Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
Edited by ONI_Ghost
Beta read by OEE
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Luo Xiao hadn’t been away from Jiang Yao since they had met so it was strange that he’d vanished without a word.
Luo Xiao was worried. Had Jiang Yao left him in the caravan because he was tired of him? Had he decided that he didn’t need him anymore?
Luo Xiao felt uncomfortable, and a pang of pain grew in his heart.
“Excuse me, have you seen my companion?” Luo Xiao asked as he anxiously looked at the driver.
“He left when we started moving for the day. He should be back later,” the driver said in a carefree voice.
He didn’t believe that such a possessive man would leave his lover for long.
Luo Xiao bit his lip. He felt restless and uncomfortable but he knew that he couldn’t do anything but wait for Jiang Yao to return.
Sighing, Luo Xiao went back into the carriage. He sat down on the ground and with a last glance around his surroundings, he started cultivating again.
He had been cultivating for half a day when someone knocked on the door.
Luo Xiao awoke from cultivation and his eyes glistened with excitement. Maybe Jiang Yao had come back?
Luo Xiao rose to his feet and went to open the door. His eyes glistened with hope, and a smile fluttered onto his lips.
He opened the door only to find that it was a girl from the caravan – one of the girls he had spoken with the night before.
Seeing her, his happy expression stilled somewhat but she didn’t take it personally, instead she just smiled.
“I brought some lunch for you,” she said as she smiled at Luo Xiao. “Why don’t I keep you company while we wait for your partner to return?”
Luo Xiao was not really interested in chatting with someone at the moment. He was depressed and worried. He wanted to fully focus on cultivating so that he didn’t have unsettling thoughts, but he didn’t have the heart to refuse the girl.
“Say, that partner of yours is really strong isn’t he?” the girl asked, and Luo Xiao uncomfortably nodded his head.
“How long have you been together?” she asked, but Luo Xiao was quiet, not answering.
“Sorry! I didn’t mean to pry!” the girl exclaimed when she realized how she had maybe asked a question that was too private.
Luo Xiao just smiled at her but he said nothing. He was not in the mood to chat, especially not about Jiang Yao.
“Does your partner like guys only or does he also like girls?” the girl stubbornly kept asking. Even someone as slow and innocent as Luo Xiao understood that this woman had an interest in Jiang Yao and that she was trying to pry information out of Luo Xiao.
Luo Xiao didn’t answer any of her questions, but just smiled vaguely at the woman saying things like, “I don’t know,” or “I can’t say.”
“Seriously! Do you even know anything about your partner?!” the girl finally lost her cool and yelled at Luo Xiao.
“Why would such a perfect man like another man and even a simple and stupid one like you?” she snorted.
“I am as pretty as you, and I am much more aware of how the world works. When he comes back you better step aside and let me seduce him,” she said.
Luo Xiao felt insulted. It was true that he was slow and naive but to be told such things to his face, even if he had been even more docile, he still would have gotten mad.
“He is mine,” Luo Xiao said with a low voice but his eyes glistened, and he looked at the woman unyieldingly.
The sudden display of unbending attitude completely took the woman by surprise. But although she was shocked she was not willing to back down either.
“If he cared that much about you, he would not have left you all alone!” she retorted, and her words caused Luo Xiao to feel uncomfortable.
Why had Jiang Yao left him? He didn’t know. “Please leave the carriage,” Luo Xiao said annoyed and depressed but the woman just triumphantly laughed.
“So you know you are not that important to him!” she said with a snicker as she stood up, “Since you are not that important, I’ll just take him away from you. There is still a long way until we reach Heavenward City, and I can easily seduce him before we get there. Now be a good boy and don’t get in my way.”
“Leave,” Luo Xiao repeated himself. This time his voice trembled with anger. He already knew that he was not that special to Jiang Yao, but he didn’t need to hear others say it.
The woman didn’t stay in the carriage anymore and left as quickly as she had arrived. Luo Xiao needed a few moments to calm himself before he once more threw himself into cultivating.
He absorbed the essence in the air and slowly refined it into spiritual energy. The speed with which he cultivated felt slow for him, but if compared to other High Earth Rank soul cultivators, his speed would cause them to bleed from envy.
He had only spent a short time going from Low to High Earth Rank.
The day went by as Luo Xiao cultivated. The caravan continued forward undisturbed, but there was no sight of Jiang Yao. Even as the caravan stopped for the night and their dinner was about to be delivered, Jiang Yao was still nowhere to be seen.
Since Jiang Yao wasn’t present, Luo Xiao didn’t leave the carriage. All he did was cultivate. He ignored his stomach that growled alongside his lingering fear of having been abandoned.
He didn’t sleep that night and the following day he also continued to cultivate. This time no one came to deliver him food or chat with him. In fact, the woman who had been there before was doing her best to make the people of the caravan turn against Luo Xiao.
