Translated by seal.
Warnings: Animal death (caused by other animals)
“Take off all of your robes.”
Li Wei felt that it was just too exhausting being the housekeeper of a hypocrite like General Mo. If he could turn back time, he would have preferred to support that Lord Liu and his eighteen concubines. The combined thoughts of all those eighteen concubines would probably still be less complicated than this cold and ruthless General Mo.
Alas, it was obvious that one cannot turn back time, and so all Li Wei could do was clear his throat, and ask with caution: “My lord, have you been to see Gu Mang already?”
“Oh.” Li Wei breathed a sigh of relief, “Then it’s best you don’t go and see him.”
“This…… My lord, it’s like this. In Gu Mang’s current condition, never mind you, he probably doesn’t even know who he himself is. According to the doctors diagnosis, he thinks, from the bottom of his heart, that he is a formidable and majestic male wolf.
Mo Xi widened his eyes: “He thinks he’s a…… a what?”
“A formidable and majestic male wolf.”
Mo Xi: “……”
This had to be the most ridiculous thing he has heard this year.
He rested his forehead on his hand for quite a while, then slowly opened his mouth: “Which doctor released this diagnosis? Are you sure there is no issue with his brain?”‘
Li Wei rarely saw him reacted with such astonishment, and couldn’t help but let out a little ‘pfft’. But when he saw Mo Xi’s complexion, he hurriedly gathered himself and obediently put on a solemn expression.
“When we first heard this news, we didn’t believe it either, my lord. So at the time when Gu Mang had just returned to the city, several noblemen went to the prison to seek vengeance and settle their debts. But he couldn’t say a single word that was normal, and ended up provoking and angering them instead.” Li Wei paused, then continued to speak: “Later, the Emperor handed him over to Wangshu-Jun to deal with. Wangshu-Jun had also wanted to pry some details out of his mouth at first, but after using every possible method, Gu Mang didn’t seem to know a single thing1[一问三不知 is an idiom that translates to “answering ‘don’t know’ three times for one question”, or basically replying ‘don’t know’ to anything that’s being asked, having absolutely no idea what’s going on.].”
Li Wei sighed as he shook his head: “He really does not have even the slightest awareness of being a human being.”
For a long while, Mo Xi digested this information, and then he raised his eyes, resting them on the small clay teapot that was boiling hot tea. The steam hung in the atmosphere, forming thin wisps of mist that drifted upwards, spiraling around each other.
“……I also heard that…… his soul was damaged.” Mo Xi paused, “What’s this all about?”
Li Wei was momentarily stunned, thinking to himself that his master was not someone who would ask around for news. Why would he know about this?
But he replied quickly as usual: “It is damaged, but the specifics on how it was damaged is still unclear. All that is known is that Gu Mang was already like this before he returned.
Mo Xi frowned and repeated, “He was already like this before he returned……”
“Mn. The moment Gu Mang arrived in the city that year, our Medicine Sect cultivators examined his pulse. Those cultivators said that his soul, arteries, as as his spirit showed traces of being recently damaged, and were certain that it was done by the people of the Liao Kingdom. They are unsure what secret evil methods were used, but they removed two mortal souls of his three immortal souls and seven mortal souls2[三魂七魄 (sanhun qipo) refers to the Daoist soul structure, and is also a commonly used concept in Xianxia. 魂 (hun), the immortal soul, is the spiritual and ethereal soul that is tied to ones’ spirit, and 魄 (po), the mortal soul, is a corporeal and substantive soul that is tied to ones’ body. In this case, they’re saying that two of his seven po souls were removed from him, as po is tied to the body and not the person.], and even caused him to think that he is nothing but an animal.”
Mo Xi was silent for a moment, then pretending not to care, he asked, “To be missing two mortal souls….what effect would this have on someone?”
