Xin Lan kept quiet for a moment, picked up the flask of wine, and took another sip. “There’s something you don’t know. Something that … will change your perspective on things I’m afraid.”
Hua Lin Yu looked at him with curiosity, not really feeling any unease. He was sure that no matter what Xin Lan said, it wouldn’t change his feelings for him. He had loved this man for so long, naturally, it would stay like this. Thus, he wasn’t worried at all.
Xin Lan put the flask down again, quietly turning it between his fingers. “This is something that no one of the dragon race will tell you about lightly. Maybe I shouldn’t either but I guess if I don’t, there won’t be a chance to make you understand.”
He looked down, his brows furrowing tightly. He hadn’t really talked about this. Even with Jinde, it had never really come up. Maybe it was that he didn’t want to seem vulnerable in front of the person he loved. But anyway, it was strange to finally give voice to these thoughts. “I told you and your family that the dragons are a monogamous race. It’s the truth. They really are. It isn’t quite a choice of their own though.”
Hua Lin Yu gave him a confused look. He didn’t dare to say anything though in fear of disturbing Xin Lan. The expression he currently wore … it suggested that this was something very important.
Xin Lan narrowed his eyes and looked out of the pavilion, glancing toward the sky. “Once upon a time, the dragon race did something they shouldn’t have. They managed to upset the one that rules over all realms. In fact, they managed to piss him off so much that he decided to curse all of them.”
Hua Lin Yu’s eyes widened when he realized where this was going. He had to bight down on his lower lip to keep himself from saying anything.
Xin Lan let go of the jar of wine and instead folded his hands in his lap, shaking his head. “They were cursed to be able to only fall in love once in their life. It didn’t matter what the circumstances were.
“If the person you loved died, then you would be left with a lifetime of regret. If you fell in love with somebody but they didn’t love you back, then, well, that sucked for you but it wouldn’t change a thing. If two people fell in love with the same person, they could only try to fight it out and hope that the winner would actually manage to gain the other person’s heart in turn.
“There’s never a guarantee. There were a lot of tragic love stories in our race I guess. And even for those who found their matches, life wasn’t always happy either. They normally never outlive each other for long. You could probably call that romantic but if you ask me, it’s just sad.”
Hua Lin Yu looked at him, a faint feeling of dread in his heart. Something told him that Xin Lan was not part of this curse. The way he spoke about it … it was like telling the story about others, not himself.
He looked down, his own brows furrowing for a moment before he managed to smooth out his expression. He didn’t want to give Xin Lan any pressure. He wanted to know the truth. So he could only let him talk freely.
“I know what you’re wondering. It’s true. Among the dragon race, I am the only person that is not affected by this curse. It is … fucked up in its own way. Originally, there were a few of us. All those children already conceived but not yet born when the curse struck.
“We were the hope of our race when it became apparent that we hadn’t been affected. They thought that maybe it was only the ones that had lived at that time that was cursed. So we and the subsequent generations would not be affected by it if they showed that supreme ruler that we were worthy of not carrying the curse. But after more children were born, it became clear that we were different. It was just us. Just this handful of children.
“You can probably not imagine how it is to live that kind of life. You’re different. The rules that apply to everyone, don’t apply to you. You know that there’s something fundamentally wrong with you.
“At first, it seemed like such a good thing. People downward worshiped us. I guess deep down, they still carried that faint hope that we would be able to turn things around. That somehow, once we had been given a chance, we might be able to change how things were for them as well. That we able to break through this cycle and make things become different.”
This time, Hua Lin Yu couldn’t hold back. “But it didn’t work, did it? Despite living for so long, you never found a way.”
Xin Lan turned around to him, giving a faint smile. “Among all the people of the dragon race, I am probably the one that supreme ruler hates the most. I guess I can somewhat understand it looking at it from the outside. He gave me what he deems to be a gift. But he never stopped to think about how it actually influenced my life.
“Among the children born along with me, I’m the only one that survived until now. The others …” He shook his head. “Quite a few of them died rather early for our race. I guess being brought up with that kind of worship, they thought of themselves as more special than they actually were.
“If you are just average but somebody is always there to prop you up, to tell you how awesome you are, it is really hard not to become conceited and think that you are able to do everything. Well, they weren’t able to do so. One after the other, they died. But that only put more pressure on the ones that were left.
“From that time on, my name in the dragon race was something … special. You have no idea how much I hate that word.”
Xin Lan’s voice dropped low and Hua Lin Yu felt that he had figured out just what it was that had made Xin Lan angry. He had told him that he was special to him. It was probably the thing he loathed to hear the most. “You know I didn’t mean it like that. You are …” He tried to find words that could convey what he meant without using the one that Xin Lan hated so much but it was difficult. “Anyway, I didn’t mean it like that.”
Xin Lan glanced at him and then reached out, cupping his cheek and brushing a strand of his hair behind his ear. “You know what? I believe that. I know that you didn’t know either. You have no idea what my status in the dragon race actually is. Naturally, whatever you say won’t have anything to do with it. It’s stupid to get angry at that.
“But I can’t change who I am. That is something I have been grappling with my whole life. And I will do so for the rest that is left of it no matter how long that will actually be.”