On the road, Fu Jian finally spoke. “You say that you aren’t my younger brother. Then, who are you?”
Xuan Cheng paused, caught off guard, then smiled. “I was joking. How could I not be your younger brother?”
He carefully used good humor to hide the panic in his heart. However, he wanted more than anything to tell Fu Jian the truth. It was probably better to let Fu Jian become upset and lose hope now then to tell him later in time, where the additional threat of unceasing war and political disputes would cause more harm.
But Xuan Cheng stayed quiet.
Fu Jian laughed.
Xuan Cheng didn’t understand how a smile could be so beautiful. He had never a smile that could move someone so much, as if spring had come early and the long willow leaves flickered in the wind, For some reason, his mood lightened considerably.
The Chinese historian had once said that in the entirety of Chinese history, the five most influential people were Qin Shi Huang, Emperor Wu of Han, the Emperor of Former Qin Fu Jian, the Taizong Emperor Li Shimin, and the second Qin emperor Kangxi.
Xuan Cheng had long admired only the Former Qin emperor Fu Jian. He didn’t understand why; Fu Jian had clearly lost the war, his grand legacy buried by the sand sof history. Still, Xuan Cheng tried to justify, within the period of the Five Barbarians Fu Jian was unmatched in his brilliance. Perhaps that was why history viewed him in such a positive light.
Around ten days later, their delegation finally returned to Chang’an. The city walls of Chang’an were extremely grandiose and imposing, much larger than any of the walls he had seen in Nanjing. The sprawling scenery of the South was beautiful and elegant, but it was outmatched by the open, heroic Northern country. He had been to Luoyang before, where he had seen firsthand the ancient city walls, but in the twenty-first century the once lofty walls were nothing but crumbled dirty blocks.
Under the rich color of loess, the vibrant green color of grass was especially prominent.
Xi’an was much different than he had imagined. The ancient Xi’an was a bastion of cultural intersect, with a government eager to foster intellectual advancement and industry to transform it into a cultural capital. It had even been regarded once as one of the four ancient capitals of the world.
Xuan Cheng had never been to Xi’an before, which was why he had been so excited to take this trip. In particularly, he had been eager to see the blue bricks that lined the top the Eastern walls.
Fu Jian noticed him staring attentively at the walls. Dismounting from his horse, he leisurely walked over. “Younger Brother, what are you looking at?”
Hearing the two words ‘Younger Brother’, Xuan Cheng was suddenly awaken from his stupor. He quickly smiled, pointing his fingers forwards. “Look, over there.”
Fu Jian turned his head over, then looked back at him. He wore a perplexed expression. “Younger Brother, those are the city walls. What are you pointing at?”
Xuan Cheng said, “It’s the walls. I’ve finally seen them.”
Fu Jian laughed. “You’ve seen them before.”
Xuan Cheng felt slightly awkward. “Right… I’ve seen them before.”
Really? Was he dreaming?
Fu Jian reached for his hand. Xuan Cheng retracted it quickly, only for Fu Jian to grab his arm again, this time pulling at his sleeves. “Younger Brother, there’s no need to hide. I¹ want to show to all the people under the Heavens that you are my brother, that you are the sovereign king of Great Qin’s younger brother.”
These words were extremely touching, with an intense and moving quality to it. Xuan Cheng found himself unconsciously agreeing to them, and absentmindedly allowed that person to pull him into the city by his wrist.
Behind him were a multitude of Qin troops. In front of him, the grandiose city of Chang’an towered.
In all honesty, he wanted to enter the city by himself. He wanted to set foot in every inch within the towering walls, then one step by another explore the palace inner chambers before they were eroded down by time. In all his fantasies of exploring Chang’an, there was nobody by his side.
However, he didn’t dare to voice this thought out loud. Pig Head had guessed correctly. He was gay, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t sentimental. All he wanted was to find a passionate love, but before that time came, he wouldn’t even think of grabbing another person’s hand, then insincerely tell them, “Come with you, I want you.”
He only wanted one kind of love. It wasn’t the seasonal love of the passing wind or the blooming flowers, nor the tranquil love of solemn snow or golden moonlight. Rather than that kind of effete love with no real substance to it, he would much rather know the love of eternity, where both partners would promise to never part from each other. He wanted to hear someone tell him, “Xuan Cheng, I want you.”
“I will treat you right.” This wasn’t a lie, but rather a vow.
Vows were a serious matter, and thus could not be tossed around blindly. He didn’t dare to make a vow to someone else, nor did he dare to have someone else vow to him.
Therefore, when Fu Jian held his hand, he couldn’t help but tremble.
This was the King of Former Qin, his idol.
No matter what Fu Jian’s eventual fate would be, the person he was currently holding hands with was Xuan Cheng himself.
He moved his head slightly, sneaking a glance. Fu Jian’s side profile was as beautiful as always.
In all actuality, his face was not as beautiful as Xuan Cheng had described. His features were too angular.
This was a man who loved the world, and all those in it. His face, as always, seemed to hold a trace of a warm smile.
Fu Jian, you’re too gentle, Xuan Cheng thought to himself. You are an emperor. You should kill with decisiveness, not harbor such soft thoughts of love.
Suddenly, the angular face and soft-hearted nature of the emperor looked extremely enticing. Xuan Cheng couldn’t help but become momentarily dazed.
Fu Hong came from the palace to receive them. This was Xuan Cheng’s first time meeting Fu Hong. Within the history books, he was described as a mediocre and incompetent leader. However, he was by no means an uncompassionate man. He was wholly sincere to Former Qin, and he was sincere to Fu Jian.
Xuan Cheng watched as he gave Fu Jian a stooped bow, then turned to himself with a partial bow. He then addressed Fu Jian as Father Emperor, and Xuan Chen as Imperial Uncle.
Xuan Cheng choked, struggling to keep his smile. “Imperial Uncle? I’m only twenty-four years old!”
Fu Hong this year had just turned 18. In modern times, he could be considered to have finally come to age. However, in these ancient days, not only had he come to age, but he was fully considered an adult now and was capable of raising a family.
¹Fu Jian refers himself with the informal “I” here, instead of the Royal We.