Translated by seal.
Warnings: Main character abuse
Mo Xi turned his face away, and with a dry expression, he said: “I have no interest in him.”
Gu Mang was dragged in by the housekeeper.
With a metal lock clasped to his neck, he clanked the entire way as he walked in with bare feet, emerging from the shadows.
It was unlike the last time Mo Xi saw him; Gu Mang had been very calm, as if it was because he had been in his own territory, and as such, Mo Xi did not witness the slightest uneasiness on him then. As for Gu Mang at this moment, while he was still just as calm, his muscles were stretched taut, and that penetrating gaze of his hidden behind long eyelashes swept across everyone’s faces one by one, full of threat.
Their line of sight met without a warning, and Mo Xi’s heart faintly trembled.
He knew that his situation at the moment was also quite awkward; if Gu Mang were to suddenly bring up the affair of them having previously met at Luomei Garden Villa, while it wouldn’t have too much of an impact of him, it was also something that couldn’t be considered good.
But despite his reasoning, somewhere hidden deep within his heart rose to a clamor, hoping that Gu Mang would show just the tiniest bit of a reaction that was different from how he looked at the rest.
Unfortunately, Gu Mang disappointed him.
Gu Mang did not have the slightest interest in him, and seemed to regard him as just another one of those bizarre guests, his eyes not even lingering on his face for a moment too long; he just plainly looked at him, then without a care, shifted his gaze away.
“……” With a face full of gloom, Mo Xi picked up a fine jade cup from the table, lowered his eyelashes, and quietly began to turn it around in his hands.
“Oh, if it isn’t the the once renowned Beast of the Altar.” Murong Lian said, a fake smile plastered on his face, “Gu Mang, what are you so nervous for? You had served at this residence of mine since you were young, what’s so terrifying about revisiting an familiar place of the past?”
“Come.” He said, as he faced Gu Mang and beckoned him to come over. “Come over here.”
Gu Mang slowly took two steps forward, and his gaze fell upon that incense burner in front of Murong Lian. As soon as he stepped forward, the smell of Rapture coming from the incense burner seemed to irritate his nose and caused him to sneeze. Then suddenly, he turned his head and ran away.
Murong Lian did not expect that he would suddenly rebel, and after he regained his wits, he snapped: “Capture him for me!”
Gu Mang’s spiritual core had already been destroyed, but his physical and martial abilities were still sharp. A pair of long legs swept over, swiftly kicking down three or four people, then supporting himself with one hand, he leapt into the air like a cheetah, flashing past the servants who attempted to grab his arm, and then landed firmly on the ground.
This set of movements flowed like water and moved like clouds1[Almost literal translation of 行云流水 (xíng yún liú shuǐ), which is an idiom that means that something was natural and unforced], and though he did not use any spiritual skills, it was extremely ferocious.
Gu Mang kicked those in pursuit of him up into the air, turned his head to give them a glance, scratched his cheek, then turned back and continued to flee.
“In the end, a starved camel is still larger than a horse2[瘦死的骆驼比马大 is a saying that refers to if someone is especially skilled at something, then even when driven to a desolate state, they will still be stronger than a newbie that’s fresh out of the oven], and even after stripping him of his rank, General Gu still more capable than the average mob3[乌合之众 (wū hé zhī zhòng) translates to “a flock of crows” and means a mob, and I thought it was funny enough to footnote haha].” He said, then glanced at Mo Xi, “What are your thoughts, Xihe-Jun?”
Mo Xi crossed his arms and silently leaned against the side of the chair. He ignored Murong Lian and instead, watched Gu Mang run about the hall as he dodged and fled. Gu Mang’s foundation in martial arts was truly so solid that the family slaves of the Wangshu Manor had to expend a lot of effort to subdue him; every single one of them was covered in sweat, and their faces were battered and bloodied.
“My lord, we have tied him up.”
“Look at all of you, panting heavily like oxen! If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought you were the ones with your spiritual core removed and not him, you nitwits!”
The servant immediately bowed his head to the ground even deeper, and his throat bobbed as he swallowed nervously. Fortunately, Murong Lian did not continue to berate him, but instead, he brushed away his sleeves and said impatiently: “Bring him back in.”
