Chapter 301: Going Home
"Wha—?" Flabbergasted, Bai Yunfei looked oddly at Tang Xinyun, "They… they don't know who you are?"
Tang Xinyun was surprised too. Though she didn't think the guards would be happy or excited to see her, them blocking her path wasn't expected at all. "Who are you? I've never seen you before." She asked after taking a closer look at the guard.
"What do you mean who am I? That's what I should be asking you! Do you even know where this place is!? Are you trying to gain entry without an invitation slip!? You—"
"He Yang, stay your tongue!" A sudden growl stopped the guard from speaking anymore. Turning his head in surprise, He Yang and the others could see a man in his forties walking forward, "That is the fourth miss you are talking to. Mind your manners!"
This new man was the captain of the gate guards. As the captain, he stood at the very back of the gates and was in a state of shock when he first saw Tang Xinyun. It took him a little longer to confirm who she was before quickly coming forward.
"The fourth miss?" He Yang cried out in alarm before turning back to Tang Xinyun.
When Tang Xinyun saw the man walking toward them, she nodded her head in greeting, "Liao Ba, are you the one on gate duty today?"
"I hadn't realized it was you—I could hardly believe my eyes…" The one known as 'Liao Ba' warmly smiled. "This man," he pointed at He Yang, "is new, please forgive him for not recognizing you, miss."
"Oh," Tang Xinyun noted, "That's fine then. Liao Ba, may we go in now?"
"Yes, of course! Miss and sire, please enter…" Liao Ba responded with all the swiftness he could muster before stepping aside for the two to walk past.
It was only when Bai Yunfei and Tang Xinyun walked past the gates and into the residence that He Yang finally snapped to attention. "Liao Ba, is… is she really the fourth miss that left a year ago? I heard she joined the Crafting School, was that true?"
The eyebrows on Liao Ba's face scrunched together. "He Yang, you're new here, so there's plenty about the Tang you don't know. Have a piece of advice, the fourth miss and her mother are under very special circumstance compared to the rest of the household. As subordinates, it isn't our job to poke our noses into our employer's business. Do your job as you're expected, understood?"
"Yes…" Though he replied, He Yang simply couldn't understand why Liao Ba wasn't willing to say anything.
But he knew better than to ask.
Not long after they walked past the gates, Bai Yunfei and Tang Xinyun both came across a white-haired, old man who looked extremely healthy for his age. This man was Tang Yongzhong, the head housekeeper. When Liao Ba realized that Tang Xinyun was back, he had someone make a report to Tang Yongzhong. He knew she was back; hence, why he was here so fast.
"You've returned, miss. The young master is waiting in the lounge, please go on in with your friend." Tang Yongzhong smiled to her and gave Bai Yunfei a nod.
Bai Yunfei took a moment to try and investigate the man's strength with his soulsense.
"He's strong!" Bai Yunfei raised an eyebrow. This old man's strength was by no means weak, but Bai Yunfei made sure to keep his emotions from showing on his face other than a smile.
"I don't even know what my body's doing right now, so feel free to see how strong I am."
"Uncle Zhong, you look as healthy as ever…" Tang Xinyun nodded, "Is big brother around?"
"Haha, I'm getting on in the years. My bones aren't what they used to be…" Tang Yongzhong lamented for a while before answering her question, "The lord has been busy with the auction and is rarely at home, but the young master is coincidentally home today."
"Oh, I see." Tang Xinyun nodded in understanding, "Then I'll be heading for the lounge. If you're busy with something, uncle Zhong, please don't mind us."
"Very well then, I'll be on my way then…" He laughed.
Bai Yunfei and Tang Xinyun left the old man where he was as they entered the lounge. As they walked, Tang Yongzhong continued to stare at the two in pensive thought. "Zhao Mancha said that the fourth miss had joined the Crafting School and had become a disciple of one of the elders. How is she still a late-stage Soul Warrior even a whole year later? How strange, Zhao Mancha isn't one to lie… and that young man was only a late-stage Soul Warrior as well. Who is he? Has the fourth miss… no no, the house of Qin wouldn't be happy to hear that…
"Alas… fourth miss, why return after leaving for so long? The Tang will surely add to your troubles now…" Another sigh made its way out. With a shake of his head, he purged the thoughts in his mind and turned to walk away.
In the other direction, Tang Xinyun led Bai Yunfei past a series of limestone roads before finally entering a large lounge.
The lounge was spacious, but only a few people stood at the entrance. A man in his thirties stood at the center of the lounge in greenish-blue robes. The hair of his eyebrows was thick, his nose aquiline. He was by no means handsome, but the spirit of a warrior could clearly be felt in him with how calm he was.
This man was the older brother to Tang Xinyun and eldest son to the Tang, Tang Jing.
"Big brother," Tang Xinyun greeted as she approached him.
There was a slight smile on Tang Jing's face when he saw Tang Xinyun approach, but it quickly started to disappear when he saw Bai Yunfei follow her in. By the time they drew closer, the smile on his face was no longer anywhere to be seen. He nodded his head slightly before going straight into a hushed voice, "Fourth sister, I never imagined that you'd return. You left without a word for over a year. Don't you know how angry father is with you? He's busy with matters, but when he arrives home, you'd best think of a way to placate him else risk being punished…"
Rather than any words of greeting or comfort, he chose to rebuke her straight away.
The smile on Tang Xinyun's face froze at that. "Your little sister understands," she whispered, "I'll think of an apology for father…"
Bai Yunfei narrowed his eyes, though Tang Xinyun always said that family didn't matter to her, the sight in front of him was still strange to the eyes. It worsened his impression of the Tang, but since he was an outsider, he had no right to interfere.
Seemingly sensing the minute changes on Bai Yunfei's face, Tang Jing's eyes shifted to give him a look. "And you are…?"
Bai Yunfei could sense an aura similar to that of Jiang Nan from Tang Jing's body. That meant he was surely a Soul Exalt in strength.
"I am Bai Yunfei, a student of the Crafting School. Pleased to meet you, brother Tang." Bai Yunfei gave a nod to Tang Jing. Since Tang Jing was Tang Xinyun's older brother, Bai Yunfei saw no reason to be rude.
"A student of the Crafting School?" Tang Jing repeated with some shock. Giving Bai Yunfei a look over, Tang Jing tried his best to think back to his memories of the Crafting School, but Bai Yunfei's name just didn't ring a bell.
"A late-stage Soul Warrior… while that's decent for his age, he should only be in the higher ranks of the internal school…" Tang Jing thought.
"Fourth sister, Zhao Mancha said that you've joined the Crafting School, is that correct? I recall you being at the crux of becoming a Soul Sprite when you left. Why are you still a late-stage Soul Warrior then?" He didn't doubt Zhao Mancha's words about her joining the Crafting School, but her being the personal disciple to one of the elders left plenty of room for doubt.
Whitening in the face at the question, Tang Xinyun found herself at a loss for words. Fortunately, it was Bai Yunfei who spoke up for her. "Xinyun became a Soul Sprite shortly after joining the Crafting School, but her strength has temporarily weakened because of some unforeseen circumstances."
"Oh? Something like that can happen?" Surprised, Tang Jing looked at Tang Xinyun with a pensive look, "What would that…"
Before he could say anymore, the sounds of approaching footsteps stopped him from speaking. Looking up, he saw Tang Yongzhong walk into the lounge.
As soon as he entered the lounge, Tang Yongzhong said, "Young master, the men from the house of Cai in Guanbo City have sent some very important goods. As of now, they are located in the Treasure Trove. If you could come…"
"Oh? They're here already?" Tang Jing remarked, "Very well, I'll be on my way." He nodded.
"Fourth sister," he turned to Tang Xinyun, "I have matters to attend to, so I'll end things here. As for lord Bai… I'll leave you to make arrangements for him."
With a final nod to Bai Yunfei, he moved to follow Tang Yongzhong out of the lounge, leaving Tang Xinyun and Bai Yunfei alone.
It was only after Tang Jing left through the gates that Bai Yunfei let some semblance of emotion return to his face.
Only a few words were spared between this reunion between brother and sister that ended due to a material reason. He hadn't even asked a single question regarding his sister's weakened state—something Bai Yunfei had a hard time believing.
Tang Xinyun didn't seem to mind. Giving only a sigh, Tang Xinyun turned to Bai Yunfei, "Yunfei, I'd like to see mother now…"
"Oh! Yes, let's go then, Xinyun."
Bai Yunfei followed Tang Xinyun through a series of passageways and corridors. On the way, they came across several astonished servants. They bowed to her as she passed, but as soon as she and Bai Yunfei walked far enough away, the servants began to whisper to each other with hushed voices.
After walking for several minutes, the surrounding area grew more and more quiet due to them passing fewer servants, and before long, the two finally arrived at a simple and quiet courtyard.
Tang Xinyun came to a sudden stop at the front of the gates as if hesitating. Both of her hands tightly gripped her clothes and her upper teeth bit down on her lower lip. In her eyes, expectation, excitement, and even a little fear could be seen…
Puzzled by her reaction, Bai Yunfei asked, "Xinyun, what's wrong?"
"It's… it's nothing…" She dismissed Bai Yunfei's concern with a smile before stepping into the courtyard.