“But, leader why don’t we just kick him out him? He wasn’t the one paying the fee to travel with us,” the woman once more tried to persuade their leader to leave Luo Xiao in the middle of nowhere.
“He might not have paid but his companion did,” the leader said uncompromisingly, ”They rented the carriage all the way to Heavenward City so he can be in the carriage until then.”
The woman grit her teeth when she heard his words, and the leader looked at her with a penetrating glare.
“Don’t cause problems. That young man might not be strong but his partner is very strong. He should be able to get rid of our entire caravan with but a thought,” he said.
The woman’s eyes glistened with excitement. She too had thought he was strong but she wanted him to look at her. She had faith in her seductive charm.
Time went by slowly and soon Luo Xiao had been in closed-door cultivation within the carriage for three days and nights.
His appearance was haggard, and although his mind was clearer than ever before, his body was on the verge of collapse.
Just as the sun was rising over the horizon on the fourth day, Luo Xiao could no longer hold out. He had been focused solely on cultivating but now his body couldn’t keep up.
He collapsed onto the floor of the carriage. Black dots flitted across his eyes, and his stomach was completely empty.
He had not drunk anything either and his body was completely exhausted.
Without caring about it or about anything else, Luo Xiao closed his eyes and succumbed to the darkness that was dragging on him.
As for how much time had passed, Luo Xiao didn’t know. He suddenly felt something cool slip down his throat. His parched and uncomfortable feeling slowly subsided, and Luo Xiao felt that he was no longer lying on the ground.
It took a lot of energy, but Luo Xiao forced his eyes open.
In front of him was a very alluring face, a face he knew all too well.
Luo Xiao was still half delusional because of over exhausting himself, so he lifted his hand and stroked the handsome face in front of him.
“Am I hallucinating?” he muttered to himself. Had he missed Jiang Yao so much that he was now imagining him in front of him?
“I’m real,” Jiang Yao said gently, but anger lurked in the depth of his eyes.
He had peeled a spiritual orange and was feeding it to Luo Xiao, a wedge at a time. It was this that had awakened him before.
The more Luo Xiao ate the more clear-headed he became. At first, there was relief and happiness over the fact that Jiang Yao had returned, but then came anger. Why hadn’t he warned him about his departure?
When he had eaten all the spiritual orange, he realized that he was in Jiang Yao’s arms. Jiang Yao was seated on the ground with Luo Xiao resting in his embrace.
“I was gone for just a short while. Why is it that I return to see you almost dead?” Jiang Yao asked, his voice velvety and soft but Luo Xiao could sense the anger in his voice.
“Who asked you to leave without a word,” Luo Xiao muttered but this did nothing to soothe Jiang Yao’s anger.
“Are you blaming this lord?” Jiang Yao asked, his voice dangerously low.
Luo Xiao could feel a threatening air coming from Jiang Yao, but he completely disregarded it as he lifted his head and looked into the eyes of the other man.
“It’s your fault!” he said, his voice quivering, not from fear but from the suppressed emotion he had for the past few days.
“I knew nothing and you were just gone! How was I to know if you had abandoned me? How should I know if you ever planned on returning? It was for four whole days! Four days!” he exclaimed while tears streamed down his face, as he begrudgingly looked at Jing Yao.
Jiang Yao was at first upset. He was not happy about being blamed but when he saw the tearful and frightened face alongside listening to what was said, he suddenly understood that it was, in fact, his fault.
Having never before felt any guilt, he didn’t know what he should do with this emotion that was eating him up inside.
He didn’t know what to do and seeing the angry but tearful eyes of Luo Xiao, he felt a pang in his heart.
He dragged the young man into an embrace placing Luo Xiao’s head on his shoulder and gently started to stroke his back.
“I’m sorry,” he said. For the first time in his life, he apologized because of guilt, but he didn’t have time to think about that because right then Luo Xiao clung onto him and started crying out loud.
The feeling of having been abandoned was still stuck in his mind, but he had refused to show it before. Now Jiang Yao had returned so he suddenly felt much better but everything he had held back came flooding out.
Jiang Yao just sat still and gently rubbed Luo Xiao’s back, waiting for him to calm down. He didn’t even try to take advantage of him, in fact, he held Luo Xiao as if he were the most valuable treasure he had.
When Luo Xiao calmed down, he dozed off into a deep sleep. But even though he was asleep, his hands tightly gripped Jiang Yao’s sleeve as if fearing that he would vanish again.
Jiang Yao gently pried his clothes out of his hands and lifted Luo Xiao up onto the bed where he wrapped him in blankets.
“I had to go, you know,” Jiang Yao said. He had the urge to explain himself as he looked at the sleeping Luo Xiao.
“My family was wondering why I was taking so long to return. They even sent someone to check up on me. If he had seen you, he would have told the others about it and that would have been troublesome. So, for this reason, I went to meet up with him elsewhere.”
“I never thought he would hold me there for so long. I’m sorry.”