The eleventh of November, in the countryside out of Cheng’an City. It snowed heavily.
Prayers on the eleventh day of the eleventh month was an important yearly affair for the Li family.
Other families usually paid respects to their ancestors during the *Qing Ming Festival but the Li family did it on today instead because the founder of the Cleansing Moon Sect, Li Yue, passed away on this date.
[*Qing Ming Festival = a Chinese tradition to pay respects at your ancestor’s graves/tombs on this day]
That was why there would be a large commotion at their residence every year as they left to pay respects.
Every time the Li family moved, they would think of a way to bring Founder Li Yue’s remains and the ancestral tablets along. When they settled in a new place, they would then pick a place with good fengshui to bury the remains.
The Cleansing Moon Li family was adept in fengshui. After arriving in Cheng’an, they did not follow the popular practice of setting up the grave at the foot of the mountains to the west of the city. They chose a place about ten kilometres south of the city, halfway up a mountain.
Three days before prayer day, Madam Xie instructed her servants to prepare all the offerings and livestock required for the prayer. On prayer day, the entire family including the patriarch, Li Chun and Madam Xie, the young master Li Chengfeng and all the servants and handmaidens would leave with the offerings. All of them totalled up to more than ten people, setting off southwest in horse and cattle carriages.
Not many servants knew that today’s expedition was an excuse to leave Cheng’an city for good. Worse, no one knew a horrible fate awaited them.
There were many mountains surrounding Cheng’an City. The ancestral grave was situated within a mountain range. Here, mountains rolled as far as the eye could see. At the end of this mountain range was the famous Spiritual Mountain Sect themselves. The grave was on the other side of the mountain range. Here, the mountain range split into a fork so mountains surrounded this location, like a tiger crouching to protect it. It was a very good place for a grave.
Li Chengfeng had sustained serious injury so when he left, Madam Xie understandably let him sit in the carriage. However, as he was upset at her chasing Xiaobao out, he chose to ride on the back of a horse alone.
This entire party consisted of ten carriages, five of them filled with livestock while the rest were also filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.
In the past, to liven up the atmosphere, Madam Xie would hire some random people from Cheng’an to fill up the crowd, then pay them. After some time, every year, random people waiting for free rewards would wait around for this opportunity.
There were more than a hundred people this time, including the ones from the Li family. The entire entourage travelled like a snake down the path, forming a line more than a hundred meters long. Far away, one could hear drums played at the head of the line.
When Li Chengfeng was younger, he would run excitedly from the front to the back of the line, kicking the goats and hitting the pigs, wreaking havoc.
When he grew older, he still ran about from front to back, teasing the handmaidens. However, this year, he was miserable and empty because his best friend was gone.
Theoretically, Li Chengfeng, as the future patriarch of the Li family and the only heir, should be the one carrying the family sign at the head of the line.
Yet, Li Chun, clad in magnificent armour from head to toe, was the one at the very front. He was bragging about the Li family’s glorious past to the hired good-for-nothings.
Li Chengfeng did not want to follow him, afraid his father might go crazy again. What if he grabs his son’s shoulders claiming Chengfeng was his wife? Or pointed at a pig and said that was his son? Li Chengfeng could not bear to be embarrassed like that!
The journey through the mountains was extremely bumpy. Li Chengfeng was in pain on the back of a horse but he clenched his teeth and suffered through it without a word. The only comfort was that he had too much to worry about, diverting his attention from the pain.
Too many awful incidents had happened these few days, he could hardly keep up.
Ever since he robbed the Spiritual Mountain Sect, unlucky incidents had occurred non-stop, all of them utterly unbelievable.
Although half of the incident at Zhixi’s place had been solved, what was the deal with Silver Hairpin and Zhou Anyang? There was one very important thing he still didn’t understand: why was the prefecture chief’s mistress, Su Zhixian, there?
It was an unsolvable mystery- unless Su Zhixian could be resurrected.
Also, how was he going to get Xiaobao back, now that he had been chased out?
Plus, he had just offended the Zhan family of the northwest. How would he deal with this?
Everything pressed heavily in his mind, so he merely sulked with tightly furrowed brows. He did not even notice when someone called for him.
“Young Master, Young Master?” came a bright voice.
He paused, then turned to see a grinning face looking at him from the horse carriage window. It was the adorable handmaiden his mother had just bought, and deeply loved- so much it made Green Bead anxious.
Li Chengfeng forced a smile. “What is it?”
Su Yuehan smiled. “Master is calling for you in front.”
He huffed, “I’m not going!”
She looked at him, puzzled. “Why not?”
“I just won’t, why do I need a reason?”
“Oh…” She thought for a moment. “Madam told me to ask you if you’re still hurting? Do you want to come sit in the carriage?”
He immediately straightened his back and laughed coldly. “Tell her I’m not dead yet!”
As if she did not notice his enmity, she said, “Oh, alright!”
Then came Madam Xie’s voice from within the carriage, “Then tell him to look alive, I don’t want other people to think we are a joke.”
Su Yuehan stuck her tongue out, not wanting to be the messenger of this mother-and-son fight.
Li Chengfeng huffed and pointed ahead with his horsewhip. “With my father here, are you sure they’d think I’m a joke?”
Madam Xie’s voice trembled. “Son, you must know that no matter what he does, he is still your father!”
“Hmmph!” He looked at Li Chun sideways, then said, “He’s not my father! He’s embarrassing!”
“YOU!” roared Madam Xie furiously.
Su Yuehan tried to de-escalate the fight by yelling when she saw Green Bead’s horse approaching. “Sister Green Bead, where are we now?!”
Although Green Bead was privately cautious of Su Yuehan, she maintained a smile. “We’ve arrived at Phoenix Mountain!”
Li Chengfeng’s attention was successfully diverted because the party had arrived at the entrance of the mountain range. Both sides were tall, steep walls as if an axe sliced through a mountain to create a path. There was only a narrow path in between. Here, air currents swirled and howled like beasts.
In the past, this place used to be infested with robbers. After several exterminations by the Spiritual Mountain Sect, it became safe and travellers could travel in peace again. The Li family was not alert at all when they passed through the narrow path.
It was a short path. The hardest part of the journey would be right after this section.
This part was a steep mountain path. On the left was a terrifying cliff where clouds formed beneath. The bottom of the cliff could not be seen at all.
On the right was the wall of the mountain, so stiff the horses could not travel up. Humans would require both hands and feet to be able to scale it.
Li Chengfeng was not in the mood to argue with his mother so he straightened up and led his horse slowly with the party. Even the noisy people quietened, terrified they might take a wrong step and fall off the snowy cliff.
They were all walking along when the front came to an abrupt halt. Li Chengfeng looked up. Puzzled, to see a man and a woman standing in the middle of the path. They stood out against the desolate mountains.