Lei Zhonglian tightened his grip on the spear in his hands.
People were pouring out from all around him, some on horseback and some on foot, it was a disorderly chaos.
These people were wearing different clothes, and they looked like demons and fiends. They were all carrying different weapons too – swords, spears, halberds.
"Give us toll, give us toll," they chanted strangely as they waved their weapons.
"Master Fang, there’s something not right about these people," said Lei Zhonglian.
Although Father had left the world suddenly, Master Fang had traveled extensively with Father, so he was not afraid with the present situation. Even being surrounded, his expression was calm.
"What’s not right? There are quite a few of these bandits," he commented. "But there’s no harm. They want money, and we seek passage. We can each be at peace."
At hearing Master Fang's words, someone with a steward went to deal with the bandits.
Lei Zhonglian had the other bodyguards form a defensive formation.
"There's something not right here. Do not stake your lives; we must only survive; do not strive for glory or wealth," he instructed.
The bodyguards all nodded. Some of the young brothers were even smiling.
"Big Brother Lotus, isn't this something everyone knows? Yet you still specially warn us," they said.
Reminding them of something that didn't need reminding, it betrayed his state of nervousness, as well as gave the whole affair an atmosphere of unease.
Lei Zhonglian looked around at the faintly discernable bandits everywhere, his expression grave.
"I feel that there's something not right about these people," he said.
The bodyguards also looked around, not understanding.
"These bandits have occupied this territory for many years; they aren't rare at all. Sometimes there are a lot of them, sometimes there a few of them. The past few years the circumstances have not been good, so many more people have been turning to banditry," someone said. "But all they want is money; it's not worth it to risk their lives."
"Even if they were staking their lives, we would not be afraid," someone said with a laugh. "They can't even hold onto their swords steadily."
In the past, though there were many bandits wielding weapons, they were not too skilled. So if they really attacked, even with superior numbers, they didn’t necessarily hold the advantage, and the bodyguards definitely would not feel too big of a loss.
It should be so, but this time, Lei Zhonglian saw that these people were somewhat strange.
Their voices and movements seemed to be chaotic, but there was a strange kind of order to them.
Right at this time, the person who had went to negotiate cried out, and fell from his horse.
"Take a hostage, this is the blood price!" came the shout.
The battlefield was madness.
"Their appetites are big; they’re not scared of being full to the point of bursting," shouted the bodyguards. They arranged themselves into a battle-ready position and met the oncoming attack.
Just as they were moving, the bandits poured out like a wave, their cries shaking the heavens.
These words poured into Lei Zhonglian’s ears, and he felt like he had been struck by lightning.
He knew what was not right.
Their voices were so orderly. Despite the chaos, it was deliberate chaos. It quickly converged into a uniform attitude that could topple the mountains and overturn the seas.
And they were shouting to kill.
If it were bandits, shouting at most would just be a meaningless chatter. If they shouted ‘kill’ while charging, it would just be a situation.
But this was a battlefield, and these were soldiers.
Lei Zhonglian had once thrown himself into the ranks, and had even personally gone to the northern region to follow after Duke of Cheng, but be
cause of his parents advanced age, he had no choice but to stop due to filial piety.
He had been through battlefields, he had trained and killed with his comrades. Although his time there was short, that sensation was engraved in his very marrow.
These people, these people were were not bandits!
"Withdraw, do not meet them, do not engage in battle formation, go and protect Master Fang and withdraw," he shouted.
But it was too late.
"So those people weren’t bandits but trained soldiers?"
A girl’s voice cut through Lei Zhonglian’s memories, as she passed him a cup of hot tea.
His rigid body relaxed marginally, and he took the warm tea with a cold hand.
"Yes," he answered shortly. "The authorities later came and arrested them, and they admitted it was their doing. There was boundless evidence, but I was still certain that those bandits were not the same bandits."
"Was the only proof your feeling from that time?" she asked.
Just like when they had seen the woodcutter, his first reaction was his hair standing up.
Because they had looked like soldiers, especially those who had been to the battlefield and spilled blood.
But it was all just a feeling, just an animal’s instinct when faced with danger. It could be understood but not described.
Lei Zhonglian lowered his head, sorrow in his eyes.
"Yes, no one believed me," he said bitterly.
Everyone thought he was trying to avoid blame.
Because over and over again he had cried out that they were soldiers, cried out that it was a premeditated crime, cried out that this was a tragic grievance, but never said he lacked ability.
Bodyguards being defeated by soldiers was a lot less shameful than being exterminated by a group of bandits.
Miss Jun didn’t say anything.
But the ever silent Fang Chengyu finally spoke.
"What did my Mother and Grandmother say?" he asked.
"Lady could not withstand the excitement…" Lei Zhonglian said. "Old Lady did say something."
He raised his head and looked straight at him.
"She said, I was lying. She said, it was impossible," he said.
Why was it impossible.
He refused to accept it, so he didn’t leave. He remained at the De Sheng Chang, just wanting to know why.
Miss Jun looked at Fang Chengyu, and he looked back at her.
Miss Jun smiled and did not say anything.
"I saw the records from then, and also saw the investigation files of the government officials of that time." He looked at Lei Zhonglian with warmth. "Indeed, there was no indication that soldiers had participated, and there were no troops stationed around Yangcheng at that time. If that many people had come from elsewhere, there was no way there wouldn’t have been any sign of them."
Lei Zhonglian looked at him with surprise.
This Young Master actually knew of what had happened then, and had even read the official report.
So was he suspicious of his father’s death? Otherwise why would he go read the report? Everyone knew he was killed by bandits.
"I am a sick person. I had nothing else that I could do. I can only let my imagination run wild when I read," Fang Chengyu answered, guessing his thoughts. "And at that time, Duke of Cheng was already stationed in the northern region. The troops of the Beisan Road were all under him. You don’t believe the government’s investigation, don’t believe my grandmother didn’t know anything, but don’t you believe in the harshness of the Duke of Cheng’s military?
That’s right. Who could so easily mobilize the Duke of Cheng’s soldiers without trace.
"So you see, that’s why my grandmother said it was impossible," Fang Chengyu said gently.
Lei Zhonglian’s expression was mournful.
Yes, it must have been impossible, but he really did not see wrongly. Then what was the explanation?
Perhaps it really was as others had said. Fear and cowardice had produce this illusion. Unable to cope with his brothers’ deaths, he found his own consolation.
"But, there’s one thing you said was true, Uncle Lei," Fang Chengyu said.
Lei Zhonglian’s head snapped up.
"My father’s murder was definitely premeditated," Fang Chengyu said. "And Uncle Lei, you are someone our Fang Family can believe in, so this time, we let you escort me."
The Fang Family believed in him?
A light lit up in his eyes.
"Young Master," he called out, trembling.
Fang Chengyu smiled and nodded.
"And now we must hasten," he said. "In order to avoid being discovered, we must evade them."
So Young Master hadn’t been cast away by the Fang Family. Rather, this was to protect him.
Lei Zhonglian looked at Fang Chengyu with a sudden realization.
"Young Master, you, could it be that your illness is the fault of someone else…" he asked.
Fang Chengyu nodded.
So it was like that. That’s why they were leaving Yangcheng so suddenly, such that the gods and demons did not know, and going to the distant Runan.
Lei Zhonglian could not voice the feeling in his heart.
"I never thought that Old Lady and Lady always…" he muttered to himself.
Always had believed him.
That wasn’t exactly it. Fang Chengyu looked at Miss Jun; the one who believed in him was her.
"But now I must trouble you to help me onto the carriage. You must look after us two who cannot move freely. I think no one imagined this," she commented.
Lei Zhonglian could not help but smile.
At this time, finding out that father and son had both been harmed by a deep grudge, he could still speak calmly.
This made him feel that his own self-remorse was so laughable.
"Okay," he said. "Young Master, Young Lady, we will hurry on our way, so that none of the villains can find us."
Head Shopkeeper Song smashed the porcelain tea cups on the table onto the ground. He was furious.
"You group of trash, how could you not have found them after this long?"