Ch25 – Stockholm syndrome

The moment Ozer saw his face, Ji Ning briefly considered committing suicide by biting his tongue.

He hadn’t wanted anything to do with Ozer, but now his whole body was frozen by spiritual power, completely at the mercy of the Emperor.
Forget about speaking, it was near impossible to even blink his eyes. 

Ji Ning couldn’t help the tension in his body.
Even though he knew Ozer had eventually fallen in love with him, same-sex love had been a crime in the Mo Ling Empire and Ozer had always been difficult to read.
His love appeared insincere and he seldom revealed it, therefore when he was around him, Ji Ning always felt a little unsure of himself.

Even now, kneeling in front of him, Ji Ning was still unable to guess what he was thinking.
His overwhelming spiritual force created an impenetrable mental defence.
Even when Ozer’s defences were weakened during a spiritual attack, his inner thoughts had always been unreadable.

 

 

Ji Ning had no idea how Ozer would react seeing he had ‘resurrected from the dead’ but…it would probably be terrifying.

The handsome blond monarch sat in his wheelchair with rigid posture, motionless, like a beautifully crafted sculpture.
Staring at Ji Ning, his expression did not fluctuate. 

Even though Ji Ning was disturbed by him, he had nowhere to hide and could only passively accept the cold scrutiny.

 

After a long time had passed, Ozer suddenly raised his hand and beckoned.
Ji Ning sprung up like a puppet, manipulated to walk towards Ozer, stopping only when he stood directly in front of him.

A pair of pale hands stretched out and wrapped tightly around his waist.
Under his stupefied gaze, Ozer leant out of his wheelchair and buried his face into Ji Ning’s chest, gripping him like he was afraid to let go.

…What was he doing?

 

Ji Ning had considered hundreds of potential outcomes, but he hadn’t prepared for Ozer to make such a move.
He was so startled his brain stopped working for a few seconds.
Was he…hugging him?

Ozer held his waist tightly and buried his face in Ji Ning’s chest.
From Ji Ning’s perspective, he couldn’t see the expression on Ozer’s face, only his silky blond hair, the back of his neck exposed from his collar, and his slightly trembling shoulders.

“You…you look a lot like him.”

 

The man’s voice was low and magnetic and slightly hoarse, as if he was afraid of disturbing a beautiful dream, his words so soft they were barely spoken. 

“I finally see you, Xiao Ning…”

The way he emphasised it was very strange.
Ji Ning didn’t understand at first, but after thinking about, it he guessed that Ozer thought he was just an illusion created by his spiritual power.

During the worst parts of his spiritual attacks, Ozer would be unable to differentiate between his hallucinations and reality.
Ji Ning felt secretly relieved.
It would be better if Ozer assumed he was a realistic illusion than if he recognised him.

As soon as he found an opportunity he would run away, or commit suicide.
To summarise, he didn’t want to remain here with Ozer. 

This was not only because he was frightened of Ozer, but also because he hated the Mo Ling Empire.
The country made him uncomfortable, almost as much as the Xia Empire where Qin Ruwang lived.
He didn’t want to spend more than a day in such a place.

In the original novel, the Mo Ling Empire had a vast territory, with highly developed technology and a powerful military.
It was an Empire respected within its universe, but at the same time it hid a dark side.
In terms of its cultural customs, Mo Ling followed backwards and archaic laws, unchanged for thousands of years.

The imperial class division was extremely strict.
People in the lower classes were desperate to claw their way into the upper classes, while people in the aristocratic classes believed in the barbaric custom of maintaining purity of blood.

The people that valued this idea of purity the most were the royal family.
Empresses and princesses that married into the family had to come from the highest of nobles, and a child was only recognised as a pure royal if they carried the imperial blond hair.
Across the generations, only blond crown princes were chosen and a concubine regarded giving birth to a blond child as their highest honour. 

The reason why the royal family of the Mo Ling Empire had such a morbid obsession with pure blood was because of spiritual energy.

