Chapter 44 – Astray Demon Lord’s Son (2)

Noticing his gaze, the person sitting nearby turned his head and said, “Awake?”

The injuries were not fully healed, but the demonic cultivators’ recovery ability was much stronger than that of ordinary people. After only a few days of rest, Zhou Ji was already able to get out of bed. As he got up, he replied that he was awake.

Standing up, he noticed that the clothes on his body were no longer the same as before. He was now wearing a cotton inner garment, which was arranged in a highly unusual manner with several straps tangled together to form a seemingly normal shape.

The person next to him, still trying to put on clothes, followed his gaze and smiled, saying, “I’m not very good at dressing other people.”

He then mentioned that the outer robe was on the cabinet by the bed, leaving it for Zhou Ji to take himself.

Zhou Ji thought that this person probably wasn’t good at dressing himself either.

Silently, Zhou Ji adjusted and properly dressed in the inner garment, then put on the outer robe. His movements were so skillful that it was impossible to tell that a few years ago, he had been the high and mighty son of the Demon Lord, surrounded by numerous attendants.

Dressed, he looked at the person still struggling with their undergarments. After a moment of quiet observation, he asked, “…Need some help?”

The answer was obvious.

With a pair of dark red pupils that let no light through, Zhou Ji took the tangled clothes and carefully dressed the person.

It was his first time doing such a task, yet it felt perfectly natural.

As if it was meant to be this way.

This person was very thin, with an unusually frail body and cold hands. Mortals were fragile, and this one seemed even more delicate than most.

With help, the frail mortal had nothing to do, raising a hand to gesture casually and saying with a smile, “It turns out you’re shorter than me at this moment.”

After gesturing, he patted Zhou Ji’s head, as if trying to press his height down further.

Zhou Ji was not accustomed to physical contact, but he didn’t evade, quietly feeling the cold touch on his head.

This person felt very familiar. It was an inexplicable yet undeniable presence.

After tying the cotton and linen straps, Zhou Ji withdrew his hands.

With the task complete, Chen Luosong patted Zhou Ji’s head twice more, as if in praise.

The injury on his foot was still severe, preventing him from walking far. Zhou Ji stayed there temporarily.

This was the longest he had stayed in one place since the first time he was deceived.

The person who temporarily took him in called himself Chen Luosong. Although his living conditions seemed humble, he was actually the owner of a pharmacy in a nearby town, living here for the tranquility, as he claimed.

Chen Luosong didn’t ask about the cause of Zhou Ji’s injuries or his background, simply accepting him as he was.

Chen Luosong would go to the town every few days, always leaving early in the morning and returning before sunset. Occasionally, he brought back various items, including food and clothing.

After eating some pastries that Chen Luosong had brought back, Zhou Ji realized that his sense of taste, which he thought was impaired, was actually fine. The problem was with Chen Luosong’s cooking.

From that day on, Zhou Ji took on the responsibility of cooking.

Ordinary medicine had no effect on the severe injuries of the demonic cultivators, but it could accelerate the healing of external wounds. While his internal injuries were still slowly healing, Zhou Ji’s foot had recovered enough for him to walk normally.

Being able to walk meant he could leave.

Staying here would only cause more trouble for Chen Luosong, so it was better for everyone if he left as soon as possible.

Zhou Ji, who had been meditating against the wall to heal his wounds, opened his eyes and looked at the sky outside the window. Seeing that it was getting late, he stood up.

Chen Luosong had gone to the town’s pharmacy again today, and it was now near sunset, about the time he usually returned, just in time for cooking dinner.

With his body somewhat recovered and his demonic energy flowing normally, Zhou Ji no longer needed to eat, but the other person did. Humans would die if they didn’t eat.

The fire in the stove crackled, reflecting the deep red of his eyes, which finally lowered.

The injuries were mostly healed. He could leave tonight.

He prepared one last simple meal and then sat by the door, quietly watching the path.

The setting sun cast a deep hue, and the sky gradually turned dark.

Chen Luosong was already late. Zhou Ji looked at the partially open wooden door and then at the empty courtyard. Finally, he lowered his eyes, stepped out from inside the door to outside.

The night wind rose, rustling the surrounding forest, and birds flew out from the trees, their wings flapping noisily.

The path remained empty with no sign of anyone.

The wind blew through the doors and windows, gradually dissipating the accumulated warmth, along with the smell of the food. The surrounding air turned quiet. Injured as he was, Zhou Ji couldn’t sense disturbances far away; his perception range was limited to what his eyes could see.

Tonight, the weather wasn’t as good as usual. The sky was heavily clouded, completely blocking the moonlight, leaving no trace of brightness. With no lights on and the stove fire long extinguished, darkness enveloped everything within his view.

After a prolonged period of darkness and silence, a faint sound of footsteps reached the edge of his perception. It mingled with the rustling of leaves and the chirping of insects in the forest—barely noticeable, but immediately caught by his keen senses.