Gu Mang was once again brought back to the middle of the hall, and as a result of his constant disobedience, they had no choice but to firmly bind him with a spell and escort him to face the seat.
Gu Mang refused to kneel, and so that group of people holding him captive kicked him from behind his knees, and he fell down to the ground.
His mouth, nose, neck, abdomen and knee caps were restrained and bound tightly by black immortal binding cables, and his eyes showed confusion and fury; his robes that were already worn very loose had been tugged wide open, revealing the wide expanse of his pale chest.
Murong Lian got down from his opium bed, and with his hand still clinging on to a silver spoon as he stirred around the fragrant powder, he leaned over and peered at Gu Mang: “As large as Chonghua can be, it all belongs to my Murong family……General, where do you intend to run to? Where can you run to?”
When he finished what he had to say, he suddenly raised his hand and slapped Gu Mang.
The full-forced slap sounded with crisp pah, and in a split second, five red marks surfaced on his cheek.
Gu Mang was slapped so hard that his head tilted to the side, and he sat there in silence; on the contrary, it was Mo Xi’s eyelashes that twitched ever so slightly.
“I’ve drilled the rules into you for two years, yet you haven’t learnt a single thing.”
Murong Lian straightened himself up, then sniffed at the remaining fragrance on the tip of the spoon. All of a sudden, he turned his eyes to look at Mo Xi.
“Oh Xihe-Jun, I’ve heard that you have a fantastic command over your army. Initially, when you took over the Wangba Army left behind by Gu Mang, many of the veterans wanted to rebel, yet were persuaded by the oath you swore in front of them. Since you’re so skilled, why don’t you come and teach this former General-in-chief of the Wangba Army a lesson on my behalf? Let him learn from your experience.”
After he said this, he waved his hand and motioned to a house servant to drag the man to face Mo Xi.
“Speaking of which, he had stabbed General Mo in the chest back then, so I should rightfully have him atone for his crimes towards you.”
Murong Lian said slowly: “Right now, you are the butcher’s knife, and he is but the fish meat brought in front of your chopping block. Feel free to torture him as you please. Do enjoy yourself.”
There were not too many complex sentences that Gu Mang could understand, and he had no idea what butcher’s knife or fish meat or what not meant. Yet the single word of “torture” was to him, like a dog who had been beaten into submission hearing the sound of movement from a rod; his entire body quivered, and he jerked his eyes wide open. He was lying on the ground, and because his vision was limited, he was unable to see Mo Xi standing behind him. When the house servants that flanked him him moved him, he tried hard to turn his head back, yet the immortal binding cables that kept his head in place bound even tighter; the iron chains that were wedged between his teeth practically dug into his skin, so much that he was hardly able to breathe.
For a moment, practically all eyes in the hall were on Mo Xi and Gu Mang.
Yue Chenqing covered his eyes with his hands, and said while peeping out from the gaps between his fingers: “General Mo, I know that there is animosity and resentment between you two, but you must absolutely not kill people in front of me, okay? I’m still just a child!”
Mo Xi did not say a thing, slowly bending over to kneel on one knee, propping an elbow against it; using his other hand in a black leather glove, he pinched Gu Mang’s chin and lifted it up.
Gu Mang’s mouth was bound by the iron chain, and he was unable utter a single curse; all he could do was glare at him fiercely while struggling relentlessly against the chains as they clanked from the movement.
In a split second, an inexplicable shudder rose in Mo Xi’s heart. He himself did not know why, but when he saw Gu Mang’s chained up tightly with his clothing in disarray, a layer of goosebumps formed on his back in excitement.
Was it the thrill of finally having his prey under his feet, and watching it extend its head in preparation for the execution? Or was it indignation towards his cowardice? Or perhaps it was some other kind of emotion?
He did not know, and he did not really want to know either.
Those dark, cold pupils of his looked downwards at him in disdain; under the flickering light, his vision was filled with Gu Mang’s ferocious, yet pitiful and wretched appearance.
“……” After a long while, Mo Xi closed his eyes then got up, “Take him away.”
“Hm? What does Xihe-Jun mean by this?”
