Qi Yan quickly discovered it too.
He stared at the pit viper closely, not panicking, and slowly stood up from the floor. He moved very lightly, trying not to make any sound.
The pit viper showed its tongue, its black eyes following Qi Yan’s every move.
Xia Xun knew this kind of snake; the people of Douzhou called it a flower fan handle. It was extremely venomous. Bitten by it, one would die quickly.
Qi Yan stepped back a few steps, putting some distance between himself and the pit viper, picked up the sword from the table and slowly started drawing it out.
The blade of the sword was not unsheathed even by an inch when his hand was held down by Xia Xun.
Xia Xun whispered:
“No, this snake is fierce. If attacked, it will spurt poisonous liquid from beneath its tongue; this liquid is so poisonous that even the slightest touch of it will cause heart failure and death.”
Qi Yan lowered his voice:
“I know that this snake is called a flower fan handle and is a snake unique to Lingnan. Although it is highly poisonous, it doesn’t like to actively attack people. I just want to pick it up and throw it out the window.”
Xia Xun was a little surprised.
The flower fan handle only appeared in Lingnan, and Qi Yan lived in the capital all year round. How could he know it so well?
He didn’t ask, just shook his head and said:
“If you let it go, even if it can’t bite us, it may hurt others. I don’t know how it appeared in Binzhou, but we must not leave it alive.”
He stretched out his hand to grab Qi Yan’s sword. Qi Yan held on tightly: “What are you going to do?!”
Xia Xun said calmly: “Of course I’ll kill it.”
Qi Yan raised his eyebrows. “Are you crazy? Are you going to die?! When a normal person encounters a poisonous snake, he would have no choice but to hide! How dare you go up against it—?!”
The voices of the two alarmed the flower fan handle. It observed them for a moment and thought that Xia Xun’s figure was thinner and more suitable for being a prey.
It aimed at Xia Xun and suddenly rushed forward.
“Watch out!” Qi Yan stood in front of him.
Xia Xun took advantage of his distraction, grabbed his sword, unsheathed it, walked around him, and faced the snake.
He poked the pit viper with the sword sheath.
It fell for it, wrapped around the sheath and bit it fiercely, its two rows of fangs piercing the wood of the sword sheath, leaving deep holes in it.
Xia Xun moved his hand forward.
The snake raised its head, opened its mouth wide and aimed at his hand.
Qi Yan rushed over, trying to use his arm to take the bite in Xia Xun’s place.
Xia Xun was calm, raising the sword in his other hand.
Qi Yan’s sword was forged by a famous master, its blade extremely sharp. Swinging it, Xia Xun could hear the sound of it cutting the air.
The sharp sword slashed the scaly skin of the flower fan handle easily and severed its spine. The triangular-shaped head of the viper fell to the ground, separated from its body.
The snake’s eyes and mouth were opened, as if it did not realize it was already dead.
Snake blood splattered all over Xia Xun and spilled to the floor.
The headless body of the snake was still bending and coiling in the pool of blood, forming a tragic and terrifying scene.
Qi Yan was frozen in place.
Xia Xun didn’t think Qi Yan would be frightened. When he cut off Xia Hongxi’s head, there was far more blood flowing out of his neck than now.
Xia Xun used the sword to push the snake’s head away and returned the sword to Qi Yan along with the sheath:
“If your sword is dirty, ask Qi Hui to clean it for you.”
Qi Yan looked unsettled and took it blankly.
Xia Xun turned and went out, calling for the inn servant to inform him of what happened and telling him to clean up the mess.
The inn servant was taken aback when he saw blood all over the floor. He didn’t dare to clean it up. He ran to the kitchen and called a cook who used to kill pigs.
The cook calmly brought a few old rags and wiped the blood clean in a few strokes.
Only then did the servant find a mop, soaked it in water and moved it over the floor several times back and forth.
The strong smell of blood in the room refused to dissipate.
During this time, Qi Yan sat aside, wiping his sword in silence. He did not look up, nor did he speak to Xia Xun.
When the servant left, Xia Xun took off his blood-stained robe, sat down on the bed and wanted to lie down again.
Qi Yan put down his sword and came to him.
Xia Xun asked him, “What’s the matter?”
Qi Yan sat beside him and took a handkerchief out of his sleeve:
“You still have snake blood behind your ear, let me wipe it off for you.”
Xia Xun refused: “No need, I can do it myself.”
He raised his hand, intending to wipe it off with his sleeve.
Qi Yan wrapped his arms around him from behind and pressed down his hand.
“…don’t move, let me do it.”
He touched the skin under Xia Xun’s ear with his handkerchief and gently wiped it a few times.
Xia Xun quickly became impatient:
“That’s it! A few drops of snake blood don’t need to be wiped for so long!”
Qi Yan’s hand kept moving as he said to Xia Xun:
“…I remember that you used to be afraid of snakes.”
Qi Yan was right.
At that time, the pond in Qi Mansion was still dry and the bottom of the pond was overgrown with weeds.
In autumn, the weather became colder, and a grass snake hid in it to keep warm.
Xia Xun took Yuzhu down to the bottom of the pond to play. Yuzhu, with his sensitive nose, was the first to smell the snake. He barked excitedly, inviting Xia Xun to look.
The grass snake was non-poisonous. Emerald green, it coiled in the grass like a jade necklace.
Not to mention Yuzhu, even Shaobo was not afraid of it.
However, Xia Xun was so scared that his soul was about to part with his body. He ran to Qi Yan’s side, begging him to get the snake away quickly.
Qi Yan said to him: “It’s not easy for the little snake to survive the winter, it is not poisonous and it will not hurt people. Why not just let it stay here? By the spring of next year, when the weather warms up, it will leave on its own.”
Xia Xun thought the snake was really pitiful and reluctantly agreed.
For the next few months, he didn’t dare to take Yuzhu down to the bottom of the pond again, so Shaobo was the only one who accompanied Yuzhu there.
Every time he saw Shaobo having such a good time with Yuzhu, Xia Xun was frightened and unhappy.
He didn’t want to act so cowardly in front of Qi Yan, he wanted to have no shortcomings in his eyes.
But Xia Xun was really afraid of snakes.
So he always secretly looked at Qi Yan’s face, wondering what he thought of him in his heart.
Qi Yan never laughed at Xia Xun, but apologised to him, saying that because he pitied the snake, he made Xia Xun feel so nervous.
In order to comfort Xia Xun, he always asked Qi Hui to buy acacia leaf cold cakes for him.
This kind of pastry was expensive. After Xia Xun ate it a few times, he told him not to buy it again.
Qi Yan was so poor and lived in such a dilapidated house. How could Xia Xun let him spend money?
In order not to let Qi Yan see his sympathy, Xia Xun began to bring his own dim sum.
He didn’t receive much monthly money and couldn’t afford to buy delicacies, all he could afford were some everyday snacks.
Xia Xun looked at the moonlight in Binzhou City and said calmly:
“Bones and guts of flower fan handles can be used as medicine. They are extremely precious medicinal materials. Once, in order to make money, I went into the mountains with others to catch them. How could I be afraid if I could get some silver?”
Qi Yan paused and asked:
“…did you catch them?”
Xia Xun sneered:
“No, the guy who went with me was bitten and died. When I carried his body back, I lost my way in the forest and almost died too.”
What was Qi Yan doing at that time? Maybe he had forgotten him.
Qi Yan’s breathing stagnated, and his movements immediately stopped.
He swallowed with difficulty, only to feel that his throat ached and his chest felt as heavy as if there was an iron plate on it.
Xia Xun didn’t notice his strange look and asked him rhetorically:
“What about you? It is extremely difficult to meet this snake outside Lingnan. How do you know it and even know its habits so well?”
Qi Yan took a deep breath and continued to wipe the snake blood on Xia Xun’s skin.
He seemed to choke, cleared his throat and said:
“For a few years after your death, I couldn’t look at anything related to Lingnan at all. You should know that Duke Chen’s fief is in Lingnan, and I even hated seeing him in court. Maybe that is the reason for my bad relations with him. I hated that place and everything related to it.”
He gritted his teeth, speaking word by word with difficulty.
“I always felt that it was that land that swallowed you and it took you away from me, and no matter how much I longed for it, I would never see you again…”
He couldn’t continue.
After a while, his mood calmed down a little; he sighed quietly and said melancholically:
“Later, my thoughts changed. I thought that Lingnan was your burial place after all. Your soul might still stay there. How can I not know anything about it?
“So I started learning things about it. I found all the texts that mentioned Lingnan, whether it was geographical records or travel notes. As long as there were a few words about Lingnan, I read them all. I read them again and again countless times, and I know them by heart.
“Although I have never set foot on that land before, I know more about its customs and traditions, its products and nature than anyone else. Just like that flower fan handle, I have never seen it with my own eyes, but I can recognize it at a glance.”
His voice sounded more and more quiet, so low that Xia Xun could no longer hear what he was saying.
Xia Xun was silent for a long time, then suddenly said:
“…Why did you go to Douzhou at that time?”
During seven years, Qi Yan had never gone there before, so why did he suddenly appear in front of Xia Xun’s grave?
Qi Yan didn’t say a word; he moved his hand that was holding Xia Xun’s wrist, his thumb slowly going upwards, probing into Xia Xun’s hand that was clenched into a fist, his warm fingers gently stroking Xia Xun’s palm.
“Where did these come from?”
Xia Xun’s palms were covered with criss-crossing scars and hard calluses.
He and his eldest brother used to make straw baskets for a living. The banana leaves they used were quite sharp. Even if they were careful, they would inevitably get injured.
His hands had been cut countless times, the new injuries appearing before the old ones were healed.
He healed again and again, and got injured again and again, and finally the cuts turned into scars that would not disappear, remaining on Xia Xun’s palms forever.
He avoided Qi Yan’s hand and tried to break free from his embrace:
“Where did what come from? From doing work, do you even need to ask?”
Qi Yan didn’t get pushed away and put his arms around Xia Xun’s waist, gradually exerting force and turning his embrace into a tight hold.
He murmured his name, his lips pressed to Xia Xun’s ear.
Xia Xun didn’t know if he meant it as a kiss, so he stood up angrily:
“Enough! You don’t want to talk about it, in fact I don’t want to know! Just leave it at that!”
Feeling Qi Yan’s gaze follow him, he lay down on the bedding on the floor.
“I leave the bed to Lord Zhongshu! I am used to eating and sleeping in the open and not used to sleeping on high beds with soft pillows!”
He covered his head with the quilt and curled up in the artificially created darkness.
This way, he felt safe.
He could still smell the snake’s blood that must have not been cleaned, and he fell asleep surrounded by this faint smell of blood.
2 thoughts on “Guanshan Muyu Chapter 23”
One word: damn.
Yes 🙁 🙁