Qiang Jin Jiu – Chapter 201 : Intense Desire

Translated with: Jia<3


Shen Zechuan could not get up; the inside of his thighs were all covered with teeth marks. He slept with Xiao Chiye on top of him, pinning him down, until the third quarter of the hour of si. When Fei Sheng came to call him, Shen Zechuan had still yet to wake. Xiao Chiye lowered his head to kiss him from behind, his kisses so intense that Shen Zechuan near about gave up the ghost. 

“Please spare me…” Shen Zechuan strained himself to struggle before he eventually sprawled back onto the bedding. He narrowed his eyes and said to Xiao Chiye in a hoarse voice, “I… mind’s in a whirl… can’t think at all…” 

Shen Zechuan was red everywhere. There were the bite marks, and then there were the pinch marks. His nape was the most piteous of all, having borne the brunt of it. Xiao Chiye’s chest pressed against him, making him so hot that he was sweating.

The most intense of all last night had been sitting in an embrace—in Xiao Chiye’s arms, with the crooks of his legs held down in place, and all he could do was to lean against Xiao Chiye’s chest. 

Amidst the jolts and thrusts, Shen Zechuan forgot all about the part about it being a clandestine affair as he cried out “A-Ye” and “Ce’an” repeatedly until he came, even wetting the bedding under him later as he lay prone on the pillow. He could not remember how many rounds they had gone through, only that his tears had run out. Towards the end, he was all dazed and dizzy, but Xiao Chiye was still not done; he continued to thrust into Shen Zechuan, making him moan softly like he was begging for mercy. The way his moans trailed off tantalized Xiao Chiye right in the heart, causing such an insatiable itch that Xiao Chiye was stirred into biting him yet again.  

“Poor thing.” Xiao Chiye clung close to him and whispered, “I’ll hold you up.” 

◈     ◈     ◈

Yin Chang got up early today and waited at the foot of the veranda to seek an audience with the Prefectural Lord. Fei Sheng saw the old man looking utterly uncomfortable as he glanced left and right. Fearing that he might make a fool of himself later, he said, “You’ve already met him yesterday. Why are you still nervous?” 

The icicles on the eaves had been knocked off to reveal just how distinguished the man in the room was. Yin Chang’s feet were a little numb. He tugged at his sleeves and said, “I feel uncomfortable everywhere. They rubbed me so hard with such big bars of soap when giving me a bath yesterday that my skin’s about to get all wrinkly!” 

On hearing this, Fei Sheng wanted to laugh. Seven or eight young male servants were sent to attend to Yin Chang yesterday. They bathed him for a full four hours, and even changed out several big tubs of hot water. It was only in the middle of the night when everyone left the banquet that the old man made his escape, holding up the legs of his pants as he ran while evading the servants. 

“Bathing is good,” Fei Sheng said. “You look spirited. I think you look just like my elder brother today.” 

“Don’t fucking lie to me.” Yin Chang did not have a good night’s sleep. He murmured to Fei Sheng, “You lad, have a glib tongue.” Having said that, he looked around furtively again, “Is the Second Master in the room too?” 

“Uh-huh,” Fei Sheng replied. “He rushed back just to meet you.” 

“Then can I go to Libei?” Yin Chang hurriedly asked. “I’d like to meet General Lu.” 

Fei Sheng was in a predicament. He did not know how to reply to him. Yin Chang’s desire to see Lu Guangbai was only to be expected. That formation of his was adapted from the Bianjun Commandery Garrison Troops, but Libei was fighting a war at present, and the areas along the Chashi River were unstable, so how could Yin Chang run around as he pleased?

As he was thinking about it, there were movements on the other side. 

“Let’s see His Lordship first,” Fei Sheng said. “We’ll talk about it again after meeting him.” 

