Both Divine Realms had been bustling with activity after the date of the wedding between Tu Shan Rong Bai and Zhu Han had been decided upon. News of it spread to the Demon Realm on the ground, the Devil Realm from all around, and even the Realm of the Dead that lay underground.
The only ones who did not know this were Song Ci, who had been in Rong Bai’s palace, and the Human Realm.
But now, Song Ci knew. Still, he took it easy, eating and drinking as he deemed fit. Contrary to expectation, he was in high spirits.
Because he could sense that the day of Rong Bai’s departure from the Divine Realm was fast approaching.
On the contrary, Zhu Qin had been feeling vexed lately.
No matter where he went, there would be someone congratulating him. It was as if the one marrying Rong Bai was not his elder sister, but him. For some reason, it irritated him.
He had always been bad-tempered. Now that he did not feel good, he had to find a way to vent. And so he came looking for his elder sister of lawful birth with malicious intent.
Without even extending his hand to push open the door, Zhu Qin unreasonably set fire to it and burned down more than half of it. The immortal attendants at the entrance did not dare to stop him and retreated far away.
Zhu Han’s personal immortal attendant wanted to dissuade him, but her companion held her back and rebuked in a hushed tone. “What are you doing?”
It had not been long since this little maiden came to the Old Divine Realm, so she did not understand the ins and outs of things. She answered, “The Divine Lord Zhu Qin does not look like he’s here to play. I’m worried that the Divine Lady will end up in a conflict with him.”
“Let him do as he wishes. Even the Vermilion Bird Lord doesn’t interfere in this. So don’t decide and act on your own.” Her companion reminded her with good intentions.
Few people in the Old Divine Realm knew about this.
Zhu Han was indeed a delicate and pampered little princess. Since the day she was born, the Vermilion Bird Lord gave her everything she asked for. No matter what mistakes she made, he would not punish her. Except for one thing.
That was, no matter how Zhu Qin bullied her, he would not interfere.
When Zhu Qin stepped in, a flimsy-dressed Zhu Han was sitting in front of her dressing table, picking and choosing items. She turned her head back on hearing the sound. When she saw Zhu Qin, she hurriedly stood up and said with a forced smile, “Zhu Qin? Why are you here?”
Zhu Qin glimpsed the pile of accessories on the table and sneered, “What? Are you in that much of a hurry to get married?”
Zhu Han took a step to the side to block his view of the stuff on the table. She shook her head. “No, no. I merely took them out for a look.”
Zhu Qin, however, did not believe her. He came up to her in two or three steps and lightly grasped hold of a white jade hairpin among them. He said breezily, “You must be happy now that your big day is approaching. Are you in such a haste to marry into Tu Shan and leave the Zhu Clan?”
Zhu Han was much shorter than he was. When he bent his body down as he spoke, she could not help but step back and avert her gaze away. A blush crept up her collarbone, turning even her ears red out of either humiliation or bashfulness.
Zhu Qin took a step closer and slowly inserted the white jade hairpin into her hair. “Jiejie, can you tell me what you were conspiring with Father earlier?”
Zhu Han’s body trembled almost imperceptibly on hearing this. “It’s really nothing…”
Ever since the time Zhu Qin caught wind of it, he had been questioning her. Although he played it down each time, Zhu Han knew that going by Zhu Qin’s temperament, he would never let it rest until he got an answer. What’s more, he was not easy to fool.
“Still unwilling to say?” Zhu Qin looked at her left and right as if he was appreciating the white hairpin in her hair. “You are already about to leave the Zhu Clan, and you still want to keep this secret? Can’t you treat it as a gift to your didi before you leave?”
Zhu Han looked up at him. Clenching her back molar teeth, she decided it would be best to retreat. So she quickly turned around. “I still have something on…”
She had only taken two steps when Zhu Qin suddenly hugged her by the waist to stop her. She opened her mouth, wanting to shout, but he covered it with his hand.
