Chapter 3 : Lingering Past
Preamble: In light of the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations, I wish all who celebrate a very Happy New Year.
May luck smile on you, may you have fish every year, may your lives be sweet as honey, may you climb to greater heights, may your path be paved in gold, and may you have good health!
Ganzhou was a strategic border town.
Almost half of its residents were members of the army, so its style of government was naturally different from the inner cities.
However, due to its size and the large number of Da Liang citizens that have settled here, it did not lack for shops selling daily necessities, recreational and tea houses, and other facilities that were common in the other cities.
On the south side of the government office, there was a small courtyard that used to be a tea house.
Because it was small, it didn’t have a lounge and its private room was large enough for only two or three persons.
It also did not serve the large bowls of tea that the northerners enjoyed drinking, and thus did not suit the tastes and lively customs of the locals.
It remained opened only for half a year before it had to close down.
After Xiao Pingzhang took over the Ganzhou garrison, he chanced upon it and took a strong liking to it after one look.
Seeing that the owner was unable to continue to sustain it, he bought the place over and used it as his place of rest, as well as a space to personally entertain guests.
Xiao Tingsheng had not rested for several days due to having to attend to post-war military affairs and the emotional turmoil caused by his eldest son’s injury.
He finally found a leisurely afternoon and invited his old friend, Li Qianzhi, to the elegant room of this tea house to reminisce about the past.
“Since Li xiong left the army, we rarely had a chance to meet.
When did we last meet? Was it seven years ago?”
Li Qianzhi chuckled and said, “Yes, it was the year your elder son got married.
I was there to deliver gifts.”
The water in the iron kettle on the stove came to a boil and emitted a sharp whistling sound.
Xiao Tingsheng picked up the kettle and proceeded to wash the tea as he sighed, “Once people are old, they always want to talk about the past.
The three of us back then…..big brother Lu Yuan, me, third brother Lin Shen, we went through thick and thin together, we were rescued together by Teacher* from the hidden courtyard, we studied together and enlisted in the army together…..but now, I’m the only one left…..”
*”Xian sheng” – same word used for MCS back then.
This one Chinese word holds multiple meanings, i.e.
Mister / Sir / Teacher.
In this case, I felt “Teacher” to be the more appropriate term.
With the weight of the seven-pearled crown and the heavy burden of managing military affairs constantly keeping him busy, past events had faded into distant memory.
If it hadn’t been for his eldest son’s injury to the chest, which was almost the same as that which killed his third brother in the battlefield back then, these long-buried sorrows of the past would not have been stirred afresh.
“Third brother never remembered his original surname, so we always called him Xiao Shen’er…..
When he was 18, he wanted to enlist in the army, so he chose Lin for his surname and changed his name to Lin Shen.” Xiao Tingsheng took a deep breath, feeling.
a little sad.
“Actually, with his temperament, he was better suited to a peaceful and normal life.
The only reason he enlisted was because he wanted us to stay together…..”
Of the three young Chang Lin generals who were once from the previous Prince Jing’s residence, Lin Shen had no outstanding talents and was the most unremarkable, most easily overlooked.
His greatest strength lay in his sincerity and loyalty, and he dedicated himself whole-heartedly to his ruler, his brothers, his wife, and anyone else he felt he ought to support, leaving nothing for himself.
Even when he lay close to death from the injury, he thought not of himself, but of his infant daughter who wasn’t even three months old, mumbling her name under his breath.
Speaking of the deceased again after so many years, Xiao Tingsheng’s felt a gut-wrenching pain, and it was as if he could feel the slick and warm blood gushing out through his fingers.
The relief in those eyes, when he had taken out the silver longevity lock made for his newborn second son and asked his third brother if he was willing to have both their children enter into a marriage contract, were still so clear in his mind, as if it had happened only yesterday.
With the thought that his daughter would be well-taken care of, Lin Shen passed away peacefully.
But the outcome of that agreement? For the next 20 years, Chang Lin Mansion had failed to locate his old friend’s widow, nor the little girl that he had promised to care for.
In the end, the only thing he could do was to ensure that Pingjing adhered to his end of the marriage contract until today, but he couldn’t wait forever.
“Lin Shen’s wife left secretly with the child of her own accord.
Your Highness bears no blame.” Li Qianzhi was fully familiar with the situation at the time, and tried to comfort him.
“What’s more, I noticed that your second son is still wearing the engagement token on him.
Your sincerity is clear, and there is no blame.”
