It’s the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival for many of you already. I want to wish all readers and followers of this blog a happy Mid-Autumn Day! Blessings to all of you during this Moon Festival. 🙂
Anyone feel the same as me, that Mo Bao Fei Bao’s screenwriter background is definitely showing through in the previous chapter and this one? Very cinematic. Anyway, one more chapter after this one…
Chapter 17.3 – The Moon Shines Upon Home (3)
Nobody knew what had actually happened on the third level. They only heard gunshots being fired and saw Second Young Master and Eldest Young Madam plummeting from the upper level of the building, crashing into a table and its chairs. Onstage, offstage, as well as the second level all instantly became still.
Fortunately, Uncle Lin had been standing watch on the main level and immediately rushed forward to check on Shi Yi and Zhou Wenchuan.
“Uncle Lin.” Zhousheng Ren stepped out from the southeast corner of the first level. He was only a teenager, yet the expression on his face was much calmer than any other person. “You head upstairs. Leave the matters down here to me.”
He did not say what had happened upstairs.
Big Brother’s gun had had a silencer on it. He was not certain whether Zhou Wenchuan had fired a shot or not.
But he had veritably heard two distinct gunshots. Besides his own… His gaze fell on Du Feng, whose gun was still gripped in his hand. No one would have expected that, in the crucial moment, it would actually be an outsider who made a move.
The entire Zhou family was thrown into chaos.
Regardless of whether it was because of Zhousheng Chen and Shi Yi, who were both undergoing emergency medical treatment, or Zhou Wenchuan, who was already confirmed to be dead, everything had happened too abruptly. The unsleeping lights of the old manor were no longer lit through the entire night for a birthday banquet but rather, for this series of incidents.
No one, including Madam Zhou, Uncle Zhousheng Heng, and even Zhousheng Ren, was allowed near the two people who were being revived.
Finally, in the latter part of the night, Uncle appeared, hurriedly organizing Zhou Wenchuan’s after-death arrangments and instructing his trusted attendants to bring Madam Zhou back to the large manor at the foot of the mountain. Madam Zhou’s eyes were utterly unfocused, and tears ceaselessly flowed from them.
Zhou Wenchuan’s body had been struck by two bullets, so regardless of whether Zhousheng Ren’s shot had been fatal or not, he had still fired the gun.
Inside the car, Zhousheng Ren sat in the front seat.
Zhousheng Heng closed the soundproof glass partition, then heaved a heavy sigh. “Wanniang, I don’t know how I should console you.”
Madam Zhou’s eyes were completely red, and slowly, she turned her head to look at him. “My children. My two children… If you had been willing to help Wenchuan, he would not have risked his life in a last attempt…”
“Zhousheng Chen will hand over the Zhou family to Xiao Ren in ten years. That is the best outcome.”
“Wenchuan is your son, too.” Madam Zhou choked on her sobs, unable to speak. “He’s your son, too…”
Zhousheng Heng allowed his eyelids to come together lightly, not looking at Madam Zhou any longer. “Even if everyone knows Wenxing and Wenchuan’s true identities, I still cannot acknowledge them. After so many years in the Zhou family, you still do not understand this? Just like, no matter how unwilling Eldest Brother had been, he still married you, to give his firstborn son – the son he loved most – a legitimate mother, for only you were worthy of that position.”
That year, Wanniang had married into the Zhou family under rumours of a premarital pregnancy, for the sole reason of giving Zhousheng Chen, this Eldest Young Master who had been born premature and had also lost his birth mother, a legitimate status. He and Wanniang had known each other since they were young, but for the sake of the Zhou family, they had had no choice but to give up their relationship. However, their closeness day in and day out had culminated in their feelings taking control of their actions, and they conceived this brother-sister pair that they never should have had…
Without the seeds sown yesterday, how could there be the fruit borne today?
Ten years ago, had he not been the one to root out the traitor of the Zhou family and, hence, personally ordered the hunting and killing of Xiao Ren’s mother on the gambling ship, she would not have committed suicide by climbing up onto the high-temperature boiler and ingesting poison.
If, in ten years, the Zhou family was handed over to Xiao Ren, it could be considered a form of recompense.
Who in this life has been without fault? How can one make atonement for all the debts one owes to people?
It was deep in the night when Zhousheng Chen regained consciousness.
The gunshot had not struck a vital spot. It was only his arm. Perhaps, it could be said that it should have hit a vital spot, but the bullet had strayed slightly off course due to Shi Yi’s intervention. Beside him, someone was performing a medical check on him.
When Zhousheng Chen attempted to rise from his bed, all the physicians fell into a panic but at a loss over how to persuade him otherwise.
Uncle Lin hurried forward to him, and with his uninjured arm, Zhousheng Chen pushed himself up. “Where is Shi Yi?”
Uncle Lin fell silent for a moment.
“Where is Shi Yi?!” He abruptly grabbed Uncle Lin’s arm.
His wound immediately tore, and blood slowly soaked through the gauze.
“Miss Shi Yi… has not awoken all this time.”
His fingers dug deep into Uncle Lin. His eyes shut tightly and then, he whipped off the white quilt covering him and got off the bed. Some of the doctors moved to stop him but were held back by a wave of Uncle Lin’s arm. He pushed open the door and led Zhousheng Chen to Shi Yi’s room. As a precautionary measure against further unfortunate incidents, all the medical personnel had been stationed there, and her room had become like a hospital room.
As Zhousheng Chen approached the door, his steps came to a halt.
The pain in his arm was far eclipsed by the fear and anguish that ate into his heart and penetrated into his bones.
Again and again.
He could not protect her.
His hand, which was resting against the door, propping his body weight, gradually formed into a fist. Warm tears spilled from his eyes.
Uncle Lin and the other people in the hallway dared not make a sound and only watched as he slowly lowered his head and pressed it into his arm. For a long time, he remained there in that position – separated by the door, leaning close against that door, but fearful of entering.
Suddenly, from within the room, someone spoke:
“Is that her finger moving?…”
Zhousheng Chen abruptly shoved open the door. Inside, the doctors all froze and turned to look at him.
But he had fixed his eyes only upon the person lying on the bed.
The line on the heart monitor was jumping… very regularly. Little by little, it dissolved away the fear that had been spreading through his blood and veins.
She was alive. He had to see with his own eyes before he dared believe that she was still alive.
He remembered every word she had said, those words that had slowly seeped into his heart. Now, the person who had spoken them was sleeping but appeared as if she would awaken at any moment and talk to him.
With him, she seemed as if she needed always to be delicate and careful, for fear that she would lose him…
“Wait for me. I need to have a word with you….”
“I have always been curious what a scientific research institute would be like. Would it be convenient to let me have a look?…”
“Do you believe that you have previous incarnations? I might possibly be able to see your previous life…”
“Your appearance today is very befitting of your name. ‘Zhousheng Chen.’ The feeling it evokes in people should be this…”
“Favourable feelings… means we should get engaged?”
“Your mom… what does she like girls to wear?”
“Want to come in and sit for a while? I want… to steep a cup of herbal medicine for you that will dispel coldness from your body.”
“I wasn’t sure… if you would be used to eating this or not. It’s pretty good.”
“… why did you want to go into scientific research? Was it really because you didn’t know what you wanted to do and just randomly chose that?”
“Liu Gongquan’s writing is too rigid and strict. Would it be not very suitable for an engagement ceremony invitation?…”
“Then, after putting on the ring… do you need to kiss your fiancée?”
“So long as you allow me to always be with you, I will trust you unconditionally…”
“I’m tired… Hold my hand, okay?”
“Zhousheng Chen… is sleeping on the same bed as your wife really that difficult for you?”
“I’m sorry, I’ve really never come across a gunfight before…”
“So… I’m not an unworthy match for you, right?”
