TTBE 17

Chapter 17

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

After acquiring the house under Mount Qingyun, An Chang Qing hired a craftsman to renovate and clean up the place. By the time the house was ready to be occupied, it was already the twelfth lunar month.

As the Laba Festival approaches, the Palace sent out a summon, requesting An Chang Qing and Xiao Zhige’s presence in the Palace.

According to the royal customs, as a Wangfei, An Chang Qing was supposed to enter the Palace to express their gratitude the day after their wedding. But there weren’t many that liked Xiao Zhige and with An Chang Qing being a male Wangfei, entering the Palace would only invoke discontent. And despite the fact that their marriage was favorable to the Emperor, he had crudely exempted them from this tradition.

This was why An Chang Qing had not been to the Palace even till now.

After seeing the eunuch off, a frown was stuck on An Chang Qing’s face. At this time in his last life, there were no such summons. It was in the following year after their marriage that he and Xiao Zhige were invited to the Palace for the New Year banquet.

The Palace had countless rules. The days before entering it, he had had many sleepless nights, worrying that he would make a fool of himself and incur Xiao Zhige’s wrath. In the Palace, he dared not let his eyes wander and had to spend the New Year’s day in fear. 

At that time, the Empress Dowager and Empress had also summoned him but he had only responded with nods and timidly kept his head down. Although he had managed to pull through, he did not even take a good look at their faces.

Now that he had been called to the Palace ahead of time, An Chang Qing was worried that something might have gone wrong. He combed through everything that had happened since his rebirth but still could not figure out what might have caused this.

Without any leads, An Chang Qing could only raise his vigilance. Thinking that there were only two days left, he should at least learn the proper etiquettes of the Palace. The Wang Manor did have a momo who had worked in the Palace but there was no lady in the manor which was why she hadn’t been called forth. Now that An Chang Qing needed her expertise, he had requested her guidance.

“You don’t have to learn all that.” Xiao Zhige stopped Anfu who was about to call for the momo. He looked to An Chang Qing and said, “When the time comes, you can just follow me, they won’t make things difficult for you.”

An Chang Qing frowned, “But… Wouldn’t this leave room for mockery?”

Xiao Zhige smiled and said indifferently, “The more faults I have, the worse my reputation becomes, and the happier they will be.”

An Chang Qing was slightly dismayed. He thought of all the rumors outside that had been blown out of proportion and naturally understood.

A Wangye commandeering a powerful army but did not have any backing or the Emperor’s support, if he were to become a hero with glorious achievements and a splendid reputation, what awaited him would be a swift death.

And the first to put a target on his back would be the current supreme ruler, Emperor An Qing.

Only by having his infamous reputation could Emperor An Qing relinquish any military power to Xiao Zhige and let him guard the Northern border for him.

This was also what the courtiers from different parties wanted to see.

An Chang Qing raised his head and looked at Xiao Zhige. The man was sitting upright and with his back straight as a spear. By just being there, even without speaking, An Chang Qing could feel a sense of dependency strong as a mountain, as though no amount of hardship could crush him.

And yet, An Chang Qing had witnessed his resignation with his own eyes.

Emotions gathered in his eyes and An Chang Qing had finally understood the loneliness felt by the late Emperor of the past. Back then, he clearly could have won but he chose to open the Palace gates; he clearly could have escaped death but he chose to die alone in Qiwu Palace… At that time, Xiao Zhige was probably too tired of it all.

Armed with a weapon in hand, he had defended an entire empire only to be condemned by its people. Even An Chang Qing himself, who should’ve been the one closest to him, had seen him as a monster and avoided him in fear… That was why in the end, he chose to let everything go.

If the nation did not want to be defended by him, then he would not defend it. If the people regarded him as a tyrant, then he will be a tyrant. 

Since the world had forsaken him, he had decided to relieve himself of the burden. 

Finally, he had died in solitude, just as he had lived.

An Chang Qing heaved a sigh filled with sadness. He pushed down the bitterness in his eyes and approached Xiao Zhige. Kneeling down, he held Xiao Zhige’s hand and looked up at him, “But I do not wish to hear anyone speak ill of you. You’re clearly … a wonderful person.”

Xiao Zhige briefly lost his breath as he looked at An Chang Qing with dark eyes. After a while, his Adam’s apple moved slightly and he said in a hoarse voice, “If you don’t want to hear it, then I won’t allow them to say it.”

His words were always overbearing but An Chang Qing had come to find that Xiao Zhige’s stern looks were quite adorable. He rested his head against his knee and said, “En, that is why I have to be presentable so as not to disgrace you.”

Xiao Zhige’s heart was warmed. He curled his fingers and rigidly placed his hand over An Chang Qing’s head, stroking his black hair, “That’ll not happen.”

“That’s why I should still call for the momo. I have to at least know to avoid violating the more serious offenses.”

An Chang Qing stood up and his hair slipped away from Xiao Zhige’s hand. Feeling a little unwilling to let go, Xiao Zhige touched his hand and said, “Alright, I’ll listen to you.”

…..

On the eighth, An Chang Qing entered the Palace together with Xiao Zhige.

An Chang Qing got up early that morning. His li pao had been prepared and because he was not a woman, there was no need to put on heavy headdresses and makeup, only a more formal garment was needed for the audience with the royals.

Xiao Zhige had also changed into a li pao for royalties. While his li pao was red and black, An Chang Qing’s was white and red. Between them, one was tall and strong while the other slender and graceful. The two had such contrasting temperaments but standing together, they looked surprisingly harmonious.

Even Anfu had to softly compliment, “Wangye and young master are such a good match.”

An Chang Qing smiled broadly and although Xiao Zhige did not say anything, his expression had softened considerably.

Having everything in place, they left the manor together.

It was snowing outside. A coachman pulled the carriage in for their use. As Xiao Zhige opened the door, he found that the brazier had just been lit and it was still chilly inside. He stepped out and ordered Steward Wang to fetch his fur coat from the warehouse.

This particular coat was made from a rare silver fox that he had hunted in Yanzhou. The root of the fur was snow white while its tip was gray, under the light, the coat shined with a silver glow. As he practiced martial arts all year round and was resistant to the cold, when the artisan had finished making this coat, Xiao Zhige had kept it in the warehouse. Now was the perfect time to let An Chang Qing use it.

When Steward had delivered the coat, Xiao Zhige shook it open and draped it over An Chang Qing.

An Chang Qing was indeed feeling cold. Although the li pao was a complicated garment, it was not made to keep out the cold. His fingers were freezing and the coat Xiao Zhige put on him had helped to ease the bitter chill.

After fastening the cord of the coat for An Chang Qing, Xiao Zhige said, “Get in.”

An Chang Qing beamed with delight as he stepped into the carriage. Xiao Zhige was not riding a horse today and sat with him in the carriage. Wrapped in a thick fur coat on top of having his hands warmed by Xiao Zhige, An Chang Qing was escorted to the Palace gate in bliss.

After passing two giant gates, they changed to a sedan carriage to enter the Inner Palace. One in front of the other, they were carried towards Kun Yi Palace where the Empress Dowager resided.

No longer having the brazier with him, An Chang Qing rubbed his hands together before opening up the curtain.

The Palace was just as he remembered, only without the dreariness and a lot livelier. As the New Year was approaching, a grand banquet was about to be held and the maids and eunuchs were seen rushing back and forth to prepare for it.

They sat on the sedan for nearly two-quarters of an hour before arriving at Kun Yi Palace.

An Chang Qing rearranged his attire after alighting the sedan. He took off the fur coat and passed it to a maid then stepped into the hall with Xiao Zhige.

Inside, the fireplace had been lit and a warm air enveloped the place. An Chang Qing walked forward firmly with confidence and bowed in salutation after Xiao Zhige.

“Grant them a seat.” The Empress Dowager raised her hand and the maids brought in two chairs. An Chang Qing sat with Xiao Zhige and at last, he could clearly see the faces of the Empress Dowager and the Empress.

The Empress Dowager was nearly sixty but she bore the look of someone in her fifties. She had a kind face and wore a bodhi bead bracelet on her wrist, seemingly approachable. The Empress sat one step below her, smiling amiably. She had a slim build and an elegant face. She looked at An Chang Qing and said, “A few days ago, considering that you two had just wedded, I didn’t want to trouble you with entering the Palace. Now that you’re here, I have prepared a few gifts for you lest you think that I only care for Taizi Fei1.”

The Empress Dowager cast An Chang Qing an inconspicuous glance, observing him while slowly twisting the Bodhi beads.

An Chang Qing looked down and thought to himself, here it comes.

But this time, he was prepared for it. He pretended to be flustered and said timidly, “Chang Qing dare not think so. Taizi Fei is of noble birth and also my senior, your love for her is as it should be. Chang Qing and Wangye are not bothered by it.”

“That may be so but they’re all children that I raised, I still have to be impartial.” The Empress smiled and beckoned the Palace maid to bring in the gifts, “See if you like it.”

An Chang Qing immediately stood up and expressed his thanks. On the tray that was brought in were a piece of jade pendant, calligraphy brushes and various other items, all of which were items generally used by men.

After accepting the gifts, An Chang Qing sat back in place and heard her say, “I have two sons under my care, one is the crown prince and the other is Zhige. The prince had long been married and his child had also already started to walk, leaving Zhige that still worries me. Now that he’s married, it’s time for him to spread his branches…”

An Chang Qing’s heart sank as she continued, “You were only just wedded and I don’t want to be meddlesome but Zhige can be impetuous at times. Chang Qing, as a Wangfei, you have to know what’s good for him. You can’t let him do as he pleases. No matter what, he needs to continue his bloodline…”

An Chang Qing quickly understood the implications of her words. He immediately came up with a countermeasure.

He abruptly got up, lifted his hem, and knelt firmly on the ground. He bowed and said, “Imperial Grandmother, Empress Mother, pardon Chang Qing as I cannot comply.”

“This child…” The Empress was a little surprised. 

She asked the maid to help him up but An Chang Qing refused to get up. He raised his head and said resolutely, “Wangye and I had long made a promise that in this life, we will only have each other, never to part.”


1 Taizi Fei↪Crown prince’s wife

TTBE 16

Chapter 16

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

Zhou He Lan came from a humble background and although he was later inaugurated as the National Chaplain, he was still ostracized by many due to the fact that his mother was from the Xi Wei Empire.

Currently, the Da Ye, Yuze, and Xi Wei Empires were three powerful nations keeping each other in check. However, over a hundred years ago, they were of the same origin, stemming from the Wei Empire that was falling apart due to internal conflicts.

After the collapse of the Wei Empire, the eight Great Generals each ruled their territory separately for a long time until they were united by the Great General of the Zhu State, Xiao Yan Hong, whom the other five Generals later elected to become King, making him the very first Emperor of the Da Ye Empire with Yejing as its capital.

The remaining two Great Generals, Xue Chang and Huai Shu An, refused to accept the new Emperor and excluded themselves from the Da Ye Empire. Xue Chang merged with the nomadic Xi Wei tribe and resided in the Zai Region, forming the Xi Wei Empire while Huai Shu An ruled over the Fu Liang region and established the Yuze Empire.

And hence, over a century later, the Wei Empire ceased to exist and in its place were the tri-pillar nations: Da Ye, Yuze, and Xi Wei.

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Zhou He Lan’s mother was an aborigine of the Xi Wei Empire. After Xue Chang was crowned, he broke the treaty of alliance and began to suppress the people of Xi Wei. Although the country was still called Xi Wei, its citizens were ranked at the bottom, often regarded as untouchables and could be legally sold like livestock.

And someone like Zhou He Lan who had an unclear parentage was of the lowest of the low, anyone could step on him. 