Nobles could retain their noble status due to possessing strong spiritual powers at birth.
The royal family had the strongest spiritual energy while the outcasts of the Empire had next to nothing and could only work the most humble of jobs.

 

In order to compete for the crown prince’s position, the concubines of each generation racked their brains, fighting both in the open and in secret, without hesitating to stain their hands with dirt and blood.

The royal palace of Mo Ling was like a dark storm.
Every person that lived there would fall victim to it sooner or later. 

Only by ascending to the supreme throne and becoming the monarch of the Empire could a child survive that storm.

And when a new monarch was born, the storm would come again, along with its endless tragedy and death.

Under such circumstances, Ozer was born.

He was the only child of the Empress and when he was born, the whole bedroom rejoiced because of his blond hair that proved the purity of his blood, and gave him the qualifications to fight for the throne. 

The next second, the celebrations came to an abrupt finish as the midwife’s psychic instrument could not detect any spiritual energy from the new prince.
Moreover, his legs carried an unknown disease that would only worsen with time.
Soon the young prince would be unable to walk.

He was nothing but a waste.

No one held compassion for the little prince, he was only to be used as a tool to fight for the throne.
The Empress lying on the bed was just as indifferent and spoke carelessly.

“Send him to the abandoned mining star.” 

In order to give birth to a blond prince, the Empress had expanded a lot of effort.
Seeing the child turn out to be worthless, not killing him directly was the last kindness she would give him.

The newly born prince was removed from the palace and dumped onto an abandoned mining planet.

This planet was populated by the lowest of society.
When babies were occasionally abandoned there, the starving poor had no worries cooking and eating the poor bastards.
Newborns wouldn’t survive there long anyway.

But for some reason, anyone with wicked intentions towards the little prince died inexplicably.
He had no one to protect him, but his terrifying spiritual power subconsciously established a defence mechanism that attacked anyone who harboured malice towards him. 

We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.

The reason why the instrument hadn’t detected this spiritual power was not because he didn’t have it, but because his spiritual power so far exceeded the upper limit of the instrument, it had no way of measuring the true value and instead shorted out to nothing.

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The monarch comforted her but made no efforts to look for the child.
He perfunctorily found a declining noble family to take the blame and slaughtered the whole clan.
With this, the matter was over.

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Qlat ugfja vloolmeias, tf miecu ab ilof jcv ugfk eq vjs ys vjs. 

Some years later, a rich man bought the mining star and by chance discovered the prince with incredibly strong spiritual energy.
He took him in as his adopted son, named him Ozer, and brought him back to his home.

The rich man wasn’t bothered by Ozer’s disabled legs.
As long as his spiritual power was strong enough, his body would not be an obstacle to his success.

 

When Ozer was fifteen years old, the rich man sent his adopted son to the finest institution of the Empire, the Imperial Military Academy, to study in the mecha department.
The mecha department did not require any physical fitness, only strong spiritual energy to control the mechas.

Sometime after Ozer arrived at the academy, Ji Ning entered the world of ‘The Empire of Mo Ling’.
His identity was Ozer’s classmate, while his hidden identity was of a prince. 

Truthfully, Ji Ning was not a real prince.
He carried no royal blood.
His nominal mother was the Emperor’s concubine, but that concubine was actually his aunt, as he was her sister’s child.

Concubine Chong was greatly favoured by the monarch but unfortunately, she was infertile.

Unwilling to spend her whole life merely as a concubine, she took a great risk, faking a pregnancy and adopting her sister’s child into the palace, pretending it belonged to the Emperor.

Ji Ning’s biggest flaw was that he had black hair, but he had strong spiritual energy.
The concubine couldn’t find a better candidate, so in order to conceal his identity, she regularly gave Ji Ning illegal drugs to change his hair to golden blond.
This helped him pass the bloodline test, as only descendants of the royal family had this unique golden coloured hair. 