“That would depend on which two mortal souls are missing. Shennong3[Shennong is the God of Agriculture in Chinese mythology.] Terrace said that of the two mortal souls that Gu Mang is missing, one soul is related to memory, and the other soul is related to wisdom. In other words, he will definitely have problems with these two aspects, but the rest will not be affected as much.”
Mo Xi dropped his thick curtain of eyelashes, and said softly: “Then……”
“That’s right. Because he had lost the soul that affected his wisdom, at the very beginning, he had even completely lost his ability to speak. Later, Wangshu-Jun left him at Luomei Villa, and had the caretaker train him for the whole two years. Only then was he was able to understand what we were saying, and barely able to form some words.”
As Li Wei talked, he let out a heartfelt sigh: “Sigh, they used to always say he was the Beast of the Altar, but nowadays, he’s really not much different from a beast.”
——In fact, this was actually the reason why, that when when Gu Mang was escorted back two years ago, that everyone was completely dumbstruck.
At that time, the city gates were wide open, and the prison cart that had caged Gu Mang within slowly entered into Chonghua territory. What those commoners that lined up both sides of the main road saw was General Gu, locked up together with several wolves. In the prison cart was also a stag that was being torn apart by those wolves. Blood splashed all over, yet Gu Mang did not even attempt to avoid it, and just quietly crouched in the middle of the pack of wolves with a peaceful expression. The wolves seemed to regard him as one of their pack, a female wolf even dragging a deer leg and placing it in front of Gu Mang as she fawned over him.
Gu Mang reached out his hand, dipped it into some blood, then with an air of indifference, he licked it between his lips and teeth. Thinking that it tasted bad, he lowered his hand again……
Mo Xi listened silently.
After Li Wei had finished saying this, he scratched his head: “But my lord, there is one thing I don’t understand.”
Mo Xi shifted his dark brown eyes, and looked towards him without much of an expression: “Hm?”
“The Liao Kingdom had already sent him back, why do you think they would they waste their efforts to destroy his two mortal souls?”
“……Perhaps he knew too many secrets.” Mo Xi said, “Remove two mortal souls, end him once and for all.”
Li Wei was speechless: “Wow, how ruthless. Then is there a possibility to restore his consciousness back to normal?”
Mo Xi shook his head, his worries piling heavily, and did not answer.
The two mortal souls were already extracted, unless they found those two souls and used a spell to return it into the body. But in the vast lands of the Nine Provinces, who knew whether Gu Mang’s two mortal souls still existed, and if so, where they were?
“It is said that when Wangshu-Jun spared his life, he had wanted to give him a taste of life worse than death.” Li Wei said, “But I heard that nowadays he’s very calm, so there was not much point to it. You could say that Wangshu-Jun’s plan had failed.”
“Oh right.” Li Wei suddenly remembered something, turning his head to ask Mo Xi, “My lord, after returning to the city, have you met with Wangshu-Jun yet?”
Mo Xi shook his head: “No.”
Although Wangshu-Jun was a key member of the Bureau of Military Affairs, he was just a useless waste of space4[混吃等死 (hùn chī děng sǐ) is an idiom that means “apart from eating, wasting one’s time away until death” aka being a useless good for nothing that just wastes resources] in a position with no real obligations. He came from a high-ranking noble background, and arrogantly flaunted his status. Out of the three hundred and sixty five days in a year, if he could show up for just fifteen, it would be considered not too bad.
Mo Xi lifted his eyes: “Why would you suddenly bring him up?”
Li Wei said: “Over the past few years, his character has been getting more and more terrible. My lord, should you see him, please do not lower yourself to his level. As you are well aware, he has been trying every possible method to make things difficult for you.”
“……” Mo Xi was not surprised by this in the slightest.
In Chonghua, there were three nobles whose characters exemplified the Buddhist training of “Virtue, Mind, and Wisdom”5[戒定慧 (jiè dìng huì), the Threefold Training in Buddhism. Virtue referring to a person’s character and morality, Mind refers to Samadhi, meaning the unification of the mind/concentration, and Wisdom is self explanatory.]. Jiang Yexue’s calm demeanor and his composure regardless of humiliation or praise has resulted in people associating him with “Mind”, and due to Princess Mengze’s high integrity, she has been associated with “Virtue”. On the contrary, there were also three scums with a notoriously bad reputation, that were perfect examples of the three poisons in Buddhism, “Greed, Anger, and Ignorance”6[贪嗔痴 (tān chēn chī) The opposite of the ones mentioned above. Wiki link.].
Among the three poisons, the one that had the greatest relationship with Mo Xi was “greed”. Greed referred to having a voracious desire to being favoured, and one must get what they want, otherwise they would feel reluctant and unwilling to give up.
This person so happened to be the Wangshu-Jun mentioned by Li Wei.
Wangshu-Jun’s name was Murong Lian, and he was Gu Mang’s past owner. In the earliest days, Gu Mang was selected by him to be his study attendant7[侍读 (shì dú) is kind of hard to translate, but referred to a servant who would accompany their master in their studies.], and was brought with him into the Academy of Cultivation.
At that time, Murong Lian had no idea that this little slave of his was astonishingly gifted, and within a few years, had far surpassed him in cultivation skills. Jealousy formed in his heart as a result, and on the average day, he would often make Gu Mang’s life difficult; beating, scolding and punishing him at the slightest hint of displeasure. Everyone knew that he was ruthless in nature, and his name totally contradicted with his personality8[怜 (Lian) means “pity”]. Taking the simplest case as an example——
There was an occasion where Gu Mang went to a village to subdue monsters and exorcise evil spirits. He took pity on the fact that the people of that village were suffering from an epidemic, and so falsely using Murong Lian’s identity, he went to the Imperial Apothecary in the capital to secretly distribute the antidote. Although this was against the rules, it was still an act of kindness. If it was any other master, they would have let him off after a few words of criticism.
But Murong Lian was different. When Murong Lian found out that Gu Mang had the cheek to falsely use his name to buy the antidoe, he was so angry that he abused him without restraint. First, he viciously attacked9[劈头盖脸 (pī tóu gài liǎn) is an idiom that literally translates to “splitting the head and covering the face”, and refers to fiercely attacking or criticisng someone] Gu Mang with a whipping of seventy or eighty lashes, and when he was done, he then made him kneel non-stop on one of the academy’s walking path for twenty days.
Mo Xi was not too familiar with Gu Mang at that time, and did not have much contact with him. Furthermore, he did not normally use that path, and so did not know the full story.
It wasn’t until one day, when the rain poured heavily, that by chance he happened pass by and noticed a figure. When he walked over to take a look, it turned out to be Gu Mang.
Gu Mang was drenched from head to toe, his hair glued to his ice cold cheeks, and the raindrops continuously traced the curve of his lower jaw as it dripped. Amidst the continuous stream of people, he obediently knelt in punishment, his two hands holding a wooden sign, and on it were large, bright red letters carved in cinnabar:
“Worthless Slave Impersonated Master, Outstandingly Shameless Beyond Repair.”
Mo Xi stopped in front of him.
Sparkling drops of water splashed against the surface of his umbrella and then bounced off, some converging into a rapid stream that flowed downwards, following the outline of the umbrella’s frame.
The people around them might have cast a curious glance, but when they caught a glimpse of the flying snake noble family crest on Mo Xi’s robes, they lowered their heads one after another and scuttled away, not daring to take another look.
Gu Mang seemed to have been so light-headed from the cold that he didn’t even realise when a large umbrella was held over his head, or notice that someone had stopped in front of him.
So when he suddenly heard someone speaking to him at such a close distance, he was startled awake from his drowsiness, abruptly raising his head——
A cold, wet face full of confusion crashed into Mo Xi’s field of vision. There was blood clotting at the corners of his mouth, and lash marks on the side of his face. He was shivering from the cold, like an abandoned dog that had fallen into the mud. Only that pair of black eyes that looked towards him were still bright, as if they had just been rinsed with water10[t/n: meatbun this is a weird metaphor for ‘his eyes were moist’ wtf].
