Translated by seal.
I will wait for you, no matter what. I will keep waiting, no matter how long it takes.
Gu Mang stared blankly at this man, hesitant and on his guard, confusion and bewilderment galloping across his eyes.
In the end, he stepped forward, tentatively raising his hand to touch Mo Xi’s neck.
Mo Xi raised his head at once, and glared at him with eyes that were faintly rimmed with red.
He was breathing somewhat heavily due to his turbulent emotions; the front of his robe was slightly open, and the lotus sigil marking on his neck rose and fell, pulsing vividly against his arteries. Despite the fact that it was obvious he was a person who had never practiced in demonic arts, his expression at this moment was no different from a beast.
“What are you doing.”
“I……” Gu Mang palpitated with fear, “But I……don’t recognise you……”
“Why do you also have……”
Mo Xi suddenly felt a prick of pain; his ego and hatred caused him to be react with such cruelty that he slapped away his hand and sternly said: “——I have never needed this kind of thing, it was you who insisted on forcing it onto me.”
“……” Gu Mang raised his head and looked up at this man whose rationality had crumbled.
In this dimly lit woodshed that no one else could peep into, in front of Gu Mang, a grown man like Xihe-Jun lost control as if he was a youth of yesteryear.
“Hasn’t it always been you?” Mo Xi’s chest rumbled, the corner of his eyes slightly red, “It was you who provoked me, who came to find me……”
For richer, or for poorer, no matter what the future held for us.
It was always you who approached me while smiling brightly.
“It was you who made me believe……”
Believe that on this earth, there was still a friendship that could disregard all other matters, that there was still someone who would be kind to another irregardless of it being reciprocated.
Believe that in this mortal world, there was still pure virtuousness, sincerity, as well as an unwavering1[The term was 九死不悔, an idiom that translates to “no regrets even after nine deaths”] loyalty to one’s country.
“It was you who pulled be back——“
Mo Xi had really lost his mind. He had suppressed it for such a long time, waited for such a long time, waited right until this day; wasn’t it all to just ask for a single word of truth from Gu Mang?
He just want to see what exactly was stored in Gu Mang’s heart….
Why couldn’t he obtain even the slightest bit of relief?
He was deceived, abandoned and betrayed by him.
When he said he liked him, it was a lie. When he said he was willing, it was all an act. And when he said he would never leave, it was a fabrication.
There was nothing at all, and in the end, all that was left were the two lotus markings on their necks, that proved that such things had happened between them in the past, proved that when he was young, he was so stupid, that he sincerely had no reservations, no fear, and no hesitation.
Proved that the ignorant, lovestruck youth back then.
That he was stupid enough to want to dig out his entire heart and give it to him.
Stupid enough that he thought that all of their promises would come true.
Stupid enough that until today……Stupid enough that until today, he would still feel the pain.
His mind was buzzing with his overly tempestuous emotions, his eyes flickered with bursts of dizziness.
Mo Xi looked at Gu Mang in front of him, and in this bout of dizziness, his vision began to gradually scorch and dry up, blurring his clarity.
He seemed to once again see that young man from back then, standing on the deck of the ship. So far yet so close, so familiar yet so foreign; standing against the sea breeze, dressed in a black robe, bandages wrapped around his waist, a crooked ribbon on his forehead, sneering.
“I really will kill you.”
Mo Xi grabbed him with one hand and pushed him against the wall, completely lost in a haze: “That’s right……I knew you would kill me. Haven’t you already stabbed me once before……? Why did you refuse to stab me a second time at the Wangshu Manor?!”
He knew that he had forgotten himself, and that he was being ridiculous. But to someone who had been firmly suppressing himself all this while, how could he possibly stop once he had exploded and lost all control?
Even more so when in the end, all Mo Xi had ever wanted, was just for him to turn around.
For a single reply, and nothing more.
“It was you who made me trust……And in the end, you made me distrust……”
“You said that I had nothing to care about, that I had nothing to lose, so I didn’t care……” His voice softened, choked behind his emotions, “But did you know what I had lost, after you walked down that path?!”
Did you know what I had lost……?
MoXi abruptly turned his face to the side, lowered his head, and slowed himself down for a moment, squeezing out two words from between his lips and teeth, ground down by his resentment until all was left was shattered fragments.2[t/n: The two words are implied to be ‘Gu’ and ‘Mang’]
“The one who didn’t care about anything was not me.”
“It was you.”
“I wish that I could——“
The ends of his words suddenly faltered.
Because Gu Mang had all of a sudden, stretched out his hands, and cautiously and hesitantly, he cupped his face and said, “You……Don’t be so sad.”