In his previous life, An Chang Qing only knew that Zhou He Lan had been despised his whole life due to his lowly birth and it was the Emperor of Yuze who disregarded his status and put him to good use. And Zhou He Lan had indeed kept to his words of never forgetting to repay his debts, helping the Emperor as his strategist. He told the Emperor to send troops to the North and at the right time, kill the two Great Generals and take over Yejing. After which, they could easily quell the rebellion and establish the Yuze Emperor as the ruler of Da Ye.

Surprisingly, Zhou He Lan would be in Yejing at this time and it just so happened that An Chang Qing had saved him. Thinking back to the time Zhou He Lan had visited Xiao Zhige at the mass grave and said that he had owed him a debt, he had probably been referring to what happened today. Maybe in the previous life, Xiao Zhige had also chased away the farmers and had given medicine, only this time, An Chang Qing had taken a step further and brought him with them.

An Chang Qing’s eyes shone looking at Zhou He Lan, thinking in his heart that this was the opportunity to change everything.

With everything that happened in his last life, he could tell that Zhou He Lan was a man who would honor his debt and predominantly, a talented strategist. The reason the Yuze Empire could swallow the Da Ye Empire was in part due to its civil strife and the rest was Zhou He Lan’s skillful maneuver.

Such a person, he couldn’t possibly let him go to Yuze once again and become Xiao Zhige’s enemy.

An Chang Qing quickly tinkered with his brain and developed a plan. He went to help the boy up and asked, “You’re not of Yejing birth, am I right? What happened on that road?”

Knowing that An Chang Qing had uncovered his identity, Zhou He Lan turned pale. He bit his lips and said, “I… My mother and I came to Yejing to find my father. It’s just that on the way here, my mother fell ill. I didn’t have any money to buy medicine, that’s why I stole… I stole their food…”

As though he was ashamed, Zhou He Lan’s face turned red when he mentioned the theft. Worried that An Chang Qing would misunderstand, he quickly added, “But I will pay them back. Once my mother is well, I will find a job at a restaurant and pay them…”

His voice became soft and he hung his head down like a withered sapling. If it wasn’t for his distinctive appearance, An Chang Qing could barely believe that this child would become the future National Chaplain of Yuze.

The intent to reel him in subsided and gave way to genuine sympathy.

An Chang Qing said, “With your looks, isn’t it difficult to find a job?”

Zhou He Lan looked up at him and said firmly, “I will keep looking. I’m willing to take on any job and I don’t mind hardships…”

An Chang Qing sighed and said with a smile, “Why don’t you follow me?”

“I’m planning to open several stores and am still short of staff. Your salary will be the same as everyone else. Food and shelter will be provided as well, how’s that?”

Zhou He Lan looked at him in surprise. After a long silence, he gritted his teeth and said, “I’m grateful that you’re willing to take me in but… But I’m of Xi Wei birth.” 

What it meant to be of Xi Wei birth, everyone understood, including those from Da Ye. That was why even when his mother and he came all the way to Yejing, they were still being looked down upon. And when his mother fell ill, he couldn’t find a job because no one would hire him. It was as though coming into contact with them would lower their status to the bottom.

However, An Chang Qing did not have the look of disgust that he had expected. He said, “That’s Xi Wei. This is the Da Ye Empire, we’re not alike.”

Zhou He Lan’s eyes widened as he looked at An Chang Qing. His lips shook slightly and he suddenly knelt down and kowtowed to him, “I would like to follow and be of use to you from now on.”

An Chang Qing was shocked by his reaction. He quickly told him to stand up and said, “You should recuperate first. When your injuries are healed, I will call for your assistance.”

Then he remembered him mentioning his sick mother and asked with concern, “Where is your mother? Has she seen a doctor?”

Zhou He Lan’s delighted expression faded, “We’ve seen the doctor but he said that there’s no cure, she could only take medicine to prolong her life.”

No wonder… In his previous life, An Chang Qing only heard about his lowly background but seldom heard about his mother. By that time, she had most likely passed on.

“There is a doctor with excellent medical skills in the Wang Manor, if you’re willing, you can bring your mother there for Dr. Hu to have a look.”

Zhou He Lan’s eyes brightened. He promptly said, “We’ll go!”

An Chang Qing patted him on the shoulder, “Can you walk? If you can, then follow me back to the Wang Manor.”

Zhou He Lan nodded repeatedly. Worried about his mother’s health, he immediately walked two steps to prove that he was fine, “These small injuries are nothing at all.”

An Chang Qing smiled and they left the doctor’s house together.

When they returned to the house, An Chang Qing asked the village chief to find a few older girls and train them so when his mother and sister arrived, there would be someone to look after them.

After he was done with the trivial matters, it was just in time for Xiao Zhige to return. An Chang Qing smiled at him and pointed to Zhou He Lan, “This is Zhou He Lan, he’ll be following me from now on.”

Xiao Zhige cast Zhou He Lan a quick glance but did not say anything. He nodded and said to An Chang Qing, “Let’s go home.”

Because Zhou He Lan was injured, An Chang Qing had let him sit with him in the sedan. On the way back, they passed by a village and Zhou He Lan told them that his mother was staying there. The group tagged along with him only to be led to a dilapidated abandoned temple.

Half the temple had collapsed and the roof was falling apart. A shoddy thatch was made with branches and leaves to provide a small area of shelter. Zhou He Lan’s mother was curled up inside, sleeping with her face covered.

Zhou He Lan called out to her in Xi Wei dialect, prompting her to turn around in joy.

Looking at her from the back, An Chang Qing noticed that Zhou He Lan’s mother had even sharper features compared to him. With a high nose and deep eyes, she had the typical appearance of a Xi Wei aborigine.

Zhou He Lan carefully pulled the grass and branches away. He then spoke a few words to her softly and after hearing them, she struggled to get up and bowed repeatedly to An Chang Qing while expressing her gratitude in Da Ye language.

Seeing that she was incredibly feeble, An Chang Qing told Zhou He Lan to help her into the carriage.

Zhou He Lan smiled gratefully and wanted to say thank you but An Chang Qing stopped him, “That’s enough, no need to offer me these formalities.”

Only then did Zhou He Lan proceed with helping his mother into the carriage. The pair of mother and son did not have much with them, only a shabby-looking satchel which he picked up and carried over his shoulder. They stopped by the village where Zhou He Lan had stolen the grains to let him pay them back with money borrowed from An Chang Qing. After which, the group resumed their course back to the city.

Because he had let Zhou He Lan and his mother sit in the sedan, An Chang Qing had to ride with Xiao Zhige once again.

The burgundy horse shook its tail and trotted happily. Thinking of the countless eyes that would stare at him once they reached the city, An Chang Qing beseeched, “Can Wangye teach me how to ride a horse?”

Xiao Zhige’s eyes drooped as he heard his words. From this vantage, he could see from An Chang Qing’s head to his white neck where a few strands of hair had scattered down, an extremely adorable sight. If he was taught how to ride a horse, he wouldn’t be able to see this scene anymore.

Xiao Zhige said, “I’m not free for the time being.”

An Chang Qing did not mind. He simply said, “I’ll ask Tie Hu or Zhao Shi to teach me then.”

Zhao Shi, who was following behind them, was so stricken with fear that his hair stood up.

Then he heard his General immediately respond with a poker-face, “I’ll teach you.”

An Chang Qing was at a loss, “Didn’t Wangye say that you’re not free?”

Xiao Zhige stayed quiet briefly then said, “I have time.”

“…” An Chang Qing turned back and looked at him suspiciously.

Xiao Zhige kept a straight face as they looked at each other.

Why do you have to learn how to ride? Isn’t it better to ride with me?

…..

Back at the Wang Manor, An Chang Qing told Steward Wang to bring Zhou He Lan and his mother to the guest room and invite Hu Shifei to give her a diagnosis. He then called for the middleman and signed the deed of sale for the house. And hence, the house under Mount Qingyun was officially his.

When An Chang Qing paid for the house, he was a little embarrassed as the money was taken from the Wang Manor’s treasury. Although Xiao Zhige had told him to spend it as he pleased, those were not his to spend. He felt as though he was taking advantage of Xiao Zhige.

Therefore, after the middleman left, he said softly to Xiao Zhige, “I’ve borrowed the gold from the treasury to pay for the house, I will return them when I earn some money.”

“… You don’t have to return them.” Xiao Zhige was looking grim but An Chang Qing did not notice it.

He smiled sweetly and said, “If Wangye continues to be this liberal towards me, I’ll become spoiled and squander away your gold.”

 “En.” Xiao Zhige glanced at him, “The gold we have is enough for you to spend extravagantly.”

An Chang Qing was pleasantly surprised. He laughed with a twinkle in his eyes, “But I don’t want the storytellers to make me into a Wangfei who only knows how to indulge himself in luxury…”

“They wouldn’t dare,” infected by his laugh, Xiao Zhige smiled at him and said, “No one dares to slander the Wangfei of the Northern Warlord.”

TTBE 15

Chapter 15

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

The teahouse in Yejing has been quite prosperous these past few days. The ground floor was filled with guests and the upper floor was occupied by a storyteller running out of saliva as he spread his tale.

As his listeners increased, the storyteller knocked on the table with his fan and began, “This took place at sunset, on Yong Le Street where people were bustling by. From afar came a large steed and on that steed were two people– one was illustrious and domineering, the other had the grace of Pan An…”

The storyteller spread his fan, “Can you tell who they are?”

“It’s none other than the Northern Warlord and his newly wedded Wangfei!”

“It is said that this Wangfei is quite something, a man whose beauty trumps that of a woman by three folds. Word has it that when the Northern Warlord first met him, he was so mesmerized that he had to make him his Wangfei at all costs. But Wangfei is after all a man, what kind of logic is this…”

The storyteller continued his narrative but below came a disapproving voice, “The storyteller’s words are nonsensical. Hasn’t the Northern Warlord’s Wangfei long been dead? It was said that on the second day after their marriage, he was quietly pulled out of the city and buried!”

“Where did you hear that from? It’s ridiculous.” Another listener heard his words and rebuked, “Just the other day, the Northern Warlord had taken Wangfei to Sanweizhai. I heard that because Wangfei likes the plum pastries there, Wangye had specially taken him there to buy them.” 

“That’s right, that’s right,” A nearby aunty said, “Recently, the plum blossom pastries from Sanweizhai are selling like hotcakes. It is said that if you eat them, you’ll be as beautiful as a fairy, just like Wangfei. If it isn’t always sold-out, I’d love to get my hands on a few!”

Someone else joked, “Lady, even at this age you still want a second spring?”

The aunty let out a pei and said, “Don’t be silly. It’s for my daughter!”

The man who had roused this conversion was surprised by the series of comments. At a loss, he turned back to listen to the storyteller but he was already retelling how Wangfei had rejected The Northern Warlord’s advances and in turn, was taken as a prisoner and locked up in the Wang Manor.

The man: “…”

Although the story was absurd, the teahouse guests were highly intrigued. As the end of the New Year approaches, people tend to want to listen to new and interesting gossip. The story of the notorious Northern Warlord abducting the Wangfei and abusing him into submission was more entertaining than the news of yet another servant’s demise in the Wang Manor.

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As the storyteller’s words spiraled into absurdity, a young man dressed in blue sitting at the back stood up to leave. Two men dressed in grey followed behind him.

After exiting the teahouse, one of the men in grey said, “This storyteller’s words are ludicrous.” 

The man in blue said, “But the two riding back home on the same horse is true. Say… Do you think that Second Brother really likes that unfavored son or is he just putting on a show for us?”

The man in grey thought for a moment before replying, “I’m afraid he’s only putting on a show. There have never been any whispers of him liking men. And his temperament, it’s not like you don’t know.”

“You’re right,” the man in blue nodded in agreement, “Whether it’s true or not, I’ll ask Empress Mother to summon them into the Palace and test them.”

The man in blue then said with a ruthless smile, “Although he has long been disqualified, we still need to be on guard.”

As it stands, of all the princes in the Palace, including himself, none had any military power. They had all tacitly approved that he would be the one to inherit the throne but didn’t history show that the throne could always be usurped?

Ferocity emerged in the man’s eyes. He ordered, “Return to the Palace.”

At this end in the Wang Manor, the Northern Warlord’s Wangfei was having a headache.

The last time Xiao Zhige came to pick him up from the An Manor and called him by his nickname, he had not changed this form of address since.

Thinking of how this all-powerful General calling him ‘Nuo Nuo’ with a cold expressionless face simply made An Chang Qing’s hair stand on end.

But no matter how much he hinted at his aversion towards the matter, Xiao Zhige refused to change. After being called ‘Nuo Nuo’ a countless number of times, An Chang Qing finally compromised and let it be. But for the time being, he was still not used to it and each time Xiao Zhige called him, he would blush uncontrollably. As a last resort, he decided to avoid Xiao Zhige for the time being.

Fortunately, Xiao Zhige would leave for the barracks early in the morning every day and An Chang Qing was also busy with finding a house, and hence, the two would turn in early at night. This was how An Chang Qing had managed to not drive the dignified Northern Warlord into sleeping in the study.

Today, An Chang Qing had ordered Anfu to prepare the horse carriage; he was planning to leave the city.

After searching for several days, An Chang Qing had finally found a suitable house. It was located just outside the city at the foot of Mount Qingyun. The surroundings were peaceful and it even had a hot spring, perfectly suited for recuperation. An Chang Qing intended to check the place in person and if it was to his liking, he would buy it as soon as possible.

“Going out?” Xiao Zhige asked as he was about to leave the house as well.

“En, I’m going to Mount Qingyun to have a look at a house.”

Xiao Zhige withdrew his foot out the door and sat at one side, “Let’s leave together, it’s on the way.”

An Chang Qing asked, “Wangye is also leaving for Mount Qingyun today?”

Xiao Zhige, “No.”

An Chang Qing eyed him suspiciously. Mount Qingyun was to the south of the city while the barracks were to its north. How was it ‘on the way’? But Xiao Zhige did not seem to be lying so An Chang Qing assumed he might have some other business to attend to and did not question him further.

After some time, Anfu brought over the carriage for them to leave together.

Xiao Zhige looked at the carriage and slightly pursed his lips before asking An Chang Qing, “Would you like to ride the horse?”

An Chang Qing blinked twice looking at the only horse he was riding and understood what he wanted. He gave him a hard look and said “I’m sitting in the carriage!” before stomping into the sedan.

He could still remember that after the last time they rode together back to the Manor, he had become a popular appearance in many of the stories circulating the city. He refused to be looked at like some kind of spectacle.

The lonely Wangye who rode by the carriage had his lips pursed as he followed the carriage with a blank expression.

The carriage went past the main road and out of the city gate. As it was about to turn left towards the south, a group of people was seen running in the path ahead. At the forefront was a tall and scrawny boy and behind him was a group of farmers chasing him with sticks and hoes in hand.

The youth had exhausted his strength. He staggered for a few more steps before falling to the ground. The group of farmers ran up and encircled him, then began to kick and punch the boy. 

Seeing that the group was about to beat the boy to death, Xiao Zhige spurred the horse and commanded, “Stop!”

The farmers saw Xiao Zhige’s intimidating stature and instinctively backed away. The boy had now laid motionless on the ground. Fearing of being charged with murder, the farmers yelled in defense, “He’s a thief!”

Xiao Zhige ignored them. He looked at the boy from high above and threw him his canteen and a medicinal ointment. He then rode back to the carriage and said to the coachman, “Let’s go.”

“Is it ok to leave him lying there?” An Chang Qing opened the curtain and asked.

Xiao Zhige replied, “He’ll live.”

An Chang Qing hesitated. He looked at the boy lying on the ground with his exposed hands and feet filled with scars and frostbite. As he wavered, the carriage began to move again. Through the window, he saw the boy struggling to gain consciousness as he murmured the word ‘mother’.

The word incited An Chang Qing’s sympathy and he called for the carriage to stop. He looked at Xiao Zhige, “Why don’t we take him back…”

“He’s still a kid…” An Chang Qing explained without much thought, “At least send him to see a doctor.”

Xiao Zhige saw him frown while trying to figure out a suitable reason, probably worrying that he would not agree. Without him noticing, his hardened spirit softened. He called for Zhao Shi, “Bring him over.”

Zhao Shi took a quick glance at Xiao Zhige then at An Chang Qing’s smiling face. Thinking back, he really had to agree with Dr. Hu that Wangye would only listen to Wangfei for he had never seen Wangye meddling in someone else’s business before.

Zhao Shi carried the youth over and An Chang Qing could see that he was shivering. He told Zhao Shi to place him in the carriage and gave him his heating pot. As there was no village, shops, or doctors anywhere nearby, An Chang Qing decided to take him with them to the house at the foot of Mount Qingyun.

There was a barefoot doctor in the hamlet and An Chang Qing told Zhao Shi to bring the boy there while he checked out the house.

Xiao Zhige followed him to the house only to depart again.

An Chang Qing asked curiously, “Where is Wangye going?”

Xiao Zhige replied, “The barracks.”

An Chang Qing thought about it and it finally dawned on him that Xiao Zhige had specially come to accompany him. His heart warmed and he couldn’t help muttering to himself, “Isn’t it troublesome running back and forth?”

Xiao Zhige did not hear his murmurs. He nodded and said that he would pick him up later before riding off.

…..

An Chang Qing looked through the house and was quite satisfied with everything, concluding that he would sign the deed of sale when he got back. After accomplishing what he came here to do, he remembered the boy and inquired about the doctor’s residence to look for him.

Zhao Shi was at the door when he arrived and reported, “The doctor has already examined the boy, there’s nothing serious, only minor injuries.”

An Chang Qing nodded. He entered the room and saw the boy sitting on the bed drinking a bowl of medicine. He already had a change of clothes, most likely provided by the doctor, making him look a lot brighter. Seeing An Chang Qing, he quickly kneeled down and bowed, “Thank you savior, this debt, I’ll never forget.”

Although he had tried to disguise it, An Chang Qing could still tell that he did not have a Yejing accent. Taking a closer look at his face, An Chang Qing found that it was a little familiar.

An Chang Qing helped him up while observing him and inquiring, “What’s your name?”

“Zhou He Lan,” the boy lifted his head, showing a youthful face with a high nose and deep eyes, features of someone from a foreign land.

To think it was really him. An Chang Qing was bewildered and did not respond for quite some time.

Zhou He Lan, Yuze Empire’s Chaplain, was someone he had met in his previous life in the mass grave where Xiao Zhige’s body lay.

At that time, after Xiao Zhige’s death, he had roamed the mass grave without any knowledge of time. One day, two people visited the grave, the one in the lead was Zhou He Lan.

Zhou He Lan donned a black gown and had a grim expression. He had with him a pot of wine as an offering – an offering dedicated to Xiao Zhige.

Xiao Zhige lived his life on the battlefield and died without a complete body. Before and after his death, he had been called many hateful names, this was the first time An Chang Qing saw someone come to worship him. He then followed him back to Yejing and discovered that many things had happened since Xiao Zhige died.

One example was that Xiao Qi An, the dethroned prince, had died of poisoning only one month after his ascension to the throne. The two remaining Great Generals each had their own interests at heart and began to dispute against each other, plunging the country into chaos right after the short-lived peace. At this time, the Yuze Empire, a neighboring country, had taken advantage of this situation and launched a massive attack. Like a knife through butter, the capital city was conquered in one fell swoop.

The Emperor of Yuze, Huang Ru Yu, came to rule over Yejing and honored Zhou He Lan as the National Chaplain.

TTBE 14

Chapter 14

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

The doctor turned pale as his eyes lingered on the string of Bodhi beads. He then turned away and replicated the apothecary worker’s words denying their involvement.

“You say that it has nothing to do with you but the poison couldn’t have come from nowhere,” An Chang Qing took a sip of tea before slamming the teacup on the table with a loud thud, “Why don’t I interrogate you both separately? From the beginning of Lady Yu’s diagnosis to the source of the medicine, it’s best if what you two said matches but if there is any discrepancy between your words…”

An Chang Qing cast them a chilling stare, “I can always pull out the truth in the Wang Manor’s torture chamber.”

The two men kneeling on the ground slammed their heads onto the ground and begged, “We have told you everything! Everything we said is the truth!”

Madame Li raised her eyes to look at them. She lowered her sight and moved the Bodhi beads at a slightly faster pace.

“Wangfei, this is the An Manor, not the Dali Court,” An Zhi Ke who had been silent finally spoke up. With a displeased look, he said, “They might not be the culprits, is there a need to scare them with torture?”

An Chang Qing did not back down, “If father thinks that I’m being unreasonable then bringing this matter to the Dali Court is also a viable option.”

“You!” An Zhi Ke choked. He naturally would not want to involve the Dali Court into this. The An family would become a laughingstock… And if this crime involved someone in the family, it could tarnish their reputation.

“Do as you want,” An Zhi Ke flung his sleeve disgruntledly. 

“Tie Hu, take them to the side rooms.”

Tie Hu received the order and escorted the doctor into the next room, leaving the apothecary worker in the hall.

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The apothecary worker was kneeling in the center of the hall with An Chang Qing on one side and the rest of the An family on the opposite. He was drenched in cold sweat as over a dozen pairs of eyes focused on him. Whatever Hu Shifei asked, he would answer to the tiniest detail.

When the inquiries ended, half an hour had passed and the paper in Hu Shifei’s hand was fully written. He folded and passed it to An Chang Qing and prepared for the next round of interrogation.

The doctor’s surname was Wang and he was already in his early fifties. After spending half an hour alone in the next room, his legs had turned soft and he had to be supported by Tie Hu.

Hu Shifei began his interrogation once again. Although his tone was mild, with his experience working with the military for a long time, his questions were critical and aimed straight at the heart of the matter, leaving the doctor little room to recover. After answering a few questions, Dr. Wang was covered in sweat. In his panic, he erratically glanced at Madame Li several times, only to be returned with a bone-chilling stare on her end. 

Madame Li watched the proceeding with cold eyes as her sharp nails clawed over the Bodhi beads, leaving a clear scratch mark on them.

Hu Shifei continued to hound Dr. Wang with questions, one more difficult to answer than the other. However, Dr. Wang’s mind at this point was only focused on the familiar string of Bodhi beads – the same one his aged mother carried with her all the time. 

With sweat dripping all over his forehead, he raised his head and looked around in a trance. Gathering all his strength, he abruptly stood up and rammed head-on into a pillar.

In an instant, blood was gushing out of him, turning the hall chaotic.

Dr. Wang fell to the ground. His body twitched a few times before becoming motionless. Hu Shifei hurriedly went to check his breath. He turned back to look at An Chang Qing and shook his head, “He’s dead.”

The women were all shocked and moved away from the body.

The old matriarch pinched her forehead and chanted a few Buddhist prayers. She then told the servants to carry the body away. 

An Zhi Ke helped her walk while turning to An Chang Qing and said with discontent, “The culprit is dead, is Wangfei satisfied now?”

An Chang Qing did not expect that the doctor would choose to kill himself.

His original plan was to force the doctor into admitting his crime. The poison in Lady Yu’s medicine today was planted by Zhao Shi at An Chang Qing’s command. This was to provide substantial evidence and take them by surprise.

If they had gone with the angle that the qian chong jin could cause poisoning and started accusing the doctor, he could simply feign ignorance and blame his inadequate medical skills. And as the mastermind, Madame Li would be void of suspicion because, how could she, a simple housewife, know what a doctor didn’t?

After much contemplation, An Chang Qing chose this plan out of desperation to pin the doctor and Madame Li for the crime. As long as the doctor confessed to the poisoning, even without revealing the mastermind, An Chang Qing could still force An Zhi Ke to let him take his mother and sister away. As for Madame Li, he would then plant a little thorn to deal with her.

What he did not expect was that Madame Li was many times more tricky than he thought. To think she could force the doctor to commit suicide on the spot…

He looked at the frightened Madame Li who was being cared for by a servant girl. An Chang Qing said, “He is a doctor with no qualms against Lady Yu, why would he poison her? I’m afraid there is a mastermind behind this. Now that he has committed suicide, the only lead is gone. Instead of living in suspicion, let’s just request the Dali Court to investigate this.”

“You dare!” An Zhi Ke flared with anger, “The culprit is already dead and Lady Yu is also fine. If this matter spreads, the An family will be a joke to everyone in Yejing!”

An Chang Qing’s expression turned stoic as he discarded his politeness, “What becomes of the An family has nothing to do with me. My only concern is that as long as the main culprit is not found, Lady Yu’s life will continue to be in danger!”

“Nothing is more important than the century-old namesake left by the ancestors!” An Zhi Ke snapped.

“Then Minister, you can keep your reputation,” An Chang Qing said in a tone filled with sarcasm, “I will have Lady Yu recuperate elsewhere. And Yu’er will go with her.”

An Zhi Ke looked at An Chang Qing with a slight sense of suspicion, as though he could not recognize him. After a long pause, he finally said the word ‘good’ three times.

“Well, it seems you’ve been aiming for this since the beginning. I would’ve never known that you could be this conniving.”

“There is much that Minister An does not know,” An Chang Qing locked eyes with him and smiled, “So, what will it be?”

An Zhi Ke flung his sleeve, “Lady Yu can go with you to recuperate but Yu’er cannot. She will be married off next Spring and has to stay at home. It’s simply unorthodox for her to go with Lady Yu.”

An Chang Qing was sure to disagree with this reasoning. Marriage? That had yet to be decided. And leaving his sister in this cannibalistic place was out of the question.

“The wedding is still far off. Yu’er has been living with Lady Yu all this time, now that the real murderer has yet to be caught if something were to happen to her when she is alone…” An Chang Qing lowered his eyes and said slowly, “I still think we should invite the officers from Dali Court to investigate this. This is the only way to ease my worries.”

This was the very first time An Zhi Ke had been forced into a dead-end. And the one who had ensnared him into this contrived situation was the disregarded son of a concubine. He stared grudgingly at An Chang Qing as though he was not his son but an enemy. In a heavy tone, he declared, “So be it! Go ahead and take her!”

“Thank you Minister,” An Chang Qing finally smiled sincerely, “There’s much to be done back in the Wang Manor, I’ll be taking my leave with Lady Yu and Yu’er then.”

After which, he nodded to the crowd and left the hall together with Lady Yu and An Xian Yu under the escort of Tie Hu and Zhao Shi.

When he got to the gate, An Chang Qing caught sight of a particular person. He stopped and greeted, “Second Aunt.”

Madame Sun had tidied up her looks and her temperament. She was not present in the hall previously but it was likely she knew what had transpired.

An Chang Qing was just thinking about how to use this ‘thorne’ when she had delivered herself to him. He grinned and approached her, conversing in a low voice, “De Ren Hall is under the management of Madame Li’s family, do you know that?”

Madame Sun stared hard at him, “I do, what of it? Don’t even think of using me!”

An Chang Qing laughed, “It’s not so much as using but we have the same enemy. Lady Yu was poisoned for no reason and cousin has also died without an apparent cause… We can’t just let the murderer get away with it…”

At this point, Madame Sun remained silent.

“Dr. Wang’s family lives in Tong Yun Lane,” An Chang Qing added before turning to leave.

After they had exited the main gate of the An Manor, An Chang Qing heaved a long sigh. He then turned to his still-in-shock mother and sister and said with a smile, “You both no longer have to suffer any more persecution from this ghastly place. I will support you from now on.”

Lady Yu looked at him and her eyes turned red. She touched his cheek and said, “It’s been hard on you.”

Without her realizing it, her weak and innocent son had grown into a big tree that could shelter them from the storm.

“Not at all,” An Chang Qing blinked and tried to suppress the sourness in his nose. He smiled and said, “Let’s go. We’ll return to the Wang Manor for now. Mother, sister, you will live with me until I find a suitable place for you to stay.”

Although An Chang Qing would love to live with his mother and sister, letting them stay too long in the Wang Manor would invite unwanted gossip. And then there was also the matter regarding the Wu family.

Lady Yu and An Xian Yu boarded the sedan and An Chang Qing was about to enter with them when he realized that the small carriage he brought today would be too crowded for three people. Just as An Chang Qing was contemplating if he should ride with Hu Shifei, a deep voice called him from behind, “Nuo Nuo?”

An Chang Qing’s ears turned red. He turned back and scowled, “You’re not allowed to call me by this name!”

This was a subconscious reaction and when An Chang Qing realized it, he saw that everyone around him had their eyes downcast, staring at their feet awkwardly. He then saw Xiao Zhige with his usual expression reaching out his hand to him, “I’ve come to pick you up. Let’s go.”

An Chang Qing’s heart softened. His anger disappeared in a flash, leaving him with only embarrassment.

An Chang Qing looked back at the carriage before gritting his teeth and took the man’s hand.

Xiao Zhige held onto him and helped him up the horse, allowing An Chang Qing to sit in front of him. Today, Xiao Zhige was riding a stout red mare which was much stronger and larger than his other horses, enough to accommodate two people.

An Chang Qing had his back right against Xiao Zhige’s chest. Feeling the sneaking glances from his surroundings, An Chang Qing clutched the horse’s mane and urged, “Let’s hurry back.”

“En.” Xiao Zhige wrapped his arms over An Chang Qing’s waist and pulled the reins. Feeling the gestures, the red horse neighed and began its throttle back to the manor.

The group of onlookers including Tie Hu and Zhao Shi were dumbfounded. They stood and stared for a long time before Hu Shifei had to slam on the sedan and urged, “What are you standing there for? Let’s go!”

The two snapped out of their daze and quickly maneuvered the horse carriage, following behind An Chang Qing and Xiao Zhige.

TTBE 13

Chapter 13

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

An Chang Qing slept soundly all the way till dawn. When the winter sun pierced through the screen and landed on his face, he jolted up and the first words from his mouth were, “Is An Chang Qi dead?”

Xiao Zhige just happened to come back from his morning practice. His footsteps quietened as he entered the room, “He died in the middle of the night.”

An Chang Qing took in his answer and murmured his complaint, “Why didn’t you wake me up last night?”

“You were asleep. It wasn’t anything important,” Xiao Zhige responded.

By now, An Chang Qing was familiar with Xiao Zhige’s unstated words. He understood that Xiao Zhige must’ve thought that An Chang Qi’s death had been determined and did not see the need to wake him up. 

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Putting the matter behind, An Chang Qing got up and washed. After having Anfu assist him in changing, he asked, “Have they sent someone to deliver the news?”

Right as he asked, Steward Wang came in with a servant boy from the An Manor.

The servant had a piece of white linen over his waist. He bowed and relayed the news that An Chang Qing had been expecting.

An Chang Qing said that he would attend the funeral and sent the servant back.

…..

The funeral was in seven days and An Chang Qing was not going to let his mother’s illness drag out that long. After the third day of An Chang Qi’s wake, he arranged everything before going to the An Manor with Tie Hu and Hu Shi Fei.

The visit to the An family this time was a steep contrast from the last time he was here. Maybe it was because of the chanting and mourning in the West courtyard that the whole mansion seemed to be covered in a dark cloud.

The servant boys and girls were all wearing a piece of white linen and had their eyes downcast. Even Madame Li was wearing plain clothes and looking haggard. 

On his way to Rainbow Garden, An Chang Qing passed by the ominous West Courtyard. He glanced inside and saw several monks sitting cross-legged while chanting unintelligibly. Madame Sun had disheveled hair and a haggard-looking face. She was kneeling in prayer and when she lifted her head, her eyes met with An Chang Qing’s.

On the day of his homecoming, he had already locked horns with the second branch and hence, did not bother to put up a polite front. When their eyes met, An Chang Qing paused his step and nodded lightly. 

But Madame Sun’s eyes widened. She got up abruptly and charged at him while screaming, “Whore! Give me back my son!”

An Chang Qing was unfazed. He stood in place as Madame Sun closed in. As she was just two steps away, she was held back at the neck by Tie Hu. She continued to struggle but Tie Hu did not relent. Even towards a lady, he did not hesitate when he kicked her at the back of her knee, forcing Madame Sun to kneel down. He exclaimed forcefully, “You’re supposed to show your respect before Wangfei!”

Madame Sun was still resisting. She glared at An Chang Qing with bloodshot eyes and shouted furiously, “Just you wait! Retribution will befall you!”

An Chang Qing looked down at her and laughed, “I didn’t kill him. Why would I get retribution?”

“If it wasn’t for you, my son would not have died!” His denial aggravated her anger. If she wasn’t held back by Tie Hu, she would’ve avenged her son with her own hands.

“I thought Wangye had made it clear the last time. Hadn’t I interceded, An Chang Qi would not have lived past the last two days,” An Chang Qing raised his brows, “If I wanted him dead, why would I risk going against Wangye just to plead for him?”

Madame Sun continued to stare at him while gasping weightily.

An Chang Qing rubbed the jade pendant on his waist and continued, “There are many people with broken hands and legs who are still alive. An Chang Qi’s death, shouldn’t you question the doctors instead? Besides, there’s a possibility that someone doesn’t want him to live. Whatever it is, his death gets me nothing.”

Madame raised her head and asked, “What are you trying to say?”

Madame Li, standing nearby, frowned and said, “The doctors said that Chang Qi died from blood loss due to the severe injuries.”

“The doctors’ words are not always true,” An Chang Qing glanced at her and smirked, “Didn’t the doctors say that Lady Yu’s illness can be remedied with supplements. She has been taking them all these years and I haven’t seen her get any better. On the contrary, her health is deteriorating…”

“This is why sometimes, the doctor’s words aren’t trustworthy,” An Chang Qing turned to look at Madame Sun, “Second Aunt, don’t you agree?”

Madame Sun’s tear-drenched eyes shifted back and forth between An Chang Qing and Madame Li. She staggered back and called out, “Someone, go get me Fei Cui!”

Madame Li’s heart jumped but she managed to speak calmly, “Wangfei’s speculation is too absurd.”

An Chang Qing replied with deliberation, “Absurd or not, let Doctor Hu here have a look and decide.”

Madame Li’s fingers trembled. She cast a quick glance at the maid beside her before adjusting her frame of mind and followed An Chang Qing to Rainbow Garden.

Rainbow Garden was quiet as ever. The only difference was that the unkempt front yard was now cleared of snow and weeds and warmth was exuding from inside the house.

The occupants inside heard the movements and quickly came to the door. An Xian Yu saw An Chang Qing in the front and joyously called out to her brother but she froze immediately after seeing Madame Li. She greeted in a small voice, “Mother.”

An Chang Qing gently patted her on the head and followed her in, “How is Mother Yu doing? Where is Zhao Shi?”

An Xian Yu replied, “Mother Yu is the same as always and Zhao Shi is preparing her medicine at the back.”

When she said that, An Xian Yu was a little embarrassed as that was originally her chore. There were no servants assigned to Rainbow Garden and so it had always been An Xian Yu who handled the housework. It wasn’t until An Chang Qing left Zhao Shi for them that things had gotten easier on the mother and daughter. The sarcastic banter had disappeared and even the monthly consignments that had regularly been embezzled were timely delivered in full.

The room was kept warm by the burning charcoal and Lady Yu’s cough had alleviated considerably, reducing her workload and allowing her more time for her studies.

An Chang Qing saw the joy in her eyes and smiled, “Where is Mother Yu?”

Just as he asked, a woman dressed in a thickly padded gown came from behind the partition. Seeing An Chang Qing, she instinctively called out ‘Nuo Nuo’ but stopped halfway the moment she noticed Madame Li’s presence. She quickly changed her form of address, “… Third Young Master, you’re here.”

“Lady Yu, I’ve invited Dr. Hu here to have a look at your illness, “An Chang Qing stepped forward to help her sit down. The mother and son looked at each other with an unspoken understanding.

Hearing his cue, Hu Shi Fei cleared his throat and stepped forward to salute. Lady Yu returned the greeting with a subtle nod before holding out her wrist for him to read her pulse.

Hu Shi Fei closed his eyes and studied her pulse while An Chang Qing and Madame Li took a seat and waited for the results.

Proceeding with the plan, Hu Shi Fei pretended to read Lady Yu’s pulse before opening his eyes and declared, “Lady Yu is inflicted with poison. Show me the dregs of her daily medicine.”

An Chang Qing’s expression turned grim, “Poisoned? What makes Dr. Hu say so?”

Madame Li was also in shock. She exclaimed, “That’s impossible!”

Her reaction was so overly incongruent that several pairs of eyes turned to focus on her.

“Mother Li, you’re not a doctor, how do you know it’s impossible?” An Chang Qing lowered his eyes and said callously, “Let’s listen to what Dr. Hu has to say.”

Madame Li also knew that her reaction was abnormal. She squeezed her handkerchief and quickly calmed her voice, “What I meant is, this is the An Manor, no one here would dare to poison anyone.”

“Whether there’s poison or not, we’ll know after testing it.” An Chang Qing ordered for Zhao Shi to bring out the medicine which he had just finished concocting.

A strong medicinal fragrance filled the room as Zhao Shi brought out the medicine. Hu Shi Fei took out a silver needle and dipped its tip into the medicine. Not long after, the needle turned black.

Hu Shi Fei presented the needle to An Chang Qing, “Wangfei, please look at this, it is indeed poison.”

An Chang Qing turned to look at Madame Li with a stern expression, “To think someone dared to use poison in the An Manor! I have to tell father and the old matriarch to get to the bottom of this.”

There was a twitch in Madame Li’s eyes but she maintained a dignified front and said, “Of course, we have to investigate this thoroughly.”

And so, they proceeded to the main courtyard to find An Zhi Ke and the old matriarch.

An Chang Qing slowed his steps to support Lady Yu. He looked at Madame Li’s stiff back from behind and commanded in a clearly audible voice, “Lady Yu’s medicine has always been brewed by Yu’er so it was most likely tampered with by the physician or the apothecary. Tie Hu, follow Anfu to De Ren Hall and bring back the doctor and apothecary worker.”

There was an indiscernible pause in Madame Li’s movement before she quickly moved ahead as naturally as she could.

Both An Zhi Ke and the old matriarch were invited to the main courtyard. The old matriarch had just lost a grandson and when her mood was down in the dumps, her presence was urgently requested. She looked at the group of people and frowned with annoyance, “What is it now?”

Madame Li was about to reply when An Chang Qing beat her to it.

“Today, I brought the Wang Manor’s Dr. Hu to have a look at Lady Yu’s illness. Unexpectedly, he told me she wasn’t sick but had been poisoned.” An Chang Qing then gestured for Zhao Shi to present the bowl of medicine and the blackened needle.

An Chang Qing continued, “This medicine has always been brewed by Yu’er. There are also no maids in Rainbow Garden so the problem could only stem from the physician or the apothecary. I’ve already ordered them to be brought here from De Ren Hall.”

The old matriarch’s momentum deteriorated. She frowned and said, “Could it all be a mistake? Who would poison Lady Yu?”

An Chang Qing looked at An Zhi Ke with cold eyes, “I also want to know… Who would want to poison Lady Yu?”

An Zhi Ke grimaced but stayed silent.

Before long, the doctor and apothecary worker of De Ren Tang who had treated Lady Yu were brought in. An Chang Qing swept a glance at Madame Li and as expected, by her side was an additional maid who had appeared out of nowhere.

He smirked subtly and turned to look at the two men with critical eyes, “Lady Yu’s daily medicine is poisonous, does this have anything to do with you?”

The apothecary worker was frozen with shock before he could react with loud outbursts. When the physician saw the scene, he quickly bowed low, only lifting his head to study An Chang Qing’s expression.

As he lowered his head again, he secretly looked at Madame Li with his peripheral vision. 

Madame Li was sitting upright with an unfazed demeanor. The only movement came from her right hand as she nudged a string of Bodhi beads on her wrist.

RCFN 129 END

Chapter 129

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

Mo Di used to think that the world was unfair. 

But as time passed and events unfolded, he believed that there was a balance to everything.

His life was once filled with bitterness and hardships that he had to do anything to survive but now, it was filled with happiness that every breath was like breathing in honey.

He had good friends, a successful career, a goal, and most importantly, the most amazing lover in the world.

Mu Tian Heng understood him, doted on him, cared for him, and loved him more than himself. Of course Mo Di also felt the same.

And loving someone else more than yourself doesn’t mean that they’ll love themselves any less. They both treasured their friends, career and also their health. 

And being in the pink of health had become particularly important to Mu Tian Heng because he was eleven years older than Mo Di, an age gap that was quite large. Once he reached forty, Mu Tian Heng had developed a new hobby – health management.

A good appearance could allow him to stand next to Mo Di and chase away suitors but a healthy body would allow him to accompany his little one as long as he can. He hoped that even when he was seventy, eighty, or even a hundred years old, he was still strong enough to protect his beloved.

In fact, he wanted to live a little longer than his Mo Di, just a little bit longer was enough…

That way, he could watch over his Mo Di till the very last second and not let him suffer any loss and sadness.

When Mo Di turned thirty-one, Di Yi Mu had become the third largest enterprise in the world. Mo Di’s assets had also soared, placing him only behind Mu Tian Heng as the world’s second richest. 

Mu Tian Heng was very proud of him and sent out bonuses to employees of both their companies. 

On the other hand, Mo Di may seem modest but he secretly made it his goal to surpass Mu Tian Heng one day. Mu Tian Heng made it to the top of the list at thirty-six and Mo Di was determined to get there at a younger age.

Compared to them, Lai De Si and Song Yu led a more simple life. 

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Lai De Si proposed to Song Yu at thirty-two and they were married when he was thirty-three. Since then, he had put aside his high-earning career to devotedly serve his partner. He no longer slept in and would wake up at five-thirty sharp to prepare breakfast, making sure that Song Yu would have a hearty meal every day. 

With practice comes mastery, eventually, Lai De Si had become quite an outstanding chef. Every month, the pair would visit Mu Tian Heng and Mo Di and when Song Yu gave Mo Di a serving of dessert that Lai De Si made, Mo Di was in quite a shock!

He became increasingly suspicious that the Lai De Si in front of him who obeyed Song Yu’s every word was actually a … shou?

Mo Di was incredibly baffled until he happened to see Lai De Si pinning Song Yu down on the grass in his backyard, licking and kissing him like a big Tibetan Mastiff…

Poor Uncle Song, it must not be easy when your gong is a silly Tibetan Mastiff.

…..

Mo Di and Mu Tian Heng lived until the end of the twenty-first century.

Crowned as the two most influential entrepreneurs in the world, they have become a role model for many to follow. They have become such illustrious figures that young people might not know who the president of a particular country was but they will know Mu Tian Heng and Mo Di’s name. This was because apart from being successful businessmen, they were also well-respected philanthropists. 

They have begun their charity work after their marriage. And the more they earned, the more they would give. Their donation helped to build schools, hospitals, libraries, and many more public facilities across the globe. Countless people of all nationalities were aided by the Mu Mo Charity Foundation, not to mention those who had benefited from the public buildings like stadiums and libraries that the foundation had constructed.

Even after the two had passed on, all their assets were donated to the Mu Mo Charity Foundation so it could continue to help as many people as it could.

Mu Tian Heng and Mo Di died on the same day. It was said that after Mo Di’s heart had stopped beating, Mu Tian Heng laid in the same bed and held Mo Di’s hand and in less than an hour, he drew his last breath.

That night, the areas that had been touched by the Mu Mo Charity Foundation all put up a flag to mourn their passing. All over the web and every media outlet across the globe had reported this sad news and billions sincerely mourned their deaths.

But what they did not know was that Mo Di… he had opened his eyes in another world.

…..

Mo Di could vividly remember that the moment he died, his vitality and strength were pulled from his body. He tried to reach for Mu Tian Heng but his fingers did not budge. He wanted to speak but his voice didn’t come out. Other than feeling Mu Tian Heng’s embrace and the tears that fell on his cheek, there was nothing else he could.

Just like that, he laid and listened to Mu Tian Heng calling out to him. He called him his little one, his darling, and asked him not to sleep…

At this point, Mo Di couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed, his last strength was probably wasted on him blushing. Upon his death, he was already ninety years old. The older he got, the more embarrassed he was being called by Mu Tian Heng as his baby or little one. But his brother would still insist on addressing him as such. Even in death, Mo Di could still feel his goosebumps coming out.

But Mo Di was still unwilling to part with this voice calling him ‘little one’, unwilling to part with the man who would forever treat him as a kid, unwilling to part with his brother…

…..

“Wah!”

A cry pierced the silence. 

The sound was getting louder, causing Mo Di a slight discomfort. 

Why is there a baby crying here? How did it get to his house and keep crying like this? 

Where’s his brother? Why would he let a baby come into their bedroom?

But in the next second, Mo Di felt a choking sensation and before he could ponder how a dead person could choke, a bright light flashed.

Mo Di realized: he could actually open his eyes!

And in front of him was the face of an old woman he was not familiar with. She looked at him and her eyes turned red. She smiled and exclaimed, “Thank goodness, thank goodness…”

Mo Di was still in a daze with befuddlement. He moved his hand to wipe his eyes… 

A hand that could only belong to a three-year-old at most!

“Wu ah!”

Mo Di was shocked and almost wanted to cry.

What the hell is going on?!

At this time, a middle-aged woman came in. She looked at him and smiled, “Mother Wen, this child is really fortunate. I thought he couldn’t be saved, to think he had opened his eyes.”

“Hai…” Mother Wen sighed, “It’s because we’re so poor that we couldn’t send him to a hospital. He could only fight for his life on his own.”

“Mother Wen, you shouldn’t blame yourself. There are tens of children here and they’re all cared for by you. When this child was discovered on the roadside, he was already in a fatal condition. You shouldn’t think too much.”

“…”

Mo Di listened to their conversation and finally understood the situation he was in. This was probably one of those cases like in the movies and novels, transmigration was it? 

And apparently, he had transmigrated into the body of a kid from the orphanage!

But what about his brother? What happened to his brother?! Where is he right now?!

Mo Di began to panic. He clenched his fists and two large droplets of tears formed in his eyes, “Brother, brother, brother…”

“Hey, he’s talking!” the middle-aged woman looked at Mo Di and smiled, “He’s calling for his brother.”

“Maybe this child has a brother.” Mother Wen had a sad look on her face. After saying that, she could hear a rapid knocking coming from the door.

“Teacher Zhao, Teacher Zhao, Mu Tian is fighting again! He’s fighting again!”

“What happened?” 

The middle-aged woman went to open the door. 

At the door stood several kids and a man. The man was holding the back of the collar of a boy of eight or nine. 

“Mr. Li, did Mu Tian fight again?”

“This kid’s simply unruly. You ladies deal with him, I’m only a volunteer and I’ll be leaving tomorrow anyway.” The man pushed the boy into the room and turned to leave with the other kids.

The boy seemed to be in bad shape, one push and he had fallen to the ground. 

When Mu Tian Heng fully gained consciousness, he found that he was facing the ground as though he just had a hard fall.

In fact, he was aware of being dragged about by the man but his body was still unresponsive. Only now was he fully awake.