“Aside from worrying that I might encounter problems, was part of the reason for your return because… you missed me?”
“If I end up dying first, then I’ll trouble you to suffer through for a little while. Next life… I’ll make it up to you.”
“You definitely have the wrong idea. Zhousheng Chen, you’ve misunderstood what I meant. What I am thinking is, when you have finished all that you want to do, you only need everyday to go do your research on your planet, Venus. The rest, you can leave to me. I will cook and make tea for you and tenderly take care of you. I will keep you from weariness, keep you from suffering, keep you from needing to constantly be on the move, keep you from being alone, without anyone to trust and lean upon.”
Sunlight filtered through the white curtain and fell in the room.
It created dapples of intermixed light and shadows on Shi Yi.
She did not look as if she was in any pain and merely seemed that her eyes were closed, similar to each time he had woken at four or five in the morning to her laying next to him. Never had she allowed the things of the world to trouble her, and even in her sleep, she was always so peaceful.
And now, quietly and peacefully, she was lying here.
“Eleven, the person who steps up onto that platform in just a moment shall hereafter be your teacher.” Third Brother was holding her up high. She was dressed snugly, completely covered up such that only her eyes were showing, and she shifted slightly in excitement.
That bright, sparkling pair of eyes was fixated upon the view outside the city walls.
From here, they could only see the light of daybreak at the edge of the horizon, slowly invading the darkness and melting it into a pale white color.
Below the city walls, there was no one on that high platform, but several large banners had curled over in the fierce wind so that the words on them were hidden from view.
Her hands were cold, but still, she could only continue clinging to the edge of the city wall because Third Brother would otherwise not be strong enough to hold her up…… If this teacher had not had such a great number of rumours and stories about him, no matter what, she would not have snuck out with Third Brother, bringing along only four servants with them, just to catch a glimpse of this Xiao Nanchen Prince, whom she would be seeing three days later anyways.
It sounded refined, respectable, and honorable, like someone well-versed in poetry and literatures.
He should have been a prince who stood tall and upright in a study, his features warm, elegant and sophisticated.
Outside the city gates, this army of hundreds of thousands, which showed evidence of the weariness of travel, stood erect in silence, and from afar, it appeared to be nothing but dead stillness. Off in the distance, several horses galloped in their direction. The face of the man leading the lot was not distinguishable, and all that could be discerned was that his garb of entire white was truly dazzling to the eyes.
“He is coming now, Eleven.” With a cry of “ouch,” Third Brother chastised, “Hey, little lass, don’t move around.”
As the riders approached the platform, they reined in their horses.
Amid the sound of horses’ whinnies, the leader of the group dismounted his horse with a leap and, step by step, walked up onto that high platform, which was empty of any other persons.
Dawn had broken the long night. The entire army was mobilized. The rising smoke of the beacon fires served as backdrop. Yellow sand filled the sky.
He stood high on the platform. With a wave of his hand, there was a resounding sound as seven hundred thousand soldiers knelt before him and, in unison, shouted out, “My Lord!” That resonating cry that soared up to the heavens pierced through the swirling yellow sands, passed through the morning mist, and penetrated to her eardrums… Someone covered her ears with his hands.
This was the true Zhousheng Chen – the Xiao Nan Chen Prince, with thousands of retainers who had sworn allegiance to his family, and the one who held the control of an army of seven hundred thousand.
Was it truly “beauty is offered, a soul is given in return”? Or a mind bewitched by love?
She, at age six or seven then, did not understand any of that. She was only awed and overcome by the scene before her eyes. Her hands gripped beneath them the city walls of brick, and her heart beat furiously.
Soon, the sky was completely lit by the morning light.
The little, noble young master of the Cui family of Qinghe certainly knew that they could not remain in this place for long. Glancing at the hour of day and determining it was about time, he took Eleven by her little hand and led her down the other side of the city walls. Eleven was diminuitive in stature and each of her steps was small as well. Because she did not wish to leave, unsurprisingly, she walked even slower.
