His highness's Allure - Chap 92
Shen Shijiu was frightened, and stupidly said, “Shifu says doctors are benevolent, and it’s our duty to save lives and heal the wounded, and that we must do everything in our power to help others…”
“That shifu you’re always mentioning, she’s gone now, and she’s left you here, no?” Pei Zheng purposefully said in an icy voice.
Shen Shijiu was already feeling quite sad and miserable, having been unable to find his shifu. When he heard these words, he pouted his mouth, feeling aggrieved to the extreme.
“S-she wouldn’t… Shifu, shifu won’t ever leave me behind, she’s just busy with something else… she’ll definitely come back to pick me up!”
“Really?” Pei Zheng’s eyes were deep and shadowed; they couldn’t be seen clearly, but there was a faint smell of alcohol diffusing from his entire body, which seemed to strengthen as his emotions stirred.
After a long while, the two returned to the Prime Minister’s Manor.
This time, it was Shen Shijiu who walked in front, his head bowed, while Pei Zheng followed, neither hurried nor languid behind him.
The manor was quiet; everyone had already gone to bed.
Shen Shijiu rushed back to his room, but just as he was about to close the door, a hand stretched out and blocked the doorframe.
Pei Zheng ignored Shen Shijiu’s surprise, and walked straight into the crude little wing room.
Shen Shijiu was a bit nervous. He felt that Pei Zheng was acting especially strange and enigmatic tonight. At one moment, he seemed to be in a good mood, and in the next, he would be so ferocious that it seemed like he was about to eat Shen Shijiu.
It was very late at night, but Pei Zheng still wouldn’t return to his own room to rest. Shen Shijiu’s sleepy eyes were about to close.
“My Lord, My Lord… Aah…” Shen Shijiu yawned as he spoke, his eyes watery.
“Y-you’re not sleepy?”
Pei Zheng glanced at him, walked over to sit next to the table, and said, “Bring me some wine.”
Shen Shijiu was confused, you already drank so much, but you still want more? Then why don’t you go back to your own room to drink, why do you have to stay here and disturb my sleep?
But of course, he didn’t dare to say these words aloud, so he could only chirp sweetly, “My Lord, I don’t know where the wine is…”
“In my room.”
Shen Shijiu gawked at him for a moment; he did know where Pei Zheng’s room was, but he had never stepped foot in that courtyard.
There were two places in the Prime Minister’s Manor that no one was allowed to enter: one was the back garden, and the other was the courtyard where Pei Zheng lived.
Shen Shijiu lingered at the door. As he gazed out at the pitch black of the night, he felt a bit scared. In truth, he didn’t dare to go out alone- he was afraid of the dark.
“You’re still here?” At some point, Pei Zheng had walked up and stood behind him; it seemed like his voice was coming from above Shen Shijiu’s head.
“I-I’m going!” Shen Shijiu made up his mind, opened the door, took a deep breath of conviction, and ran out.
Pei Zheng watched Shen Shijiu’s anxious back, his eyes extremely complicated.
Shen Shijiu kept his head lowered and scuttled through the dark, all while giving himself a mental pep talk.
“I’m not scared, I’m brave, I’m not scared, I’m brave…”
He finally spotted the courtyard where Pei Zheng’s quarters were. He immediately sped up his pace and ran toward it. After stepping through the arched gate, he finally breathed a sigh of relief.
This courtyard didn’t seem to be as large as the back garden. There were a few trees and rock gardens. There was also a covered corridor that circled the area.
Shen Shijiu walked through the corridor, and arrived at the door of Pei Zheng’s room. He gently pushed it open and walked inside.
The faint scent of sandalwood hit his nostrils, swirling and floating over the tip of his nose; it was the exact same fragrance that emanated from Pei Zheng’s body.
Shen Shijiu sniffed deeply a few times, thinking that it smelled quite nice.
The room was dim, but a bit of moonlight filtered through the window.
After Shen Shijiu’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could discern the layout of the room. He couldn’t see where the candle lamp was, so he simply felt around for it with his hands.
He walked up to a tall antique shelf, which was stacked with all kinds of ancient books, calligraphy scrolls, and paintings; behind the shelf there were stacks of wine jars.
Shen Shijiu clapped his hands in delight: he had not expected to find it so easily.
He carefully walked around the shelf, and picked a small jar that was about the size of his palm. It looked very cute as he held it in his hand.
But it was definitely far too little for His Lordship to drink.
He then picked the largest wine jar, but unfortunately, he couldn’t lift it even when he used both hands. Instead, the attempt exhausted him, and he was out of breath.
In the end, Shen Shijiu picked out a medium-sized wine jar. Although it took quite some effort to carry it, he still arched his back and walked out with a jar in his arms.
When he reached the door, he put the wine jar on the ground and carefully shut the door. Then, he picked the jar back up and walked into the corridor. At this moment, the night wind suddenly picked up, swirling the fallen leaves into the air, circling and dancing in the breeze. The eerie rustling sound was enough to make one’s spine tingle.
Shen Shijiu was hugging the wine jar, so he couldn’t walk fast, yet fear rose in his heart again, so he scurried forward with small steps.
Unexpectedly, the sound of footsteps came from behind him; they were light and dexterous. They seemed to be coming from a short distance away, following his every move.
Shen Shijiu was absolutely petrified. It was the middle of the night, it should have been impossible for anyone to be popping up here at this hour. If it wasn’t a person that was behind him, then it could only be-
Shen Shijiu suddenly halted his footsteps, and his neck stiffened. He turned his head extremely slowly, and involuntarily gulped back the saliva in his throat.
Before he could turn his head completely, a black shadow leaped off the ground, and barreled right into his face.
Shen Shijiu was hit by an unidentified object. His arm flew upward, and the wine jar was thrown into the air.
The stopper at the mouth of the jar slid off, and all the wine inside spilled out, pouring right over Shen Shijiu’s head, and all over his body.
Shen Shijiu fell backward onto his buttocks. The wine jar fell to the ground and shattered into pieces, and a few fragments jumped up and grazed Shen Shijiu’s neck.
There seemed to be something weighing down his chest, tightly pressed against, and there was a hot, wet feeling on his chin.
Shen Shijiu squinted his eyes and glanced forward, and discovered that it was a little black cat obediently sprawled over his body, licking his chin.
“Ah! Xiao Miaowu! It’s you!” Shen Shijiu’s fear was immediately swept away.
Since the last time, when the little black cat had been let go by Pei Zheng in the back garden, it had been kept inside this courtyard to prevent it from running amok again, so Shen Shijiu hadn’t seen it in a long time.
Disregarding the fact that his entire body was drenched in wine, Shen Shijiu sat up and lifted the kitten into his arms, before burying his face in its fur and rubbing his cheek back and forth, unwilling to let go.
“Long time no see, did you miss me?”
“Miaowu,” The little cat let out a squeaky meow, and scratched Shen Shijiu’s face with its fleshy little paw. It was just a light brush, as if it was just scratching an itch.
“Mm! I missed you too!” Shen Shijiu clasped its little paw and brought it up to his lips to kiss it.
He really liked this soft, sweet little cat who also enjoyed being close to him. But he didn’t know that this cat was a little savage to everyone else, and no one in the manor had a way to deal with it.
Shen Shijiu played with the cat for a long while. It took some time before Shen Shijiu remembered his purpose for being there. But now, he had not only broken the wine jar, but he had also washed himself with the mellow, fragrant liquid. How could he dare to report back to Pei Zheng in this state?
“Xiao Miaowu, what do you think I should do, will His Lordship be angry at me?”
“Miaowu, miaowu,” The little black cat only mewed back softly.
“His Lordship will definitely be angry at me, will he beat me? Ahhh, I’m too scared to go back…”
Shen Shijiu buried his head back into the cat’s fluffy fur.
“What are you doing?”
A voice sounded from behind Shen Shijiu. Shen Shijiu’s entire body trembled, but his face was still buried in the cat’s pelt, and he refused to look up.
Pei Zhengwalked over, grabbed him by the back of his collar, and hoisted the little figure off the ground.
The wind blew, carrying an extremely pungent smell of alcohol with it, even stronger than the scent on Pei Zheng’s body.
Pei Zheng leaned closer and took a sniff, before frowning slightly.
“You drank in secret?”
Shen Shijiu said in a muffled voice, “I-I didn’t…”
Pei Zheng let go of the back of his collar and had him stand properly.
“Lift your head.”
Shen Shijiu rubbed his face against the cat’s fur a few more times before lifting his head from the little black cat’s body. However, his head was still bowed, and he looked very guilty.
Pei Zheng noticed the broken shards littering the ground, and knew what had happened. Then he saw the skinny person in front of him, shivering ceaselessly in the night wind – he must be extremely cold.
An inexplicable shred of tenderness emerged from the depths of Pei Zheng’s heart. He grabbed Shen Shijiu by the back of his collar again and began to walk.
