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    Chapter 176: Master, Buy Me

    After Chu Wanning tied up his hair in a ponytail, he went outside to wash the dishes. It was a long while before he returned to the room, still not having finished with the three bowls.

    Mo Ran sat on the bed, feeling restless. His fingers fidgeted with the seam of the bed frame as he kept glancing out the window from time to time.

    What should he do?

    He pondered.

    How would they sleep tonight?

    It seemed like a simple question, but it was actually a life-or-death issue.

    Mo Ran was uncertain about Chu Wanning's intentions, and his own mind was torn between desire and reason, locked in a fierce battle.

    Just then, the warm curtains were lifted, and Chu Wanning, carrying the freshly washed bowls and bringing in the chill from outside, entered the room. He cast a glance at Mo Ran, who was seated by the bed. The candlelight flickered, casting an ambiguous light in his eyes. But before Mo Ran could decipher that expression, Chu Wanning had already lowered his lids. Mo Ran missed the chance to study him further as his back was now turned, and he sat down at the table.

    "Master, aren't you sleeping?"

    Upon saying this, he realized it had been a slip of the tongue. It sounded like a man, parched beyond measure, urgently inviting his lover to bed.

    Chu Wanning didn't turn around. He said coolly, "I still have some tasks to attend to. If you're tired, go ahead and sleep first."

    "I'm not tired either," Mo Ran replied. "What are you doing, Shifu? I can help."

    "You won't be able to assist with this. I want to create more Sound-Imbuing Begonias tonight," Chu Wanning said, lifting his hand to pluck a delicate golden begonia with a flick of his fingers, placing it on the table.

    These begonias were formed from Chu Wanning's spiritual energy, capable of storing short messages for communication. It was a secret technique unique to him, one that others couldn't replicate.

    But Mo Ran was puzzled. He walked over to the table, pulled out a chair, flipped it around, and sat down with his strong arms propped up on the backrest, chin resting on his arms.

    "Why are you making these, Shifu?"

    "To sell them."

    "Hmm?"

    Hearing the slight surprise in Mo Ran's voice, Chu Wanning lifted an eyebrow to glance at him indifferently. "We don't have enough money to stay on Fragrant Flower Island for seven days. Didn't that Sun Sanniang say she wanted to do business? Well, if she can, so can I. These Sound-Imbuing Begonias never wilt and shimmer with golden light. Look at how all her gold and silver jewelry sparkles—she clearly likes shiny things. Once they're done, I'll go sell them on the street tomorrow and see if she's interested."

    Mo Ran couldn't help but laugh. "Shifu… wants to sell flowers?"

    Chu Wanning's expression shifted slightly, seemingly unwilling to associate himself with the young women selling white orchids in the alleys. He replied stiffly, "Flowers created by magic aren't the same as real ones."

    "I'll go with you tomorrow then."

    Chu Wanning remained silent, quickly forming another four flowers before grumbling, "It's up to you. As long as you don't mind being embarrassed."

    "How is it embarrassing?" Mo Ran picked one up and inhaled. The flower was light and scentless, yet its shimmering aura exuded an elegant uniqueness. Its golden glow illuminated his handsome face and dark lashes. He chuckled, "I think Sun Sanniang would beg Shifu to sell her one. How much do you plan on charging per flower?"

    "Wouldn't it take much spiritual energy for just a hundred? How about selling them for three copper coins each?"

    Mo Ran: "............"

    Chu Wanning looked at him again, his brow furrowing slightly as he hesitated, "Too much?"

    Mo Ran let out a sigh, neither confirming nor denying, only saying, "Don't quote a price tomorrow, Master. Let me sell them."

    "Why? I made the flowers, I should set the price."

    "Three copper coins," Mo Ran held up three fingers before Chu Wanning, a mix of laughter and tears in his eyes. "Master, you're the Immortal Venerated of the Northern Dipper. This is your Nighttime Begonia, something the entire cultivation world would beg for, yet you're selling it for three copper coins?"

    "No one has asked to buy it. Besides its beauty and ability to convey sound, it doesn't have any other use. I think this price is reasonable."

    Mo Ran was almost amused by his frustration. "Then, sell them all to me, alright? I'll give you the money right now."

    Chu Wanning paused, and a half-formed begonia flower lost its spiritual energy support, dropping a golden petal. He unexpectedly held out his palm and said indifferently, "Deal."

    "..."

    Mo Ran was speechless for a moment, reaching for his purse. Only then did he remember that both he and Chu Wanning had been drained of their remaining funds by that old turtle, causing him some embarrassment.

    Looking up, he saw Chu Wanning looking at him with a hint of a smile, making him feel even more awkward. He muttered, "Master already knew I had no money, yet you still..."

    Chu Wanning found the situation amusing and replied, "You were the one who boasted that you would buy them from me."

