– chapter warning: suicide attempt –
The sky had turned into dusk. Brilliant red-gold sunset broke through the window. It was late summer and the beginning of fall, the cool evening wind carried the fragrance of lotus from a small pond.
How picturesque was this mood and this place. Mu Ruoyan concentrated his eyes on me — the clear water that slightly rippled moments ago had settled back, flat as an undisturbed mirror. As expected Tian Shu’s reincarnation was the same as him in the heaven, he tended to remain stilland carried an air of virtue and nobility. My heart was loud but I maintained my face; my body moved to support the sickly man.
Mu Ruoyan opened his mouth, the voice was gentle but his first few words were unexpected: “Could young lord Li be that young son of Dongjun Wang, who was said to be a Xingjun?”
Rumours spread quickly. I let go of Tian Shu’s hand, sporting a grin, “That Great Tiger Lord became a human was a swindler’s nonsense. In the whole world, where can you find such an unusual thing happening to a god.” The high lord sitting on the bed, you were one such honourable Xingjun who reincarnated, you even involved this immortal lord to accompany you on this arduous task.
Mu Ruoyan got up from the bed, “This one also unintentionally heard it on my way, when I passed through a village’s inn.” He smiled. “If there was an offence, hope young lord Li can excuse it.”
I got closer to Mu Ruoyan, lowering my eyes to gaze into his, “You’re already my person now. What need is there to speak courteously between you and me.”
Tian Shu Xingjun, when you hear these abrupt words you need to be careful.
Mu Ruoyan’s face fell even more. The cold winds that entered the room swept up his robes’ thin materials, it nearly blew him away. He kept smiling that weak courtly smile, maintaining his elegant bearing. *I internally sighed watching the pale lips that opened to say: “Today, this one was fortunate to enter Dongjun Wang’s courtyard. Young lord should be clear on the path I took in this journey. And for the favour of saving my life on the mountain, I am eternally grateful…..”
I blocked his mouth. “Don’t say words like ‘unable to return the favour’. We shall stay together for a long time, whatever you think you can repay it is enough.”
Mu Ruoyan’s sallow look got heavier. He used his sleeves to cover his mouth and coughed several times. He said with a forced smile: “There is no hiding from a wise man. Mu Ruoyan is a major criminal on a run. Young lord Li wants me to enter Dongjun Wang’s residence, so it could be assumed you have some plans. This person is someone who’s long reached the end of his road, life and death is up to fate, thus this one doesn’t know how I am deserving of all the trouble Dongjun wang’s people go through.”
His tone carried his suffering. *I attentively watched his teetering body so I can hold out my hand in time to support him. Mu Ruoyan’s whole body immediately stiffened before he had the chance to fall. Ai, this immortal only talked about liking you on the surface, *I wouldn’t really do anything.
Yet this body’s wicked role must be played to the end. Half-supporting and half-embracing Tian Shu, I replied, “Ruoyan is an intelligent man, I also won’t hide it from you. I originally captured you to be sent back to the capital; however, this lord fell for Ruoyan at first sight, I absolutely can’t part with you. I thought it’d be better take you back to my residence. Firstly, you’re always close by and secondly,” I took a lock of hair on his shoulder and smiled ominously, ”that General Shan of yours is truly an outstanding man. I’d be lucky to be acquainted with him through you.”
I turned around with a wave of my sleeves, not waiting to see Tian Shu’s expression. I smiled wider, “Ruoyan must be tired, you should take a small nap first. When the moon is at its brightest this lord shall spend the night with you.”
I strode out the room. The setting sun was half buried by now and the clouds dyed deep red. I instructed a maid: “Get some soup, tea and fruits. Attend to young lord Yan’s meal.” Then hurried back to my bedroom. After having two cups of herbal tea, I touched the right arm I embraced Tian Shu with just now. It felt indescribable and strange. The corner of my eyes caught a small head peeking below the doorframe, grinning at me with his two missing teeth. It was Li Sixian’s son, my little nephew Li Jinning.
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.
This bold trickster brought headache to everyone in the manor. After I had initially scared him and Li Siyuan’s son Jinshu at the courtyard, they came back again to determine if I was really the Great Tiger Lord. All day long they’d stroll in and out within the mansion. Jinshu would run upon seeing me, only daring to peep from behind a pillar at the corner. Jinning, however, had followed behind me diligently.
