“Please come in, Young Master Chen and Madam. Marshal has been waiting for your arrival.”
The guard opened the main door politely and invited them to enter. After doing so, he left them and resumed his normal duties.
Yang Chen was rather surprised to hear him say ‘marshal’. It would seem that they took ranks very seriously here.
Ever since the turn of the century, China had not appointed any marshals. Even the Minister of Defence was only a general.
Based on his ranking, Yang Chen knew that for as long as Yang Gongming was alive, the Yang clan would hold their place as one of the big four.
The doors opened, revealing a relatively long stone path leading to the living hall.
Although there were lots of maids, the mansion still stood out as there were numerous guards posted every few meters around and within the mansion. They were all well built and were oozing with a sense of righteousness. Their eyes told stories of brutal wars full of bloodshed.
The moment Yang Chen and Lin Ruoxi walked in, they greeted them with a straight face.
It was nothing for Yang Chen but it made Lin Ruoxi nervous again. He could feel her palms becoming moist again.
Yang Chen held her hand and walked along the path. He took a glance at her and couldn’t help but tease her. “My dear President Lin, why are you so nervous? Should I tell you a joke to calm your nerves?”
Lin Ruoxi bit her lip and glared at him. She took a deep breath and tried to calm her jittering nerves.
“The house looks nice. It’s probably worth a lot of money. Hmm… the maids seem well trained and the soldiers look like war veterans. They could be useful in putting up a show,” Yang Chen mumbled.
Lin Ruoxi wanted to choke him. She was already so nervous and he decided to talk about the mansion’s real estate?!
A familiar silhouette walked towards them just when they were about to reach the living hall.
Guo Xuehua walked up to them and hugged Yang Chen excitedly.
“Son, you’re finally home. I’ve missed you so much!”
Guo Xuehua wiped her tears. She had been waiting for this moment for twenty-odd years.
“It hasn’t been that long.” Yang Chen patted her back awkwardly.
Guo Xuehua gave him a look. “You heartless child. Look at how nervous you have made Ruoxi. Her whole face is practically red!”
“Mom… I’m… I’m not…” Lin Ruoxi tried to deny it but she couldn’t even look at her mother-in-law right in the eyes.
Although they had lived together for a few months, it was her first time being officially brought home to meet her in-laws.
“Don’t try to deny it.” Guo Xuehua held her hands and smiled. “Don't be nervous. This is now your home too. The soldiers here are retirees from the Yang’s army. They’ve been with us for generations.”
Lin Ruoxi looked at the soldiers subconsciously. She wasn’t as intimidated by them but it was still a weird sight to see.
“Let’s go. Your grandfather is waiting for you. He has already finished two pots of tea.” Guo Xuehua chuckled and motioned for them to follow her.
She led them into the main hall which was being held up by four pillars of redwood.
The furniture was arranged neatly across the floor and there was a drawing of galloping steeds on the opposite side of the wall. It was the only piece of decoration this hall had.
Yang Gongming was wearing a white shirt with black loose pants. He was drumming his fingers on the table out of boredom.
Behind him was Yan Sanniang. She was dressed in grey and was glad to see Yang Chen and Lin Ruoxi when they entered.
“Father, they are finally here.” Guo Xuehua beamed at him.
Yang Gongming nodded and looked at Yang Chen without saying a word.
Yang Chen wiped away the lazy look on his face and looked back at him.
The grandfather and grandson stared at each other in silence. No one in the room knew what they were doing, including Lin Ruoxi.
She was even afraid to breathe too loudly.
Although Yang Gongming was nice to her and even complimented her when he came to visit, they were in her house back then.
She had been watching him on the television since young. A nationwide leader and an influential icon in the government. Seeing him on screen and meeting him in real life was a completely different experience.
Moments later, Yang Gongming smiled. “You're back…”
It sounded like a question and a statement rolled into one.
Yang Chen lowered his head and chuckled. “I’m here, not I’m back…”
Yang Gongming raised his brows and turned to face Lin Ruoxi. His smile widened and he asked her gently, “Ruoxi, tell me, are you guys here or back?”
It wasn’t her first time being treated as his granddaughter, but it still made her blush.
She snuck a glance towards Yang Chen and realized that he was blinking at her.
Lin Ruoxi hesitated for a while before answering, “We’re... back...”
“Hey!” Yang Chen pulled her closer. “Dear, how could you not side with me?! You have to follow me! We’re here to visit, not coming back!”
“What? Don’t be so childish.” Lin Ruoxi pushed him, “I’m embarrassed for you. Why are you acting so tough in front of your own grandfather? I thought you were thick-skinned? Why are you so shy now?”
Yang Chen’s face fell. How could she betray him and sway away from him so easily?!
Yang Gongming laughed and clapped his hands. “Looks like you aren’t doing so well yourself. You can’t even control your wife and yet you tried to take advantage of me.”
Yan Sanniang and Guo Xuehua giggled to themselves.
Yang Chen blushed and realized that no one was on his side. It was already bad enough back home.
“Daughter-in-law,” Yang Gongming called.
Guo Xuehua walked forward immediately. “Father, are we starting the meal?”
“Let’s do it in the backyard. Open a bottle of aged Huadiao wine too. Yang Chen might not be quick-witted but I’m older than him so I won’t hold it against him,” Yang Gongming teased.
Yang Chen wiped his face and mumbled something under his breath. Lin Ruoxi pinched him which stopped him from saying anything else.
Although they weren’t really the nicest of people to each other, the atmosphere was surprisingly relaxed.
Lin Ruoxi thought it was rather weird too but decided that this was better than a tense one. She instead opted to survey the mansion she was in.
It was an old mansion so most of the architecture was ancient. There were many pieces of artwork that made the whole area seem like a museum.
When they came to the backyard, the dining table was already filled with a variety of dishes. Most of them were Yang Chen and Lin Ruoxi’s favorite dishes. Lin Ruoxi was touched to see that there were also local Beijing glutinous rice balls on the table. Guo Xuehua must have prepared all these beforehand.
Lin Ruoxi was relieved to see that Yang Pojun and Yang Lie weren’t here since Yang Chen swore that he would kill Yang Lie the next time he showed up.
Once everyone took their seats, Yang Gongming motioned for Yan Sanniang to join them. She rejected at first but eventually gave in under his pressure.
Yang Chen thought that her predicament was rather odd. Now that he had survived the first round of Nine Heavenly Lightning, Yan Sanniang’s cultivation had become clear to him.
She was in the mid-phase of the Soul Forming stage but technically, for someone of her caliber, shouldn’t she be in Hongmeng? Why would she be serving as an attendant to Yang Gongming instead?