"And it was just at this instant that Li Jinglong’s fingertips began to tremble faintly."
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
descriptions of those parts, smutty thoughts, drooling, close-but-not-quite nosebleeds
Huaqing Palace had been destroyed until it was a mess of ruins, and it was currently undergoing repairs. Originally, the spring that the imperial consort and the emperor soaked in wouldn’t be open for use to Li Jinglong and the rest, but in the south-western corner there stood a lone mountain wrapped in clouds, its peak covered in green forests, and within the valley was another hall built behind the mess of construction. It was also elegant and quiet.
The hot springs in this place were located in a grove of pines. Last night, the first snow had fallen on Mt. Li, covering the pine trees, and quite a few icicles had formed on them. The crown prince Li Heng had personally told the servants within the hall that they must treat the members of the Exorcism Department with the utmost respect, so when Li Jinglong arrived, servants came to welcome him in, and the group prepared for their vacation of three days and two nights here.
It was afternoon, and the fog coiled around the summit of the mountain, circling around the numerous side peaks, forming a cloud waterfall that billowed down from the high valley where the side hall was. The light made it seem like it was early morning or twilight, as the birds twittered incessantly and squirrels leapt between the trees of the grove. Herons were being raised in the courtyard. This scene was very relaxing and pleasing to the eye.
“Compared to our Exorcism Department, which place is better?” Li Jinglong asked easily as he pressed a hand to his sword, walking through the hallway with the rest of them.
“Each has their own good points,” Qiu Yongsi responded, standing in front of the courtyard. “But their paintings and calligraphy aren’t as good as those of our place.”
Li Jinglong smiled and nodded. Hongjun, standing in front in the hallway, stretched, before noticing Li Jinglong’s expression. To that, he said, “Recently, Zhangshi’s been smiling more.”
Li Jinglong’s face turned red out of nowhere as he responded, “It’s free time now, and we’ll gather up again when it’s time for dinner.”
And with that, everyone dispersed, each of them going back to their rooms to change clothes and soak in the hot springs. Hongjun had been given a small room all the way to the side, and tea, hot towels, a bathrobe, and other such items had already been prepared within it. In the courtyard, the carp yao, holding that Buddhist relic in its arms as it stood on the bridge, looked down at the koi below, before it grabbed a little bit of fish food, eating some as it tossed the rest down to feed the fish.
“Aren’t you going?”
“I’m not going,” the carp yao responded. “What’s the point of soaking in water every day? I don’t like sulfur.”
“Let me take a look?” Hongjun changed into a bathrobe and came out, reaching for the Buddhist relic that the carp yao held, saying, “I heard them talk about it. The person who saved your life seemed to be a pretty famous great master.”
“He became a buddha,” the carp yao said. “The Zhantan Gongde Buddha. I still remember that he told me that I needed to gather more merits to become a dragon; just leaping over the dragon gate is of no use.”
Hongjun sent the carp yao off to entertain itself before walking through the hallway to the hot springs in the back of the mountain. Just as he passed by Li Jinglong’s room and peeked inside, he saw that Li Jinglong had already changed into a bathrobe. His cross-legged posture in front of the table revealed his broad, sturdy chest, and with his head lowered, he was currently mixing up some medicine in a small bowl in front of him.
“Come in ba, help me out,” Li Jinglong said.
Hongjun smelled that pungent scent of medicine; it seemed to be something for injuries. He didn’t ask anymore as he went over to help Li Jinglong mix the medicine, saying, “This medicine stops bleeding and promotes healing, are you injured?”
Li Jinglong glanced at Hongjun, but he didn’t speak.
“Your dad was a doctor before?” Li Jinglong asked.
Hongjun nodded and replied, “Ever since I was small, Chong Ming taught me pharmacology.”
Li Jinglong buried his head and continued to mix the medicine. “I imagine it’s because of your father that your adopted father let you learn medicine to save people ba.”
When Li Jinglong put it that way, Hongjun immediately understood. He recalled that day when he was young and opened his eyes, just to see that tear sliding down Chong Ming’s face. He and his father Kong Xuan had been good brothers, perhaps just like himself and Li Jinglong; if there came a day when Li Jinglong died and his children came into Hongjun’s care, that feeling of sorrow would be equally incomparable.
Thinking to there, he finally understood what kind of emotions were hidden in Chong Ming’s gaze every time he looked at Hongjun.
