Zhe Zhi
Zhe Zhi 4.2

“Are you out of your mind?”

“It’s nothing, I’m just too bored on the road and wanted to play a little prank on Shidi.”

Lu Xiuwen casually let go of the broken shard as if his bleeding hand wasn’t his, and he didn’t seem to feel any pain at all.

Duan Ling tore a strip of cloth and began to wrap his hand to stop the bleeding. Suddenly, a thought struck him, and he asked, “The poison in your body… is it acting up?”

Back in Qingzhou, Doctor Yao had mentioned that Lu Xiuwen was severely poisoned, the poison had already spread throughout his internal organs, and there was no cure for it. However, due to the interaction of several poisons colliding against each other, it actually managed to preserve his life.

Once the symptoms started, the pain was beyond imagination.

The sweat had dampened Lu Xiuwen’s hair near his temples. His extremely pale complexion made his eyes appear even darker. He glanced at Duan Ling with his deep, black eyes and said, “I just need a short rest, it won’t delay our journey.”

Duan Ling exclaimed in frustration, “Who cares about that? Why didn’t you mention that your body couldn’t handle it? You want to die on the way there or what?”

He felt a bit regretful for his lack of attentiveness.

Something had been off about Lu Xiuwen since this morning. When he asked Duan Ling to carry him, it was probably because he truly didn’t have the strength to walk. After that, he held this broken shard in his hand and managed to make his way down the stairs with great effort. If Duan Ling hadn’t noticed just now, he would have definitely tried to endure it.

After tending to the wound on Lu Xiuwen’s hand, Duan Ling said, “I’ll go find a doctor.”

“No need. A doctor can’t cure my illness.”

“Perhaps they can prescribe something to alleviate the symptoms.”

Lu Xiuwen waved his hand and said, “Instead of going through the trouble, it’ll be better… if Shidi stay here and keep me company by talking to me.”

Duan Ling was stunned for a moment and blurted out, “What do I have to talk about with you?”

Lu Xiuwen trembled all over, seemingly in severe pain, and his whole body curled up. Seeing his condition, Duan Ling had no choice but to support his arm and let him lean against his shoulder. After a while, he heard Lu Xiuwen say quietly, “It’s true that we don’t have much to talk about, but Lu Xiuyan is my younger brother, we could at least talk about him, right?”

When it comes to Lu Xiuyan, there were indeed many things Duan Ling wanted to ask. After thinking for a moment, he asked, “How has he been all these years? Has he faced a lot of hardships?”

Lu Xiuwen let out a scoff and said, “He’s my brother, you think wouldn’t be able to protect him? Would I let him be bullied?”

“In the cult, it’s all about survival of the fittest. You were careless in your cultivation and had a qi deviation, not to mention Lu Xiuyan, who doesn’t even know martial arts?”

“After I lost my martial skills, it was indeed difficult for me to move within the cult. But not long after that, I arranged for Xiuyan to leave the Tianjue Cult and found a peaceful place for him to live in seclusion.”

Duan Ling didn’t seem to believe him. “Would the Cult Leader really agree to that?”

Lu Xiuwen’s expression remained calm. “I volunteered to test pills for him, so he naturally agreed.”

Duan Ling was taken aback.

Others might not understand what it meant to test pills, but he knew better than anyone. People like him, who had been abducted into the cult, feared being taken away to be pill testers more than death itself.

The pills refined by the cult had various effects—some were incredibly poisonous, while others greatly aided cultivation. To understand their properties, they often conducted tests on living people.

It wouldn’t be as bad if they were affected by just one type of poison, but those subjected to the tests suffered from thousands of different poisons all at once. They would suffer from piercing intestinal pain, unbearable itching, sensations as if being burned, sensations as if entering an ice vace, and all kinds of misery. The multitude of these torturous experiences far exceeded any single form of torture.

Duan Ling had witnessed a pill tester before. That person’s skin was covered in festering itches, writhing on the ground in agonizing screams. Eventually, their hands and feet rotted away, leaving only stark white bones. The most terrifying part was that even in such a condition, they didn’t die. They continued to drag their body along the ground, leaving behind a trail of long, bloody marks.

Truly a fate worse than death.

Back then, Duan Ling was still young, he was so scared that he had nightmares all night long. Lu Xiuwen even teased him about it later, tricking him by saying they were going to capture him and use him to test pills.

Who would’ve thought… the one subjected to the tests became Lu Xiuwen himself.

It was evident that the cult leader was truly ruthless, not sparing even his most beloved disciple he cultivated himself.

Thinking about how Lu Xiuwen ended up like this to protect his younger brother, Duan Ling’s resentment towards him had somewhat lessened. Unable to resist, he wiped away Lu Xiuwen’s sweat and said, “You might be a vicious person, but at least you’re genuinely protective toward Xiuyan.”

Lu Xiuwen closed his eyes slightly and said, “I’ve always been like this toward the people I like.”

Duan Ling wondered. “You’re someone who always holds yourself above others. You would actually like someone?”

Lu Xiuwen smiled but didn’t answer. After a while, he suddenly asked, “Why does Shidi like Xiuyan?”

“Xiuyan once saved my life, but that’s not all. When I was in the cult, I was often beaten and scolded. Only Xiuyan would plead on my behalf and treat my injuries.”

“Don’t forget, you’re both men.”

“So what? Since I have feelings for him, I naturally want to be with him for the rest of my life. I’m the second son in my family, so it doesn’t matter if I don’t marry. If Xiuyan wants children, we can adopt a few as our own…”

Lu Xiuwen suddenly interrupted him and asked, “What if there was someone who treated you as kindly as Xiuyan does?”

Duan Ling replied without hesitation, “My heart is set on him. Even if others were a thousand times better, I wouldn’t spare them a second glance.”

A faint smile graced his handsome face, and his eyes held an indescribable charm.

Lu Xiuwen felt like he had been kicked hard, and it hurt so much that his internal organs shifted out of position and his flesh turned stirred into a blurred mess.

He had tested pills for the cult leader for many years, enduring the most potent poisons, but never had a reaction been as painful as this one. He took a breath, exerted every ounce of strength in his body, and finally managed to say one word, “Okay…”

Duan Ling waited for a while, but there was no further response. Upon closer inspection, he realized that Lu Xiuwen had fallen asleep against his shoulder. However, even in his slumber, he seemed restless, with a furrowed brow and tiny beads of sweat on his forehead.

Duan Ling gently wiped away the sweat from his forehead. Somehow, he was reminded of many years ago when he had first entered the cult and how Lu Xiuwen had looked at him with narrowed eyes, holding a silver gleaming whip.

At that time, Lu Xiuwen’s whip technique was already exceptional. With a swift flick, the whip brushed past Duan Ling’s cheek and struck the ground hard.

Duan Ling was scared out of his wits, breaking out in a cold sweat.

Lu Xiuwen raised an eyebrow and burst into laughter. “From now on, you’re my shidi.”

Things stay the same, but people have changed.

That incredibly proud young man has ultimately become just a memory in dreams.


if you see any typos, grammar, or translation mistakes, don't hesitate to let me know. thank you for reading!

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