Please update your browser: Your browser is obsolete, you need to update or switch! Missing var() support! Missing grid support! Missing (flex-) gap support! Missing aspect-ratio support! Missing container query support! Missing clamp() support! Missing -webkit-line-clamp support!
    Header Background Image

    Asianovel

    The world's first crowdsourcing-driven asian bl novel translation community

    Chapter 94 - Love's Demise III

    Leaving the Black Iron Prison, the trio journeyed westward from the capital without a clear destination in mind.

    An Zhi hadn't returned to "Killing to End Killing" to play tourist. He suggested, "Let's return to Shangchi City."

    Both Fu You and Li Qing were aware of what Shangchi City was, but Ju Lang interjected, "We can't let him go there."

    They shook their heads, determined not to comply.

    Fu You still spoke in measured tones, his rejection stiff and robotic. "No way! Shangchi City is very dangerous!"

    For An Zhi, if he was searching for Jiaomiao, Shangchi City wasn't dangerous as long as she wasn't there. He took advantage of the situation and asked, "How is it dangerous? Is Jiaomiao there, or is it Dian Shan?"

    Controlling Fu You, Ju Lang explained, "The hooded figures in Shangchi City are the remnants of the Azure Dragon Clan that you were ordered to massacre six thousand years ago. Though their bodies perished, their spirits linger. Dian Shan placed them in the city to await your arrival. He deceived them, claiming that only Shen Yuan's flesh could bring them back to life."

    Upon hearing this, An Zhi recalled the hooded figure who had approached him when they first entered Shangchi City, pleading, "Save our clan!!"

    He pondered: There must be more to the story of the Azure Dragon Clan a thousand years ago. Since Shen Yuan had been cursed with blood from the age of ten, the massacre in the Demon Realm nearly shattered his soul. If he truly slaughtered the Azure Dragon Clan, how could he have escaped the punishment of the blood curse?

    He solidified his determination to return to Shangchi City.

    However, Fu You and Li Qing were unwilling to accompany him.

    Well, it was for the best that they didn't come along, considering the potential dangers ahead.

    "Yan Wen—" An Zhi called out softly.

    "What's up?" A virtual screen immediately popped up, allowing Yan Wen to video chat with him.

    An Zhi asked, "Is there any way you can prevent Fu You and Li Qing from coming with me?"

    "No way!" Ju Lang, observing their conversation, wanted to intervene but couldn't. He could only roar in frustration outside the game, "An Zhi, don't agree to that!"

    Seemingly hearing Ju Lang's roar, Yan Wen faintly curved his lips into a smile. He agreed with An Zhi, "That's easy."

    As soon as he finished speaking, Fu You and Li Qing collapsed to the ground like stiff boards. Instantly, they transformed into swirling code, blending into the surroundings and disappearing from sight.

    Wen Yan said, "I've placed them in a dormant state. However, it's not just them."

    An Zhi's face paled. "What do you mean?"

    Wen Yan replied, "I want to turn you into a demon, so you can kill Jiaomiao with your own hands and engage in a deadly battle with Dixiu. Only then can they awaken peacefully when you sit atop the highest seat in the world, capable of controlling fate with a flick of your wrist."

    An Zhi was all too aware of what it meant to be possessed by demonic impulses—bloodthirsty and ruthless. Such a being had no place ruling over this world.

    "I know you're a kind person and wouldn't agree to this," Wen Yan continued, as the virtual screen before him shifted.

    Then, An Zhi's vision was filled with a group of unfamiliar faces.

    Wen Yan swept his gaze across them, pausing briefly to explain, "These two men are called Sheng Feixing and Li Qing. Sheng Feixing is Dian Shan's reincarnation, and you already know Li Qing, so I won't elaborate."

    The scene shifted slightly as he continued, "This is Ji Yiyi's reincarnation, then there's the innocent sprout you killed, Lin Xing, Ye Lu, Fu Xun, the nameless slave whose body you borrowed, and Fu You... Right, Fu You was actually the child you and Zhe Dan rescued from the bandits. They're all here now."

    Pausing the image on a particular man, he said, "This one is the reincarnation of Chi Zi'e. In truth, Chi Zi'e has long been dead. What you see here is just a bunch of code. A thousand years ago, you would have died unjustly without knowing who to seek revenge against. But Chi Zi'e revealed to you that Jiaomiao was behind the plot. At that time, Chi Zi'e was already deceased, and it was only his spirit that told you the truth."

    An Zhi asked, "Why would the noble Yi Shujun die?!"

    Wen Yan recalled, "When I heard it, or rather, Ji Yuanshi told me that she and Zhe Dan were actually on the same side. They staged a scene late at night, pretending to be a rogue harassing an innocent maiden, luring the kind-hearted Chi Zuo'e away. Then, Wang Wanhe killed him. Wang Wanhe, oh Wang Wanhe, he had a good heart but not a sound mind. He believed everything he was told. Upon learning that Chi Zuo'e was associated with you, he deemed him a threat and thus chose to invoke lightning to punish himself."