At first he only followed, later on he’d sneakily threw pebbles at my back. One particular day I was sitting in the rear garden pavilion when he bolted out from the bushes and pounced on my knee. Those perfectly round eyes wide open, he asked seriously: “Little uncle, everyone in the manor said you’re human Great Tiger Demon. Is that a lie or not?”1
I said, “It’s Great Tiger Lord, not Great Tiger Demon.” This immortal was still okay with becoming a Tiger Lord, if it’s turned into Tiger Demon, where would I put my face?
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My hand reached out to rub Li Jinning’s head. He immediately exposed his missing two teeth and his limbs climbed further up my knee. “Little uncle, you’re not a great tiger demon so can you tell me the great tiger demon’s story?”
I said with a kind smile, “I can. Not only about great tiger demon, little uncle can tell you all about the fox demon, black bear demon, spider demon or deer demon’s story”
Li Jinning grabbed my lapel, “Black bear demon! I want to hear about the black bear demon!”
*I cleared my throat, telling a story of Black Bear Demon. But after barely halfway into the story Li Jinning was already lying on me, fast asleep. His drool ran down my robe.
*Having no other choice, I had carried him back to his courtyard and handed him to his wet nurse. Since then, Li Jinning had been stuck to *me. Every day he would make his way to my Han courtyard once or twice.
Right now, seeing that I had spotted him, Jinning bolted over from the doorway. His wriggling body crawled up *my knee. “Little uncle, I want to eat grilled bird eggs.”
The hairs on my head hurt. “There are no grilled eggs here, go back and ask your mother. Let the kitchen make you grilled eggs to eat.”
Jinning shook his head all excited, “Not quail’s egg. There’s a bird’s nest on the backyard tree. Little uncle, we’ll kick the nest down, then we’ll get bird eggs.” This little brat really knew some things.
I had spent my energy to deal with Tian Shu Xingjun, where would I have the mood to humour a small kid? My face hardened, “Tut! Get what nest, kick it down and do what! Be a good boy, go practice writing in your room!”
Jinning’s lips pouted, his small paws still firmly grabbing my robe, not letting go. “I’m not going back. I want to hear the gecko demon’s story. Little uncle, tell me!”
Alright, anyway this little ancestor will sleep after hearing half of it. This immortal can rest after he slept. A gecko demon….. How do you spin a good story for the Gecko Demon……
Sure enough, halfway through the story Jinning was sound asleep. I carried him out. The wet nurse in eldest brother’s house had since become used to standing outside, she was already waiting in the courtyard. She greeted me with a smile. “We bothered third young lord again.” She then took Jinning into the courtyard’s extended room. I finally had peace and quiet.
As night began to fall the light of the manor shone brightly.
I finished dinner, showered, and changed my clothes. I called a maid over to ask how the young lord in the side room was. Pretty soon the hour will arrive when *I will have to accompany Tian Shu to bed.
The maid said, ‘that young lord’s body was unwell. He only drank two sips of tea this evening but he fainted shortly after a fit of coughing. He just woke up, your servant came out to warm up his tea’. I replied with a grunt and made my way to the side room in light steps. I heard the sound of an object falling to the ground before I pushed the door open. Under the faint yellow light there was Mu Ruoyan hanging mid air. He hung by a strip of white silk belt tied to his neck.
My heart thumped. Who knew Tian Shu Xingjun couldn’t take a disgrace to this extent. I only said a bit in the afternoon, he then wanted to cut his life short. I immediately leapt up and brought him down. How would I report back to Jade Emperor if Mu Ruoyan died?
Mu Ruoyan was light as a feather yet stiff in *my arms. Both of his eyes are shut tightly and his complexion was all white. My finger felt under his nose, no breathing. His heart wouldn’t start no matter how I pinched the renzhong point or hit his back.2 Such a predestined event was hateful.
The old men didn’t consider this an important moment. I was still unable to do more than small immortal techniques. *I was forced to pump his heart and pass him divine energy by mouth.
Mouth and mouth interlocked. Tian Shu’s lips were cold as ice and yet very soft. As soon as our lips touched, *I suddenly felt a pang of guilt. Tian Shu Xingjun was kissed like this by me. For me it’s something easy, but for him it would mean owing me who saved his life twice.