That pathetic figure of his, combined with those eight words of “Worthless Slave Impersonated Master, Outstandingly Shameless Beyond Repair” on a wooden sign, formed quite an indescribably hilarious and pitiful sight.
At that time, although Mo Xi’s relationship with Gu Mang was not particularly deep, he also knew that Gu Mang’s antics of impersonating to steal medicine was because he could not bear to watch a whole village suffer from the epidemic. As such, he seeked out Murong Lian’s residence, to ask him to pardon Gu Mang.
Murong Lian did not agree, and began to quarrel with Mo Xi instead. In the end, he simply ordered someone to summon Gu Mang back to face him, and in the presence of Mo Xi, he asked: “Gu Mang, do you know why this insufferably arrogant high-ranking noble, Mo-gongzi, has come to our door today?”
Gu Mang shook his head in confusion, water drops trickling down his face.
Murong Lian faced him, crooking his finger as he beckoned for him to come over. He extended his dreadfully pale fingers and stroked Gu Mang’s dripping wet face, then lifted his alluring sanpaku eyes11[Apparently there really isn’t an English version of sanpaku eyes, but it’s when the white space of the eyes can be seen above and below the pupil.], a faint smile on his face: “He came here for you, it seems.”
Gu Mang was clearly stunned for a moment, turning his head to take a quick glance at Mo Xi’s calm and collected face, then turning his head back to look towards Murong Lian. Finally, he wiped off the rainwater on his face casually and grinned: “Young Master, are you joking?”
Murong Lian was still all smiles as he said: “What do you think?”
“Your skills sure are getting more and more impressive. If it wasn’t for Mo-gongzi braving the rain to plead for leniency today, I would have no idea when you hooked up with another family’s young master.”
Mo Xi clenched his teeth and said: “Murong Lian. I am just asking for fairness on his behalf, do not speak with such filth.”
In a daze, Gu Mang turned his head to look at Mo Xi, his eyes that were as clear as the sea’s waters, seemed to show a touch a gratitude. But then he immediately took advantage of Murong Lian’s diverted attention, and shook his head slightly towards Mo Xi.
Murong Lian squinted at Mo Xi and let out a light hmph as if to show off his might. He then turned to face Gu Mang and said amiably: “Get down on your knees.”
Gu Mang did as he was told, and in front of Murong Lian’s presence, he shrunk his tall figure step by step, bowing his head.
“Take off all of your robes.”
“This is my residence. Mo-gongzi, no matter how well-respected you are, you should not be lecturing me in my own quarters, am I not correct?” Murong Lian once again looked contemptuously at Gu Mang, “Take it off.”
Gu Mang again did as he was told and removed his robes, exposing his sturdy and well-proportioned figure, then lowered his eyelashes and remained silent. Murong Lian slowly sized up his physique, from the lines of his intensely taut muscles, to his sophora honey-coloured skin12[槐花 (huái huā) is known as sophora flower in English. The honey from this flower is a light golden brown] that glowed under the candle light—— Murong Lian was very slender, and when he was looking at Gu Mang, he was just like a young nobleman who feared the cold, sizing up a high quality animal fur—— It was as if he hated Gu Mang to the point that he wanted to rip off all of his flesh and wrap himself in it, to make himself stronger.
It was at this time that an attendant offered hot ginger tea to Murong Lian, and as Murong Lian sipped on it, he sighed: “Gu Mang, isn’t it a great feeling to have a spiritual core? Doesn’t it feel great to be able to stir up the heavens and earth at the Cultivation Academy? Aren’t you glad to be able to make friends with a distinguished person like Mo-gongzi?
