Warnings: signs of abuse/violence, mild sex scene (mild enough that jjwxc passed it in its entirety without banning the chapter lol)
“Yes. I will give it to you.”
The Frost Chamber in the jail was an airtight room without light. The inside was smaller than a cow pen, but the walls were a foot thick, and the cell was barred with three gates. Whenever a major case in Chonghua involved the interrogation of criminals that had committed any of the ten abominations1[Ten abominable crimes:
1. Conspiracy against/overthrowing the state
2. Disrespecting royal authority (by destroying royal temples, graves, palaces etc)
4. Murder of any relative
5. Genocide/murder or any act that goes against the morality of the state
6. Speech or behaviour that disrespects royal authority
7. Acting in an unfilial manner against direct (older) relatives
8. Murder, violence or libel against relatives (disharmony)
9.Subordinate murdering someone of higher position (eg. employee murders employer, disciple murders shizun)
10. Incest], it would be carried out here.
“There are no gods above, and no way out. A spirit alone in a desolate cell; midnight, a thousand ghosts weep.”
It was unknown how many criminals had died tragically on the bone-chilling stone bed in the Frost Chamber, nor was it known how many past years’ worth of blood was caked into the cracks between the thick, heavy, freezing tiles.
“Hurry and tidy this up, and stop the bleeding. The Emperor has ordered that this man cannot die.”
In the dim cell, the prison officer was directing them unhappily. The healers under his command scurried back and forth in the jail, busy fetching medicine and magical artefacts. Apprentices scrambled to pour away the blood-clouded water from their scrubbing.
The prison officer kept slapping his forehead, sighing, “Heavens, Wangshu-Jun’s also too vicious, what is this…”
Just as things were most hectic, someone outside shouted, “Xihe-Jun has arrived—”
The prison officer only just missed biting his own tongue through.
Wangshu arrived, Wangshu arrived, and after Wangshu had left, Xihe arrived. Were the two of them the sun and the moon2[Actually, yes, they are. Xihe is another name for the (female) sun god, while Wangshu is another name for the moon god’s chariot driver.
But Meatbun, a suspected gamer, probably took inspiration from the game Chinese Paladin 4, where Xihe and Wangshu are the names of two complementary swords said to be yin and yang to each other. Mo Xi x Murong Lian anyone?], taking turns to rise in the east and set in the west, refusing to quit until they’d tortured Gu Mang to death?
If he were just any traitor and they’d killed him, so be it; how many of those who entered the Frost Chamber for interrogation could come back out alive? Yet, the Emperor had clearly stated that this man still had to have some breath left in him, so after these two nobles had their fun, the unlucky one who had to clean up the mess was him!
While grousing about it internally, he was already presenting a smile brimming with enthusiasm as he went up to welcome him. “Aiyo, Xihe-Jun, you’ve arrived. Look at how this subordinate has his hands full, my apologies for not welcoming you properly. May Xihe-Jun forgive me, and not take this subordinate’s disrespect to—”
Before he could even say “heart”, Mo Xi raised a hand to cut him off. His eyes were not even looking at him, but were instead gravitating towards the Frost Chamber.
The prison officer rushed to dissuade him. “Xihe-Jun, you can’t go in. Right now, he’s wounded all over and unconscious, even if you want to interrogate him—”
“I want to see him.”
“I said, I want to see him,” Mo Xi raged, “do you not understand?!”
How did the prison officer dare to stop him? He hastily turned himself sideways to clear the path for Mo Xi, and trailed behind Mo Xi.
It was frigid within the Frost Chamber.
A ghostly blue flame flickered in the skeletal lamp as the only light source in the room. Gu Mang lay on the stone bed, his white prisoner’s garb already dyed a fresh crimson. Blood flowed down along the blood trough. His face was frighteningly pale, and his eyes were wide, unfocused.
Mo Xi silently walked to his side, but there was no reaction from him at all.
Off to the side, the prison officer explained carefully, “Wangshu-Jun suspects that he is involved in the Hongyan case, so he used the truth potion on him, and even tried to use the soul-displacement spell to dig around in his brain for memories, but they were all useless.”
Mo Xi did not make a sound, only looked at the body on the stone bed. Around Gu Mang, a few healers were busy treating the wounds left on him by the spells, but he had too many wounds all over, and was wounded so deeply, that the healers were unable to stop the bleeding at once…
The prison officer said with a grimace, “See, Xihe-Jun, I did not lie to you, did I? He is not going to hold out any longer; if you intend to interrogate him now, he definitely will not be able to reply with even a single word. Besides, Wangshu-Jun exhausted all his methods earlier and still left in a rage. Come to think of it, he must have left empty-handed. Would you like to come again another…”
The prison officer retreated with a grimace. Seeing Mo Xi chase the healers, one by one, out of the Frost Chamber, he mustered up his courage to yell at the figure of Mo Xi’s back, “Xihe-Jun, the Emperor wants him alive, please spare him some mercy.”
