The great hall was silent. Even an idiot and a blind man would know that Li Chengfeng was no ordinary mortal from this world. They also knew of the kill order sent by the palace 19 years ago, the night when too much blood was shed, when tens of thousands of babies met cruel deaths and too many families and clans were completely decimated!
The Li family’s survival had been completely dependent on Madam Xie’s wit and luck!
If news of this peculiar incident spread, then the Li family would have nowhere to hide no matter where they escaped to!
They also knew that this Sun Boren, whose eyes had been burned away… He was a cultivator of the Spiritual Mountain Sect!
Offending the Spiritual Mountain Sect was also enough to cause extermination of her family!
They were at a dead end here!
If living things like ants yearned to stay alive, humans too!
As Sun Boren twitched on the ground, a golden invitation fell from his sleeve. When the corner of the invitation card hit the ground, the dead-silent hall seemed to come alive once more.
Madam Xie slowly stood up and quietly walked over to pick the golden invitation up. She smiled, “That whole disaster happened all because of this!”
She clutched it pitifully and walked over to the fire pit. She gazed at the glowing firewood within as the invitation trembled in her hand for a while, then suddenly fall.
Green Bead had reflexes quick enough to react. She shrieked and slapped the golden invitation out of the pit, then pounced forward to hold it tightly to her chest. Tearfully, she said to Madam Xie, “Madam, this is the only hope for our Li family!”
Madam Xie smiled as she cried. “Hope? There is no hope!”
Green Bead looked at Li Chengfeng unconscious on the ground and had an odd look. She asked cautiously, “Madam, the young master might still be an ordinary mortal, we’re not sure…”
Madam Xie suddenly roared, “Shut your mouth!”
Green Bead stopped talking when she saw Madam Xie’s fierce glare but still hugged the invitation to her chest.
Green Bead was a servant that Madam Xie bought when she was very young but she had grown up in the Li family and treated them as such. Their glory was her glory, their demise would also be hers.
If Madam Xie hoped Li Chengfeng could become a successful cultivator to rebuild their family, why wouldn’t Green Bead hope the same?
Madam Xie looked at Zhao Xiaobao coldly. In a smart move, he immediately kowtowed, “Don’t worry, Madam. My life belongs to the Li family, I will keep this secret forever!”
Madam Xie sighed in relief as her gaze turned gentler. “Thank goodness I have you two! I have practically raised you two too, and I trust you both!”
Green Bead and Xiaobao knelt at the hall, looking tearfully at Madam Xie.
She sighed. “Looks like our days in Cheng’an City are numbered!”
They looked at each other. Green Bead found the courage to ask, “Madam, we’re… leaving?”
She nodded. “We cannot stay!”
Green Bead asked, “When do we leave?”
She thought for a moment. “We have ancestral prayers in a few days. After the ritual, we will leave.”
As she spoke, Madam Xie walked to the window and looked out. She saw the lush mountain range far away, listened to the singing of working men nearby.
“It’s been ten years since we arrived in Cheng’an. Although life has been tough, I will miss this place dearly!” Madam Xie muttered to herself, welling up.
Green Bead’s eyes were red too. She wiped away her tears and said, “I’ll go wherever you go, Madam! You musn’t abandon me!”
Xiaobao kowtowed. “Xiaobao too! I am part of the Li family alive, and will be a spirit of the Li family when I die!”
She smiled. “Get up, you two. Prepare for our departure these few days but don’t let anyone know of it.”
Green Bead’s chest tightened. She understood that Madam Xie implied she would not bring the rest when they leave. The obedient, intelligent handmaiden’s eyes darted to the half-alive Sun Boren and felt a chill. In a low voice, she said, “Madam, what do we do about him…”
Looking at Sun Boren, Madam Xie’s eyes flashed as she said gently, “If anyone in the family asks, just say that the commotion before this was part of the evaluation process that the Master performed for Chengfeng. Anyone who asks further will be flogged!”
Green Bead nodded slightly. “But… how do we explain ourselves to the Spiritual Mountain Sect?”
Madam Xie said slowly. “I will make my own arrangements for that. Run along now, tell everyone that no one is allowed near this hall without my instructions. Xiaobao, bring Chengfeng to his room. Take good care of him. Don’t tell him what happened when he wakes, just what I said.”
Zhao Xiaobao did not dare tell her about him and the young master robbing the Spiritual Mountain Sect so he asked, “What should I say if he asks about the results of the evaluation?”
“You just tell him…”
Madam Xie thought for a moment. “First class, top grade!”
[A refresher: society is divided into 4 classes, with 1st class as cultivators; each class is divided into top, middle and low grade]
In Madam Xie’s perspective, what’s the use of telling her son such bad news if they were going to leave anyway?
Zhao Xiaobao did not dare ask anymore so with Green Bead’s help, he carried Li Chengfeng away on his back. After a while, Green Bead returned to help Madam Xie carry Sun Boren into the backhouse.
Madam Xie returned to the front hall, paced around for a while then yelled, “Uncle Kun, Uncle Kun!”
Soon, an old man with white hair and beard passed through corridors and halls to arrive at the front hall. His face was covered in wrinkles, his back hunched, and he was in his sixties. This was the butler of Li Residence, Li Kun.
Madam Xie helped Uncle Kun inside and looked at him painfully. Her voice almost catching in her throat, she said, “Uncle Kun, how long has it been since you’ve come to our Li family?”
Uncle Kun was an experienced and intelligent old man, immediately understanding what she implied. He fell to his knees without hesitation and kowtowed loudly three times. “Madam, I was sold to the Li family when I was eight, and I have served three generations of Li patriarchs! It has been fifty-three years!”
Madam Xie said, “You raised Li Chun, then you raised my son too. I have never seen you as my subordinate, I have always considered you a member of the Li family.”
Uncle Kun’s eyes reddened as he welled up. “I know! During the Great Disaster of Hanyang, my parents almost starved to death but the Li family was kind enough to give us money and food for them to live on! These years, while my parents have already passed on, I have felt deep kindness from the Li family! To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s you or Master, or even Young Master, you’re all the last of my family! Just tell me, no matter what it is you need me to do, Madam! I will do it even at the cost of my life!”
Crying, Madam Xie said, “This matter relates to the life and death of our Li family, you must understand that you will likely never return!”
Uncle Kun smiled through his tears. “I will do it to the best of my abilities, even if it results in death!”
Madam Xie fell to her knees, sobbing, but Uncle Kun quickly stopped her. “Madam, just tell me what your orders are! There’s no need for this!”
She started to whisper softly by his ear as he listened quietly, his face showing zero expression. When she was done, he bowed deeply and turned to leave without a word.