Shen Qingqiu watches the burning city from the room he's locked in. It's not an unfamiliar feeling, he's been a prisoner before and his life in the imperial palace was never any different. It always made him feel like a captive, so he doesn't mind it. In the same way he doesn't mind the burning city and his dead family.
He actually might be glad, not that he'd ever admit to it.
He knows his little sister is still alive, Xiao Gongzhu is Luo Binghe's lover, after all. He needs at least one member of the royal family alive and who better than the girl who's head over hills for him. Poor little thing had been used by the beast to overthrow their family, Luo Binghe won't just kill her if he knows little of loyalty. The door opens and Luo Binghe suddenly enters, as if he knew Shen Qingqiu's been thinking of him.
"I see that you're still here." Luo Binghe finally speaks, and Shen Qingqiu doesn't need to turn his head to see how he's smirking. "Didn't you kill my escape plan? It's not like I could make it out of here alive." He knows Yue Qingyuan isn't actually dead, he probably ran away when he had the chance, thinking he'd come back for Shen Qingqiu later. Truly, his Qi-ge was never on time. Always letting him down. "I wonder when you're going to kill me, Beast." Shen Qingqiu turns around to face Luo Binghe. The once nameless little brat that got beaten regularly by the guards is now a tall man who defeated his father and older sister. The strongest, and probably the hungriest for revenge.
"I will be the one deciding that," His face seems calm, but his voice is low and scary. Like an actual beast. "You should've picked me." He kneels down next to Shen Qingqiu. He's right, they wouldn't be here if Luo Binghe was his personal guard and not Xiao Gongzhu's. But he can't regret his decision. For so many years he wished this miserable kingdom to meet its ruin, he begged his father to change his ways and Yue Qingyuan to back him up. If he had shown a little more courage...
Well, it's no use looking at the past.
"I don't regret it," Shen Qingqiu doesn't remember his voice being this soft. "I never wanted a personal knight, and never wanted a slave. In what ways do I have to use a knight? I would've been captured by you either way, I don't need a doll to die for me and make it happen a little later." Luo Binghe opens his mouth, but it's like he isn't able to form words. Suddenly Shen Qingqiu is all too aware of how close they are sitting. Well, Luo Binghe's kneeling on the ground, but his face stays still too close!
He gets up and turns his back to the prince. Shen Qingqiu thinks his dark, fluffy hair has a nic harmony with his red cape. "Wait here for further instructions." He leaves Shen Qinhqiu as if running away. Is he still scared of the prince? It's true that Shen Qingqiu was a little bit rougher with Luo Binghe, but it's not like he abused him. Well, not physically. Shen Qingqiu doesn't remember himself being nice, ever.
When he thinks he's finally left alone to be comfortable, someone knocks. "May I come in?" It's Xiao Gongzhu's soft voice, she's standing in the door frame as if she already owns the place. Well, she technically does. As the future empress. She's even bearing a child for Luo Binghe, there just wasn't any time to crown her, yet. "You don't have to ask permission from a prisoner." Shen Qingqiu smiles before opening his fan. Although his sister is lovable and innocent, he somehow always feels uneasy around her. "Don't say that. You're still my respectable older brother!" She rushes towards him, as much as her pregnant belly allows. "Actually, I'm here because I was concerned for you." She awkwardly laughs. Shen Qingqiu knows he has to prepare himself for some bad news. "Actually, lt us discuss this with some tea. It'll help you stay calm." She called her servants and they entered with tea and sweets. The tea had a strange and sweet flavor, but Shen Qingqiu didn't hate it.
"I heard his majesty the emperor was here."
