T/N: Happy New Year!! May everyone have a great year ahead. ^.^v As usual, extra edits and proofreading will be done later~
Ye Lan wore a white shirt with black polka dots, a black ribbon on the neckline was tied into a bow. Below, she wore a black trouser, highlighting her two slender legs. Together with her usual bright red lipstick and hair curls, it was fashionable and full of personality, which was incompatible with the surrounding gowns and dresses.
She climbed the mountain while wearing a pair of high heels. Even if her feet hurt a lot and her heels became worn out, such that she would need to sit down and rest every few metres, she still didn’t change into cloth shoes.
It seemed that something like cloth shoes didn’t exist in her life.
Ye Lan took off the veiled hat on her head, revealing an unblemished face.
When the pilgrims heading down the mountain passed by, they would all look sideways, and then reveal either looks of contempt, jealousy, curiosity or shock.
There was no doubt that Ye Lan was a beauty.
She was not simply beautiful but was blatantly and blindingly beautiful, without a hint of modesty or tactfulness.
An environment could affect a person’s personality, their perception and their attitude towards people and things. Ye Lan had been abroad for many years and was unlike women who had never seen the world. There was no such thing as conservatism, ignorance, being old-fashioned and cowardliness in her bones. They had long been eliminated.
Ye Lan pursued whatever she wanted.
To others, this way of living was far from acceptable.
So when people saw Ye Lan in public, with her high heels removed and both her feet exposed, their eyes widened and repulse filled their faces. They spat on the ground, as though they had seen something dirty, and they scolded her for being despicable and shameless.
Ye Lan ignored them. She placed her feet on the rock and looked down at her toes and heels.
Suddenly hearing someone call for her, Ye Lan was momentarily stunned, then she turned around and saw the young man on the stone steps behind her. She cried out in surprise, “Song Wang, why are you here?”
Not long after, Huang Dan sat next to Ye Lan. Liu Chu didn’t sit with them and simply stood nearby, with an appearance of being uninterested in joining them.
Ye Lan was very surprised to meet Huang Dan.
She opened the small white purse in her hand, took out a tin cigarette case from inside and opened it with a tinkling sound. She took a cigarette and held it between her fingers. “Time flies so fast. I had almost forgotten the day of our marriage.”
Huang Dan still remembered it a little. After all, it was the first time he wore a suit. He smelled the scent of tobacco. “Have you found that person?”
“How could it be that easy.”
Ye Lan took a puff of the cigarette, a lighter held in her other hand. She chuckled and said, “I don’t expect to find that person anytime soon. I just hope to meet him at least once before I die.”
Huang Dan tilted his head. The cigarette smoke obscured Ye Lan’s face, and he couldn’t see what her expression was. He guessed that it was probably one of dispiritedness. “After you left the town, you came to the county? You’ve been staying here all this time?”
Ye Lan shook her head and said that after running away that day, she had hidden in someone’s house for a night before leaving the town the next day and travelling around to search for that person’s traces. She only arrived in the county a few days ago.
Huang Dan glanced at the woman next to him. She was a lot thinner, and her eyes now had light. She moved forward, strong and decisive, without any discouragement or despair.
Ye Lan’s elbow was rested on her knee and her line of sight rested on the azaleas opposite them. “I heard people in the county mentioned that there was a wishing tree in this Ping An Temple, and it’s very effective, so I came here to make a wish. How about you? The same?”
Huang Dan, “Mm.”
Ye Lan’s red lips parted slightly and puffed out a cloud of smoke. “Why are you with Commander Liu?”
Huang Dan, “He brought me here.”
Ye Lan slightly smiled. “It seems like Commander Liu is a very good person. He even brought you all the way here to climb the mountain and burn incense and pray to Buddha.”
Her gaze swept away to where the man was standing. “However, Commander Liu is indeed a great guy. If he hadn’t found me in the mountains, I wouldn’t be sitting here, chatting with you.”
Huang Dan spoke while observing Ye Lan’s expression, “Commander Liu was escorting the Second Concubine to the county. I followed along to see the scenery in the county.“
Ye Lan was stunned. “What?”
Huang Dan, “The Second Concubine committed murder.”
He told Ye Lan all the ins and outs of the matter without leaving out any details.
After listening to everything, Ye Lan shook her head in disbelief. “I always thought that the woman was calculative, had insatiable greed and was skilled at acting. She was disgustingly hypocritical. I didn’t expect her to be even more incredible, actually secretly having an affair and killing people.”
“Such an ending, she deserves it. She’s not worthy of sympathy.”
Before Huang Dan could speak, Ye Lan chuckled. “Song Wang, you also know my disgust for that woman. I’ve never hidden it. I have had disputes with her many times, yet I actually didn’t get killed by her. I’m extremely fortunate and blessed.”
Huang Dan, “The Second Concubine is now in prison, and it’ll be hard for her to escape death. Do you want to go and see her?”
Ye Lan said without hesitation, “Not going.”
