Chapter 10: Different Path
At night, the two brothers lay on the bed and chatted face to face with a lighted candle at the bedside.
It was Shen Zhen who talked for the majority of the conversation. He mentioned the anecdotes and strange things in the officialdom, as well as friends he had recently made. He spoke about their characters with such exaltation that nothing could simply stop him.
Shen Qingxuan listened for a moment before he shook his head slightly. He knew it had not been long since Shen Zhen had entered the officialdom, hence, he had yet to experience those wrangles and schemes which was why he was in high spirits and harboured an abundance of hopes. What would happen in the future is unknown.
But this was his younger brother after all. Shen Qingxuan hesitated for a moment, and nevertheless, splashed a basin of cold water on his fiery enthusiasm. He said: Treat all things with prudence. Don’t recklessly make friends without distinguishing their camps. Even if you have already made acquaintance with them, you should still input some distance. It will not be too late to make friends and treat them sincerely when you have ascertained this friendship.
Shen Zhen was stunned momentarily. Although he did not say anything after coming back to his senses, he was no longer as jubilant, instead, he only nodded his head in agreement.
Shen Qingxuan knew he had been overly straightforward. Shen Zhen might not be necessarily unaware of those things, but he might not be able to accept it emotionally when told so directly at the moment.
With a sigh, Shen Qingxuan reached out his hand and stroked his younger brother’s head. Shen Qingxuan said again: Father is rich and powerful, I know you have no worries. But think about it, the bigger Shen Family’s wealth and influence are, the better you are as a target for collusion in the officialdom. You’ve just entered this arena, your experience is little and has no base. If you don’t act carefully and stand in the wrong camp, it will be hard to turn things around. At that time, our family’s business may not help you, it might even be– ruined!
Shen Qingxuan hesitated but still chose to say the last sentence, and Shen Zhen who was covered by the quilt shivered.
“Elder Brother, I am aware.” Shen Zhen was silent for a long time before he eventually spoke slowly, “The reason for my trip here is to bid farewell to you.”
This time, it was Shen Qingxuan who was stunned. Shen Zhen looked at him before he lowered his eyes and whispered, “It is exactly because I understood this that I have requested to transfer to the office in Ningyuan County in the south… The paperwork has been approved and I’ll be leaving at the end of the month. This trip will be long, I don’t know when I’ll be back…”
Shen Qingxuan frowned and thought about where Ningyuan County was at. After thinking for a considerable amount of time, he finally remembered that Ningyuan County was a very remote small county in the south. It was located in a hot and humid place, with strong folk customs and rampant bandits. The people over there were called southerners1.
It took a long time before Shen Qingxuan’s brows relaxed. He said: It’s good that you are going there. With your personality, you won’t even know if you have offended anyone in the capital. Go there and hone yourself. When you come back, Elder Brother will prepare a feast for your return.
Shen Zhen smiled before stretching his arms around his elder brother’s neck and burying his head in it. He said softly, “I know you would say this.” After a pause, he continued again,” Although it is tougher, it is a good place to build contributions. Elder Brother doesn’t have to be worried about me. A couple of bandits will not be able to subdue me. Besides, Father has some businesses there. I won’t have to worry about food and clothing… at most, I’ll be back in ten years.”
Shen Qingxuan remained silent and nodded.
This was going to be their first separation, moreover, they were brothers who grew up together. Although there were a few years of age differences between them and their widely different circumstances, nothing could erase a family tie. Both of them were just upset.
It took Shen Zhen sometime later before he spoke again, “Elder Brother, I know your body isn’t good, but promise me that you will wait for me to come back.”
Shen Qingxuan was stunned again. He couldn’t help feeling bitter after realising the truth. He hurriedly nodded his head and answered, “I will wait for you to come back. Don’t worry, how could I go when I haven’t seen you taking up the responsibility of establishing yourself and settling down to continue to carry our family’s glory and lineage.”
Shen Zhen finally smiled, “When I come back, I will marry and have children. I will have two of them and let you carry one.”
Shen Qingxuan continued to nod while thinking that he might not necessarily be unable to marry and have children. Just at the same time, these thoughts flashed in his mind, Yi Mo’s face abruptly appeared. He was so shocked that he quickly suppressed these impetuous thoughts altogether and did not dare to think about it any more.
The two brothers continued to talk affectionately. Shen Qingxuan hesitated whether to tell Shen Zhen he could speak, together with the matter of knowing that big snake, so that his younger brother wouldn’t worry about him and remain unaware whether he was alive or dead when he journeyed out.
He thought about it but gave up.
