Zhu Junyang had suffered a lot these past years. He held others at arm’s length because he was afraid that he would unintentionally hurt those that he cared deeply for when he lost control of himself. He was always on his guard against his sudden outbursts. This was why he did not dare to get close to his family, did not have friends, and was only accompanied by a few old eunuchs who were skilled in martial arts.
Although his lady mother’s heart ached for him and she showered him with her love, she would still unconsciously reveal her fear and pity of him. His lord father was constantly cautious of him. Both of his brothers distanced themselves from him, and his only older sister turned into a frightened rabbit every time she saw him, shying away from him for as far as she could manage. Perhaps they had all thought of him as a monster...
Fourteen years had passed since he was five years old. In these fourteen years, Yu Xiaocao had been the only one who actually treated him like a normal person. When she interacted with him, she was only respectful but not afraid. She would naturally display her emotions on her face; sometimes, she would also verbally shun him like a cat testing the sharpness of her claws. She would also secretly laugh because she managed to get a little benefit…
There had never been a person who was so carefree in front of him, who was so vivid and interesting in his eyes, and there had never been a person whom he would miss when they were apart, whom he wanted to get close to when they met, who made him care about her smile or every knit of her brows. He did not know if this feeling was called ‘like’, or if it could be called ‘love’. He only knew that he would probably never experience happiness for the rest of his life if he let this person go.
“You...have you killed a lot of people?” Yu Xiaocao probed as she was curious.
That pulled Zhu Junyang back from his thoughts. He thought about it, then tentatively asked, “If I said yes, would you think that I’m cruel? That I’m a demon who is numb to killing?”
“I wouldn’t say that you’re a demon. You said so yourself that you only lost control and attacked those who wished to harm you and your family. This means the other person reaped what they sowed and died justifiably. However, the more people you kill, the more your mind and self-restraint will be affected. It’s just like if a person first kills someone, they will feel panicked, afraid, guilty, remorseful...all kinds of feelings mixed together, but if they continued to kill more and more people, they would become numb towards killing and turn into a psychopath!” Yu Xiaocao felt as if she had suddenly turned into the ‘king of analysis’, and it filled her with a very high and mighty feeling.
Zhu Junyang continued to ask, “You don’t think I’m a psycho? A demon? A devil?”
“Is that what they call you? That’s because they don’t understand you. Young Royal Prince, do you know what I think of you?” Seeing the young prince’s nervous expression, Yu Xiaocao could not help but want to comfort him.
“What kind of person am I? Cold? Eccentric?” Zhu Junyang tentatively guessed.
Yu Xiaocao shook her head and said, “The young royal prince in my eyes is strong, handsome and heroic. You were born as the son of an imperial prince and was awarded the title of ‘Royal Prince Yang’ by the emperor. Originally, you should’ve been a person so high-up that we would never have the chance to meet, but yet here you are, standing among us, and you never once looked down on us because of our birth, nor have you ever bullied anyone simply because you had the authority to. You also don’t disdain that our farmer’s meals are simple. You stand with us under the hot sun and worry about our crops with us, and you never punish my family and I for misconduct. In the eyes of my family members, you’re an amiable royal prince, and in my eyes, you’re a friend that I can trust. Although, of course, given that you don’t mind the difference between our statuses.”
“When have I ever cared about that?” Even though Zhu Junyang was very touched, he still maintained his haughty expression. His phoenix eyes glanced sideways at her, but quickly moved away the next moment.
However, he still could not resist absolving himself, “Disregarding the time at sea I fought back against the pirates and that last time when I went up the mountains to take down the bandits, I don’t actually have a lot of lives on my hands. Ever since my lord father found out about my condition, he had asked imperial grandfather for an eunuch skilled in martial arts to accompany me. He’ll forcibly stop me every time I lose control and start hurting people, even though he only waits for me to beat the other person until they’re left with their last breath to act, saying that I’d be able to vent my anger without taking the lives of others. Just like this, I was even given the title of ‘black-faced devil’ by those cowards in the capital!”
Yu Xiaocao looked at him with a faint smile on her lips, “Then...have most of the wealthy children of the capital been taught a lesson by you?”
Zhu Junyang raised his eyebrow. The expression on his face was a little charming, a little bad and wholly captivating. He noted the stunned look in Yu Xiaocao’s gaze, and he could not help but smile, “I’m not the kind of person that initiates fights. The people that I hurt were all people with ulterior motives. It’s as you said; it became harder and harder to control my emotions and even a small prod could make me lose my senses. As my skills in martial arts became increasingly good, Head Steward Liu Fusheng could no longer single-handedly subdue me. That’s why every time I go out, I will always be accompanied by a few imperial guards that are skilled in martial arts.”
