At the Yang’s courtyard in Beijing, although it was only mid-May, the weather was surprisingly good.
After the morning mist had dispersed, the green plants looked as vital as they could be, making the courtyard look pleasing to one’s eyes while adding a faint fragrance to the air.
Yang Gongming was in his usual outfit—a thin t-shirt with soft cotton pants. After watering a few wisterias he had retrieved, he walked to the side of the stone table in his cloth shoes.
He lifted up a cup of red ginseng tea and took a sip. Looking at the plants that were in the courtyard, the old man let out a smile of satisfaction.
Right at that moment, a tall, young man in short-sleeved military uniform stepped into the courtyard. A sense of pride hung between his brows.
The young man stopped behind Yang Gongming. Looking at the plants in the courtyard, a gleam of despise flashed across his eyes and disappeared as soon as it came. Then, he smiled and said, “Grandpa, did you summon me?”
The young man was naturally Yang Lie.
Yang Gongming turned around and said smilingly, “Oh, you’re here. Come, sit down, sit down.”
After getting Yang Lie to sit down, Yang Gongming shoved a plate of exquisite pastries before him and said, “Try this. You probably haven’t had your breakfast yet. I can guarantee that it tastes decent.”
Yang Lie nodded and took a piece of green bean pastry. He swallowed it in one mouth and didn’t take a second piece. He asked directly, “Grandpa, is there a reason that you suddenly had me come back all this way today?”
“Actually, I should have told you about this a few days ago. But since you weren’t in the military these days, I just left it till later. Your mom called a few days ago saying that she’ll be coming back to Beijing soon,” Yang Gongming said smilingly.
Yang Lie frowned. “Mom’s coming back? Is she alone?”
Yang Gongming shook his head. “No, no. Your brother and sister-in-law will be coming too.”
“What?” Yang Lie stood up abruptly and said aloud, “Grandpa, you must be joking. What right does he have to enter our house? If that’s the case, I’d rather mom don’t come back as well.”
Yang Gongming frowned and signaled for Yang Lie to sit down. “What are you getting so worked up about? I asked you here today not to ask if you agree to this family, I’m the one who call the shots here. Whether you agree or not, they will come back.”
“Grandpa, you…” Yang Lie was filled with fury but he couldn’t say a word. Indeed, in this family, no one could rebuke Yang Gongming’s decisions.
Yang Gongming sighed and said, “Lie’er, your personality is just like your name. Overly aggressive. It’s good to have some temper as a young man, but if you continue like this, you’ll become vulnerable as a result of your stubbornness.”
“Hmph,” Yang Lie snorted, unable to deny it. “Grandpa asked me here today just to tell me this boring news?”
Yang Gongming wasn’t provoked by his words. He just said, “I just wanted to let you know, and also have a look at you while you’re here. Your father who is in the Jiangnan military rarely comes back. Now that you are similarly serving in the military, I rarely see you as well. You’re both very opinionated people. I’m just an old man, and I can’t really force anything on you two. Eventually, your lives will depend on yourselves.
“However, I hope that while I’m still alive, all my grandchildren can have better lives…”
Yang Lie’s expressions switched and changed a few times before he said, “Grandpa, without that fellow, my life would be perfect.”
Yang Gongming raised his head and glanced at Yang Lie, before he shook his head with a smile. “Lie’er, whether you acknowledge it or not, Yang Chen will always be your elder brother by blood.
“You’ve grown up within the Yang clan since young. You even had Daoist Yu Jizi from Kunlun Sect as your master. Compared to Yang Chen, your life has really been a smooth and abundant one.
“Yang Chen is different from you. The fact that he could reappear before our eyes alive is already a blessing from the heavens. Although I don’t believe in the supernatural, I believe that there is a thing called fate between people. It is all destiny.”
“Grandpa, if all you’re going to say is such nonsense, I shall take my leave,” Yang Lie said in dissatisfaction.
Yang Gongming opened his mouth, but a look of helplessness flashed across his eyes. He sighed, “Nevermind, nevermind. You wouldn’t listen to anything I say anyway. You have chosen your own route. If you want to go ahead, then just go.”
Yang Lie bowed slightly and turned around before walking away. After taking a few steps, he stopped and said, “Grandpa, I know what you have in mind. I admit it, that fellow is more powerful than me. You’re planning to use him to bring glory back to the Yang clan again. But let me make this clear now. I won’t give away anything that rightfully belongs to me so easily. One day you’ll realize that your decision is a terrible mistake. There is no certain who will be the true winner in the end. Even if Mom comes back, I will not return to see either of them.”