Xiao Tingsheng closed his eyes ponderously and sighed, “Pingjing is a son of Chang Lin.
Since birth, the battlefield has been his destiny.
Back then, third brother’s wife couldn’t accept the pain of such a loss and didn’t want this marriage contract.
She didn’t want her daughter to marry into a military family.
I understand how she felt.
But she just took her daughter and left without informing anyone, not giving Chang Lin Mansion a chance to take care of them.
It makes me feel like I have failed to fulfil what third brother had entrusted to me on his deathbed, and it’s difficult for me to have peace of mind.”
Faced with the old prince’s sad eyes, Li Qianzhi felt a prickle of guilt and lowered his head, taking a sip of tea to hide the shame in his eyes.
As a doctor, he firmly believed in putting the patient first.
Back then, Lin Shen’s wife had experienced sorrow and dread to a degree that could not be managed through reason alone.
She could not accept her husband’s death, nor could she accept the future that had been arranged for her daughter.
Any talk related to battles at the border would make her almost hysterical.
Such a mental state was difficult to cure, so the only thing Li Qianzhi could do was to abide by her wishes.
He moved her to a quiet place where she could calm down, undisturbed by anyone, including those from Chang Lin Mansion, with the hope that time would heal the wound in her heart.
But more than ten years passed, and even at her deathbed, the heartbroken widow could not let go of her grief for her dead husband nor her worries for her daughter.
Li Qianzhi didn’t feel like he had done anything wrong, but he had kept this hidden for so many years, and seeing how Xiao Tingsheng was blaming himself this way, he felt a little guilty and tried his best to find the right words to comfort him.
“Back then, Your Highness had so many people looking for them.
If both mother and daughter had truly been wandering about, homeless, wouldn’t they have already been found? Since they have been untraceable, someone must have taken them in, so they are unlikely to have suffered.”
Xiao Tingsheng stared blankly at the tea cup for a moment and sighed, “I hope that it is as Li xiong has said.”
His disciple’s marriage was a constant cause of concern for Li Qianzhi, so he took the opportunity to ask, “Although Your Highness desires to keep to your promise, would His Majesty be willing to let your second son keep on waiting?”
“His Majesty has agreed to let Pingjing wait for another year.
If we are unable to find any news by that time, he will personally intervene to arrange the child’s marriage.
To be frank, His Majesty pampers Pingjing too much.
There’s no arguing with him on this matter.”
“Then what if Pingjing found that child after marrying another?”
“Whether or not fate brings them together, the ties of affection remain.
Chang Lin Mansion will do its best to care for her.” Thinking that it was merely casual chat, Xiao Tingsheng said with a wave of his hand, “Let’s not talk about this.
Apart from reminiscing the past, I invited Li xiong to come by today to discuss another matter.”
Li Qianzhi understood and asked, “Does Your Highness refer to the shipwreck in Datong Prefecture?”
Xiao Tingsheng nodded his head grimly.
“Two days ago, I heard that on the night of the accident, apart from the three government supply ships, there was also a small passenger ship that was hit and sunk, and that everyone who perished on that ship belonged to Fufeng Hall?”
My Fufeng Hall has branches in many regions, and those located in the three provinces near Datong Prefecture have a very good reputation.
According to the letter I received, they had set sail that night in order to attend to a patient in another part of the region.
Nobody expected such misfortune to descend from the heavens…..”
Xiao Tingsheng held back his anger, his eyes cold.
“I cannot count the number of times I have experienced victory and defeat in all my years in the army, but what I fear most, and what I most cannot condone, has always been the stab in the back.”
Since he had said this, he had obviously already determined that the shipwreck at Datong Prefecture was not an accident.
Li Qianzhi lowered his eyes in thought.
After a while, he raised his hands and cupping his fist, said solemnly, “However Your Highness intends to deal with this matter, my Fufeng Hall will do our best to help in whatever small way we can.”
Xiao Tingsheng wasn’t the only one to have come to that conclusion about the shipwreck at Datong Prefecture.
While the old prince was reminiscing and chatting with his old friend in the tea house, Xiao Pingjing was also lying against the head of his brother’s couch, quietly sharing the recent events with him.
“I’ve read the memorandum Father delivered to the capital.
In addition to the battle in the north, he also mentioned his suspicions about the shipwreck at Datong Prefecture, and requested His Majesty to send a special envoy to investigate it.”
Xiao Pingzhang’s high fever broke last night, and he was still weak.
He leaned against his pillow with his eyes closed as he replied, “Oh, since Father has already done this, I can rest assured.”
