Between Xiliang and Beiyi,1 there was a little nation called the State of Lan.
The State of Lan was tiny, but it was very prosperous and celebrated for its silk. Most of the best silk on the mainland came from the State of Lan.
The State of Lan had a young monarch. He was an invalid who often coughed out blood and fainted at every single turn. For every one day of morning court sessions2 he attended, he would rest for three days. Despite searching high and low for renowned physicians, he remained ill.
All the major state affairs were handled by the current prime minister, but all the court officials knew that this prime minister had wild ambitions and had been coveting the throne for a very long time. But too bad he held great power and authority in his hands, and his influence ran deep. What’s more, he was courteous to others, so no one could really find any chink in his armor.
The only one who could contend against the prime minister was the general who held the state’s military power. This man was illiterate, but he had astonishing strength. He repeatedly fought off the enemy troops invading the State of Lan. The reason why the State of Lan could survive between two great states like Xiliang and Beiyi was largely all thanks to this general.
The general led a decadent life, and he was always doing things recklessly, yet he was greatly favored by the monarch. He would receive light punishments for grave mistakes, while his minor offenses were often overlooked. Even the prime minister himself did not dare to make a move against him at will. It was in this way that the power balance in the imperial court was maintained.
And this illiterate boor was Song Ci.
He was wearing a military court attire distinctive to the State of Lan as he sauntered on the road leading to the imperial court. The bottom edge of his black outer robe was embroidered with layers of red auspicious patterns. As he walked, the corner of his robe lifted in tandem with his movements.
This attire made Song Ci a little uncomfortable. Because it kind of looked like a wedding outfit.
The State of Lan was a real nation that existed. Song Ci had more or less heard about it.
The huge empires of Xiliang, Dongwang, or even Beiyi might have different traditions and customs, but there were certain aspects in which they were similar. For example, the color used exclusively by the imperial households was bright yellow.
But it was different in the State of Lan. The color used exclusively by the monarch was purple. The military generals wore black robes with red edges, while the civil officials wore red robes with black edges. Somehow, this made Song Ci feel as if the military commanders and civil officials were wedded to each other.
What’s more, his role was a boor who swore and cussed at every turn and who had never touched a brush, ink, paper and inkstone even once in his life. All the more Song Ci could not accept this.
In the two days after entering the book, Song Ci lived his life wallowing in depression.
That’s right. This was one of the stories recorded in the book, “The Theory of No Demon”. He had never expected there to be something more to this book than meets the eye. He carried it with him for so long, and he had never noticed anything odd with it.
Song Ci had read more than half of the stories in this book. Although its name was The Theory of No Demon, the contents in it actually used another way to tell readers that all kinds of demons and ghosts did indeed exist in this world. And the various secret and strange happenings in these stories were all the work of these demons.
This story was an account of how the monarch’s favored and pampered male lover was actually a demon who had cultivated himself into a spirit and attached himself to the monarch to suck away his life, eventually leading to the destruction of the State of Lan.
In truth, however, the State of Lan still existed. But because of the long distance, Song Ci had never been there, so naturally, he could not seek proof of whether the State of Lan really had a terminally ill monarch, a male demon lover, a polite treacherous court official, and an illiterate general.
In the two days he had been here, he had heard no news of Wen Changchu.
Song Ci gathered his long sleeves and let out a big yawn. The moment he raised his eyes, he saw the morning sun rising slowly in the horizon. He could not help but quicken his pace.
Allegedly, the monarch hated people being late for morning court.
When Song Ci hurried to the imperial court, the court ministers were already in position. As a first-grade official,3 his spot was at the head, so he walked between two rows of ministers to make his way over. His pace was unhurried, and his back was straight. As he walked, his posture was dignified and imposing. It was also conspicuously proper. All the ministers could not help but look askance at him.
He seemed to be somewhat different from how the general usually was.
“General Song.” Someone called out and blocked his way.
The one who had stepped out was a civil official dressed in a red robe. He was the nephew of the prime minister and also a newly appointed court official. In the past, he had a lot of opinions about this boor who walked with a swagger. Now that he had met him for the first time on the imperial court, he could not help wanting to step out to make contact with him.
The other court officials watched in silence. Someone wanted to say a word of warning, but when he cast a glance at Song Ci, he did not dare to say a word.
Everyone knew how fiery the temper of this general was. The last person who had stopped him in the imperial court to make fun of him in the same way had been pummeled right on the spot until he was sent to the Imperial Physician.
The crowd unobtrusively took a few steps back.