Although he could speak now, he didn’t know how long it would last and what unexpected matters would happen in the future. He had already experienced the ups and downs of life, so before the final result could be determined, why should he let his family members feel uneasy together?
What’s more, his future with Yi Mo was very confusing. No one could promise anyone.
Moreover, a promise itself was a tedious cavity. Who would believe it?
In the latter half of the night, Shen Zhen was sound asleep and had cuddled beside him with a docile countenance, just like the clever and sensible child he was in front of his elder brother during his younger days.
Shen Qingxuan touched his eyebrows and was lost in thought as he looked at it. Since young, there had been people remarking that these two brothers were most similar in terms of their eyes.
What was most unlike was also their eyes.
When Shen Zhen was still full of vitality and innocence, he had a pair of gloomy and tired eyes.
Shen Qingxuan silently sighed, tucked in both of them, and eventually fell asleep.
The next few consecutive days were bustling. As Shen Zhen had to set off to his post, the whole family was so busy that even Shen Qingxuan could not refuse and had to travel down the mountain.
There was not enough manpower, so Shen Qingxuan sent his servant to lend a hand. As he couldn’t help much, he sat quietly in the shadow of a corner.
Shen Zhen was busy bidding goodbye to his friends, and he went in and out of the restaurant. When he got home, he still couldn’t rest. He was stopped by Master Shen to say goodbye to his elder relatives one by one.
Shen Zhen was so agitated by it that he even took time to look for Shen Qingxuan to rant. He said he didn’t expect it to be so exhausting when it was only a trip outside. Naturally, Shen Qingxuan comforted him and then sent him to those banquets.
Very soon, everything had been settled and Shen Zhen went on his way.
Shen Qingxuan also returned to the mountains and continued to live his quiet days of counting the sunrise and the sunset, and listening to the sound of the wind blowing the leaves.
Yi Mo hadn’t shown up since their trip to the hot spring.
Who knew what he was busy with? Or perhaps, he just didn’t want to see him anymore. Every time Shen Qingxuan thought of this point, he couldn’t help sneering. So what if you don’t want to see me? At most, you can hide until next year’s tribulation but you will still end up coming to find me?!
And he thought again, what kind of man was Yi Mo that he had to hide from a weak and paralyzed person? He must be too lazy to come…
Shen Qingxuan sat alone in the room and his thought was spinning rapidly, but he couldn’t get any conclusion. Contrariwise, the more confused his thought was, the moodier he felt.
As if there was something stuck in his chest, how he wished he could scream hysterically and smash something to ease it.
Perhaps after experiencing a lively event, when desolation returned, he couldn’t be calm anymore.
Aware of his dangerous state of mind, Shen Qingxuan felt even more suffocated. There was no place for him to vent, so he just picked up a book about a fox demon that he had collected. He had only read one page and felt the urge to tear it apart. How he wished he could tear all these stories that befog the minds of people into pieces.
What about a fox demon repaying her kindness and getting married? What about a flower lover raising a ghost flower and obtaining a marriage alliance… It’s all bullshit.
Don’t those writers know that ‘humans and demons walk a different path’?!
——Humans and demons walk a different path.
Shen Qingxuan narrowed his eyes, and with gashed teeth, he went over them over and over. He read them silently over and over again and swallowed them again and again. His anger rising from no reason, his hate was even more pestering.
In his mind, he occasionally thought of this phrase “reach the same destination by different means2“, but he dared not think any further.
They were a human, a demon, and both a man. Even if they go together, they wouldn’t be able to be like those romantic stories in those books.
At most, it was to give people an excuse to talk about something after dinner.
Shen Qingxuan was even more outraged because he understood this.
“Did those books offend you? “
Shen Qingxuan immediately raised his head and saw Yi Mo standing by the candle. Half of his face was covered by his long hair while the other half was hidden in the shadow of the flickering candlelight, only those eyes that were as still as water was staring at himself in extreme calmness.
Shen Qingxuan’s hands trembled, and those white pieces of paper alike to snowflakes scattered and lay all over the floor.
Shen Qingxuan watched as the broken pages torn by him fell to the ground one after another, and the original chaotic thoughts in his mind seemed to have sunk along with the falling pieces.
Suddenly there was peace.
There wasn’t urgency or nervousness, neither was there joy or worry.
He only raised his face slowly and observed his still eyes, faintly feeling that it had been like this for thousands of years, as if it was a secret place that no one had visited since ancient times.
Shen Qingxuan heard his voice resonate in this quiet world, each word that left his lips was articulated with an unparalleled seriousness. “Let’s head to the same destination3, okay?”
Yes… I missed my update… Next update around the end of the month~