanting to talk.

What did they even have to talk about? Were her priorities not obvious? Did she want to grovel at his feet for forgiveness? Make excuses for her actions?

Whatever she wanted, honestly, he didn’t care to entertain her. Many, many days of meditation were needed before he would be able to look at her or her family and not snap. That would not be conducive to any sort of investigation or diplomacy, to understate it.

(Unhappily, he thought of how he had saved both Zheng Tonghao and Chu Ran, yet the former, despite knowing him deeper for longer, had quickly abandoned him, while the latter, who he still barely knew, had come to his rescue. Even if both decisions had had their own reasonings behind them, with Zheng Tonghao likely having had her hands tied and Chu Ran likely having not been completely selfless, this made him all the more bitter towards the Zhengs.)

“I don’t really know them at all, apparently,” he finally replied, waving his emotions away. “There wouldn’t be a point in me going.”

Xin Junyan cocked her head to one side, considering him thoughtfully, then nodded, turn, and entered the screened-off section of the Pavilion. Who knew what mental conclusion she had made about him.

Refusing to give any further thought to Zheng Tonghao, he briefly returned to his bedroom to retrieve his three registries of past patients, placed them on his diagnosis desk back in the apothecary, sat, and began to pore through them.

What Chu Ran had said before about Masked Wasp’s motive being unknown was bugging him, as was the theory that he had been related to a patient that he had failed in some capacity. It wasn’t a far-out theory in the least, which was why it didn’t hurt for him to look through and see if anyone fit the mold.

He kept looking when Xin Junyan brought him lunch, looked while he ate lunch, looked as the sun started to set, looked when Xin Junyan brought him dinner, looked while he ate dinner…

By the time he gulped down his last wonton, he had gone through half of the registries, only to have come up completely empty on candidates.

The original purpose of these registries had been, fittingly, to save his own skin in the event something happened. He was not naive enough to believe that ingrates or scammers did not exist in the world, nor that he would be immune to them, especially as a lone traveler without any real backup. Being a good cultivator had ensured that he had never been physically accosted over anything, but rumors could be killer. Carefully-kept registries, though able to be fabricated, at least gave him a paper trail that could be verified against certain claims. In line with his typical thoroughness, the registries contained dates, locations, the contents of each consultation, the compositions of prescriptions, the amounts of materials sold (or given), the amounts of money accepted (or lack thereof), the reactions of family members, the outcomes of treatments, out-of-the-ordinary details about the patient, and other such things.

The problem he was consistently coming across was that at least one detail of all these patients wouldn’t match up; the greatest narrowing-down factor was whether treatments hadn’t helped, ending in adverse effect or death, and the second-greatest factor was the attitude of the patients’ families. As those were very specific parameters, about ninety-eight percent of all patients were automatically excluded, and then would be eliminated based on other factors, like a lack of martial arts, influence, or money, a too-far location, and a mismatched culture or lifestyle.

Masked Wasp’s possible identity as a family member upset by Zhu Li’s failure of care seemed probable, but several factors needed to add up for a candidate to work. If he really was the head of some jianghu group, then he would need to have the power to suit it, both physically and socially. Someone rising to power out of nowhere, in as short an amount of time as the five years Zhu Li had been out and about was, was highly unlikely, bordering on impossible. He would not only have to be a powerful man of jianghu, but of Reng culture; if he originated from a non-Reng family, his accent would have given him away, and Chu Ran or Deng Xia likely would have brought it up.

So far, no one was fitting as a candidate for Masked Wasp. He was only halfway through the registries, however, which meant that he was at the two-and-a-half year mark for patients. Maybe he would find him in the more recent entries.

For now, it was too late in the day. He had already announced that the apothecary would re-open tomorrow, so he would have to gradually pick at it in the coming days.

And pick at it he did, to no real avail.

With the apothecary back open and his chores of tending the garden plus entertaining Guhui set back into motion, he had far less time to read through his own registries, meaning that it took five more days to sift through the same amount of pages that had previously taken him mere hours. To pour salt on the wound, he had gathered exactly zero proper matches to Masked Wasp. If one thing didn’t fit for a candidate, then it was another thing, making every single patient, and their families that he could remember, unlikely for the role.