“Whether that woman is alive or dead has nothing to do with me.” Her expression was indifferent. “If I have that kind of time, I might as well use it to tour the county.”
Huang Dan didn’t continue the topic anymore and also stopped trying to sound her out.
Ye Lan’s cigarette was also burning out. She extinguished the cigarette, took her high heels, stuffed her two injured feet in, then stood up and moved her legs a little. “It’s said that the higher the red paper is hung on the tree, the more likely it is for God to see it. I want to throw it to the top of the tree, but I failed even after trying many times. If I had met you earlier, I could’ve asked you to throw it up for me.”
Huang Dan, “It’ll only be more meaningful if you threw it yourself.”
Ye Lan smiled. “That’s true.”
Seeing the man walking over, she greeted him. “Commander Liu, long time no see.”
Liu Chu raised his head and looked at the young man on the stone steps. “Done chatting?”
Huang Dan stood up. “Let’s go.”
The world which had belonged to only two people now turned into three.
Ye Lan walked in front, and Huang Dan and Liu Chu followed behind. To outsiders, the relationship between them seemed very strange. It didn’t look like a love triangle, neither did they look like three friends.
Azaleas covered the mountains and plains. Wherever they looked, colourful and dazzling flowers could be seen.
Many young girls couldn’t help running among the flowers – even some young men couldn’t help it. They picked the beautiful ones, one after the other, until there was a large bunch in their hands. Yet they were still not satisfied, somehow feeling that the ones they picked weren’t the best.
Ye Lan took out a camera from her bag and asked Huang Dan to take pictures of her.
Huang Dan didn’t know how to use the camera of this era. He searched the memory of the original owner and managed to find the way to use it, preventing him from exposing himself.
Standing among the flowers, Ye Lan carried a small bag with the corner of her lips lifted. She suddenly asked Huang Dan to wait for a while, then she wore her hat and covered her face with the veil on it. Her face was now indistinct. The flowers were beautiful, but the person was even more so.
Huang Dan bent back slightly to adjust the angle.
Liu Chu humphed.
Huang Dan, “What are you humphing for? You’re not a pig.”
Liu Chu continued to humph, feeling unhappy.
Huang Dan ignored him, took some photos of Ye Lan, then returned the camera to her.
Ye Lan proposed to take two photos of Huang Dan and Liu Chu. “It’s a rare visit, and the scenery here isn’t bad. You can take a photo as a souvenir.”
Liu Chu scoffed. “What’s the point of two men taking photos.”
Huang Dan, “Yeah.”
Liu Chu’s eyebrow suddenly jumped. Not good, his young master was angry. “After thinking about it, I think what Miss Ye said makes sense. Young Master Song, if you don’t mind, how about we take some pictures?”
Huang Dan, “Okay.”
Ye Lan put down the camera for the fourth time, feeling quite speechless. “I say, Commander Liu, Song Wang. Three or four people can already fit in that space between you two. Move closer to each other!”
Huang Dan didn’t move.
Liu Chu moved a few steps towards the young man and draped an arm over his shoulders. Such distance and posture were common among men. There was nothing weird about it.
Ye Lan made an “OK” gesture.
After the three of them came down the mountain, they all felt hot and hungry, but there weren’t many choices around and could only go to the small noodle shop at the foot of the mountain. Each of them ordered a bowl of noodles.
Ye Lan stirred her chopsticks in the bowl pickily, then she pushed the bowl aside. “There’s too much oil in this. I’m not eating any more. I’ll go outside and take a smoke.”
With her gone, the atmosphere at the table immediately changed.
Liu Chu picked out the shredded pork and placed it in Huang Dan’s bowl. “Don’t look at her. Look at me more.”
Huang Dan, “You are not as good-looking as her.”
Liu Chu’s expression sank, and his hand holding the chopsticks tightened. “Say that again.”
Huang Dan, “But I don’t like her. I like you.”
Hearing these words, Liu Chu immediately went from being surrounded in ice and snow to beautiful spring, and he rewarded Huang Dan with a poached egg.
Huang Dan finished eating the shredded pork and went to eat the poached egg. “Ye Lan is looking for someone.”
Liu Chu was fishing up noodles. “Oh yeah?”
Huang Dan ate the egg yolk first, and then the egg white, before saying, “Fourteen years ago, Ye Lan was playing in the arcade when the building suddenly collapsed. According to her, she didn’t manage to escape in time but was fortunately saved by someone. She only managed to see that person’s back.”
Liu Chu snorted, finding it absurd. “How is that possible.”
“My young master, Miss Ye and you went abroad to drink foreign ink and must have flooded your brains. The arcade collapsed. It’s something that happens instantaneously. No matter who was inside, they would be crushed alive. It’s impossible for a person to run in and then carry someone out in that instance.”
Huang Dan asked, “Can’t you?”
Liu Chu grinned, “Guess.”
Huang Dan’s face slightly twitched. “I don’t want to guess.”