Mother Wen saw that Mu Tian had fallen and anxiously ran to him, “Mu Tian, are you injured?”

Mu Tian Heng shook his head without much thought.

Seeing the boy shake his head, Mother Wen was relieved, “Why were you fighting again? Didn’t you promise me you wouldn’t fight anymore?”

Mu Tian Heng kept his head down and did not speak.

Does this mean that he had transmigrated? But his heart was heavy and there was no joy even when he was given a second life.

His little one is not here. What is the point of living this life?

But in the next second, Mu Tian Heng heard a sticky little voice calling out ‘brother’. 

There was a sense of familiarity close to his heart in that tone.

Just like the way his little one would call him, it was short and concise but carried a sweetness that would make his heart melt.

Mu Tian Heng raised his head.

In front of him was a woman with a three-year-old baby boy in her arms. The baby looked just like a super mini version of his Mo Di with his beautiful black eyes and long eyelashes. When the baby saw him, he cried even harder and reached desperately for him with his short stubby arms. The little voice repeatedly called out to him, “Brother… Brother!”

Mu Tian Heng was stunned for a moment. His eyes were red and his heart almost stopped.

He quickly ran up and carefully grabbed baby Mo Di from Mother Wen and embraced him. 

“Brother is here, brother is here…”

“My little one, don’t be scared. You’ll never have to be scared.”

THE END

The author has something to say:

This final world is the real world that Mo Liu Gui came from. For equilibrium, since Mo Liu Gui was smuggled in, the world conscious had sneaked Mo Di out. In addition, because the Mu Mo Charity Foundation had helped countless lives, the good wishes collected were powerful enough for the world conscious to send the old beast to this world for them to be united and have a happy life!

The translator has something to say: 

Thank you so much for following through this novel with me to the end. I sincerely mean it when I say you readers are the reason I can complete this translation project. To those who were there from the beginning of my blog, your comments really motivated me to not give up on this hobby! Special thanks to the author and my dear editor KitKat, who had really helped improve the quality of the translation. Hope to see you in my other projects too but if not, thank you again and have a great life!

KitKat: All aboard our next ship!(o´▽`o)ノ

RCFN 128

Chapter 128

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

“Xiao Di, Xiao Di! You, you remember to watch that video I sent you. That, that one … pfff!” Zhao Chun’s face was red as she had to cover her mouth to keep herself from bursting into laughter.

Mo Di was accustomed to her shenanigans and cooly said, “Looks like you’re done with work, let me give you a new assignment.”

“Ah no! I’ve only rested for five minutes!” Zhao Chun protested.

Mo Di shook his head and laughed.

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After Qin Guang Jie maliciously exposed Mu Tian Heng and Mo Di’s relationship three years ago, it had pushed them to make an official statement regarding their marriage and life had been a little different since.

In the beginning, there were indeed some downsides with people who discriminated against homosexuality openly castigating them online and some even boycotted Mo Di’s company. His rival companies took this opportunity to add fuel to the fire and hired water armies to abuse and discredit Mo Di’s games.

However, these people only had a brief period of success.

Impression, the company founded by Mu Tian Heng at that time was the world’s second largest company. His public relations team was not the best but it was one of the best. They quickly came up with countermeasures and a plan to smooth things out. 

Very soon, public opinion was flipped. In fact, if it weren’t for the powerful water armies, the general consensus was quite positive. 

As the negative influence of the water armies waned, numerous posts supporting their relationship surfaced. Amongst the female population, some voiced that they were disappointed because their two male gods were already taken, but there was no malice in their words. The rest were drooling fujoshi whose idolization of the two had increased exponentially.

With that, Mu Tian Heng’s team began to publish various fanfictions orchestrated by Mu Tian Heng of how the two met and fell in love. One version was the actual story of how Mu Tian Heng had helped Mo Di through the difficulties like an emperor helping out a prince in distress. 

This story had gotten immensely popular and eventually, a cp fan group was created and they named their beloved pair the Heaven and Earth Couple.

This pair had met all the right criteria to stir up a storm. Both had excellent looks coupled with remarkable talents. Their love story was just too sweet and enticing. Furthermore, they were already married, proving this was not a hoax to raise publicity. 

As the fanbase grew, more artworks, fanfics, manhua, and merchandise were created. This also greatly influenced the market value of both Mo Di and Mu Tian Heng’s companies which the fans also called the Heaven and Earth shares. Acquiring these means that you’ll most probably never go hungry.

Ultimately, this phenomenon spread to countries abroad, and now, every country had fans of the Heaven and Earth couple.

In the beginning, Mo Di was a little embarrassed but under the frequent exposure, he succumbed and sometimes would secretly browse the web reading fanfictions about them.

Eating his own dog food, he thought he was quite incredible this way.

Zhao Chun was a Heaven and Earth cp fan. Everytime she happened to find good ‘food’, she would dedicatedly send them to Mo Di with a giggling face.

What Mo Di did not know was that Mu Tian Heng would also sometimes flip through the stories that he helped create whenever he was away from him. As of now, the exclusive Heaven and Earth CP website had already posted several of his stories. Even the writing competition with the monetary top prize of several tens of thousands of yuan was sponsored by him. Compared to this old beast, Mo Di was still considerably naive.

…..

When Mo Di had graduated for three years, at the age of twenty four, his company, Di Yi Mu, had been established for six years and is currently christened as the dragon of the Hua Xia game industry. But Di Yi Mu was not only popular in Hua Xia, its influence had spread across the globe with Infinite Life’s elements being the basis for new infinite flow games but none of them were able to shake it off its throne.

Needless to say that Infinite Life was not Di Yi Mu’s only world-famous game. Over the years, it produced the MOBA game, Battle, the open-world role-playing game, Path of the Immortal, the dating sim game, Secret Summer, and the horror survival game, The Survivor is King

Although these games could not boost Mo Di’s assets to the point where they surpassed Mu Tian Heng’s, he was still on the list of the world’s twenty richest. Many analysts said that if Di Yi Mu had shifted its games towards pay-to-win mechanics, Mo Di could easily surpass Mu Tian Heng in terms of earnings.

Reading this, the cp fans all exclaimed that Mo Di simply did not want to overtake his gong too early!

Sometimes, there would be posts online that mentioned the Mo family and wondered if they had regretted how they had treated Mo Di.

The answer was definitely a yes.

Six years had passed since the Mo family got on that fateful cruise ship. By right, they should’ve been able to pay off their debts in five years but not everyone was able to take the initiative as Mo San Zhi did. Although failure to complete the quota would result in more severe punishment, some people would still prefer to procrastinate. 

As such, the Mo family’s stay was extended for another year. It was until June of this year that they were able to pay back all their gambling debts. However, when they were released (which also included Mo Si Lang who was sent straight to the ship after his release from prison), they had all seemed less human. They had lost their previous temperament but had become a little neurotic.

Mu Tian Heng had provided them with a large piece of land in a rural foreign country where they could sustain themselves through farming. He had people watching over them to ensure that they stayed put. On top of that, he had also sent Mo Liu Gui, who had been kept in the mental hospital for six years to reunite with them.

In the second year of her confinement in the mental hospital, Mo Liu Gui’s mental state had become somewhat disarrayed. 

After knowing the truth, she still firmly believed that the world revolved around her. She was the epicenter of this universe and that everyone should adore and worship her, love her unconditionally and devote their lives to her.

Too bad the reality was just the opposite. 

This cruel contrast had almost made her go insane. Especially after she was transferred to the ward with actual mental patients. Every day, she was surrounded by the horrid wails and strange behaviors of these eccentric inpatients. Her sanity gradually collapsed and she began to hide in her own fantasy.

She deluded herself into thinking that the system still existed and Mo Di had been killed by her followers. Countless men would kneel at her feet, the public was infatuated with her and the world would treat her as a goddess.

And so even without being tortured, Mo Liu Gui had managed to go nuts using her own delusion.

By the time she was sent to reunite with the Mos, she had degenerated completely into a mental patient with a serious case of day-dreaming. Even at first glance, one could tell by looking at her eyes that she was abnormal.

When she finally saw the Mo family members, she had told them to serve her tea.

To the now deranged Mo family, seeing Mo Liu Gui had ignited the anger from all the tortures they had to endure. To think she still had the nerve to provoke them. Unable to control their anger, the two aunts-in-law gave Mo Liu Gui a barrage of slaps across her face while pulling at her hair.

As for Mo Liu Gui’s mother, Ruan Qing Dan, not laying a hand on her was the greatest ‘love’ she could give her daughter. In fact, Ruan Qing Duan was never a selfless mother. In the six years that she had to suffer, she hated Mo Di every minute and her love for Mo Liu Gui had also disappeared.

It goes without saying that the rest of the Mo family all hated Mo Liu Gui to the bone. 

Even after giving her a good whacking, the aunts were still unsatisfied. They had to endure countless tortures because of Mo Liu Gui while she was given a much lesser punishment?! They refused to let Mo Liu Gui off so easily. 

Whatever that they were made to endure, why don’t they let her have a taste?

…..

With such an eventful reunion, the Mo family’s days were bound to get exciting. They were indeed meant to be a family.

RCFN 127

Chapter 127 

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

Mu Tian Heng had proven with his action what it was like when an old beast was too concerned that his little one would be abducted by others.

When Mo Di was in his sophomore year, Mu Tian Heng brought him back to America to be engaged. When he was a Junior, Mu Tian Heng brought him back once again to hold a wedding for them. It was a grand wedding with a small number of guests; only close friends and relatives were invited.

Other than Chen Zhao who was given the heads up by his uncle, Xian Yu Chao and the others were dumbfounded the moment they received the invitation.

They would never have thought that their Xiao Di had been in a relationship all along! And it was with Mu Tian Heng!! And they were going to get married!!!

Married!!!

Mu Tian Heng and Mo Di’s wedding was held on October third. It was a popular date to get married in Hua Xia but that was not the most important point. The most important part was that their wedding took place one month before Mo Di’s twentieth birthday, in other words, Mu Tian Heng that, old beast, had married Mo Di when he was only nineteen!

The guests who attended their wedding were all close friends of Mo Di and Mu Tian Heng but despite that, they reaffirmed that Mu Tian Heng was indeed a beast to have laid hands on Mo Di at such a young age!

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That day, Mo Di wore a white wedding suit, giving him a tender and naive appearance. Soft sunlight danced across the stage and Mu Tian Heng looked at the scene like it was a dream. 

He had waited two lifetimes. The image in front of him brought a scorching sensation to his deep eyes.

Mo Di looked up at the handsome and awe-inspiring Mu Tian Heng whose eyes had now softened while looking back at him. Mo Di smiled with a special glow in his eyes.

Click. 

A photographer captured this moment down.

This photo was later developed three times. One for them to keep in their treasure box, one to be framed and placed on their bedside table, and the last one to go into Mu Tian Heng’s wallet.

Whenever he was out with an acquaintance, Mu Tian Heng would disregard any form of mobile payment only to take out his wallet and naturally show off his wedding photo.

Being one of Mu Tian Heng’s overly familiar acquaintances, Lai De Si had to endure this cruel treatment every time.

What’s the big deal! Soon, he and Song Yu will also get married! It won’t be long now… Next year… The end of next year, he will propose and shove his happiness back in Mu Tian Heng’s face!!

…..

Due to his young age and the low-key wedding, Mo Di’s marital status was not known to the public. 

Therefore…

He was still the most popular male god of his school and had stolen the hearts of many juniors and even the postgraduates.

In the second semester of his senior year, knowing that he was graduating, many mustered up their courage to confess to him and sent him love letters. Initially, Mo Di could still reject them politely with a smile but as the number of confessors piled up, Mo Di had no patience for them and changed his status on his social media account to ‘married’.

The news shocked the entire school! After the social media got wind of it, the whole network was in an uproar! The genius of the gaming industry is only twenty-one, how is it that he was married?!