Xihe-Jun had already swiftly lowered the three gates.
The prison officer wanted to cry, but had no tears. He instructed his disciple, “…You, whatever your name is, go fetch the Heavenly Scented Elixir of Life this master has hidden at the bottom of his trunk. The way I see it, only that Elixir of Life can save the worthless life of that little traitor’s after Xihe-Jun comes out…”
There was no one else in the cell. That folk saying “There are no gods above, and no way out” was embodied in this small and narrow world: the foot-thick walls quarantined them from everything else in this mortal dust. All that was left was Gu Mang and Mo Xi.
Mo Xi walked to the side of the stone bed, casting his eyes downwards to look upon Gu Mang’s face. After a few beats of silence, he suddenly reached out to help him up.
His lips parted slightly and closed. His face was as still as dead water, but his hand was trembling.
His only answer was that pair of lightless eyes.
Whether it was the truth serum or the soul-displacement spell, they both caused great damage to the mind. If one confessed obediently, it was fine; yet, if one resisted, his intestines would feel like they were on fire, bringing him great agony. Many tough criminals could withstand the cruel torture and vicious beatings, but were ultimately driven to madness by these two techniques designed to force confession.
Mo Xi knew, too, that in order to prevent the leakage of classified military information, the Liao kingdom would usually cast a “secret keeper” spell on its soldiers.
The Liao kingdom’s secret keeper spell, pitted against Murong Lian’s soul-displacement one–the strife between the two inflicted agony multiple-fold.
“…” The knot of Mo Xi’s throat bobbed. This was his first time personally witnessing the state Gu Mang was in after interrogation.
It really hurt.
Gu Mang had betrayed him, had killed him. Blood on his hands, his sins unforgivable.
It was also this person, who had once thrown his life and military career away in front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, roaring at the Emperor in hot-blooded fury, just to ask for a peaceful burial for the soldiers that had been under his command.
It was also this person, who had once chatted and roasted meat with him by the campfire, laughing as he tried to tease the sullen Mo Xi.
It was also this person, who had once, in his bed, babbled that he loved him.
That refreshingly alive, strong, powerful body of a warrior god that had seemed like it would never grow cold.
That young, bright, burning youth who had seemed to be a blazing beacon of light.
Now, left only with this scarred, broken husk of a body…
All of a sudden, Mo Xi acutely realised this: he was absent from the capital for two whole years—in those two years, how many interrogations of this sort had occurred? In those two years, so many people had desired to pry information out of Gu Mang and to glean the Liao kingdom’s secrets; how many times had this sort of torture worse than death and this grievous howling that went ignored by the heavens and the earth, played out?
Logic was diminishing rapidly, and the pain carved itself deeper and deeper.
“We’ll always be together. No matter how tough things are, I’ll always pull through.”
Mo Xi shut his eyes tight, suddenly unable to bear it any longer. Clenching his teeth, he pulled the person into his embrace. Bright light gathered in the palm he laid on Gu Mang’s back, as he channelled pure, nearly overbearing, spiritual power into this blood-streaked body.
He knew that he should not be doing this, that doing so would lead to discovery by others. He couldn’t begin to explain why he had rushed over in a hurry to heal Gu Mang in person.
He was even more clear of the fact that he should hand Gu Mang over to the healers in the jail. With the Emperor’s orders, these people would not make any missteps in healing Gu Mang. Murong Lian also might not have dealt him a fatal blow.
But he could not control this impulse. His heart felt like it was about to be torn out and ripped into two. More than a decade of love and hatred—he desired, but could not have it; he let go, but could not leave it behind. It ate away at him.
It was almost like if he didn’t hug this body in front of him, didn’t channel him spiritual energy with his own hand, he would die in this Frost Chamber himself.
Those wounds on Gu Mang’s body were mostly inflicted by Murong Lian’s heavenly weapon, and healed very slowly. In the process of helping him to stop the bleeding and heal, Mo Xi’s military robes were nearly entirely soaked through. Later on, when Gu Mang’s limbs had started to gradually heal, he was shivering involuntarily, his blood-drenched hand trembling nonstop.
After a very long while, Gu Mang started to mumble.
“I don’t know…anything at all…”
Mo Xi remained very silent, and without saying a single word, he kept on hugging him.
He didn’t dare to be too intimate, almost like in doing so, he would be committing a cardinal sin. Yet, he was unwilling to let go; it was as if once he let go, his heart would stop.
Eyes shut, he slowly fed the robust, continuous stream of spiritual energy into Gu Mang’s body.
Apart from Gu Mang’s unconscious mumbling, there was no other stirring in the Frost Chamber. In the end, in this stretch of silence, Mo Xi suddenly heard him speak haltingly, like he was afraid to utter it,
“I…want…I want, to have, have…a…”
Mo Xi froze. “What?”
