Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
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The time went by fast, they enjoyed their meal and after doing the dishes they stayed within the house for the rest of the day, cuddling.
“How do you find the academy?” Jiang Yao asked gently as he looked at the young boy who was seated in his lap, peeling spiritual oranges and giving one to himself, one to Jiang Yao, one for himself, one for Jiang Yao.
“The academy is great,” Luo Xiao answered with a smile on his face. Although he had experienced some bullying it did not matter much to him. He had also received great kindness from Jin Chuan and Overseer Zhu.
Especially Overseer Zhu had treated him very well, and he had given him access to the points he needed to be able to cultivate.
Jiang Yao looked at Luo Xiao as if he wanted to look into his skull and see whether or not this answer was a true answer or something he just said to appease the older male.
Fortunately, it seemed as if Luo Xiao was very serious about this answer, his eyes were bright and the smile on his lips was sweet and innocent.
Without being able to resist, Jiang Yao bent his head and placed a gentle peck on Luo Xiao’s lips. They tasted sweet with a slight tanginess from the spiritual oranges.
Licking the spiritual orange juice from his lips, Jiang Yao’s eyes glistened with contentedness.
Truth was that Jiang Yao was rather busy after returning to Cloudsoar City. He had to manage a lot of things that had been left unmanaged while he had been traveling, especially missions he had given his shadow guards.
But although he was busy, Jiang Yao did not even consider leaving Luo Xiao before the end of the day.
The two people were deeply buried in their own company that day, the entire house was filled with warmth.
Outside the house, Mo Si had returned to the task of looking after Luo Xiao, but his complexion was still pale, his black robes soaked in cold sweat.
“How did it go?” Mo San asked with a low voice. He glanced into the house and saw how the two were sitting together, talking about the days Luo Xiao had spent at the academy.
“What do you think?” Mo Si asked with resentment. “Master was anything but happy obviously. We are likely to be punished when we no longer are expected to be protecting his little lover.”
“Well, we did not follow the orders,” Mo San sighed, “It is our own fault for looking down on young master Luo. We were tasked with protecting him, but because of our personal opinions and views we ignored the orders given to us by Master, and let someone important be injured.”
“Although young master Luo is not very strong yet, he is not a bad person, and I honestly think he is true to Master. I don’t think he is with Master to reap benefits.” Mo San continued to speak with a low voice. He looked around and saw that Mo Si seemed to look as if he agreed.
The sun slowly sat on the academy, without anyone apart from Jiang Bai and some of his friends being aware of the relationship between Jiang Yao and Luo Xiao. Neither were they aware of how much tenderness was shared between the two people inside the small house.
As the night descended Jiang Yao was depressed as he had to leave Luo Xiao. Although he wished to stay another day and bask in their love for one another, he knew that he had some things that could not wait to be looked after – at the same time he had to let Luo Xiao experience the facilities at the academy to actually increase his strength.
“Xiaoxiao, make sure to look after yourself,” he said gently as they stood in the door, ready to say their goodbyes.
“Don’t let anyone bully you. I have tasked Mo San and Mo Si to protect you, use them wisely. If you need anything just get them to fetch it for you, or if you experience any grievances send them to fetch me.”
Luo Xiao nodded his head, but he was inwardly swearing that he would not make these two Shadow Guards fetch Jiang Yao for him. It was the same as using an elephant to kill an ant.
No matter what he encountered at the academy, he had to handle it on his own. He had faith in himself, and he knew that he had to shed his quiet and timid personality if he wanted to be able to walk by Jiang Yao’s side as an equal being.
Jiang Yao sent a final glance at Luo Xiao’s determined face, and although he could guess what the younger man was thinking, he did not say anything.
Although it was making his heart feel warm to know that Luo Xiao was doing so much to be worthy of the title of his lover, it still made Jiang Yao slightly depressed and a bittersweet pain made his entire being tingle.
He did not want to see Luo Xiao lose his innocence. He did not want for him to give up on what made him who he was, but at the same time, he understood that if he wanted to survive then there was really no choice.
Luo Xiao was a young man. He had grown up weakly within a house, and the most exciting thing for him was when he got a new book.
He was like a white sheet of paper, someone who had been untainted by the world surrounding them, and Jiang Yao enjoyed painting this piece of paper in multiple colors, making him seem less doll-like, more human.
“Well then, I will go now.” Jiang Yao said with a sigh, clearly unwilling to part, “I will come back and see how you are doing later, and if I find as much as one bruise on your body I will punish you, understood?”
“Understood,” Luo Xiao blushed as he nodded his head. It was clear that this punishment was nothing innocent. He had to be more careful in the future.
As Jiang Yao ascended into the air, he gave a warning glance at a tree in that was located right next to the small house. The temperature in the surroundings fell drastically at that moment and the two Shadow Guards within the branches were filled with unmistakable discomfort.
Luo Xiao did not notice the glance he sent towards the trees, instead, he felt a sudden loss in his chest as if someone had removed his heart.
He did not move for a long time, just standing in the door, leaning against the door frames, and looking into the distance where Jiang Yao had vanished.
Shaking his head, Luo Xiao returned to the house. The house had been cozy and comfortable, very small but never felt cold. Now that Luo Xiao was alone, he felt the house slightly cold and oddly quiet. It was suddenly much larger than it had been before without the warmth of Jiang Yao.
Luo Xiao went straight to bed. He felt stifled and depressed, but he would never complain to Jiang Yao about this, he truly wanted to prove himself.
The night was spent without any rest for Jiang Yao, who was busy listening to various reports from his subordinates, his eyes no longer showing the same gentleness and warmth that he had had in his eyes when he was together with Luo Xiao, but now they were cold and callous.
Jiang Yao was seated in a chair like a royal king overseeing his subjects, the surroundings were completely quiet, the people who were present were kneeling in front of him, none of them daring to even breathe loudly, as they could sense that their master was in a foul mood.
“So fourth brother is being troublesome as always,” Jiang Yao sighed after reading the report in his hands. “I can see that he has tried everything in his power to make issues for my businesses and my lands, even sending his corpse puppets out to slaughter my workers.”
Jiang Yao was a prince like all the others. He had gotten an apanage in shape of land and businesses when he turned fifteen. These lands and businesses were from where he got his money, and throughout the years he had expanded his businesses and bought up even more land, so much so that he could easily claim it to be his own empire.
But Jiang Yao never had any interest in these things and had left it all to his housekeeper to manage. All he knew was that every month a massive amount of gold, spirit crystals, and other valuables would be delivered at his mansion, more than enough to provide for him for multiple lifetimes.
“Master, his highness the fourth prince has caused problems in seven of your stores, trying to bankrupt them, he has also sent an army of corpse puppets to kill your farmers. We await your orders as to how to solve this.” Mo Yi was the only one who dared to speak at that moment, and when he did, he was still trembling as he was kneeling in front of Jiang Yao.
“Send Mo Jiu and Mo Shi to deal with the corpse puppets.” Jiang Yao’s voice sounded lazy as if he did not care about what he had just read. “And make the unnumbered men spread news of what my fourth brother has done, make the public opinion about him change. Say something like him being narrowminded and targeting his own blood brother. He is very conscious about the public opinion, so that will keep him in check.”
The method was simple and crude, but it was incredibly successful if implemented well. The Shadow Guards present all felt enlightened.
The Shadow Guards were Jiang Yao’s most trusted men. They were split into the commander, who was Jiang Yao’s right-hand man and then the numbered experts from one to ten, Mo Yi, Mo Er, Mo San, Mo Si, Mo Wu, Mo Liu, Mo Qi, Mo Ba, Mo Jiu, and Mo Shi.
Finally came the unnumbered men. These men were equally loyal to Jiang Yao, all of them were working undercover throughout the entire Empire. Some were carpenters or chefs, others were guards for major families or even the Emperor’s guards. There were also some who were beggars or stay at home mothers. The unnumbered men were everywhere within the continent, and they brought every kind of information to Jiang Yao.
Every prince had their own land and businesses alongside their own followers. However, the younger princes, such as Jiang Bai, had gained his apanage only a year before, so he was still rather poor, and without being financial stable just yet, he had not been able to recruit steady followers yet, and was only having his friends around him.
However, while every prince had their own followers, the Shadow Guard was famous throughout the entire continent because of their strength. They were the strongest squad that followed behind one of the princes, and this also made Jiang Luo, the fourth prince, very envious and unhappy.
Thinking like this, Jiang Yao suddenly paused.
“Don’t send Mo Jiu and Mo Shi,” he had changed his mind, “Send Mo Yi and Mo Er, it is likely a trap.
“Although he wants to cause havoc on my land, he is likely aiming for my Shadow Guard. He is one of the few princes who still works with corpse puppets, so he knows that I am aware of who is behind it. This is a provocation and he wants me to send my shadow guard.
“Since he wants me to send my shadow guard, then so I will, but I am not going to risk anyone’s lives so Mo Yi and Mo Er are the ones who will go.”
Having explained it, the facial expressions of Mo Yi and Mo Er turned solemn. They understood that this was quite serious. If it was truly a trap, then they had to be careful.