“A’Zuo, in two days, Zhan Chuan and them are going to hold a crab-tasting banquet at the Pine Wind Pavilion, do you want to come?” Qing Shuang held up a jar of water, the look of him watering lilies also seemed like he was writing comments on an original essay, the corners of the mouth slightly pursed due to his seriousness, making even his profile a bit taut.
Xiao Zuo was flipping through intelligence Qing Shuang organized on Nan Liang, he absent-mindedly made an en sound, and said with knitted brows, “Is the drought in Nan Liang this year this severe?”
Qing Shuang did not stop watering, and only indifferently replied, “En, the south has a big drought this year, as it was embroiled in war last year, most of the fields were abandoned, so the drought is more severe.”
“Has disaster relief been given in time?”
“Not yet, the army on expedition to Nan Liang has yet to return for a long time, perhaps there has been some changes to the situation.” Qing Shuang explained, “Those generals probably are busy with fighting to get merits, naturally, they would not be willing to spare time to provide relief.”
Xiao Zuo’s face didn’t change, but his right hand made a deep mark on that book. He went silent for a moment, then said, “What sins have the commoners committed.”
“The world is not merciful, and sees all beings as insignificant.” Qing Shuang placed the water jar on a table to the side, and observed this pot of kaffir lily in front of him, “A’Zuo, you should understand this principle better than me.”
“This cannot do, I will go back and speak with his Highness about this.” As Xiao Zuo spoke, he got up, but Qing Shuang pulled his right arm, and glanced at him, saying, “Even if you speak with his Highness the Crown Prince now, it would be of no effect. From Shang An’jing to Nan Liang, after being exploited down each level, once it reaches the hands of the commoners, how much would be left?”
“Better than nothing.”
“Better to take firewood from under the cauldron.”
Xiao Zuo knitted his eyebrows, and asked, “What do you mean?”
Qing Shuang said something in his ears, and the mark between Xiao Zuo’s brow turned deeper. He took one step back, then pulled out his hand from Qing Shuang’s originally loose shackles. Qing Shuang was still of that unmoved tranquility, that pair of ice-covered eyes of his that did not carry any emotion reflected with Xiao Zuo’s pale face, yet Qing Shuang seemed like he did not see it, and spoke with a calm tone, like the deep mountains after a big snowstorm, “Since times of yore, everlasting achievement all pile into white bone.”
“If there was leeway for change, how would it turn to this.” After knowing someone for this long, Xiao Zuo seemed to see through the person in front of him for the first time. He was not a dragon hiding in deep waters willing to be imprisoned in the lands of debauchery, nor was he a scholar who only knew to play with words and ink, with talent in poems and song. Qing Shuang, or perhaps Jiang Dan, his body was bearing the tens of lives of the Jiang family, not allowing him a romance, he could only make a path of blood within this withering abandoned grave.
Qing Shuang did not persist. In the end, he profoundly looked at Xiao Zuo, and lightly smiled, “Whether you do it or not, the decision is yours, I am only making a suggestion. You promised to go to the crab-tasting banquet just now, don’t forget.”
In the evening, Xiao Zuo took a bath, and the long hair wetly hung at the back, steaming up with hot air, filling the entire room with the dense vapour.
He Xuan held a cloth, sat at his side and carefully controlled his strength to dry it for him- Xiao Zuo turned drowsy from him wiping it, and his eyelids pulled down with a barely-open look, nodding his head again again about to lean towards He Xuan’s shoulder.
“Today, Fu Zhan Chuan said they are going to hold a crab-tasting banquet, do you want to go?”
Xiao Zuo was hazily nodding off, half of his body was shrunk into He Xuan’s arms, so He Xuan could only maintain an awkward pose to dry the ends of his hair, and when speaking, hot air hit Xiao Zuo’s ears, making him slightly shiver.
Xiao Zuo subconsciously rubbed around in He Xuan’s arms, his fluffy hair rubbed He Xuan’s chin, but He Xuan felt an itch spread from the chin all the way to the bottom of his heart, and he inconspicuously swallowed. When he heard Xiao Zuo ask him with an elongated tone where the heads and ends would join together, in He Xuan’s ears, it carried an indescribable flirtatious implication.
“Are you going?”
He Xuan’s finger was playing with the ends of his hair, and he restlessly looked at the slightly red eyes that rose due to drowsiness from Xiao Zuo, “En?”
“You would definitely go.” Xiao Zuo slightly closed his eyes, and muttered to himself, “Then I’ll go too.”
“Alright.” He Xuan tossed soaked cloth to the side, then flipped and pressed the Xiao Zuo in his arms beneath him. His right hand propped on the bed, while the left covered over Xiao Zuo’s slightly open lips, and kneaded it neither lightly nor heavily. Xiao Zuo’s lips that seemed red due to bathing turned into a deeper colour like it was going to drip with blood, Xiao Zuo’s head was still all muddled, and hazily watched He Xuan, like he was separated by a layer of fog yet to disperse.
“Mm.” He Xuan lightly blocked Xiao Zuo’s lips, and very patiently savoured them. Xiao Zuo very cooperatively extended his tongue, when he was taking in kisses, he still seemed like an inexperienced youth, responding with half unfamiliarity and half embarrassment. He Xuan slightly narrowed his eyes, and added some strength, like a beast who did not know of satisfaction, to swallow Xiao Zuo into its stomach.
Xiao Zuo’s head hit the big pear blossom bed’s back thanks to He Xuan, making him uncontrollably release fragmented breaths, all blocked in the mouth by He Xuan without letting anything leak out. He could only hold in the pain and whimper, and bite He Xuan’s tongue in retaliation- He Xuan completely did not feel it at all, and continued to enter deep in while dispersing bloody air all around, the blood-addicted wild beast did not care for its own wounds, Xiao Zuo even could feel He Xuan slightly shiver in excitement due to this blood, with pain and pleasure intertwining and tearing at his body, and in the end, drowning him in the extinguishing pleasure.
Only the heavens knew how Xiao Zuo got up from bed the next day. When he washed up with two black eye circles, it scared Zi Wan into a jump, this small lass was completely out of sight these days, speaking of which, he had not yet asked who that man was on the night of the Moon Festival was.
“Zi Wan, I have a question, you must answer me truthfully.”
Zi Wan wrung the cloth in the washbasin dry then gave it to him, and nodded her head, “When has Zi Wan ever lied to the duke.”
Xiao Zuo quickly finished washing his face, then turned his head and sternly asked, “That night of the Moon Festival, who did you go with?”
“Duke saw?” Zi Wan’s face went slightly red, she embarrassingly moved her eyes away, and stared at her shoes embroidered with mandarin ducks, and said quietly, “A guard of the residence, called Liu Zhong.”
“You two……” Xiao Zuo thought of the phrasing then lightly coughed, and said, “Next time, I shall observe him for a bit.”
“He is quite a good person.” Zi Wan’s hands were put at the back, lowered her head and explain in place of Liu Zhong, then quickly picked up the washbasin and headed out, “This servant still has something to do!”
Xiao Zuo’s hands was still holding a cloth, he watched Zi Wan close the door like a gust of wind with wide eyes and an open mouth, and could only helplessly hang the cloth on the wooden rack to the side, then went out to have breakfast.
One thought on “[Cry of the Midnight Jackdaw] Chapter 65”
 … For them to suffer to such cruelty? The phrasing is borrowed from an essay as a rhetorical question. Directed at the heavens, but it is not the heaven’s directive- such hardship is created by humans themselves.
 天地不仁，以万物为刍狗- the heavens do not hold conscious thought, and sees everything as insignificant. Diverting to etymology for a moment, the word benevolence/merciful is written with a “human” radical. In a way, it implies only humans who are able to think, have conscious thought, are able to demonstrate benevolence, and show compassion to others.
 strike [the problem] at its root