It was morning in Beijing. In a huge house at a suburb, there were lots of trees and flowers planted in its enormous courtyard which displayed an ancient design. In the dry and extremely low-temperature weather, the pine and cypress trees looked green as always. Two snow-white plum blossoms stood tall and proud as they resisted the wind. Emitting a fresh and fragrant smell, they made the courtyard particularly pleasant.
On a green stone table, there engraved a huge area of checkerboard for Go. The black and white stones were scattered all over the table while a teapot was placed on one corner, with its spout releasing white vapor.
[TL note: Go (围棋) is a popular board game invented more than 2500 years ago. The black and white playing pieces are called ‘stones’.]
At the surroundings of the courtyard, there stood a few people at the hidden corners, silently guarding the place.
At this moment, a rather small-sized old man wearing an old-fashioned cotton shirt and cotton trousers came out from a few pine trees from a bent down position as he held a small shovel using an arm, and some yellowed, shovelled weeds with another. He had grey and white hair and some age spots. His body was filled with dust, making him look rather pathetic.
The old man put the shovel beside the table and the weeds beneath a pine seedlings before turning around and sitting on the green stone stool. Raising the teapot, he directly sucked on the spout of the teapot.
The tea was quickly finished. The old man took a bottle of hot water from the side and made some tea. After that, he started pondering upon the unfinished Go game.
Wearing a thick, grey clothes, a kind-looking old woman with slightly drooping cheeks walked into the courtyard and came to the green stone table. Smiling, she bowed as she said, “Master, Commander Yang is back. He’s outside waiting to see you.”
The old man slowly lifted a white stone and suddenly dropped it onto the checkerboard. Knock!
On the checkerboard, the situation for the black side was extremely dangerous.
The old man finally turned his head over. Slowly, he said, “Let him come in.”
“Yes.” The old woman slowly walked out of the place.
After a short while, a tall and muscular, general-rank man dressed in a green military uniform walked into the courtyard. Having knife-like sharp and handsome facial features, he instantly got energetic when he saw the old man as he expressed much respect. He was Yang Pojun.
“Father, I’m here,” Yang Pojun greeted the old man with his head lowered.
The old man waved his hand. “Pojun, sit down, take a look for me. Does the black chess still have chance to live?”
Yang Pojun accepted his request without asking any questions. Straightening his back, he sat on the stool opposite to the old man. He looked at it seriously as he contemplated and frowned. After a long time, he said, “The black chess has no way out, there’s no way to save the situation.”
“Really…” The old man nodded and didn’t explain if Yang Pojun was right or not. Raising his head, he smiled faintly at Yang Pojun, causing his white moustache to shake lightly. “You must be tired to rush here all the way from Jiangnan military region just to see this old man.”
“Not tired, I only hate that I can’t always keep Father company,” Yang Pojun said loudly and sincerely.
“Hehe…” The old man chuckled as he was elated. “In this life, I, Yang Gongming, only have a son and a daughter. Jieyu moved to Zhonghai after she got married, while my only son is at Jiangnan military region. To the people outside, I can be considered a lonely old man already.”
Yang Pojun frowned as he felt helpless. “Father, the general election is coming really soon. I am very confident that I have more than eighty percent chance of returning to Beijing. At that time, I’ll be able to accompany Father more often. Oh yeah, Lie’er can also return here to spend time with you.”
[TL note: ‘Lie’ in Yang Lie is roughly pronounced as ‘lay’. Lie’er should be pronounced as ‘layer’, instead of ‘liar’.]
Yang Gongming seemed like he thought of something. He said, “I heard that a lot of people have their eyes on the position you’re aiming for—the vice chairman of Central Military Commission. If you face any difficulties, feel free to inform me. It won’t be long before I leave this world. Actually, you’ve depended on yourself a lot to achieve what you have today. While my brain is still clear, I can help you in one way or another.”
Yang Pojun violently nodded. “Father, don’t say that. Your body is still healthy and tough. You still have lots of time in the future, how can you say that you’re leaving soon?”
“People get old and die as a result of diseases. When the children grow up, their parents will naturally get old. When the children become parents one day, their parents get to a time where they’ll die sooner or later. My life is far more imposing, dignified and fulfilling than others. There’s no reason for me to mind saying something like that.”
“Pojun,” Yang Gongming said, “when you were young, you were much more steady than the others at your age. Being intelligent, you always looked at the bigger picture, and handled things in a neat manner. Comparing to the people of your generation, even with a stronger background, no one can achieve something as impressive as you. You’re the only one who can enter our Chinese core circle of authority by taking one step forward. Having a son like you has always been my pride, and also our Yang family’s glory.
“It’s all because of the upbringing given by Father, otherwise I wouldn’t be the same,” Yang Pojun said.
Yang Gongming couldn’t deny his statement. Lifting the teapot, he took a sip of tea before saying, “That’s right, I’ve definitely have given you extraordinary care. However, the reason I’m able to give it to you is because you’re willing to cooperate as well.”