“You’re so lazy.” Liu Chu drank a mouthful of noodle soup. “Well, if you were in there, I would have run in immediately without thinking, but I would definitely not be able to make it out.”
Huang Dan, “Then we’ll both die.”
Liu Chu smiled. “That isn’t too bad. We may not be born on the same day, but we can die on the same day.”
Huang Dan stared at the man for a few seconds, then he lowered his head to eat the egg white. His voice was muffled, “I don’t want to die the same day as you. I don’t like it.”
Liu Chu stared at the young man and said after a beat, “Okay, if you don’t like it, then we won’t die together. When we become old, you will go ahead of me.”
Huang Dan froze.
Liu Chu shook his head and sighed. “Young master, no matter when we will die, the one left behind will be the one to suffer. You’re already such a crybaby, I really won’t be able to stop worrying if I were to embark on the road to the underworld first. I won’t be able to stop looking back. It’s better for me to leave after you.”
Huang Dan frowned. “It will also be unbearable for you.”
Liu Chu glanced at him. “I’m stronger than you. I’m afraid if I left first, you’ll hold my corpse and go mad, and then you’ll end up crying yourself to death.”
Huang Dan looked up and asked, “Won’t you be like that?”
Liu Chu, “No.”
He lightly smiled. “I will feel sad, reluctant and pained, but I won’t be like that. I will live on well with our memories until the last second before going to find you. “
Huang Dan, “That’s a promise. You can’t break it.”
Seeing the young man so serious, Liu Chu felt a little helpless. “Yes, yes, I promise you. I won’t break it.”
The corners of Huang Dan’s pursed lips loosened. “Okay, then I will go first.”
After a brief silence, Liu Chu criticised, “What is this about you or I leaving first? Why are we having such a heavy conversation while eating noodles?”
Huang Dan, “You started it first.”
Liu Chu’s face turned black, and he silently went back to eating his noodles.
Huang Dan returned to the previous topic. “The person Ye Lan saw, could they not be a human?”
Liu Chu looked askance. “Do you suspect that the person who saved Ye Lan is a demon?”
Huang Dan, “I think if it were a human, there would be traces of him left somewhere, but Ye Lan has been searching and couldn’t find any.”
Liu Chu flicked his forehead. “Young master, stop thinking of useless things. Eat your noodles.”
Huang Dan ate two bites of noodles. “I can’t finish it. I’ll give some to you, okay?”
Liu Chu showed disdain. “You ate the food until it’s so messy. There are even broken pieces of egg yolk inside. I lost my appetite the moment I look at it.”
He said that while scooping up the noodles from Huang Dan’s bowl with his chopsticks.
When the two of them had eaten and drank enough, Ye Lan still hadn’t finished smoking her cigarette. She was staring into the distance while in a daze. With her side profile in the sunset, she looked even thinner.
Liu Chu quietly asked the young man beside him, “Did you smoke when you were abroad?”
Huang Dan, “I don’t smoke.”
Liu Chu gave his hand a quick squeeze. “Good boy.”
Huang Dan, “…”
Hearing the sound of footsteps, Ye Lan returned to her senses. She stubbed out her cigarette and turned to Huang Dan and Liu Chu.”Which inn are you guys staying in?”
Huang Dan, “I’m staying with Commander Liu.”
Ye Lan was momentarily stunned, then she smiled at Liu Chu. “Commander Liu, I wonder if there are any vacancies at your place.”
Liu Chu gave a faint smile. “I’m sorry, Miss Ye. I only have one room available, which has been given to Young Master Song.”
Huang Dan knew the man had several cabins, but he kept quiet.
Anyone who went there would be frightened if they found themselves deep in the mountains, surrounded by a thick forest.
Had it not been for the man sleeping with him, he would have insomnia.
Hearing what Liu Chu said, Ye Lan didn’t feel it was a pity. She seemingly casually asked, “Well, can Commander Liu introduce me to an inn with acceptable service and environment?”
Liu Chu listed two inns. “Miss Ye can go and take a look and choose the one that you’re satisfied with.”
Ye La boarded a rickshaw and bid them goodbye.
Huang Dan had climbed the mountain for the whole day and his feet hurt. He didn’t want to walk anymore, so he dragged Liu Chu back to the mountain.
The horses also did not have it easy. They had run for two long trips in a day and were so exhausted that they sprawled on the ground panting. When they smelt the scent of fresh grass, they turned their heads to chew while looking half-dead.
Liu Chu went to the kitchen to boil a pot of hot water. When it had boiled, he scooped a few scoops into a basin, poured in some cold water and tested the water temperature, then he carried the basin to the cabin. “Young master, get up and wash your feet.”
Huang Dan was on the bed, fast asleep. He rubbed his eyes, got up and sat at the head of the bed. “Has the meal been prepared?”
Liu Chu’s face twitched, and he threw the cloth towel into the basin. “The moment I came back, I fetched water and cut firewood, all for you to wash your feet. I haven’t even rested.”
Huang Dan, “Then I’ll help you later.”
“Forget it. If you were to burn yourself, I’m not the one that’ll feel pain.”
Liu Chu squatted on the ground, rolled up his sleeves and poured a handful of water on the young man’s legs. “Is it hot?”
Huang Dan, “Not hot. It’s just nice.”
Liu Chu held the young man’s foot with one hand and pressed the acupuncture points on the soles of his feet with the other. “Except for you, I have never served anyone like this in my whole life.”
Huang Dan looked at the top of the man’s head. “I know.”
After Liu Chu was done massaging one foot, he switched to the other. “Remember my good points.”
Huang Dan, “I’ll remember.”
Liu Chu liked the earnestness of the young man. “How long will you remember?”
Huang Dan, “Always.”
Liu Chu smiled in satisfaction. “At least you have a conscience.”
After soaking his feet, Huang Dan was prepared to wipe them with the cloth towel in the basin, but Liu Chu stopped him.
“Your hand is already dry, so don’t get them wet. Let me do it.”
Liu Chu took the towel and wrung it out. He held Huang Dan’s feet and wiped off the water on it. He wiped his toes carefully one by one. “Sleep for a while. Dinner will be ready when you wake up.”
Huang Dan said he couldn’t sleep anymore. “Since you won’t let me help, then I’ll just watch by the side.”
Liu Chu touched Huang Dan’s smooth soles. “Up to you.”
Before long, Huang Dan was choked by the smell of smoke in the kitchen. He covered his mouth and nose. “Put in lesser peppers!”
Liu Chu was annoyed and said that he got it.
The result was that there was still too much.
Huang Dan cried as he ate, his throat feeling like it was on fire. He cried, “Don’t put so many peppers in the future.”
Liu Chu felt guilty. He agreed and wiped the tears off his face.
After eating, his stomach was burning hot. Huang Dan laid on the bed, and he could taste the spiciness in his breath.
Liu Chu suddenly brought over a cup of tea with several unknown flowers floating on it. “Drink this. It’ll lessen the heat.”
Huang Dan glanced at the tea. He couldn’t recognize a single flower. He shifted his mouth over and drank until half was left. “You drink the rest. Your heat is bigger than mine.”
Liu Chu smirked. “My heat cannot be extinguished with any type of tea. Only you can do it. Do you want to help me extinguish it?”
Huang Dan, “I’m too tired today, so I can’t help you.”
“You speak as though you did the hard work whenever you help me extinguish my heat.”
Liu Chu told him to drink all the remaining tea. “Every time, it’s either you look for a comfortable posture and stay like that the whole way, or you just sprawl there.”
Huang Dan looked at him without speaking.
A drop of cold sweat dripped from Liu Chu’s forehead, and he hurriedly coaxed, “I was wrong. You work the hardest.”
“I forgive you.”
Huang Dan spat out the small pink petals he had accidentally drunk. “There shouldn’t be any problems with putting in so many flowers, right?”
“You ignorant guy, these are all priceless. Others wouldn’t be able to come across them even in eight lifetimes.”
Liu Chu urged, “Hurry up. Make sure to finish everything.”
Huang Dan drank all the tea in the cup. “You can become an immortal after drinking this?”
Liu Chu scratched his head. “This tea is absolutely something good. It can’t let you be an immortal, but it can make you happy.” 
Huang Dan, “…”
He hugged the pillow. “I won’t sleep with you anymore.”
Liu Chu crossed his arms and gave an evil smile. “This place is deep within the mountains and very desolate. When it gets dark, there will be a lot of things coming and going. You’re sure you don’t want to sleep with me?”
Huang Dan walked out without looking back.
Liu Chu dragged the man back.
Not sure what kind of flowers they were, but after Huang Dan drank the tea, the heat in his body significantly lessened. It was then he realised that the man didn’t put in any extra stuff and was just intentionally scaring him.
During their first time, Huang Dan fainted from the pain. That scene had been carved into Liu Chu’s heart, and he became very careful since then. How would he dare to put in any drug and play with fire?
Liu Chu kept tossing and turning on the bed until he couldn’t control himself anymore, and he shifted over to bury his face in the young man’s neck.
Huang Dan wrapped his arms around the man’s waist.
He turned to look out the window. The moonlight was dim.
The wind was picking up. 
There was a slight noise in the bamboo forest. The bamboo leaves on the ground rose, then fell again.
Near the courtyard’s gate was a thick bamboo tree. One end of it was shallowly plunged into a small dirt pit. It swayed with the wind, seeming like it would fall at any moment, but it just gently swayed while gradually sinking into the dirt pit.
The next day, Huang Dan chanced upon Ye Lan in the city. She had changed her mind and said she would go and visit Baiying.
Huang Dan did not have a surprised expression because it was within his expectations. From their conversation on the mountain yesterday, he had noticed Ye Lan acting strangely for a second or two.