There was always a possibility that his search had been too narrow, or his notes hadn’t been concise enough. If no one that he had written of was viable, it could still be that an extended family member or friend held an excessive grudge towards him for his failure. The world and the people in it were weird; that certainly wasn’t beyond the realm of probability, though it also wasn’t a high chance at all.

Either way, the registries hadn’t helped at all. He was just as in the fog about Masked Wasp’s motive as he had been before.

And, in the event that Masked Wasp’s motive was not rooted in a failure of care at all… what could it possibly be rooted in? What actions of his could have warranted someone wanting his life?

Wracking his brain for answers, he briefly considered the bandits he had regularly fought off as suspects, then threw the idea quickly away. The vast majority of them had been civilians without martial arts, the remaining percentage merely pitiful at it, and he had never taken lives, making the effort and funds it would take to kill him in this way unjustifiable. On top of that, he highly doubted that any of them would be influential enough to be able to team up with the wealthy Chu family.

What else could there be? He sold medicinal materials and seeds for healing plants… had someone taken something incorrectly and died? That was so stupid, though. Would anyone be that vindictively brainless?

But if Masked Wasp wasn’t a bandit embarrassed by getting beaten up or a nutcase angry at the wrong person, what was his problem? Had he really targeted him personally, or was this random?

Zhu Li let out a long, weary sigh, reclining further back against the napping Guhui so that the back of his neck was rested against her spine, and his face was tilted towards the scarlet-tinged sky. The autumn evenings came very early this time of the year, making everything darker, sooner — typically, he would loathe the arrival of the snowy winter, but this year, he was going to be in an actual house. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad, this year.

His daydreaming was impolitely cut off by the doors of the courtyard entrance banging open loudly, startling Guhui into lifting her head with a whinny, and startling him into jumping straight to his feet, prepared to take on a threat.

The ‘threat’ was just Chu Ran scuttling inside, his pout obvious despite the blindfold blocking his face. Today, his outfit was muted grays and browns, not unlike the plumage of a hawk.

The man looked a little travel-worn, his hair disheveled and a layer of dust on his person. He took no immediate care to fix himself up, facing straight ahead of himself as he asked, “Ah, Doctor Zhu. Did I scare you? My apologies.”

Zhu Li got the feeling that the jerk wasn’t sorry at all, but he didn’t comment on it, grunting grumpily in response.

“I just returned from my trip to the Zheng’s residence, since letters are liable to be intercepted,” Chu Ran started, stepping into the courtyard and shutting the door behind him. “I also wanted to see the situation for myself to make sure they didn’t fib about anything. Unfortunately, according to Miss Zheng, her paintings were all burnt up in a random fire a little over a month ago. All the ones of you, included.”

“Burned?” Zhu Li repeated, vaguely aware of Guhui noisily standing up behind him. “While I was in jail?”

“Yes. Suspicious, is it not?” Chu Ran replied, sounding particularly tired. He idly fixed up his sleeves by sliding his fingers all across their hems. “No amount of roundabout questioning could get them to slip up any pertinent details, not even from the Miss herself, sadly. The timing and location of the fire is incredibly dubious, but without evidence of purposeful arson or anything similar, there is nothing I can do about this.”

His implication being that the reference for the fake Dusha had very likely come from Zheng Tonghao, and the proof of that had been dealt with. Zhu Li’s stomach sank uncomfortably.

Did that mean… that she was in on this?

Chu Ran strolled further inside, stopping in front of Zhu Li. “I did hear of an interesting tidbit, that the fire happened while the whole family had been away on a trip to visit family. Of course, they could have just ordered for a fire to be set while they were away to absolve themselves, but I wonder.

“I asked as much of Miss Zheng. She said that the only people that should have known the location of her paintings at all is her family and some servants. Either one of her family members could have been bought off, or a disloyal servant was; I highly doubt she herself was the one to betray you, if that makes you feel any better. As you may have been able to tell, she’s a right coward, and betrayal takes more bravery than I think she’s capable of.”