Shen Shijiu was still hugging the cat tightly, and he was lifted so that the tips of his toes barely touched the ground. The entire way, he followed Pei Zheng’s footsteps like a dragonfly skimming over water.
Pei Zheng carried him, shoved open the door to his quarters, and threw Shen Shijiu inside. Then, he walked in, closed the door, and locked it, his movements fluid and smooth.
Upon hearing those sounds, Shen Shijiu became extremely nervous. He hugged the cat closer to his chest to protect it. His gaze was guarded as he looked at Pei Zheng, before he mumbled unintelligibly.
“M-my Lord… W-w-what are you… trying to do… My… my shifu said… a single man and a single woman can’t be in the same room together…”
Pei Zheng saw his expression, and purposely took a step closer. His voice was deep and low, “Then, what about two single men?”
Shen Shijiu’s eyes bulged, and he was both panicked and at a complete loss, “That’s… that’s even more unacceptable…”
The corners of Pei Zheng’s lips hooked upward, he was in a good mood. He walked to the table in two strides, and lit the candle lamp.
“Don’t worry. I’m not… interested in you.”
Upon hearing these words, Shen Shijiu was slightly relieved.
Yet for some reason, he also felt a bit sad.
He knew that his current face was unattractive. His shifu said that his original face had been disfigured, which was why she had given him a mask to wear. That meant the face underneath this mask was probably even uglier.
His Lordship must have said that because he was repulsed by him. Besides his shifu, no one else would like or love him.
When he thought of his shifu, Shen Shijiu felt even more sad and miserable. He didn’t know how to hide his emotions; when he was unhappy, it hung all over his face.
A clean robe was tossed over, and it landed on Shen Shijiu’s head.
“Change into it.”
Shen Shijiu pulled the robe off his head, and peeked out, “H-here?”
Pei Zheng’s brows twitched, “Mm.”
Shen Shijiu gripped that loose robe tightly, but he didn’t dare to refuse Pei Zheng’s order; he could only wrinkle his brows, and place the black cat in his arms onto the stool at the side.
Pei Zheng hooked his finger at the little black cat. It quickly leaped off the stool, and nimbly hopped onto Pei Zheng’s shoulder in just a few steps. Then, it curled its own tail between its paws and stared at Shen Shijiu alongside its master.
The robe Shen Shijiu was currently wearing was indeed ice-cold, so he had to change out of it quickly lest he fell ill.
His earlobes reddened in embarrassment, and he turned away, before he began to untie his robe.
Pei Zheng’s eyes narrowed slightly as he gazed at his slender, smooth waist. Under the flickering candlelight, patches of jade white lingered in his vision like ghosts.
Shen Shijiu finally put on the loose robe with trembling hands. He tightened the lace at the waist in a sudden movement; it was so thin that it was difficult to hold.
His body had always been small and petite, like a woman’s. Now, as he was dressed in such a huge robe, the hem dragged on the ground, and the sleeves hung downward. He resembled a little doll that had stolen an adult’s clothing.
Shen Shijiu wanted to turn around, but ended up tripping over the hem at his feet. The moment his body had spun around, he had fallen onto his knees, right in front of Pei Zheng.
He had fallen quite heavily, so his knee would definitely bruise. He suddenly couldn’t get up on his own, and knelt in place, looking up at Pei Zheng with clear eyes full of tears.
Pei Zheng glimpsed his teary eyes, and unconsciously1 stepped forward, grabbed him by the waist, lifted him off the floor, and helped him stand properly.
“Thank you, My Lord…” That thin soft voice carried the traces of a sob; it sounded like it was being choked out of his nasal cavity.
Pei Zheng’s mind went blank for a moment. Then, he saw the bloodstain on Shen Shijiu’s neck.
“How did this happen?” Pei Zheng’s hand moved a step faster than his brain and touched the wound. Shen Shijiu flinched in pain.
“M-maybe earlier, I got cut by those broken shards, but it’s fine…”
Shen Shijiu’s expression certainly didn’t look fine; if that shard had veered just a little bit off course, his throat would have been slashed.
Pei Zheng didn’t know why, but a lingering fear had risen in his heart.
He simply pulled Shen Shijiu to the desk beside the candle lamp, and could see the wound better under the light. The wound was actually a bit deep; blood had already streamed down his neck and onto the robe.
But the robe he had been wearing was black, so no one could tell that it was stained with blood. Pei Zheng always wore black clothing with this reason in mind.
“Do you still have medicine?”
Shen Shijiu pointed across the room at his old robe, “I still have a little.”
Pei Zheng walked over to pick up his little robe. He rummaged for a long while, and unexpectedly dug out a collection of bottles of various sizes.
“Use that one, the purple one…” Shen Shijiu said quietly.
Pei Zheng took the purple medicine bottle and walked over. Upon opening it, a medicinal fragrance wafted out.
Pei Zheng dipped his fingers into the cool ointment and began to smear it onto Shen Shijiu’s wound.
The skin under the fingers was as delicate as suet jade2. The more ointment Pei Zheng rubbed onto the laceration, the darker his eyes became.
Shen Shijiu also avoided his gaze, and kept his eyes pinned elsewhere, his breathing extremely shallow.
Pei Zheng’s fingers slowly drifted downward. He pulled Shen Shijiu’s lapel aside, and continued to apply the ointment.
But underneath that black robe, a touch of red suddenly appeared; it looked like cinnabar. Two long, slender, irregular shapes wound and stretched over that fair skin.
Pei Zheng suddenly couldn’t breathe. He tore at the robe with both hands, and pulled it off of Shen Shijiu’s chest.
Strangely, several red marks had appeared on that bare, sunken collarbone. Although they didn’t form any obvious design, they were flame-red and very conspicuous.
What is this?
This wasn’t here before, how could it appear now?
And it’s also on his collarbone, this is just… too coincidental.
Pei Zheng raised his long, narrow eyes and stared fixedly at Shen Shijiu.
“What is this?”
Shen Shijiu quickly lowered his head and glanced at his chest. When he saw that the mark had been exposed, he hurriedly tried to pull his lapels and cover them.
“Shifu said, this… this is a birthmark.”
“Birthmark? Then why wasn’t it here before? Tell me the truth!”
“I-I am telling you the truth. Shifu s-said that I have a unique constitution, s-so, sometimes the birthmark will appear, and sometimes, it will disappear.”
Shen Shijiu was so frightened that he was beginning to stutter. His shifu had used a special medicine to hide his birthmark; in the past few years, it had only appeared once. This was the second time.
But both times, it hadn’t been visible in its entirety.
Shen Shijiu also didn’t know when this mark would appear, so what he said was indeed the truth.
As for what was really going on, he was afraid that the only one who knew that was Shen Huan, who had disappeared.
Shen Shijiu looked like he was about to cry, but he still remembered what Pei Zheng had said, and didn’t look at him.
“Miaowu.” The little black cat meowed, as if it were trying to stop Pei Zheng from bullying Shen Shijiu.
Pei Zheng’s mind was a complete mess at the moment. All kinds of thoughts and speculations swarmed in, and he could feel the blood in his body surging and screaming, which was about to make him lose all rationality.
He suddenly raised his fingers, squeezed Shen Shijiu’s little chin, and lifted it slightly.
Then, his other hand brushed the back of Shen Shijiu’s ears, and his gaze changed. He traced Shen Shijiu’s jaw and continued to feel around, as if he were searching for something.
Pei Zheng also had some experience in the art of disguise; it wasn’t like he hadn’t worn a human skin mask before.
But as far as he knew, no matter how well-crafted a mask was, it would be impossible for it to perfectly fit the contours of one’s face. If he looked hard enough, he would definitely find some gaps.
However, Shen Shijiu’s chin and neck were perfectly smooth, without a single fissure, so it couldn’t be the result of him wearing a mask.
Pei Zheng’s arm suddenly fell limply, and he smiled wanly.
What the hell was he expecting?
It had already been three years, over a thousand days and nights, and this dream had filled his mind many times.
But was there ever a time when he didn’t wake up, cold and alone? Was there ever a time when he didn’t reach out to grasp an embrace full of nothing?
More than once, he had tried his best to recall what the little prince’s last words to him were, but there was never an answer…
“You can leave now.”
Pei Zheng used all his strength to suppress the waves in his heart, so his tone could remain flat and without fluctuation. Then, he turned away.
Shen Shijiu had been so frightened earlier that tears had dripped down his face. He wiped them away, before he silently tightened the collar of his robe.
“My Lord, I’m leaving.”
Shen Shijiu walked to the door. When he turned to glance at Pei Zheng’s back, the candlelight was suddenly extinguished. His vision went dark, and he couldn’t see anything clearly.
Shen Shijiu stepped out the door, and closed it from outside.
That shadowed figure finally moved, and the little black cat on his shoulders meowed twice; it was the only witness to what had transpired tonight.