I pried Tian Shu’s lips open with my tongue in order to pass him a mouthful of divine breath. After that, I raised my head and wiped my mouth. If this reaches Heng Wen Qingjun’s ears, *I’ll never hear the end of it.
Tian Shu drew in a breath and his eyelashes moved. I heavily clapped his back a few times making him cough a lot. He slowly opened his eyes. I gave him an eerie smile and said: “Trying to kill yourself in front of this lord? It was hard to take you in, how can I allow you to die easily!”
Jade Emperor didn’t let Tian Shu to lack in torments these twenty years. I didn’t need much strength to lift him up and throw him onto the bed. Mu Ruoyan glared at me with fierce cold eyes. The corners of his mouth were drawn in a bitter smile, he closed his eyes.
My heart felt endlessly melancholic and desolate. When people were having a good talk and one person came to make things difficult, it’s in fact harder to be the bad person. Looking at Tian Shu at this moment my heart felt immensely troubled.
Several thousand years ago when *I had soared to heaven the messenger had guided me to greet various other immortals first. I met Tian Shu Xingjun for the first time up on the ninth layer of the skies. At that time he had just come out from the Beidou hall with the remaining six stars of the Northern Dipper following behind him. I saw a graceful, magnificent figure wearing a plain robe and a jade hairpin within the thin silver radiance. The sight simultaneously making one unable to be so rude as to stare and unable to keep from looking. He was truly one of the best among immortals.
I followed the messenger’s pointers — I waited solemnly on the side, kneeled and bowed in dingli for him: “This small immortal is newly ascended, Song Yao greets Xingjun.”3
The crisp, starlike gaze only stopped on me for an instant. He nodded his head back in courtesy but didn’t exchange any pleasantries, rather he turned and flew away. Not even The Jade Emperor had that big of an attitude.
Tian Shu Xingjun of that time had been above it all, how could he imagine falling to this degree? And the blame for causing his miserable appearance right now largely laid on *me.
I sinned ah. This immortal had sinned ah. Jade Emperor forced this immortal to sin ah……
My heart was bitter but my mouth must continue to be ruthless. “The son of prime minister Mu’s family actually hanged himself like a young maiden.4 You should know, people who die from hanging have their tongue completely extended out. Moreover, the bile from their stomach will pour out, my house servants will scrub the ground for half a day because of your corpse. You plan to let your grandfather, uncle, father and dear mother see your hanged ghost in the underworld?”
Mu Ruoyan went still in his stupor.
I took off his shoes and socks, shifting him to the inner side of the bed. Finished covering him tight with the thin blanket I went out to tell the maids to fetch me one set of a pillow and a bedding.
Two maids came in holding the bedding. The colour of their faces changed when they saw the belt still hanging from the roof beam. With a cold face, I ordered them to put the bedding here and to take down the belt. The maids didn’t dare to speak many words, they left with their heads bowed.
I took off my robe then got in the thin blanket. Tian Shu didn’t stir, he faced the wall with his eyes closed. I said to him, “Starting from today you’ll accompany this lord to sleep. Our future days are long, you will surely come to see my good points.”
The oil lamp went out, the room fell into a complete darkness. I lied on the bed and closed my eyes. The breathing of the man beside me was small and delicate, his body as still as a log.
 是白虎星，不是白虎精 xing VS jing, Jinning mistook ‘star’ with ‘essence/spirit’, so White Tiger God became White Tiger Demon/spirit. Previously ‘Dork’, unfortunately, the pun can’t be maintained. ↑
 Middle of the Person/Water Pit, acupuncture point, located right in the middle of the philtrum, pinch when people faint. ↑
 kowtow=you knock your head to the ground, dingli=you put your head on the feet of the person/bow lowly to them, hand extended. It’s the most respectful greeting. ↑
 In Chinese dramas noble ladies usually take their lives by hanging from white silk in case their innocence is tainted or in question. They may ask for it themselves or forced to do it, and people will just hand the silk over to them. (I’ve watched 3L3W so I reference it a lot) Sujin used white silk once, I don’t know why 3L3W heaven maintains such mortal penalty, but she did. ↑