When Li Song woke up, the sky was still dark and the room was quiet. There was a lit lamp on the red sandalwood table that was decoratively carved with hornless dragons. It was barely able to illuminate the darkness of the room. Li Song furrowed his eyebrows, sat up on the bed, and slowly looked around the room with his deep and dark eyes: a vermillion-lacquered table with curved edges, inlayed with gold, and decoratively carved with spirals, light green curtains, a divider painted with a charming scene of bamboo and evergreen in the mountains, and there was a sword hanging on the left side of the room.
This was his room in Prince Ru Yang’s residence.
There was a strange expression on Li Song’s face. He couldn’t help clenching his hand into a fist. Prince Ru Yang’s residence had been confiscated of their valuable possession five years ago and he had left that place since then. How did he suddenly return?
Li Song remembered that after he had ridden a horse between two snow-capped peaks, the ground shook and the accumulated snow on the mountaintops had fallen down without warning. He didn’t die? Li Song raised his hands. The dim lighting was enough for him to see that his hands were perfectly fine. He felt even more doubtful.
Perhaps, he was dreaming.
Li Song glanced out the window and saw the early morning light and mist. It seemed as if it had drizzled last night. The air was saturated with dampness. He quietly sat at the head of the bed without moving while leaning against a large pillow embroidered with silver thread. His expression was cold like frozen water.
When the first rays of sunlight entered the room, he slightly raised his eyes. The sun was especially gentle as it shined on the light colored butterfly-shaped birthmark underneath his eye. His face looked even more captivating underneath the sunlight. Li Song slightly narrowed his eyes. He hadn’t experienced such a peaceful morning in a long time.
He heard the sound of footsteps starting from the verandah and stopping at his doors. Someone pushed opened the doors and entered his room. As the person headed towards his inner room, he said, “Young Master, why did you wake up so early today? It’s still early morning. Aren’t you going to go out at noon? You can still sleep some more.”
It was Li Song’s personal servant, Lu Shi.
Li Song furrowed his eyebrows and stared at him.
Lu Shi had served him for over a decade and had been very loyal to House Li. However, when House Li had been punished, his elderly mother had asked him to return to his hometown. Li Song had heard he had met with an accident on the way there and had died a few days later. Why would he appear again? Li Song’s eyes deepened. If this was really a dream, this dream was a bit too realistic.
Seeing that Li Song wasn’t responding, Lu Shi was confused and asked again, “Young Master, what’s wrong? Are you not feeling well somewhere? This servant can call for a doctor to see you.” Normally, Li Song wouldn’t have ignored him. However, Li Song only rubbed the spot between his eyebrows without saying a word today.
“Young Master?” Lu Shi asked.
A long time later, Li Song said with a hoarse voice, “I’m fine.”
Lu Shi skeptically looked at Li Song. Other than his complexion not looking good, he wasn’t any different from usual. Lu Shi didn’t continue to ask questions. After he waited upon Li Song with putting on his clothes and washing his face, he withdrew from the room and prepared to have people bring in breakfast. However, right after he had stepped one foot past the doorway, someone came bustling over here and almost collided with him. Without any greeting, the person went straight to the inner room.
There was only one person in the Prince Ru Yang’s household that could act this willfully and rashly. It was first miss Li Xiang.
Li Xiang was wearing an a short, dark yellow top embroidered with a hundred silver butterfly and flowers and an indigo pleated skirt embroidered with white flowers. She arrived at Li Song’s bedside like a gust of wind.
She was born with a beautiful appearance. Her teeth were white, her lips were red, her eyes were almond-shaped, and her cheeks were rosy. Even when she was frowning, she still had a lovable charm that affected other people. Li Xiang pouted and questioned, “Older brother, why haven’t you done the thing you promised me?”
Li Song looked at her and couldn’t help wrinkling his brow slightly. Quite a while later, he asked, “What?”
