Come to the other side
Into the dark, we hide
Gather them for the Rite
~ Army of the Night by Powerwolf
It wasn’t an everyday occurrence that someone walked up to Shen Yuan and challenged him to PVP. That ship sailed hundreds of days ago when he was still just one of the simple players of this MMO before he got sucked into this world.
You have to understand that Shen Yuan wasn’t much of a gamer. He didn’t have the necessary hand-eye coordination to play most multiplayer games without being camped and he would much rather spend his time reading novels. There were a few RPGs that he did like, but they were few and far between.
Now his sister? She lived for gaming and she had been playing professionally for years.
Sometimes she would drag him to play on dummy accounts with her and he liked those days.
Those were some fond memories for both of them. Or well, they would have been completely fond memories if one day he didn’t end up stuck in a freaking video game.
It wouldn’t have been that bad if he actually got to the end of the main quest line so that he would have been ready for whatever the developers decided to drop into his lap.
He became his character, Shen Qingqiu, a paladin in the service of the God of Light and Mercy. A light elf, bearing the Lance of Righteousness, a Champion of the weak and poor, a Healer to the sick and dying.
Honesty, courage, compassion, honor, duty.
These were the tenets of the sacred oath of a paladin.
And okay, being a hero in a video game was not all it was cracked up to be, he still did stuff that would count as incredibly shady in the real world, his old world, but as long as his Fame/Infamy gauge was properly aligned on the side of Good, nobody cared here.
Sometimes, he found, being one of the good guys was a lip service in this world, especially with the level of corruption amongst most temples’ ranks. Follower numbers and how much money they spent was the deal there and not being genuinely good or just.
So yeah, maybe Shen Yuan wasn’t the best Champion of Light ever, but how did he find himself as a Dread Knight of the Demon Lord? He was a paladin on a holy quest to kill the Demon Lord, that was his main quest as far as he understood.
Not fucking marry the Demon Lord.
So what the fuck went wrong? When did he mess up so badly?
It probably started when he met Luo Binghe while doing a fetch quest for one of the NPCs in the small town next to the giant swamp where an undead dragon was supposedly nesting.
Thinking back, Shen Yuan was pretty sure that meeting was the beginning of the end and that Luo Binghe was the bane of his existence.
He loved the guy, yeah, but it would have been nicer if he wasn’t constantly being challenged to duels because the villain of the game decided to seduce him with his wily ways.
He blamed said Demon Lord for everything and no, he wasn’t taking any criticism.
In his defense he had no idea of the name of the main villain of the game, all he heard was the title Demon Lord thrown around. And his first meeting with Luo Binghe was, as far as first meetings went in a video game, relatively uneventful.
Sure, the young man was being menaced by imps or that’s how Shen Yuan saw the scene, which in hindsight might not have been terribly accurate.
(His God assured him several times that he didn’t mind the loss of his troops that much… And those words always made Shen Yuan’s eyes start twitching much to the amusement of Luo Binghe.)
So he was collecting five white flowers from the swamp when he heard the imps’ cackles and he hefted his spear with a thoughtful look in that direction. If it was a nest, he could probably get some gold, because imp nests always had a bounty on them. So he went, crouching low to hide in the wet and disgusting foliage because he learned early that he shouldn’t just charge into a situation without checking things out first even if essentially he was a walking, talking heavy-armored tank that soaked up damage.
There lied death and the loss of gold and equipment.
Also, it would have been terribly embarrassing to be felled by fucking imps of all things.
He peered out from behind a crumbling boulder and saw the following scene.
Three imps screeching around a bound form, two Imp Lords duking it out, and one very restrained young man with a very unamused face.
How was Shen Yuan supposed to know that the young man who managed to be taken hostage by fucking imps of all things would be the main villain of the game?!
Seeing that there was nothing else just the imps and their hostage, he straightened and stepped out into the murky fog, his boots sinking just a bit into the ground and he scowled behind his helmet.
Fighting in swamps was not ideal for heavy-armored characters, but needs were a must. He could have switched to a lighter armor but he needed every piece of gold he could save to be able to upgrade his gear before he ventured into the next area.
His armor clanked together and the two Imp Lords stopped their fighting to turn to him in eerie unison. That should have been a warning sign too, maybe that not everything was as it appeared.
