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He Ku didn’t understand much of He Huan and Bai Chen’s conversation. Although they wore amiable faces, they were obviously trying to feel each other out with their words. This He Huan, who had such deep schemes, made him slightly uncomfortable. It was only now that he realized, whether it was the peerless He Huan at Sky Veil Town or the current He Huan devising battle plans, he’d never seen either before. Perhaps he didn’t know his hundred-year-old self as well as he thought he did.
Yet he still believed that the one who’d promised to break through time and space with him under the moon was the real He Huan.
He Ku only reappeared once Bai Chen had left and He Huan noticed that he looked less lively than usual. He attributed this to having seen Bai Chen’s behaviour during their conversation; his crush’s innocent image was probably destroyed.
Well, he was young. The young always wish for the person they like to be simple and different from other people. To suddenly learn that the other was a cunning and manipulative fox, it’d make sense something like that was hard to accept. He Huan thought that he was quite considerate of He Ku. He didn’t pick at his younger self’s wounds, he just softly reminded him, “He Ku, don’t fall in love with Bai Chen. He doesn’t have much longer to live.”
He Ku was busy looking at himself in the mirror and worrying; he didn’t expect He Huan to say something like this and instantly became dejected. Just from their previous interactions, it was clear that they were already in a relationship. Before, only he could mention Bu QingYun in front of He Huan, but now that he saw Bai Chen could also do it, he felt a little irritated. Not only that, but He Huan also thought he’d try to steal Bai Chen away. Thinking that, his heart felt increasingly stuffy.
The thing was, he didn’t know what right he had to oppose who He Huan got on with. So he could only angrily reply, “Don’t you worry, I’m not interested in men.”
He Huan had been rolling in the romantic scene for decades and knew at a glance from He Ku’s expression that his words were empty. Moreover, he was able to feel the wave of bitterness in his heart. This was clearly because his love was unrequited. It’s just, he didn’t know that his heart was moved because he’d never experienced anything like it before.
Even after living a hundred years, He Huan had never once lost himself in love because, in his heart, there was only the world. He never would have expected that his He Ku would get led astray by that white fox. He couldn’t help but feel cheated. The two of them shared the same body and soul, so naturally He Huan knew whatever He Ku was feeling. Only, not once did He Huan he think those feelings were directed towards himself, and so he randomly made Bai Chen carry two pots. Really, it was quite pitiful.
Although he was a little annoyed, He Huan was ultimately someone who had weathered great winds and rain. Seeing He Ku’s heartbroken look, he reached out his hand towards the Nascent Soul he thought was in grief and embraced him. He patted his back as he gently comforted, “Don’t be sad. If you really like fox spirits that much, Yun Ce shouldn’t be any worse than Bai Chen after a few decades.”
On an average day, there wasn’t a shortage of He Huan harassing his Nascent Soul, but He Ku had never minded it. Today, however, for reasons he didn’t understand, his heart skipped a beat when he was hugged. He Huan never bothered to style his hair, he’d usually just pluck a flower stem or twig to hold it up. Perhaps because of this, there was always a faint floral scent around him. Now that he was firmly held in the other’s arms, He Ku felt encompassed by that faint scent; for a moment, he wasn’t able to tell whether it was pine or bamboo. All he knew was that it helped to calm his heart and he didn’t think about it any further than that.
Noticing that He Ku’s distress immediately dissipated, He Huan just thought that his words of comfort had worked. He remembered that He Ku and Yun Ce seemed to be very close. Originally he wanted to use Yun Ce to dissuade any actions against the Palace of Bliss from the Snowy Mountains, but now, it wasn’t quite necessary anymore. He sighed. “Whatever. Since you like Yun Ce, I’ll leave him for you.”
Hearing this, He Ku was baffled again. How did he come to the conclusion that he liked Yun Ce? For some reason, he felt that if he continued this conversation with He Huan, who knew how many men he would be paired with. Instead, he forcefully changed the topic back onto proper matters. “You said Bai Chen doesn’t have much longer to live, so is it fine to make an alliance with him?”
He Huan didn’t think that he’d be asked this question, but after thinking about it, Bai Chen’s situation was clearly something he wished to keep secret and he also didn’t want to make He Ku even sadder, so he only explained his view on the current conflict. “If Bai Chen still had a few centuries left to live then he’d definitely choose to continue spectating. He’d only make a decision once there was a clear victor between Qing XuZi and I. But because he doesn’t have much time left, he’d rather stake everything on me and leave it to fate.
“If I prevail over Xuanmen, the Snowy Mountains would have won several centuries of peace. And even if I lose, Bai Chen can take all the responsibility for colluding with the demonic faction and give his life to make sure the Snowy Mountains is clean of all blame. I’ve personally experienced how crazy someone could be once their heart has fully accepted and made peace with their death.”
His actions were almost the same as the old Bu QingYun’s. When He Ku finished listening, his heart shook. He slowly raised his eyes to match He Huan’s and quietly said, “Is it because you guys are similar that you agreed to cooperate with him?”
He said what was truly hidden within the depths of He Huan’s heart. Although he’d long become used to manipulating the world’s affairs and its courses, he’d never expressed his goodwill just because of benefits. Today, when he agreed to Bai Chen’s help, it was because his single-mindedness to sacrifice himself for the sake of the Snowy Mountains appealed to the sense of justice deep inside him.
However, even though he hadn’t told anybody about this, He Ku had hit the nail right on its head. He carefully looked over the face that was the same as his, but was much brighter. A rare sincere smile appeared on his face. “The one who knows me best is still me.”
He Huan always wore a smile with He Ku, but such heartfelt happiness was extremely rare. When that pair of bewitching peach blossom eyes gazed back with such tenderness, it felt as if a spring breeze had gently awakened the sleeping cherry blossoms; like there was only a fuzzy warmth left in the world. His mind became blank, and in that moment, he didn’t know what else to think.
He Ku quickly turned his gaze to the mirror and looked at his face several times before he could calm down. But there was still a giddiness in his chest. At least, he was sure that no matter how much He Huan liked Bai Chen, he would never reveal such a smile to him. After living through a hundred years, all the cherry blossoms in He Huan’s eyes have already fallen to the ground. Those flowers solely belonged to Bu QingYun and it was only in the presence of his younger self that they would appear once again. No matter if it was the lone Bu QingYun who stood higher than the clouds or He Huan who hid away his true self behind smoke and mirrors, their world didn’t allow anyone other than himself to enter.
Looking at the reflection of two identical people, the mental knot within He Ku suddenly disappeared. He extended his hand to tightly hold onto He Huan’s fingertip and seriously asked, “He Huan, what sort of person do you want me to become?”
He thought He Huan probably wanted him to grow to become Bu QingYun. After all, Bai Chen had already said that he was waiting for Bu QingYun’s return. Although he liked his current playful life, if He Huan needed it, he could restrain his youthful temperament and return to being Bu QingYun, someone who guarded etiquette and boundaries tightly. Since Bu QingYun was able to give up all of his youth’s pleasures for Xuanmen, then he could do the same for He Huan.
He still didn’t understand what the feelings he harboured for He Huan were, he just knew that he wanted to continue being with him like this. It would be best if this could last forever.
Yet he didn’t expect that the moment He Huan heard this, he would sink into confusion. His fingers moved to caress his cheeks by themselves, and after thinking about it for a long time, he smiled softly. “How ever you feel makes you the happiest.”
He Ku didn’t know if these words were what he really felt, but he had already made up his mind. He took over the control of their body and grabbed his sword, prepared to go out. “I’m going to practice.”
Voluntarily handing over his body, He Huan found that he wasn’t quite able to tell what He Ku wanted to do, but he knew that there was no way he wholeheartedly wanted to practice boring drills, so he suggested, “There are many fun places in Jiangnan and Qing XuZi won’t be able to arrive so soon anyways. I can bring you out to play for a few days.”
“Didn’t you tell me that I should do what makes me happy? Right now, I just want to practice my swordsmanship.” After saying such things so inconsistent with his usual personality, He Ku left QingYun Hall.
Gazing at his back as his figure went further and further away, He Huan didn’t follow. He looked at his reflection within the Soul Inquiry Mirror and silently laughed.