“I truly do not know who gave you the courage to dare to pretend to be “Murong-gongzi“, just to distribute medicine to save some peasants.”
His slender fingers placed down the tea cup, then abruptly, he raised his eyes.
“Have you already forgotten where you came from!”
Gu Mang buried his head even lower: “I dare not forget.”
“Your holy weapon, your clothes, your spiritual core, everything you have today—— It was all thanks to our Murong Family . Without the Wangshu Manor, you have nothing!”
“Young master is right to discipline me.”
Murong Lian was silent, and after a while, he suddenly sneered: “Anyway, since you are so capable, I naturally would not treat you unfairly, so as to avoid you spreading your wings and roping in others.”
He coldly instructed his attendant: “Go, get me that gift that I had prepared since long ago for our Gong—— Zi—— Ye——13[公子爷 (gongziye) is just the usual young master with an ‘elder’ term tacked on. Usually it refers to seniority, but in lianlian’s case he’s just being condescending.]” He dragged out every single word in mockery, ridiculing Gu Mang’s previous absurd act of pretending to be the ‘Murong Family Clan’s Young Master’, “and bring it over here.”
At that time, the other study attendants of the Murong Family Clan were also there, and one of them was Lu Zhanxing, Gu Mang’s closest brother14[Brother in this case refers to ‘bros’ in English, and they are not blood related, just related by occupation]. As soon as he heard Murong Lian wanted to give Gu Mang that “gift”, his complexion turned extremely unsightly, and he looked towards Murong Lian with what could almost be considered a “stare”.
Murong Lian lifted his hand, and ordered his attendant to lift the lid of the box in under everyone’s attentive gaze.
The colours on everyone’s faces turned pale, and some couldn’t help but cry out in alarm:
“It’s a slave collar!”
When Gu Mang heard this, he also suddenly raised his head and widened his eyes, then looked somewhat vacantly at the sandalwood tray raised above his head.
Mo Xi’s complexion also shifted.
The slave collar was an accessory given to the most disobedient of slaves who stirred up their masters’ disgust and irritation, and was used to restrain and discipline them. Once it was worn, unless their master approved of it, one would never be able to take it off, and its effectiveness was probably not too different from a dog collar.
If it can be said that being a slave was already the most humiliating rank of the social hierarchy, then having to wear a slave colour was a disgrace beyond disgrace, which would even result in other slaves looking down on them.
“Why don’t you put it on yourself?” Murong Lian waved his hand, “Don’t tell me you still need me to personally invite you to do so, ‘Murong-gongziye‘?”
The author has something to say:
Note: The three poisons of Buddhism “Greed referred to having a voracious desire to being favoured, and one must get what they want, otherwise they would be reluctant and unwilling to give up.” line original comes from Duniang15[度娘 is an alternative name for Baidu] Dictionary, and Duniang explained it better than what I could say, so I just directly pasted it~ 16[t/n: oh my god what the fuck meatbun why are you like this]
Anger and Ignorance17[t/n: referring to the other two of the three poisons mentioned] won’t appear so soon~
P.S. I typo’d Murong Lian into Murong Fu a million times = =, I’ve been poisoned by Demi-gods & Semi-devils18[天龙八部 (Tian Long Ba Bu) is a wuxia novel by Jin Young. Murong Fu is a character from it.] too deeply lolololololol
Criteria for Choosing a Mate.
Mo Xi: Not choosing one, I will only remarry my ex.
Yue Chenqing: Good looking! Sweet! Thick white thighs!
Jiang Yexue: I am a widower, and I have no plans to remarry.
Murong Lian: The women of this world all rely on cosmetics, I can’t stand them. What? Hehe, I can’t stand men as well.
Gu Mang (serious expression): Requirements: Sumptuous fur, a sharp profile, four healthy limbs, a fast runner, acute hearing, a strong sense of smell, and has successfully given birth to a litter of five or more little wolves and raised them up. Females preferred.
Mo Xi: ……