When Li Jianheng had finished smashing his things, he subsided into sobs, face in his hands.
Xiao Chi’ye picked a clear spot amongst the debris and knelt, waiting. A while later, when Li Jianheng had got a hold of himself a little, he finally said, “Oh, get up! You don’t have to kneel there like that. It puts a wall between us as brothers.”
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 33: Uncle and Nephew”
There was nothing but dense, swirling clouds of water vapour, and the steady drumming of rain.
Shen Zechuan went to enter the spring. As he stooped to ease himself in, Xiao Chi’ye was able to clearly trace the curve of his waist and hips from behind, accentuated by the movement.
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 32: A Night on the Hill”
“Then you should definitely take it off.” Xiao Chi’ye untied his vambraces, then placed them, and his great-cloak and over-robes, on a wooden rack under the eaves. The soldiers within the facility’s interior hall made to approach and greet him, but he stopped them with a gesture. Turning back around, his eyes fell back on Shen Zechuan with idle amusement. “Let’s have a look at how a body honed by the Ji Family Precepts differs from mine.”
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 31: The Nape”
Xiao Chi’ye seemed to have clean forgotten his indiscretion last night as he spurred his horse across the streets, setting off tides of complaints from the roadside vendors. As he arrived at the Palace gates, he caught sight of one of the carriages from the family manor.
Zhao Hui drew up the curtains for Xiao Fangxu, saying, “Er-gongzi is here.”
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 30: King of the Wolves”
Shen Zechuan said, “Right.”
Not having received the response he was waiting for, Xiao Chi’ye turned around to look at him again. “Why aren’t you arguing?”
Shen Zechuan opened up his umbrella. “I have neither father, nor brother, nor anyone I know at home. Why would I go back there?”
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 29: Fate”
The autumn rain in Qu Capital had not stopped falling since the new Emperor’s coronation. Standing atop the high boundary walls of the palace compound, all one could see was the coal-black of old slate roofs, and the bright white lanterns hanging high above the streets. A grey chill lay over the whole city.
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 28: Drunk in an Alley”
Shen Zechuan quickly turned his surprise into a smile and said, “Well, it wasn’t an earth-shattering secret anyway… I’ll see you around.”
“Wait till I’m finished,” Xiao Chi’ye was in a pretty good mood today, having got his lost ring back. “Since Ji Gang is your teacher, that makes us brothers under the same sect. I’m older than you, so it wouldn’t be unfair on you to call me “Shixiong“.”
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 27: Autumn Chill”
Concubine Wei walked along with her heart in her throat. Looking about her, she found the palace walls unfamiliar here. She asked tremulously, “Gonggong, have we not arrived yet? Where is Her Majesty the Dowager?”
The eunuch walking ahead ignored her.
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 26: Bitter Frost”
Footsteps trampled amongst the bushes. As if scenting something, the dog burrowed its nose into the leaves and scrabbled around a little.
Dirt showered onto Shen Zechuan’s neck, but as he could move neither up nor down, he held himself frozen still.
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 25: Daybreak”
Lightening flashed, and thunder rumbled. Rain fell like curtains over the night.
Qiao Tianya stood back up. He handed the slim blades to the men behind him for safekeeping and said, “Xiao Ce’an was hit by one of the bolts. He won’t be running far.”
At the bottom of the slope, Xiao Chi’ye and Shen Zechuan sprawled flat in the mud, holding their breath.
Continue reading “Book One, Chapter 24: Rainy Night”