Li Jinglong had taught him many things. Many small details he hadn’t thought of before were slowly growing clear, their shapes appearing out of the fog of oblivion.
Hongjun watched him curiously as he mixed the medicine, and it wasn’t until the sun had set in the west that Li Jinglong had carefully finished making that bowl of salve. He rose and said, “Let’s go.”
The other three must have already finished soaking and gone into the valley to relax. In the thin light of dusk, the shores of the spring were covered in rising steam, and an assortment of items had been placed there, along with a screen.
“Take off your clothes, but don’t hurry to get in the water, let me take a look at you,” Li Jinglong said, holding the bowl of medicine.
“Hey--!” Hongjun hadn’t expected Li Jinglong to bring up such an odd request, and he immediately felt a little awkward.
“To see if you have any other injuries on your body,” Li Jinglong said earnestly.
Hongjun replied, “They’ve already healed…”
Li Jinglong didn’t speak, staring into Hongjun’s eyes, saying, “What are you ashamed of?”
Saying this, Li Jinglong put the bowl down, tugged open his belt, took off his bathrobe, and threw it on the ground. His muscular body was slender and well-formed, and the broad, defined planes of his chest were beautiful and sturdy, his abdominal muscles well-arranged and powerful.
Redness instantly swept across Hongjun’s face; though all of them were male, he had never seen his colleagues’ bodies in the nude before, and his heart began to beat violently.
“Quick, take off your clothes,” Li Jinglong chivvied him, his face also red.
Hongjun’s breathing quickened, and he couldn’t resist watching Li Jinglong, as he untied his own bathrobe and put it to one side. A moment later, he grew a little more at ease, but he was unable to keep his eyes from looking over Li Jinglong, thinking, wow, Zhangshi’s physique is so good!
Li Jinglong’s shoulders were broad, his legs long, and even when he had been 14, he had been a natural clothes hanger. Plus, he diligently practiced martial arts, so his entire body had the build of a classic martial artist. His skin was a healthy wheat color, and the lines of his muscles were smooth and gentle. His skin was like brocade.
This was the figure and skin tone that Hongjun most envied; he always felt that he was too pale, whereas there were not too many or too few lines of muscles on Li Jinglong, and he could only be described with the word “perfect”. Plus… his thing was really big!
Li Jinglong’s thing was thick, long, and beautiful. It seemed to be a little poised and ready to go, and if it grew hard, it might even be one chi long.
Hongjun tampened down the nervousness he felt, but as his face reddened he couldn’t resist looking back at Li Jinglong, who stiffly rubbed his nose a few times. When he saw Hongjun’s handsome, youthful body, he almost had a nosebleed as he swept his gaze up and down over it.
“What are you looking at me for?” Li Jinglong asked.
“Zhangshi, you’re so big.” Hongjun almost drooled a little with envy. The power that Li Jinglong’s form held was what those with handsome youth’s physiques like him admired the most.
“You’re not supposed to look at that…” Li Jinglong grew awkward. He continued, “You turn your body, turn around.”
Li Jinglong had Hongjun stand on the edge of the hot spring, looking into the water. On the waters of the cold pool appeared the reflection of their naked bodies.
Hongjun’s skin was fair, his brows were dark, and his eyes clear and bright. Though he was only 16, his body’s frame had already begun to mature, but it was different from Li Jinglong’s martial artist’s physique - his body was long and lithe, and because he often played around with his throwing knives and the Pentacolor Sacred Light, he had managed to gain some indistinct outlines of chest and abdominal muscles.
His skin was as smooth as milk that had just been poured out, and as the two of them lowered their heads and looked into the water, when Hongjun saw Li Jinglong’s body, his thing actually perked up a little.
“Between you and me, what difference is there?” Li Jinglong suddenly asked.
Hongjun jolted, turning his head to look at Li Jinglong, who lifted one hand and placed it on his shoulder.
In that instant, Hongjun suddenly felt an impulse to turn his body and lean against Li Jinglong’s shoulder.
“You’re also a human, right?” Li Jinglong continued.
“Of course.” Hongjun felt this question had come out of the blue; he hadn’t expected Li Jinglong to ask this, so he answered, “What’s wrong?”
As Li Jinglong looked into Hongjun’s eyes, his words died off again. At this point, both their faces had a smear of a red blush across them. Hongjun’s heart began to beat faster and faster, and he already felt a little dizzy. Li Jinglong added, “Then…”
“... get in ba.” Li Jinglong suddenly pushed him towards the warm water. Hongjun’s guard was down; his entire body slipped in, and he let out a loud shout.
Li Jinglong laughed loudly, swiftly walking over to pick up the medicine bowl. Hongjun’s head emerged from the water, and he said angrily, “You were screwing with me!”
Li Jinglong also sank into the hot spring. Just as Hongjun pressed down on his head to bully him into the water, Li Jinglong said, “Don’t fuss! Let me apply some medicine on you.”
He locked Hongjun’s wrist in his grasp, making him lean up against the side of the pool as he said, “Let me wash you first.”
Hongjun’s entire face was bright red. “I thought you had something to say…”
“Let me take a look?” Li Jinglong said. “Don’t move your head.”
Hongjun reached a hand out to tickle Li Jinglong, but he hadn’t expected that with one grasp he would grab Li Jinglong’s that instead. Li Jinglong couldn’t control his reaction and had already turned hard, so he immediately grew extremely awkward, backing up a little, saying seriously, “Sit up straight, let me see your wound!”
So Hongjun obediently leaned up against the bank, his shoulders and back rising and falling with each breath. Li Jinglong brought over a cloth towel and said, “Don’t always keep touching your ear.”
After Hongjun’s ear had been injured that day, he had dressed the injury himself. But as time went on, it grew a little itchy, and every now and then he would reach out a hand to press against it. He wanted the flesh to knit back together faster, and sometimes when he slept, he would accidentally touch it as well.
“It’s even festering,” Li Jinglong said, his brows furrowed deeply and his heart pained.
Hongjun tilted his head and pillowed it on the bank of the pool, his eyes flicking back and forth as he looked at Li Jinglong, replying, “After it forms a scab on its own, then it’ll be good.”
The water of the hot springs was warm. Li Jinglong pressed a little closer. He first helped him clean the wound, their breaths mingling and noses pressing close to one another’s, and Hongjun’s heart once again began to beat violently.
“Zhangshi, what are you thinking about?” Hongjun kept feeling like today’s Li Jinglong was acting a little strange.
“I’m thinking that… turns out your body isn’t entirely covered in fish stink.” Li Jinglong wiped down the wound, before bringing over the bowl to apply the medicine for Hongjun.
Hongjun said, “Thank you.”
“You suffered this all because of me,” Li Jinglong sighed. He continued, “One day, if your dad was to know, then he would definitely beat me to death. And you’re still thanking me?”
Hongjun said, “He won’t know. When he does know, then my ear will already have healed over.”
Li Jinglong carefully used a wooden spoon to apply the paste onto Hongjun’s ear, saying, “Didn’t you want to take me back home with you for a visit? When are we going?”
“Ah?” Hongjun had entirely forgotten about this. That day, he had been so drunk that he wasn’t aware of his surroundings, and afterwards, he had completely blacked out.
Li Jinglong then reminded him of the events that had happened while he was drunk, and Hongjun immediately grew awkward. Li Jinglong then said, “I don’t care, you promised me.”
Hongjun had always kept his promises, but Li Jinglong and companions were exorcists, and the inhabitants of Yaojin Palace were all considered yao… how was he supposed to resolve that?
For a long time, Hongjun was stumped by this problem. Every time he thought of this point, he always had a strong feeling that perhaps his companions would avoid him from then on.
“Do you have something to tell me?” Li Jinglong’s head lowered a little more. He wasn’t looking into Hongjun’s eyes, rather focusing his entire attention on smearing on the medicinal paste.
“I… yes.” Hongjun’s heart thumped, putong putong. He stared into Li Jinglong’s eyes, but Li Jinglong purposefully avoided his gaze.
And it was just at this instant that Li Jinglong’s fingertips began to tremble faintly.
Before this, Hongjun had already considered the matter many times. Qing Xiong had once said that after exorcising the Chang’an yao king, they would be able to return to Chang’an, but with this return, would they clash with the Exorcism Department? My father was a yao, my mother was a human, then does that make me a yao or a human?
He had also asked the carp yao that before, and the carp yao’s response to this was that even if Chong Ming were to set foot once again in the human realm, he would definitely not bring harm upon the common citizens like the fox yao had. Of course, none of them could be considered “good birds”, and perhaps conflict was not something they could avoid in the end.
“Ever since you came to the Exorcism Department, you’ve always had something on your mind,” Li Jinglong then asked, “Because of your mother and father?”