◈     ◈     ◈

A window was opened from inside to ventilate the room. The weather was not considered cold today, but Shen Zechuan was especially sensitive to the chill, so he layered up with a coat. During the journey back, Fei Sheng had checked up on Huo Lingyun’s background and reported it all in its entirety to Shen Zechuan, regardless of significance. Shen Zechuan did not have the time to read it before sleeping the night before, so he looked through it carefully now.    

“The firearms seized by Fei Sheng were handed over by Huo Lingyun himself.” Shen Zechuan turned the folding fan between his fingers around and rested it on the side of his hand. “This person is interesting; I do have to meet him.”

All that separated Xiao Chiye from Shen Zechuan was a small table. With his arm propped up, Xiao Chiye looked a little playful, but the expression in his eyes was wicked. Just a glance over was an invasion. His eyes swept back and forth between the words “male lover”, “bitten to death” and “arson”. He said, “he’s a tough nut.” 

If Huo Lingyun had not thrown a monkey wrench into their plans with the firearms, Yin Chang would have been able to take down Fanzhou during his first battle; he would not have given Shen Zechuan the opportunity to even tell him to bring his own head on a platter to meet him. Afterward, Yin Chang employed the use of verbal provocation to launch an attack on the city, thereby stepping onto the battlefield for real this time. But Huo Lingyun’s acts of arson diminished the battle in Fanzhou. With merits and demerits offsetting the other, Yin Chang’s reward was once again reduced by half.   

Perhaps Huo Lingyun genuinely wanted to throw in his lot with Shen Zechuan, but he did not use the most optimal strategy. Instead, he fought a battle with firearms with the intent of letting Shen Zechuan know he was useful and even more valuable than the current commanding general of Cizhou. People who climbed their way to the top by trampling over others were all tough nuts to crack. 

Yao Wenyu was the first to enter while they were in the middle of their conversation. Kong Ling followed behind him, pushing his wheelchair, and finally, Yu Xiaozai stepped through. The various gentlemen bowed to Shen Zechuan, who prompted them to take a seat.  

“It’s so cold,” Shen Zechuan said to Yao Wenyu, “You should have asked Qiao Tianya to come over and drop me a note, and I would have shifted the meeting venue to your courtyard so that you wouldn’t have to make the trip.”

Yao Wenyu did not sleep well the night before, and his eyes were slightly bloodshot. He had even brought his cat along today. “It’s just a stone’s throw away; there’s no need to go to the extent of having Your Lordship put everyone to the trouble. I saw Elder Yin and Fei Sheng both waiting at the foot of the veranda. Will you let them in for an audience now?”  

“Let them in,” Shen Zechuan said. “I’ve kept Elder Yin waiting for almost an hour.”

Fei Sheng led Yin Chang in to pay their obeisances to Shen Zechuan and Xiao Chiye. No matter how worried he was about Yin Chang, he did not dare to glance over at this moment, lest the master noticed.

Xiao Chiye looked at Yin Chang and asked, “Did Elder Yin sleep well last night?”

This was the first time Yin Chang was meeting Xiao Chiye. He had not taken a good look yesterday, but now that he had a closer look… holy moly, he thought to himself, isn’t this Second Master way too tall? His legs as he sat on the couch were almost as long as two of him!

Yin Chang tensed up again. Wringing the hem of his clothes, he vaguely answered, “not, not too bad…”

“Elder Yin, take a seat too.” Shen Zechuan was aware that Xiao Chiye was an imposing presence, and he did not come across as an easy one to get along with; thus, he spoke to Yin Chang gently, “We will be discussing some military affairs with the various gentlemen today. With the troops soon to be deployed to Duanzhou, Fanzhou cannot be left unattended.”   

“Based on the report, Huo Lingyun is inextricably tied to this battle at Fanzhou.” Kong Ling was familiar with Dengzhou. “He could be considered to have come from a military family. His father was Huo Qing, the commander-in-chief of Dengzhou who repelled the bandits in the territory during the sixth year of Xiande. The feud with Yang Qiu and the rest of Dengzhou’s bandits was probably formed during that time.” 

