They say that hair is the crowning glory of every individual. The more it is taken care of, the more it adds to the allure of a person. While normally Shang Qinghua would keep up with fashion trends like these that would hopefully cover up his lackluster appearance compared to other peak lords (hello Shen Qingqiu and Liu Qingge), right now he couldn’t care less about it, not when he’s being baked alive inside his own peak. Honestly, why can’t summer be less scorching and more merciful to pitiful humans like him? Suddenly he missed staying in Mobei Jun’s realm, whose climate is stuck in perpetual winter. At least getting frozen to death is nicer than melting into a disgusting pile of goo.
“I can’t take this anymore.” Shang Qinghua moaned miserably, sweat trickling down his hair in waves. “Screw this.”
Abruptly standing up, Shang Qinghua shed all his outer robes, leaving only the thin white inner robe already soaked in sweat. Inappropriate, but the peak lord can’t be bothered to care. Any more and he will go insane under this sweltering weather.
Kicking his shedded clothes, he made his way to a drawer far corner in his office, sliding the first panel out to get the sheathed knife hidden underneath stacks of papers. It was the first ever knife he got before entering the An Ding peak. When he still have to rely on street tricks because his cultivation is too low to be considered useful.
Heading to the adjoined bathroom, the cultivator unsheathed the knife and looked himself at the mirror. He can do this, right? There’s absolutely no rules against short haired peak lords, right? Even then, what’s the harm of cutting his hair short anyway? It’s not like it’s blasphemy like cursing his ancestors or something akin to that, right?
Right. So if he violated something by cutting his hair, he’d like to think he lived a good life.
(Haha not really, he’d probably worm his way out like the sticky yes man he is.)
“Here goes nothing. If Mulan can cut her hair without proper training using a sword, I can too!” He encouraged himself, nodding optimistically.
Without further ado, he reached out to cut his hair tied into a neat bun.
The moment his knife got stuck after the first swing did he realized his mistake.
It’s too late now.
Pushing through, it took three small chops to get his knife free and now few hairs have been falling on his face. There’s no way out but through. He just hopes it wasn’t that bad after he’s finished.
“What happened to your hair?” Shen Qingqiu inquired, raising a brow when he saw the other.
“Cucumber bro...” He started, eyes seemed to water, “I made a mistake.”
“No shit.” The other peak lord snorted, “so, how did this happen?”
“It was hot and I can’t take it anymore. So I cut my hair using an unsharpened knife.” Shang Qinghua explained.
“Of course.” Shen Qingqiu nodded, earning a whine. “Cheer up, it doesn’t look that bad. Looks good on you even. Like a stylish bird nest.” He snickered.
“Bro!” Shang Qinghua exclaimed, pouting.
“Look at the bright side, at least it’s not permanent.”
“Isn’t that the human our king is fond of?”
“What’s he’s name again?”
“Shang Qinghua if I recalled.”
Shang Qinghua self consciously ran his hand on his hair, pointedly trying to ignore the whispers and stares of the other demons in the hallways of his king’s palace. Right now he was summoned to attend a meeting. He hastened his pace and reached the court room, taking the seat on the right of his king’s throne without a sound. Just as the reaction he received before, the demons ceased their chattering and turned to look at him, before whispering to themselves. Seriously, is it that bad?! Curse Cucumber bro for saying it looked good. Now his self esteemed plummeted to the trash again. How great.
“Now entering, His Royal Majesty, first to his name, Mobei Jun!”
All stood up to pay respect to the Ice King. He bowed, like all other demons did, as his King enters the room. The king gracefully walked in, regarding them with regal nonchalance. He took a pause upon seeing Shang Qinghua, and the human gripped his robes tighter, refusing to shed unsolicited tears that are starting to fall.
“What happened to your hair?” Mobei Jun asked lowly.
“I... I cut it short, my King.” Shang Qinghua answered, thanking his lucky stars that his voice did not waver, “it was summer time in human realm. This servant cannot take the heat.”
“Hm.” Mobei Jun motioned for them to sit down. All obeyed.
“Stay.” He said simply before starting the Council meeting.
Shang Qinghua was engrossed on trying to make himself small and draw less attention that he didn’t notice how Mobei Jun spilled the inkpot on the ground when the cultivator unconsciously ran his hand on the side of his head. Nor the fact that his king keeps getting distracted when it was his turn to report, as all demons were.
Aside from the little accidents and mistakes made, the meeting went by without a hitch. Once it concluded, the Council members seemed to be more interested in keeping him inside the room, and Shang Qinghua just wanted to run, yelling “I don’t know” so they’d stop pestering him. It was by his king’s mercy that he called out the peak lord’s name that they ceased, allowing the human escape from their clutches.
Shang Qinghua dutifully followed his king to his office, arms overflowing with scrolls from today’s meeting. The king insisted that he should carry some; Shang Qinghua thinks that the ice demon is probably taking pity at his lanky frame and disastrous hair. However he insisted carry the scrolls just so he could hide behind them. Because even on their way to Mobei Jun’s office, both servants and nobles alike kept whispering and staring at him. It’s honestly unnerving and Shang Qinghua is tired.
“My King.” He called out, once they’re in the safe comfort of Mobei Jun’s office, “I would like to return to my peak right after.”
“Why?” Mobei Jun frowned, “I told you to stay.”
“I... um.” Shang Qinghua stuttered, “I would like to bring my favored hat to His Majesty’s realm. It would help me work better you see. I don’t think sullying my King’s servants’ reputation is worth over the disastrous state of my hair.” He laughed deprecatingly.
Mobei Jun sighed, “how many times must this king tell you? Do not regard yourself as a servant; you are this king’s chosen partner.” He chided.
“Of course.” The cultivator agreed.
Silence followed, only the sound of the quill against the parchment paper can be heard. Just when Shang Qinghua wondered if he should ask again, the ice demon spoke.
“No.” He refused.
“No?” Shang Qinghua asked, confused.
“There’s nothing wrong with your appearance. Continue working.” He explained.
Of course. Mobei Jun obviously finds his concerns trifling. “As you wish.” Shang Qinghua bowed, “This ser— peak lord shall see you in the next Council Meeting, if this peak lord maybe excused.”
“Yes, My King.”
The following days became confusing to him altogether that he’s unsure if he should be dejected, scared or flattered.
The court ladies, who showed zero interest in him except when sharing latest gossips pertaining the high society, started striking conversations with him as well, giving trinkets here and there. However, they regard him with flinty eyes and thinly veiled threats to his person. Going as far to conveying their sadistic desires with him. Shang Qinghua is scared and sought the comfort of his king, whose expression was unreadable than it usually is after retelling his latest encounter with the ladies, and did the table just break out of nowhere?
“This Mobei Jun will take care of it.” His king said, kissing his forehead and caressing his messy locks to stop Shang Qinghua from fussing too much about insignificant things.
It worked too well when the cultivator ended up sleeping in the demon’s chambers, amplifying certain rumors floating around the Palace.
After the incident regarding the noble court ladies, they started avoiding him once again but they were oddly respectful about it. Meanwhile, his king’s own court didn’t get the memo and kept pestering him still. Once again, they simmer down after he told Mobei Jun about it. Bizarrely enough, his king can’t keep his hands off his hair always combing it through with his fingers. Whenever they’re in the mood to do some tango in bed, he would notice how his king will push his hair back as he rides him. Or he would pull his hair if he’s getting him off. Either way, his king seems to be fascinated with his newly chopped hair. Shang Qinghua would like to flatter himself by boldly saying his lover likes it.
“Heard something interesting from Binghe.” Shen Qingqiu started during their weekly tea sessions.
Shang Qinghua raised a brow, “oh?”
“Apparently the Northern Palace is in mess because of your bird nest of a hair. Seems like the demons are attracted to short haired peak lords.”
Shang Qinghua rolled his eyes, “bullshit. Don’t know what my son has been telling you but he got it wrong. They have vendetta against short haired peak lords. Literally, one of the ladies told me, and I quote, ‘Would love to pull your hair as I ride you heavens then wrap my hands lovingly around your pretty neck as you sob for mercy.’” He said the last part in high pitched voice, trying to emulate the demoness. “They’re crazy bro.” He shuddered.
“... You didn’t realize how they literally spelled out their kinks? That’s flattery, not intimidation.”
“I don’t know about you, but if someone told me they would like to pull my hair and choke me as I beg for mercy, I’d take that as a threat. Don’t want to die yet, please and thank you.”
“You made them this way though? Violently expressing their love and all.”
“... I did, didn’t I?”
Shen Qingqiu sighed, “you’re a demon’s dreamboat now and you’re unaware of it. As expected.” He said, regarding Shang Qinghua behind his fan.
“Perhaps I should cut my hair as well.” He added as an afterthought. “It’s too damn hot in here and Binghe might like it better.”
“Cucumber bro, do you want Binghe to cry? If someone hits on you, you’re going to make him cry you know that? Then he’ll kill everyone on sight. He’ll go mad, have pity on his remaining sanity.”
A pause. “But if want your hair short, go see a professional. Otherwise it’ll end up in a mess like mine.” Shang Qinghua suggested.
“Agreed.” Shen Qingqiu sipped his tea.
The peak lords decided to divert the topic to more interesting ones shortly after.
“My King!” Shang Qinghua exclaimed, trying to catch up with the said king talking to one of his advisors. When the advisor saw Shang Qinghua, he looked sort of dazed before he paled significantly, hastily excusing himself and scurrying away.
“Shang Qinghua.” Mobei Jun acknowledged him.
“Do you like my hair?” Shang Qinghua asked, determined.
“Yes.” Mobei Jun’s reply is immediate, “you’re pretty.”
Shang Qinghua did not expect the easy admission and he certainly did not expect his king to compliment him. Feeling his face a little too hot to his liking, he whined against his king’s robes, burying his face to the soft furry texture.
“You’re not supposed to say that!” Shang Qinghua complained, “now I’m embarrassed. Take responsibility!”
“Okay.” Mobei Jun blinked. He scooped up Shang Qinghua’s in his arms, and walked towards the direction of his chambers.
“Wait — my king, where are we going... n-no! T-that’s not what I meant I—“
“Did you hear? The king’s human is creating chaos yet again.”
“Who knew there’s a sly minx underneath that jittery disposition?”
“Agreed. The king went mad in fury upon hearing his council and noble court trying to win the favor of the human. I heard they’ve been sending marriage proposals to the human, only to be destroyed by the king’s spies.”
“... do they have death wish?”
“The human’s allure is too tempting to resist.”
“Of course, the king is not immune to it either; I heard that the king cannot do anything whenever the human is within the vicinity. Perhaps we have underestimated the craftiness of humans.”
“20 yuan that by the end of the month, we will be having a concubine.”
“30 yuan for prince consort.”