Yang Pojun stunned. He didn’t know what Yang Gongming meant.
The corners of Yang Gongming’s lips showed an unknown and bitter smile. He reached out to his sleeve and took out a roll of documents before passing it to Yang Pojun.
Yang Pojun had a bad feeling about it. Receiving it with both his hands, he flipped it open and took a look.
It was only one look, Yang Pojun’s facial expression changed abruptly!
“Father! Why… why do you…” Yang Pojun paled. His eyes were filled with astonishment.
These documents were a report of a DNA test. Someone secretly retrieved Yang Chen’s and Yang Pojun’s DNA and sent them for a check. The result was evident!
Yang Gongming sighed. “You don’t have to feel surprised. Actually, back then when you married, a couple quietly gave birth to him and sent him away, I knew about the existence of the child…”
This sentence was like a blast in Yang Pojun’s mind. “Then Father, why do you… why…”
Yang Gongming smiled bitterly. “That year was coincidentally my key period of competing for standing committee in the politburo. If I had competed successfully, our Yang clan would definitely step into the line of Beijing’s top-notch families. If I had failed, everyone in the clan would be at risk of being eaten by our opponents until even our bones weren’t left. Being unmarried, you and your wife had the child at that time. Things like this would definitely be a humiliation to families like ours even when it’s viewed today. Although I was strongly against your decision of sending the child away, I had to endure the pain and act like i was unaware as I must take the entire clan into consideration. Unexpectedly, the child couldn’t be found anymore since then.”
Yang Pojun’s face turned red and pale. The matter which he thought only he and his wife knew, had always been kept in his father’s heart unknowingly.
“Pojun, if this matter took place in ordinary families, you married couple and the child wouldn’t face any problems. The child would only be the treasure of the family, and wouldn’t be abandoned in any way,” Yang Gongming said bitterly. “However, it must be tough for you two, being born in such families. Since you two didn’t decide to abort the child back then, there’s no reason to refuse getting the child back now. Judging from our Yang family’s current situation, although the appearance of the child will bring negative news to the family, we won’t be destroyed by others like many years ago anymore. Under such a situation, we don’t have a reason to act unaware, and let our blood-related offspring to wander outside. This, isn’t something people from Yang clan should do.”
Yang Pojun’s facial expression changed several times. He asked, “Father, who’s the one who delivered this report over?’
Yang Gongming sighed. “It’s the master of Lin family, Lin Zhiguo.”
“Lin family… Lin Zhiguo…” Yang Pojun turned gloomy. “Lin Zhiguo is merely a general in the national security. He doesn't have real authority in the military, and he dares to step into our Yang family. Does he plan to use this matter to pull down my standing in the military and our Yang family’s position, to help push some family up?”
Frowning, Yang Gongming said, “Pojun, although Lin Zhiguo is only a general, you musn’t look down on him. Lin family is definitely not as simple as it looks on the surface. However, before you step into the circle, you won’t understand Lin Zhiguo’s true identity. You have to treat Lin Zhiguo with respect as his junior, this is my warning to you!”
Since his retired father rarely used such a dignified tone, Yang Pojun instantly accepted his order. However, his heart was filled with doubt. Lin Zhiguo isn’t just a general? Then what is he?”
After a short silence, Yang Pojun said, “Father, since you exposed this matter and hope that the person can return to Yang family, I don’t have a reason to reject you, being your son. However, you should also know that my election is coming really soon. I hope to only make it clear to that person after my election ends.”
Yang Gongming’s eyes displayed slight disappointment, but he still nodded. “I’m only his grandpa, you’re the one who’s his father. Since this is your decision, it’s inappropriate that I say anything more.This clan will sooner or later fall into your hands. I only hope that you can treat the child nicely. Although we don’t know how he grew up over the years, it mustn’t be easy for him.”
“Understood, Father.” Yang Pojun stood up. “If Father doesn’t have other instructions, I guess I’ll go back to the troops.”
“Go, I delayed a lot of your time after all.” Yang Gongming waved his hand.
After Yang Pojun left, the old woman walked over. Smiling at Yang Gongming, she said, “Master, the thing you wanted me to check on is clear now. Young Master Chen is indeed married. Also, his wife is coincidentally General Lin Zhiguo’s granddaughter, but she isn’t the descendant of his wife.”
“Really… No wonder.” Yang Gongming nodded.
The old woman still held a smile on her face. She said, “No matter what, it’d be a happy event to Yang family if Young Master Chen could return. I wonder how Young Master Lie would react if he knew that he had a brother. Young Mistress should be the happiest, for her long-lost son could finally return.”
Yang Gongming took a black stone up and said, “Life is like a game of chess, everything is difficult to be predicted.”
The black stone landed on the checkerboard. The black side which had its defeat seemingly destined earlier, instantly revived, and bit back at the white side!