Chen Xing wanted to give his all to him, to indicate that he understood Xiang Shu's thoughts -- but what did he have? He had nothing, not even himself.
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Under the clear autumn sky, Xiang Shu was sitting in front of the bedroom, facing the courtyard, his head lowered as he studied a bamboo slip.
Chen Xing stopped in his tracks, looking at Xiang Shu.
"Why did you come here again?" Chen Xing asked.
Xiang Shu had recovered his usual expression as if nothing had happened, and he lifted his head to look at Chen Xing as he replied, "This is my room, and since you're awake, I came back. Any problem with that?"
Chen Xing was silent for a moment; he felt that Xiang Shu was angry, but just as he was going to divert the topic, Xiang Shu responded in a puzzling way, as if he wasn't angry. He just continued seriously, "I'm looking at the slip about the Acala Blade."
"The Acala Blade," Chen Xing thought for a moment, before continuing, "En, if the spiritual Qi of the Heavens and Earth were still here, it would be stronger."
"The Acala Blade can turn into six different magical weapons," Xiang Shu said. "The Demon-Slaying Staff, the Yao-Binding Rope, the Golden Sun Ring, the Moon Eclipse Bow, the Golden Arrow, and its original form, the Sword of Wisdom. Zhang Liu made a sword box for it. 'The ensnaring nets of life and death are bound firm and strong, only to be cut by the Sword of Wisdom', the sword that they speak of is this same Sword of Wisdom."
"Life and death," Chen Xing said, "is just like a net, that's the meaning probably."
"En." Xiang Shu's speech was unusually calm as he answered, "Everyone is born with the dust of the common world clinging to them, and no one can fully make their peace with the idea of life and death, so Zhang Liu felt that this Sword of Wisdom can help people cut away their obsessions."
Chen Xing smiled and said, "Then for you to be the wielder of the Acala Blade…"
"These three months that you spent in a coma," Xiang Shu said, "I read quite a few of the old records left behind in the Xiang family, and Xie An also helped me to find records from the Exorcism Department that were brought to Jiangnan when the capital was moved south."
Chen Xing: "Did you find anything?"
Xiang Shu finally lifted up his head from the slip, looking earnestly at Chen Xing. His forehead was slightly wrinkled, as if he knew that when he brought up the topic of exorcism, Chen Xing would also become serious.
"I know one thing," Xiang Shu said. "Every time I use the Acala Blade, even when I feel the moment where you awaken the magic in my body, the mana all comes from you."
In his heart, Chen Xing thought, you've finally also realized it, but he stubbornly replied, "Yes, that's true, but exorcists and their protectors also have an uncontrollable connection between them…"
But Xiang Shu interrupted, "Originally if the Divine Qi of the Heavens and Earth hadn't disappeared, the Heart Lamp and the Acala Blade would be able to borrow the divine qi to activate. But today, you're burning up your own hunpo to provide mana to the Acala Blade, which is to say, every time we take down a yao, what I'm using to do so is your lifeforce."
Chen Xing stopped talking.
Xiang Shu continued, "The sword that swings down towards the drought fiend kings and the monsters is also the sword that swings down towards you."
Chen Xing hurried to explain, "Don't put it so seriously, as long as you give me a little time to recover, I will gradually get better…"
"You won't get better!" Xiang Shu's voice became harsh. "Your comas get worse time after time! At Chi Le Chuan, when you were captured by Che Luofeng, you merely sustained internal injuries; this time at Kuaiji, you were in a coma for three whole months!"
Chen Xing originally wanted to retaliate against Xiang Shu's points, but after seeing his gaze, he felt that the one who was suffering the most in this situation was actually Xiang Shu. If he learned that Chen Xing only had less than two years to live, Chen Xing wouldn't dare to imagine what kind of reaction Xiang Shu would have. Since he thought through this point, he didn't ever want to argue with Xiang Shu over these things ever again.
The two of them stared at each other wordlessly.
In that moment, Chen Xing felt that he harbored some strange emotion towards Xiang Shu, just like that day where he fought off ten thousand enemies on his own as he made his way into the shadow of the mountain to rescue Chen Xing, where he had leaned up against the tree as he sat with a melancholic expression. Chen Xing wanted to give his all to him, to indicate that he understood Xiang Shu's thoughts -- but what did he have? He had nothing, not even himself.
Chen Xing had exhausted himself in trying to suppress his overwhelming urges, but even though that impulse left as swiftly as it came, he still managed to keenly capture it in the moment.
He watched Xiang Shu, and without knowing why, he wanted to scoot over and gently kiss his lips, as if to say, I have thought about this before.