    "Ji Yuanshi was the one who spoke," An Zhi stated, his mind already made up.

    "That's right," Wen Yan confirmed.

    "Alright, very well..." An Zhi pressed on, "But why, why did Ji Yuanshi fall for you?"

    Wen Yan shook his head. "I don't know. Perhaps it was love at first sight."

    "Be kinder to Wen Yan. She truly has feelings for you..." An Zhi remarked.

    Wen Yan replied, "You were betrothed to Ji Yuanshi since childhood. I thought you would mind our relationship."

    An Zhi responded, "I don't recall those events, nor am I Shen Yuan or Wen Yu. Ji Yuanshi is not a part of who I am. The one who has truly cared all along is you."

    As she finished speaking, the scene jolted. Then, the camera steadied on a wall.

    Startled by An Zhi's words, Wen Yan stood frozen, unable to recover for a long while.

    For a moment, An Zhi asked again, "Did you secretly arrange for Fu You and Li Qing to meet?"

    Wen Yan replied, "It wasn't me."

    Upon hearing this, a sharp glint flashed in An Zhi's eyes. He already knew who the invisible hand behind Fu You and Li Qing was – Ju Lang.

    He agreed to Wen Yan's request, "Alright, Wen Yan, I'll do as you wish. I hope you'll keep your promise and release those people after everything is done. I have a debt of guilt towards them."

    Wen Yan said, "I'll be waiting for your return."

    ...

    Alone, An Zhi returned to Shangchi City. This time, he didn't disguise himself at all; he walked in openly and unmasked.

    In no time, he attracted a large crowd.

    Scanning the group, they were different from the residents of Shangchi City he had seen on his journey. They were unkempt, with tousled hair and bare feet.

    Though their appearance was somewhat disheveled, the looks they gave An Zhi were far from friendly – they were hostile, even filled with hatred, wishing to devour him alive on the spot.

    An Zhi spoke to himself, "Are you the Outcasts of Shangchi City? Only they would hate Shen Yuan this much."

    In the crowd, a woman glanced around and, noticing their hesitation, boldly pushed her way through the throng, stepping forward alone. Without a word, she took An Zhi's hand and led him out of the crowd.

    An Zhi tilted his head to see the profile of the woman.

    Though her face was smudged with dirt, there was an inexplicable sense of warmth that flowed from her, as if a gentle stream was originating from the depths of his heart.

    Surprised, An Zhi asked, "Aren't you with them?"

    "Haha, I'm not with them because I have my own daughter to think about," the woman replied. Her palm was rough, and the calluses lightly rubbed against An Zhi's wrist, causing a faint itch.

    Now he knew where that warmth had come from—the woman's touch and profile reminded him vividly of his mother.

    Lowering his guard, An Zhi followed the woman.

    As they walked, the woman muttered to herself, "Don't provoke them. There isn't a single good person in this city, they all have a taste for flesh."

    The woman guided An Zhi towards a narrow alley.

    Differing vastly from the streets one would encounter upon entering Shangchicheng, this was a narrow and elongated alley that seldom saw sunlight. It was dimly lit, carrying a faint musty odor, with bumpy roads filled with dark, damp soil. Moss sprawled across the corners, climbing up the walls to a height of roughly thirty centimeters.

    If one were to liken the southern region's rainy season to the months of June and July, then this place was perpetually trapped in a never-ending drizzle.

    Taptap taptap —— Suddenly, footsteps echoed ahead.

    Upon closer scrutiny, there seemed to be an additional rhythmic thudding sound accompanying the footsteps.

    An Zhi silently summoned Lingchi, casually swaying his wrist as if fanning himself, but in reality, he was secretly glancing around to locate the source of the voice—a frail old man was limping toward them.

    "He's Old Chen."

    "It's Duan Yan!"

    Upon sighting each other, the woman and the elder warmly exchanged greetings.

    An Zhi's face paled, turning ashen with shock.

    Old Chen's hands were covered in green scales, but not excessively; only a few planks adorned them.

    Duan Yan, anticipating An Zhi's reaction, explained, "Don't be afraid, child. Everyone in Shangchicheng grows these scales." She rolled up her sleeve and presented it before An Zhi's eyes. "Look, I have them too."

    It was unbelievable.

    An Zhi's hand trembled as he reached out, gently touching the green scale. It felt smooth to the touch.

    To be honest, neither Old Chen's nor Duan Yan's scales were unappealing. They shimmered with unusual radiance, resembling iridescent glass under sunlight, translucent and dazzling.

    But no matter how mesmerizing they might be, how could ordinary people suddenly grow such things?

    An Zhi's scalp prickled. "These...?"

    Duan Yan replied, "These are dragon scales." With that, she lowered her sleeve.

    An Zhi furrowed his brow, questioning, "Dragon scales? The Azure Dragon clan? But even if they are dragon scales, how can they appear on humans? Are you people of the dragon race?"

