“Ah- it is starting to storm.”
A mature-looking cultivator gazed out the window, a thoughtful look spread across his gentle face. His calligraphy brush stilled, the still-wet ink dripping onto the scroll and splattering the words that had just been written. He had sensed the material energy of a living person outside his house, on his doorstep. There is quite a large amount as well- they must be a fellow cultivator.
Gracefully, he stood up, smoothing down his robes and raking a hand through his slightly messy hair.
Noticing the ink staining his sleeves, he rubbed the smooth, dirtied material between two long fingers in an attempt to get rid of it, but the action just made the ink spread even further. Giving up, he let go of his sleeve and walked towards the door. With no hesitation or caution whatsoever, he opened the door, the strong wind and rain from the storm forcing him to shield his eyes.
What greeted him was a tall figure in a roguish, tattered brown coat, the hood concealing their face and body. Zhu Jian could only glimpse a pair of glowing green eyes, before the person dipped their head down, obscuring their face further.
The cultivator spoke up. “Sir, may I stay here for the night? I was on a long journey until this terrible storm struck, and I have no place to stay.” Zhu Jian was slightly taken aback by the smooth and deep voice that he heard.
“Ah, of course! You may stay as long as you like.”
Sensing no ill intent (or rather, something else from the stranger) Zhu Jian politely ushered him inside, the wind slamming the door shut loudly behind them. He quickly brought over an ink-stained wooden stool, which also had not escaped the clutches of his painting. Zhu Jian hoped that it would not bother the cultivator- luckily, the other only quietly sat down, his back turned to Zhu Jian.
"If it is not rude of me, may I ask for your name?" Zhu Jian asked politely.
The man seemed to think for a surprisingly long time for his name, before speaking. "...Qi Wuzhi. You may call me Wuzhi."
Zhu Jian blinked. Why is he being so informal?
Putting the thought aside, he smiled gently. "What a lovely name. You may call me Zhu Jian."
Noticing that Wuzhi had not yet revealed himself, Zhu Jian spoke up.
"Would you like me to take your coat?"
"...I would like to keep it on, thank you. It is quite cold this morning, after all."
"Ah, I understand. Then at the very least, allow me to start a fire in the fireplace."
A semi-awkward silence reigned.
Zhu Jian decided to lighten the atmosphere with another polite question, as one usually does in these situations. “Are you part of a sect, friend?”
“.....I was. Not any more.” The curt sentence was tinged with bitterness.
Zhu Jian flinched. Ah. That worked out well. Zhu Jian decided not to question him any further on that topic- it seemed to be a sore spot for him.
As he busied himself to try to get rid of the uncomfortable atmosphere, he felt Wuzhi get up from his seat and move closer to him. He turned around with a host-like smile on his face, ready to greet or assist him further, but the next words to come out of Wuzhi's mouth made him stop in his tracks.
“Did you really think I came to your doorstep because I was looking for shelter?”
Zhu Jian’s eyes widened. “What-”
Before he could finish his sentence, he was roughly shoved to the ground, his back hitting the floor, hard. His arms and legs knocked over a nearby table, spilling some ink pots onto the wooden ground.
He felt the breath knocked out of him. The coat definitely obscured the bodily strength this person had.
He felt a solid weight rest upon him, and looked up to find himself face to face with the previously hidden Wuzhi.
The hood of his brown, ruggish coat had been thrown off, revealing a young adult man with long, dark hair the colour of charcoal, pale, milky skin, and a devious smile. A dark red scar could be seen under his left eye, seemingly left by a blade or other sharp object. He would definitely be called handsome if the scar did not mar his face.
His previously hidden green eyes flashed yellow, the pupils resembling a snake’s.
“Submit to me…” he hissed. A forked tongue flicked out, a black ouroboros tattoo seen near the tip.
Immediately after his eyes fell on it, Zhu Jian felt his body become paralyzed, as if snake venom had been injected into him.
He attempted to lift his arms to push the other off but found he could not even lift a finger- he was at the mercy of Wuzhi.
Wuzhi gave out a triumphant laugh, his yellow eyes glinting.
“You should know that it’s dangerous to invite another man into your house alone, sect leader Zhu~” Wuzhi sounded out each syllable in a teasing fashion.
“Oh? But this is quite strange- how come you are not under my control yet? You have only become paralyzed.”
Zhu Jian could barely open his mouth- the only reason he had not succumbed to Wuzhi’s powers of mind control, was due to him being of strong mind and will, hence his name (to have one's own views). His body may have been affected, but not his mind. Weak-minded or unsuspecting people would have definitely become controlled the moment they set their eyes on the snake tattoo.
“Why...are you...doing this?” he managed to get out between gasps. The pain was starting to kick in. “Who… are you?”
Wuzhi smirked. “You have no need of the small details.”
Without warning, the other brought his hand close to Zhu Jian’s face. Zhu Jian braced himself for impact, but the other only brought his hand gently to the side of his face, stroking it affectionately. This sudden show of intimacy sent shivers down Zhu Jian's spine.
“Little did you know, I had been watching you for a very long time. I know everything about you. You are of age twenty-five years, you are a sect leader and part time teacher to your disciples, you enjoy painting, calligraphy and the like, you possess powers that allow you to bring creatures to life- the list goes on. I even know that you possess a mole on your left hip.”
Zhu Jian felt his face heat up against his will. It was clear that this person knew everything, even his most personal secrets.
Who knew how long he had been watching him for.
“Ah that reminds me!” Wuzhi suddenly exclaimed, an idea seeming to have come into his mind. If Zhu Jian could frown, he would have- this person seemed to have an extremely volatile personality.
“I saw that you have become closer with another, a precious disciple of yours- Xin Yao, was it?”
