The world of humans was ever full of novelties and opportunities for indulgence--whether it be fine wine, delicious food, or beautiful young men--take your pick, there was something to get lost in, to while away the days unrestrained before finally clapping the reaper on the back and belly flopping into the yellow springs.
But now, perhaps, it wouldn’t be necessary to make such a big splash. Give it a few more decades, some good deeds along the way, and one might even be reborn into something luckier than a pig or dog.
From one extreme to another, from Ghost Valley to jianghu, achieving one’s goals and finding that yes, there could be some life left, yes, it wasn’t too late…
The mortal world still held so many delights to uncover.
Wen Kexing peered at the latest ‘delight’ in his richly unfolding life, which took the form of several tiny lumps on the outer flanks of his thighs. He furrowed his brows. Wen Kexing was fortunate enough not to suffer from acne, and given his prowess at martial arts, he didn’t expect any other weird bulges until at least his fifties.
Tentatively, Wen Kexing poked at one of the lumps.
It trembled slightly at his touch.
The mysterious lump erupted through one of his pores, revealing a red head. A slight flowery smell emanated from it. Before Wen Kexing moved to pluck it out, the little insect snuggled back underneath its skin blanket, revealed a skinny wiggling worm shape, and abruptly dove into the flesh below.
“Oh dear.” Wen Kexing said.
Curiously, he didn’t feel any pain from his muscle fibers being parted by this tiny beast. If anything, it was just a little itchy.
Wen Kexing mulled over what he had done lately to deserve this.
He and Zhou Zishu had recently come to Nanjiang to pay the latter’s friends a visit. Wen Kexing was rather enjoying the sights of misty jungle and green mountains until now. But who knew Nanjiang had such creatures?
Well, one person would definitely know.
Perhaps it was fortunate that one of Zhou Zishu’s friends happened to be the Great Shaman, the world’s foremost master of the healing arts, with first-rate knowledge of all the nasty little creatures that populated this--in retrospect, entirely too muggy, and actually quite evil and unpleasant--place, but then…
The Great Shaman was also suspicious in this matter. After all, how could such a strange parasite have entered Wen Kexing’s body if it wasn’t on purpose? A-Xu had kindly supplied the warning that Wu Xi was perhaps the only man who rivaled Wen Kexing in vinegar chugging, so maybe…
...Could it be that Wen Kexing had accidentally laid eyes on that damned Hulijing that went by the pretentious and contrived title ‘Lord Seventh’? It was true the man possessed exceptional beauty, but in the end, Wen Kexing found that he was quite dull, always spouting nonsense about intangibles and next to useless when it came to martial ability.
It couldn’t have been that, could it?
Wen Kexing felt some undefinable distress bubbling up in his stomach.
(But then, maybe that was just the parasites.)
No answer came.
Oh, right, Zhou Zishu was probably avoiding him at the moment. He usually did, the mornings after they did it. Wen Kexing hadn’t even had to feign crying this time around. Just a hint that the conversation might turn tragic, and Zhou Zishu had already opened his legs. “Just fucking get over with it,” he had said, rolling his eyes, afraid to show his true heart.
Such a shy, soft-hearted, thin-faced man, his A-Xu~
Wen Kexing grit his teeth and decided to face the danger alone. He dressed and made his way quickly to an open area near the cooking fires, where the Great Shaman, Jing Beiyuan, and the Young Shaman usually took their breakfast.
At the moment, Jing Beiyuan appeared to be making a lively speech to Zhou Zishu.
“--Ah, Zishu, it shouldn’t be too difficult after all. Naturally, as cranes fly north in summer and water flows down the mountain, balance is achieved as sure as the movement of the sun. How could ice abide in the glaring heat? How could--”
Wen Kexing strode over, squaring up to the Great Shaman, who sat like a stone. A cloud of demonic energy rose from the ground in his approach, and their black eyes met, like the night sky meeting the darkest abyss. Wen Kexing opened his mouth:
“You jar of vinegar, how could I ever covet that babbling mynah of yours?! I’m a faithful husband to my A-Xu, my eyes, lips, and--”
Jing Beiyuan swiftly covered the Young Shaman’s ears.