Mo Xi suddenly turned his head, and looked into that pair of piercing, clear blue eyes that seemed to have been washed with seawater.
“……I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“But can you……not be so sad?” Gu Mang said slowly, his effort painstaking, word by word, oh so clumsily, “……Don’t……be sad.”
It was as if a blade held over fire that was on verge of melting, was suddenly plunged into water; it hissed, steam billowing upwards, and that frantic heat was extinguished in a flash.
Little by little, his blood began to cool, and little by little, he began to regain his rationality.
Gu Mang looked at him, and said slowly: “You are not a bad person……”
He spoke cautiously, his eyelashes quivering as he continued: “I don’t recognise you, but you……are not bad……”
“So……don’t be sad……”
Mo Xi’s heart twisted in extreme discomfort; he was unable to distinguish between hatred, impatience, anger, and something else that laid there. He looked at that familiar appearance of Gu Mang’s, then looked into that pair of unfamiliar blue eyes.
Once upon a time, this same person, with his deep, inky black eyes, had looked at him, and with a smile, he called out to him, saying: “Mo Xi.”
“It’s nothing, don’t be sad.”
“No matter what, the two of us will always be together, and I’ll make it through even the worst.”
“Come on, let’s go home together.”
A sudden burst of exhaustion rushed forth in his mind, and Mo Xi wearily closed his eyes. As if he was a bald eagle nearing his death, he used up last of his energy to maintain his mulishness: “……I am not sad.”
He clearly hated him so much, and wished that he could strangle him to death with his own hands. He wanted to see if he could escape again, if he could deceive him again, if he could leave him again.
He hungered to witness his skull shatter with his own two eyes, until Gu Mang was a gore of flesh and blood, finally ending all of his hope and despair.
But when Gu Mang had cautiously consoled him, and asked him to not be sad, he suddenly remembered——
Many, many years ago, Gu Mang had sat by the bloodstained trenches, summoning his heavenly weapon—that ridiculous little suona of his, that was never again used after he committed treason, and noisily tooted away on it, angering both humans and gods alike.
It was such a crappy tune that everyone covered their ears as they cursed him, “Why the bloody fuck are you playing that, we’re mourning over here!”. He just laughed heartily until he was rocking back and forth, then proceeded to puff his cheeks, and played the song “Hundred Birds Worshiping the Phoenix”3[百鸟朝凤 is a Chinese folk song that fully utilises the versatility of the suona by having it mimic all sorts of bird sounds. You can listen to it here. It’s a cheerful song that evokes the feeling of nature and hard work. Shout out to that random comment on this video of which i stole the translation for the song title…ur rad] for those who had died in battle; he played it so very seriously, with such deep emotions.
When he had cast a glance sideways to look at him, he noticed that the bottom of Gu Mang’s eyes were actually wet.
Gu Mang was considerate.
He had deceived men and ghosts alike for so many years, but Mo Xi knew that he was considerate.
He still wanted to believe him——That not everything from back then had been false.
To that end, he could wait.
“……Forget it. If you can’t remember, then just forget it.”
Mo Xi’s voice sounded like he was on the verge of tears, and then he finally said.
“I said too much.”
“Whether you have really forgotten everything, or are just pretending to have forgotten everything.” After a long spell of silence, Mo Xi stood up straight, and very slowly, he straightened his robes until there was not a single excess wrinkle to be seen, covering up that lotus marking on his neck, “I will wait.”
“I will wait for an outcome. I will wait for a word of truth from you.”
His eyes were still a little red, and so was the tip of his nose.
Gu Mang said in a daze: “You will……wait for me……?”
“Yes, I will wait for you.”
“I will wait for you, no matter what. I will keep waiting, no matter how long it takes.”
“But you must remember, if you deceive me again, if you let me find out you are still deceiving me——I can no longer be stabbed in the same spot on my chest a second time.”
“I will give you a life worse than death.”
They were enveloped in silence.
“……” Gu Mang lowered his head to think for a while, then suddenly asked in puzzlement, “What is a……life worse than death?”
That confused and innocent tone made Mo Xi drop his eyes to gaze at him, but because of the redness of the corner of his eyes that were a little damp, he seemed to be lacking his usual sharpness.
Gu Mang noticed his gaze and also lifted his head to look up at him. He knew this man had clearly destroyed his sword array and removed his “claws”, yet did not bite his head off4[t/n: It actually says “break his neck via biting”, and I believe is a reference to Gu Mang’s current wolf-mentality], nor did he humiliate him like other people.
As such, Gu Mang tentatively asked: “Life worse than death……does that……mean that you will let me go?”
Mo Xi: “……No.”
“But you did not kill me, and you did not hit me.”
