Feng Zhuojun was just about to explain to Song Ci when he saw someone climb over the wall and fell awkwardly to the ground.
Song Ci was dumbfounded for a moment before he exclaimed, “There are actually people gutsy enough to climb over Rong Bai’s wall in broad daylight?”
The man crawled up from the ground and patted away the dust on his body. Suddenly, he raised his head and met Song Ci’s eyes.
Song Ci recognized the man at once. This was the man who had provoked Rong Bai earlier at Sihuang Mountain and ended up getting his fan burned by Rong Bai. Song Ci could vaguely remember that his name was Tu Shan Heng.
Tu Shan Heng’s hand paused in mid-action when he saw Song Ci. Then he took a step back in panic. But when he looked around him and realized that there was no one else there, his expression turned fierce.
He pointed at Song Ci and said, “You. Come here!”
Song Ci looked at him doubtfully. “Are you looking for me?”
“Yes, you!” Tu Shan Heng had a pair of phoenix eyes1 that looked sinister and ruthless when he looked fierce. Common minor demons would surely be scared out of their wits if they were to see this, but then again, Song Ci was no ordinary minor demon.
He wanted to see what this man had up his sleeves, so he walked over to Tu Shan Heng.
After he advanced nearer, Tu Shan Heng said, “Stop. You can just stand there!”
Song Ci obediently stayed his feet and asked, “You’re calling me for?”
“You’re that little demon Rong Bai took back?” Tu Shan Heng folded his arms and threw him a contemptuous glance. “You do have the charm. But Rong Bai isn’t the kind of man who would be enthralled by lust. What dirty tricks did you use on him?!”
“What? I don’t understand what you’re saying.” Song Ci said.
Tu Shan Heng seemed to look down on him. His arrogant expression never changed as he asked, “Where are you from?”
Song Ci thought about it for a moment and replied, “Xiliang.”
“Where is that? Some small town in the Demon Realm?”
“Human Realm.” Song Ci said. “It’s a flourishing empire somewhere far away.”
Tu Shan Heng frowned. “Are you the child of a mortal and a demon?”
Tu Shan Heng lowered his eyes, looking pensive. Song Ci stood where he was for a moment. Just as he was about to ask a question, he saw a flash of movement from Tu Shan Heng. The latter slipped a dagger out of his sleeve and moved to stab him in the neck.
Song Ci had been guarding against him for a while. He took a step back to dodge the attack and backhandedly grabbed Tu Shan Heng’s wrist and jerked it back. With his right hand, he conjured out Du’e. In one nimble and decisive move, he pinned Tu Shan Heng against the wall and pressed the blade against the latter’s neck.
The blade was so sharp that it instantly drew a trail of blood on his neck.
Tu Shan Heng was a lot weaker and easier to subdue than Song Ci had imagined. Tu Shan Heng did not expect Song Ci to be this agile. The instant he felt the pain on his neck, he threw away the dagger in his hand. “Wait! Wait!”
“Wait?” Song Ci raised his eyebrows. “You were going to kill me earlier.”
“I was just testing you. I never thought Rong Bai would even give Du’e to you. Looks like he values you a lot.” Tu Shan Heng said. “I was at fault earlier. I apologize. But Rong Bai and I are of one mind. I never thought to harm you.”
“Do you think I’ll believe you?” Song Ci said. “You were even provoking Rong Bai right in front of me yesterday.”
“I’m telling the truth! I’m doing this all for his own good! “Tu Shan Heng was so anxious that he spoke too fast. “His identity in Tu Shan is special. And he has an engagement with Zhu Han. There are too many pairs of eyes watching him in the Divine Realm. If he slips up at such a critical moment, it might cost him his life.”
“So you’re saying, he shouldn’t have brought me to the Divine Realm?” Song Ci could naturally tell what the ‘slip-up’ he mentioned was.
“Ain’t that the truth? But I can’t persuade him. He’s willing to receive the punishment of two lashes to keep you in the Divine Realm. I reckon that he’s still in pain now.” Tu Shan Heng said in exasperation.
On hearing this, Song Ci recalled the two intersecting slashes on Rong Bai’s back that were so deep his bones were visible. They looked really savage and terrifying. He had initially thought that Rong Bai had gotten those injuries from exchanging blows with someone; he had never expected it to be because of a punishment. What’s more, it was all because of him?!
“The wounds from the disciplinary whipping will need at least three to five days before it heals. Just one whip of it, and you won’t be able to move for half a day, let alone two. Rong Bai is merely counting on his strong body…” Tu Shan Heng muttered. When he realized that Song Ci was in a daze, he said, “Can you release me first? I’ve already apologized. Besides, I wasn’t really going to kill you earlier…”
Song Ci absent-mindedly released Tu Shan Heng. “You people from the Divine Realm abhors the demon species. That’s why you saw it as a mistake when Rong Bai brought me back.”
“You can put it that way.” Tu Shan Heng relaxed his muscles and said, “I’ll make arrangements to send you out of the Divine Realm. It’ll preserve your life and protect Rong Bai at the same time. Go anywhere far away.”
Song Ci nodded his head vaguely and said, “I understand everything you say, but there’s a crucial problem.”
“I’m not a demon.” Song Ci spread out his hands.
“You were obviously brought back from the hunting grounds, and you say you aren’t a demon?!” Tu Shan Heng glared at him in disbelief.
But Song Ci was too lazy to waste time explaining to him. After throwing him a “believe it or not”, he turned around to leave.
It had not been easy for Tu Shan Heng to make his way in, so naturally, he would not let Song Ci go just like this. He wanted to chase after him, but he had only just taken two steps when he heard Song Ci calling out for the attendants. He retreated two steps back in a fluster and watched as the immortal attendants in the inner palace hurried over. All he could do was to scramble back over the wall.
After Song Ci dismissed Tu Shan Heng, he wandered alone within the palace. He finally understood what Feng Zhuojun had meant by it being ‘better for you and Rong Bai’. He could vaguely sense that although Rong Bai’s position in the Divine Realm and Tu Shan might seem to be prestigious, there were still many things he had no control over and no say in.
Those two deeply etched wounds made Song Ci’s heart uncomfortable.
He obediently stayed where he was and waited sullenly in the palace for Rong Bai to return.
Not long after Song Ci took his lunch, Rong Bai returned, brimming all over with a divine aura. He saw Song Ci standing at the gate of the palace to welcome him back. A hint of a smile emerged on his indifferent expression.
As he approached Song Ci, he held his arms open, wanting to take Song Ci into his arms. But Song Ci merely coughed a few times in a husky voice.
Rong Bai retracted his hands and stroked Song Ci’s head instead of hugging him. He smiled and asked, “Were you waiting for me to return?”
Song Ci replied, “I have nowhere else to go. So all I can do is to wait here for you to come back.”
Rong Bai’s eyes shone as he asked in a low voice, “Are you finding this palace too boring?”
“Of course. There’s nothing fun here. It’s just me. I don’t even have someone to chat with.” Song Ci had sat blankly for most of the day; he had already wandered a few times around Rong Bai’s inner palace.
“Then, how about I take you out?” Rong Bai said, “Out to see the scenery elsewhere.”
Song Ci was a little surprised. He had merely just groused about it a little. After all, he had recently learned that everyone here was waiting for Rong Bai to make a blunder. He had become a burden to Rong Bai. But he never thought that Rong Bai would still talk about bringing him out for a walk.
Song Ci felt a little flattered. “Wouldn’t the others be able to tell that I’m a demon if I venture out?”
On hearing this, Rong Bai bent over to bring his nose over to Song Ci’s neck. He took a deep breath and said, “There’s no demonic aura on you. Others will not be able to tell.”
Song Ci said, “If so, then it’d be fine to go out for a stroll.”
The smile on Rong Bai’s lips brightened. Without saying anything else, he led Song Ci back to the inner palace and offhandedly removed his outer robe.
Song Ci asked, puzzled. “What are you doing?”
Rong Bai removed his snow-white inner garment2 to reveal his fair back, along with those two savage wounds that had scabbed over.
Song Ci’s heart ached even more to see this. But at this time, Rong Bai turned his head to look at him and ask, “Apply the medicine for me, will you?”
“Why stand on such ceremony?” Song Ci suppressed his heartache and said to him, “Do the wounds still hurt?”
“Not too bad.” Rong Bai took out the two porcelain bottles and played it down. “It’s still tolerable.”
“You shouldn’t have received these two lashes.” Song Ci opened the porcelain bottle and carefully dabbed it onto Rong Bai’s wounds. “I’m not a demon.”
I’m not a demon. You said so yourself. Song Ci thought to himself.
Rong Bai smiled and said, “I know you aren’t a demon. But the others don’t.”
“Just explain it.” He said.
“What’s the point of explaining?” Rong Bai said, “You might not have a demonic aura on you, but you don’t have an immortal aura either. They won’t believe that someone brought back from the hunting grounds isn’t a demon.” Rong Bai said, “I have to use some peremptory ways to keep you here.”
Song Ci sprinkled the powder and began to bandage him again. He said quietly, “I have a way to explain.”
Song Ci encircled his hands around Rong Bai’s waist from behind Rong Bai’s back to wrap and secure the gauze around him. His entire person was almost sticking to Rong Bai’s body, making it look as if he was embracing Rong Bai from behind.
Coincidentally, Rong Bai turned his head to the side, and the tip of his nose brushed across Song Ci’s chin. Song Ci was so startled that he froze mid-action.
The distance between them was so close that their breaths intertwined. In a split second, Song Ci’s fair skin flushed red.
In such a situation, Song Ci suddenly recalled that unfathomable dream. The sensation of touch and breath felt so real that he could not stop the blood from rushing to his head. His ears turned so red they looked as if they were dripping blood.
Rong Bai chuckled and asked in a whisper only both of them could hear, “What way do you have?”
The ambiguity in his voice was so obscure that Song Ci’s eyelids twitched when he heard him. His brain froze; he could not give an answer.
He did not know how to retreat or even dodge. He merely stared blankly at Rong Bai as if he was drowning in Rong Bai’s pretty eyes.
Rong Bai’s gaze on him grew more and more misty until he eventually took the initiative to lean forward. When the tip of his nose gently touched the tip of Song Ci’s nose, he stopped his advance and asked, “What are you thinking?”
Song Ci snapped out of his mystifying daze and hurriedly retreated. With swift movements, he finished bandaging Rong Bai’s wounds before he withdrew to the side. He rubbed his cheeks, wanting to chase away the heat on his face.
What situation was that earlier? Did Rong Bai cast some strange spells on him?! Why did his mind turn to mush? He could not even think!
The most damning thing was that he actually did not move to avoid it at the first moment?!
“What’s with you?” Seeing his panicked look, Rong Bai took the initiative to grasp his wrist and asked.
“I, I’m fine!” Song Ci said hurriedly. “Didn’t you say you want to take me out? Let’s go now.”
Rong Bai looked into his face before he nodded and said, “Fine. How about I show you around Tu Shan first?”
Song Ci responded, “Sure.”