“Ah! My little madam.” Third Brother’s voice sounded on the verge of crying as he picked her up into his arms. “Your older brother here is only twelve years old. You are almost seven already, and you still want me to carry you around everywhere…”
She encircled her arms around her elder brother’s neck, nuzzled her cheek into it, and gave a little giggle.
“……” Third Brother adored this younger sister the most, and simply seeing these actions of hers caused his heart to tingle and soften.
Grumbling no longer, he held her in his arms and walked away from there, taking three steps in place of what would normally be two. Regardless of how one counted, the Cui family of Qinghe only had the one daughter, Eleven, and very early on, her status as the future crown princess had been established. Truly, she was extremely valuable, much more important than him, who was merely a son born of a concubine.
Should Father discover that they had secretly slipped out, it was very possible that the family’s disciplinary measures would be enforced.
Third Brother’s strides were hurried. Worried that the wind would chill him, Eleven was constantly reaching her hands out to tug his cloak tighter.
Within the protective circle of the four bodyguards, they came down from the city walls without incident, but before they could take two steps forward, someone shouted at them to halt…
Eleven jumped in fright, blinking her wide eyes at Third Brother.
“Don’t be scared. Third Brother is here.” Third Brother patted her back.
More than a dozen horses had stopped near them, snorting quietly from their nostrils. Warhorses that had experienced the battlefield did indeed exude a fierceness about them.
Clutching tightly to the front of Third Brother’s robe, she tilted her head to look up at the people on the horses. Behind the two of them, that man, with reins held in his hands, was framed against a background of sunlight, and he surveyed them, two still-growing children, rather carefully.
Those dark, luminous eyes bypassed the four guards and in silence, looked straight into her eyes.
Eleven cautiously returned his gaze. Quietness surrounded them… So quiet that all that could be heard was her own heartbeat.
Drunken he lays upon a stretch of white bones, uninhibited and free in song. A jug of wine, a single horse; in this world, how many are true rulers?
Had it not been for me, you should have been an exalted prince, a ruler.
This floating life is but a dream. How often can life’s pleasures be enjoyed?
If you had known the outcome would be so, would you have regretted taking me as your disciple?…
Summary of the Zhou family relationships. Skip if you have it already sorted out in your head.
- Zhousheng Chen’s father was the former, legitimate head of the Zhou family. He had one son: Zhousheng Chen.
- Zhousheng Chen’s true birth mother died when he was very young (maybe somehow related to his premature birth?) and Zhousheng Chen’s father married the current Madam Zhou.
- Madam Zhou and Zhousheng Heng (Uncle) were sweethearts but, for the Zhou family, had been forced to give up their relationship. Zhou Wenchuan and Wenxing are their children from their affair. It is not certain whether Zhousheng Chen’s father knew about this (I suspect he might have), but as recompense for this and possibly a repayment of his kindness for not exposing her if he had known, Madam Zhou raised Zhousheng Chen (as per chapter 17.1)
- Zhousheng Heng (Uncle) married Tong Jiaren’s younger sister, and the offspring of this marriage is Zhousheng Ren. Hence, Xiao Ren is half-siblings with Wenxing and Zhou Wenchuan through their father.
- (As an aside, Xiao Ren’s aunt, Tong Jiaren was once married to his brother, Zhou Wenchuan. Therefore, Tong Jiaren’s baby would, by blood, be both nephew and cousin to Xiao Ren. Ugh!! Such creepy relationships.)
It is not clear why it was necessary for her to marry Zhousheng Chen’s father in order to give Zhousheng Chen “legitimacy.” Could be his true birth mother was not married at all to Zhousheng Chen’s father, could be she was just a concubine, according to the Zhou family…. Not certain. It’s pretty certain that Madam Zhou is not sore about her husband loving another woman because she, too, loved another man, and she raised his son because of guilt of her affair. Her coldness towards Zhousheng Chen is simply because he’s not her son.
1 of 1 Prologue
55 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues