Translated by Eve
Edited by Wuxian
TN Note: From now on I’m going to be capitalizing ‘Actor’ since it seems more appropriate to have it as ‘Actors vs Destroyers’ than the lower case version. I won’t be updating previous chapters because I’d have to manually go through all of them and that would take a lot of time.
The pitiful former Demonic Cult Leader Ning Ze was naturally locked up in a courtyard Zhao Xihe had long-since prepared for him. Aside from being unable to move as he wished, his treatment wasn’t bad. Thus, Ning Ze decided to first endure it, bide his time, wait until he had fully recovered, and strike back only after finding a loophole. After all, Ning Ze, who had always been arrogant and conceited, certainly was unwilling to live out his retirement in half-captivity so soon.
As for Nan Gongyi, the other irksome presence in Zhao Xihe’s eyes, he was rightfully thrown at Ning Ze to keep him company. On the surface, the reasoning was that he was there to attend to and keep an eye on him. In reality, it was just to give them more time to interact with one another, urging them to develop feelings for each other earlier on. Although Nan Gongyi was concerned and was unwilling to be apart from his family’s Shixiong’s side, he had no room to resist. This time, even his Da Shixiong persuaded him to be content with his own lot and stay in the courtyard with Ning Ze!
“Although I can’t explain things clearly, the situation right now is extremely dangerous. We don’t know who the enemy is, nor what they’re planning, so we must be all the more prudent,” Sui Yuan stroked Nan Gongyi’s hair and comforted him with a gentle voice, acting as if he was advising him when in reality, he was just tricking him. “The courtyard where Ah Hao shut in Young Master Ning was the most hidden place in the Demonic Cult’s Forum, and the entire Demonic Cult is guarding over him. Likewise, it’s the safest place. Only if you stay there obediently, will Shixiong be at ease.”
Nan Gongyi parted his lips, wanting to retort that he could protect himself, but when he saw Sui Yuan’s concerned expression, he thought about how he had inconvenienced and brought harm upon his Shixiong a countless number of times before. In that instant, he found that he couldn’t say a thing.
“Moreover, aren’t you worried that Ah Hao will do something to Young Master Ning—that he’ll make an attempt on his life? Seeing is believing. Only when you are personally guarding Young Master Ning will you be able to ensure his safety, no?” Sui Yuan could see Nan Gongyi’s hesitation and thus pressured him more, “Young Master Ning had helped you the last time we were chased after by people who were after our lives. If it weren’t for him, you would not have been able to escape in one piece. The favour of having saved your life—” Sui Yuan bit on his tongue as he nearly spat out the words ‘you should devote yourself to him’. Although he truly thought that way, it was inappropriate to tag that on at the end, “One must give back double of what he has received in times of difficulty. This time, when you go take care of Young Master Ning, you can consider it as somewhat repaying your debt of gratitude.”
Nan Gongyi, who was distressed and conflicted, did not notice the period of unnaturalness in his family’s Shixiong. It had to be said that he had definitely been convinced.
Ever since he had entered the Jianghu, Nan Gongyi, who could be considered to have broadened his horizons, knew that the Jianghu was not as beautiful as he had once imagined. Indeed, there was the heroism and brotherhood that he had always been longing for, but much more of what he saw showed him that it was a dog-eat-dog world, full of treachery and danger. For a while now, Nan Gongyi has ceased to be the naive youth who believed that people were inherently good and respected every path people took. He realized that if Ning Ze lost his position as Demonic Cult Leader, his ending would absolutely not be good.
With regard to feelings, Nan Gongyi was closer to and more grateful to Ning Ze. But the Shixiong he revered and liked the most was more intimate with Yu Hao than with himself. This kind of web of complicated relationship made Nan Gongyi unable to approve of Yu Hao’s betrayal of Ning Ze, but he was in no position to criticize him. At present, all he did was do as his Shixiong had said: use everything at his disposal to protect Ning Ze.
“I understand,” Nan Gongyi nodded. No matter what Shixiong said or did, there was always a reason for it. As his shidi, it was enough for him to just defer to his judgement, “Then Shixiong, you must be careful. Even if Shixiong’s martial arts is high, it may falter under the scheming of nasty characters.”
“Shixiong understands. Xiao Yi, you need not worry,” Seeing that Nan Gongyi let out a breath of relief, Sui Yuan’s smile became much more genuine and sincere. Nan Gongyi was dazzled by it and flushed a bit. Fortunately, he, who was a model of self-improvement, was able to firmly maintain his calm appearance and did not forget himself as he had done in the past.
“Also…that Yu Hao…” Nan Gongyi bit his lips. Although it went against a nobleman’s character to speak ill behind another’s back, and felt like he was purposely sowing dissension, if he didn’t say it now, he was going to regret it for the rest of his life. “Yu Hao isn’t a good person. Shixiong, it’d be better for you to distance yourself from him. Although you met each other when you were young, you were separated for a long time. Perhaps he’s changed since then and he’s no longer that close childhood friend from your memories. Shixiong…you must not trust him so easily.”
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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In Nan Gongyi’s eyes, his family’s Shixiong was a pure white lotus. He has always been the most kindhearted, the most gentle, and the most considerate. Shixiong had always forgiven him for everything. Even when things went wrong, he never let him lose hope. That’s why, towards Yu Hao, Shixiong must have also been this way.
Yu Hao has committed misdeeds. Even if he exploited Shixiong, Shixiong would try to persuade him even though he knew everything. When he’s unable to persuade him and can only watch on helplessly, he would certainly feel irreconcilable self-blame and dejection. Once he thought of this, Nan Gongyi felt his heart go so tender that it began to hurt.
——-If Sui Yuan and 5237 knew what went on in his brain, they would definitely send the three words ‘you’re overthinking things’ to Nan Gongyi.
In summary, Nan Gongyi, who was ‘overthinking things’, was ruthlessly abused by his own imagination. He was unable to restrain his emotions and moved forward, pulling his somewhat slim Shixiong’s body into his arms. He suppressed the emotions that bubbled from within his heart and gently comforted him, “No matter what, Shixiong, you will always have me.”
Sui Yuan’s expression was blank upon being manhandled like this. He completely failed to understand why the protagonist shou’s feelings had suddenly exploded. He could only raise his hand in bafflement, and weakly place them on Nan Gongyi’s shoulders, as if returning the embrace. Although he didn’t understand, it should be fine to do this, right?
Soon after, he felt cold air at his back.
Likewise, Nan Gongyi, who felt like he was being stared at by a bloodthirsty, ferocious beast, looked up and unyieldingly locked eyes with Yu Hao who had appeared on the other side of the door at some unknown time.
Before, because of Shixiong—because he hadn’t wanted his Shixiong to feel awkward when stuck between himself and Yu Hao, Nan Gongyi had always given way to Yu Hao. However, this absolutely did not mean that Nan Gongyi was afraid of Yu Hao. As a protagonist and the future Wulin Alliance Leader, naturally, Nan Gongyi had a resolute determination and was unafraid of any and all powerful, lofty characters. He was a dragon in his infancy, and his only reverse scale was his Shixiong.
Suppressing his apprehension, Nan Gongyi tightly pursed his lips and continued to look Yu Hao in the face. Both of them could clearly see the enmity and unwillingness to give up in the other’s eyes. Only…Nan Gongyi felt a bit frustrated as he swept a gaze at his Shixiong who had withdrawn from his embrace upon perceiving Yu Hao’s gaze. He clearly understood that he had already lost.
“If you dare harm Shixiong, I absolutely will not excuse you!” Nan Gongyi murmured in a low voice as he brushed past Yu Hao, extending his still young and tender claws.
Zhao Xihe, donning Yu Hao’s skin, slightly raised his eyebrow, “Of course, I won’t. Only, none of this has anything to do with you. You, a fellow who has to rely on other people’s protection, are fundamentally unqualified to mention this.”
Nan Gongyi felt like his chest was ruthlessly pierced by an arrow. He gritted his teeth and quickly left.
——He thought that aside from attending to and protecting Ning Ze, he had another important task: to quickly get stronger!
To have his martial arts ridiculed by his rival in love was absolutely unbearable!
Seeing Nan Gongyi’s hurried silhouette, Sui Yuan walked towards Zhao Xihe, feeling baffled and slightly frowned, “What’s wrong with him? He suddenly became weird.”
“How would I know?” Zhao Xihe shrugged his shoulders, not paying any heed to it. He naturally did not know why Nan Gongyi had suddenly grown hostile towards him. After all, Nan Gongyi had long since known about the deep relationship between himself and Sui Yuan. It wasn’t like his identity as a rival in love was discovered just now. For his hostility to suddenly increase, it was obviously due to something Sui Yuan had said or done, which must have made him mistakenly think that he had harmed his family’s Shixiong in some way.
Anyway…seeing Sui Yuan, who looked even more confused than he was, Zhao Xihe directly gave up on pursuing the matter. Anyway, Zhao Xihe had never taken Nan Gongyi as a serious threat. Of course, occasionally eating vinegar to make things more fun did not count.
In this way, Sui Yuan, Zhao Xihe, and the protagonist gong and shou took up residence in the Demonic Cult’s General Forum. The entire Cult quickly got to work under Zhao Xihe’s administration. The intelligence network that was practically spotless monitored the entire Wulin. No abnormality was allowed to slip by.
Aside from using normal methods, Zhao Xihe also released the Crystal Beast and Nightmare Beast that he had forgotten about and used their powers to acquire information.
Because they were not in their original world, the Crystal Beast’s and Nightmare Beast’s powers were greatly suppressed under the world’s laws. However, they still had some innate powers: for example, they were experts in listening to the hearts of the people and perceiving their emotions. Or, another example, they could suppress the bloodlines of ordinary beasts and command all kinds of animals.
In order to curry goodwill from their masters and avoid staying forgotten in the pet space, the Crystal Beast and the Nightmare Beast really gave their all in completing their tasks. The noble, cool, and elegant Nightmare Beast disdained to associate itself with ordinary beasts. As soon as it left the pet space, it changed into a cat and ran away without a trace. It relied on its own animal-like appearance and innate magic to arrive and go unnoticed as it personally got close and scouted out the target. Meanwhile, the Crystal Beast that was comparatively more sticky to its host nested in the Demonic Cult’s General Forum, and mobilized the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air to help it gather information. It did not forget to do its work or to sell meng. It simply ought to give itself 32 likes!
With such a multi-pronged approach, naturally, nothing could escape from Zhao Xihe’s and Sui Yuan’s eyes. Following the gradually increasing rate of homicide and the emergence of the real ashes, they finally determined who their target was: many of the trails led to a single organization—The House of Profound Theory.
“The House of Profound Theory?” Sui Yuan held the secret report, furrowing his brows in suspicion. He had known that this organization was a bystander for most of the original plot, only to be turned into cannon fodder at the very end. He had even commissioned The House of Profound Theory last time in order to safeguard the plot, ne!
“En. At this time, all of the Jianghu’s cases regarding killings and the extermination of whole clans are related to The House of Profound Theory. Of course, this isn’t a conclusive clue. After all, an assassin organization is the kind of existence that accepts work of this nature. Only, they have recently been much more active,” Zhao Xihe pointed out a name on the report, “According to our tracing, the real ashes are with him. He took away the authentic ones, and then arranged the trap regarding the fake ashes,” Zhao Xihe softly clicked his tongue and narrowed his eyes, “I have to say, his actions are very subtle. Evidently, he’s a character that’s difficult to deal with. If it wasn’t for the Crystal Beast’s little companions having caught onto his ‘cat’ (TN: referring to letting the cat out of the bag), and the Nightmare Beast’s validation that something was not right about him, and we relied solely on our manpower, perhaps he would have succeeded in achieving his aim! It’s a pity that while it’s easy to guard against people, it’s really not easy to guard against animals.”
“…An Qi…” Sui Yuan muttered the name that Zhao Xihe had pointed at and he suddenly felt faint! He buried his face in his hands, ashamed, “That person, I’ve met him.”
“Met him?” Zhao Xihe stared at him blankly, “When? Why?”
“Before, I commissioned The House of Profound Theory to come and chase Nan Gongyi and myself, so that we would be driven to the dilapidated temple,” Sui Yuan simply did not know what expression to make. The enemy that had put a bounty on his head was himself. How big of a heart must he have to be able to eat and sleep without worries back then! “At that time, An Qi got acquainted with Nan Gongyi, so I ended up seeing him a few times. I had originally thought that the change in the turning point and course of events that led to their being acquaintances was my doing so I didn’t pay it any heed. I never expected that….”
Seeing Sui Yuan completely blame himself, Zhao Xihe forced himself to restrain his fear and trepidation regarding something that had already passed. He helplessly rubbed his head and comforted him, “It’s fine. You don’t have any experience in dealing with Destroyers, nor did you even know of their existence. This was inevitable. At that time, I had also agreed with your commissioning The House of Profound Theory, hadn’t I?”
——Of course, Zhao Xihe tactfully omitted the latter half of the sentence. For example, ‘in light of how slow and silly you are, even if I had told you all of this, you probably wouldn’t be able to recognize a Destroyer even if they stood right in front of you’.
Sui Yuan, who was completely clueless about Zhao Xihe’s thoughts, felt consoled and his heart was a bit more at ease.
“Do you think…that the Destroyer already knew that I was an Actor?” Sui Yuan touched his chin. In hindsight, he discovered that previously, he had almost walked to his death. However, he was unable to understand just why the other had let him off, “I could perceive his interest, but there wasn’t any obvious malice. He could have ended me at any time, so why didn’t he? If he is a Destroyer, we, as Actors, are his enemy, no? If it were me, I would definitely strike first, gain the upper hand, and settle this hidden danger, ah!”
Zhao Xihe looked at Sui Yuan, a bit astonished. Sui Yuan, who always appeared oddly soft, gentle, and docile, could unexpectedly say something like ‘strike first and gain the upper hand’ without a care. Only, when he thought about how the other did not object to how he had erased characters, he felt relieved.
——Regardless of how harmless Sui Yuan looked, he was a being that lacked emotions and did not have a sense of what was right or wrong.
——This kind of Sui Yuan, who didn’t mind anything, belonged exclusively to him. He only cared about him…this made Zhao Xihe feel incomparably satisfied.
0007: “Did you forget how many times he’s thrown you away in favour of the plot?”
Zhao Xihe: “Shut up!”
“I haven’t personally come into contact with that person, so I cannot ascertain what he’s thinking,” Zhao Xihe muttered quietly, “Perhaps he sensed that you weren’t alone in this world and that our relationship is significant, so the threat level was much bigger. At that time, he had yet to make the appropriate preparations. Thus, perhaps he was afraid of exposing himself and provoking me, so he decided to bide his time.”
Sui Yuan nodded, accepting his view. Only, he still held some doubt within his heart. That Destroyer did not seem to harbor any enmity or malice towards him. There was even a bit of friendliness. Sui Yuan did not know if he misread him or if the other’s disguising ability was just that great.
——A Destroyer treats his destined foe— who would even kill him— with friendliness. Isn’t this fundamentally impossible?
“Can an Actor be resurrected if they’re killed by a Destroyer?” Sui Yuan looked at Zhao Xihe and asked, “Like how if we die in this world, it’s only the body that we possessed that dies and our consciousness returns to the space between worlds?”
“That’s not for certain,” Zhao Xihe shook his head, “A Destroyer possesses the ability to destroy an Actor’s consciousness, making it completely disappear. Likewise, when we are authorized, we can destroy a Destroyer’s consciousness as well. In most cases, if Actors and Destroyers come into contact, it’s a situation in which one side must die. And if the Actor were to lose, there are only two circumstances under which they will be able to continue existing: one is when their consciousness is particularly strong and they can piece together their impaired strength to escape; the second is…to hope that the Destroyer is in a good mood and will take the initiative to let them off.”
The corner of Sui Yuan’s mouth lifted and ignored Zhao Xihe’s joke at the end.
“So, never lower your guard against Destroyers and never count on the enemy’s benevolence. You haven’t experienced many worlds and the score you’ve received each time hasn’t been high, which is why your consciousness isn’t strong right now. If a Destroyer tried to kill you, your chances of escape are close to none,” Zhao Xihe could faintly make out Sui Yuan’s confusion regarding the Destroyer in this world and took him into his arms. His voice was particularly solemn and grave as he warned him, “Keep yourself safe. Do it for yourself, and also for me.”
“En, I will,” Sui Yuan’s expression became resolute.
He would not risk himself, nor Zhao Xihe, so even though he did not hate that Destroyer he has already met for a few times, he absolutely would not be merciful or soft.