The Southern Mansion
“What are you thinking about” He Xuan’s low and deep tone passed through the lengthy and tedious music on the stage, so distinct it was like it stuck right to his ear.
Xiao Zuo abruptly came to from his random thinking, and slightly vacantly looked at He Xuan.
Since that period of time where He Xuan was so busy he was nowhere to be seen, these few days, he looked to be much more free, and during dinner, one could often see him bringing various new and interesting toys from Nan Liang to make Xiao Zuo happy.
Today just so happened to be a day of rest, so when He Xuan discovered he had never heard of Jin’s plays, he got excited immediately, and had to bring him to see it.
But once Xiao Zuo listened for a while, he felt that this Jin play did not have anything too special going for it.
Compared to the southern melodies, it merely was a bit more spoken and common, the tune was much more brief and jingling, with many more martial arts plays compared to literary ones, and was very complimentary to the air of this Shang An’jing.
Unsophisticated and stately, powerful and magnificent.
He Xuan reserved a compartment, so Xiao Zuo half-laid on the couch, and ate a nut biscuit from time to time.
From the looks of it, He Xuan was not some fan of Jin’s plays either- Xiao Zuo observed him for a long time, there were a total of six scenes sung on the stage, and during half of the play, He Xuan was chatting with him.
“Look at how you eat.” He Xuan pursed his lips, and very naturally reached out and wiped away the crumbs from the corner of Xiao Zuo’s mouth.
The thin calluses on his fingers were rough, but frankly, the strength was considered gentle.
Unsure if the squeaky sounds on the stage were far too irritating, or if it was the feeling of safety of only them two being in the compartment, but Xiao Zuo’s desire to play sudden grew, and actually quickly opened his mouth while He Xuan had not taken back his hand, and bit on He Xuan’s forefinger.
The both of them got surprised.
Xiao Zuo did not think that He Xuan would not actually avoid the sudden whim he had.
The awkwardness and shame mixed together inside of him, and he felt that the red lanterns hung on the stage all burned into one, making it so that his own face was all red too.
He Xuan’s narrow and long phoenix eyes slightly narrowed, and at this time, the deep pool-like eyes emitted a dubious and unclear dark shadow.
His throat moved, but his voice was still like the waveless tranquility of an ancient well.
Xiao Zuo quickly opened his mouth, he blinked his disorderly eyes, and shrunk back a bit not knowing where to put his hands, like he found it hard to open his mouth and did not know how he should speak.
“Quiet.” He Xuan took back his hand, his forefinger was still left with a sliver of transparent saliva from Xiao Zuo, wiped away randomly by his thumb, and strangely carried a slightly preposterous feeling of obscenity.
Yet He Xuan was at the side sitting seriously, with the back not moving even one bit, and watched the stage attentively.
Xiao Zuo had to follow his word and close his mouth, then leaned in the corner like he did something wrong, and quietly watch the play too.
Through the corner of the eyes, He Xuan glanced at the obedient little cat beside him, then, like he had recalled that strange sensation from the finger just now, he undid two buttons on his top in irritation with knitted eyebrows, and drank all the tea that had long already cooled down on the table in one gulp.
As Xiao Zuo watched and watched, he got a bit drowsy.
He hazily slept for who-knows-how long, and once he woke up, He Xuan already left for somewhere.
Xiao Zuo rubbed his eyes.
His body was covered with He Xuan’s dark-purple outer robe, while the surface was still remaining with that cold fragrance from He Xuan’s body, carrying a clean and cold air of cedar.
He looked towards the outside, there were still people watching the play, but he did not know which part it got to.
“Duke.” The curtains to the compartment were lifted up, and a servant with an unfamiliar face walked in.
“His Highness had something and first returned to the residence, and has instructed this servant to send the duke back.”
Xiao Zuo nodded his head.
He propped He Xuan’s outer robe on the crook of his arm, then turned over and got off the couch.
The skies turned dark very early during the winter, so when Xiao Zuo walked out of the theatre, the outside was already pitch black.
Cold gusts swept all the remaining few fallen leaves and hit the top of the head, making Xiao Zuo shiver from the cold.
“Hurry and get on the carriage, Duke, the outside is very cold.”
Xiao Zuo swept a gaze over the stopped carriage- from the looks of it, it didn’t seem like the crown prince residence’s style.
But before he could carefully think about it, he staggered from the series of northern winds blowing by, and he hurriedly exhaled, then lifted up the curtain and went inside.
The fabric curtain in this carriage did not cover that tightly, so the penetrating icy winds outside would bore inside along the edges.
Xiao Zuo shirked his neck and stamped his feet, and only wanted this driver to go a bit faster, and hurry and return to the room to get warm.
Perhaps it might have been his misconception or something, he constantly felt that the path from the theatre to the ducal residence should not be this far.
Xiao Zuo waited for a bit, but it was truthfully unbearably cold, then lifted the curtains at the front side, and wanted to see just where they were.
Who knew that just as he poked his head out, before he could see anything, he felt his back neck get hit by a blade by someone.
Xiao Zuo’s eyes went black, and his body fell down.
Xiao Zuo knew that Liu Wen Yao would definitely not let him go easily, but he did not think that he would come this fast.
He got woken up by a splash of cold water.
This experience of being poured with cold water in the dead of winter, Xiao Zuo was considered to have experienced to the fullest.
The outer robe on his body was taken away by someone, only leaving a thin, fitting inner robe.
At this time, it was even soaked by the cold water, dripping down with water, damply sticking to his back and waist to the point he shook from the cold.