Like millions of birds skimming over the highest point of the mountains, brushing past that thousand-foot tall summit, or like millions of shining fish leaping out of the ocean under the moonlight, their backs briefly touching the night sky in that moment, Chen Xing finally began to hazily become aware of his own heart -- the heavens had actually, in these last four years, drawn down such a bold, dark stroke into his own fate. Even if he did his best to evade on the journey to where they were, there was no place to escape as Xiang Shu was inevitably brought into his life.
"Speak!" Xiang Shu angrily said.
"You're really good." In that short moment, Chen Xing's heart filled first with turbulent waves that then returned to a calm sea. He weakly smiled and said, "You're good-looking, and your heart is also this good, Xiang Shu, I really like you. The happiest thing in my life," and here the dejection returned, "was meeting you. Finding a Protector like you, compared to the previous Great Exorcists, I have been luckier than them all."
Xiang Shu: "You…"
Xiang Shu immediately got up, tossing the bamboo slip to the side. After Chen Xing had thought things through, he continued, "You're right, it is like this, but I also have something to tell you… Xiang Shu, I-I actually… I…"
Xiang Shu waved his hand, indicating that Chen Xing didn't need to keep saying it.
"Is it that as long as we find the Dinghai Pearl," Xiang Shu said, "and therefore recover the Spiritual Qi of the Heavens and Earth, you won't need to take these kinds of risks again?"
Chen Xing startled, before responding, "Maybe, but what I wanted to talk about wasn't this, I wanted…"
Xiang Shu: "Tomorrow I'm heading out, Feng Qianjun will protect you while I'm gone."
Chen Xing was surprised. "Where are you going?"
Xiang Shu: "Back to Chi Le Chuan. Since the Dinghai Pearl has some connection with my mother, there must be some kind of a trace left. I want to reinvestigate and go find this thing and dig out what exactly that Zhang Liu who led people to their deaths did!"
Chen Xing patiently pointed out, "Chi Le Chuan has already been destroyed! Xiang Shu, if you go now, there's still no use. If Shi Hai comes to Jiangnan, then what should I do? And plus, if you go now, how long will it take you to come back?!"
To follow Xiang Yuyan's movements to investigate was not necessarily a bad idea, but Chen Xing didn't have much time left. He didn't want them to split apart at this time when Shi Hai's identity was not yet clear. Additionally, the probability of the Dinghai Pearl being in Chi Le Chuan was very low, otherwise Shi Hai, under the identity of Kjera, would have gone to Saiwai twice. After all, the information that he had was definitely more complete than what they had.
As he thought to this point, Chen Xing realized one reason he could use to dissuade Xiang Shu.
"Now that I think of it, Kjera appearing at Chi Le Chuan and Carosha was to search for the Dinghai Pearl," Chen Xing said. "In the past, he was also one of the few people who knew the truth of the matter. Do you think we'd have more information than him?"
Xiang Shu sucked in a long breath.
Chen Xing reached a hand out, a little timidly, and he gently touched the back of Xiang Shu's hand. That was a purely subconscious movement, but Xiang Shu turned his own hand and grasped Chen Xing's. His grip was firm and steady, as if he wanted to hug Chen Xing in the next moment.
Chen Xing suddenly felt that his heart began to beat wildly, and the Heart Lamp flashed uncontrollably. Xiang Shu seemed to sense something, and he let go of the hand, staring mutely at Chen Xing.
"Xiang Shu?" Chen Xing's breathing was very labored, "You have to understand, there are many things that I…"
But Xiang Shu turned his head, as if hiding from Chen Xing's gaze, before suddenly saying, "I've changed my mind."
Chen Xing dazedly responded, "What?"
Xiang Shu turned his head, his brows smoothing out, and in his eyes was that same gentleness that Chen Xing was familiar with.
"I'm not seeking revenge anymore," Xiang Shu said. "Before we figure out what happened to the Dinghai Pearl, I won't go find Shi Hai to get my revenge."
Chen Xing: "You… you said before…"
"Yes," Xiang Shu replied. "But with today's circumstances, I cannot risk your life like that."
In this instant, Chen Xing's emotions swelled up, like a toppled five-flavor bottle. Xiang Shu continued, "The most important thing to me now, is to find it."
Chen Xing: "What if Shi Hai comes for us again? If he wanted to turn the citizens of Jiangnan into drought fiends, what should we do then? Stand by and watch?"
Xiang Shu said, "I'll take care of it."
Chen Xing said, "How will you take care of it?"
"I was once the Great Chanyu," Xiang Shu said. "When I was the Great Chanyu, everyone who lived in Chi Le Chuan was under my protection, and today, I am your Protector Martial God, which means that I am the Protector Martial God of everyone in the world as well. It doesn't matter if they're Hu or Han, they're all people that I must protect. I believe that success depends ultimately on the effort that is put in, and as long as I am willing, there is nothing on this earth that I cannot accomplish."
moon: chen xing just tell him already
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro and opal.