After Song Ci stopped, he turned to look at that civil official and asked doubtfully, “What’s the matter?”
“I heard the general had caught a cold two days ago and consequently missed the morning session. So I was wondering if you are feeling better now?” The civil official maintained his composure and asked.
This was not mentioned in the book, so Song Ci did not know.
This boorish general had been extremely bored and idle a few days ago, so he had imitated those scholars in composing poems on pleasure boats. He ended up falling into the water accidentally, and that was how he had caught a chill.
The prime minister and the general never had any dealings with each other. So for the civilian official to bring it up this time, it could only be because he wanted to mock him.
Under normal circumstances, the general would have gone red in the face with rage and lifted his sleeves to beat the man up .
But this young, pretty and well-mannered general merely smiled, gathered his sleeves, and said in an icily arrogant tone, “Thank you for your concern. But since I’m able to attend the morning court session, then it means the cold is no longer a problem. So why ask an unnecessary question?”
Song Ci did not linger after finishing his words and took a few more steps to his position to wait quietly for the court session to start.
A loud and clear announcement of the monarch’s arrival rang out in a sing-song voice, and the young monarch slowly stepped onto the dragon throne. Together with the other ministers, Song Ci bowed his head and kneeled down to shout “Long live my Emperor”. This was closely followed by a series of coughing. Even Song Ci could feel how strenuous it was just by listening to it alone. It was as if the monarch was going to cough his lungs out.
When he finally finished coughing, the first thing the monarch did was not to tell them to rise, but to smack down suddenly on the table and raged in a hoarse voice. “What’s going on?! How dare anyone not attend the morning session?! What’s more skipping court right under my nose! How audacious! Who is it? “
After he was done howling, he began to cough again. From the looks of it, he seemed to be really ill.
Sick, weak, yet irritable.
But this voice really sounded a little familiar.
“To reply Your Majesty, it’s… it’s His Excellency the Prime Minister.”
“Who does the prime minister think he is?!” The monarch howled again. As a result, he exerted himself too much and coughed out a mouthful of fresh blood right there and then, startling the eunuch serving at the side so much that the latter shrieked at the top of his voice. In an instant, all the ministers panicked.
Song Ci inexplicably found it strange. He raised his head for a look and saw Wen Changchu coughing out the blood in his mouth with a numb expression. His face was so pale it was scary, and he had the listless air of a critically ill man.
Song Ci immediately stood up. “Wen Changchu!”
On hearing his name, Wen Changchu’s drooping eyes lit up. Pleasantly surprised, he looked at Song Ci and pointed at him, saying, “Song, Song!”
But Wen Changchu did not manage to shout out Song Ci’s entire name. His eyes rolled up, and he fell back and fainted on the dragon throne. It threw the group of imperial officials into a fluster. Obviously, it was not the first time they had dealt with such an episode. Although everyone looked alarmed, they moved swiftly to carry Wen Changchu out of the imperial court.
No wonder he was so irritable. If it was Wen Changchu, then it all made perfect sense.
He must have been so irritable because he had transmigrated into this strange world and got the role of a sick and weak character.
Song Ci felt that his own identity was much more suitable for Wen Changchu.
“His Excellency the Prime Minister arrives—” Just as everyone was running around in a fluster, this prime minister, who had infuriated the monarch so much that the latter had coughed out blood, arrived—late.
Song Ci turned to look and saw the prime minister in a red robe with black edges strolling over against the backdrop of the light. Every step he took was nonchalant. Song Ci could not see his face clearly, but he was inexplicably familiar with his silhouette. He could not help but take a few steps forward to take a clearer look.
As soon as the court officials heard of the prime minister’s arrival, they stood still. In the past, when this kind of situation happened, it was the prime minister who single-handedly held the fort in the court. After this happened a few times, the various officials knew what to expect.
When he fully walked in, the light behind him shone upon the side of his silhouette. Song Ci was caught off guard as his eyes met a pair of smiling eyes. He widened his eyes in surprise and hurried over to him. “Why are you here?”
Rong Bai intimately twirled up the tail of his hair and wiped away the debris at the end. He whispered, “I’m here to find you, no?”
“How did you discover I’ve been drawn into the book?” Song Ci had been worried that Rong Bai would get anxious if he could not find him.
“There’s an ink in the Six Realm by the name of the Ink For The Creation Of Something Out Of Nothing. Any story written with this ink will form a new world. The book in your bosom is written with this ink. You always carry it with you. When I returned and realized you were missing with only the book left behind on the table, I could naturally guess where you are.” Rong Bai’s tone was so unhurried and slow that the others could not hear him clearly.