His hands and legs were all tied with ropes too, and could not move at all.
Xiao Zuo barely opened his eyes, and what entered his eyes was a dim firewood room- the ground was spread with a layer of straw, and placed on a table was a swaying candle pedestal, the sole source of light in this room.
To his head stood a robustly shaped man, his hand held a thick and long leather whip, currently coldly observing him.
“Madam Man Luograceful silk , he has woken up.”
That man spoke towards the outside, and the old and worn wooden door then creaked.
From Xiao Zuo’s angle, he could barely see a pair of well-crafted embroidered flower shoes.
The woman called Madam Man Luo wore a thin silk dress in the middle of winter, with the shoulders draped with a fox coat.
Her face was coated with thick powder, but it was still hard to conceal her fatigue.
“This is a good merchandise I used an ingot of gold to purchase, it hasn’t been developed yet, you’re being so hard-handed, don’t harm his body.” That woman’s physique was gentle and graceful, and slowly walked in front of Xiao Zuo.
She crouched down, and used a hand painted with polish to lightly lift up Xiao Zuo’s chin, like looking at meat on a chopping board, carefully examining Xiao Zuo’s face.
Xiao Zuo’s body uncontrollably trembled a bit, and this time, it was not because he was cold.
From the words from this woman just now, he was probably sold to a southern mansion……
Xiao Zuo’s heart jumped, and slightly did not want to think any further.
After that woman examined him for a while, she satisfactorily stood up, and said with a bit of a merry smile, “Tsk, this time, we have picked up treasure.
With just this condition and body, who knows how many people would break their heads for him in the future.”
“I……” Xiao Zuo was scared for an instant by his own hoarse voice.
He forcibly suppressed the heartbeat that was about to jump out the chest, and took a deep breath in, and said while gritting his teeth, “I am a duke personally conferred by his Majesty, if you guys dare touch me……”
“Hahahahaha……” Before Xiao Zuo could finish, he was interrupted by the woman’s laughter.
Man Luo bent her waist down, and used that bright red finger and patted in his right face like she was warning him, laughing wilfully, “Duke If you’re a duke, wouldn’t Man Luo I be the current empress” As she said this, her expression turned stern, and her features seeped out with a sliver of iciness, and spoke coldly, “Let me tell you, when you come to my southern mansion, you should just settle down, don’t play tricks with me.
With your kind of fair skin and tender flesh, you won’t be hit with bad luck.”
Xiao Zuo only felt like his brain was in a whole mess.
If he did not barely maintain that final sliver of reasoning, he was pretty much going to wail out loud.
It was quiet all around, and one could faintly hear the sounds of bamboo instruments coming from the front courtyard, like a fly that would enter in any hole, boring into his barely standing heart.
That man holding the leather whip responded, and Man Luo said, “Bring him to the Wu Youno worries Pavilion.”
Once that man got instructions, he roughly covered over Xiao Zuo’s eyes, then carried him over the shoulder and walked outside.
Xiao Zuo unbearably hung with his head facing down, and felt like that person took many winding paths and circled many times, then tossed him to the floor like a worn bag.
Xiao Zuo could not help but humph, and heard a’Hao say something to another man, and then, his footsteps went far off.
“The one they sent today is an improvement, the ones they sent a few days ago were all like warped melons and dates, it was all their fault I couldn’t get excited.”
The black fabric covering over Xiao Zuo’s eyes did not get taken off.
He tightly shrunk his body towards the back, and heard the side come with slight sounds of rustling, and then, he felt the inner robe sticking to his body get lightly pulled up by someone.
The sensitive skin suddenly made contact with the icy air, making him uncontrollably shake from head to toe.
“You…… what are you doing”
Answering him was the sound of that person’s hurried breathing.
The darkness in front of his eyes made his other sensory organs expand several times, the waist he had exposed outside was then touched with a slippery finger at this time.
Xiao Zuo felt his brain echo with a crash, like in that instant, a city of firecrackers were lit, and all the sounds by the ears gradually hid away, only leaving that explosive-like crackling sound.
That finger slowly swam around on his hips like it was teasing, but Xiao Zuo only felt a drowning fear and disgrace like wave after wave of penetrating seawater, striking him while he was arduously struggling within the sea down time and time again, mercilessly pressing him further deeper into the sea.
That person seemed to not have enough, and the finger actually outlined over the waist, and wanted to go further down.
Xiao Zuo’s final sliver of reasoning was completely shred apart by this action.
He tightened his back, and did his best to hold back the inhaling sound that overflowed to the side of the mouth, and the upper and bottom teeth closed down without any hesitation, and was about to bite on the tongue.
The hand on the waist rapidly clutched his chin all of a sudden.
Xiao Zuo did not succeed with this, and was instead ruthlessly choked, and could not help but start intensely coughing.
He uncontrollably sunk to the bottom of the sea.
Those hiding and unfathomable shadows were already anxious to move, while the deep seaweed seemed like it had life to it and danced, like making threats to a prey, and covered over his mouth and nose, about to tightly trap him, keeping him in this cage that did not see the day of light.
Too dark, too cold.
Xiao Zuo shook with his entire body in this pretty much drowning despair, and wanted to grab onto any person who could save him……
He Xuan, He Xuan……
Nine-tenths of Nan Liang’s commoners believed in Buddha, and at this time and moment, Xiao Zuo must be the world’s most pious worshipper.
He madly prayed that the god belonging to him would come down in this despairing and pitch-black deep sea, and come down to his side.