In a small trading area in the Zhonghai city area, it was dusty as it was loud.
There was a small alley between two old buildings. It was dark and wet with a pungent odor that was ever present. There were a few alley cats who were going through the trash for their next meal.
The owner of a restaurant nearby, wearing a shirt dotted with oil stains, walked into the alley. He threw two huge plastic bags full of trash near the trash cans, but not into them.
He wasn’t watching his step. When he was about to leave, he almost tripped over something!
“Ouch!” shouted the owner.
Luckily, he didn’t fall. When he turned back, he was surprised to see a disheveled beggar. Her face was black with grease and she was clothed with scraps and strips of cloth. The woman squatted in a corner, shivering.
The fat owner was repulsed. He cursed, “Smelly old beggar!” then turned to leave.
The beggar, after waiting for the man to leave, burst into loud sobs.
This beggar was none other than Luo Cuishan. She’d just walked out from under the bridge.
She didn’t die, and she did not have the courage to commit suicide.
However, after what happened, she didn’t know how she’d ever face her family or subordinates. She didn’t even know whom she should call.
How could she live if someone she knew saw her like this?
She was a person of importance who had been on TV. What if someone recognized her? That alone was a fate worse than death!
As she suffered in her own mind, Luo Cuishan reached this area of farmlands. She hid in an alley, not knowing what to do next.
At this moment, another silhouette entered the alley, limping.
She fiercely looked up, her filthy face full of anger. Glaring with her bloodshot eyes, she roared, “Why are you here?!”
Cripple looked defeated. Sighing, he said, “Do you think I want to be here? There’s a good begging place nearby. I’d save time if I took the shorter route.”
Luo Cuishan grunted. She looked away, pretending not to hear him.
Cripple grinned mischievously, then took out two cold buns and a label-less bottle of water from a tattered pouch. He then sat next to Luo Cuishan before munching away at the buns.
The buns had dried vegetables in them. Their wonderful smell drifted over as he took out the buns from his pouch.
Luo Cuishan didn’t eat the mantou Cripple gave her this morning, nor did she eat last night. It was currently noon, and she was starving.
She couldn’t help but gulp. But her pride stopped her from asking for food, especially begging!
“Ah, it’s dried vegetables!” Cripple gave a look of pity, then turned to Luo Cuishan. “Hey, I don’t like eating buns with dried vegetables in them. I have one more, you should have it. We shouldn’t let it go to waste.”
She grunted, “Go to hell! I don’t need your pity.”
He looked offended. “What pity?! I am a beggar! Who in this world needs a beggar’s pity?! You’re insulting me! I just don’t want to waste food, what do you think my intention is?! Alright, alright, fine. I’ll throw it in the bin for the cats!”
As she watched Cripple get up to throw the buns away, she couldn’t help but grab his foot. With her head hung low, she said, “You’re a beggar but you let food go to waste. How shameless. Give it to me!”
Cripple looked at her with disdain. Pretending he didn’t care, he said, “There, it’s for you. Remember, you owe me a bun! I don’t want dried vegetables, I want the sesame ones!”
“You think you’re all high and mighty from just a bun,” muttered Luo Cuisan, taking the bun.
It was her first bite of food after so long. Swallowing huge mouthfuls of the bun, she thought it was probably the best bun she’d ever eaten in her life!
However, the food was stuck in her throat! She could barely force it down her parched throat.
“Look at you. What are you eating in such a hurry for?” Cripple brought her his bottle of water. “Drink. I haven’t drunk this before, so don’t you worry.”
He didn’t have to ask twice. She took huge gulps from the bottle. After she swallowed, she continued to eat her bun.
Cripple sat in front of Luo Cuishan, smiling as he watched her eat the entire bun in silence.
Luo Cuishan stole a few glances. He was a young beggar, probably in his twenties. In the past, people like him were like ants to her.
Although she wouldn’t admit it, she knew in her heart that his beggar had saved her life twice now…
Yet, his life as a poor beggar would always be the same.
Why is he so kind? She was puzzled at his actions. He’s good-looking but filthy… She grew uneasy as she pondered away.
In Beijing, Yang Gongming had just hung up the phone, sitting on a big chair in his study. He had a smile on his face.
Yan Sanniang was standing in a corner of the study. As she saw the old man’s expression, her wrinkled face showed a sudden realization. “Master, is it another one asking for your help?”
“What else?” grinned Yang Gongming.
Yan Sanniang smiled and nodded. “Although what Master Chen did wasn’t specifically for the Chinese government, it would be hard for the military to reject him.”
Yang Chen had successfully brought An Zaihuan out of the American military base near the Phillipines. Then, for some reason, the American navy retreated from the Southeast Asian water, lifting pressures off the Chinese military!
These days, the comments online were all directed at the Navy and government, all praising their soldiers for finally getting the enemies to retreat.
The military couldn’t do anything about it. They could only assign the National Security Bureau to monitor Yang Chen while the military officials did the same.
When they finally found out that it was Yang Gongming’s long lost grandson, they were astonished. The Yang clan essentially represented half of the Chinese military. Since they had a powerful grandson, he could potentially be enrolled in the military, strengthening the country.
Although the government wouldn’t reveal most of Yang Chen’s details, the military officials were not dumb. They had collected enough data themselves to piece together a picture of who he was.
Fearing Yang Chen’s power, but at the same time not wanting to embarrass themselves, a few high-ranking officials called Yang Gongming to greet him. In reality, all they wanted was for him to speak to Yang Chen as a grandfather, and to see if he was willing to enter the Chinese military. Of course, with it came a pile of useless flattery and reasons.
“Master, will you talk to him?” asked Yan Sanniang, smiling.
“Sanniang, it’s not about me talking to him. It’s about him listening to me. It would just be a waste of time. Might as well not do it and save me some time and dignity.”
Yan Sanniang replied, “According to Hongmeng’s rules, Master Chen, being a member of the four dominant clans, shall remain a low profile and avoid involving himself in too many petty battles. Master, you must be worried that if Master Chen did fight in the military out of respect for you, Hongmeng wouldn’t be too happy about it.”
Yang Gongming sighed. “You know me too well, Sanniang. Although Hongmeng intend to protect the Chinese roots, they still have to look at the big picture. None of this matters in regards to their true calling. They wouldn’t favor Yang Chen just because he has Chinese blood. I only hope Yang Chen can protect our descendants after I die. I am old, and I cannot hold the Yang clan together forever. It might be hard to unite our forces, but the battle is not serious enough to involve Yang Chen. The bloodline in our house is too diluted. Compared to the lush branches of the other three, we are far behind.”
Yan Sanniang was worried. “Recently, this one feels that the day of departure is approaching.”
Yang Gongming was startled, but then he smiled bitterly and said, “What is meant to happen is here at last…”