Translator: Flying Lines
Dusky clouds enveloped the skyline, revealing an atmosphere of depression in the darkness. Bit by bit, the clouds in the east went red, gradually blazing up fiercely like a fire. A ray of morning light finally breached the darkness and sprinkled the whole earth, flushing the mountains and plains.
Surrounded by mountains, a small village with thirty to forty households struggled to keep living on the few barren fields among the peaks. While the sun rose and sprinkled the morning glow, a young boy in the room opened his eyes. A calm look beyond his peers appeared on the face after a short period of confusion.
Getting up in a hurry and washing himself, Shiao Chen rushed out. Today was the day to go to the town and fetch the seeds of each year at the early spring. He needed to make an early start with solid food, or he wouldn't get home at night.
However, he was in a trance for what he saw after stepping out of his room, then he asked, "Father, mother, why do you get up so early? Rest assured, I remember it's time to fetch the seeds and won't delay doing it."
His father, Shiao Wenshan, looked at him somewhat expectantly, waved his hands and said, "Change your clothes and I will go to town with you today."
Shiao Chen was a little surprised, and then he noticed his father put on the most solemn clan costume which he would only wear on the clan's sacrifice day. Although he felt confused, he nodded and went back to his room, taking out a green brocade long gown with embroidery from his only worn-out case.
They then had the breakfast in silence. There was a bit of worry in the eyes' of Shiao's mother and many times, she wanted to say something but was held back by his father's severe gaze.
Getting out of the yard and seeing a green carriage outside the door, once again, Shiao Chen sensed something odd.
"Mr. Shiao, please get on. We should leave now." Living at the west of the village, Old Wu tried to support the whole family with this carriage. Exposed to the wind and sun every day, he looked like a little old man even in his early 40s.
Nodding while lifting the curtain, Shiao Wenshan went into the carriage regardless of his perplexed son.
"Hey, the date to fetch seeds has been put off, right? Then why do they hire Old Wu to go to town?"
"Who knows? This family has always been acting secretly and doesn't make much contact with us. Look what they wear, maybe they'll have a marriage interview."
"Maybe, Shiao Chen looks like a good boy with that handsome face. However, he's not in good health and may not live very long, or I will betroth my daughter to him."
The carriage went down on the sole road of the village. Hearing of the discussion outside ambiguously, Shiao Chen was shocked in the heart and wondered if he was really taken to a blind date.
"Don't woolgather and keep yourself revitalized. Today…today you may have a chance to be someone powerful…Don't ask too much. You will know it later." Looking at Shiao Chen, Shiao Wenshan waved his hands with a complicated expression on his face which disappeared soon.
Shiao Chen nodded and closed his eyes to rest his mind.
Staring at his son's macilent face, a touch of firmness appeared in the eyes of Shiao Wenshan. Meanwhile he murmured, "Today, even I have to bow to him, so what? The kid's future can't be ruined because of me."
The carriage was caught in a silence after a long sigh.
"Mr. Shiao, We're in Shiao Town now." Old Wu said with a respectful and cautious voice outside.
Shiao Chen opened his eyes at the moment he heard the words, only seeing his father was a little absent-minded, which was rare.
"Oh…really?" Shiao Wenshan murmured, then pulled back the curtain and got off the carriage with a complicated expression crossing his face.
"Old Wu, you can go back first. No need to wait here", Shiao Wenshan said gently.
"All right." Seeing Old Wu driving the carriage far away, Shiao Wenshan stood at the huge gate of Shiao Town. Staring at the script of "Shiao Town", a touch of complexity flashed by in his eyes. After a long while, he said "Follow me", then went straight into the town.
Looking at the shadow of his aging father, Shiao Chen still tried to figure out why he had to come here in person. Thinking of what happened today, his suspicion became deeper.
After nearly an hour, they found a shabby inn to have a rest. Shiao Wenshan enjoined Shiao Chen not to go outside by himself and then left the inn hurriedly with a complicated expression.
Frowned with suspicion in his eyes, Shiao Chen followed his father secretly and immediately. The behavior of his father was too queer. He must be onto something.
Shiao Chen was far away from his father all the way and in the end, he saw his father go straight into a restaurant.
"Is it possible that father just comes to visit a friend?" Frowned a bit, Shiao Chen stepped into the restaurant. Glancing at the hall, he didn't find his father, so he stepped forward to the second floor of private rooms. Seemingly thin and weak with a pale face, he acted gracefully and imposingly. Besides, what he dressed was far from common, so the waiter was hesitant to stop him.
It was much quieter on the second floor. Shiao Chen slowed down and trod lightly on the corridor while listening carefully.
"He's here!" Seeing the private room Heaven No. 1, Shiao Chen felt uncertain. Being poor, his father had always been thrift. It was odd enough to hire Old Wu today, and now he met someone in this expensive restaurant. All things just ran counter to his normal behavior.
Standing at the gate and taking a look around the room, Shiao Chen's eyes brightened suddenly. There was an air hole at the wall facing the street, which allowed him to catch a glance of the condition inside the room. Seeing nobody around, Shiao Chen held his breath and trod lightly and then looked inside on tiptoe.