Seeing that he wasn’t showing a response, Li Xiang thought he was going to go back on his word. She took out a small, white and blue porcelain bottle from her sleeve and stuffed it into Li Song’s hand. “This bottle has five minerals powder. I had the servants buy it. You promised me that would get Wei Chang Hong to use this. You can’t go back on your word.”
After saying this, she saw that Li Song hadn’t shown any reaction and softened her voice to say, “Older brother, you know that I don’t want to marry Wei Chang Hong. This is the only way to get father and mother to be willing to cancel the engagement. Aren’t you going to Yu He today? I heard that Wei Chang Hong would also be going? Pretty please, just give him this bottle when you see him…”
Wei Chang Hong.
Li Song lowered his eyes and looked at the white and blue porcelain bottle in his left hand. Memories that he wanted to forget but couldn’t forget gradually filled his mind. During the five years had he been gone, he had traveled all over the country and seen all of the lakes and rivers. But, he still couldn’t erase that point of obsession in his mind. At the mention of anything related to her, he couldn’t help becoming preoccupied with thoughts about her.
Li Song still hadn’t said a word. Li Xiang inevitably felt somewhat anxious. Once again, she called out, “Older brother.”
Then, she sat down on the bed, grasped Li Song’s arm, and said, “Older brother, this five minerals powder won’t kill Wei Chang Hong. It’ll only worsen his reputation a little bit. I’m a girl. I can’t ruin my reputation by canceling an engagement without any reason. It’s father and mother’s fault for insisting that I marry him.”
Worried about this matter, Li Xiang mumbled about this for a while until Li Song finally furrowed his brow and said, “Okay.”
Li Xiang immediately stopped speaking.
Li Song held the white and blue porcelain bottle in the hollow of his hand and said to Li Xiang without looking at her, “You can leave now.”
Li Xiang knew that he was feeling impatient from his expression. She wanted to say more, but she felt timid after seeing Li Song’s cold and cryptic expression, so she unwilling walked out of the room.
After Li Xiang left, there was no one speaking garrulously next to him. Li Song silently sat on the bed in a daze for a moment and thought of the warmth he had felt when Li Xiang had touched him. The touch felt too real. It didn’t feel like a dream.
He heavily fell back down on the bedding. The framework of the bed was sturdy and only lightly swayed. Li Song raised a hand and covered his eyes. On the surface, he still seemed calm, but his body was taut and his arms were faintly trembling as if he was trying to restrain his emotions at all costs.
This wasn’t a dream. Lu Shi was here. Li Xiang was a fourteen-year-old girl right now. He had actually returned to the past.
But, when had Li Xiang and Wei Chang Hong been engaged? Li Song remembered that although his parents originally had this idea, there had been conflict between Li Xiang and Wei Luo during the annual hunting competition and she later injured Wei Chang Hong by shooting an arrow at him. The marriage talks between the two families failed and his parents never mentioned this matter again. How could Li Xiang be engaged to Wei Chang Hong right now?
Li Song lied on the bed without moving. A long time later, he finally slowly moved his hand away from his eyes. His red and gloomy eyes were unfathomable. No one would be able to tell what he had just decided.
A private room on Yu He’s second floor.
Li Song was wearing a light silk plain navy blue robe and sitting at a small black-lacquered table. There was an open window behind him. He leaned against the window frame with his eyes half closed and indifferently looked at the people around him.
These people were his past friends and they were all lounge lizards that idled their time away. They were currently grouped around a small table and in high spirit as they threw dice. In the past, Li Song would have also been there playing with them, but now he couldn’t make himself feel the slightest interest.
Perhaps, he had been wandering for too long and was already unfamiliar with this type of lifestyle. It was difficult for him to blend in.
Li Song slowly traced the edge of his celadon cup. He seemed lost in thought. He hadn’t said a word since he entered this room.
One of the nearby young men wearing a black robe that was embodied with a branching lotus pattern approached him. He curiously looked over Li Song and deliberately said, “Something is fishy. What’s wrong with our Young Master Li? Why are you so silent today? You’re the best at this game. Are you not playing with us because you’re worried that we’ll lose too badly to you? Aiya, say something. Are you in a bad mood? Who angered you?”
This person was the assistant minister of revenue’s young son, Chen Hong Sheng. He always had the best relationship with Li Song. Although he was an overly talkative person, his character was pretty good.
Li Song turned the cup in his hand and quietly said, “It’s nothing.”
Chen Hong Sheng didn’t believe him. After looking at him for a while, he pretended as if he suddenly realized something and said, “I heard that you invited Duke Ying’s family’s Sixth Young Master here. Did you want to beat him up? Isn’t he going to marry your younger sister soon? Are you dissatisfied with him?”
Li Song was silent for a moment before casting a rebuking glance at Chen Hong Sheng, “You say too much nonsense.”
Chen Hong Sheng choked back the words he was about to say and embarrassedly stroke his nose. He sat back down in his original spot. It felt as if he had been too nosy.
The atmosphere in the private room became livelier and livelier as the wine cups were refilled again and again. The crowd’s mood was very excited when the doors were opened from the outside.
Wei Chang Hong appeared at the private room’s doorway. He was wearing a moon white robe embroidered with honeysuckle. His tied up hair and tidy clothes was completely incompatible with the atmosphere in the private room.
The people in the room were either sitting or leaning against something. They were all unsteadily swaying and none of them were behaving properly. In contrast, Wei Chang Hong’s back was ramrod straight and his eyes were clear. He swept his gaze lightly and calmly around the room and stopped at Li Song. He went straight to the point and asked, “What did you want to talk about?”
Everyone in the private room was looking at him. Perhaps, his noble aura was too dazzling. The people that had been drinking stopped drinking. The people that had been playing stopped playing. They all silently sat up straight.
Li Song looked at Wei Chang Hong without reveal his intentions. He felt as if this person was slightly the same and slightly different from the Wei Chang Hong that he knew. He raised his chin and pointed at the spot on the other side of the small, black-lacquered table. “Sit.”
Wei Chang Hong wasn’t afraid of him. He stood still for a long time before sitting down across from Li Song. His eyes were as indifferent as before and he was even less talkative than the Wei Chang Hong that he knew.
Li Song poured wine into a celadon cup and placed it in front of Wei Chang Hong.
Wei Chang Hong didn’t move. He only continued to look at Li Song. He was probably waiting for Li Song to say why he had invited him here.
The corners of Li Song’s mouth curved up. With an unclear meaning, he said, “It’s not poisoned.”
Wei Chang Hong wasn’t afraid that the wine had poison. There was a constant stream of guests in Yu He. If something happened to him, they wouldn’t be able to escape. He just simply didn’t want to drink it. However, the surrounding lounge lizards were all staring at him as if they had already expected that he wouldn’t dare to drink. Their eyes were all filled with delight as they anticipated his misfortune. Without changing his expression, Wei Chang Hong picked up the wine cup in front of him and drank it in one gulp. He placed the wine cup back onto the table, stood up, and said, “If there’s nothing else, I’m leaving.”
Li Song stopped him, “How could there be nothing else? If there was nothing else, why would I invite you here today?” He smiled as he said, “Sir Wei, you have a good temperament. I’ll drink this cup of wine as a toast to you.”
He picked up the wine cup, tilted his head back, and also cleanly drank the wine.
Following his movement, something dropped from his sleeve and rolled over to Chen Hong Sheng.
Chen Hong Sheng picked up the item and asked, “Eh, what’s this?”
Li Song’s expression didn’t change. With his lips slightly curved, he said, “Five minerals powder.”
Chen Hong Sheng, “…”
Wei Chang Hong stared at Li Song. His gaze had immediately become colder.
Li Song took the five minerals powder back from Chen Hong Sheng. He held it in his palm and gradually increased his strength until he shattered the porcelain bottle. The five minerals powder spilled out from his hand and landed on the small, black-lacquered table. A short while later, blood dripped down from Li Song’s hand and mixed with the five minerals powder. They clotted together on the surface of the table.
Li Song raised his eyes to look at Wei Chang Hong with a rather mocking gaze. “Don’t worry, this wasn’t in the wine that you drank. You have a wonderful older sister. If she knew that I deceived you into using five minerals powder, she would probably stab me again.”
The people in the room were struck dumb by this scene. Chen Hong Sheng’s widen his eyes and asked, “Ah Song, doesn’t that hurt?”
Li Song didn’t answer him. He coldly looked at Wei Chang Hong with a fake smile.
Wei Chang Hong’s eyebrows were furrowed, but his tone was still indifferent as he asked, “What did you say?”
Li Song thought he was only putting on act, so he said, “But I’m somewhat curious. Why did you agree to this engagement? Did Wei Luo not tell you that I was the one that shot you in the hunting grounds?”
Right not, it should be shortly after the hunting competition. Li Xiang had recently injured Wei Chang Hong. It was strange that he would still agree to this engagement.
Wei Chang Hong stood in silence for a moment. His eyes were even colder than before. He only glanced at Li Song before directly leaving the private room.
That look… How to describe it? It was as if he was looking at a lunatic.
After Wei Chang Hong left, Chen Hong Sheng said to Li Song, “Are you crazy? How could you break that thing with you bare hand? You seem kind of off today. House Wei’s Fifth Miss Wei Luo had already died ten years ago. Why did you mention her for no reason…”
Before he could finish speaking, Li Song tightly grabbed his shoulder with his other hand. Li Song’s expression was terrifying as he asked, “What did you say?”
Chen Hong Sheng said, “I asked if you’re crazy…”
Li Song involuntarily increasing the strength he was holding Chen Hong Sheng’s shoulder.
Chen Hong Sheng yelped and trembled as he continued to say, “Wei Chang Hong only has a younger sister. Her mother is Fifth Master Wei’s second wife. His younger sister is called… I think she’s called Wei Zheng. Oh, Wei Chang Hong’s fraternal twin, Wei Luo, died ten years ago…. Aiya, why would you mention this? I only know about this because my mother mentioned this once.”
As he said this, he saw that Li Song’s expression gradually became confused. Li Song had also loosened his grip on his shoulder, so he added, “But it’s such a pity. Based on Wei Chang Hong’s looks, Wei Luo would have become an outstanding beauty when she grew up. What a pity…”
Wei Luo died?
Heart palpating in fear, Li Song looked at his badly mutilated palm. He clearly remembered that little girl pushing himself into a lake when she was six years old. When she was seven years old, she had a played a trick on him on the streets. When she was fifteen years old, they had met underneath the colored lanterns during the Spring Lantern Festival. Later, she had been engaged to Prince Jing Zhao Jie… Li Song slowly retracted his hand. He didn’t even pick out the shards from the porcelain bottle from his hand before standing up and walking out.
Behind him, Chen Hong Sheng shouted, “Ah Song, where are you going?”
Lost in his thoughts, Li Song couldn’t hear anything.
When Li Song returned home, he immediately ordered people to investigate about Wei Luo’s matter. Very quickly, he received his answer.
As it turns out, Wei Luo was different in this world. Wei Luo hadn’t died like Chen Hong Sheng said. When Wei Luo was six years old, her stepmother, Du-shi, had taken her outside. Wei Luo had been kidnapped while they were on the way to somewhere. When Du-shi went back and brought people to look for her, they weren’t able to find her. Duke Ying’s household had grieved for a long time when they found out about this news originally. Later on, Wei Luo’s name was gradually forgotten as time passed. And now, people rarely mentioned her name.
