Runan. For the bodyguard Lei Zhonglian whose livelihood once depended on traveling outside, it was not an unfamiliar name.
Although he had never gone there, it was the next small county over from where the prefectural government was in Henan Province, Cai Prefecture.
It was not nearby. You had to go through Haiqing and Kaifeng. A quick horse would take ten days.
Why would you want to go there? And bringing the young master who was not far from death.
"My house is in Runan," said Miss Jun.
Lei Zhonglian turned his head to the side in shock.
At the moment, they had not only left the Yangcheng area, but they had also left Shanxi and entered Huaiqing.
Perhaps it was because they had left familiar territory, or maybe it was because the sick person in the carriage could not speak, or perhaps because the spring days were warm, Miss Jun often lifted the coach curtains and sat outside the carriage and talked.
When she saw him looking, Miss Jun smiled.
"Runan, Pingzhang Town," she said.
Lei Zhonglian had a flash of understanding. He could not help but look into the carriage.
The carriage curtains hung down and obscured view of the inside.
Young Lady was bringing Young Master to her house. Did Old Lady and Lady permit it? Of course it was permitted, otherwise these sorts of arrangements would not have been made.
However, letting Young Lady bring Young Master to Runan indicated that Old Lady and Lady had abandoned him.
"Is Young Master doing well?" he couldn’t help but ask.
While looking at the passing scenery, Miss Jun followed up with an ‘en.’
"Chengyu, are you well?" she asked.
Lei Zhonglian stared again. He heard Fang Chengyu say ‘en’ from within.
Although his voice was not loud, it was not weak and powerless.
The past few days, Fang Chengyu had been traveling in the coach. At night, he would be ensconced at an inn. All the while, Miss Jun was the only person taking care of him, except for going up and down the carriage when Lei Zhonglian would lend an arm.
Even with the constant alternation of traveling during the day and resting at night, there didn’t seem to be any changes in him, and he definitely was not getting any weaker.
"Today the weather is good and there is no wind. Can you come out to look at the scenery?" Miss Jun asked.
"I can see it from inside the carriage," said a young boy warmly from within the carriage.
After he said this, the curtains of the carriage were lifted up. Lei Zhonglian turned around and saw a young man leaning against pillows. Because the light that came into inside was partially blocked, he could not see his face. He could only see his two bright eyes.
Such glorious, star-like eyes were not ones that a person about to die could have.
Circumstances were probably not as he imagined.
That idea flashed through Lei Zhonglian’s head.
At the moment, in the Fang residence in Yangcheng, Head Shopkeeper Song was stoically pacing in the drawing room.
Circumstances were not as he had imagined.
Fang Chengyu had not been abandoned by Old Lady Fang and Lady Fang.
But circumstances were also as he had imagined.
Fang Chengyu had been hidden away by Old Lady Fang and Lady Fang.
It is the same logic behind why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. If the great-grandson did not pull through, there was still the grandson. As long as the grandson was around, they could have another great-grandson.
But why would they worry that the grandson or great-grandson would not pull through? Could they know that there was someone sabotaging them?
And he had just discovered this. Luckily his subordinates were very responsible and diligent. Although he had not explicitly given them instructions, but they found time to scope out the rural manor.
They had originally intended to see whether or not Young Lady had tormented him to death.
He hadn’t thought they would see that the one being waited on by Liu’er was not Young Lady, but rather Third Miss Fang Jinxiu.
If it weren’t like that, perhaps it wouldn’t be until after the great-grandson was born that he would have learned that the people over there had disappeared.
In all these years, it was his first time meeting such a situation.
Head Shopkeeper Song’s expression was solemn, and anger showed in his eyes.
"Yunping, why have you come?" Old Lady Fang’s voice came from outside.
Head Shopkeeper Song curbed his resentfulness and put on an anxious expression as he watched Old Lady Fang step in.
"What happened to Chengyu?" he asked anxiously. "Why did I hear he is no longer at the rural manor? Is he still well?"
After discovering the manors had been switched, his subordinates thought of a way to cause a disturbance so the whole thing would be disclosed. So Fang Jinxiu was taken back home and the matter was no longer a secret. Head Shopkeeper Song coming for a visit was not out of the realms of expectation.