Full of antique beauty, there was a scentedwood round table with four cyan chairs surrounding it. A piece of ink landscape painting was hung on the wall and a fresh and green bonsai sat at the corner, simple with lingering charm.
And now on the chairs, there were three fair and clear middle-aged men in brocade gown with slight coldness on their faces. Without saying anything, the aura they presented awed people. Obviously, they must have been in a high status for a long time.
However, what surprised Shiao Chen most at the moment was his father. He sat right in front of the three men with intricate expression. However, he was not scared at all by their imposing manner, behaving with ease and confidence.
"Hm, Shiao Family have a lot to deal with every day, so let's just get to the point. Why did you send a message to call us here? Tell us now or we'll leave immediately." Seeming to be the head of the three men, one man took a sip of tea and satirized with sardonic expression.
Similar expression was written on the other two men's face although they didn't say anything.
Hearing this, Shiao Chen was in a trance. Shiao family?
In Shiao Town, the first name Shiao belonged to Shiao Clan, so the three men were in charge of Shiao family? No wonder they behaved in such a lofty manner. But then he frowned and came up with another question – when did his father know these people? He didn't even mention it. And judging from their behavior, they seemed not to get along.
Many thoughts flooded into Shiao Chen's mind, but before he could come to himself, what his father said next nearly shocked him to tumble.
" Brother, why are you so ruthless? Although I have left the family, we are still brothers." With complicated expression, Shiao Wenshan took a glance of the three men in front of him and spoke in a low voice.
Hearing this, Shiao Wenting raised his eyebrows and sneered, "Brothers? You were expelled from the family twenty years ago, and now you remember we are brothers?"
"Or maybe you can't survive outside, so you decide to come here and wish we can give you a hand now?" The one who said this in cold voice was full of squib.
"Brother, why are we still talking with him here? The immortals are coming tomorrow. We'd better go home and prepare for that now." The second master of Shiao family, Shiao Wenqian gave a sardonic grin and suggested.
Taking a cold glance at Shiao Wenshan, they were ready to get up and leave.
"Wait!" Shiao Wenshan groaned suddenly and then took out a jade lion seal in thumb size from his chest with trembling hands.
"Brother, although you became the master of Shiao family with the help of our elder mother, this seal, the token of the family, was handed down to me by our father long ago. I wonder you may have worried about it a lot for these years, right?"
"If you promise me one thing, I will hand it to you."
Seeing the seal in Shiao Wenshan's hand, Shiao Wenting stopped. With longing in his eyes, he thought for a while and answered, "What do you want?"
Hearing this, Shiao Wenshan stared at him and shook his head, saying, "Why do you ask while knowing the answer, Brother? Today I come here for earning a chance for my son to attend the test of entering the divine gate."
With dodgy eyes, Shiao Wenting seemed to be thinking about it carefully, weighing the gains and loses.
"Brother, you can't give him that promise. If his son is lucky to be chosen by the immortals, we'll be doomed."
"Right, brother, please think it over."
Shiao Wenting waved his hands to stop their words, and then looked at Shiao Wenshan with sharp eyes, saying coldly, "You abused my mother in those years."
Hearing this, the expression of Shiao Wenshan became more complicated, and then he kneeled down facing the direction of the Shiao's Clan Hall and bowed and kowtowed repeatedly while saying, "Please forgive me, elder mother, for my ignorance and impertinency at young age." Then he seemed to be stripped off the energy, eyes becoming dull suddenly.
Turning a blind eye to it, Shiao Wenting continued, "You disrespected us in those years."
"I was too young and aggressive at that time, please forgive me."
At that moment, the wrinkles on Shiao Wenshan's face became deeper and he looked even older than before.
"You hurt me in those years." With grimmer face, Shiao Wenting pulled uphis left sleeve, showing an ugly scar wriggling from the chest like a huge and deformed scolopendra.
Hearing this, Shiao Wenshan shivered a little and then smashed his left arm ruthlessly and directly.
Clear sound of bone fracture echoed in the room while Shiao Wenshan's face turned pale and lips quivered due to the pain.
"Brother, is this enough to make it up to you?"
With a poker face, Shiao Wenting rested his eyes on Shiao Wenshan who was humiliated for a long while, and then said inexorably, "Don't say I haven't given you a chance. Tomorrow you can bring your son to the family." Then he collected the jade lion seal in his chest and left with the other two men.
Seeing they left the room, Shiao Wenshan trembled slightly and fell on the ground. After a while, he burst out weeping.
"Mother, please forgive me, your unfilial son. But I have to do this. Even I'm humiliated, I must earn this chance for my son. Mother, please forgive me."
Tears flowing from his aged eyes, Shiao Wenshan cried out with hoarse voice.
Outside the room, Shiao Chen covered his mouth with hands and fell on the ground involuntarily.
As a son, seeing his father being insulted by others without any solution, Shiao Chen was buried in sorrow. He clasped his hands and roared in the heart madly, "I will avenge my father's suffering. One day, I, Shiao Chen, will make all of you pay for what you have done today!"
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