Many fibers of Zhu Li’s being were telling him to tell Chu Ran that his ‘comforting’ method was a bit terrible. He ultimately kept it to himself, electing to remain silent.

“I looked through all of my patient registries. None of them fit Masked Wasp’s description,” he offered up, turning a bit so that he could pet Guhui’s nose that was sniffing and chuffing irritatedly in Chu Ran’s direction. She must not have taken kindly to him interrupting her nap, and understandably so.

Chu Ran hummed in thought, raising a hand to tap a finger against his chin. “Do you have any other ideas? My background research on you says that you’re non-confrontational, so a blood feud involving you is hard to imagine. And yet, here we are.”

“I don’t. Nothing else would make sense. What… research did you get on me?” Zhu Li asked back uneasily. The idea of someone researching him like some kind of bizarre creature was rather off-putting, quite reminiscent of his own feelings towards his ‘detailed Chu Ran notes’ faux-pas. Maybe that made him a bit of a hypocrite.

“Oh, nothing much. It was a basic look into your history, personality, and reputation before I got you out of jail, to make sure that you were someone that deserved rescue, and could possibly be worked with, you know how it is,” Chu Ran said with a wave of his hand. “The answers it gave were an overview, nothing particularly specific.

“Zhu Li, common title Doctor, no bestowed known, sword name Dusha. Originates from the dark cultivation sect of Miasma Caves, reason for departure unknown. Frequently travels to poorer or foreign communities, passing on knowledge and seeds for medicine. Well-liked for being unbiased in his care and having a deep recollection of modern medical texts. Not rich or powerful in any capacity. Has a weak network of acquaintances instead of real friends, but also has no enemies to speak of. Han Xingyu can be labeled as his closest friend, and Zheng Tonghao was courting him. Diligent. Reticent. Blunt. Standoffish, yet not unfriendly,” he listed off categorically, neither approving nor disapproving of what he was talking about. “Have I gotten anything wrong, Doctor?”

A bizarre, uncomfortable feeling settled in Zhu Li’s gut. None of that was really a secret that he should be nervous about, but he felt… exposed, in an odd sense. “No,” he answered shortly.

Chu Ran chuckled lightly in response, tilting his head with a cheeky little smile. “I was also told that you’re known to be quite good-looking. I cannot comment on that myself, but I did listen to Junyan sighing like the teenage girl she certainly isn’t when she first saw you, so I suppose there’s quite some truth to that, hm?”

“…” Was dialogue whiplash just going to be a thing with this guy?

Choosing not to respond to that nonsense, Zhu Li shook his head and walked back off towards the apothecary, leaving Guhui and Chu Ran in the dust. While Guhui presumably sodded off to do whatever it was horses did, the human Chu Ran trotted to keep up with him.

“What’s wrong, Doctor?” he called out, unperturbed by being readily abandoned. “‘Good-looking’ is a compliment, is it not?”

Zhu Li ignored him — though he did hold the door open for his unwelcome follower.

“Perhaps you don’t like compliments?” the other prattled on.

Perhaps you don’t have enough social skills to not point out and comment on every single thing? Zhu Li snarked on the inside, merely sending Chu Ran an annoyed glare that he couldn’t even see.

“In any case, I did want to speak to you about a few things while I was here, good doctor. You won’t mind entertaining me for a bit, yes?” the blindfolded jerk kept going, cheerily moving forward to take a seat at the diagnosing desk’s guest chair. “Come, sit. I won’t be long.”

Side-eyeing him, Zhu Li obediently sat at the doctor’s chair, placing his hands on his knees.

Chu Ran beamed back at him, likely ignoring the threads of annoyance coming off of Zhu Li as he started speaking without prompting. “First thing’s first; I am happy to announce that Deng Xia’s abduction has caused quite a stir in the upper tiers of society. You seem to not enjoy going out much, so you may not know, but the curfew for the rich has become all the more strict.”

Zhu Li furrowed his brows in thought. “That’s a good thing?”

“Of course. He vanished from his own home in the middle of the night, when night-vanishings have been going on for decades, though only for the lower classes.” Chu Ran grinned unkindly. “If even more rich folk disappear from their homes, those with all the money and power may actually start to do something about it, instead of ignoring the issue as a problem for the poors. That’s neither here nor there, however.

“A second good event is that when he disappeared, I was the one Mister Deng first contacted about it, as there had been signs of a fight, and he was nervous about my brothers. I cleaned up and took evidence for him, the dead snake included. After proper mummification, that will be damning against your incompetent prosecutors.”

Poor Mister Deng, getting ‘assisted’ by the very man that had kidnapped his son. “Are you going to do away with Deng Xia?”

“Hm? Oh, no. Once this is over, he will be no sort of problem.” Chu Ran leaned forward conspiratorially. “Death happens all the time in jianghu, but one should never assume that a murder cannot be traced back. Karma is always at work. I can assure you that when it comes to every major decision I make, taking life included, I consider my options and their consequences very, very carefully, Doctor Zhu.”

Brows still furrowed, Zhu Li observed him for a few minutes, then nodded, looking away. He still had no reason to believe that Chu Ran was lying about anything; lying by omission, maybe, since he was choosy about what details he wanted to share, but he otherwise appeared to have told only truths.

“A second bout of good news is that in two months from now, the Hans will be free enough to entertain us for a visit. They are already helping some behind the scenes, but I believe a visit will help with relations between you and them, as well as give some insight into who might be out for Han Wenkang. I highly suggest that you come with our little entourage.”

Zhu Li nodded again without hesitation. It wasn’t like he was doing anything particularly important that would be interrupted, anywho.

“Very good, then. Now… as a fair warning, this last bit may not be something you want to hear.”

A bad feeling suffused Zhu Li’s heart. “What is it?”

“I was thinking about this on my trip, while what you just said about Masked Wasp just corroborated it. If his hatred of you is indeed personal, it may not have anything to do with you, yourself.”

The bad feeling got worse.

“Since time immemorial, people have had a tendency to go after close friends and family members, or even the friends of family members, of those they want to take revenge against,” Chu Ran went on, his voice slow and cautious, as if he were speaking to a startled animal. “You are innocent of any crimes, but in the eyes of many, the individual is no different than who they associate with, or the family whose name they share. Do you understand?”

How could he not?

Chu Ran had described him as someone with a weak social network, and it was no lie. His travels and work ethic made it hard, or inconvenient, to consistently connect with people. The sole exceptions to that were Han Xingyu, who had constantly popped in to check on him at weird times and locales, and Zheng Tonghao. If Masked Wasp had been trying to get back at either of them, then this all would be a piss-poor way to go about it.

If it was the Zhu family, which headed the Miasma Caves and its poison manufacturing, that he was trying to get back at, then that would make a lot of sense. If he was taking revenge against the family as a whole, wasn’t Zhu Li, its sole member that was traipsing about in the open and easily found, the perfect candidate for it?

“I would like to know details about your immediate family, but there is no rush. We can do that on your own time.”

Chu Ran’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. He took a deep, calming breath, willing himself to speak. “That isn’t impossible, but it’s just speculation. It doesn’t put us any closer to knowing who Masked Wasp is, or what his motive is.”

“This is true. I suppose we won’t know for sure unless we speak to him ourselves, or find someone who actually knows him. Maybe Faux Fox does. We will see.”

Following some more pleasantries, Chu Ran left like the wind, vanishing behind the screen and going off to parts unknown. Quite literally unknown, as Zhu Li had never been behind there.

What was Chu Ran hiding in his house? Deng Xia had been cut off before he could say what he had seen. It would be a lie to say that Zhu Li wasn’t dreadfully curious, but he had also promised not to go past the screen without permission. He hadn’t yet gotten the impulse to find out what Chu Ran was like when actually mad, making that a rule he wasn’t about to break anytime soon, no matter how suspicious he was.

This scenario of being left alone in his uneasiness after speaking with Chu Ran was something familiar to Zhu Li by now. He returned to the courtyard to seek out Guhui again, gingerly stroking her neck once he got to where she was grazing.

In the previous five years, every time this season came, he would be busily hitting his last destinations, mapping out where he would be shacking up for the winter, and calculating out his needed provisions for both himself and Guhui. This year, that wouldn’t be necessary. The thought was slightly surreal.

While he had long been accustomed to a life of travel, he couldn’t say the first year had gone without a hitch, or that he preferred such a life to one of traditional comforts. The first twenty years of his life, he had been the well-kept son of a Sect Head, after all, only required then to endure hardships in small doses, and in supervised environments, for the sake of giving him a taste of the real world. It vastly differed from being suddenly thrust into that world, with only doctoring materials and some money to his name, no warm home or caring family to fall back on when times got tough. Guhui hadn’t even come into his life until he had endured half a year of hoofing it and getting rides from strangers.

Being, essentially, a ‘medical vagabond’ hadn’t been his first choice, yet that had also been the only way that he had been able to get by in life whilst also accomplishing the very reason he had left the Miasma Caves in the first place. Money had never been his goal, which left him with no funds to buy a home in a location that mattered, too. He had frankly been under the impression that he might have a shabby house to himself only after retirement age.

This arrangement was only for one year, but having a winter where he wouldn’t need to worry about funds or how long staying in someone else’s house was too long was… nice. He had missed the feeling.

More importantly, Guhui was getting spoiled with food, toys, brushes, pets, and sunlight to bathe in. The one thing she didn’t have was a huge space to run around in. The courtyard was a great size for people; horses, less so.

He should probably take her out for more walks to make up for their new sedentary lifestyles, but where? Han Xingyu was the only person he was close enough to visit, and her location at any time was unknown. She was always bouncing all over the place at random. When she wanted to come see him, it would have to be on her own time.

Hm… he would have to think of actual destinations before he could bring Guhui to them. That was kind of a crucial aspect of all trips. Maybe the Xin folks would take him places, since they would have to escort him anyways?

Making friends in the middle of a murder investigation was a bit weird, admittedly. If most of his time was going to be spent waiting around doing not much, though, why not?

Just a few days later, Zhu Li jolted awake in the middle of the night to a searing, unbearable pain coming from his left arm.

Crying out in shock automatically, he shot out of bed, feet stumbling beneath him from his groggy lack of coordination. He landed harshly into a kneel, doubled over and panting hard as he held his arm that burned worse than anything he had ever felt before, ached more viciously than anything he had endured up to this point.

What was going on?

Desperately, he shoved down his left sleeve, tearing it away when it refused to give easily, to look at his arm. The dark of the night afforded him nothing, so he fumbled shakily around for the lantern, managed to light it after a few tries, then quickly lunged his arm into its visible range.

The Twelve-Petaled Lotus, dimly-illuminated, greeted him, the source of his pain. Even in the low light, he could see each of its petals — except one was now fading from his skin, at a pace that couldn’t go quick enough.

Helpless to do anything, he watched the petal disappear fully, the burning immediately vanishing in its wake. Once it was over, he practically choked out a loud exhale of relief, easing the muscles he had never realized had tensed.

He took deep breaths to calm himself from the ordeal. Who knew how long it had even lasted; perhaps minutes, mere seconds, or a full hour. It didn’t matter.

The Lotus had lost a petal. One month had passed already.

Was this going to happen every tine, then?

Grimacing, he hobbled back over to bed, sat at its edge, thought about it, then got back up and redirected himself to the window, pushing it open.

The moon greeted him full-on. The cool evening wind chilled the sweat that had come to dot his brow, and swept away some of his suddenly-sprouted negative feelings. He closed his eyes, focusing on calming back down.

Blank the mind. Breathe. Release worldly worries. Breathe…

Worldly worries… yeah, he had quite a bit of those. Heavens, what a mess he was in.

Chu Ran had never said a thing about the Lotus mark ever hurting. While his gratitude towards the man was still in place, he was sure going to give him a piece of his mind tomorrow.

The author says: Let him sleep 😦

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3 thoughts on “SnCr 10

  1. Chu Ran used Flirt! It was not very effective…..
    A decent enough gentleman, if also a bit (lot) of a bastard.
    Zhu Li you are mucking about with lifeforce binding, is this really inexplicable? Also yes let him sleep weird gothic elements now affecting his life. (Chu Ran I do include you in this)
    Looking forward to the next

    Liked by 1 person

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