“Oh, no wonder you always create such a fuss every time you come to Dongshan Village! So it wasn’t to protect you, but instead to prevent you from harming others! Now that I think about it, I recall that there seemed to be a time when I felt that you were acting a bit odd. At that time, your body seemed to be exuding a dense cloud of blood, and it was so dense it almost enveloped me. It was such a stifling feeling. Luckily, you quickly recovered after I made impromptu jokes. My little heart thumped so hard that time because I was so scared!” As though in a trance, Yu Xiaocao recalled that scene from that time—that feeling as though she had fallen into hell almost made her hair stand on end.
Zhu Junyang appeared to have a slight impression of that as he nodded, “That time, you were the one who pulled me back from the raging darkness. It was the first time in my life that I was brought back to my senses before my outburst began. Although we weren’t as close to each other then as we are now, you, little lass, still left a deep impression on me.”
His gaze was so warm and gentle, so different from the usual haughty and foolish young prince. What to do, men who were gentle, warm and handsome were the hardest to resist!
Yu Xiaocao shifted her gaze and started a somewhat safer topic, “Young Royal Prince, we should analyze your condition. I feel that your initial outbursts were because you were too young and afraid of the unknown. When your fear reached a certain limit, it would find a way to break out. Think about it, being able to sense the true intentions of others isn’t actually such a bad thing!”
“What is it if it isn’t a bad thing? A good thing?” Zhu Junyang vexedly glared at her. It sure was easy for her to say such a thing since she was not in his shoes!
Excitement tinged Yu Xiaocao’s voice as she said, “In my opinion, it is a good thing! Consider this, you’ll be able to sense if the other person holds any bad intentions towards you without the other person knowing at all. We’d be able to take precautions before the other party strikes. We could even create a set-up and wait for them to take the bait, and then capture both the criminal and the goods together. You could get rid of all your opponents through legal means. Isn’t this good?”
Zhu Junyang fell into deep thought, ‘Xiaocao is right!’ His ability wasn’t so scary at all. If he sensed that the other person had ulterior motives, he could choose to distance himself from them, and if the other person has bad intentions, he would know about it earlier and be able to take precautions and avoid a lot of overt and covert schemes. Why did he reject this ability from fear, even until he was strongly influenced by it?
“We could even ‘pretend to be a pig to eat the tiger’ by feigning to trust the other party and then launch a counterattack when they decide to carry out their schemes! Even just thinking about it feels so exhilarating!” Yu Xiaocao got more and more excited the more she thought about it. That was a superpower—an ability to read minds!
Zhu Junyang’s eyes shined with a smile as he watched the excited little lass, asking, “What is ‘pretending to be a pig to eat the tiger’? You want me to pretend to be pig? You’re actually insulting me, aren’t you?”
Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him, “Uncultured people are without fear! ‘Pretending to be a pig to eat the tiger’ is an idiom. It means you pretend to be weak initially to lure in others’ attention and make them bite the bait. Then, strike while they have their guard lowered. Simply said, it’s concealing your true abilities and pretending to be stupid to lower the guard of your enemy so you can easily take them down.”
“Oh...then why is it pretending to be a pig and not something else? Like a little rabbit, a lamb, or a fawn? These are weak animals too, and they’re much cuter than a pig.” Zhu Junyang was full of curiosity towards this new and unfamiliar idiom.
Annoyed, Yu Xiaocao waved her hand dismissively, “You ask me, but how am I supposed to know? Anyway, it’s either an idiom, or a colloquialism. It’s not like I created it!”
Zhu Junyang leniently smiled, “Don’t you say enough of these bizarre words? Could I even punish you even if you admitted to creating them?”
Yu Xiaocao did not want to debate over those modern words and phrases she often used subconsciously, so she changed the topic, “Young Royal Prince, would you like to try to see if you can read the minds of others?”
“How do I try?” That urge to try in Zhu Junyang’s heart could not be ignored. Mind-reading? Did that mean he would be able to sense the thoughts of others? If he was able to clearly hear the thoughts of others, wouldn’t he be able to better make early precautions and ‘pretend to be a pig to eat the tiger’?
Yu Xiaocao bit her lip and thought hard about it, saying with uncertainty, “Why not...try to focus and think ‘I want to know what Yu Xiaocao is thinking about’?”
Zhu Junyang did as she said, and poured all of his focus on her while he chanted in his heart… Unfortunately, it was of no use. He shook his head, “It doesn’t work!”
Yu Xiaocao made a disappointed expression, scratching her head. She mumbled to herself, “It shouldn’t be…Aren’t you able to sense the other person’s emotions? This is clearly a type of sensing ability…”
Zhu Junyang was suddenly reminded of something as he hurriedly said, “I think I messed up the person I’m testing this on. I can’t sense any of your emotions, so it’s completely within reason that I can’t read your thoughts. Why don't we test on another person?”
Yu Xiaocao’s eyes lit up, grinning, “You can’t sense my thoughts? That’s good! No one likes to be seen through by another person, it’s like being stripped of your clothes—so embarrassing! Is there anyone else that you can’t see through except for me?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter