Gu Yun had actually witnessed Wuge’s episode before, but at that time, he was still in the dark. Fortunately, Chang Geng’s condition wasn’t too severe, so Gu Yun had mistaken it as a case of possession and had never seen this scene before.

Chang Geng curled up into a ball, his muscles tense and rigid like iron. Soon, he began to tremble violently, as if enduring immense pain. His strength was astonishing, and Gu Yun couldn’t hold him back.

Chang Geng forcefully shook off Gu Yun’s hand and his ten fingers turned into eagle claws, viciously scratching himself. Gu Yun couldn’t bear to watch him self-harm, so he reached out to grab his arm and sternly said, “Chang Geng!”

His voice seemed to bring a moment of clarity to Chang Geng, but it only paused him for a moment.

At the critical moment when the malfunctioning lamp dropped the ball, it made a creaking sound for a while and finally dimly lit up again. The flickering light illuminated Chang Geng’s bloodshot eyes.

Gu Yun was taken aback—Chang Geng’s complexion and lips were pale, as if all the blood had drained from his body, leaving only those bloodshot eyes. And in his originally normal eyes, faint signs of heterochromia appeared.

He truly looked like a legendary evil god.

Gu Yun had heard about “Wuge” from Miss Chen, but at that time, he only felt pity and didn’t believe in the more unbelievable aspects. It wasn’t until now that a chill crawled up his spine, and the blood-red eyes of Chang Geng, devoid of sadness or joy, filled him, a seasoned general, with an inexplicable fear.

Their gazes locked, and suddenly Gu Yun had the illusion of encountering a wild beast in the wilderness. He dared not look away for a moment, slowly extending his empty hand in a probing manner towards Chang Geng. Chang Geng didn’t avoid it and even leaned his face against the warm palm, briefly lowering his head to rub it against Gu Yun’s hand with an indifferent expression.

Gu Yun, trembling with fear, asked in a low voice, “Do you still recognize who I am?”

Chang Geng lowered his thick eyelashes, calling out softly, “Zi Xi.”

It was good that he still recognized him as a person. Gu Yun didn’t notice anything unusual in his tone, so he breathed a sigh of relief first. However, he relaxed too soon. Before he could fully relax, Chang Geng suddenly reached out and grabbed Gu Yun’s neck without warning, saying, “You’re not allowed to leave!”

Gu Yun: “…”

The throat is a vital part of the body. Gu Yun instinctively leaned back, supporting the cold hand, while Chang Geng followed suit and held onto his wrist tightly. In that narrow space, the two engaged in a series of moves. The madman’s martial arts skills were outstanding, and now, with the power of an evil god, he was unstoppable. Gu Yun, fearing that he might accidentally harm him, was sweating, exasperatedly cursing, “I just got back, where do you want to go?”

Chang Geng suddenly paused, and Gu Yun’s hand on his neck stopped with it. With the back of his hand lightly tapping against Chang Geng’s chin, Gu Yun said, “Wake up!”

This light pat may not have had enough force. Not only did it fail to wake him up, but Chang Geng’s bloodshot eyes suddenly narrowed, and like an angered leopard, he turned his head and bit Gu Yun’s arm, sinking his teeth into it.

Gu Yun: “…”

If he had known, he would have slapped him hard!

Gu Yun let out a soft hiss as the corner of his eye twitched fiercely. In his lifetime, he had been stabbed and bombed, but being bitten by someone with such intense hatred and unable to break free was a first. Although he had the intention to break his arm and knock out a few of that madman’s teeth, his arm remained stiff for a while. After a moment, Gu Yun slowly relaxed the muscles in his arm. In a rhythmic manner, he pinched Chang Geng’s nape while exhaling cool air, whispering, “Flay your skin, break your tendons, eat your flesh—do we have such a deep hatred? Do you hate me that much?”

These words seemed to touch a nerve in Chang Geng. His eyes blinked slightly, and then, without warning, tears streamed down his face.

Chang Geng didn’t say a word, he just continued biting onto Gu Yun’s arm while silently shedding tears. Those tears seemed to dilute the horrifying bloodlust in his eyes. After a while, Chang Geng’s grip on his arm unexpectedly loosened, and Gu Yun tentatively pulled out his bloodied arm. He glanced at it and cursed in a low voice, “You damn bastard.”

But despite his curses, he still embraced Chang Geng, wiping away the tears from the corners of his eyes, patting his back with a rhythm of one beat, then another.

Chang Geng leaned against Gu Yun’s chest, relying on it for almost half an hour before gradually recovering his senses with great difficulty. He seemed like he had just awakened from a deep dream, dazed for a while, and gradually the jumbled memories returned.

Once he remembered what he had just done, Chang Geng’s hair stood on end. He had been a mess, and this sudden stiffness made Gu Yun aware that he had come back to his senses.

“Awake?” Gu Yun pretended to be calm as he lifted Chang Geng’s shoulder, slightly flexing his stiff shoulder and reaching out his hand to ask, “What day is it?”

Chang Geng’s heart was in turmoil, and he didn’t dare to look at Gu Yun. When he lowered his head and saw Gu Yun’s already scabbed arm, his expression became even worse. He held it in his hands, his lips trembling, unable to utter a word.

“Uh, dog bite.” Gu Yun glanced at it nonchalantly and then teased, “These dog teeth are quite neat.”

Chang Geng climbed up unsteadily, found a piece of fine cloth and clean water, and lowered his head to clean his wound. He seemed like he had just been ravaged, devoid of spirit, and utterly miserable.

However, for someone like Gu Yun with an excessive protective instinct, if one ignored their emotions and focused solely on what their eyes saw, “fragility” was probably what touched them the most. Physical beauty came second. His gaze softened at that moment, and he raised his hand, gently rearranging Chang Geng’s tousled hair.

“Last autumn, when I and Ji Ping traveled to the Central Plains, we encountered a group of bandits who were robbing under the guise of ‘uprising,’” Gu Yun spoke slowly in a tone even gentler than his hand movements. “Together with Cai Lao, we dealt with these troublemakers and captured their leader, who called himself ‘Fire Dragon.’ He was covered in scars and had been burned by fire. During the interrogation, we found a blade belonging to the Hu Ge’er tribe on him.”

Chang Geng’s hand trembled violently, and the fine cloth fell from his hand. He mechanically bent down to pick it up, but Gu Yun caught his hand.

Gu Yun said, “Can you still remember such a small thing?”

Chang Geng’s hand was as cold as a dead person.

Gu Yun sighed, “Actually, Chen Miss already told me about it, about…”

Chang Geng interrupted him, “Stop talking.”

Gu Yun obediently fell silent and silently watched him.

Chang Geng sat stiffly for a moment, then suddenly became skillful in his movements, swiftly treating the bite wound. Afterward, he stood up abruptly, his back facing Gu Yun, and said, “The Yanwang Manor has been built for several years now, and nobody has taken care of it. It shouldn’t be like this. I… I’ll go back to the Military Affairs Office at dawn. After finishing this busy period, I’ll move there…”

Gu Yun’s expression darkened.

As Chang Geng’s incoherent words reached this point, he suddenly stopped. He couldn’t help but recall the way Gu Yun treated him when they met during the New Year’s period—so, did he only know the truth about Wuge? Was he just pitying him?

It seemed unreasonable. Chang Geng could flaunt his old scars freely in front of Li Feng, yet he covered up any clues and didn’t want Gu Yun to see them. But little did he know that despite his attempts to conceal them, the wind still leaked through the cracks between his fingers. Chang Geng tightly bit his teeth, feeling the lingering taste of blood in his mouth from his frenzy earlier.

Fishy yet sweet.

Since he received the report that Gu Yun was ready to return to the capital to report on his work, these days, he had been eagerly anticipating it, feeling as if he was enduring time. However, now that the person had finally arrived, Chang Geng couldn’t help but wish to escape Gu Yun’s sight immediately.

His mind was in chaos, and he subconsciously wanted to flee, turning around to leave.

Gu Yun said sternly, “Stop, where are you going?”

Chang Geng, in a daze, ignored him.

Gu Yun suddenly shouted, “Li Min!”

From childhood to adulthood, Gu Yun had rarely spoken harshly to him, and it was even rarer for him to be angry. However, in the military, he had always been resolute and authoritative. With a voice slightly tinged with anger, carrying a hint of a stern command, Chang Geng was startled and instinctively stopped in his tracks.

Gu Yun sat on the edge of the bed with a solemn expression, “Come back to me.”

Chang Geng replied with confusion, “I…”

“If you walk out of this door today,” Gu Yun said coldly, “I will break your legs. Even the Emperor won’t be able to save you. Come back. Don’t make me say it a third time!”

Chang Geng remained silent.

After becoming the commanding general of the Yanwang, he was the first person to say to his face that he would break his legs. Caught off guard by his sudden outburst of temper, Chang Geng, in a daze, didn’t dare to leave. He turned his head to take a glance at Gu Yun, and all the grievances and pain that were difficult to express surged up from his chest.

…But tears still stained his face, and he was too sober. He couldn’t cry anymore.

Gu Yun couldn’t bear his gaze and had to compromise. He stood up and walked forward, hugging Chang Geng from behind, forcefully throwing him onto the bed and pulling the already cold blanket over him. “Why didn’t you tell me all these years?”

Chang Geng took a deep breath and whispered, “I was afraid.”

Afraid of what?

Gu Yun blinked and then used one hand to lift Chang Geng’s face. “Afraid of who? Me?”

Chang Geng looked at him deeply, and that look made Gu Yun understand what “love brings fear” meant.

Gu Yun initially wanted to ask, “Afraid of me for what? Afraid that I would dislike you? Suspect you?” But the words were swallowed back down at the tip of his tongue. For a moment, he didn’t know what to say. He simply acted on impulse and lifted Chang Geng’s collar, forcefully kissing him. Chang Geng’s breathing suddenly became heavy.

Gu Yun propped his hand next to Chang Geng’s ear and raised his eyebrows. “Are you still afraid now?”

Chang Geng: “…”

Looking down at him from a higher position, Gu Yun suddenly felt a surge of warmth in his heart. He licked his lips and decided to take the rascal act to the end. He reached out and extended his hand towards Chang Geng’s disheveled collar.

Unexpectedly, at that moment, several annoying knocks came from outside, interrupting the atmosphere. A hapless guy surnamed Huo, without distinguishing the situation, called from outside, “Your Highness, it’s almost time. Should we prepare for court? Do you need to change clothes?”

Gu Yun: “…”

So, this was the interruption. Unbeknownst to him, it was already dawn.

Huo Dan knocked on the door, but no one responded. Thinking that Chang Geng was too exhausted to hear, he was about to knock again when the door suddenly opened from the inside. Huo, the commanding general, was startled when he saw the person inside and exclaimed, “Marquis, Marquis!”

When did their strange and unpredictable General Gu return home? He didn’t even alert any of the guards. How did he get in?

Climb over the wall?!

Inside the room, Chang Geng felt a little embarrassed. While tidying up his pitiful appearance, he replied, “I’m… going…”

Gu Yun immediately interrupted, “Go inform the Prince that he won’t be going today.”

Huo Dan was taken aback and hurriedly asked, “Should I send for the imperial physician?”

“The imperial physician? They’re all useless.” Gu Yun dismissively said and put down a handful of calming incense, lighting it on the nearby incense burner. At this point, there was no need to hide anything anymore. “Chen Miss asked me to bring this back to you.”

A refreshing fragrance permeated the room as Chang Geng gently sniffed. “Did Miss Chen change the formula?”

Gu Yun rubbed the bite mark on his arm and replied, “Specially for crazy biters.”

The calming incense quickly took effect, infiltrating their lungs, making them feel lazy and devoid of strength or hostility. Chang Geng, exhausted, leaned against the head of the bed, his gaze empty as he blankly looked at Gu Yun. His appearance was haggard, his hair disheveled, and his bewildered eyes seemed to be endlessly revolving, unable to reveal his “iron teeth and steel fangs.”

Chang Geng murmured, “Zi Xi, can I hug you?”

Gu Yun thought to himself, “So clingy.”

Nevertheless, he still went over and sat beside him, allowing him to cling stubbornly, embracing his waist.

“Report sick,” after a while, Gu Yun suddenly said, “Since there’s already a Military Affairs Office, Jiang Han Shi is capable enough. He lacked some opportunities before, but this time, unexpectedly, he’s been promoted. He should be able to make great contributions. The Ziluojin tribute from the Western Regions has almost reached the capital. We can take a couple of years to rest and recuperate. The barbarians don’t engage in production, but we can afford to wait. Galai Yinghuo can’t afford to wait. The situation in the north will change after a long time. Only Jiangnan is left… After all, the Westerners are thousands of miles away across the sea. It costs a lot, and even a powerful dragon can’t suppress a local serpent. We still have an advantage over them, right?”

Chang Geng leaned against his chest, weakly opened his eyes, and felt Gu Yun’s calloused fingers unintentionally moving through his hair and neck, making his scalp tingle and go numb.

“Implementing governance reform has just begun,” Gu Yun whispered, “Although you initiated it, I see that the courtiers aren’t making much fuss. They mostly have a passive attitude. If you withdraw at this point, whether it ends in success or failure, the credit or blame will fall on others. We shouldn’t strive for credit, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t be blamed… Forget about those matters. Let’s go home and rest for a few years, okay?”

Shen Yi had countless words to say, but Gu Yun understood one thing: “How will it all end in the future?”

The Gu family had been ennobled for generations, and they were also related to the imperial family. Gu Yun had witnessed the rise and fall of the powerful and the end of influential figures in the court. Even if they were highly privileged, if they attracted too much attention, would they be able to avoid the consequences of the powerful and the scrutiny of the historians?

“It’s too late to retreat,” after a long while, Chang Geng said softly, “The first blow of the governance reform has already been dealt. It’s like scraping the bone to eliminate the poison. The skin has already been cut… At this point, whether we wait and see or completely start anew, all the merits and demerits will fall on others. We are not vying for credit, but rather we might end up being despised… Regardless of those matters, let’s go home and rest for a few years, okay?”

The end.

Gu Yun tightened his grip on Chang Geng’s hand. When Chang Geng opened his eyes again, the blood color and the heavy pupils had faded. He suddenly rolled over, clumsily pressing the person he had been longing for day and night onto the soft and thin brocade quilt. “Zi Xi, do you know what Uer Gu is?”

Gu Yun was slightly taken aback.

“Uer Gu is an evil deity and the oldest curse among the barbarians. When their entire clan is destroyed, they leave behind a pair of children who will become Uer Gu. Those who are cultivated in this way possess unparalleled power and will bring about a reign of bloodshed. Even the greatest enemies can be ended.” Chang Geng lay on top of him, his voice trembling slightly with emotion, and his voice, warm as ever, carried a hint of indescribable hoarseness. “Before Huger died, he said to me, ‘Throughout my life, my heart has only known hatred, cruelty, and suspicion. I am destined to be cruel and bloodthirsty, leaving a trail of carnage wherever I go, dragging everyone along with me to an untimely end. Nobody loves me, and nobody truly cares for me.’”

Gu Yun took a sharp breath. He had always felt that Chang Geng, in his youth, had too many burdens and complexities hidden within him, making it difficult to grasp his thoughts. But little did he know that behind those complexities, there was such a heartrending statement.

“But someone loves me, and someone truly cares for me… Right? It was you who called me back just now.” Chang Geng spoke softly. “She has never shown me any warmth, and I will never comply with her wishes. Do you trust me? Zi Xi, as long as you say a word, I can endure any hardships.”