Zhu Jian’s eyes widened. “No, don’t touch him!”
Wuzhi smoothly raised an eyebrow. “Oh? I didn’t say I was going to do anything, did I? Why, you wound me, sect leader- you shouldn’t judge someone based on appearances, you know."
Suddenly, Wuzhi stopped talking, tilting his head to the side in false deep thought. "Then again, I saw the way that he looks at you- it is definitely not the way a disciple would look at their shizun. It is something I do not like at all.”
"What…are you…talking about?" The uncertainty in Zhu Jian’s voice caused the other’s smirk to widen.
“It would be unfortunate if one day, he had a little… ‘accident,’ wouldn’t it?” Wuzhi mimicked a throat-slitting motion and snickered.
Zhu Jian said weakly, “If you do anything to him, I’ll…” He trailed off, though the intent was clear.
Wuzhi’s eyes flashed, causing a sharp stab of pain to wash throughout Zhu Jian’s whole body.
“So you care about him that much, that you would do anything to prevent him from being hurt? That I cannot allow.”
Without warning, Wuzhi leaned in close to Zhu Jian’s face, so much that he could feel the other’s cold breath against his lips. “You belong to me.”
Shivers ran down Zhu Jian’s spine.
Suddenly, as if all the life had been sapped from him, Wuzhi’s body fell limply to the ground. Zhu Jian sat up in alarm, the curse finally broken. He sat there for a moment in shock, before coming back to his senses. He first moved his arms around to make sure they were working, before checking up on the other cultivator.
The other had fallen unconscious, his face a bright shade of red. Beads of sweat could be seen forming on his face, his breath coming in unsteady and heavy pants. Zhu Jian laid a hand on his chest. He frowned as he sensed the disruption in Wuzhi’s energy flow. It seemed that Wuzhi had a fever- it must have been from waiting around in the rain for a long period of time. Without further ado, Zhu Jian dragged Wuzhi over to the bed and started to pour over his own energy.
When Wuzhi awoke, he found himself staring at an unfamiliar ceiling.
He quickly sat up. “What-”
He stopped when he spotted a familiar figure sleeping by the side of the bed.
Zhu Jian was resting peacefully- not a hair out of place. Wuzhi thought that if the world were to crumble, Zhu Jian would still look beautiful as always, somehow unperturbed.
As his eyes ran down the other cultivator’s body, something he saw caught him by surprise.
Zhu Jian’s arms were draped over Wuzhi’s chest, as if he had been resting them there. It seemed that he had spent most, if not all of last night regulating his energy flow and helping him to recover from his fever.
Wuzhi felt his heart squeeze.
This man… even after all that he did, he was still willing to help him? He must be that much of a kind and pure person.
He had fallen in love with someone even better than he had thought.
Suddenly feeling tender-hearted, Wuzhi gently traced a line across Zhu Jian’s cheek- it felt as if he was touching silk, so soft and nice to the touch. The touch was apparently enough to wake the sleeping cultivator, as Zhu Jian wrinkled his nose cutely, yawning and blinking the sleep from his eyes.
Wuzhi quickly retracted his hand- luckily, it seemed that the other cultivator had not noticed anything amiss.
Looking over at Wuzhi, Zhu Jian brightened.
“Oh, it looks like your body has recovered- ”
“ -why did you help me?”
“After I showed my… ‘true personality,’ people would fear me, run away, leave me to the dogs (like back then). So why…”
Wuzhi suddenly stopped talking, taken aback at how intensely Zhu Jian was gazing into his eyes, his blue-green eyes seeming to be able to stare deep into his soul.
“I could sense terrible sadness from you- I could not look away.”
Before he realised it, Wuzhi was completely swallowed up in Zhu Jian’s arms. His own arms stayed stock-still by his side, uncertain where to put them.
Is this guy a complete idiot?! Embracing a random stranger like this- who knows what I might do to you....
“I can sense deep sadness and tragedy from you. You must have had a terrible past. You have done well to make it this far. I am proud of you.”
Wuzhi blinked. Not one soul in his entire life had ever said something like this to him, nor were they so passionate. Until now.
As if by instinct, Wuzhi hugged him back even tighter, his arms tightening around the other’s thin body, his hands resting snugly on his back. “You really…” he let out a relieved sigh into Zhu Jian’s chest. “I was right to follow you…”
“Where will you be travelling to now, Wuzhi?”
“I will stay here.”
“Eh?” Zhu Jian almost dropped the bowls he had been carrying. “At my sect?”
Wuzhi grinned mischievously. “Not just your sect, but your house as well. You do not mind, do you, sect leader Zhu~”
“Ah, do not worry, I will only be here for a short period of time. After all, I cannot stay at any one place for too long, or they will find me.”
Zhu Jian whipped his head around in alarm. “Who-”
“It is nothing for you to concern yourself about, sect leader Zhu. I am safe for now.”
Zhu Jian opened his mouth, about to ask more questions but then decided against it, turning around and setting the bowls down on the table. Wuzhi’s business was none of his after all.
“Well, if you ever require something of me, please do not hesitate to ask.”
The other blinked, then smirked, slinking over to Zhu Jian’s side.
“Well… I do get lonely some nights, you know…” he purred suggestively, using a finger to tilt Zhu Jian’s chin up close to his face.
An extremely bright shade of red burst across Zhu Jian’s cheeks. “Qi Wuzhi, stop this nonsense right now!”
Wuzhi backed off, laughing maniacally. “I kid, I kid, sect leader. Your company will be enough for me.”
Fuming, Zhu Jian quickly turned around, trying in vain to calm his quickly beating heart.
I may come to regret this decision in the future.