Look, mirror. Even after he wiped away his memories for a fresh start, he still ended up walking this path. This… could only be fate.
It’s just a pity that regardless of if it were the past or present, the youth who’d picked up his sword to protect others would inevitably get dragged down from the clouds and become trapped in a sea of blood, never to return.
He Ku didn’t see He Huan’s expression. He jumped into the spirit spring, his heart going over the sword technique he had already memorized, practicing them over and over again. Heavenly Sword Intent could only be attained if the person wielding the sword was firm in their dao, but since he hadn’t reached the Golden Core stage to understand its intricacies, he could only drill the basic strikes into his body’s instincts.
Since the battle with Qing XuZi couldn’t be avoided, he had to make use of every spare second to become stronger. At least, enough that when the battle began, he would be of some use.
Within the forest of bamboo, the youth repeated the same strike again and again. His silver sword sliced through the falling bamboo leaves. His red robe swayed amidst the mist, his swordsmanship clearly good enough, but there wasn’t even the slightest bit of satisfaction on his face. He just kept all his focus on the edge of the blade. Every move had to be perfect.
What Xiu Niang saw, when she hesitatingly stepped into the area around the spirit spring, was this scene. She had never seen such a serious look on the Little Palace Master’s face. For a while, she was not sure which soul was occupying the body at this time. In the end, it was He Ku who noticed her from the reflection in the spring. He sheathed his sword before turning and smiling at her. “Xiu Niang, you’re back! Why are you just silently standing there?”
Among the enforcers, Xiu Niang was He Ku’s favourite. In the days he spent in the palace, she took care of him much like how an older sister would. Although he knew this was likely because of her connection to He Huan, he was still incredibly grateful. Now that he saw her come back safely, how could he not be happy?
Seeing this smile, Xiu Niang was able to confirm that it was indeed the Little Palace Master. She let out a breath in relief before looking at him hesitantly. She asked, “Little Palace Master, is the Palace Master beside you?”
Her expression was very strange. He Ku felt a bit confused, but after thinking over it, he honestly replied, “I wanted to practice by myself, so I left him upstairs. Are you looking for him?”
After hearing this, her expression relaxed. Then, as if she were afraid He Ku would call He Huan, she quickly said, “There are some things I don’t dare to say to the Palace Master, but if I don’t say them today, I’m afraid I won’t ever have the chance. Could I bother you to listen in his place?”
These days, He Ku was used to being a messenger. Seeing her like this, he immediately nodded his head in agreement. “Ok, go ahead, I’ll tell him when I go upstairs.”
Xiu Niang brightened at his ‘go ahead’, her fingers tightly clenched her handkerchief, she took a deep breath and looked to have made up her mind before speaking. “Little Palace Master, do you know why I am titled Xiu Niang1 Xiu Niang (秀娘) – madame/mother of elegance?”
He Huan had never told him why. He Ku paused, but as he was thinking about how he should answer, he heard her let out a long sigh before beginning, “I… was once a courtesan 2 Xiu Nv – elegant/refined showgirl within the imperial palace.”
End of Chapter 27
THISBRO: VERY IMPORTANT! I just want to let everyone know that this is the last non-VIP chapter of the original novel. And I know that with all the drama going on in the translation community, there’s a lot of worry going on about content locking and paywalls. That will NOT be happening here, BUT I will still encourage you guys to buy the raws to support the author if you can ❤️.
My personal stance is this...I am doing all this for free and you guys are reading for free (and there is no shame and nothing wrong in enjoying a free thing for free). Moreover, you guys are technically an audience the author would never have been able to reach if I hadn’t translated this novel. But since I have, if you guys have the money to spare and are willing to spend it on this small novel (and are willing to navigate the process to buy the raws -> because I know it’s a headache), it would be incredible to show our appreciation by helping to put food and water onto the author’s table.
The link to the raws: http://www.jjwxc.net/onebook.php?novelid=3241486&chapterid=0
Guide to buying the raws on JJWXC: https://xhunnetranslations.weebly.com/how-to-get-raws.html
- 1Xiu Niang (秀娘) – madame/mother of elegance
- 2Xiu Nv – elegant/refined showgirl