"My, you're already calling him the emperor." Shen Qingqiu takes a sip to avoid cursing. "Don't be like that! He's my partner you know. It's not like you're mad at him for killing the others? We both know they deserved it. They've done so many bad things...actually, I'm here to apologize." Shen Qingqiu turns his head, surprised. Xiao Gongzhu was spoiled rotten by everyone, did she know how to apologize?! "I always thought you were right, about the way everyone treated Beastmen. I could never defend you because Older sister's reaction scared me, but I thought you were brave and cool! That's why I never once tried to stop his majesty. I thought his efforts would make you happy. But..."
ah, here's the bad news coming. 'Tell me, what faith had been decided for me?' He hopes it's torture. If he endures it long enough he'll irritate everyone and maybe even finds a way to escape. If not, he knows he'll leave a scar on Luo Binghe's heart. "Liu Mingyan has been trying to get his majesty to kill you. Not just that, but she wants you tortured! She wants revenge because you killed her older brother, but weren't the years you spent in prison enough?" Shen Qingqiu once again hides behind his fan. No, really, the prison years were no trouble. Yue Qingyuan tried his hardest to get back on Shen Qingqiu's good side, and he got everything he wanted from the palace sent to him. A prison made for the nobility and royalty wasn't the worst place.
He thinks of Liu Qingge. 'I guess I'm taking your secret to the grave, huh?' He wants to laugh, he doesn't.
"Well, did the beast agree to it?" Xiao Gongzhu nods in response. 'Good, I'm going to hunt him after I'm a ghost!' No one would be more surprised by how calm Shen Qingqiu is than himself. It can't be helped; for once, he doesn't feel like he's going to miss much. None of the things Luo Binghe took were ever his, even his life wouldn't be in his hands no matter what. He's taking his regrets to the grave and nothing else. "Brother, I don't want you to die a horrible death, I can't save your life; he won't listen to me! But I want to ease your pain. I... I hope you don't take it the wrong way." She hesitates and takes something out of her sleeve. Shen Qingqiu doesn't have to look to know what it is. It's been a long tradition for the imperial family to go in a graceful way. A lot of siblings and servants had to prepare poison for the person who wished to die at their own will and not by the enemy's blade. But that wasn't Shen Qingqiu.
"Thank you... But I'm going to refuse. I am not going to give up on my life like this, but I still appreciate your effor-" He can't finish his sentence before coughing up blood. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what was going on, and Shen Qingqiu would if he weren't busy dying.
"Ugh, how bothersome!" The prince sees his sister change expression as he loses all senses. His lifeless body slowly falls, but his consciousness refuses to leave. "I was going to tell him you drank it yourself, but I can just frame Liu Minyan for it! Other girls aren't really a competition because I'm the only one who can bear his child, but your presence would be annoying. I don't get why he's so obsessed with you." she pouts as if someone just took away her favorite toy and she didn't kill her brother. 'I'm so stupid, sorry Beast. I guess we're not going to play.'
"I was hoping Yue Qingyuan would take you away, but he just left you didn't he? I guess everyone does!" Her laughs are hurting his ears. "You're already dead? Good. I hope you'll be reborn as a cat or something." Shen Qingqiu can't turn his head, can't do anything. He watches the rising flame and slowly, his vision turns to black. "SHEN QINGQIU!" Someone screaming his name is the last thing he can hear.
Xiao Gongzhu gets up to greet her king, but Luo Binghe just rushes towards Shen Qingqiu. His eyes are still open, his expression colder than ever. He looks like a doll, the prettiest, most precious doll that ever existed. Luo Binghe's hands twitch as he wipes the blood from Shen Qingqiu's mouth. "Hey... come one... this isn't fair..." He waited so long, everything was supposed to be perfect, then why did it turn out like this?
The first time they met, Luo Binghe was getting dragged back into his cell. The king wanted to tame the beast but wasn't successful. At that time, he was just a teenager just hitting puberty. But his powers seemed too much to handle for anyone so he was locked away. On their way back, he met a tall prisoner staring at him. He had a fan on his mouth and the others seemed to respect him. Maybe that important-looking person could save him! Maybe...
The man chuckled at him and turned away. Luo Binghe was used to being ignored, but why was he laughing at him?
At least now he had an image to pour all his hate into.
He later learned the man was called Shen Qingqiu. The fifth prince and the laughing stock of the imperial family. They said he was brought into the palace when he was twelve, no one knows where he was before that. His mother was one of the king's lovers that ran away, not wanting the child to end up in that horrible place.
No one remembers what her name was.