    "I..."

    Halfway through his sentence, he silently swallowed his words.

    Suddenly, he felt that Chu Wanning's words carried a different meaning.

    Chu Wanning was supposed to say "buy my flowers," but due to his laziness, he left the sentence unfinished. It sounded as if Mo Ran was about to pay for the man standing before him with silver coins. Mo Ran's heartbeat quickened.

    He avoided looking into Chu Wanning's eyes, afraid that his rebellious thoughts might be exposed. However, after glancing down at Chu Wanning's hands for a moment, he noticed that Chu Wanning had been washing dishes outside for a long time, turning the hot water into icy water. His fingertips had turned red from the cold.

    Without much thought, almost out of habit, Mo Ran reached out and held the five fingers extended on the table.

    Chu Wanning was startled. He had been pretending to be calm, extending his hand to ask for money, but instead, it landed in a pair of warm and broad palms. The warmth was just right, yet it felt like he was being burned by a branding iron, causing him to snatch his hand back abruptly.

    "What are you doing?!"

    "..."

    Mo Ran hadn't intended any indecent thoughts. He genuinely wanted to warm Chu Wanning's hands, feeling sympathy for him.

    However, he hadn't expected such a strong reaction, leaving him momentarily stunned.

    The two of them stared at each other under the dim candlelight. Suddenly, a tear dropped from the candle, making a loud popping sound, breaking the silence.

    Chu Wanning was aware that his excessive sensitivity had only made matters worse, so he fell silent, biting his lip and feeling rather awkward.

    Mo Ran observed his silence, and the tender sprout in his heart grew stronger, stretching its delicate frame, causing an itch in his chest that only intensified.

    "Shifu..."

    Chu Wanning: "..."

    "Were you...?" His question hung in the air, unfinished. He didn't know what answer awaited him and, at last, reason pulled him back from the edge. He decided not to pursue it.

    But even without a complete question, Chu Wanning replied stiffly, "No."

    Mo Ran was taken aback. "What's not?"

    "Whatever you ask, the answer is no." Chu Wanning frowned, his sharp defenses rising like a cat baring its teeth, protecting its territory and keeping strangers at bay. "Remove your hand."

    Mo Ran did as he was told, placing his hand back on the chair, looking obedient.

    Chu Wanning continued to gaze at the flower, fixing the fallen petal of the flowering crabapple. He was irritated, but beneath that, there was a deeper sense of helplessness. After a moment, Mo Ran said, "Shifu, actually, I just wanted to ask if you were cold and if I could... warm your hands."

    "I'm not cold."

    Liar. That hand he'd just touched was clearly icy.

    Feeling that their current position was rather awkward, Chu Wanning said, "If there's nothing else, go to sleep. I'll take you to sell flowers tomorrow."

    "..."

    In the past, he would often say, "I'll take you to practice," "I'll take you to meditate," or "I'll take you to read books."

    Taking someone to sell flowers...

    Mo Ran tried to hold back his laughter, but failed. His dark eyes held a smile as he gazed at the person in the candlelight, softly humming an "Mm" in response but without moving from his spot.

    "Go to bed."

    Mo Ran glanced at the bed.

    He decided that under no circumstances would he fall asleep before Chu Wanning.

    Since he was unsure whether to sleep on the bed or the floor, he would follow Chu Wanning's lead. If Chu Wanning ended up sleeping against the wall, obviously making space for him, then he would take the bed.

    If Chu Wanning lay in the center... well, then he would be obedient.

    With this mischievous plan in mind, Mo Ran blushed and said, "I'm not going to sleep yet."

    "What are you doing sitting there?" Chu Wanning frowned.

    Mo Ran raised his hand, his slender fingers closing into a fist, and, using spiritual energy, conjured a fiery red butterfly out of thin air.

    Chu Wanning: "……………………"

    "I'm selling them," Mo Ran said with a smile, flicking his finger. The fiery butterfly fluttered up and landed among the pile of peach blossoms Chu Wanning had placed aside. It burrowed in, its wings glowing like fireflies as it seemed to pollinate the flowers, darting in and out of their centers. "These are expensive. I'm greedy. Ten gold coins each."

    Chu Wanning watched that annoying butterfly fly around, landing on his peach blossoms, and licking at their delicate pink stamens.

    Chu Wanning's face darkened.

    "Mo Weiyu!!"

    "What's the matter?"

    He was so furious that he didn't know what to say or how to express it.

    In the end, he suppressed his anger and awkwardly rasped, "Three copper coins each, no more than that."

    Mo Ran burst into laughter.

    After laughing for a while, he plucked out another fiery red butterfly and handed it over. The butterfly landed gently on the peach blossom in Chu Wanning's fingertips with tenderness.

    "I sell them to others for ten gold coins. I think that's a fair price."

    "Then sell it to me!" Chu Wanning puffed up, saying fiercely, "I'll resell it. Anyway, it can't be more expensive than my peach blossom."

    After thinking for a moment, he added, "But I don't have any money on me. I'll pay you back when we return to the Summit of Life and Death."

    Smiling, Mo Ran plucked out a third butterfly. He blew gently, and the butterfly danced around Chu Wanning. Lying on his tanned and sturdy arm, he said warmly, "What are you talking about?"

    "You... Do you still want to say that you don't accept credit?" Chu Wanning lifted his chin slightly, his eyes still moist with anger, but his expression was haughty. He had made up his mind that if Mo Ran dared to refuse credit, he would definitely take on the role of a mentor and teach this arrogant man a lesson.

    The audacious man only laughed more brightly. His dimples dug deep, and his voice was soft with a slight nasal tone as he said, "No, what I meant to say is…"

    What did he mean to say?

    Chu Wanning stood on guard, dignified and majestic.

    "The deal is, you buy me," the man said, intentionally or unintentionally omitting the word "spirit butterfly," making his words ambiguous and flirtatious. Lying on his arm, he gazed at Chu Wanning with utmost sincerity and a gentle smile, "I'll sell myself to you, for free."

    Neither of them had anticipated such an answer.

    Startled, Chu Wanning's face flushed red.

    It was already very late at night. The room was filled with spirit butterflies and osmanthus blossoms, more than enough to be sold. But neither of them got up to sleep first.

    There was no need to explain Mo Ran's thoughts; he planned to observe how Chu Wanning slept before deciding on his next move. Although Chu Wanning was unaware of Mo Ran's intentions, he wasn't foolish. He was uncertain and curious about what Mo Ran would do tonight.

    Would he sleep…on the floor or on the bed?

    Despite feeling that this man was becoming increasingly dangerous, if Mo Ran were to lie down on the bed, Chu Wanning had no intention of driving him away.

    He could even sense the secret hope within himself, hoping to see Mo Ran rise wearily and utter a simple "I'm tired," before collapsing onto the bed.

    —Why isn't he sleeping yet??

    As Chu Wanning and Mo Ran twirled flowers and butterflies, they both fretted impatiently.

    Just sleep, please. Lie down first, and then...

    "Shifu."

    "Hmm?"

    "Are you tired? It's getting late. Why don't you take a rest?"

    "No need, I'm used to it."

    And so another hour passed.

    "Mo Ran."

    "Hmm?"

    "Why are you still sitting there?"

    "I'll gather more butterflies. If Shifu is tired, go to sleep first. I'll wait a bit longer."

    Chu Wanning forcefully suppressed the urge to yawn, gritting his back teeth discreetly. His eyes were slightly red from two consecutive nights of unrest, but he stubbornly insisted, "I'm not sleepy yet."

    Mo Ran: "...."

    After an indeterminate amount of time, the butterflies and peaches in the room were piled up like an ocean, their golden and crimson hues intertwining, a dazzling sight. Mo Ran, feeling somewhat drowsy, lifted his head and suddenly froze.

    Chu Wanning was far too exhausted and had already fallen asleep on the table.

    His fingertips still held half a peach blossom that hadn't fully taken shape; its petals trembled slightly with each breath. Mo Ran approached quietly, gently plucking off the unfinished flower and placing it on the table before lifting Chu Wanning into his arms.

    Author's Note: Doggo's Courage: 200, completed "400800"

    Shifu's emotional resilience: 40100, completed.

    Mini Scene "Keep Writing!"

    Picking up from the last sentence today:

    His fingertips still held a half-formed, ethereal peach blossom, its petals quivering with each breath. Mo Ran approached silently and gently plucked the incomplete flower, placing it on the table. Then, he lifted the other person up—

    And now, the continuation!

    Then, he lifted him up and threw him onto the floor.

    Then, he lifted him up and pressed their bodies together.

    Then, he lifted him up and metaphorically drowned him in anger.

    Then, he lifted him up and executed a perfect Thomas Spin.

    Then, he lifted him up and threw him towards the ceiling.

    Then, he lifted him up, but in the process, Mo Ran's arm broke.

    Then, he scooped him up and whisked him around Mo Ran's waist.

    Next, he lifted him up and threw him out like a solid ball.

    Next, he lifted him up – and there you have it, Athlete Mo Weiyu, Number 10, flawlessly executed this lift without any slippage. A difficulty factor of 0.5; it could not have gone more smoothly. This is a significant milestone in contestant Mo Weiyu's athletic career!

    Then, he carried him, removed his outer robe and undergarment, and placed him on the bed... What was he thinking? Sprinkle salt and soy sauce, rub vigorously, let it marinate for fifteen minutes, then roast until golden and crispy! It's ready to be devoured!!

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