Reporters went directly to his game company to interview the employees but they could not reach the senior employees like Xian Yu Chao and the others and could only interview the ordinary employees. However, they too were unaware that Mo Di was married. These reporters could not get a definitive answer and were still doubtful about Mo Di’s marriage.

When Mo Di got home that day, he was wrapped in Mu Tian Heng’s arms the moment he picked Suan Suan up. “You announced that you were married?”

“Um, I don’t want to have to deal with any more confessions.” Mo Di raise his head and responded with a smile. He then grabbed Mu Tian Heng’s collar and said, “Brother, all this time, you weren’t jealous at all?”

“Of course I was.” Mu Tian Heng pulled Mo Di in by the waist with one hand and held his hand with the other. He then bent down to kiss him on the lips. Mo Di relinquished his strength and welcomed Mu Tian Heng’s deep kiss.

Suan Suan who was sandwiched by the two stretched out its neck and let out an innocent cry.

Feeling the fluffy touch on his cheek, Mo Di couldn’t help but giggle. He looked down at Suan Suan and rubbed its nose, “Do you want a kiss too?”

Awoo. Suan Suan thought that Mo Di was going to play with it and started to shake its tail vigorously.

But Mu Tian Heng ruthlessly picked it up by the neck and shoved it to one side, “Go to the balcony and eat your dog food.”

Mo Di laughed even harder, “He was eating dog food just now.”

Mu Tian Heng smiled at Mo Di’s words. With doting eyes, he stretched to rub his hair, “You’re right.”

After saying that, he continued, “Why did you suddenly decide to announce that you’re married today?”

“Because you’ll definitely make me postpone and I really think that’s not necessary,” Mo Di looked at Mu Tian Heng and smiled, “I’ll be graduating soon and it’s only two months till I’m done with school.”

Mu Tian Heng gently stroked Mo Di’s left cheek. He rested his finger on Mo Di’s little dimple, “That’s fine then.”

He knew Mo Di had long wanted to disclose their relationship but Mu Tian Heng had stopped him from doing so. Deep down, Mu Tian Heng also wanted to selfishly announce their marriage to the public and let the world know about their relationship but rationale told him that it was still not the time, this was Hua Xia.

Although the younger generation of Hua Xia had come to accept homosexuality and no longer discriminated against it, a large majority was still somewhat inhospitable towards them.

Mo Di was still in school and once his marital status was known, it was inevitable that the public would eventually find out that he had married a man. Mu Tian Heng did not want Mo Di to be subjected to any form of bigotry from his peers and worst of all, people who were homophobic. After all, the school was never the safest place which was why, although he was utterly jealous, Mu Tian Heng did not let Mo Di disclose their marriage.

Outside of school, Mu Tian Heng could barricade Mo Di against admirers but he was hopeless when it came to those in his school. Despite having absolute trust in Mo Di, Mu Tian Heng couldn’t help but feel jealous. He knew Mo Di would reject all advances but he did not expect his little one to make this move so boldly.

When Mu Tian Heng got the news, his heart was all over the place. He was surprised at first but was delighted in the end. After which, he contemplated on how to deal with the follow-up. At least keep the lid on Mo Di having a man as his spouse until he graduates. And even if this was leaked, he could still suppress the information.

As for Mo Di, he could definitely tell what Mu Tian Heng was concerned with. 

He grinned and jumped into his arms. Mu Tian Heng skillfully supported Mo Di and let him nestle comfortably in his embrace.

“Brother, you don’t have to worry. I’ll be graduating soon and even if this matter was dug up, I won’t let anyone in school bully me. Moreover, I’m very well-liked by my professors, I’m sure they won’t discredit me for it,” Mo Di stopped and smooched Mu Tian Heng’s cheek before continuing, “Brother, I also want the world to know that you and I are together. Don’t think you’re the only one who’s allowed to be jealous.”

Mu Tian Heng had announced his marital status the moment they got married but even so, there were still those who were shameless enough to try to seduce him. Although Mu Tian Heng had mercilessly rejected them and made sure they never appeared in front of him again, Mo Di couldn’t help but feel irritated.

This was also why he wanted everyone to know that he, the talented, handsome, and wealthy Mo Di, was Mu Tian Heng’s legal spouse! See if anyone else dared to even think of tempting his man!

Mu Tian Heng smiled at Mo Di’s smug expression. He placed him on the sofa and kissed him dotingly, “Alright. Let’s do as you wish. When the news spreads, we won’t suppress it and make an official statement.”

“En!” Mo Di nodded immediately. He smiled and switched to another topic, “Brother, today I received an unexpected phone call. Guess who it was?”

“An unexpected call?” Mu Tian Heng thought for a while and asked, “Could it be Qin Guang Jie?”

“Oh, Brother, you’re incredible. You got it on the first try. It’s him!”

“What did he say?” Mu Tian Heng frowned.

The Qin Group had long been toppled by Mu Tian Heng. That was in part possible thanks to the deep-seated corruption of the Qin family which allowed the police force to swiftly iron them out. Qin Guang Jie was a loving father but he was definitely not a clean businessman. His methods were similar to Qin Cheng Yi, the only difference was that he was not ‘controlled’ in prioritizing someone else’s interest over his own.

Even with the fall of the Qin family, Qin Guang Jie was not completely penniless. He was merely reduced from being Hua Xia’s richest man to an ordinary old man with a house and a car.

“He said that he went to visit Qin Cheng Yi and Qin Cheng Yi had repented.” Mo Di said.

“That’s all he said?”

“Nope. That was all he could say. I hung up right after hearing his voice and only managed to hear that part. I only picked up the call by mistake, I never accept calls from anonymous numbers.”

As soon as he said that, Mo Di’s phone rang and it was another anonymous call.

Mo Di: “…”

He outright rejected the call but three seconds later, Mu Tian Heng’s phone rang. It was the same number.

Mu Tian Heng thought it through and decided to answer it. 

Lai De Si’s voice came from the other end, “Mu, I called Xiao Di but he did not pick up. This is Xiao Yu’s new number. Remember it well!”

“Get to the point.” Song Yu’s voice entered the phone.

“Oh right. Mu, your marriage with Mo Di has been exposed. The whole network is in an uproar! I suspect someone had sold you out! Quickly take a look!!!”

RCFN 125

Chapter 125

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

The exam week flew by with Mo Di completing all his exams with ease before carrying his suitcase and heading home.

The beautiful summer vacation had come!

Mo Di already had in mind how he would be spending his days. 

He would wake up in the morning with Mu Tian Heng and they would jog together, have breakfast together and go to work together. At work, they could spend their lunch break together and after work, they’ll go home together. At home, they would chat and kiss and hug.

The mere thought of it was just perfect!

Mo Di couldn’t help but blush.

Mu Tian Heng was thinking the same but with much more added ‘activities’. After all, once the old beast had a taste, his appetite was hard to quench.

Xian Yu Chao and the others did not return home for the summer either. They all worked in the office arranged by Mu Tian Heng and Mo Di with several new members that Mo Di had recruited. With that, his company was beginning to fall on the right track.

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On July fifteenth, Infinite Life officially launched. Excluding the old players from the game competition, the number of new players logging on to the game had exceeded two hundred million. The number alone had broken the record for the highest log-ins for a new game and would continue to rise. Even a month after its launch, Infinite Life had over three hundred and seventy million log-ins on the weekdays and over four hundred million on the weekends!

There was no doubt that Infinite Life had become the most popular game in Hua Xia and had surpassed its competitors by a large margin. The success of Infinite Life had opened the door for Mo Di’s company to enter the market with a splash, breaking into the forefront of the gaming industry with unlimited potential.

After the game’s first-month debut, Mo Di generously held a celebratory party for everyone using his personal funds. They were treated to a few days’ stay in a lavish resort on the outskirts of the city. In addition, Mo Di also gave each of them a big bonus and an extra week of paid annual leave.

Such benefits to students like Xian Yu Chao and the others did not seem like much but to Zhao Chun and those who had been in the field for several years were overly thrilled. She screamed with joy and gave Mo Di a big hug.

Mo Di was a little guilty because this giveaway was not without motive. The summer vacation was coming to an end and although he and his Mu Tian Heng could spend any amount of time together even when they were bored, they hadn’t traveled anywhere together. It would be a pity if they could not at least spend a few days abroad before their busy days started all over again.

With his enemies gone and his career developing steadily, Mo Di was very satisfied with his current life. He had good friends and most importantly, a perfect boyfriend. When it came to his love life with Mu Tian Heng, Mo Di did not want to have any regrets and nothing else could surpass Mu Tian Heng’s place in his heart.

After Mu Tian Heng had asked several times about his work schedule and if he could go to America with him, he could tell that Mu Tian Heng really wanted to make the trip but did not want to affect his work. But who was Mo Di if not the perfect boyfriend! How could he disappoint such a considerate partner? And so, he had arranged for the week of paid leave to accompany his Mu Tian Heng to America. This could be considered as the first of their honeymoons!

Mo Di was secretly elated thinking about the upcoming days.

After the party, when Mo Di told Mu Tian Heng about the one-week holiday, he was initially surprised but quickly realized why Mo Di had made that decision. Mu Tian Heng’s heart melted. He felt that it was time he made Mo Di his legally.

He had never regarded himself as the jealous type but lately, he had found himself exposed to too many tooth-aching situations that he simply wanted to bind his little one by his side. Not to mention others, this month alone, Mo Di had recruited a whole fresh batch of bright-eyed admirers into his company. 

His little one had grown and matured. On top of having a top-notch appearance and personality, he also had talents and a promising career. Every time he was invited to a dinner party, he stirred up a new wave of admirers. Men or women, they would butter up to him in obvious flirtation! Although they were either immediately rejected by Mo Di or secretly ‘dealt with’ by him, Mu Tian Heng still could not help but feel distressed.

Mu Tian Heng hugged Mo Di in his arms and made a quick calculation of the time.

“I’m not busy at the moment and could squeeze out four to five days of leave. Shall we go back to my house in America for a few days?” Mu Tian Heng asked while kissing Mo Di’s ear.

“Ok!”

Of course Mo Di readily agreed. He looked up at Mu Tian Heng with a smile but there was a hint of nervousness in his voice, “Brother, are you bringing me home to meet your parents?”

“I do want you to meet my parents and elder sister but the main reason for our trip is to have fun. We’ll spend some time in our home before paying my parents a visit.”

Mu Tian Heng did not reveal his hidden thoughts. He rubbed Mo Di’s cheeks and said with a smile, “You don’t have to be nervous. They’ve seen your picture and all said that you’re the Adonis of the east.”

Mo Di blushed at the praise, “Brother, did you make that up?”

“No, everything I said is true. They also said that your talents exceeded even mine. I did not start my company when I was a freshman but look at you, you’ve become a prominent figure in the Hua Xia gaming industry .”

Mo Di was both smitten and embarrassed. He snickered and buried his head into Mu Tian Heng’s neck. “So we’ll go to our home then visit uncle and aunty?”

“That’s right, we’ll go to our house first.”

Mu Tian Heng thought of something and clasped Mo Di’s waist, “It’s the little villa that you picked. The interior is exactly as you saw it. We can always redecorate the place like what we did for the house we just bought here. What do you think?”

“There’s no need. I quite like it the way it is.” Mu Tian Heng was a little itchy as he felt Mo Di’s breath on his neck but his next sentence shook his heart. 

“Actually, somehow, there was a sense of familiarity when I saw that house.”

Mo Di said with a smile, “I feel like I’ve been there in my last life. It felt homely and close. The furnishings look great too, there’s no need to make any changes. Brother, you have to have confidence in your aestheticism…”

Before Mo Di could say anything else, Mu Tian Heng’s arms suddenly tightened around him.

Mo Di turned to look at him. He pressed his nose against Mu Tian Heng’s, “Brother, you scared me.”