Mo Xi turned his face away, and with a dry expression, he said: “I have no interest in him.” 4[t/n: thought you guys needed to know but meatbun actually wrote two different lines for this same quote for the chapter preview and this bit…this woman’s really testin my patience…Anyway after talking to liyou, I used the chapter preview version instead because it sounded better.]
Murong Lian chuckled: “So that’s what it was. I thought I might have prodded some sore spot of Xihe-Jun’s, and caused you to be unhappy.” He said this, then added a little bit of powder to the pipe in his hand, narrowing his eyes as he inhaled from it deeply, his gaze traveling fluidly as he cast a sidelong glance over.
“But I certainly do admire Xihe-Jun. Despite being busy with military affairs for so many years, you still remain just as noble and virtuous as you were before. None these men or women, sweethearts or beauties ever entered your eyes. I am asking out of curiosity, but what sort of heavenly fragrance and national beauty5[Literal translation of 天香国色 (tiān xiāng guó sè) because I felt like his pompousness would be lost without it. Refers to an outstanding beauty] would actually be worthy of you attention, hm?”
Mo Xi remained silent, and his expression darkened.
Yue Chenqing saw that the atmosphere between the two of them was becoming increasingly strained, so he scratched his head, and could not help but tentatively step forward in an attempt to interrupt them.
Without even turning his head, Mo Xi said: “Stand farther away.”
“It is best you do so.” Mo Xi’s eyes curved like a hooked sword6[吴钩 (wú gōu) was a type of hooked sword from the Chunqiu Period. pic. I’m under the impression the simile is meant to depict that he narrowed his eyes into a glower.] on a cold night, penetrating through the thick, lingering fog of smoke to glare at Murong Lian.
Largely due to the long-standing struggle for power between their families, Murong Lian could not stand to see anyone from the Mo family; since young, he had constantly tried to cause trouble for Mo Xi, and had always wanted to figure out what pleased or upset him in order to grab a hold of his weaknesses. This was far from the first nor second time that he had tried to take an indirect approach and make insinuations in order to probe out his thoughts.
Murong Lian smiled, and as expected, he latched onto the topic and continued to ask: “You haven’t answered my question, you know? My Luomei Garden Villa is so large, with both curvaceous and slender beauties7[环肥燕瘦 (huán féi yàn shòu) is an idiom that refers to beauties of all shapes and sizes, literally translating to ‘plump Huan, thin Yan’. ‘Huan’ refers to Yang Yuhuan, or Imperial Consort Yang of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty – she was plump, but very beautiful. ‘Yan’ refers to Zhao Feiyan, Empress to Emperor Cheng during the Han Dynasty, who was so thin that she was as light and graceful as a swallow.], and our men and women total over a hundred. And yet not a single one of them was able to catch your eye, Xihe-Jun?”
“……This is my own personal matter, and is none of your business.”
Murong Lian lightly smoked on the vapour, his nephrite-like fingers tapping against the pitch-black smoking pipe as he swallowed the clouds and blew out fog: “Ahh, Xihe-Jun, there’s no need to be so inflexible. I know you greatly treasure your reputation, but in my opinion, as long as we are alive, it is better to enjoy it. All those insignificant things like moral integrity or character are only but ephemeral8[过眼云烟 (guò yǎn yún yān) is an idiom that translates to ‘like clouds and smoke passing by’ and refers to something emphemeral, or similar to the english idiom “passing in the blink of an eye’]……”
As he spoke, he exhaled a blurry puff of smoke, and behind the haze, a smile that didn’t meet his eyes surfaced. Blowing away the clouds of smoke, he slowly spoke.
“See? It’s all gone in a flash.”
Mo Xi said coldly: “Reputation?”
“Xihe-Jun, you keep your distance from men and women alike, so if it isn’t to protect your reputation, then for what reason do you do so?”
Mo Xi replied indifferently: “Because of my mysophobia.”9[t/n: no it’s because ur gu mang-sexual shut up]
Murong Lian was silent for a moment, narrowing his eyes as he exhaled a thin stream of smoke from between his lips.