Zhu Qin’s arms were strong. It was easy for him to carry her back. He pinned her against the wall and pressed his tall body down on her. With her mouth covered, Zhu Han could not shout; even the “uh, uh” sounds in her throat stayed trapped.
In truth, no one would come in even if they heard her.
Zhu Qin lowered his head and pressed his lips against Zhu Han’s ear. The smile of a ruffian materialized on his dashing face. “Jiejie, I’m giving you another chance.”
All these calls of jiejie and didi sure sound so amicable. Zhu Han struggled in indignation.
Seeing that she did not want this chance, Zhu Qin set up a barrier. He easily hoisted
Zhu Han up and walked into the inner hall.
Zhu Han did not know what he was going to do, but she was afraid. She was very well aware of her own position and Zhu Qin’s. Even if Zhu Han ended up badly injured by Zhu Qin before her wedding, the Lord would still act as if nothing had happened. He would still let her don the wedding gown and make her show up according to schedule.
Beads of sweat appeared on Zhu Han’s nose, and her fair face flushed red. She pounded twice on his back, and he threw her onto the bed.
Fortunately, the bed was soft. As Zhu Han was about to climb out after sinking into the brocade quilt, Zhu Qin pinned her down with his body. She instantly panicked and met Zhu Qin’s gaze. “What are you doing?”
Zhu Qin said nothing. He tilted his head and nibbled on the side of her neck. The warm sense of touch instantly spread out from her neck. Zhu Han yelled and slapped the back of his shoulders. “Zhu Qin! I’m your elder sister!”
Zhu Qin slid down along her soft neck, sucking and leaving behind red hickeys. He grabbed both of her hands with one hand and pressed them down above her head. With his other hand, he felt for the clasp on her clothes and, with slender fingers, slowly and gently undid each one.
The feel of Zhu Qin’s scorching breath on her snow-white neck instantly tinted a large portion of it red. Zhu Han twisted herself around and struggled, but she could not move. She was so anxious her eyes reddened. “Zhu Qin! Are you out of your mind?! Release me!”
His hand continued to undo her clothes, and his lips continued its downward march. He was almost about to make his way into her opened clothes. Water spots and ambiguous red marks decorated her fair skin. As Zhu Han watched him undo his clothes, she finally compromised. “I’ll tell you. Stop it now!”
Only then did Zhu Qin stop. He smiled triumphantly and lifted his upper body to look at her. “Spit it out. There’s a limit to my patience.”
“Father gave me a dagger that had a divine curse on it and told me to stab Tu Shan Rong Bai with it during the nuptial night.” Although Zhu Han was still panting, she spoke fast. “That’s all.”
Zhu Qin raised his eyebrows. “Just one stab won’t kill Tu Shan Rong Bai.”
“Father said just one stab is enough. There’s no need to kill him.” Zhu Han struggled to free her arms. “Can you let me go now?”
Zhu Qin did not release his hands. He thought it over for a moment and said, “And to think I thought it was something big. This plan is too stupid. You are not allowed to do it.”
Zhu Han fumed. “Can you release me first?!”
“I said I won’t let you do it. Do you hear me?” Zhu Qin looked at her in the eyes. “I have an even better way to make an utter disgrace out of Tu Shan Rong Bai.”
Zhu Han was so furious that she was taking huge gasps of air. Her chest heaved along with each of her breaths. From time to time, it hit Zhu Qin’s chest. She glared at him and said nothing.
“On the day of your marriage, just tell everyone that you don’t like Tu Shan Rong Bai and have no wish to marry him.” Zhu Qin had a sudden brainwave. “Just say that you like his younger brother, Tu Shan Heng. That way, everyone will mock him. It’s so much better than giving him a stab.”
Zhu Han stared at him in shock. She wanted to rebuke him, but she held back the urge. “Can you get off me first? I’m your elder sister. Aren’t you afraid I’ll tell father how much of a scoundrel you are?”