A second of silence and the imps exploded into motion while Shen Yuan thanked every God and Goddess he knew of that his avatar was less bodily challenged than his original one had been. The grace and power behind the deceptively slender figure of an elf was tremendous and he drove his spear through one, then smacked another away with the spear shaft.
One gauntleted fist shot out for the third and it went sailing with minimal fuss too.
Only the two Imp Lords remained which might have been a bit more of a challenge than simple mooks. If Shen Yuan was on the same level as them.
But Shen Yuan was not on the same level as them, he had not been the same level for a long long time. If he didn’t need the gold, he would have been out of the level 30-40 area completely and not play bowling with beasts like 10 to 20 levels lower than him.
Breaking the neck of the last Imp Lord with a quick twist, he stood up and placed back the spear in its holster. He would need to clean it a bit, see if there were any cracks in the metal from usage, but his focus was on the human across him. The human who seemed quite spooked and on the edge of fight or flight.
He approached with raised hands, the universal sign of being peaceful even here, but it didn’t seem to do much for the young man’s peace of mind.
Shen Yuan kept a groan in and kneeled before him, raising a gauntleted hand towards their face when he realized that the armor was dirty with mud and beast blood. He knocked back his helmet and set on unlacing himself with his other hand and his mouth, never noticing the glowing red eyes of the youth raking over his revealed face.
He wiggled his fingers in the humid air once they were free and smiled up at the blushing young man. “My name is Shen Qingqiu, a paladin of the God of Light and Mercy. May I release you from these ropes?”
The young man nodded without words and Shen Yuan back then figured that he was simply too fearful, or maybe too overwhelmed by everything that happened.
(“I was overwhelmed by the radiant sight before me, my love.” Luo Binghe said and Shen Yuan shushed him while he dodged another wide swipe of the broadsword coming his way.)
This close and without the obstruction of his helmet, Shen Yuan finally got a proper look at the face of the young man he rescued and he was maybe a bit tongue-tied.
A fair face, slightly dirty from the swamp, tumultuous black curls in a messy ponytail, beautiful dark eyes that looked at him from under thick and dark eyelashes. If they stood up he would guess that the young man was taller than him and his shoulders were probably wider too. One of those was not uncommon for humans but he rarely found people who were taller than him, an elf.
He shook himself out of his stupor and finished untying the knots, offering the young man the ropes. He looked back at him strangely and Shen Yuan shrugged. Waste not, want not, that had been his philosophy for the last few months.
He had enough space in his inventory and even this frayed rope was worth at least a few pieces of gold for the local trader.
“Are you from the local town?” He asked before he shook his head. Of course, the young human was from the local town where else would he be from? He didn’t have armor, he didn’t have weapons on him… though maybe the imps stripped him of it?
The youth looked at him silently before nodding slowly.
Shen Yuan quickly cataloged what he gathered that day and decided that he had made enough progress to fill his little nest egg sooner than later. He could go back to the town a bit earlier, escort the young man through the swamp to make sure he was safe.
“I’m going back to town, would you like to come with me?” He asked and he only received a hesitant nod again.
Maybe the young man couldn’t speak, he thought.
(“As I’ve said, I was overwhelmed by the epitome of beauty and kindness before me, my heart.” Luo Binghe chimed in again and if Shen Yuan wasn’t in the middle of a fight and Luo Binghe was in a corporeal form, he would have jabbed him in the side for being shameless.)
Shen Yuan smiled at the young man while he helped him up, then helped him get steady when he stumbled into him and they were on the way back to the swamp town.
Maybe if he paid a bit more attention he would have noticed the flickering hungry red eyes trained on him.
But he didn’t.
He eventually learned once they were back in town that the young man was named Luo Binghe and he was very much capable of speaking, though he seemed more than a bit shy to engage with Shen Yuan.
He also attached himself firmly to him and Shen Yuan thought it was something about saving him, about being seen as safe and Luo Binghe didn’t say anything for a good long while. He just followed Shen Yuan around like he had nothing better to do and Shen Yuan dubbed him as a temporary companion, a temporary party member in his head.
If anyone asked Shen Yuan to describe his new friend, he would have said that the young man was quite clumsy outside of a proper fight, which made Shen Yuan frequently fret about leaving him alone.
Such a delicate young master like Luo Binghe shouldn’t be out there in the wild, wild world not without protection.
If anyone heard this, they would have laughed until said young master looked at them and would make them shit their pants in fear with just one quick glance.