Xiao Pingjing’s eyes suddenly opened wide, surprise written all over his face.
“Da ge, do you seriously believe that informing the capital settles the matter?”
“Otherwise, what do you have in mind?”
“Everyone knows that the government would definitely send someone to investigate this matter, but although the envoys the Emperor sends from the capital are powerful and fear-inspiring, they are not familiar with the place and its people, so in the end, they may not be able to uncover the truth.” Xiao Pingjing pinched his chin in contemplation.
“We can’t depend only on them.”
Xiao Pingzhang finally turned his head to shoot a glance at him.
“If can think of it, don’t you think Father would already have thought of it? Regardless of His Majesty’s arrangements in the capital, I’ll personally arrange for one of my men from the north to personally investigate this.”
“What’s critical is who should be sent!” It had taken Xiao Pingjing great effort to get the conversation to this point, and he hastily continued, “This unofficial investigation requires utmost discretion. Da ge, your involvement is out of the question not only due to your injury, but also because you would be too inconspicuous.
Although Father has many capable men, who can compare to me when it comes to one-on-one combats and adapting to changing situations?”
Xiao Pingzhang rubbed his brow as he pondered.
Midway, his expression seemed to relax for a moment, but ultimately, he shook his head and said, “You’re unpredictable.
Father won’t allow it.”
“But Father listens to you in everything!” Xiao Pingjing leaned against the couch, tugging his brother’s arm as he implored, “Let me go.
Although I’m not as steady as da ge, I’ve been on the battlefield and around Jianghu.
Whatever shady business Datong Prefecture is hiding, I will definitely be able to uncover it!”
The movement agitated his wound, causing Xiao Pingzhang to frown and draw a swift breath.
Alarmed, Xiao Pingjing quickly released his brother’s arm and supported him to lie down onto the pillow, not daring to say more as he slumped dejectedly against the couch.
“You’ve been extremely bright since you were a child, and you’ve also acquired skills in Lang Ya Pavilion beyond the reach of most ordinary people, so of course I know that you’re best-suited for this.” After soothing his younger brother, Xiao Pingzhang stretched out his hand to stroke the top of his head, smiling as he said, “But if you want Father to grant his permission, you must first promise me two things.”
Xiao Pingjing sat up abruptly and quickly nodded.
“Da ge, please instruct me.”
“You learnt your skills in Lang Ya, so there aren’t many who can hurt you.
But since you will be investigating on your own, it’s hard to say what kinds of things you will encounter. Da ge hopes that you will not forget that although uncovering the truth is important, your own safety must come first.”
Warmth enveloped Xiao Pingjing’s heart.
Silently holding his brother’s hand in his palms, he nodded vigorously.
Xiao Pingzhang gently squeezed his hand in response and continued.
“Next, I am part of Da Liang’s administration, so the law must come first.
You may employ some schemes when appropriate, but you must not cross the line.
Once you’ve uncovered the truth and obtained the evidence, have faith that the court will uphold justice.
You must not dispense punishment on your own in a moment of anger.”
His brother said this so seriously Xiao Pingjing dared not joke around, and instead hurriedly stood up, cupped his fist in compliance and said, “Pingjing understands xiong zhang‘s* instructions.”
*more formal term for “elder brother”
At that moment, there was a sound at the door, and Dong Qing came in with a hot bowl of medicinal soup, with Lin Xi following lightly behind him.
Xiao Pingjing looked back, and seeing it was her, smiled instinctively.
He was a smart person.
Knowing that Lin Xi was in charge of his brother’s care and that he had seriously offended her, he had spent these past few days looking for every opportunity to apologize, and had already apologized twice.
In all fairness, Lin Xi didn’t really brush him off.
When he went to apologize, she told him that it wasn’t a problem; when he greeted her warmly, she nodded in response; when he gave her an elixir from Lang Ya Pavilion to appease her, she politely declined it.
But Xiao Pingjing clearly felt that Lin Xi was ignoring him.
Like right now, for example.
He was smiling so much that his face seemed to have given birth to a flower, yet Lin Xi merely nodded her head as if she hadn’t seen it.
Then, turning towards the couch, she bowed at Xiao Pingzhang, sat down and began to check his pulse.
Xiao Pingjing dared not cause any disturbance in that moment.
He waited impatiently for what seemed like a very long time, after which she only said two words “Not bad”, and before he could ask further, Lin Xi had already stood up, taken her leave and quickly left without even looking back.
Having been deprived the opportunity to speak, the second son of Chang Lin felt a little disheartened.
He sat down gloomily and complained to his brother, “This girl is really petty.
At that time, I was just scared and spoke thoughtlessly.
She’s still upset over it!”
Xiao Pingzhang drank the medicine, rinsed his mouth and said with a smile, “Miss Lin doesn’t seem like a petty sort of person.
Maybe it’s because you talk too much and annoy others.”
The heir of Chang Lin was of course only joking with his brother, but at that moment, Lin Xi was truly a little upset.
She had known since she was a child of the chain that bound the two of them.
She also knew better than anyone else what shifu had been thinking about these past few days.
The first night after Xiao Pingzhang was clear of danger, Li Qianzhi had pretended to casually ask her about her first impression of Xiao Pingjing, and over the next few days, he constantly found opportunities to ask her the same question several times, which exasperated Lin Xi.
On her deathbed, her mother used her remaining strength to tell her, “If you marry into a military family, you’ll send him to battle and live your days filled with anxiety.
Mother knows this best.
The wealth and power of the prince’s mansion would eventually disappear, like the clouds and mists.
Mother only hopes that in future, you…..you will find someone with whom you could grow into a ripe old age….”
Lin Xi never forgot her mother’s words, and used this as a reason to ask shifu not to reveal her identity.
But no matter what she said, she knew in her heart that her mother’s so-called inviolable wish was nothing more than an excuse.
She actually didn’t mind if her future husband went to the battlefield.
The real reason for her avoidance was because she didn’t want to get married in the first place, least of all into a cold and rigid prince’s mansion.
From when she was a child, she had been learning about medicine and medical treatment from her shifu.
From the time she treated her first patient to the time to the time she was qualified to take on a position in the medical hall, Lin Xi had always known what she wanted.
It wasn’t a husband or children, nor a calm and stable life.
All the more it wasn’t status, wealth, or the admiration of others.
All her happiness and satisfaction stemmed from pursuing her medical studies and improving her medical skills.
She wanted to experience more untreatable diseases, and travel the world to learn about different plants.
Entering a noble family was like being consumed by a deep ocean, let alone one belonging to a seven-pearled prince.
Lin Xi couldn’t imagine what it would be like being married into such a prominent household, to be like other women, living out her life in her husband’s shadow.
Compared to this resistance deep in her heart, the second son of Chang Lin’s nature and moral character, and whether or not she found him charming, all of these were trivial matters.
Returning to the small courtyard where she was residing alone, Lin Xi shook off her gloominess, calmed herself down and adjusted the patient’s prescription in consideration of his latest condition.
Before she knew it, the sky was dark.
Li Qianzhi had just returned after taking leave of his old friend and seemed to be in a good mood.
He had a serious discussion with his disciple regarding Xiao Pingzhang’s prescription and during this time, he made no mention of the second son of Chang Lin, nor did he try indirectly to persuade her to reveal her identity as he had been doing for the past few days, making Lin Xi relax a bit.
During their meal, the old master picked out topics his disciple was interested in, and spent a long while discussing medical treatments with her before diverting the conversation to Datong Prefecture.
“The recent crisis faced by Ganzhou originated at the rear end of the river section where the shipwreck happened.
Because of this disaster, our Fufeng Hall also lost five physicians, which makes me worry about how we can support our branches in Datong Prefecture.” Li Qianzhi looked at Lin Xi’s serene face under the light of the lamp, and adopted a consultative tone as he said carefully, “If we talk about being careful and calm in handling matters, none of the disciples I brought along can compare to you.
Now that the heir’s condition has stabilized, how would you like to make a trip to Datong on my behalf to handle the aftermath of the accident?”
Lin Xi was naturally deeply troubled by the death of the hall’s medical officers and physicians in the shipwreck.
She didn’t think twice and standing up, she cupped her hands and said, “Lin Xi will obey and act according to shifu‘s plans.”
Li Qianzhi smiled, and pressed down against her arm, urging her to sit down.
He then said, “This is a serious matter.
Naturally, His Highness Prince Chang Lin will also send someone to investigate.
If there’s anything you can do to help, you must do your best.”
Lin Xi stared blankly at him for a while, feeling a little puzzled.
“The prince’s mansion is sending his own people.
How could they not be careful and just receive anyone? Why would they need need any help from our medical hall?
Li Qianzhi shook his head.
“For such matters, merely making an observation would be unlikely to yield any results, nor would it be a good idea to send someone over from the north bearing the military banner.
