A Scumbag Always Gets What He Deserves - Chapter 41
Once Jian Qiao resolved on something, he was certain to do it.
Aside from eating and drinking, he spent all of his time asleep. His breath grew weaker and weaker until the rise and fall of his chest was nearly imperceptible. His servants were so frightened he would die without making a sound that they stretched out their trembling hands to test his breathing.
Queen Moen often came to see him. Each time she left her face was more solemn than before.
Jian Qiao was so thin that only a few bones remained, but his face was as beautiful as ever.
It was a type of beauty that was frozen and deathly still, a dying beauty that bloomed just to the point of fading. The life cycle of a flower is often short. This is its destiny.
And Jian Qiao was no exception. Most people like him do not live long.
Queen Moen waited every day for Jian Qiao’s servants to deliver the news that he had died. Miraculously, he survived day after day. He lay in bed, sunken under a thick quilt, breathing so little he was like the living dead.
But every morning when the mist cleared and light shone through the window, he opened his eyes with difficulty and asked, “Did Rege come back today?”
When he got a negative answer, he closed his eyes and didn’t wake again for the rest of the day. The servants could only pinch open his mouth and pour in the porridge and medicine.
In the past, he was tormented by insomnia and nightmares every night. Sleep was what he dreaded most. Now he could sleep as long as he wanted. He’d finally overcome his greatest fear, only to fall into an even greater one.
He was terrified of losing Rege.
He was like a faint spark buried deep, deep in the ashes. The ashes made him despair, but they also kept his residual heat from disappearing.
Even Queen Moen was shocked by his tenacity.
He seemed to live just to wait for Rege.
Gradually, Queen Moen’s hatred for him faded away. Such a person who loved but didn’t know it—she could only pity him.
One day before the arrival of winter, Jian Qiao’s servant rushed into the hotel like a whirlwind, flung himself down on his knees beside the bed, and said while panting for breath, “Master, wake up, Lord Rege is back! Master, wake up! The man you’ve been waiting for is back! Gloria has won!”
At that time it was nearly dusk, a kind of witching hour.
Jian Qiao’s mind had long ago fallen into a dark abyss from which he didn’t awaken. He woke only for a moment every morning when the first light of day appeared, and with dry, cracked lips asked for news of Rege. His long-depleted life force had to be scrimped and saved to make it last.
He knew the longer he was awake the shorter he would live, and then he wouldn’t be able to wait for Rege.
His eyelashes trembled, but finally he returned to stillness.
The manservant shouted several times but failed to rouse him, so he gave up.
That night, a carriage slowly pulled up in front of the hotel. An unusually tall man jumped down from the carriage, walked around to the side of the building, and raised his hands to grasp the downspout pipe, as if he wanted to climb up. But he hardly climbed at all before he wrinkled his forehead, revealing an expression of pain.
“Let the innkeeper take you up. Your body is covered in wounds,” said an old voice from the carriage.
The man agreed, and when he passed the candle-lit window, the light revealed a handsome face. It was none other than Rege.
He turned back, and his hair was wet against his forehead. He’d apparently just bathed. Parts of his body were wrapped in thick gauze bandages.
“The doctor told you not to bathe but you insisted. Your wounds might fester if they touch water.” The old Duke poked his head out of the carriage window with a worried expression.
Both father and son were alive and victorious. Prince Andrew, who set out to make a great contribution, had died.
“If I don’t bathe I’ll smell of blood.” Rege knocked on the door of the hotel.
“I never knew you were so obsessed with cleanliness,” the old Duke said in surprise.
Rege continued to knock on the door without answering.
The old Duke looked to the balcony on the third floor and said with sudden understanding, “Is it because he’s obsessed with cleanliness?”
Rege still didn’t answer. He followed the innkeeper and went up the stairs as noiselessly as possible. After their triumphant return, he didn’t go to the ducal palace, he didn’t go to the military camp to congratulate the soldiers, and he didn’t go to the palace to see Queen Moen. Instead he rushed to this hotel.
It was self-evident who was hidden in his heart.
The old Duke shook his head and sighed at the early winter drizzle, exhaling a breath that misted in the air.
The two male servants quietly helped Rege open the door of the bedroom. They originally wanted to light the candles, but Rege stopped them.
Darkness shrouded the room, concealing Rege’s movements. He didn’t want his sudden arrival to agitate Jian Qiao. A patrol of soldiers passed through the street outside, and the light from their torches shone through the window, allowing Rege to see Jian Qiao’s appearance.
The man was lying in a quilt, too thin, too frail, and his breath was almost too feeble to detect.
Rege stood at the bedside gazing at Jian Qiao. His breathing gradually became ragged. He was excited and he was scared. Even when he was trapped in the swamp, facing death every second and every minute, he’d never been so frightened.
It was as if he saw the scythe of death hanging over Jian Qiao’s head. This man was gravely ill!
Rege covered his aching heart and desperately tried to control his breathing. He was afraid he’d wake this person and see an expression of resistance or even disgust on his face.
Jian Qiao needed rest, he needed to heal and recover his strength, and he needed peace of mind. What he didn’t need was this suitor who made him sick until he vomited.
Too much excitement now would kill him. He was like a transparent wisp of spider silk hanging under the eaves. Just a little bit of wind and he would drift away.
This thought made Rege afraid to make a sound. He moved a chair to the side of the bed, sat down silently, and stared greedily at Jian Qiao’s face with his deep gaze.
The man had become thinner. The skin was so white it was transparent, and his body was almost indiscernible under the quilt.
But he was still so beautiful.
For Rege, Jian Qiao was like a bright moon in the sky which could be heard and seen, but never touched.