Unexpectedly, Zhu Qin laughed. His words were startling. “What would I be afraid of? You aren’t even his biological daughter.”
Dumbfounded, Zhu Han blurted out, “How did you know?”
Zhu Qin drew closer to her neck and took a deep breath. “You don’t have the scent of the Vermilion Bird bloodline in your blood. Even if you drink the Vermilion Bird’s blood regularly, you can only fool outsiders.”
He frowned. “The scent in your body is so faint. You’ll probably be discovered even before you marry into Tu Shan.”
Zhu Han had indeed been drinking the blood of the Vermilion Bird. But since she did not have to venture out with her wedding day around the corner, she had not drunk any lately. She did not know when Zhu Qin found out about it either. Other than the Vermilion Bird Lord, no one else knew about this secret.
Her eyes reddened from anxiety. “Can you… keep it a secret? I’m, I’m almost married.”
She was a pawn the Emperor Lord raised, and it was almost time for her to be put to use. She only needed to keep this secret until she stabbed Rong Bai, because once that was done, there was no way Zhu Han could live.
Zhu Qin said nothing and merely released her. He wiped his thumb across his right palm and opened up a wound. Fresh blood welled out from the wound. He gripped open Zhu Han’s mouth and clenched his right hand to squeeze the blood out into her mouth.
“Do as I say, and you will live.” Zhu Qin said softly, as though he was bewitching her.
It was as if everyone had an ulterior motive when it came to Rong Bai’s wedding.
In any case, there would not be any peace on that day.
Rong Bai was in the dark about the various parties’ plans. He was wandering around a famous forest of Chinese scholar trees in the Divine Realm with Song Ci when they bumped into Zhu Yishu.
Zhu Yishu was usually absent-minded and silly. Apart from his younger brother Zhu Yun, few people would interact with him. Rong Bai had only this much impression of him.
Song Ci looked at him kneeling on the ground, busily digging the earth. He did not know what he was doing. The clean clothes on him were already too dirty to be presentable. He moved closer to Rong Bai and whispered into his ear, “Do you believe in reincarnation?”
Rong Bai looked at him and replied lazily, “What reincarnation?”
“Fate.” Song Ci thought for a moment and answered. “Or rather, affinity.”
“No.” Rong Bai said.
“Perhaps you can try to believe in it.” Song Ci said.
Rong Bai could not figure out what he was trying to say, so he humbled himself and asked for guidance. “Why?”
“That day on Sihuang Mountain, there was a youth who died to save Zhu Yishu. That was the karma Zhu Yishu had to bear. As long as this karma has yet to come to a settlement, he will definitely meet that youth again in the future no matter how long it takes.” Song Ci did not know what he was talking about either. He was merely spouting a load of crap based on what he had understood thus far.
Anyway, one thing was definitely true. In the future, at a certain point in time, Wen Changchu would encounter Zhu Yishu again.
Just like Rong Bai and him.
Rong Bai did not understand his words, so he simply uttered a sound of acknowledgment in response and pretended that he understood. Just as he wanted to pull Song Ci away to leave, Song Ci grabbed his hand.
Then he bit down hard on Rong Bai’s fingertip. His sharp tooth drew blood on the latter’s finger, and he used his tongue to lick away the drop of blood. He said, “This is the ‘cause’ I’m planting in you. When we meet again someday in the future, you must return its ‘effect’ to me.”1
“How?” Rong Bai could feel the warm sense of touch from Song Ci’s tongue still lingering on his fingertip. He could not help but feel thirstily hot.
Song Ci extended his finger. “Bite me.”
“Alright.” Rong Bai straightforwardly agreed.
Everything has its cause and effect. Rong Bai later came to believe this sentence.
For many years hereafter, this drop of cinnabar red on his fingertip became the only connection between Rong Bai and the man he yearned for.