Accompanying the footsteps was a faint light.

The light came from the end of the path. Though not bright, it was distinct enough in this darkness.

Chen Luosong was back.

Zhou Ji stepped forward, seeing the person holding a lantern slowly approaching. As usual, Chen Luosong smiled upon seeing him, his face bathed in the lantern’s warm glow.

Zhou Ji walked up to him.

The lantern holder glanced at him and said with a smile, “Sorry, I’m late today.”

He asked, “Why didn’t you wait inside this time?”

His voice remained as calm and gentle as always. Zhou Ji didn’t respond immediately, his gaze drifting to an empty corner. “Thank you for these past days…”

He couldn’t finish his sentence, stopping midway.

—There was a scent of blood, not coming from himself.

Due to their nature, demonic cultivators weren’t particularly sensitive to the smell of blood unless it was quite strong.

The lantern wobbled unnaturally for a moment. Realizing something, he turned his head and lowered his gaze, noticing specks of stains on the previously clean, light-filtering paper of the lantern.

Under his gaze, the stains continued to increase.

The stains, illuminated by the light, faintly revealed a dark red color.

These stains were blood. Slightly moving his gaze upward, he looked at the hand holding the lantern.

Dark red blood slid through the gaps between the fingers, dripping from the fingertips onto the lantern. The hand holding the wooden pole trembled unconsciously, causing the lantern below to sway.

Without time to think too much, Zhou Ji quickly lifted the sleeve of the person beside him, immediately seeing the long, still-bleeding wound and the white clothing stained with red blood.

The wound was on the side of the wrist, and the surrounding clothing was already more than half soaked. Judging by the size, location, and amount of blood, this was clearly not a recent injury.

Not having looked closely at this person before, Zhou Ji, after seeing the wound on the hand, looked at the person’s face again and only then noticed that the other’s lips had lost their color and their pupils were not as bright as usual.

Supporting the person immediately, Zhou Ji took the lantern and brought him back inside the house to prevent him from collapsing directly to the ground.

Inside, the candlelight was lit, illuminating the room once more.

There was hemostatic medicine in the cabinet. Chen Luosong was helped to apply the medicine, changed into clean clothes, and sat on a soft bed.

The continuously bleeding wound finally started to slow.

Sitting beside him, Zhou Ji asked, “This… how did this happen?”

“This,” referred to the wound. In his impression, such a wound on an ordinary person shouldn’t bleed so much and would normally clot after a while.

“Probably got scratched by something on the way back,” Chen Luosong said. “My constitution is special; wounds don’t clot.”

“Luckily you were here,” Chen Luosong smiled and said. “If it weren’t for you, I might have already died.”

Besides the continuous bleeding, this body also had a low sensitivity to pain.

The combination of these two meant that he could very likely get injured without knowing it and then die without realizing it.

When he said the word “die,” his eyebrows didn’t even twitch, and he even smiled.

Zhou Ji didn’t understand how he could smile and asked, “Aren’t you afraid of dying?”

“I am.”

The person lying on the bed turned to look at him and said, “That’s why I’m glad you’re here.”

Due to excessive blood loss, his voice was even lighter than usual, sounding almost like relaxed bedtime chatter.

Not expecting this answer, the person sitting by the bed was momentarily speechless, his usually opaque dark pupils for the first time showed a glimmer of light.

Chen Luosong shifted his position, turning to his side and propping his face with his uninjured hand, his long hair cascading down. He asked, “Did you want to say something earlier? When we were outside?”

Zhou Ji held the medicine bottle in his hand, lowered his head, and couldn’t speak.

After a long silence, before the person on the bed could speak again, Zhou Ji finally said, “I wanted to say, the food has gone cold. I’ll make it again.”

The person on the bed said, “Thank you.”

Late at night, the person who was originally expected to have left this place was once again sleeping in his usual spot.

The clouds in the sky dispersed around midnight, and moonlight fell into the forest, passing through the window and illuminating the room.

The person lying in bed opened his eyes, letting his sleeve slide down as he slowly extended his hand toward the light coming through the window, staring at the slender leaf he held.

The edge of the leaf was sharp, still with traces of dried blood.

Chen Luosong was not afraid of death, only of failing the mission.

According to the plot, this place would remain safe for Zhou Xiaoji for at least a few years. Once he left, he would face not only unbearable pursuits but also the pressure of an already fragile and twisted psyche.

To make him stay, a reason had to be found. Zhou Xiaoji couldn’t find one, so he had to.

The wound was self-inflicted, the blood trail leading from halfway to here, just as planned, with the severity just right.

This world was unlike any he had known before, with the constant threat of death. The more precious this life was, the more it required the courage to use it to its fullest potential.

Fortunately, he was skilled at risking his life.

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