He had always been very thorough in his actions, so he never garnered any suspicion.
If it weren’t for Fang Chengyu and the servant girl Lingzhi’s matter happening so suddenly, making Head Shopkeeper Song’s actions seem too coincidental and eager, sealing his fate.
Even that time, Head Shopkeeper Song had come under the pretext of talking about the accounts. Although, it could not work as an excuse for Imperial Physician Jiang’s sudden arrival to Yangcheng.
If you were to insist, Imperial Physician Jiang’s coincidental arrival was not a tell-all. There were many coincidental things in the world.
Maybe this was just suspicion, wrongly accusing Head Shopkeeper Song.
Old Lady Fang looked at him.
But now she definitely could not trust him.
"It is so, Yunping. I also know about that rumor," she said with shame.
Head Shopkeeper Song stared blankly.
"That the descendants of the Fang Family are cursed," said Old Lady Fang.
Head Shopkeeper Song pulled a face.
"That is all just nonsense. What good will come out of you believing that," he said earnestly.
Old Lady Fang looked frustrated.
"I didn’t believe at first either, but if you look at my family now…" she began, then sighed deeply. "It was hard enough for the heavens to pity Chengyu and give him an heir, Brother, so in order to save this child, we must believe."
Head Shopkeeper Song frowned.
If it’s like that, then these women still possibly might…
"Chengyu, his wife, and I went to the Dakong Temple. We begged Master Nian Zhi to give us pointers. He said, ‘If the father does not know the child and the child does not know the father, then the curse can be neutralized’.
"So in order to carry this out, we had Chengyu hide away. No one knows where he is, so that each party does not know the other’s situation. Thus the father does not know the child and the child does not know the father."
What nonsense was this.
Head Shopkeeper Song frowned.
"Isn’t this nonsense?" he asked. "Where is Chengyu now? Who is taking care of him? If you don’t have any news of him, do you not even know whether he is alive or dead?"
"Don’t worry, he is being taken care of well," said Old Lady Fang. "But I cannot say where he is."
She looked all around herself in reverence.
"The infant’s spirit is in the home. If I say it, it will know. This way, it won’t know."
More of this blasted nonsense.
Head Shopkeeper Song was about to say something angrily, when Old Lady Fang implored him again.
"Big Brother, I know that this sounds preposterous. I ask you to let me have my absurdity this time. It was truly not easy for Chengyu to have a child," she said, sobbing. "Just three months, after only three months, I’ll tell you."
Head Shopkeeper Song was helpless in the face of tears.
Although it was preposterous, it was very normal. Women were prone to completely nonsensical thoughts.
For example, his daughter-in-law. Normally she would obey and fear him, listening to his every word, but when she was revering the Buddha and abstaining from meat, she would become unreasonably stubborn with him. Even if he threatened her to stop, she would not bend against the Buddha’s rules.
He really could not figure them out. They were as weak-hearted as mice, so they prayed to Buddha for their own good. However, when they were threatened they became unusually staunch and brave.
Seeing the deranged mother and daughter-in-law, they definitely could not have found out about Fang Chengyu. Since he was hidden, he could be found. Even if they didn’t say anything, was there someone in Yangcheng that he couldn’t find?
"Okay okay, I get it," he said. He was about to say something more, but just sighed helplessly in the end. "You… treat Chengyu a bit better. After all, you raised him for over a decade."
Old Lady Fang nodded her head vigorously.
"Doing this is for his own good. The master said that if the child is born then the curse will be broken, and Chengyu’s life will be spared," she said eagerly, eyes full of hope, just like an old lady in front of the Buddha piously waiting for redemption. Nowhere was the impressive might of the leader of the De Sheng Chang.
Breaking the curse? Really, too naive.
Head Shopkeeper Song smiled in his heart.
"I just hope that you can break the curse in your heart, so that Chengyu is no longer tormented in vain," he said helplessly. Without asking any more follow-up questions, he bid his goodbyes and left.
Seeing Head Shopkeeper Song leave, the mania left Old Lady Fang’s face. A derisive sneer appeared in instead.
Compared to a woman playing the fool, you men are no opponent.