Finishing his words, Yang Lie strode out of the courtyard.
Yang Gongming squinted his eyes. From the sparkle of his eyes, it was hard to tell what was going through his mind.
After a while, Yan Sanniang’s hunching figure appeared behind Yang Gongming once again. She consoled, “Master, Master Lie’s personality has always been so. I’m afraid it’s difficult for him to change. There’s no need to be overly worried. They’re brothers by blood after all. There will be a way to resolve their feud eventually.”
Yang Gongming smiled. “Sanniang, you’ve overthought. I’m not sad over all these matters. Regardless of how these little ones will turn out in the future, it’s a result of their own choices. It depends not on the elders’ restrictions for a family to be continued, but on one’s own personality and attitude. Regardless of the outcome, the most I can do is provide some insight from the sidelines.”
Yang Sanniang smiled and nodded her head. And then she spoke again, “Master, Master Lie’s body is a bit different now.”
“Hmm?” Yang Gongming asked, “Is it related to Yan Buwen?”
Yan Sanniang said, “I’m guessing that is the case. I’m not sure how he did it, but Master Lie’s cultivation was just destroyed by Master Chen recently. Yet now his cultivation has advanced instead of deteriorated. It’s now one level higher compared to before, almost stepping into the Xiantian realm. Plus, amazingly, Master Lie’s body looks completely different now. If I am not wrong, his body strength rivals that of Master Chen’s now. It really is unbelievable.
“Recently, Master Lie has been rather close to Yan Buwen. If there is anything different, it should be because of the Yan clan. I heard that apart from the underground experiment lab provided by the military, Yan Buwen still has other private experiment labs of his own. But even the Li clan couldn’t find anything fruitful. I think that someone yielding incredible power is backing Yan Buwen up from the dark. Otherwise, Yan Buwen wouldn’t risk turning against the world.”
Yang Gongming smiled lightly. “I’ve said this since very early on, that fellow from the Yan clan is a figure that would either win it all or lose it all. It comes as no surprise.”
“Actually the four dominant clans are all slightly aware of Yan Buwen’s recent actions. But the Yan clan yields great power now. Yan Buwen himself is a respected figure in the scientific community. He’s been doing so much in secret, yet he rarely leaves behind any evidence or traces. He hasn’t really posed any real threat towards the country yet. Instead, he has been providing the military with advanced weapons. The officers in the military are all very supportive of him. That’s why no one dares to make any contact with him recklessly yet, in case they give their suspicions away.
“But in my opinion, Yan Buwen is a mysterious man with hidden secrets. I wonder if things go on this way, will Master Lie become a pawn of his?” said Yan Sanniang.
Yang Gongming knocked his knuckles one after another against the stone table, before he said, “It’s a blessing, not a mishap. If it’s the latter, there’s no escaping it either. Sanniang, all you have to do is keep an eye on these matters. There’s no need to get involved. If that lad Yang Chen truly has the intention to claim the Yang clan from my hands, then he wouldn’t make it if he can’t even handle a mere Yan Buwen.”
“But Master Lie…” Sanniang was a little worried.
“Whether it’s a cat or a tiger does not depend on its outward appearances,” Yang Gongming said smilingly. “Their fight will reveal that answer. As for the outcome, it’s better to watch it while I’m still alive rather than have it happen after my death. This is already the younger generation’s show. All we have to do is watch quietly.”
Yan Sanniang nodded with a smile. “Master has a point there. Maybe I’m overly worried. For some reason, although Master Chen has already entered the stage where he can definitely keep the Yang clan safe, I can’t help but worry about unforeseeable accidents.”
Yang Gongming sighed. “Sanniang, rather than the two little ones, I’m more worried about you.”
Yan Sanniang’s wrinkle-covered face looked slightly touched. She lowered her head and said, “Master, it doesn’t matter. Sooner or later, Hongmeng is bound to find me. I was a little afraid in the past, afraid that I wouldn’t be able to repay you before I die. But now that Master Chen has already entered this stage, and is coming back to the Yang clan, it’s finally time for me to retire.”
“Sigh. You are still the same as back then.” Yang Gongming looked up at the clear blue sky, as though recalling the distant past.