Busy with some matters, Rong Bai came back late.
When he returned to the palace, he saw Song Ci dressed in loose clothes. The latter sat on the bed as he hugged a bundle of brocade quilt and dozed off. His eyes opened one moment and closed the next moment. He looked rather like those two lazy civet cats sprawling by the side of the palace in the afternoon.
After taking a look at Song Ci, Rong Bai trod softly and made his way to soak in the spring water. Once he was done washing himself and changing into clean clothes, he got onto the bed. At first, he was afraid of waking Song Ci up. But the more he looked, the more he wanted to touch him. And so his misbehaving hands grabbed him by the waist and scooped him into his arms.
He buried his face from behind into the side of his neck and sucked in a breath. Then he searched for his chin to plant a light kiss.
Song Ci was not in a deep sleep anyway, and he woke up right on contact. The moment he saw that it was Rong Bai, his first reaction was to turn around and hug him around his neck. In no hurry to be intimate with him, he asked, “Why are you back so late today?”
Rong Bai lowered his head to look at him with his blue eyes half-narrowed in relaxation. He tightened his arms around Song Ci’s waist until both of their bodies stuck so close together that they could mutually feel each other’s heat.
Song Ci waited for a moment but did not get an answer. Just as he was about to ask, Rong Bai kissed down on him, completely sealing off the words he wanted to say. He pressed Song Ci down on the bed. One hand was still around Song Ci’s waist, while his other hand grasped the latter’s hand and pinned it above his head. Afterward, he held hands with him and interlocked his fingers with his.
Rong Bai’s mood was immediately conveyed to Song Ci. Song Ci could clearly feel Rong Bai’s unhappiness. The latter’s spirit was so low that he did not even have the desire to vent. He merely caressed Song Ci gently, pouring all his feelings into the kiss.
Song Ci did not force him. He raised his other free hand to wrap it around Rong Bai’s neck. Smoothing Rong Bai’s long, snow-colored hair, he slowly responded to him, feeling every single one of his movements on his lips and tongue.
Previously, he had merely found Rong Bai’s blue eyes and snowy hair to be unparalleled in the world. But now, he understood that such soul-stirring colors had come about all because of the blood Rong Sang had bled. Rong Bai must have detested these colors himself.
Both men tumbled on the bed for quite a while before Rong Bai slowly released him. Rong Bai gently nuzzled against Song Ci’s fair neck with the tip of his nose and licked the vein in clear view on the latter’s neck.
Letting out a laugh, Song Ci shrank his neck back and started a chat with him. “Rong Bai, have you ever been to the Human Realm?”
“No.” Rong Bai answered absentmindedly as he pulled him up from the bed and took him into his arms.
“Then, have you ever thought of going for a look?” Song Ci asked again.
“I thought about it before.” Chatting was obviously not on Rong Bai’s mind as his hand felt its way into Song Ci’s clothes. At the same time, he lifted Song Ci’s long hair and nibbled gently at the tip of his ear.
The scorching breath quickly turned Song Ci’s entire ear red. Song Ci turned his head aside somewhat evasively and continued, “That’s where I came from.”
Rong Bai’s hands stopped moving when he heard this. He was no longer as preoccupied as he was before. He released Song Ci’s ear and turned his head to look at him with some surprise. “You say you are from the Human Realm?”
Song Ci nodded. The smile on his face grew even more distinct, and his eyes sparkled. It was not because he mentioned his hometown, but because he could see that Rong Bai was curious about his past.
Actually, at the very instant he had waved away Du’e in its arrow form during their first encounter on Sihuang Mountain, Song Ci knew Rong Bai would have been extremely curious about himself. But in the days they were together, Rong Bai did not even broach the topic.
Being curious was one thing. Asking was another.
Rong Bai did not care where Song Ci had come from or whether he had a motive for appearing at Sihuang Mountain. The others more or less had doubts about Song Ci, but not Rong Bai. This was the kind of trust that bordered on blindness—a trust without reason or basis.
Song Ci said, “It’s a land far away from the Divine Realm. Shall I take you there for sightseeing some other day?”
Rong Bai’s eyes widened in a rare display of pleasant surprise. Bending his head down to bite hold of his lips, he replied in a vague voice, “It’s a promise.”
Song Ci raised the corners of his lips into a smile and hugged him back. Both men tumbled onto the bed, glued to each other again. Song Ci shamelessly clung on to Rong Bai, not wanting to be apart for even a moment.
Rong Bai left the next morning. Song Ci slept his fill, then took his time washing up and having his meal. After tidying himself up, he walked out of Rong Bai’s palace to look for Tu Shan Heng.
Before this, Song Ci had made inquiries around. Tu Shan Bi’s principal wife was just Rong Sang alone, but he had plenty of concubines and a whole bunch of children. Rong Bai was the seventh child, and Tu Shan Heng, the eighth.
Out of all his concubines, Tu Shan Bi loved Tu Shan Lian’s mother the most, while the one with the most power was Tu Shan Heng’s mother. Although Rong Sang was his legitimate wife, her parents had both died soon after her birth, and her only kin – her maternal grandfather – had perished under the hands of the devils.
The only one she could count on was her child of authentic lineage, Rong Bai. A pity she never got to watch Rong Bai grow up.
As for Tu Shan Heng, although his status among the children was higher, he was a bonafide second-generation rich brat.1 He was not prone to engage in proper work and activities; instead, he would act like a jerk and stir up trouble everywhere. It was rumored that whenever he went bonkers, he would even beat himself up.
Among the children, Tu Shan Lian was the little princess Tu Shan Bi doted on the most. She was so arrogant that she even dared to throw her weight around in Tu Shan. But even she had to give way when she bumped into this flippant young master who did not give a damn about anything.
When Song Ci found Tu Shan Heng, he was plotting something shady with his gang of henchmen.
Song Ci had already made his way before them, and not even one of them noticed him as they went about their discussion with great enthusiasm. Tu Shan Heng looked worked up as he clapped his thigh and bellowed, “We’ll do that then!”
He was just done shouting when he looked up and saw Song Ci. Startled, he leaped up from the block of stone. “When did you come? What are you doing here? Were you eavesdropping on me?”
Three questions, one after the other. Song Ci picked one at random and answered, “There’s something I’d like to speak to you about.”
The various henchmen beside him had a fright too upon hearing his earlier shout. All of them stood up to look at him.
Without further ado, Tu Shan Heng waved them away. “Go elsewhere. I have something to do now.”
The few of them obediently slipped away swiftly. In a blink of an eye, there were only the two of them left behind. Tu Shan Heng sat back on the stone block again. “Let’s sit down to chat.”
Song Ci did not stand on ceremony as he sat on the stone block opposite him. “I wanted to ask if something happened to Rong Bai these days?”
“If it’s about Rong Bai, why don’t you ask him? Why ask me?” First, Tu Shan Heng did a Taiji move on him.2
Song Ci confessed, “I can see that he isn’t in a good mood, and I didn’t want to mention anything that would make him unhappy.”
“That’s true. Of course, he isn’t happy.” Tu Shan Heng said, “Everyone in the Divine Realm knows of this, so it doesn’t matter if I tell you. In another two days, it’ll be the birthday of the daughter of the Zhu Clan’s clan head. Both clans wanted Rong Bai and Zhu Han to marry on that day so that it’ll be a double happiness.”
“Oh.” Song Ci was surprised. “So it’s about this.”
“Rong Bai and Zhu Han could be said to be a marriage alliance of bloodlines.” Tu Shan Heng’s gaze was heavy as he said, “There won’t be any more descendants of pure Tu Shan blood in the clan. Rong Bai is the last one. This marriage is to keep Tu Shan at the peak of its power while also easing the tension between the Old and New Divine Realms.”
“Isn’t that the same as Rong Bai’s mother?” Song Ci murmured.
“Looks like you already know about Mother.” Tu Shan Heng looked at him and said, “The stronger the bloodline, the stronger the power. Can you imagine how powerful the child of a Tu Shan Nine-tailed fox and the Vermilion Bird will be?”
“Whether or not a person is strong doesn’t have that much to do with lineage, does it?” Song Ci felt a little helpless when it came to these immortals. Why did they always have to put everything down to bloodline?
“I agree with you. But because you’re somewhat ignorant about the issue of bloodline, then I’ll stand from the standpoint of those people and explain it to you.” Tu Shan Heng said, “Do you know the Divine Lord Yan Song?”
Song Ci nodded and assumed the look of an attentive listener.
“The Divine Lord Yan Song was born in ancient times. That period was a time of great turmoil and chaos. The Devil Lord did all kinds of evil, and his reach was far-reaching. To restore peace in the Six Realms, the Clans of the Four Great Divine Beasts joined forces to fight back against the Devil Lord. But the Vermilion Bird and Black Tortoise Clans fled just before the battle. Even though the Azure Dragon and White Tiger Clans joined forces, they were still no match for the Devil Lord. They were almost wiped out before they managed to seal him away. The Divine Lord Yan Song was then entrusted to the Water Qilin Divine Clan, becoming the remaining bloodline the Azure Dragon left behind.”
“At that time, the Divine Lord Yan Bei…” Tu Shan Heng gestured. “was just an unhatched dragon egg.”
“I have heard of these before.” Song Ci said.
Tu Shan Heng made a gesture for him to shut up and continued, “Later on, fearing retaliation, the Vermilion Bird Clan exterminated the Water Qilin Clan who was concealing the Divine Lord Yan Song.”
With that, he stared at Song Ci.
“…” After being stared at for a moment, Song Ci wondered if he should give him some reaction, and so he said angrily, “How very ruthless of them!”
“Aren’t you shocked?” Tu Shan Heng asked in puzzlement.
“About what?” Song Ci asked. “Why the Vermilion Bird Clan is so evil?”
Tu Shan Heng sighed, “Because of one Divine Lord Yan Song, the Vermilion Bird Clan went to such great lengths and paid such a heavy price to wipe out the Water Qilin Clan. Isn’t that enough to shock you?”
“I’m curious now that you’ve put it that way. Why is that so?”
“Because of the bloodline.” Tu Shan Heng pulled the topic back on track. “The bloodline of the Azure Dragon lies supreme above all beasts. Just by bloodline alone, they can dominate over all species of beasts, divine and demonic alike. Even if all that remained were only a Divine Lord Yan Song, who was still a child back then, and an unhatched dragon egg, it was still more than enough to strike dread and fear into the heart of the Vermilion Bird Clan.”
“Fortunately, the Water Qilin clan had hidden away the Divine Lord Yan Song and the Divine Lord Yan Bei before they were wiped out. After a long period of time, just as the Vermilion Bird Clan was about to take over full control over the entire Divine Realm, the Divine Lord Yan Song broke through his seal and re-emerged in the world. From then on, there exists a New Divine Realm and Old Divine Realm. Even though the Divine Lord Yan Song is still only a Divine Lord now, everyone in the New Divine Realm had already tacitly come to honor him as the Divine Emperor.”
Tu Shan Heng continued, “Bloodline is, to those people, way too important.”
Song Ci asked, “I remember that there was also a surviving descendant of the White Tiger Divine Clan. Who is hiding him?”
Tu Shan Heng glanced at him. “Tu Shan.”
“The Vermilion Bird Clan does not dare to lay a hand on Tu Shan, so that White Tiger descendant is still in a sound sleep.” Tu Shan Heng obviously did not like this White Tiger descendant snoring away in Tu Shan’s inner territory. He immediately changed the topic and asked, “So what’s your plan for two days later?”
“Didn’t you already come up with one?” Song Ci answered his question with a question of his own.
“So you were really eavesdropping on me!” Tu Shan Heng yelled.
“You guys were the ones speaking too loudly.” Song Ci played the shameless card.
Tu Shan Heng did not pursue the matter. He said, “My plan, my business. What has it got to do with you?”
“Isn’t it simple enough for it to have something to do with me? Just add me to your plan.” Song Ci took the initiative and offered to join in.
“You?” Tu Shan Heng sized him up and down with a dubious expression.
Song Ci stood up and said to him, “Don’t look at me like that. I can fight ten men like you without a problem.”
- 二世祖 second-generation rich (brat), somewhat similar to 富二代; spoiled child in a wealthy family; trust fund baby.
- 打太极 Taiji is an ancient Chinese exercise or form of martial art that involves slow, circular movements. To play Taiji with someone is to keep passing the buck around (or beating around the bush.)