Ye Lan, “That woman is someone on death row. Can I still go?”
Huang Dan didn’t immediately answer, in case he would cause Liu Chu trouble. He only said he didn’t know. “Let me ask Commander Liu.”
Ye Lan, “I’ll go with you.”
Around the time of an incense stick later, Liu Chu received permission from the County Lord and took Ye Lan to the prison, followed by Huang Dan.
There were a lot of cells in the huge prison, where prisoners were detained according to the seriousness of their crimes. Prisoners on death rows were locked up in District 3, where there were also distinctions – they were arranged in the order of their execution day.
Huang Dan and Liu Chu waited at the entrance while Ye Lan went in alone.
There were cells on both sides of the corridor, and the prisoners in them were not attracted by the appearance of a beautiful woman. They were all going to die and were shrouded in fear and death. No one had the mood to think about anything else.
Ye Lan walked further in and stopped in front of a cell.
Baiying was lying on the hay with her eyes closed and hands resting on her abdomen when she suddenly heard a sound. She abruptly opened her eyes, made out the identity of the person walking over and staggered as she pounced over.
In the past two days, no food or water was given. Baiying’s body was now very weak, and her legs softened when she anxiously threw herself over, causing her to directly kneel down.
Across the railing, Ye Lan looked down at the woman kneeling in front of her. “Second Concubine, I thought that you would really want to see me, so I came.”
The way she said ‘Second Concubine’ was particularly uncomfortable to hear.
The corner of Baiying’s eye twitched, and she grabbed the railing and stood up. “Lan Lan, I really wanted to see you. Now that you’re here, I can die with no regrets.”
Ye Lan, “Is that so?”
Baiying’s hair was dishevelled, and a foul smell emitted from her body. “I deserved to be punished for my sins, but Xiao Bao is innocent. He doesn’t know that his mother had done these things. I will bear any retribution so, Lan Lan, please don’t make things difficult for him on the account that you are both from the Ye Family.”
Ye Lan sneered. “I am not familiar with your son.”
Baiying became agitated. “Xiao Bao is your blood-related younger brother!”
Ye Lan’s tone was cold. “I don’t have a younger brother.”
Baiying stretched her hand out of the railings and grabbed Ye Lan. “Lan Lan, you can’t do this. The blood flowing in Xiao Bao is from your Ye Family. He is a descendant of the Ye Family, and is your father’s blood and flesh…”
Ye Lan interrupted, “What does that have to do with me?”
She roughly removed the woman’s fingers and took out a handkerchief to wipe the dirt off her wrist. “Second Concubine, you secretly told someone to set a fire and burn the house my mother had lived in when she was alive. Have you forgotten?”
Baiying instantly froze.
Ye Lan discarded the handkerchief and said unhurriedly, “You’re probably the one who arranged the person I saw at the tailor’s shop that day.” 
Baiying’s expression was stiff.
“On the day of the wedding, that I was able to escape smoothly, it should also be your doing.”
Ye Lan leaned closer. “You knew that I’m looking for that person, so you secretly helped, hoping that I would go crazy, leave and never return. You believe that when that happens, the whole Ye Family will belong to you and your son. Am I wrong?”
Baiying’s voice was stuck in her throat, and she was unable to say a word.
Ye Lan narrowed her eyes and smiled. ” Second Concubine, you sure did a good job at playing chess. I remember that your family butchers pigs for a living. I didn’t expect you to come up with such schemes. I really underestimated you.”
Baiying pushed back the messy hair covering her cheeks. Since things were already made this clear, there was no need for her to keep up a pretence anymore. “The Lord only cares about you and had never placed my son and me in his eyes. I had to somehow make plans for my son’s future.”
“The Lord taught me a principle throughout these years, that it’s better to rely on yourself than on others. You can look down on me or despise me, anything is fine. I just hope you will treat Xiao Bao kindly.”
Ye Lan clapped. “This is the funniest joke I have ever heard.”
“Having an affair, killing people and conspiring and calculating against others. You have already prepared all sorts of excuses for doing those things. Second Concubine, I have to say, your retribution didn’t arrive too late.”
Baiying’s expression did not change. “When I was abandoned by the Lord, I was already on a path of no return.”
The only thing she couldn’t stop worrying about was her son. “Lan Lan, no matter what you think of me, don’t bring your anger to Xiao Bao.”
“Indeed, the mistakes made by adults have nothing to do with the children.”
Ye Lan spoke under the woman’s surprised gaze, “Second Concubine, I just remembered something. You were nearby when the arcade collapsed. If you tell me who was the one who saved me, I can consider your request.”
Baiying’s eyes shifted. “I can’t remember something that happened more than ten years ago.”
Ye Lan, “Since you don’t remember, then I’m leaving.”
She had not walked even ten steps when Baiying’s voice came from behind, “Wait!”
Ye Lan turned around and walked back to the woman. “Second Concubine, can you remember it now?”
Baiying took a long time before uttering two words, her voice was extremely soft as though she was avoiding something. “Tian Family.”
Ye Lan didn’t understand her immediately. “What?”
Baiying took a deep breath. “I saw the man who saved you entering the Tian Mansion. He’s from the Tian Family.”
Ye Lan was stunned and her body froze.
Baiying softly spoke, “I have already said everything I know. Lan Lan, please don’t make things difficult for Xiao Bao.”
Ye Lan suddenly screamed, then madly reached into the railing and vigorously pulled Baiying’s collar. “Impossible, you must be mistaken. That person can’t be from the Tian Family. Second Concubine, say it. Are you lying?”
Baiying’s collar was grabbed, and she suffered in pain from her neck being strangled. “What I said is all true.”
Ye Lan lost control and yelled, “Then why haven’t you told me all these years? If you wanted me to go crazy, couldn’t you have just told me this?!”
She seemed to have thought of something. “If you told me the truth directly, I would be devastated, but I would also accept the reality and walk out from it. If you didn’t tell me, I would only be able to search for that person for my whole life and slowly turn crazy. For you, the latter is better!”
Baiying did not respond, which was tantamount to acquiescence.
Ye Lan lifted her fingers painted with red nail polish and fiercely scratched at Baiying.
Baiying’s face was scratched until it bled, and she yelled in pain, “Someone come–“
Huang Dan and Liu Chu standing outside could hear the conversation between the two women. After hearing Baiying’s call, they immediately ran in.
Baiying’s face had become unrecognizable.
Ye Lan was forcibly pulled back by Liu Chu. Her pupils were dilated, and her body language showed her in an extremely shocked state.
Huang Dan noticed Ye Lan’s hand and found it was scarily red. He didn’t know if it was due to the red nail polish or the dripping blood from the flesh under her nails.
He moved his gaze upwards and stopped on Ye Lan’s face. She didn’t cry.
But she had mentally collapsed.
The Ye Lan right now was completely different from the person he saw on the mountain that day. There was no light in her eyes, as though the whole world had darkened and the belief that supported her had collapsed.
After returning, Ye Lan locked herself in the inn room.
Huang Dan and Liu Chu stayed in the room opposite Ye Lan’s, fearing that she would do something foolish.
In the middle of the night, Huang Dan heard a heart-rending scream followed by wailing, which made the people listening feel their hearts ache.
Although Huang Dan didn’t hear Ye Lan or Baiying say it out loud, he could perceive the unspoken words: the person Ye Lan had been searching for many years had long passed away.
The Tian Family was a clue.
Huang Dan did not find anything related to it in the memory of the original owner. He asked Liu Chu, “There used to be a Tian Family in the town. What happened to it?”
Liu Chu spoke vaguely, “When I went to the town, your family and Ye Family were the most powerful families. Boss Zhang’s medicinal shop and Boss Dai’s restaurant had very good businesses. There was no Tian Family.”
On the day of Baiying’s execution, many people gathered at the marketplace entrance.
This kind of bloody scene, for those people, was not very different from killing chickens and ducks. With just one swing of the blade, the neck would be separated from the head.
Besides, chopping off the head was the fastest punishment and had little suffering.
Ye Lan stood in the crowd, wearing a veiled hat. Her exposed chin was sharp, revealing a gloomy atmosphere.
Huang Dan was also there.
The executioner brought down the sword in his hand, and blood splashed out.
At that moment, Liu Chu stretched out his hand to cover Huang Dan’s eyes.
Huang Dan pulled down his hand and saw the executioner carrying away the woman’s head and a pool of blood on the ground.
Baiying was dead.
After the three left, they ate duck blood and vermicelli soup in a small restaurant. 
Huang Dan’s stomach felt a little uncomfortable. Ye Lan fished up the vermicelli to eat like she wasn’t affected, but there was no blood on her face.
Liu Chu was really fine and wasn’t affected.
After eating for a while, Ye Lan threw down the bowl and chopsticks and ran out, then she squatted by the roadside and vomited.
Huang Dan didn’t understand. “Since she would feel sick, why did she still go and watch it?”
Liu Chu was eating the duck blood piece by piece. “Trying to understand a woman’s heart is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s too scary.” 
Huang Dan, “Yeah.”
Liu Chu, “If you try to understand me better, you’ll know that you’re the only one in my heart.”
Huang Dan, “…”
In the afternoon, two male strangers came to the inn. One of them was carrying a small boy in his arms, who was deeply asleep.
Huang Dan recognized him to be Baiying’s son, Xiao Bao.
Ye Lan had asked someone to go to the town to pick up the child.
Such a young child was ignorant of world affairs and did not know that his mother had committed crimes and was already gone from this world.
Huang Dan vaguely knew Ye Lan’s thoughts, but he didn’t ask, only waiting for the other party to take the initiative.
Ye Lan placed Xiao Bao on the bed and pulled the quilt over his stomach. “Song Wang, I’m leaving.”
Huang Dan didn’t ask where she was going, neither did he say much, only saying, “Have a safe trip.”
Ye Lan was a little reluctant to part with the only true friend she had. “If fate allows, we shall meet again. Not in the town, but elsewhere.”
Xiao Bao kicked off the quilt, and Ye Lan re-covered it for him.
Huang Dan’s brows twitched. The person the original owner had a crush on was quite good.
When he reached the door, Huang Dan turned to look back. “I heard the Second Concubine mention that the person you are looking for is from the Tian Family. Back then…”
Before he could continue, Ye Lan interrupted, “Song Wang, for some things, it’s better if you stayed ignorant of them.” The more you know, the more you will realize how disgusting the place you live in is.
Two days later, Huang Dan accompanied Ye Lan to the dock.
Ye Lan hugged Xiao Bao while walking forward, followed by two servants carrying luggage.
After boarding the boat, Ye Lan said something into Xiao Bao’s ear, and then Xiao Bao waved non-stop to Huang Dan.
Huang Dan stood at the dock, feeling slightly rueful.
Liu Chu frowned. “The boat is about to leave. What more is there to look at?”
Huang Dan, “Lord Ye will be very sad, right?”
Ye Lan would rather arrange for someone to bring the little boy out and give him the little warmth she had left than to take the trip back herself. She didn’t want to step into that town at all. Her hatred for it ran bone-deep.
A person suddenly ran down from the boat. It was Ye Lan.
Huang Dan watched her run to him and whisper in his ear, “Song Wang, the town is a grave, and it turns people inhuman. Don’t go back. Just stay with Liu Chu in the county.”
Huang Dan was stunned.
Ye Lan continued, “Liu Chu treats you very well. I wish you happiness.”
Only when the boat had sailed did Huang Dan come back to his senses.
Liu Chu leaned toward the young man with a look of curiosity. “What did she whisper to you?”
Huang Dan, “Why ask when you’d heard it.”
Liu Chu rubbed his nose.
After sending Ye Lan off, Huang Dan and Liu Chu went to the photo studio.
As soon as the mister heard Huang Dan’s name, he handed him the paper bag left by Ye Lan.
There were two black and white photos in the paper bag that Ye Lan took of Huang Dan and Liu Chu that day.
In one, Huang Dan stood side by side with Liu Chu. Liu Chu’s hand was on his shoulder, with a corner of his mouth hooked up and a little unruliness between his brows.
The other one was an unplanned capture by Ye Lan.
Huang Dan had tripped on the grass and Liu Chu had grabbed his arm. There was nothing ambiguous in the movements of the two, but at the moment of the capture, the tension in Liu Chu’s eyes was glaringly obvious.
The emotions revealed in the moment of nervousness could even be felt from the photo. It was definitely not something between friends or brothers.
This photo had exposed their relationship.
No wonder Ye Lan said those two sentences at the end.
Huang Dan wanted to put the photo back into the bag, but it was taken away by a large hand. “So I am actually this handsome.”
Liu Chu looked at the young man in the photo. “We have the look of a married couple.“
Huang Dan moved his head over. “Really?”
Liu Chu said yes. “Look. You have two eyes, one nose and one mouth. So do I. We look too much like a married couple. You can tell we’re a destined pair at first glance.”
Huang Dan, “…”
Liu Chu carefully kept the photos in the paper bag and hugged the paper bag in his arms preciously. “I didn’t expect Miss Ye to be so good at taking photos. I regret not letting her take a few more.”
Huang Dan, “Two are enough.”
Liu Chu raised his eyebrows and smiled. “That’s true. The real person is right in front of me, where I can touch and kiss. Why should I look at the photos, where it feels cold to the touch and isn’t comparable to you.”
Huang Dan, “Lower your voice. That mister has looked at us several times.”
Liu Chu sighed. “Let’s go back to the mountains. No matter what I do to you and how loud you shout, no one would hear.”
Huang Dan followed him to the mountains and did not get off the bed anymore.
The task had not been completed yet. Huang Dan had already been in the county for several days, so he had to return.
Liu Chu went back with him.
Si Mao and the others staying at home also showed up, bringing with them the food and items given by their parents and friends. Everyone then set off together.
On the way back to the town, Huang Dan ran into the scholar.
When the scholar saw him, he hurriedly jumped off the front of the carriage and ran towards him. “Young Master, something bad has happened.”
Huang Dan’s eyelid twitched. “Tell me.” 
The scholar said that there was a fight in the Song Family, and the patriarch died. He also said that the old lady had collapsed from illness and the teacher was injured.
Huang Dan’s eyelid twitched even more severely.
Why had so many things happened?
He looked to the carriage behind the scholar. “Is the Teacher in there?”
The scholar nodded. “I’m sending Teacher back to my hometown to recover.”
Huang Dan walked to the carriage and opened the curtain to look. The old man was leaning against the wall of the carriage with gauze wrapped around his forehead. He looked to be in a bad shape, which was far too different from the last time he saw him.