The two of them strived against each other for a while, before Murong Lian turned his head and sneered, lying back down on his opium bed: “Clean people, how uninteresting.” After saying so, he waved his hand and called out to his other guests.
“Come, come, come, do enjoy yourselves to the limits. If you’d like to have fun, then just go ahead and have your fun, no need to stand on ceremonies.”
“After tonight’s feast, if the ladies in any of your arms are still conscious and sober, I will assume that your kidneys are deficient and you lack stamina, and in the future, our Luomei Garden Villa won’t be able to entertain you.”
The house servant moved in closer and asked hesitantly: “My lord, then…… shall I take this Gu Mang back, or leave him here?”
“Leave him here, why would you take him back?” Murong Lian grinned, “Although Xihe-Jun has absolutely no interest, does that mean that others won’t want to play with him?” As he said this, he shot a glance at Mo Xi, “Xihe-Jun, you truly don’t cherish him in the slightest, am I right?”
“If you really don’t want him, then I’ll just let my brothers enjoy him to their hearts’ content.”
Seeing that Mo Xi still paid no attention to him, Murong Lian smiled, and the faint light that flashed passed his pupils reflected like the scales of a snake: “Alright.” He nodded, lifting a hand to tap Gu Mang, “This man is too ugly and unworthy of Xihe-Jun, so he doesn’t want him anymore. Take him down and let all the young masters pleasure themselves with him.”
Naturally, the other people were delighted by this. If they were to humiliate an ordinary lady of entertainment in front of others, they might be somewhat embarrassed to do so, however humiliating Gu Mang was something everyone rapidly applauded, commended and cheered for.
Who asked for Gu Mang to be a traitor of Chonghua?
For a moment, those drunken cultivators surrounded him as they made fun of him, pondering over what sort of harsh ways they could use to humiliate him.
Someone saw that he seemed to be hungry and tossed a rib cooked in sauce in front of him: “If you want to eat, then eat it.”
Gu Mang’s animal instincts perked up as he circled it a few times, and unable to endure his hunger, he really did pick up that sauced rib and bring it to the tip of his nose. He first sniffed it hesitantly, and when he felt that there was nothing wrong with it, he opened his mouth to bite off a little and chew on it, his pair of eyes focused cautiously on those young masters in front of him.
When Mo Xi caught a glimpse of such a sight from the corner of his eyes, he felt heart choke up, and he had no choice but to turn his face even further away. But even with his face turned away, he was unable to block out a single sound, and the sharp, ear-piercing voices penetrated into his ears.
“Hahahaha, General Gu, I know we say you’re a beast, but you would actually pick up bones to eat?”
The young masters all roared with laughter.
“Didn’t you use to like being clean? Why would you want something that’s been dropped onto the ground?”
“General Gu, where did the skin on your face go?” 10[Refers to the Chinese culture of having face, or someone’s personal esteem. In this case the context is something like “General Gu, do you not have any sense of shame?”]
The despicable intentions that filled the room could easily overturn the tiles on the roof, but Gu Mang paid no mind to it; he just quietly gnawed on that rare piece of sauced rib, and in no time, he had gnawed it until nothing was left.
He licked his lips and raised his head once more, sweeping his eyes over those sinister, taunting faces, before landing them on the plates and cups on the banquet table. There was a pile of large, evenly cut pieces of red braised pork ribs stacked up like a small tower; its fatty and lean meat was distributed evenly, and every piece of red braised pork was coated in a thick layer of sauce, red oil, and a fragrant smell11[ok this stuff tastes so fuckin good I wish I could explain…but it’s a shanghai braised pork short ribs dish! I think! pic]. Gu Mang silently stared at it for a while, then suddenly said: “Give me.”
This was the first time he had spoken normally since he entered the room, and like someone who saw a silent cat suddenly meow out loud, each and every one of those young masters were somewhat excited.
“Give you what?”
Without a trace of politeness, Gu Mang said with a face that looked like a wild beast begging for food: “Give me meat.”
The crowd laughed out loud: “Hahaha, look at him, he knows how to beg for meat!”
“He doesn’t understand a single thing, yet he knows about meat. He sure is the Beast of the Altar, hehe.”
One of the young masters who was seated asked: “Do you want to eat?”