Gu Mang’s voice trailed off. Barely audible like a mosquito’s buzz, accompanied by sobs as he trembled, as he quivered.
The last word floated down like a gentle breeze, but it struck Mo Xi’s ear like lightning.
Mo Xi dropped his head to gaze upon Gu Mang’s face, and saw that Gu Mang had his eyes tightly shut. Wet, his long and dark lashes covered the bruises underneath his eyes; those words just now, he had choked out in his sleep.
Many years ago, he had once kissed Gu Mang’s fingers in the depths of their ardour, saying earnestly, “I have been bestowed the title of Xihe-Jun by the Emperor. From now on, I no longer have to bow to my uncle’s moods. No one can control what I do any longer, and no one can stop me from anything.”
“Whatever I promise you, I will achieve in the future.”
“Wait for me for a while longer.”
“I’m serious about this.”
Before this, he had never dared to speak of the word “serious” to Gu Mang, and had never dared to speak of “the future” with him, because Gu Mang always seemed as if he neither cared about nor believed in it.
But on that day, he had become Xihe-Jun. He was no longer Younger Mo-gongzi, the puppet that his uncle could manipulate. He finally had that bit of courage which let him promise a future to the one he loved. It was like he had finally been able to purchase a treasure worthy of being presented with the savings that he had accumulated for a very long time, and was handing it very carefully to his beloved, hoping with a heart full of joy that he would accept it.
He desperately wished that he could present Gu Mang with his sincerity, desperately wished that he could make all the promises in the world, if only to win a single word of agreement from Gu Mang.
So, that day, he told Gu Mang many, many things in bed. Gu Mang stroked his hair, smiling, as he let Mo Xi fuck him without rest, like he had heard everything Mo Xi was saying, yet also like he only thought that his little shidi was very adorable like a dummy. No matter how capable he was today, or whether he was Xihe-Jun or not, his Gu Mang-gege would always coddle him, indulge him.
“What do you like? What do you want?”
Gu Mang hadn’t said anything, hadn’t asked him for anything.
But at long last, when he’d come for the umpteenth time inside Gu Mang, Gu Mang had been fucked until he was crying. He was in a daze. Mo Xi didn’t know if it was because his consciousness was in shambles, or if it was because he could not take Mo Xi wearing him down any longer.
Mo Xi froze. He felt that he would never forget Gu Mang’s expression as he had said this, for as long as he lived.
That person, who had always been so cheerful and laid-back, had not even dared to look at his eyes as he said that. That person, who had always been so confident, had been left with only cowardice and fear in that moment.
As if he was yearning for something too costly, yearning for a fantasy that he could never attain.
He had closed his eyes after saying this, tears sliding down along the reddened tails of his eyes.
Whether those were tears that he usually shed because of the things they did in bed or not, Mo Xi could not actually tell.
But in that moment, Mo Xi had never realised more clearly that the undefeatable General Gu was, after all, only an orphaned slave. He had been beaten and scolded for more than two decades, and never had a home that was truly his, or any kin.
Mo Xi only felt a suffocation in his chest that became hard to bear, his heart aching badly. Bending down, he captured Gu Mang’s moist and quivering lips, and in the spaces between their breaths, he caressed Gu Mang’s hair, murmuring, “Yes. I will give it to you.”
I will give it to you.
I will give you a home.
This is the first time you have voluntarily asked me for something. Even if it’s a joke, or simply nonsense that you’re spouting, I’ve taken it seriously.
I know you have lived a tough life. Many people have bullied you, made fun of you…which is why you dare not accept the things other people offer you, and dare not believe the promises they make. But I won’t lie to you. Wait for me.
Wait for me. I will work very hard, the battlefield awash in blood, accomplishments attained and my reputation built; I will take all my merits earned in war, and exchange them to be with you in a way that is lawfully recognised. Wait for me.
I will give you a home.
Back then, he had once promised so passionately, naïvely in his heart.
I don’t need too many years to accomplish it, I won’t take too long. I want to give you a home, I want to be by your side forever.
The young Mo Xi caressed his Gu Mang-gege’s face tenderly, begging him so fervently.
Gu Mang, wait for me a little while longer…will you…
The author has something to say:
ps. Heavenly Scented Elixir of Life…those who’ve played Chinese Paladin will know what this thing is, the name isn’t an original creation of mine= = it belongs to Chinese Paladin, and to prevent misunderstandings, I’ve written it here~
pps. In Second Dog4[2ha reference, kind of like “Second Brother”]’s time, the truth potion is only used by Tianyin Ge5[2ha reference. For those who are following the 2ha English TL, don’t worry about this, you still have a long way to go.], but during Big Dog’s time, this formula is still not yet Tianyin Ge’s trademarked product~
ppps. The old readers of my work who can identify the source of the Water Parting Sword Technique are truly pro, please accept a bow from me.