Luo Binghe was actually terrifying and Shen Yuan saw him as an unruly puppy, begging for attention. Mostly. Okay, so the young man had puppy eyes down to the T and Shen Yuan was fucking doomed from the moment he first laid his eyes on him in that messy imp nest.
He knew that Luo Binghe wasn’t a simple NPC and he knew that he wasn’t another player either. His alignment was fairly neutral and he didn’t have much notoriety based on the gauge Shen Yuan could see at first.
As the days went by, however, that started changing, and Shen Yuan was stumped over why his companion was starting to gain Infamy at the speed of light while he was accompanying him. It was a daily simple mechanic of the game, if you did good deeds and solved your quests honorably you gained Fame. If you did bad things or was a dick to other people you gained Infamy. The amount depended on how much the actions mattered.
Shen Yuan gained Fame, and Luo Binghe gained the same amount of Infamy while they solved the quests without unduly bloodshed and without screwing people over. All in all, they were perfectly acceptable endings to any quest. Good endings.
And still, Luo Binghe gained enough Infamy that his status was becoming very notorious and even NPCs in random towns started behaving strangely towards him. Even more strangely.
There wasn't a visit where Shen Yuan wasn’t stopped and praised for trying to bring his traveling companion to justice, to turn him back from the darkness.
Luo Binghe just smiled at him every time it happened and it wasn’t like Shen Yuan could ask what that was about without revealing the game mechanics/HUD he could see if he wanted to.
After a certain point, Luo BInghe couldn’t go into towns and waited for Shen Yuan outside of the boundaries in their small camps.
Then Shen Yuan reached level 75 and the heroes finally found one of the hidden villains of the game, the Demon Elder.
A monstrous demon stuck in a beastly form and killing thousands before appropriate actions could be taken. One of the lesser deities under the Dark Pantheon and thus the Demon Lord’s underling.
It was telling that the first of them only appeared around level 75 because when he arrived in this game world the level cap was at 100. So either they started raising the level cap or something else was going on because even to Shen Yuan who was self-admittedly a n00b that seemed strange. 25 levels left to hit the max level and the first real boss showed up only then, and based on the rumors…
There were at least eleven ranked deities in the Dark Pantheon not counting their ruler? So something didn’t add up.
He took part in the raid to kill the Demon Elder, Meng Mo, with Luo Binghe in tow. It took three guilds working together, and the field was filled with people of all races.
It was a tough fight and Shen Yuan would have exhausted his potion supply if Luo Binghe didn’t get him out of the way of an attack or two.
They stood side by side, one of Binghe’s arms around his waist supporting him as he was coming down from the cooldown of the last magical attack he did. A simple smite shouldn’t have taken so much out of him but it felt like something was resisting him when he tried to call on the divine powers of his God.
He would have lingered on that a bit more if his attention wasn't caught by the human rubbing circles into one of his un-gauntleted hands. He looked up at him with a small questioning frown, bt Luo Binghe seemed to be deep in thought as they watched the Demon Elder draw his last breaths.
They stood at a respectable distance so when the demon suddenly lurched forward like it started to fight more, Shen Yuan’s hand tightened around his polearm, shifting to stand a bit more before Luo Binghe just in case.
But the demon only uttered a few words before it finally died and the alerts about its demise blared like thunder inside his head. It still couldn’t drown out the cacophony his thoughts descended into, because the Demon Elder looked right in their way when he said the following words. “My Lord.”
Shen Yuan turned around watching the people move, but there was no one else in their immediate vicinity. There never were too many, Luo Binghe’s presence usually kept everyone at an arm’s length.
Maybe he was mistaken…? Maybe the Elder Demon was just speaking nonsense, right?
(He wasn’t. Later on, Shen Yuan couldn’t help but think that he was a fucking idiot.)
Despite everything going on, despite a frankly alarming amount of warning signs, Shen Yuan stayed oblivious for some time after that.
Right until he went into a small town to gather some provisions as they ventured into the Great Desert and he was bumped into.
“Oathbreaker.” The snide voice said quietly but with an edge and Shen Yuan felt himself go rigid. He also reached back and caught the man’s arms to drag him back before he could slip away.
“What did you just say?” He asked with a gentle smile.
Oaths were a touchy subject for paladins, they governed their every movement, their entire life. To be called an Oathbreaker out of the blue like that, it was rather startling.