Gu Mang nodded.
That young master really did pick up a piece, stabbed it with a pair of jade chopsticks, then handed it to him. Gu Mang took it, and just as he was about to eat, that young master suddenly burst out with laughter and said: “A dog that committed treason and betrayed our ruler still wants to eat meat? Why don’t you continue to daydream about it!” As he said this, the spiritual energy concentrated on his fingertips moved slightly, and in an instant, that piece of red braised meat that Gu Mang was holding onto vanished into a cloud of green smoke.
Gu Mang seemed to be startled by this, and he stared foolishly at his hands for a while, then flipped his hands over and over and stared at it for a while longer. He then he lowered his head to search the ground, and when he was sure of it, he tilted his head with some confusion and siad: “The meat is missing.”
In the side room, a group of men strived to outdo each other as they made fun of him.
“It’s not easy having a bite to eat, isn’t it?”
Someone mixed vinegar, wine and sauce into a wine vessel12[酒樽 (jiǔ zūn) was a type of ancient Chinese wine vessel/goblet. They kinda look like this.] and offered it to him: “Come, have a taste of this exquisite wine as fine as jade13[A rough, almost literal translation of 琼浆玉露 (qióng jiāng yù lù), which is a phrase that is used to talk about fine alcohol], hahahaha.”
Gu Mang had probably been starved and thirsty for a long time, so despite not having much faith in them, he still received the wine vessel and sniffed at it. He thought it smelled a little strange, so he licked it cautiously.
After a moment of silence, he spat it out with a pfft, directly spraying it onto that man’s face.
Some of them slapped their legs in merriment, while others excitedly thought of other ways to humiliate him. That young master that had been spat on felt furious and extremely embarrassed, and after receiving a handkerchief to wipe off his face, he grabbed Gu Mang by the front of his robes, viciously threw out a slap at him, and scolded: “I gave you something to drink and you still dare to be picky, why don’t you go pick your ancestors14[Uh…chinese people like to insult ancestors, dads, uncles, whatever they can land their hands on…it’s a Thing…dontworryaboutit].”
Gu Mang suffered a beating, and immediately wanted to fight back, but when the Liao Kingdom had destroyed his mind, they also melted away his valiant spiritual power. He was no match for that cultivator, and it did not take long before his neck was restrained by chains that clanked as struggled to break free; he was left with no other choice but to glare fiercely at the other.
That expression in his eyes was truly just like a wolf.
“Give it to him good, beat him up!”
“Yes, beat him up!”
Who didn’t hate Gu Mang? It was especially so on a day like today where both Mo Xi and Murong Lian were present, so those young masters all harboured some intentions to curry favour with these two esteemed lords. Every single one of them casted their spells without mercy, and the curses rained down on Gu Mang as they attacked him——As long as it wouldn’t kill him, they would pick the most ruthless spells.
Gu Mang was soon unable to even gasp for breath as he was besieged, but he had no idea why these people detested him so. He wanted to speak up, but his mouth was full of blood.
There were several people who felt like it wasn’t satisfying enough, so they simply picked up that unfinished wine vessel, and even had the gall to spit into it a few more times, before they forced open Gu Mang’s jaw and chided: “Open up your mouth! Swallow it down!”
“Drink it all up! If you don’t finish drinking all of it today, then don’t even think about leaving through this door!”
This group of descendants of rich and powerful nobility encircled him with insults, and those who hoped to please Xihe-Jun fervently doubled their efforts in torturing him. All of a sudden, they heard a dull bang from the innermost corner of the room.
Everyone turned their heads at once, and saw that Mo Xi, who had been silently minding his own business as he fiddled with his wine cup, suddenly stood up. He hurled the jade cup towards the table and lifted his eyes, his expression extremely grim.
The author has something to say:
A-Lian: Hehehehe, one has to pay the price of hypocrisy. Didn’t you say you didn’t care? Then why did you throw the cup?
Mo Xi: My hand slipped.
Young Masters A, B & C: Come, come, come, Gu Mang, come have another piece of meat~
Mo Xi: ……
A-Lian (squints): General Mo, should this lord give you an anti-slip cup?