Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
Edited by ONI_Ghost
Beta read by OEE
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Chapter 26 – Chengzi Empire
“Are we in a hurry?” Luo Xiao asked curiously as they moved forward at the speed that Jiang Yao decided.
“Not really,” Jiang Yao answered curiously, unsure of what Luo Xiao wanted, but he quickly decided to hear the younger man out.
“Then can I walk?” Luo Xiao asked with big eyes, “I’ve never been able to walk much before. Back in Jinwei Village, I was confined to my bed and then after meeting you, I was confined to your embrace.”
“You want to walk?” Jiang Yao said. He was amused when he heard what he said, but he didn’t decline. Although he was sad that he wouldn’t be able to hug Luo Xiao tightly, he could understand the younger man’s urge to move of his own volition.
“Sure, why not,” Jiang Yao said before Luo Xiao could even answer, but he didn’t set him down.
“I’ll put you down when we’re further away,” he said with a smile as he tightly embraced the young man, “we don’t want anyone to place us in the vicinity of the dead Marquis.”
“Okay,” Luo Xiao smiled gently at Jiang Yao as he felt secure in the older man’s arms.
Although he felt secure and comfortable, he wanted to rely on his own strength. He wanted to become stronger and reliable. He wanted to be someone that could assist Jiang Yao, not just a person who always needed his help.
Since Luo Xiao accepted his emotions, he was much calmer now, but he was still incredibly embarrassed.
Jiang Yao had helped him in every way possible and on top of everything he had done, he also helped him fix his weak body. To do so, he had even given away a precious herb that Jiang Yao, himself, could have used. Everything Jiang Yao had done since they had met was for the sake of helping him. Jiang Yao had protected him and even given him the status as his lover. All this was simply too much. Now all he had wanted to do was pay Jiang Yao back by using the rest of his life to help the handsome immortal man, but instead, he had fallen in love with him because of his gentleness.
He feared that Jiang Yao would hate him, should he know his real emotions. He feared that he would become disgusted because Luo Xiao was not a woman.
Because of this, he swore to keep these emotions to himself. He would rather die than tell Jiang Yao how he honestly felt, he would never sacrifice what they had right now.
Despite this, he knew that right now he was just like a new toy, something interesting because he was new and different from the people that usually surrounded Jiang Yao. He dared not think he held a special place in Jiang Yao’s heart.
As they got far away from the ravine, Jiang Yao slowed down and landed on the ground. He then gently placed Luo Xiao on the road.
“Let’s get going,” he said with a smile, and Luo Xiao flashed an excited smile in return, “But, promise me that if you are too exhausted or if your feet start to hurt that you will tell me.”
Luo Xiao nodded and readily agreed. He was sure that he could walk for a long time, especially now that he had a stronger body.
They started walking down the road side by side. The atmosphere was slightly awkward as Luo Xiao occasionally glanced at Jiang Yao, unaware of the fact that Jiang Yao saw his every single action.
Jiang Yao felt better and better whenever he saw the glances that were sent his way. He started to realize that perhaps his place in Luo Xiao’s heart was not light.
“What’s your home like?” Luo Xiao asked curiously, but Jiang Yao just smiled. “It’s not my home; it will be our home in the future.” he corrected.
“But is it really okay for me to suddenly live there?” he asked again. Jiang Yao chuckled. “If I say so, who can decline?” he said.
His arrogant attitude made Luo Xiao shake his head, but he truly felt warm at heart.
“I’m not going to let you go. I want you to see the world as I see it and feel what I feel,” Jiang Yao said, letting out his inner thoughts.
“What does your world have?” Luo Xiao asked curiously as he cocked his head.
“Everything,” Jiang Yao said as he lifted his hand and ruffled Luo Xiao’s hair.
Luo Xiao’s heart beat rapidly, and his face flushed red as he looked down. His appearance was incredibly adorable.
Jiang Yao wanted Luo Xiao to understand his feelings, so he was rather blunt with his words, but he saw that Luo Xiao didn’t get his hint. Fortunately, he wasn’t in a hurry.
In fact, it would benefit Jiang Yao if it took them a long time to reach the Tiansong Empire. If possible, he wanted to make their emotions mutual before they arrived at his home.
As they walked on the road, they casually talked. Jiang Yao asked questions about Luo Xiao’s past and his future dreams. He asked what he liked to do and what his hobbies were.
He got to know Luo Xiao much better than before and realized that he spent all his money on books so he could learn more about the world. He found out that he came from a poor family where they only just had enough money to put food on the table and so he could only buy books a few times a year.
He learned that Luo Xiao grew up without knowing his mother and that his father had taken care of him the whole time.
When Luo Xiao spoke about his village and his father, his eyes shone with unshed tears. He could still vividly remember gazing upon the corpses of his friends and everyone he knew, how they had been brutally killed and eaten.
Seeing him in such a state, Jiang Yao reminded him of all the positive things he had experienced and all the happy memories he still had.
Although Jiang Yao was ruthless, he didn’t have the heart to see the man he liked shed tears. Especially not because of something he had asked.