The man got obviously scared to be called out in such a way, to face someone wielding a weapon that was probably heavier than him and only stuttered. In the end, Shen Yuan let him go, but the entire encounter left a weird taste in his mouth.
And he also started realizing that it wasn’t an isolated case.
All of the NPCs started looking at him with fear and anger and soon enough they even spat on the ground where he walked.
He got the stuff they needed and he got out of dodge as fast as he could, especially when the guard started loitering around him in a somewhat pointed manner.
“What happened?” Luo Binghe asked, immediately standing and walking up to him when he came into sight. The human touched his cheeks gently and Shen Yuan unthinkingly leaned into the caress with a sigh. He felt rattled and he couldn’t quite tell Binghe why because the man has been dealing with the same thing for months by then in almost every town they had visited during their journey.
Shen Yuan couldn’t whine about people not liking him anymore, Luo Binghe had it much worse.
“Nothing… that town was just strange, I think.” He settled on that and while Luo Binghe seemed somewhat unhappy, he didn’t press him anymore and Shen Yuan was grateful for that.
He settled down in the camp and handed Luo Binghe some of the food he got so that the human could whip up something delicious just like he always did. And Shen Yuan promptly forgot about the whole matter as their evening was filled with happy chatter and laughing.
Until the same thing happened in the next town.
And the next.
And the next.
There was a quote he could vaguely remember.
Once was a happenstance. Twice was a coincidence.
The third time it was enemy action.
A pattern was starting to reveal before him and Shen Yuan wasn’t very happy about it. He checked his Fame/Infamy gauge and he was startled to notice that it started to decline.
Even if he finished his quests in a good way he was gaining Infamy points at a significantly faster rate and he was sliding down into utter notoriety.
He was a paladin, a champion of the God of Light and Mercy. If he became corrupted in any shape or form, if his reputation slid into complete Infamy, he couldn’t draw on his God’s divinity anymore. Which actually would explain the trouble he was having when using light attributed powers in the last few weeks.
On a hunch, he opened his spell list that he hadn’t checked for the last few weeks.
And he had a new spell in his repertoire.
Somehow… he didn’t think that was a light power either.
So Shen Yuan was going to the Dark Side, without actively doing anything heinous and he had no idea why. He checked his character pages and there was a strange status effect, but he couldn’t quite read what it was as the letters flickered and slid away every few seconds. It was honestly headache-inducing to watch.
“Are you okay, A-Qiu?” Luo Binghe asked one day as the exterminated a nest of spider demons. Shen Yuan was moodily hacking away at the webs around them, destroying them as much as he could, cursing up a storm inside that he couldn’t summon divine fire anymore.
“Yes.” He answered, maybe a bit shortly, but he couldn’t help it. He was just a simple warrior without his powers. Actually, he was weaker than a simple warrior because Shen Yuan was just a normal human who got stuck in a video game so he couldn’t draw on the warrior training that Shen Qingqiu must have got.
“A-Qiu…” Binghe tried to coax him and Shen Yuan couldn’t take his disappointment and sad eyes over everything else.
“I said that I’m okay, okay?!” He snapped and regretted it immediately. He spun around to look at Binghe who looked at him with teary eyes and Shen Yuan felt like the lowest scum when he turned away and sniffled.
Dropping his polearm he all but ran up to Luo Binghe, only to stop a few inches before touching his shoulders, fluttering uselessly around the bigger human.
“Binghe…” He started and hugged the human from behind when his shoulders started shaking. Binghe twisted around and folded himself into Shen Yuan’s arms. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to snap at you.”
He could feel the human nod and he patted the fluffy black hair with a sigh. “I’m losing my powers.” He admitted and was almost bowled over by Binghe.
“What?! A-Qiu, what?”
“I’m losing my powers.” He repeated and saying that for the second time was not much easier than the first.
He wanted to hide.
It wasn’t even the fact that he loved being a hero or something, because he didn’t. But this world was dangerous. Monster attacks were regular even in the largest NPC towns and sometimes entire districts disappeared because something wiped them off the face of the earth.
There was no safe place for anyone, you had to make your own and for that, you needed to be strong. And Shen Yuan also made a lot of enemies since he came to this world…
“I don’t know what to do.” He told Luo Binghe who hugged him tighter and promised to help him find a solution.
Ironic, as he was the source of the problem.