The ministers did not know what both of them were talking about, but they all simultaneously marveled over how there could be such a harmonious scene between the prime minister and the general.
“Then how do we get out?” Song Ci asked.
“You read this book before, so you should know the ending of this story. When the story reaches its finale and comes to an end, we will naturally be released.”
Song Ci slightly stood on tiptoe to whisper softly into Rong Bai’s ear. “The story ends when the demon causes the death of the monarch, resulting in the fall of the State of Lan.”
Rong Bai pinched his earlobe, smiled and answered back into his ear, “Then let’s kill the monarch.”
“About that …” Song Ci was somewhat put on the spot. “The monarch is Wen Changchu.”
“It doesn’t matter. No harm will come to him.” Rong Bai was not bogged down by any psychological burden at all. “The stories written with the Ink For The Creation Of Something Out Of Nothing are meant for people’s entertainment. One story, one world. Demons and immortals of certain ages like to delve into the stories to play.”
“Fine, then.” Song Ci instantly agreed.
Song Ci smiled so happily that when Rong Bai looked at him, he could not help but pinch the side of his face.
The interaction between both men stunned the others like a thunderbolt out of the blue. None of the ministers in the imperial court would have imagined the relationship between the prime minister and the general to have become this good. To think they would even stroke each other’s ears and pinch each other’s cheek without any qualms under the watchful eyes of the crowd.
In the end, both men both skipped the morning court and swaggered away to leave.
Inside the palace of the monarch.
“Help! Help—” Wen Changchu rolled down from the couch and yelled as he ran,” Men—!”
Song Ci grabbed him by the back collar. “Oh, Changchu. Just comply with us obediently, and we can all go out earlier.”
“Dream on!” Wen Changchu flailed around and struggled, “Even if I die, I will die in my beloved concubine’s tender bosom. Release me!”
“Your acting of this monarch is pretty realistic, huh.” Song Ci pulled out Du’e with a whoosh, “I’ll try my best to do it fast and let you have a quick death.”
Wen Changchu’s body could not withstand the ordeal, and he started coughing out blood again. With a mouthful of bloodied teeth and a ferocious look, he said, “Song Ci, you heartless cad. To think I treated you so well. Boohoohoo.”
Song Ci could not bear to lay his hands on Wen Changchu when he saw him like this. Thus, he released him and turned his head to say to Rong Bai, “Or let’s just wait for him to die in the arms of that demon concubine. Seeing how he speaks one moment and vomits blood the next moment, I reckon he isn’t going to last long, anyway.”
The moment Wen Changchu was freed, he dashed out of his palace. “My beloved concubine! Find me my beloved concubine!”
But as soon as he opened the doors, he bumped into a man dressed in a light purple robe with an exquisite phoenix embroidered in golden threads from the shoulders down. With a mild smile on his face, he embraced Wen Changchu.
Song Ci fixed his eyes on the man for a look. Heh! Wasn’t this Zhu Yishu?
Zhu Yishu still looked as gentle as before. He pulled out a handkerchief and gently wiped away the blood at the corners of Wen Changchu’s mouth. “Chuchu~ Did you call for me?”
Song Ci felt puzzled. From the way Zhu Yishu was dressed, he was obviously and legitimately the State of Chu’s Empress.4 It totally did not conform to the image of that male demon lover.
Obviously, Wen Changchu himself did not expect Zhu Yishu to be here either. He turned his head back numbly to look at Song Ci. “Is it too late for me to accept your earlier suggestion?”
Song Ci replied, “Too late.”
It’s too late. You may now die with a peace of mind in the arms of the nation-wrecker demon empress.
Oh, wrong. Divine empress.
Male Demon Lover: Is it too late for me to flee?
The gentle and courteous x extremely irritable CP setting in this chapter is borrowed from the novel 《Mo-zun》 next door.
- 西凉 Western Liang and 北邑 Northern Yi.
- 早朝 Court sessions held in the morning for the Emperor to discuss state affairs with his ministers. It was typically held daily, but occasionally varied from emperor to emperor.
- 一品 Officials were classified in nine hierarchic grades, with grade one being the highest rank. Their salaries ranged according to their rank. As a first-grade official, Song Ci is a major-league bigwig.
- The dragon was used to represent the Emperor, and the phoenix, the Empress. (Thus, the Emperor’s robe, throne, etc were all called Dragon Robe, Dragon Throne, etc with motifs of the dragon on it).