Old man Zhao slowly opened his eyes. “Ah Wang, it’s you. You’ve returned?”
Huang Dan said no. “It’s Teacher who has left.”
Old man Zhao was dazed, and his old voice sounded confused. “Left? Where did I leave?”
Huang Dan frowned. “Teacher, this is August’s Bend. It’s far away from the town.”
He was surprised. Judging from the old man’s reaction, it seemed that he was brought out by the scholar without his consent and had only woken up when he called him.
Old man Zhao took a deep breath and shouted for the scholar.
The teacher and the disciple quarrelled beside the road.
Huang Dan listened for a while and realized that it was the scholar’s own decision.
He could understand.
If old man Zhao was awake, no matter who it was, even if they spent all their saliva persuading, he still would not leave the town and leave the old lady.
The scholar wanted to let his teacher avoid this disaster.
Old man Zhao was hurt and soon couldn’t keep arguing anymore. He knew in his heart that his student did it for his own good, but he was still angry.
The scholar helped the teacher back into the carriage, then came out and said to Huang Dan, “Young Master, you should go back soon. Maybe you can meet the old lady before it’s too late.”
Liu Chu also heard him.
He strode forward, standing between Huang Dan and the scholar. “Okay, stop talking so much. Young Master Song, let’s hurry up.”
Huang Dan, “I have something to ask the teacher.”
Old man Zhao looked even sicker than before. “Ah Wang. Send this teacher back.”
Huang Dan did not answer and instead asked something else, “Teacher, are the contents recorded in the ancient book real or fake?”
Old man Zhao raised his head. “It’s real if you believe it, and fake if you doubt it.”
Huang Dan, “You didn’t answer my question.”
Old man Zhao, “I’ve already answered. That’s the answer. You can figure it out for yourself.”
He sighed. “Speaking of which, this teacher has spent most of my life researching before being able to understand the ancient texts in it. I didn’t expect you to be able to do it at such a young age.”
Huang Dan inwardly thought, it’s actually translated with the help of Mr System in exchange for points.
“It’s recorded in the ancient book that demons can bleed, but they cannot cry. A teardrop will reduce their cultivation base by a hundred years. Once their cultivation base is exhausted, they will disappear into oblivion or return to their original forms. Does Teacher believe it? “
Old man Zhao, “Whether I believe it or not, nothing will change.”
Huang Dan saw that the old man really didn’t know and wasn’t hiding anything, so he abandoned the matter of the ancient book and asked, “Teacher, was there a Tian Family in the town over ten years ago?”
He had a weird intuition that the Tian Family he heard of in prison that day was the root of all the mysteries.
It felt like as long as this mystery was solved, everything would become clear and the demon would be found.
Old man Zhao said weakly, “Silly boy. At that time, I hadn’t even moved into the town. How would I know?”
Huang Dan, “Teacher should have at least heard of it?”
Old man Zhao closed his eyes. “You might as well go back and ask your grandma. Maybe she’ll tell you a story or something.”
There was something hidden in that sentence.
Huang Dan knew that he couldn’t find anything out, so he was about to lower the curtain and leave when he heard the old man’s voice, “Quickly hurry back. Your grandma is waiting for you.”
Huang Dan immediately bid the scholar farewell and left.
The scholar stood there motionlessly and didn’t take back his gaze for a long time.
The group of people, together with Huang Dan, rushed back to the town.
 : “happy” — The Chinese word used here purely means happy, there are no hidden meanings. But I think the author was using it to mean along the lines of aroused or high, according to the following context. (↑↑)
 : “The wind was picking up” — Other than the literal meaning, another meaning is: something was going to happen. (↑↑)
 : “You’re probably the one who arranged the person I saw at the tailor’s shop that day.” — In c25, Ye Lan went to the tailor shop after separating from Huang Dan, then she mysteriously disappeared. In c26, she came back (saved by Liu Chu) after 5 days, and she told Huang Dan that she saw the person she was looking for walking down the streets. So she chased after that person. When she lost track of that person, she spent the next few days searching everywhere but to no avail, so she looked slightly deranged (from despair) when she was sent back home. (↑↑)
 : “Duck Blood” — Duck blood is left to coagulate, then the solidified blood is cut into smaller pieces. It’s then added into the broth with vermicelli. Occasionally, duck liver and intestines are also added in. I can’t give personal reviews because I don’t have the balls nor the chance to try them. Sounds gross, even though I like medium-rare steak. xD (↑↑)
 : “looking for a needle in a haystack” — Chinese equivalent of this is : ‘fishing for a needle in the sea.’ (↑↑)
 : “eyelid twitched” — The Chinese have an interesting superstition, where generally, if the left eye twitches, it indicates incoming good fortune, and if the right eye twitches, it indicates incoming bad luck. There are actually different meanings according to which eye twitches and at what time. Link for if you’re curious: click here (↑↑)