I reflected on what His Highness might mean and concluded that he is likely to send someone to scout around first.” Li Qianzhi smiled as he explained, “Our medical hall may not have any authority or power, but we’re at least familiar with the area, so we can always be of some help.”
Lin Xi had momentarily stopped thinking about Xiao Pingjing, and agreed to this after considering awhile.
“If the government of Datong Prefecture is truly involved in this matter, then the prince’s mansion will need to familiarize itself with the local underground.
If too many new faces suddenly appear, it would arouse suspicions.”
Seeing her nod her head, Li Qianzhi said no more.
Instead, he repeated his instructions on how to handle matters in the aftermath of the shipwreck casualties before making his way to the inner courtyard where Xiao Pingzhang was recuperating.
Because he was taking medication, Xiao Pingzhang took long naps intermittently throughout the day.
At this time, he was wide awake and conscious, and was just at that moment perusing through military reports that Dong Qing had brought him.
The moment he saw the old master enter through the door, he hurriedly stuffed them under his pillow.
Li Qianzhi hid a smile.
After checking his pulse, he chided, “The greatest worry when it comes to recovering from an injury is that if it relapses continuously, it will become chronic, then all the effort would have been wasted. Shi zi is a very thorough person, so how is this principle something shi zi does not understand?”
Xiao Pingzhang had always been mild and gentle in temperament, and he also knew that Li Qiaozhi had good intentions, so he did not argue, but merely bowed his head as he listened.
But as soon as the old master turned around to leave, he couldn’t resist it and immediately removed the reports, looking through them with careful consideration.
He had already suspected there was some abnormality at the battle in Gannan while he was defending the city, and reflecting on it during these past few days of quiet has given him greater clarity.
It was widely known that the Ganzhou Battalion was directly under the heir’s command, and could be considered Chang Lin Army’s most elite force so it was impossible that Da Yu was unaware of his hasty advance to the garrison.
Looking at the northern border as a whole, Gannan should clearly not have been where they prioritized and concentrated their main force.
However, apart from their false 2-day attack of Meiling, the Da Yu imperial army had focused their entire force on attacking Ganzhou, as if they already knew that supplies to the city had already been cut off, which was as good as reducing their military strength.
But how could the enemy have known about the shipwreck within Da Liang’s borders?
A crackling noise came from the burning wick of the lamp on the small table by the couch, rousing Xiao Pingzhang from his thoughts.
Suddenly, he noticed his father standing by the door, and hurriedly sat up as he called out, “Father.”
Xiao Tingsheng stepped in, his gaze stopping on the military reports in his son’s hands as he said disapprovingly, “Your recovery is more important than rushing to read these reports!”
Xiao Pingzhang smiled.
“Your son is no longer sleepy after having slept for so long and is too idle.”
Xiao Tingsheng walked to the couch and sat down.
Adjusting the quilt, he tried to keep his tone mild as he asked, “I heard from Pingjing that you traveled overnight to Lang Ya Pavilion to see him before heading to Ganzhou?”
Xiao Pingzhang slowly pursed his pale lips and lowered his eyes.
After he had regained consciousness, he had found the Lang Ya pouch under his pillow.
It may be assumed that his father was already aware.
Met with his silence, Xiao Tingsheng looked away and continued to sit with him in silence, neither pressing nor questioning further.
This child had been a perfectionist since he was a boy, but behind all the perfection in the world lies great pressure and gruelling self-control.
As a father, he didn’t want to add even the slightest bit of burden on to his eldest son.
“You’re naturally aware that I went there not just to see Pingjing…..” After a long moment of silence, Xiao Pingzhang finally raised his head and removed the Lang Ya pouch from under his pillow.
“I asked the old pavilion master a question, and this was his answer.
Has Father read it?”
Xiao Tingsheng’s eyes were tender, and he shook his head gently.
“I already know everything.
There is no need for me to read it.
What’s important is you….after learning this, how do you feel?”
Xiao Pingzhang stared blankly, his eyes filling with tears.
How do you feel? After leaving Lang Ya Pavilion, his thoughts were in a turmoil.
He wanted to think about it, yet also didn’t want to think about it.
It wasn’t until the arrow pierced his chest, narrowly missing his internal organs, that he realized he actually didn’t need to think too much.
If he had died, he would never be able to see his father, Pingjing, or his beloved wife whom he had waited seven years to marry.
Then what would have been the purpose of all this obsession with the past?
“Your son already understands that what happened in the past is not important.” Xiao Pingzhang propped himself up and threw the pouch he was holding into the brazier by the bed, watching on as the flames consumed it.