“Tell me about Tiansong Empire,” Luo Xiao requested, and Jiang Yao pondered for a moment. “The Tiansong Empire is at the very center of our continent. It’s the place with the most concentrated energy on the continent, and as a result, it is also the place where the most geniuses are born.”
“It’s the base of the entire continent and it’s the home of the demons, but one can still see humans, beasts, spirits, and demons there alike.”
“I live in the capital, Cloudsoar City, where I have my own palace. There, geniuses are as common as stars in the night sky, so making a name for one’s self in Tiansong Empire is difficult.”
“Ling Mo was rather renowned. He became a Marquis five hundred years ago. He was known as one of the top experts of his time and many had high hopes for his future – especially because he was a soul cultivator. You have to realize that soul cultivators of high rank are quite rare.”
“In Cloudsoar City there are many schools for geniuses, but everyone tries their best to enter the Royal Academy which is controlled by the royal family.”
“The Royal Academy is the cradle of all our geniuses. They gather there where the most suited tutors are located. Even sects and ancient families cannot outdo our Royal Academy.”
“And I will make you join the Royal Academy when we return,” Jiang Yao said with great satisfaction. “
“Me?” Luo Xiao was shocked, “Am I able to join if it is that difficult to enter?”
“You have an astral soul and my backing,” Jiang Yao said casually, “No one would dare say no to you joining the academy.”
By now Luo Xiao had long since guessed that Jiang Yao was a part of the royal family, but as for his position, he had no idea.
“If you want me to join the academy then I will,” Luo Xiao said, but he felt slightly lost. Was Jiang Yao trying to store him somewhere, so that he wasn’t in the way?
“The academy is located in the imperial palace so you will still be staying with me,” Jiang Yao spoke as if he had read Luo Xiao’s thoughts, “You don’t have to stay with the others in the dormitory.” Luo Xiao blushed when he heard the words. He felt like Jiang Yao could sense his thoughts and felt acutely self-aware. Currently, he wanted to think of anything other than his feelings for Jiang Yao. If his real feelings were ever exposed, then he would die from embarrassment.
Just as Jiang Yao was about to speak, he saw Luo Xiao grimace slightly. It was clear that his feet were hurting him but he said nothing about it and just kept walking forward.
As for whether it was because it hadn’t crossed his mind before now, or if he had held back, Jiang Yao didn’t know, but he was suddenly worried for Luo Xiao.
“Are you okay, Xiaoxiao?” he asked gently. Hearing this, Luo Xiao straightened his back and nodded his head, “it’s nothing,” he mumbled and began walking again.
Jiang Yao wanted to say something. He had already seen Luo Xiao’s stubbornness and unwillingness to give up.
But seeing that he was having so much fun walking on his own two feet and the sparkles in the eyes of Luo Xiao when he noticed something new he had not seen before, he decided to let him keep walking while watching him closely.
“What’s that?” Luo Xiao asked with big eyes as he looked at trees that were growing in neatly planted lines.
“This is the Chengzi Empire and Chengzi means orange.
“This empire is known for its spiritual fruits and plants. Especially their spiritual oranges which they plant in large quantities all over the empire, like here.”
“I’ll buy you a few when we get to a city that sells them,” Jiang Yao said with a smile as he gently rubbed Luo Xiao’s head.
“You don’t have to go out of your way and spend money on me,” Luo Xiao said a little embarrassed. He had no money and all his clothes and items were gifts from Jiang Yao.
If he needed something, Jiang Yao had to buy it for him, but he felt very self-conscious about it. He felt like he was being raised like a little pet or a mistress and he didn’t like it.
Still, he knew that Jiang Yao was doing it for him and this thought made him feel slightly better.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jiang Yao said gently, “You should get a taste of a spiritual orange when you have the chance. You can always pay me back with a kiss.”
Hearing his idea, Luo Xiao’s face turned completely red, and his eyes opened wide in shock.
Seeing his reaction, Jiang Yao grinned. Then he shook his head before he began walking again.
“Let’s continue walking,” he said, but he walked slowly so that Luo Xiao did not strain himself.
After walking for a few more hours, they were suddenly overtaken by a merchant caravan.
“Oh, young ones, do you want a lift? We’re heading towards Heavenward city at the border of the Chengzi Empire. It will only cost two gold bars a person, food and drinks will, of course, be included!”
Jiang Yao knew that he could travel this distance incredibly fast on his own, but he saw Luo Xiao’s curious glance and changed his mind.
It was clear that Luo Xiao was exhausted to the point where he couldn’t walk much longer. Jiang Yao had wanted to carry him, but he did not oppose sharing a carriage with him either.
He believed that they would be able to see a lot of new things if they traveled with these merchants, so he fished out ten gold bars from his embroidered bag.
“We’ll rent a carriage for ourselves. I am sure these ten bars can cover the cost,” Jiang Yao said casually causing the merchant leader’s eyes to glisten with excitement.
“We will clear a carriage for you!” he said hurriedly, and suddenly, the entire caravan came to life as they relocated everyone so that a carriage could be freed up.