When Li Song heard about this news, he expressionlessly leaned back against the chair that was decoratively carved with chrysanthemums and clouds. His eyes slightly darkened and his hands tightly gripped the armrests on the rosewood chair.
Puzzled, Lu Shi asked, “Young Master, why did you want this person investigated?”
Li Song didn’t say a word. A short while later, he raised his hand and waved it to indicated for Lu Shi to leave.
He wanted to be alone.
After Lu Shi left, Li Song sat in his room for an entire afternoon by himself.
He had originally planned on doing nothing. He just wanted to the chance to see her more. Unexpectedly, the heavens had been this cruel to him. Even though he had been reborn, the heavens didn’t give him any hope. Li Song bitterly smiled and randomly picked up a book on the table to cover his face. He didn’t want to let anyone see his expression right now.
Two days later, Li Song went to Duke Ying’s residence because of Wei Chang Hong and Li Xiang’s engagement.
At this time, their two families hadn’t become enemies yet. Duke Ying and Wei Kun’s attitude could be considered amiable. After the matters related to the happy occasion was settled, Li Song said his farewells and left Duke Ying’s residence. Unexpectedly, a mishap suddenly happened to his carriage, so Duke Ying’s steward arranged for a carriage for him to use. The carriage was parked at Duke Ying’s household’s corner entrance. Li Song walked to the corner entrance, went into the carriage, and ordered the carriage driver to bring him back to Prince Ru Yang’s residence.
In the moment that he put down the curtain, his line of sight shifted and he coincidentally caught a glimpse of a shadow near the corner entrance.
Li Song’s paused and looked over there again. But, there was nothing there. It was as if that glimpse had just been his hallucination. The carriage started to slowly move forward and headed towards outside the alley.
Li Song blurted out, “Wait.”
The carriage hurriedly yelled out, “Whoa!” to stop the horse. The carriage stopped on the side of the road.
Li Song stared at the corner wall for a long time. In the end, he couldn’t resist his mind’s intuition. Curious at the unexplained event, he got off the carriage and walked towards that corner wall. He didn’t walk quickly. He was afraid of startling something away and also scared that he had been mistaken. It was clearly only a few steps away, but it felt as if it had taken him half a lifetime.
Li Song finally stopped in front of the corner wall and said towards the inside, “Who’s in here?”
After he had waited for a long time, no one responded.
Li Song continued, “Come out.”
He had really been mistaken. Li Song lowered his eyes. He didn’t know what feeling had temporarily gushed forth in his heart. Right now, he felt very dejected as if he had been hollowed out. There had been no point in his rebirth. He clenched his hand into a fist and forcefully punched the wall in front of him until there was a hole in the wall. The back of his hand had also been injured and was now stained with blood.
There was suddenly a faint sound from the inside of the wall. It sounded like a frightened and panicked kitten. Although the person was doing her best to suppress her voice, the sound was still captured by Li Song.
At first, Li Song was too surprise to react. Soon after, he stretched his hand into the corner wall without the slightest hesitation. He tightly grabbed a wrist and pulled the person out.
The person was suddenly pulled out into the sunlight. Her almond-shaped eyes were wide open and her mouth was slightly open. Her long eyelashes were like the wings of a butterfly. As they fluttered, it was if that butterfly flew into Li Song’s heart. Although she was wearing a simple and unadorned light purple jacket and skirt and her glossy hair was braided into two pigtails, it couldn’t cover the beauty of her face.
Li Song stared at her until it felt as if he was going to cry. His heart softened. A long time later, he finally hardened his eyes and gritted his teeth as he said, “Wei Luo.”
Wei Luo was currently trying to retract her wrist, but she wasn’t able to do it. When she heard her name, she was startled and asked, “Do you know me?”
Li Song opened and closed his mouth, but he couldn’t say a single coherent word.
In the end, he closed his eyes as his body continued to slightly tremble.
Not only did he recognize her, he would still recognize her even if she had changed into dust.