“Father was born in such sorrowful and difficult circumstances, yet was still ultimately able to put it aside, and focus on present responsibilities, so why can’t Pingzhang? I think I understand Father better now…..”
Xiao Tingsheng felt his chest brimmed over with warmth.
“I remember when you brothers were young, you both had completely different temperaments.
Pingjing was free and unbridled, fearing neither heaven nor anything on earth, and he was the favourite of both the previous emperor and His Majesty.” Patting his eldest son on the back of his hand, he deliberately raised his voice as he said, “But in your heart, you know that now matter how that rascal is regarded, you’ve always been my favourite.”
He deliberately raised his voice further at the last few words.
Xiao Pingjing, who had just arrived at the door, spoke out as he knocked on the door frame with the side of his forehead, “Old man*, you obviously heard me coming yet must still say such things.
After so many years, are you worried that I still don’t know that you’re biased?”
*This sounds a little rude in English, but in Chinese,老爹 (lao die = lit.
old dad/father) is affectionately used here
Xiao Tingsheng raised his eyebrows and said rebukingly, “Comparing you to your brother, how can I not be biased?”
Seeing his brother bend over with pain while laughing, Xiao Pingjing quickly stepped forward to rub his back soothingly, taking this opportunity to wink surreptitiously at him.
Observing the eagerness in his brother’s eyes, Xiao Pingzhang suddenly felt a little bad.
Actually, sending Pingjing to Datong Prefecture was something both father and son had already discussed the day before.
They had also divided the work.
The old prince would ask for Fufeng Hall’s assistance while he deliberately tried to string his brother along in order to suppress his lack of restraint and impatience.
But feeling bad aside, this move at least appeared to be effective.
“Da ge, have you spoken to Father?” Xiao Pingjing felt a little anxious when his brother remained silent with his lips pursed.
Xiao Tingsheng cleared his throat and wore a stern look as he said, “Alright, stop disturbing your brother already.
He had just sung your praises a moment ago, so I have already given you permission to go to Datong Prefecture.
But this matter is different from your usual fooling around.
Since you sincerely want to do it, you’d better do it well.”
“Father, please rest assured.
There will always be flaws when it comes to man-made schemes.
I will not let Father down.
“Xiao Pingjing raised his hand, holding a shiny arrow tip that had somehow appeared between his fingers.
“No matter who the investigations finally point to, no matter his rank or his reasons, for hurting my da ge in this manner, he will not get away with it.”
Xiao Pingjing’s eyes as he stared at the shiny arrow tip were fierce, startling both Xiao Tingsheng and Pingzhang.
Both of them knew this child’s temperament better than anyone else.
He had never shown any enthusiasm for so-called “official matters”, and avoided them as far as possible.
He had so proactively insisted on personally rushing to Datong Prefecture this time only because the life and death situation in Ganzhou had well and truly stepped on his bottom line.
A bottom line that was shared by the three of them, father and sons.
After a moment’s silence, the old prince suddenly smacked Xiao Pingjing’s head and said reprovingly, “The supplies to the front line could have been cut off because someone in the country had colluded with the foreign nation.
This makes it a serious matter for the court, which is why they are investigating it closely, but from the way you rascal say it, this has become Chang Lin Mansion’s personal grievance?”
Xiao Pingjing rubbed his head as he retorted stubbornly, “I don’t care for these high-sounding words.
As far as I’m concerned, although this is an official matter, it is also, without a doubt, a personal grievance! It is absolutely a personal grievance!”
As Xiao Tingsheng grabbed a tea cup from the side and flung it at him, Xiao Pingjing shielded his head with his arms and fled through the door.
On the couch, Xiao Pingzhang smiled reluctantly as he said, “Father, why are you kicking up a fuss? He’s turned out like this because he’s been in Lang Ya Pavilion for so long.”
Xiao Tingsheng laughed bitterly as he shook his head.
Turning around, he looked at his eldest son’s pale lips, his eyes veiled.
“But that rascal is not completely wrong.
Whoever did this better not think of getting away with it.”
I don’t know about you all, but one of the things I loved about NIF2 were the poignant moments between the brothers, and father and son(s).
I’ve always known how NIF2 was different from NIF, but coming straight from NIF, the difference couldn’t have been more stark.
From the get go, because it is set in the present moment, without the sadness and darkness of the past weighing it down, the relationships take on a very different light and have a different poignancy.
I like how it’s the same author, the same world, yet so different in flavour and emotional weight, yet no less deep.
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