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Chapter 624 – Brothers
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
At this time, half of Zhou Tong's shoulder and an arm had been cut off by Chen Changsheng's blade, and he was even blind in one eye. If he was a dog, he was certainly a stray one.
Xue Xingchuan creased his brow, replying, "Just calm your mind and focus on recovering."
Zhou Tong continued to ignore his advice. With great effort, he turned his neck to look at the entrance of the hall. Seeing the chair, he knew that Xue Xingchuan had been keeping watch from that place, and he fell silent for a very long time.
Then he asked, "Did the Empress come?"
The many stars in the night sky were bright and the starlight spilling onto the ground outside the hall was like water, peaceful and quiet.
After a pause, Xue Xingchuan said, "You know as well, the situation in the capital tonight is rather tense. The Empress must focus on the movements of the Li Palace."
"Is that so?" Zhou Tong squinted his eyes like an old dog, the pain from his left eye causing him to crease his brow. His voice also trembled as he spoke, "Then…did the Empress say anything?"
This time, Xue Xingchuan was quiet for a very long time, not answering the question.
Zhou Tong perked up the corner of his lip, revealing an ugly and even somewhat horrifying smile, looking at him and saying, "You see, I truly am like a dog. Even when I'm about to die, the master won't care too much."
Xue Xingchuan remained silent for a few moments before saying, "When we were young, I said to you that you didn't need to live this way."
He was clearly heavily injured, yet Zhou Tong somehow managed to draw up the energy to bitterly say, "If I wasn't this way, could I be like you then?"
Xue Xingchuan fell silent once more.
"From the moment we came out of the womb, I couldn't surpass you. When you were born, you were no less than eight catties and eight taels. And me? I didn't even weight five catties. That's fine, and in any case, the family was poor, so no matter what, that's how I would be raised, but the main wife of the Xue clan couldn't give birth to a son, so she wanted to secretly take one to raise and found our family…if it were me, I would also choose a white fatty like you and not a thin monkey like me."
Zhou Tong continued, "Later on, the main wife of the Xue clan gave birth and decided to pass the clan to her own son. Afraid that you would complain, she secretly told you of this matter before dying. I admit that at the time, you treated Father and Mother well, treated me even better. You brought me together with you to school and to study, but you never thought, for what reason should I pretend to be your attendant when together with you?"
Xue Xingchuan replied, "In front of other people, there was nothing I could do, but in the house, I always treated you as a brother."
Zhou Tong mocked, "But that's just when nobody was around. In front of others, I could only watch as you and Xue He showed each other the love and respect only brothers could. You tell me, what should I have felt?"
Xue Xingchuan fell silent, no longer speaking.
"I was born with an inherent weakness so that I couldn't even keep up with you in cultivation talent. If I hadn't entered the Department for Purging Officials and encountered that old ghost in the prison who taught me the Great Crimson Gown secret technique, and then also raided so many mansions to plunder techniques, how could I have possibly cultivated to my current level? How could I have caught up to you?"
Zhou Tong expressionlessly stared at the roof of the hall and continued, "But there is a problem with the Great Crimson Gown secret technique and my later cultivation was too messy, so I have no hope of taking that next step for the rest of this life while you are walking towards that place, step by step. I just don't understand; we're both twins, so why is there is such a big difference in our fortunes?"
"After many years, when I met you in the capital once more, I didn't expect for you to have already entered the Department for Purging Officials…but even at that point, if you began to change, it still wouldn't have been too late."
"Not too late to do what? If I did not give my life to the Empress, if I did not kill for the Empress, I would lose the Empress's favor and be killed by those people."
"Be at ease, the Empress will make arrangements for you," Xue Xingchuan comforted.
But within the depths of his heart, not even he believed those words.
Just then, the sound of footsteps could be heard outside the hall. It was not the Divine Empress, but a medical official delivering medicine.
After undergoing a careful inspection, the medical official carefully brought to the bed a wooden tray with a bowl of medicinal soup on it.
From the moment those footsteps could be heard, Zhou Tong had kept his eye upon this medical official, his sole eye shining with a peculiarly harsh light. Xue Xingchuan knew what he was thinking, what sort of disappointment, even despair, he was feeling, yet he was powerless to soothe him. He took the bowl of medicinal broth from the medical official and used the other hand to prop Zhou Tong up, preparing to feed him the soup.
Zhou Tong gazed at the black medicinal broth within the bowl, sensed the sacred Qi and medicinal fragrances within, and the look on his face suddenly became rather strange.
"What's wrong?" Xue Xingchuan asked.
Zhou Tong's voice trembled with an indescribable fear. "I…am not at ease."
"There's no need for that." Xue Xingchuan knew what he was worried about, saying seriously to him, "The Empress is not that sort of person."
"I've done more for the Empress than the rest of you added together, and so I know the Empress better than the rest of you. In any case, I am not at ease."
Zhou Tong's voice grew sharper, but because he was somewhat lacking in breath due to his injuries, his voice was also like a broken bellows, gasping and wheezing.
At the moment, he looked just like a stubborn child who, because he didn't like bitter medicines, turned his face away and tightly shut his mouth, refusing to drink the medicine even if he was beaten to death.
Xue Xingchuan looked at Zhou Tong, remembering how many years ago in their old home, he also refused to eat medicine in the same way, and he couldn't help but reveal a smile of nostalgia on his face.
Once these matters in the capital were concluded, he would have someone send Zhou Tong back to their old home to retire. He believed that besides the Empress, himself, and Xue He, no one would imagine that Zhou Tong would be there.
As Xue Xingchuan thought of these things, he raised up the bowl of medicine and took a sip, saying, "You see, there's nothing wrong with the medicine, and it's not bitter either."
Many years ago, when he was coaxing Zhou Tong into drinking medicine, he had done the same, drinking the medicine for him first.
Seeing this scene, Zhou Tong suddenly began to cry, sounds of weeping coming from his throat.
Xue Xingchuan was also somewhat moved.
After crying, Zhou Tong felt even more exhausted, but he had also greatly relaxed.
He looked at Xue Xingchuan and struggled out a smile. "I've thought it through. As long as I live, it's fine."
Xue Xingchuan was greatly comforted, replying, "As long as you've thought it through, it's fine."
By the time the carriage returned to the Orthodox Academy, it had already been surrounded by guards.
The soldiers of the Imperial Court and the cavalry of the Orthodoxy extended from the main street into Hundred Flowers Lane and then around the academy walls, their cordon so tight that not even a trickle of water could seep through.
Chen Changsheng descended from the carriage and said goodbye to Prince Chen Liu. Under countless gazes, he walked into the Orthodox Academy.
The academy gate of the Orthodox Academy was pushed open. Within, it was brightly lit by lanterns. Although it was late night, none of the several hundred teachers or students could sleep because tonight, no one could sleep.
The sword array formed by the South Stream Temple disciples had already been moved from around the house to behind the academy gate. Sensing the awe-inspiring sword intent, one could have confidence that if the troops of the Imperial Court wished to charge through, they would certainly pay a miserable and heavy price. Yet for some reason, none of the usual composure or self-confidence could be seen on those female disciples, but rather anxiety.
"Where did you go?" Tang Thirty-Six looked at Chen Changsheng and asked.
The teachers and students of the Orthodox Academy were also looking at him.
Chen Changsheng had left the Orthodox Academy four hours ago. He had gone to the space under New North Bridge, gone to the Plum Garden Inn, and finally, to the alley of the Northern Military Department. He had done many things.
Because of his departure, the situation in the capital had suddenly grown tense, and the Orthodoxy cavalry and then the Imperial Guards had come to this place. The people within the Orthodox Academy naturally knew that something had happened, just not what. The battle at the alley of the Northern Military Department had just concluded, and while Tang Thirty-Six had people in the capital, the transmission of this news had not traveled faster than Chen Changsheng's return.
"It's nothing, everyone should go to sleep."
Chen Changsheng indicated that Su Moyu should take the teachers and students to rest, then he brought Tang Thirty-Six and Zhexiu to the house.
The sword array of South Stream Temple naturally moved with him, taking not even a few moments to move to the lake shore. Su Moyu also quickly returned.
"There's truly nothing wrong?" Tang Thirty-Six looked into his eyes and very solemnly asked.
They knew the state of Chen Changsheng's body and could not treat him with the usual teasing and fearlessness. They had originally thought that after leaving the Orthodox Academy, Chen Changsheng would not come back. They certainly had not imagined that he would return at such a late hour. This made them feel much more at ease, yet they could not completely relax.
"There's truly nothing," Chen Changsheng replied. "I just went to take care of a few things."
"I…went to kill Zhou Tong."
Hearing this, the house instantly became incomparably silent.
The breeze blew against the great banyan tree, yet it could not rustle its leaves. It blew against the surface of the lake, yet no ripple could be seen.
Everyone was stunned, especially those young girls of South Stream Temple.
The capital tonight was immersed in an abnormal atmosphere with many signs of a coming storm to be found. Zhexiu and the rest had guessed it had something to do with Chen Changsheng, yet they not expected it to be a major concern like this.
This world contained innumerable people that wanted Zhou Tong dead, but would any of them dare to bring these wants into reality?
Su Moyu gazed at him with a look of admiration.
Those girls of South Stream Temple looked at him with suddenly bright eyes, thinking, he truly deserves to be the man the temple master loves, he's really extraordinary.
"I said before, Zhou Tong is mine to kill."
Zhexiu looked at him and continued, "But seeing your unique situation, I won't blame you."
Chen Changsheng looked back at him and said, "You were imprisoned in Zhou Prison because of your relationship with me and the Orthodox Academy, so I felt that I at least had to settle this matter before leaving."
Leaving? To where? Upon hearing these words, the girls of South Stream Temple were filled with confusion and doubt.
Tang Thirty-Six and Su Moyu knew the meaning of the word 'leaving'. The mood that just seemed to be warming up instantly chilled once more.
"I said before, it's fine if you add money," Zhexiu answered.
Chen Changsheng did not continue to argue with him over this matter, saying, "I'm sorry, I wasn't able to kill him."
A voice came from the South Stream Temple disciples, "Daring to kill is already very extraordinary."
The speaker was Ye Xiaolian, once a worshipper of Qiushan Jun, later a worshipper of Chen Changsheng, and now a worshipper of Xu Yourong.
Tonight, she suddenly felt that liking Chen Changsheng was a very reasonable matter.
Chen Changsheng noticed that the mood of the South Stream Temple disciples was rather peculiar, so he asked, "What's happened?"
Ye Xiaolian somewhat uneasily answered, "The temple master still hasn't come back."
Chen Changsheng thought this over and then offered, "Perhaps she decided to stay in the Imperial Palace?"
Ye Xiaolian shook her head. "The temple master stated that she would definitely return after dark. If she did not return…"
Hearing this, Chen Changsheng, Tang Thirty-Six and the others finally felt that something was wrong, their expressions turning solemn.