“I have some impression of Huo Qing.” Yu Xiaozai picked up the thread of conversation after taking his seat. “During the suppression of bandits in the sixth year of the reign of Xiande, he submitted a memorial that could be considered a report of victory to the Ministry of War. However, in the next few years, the Prefectural Prefect of Dengzhou impeached him for being a headstrong and conceited commander who resorted to arms without due consideration, which in turn caused the bandits in the territory to seek revenge on the commoners, subsequently plunging Dengzhou into extreme misery. The Ministry of War deliberated over and over again before they finally did away with the notion to promote him.” 

Shen Zechuan got Fei Sheng to stand up as he addressed the gentlemen. “The local governments are a mixed bag. From the time the two factions of Pan and Hua took over control of state power, the impeachments that came from the lower levels were a mess, with the majority of them arising from personal grudges. The procedures in which the cases were handled during the reign of Xiande can’t be counted as valid, so this Huo Qing might not necessarily be a headstrong and conceited person.”  

Shen Zechuan was right. Apart from the reason for his dislike for Emperor Xiande, it was true that both factions were as irreconcilable as ice and fire when they were in power. At that time, Qudu depended on side-taking to distinguish between enemy and ally, and the dividing line in the local governments was even rigid. So a conclusion on whether Huo Qing’s impeachment was legitimate could not be made based on just those few memorials. 

“Huo Qing is Huo Qing. Huo Lingyun is Huo Lingyun.” Xiao Chiye had now drawn a clear distinction between father and son. “You people were the ones who detained him and escorted him back. What did you think of him during the journey?” 

Yin Chang was an honest man with a one-track mind. Fei Sheng did not let the old man speak, but he could tell from Xiao Chiye’s words that the Second Master did not like this Huo Lingyun. He did not like Huo Lingyun either. 

Fei Sheng served Shen Zechuan, and he had plenty of opportunities to render meritorious service in the future when they established a light cavalry, but Yin Chang might not necessarily have the chance. The old man’s hair and beard were all white now, and he only got to battle this one time after waiting several years. But then, a male consort appeared out of nowhere and took most of the old man’s credit with that bit of dirty, underhanded tricks of his. 

Fei Sheng was displeased deep down, but his expression was natural as he said, “For the sake of revenge, this person could endure great hardships and steel himself to achieve his goals. He sure is something, and I respect him as a man. But when I arrived at the Fanzhou’s yamen, I saw the furs of the mastiffs King Yi reared all glossy. Only when I asked around that I found out Huo Lingyun had fed King Yi and Cuiqing to the dogs. Since he has a feud with King Yi, why didn’t he communicate with us earlier?” 

By bringing up Huo Lingyun’s feeding of people to the dogs at this point in time, he was tactfully telling Shen Zechuan in a roundabout way that it was hard for this person to be of great use. 

Contrary to Fei Sheng’s expectations, Shen Zechuan did not go along with it. Instead, he said after a moment’s pause, “Since everyone is here now, call him over.” 

Huo Lingyun had been in the cell for two days, and the wardens who delivered his meals to him never spoke to him. Fei Sheng took special care of him and tampered with his fetters and shackles so that it was much heavier than the usual ones the others used. But he hardly moved around and merely remained in the same spot, as though he had countless never-ending thoughts on his mind. 

Huo Lingyun stepped into the courtyard, and Gu Jin sensed something amiss from the sound. With Ding Tao and Li Xiong in tow, he watched from under the eaves as Huo Lingyun walked past. 

“So heavy.” Li Xiong pointed at Huo Lingyun’s feet and said to Ding Tao, “it’s the set of chains I wore!” 

“Seems to me he can move freely.” Ding Tao told on Huo Lingyun to Gu Jin. “Jin-ge, he’s trained in martial arts!” 

He was far from just “trained”. 

Gu Jin lifted a finger and motioned to the guards hidden in the courtyard to be on the alert. He patted Ding Tao and Li Xiong on their backs and pushed the two children to a side, while he stood by the hanging screen himself and signaled to Qiao Tianya, who was on the other end, with his eyes. 

Qiao Tianya turned his head aside to stare at Huo Lingyun’s back. In a deep voice, he said, “He’s a rather formidable one.” 

Shen Zechuan did not size Huo Lingyun up. However, Huo Lingyun did not shy away from sizing up Shen Zechuan first. 

The Prefectural Lord was twenty-two years of age this year. He was a beautiful one, with the upturns of the corners of his eyes just perfect; any higher, and they would give him a come-hither look. Even so, they looked like they were swimming in emotions at a quick glance. Yet, he was extraordinarily cool and detached. His gaze, when he did look over, was chilling. He was an unfathomable, bottomless pit that looked all the more dangerous the longer you laid eyes on him. Huo Lingyun did not know if it was because Shen Zechuan had been in a top dog position for a long time, but Shen Zechuan had an overpowering air to him when he did not speak. Not the kind that came assaulting head-on in the face, but the kind that gradually grew ice-cold as it crept along your limbs to your heart. 

This was Shen Zechuan.   

Since Shen Zechuan did not open his mouth, the gentlemen present did not dare to speak. Silence momentarily reigned in the room, making Huo Lingyun appear undaunted instead.  

Xiao Chiye nudged his thumb ring. His posture remained unchanged, but his imposing aura was like a kick dealt to Huo Lingyun’s face. He looked askance at Huo Lingyun with an air so oppressive that the other man almost could not lift his head.

Shen Zechuan was the precious jade Xiao Chiye held between his fangs. Any sort of prying eyes must die before they ever get within a few steps of Shen Zechuan. This was an affront to Xiao Chiye, and he was now offended, even if the other party was perhaps only looking out of curiosity.

The gentlemen in the room could hear nothing amiss, but they could sense that the Second Master was not very happy now. Very subtly, the atmosphere began to grow heavy, so much that it crushed down on their chests for no rhyme or reason, suffocating them until they could not take deep breaths.

“Your confession statements leave out the details.” It was only at this moment Shen Zechuan looked at Huo Lingyun. “You reported the firearms, but you didn’t explain their origins. It’s most pointless to say things halfway.” 

As someone who had traversed both the overland and water routes,1 Huo Lingyun could figure out a little something from the expression in Xiao Chiye’s eyes. He retracted his gaze, and the shackles on his hands clanged. “Naturally, there are many matters that can only be discussed when I’ve seen the Prefectural Lord,” he said with a calm expression. 

“If what you say makes me unhappy,” Shen Zechuan said with cool detachment, “there can only be one outcome whether or not you get to see me.” 

“There will be the Scorpions in addition to the Biansha Cavalry in Duanzhou during Cizhou’s use of military forces in the second month.” Huo Lingyun looked towards Xiao Chiye without so much a trace of fear. “Without Xiao Fangxu, can the Libei Armored Cavalry still make it?” 

The break in the thumb ring stopped between the pulps of the fingers. Xiao Chiye finally moved. Very slowly, he leaned over, and his shadow enveloped Huo Lingyun from top to bottom, forming a trail of a phantom wolf with an injured eye across the ground. 

Fei Sheng, who was standing at the side, swiftly dropped to one knee on the ground and lowered his head without uttering a sound. Beside him, Yin Chang felt the pricks of fear running down his back. With his heart thumping, the old man almost slid to the ground as he kneeled after Fei Sheng. 

Dead silence descended, inside and outside.   

Xiao Chiye was angry.

Xiao Chiye’s reply to Huo Lingyun:

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Credits: thank you MaruChan and Bird for spotting the typo! <3

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Footnotes

  1. The text specifically wrote 走过旱水两路, or literally, has traversed through the overland routes and waterways/water route.  This is, however, an euphemism for having sexual experiences with both men and women. We left the original for the “imagery”. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)