Gustave has been halfway through a fight, breezing his way to victory, much to his opponent's chagrin, when an acute pain attacked his limbs without notice. Standing opposite him, the apprentice brought along by his teacher has been struggling for a while against this infuriating teenager who's eight years his junior but against all odds proved to be a worthy opponent for him. At first, the youth thought they were evenly matched and although surprised, his fighting spirit ignited in competitiveness and his anticipation for a satisfying win soared alongside his excitement. But much later, dog tired and utterly worn out while his counterpart hardly broke a sweat, looking as unfazed as if he was taking a stroll, the apprentice knew he's been played. Gustave hasn't even taken him seriously and as vexing as it sounds, it might've been for the better. From the looks of it, the teenager could end a fight before it even began. Had he been earnest, the youth wouldn't stand a chance.
But then suddenly, Gustave stilled. His eyebrows furrowed and beads of sweat glistened on his smooth forehead rolling down his chin like rainwater. Thinking that exhaustion has finally caught up on him, the other side took the chance as an opening to tackle him down in a deadlock and end the fight in one fell swoop. Who would've known that before he made a move, the boy fell to the ground convulsing in pain startling both himself and his teacher overseeing their training.
When the violent spasms subsided, Gustave snapped his eyes open, their fury obvious for all to see. He stood up and ran madly like a caged beast that gained its freedom, leaving dust, confusion, and fear in his wake.
When he reached his cousin's room, he slammed the door open, effectively ignoring the butler standing outside looking all flustered with reddened eyes. Seeing the bitch, whose presence practically spells trouble, hunching over Oliver, his rage magnified a thousand times over. Of course, it had to be her!
He took large strides and seized her elbow tight enough to bruise, pulled on the dandy limb and threw her to the ground a couple of feet away from the kid. He did warn her. If she refused to listen, she only has herself to blame for his counteroffensive.
Small Oliver was laying on the bed with flushed cheeks, muttering weakly to himself god knows what sort of gibberish. He was obviously hallucinating, but the vivid expressions he displayed were so adorable, Gustave almost wished to sit there and quietly watch him for a while. But that would be dangerous, he has to wake him up. He shook and yelled in his ear, trying to guide his consciousness to break through whatever illusion he's experiencing. Seeing him scowl and declare he loves lemon tarts, Gustave laughed so heartily like he never did before. Yeah, this kid is absolutely lovable.
Luckily, it didn't take long before Oliver woke up. His eyelids trembled slightly and his eyelashes fluttered cutely like a butterfly's wings, tickling Gustave's heart with their quiver. He held his breath for a second until the precious blue gems were glittering in sight anew, bearing confusion and haze. Gustave's lips curved upwards in an unconscious soft smile.
Wang Shu was finally able to focus on his surroundings. He stared at the enlarged face of his cousin making the other smile broader. If you saw your least favorite person's face so close what would be your immediate reaction? Without thinking, Wang Shu balled up his fist and aimed a punch at that annoying face, before his muddleheaded mind could register what he was doing.
The tiny fist was already so weak it couldn't even threaten a baby, coupled with its inaccurate aim, the act lost all of its intended effectiveness, so much so that Gustave didn't bother to dodge. He received the 'punch' to his chin which felt more like a pat than anything. Before the hand could fall back down limply, he seized the delicate wrist to look closely at the smooth knuckles caressing them with his callous thumb.
"Is this how you thank me for saving you?" his teasing tone and the taunting smirk he sported were very incompatible with the gentle fondling and his tender eyes.
Wang Shu's heart thumped when looked at with such gaze. His hand felt itchy and hot and he struggled weakly to pull it out of the other's grasp, his muscles still twitching with the exertion.
He circulated his spiritual energy a few times faster to dispel his fatigue and in but a few moments he was able to take his hand back from Gustave's firm grip and sit up while pushing him away from himself.
The older boy was surprised for a second, not expecting Oliver to get his strength back this quickly, but then smiled meaningfully to himself. How careless, he thought.
After regaining his composure, Wang Shu cleared his throat awkwardly and answered, "it was unintentional," his previous embarrassment bled into mirth, making his eyes twinkle beautifully.
Hearing the same excuse he gave the kid thrown back at him, Gustave chuckled lowly, amusement and subtle indulgence fairly visible on his features. "Fair enough," he said.
Wang Shu barely contained his gloating giggle. He looked around the room to distract himself only to find butler Walter standing by the door, looking at them strangely.
The butler himself is unsure of how to feel about his young master's interactions with his cousin. He was torn between happiness for seeing Oliver behave like a normal kid would and suspicion over Gustave's actions. Why is the other suddenly acting all familiarly with his young master?
"Go make sure the priestess doesn't leave the mansion! She spiked Oliver's meal with a narcotic drug and put an illusory spell on him," Gustave gritted his order to the servant when he discovered the girl had disappeared from the room. "Don't forget to inform uncle Mikel," he added before Walter disappeared down the corridor.
Wang Shu's eyes widened in realization after he heard Gustave and memories of the illusion he had came back to him in that instance.
"So that's what happened," he sounded so downcast. In fact, had it not been for the drug, he could've easily broken through the illusion; his master never sounded that gentle, it wasn't hard to distinguish reality from delusion based on that knowledge alone. But because of the drug, he couldn't focus.
Valdis was probably prepared to act as soon as the butler went to find her. She must've ordered him to stay outside so as to not hinder her plan.
His illusionary master asked him whether there was something he wanted to tell him. Based on his feelings, the spell was probably intended to guide him to divulge his most hidden secret to the person he trusted the most; that being his master who took him in after his clan's annihilation when he was three. His mind helped fill in the rest to make the illusion more believable to himself hence the explanation of what happened after the tribulations.
But talking to his master, why would he bring up cultivation when that was not considered a secret between them; that was their reality back in the Azure Cloud Continent, he had no reason to bring it up. As opposed to his shameful love for lemon tarts which were only an unneeded worldly pleasure, which according to the man would stand in the way of his immortal ascension. Wang Shu was brought up to be perfect, so under the effect of the spell, he was more inclined to admit to the disgrace of liking this mundane confection and seek his master's approval despite this flaw.
Moreover, the priestess wouldn't be able to have access to the illusion since his consciousness was protected by his spiritual powers and could only hunch over trying to listen to whatever he was mumbling.
Her plan might've worked if say his most trusted person turned out to be the butler. He would've probably admitted his real identity instead, being a soul from another plane that took over his young master's body. Now, that truth is dangerous. More so than his cultivation even. Because were it to be made known, he cannot defend himself with his current strength, and Mikel would probably seek his life. In short, the secret would depend on its receiver and what Wang Shu assumes the other would most wish or needs to know. He was lucky this time. Still, the inevitable upcoming confrontation might be tricky.
More Privileged Chapters
Download the app and become a privileged reader today! Come take a sneak peek at our author's stockpiled chapters!Download
This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.
We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.