“AHEM,” that same A-Xu cleared his throat behind Wen Kexing. Next to him, Zhang Chengling also sat, swinging his legs and looking away.
Wen Kexing turned around. With the movement, his face also turned abruptly from stormy night to cloudless day.
“Good morning, A-Xu~! Is something wrong? Is your waist sore? You know, if you had stayed in bed with me this morning, I might have massaged it for you~”
Jing Beiyuan re-applied pressure to Lu Ta’s ears. He glanced over at Zhou Zishu, raising an inquiring brow and glancing between him and Zhang Chengling.
Zhou Zishu shrugged back, as if to say, “He’s used to it by now.”
Wu Xi cut in. “What are you accusing me of?”
Before Wen Kexing could turn back and resume his cawing, Zhou Zishu pinched a nerve on his elbow and impelled him to sit next to him. Looking at him sternly, he said, “Please refrain from antagonizing my friends. What happened?”
Wen Kexing let out an aggrieved sigh and pouted, “A-Xu, take pity on me. This morning I woke up to find that a swarm of worms had invaded my body. Naturally, as a master of martial arts, I should have been able to prevent such a thing, so forgive me for being suspicious!”
Zhou Zishu raised his eyebrows. “You suspect the Great Shaman. But when has he even gotten close to you? If you first found them this morning, wouldn’t the primary suspect be the one sharing a bed with you?”
“A-Xu, I know you would never!”
Wu Xi cleared his throat. “Brother Wen, could you describe these worms for me?”
Wen Kexing, pacified by his husband, twisted his head around and nodded.
“Small, red, floral-scented.”
“Mm. I know this animal. It is the ‘Swollen Viper of Spring Enchantment’. If left untreated, they will make a slow path up the body until they reach the head, at which point they will eat their way out of the eye cavities.” He glanced at Lu Ta and Zhang Chengling. “To further discuss treatment and removal, young people should not be present.”
Wen Kexing: “…”
Some time later, the Great Shaman finished describing the procedure to a progressively more stunned Wen Kexing.
Given the nature of the ‘Swollen Viper of Spring Enchantment’, other than the eye-eating thing, suspicion rolled off of the Great Shaman. It turned out that the treatment wasn’t too difficult or grueling, especially for a married man such as Wen Kexing who wasn’t afraid of a little blood.
There was only one small hitch.
Wen Kexing cleared his throat. “You say… the positions cannot be reversed for this?”
Wu Xi, calm as ever, answered, “No. The treatment must be applied via anal cavity of the afflicted.”
Jing Beiyuan came back from the Great Shaman’s storage and handed Zhou Zishu a small pouch of powder. “I had Lu Ta grind up the ingredients. Just mix this together with a water-soluble lubricant.”
Zhou Zishu smiled at his friend. “Thank you.”
Wu Xi and Jing Beiyuan retreated. Wisps of smoke plumed up from the dregs of the quenched cooking fire.
Wen Kexing turned his head toward Zhou Zishu, who offered a bland smile. He blinked a few times, willing his eyes to get hot and red. “A-Xu… H-has this husband displeased you? After all this time… After all that happened…” He suppressed a sob.
Zhou Zishu clapped him on the shoulder, his expression unmoved. “Not displeased. Just a crane seeking balance, hoping to migrate north after a long period at one extreme.”
Wen Kexing pouted. “A-Xu, let’s go back north after this. There aren’t Swollen Vipers of Spring Enchantment down there, I’m tired of this muggy place.”
“Alright.” Zhou Zishu stretched, clearly not at all worried about the vicious parasites occupying his husband’s body. “I think Beiyuan had been politely nudging us in that direction for the past week anyway. Go clean up then.”
“A-Xu, won’t you come help me? It’s been so long since I’ve done this. Since it’s a medical procedure and I’m the sick patient, won’t you be a good husband about it?”
Zhou Zishu vaguely quirked an eyebrow at ‘It’s been so long since I’ve done this’. However, it was displaced by disgust at the premise of Wen Kexing’s request.