After smearing on the salve, Li Jinglong then brought over bandages, saying, “After I put these on, don’t go touching your ear again. Change the medicine once every three days, I’ll come do it for you.”
Hongjun en-ed, and Li Jinglong continued, “Though I don’t know your past, but I hope that one day, you will be able to tell me about what you’re worrying over. If you trust me, that is.”
An impulse suddenly rose in the depths of Hongjun’s heart.
Li Jinglong sat down to one side, resting his elbows on the side of the pool. Hongjun turned his head, hesitating again and again, before finally saying, “Zhangshi, there’s something that I’ve always been hiding from you guys.”
Li Jinglong’s forehead scrunched up, and his gaze was puzzled.
“I… actually am a half-yao.” After Hongjun said this sentence, his heart hung suspended in mid-air, unable to come back down.
But after hearing these words, Li Jinglong suddenly began to smile as he said, “En, as expected.”
Li Jinglong lifted the cloth towel out of the water, wiping his arms with it as he asked, “Your dad is also a yao, right? And he saved the life of the imperial consort?”
Hongjun said, confused, “You.. aren’t going to avoid me?”
“As soon as I saw Zhao Zilong,” Li Jinglong said easily, “I guessed that you definitely had some deep connections with the yao tribe. Hongjun, we once entrusted our lives to each other, so allow me to ask one thing. If you don’t want to answer, you don’t need to.”
“You were sent here by another faction of yao, did I guess that right?”
Having his identity suddenly guessed correctly by Li Jinglong, Hongjun was a little at a loss for what to do next. But with Li Jinglong’s careful handling of affairs, everything was within his predictions.
Hongjun could only obediently nod once as he answered, “Ousting the Chang’an yao king was the duty that Chong Ming and Qing Xiong entrusted me with before I went down the mountain.”
“And then what?” Li Jinglong stared into Hongjun’s eyes, as if he wanted to see right through to his innermost thoughts and feelings.
Li Jinglong had long since had such a hunch -- that in the darkness, there was this battle being fought over this human capital, and the two great factions of the yao tribe were using Chang’an as their arena. As of today, the nine-tailed fox had lost, so could it be that the power behind Hongjun was going to successfully take over that new position?
This was what he was most worried about.
“I don’t know,” Hongjun said. “But no matter what, if Chong Ming comes back, it’ll be good, and if he doesn’t, that’s alright too. He would never eat humans or harm them.”
Chong Ming was a phoenix, and even with the water that he drank, he wouldn’t drink well water or snowmelt. He was even pickier in his eating habits, so how could he go eat a mortal soaked in their worldly dust?
“You’re a human,” Li Jinglong said earnestly. “Hongjun, you are a human. After taking off your clothes just now, between you and me, what difference do you think there is?”
Li Jinglong knew that Hongjun was not very familiar with subtlety. When words were hidden in other words, he couldn’t understand them.
At this, Hongjun finally understood, and Li Jinglong smiled gently at that. “Actually, today I was also worried that you would have something different compared to mortals, which was why we came over so late, to prevent you from being seen by the others.”
Saying this, Li Jinglong stepped forward, picking up Hongjun’s hand and pressing it to his own chest, while he pressed one of his hands against Hongjun’s chest.
“Listen,” Li Jinglong said. “My heart and yours are both in the same spot, and in your body runs the blood of humans.”
Hongjun smiled. “That’s true.”
He could feel Li Jinglong’s valiant, heroic heart beating powerfully, giving off a warm light.
“I believe that your adoptive father sent you to Chang’an exactly because of this,” Li Jinglong said. “But that might only be a guess born of my own wishful thinking.”
Hongjun said, “Zhangshi, if there comes a day where we can’t help but fight each other…”
“At that time, I definitely won’t be able to attack you,” Li Jinglong replied swiftly, before continuing solemnly, “Why did you say it like I would be able to beat you?”
Hongjun began to chuckle. Li Jinglong placed a hand on his head, rubbing it firmly as he continued, “But I will do my best to defend myself. I just hope that at that time you show some mercy and don’t beat me up too badly.”
Hongjun laughed loudly, saying, “I won’t, Zhangshi! I’m human! I’m also human.”
Li Jinglong scooted over one spot, letting Hongjun sit by his side. Their arms were right next to each other. Hongjun leaned back a little towards the side of the pool, so Li Jinglong lifted his arm, letting Hongjun rest his head on it to prevent his ear from touching the water.
“Last night, when the imperial consort brought up my mom, I had this kind of feeling…” Hongjun tilted his head, speaking quietly into Li Jinglong’s ear.
The green mountains were starkly outlined against the sky as the setting sun sank in the west. As the two of them soaked in the hot spring, small snowflakes began to drift down one by one from the sky.
“What are you two doing!”
“Wow, are you guys whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears?!”
Qiu Yongsi, Mo Rigen, and A-Tai leapt unrestrainedly into the pool. Li Jinglong was greatly startled, not expecting that they actually hadn’t gone for a soak yet, and he hurried to protect Hongjun’s ear, saying, “Be a little more careful, I just finished dressing it!”
The other three hurried over to inspect it, and only after making sure that the dressing on the ear hadn’t been touched by the water did they finally sit down with relief.
“Come, come,” Mo Rigen grinned. “Hongjun, come sit in my lap?”
Qiu Yongsi said, “Hongjun, don’t mind him, come here and sit in gege’s lap.”
Hongjun’s entire face turned bright red as he said, “Stop it!”
A-Tai smiled. “Then come sit on my lap?!”
Li Jinglong said, “I’m leaving, you guys keep playing…”
Just as Li Jinglong was about to climb onto the bank, he was tugged back down again by Mo Rigen. Li Jinglong said angrily, “You all are turning on me?!” At that, Qiu Yongsi laughed loudly, and the three of them took turns pressing Li Jinglong into the water. Hongjun hurried to say, “Hey! How can you all treat Zhangshi like this?”
“What?” Mo Rigen laughed. “Your heart aches for his struggles?”
Li Jinglong’s head was completely soaked, but just as he was about to beat them up, Hongjun added, “Treating Zhangshi like this, and not counting me in! This is too cruel!”
Saying this, Hongjun also leapt on.
Li Jinglong: “...”
The twilight was deepening as dust rose from all directions in the desert. A horn sounded, and the light of the dying sun was like blood.
On the heights of the watchtowers, the guards shouted in panic.
“Enemy ambush --!”
“An enemy is coming!”
“Is it the Xiongnu?”
“I don’t know…”
“Dang -- Dang -- Dang--”
Up above the center of Minsha County, the alarm bells tolled. Infants cried without stopping, and women shouted shrilly in panic.
“How many people are there?!” the commander of the city guard shouted as he raced up the steps of the city tower.
“3000… no, 12,000… more than that! More than that!”
“Form ranks! Close the gates!”
The guards pushed the winch into motion, and the city gates slammed shut with a boom. Thousands of soldiers rushed up onto the walls, drawing bows and nocking arrows, and dust flew everywhere as a large black mass of at least 50,000 black-armored cavalry arrived outside of the city.
On the Gobi Desert, there was not a single sound, and even the whinnies of warhorses were absent. The soldier wearing a black helmet lowered his head, holding a long spear in his hands, as if he hadn’t seen the rows and rows of arrows along the city wall.
At this time, there were barely 5,000 city guards total in Minsha County. The siege force’s arrival had taken them by surprise, as the Great Wall on the horizon did not have grey smoke like the color of a wolf’s pelt rising from a signal fire.
“Where did they come from?” the city guard commander asked with a shaky voice.
The black-armored general at the head of the forces lifted the long spear, pointing it at Minsha County, and 50,000 riders lifted their spears at once. With a shake of their reins, the heavens and earth were filled with the sound of the horses’ hooves striking the dirt below, and the world shook as they rushed like an unstoppable wave towards Minsha County!
“Shoot --! Quickly, shoot!”
Thousands of arrows were loosed from bowstrings on top of the city walls, darting towards the enemy troop that charged forward like a tsunami, but the sight of men being thrown off their horses was missing. The arrows pierced into the bodies of the men and horses attacking the city, turning them into scarecrows stabbed full of arrows, and right after that the vanguard slammed heavily into the city wall!
The city walls made of rammed earth instantly collapsed. Thousands of black-armored troops leapt over the rubble, rushing into the city!
The commander of the city guard was bowled over onto the ground, before he was on the receiving end of a blow from a spear that pierced through his chest, pinning his dead body to the ground. Before he died, he widened his eyes, and what he saw were the clouded eyeballs within the enemy’s helmet --
moon: after this chapter you cannot tell me there wasn’t something between chong ming and kong xuan
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.