Rege couldn’t take his eyes away from Jian Qiao’s face for a single second. The months of separation and all the hardships he’d endured hadn’t made him give up on his feelings. Instead he fell deeper and deeper.
“I only survived because of you. So I’m sorry, I can’t ever give up the love I feel for you,” he explained in a low, inaudible voice.
“When I was lost in the endless wastes, the only thing in my mind was your shape. I told myself that every step I took would bring me one step closer to you. So I couldn’t give up. I took one step after another, and every time I fell, I got up and kept going. And your face was always before me.”
Rege stretched out his arm and poised his gauze-wrapped palm over the back of Jian Qiao’s hand, not touching but pretending to. He continued, “That’s how I walked out of the wasteland. I kept walking toward you until I finally crossed a mountain, and there was a magnificent ocean view before me. Then I remembered that I’d promised to take you to see the ocean. You once hugged me close and said in an unbelievably earnest voice that I was the most magnificent view you’d ever seen. It was because of those precious memories that I survived. You too are the most beautiful view in my heart.”
Rege lowered his empty hand, gently taking Jian Qiao’s fingers. Then he hung his head, wanting to kiss the back of this snow-white hand.
But when his lips were about to touch Jian Qiao’s skin, Rege stopped. He put the hand back gently and covered it with a quilt.
He thought about the scruff on his face and how it would scratch Jian Qiao’s delicate skin.
So Rege could only touch Jian Qiao’s face cautiously, and he said in a hoarse voice, “I promised to hold you tight until you let me go. If you need a sense of security, I’ll give you security. If you want to be happy, I’ll give you happiness.
“If you want to open a shop in every corner of Gloria, I’ll help you do it. Whatever you want, I’ll give you. That day you told me we’d never see each other again, so I will never see you. So please wake up. Don’t be afraid that I’ll continue to haunt you or pester you. The fact you’re alive and living in the same world as me is the best thing I could ever ask for.”
He withdrew his hand, flexed his fingertips with reluctance, and said softly, “Goodbye, my dearest.”
He leaned forward and gazed greedily at the pale face, then used a water-soaked cotton swab to gently moisten the other’s dry lips, and left without a sound.
When he was gone, Jian Qiao’s eyelashes began to flutter violently, as if he were about to waken. After a few more moments his eyes snapped open. There was no heavy mist, only a faint glimmer of tears.
With difficulty he turned his head and looked out the window, where there came the sound of rolling wheels. The person he wanted to see was going farther and farther away.
“Rege.” He opened his mouth but no sound came out.
“Why did you come down so soon?” The old Duke was amazed.
“I didn’t want to wake him. I was afraid I would annoy him,” Rege’s voice was full of forbearance and restraint.
“So there really is a person in this world you can’t get,” the old Duke said in a joking tone, but his big hand vigorously patted his son’s shoulder.
Father and son had reconciled after their ordeals. Without the old Duke’s unremitting search, Rege might never have been saved.
The next day, Jian Qiao awoke as usual at morning’s first light.
The two manservants rushed to the bedside and said cheerfully, “Lord Rege is back! He’s alive! We won the war!”
“I know.” Jian Qiao was very calm. He licked his dry lips and said, out of nowhere, “Give me a mirror.”
The two manservants: “…”
A few moments later, Jian Qiao got a mirror.
He turned his head from side to side and looked at the person in the mirror, who was so thin his cheeks were sunken in. His tone was full of self-mockery, “So ugly.”
The two manservants: “…” Is this the time to look in the mirror? The good news you waited for so long is finally here, why aren’t you happy?
Jian Qiao turned his head away, refusing to look at his reflection again, and exhaled the next sentence a little louder than a gasp: “I want to have a meal. Get me some broth.”
He survived on only a little porridge and water every day. For him to have any appetite was unprecedented.
The two manservants were overjoyed. They hurried to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.
Jian Qiao leaned back on the soft pillow and let out a sigh of relief. Just that little movement and he was already exhausted.
“I have to get better quickly, eat more food and put on weight, so I can look good.”
As for what it would take to become better-looking, he didn’t say. He wasn’t sure what came to mind, but a smile full of anticipation poked at the corner of his mouth.
For Jian Qiao, Rege’s safe return was like the rain in the desert.
A desert isn’t barren or dead. Many invisible creatures hide in the yellow sand. After it rains, with the passing of a single night, emerald green grass will grow, studded with flowers of every color. Even lakes and fish will appear.
Jian Qiao had seen the desert after the rain. That tenacious, surging vitality had shocked him and made him envious. Right now, however, he actually felt the same vitality in his own body. Like a seed that had absorbed enough water, he began to take root and sprout.
His face got rosier and rosier day by day. Slowly he was able to get out of bed and walk.
Rege, however, seemed to have disappeared. He never came to visit. He only asked his butler to deliver precious medicines and food every day, and dispatched many doctors.
The manservant often sighed at his cold-heartedness, but Jian Qiao knew that wasn’t it.
It’s not that Rege didn’t want to come, but he didn’t dare to.
When Jian Qiao’s face finally regained the handsomeness and radiance of former days, he received more than a dozen challenge letters in succession. Somehow, the most famous knights in the continent of Tortus ran to Grande in unison to ask him for a duel, and all of them demanded to fight him in person.
According to the law, Jian Qiao must also fight in person.
For a man who was recovering from a serious illness, this was tantamount to sending him to his death. Of course, even if he were completely healthy, he couldn’t survive a series of back-to-back duels. He knew nothing about swordsmanship.
Jian Qiao: “…” I guess my retribution isn’t over yet?
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