“Afraid to say I’m not into such things, husband, and for me to administer treatment, I need to be in the mood. Please bear with it yourself.”
Wen Kexing’s lower lip quivered, but Zhou Zishu remained stone-like. With a humph, Wen Kexing strode to the latrine area.
Fine then. His husband wanted revenge. Blood paid for blood, as ever was the way of the world.
Too bad for his scheming husband, Wen Kexing was ever the master of revenge.
Some time later, the pair of them were back in their shared hut. Zhou Zishu was mixing together the powder Lord Seventh had given him with mountain yam lubricant, testing out the viscosity with a calculating face.
Wen Kexing was already naked on the bed, stretching and squirming like a monkey. He glanced at Zhou Zishu the traitor.
Some soft and hard flesh had returned to the man’s figure since the removal of the nails, but the picky eater still seemed to prefer taking his meals in fermented liquid form--some gauntness remained. Sometimes, when Wen Kexing pressed down his bony form, he imagined he was injecting vital energy into Zhou Zishu.
Sometimes, despite Zhou Zishu’s grumbles of “Don’t act like this is your favor to me, just do it normally,” Wen Kexing actually did transfer some of his true qi.
Sometimes, Generous Good Person Wen Kexing had to narrowly avoid an ungrateful knee aimed at his lower dantian after the act.
(Of course, before the realization and subsequent grumbling, there would be the sudden shiver, and a flash of ecstasy on A-Xu’s face, ensuring Wen Kexing would do it again and again)
Zhou Zishu was partially dressed, and brought the lubricant over to Wen Kexing. “Good consistency?” he mumbled, and Wen Kexing nearly toppled the bowl, drawing him into a kiss. Zhou Zishu raised his eyebrows when he drew back. He quickly tied back his hair and loosened his robe, baring his front.
Wen Kexing took in an appreciative look, then remembered himself, pulling a bent leg up with one hand to expose his hole and covering his face with his other hand. “A-Xu, please, let's just do it, my thighs are itchy with these worms.”
But Zhou Zishu the Cruel didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency. His eyes bypassed the lumpy worm-filled thighs, skimming up Wen Kexing’s unblemished torso. Wen Kexing had little of the practiced gentleness of the beauties Zhou Zishu tasted occasionally by the Moon Gazing River, but his body still had plenty of redeeming qualities.
Wen Kexing was warm and solid. Although annoying at night when Zhou Zishu wanted to sleep, his squirming was pretty endearing at the moment. Whose heart wouldn’t be moved by the scattered tangle of long hair on the pillow and sturdy elbow covering his face in mock embarrassment?
Zhou Zishu wondered if he could turn it into real embarrassment. He lightly skimmed a hand over Wen Kexing’s broad shoulder, and eased his chin up to face him.
Wen Kexing looked up at the other man who smiled gently down at him.
You beautiful, vicious snake…
Zhou Zishu retracted his hand to retrieve some of the prepared lubricant and spread it around and inside Wen Kexing’s hole, all the while peering down at him lovingly. Wen Kexing returned the look with a shy smile.
Bastard bastard bastard…
Zhou Zishu positioned his cock with a craftsman's precision and poked in little by little, watching Wen Kexing’s expression.
As the medicine started to absorb into Wen Kexing’s body, the worms began popping their heads out in distress, and their floral scent suffused the hut. Zhou Zishu averted his eyes from the little red spots in order to maintain hardness, focusing instead on Wen Kexing.
“A-A-Xu… is it working?”
“Mm… I think so…”
“Then, how much longer will it be? Oh, oh…”
Wen Kexing’s face was flushed, and he grunted in pleasure every time Zhou Zishu thrust. His eyes fluttered open and closed. His own cock stood plump and hard over his waist.
Giving the other man a few encouraging strokes, Zhou Zishu wasn’t really sure why Wen Kexing had been avoiding this--he seemed to be enjoying himself. Zhou Zishu himself was assuredly enjoying it, although he wished he could go a little harder, a little faster than he dared for Wen Kexing’s comfort.
Eyes tightly closed, Wen Kexing whimpered, “A-Xu, go a little faster… Harder…”
Zhou Zishu grinned like a shark, and got to work.
It had been so long since he got to enjoy it like this, it was easy to lose control. He could feel himself approaching the brink of pleasure all too soon, and slowed backed down.
“A-Xu… Why did you st--”
Zhou Zishu stopped his lips while buried deep inside him. Without moving below he pressed his tongue deep in Wen Kexing’s mouth. Wen Kexing responded in kind, and for a while their mouths were thoroughly occupied and moaning. Zhou Zishu dug his fingers into Wen Kexing’s hair. Pulling back up, he gazed down at the other man’s red, wet lips.
Wen Kexing had bitten him as he was wont, and a little blood and metallic scent lingered on his lips. However, by the way he was looking up at him, one might have thought it was Zhou Zishu who had done the biting. Well then. Zhou Zishu narrowed his eyes, tugging on Wen Kexing’s hair and diving down to his neck to suck his skin.
Zhou Zishu didn’t have the same peculiar taste for blood as his partner, but he did enjoy leaving marks.
Wen Kexing interrupted him. “A-Xu, are the worms gone yet?”
Supposedly, the medicine combined with the natural yang of an erect pillar would suffuse through the body of the afflicted, dissolving the Swollen Viper of Spring Enchantment. A sign that the medicine was working was blood seeping through the skin.
...Of course, Zhou Zishu knew that in truth, only the medicine was necessary to eradicate the worms. The sex part was just… creative embellishment. But he wasn’t about to let Wen Kexing onto that.
Zhou Zishu reluctantly pulled off of Wen Kexing’s neck, inspecting the bright wet mark he left, and girded his mentality to check. He was entirely prepared to lie--if the worms had all already died, there was a chance that Wen Kexing would push him away and call the whole thing off before Zhou Zishu had even come. In addition, Zhou Zishu wasn’t exactly looking forward to staring at a pile of worm guts and blood…
Twisting his lips, he glanced back down, only for a shock to run up his spine.
They were still there! And wriggling upwards!!
What the hell!!!?
Wu Xi had told Zhou Zishu that these things were actually harmless, and wouldn’t really do such things as ‘traveling up the body to devour the eyes’.
Had he been lying?
Wait a second, had Wen Kexing really been looking at Jing Beiyuan???
“A-Xu, what’s wrong?”
“Uh… they’re moving…”
In a panic, Zhou Zishu grabbed more of the medicinal lubricant and coated the bloating and wriggling parts of Wen Kexing’s torso with it.
Die, die beasts!
Zhou Zishu rapidly lost concentration on his own pleasure. He slipped out of Wen Kexing, soft.
Wen Kexing looked up at Zhou Zishu blankly. “Oh… A-Xu, it’s okay, I don’t blame you.” He held Zhou Zishu’s hand, his black eyes containing all fathoms of the abyss. He didn’t cry, but there was something pathetic about his stoicism.
“If I lose these eyes, I’ll still be okay. You’ll still stay with me right?”
Zhou Zishu blinked a few times and swallowed. Wen Kexing was of course a hardy fellow, he’d be fine even if he were blind. He imagined Wen Kexing walking along with him, shamelessly asking about the world around them despite knowing it well enough for himself.
He imagined Wen Kexing touching him all over, how attuned his senses would be, seeing with his fingers.
Zhou Zishu inhaled the floral scent of the worms, realizing that he was hard again. Seeing that there was still time, he opted to ignore this heretofore uncovered corner of his psyche and plunged back in, looking into Wen Kexing’s full dark eyes for perhaps the last time. A flash of shock seemed to cross those pit-like pupils.
“Don’t worry, maybe it’s just that I need to release inside to get rid of them.” Zhou Zishu grit his teeth and thrust frantically in and out. He didn’t even bother to focus on his enjoyment, concentrating single-handedly on coming as soon as possible.
The worms continued crawling up Wen Kexing’s body.
Wen Kexing’s face went pale. “A-Xu…” His voice became choked as the worms passed through his throat. The air in the hut was pungent with a sweet and bloody aroma.
Zhou Zishu closed his eyes, the sense of urgency overwhelming him. Finally, he reached that undefinable edge and fell over it, spilling without reservation.
At the same time, blood began dribbling out of Wen Kexing’s mouth. Clumps followed, and he turned his head to vomit out the rest.
When he finished, his face was pale white, only interrupted by the black of his hair and eyes, and the gleaming red staining his lips.
By the time Zhou Zishu retrieved his mind from bliss, he also wanted to vomit, seeing that mass of red mush. Even those ‘brain foods’ Wen Kexing liked to eat and sneakily deposit into Zhou Zishu’s mouth when they kissed were preferable.
Seeing the sick and disgusted look on Zhou Zishu’s face, Wen Kexing doubled over laughing.
“The look on your face! Ahahaha, A-Xu, did you really think I would let some little measly things like that take advantage of me? HAHAHAHA!”
Zhou Zishu pursed his lips, gathering the repulsive bloody mass into a handkerchief and throwing it all in a bedpan before even beginning to clean the dribbles of lubricant and cum on his flaccid cock and Wen Kexing’s inner thighs.
Although this was on the whole a pleasant experience for Zhou Zishu, he wasn’t entirely sure it was worth the aftermath.
“A-Xu~” Wen Kexing pouted, “Didn’t you like that? Isn’t this what you wanted? Don’t tell me it didn’t go as planned, hmm?”
To be fair, it didn’t go according to Wen Kexing’s plan either: He had willed the worm corpses to remain inside of him, and used his own inner qi to manipulate them and create the illusion that they were still alive. But he didn’t expect that Zhou Zishu would actually get hard again and finish inside of him. He mostly expected the other man to panic and confess his wrongs, and tell Wen Kexing that he was willing to go back to their previous arrangement.
Wen Kexing especially didn’t expect that frantic look on his lover’s face, or the tingling numbness that overcame him when Zhou Zishu thrust like a woodpecker into him. He didn’t anticipate the immense pleasure that filled his brain when the blood choked his throat.
Wen Kexing’s mind was already buzzing with possibilities for the future.
Zhou Zishu frowned, refusing to answer. Instead, he turned the question back on him:
“What about you? Were you faking the entire time?”
“No.” Wen Kexing grinned bloodily.
Zhou Zishu was taken aback. “Really?”
“Then why did you resist for so long, if you actually do like it?”
Wen Kexing bit his lip and looked to the side. “I was afraid…”
Zhou Zishu shot him a skeptical look.
Wen Kexing’s expression was cold and blank, staring at the wall. The bloodstain on the blanket set his face in sharp contrast.
“...Afraid that I would have to kill you after you did it. Cut you into pieces, and feed them to you.” Wen Kexing looked back at him, his eyes unfathomable.
Zhou Zishu retracted his head back into his neck. “What?”
“I have… strange urges, A-Xu.”
Zhou Zishu peered into Wen Kexing’s black eyes. Then, he thought of something he had heard before, about exchanges of power in Ghost Valley.
“Oh… I see.”
“Don’t think about it, A-Xu. It’s okay if it’s you.” Wen Kexing sought out Zhou Zishu’s left hand, and bit one of the pads in his palm, chewing a thin strip of skin and lapping up the blood that seeped out.
“I… should hope so.” Zhou Zishu had done plenty of vicious things in his life, but still hadn’t experienced quite as much as his lover. He ignored the pain that attended the other man’s odd eating habits.
“Well, what about you, are you satisfied?” Wen Kexing kissed the wound he bit. His right hand drifted over Zhou Zishu’s neck and down his scarred and sharp-edged body.
There was something half-hearted about Zhou Zishu’s words.
In a moment, Wen Kexing took advantage of the situation, bowling the other man over and pressing him down. “Oh?” His eyes pored over him. “Don’t tell me you felt… unsatisfied? Or, have you come to prefer me taking care of you?” Wen Kexing’s mouth spread into a bloody smile.
Zhou Zishu didn’t attempt to fight back, which was answer enough. Wen Kexing lowered his head to cover his lips.
It wasn’t until then that the push came.
“Gross!! There were worms in your mouth!”