Mu Tian Heng hugged Mo Di even harder. He lowered his head and began kissing him. Eventually, Mo Di was kissed until his mind was muddled. By the time Mu Tian Heng had carried him to the bedroom, he had already forgotten what he had wanted to ask him.

…..

Five days later, Mo Di was like an excited kid who went on an outing with his brother for the first time, dragging his luggage and following behind Mu Tian Heng to head to his villa in America.

Even from the outside, Mo Di was really fond of the villa. The flowers in the front garden were particularly large. They clustered together and created a beautiful landscape, full of vitality and warmth.

And Mo Di’s sense of familiarity with the place was getting stronger. It was as though he had once lived here.

“Let’s go in,” Mu Tian Heng pulled Mo Di’s suitcase and said, “This place is usually maintained by a cleaning crew but I’ve sent them away so as not to disturb us for the next few days.”

“Um!” This was exactly what Mo Di wanted. He had never been too fond of having strangers around the house.

As he strolled with Mu Tian Heng into the courtyard, a blue pavilion caught his eyes. He grabbed Mu Tian Heng’s hand and ran towards it. “Brother, this spot is beautiful. When I saw it in the photos, I just wanted to come here to have tea and play chess!”

Mo Di sat on the bench in the pavilion for a while but he did not stay still for long. He turned left to look at the flower garden then turned right to look at the mural on the wall… That scene gradually overlapped with some of Mu Tian Heng’s memories from their past life.

Mu Tian Heng sat and watched Mo Di devotedly with a gentle smile on his face and a slight glow in his eyes.

In fact, Mu Tian Heng did not want to make this place their home. Being here, he couldn’t help but recall the later part of their past lives. To be honest, those memories were too painful for him and at times, it could still make him feel hopelessness and despair.

But he did not expect that when he sent the pictures of his private homes in America to Mo Di, Mo Di had picked this place at first glance. 

Since Mo Di liked it, then he would feel the same. Secondly, he also knew that this place meant a lot to them. It did not matter if the memories from the past were too dark, with Mo Di around, he believed he would be able to view them in a brighter light. They would create new memories to drown out the old ones.

Mu Tian Heng stood up and gave the upbeat Mo Di a kiss on the forehead, then to his nose, lips, neck…

The warm sunshine shone on them and the nearby greenery surrounding them in a soothing fragrance. 

Mo Di was ticklish due to Mu Tian Heng’s kissing and could no longer suppress his laughter. Finally, he was pressed on the table and given a deep kiss on the mouth which rendered him motionless, relenting to Mu Tian Heng’s passionate advances.

TN: So sorry for the missing chapter 126. I think messed up when I merged the chapters (big thanks to Lucias who had kindly pointed this out to me). I will update it soon if I can recover the file, if not please give me a few days to work on it again 🙏🙏🙏

RCFN 124

Chapter 124

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

Ever since the Mo family had fallen into their trap, Mo Di had rarely recalled the past. 

What happened in the past was sealed in the depths of his memories. His days were spent working on his career and indulging in his love nest with Mu Tian Heng.

His game company had officially entered the market with Infinite Life as its debut product. At present, it had garnered a hundred and nineteen million sign-ups, breaking the record for the highest number of sign-ups for an upcoming game.

Fans were visiting their website every day to urge them for the early release of Infinite Life.

Since the game competition had ended, due to the copyrights, the games were no longer available online. Fans could not even play the previous chapters to quench their thirst and had to wait painfully for the new releases. 

Mo Di read the posts and smiled. He told Zhao Chun to post on Weibo that the official release date would be on July 15th and gave the fans something to look forward to.

Whether it was the game they were producing or the company itself, many could foresee their successful future. It was predicted that in less than two years, Mo Di’s game company will rise to become one of Hua Xia’s top companies, overtaking many of its predecessors.

This statement had brought about a wave of objections from fans of other game companies who voiced their criticisms over the net. Mo Di just laughed it off but he did not deny it. After all, even with all the adversities in his last life, his company had risen to become one of the top three game companies in Hua Xia. 

In this life, his goal was no longer limited to Hua Xia but the world.

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The workload of being a Jing Da student had become heavier as the end of the term approached along with the numerous exams. Mo Di had been too busy to have a proper date with his brother. And so, on the last day of exams, he rushed out of the classroom and headed straight for the gate where a black Maybach had been waiting.

“Brother… umm!”

Before Mo Di could settle down, he was pulled into a powerful embrace and kissed passionately.

After his initial surprise, Mo Di actively countered, cuddling and groping in Mu Tian Heng’s arms while calling out for him between their kisses. 

Mu Tian Heng, who had been dormant for a long time, was dangerously close to losing his control. After kissing him fiercely, he patted Mo Di lightly on the head. Softly he spoke, “You shouldn’t get cocky just because I pamper you too much or I’ll have to do something about it.”

“I’m not scared.” Mo Di raised his head and mischievously sucked on Mu Tian Heng’s Adam’s apple. His eyes shone triumphantly as Mu Tian Heng’s heart was softened with helplessness. He leaned over and planted a deep red hickey on Mo Di’s neck.

“A small punishment.” Mo Di’s eyes widened. It was now summer and he couldn’t cover it!

Mu Tian Heng laughed at the rare look of astonishment on Mo Di’s face. He rubbed his hair and kissed his cheek, “Be good now. No one will ask.”

Mo Di unconvincingly grabbed Mu Tian Heng’s neck and planted a revenge hickey on him, “If someone asks, I’ll just say it’s a mosquito bite.”

“Alright, alright. I’m a big mosquito that only bites my little one,” Mu Tian Heng smiled and said in a pampering voice, making Mo Di’s ears turn red.

He cleared his throat and changed the topic, “Brother, Uncle Song is coming for dinner tonight, should we show off some of our culinary skills?”

“About this, Lai De Si said that he wants to be the main cook today,” Mu Tian Heng said this with much doubt.

“Ha?”

Mo Di hurriedly shook his head, “That’s a bad idea. His fried eggs tasted particularly bad and he always burned the pan while cooking pork. I understand that he wanted to please Uncle Song but his level is just too… Hai.

Mo Di sighed for Lai De Si.

Mu Tian Heng smiled, “It’s alright, let him try. In fact, he’s been practicing in the kitchen for the past two weeks. Yesterday his fried eggs and green pepper pork were somewhat edible.”

“Actually…” Mo Di’s eyes lit up as he thought of a way, “Brother, aren’t there ready-made seasoning packs in the supermarket? Brother Lai De Si can make decent dishes with those. The most important thing is that he is the one who personally made them. Wouldn’t it fix everything?”

Mu Tian Heng: “I have proposed this method but was rejected by him, saying that it lacks sincerity.”

“Sincerity…” Mo Di was speechless, “Alright, let’s leave it to him then.”

When they reached the villa, they could hear the sound of pots and pans clanging in the kitchen. Suan Suan was running frantically towards Mo Di. It stood on its hind legs and grabbed at his knees, all the while with its tail wagging non-stop.

Mo Di picked Suan Suan up and tapped on his tiny nose, “Did you miss me?”

Suan Suan happily stuck out its tongue and continued to shake its tail vigorously.

Thanks to Lai De Si’s exorbitant reminder, Mo Di knew that Song Yu’s favorite dishes were spicy steamed fish, fried shrimps, and braised spareribs. To think that Lai De Si could perfectly cook the spare ribs, that was quite impressive.

Seeing Mo Di’s surprised look, Lai De Si said proudly, “I bought shrimps as well but at the moment, I can’t make Xiao Yu’s favorite fried shrimps. I’ll simply steam it with ginger and vinegar for now. Xiao Yu would still love them!”

Mo Di has had goosebumps at the sight of Lai De Si’s thoughtfulness. He couldn’t help but tease, “How is your relationship coming along? Have you confessed yet?”

Hearing the word ‘confession’, Lai De Si’s face turned beet red. Such a grown man of almost thirty and yet was stuttering at the words of his junior.

“I, I don’t have the courage yet. I’ll wait till my thirtieth birthday to confess. It’s my birthday after all, Xiao Yu might not have the heart to reject me.”

“Thirtieth birthday?”

Mo Di vaguely remembered that Lai De Si was half a year older than his Mu Tian Heng. So his birthday is in August, about two months left.

Mo Di hoped that Lai De Si would succeed. As a matter of fact, he believed that Lai De Si’s effort had not gone unnoticed. If someone whom Song Yu did not like were to shower him with gifts, he would’ve rejected the items, unlike now in which he would offer to return the favor with a meal or a chance for Lai De Si to meet him.

Furthermore, Song Yu already knew about that matter.

While Mo Di was deep in thought, he did not notice the change on Mu Tian Heng’s face when Lai De Si said ’till my thirtieth birthday.’

Although Mu Tian Heng knew Lai De Si was doing his best to please his crush, he himself would also like to cook for Mo Di. After all, it was rare for his little one to return home, he couldn’t possibly let him be Lai De Si’s lab rat. 

Mu Tian Heng headed in to occupy the kitchen and made several dishes: Chilli fish head, Sweet and sour pork, braised beef brisket with tomatoes, and steamed cod. The fragrance alone was enough to make Lai De Si salivate and at the same time, painfully saw the cruel contrast between their dishes.

Mo Di had been helping alongside Mu Tian Heng. From time to time, Mu Tian Heng would lean over and kiss his hair and cheek. The two acting lovey-dovey was like a stab to Lai De Si’s eyes.

He could no longer live in this house as a single dog!

Lai De Si swore that when Yu Yu was finally in his arms, he would return and flaunt their love in front of these two, especially when Mo Di wasn’t back from school. That’ll show Mu Tian Heng, that beast!

…..

At six in the evening, Song Yu arrived on the dot.

The moment the doorbell rang, Lai De Si was like a police dog, dashing out from the kitchen with a broad smile plastered on his face, “Xiao Yu, you’re here.”

Mo Di who was playing with Suan Suan in the living room felt that Lai De Si was only missing a tail.

Mu Tian Heng rubbed his hair and said, “Let’s go.”

“En!” Mo Di nodded.

Song Yu smiled when he saw them. He said to Mo Di, “Has Xiao Di grown taller? You should be about 180cm.” 

“We just had a physical examination a few days ago. I’m at 180.66cm now,” Mo Di said proudly, “My goal is 182cm. I believe I can get to that height.”

“Of course, our Xiao Di is quite extraordinary,” Song Yu said while the two bottles of wine in his hands were taken over by Lai De Si who was buttering up to him. He smiled brightly and said, “Xiao Yu, let me help you with this.”

“Xiao Yu, come in and take a seat in the living room. The food will be ready soon. I’m manning the kitchen today, you should have a taste of my food.”

Looking at the tall and big Lai De Si behaving like a silly puppy, Song Yu couldn’t help feeling sweet. He smiled and said, “Ok.”

Ever since the time Mo Di asked him if he found Lai De Si familiar and if he remembered someone who had secretly watched him every day during his university days, Song Yu had given a lot of thought regarding Lai De Si. Was Xiao Di hinting something to him?

After that, Song Yu kept reminiscing about the redhead who was always at the basketball court watching him for a year. The more he thought about it, the more he found that Lai De Si was indeed quite similar to that kid.

He had spoken to Mo Di about his suspicion and although Mo Di did not confirm, he did not deny it either. Under Mo Di’s subtle implication, Song Yu finally knew where Lai De Si was coming from. He had also stopped turning down his advances and slowly opened up to him. 

His only surprise was that the boy from those years ago still had the same light in his eyes when looking at him. And just like back then, he would still blush at the sight of him, almost like a silly but loyal Tibetan Mastiff.

Every time they interacted, Lai De Si seemed like he was dancing but he was too timid to take another step. Sometimes he wondered if Lai De Si had a tail stuck to his back. If there wasn’t one then he’s definitely missing a tail. 

The silly mutt.