As Ji Ning got older, the illegal drugs became less and less effective and sometimes completely stopped working.
Concubine Chong was beyond anxious, but there was nothing she could do.

Therefore, when Ji Ning was sent to the Imperial Military Academy, concubine Chong didn’t dare let him enter as a prince, fearing the drugs would fail entirely.
Instead of parading him as a member of the royal family, she made him enter under her own family’s name.
This was a wise decision, as the academy’s blood admission test did not register him as having royal blood and would have revealed her deceit.

Concubine Chong explained to the Emperor that she didn’t want the prince to be tyrannical, so he should experience the outside world without relying on his royal status.

The prince had his own royal name, but in order to hide his identity, he changed his name to ‘Ji Ning’ before he first met Ozer. 

The prince in the original novel was a villain who despised Ozer.
Spoiled by the concubine and with an arrogant personality, he considered Ozer, who had impressive talent but a ‘commoner’ identity, nothing but a thorn in his side.
In order to get rid of Ozer, he did a lot of vicious things.

When Ji Ning first entered that world, the prince had already carried out these cruel actions and the plot was close to the time when Ozer began his revenge.

At the time, Ji Ning almost wanted to die.
He couldn’t imagine how he could capture Ozer in such a situation.
The day when his relationship with Ozer reversed soon came.
On this day, Ozer learned that Ji Ning was actually a fake prince.

Ozer had already been recognised by the Empress and regained his status as a prince, as during the academy’s blood test, it was detected that he carried royal blood and later confirmed that he was the child of the Empress. 

Since she had abandoned Ozer, the Empress had not managed to give birth to another child even after so many years.
She was not as bold as the concubine and did not dare to pass off another’s child as her own.
Seeing that Ozer had strong spiritual powers, she rekindled her hope for the crown prince’s seat and quickly recognised Ozer, hoping that he could compete for the position.

When Ozer returned to the palace, he found that Ji Ning, his classmate, was also a prince and his half brother.
However, later in the novel, he discovered that Ji Ning was actually a fake, and suddenly held his life and death in his own hands.

This deceit was a serious crime that could result in the deaths of concubine Chong’s entire family.
The fake prince in the novel was so frightened that he sobbed and begged Ozer for mercy on his knees.
Back then, Ji Ning had very little authority and wasn’t allowed to alter the plot too much, so he could only go to Ozer and beg him for mercy like the original.

“You want my forgiveness and for me to help you hide your true identity?” 

Inside his bedroom, Ozer sat in his wheelchair, looking at Ji Ning with a leather whip in his hand.
He spoke with a smile that was not quite a smile, “Okay.”

“Really, brother? Are you really willing to forgive me?”

 

Ji Ning deliberately showed an expression of earnest anticipation, calling Ozer ‘brother’.
The fake prince had hated to call him this title the most, but Ji Ning called out ‘brother’ easily.

Ji Ning knew that Ozer would never forgive him, because the original body had treated him so badly. 

Ozer wasn’t a kind person at all.
He would remember what others had done to him and give it back thousands of times over.
In the original novel, even his biological mother who abandoned him had a miserable end, not to mention Ji Ning’s character.

“But you have to understand one thing, Xiao Ning.”

The blond prince chuckled softly, his smile dazzling.
Even though ‘Ji Ning’ was just the fake prince’s pseudonym, he was more used to using that name.
Even if he knew the fake prince’s real name he wouldnt change the way he addressed him.

“Please speak, brother,” said Ji Ning. 

Ozer hooked his fingers into Ji Ning’s collar, pulling him to kneel at his feet.

He used the whip in his hand to gently raise Ji Ning’s chin.
His lake green eyes smiled and his voice was charming, but the words he spoke were cold.

“Your mother hasn’t educated you, so allow me.
If you ask for something, you need to offer an equivalent exchange.
What can you offer me?”