“……I don’t hit fools.”
Gu Mang did not speak, and continued to look at him. But all of a sudden, he came up close to Mo Xi and sniffed.
Mo Xi raised his hand and blocked the tip of his nose: “What are you doing?”
Gu Mang licked his dry lips, and softly said: “Remembering you.”
Remembering him? Remembering what about him? His face? His scent?
Or was it to remember that he was someone who wouldn’t hit a fool?
But Gu Mang did not explain, and at this time, he let down his guard slightly; or perhaps it was not that he wanted to let it down, but that being starved for more than ten days had made him weak and exhausted. He did not bother about Mo Xi anymore, knowing that the last of his canines were useless in front of him.
Gu Mang slowly lowered his head, curling himself up in his corner. Those wolf-like eyes of his that glimmered in the darkness blinked wearily.
“Thank you.” He said, “Only you are willing to give me a ‘life worse than death’.”
Mo Xi was caught off guard by this phrase that dropped into the depths of his heart, and all of a sudden, his chest ached.
He stood in his place for a while, looked at the tattered state of the room, the padded mattress that had cotton stuffing sticking out of it, and that figured curled up in the corner.
“……” Mo Xi closed his eyes and shut out his surroundings, his long eyelashes slightly quivering.
In the end, he left the shed, then brought back some pastries and hot soup. He fed it to this man who was on the brink of starving to death.
“……” Gu Mang promptly approached him to sniff it, and after sniffing, he gulped, yet hesitated again, “But you did not whore……”
As soon as the word “whore” was mentioned, Mo Xi knitted his black eyebrows into a scowl, and without a word, he slapped the pastry directly onto his face.
By the time he returned to his manor, it was already late into the night.
“My Lord, you’ve returned—— Ah! What happened to you?”
“But why are your eyes……” Why are they red?
“Sand was blown into them.” After he said this, he left Li Wei behind, and without so much as turning his head, he walked into his bedroom.
He had wasted all that time at the Luomei Garden Villa, yet did not feel sleepy in the slightest. He tossed and turned in bed and struggled to sleep, then finally giving up, he put on a black fur coat and stood out in the corridor, looking out towards the patch of ground before his door, shining under the moonlight. And from start to end, that extremely haggard face of Gu Mang’s continuously swayed before his eyes, impossible for him to get rid of.
Was he really stupid……?
Was the reason why the Liao Kingdom sent him back really just to negotiate peace, or are there ulterior motives?
He tried his best to sort out his thoughts, but no matter how many times he sorted it, in the end, all his trains of thought stopped at that pair of blue, wolf-like eyes.
“Thank you, only you are willing to give me a life worse than death.”
Mo Xi suddenly closed his eyes.
For quite a while after this incident, he did not go to Luomei Garden Villa to see Gu Mang.
Firstly, it was because things had gotten busy, and secondly, Luomei Garden Villa was after all, Murong Lian’s territory, and it was not good to visit often.
It was only once, when leading the Imperial Guard to patrol the city, that he cast a glance over at the backyard of Luomei Garden Villa. Gu Mang was again, squatting over there and looking at the fish, followed by that dirty, big black dog. Everything was the same as before.
In the blink of an eye, it was the end of the month, and the first heavy snowfall of the winter had drifted outside of the Bureau of Military Affairs
It was an exceptionally cold evening, and majority of the officers at the Bureau had returned home early to mouth malt sugars and dally with their grandsons[含饴弄孙 is an idiom that refers to an old man enjoying their life without cares]. Several young cultivators also took advantage of the fact that the sky had not completely darkened, and returned to the city in small groups to have a meal and drink.
Mo Xi was just preparing to return to his manor, when he suddenly heard a timid voice from behind his pile of documents: “Xihe-Jun, may I……may I ask for a favour?”
The author has something to say:
(long rant about jjwxc omitted due to irrelevance lmao)
Today’s mini-theatre is based on a true story——
Friend: Let me draw up a character chart for Gu Mang and Xixi, tell me, what’re the weapons they use?
Me: Oh……At the moment, Xixi uses a whip, a sword, and a staff, and that staff of his can transform into a big whale! It’s super powerful!
Friend: Cool, what about Mangmang?
Friend: What about Mangmang???
Friend (drops her pen): Whut?
Me: Gu Mang’s weapon is a suona = = I’m not joking……
At the very least, the Liao Kingdom did one good thing, and it was giving Gu Mang a new weapon, rescuing him from bad taste, and letting him use a bayonet = =
Translator’s Note: Happy New Year! If you read it when this went up then the clock should have flipped if you’re in SEA timezone like both of us! Thanks for following us so far, more fun to come next year!