    Upon hearing this, Old Chen's expression immediately darkened. He tapped the ground with his cane and huffed through his nose.

    Duan Yan gently pleaded with Old Chen, "He's just a young child, prone to speaking without thinking—"

    She explained to An Zhi, "Dragons are monster beasts, just a notch better than regular monsters. The only difference is that dragons are more skilled at currying favor with the gods. Calling us Dragon Clan is like calling us traitors. There are even rumors that those hooded figures who captured us Impure to forge sacred artifacts are the vengeful spirits of the Azure Dragon Clan."

    It was said that An Zhi spoke softly, sincerely apologizing, "I spoke too hastily and offended you."

    Yet, Old Chen's face was ashen, his nostrils flaring as he breathed heavily. It seemed he was still fuming with anger.

    Duan Yan promptly stepped in to diffuse the tension: "There, there. Kids don't know any better. Ignorance is forgiven, after all."

    "Child?" Old Chen was visibly angered, his hand leaning on the cane trembling slightly. He turned his head and glanced at An Zhi, saying, "I see he is already in his early twenties, not a child anymore, yet he still insults people left and right! Hmph!"

    Duan Yan persistently defended An Zhi, "Ah, from our perspective at this age, he's still very much a child."

    Thought An Zhi: Duan Yan must be a very gentle mother.

    Lost in thought, a sudden splash of filthy water doused down from the other side of the wall.

    "A pack of scum, what's all the commotion about?" —— The person who threw the water hurled an insult.

    An Zhi's eyes narrowed, ready to dodge, but seeing the panic-stricken expressions on Duan Yan and Old Chen's faces, his heart softened. He reached out to pull them both to the safety of a corner where they wouldn't be splashed by the filthy water, leaving himself no time to escape.

    In the blink of an eye, a loud crash echoed.

    An Zhi's features contorted, drenched as if he were a wet hen, his silver hair clinging to his cheeks.

    Feeling extremely apologetic, Duan Yan rolled up her sleeves and helped An Zhi wipe the dirty water off his face. "It's all wet, what should we do? Wet clothes can be quite uncomfortable to wear."

    An Zhi smiled. "It's okay."

    Duan Yan took his arm and said, "Come to my place to wash your clothes. You can leave after they dry tomorrow."

    He was thus led by Duan Yan to her residence.

    Upon looking around, the humble abode was sparsely furnished, with nothing but a desk and a chair that resembled proper furniture.

    Though the modest house was simple, it was exceptionally clean.

    Duan Yan invited him to sit down and then walked over to the bed, retrieving a cloth doll from the hay pile.

    With the tenderness of a nurturing mother, she patted its back gently while slowly swaying her arms, softly murmuring, "Hua Hua, don't cry. Mommy will be back soon to keep you company..."

    The scene was peculiar yet pitiful.

    In that moment, the only sound in the room was Duan Yan's soothing whispers as she calmed her "child."

    After a brief interval, the familiar tapping of a cane against the ground echoed from outside the door.

    Thud, thud, thud – the sound drew closer. Old Chen arrived gracefully, carrying a beautifully wrapped package.

    An Zhi turned his head, noticing a doorstep about fifteen to twenty centimeters high. Concerned that Old Chen might trip, he got up and approached, offering his assistance.

    As Old Chen was helped into the house, he said, "Young man, I brought some mooncakes from Jiao Yue Fang. It's my way of expressing gratitude for protecting us from the flood. Please don't think it's too little."

    "How could I possibly disdain your kind intentions?" An Zhi accepted the mooncakes.

    Meanwhile, Duan Yan continued to pat the doll's back softly and said in a gentle voice, "We have a guest, Hua Hua. Be good, and Mommy will be right back."

    Afterward, she gently set the doll down and walked over to Old Chen.

    Old Chen slightly tilted his head, secretly glancing at the hay stack behind him.

    An Zhi could tell that Old Chen's perspective on Duan Yan's actions wasn't one of fear or disgust but rather heartache and regret.

    Sure enough, Old Chen sighed the next second and said, "Little Duan, don't blame an old man for being too talkative. I'm doing this for your own good. You're a fine person; why deceive yourself? Huahua is long gone..."

    Duan Yan disliked the subject, furrowing her brows as she changed the topic. "Young man, I haven't tried Jiao Yue Fang's pastries yet. Why don't we sit down and enjoy them together?"

    An Zhi nodded. "Sounds great."

    The three of them took their seats.

    An Zhi picked up only one pastry, taking a small bite before swallowing it.

    Seeing this, Duan Yan spoke in a somber tone, "Shen Yuan, do you truly believe we can't see through your disguise and don't hate you? My child was killed by you!"

    As soon as her words faded, a layer of golden light suddenly enveloped An Zhi, trapping him within.

    --------------------

    0 Comments

    Enter your details or log in with:
    Heads up! Your comment will be invisible to other guests and subscribers (except for replies), including you after a grace period. But if you submit an email address and toggle the bell icon, you will be sent replies until you cancel.