(To this day Shen Yuan didn’t quite understand what happened, but he was almost sure that Luo Binghe didn’t consciously Corrupt him. No, it was probably because Shen Yuan started to feel…)
Luo Binghe’s solution was seeking out sages, witches, and so on, wise and old people who might know or had seen something similar.
It wasn’t a very fruitful solution and they went through several of them without getting anything useful.
“Are you sure you didn’t renounce your God?” One asked and Shen Yuan could see Binghe restrain a snarl.
“Did you swear fealty to an evil god?” Another asked, and another and then another like they were broken records.
No, he didn’t remember renouncing his God, no he didn’t remember taking an oath of servitude to someone else either.
“It seems like an influence curse.” An old hag said while she tried to cook him in a pot. Shen Yuan bobbed in the cauldron watching a few pieces of carrot swim close by and wished Binghe was a bit faster in finding him.
“You should go to the Witch of the Mountains.” A healer said before he ushered him out of their home and slammed the door shut in his face, leaving him alone in the hostile town.
Shen Yuan was sitting in their camp, nursing a growing headache as Luo Binghe prepared dinner for them both.
The last month was a disaster.
Thankfully, he had Luo Binghe with him, but even his traveling companion seemed strangely subdued ever since the incident with the hag and the cauldron.
Shen Yuan also gained a new spell, though he hadn’t tried it out yet.
He had the feeling that whatever was called the Crown of Madness couldn’t be some kind of a benevolent spell.
So they went towards the Mountains and Luo Binghe started keeping his distance from Shen Yuan who didn’t quite understand what was going on with his friend but he was supportive of his choices. Even if he was starting to get afraid that whatever this curse business was that made people hate him was affecting his friend and thus would make Luo Binghe hate him too.
But maybe that ship has already sailed.
(It didn’t, and once the whole ‘curse’ thing was solved he was sure that there was no force in the universe that could make Luo Binghe hate him.)
So they went up to the mountains and met the witch, who was decidedly not old and didn’t look like much of a witch either. No, Mobei-jun was most definitely not someone Shen Yuan would think of when someone said ‘witch’. No, he was infinitely more powerful than any witch could ever be.
He was a demon through and through, one with glittering scales on his face and white antlers on his head and… He also dropped down to one knee and bent his head before them when they arrived, causing the human who was working in the snow-covered herb garden to drop his hoe and gape at all of them.
(Later on, Shen Yuan would learn that the human tending to the garden, Shang Qinghua was the proverbial Witch of the Mountain and Mobei-jun, the Demon General, was his God.)
“My Lord.” The witch, no, the demon said and Shen Yuan had a sudden flash of that moment when they defeated Meng Mo. When the demon said the exact same thing with the same reverent tone to them. He turned his head and there was only Luo Binghe at his side once again, like usual.
And suddenly everything made sense.
If someone was too far along the Evil/Good alignment, even with actions taken on the opposite end they would gain their respective fame or infamy, their gauge wouldn’t be able to move again.
If someone was too far along the Evil/Good alignment, if they reached a certain level they would start exuding a certain air that was capable of influencing others’ powers.
Paladins were bound by the oaths they made to their God and the God in exchange granted them access to their divine power.
But, if a paladin relentlessly pursued a selfish ambition, they were bound to go down a dark path… and their oath would be considered broken by their God, for they were serving an evil power instead.
Oathbreaker, Shen Yuan remembers the curse.
Oh, he thought and watched Binghe’s face, watched the human face melt away to reveal burning red eyes and scales and horns for a second or two.
Oh, he thought and took a step away from Luo Binghe’s outreached hand and then another and then the trees and snow blurred around him as he ran into the frozen forest.
It wasn’t the best idea he had, because hypothermia and such matters were still an issue in this world especially for someone with his weakened body.
But he needed some distance, he needed a little bit of time. It wasn’t every day that one found out that they went around with the God of Evil by their side for months.
He guessed that Mobei-jun would be another hidden member of the Dark Pantheon.
So what should he do now?
If he permanently left Binghe’s side, there was a chance that his alignment would realign and maybe he could retake his oaths. The game lore said that it had been done before.
But… did he want that?
Did he want to leave Luo Binghe behind and never see him again?
No, the little voice inside him immediately snapped out and he would have startled at his own vehemence if he was any less exhausted.
He liked spending time with Luo Binghe and he didn’t care much about him being a God of Darkness or Evil or whatever. The only thing he was worried about was becoming weak and defenseless and the only solution to that was keeping away from Luo Binghe.
It wasn’t like he could just change classes, his avatar was a paladin and all paladins had a God they served.
It was just Shen Yuan’s luck that his God broke things off with him because he accidentally might have met another God and accidentally might have developed the teensiest crush on him too.
Oh, motherfucking shit.
He had a crush on Luo Binghe.
Welp, that escalated quickly he thought then he had to laugh because what quickly?! He had been traveling around with the perfect boyfriend material for months by then.
They hugged and touched and at one point he might have almost spontaneously combusted when he had seen Luo Binghe shirtless and gleaming with sweat on a rather hot day.
(That should have been a sign too, but he was nothing but obtuse when it came to matters like that.)
Luo Binghe cooked for him and Shen Yuan hunted for him.
Luo Binghe repaired their broken clothing and Shen Yuan bought him pretty threads and a new sewing kit.
Luo Binghe bandaged his wounds and Shen Yuan protected him in a fight.
Ah, he thought.
Well, some of these could be called an act of servitude… on both of their ends.
He sat there for a few seconds then the snow started seeping into his underpants and he stood up to do an unbecoming dance trying to get out all of it from his armor and clothing. Hopefully, nobody witnessed that.
He could see the cottage in the distance and he started walking that way, only to come to a stop halfway.
Luo Binghe stood there, face infinitely sad but not crying and Shen Yuan felt himself go soft at the sight of him. Even now that he knew that this wasn’t the true appearance of him and that he only got a glimpse… he was still the most beautiful being he had ever seen.
(“Actually, my true form would destroy your mind and probably cause a cataclysm or two.” Luo Binghe decided to add and Shen Yuan scoffed.)
“When are you leaving?” The God of Evil asked and Shen Yuan stayed silent as he walked up to the demon to stare him in the eyes.
Luo Binghe froze and there was a small amount of hope on his face before he went blank.
“Are you going to kill me?” He asked and Shen Yuan drew back like he was slapped.
It was a valid question to ask, the God of Light’s followers should do everything in their power to exterminate the followers of the Dark Path. That meant their gods too, including their Lord.
“Never.” It was a vow and he could feel the certainty settle around his heart and the tiny amount of inherent magic inside him.
From the minute tightening of Luo Binghe’s eyes, he felt something too.
“Why?” Luo Bighe asked and Shen Yuan floundered.
What could he tell the man?
That he had a crush on him, that he didn’t want to see him sad or hurt, that he wanted him to be happy?
That he wanted to spend whatever days he had left with him, bring him small gifts because they made Luo Binghe’s eyes light up?
That he wanted to hold him, to feel his skin against his, that he wanted to figure out what his lips tasted like?
“Oh.” Luo Binghe breathed out and there was a spectacular blush on his face and Shen Yuan had the alarming thought that he was reading his mind. “Are you aware that you are saying those things out loud?”
If this was a movie there would be a record screech or something similar sound effect and Shen Yuan felt his soul leave his body, because what the fuck did he just do?
What did Luo Binghe mean by that?
“I… I…” He started to say something, he had no idea what and the Demon Lord watched him patiently, but with a large grin now and Shen Yuan was done. He was going to find a nice little spot, and dig a grave, then he was going to lay down into it and wait for the sweet oblivion of death. “Excuse me… I just heard my name being called.”
He tried to slip away but there were suddenly arms around his waist and he was twirled around to face Luo Binghe again and he was still wearing hundreds of pounds of metal. The effortless strength and grace of that movement shouldn’t have been so hot, but it was and left Shen Yuan breathless.
“Can I kiss you?” The God of Evil asked sweetly and Shen Yuan nodded though his heart beat in his throat.
And that was their first kiss of many many more to come.
They would still need to talk a lot, to clear the air about several topics, but they would do so after Shen Yuan was thoroughly snogged for the first time in his twenty-oh-so years.
They would have their misunderstandings and their fights, but they made things work.
(“Like the time you married me instead of making me take an oath of servitude.” Shen Yuan grumbled and Luo Binghe shushed him with several kisses.)
Even if Luo Binghe was an idiot… but Shen Yuan was an idiot too so they matched.
(“A marriage is a partnership between equals.” Luo Binghe reminded him gently as he fed some of his divine powers into the Dreadful Aspect surrounding them. “I don’t want your servitude.”)
(“All I wanted was your love and your devotion and I’d offer you the same, forever.”)