Shen Shijiu slowly walked by himself back to his wing. On the way, he tripped over the wide robe’s hem and fell twice, and his tears flowed out uncontrollably.
What was going on? He had always been good at enduring pain, why couldn’t he stop crying?
It wasn’t only the wound on his neck, his knees, or his scraped palm that hurt; in truth, what hurt the most was his chest. It was a sharp, penetrating pain, it was as though he were being stabbed hard with a knife; it even caused his head to throb dully.
Shen Shijiu returned to his own room, rolled his pant leg up and took a look. His knees were indeed slightly red and swollen. He applied some ointment. Who knew if it would heal a bit by the next day.
After cleaning himself up, Shen Shijiu was exhausted. He didn’t even change his clothes before collapsing onto the bed and wrapping himself into a cocoon with the blanket. Then, he fell asleep, sprawled on his stomach. Even in his dreams, he could smell the faint sandalwood fragrance wafting from the robe.
Yet no one would know that, hidden underneath the blanket and the robe, on his collarbone, an especially seductive, almost demonic, flame-red lotus slowly bloomed, disappearing as quickly as it came.
Early the next morning, due to his strange sleeping position, Shen Shijiu woke up with a feeling of numbness and soreness in his entire body. The sky outside was still dim with the first light of dawn.
He stretched, and climbed out of bed, his clothes rumpled. The wide collar slipped off, revealing a large portion of his slender shoulders3.
He got out of bed with a yawn, tugged at his collar as he walked, before opening the door.
Zhou Wu, who was across from him, also happened to be leaving his room. He looked to be energetic and in good spirits; much better than Shen Shijiu, who couldn’t even open his eyes.
Shen Shijiu was curious about where he really went last night, but he didn’t expect that Zhou Wu would actually walk right up to him.
“Shen Shijiu! Get up and wash up! Look at you, you haven’t even opened your eyes yet.”
Zhou Wu walked up to Shen Shijiu’s door. His eyes suddenly widened, and he covered his mouth in shock.
“Sh-Sh-Shen Shijiu! Y-y-you!”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“Whose clothes are you wearing?!”
Shen Shijiu, whose eyes were still half-closed, immediately woke up. He and Zhou Wu stared at each other in surprise.
Then, he yelled, “They’re mine! I-I-I just bought them!”
Then, he slammed the door in Zhou Wu’s face with a “bang”.
His heart was throbbing violently. He quickly changed back into his own clothes, then stuffed Pei Zheng’s robe to the bottom of his traveling case before he dared to open the door.
Unexpectedly, Zhou Wu was still standing there, wordlessly staring at Shen Shijiu with a bizarre look.
With a guilty conscience, Shen Shijiu brushed past him and walked out by himself.
“I-I have to go out, don’t block my way.”
Zhou Wu followed behind him, and it looked like he had a bellyful of things to ask him, but Shen Shijiu’s head was bowed in embarrassment, and he kept his lips tightly sealed; he didn’t plan on saying a word.
Fortunately, at this moment, someone came to save him from this awkward situation. It was a servant who stood at the gate of the Prime Minister’s Manor, saying that someone was there, looking for Shen Shijiu.
“Looking for me?” Shen Shijiu pointed at himself, thinking it very strange.
“Yes,” That servant said, “They said they were looking for a short little kid at the manor, who’s probably about this tall, isn’t that you?”
The servant gestured to the top of Shen Shijiu’s head, then to his own shoulders.
Shen Shijiu huffed sulkily, but he obediently followed that tall servant to the gate.
There were many people standing there. At the head of the group was a familiar fat man, whose face had been beaten black and blue.
When he saw Shen Shijiu’s little figure, that fat lord’s face flashed all sorts of colors, but he still bowed deeply in respect.
“I’m sorry, Lord Shen! I was wrong! I’m here to apologize!”
HAHA I laughed out loud when he said “then what about two single men ¬‿¬”
Thanks for reading~~
1.鬼使神差 (guǐ shǐ shén chāi): a strange coincidence, but in this case, it means ‘as if one were under the instruction of ghosts and gods’
2.羊膏玉 (yáng gāo yù): So it’s actually a type of nephrite, and it’s white and smooth like suet, hence the name.
3.香肩 (xiāng jiān): These two words are ‘fragrant’ and ‘shoulder’, but that’s not what it means; author-san really likes to use terms that usually describe women’s bodies for our small boi. This term usually describes women’s shoulders, but it also describes the feminine sexiness and cuteness of a person in general.