“As long as brother speaks, I will do my best…” 

Ji Ning copied the lines from the original novel, but before he could finish speaking, the whip cracked down onto him, causing him to groan and fall to the floor.

“Remember where you stand, don’t call me brother.”

Ozer looked at him condescendingly, his dead eyes showing no emotion.

“I’m sorry Your Highness Ozer…” Ji Ning endured the pain, bowing his head. 

“It’s a pity, I’m afraid you won’t be able to give me what I desire.” Ozer said, still smiling, “Because there is only one thing I want.
The throne of Mo Ling.”

“…”

“Apart from that, everything you have is worthless in my eyes.”

The handsome prince raised his head upwards, “The only thing you could give me is yourself.
Even so, do you still ask for my forgiveness?” 

“…I am very willing, Your Highness Ozer.” Ji Ning had no choice but to respond through gritted teeth.

“Then from now on, you belong to me.”

 

Ozer bent down slightly and pulled Ji Ning up from the ground, staring into his eyes with a smile, “I hope we can get along well, Xiao Ning.”

The only happiness that came from establishing such a relationship belonged to Ozer.
Ji Ning wasn’t crazy enough to feel happy. 

Ever since Ozer removed his perfectly crafted mask and revealed his true character, Ji Ning became more and more aware of how truly terrifying he really was.

Being abandoned by his biological mother and spending his childhood on the cruel mining star left a heavy psychological shadow on Ozer.
His mental state was unstable, causing him to often lose control of his spiritual power.

Ji Ning witnessed Ozer’s loss of control many times.
His spiritual power would warp into various phantoms, including inhabitants of the mining star, deformed and misshapen monsters and even his own mother, the honourable Empress of the Empire.

Ozer personally killed each of the phantoms that appeared, including his mother.
Knowing that she was the person who abandoned him, he hated her the most.
Every time she appeared, he would grab her by the throat with his bare hands until the phantom evaporated into shadows. 

Sometimes, even after the phantoms had gone, Ozer’s emotions remained out of control, unable to calm down.
During these times, it was Ji Ning who suffered under his hand.
Fortunately, Ozer never lost control to the point where he didn’t recognise who Ji Ning was, otherwise it was very likely that he would have killed Ji Ning.

If their vicious relationship continued to develop like this, Ji Ning felt that Ozer would never fall in love with him in his entire life.
As a last resort, Ji Ning decided to take an extreme route: Stockholm syndrome.

He had to pretend he liked Ozer first.

In the empty bedroom, the blond monarch embraced the figure in front of him. 

Although he knew it was only an illusion conjured by his spiritual power, this time it appeared so real that even though it was fake, he still craved the warmth that belonged to the hallucination.

This was the man he loved.

And that man loved him just as much.

He had once thought that he could never love anyone, and that no one could love the real him.
This person, Ji Ning, was the one unique exception in the whole world. 

At first their relationship was very bad.
Ji Ning disliked him so much he had set him up several times, so once he grasped Ji Ning’s weakness, he did not hesitate to take advantage of it and severely tortured him.

Yet, he didn’t know when it started, but their relationship quietly changed.
Ji Ning would no longer stare at him with hateful eyes.
Instead, they gradually grew complicated, as if hiding unknown feelings.

It was like a precious flower that bloomed out of the mud.
Before he knew it, hatred turned to love.

…He liked him? 

When he first sensed Ji Ning’s thoughts, Ozer couldn’t help but feel surprised.

He was no stranger to people ‘liking’ him.
Although he had problems with his legs, he was good looking, spiritually powerful, and a prince.
His mother was the Empress of the Empire and most of the girls in the academy were taken in by his false persona.
He thought they were ridiculous.

 

No one could like him.

He was someone who had been abandoned by the world.
His temperament was uncertain, indifferent and cruel.
He was often driven out of control, a terrifying and pitiful lunatic.
Even his own mother felt no affection for him, how could anyone fall in love with the real him? 

And yet, this person seems to have appeared.

Could Ji Ning like him?

Could he have fallen in love with him even after seeing his true character and being repeatedly tortured by him? How was it possible?

Wasn’t this some trick? 

Full of dark thoughts, Ozer secretly scrutinised Ji Ning, constantly testing him until he realised that it really was the case.
Whenever he deliberately moved in close to Ji Ning, Ji Ning would flush and hurriedly look away.

It was obvious.

Ji Ning really did like him.

…How should he react to such behaviour? 

Ozer, who had always been calm and calculative, watched Ji Ning’s back as he scurried off embarrassed, and revealed a rare dazed expression.

He sat still, silently analysing Ji Ning’s mentality but simply couldn’t understand why Ji Ning would fall in love with him.

Maybe he should ridicule Ji Ning for actually falling in love with the man who abused him.

More importantly, this meant that he had grasped Ji Ning’s darkest secret.
In the Mo Ling Empire, same-sex love was a serious crime, but it was an absolute taboo for a member of the royal family to fall in love with the same sex.
No matter who it was, in order to preserve the reputation of the royal family, they would be executed in secret. 

But for some reason, Ozer didn’t feel any revulsion, he just had a subtle reaction.
It seemed…he didn’t despise Ji Ning for liking him.

…No.

The blond prince closed his eyes, pressing his hands to his temples with vague exhaustion, wondering if he was still affected by his last spiritual attack.

It was obvious how much he had hated Ji Ning in the past.
Perhaps it was because recently, Ji Ning had been so obedient that he had forgotten how much he hated him. 

He wanted to remind himself of that emotion.

After his next spiritual attack, Ozer propped his jaw up on his hand and raised Ji Ning’s chin with the end of the leather whip, asking, “Come on, call me brother.”

 

“…?”

Ji Ning was startled, gazing at him with hesitant eyes. 

Ozer appeared calm, “You won’t listen to me, Xiao Ning?”

“I’m sorry…” Ji Ning was stunned for a moment as he opened his lips, his eyes darting away from Ozer’s face.
He lowered his head, trying to hide his shyness, and whispered, “…Brother.”

“…”

After a moment of silence, Ozer spoke. 

“One more time.”

“Brother…”

“Again.”

…It was useless. 

Ozer found that this method not only failed to reawaken his disgust towards Ji Ning but actually caused an addictive sensation inside of him.

Ozer felt a little irritable about this change.
He hated the feeling of being out of control, especially when he wasn’t suffering a spiritual attack.
This should never have happened.

For a while he didn’t call Ji Ning over, and did his best to avoid meeting him at the academy as well.

Although he kept himself deliberately busy, the more he avoided the boy, the more he couldn’t stop his thoughts from drifting over to Ji Ning when he was resting. 

Late one night, Ozer had a dream.

Ozer didn’t like his dreams, they were always dark and terrifying, but this one was different.
It was a soft and pleasant dream.

Inside the dream, even his heart felt lighter, filled with joy because there was a boy standing in front of him.

“Brother…” 

The young man murmured, closing his eyes and raising his face slightly.

Suddenly tempted, Ozer lowered his head, about to kiss the pink lips of the boy.

 

“!”

Ozer abruptly woke from the dream, sitting up on his bed.
He touched his lips, panting slightly, his fingertips trembling. 

He finally realised it wasn’t just Ji Ning who had changed.

He too had become abnormal.

The author had something to say:

Ozer: It is impossible to pretend to like a person so he must actually like me. 

Ji Ning: You’re too naive, let me show you how I hate you to the point of gnashing my teeth, while still pretending to like you.

My author’s mini theatres are so cute, but she almost never does them *heartache*

I wish I could be impartial, but I really dislike Ozer, compared to the other protagonists (even Huo Wuling!), he’s just terrible.
I would like to apologise for how the pop up translators notes have just ended up being my own thoughts, I’ll try to be better (^艸^)

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