He Cong was furious.
“What are you looking at?! Kick him out!”
The servant was at a loss.
“My lord, you… you’d better go and have a look! Lord Qi is different from usual, he’s so fierce, as if he’s going to start a battle! Everyone is scared!”
He Cong couldn’t contain his anger.
“Ridiculous! My He family members have been officials for generations, how dare he make a scene!”
He drew the sword from the wall and rushed to the gates of the mansion in anger, cursing even before he could see the situation clearly:
“Qi Yan! What are you crazy about?! ”
This was not the first time Qi Yan had troubled him.
More than that, it was not the first time that Qi Yan had come to pick up Xia Xun in front of him.
A long time ago, He Cong knew that Xia Xun had someone he liked, but he didn’t know that that man was Qi Yan.
He had never heard of the name Qi Yan and it was not until the downfall of the Xia family that he heard a few words about Qi Yan from his father.
After Xia Hongxi’s death, Qi Yan was quickly reappointed and given a high position at a young age.
Xia Xun was sincere to him, but was used by him and sent to jail.
He Cong was indignant about what happened to Xia Xun and wanted to try to save him, but his father threatened him with his own life and did not allow him to step forward.
For the safety of the He family, He Cong held back.
A few months later, news of Xia Xun’s death reached the capital. He Cong regretted nothing, had a big quarrel with his parents, and went to Lingnan.
After he returned to the capital from Douzhou, his mood gradually stabilised. He kept Xia Xun’s secret and lived his life like before.
However, whenever he saw Qi Yan, the anger in his heart could not be suppressed.
What made him even more angry was Qi Yan’s attitude.
He thought that Qi Yan would be moved when he learned of Xia Xun’s death, or show a trace of guilt at least.
Who knew that Qi Yan wouldn’t change at all. He went to work normally every day and completed his official duties with due diligence. His mood was stable, without any signs of mourning and regret for Xia Xun.
He forgot Xia Xun completely, as if he had never existed.
The only thing that had changed was his attitude towards the He family.
When Xia Xun was sent to Lingnan, He Cong’s father made a small mistake and fell into Qi Yan’s hands. Qi Yan dealt with the matter perfunctorily and let it go.
After Xia Xun’s death, he became more vigorous and effective in his actions, without showing any trace of mercy, especially for He Cong.
When He Cong returned to the capital, he was given an official position.
He had just taken office and he was still unskilled, and accidentally made a very small mistake.
Even if the emperor personally inquired, he probably would not punish He Cong.
Who knew that Qi Yan would seize on it and insist on convicting him.
He Cong’s father didn’t know what his son had done to offend Qi Yan, so he prepared a generous gift and asked He Cong to personally go to Qi Mansion to deliver it.
He Cong was unwilling to do anything but went anyway.
He didn’t go to intercede, though, but to quarrel.
Before Qi Yan had time to say anything, He Cong asked:
“Xia Xun is dead, are you happy?”
Qi Yan froze on the spot and didn’t speak for a long time.
He Cong laughed loudly and threw the gift prepared by his father to the ground.
“Something for you! If you want to kill me, do whatever you want! But listen to me! Even if you cut off my head, Xia Xun will not come back to life!”
He was full of resentment and cursed viciously:
“Remember forever that Xia Xun was killed by you! When you also go to the underworld, the King of Hell will definitely ask you to pay for your sins!”
After cursing to his heart’s content, He Cong felt relieved and left Qi Mansion with a big smile.
He thought that he had completely offended Qi Yan this time and would definitely not end well.
Who would have imagined that after that day, Qi Yan would take a few days off because of some illness, and then go back to work as if he had completely forgotten He Cong’s mistake, never mentioning it again.
He Cong couldn’t think of a reason for it and didn’t appreciate Qi Yan’s grace.
The same was true for Qi Yan.
Although that time he had spared He Cong, but in the following years, whenever he saw him, he would never give him a good face.
He Cong was not afraid of quarrelling with Qi Yan, he was not afraid of him at all.
Tonight was different from the past, though.
After He Cong saw the people outside the door, he realized that Qi Yan was here for real this time.
Qi Yan sat on the horse, looking down at him condescendingly.
Dozens of guards stood behind him, and when He Cong came out, they raised the torches in their hands and stared at him.
He Cong stood still, drew out the sword and threw the scabbard in front of Qi Yan’s horse:
“Lord Zhongshu is making such a big fuss to bring people to storm my house and kill all my family, old and young together?!”
As if nothing had happened, Qi Yan looked at his fingers and said indifferently:
“Lord He misunderstood. I was just passing by by chance. As long as you return Xia Xun to me, I will take my people away immediately.”
He Cong instinctively wanted to ask, Xia Xun is gone?
Before he said that, he held back.
He sneered and asked Qi Yan rhetorically:
“Lord Qi, don’t you think you’re strange? It was you who got Xia Xun killed with your own hands in the first place, and now you’re trying to keep him around by all means! What exactly is your obsession? Do you still have a lingering hatred for him and regret that you let him live in the first place and want to capture him and kill him yourself?”
Qi Yan seemed absent-minded and said lightly:
“I’m not in the mood to bicker with you. Fine, give Xia Xun back to me. It’s late and he should go back to rest.”
He Cong stared at him intently.
Qi Yan seemed to be unperturbed, but He Cong could see through his mask.
He was self-restrained and cautious, and there were very few times when he lost control of his emotions. The more angry he was, the calmer he behaved.
At this time, his jaw was tight, and blue veins on his neck were protruding.
He Cong could see Qi Yan’s extreme tension and anger, and he smiled, puzzled.
He didn’t mind pouring oil into this monstrous dark fire.
He said loudly: “You are late! By now, Xia Xun has already left the city!”
Qi Yan paused, dismounted and slowly walked towards him.
He approached step by step, facing He Cong’s hostile gaze, and stopped on the stairs in front of He Mansion.
The people around rushed over in a hurry. They didn’t dare to stop Qi Yan, so they stood in front of He Cong.
He Cong shouted: “Get out of the way!”
He scolded Qi Yan angrily again: “What are you playing at? If you have the ability, stab me!”
Qi Yan ignored his words and walked up to him step by step.
His voice was extremely low and there was burning anger in his eyes:
“Tell me, where did Xia Xun go?”
The subordinates of He Mansion, frightened by his cold aura, froze in place, no one daring to act rashly.
He Cong alone was fearless and sneered:
“The world is vast, he can go anywhere, you will never find him again, and you will never see him again.”
Qi Yan drew his sword and pointed the sharp blade directly at He Cong’s throat.
The He family’s household panicked, people kneeling on the ground, begging Qi Yan for mercy.
He Cong stared at Qi Yan, not trying to dodge:
“Lord Qi, are you going to kill a court official in full view of the public?”
Qi Yan said coldly:
“Don’t think I won’t dare. It’s not like I haven’t killed Xia Hongxi. I have cut off Xia Hongxi’s head with my own hands.”
He Cong laughed out loud:
“Then do it. But know this, if I also die at your hands, Xia Xun will never forgive you in this life.”
Qi Yan’s motions slowed, the tip of the sword tilting forward an inch and reaching He Cong’s chest.
The cries of the servants continued.
He Cong laughed:
“I was wrong. Xia Xun would have never forgiven you anyway. If you killed me, it would only make him hate you more. Come on, I’m sure you don’t care either.”
After speaking, he closed his eyes provocatively as if inviting Qi Yan to do it.
Qi Yan gritted his teeth and held the hilt of the sword tightly. The blade of the sword was buried nearly an inch into He Cong’s chest, cutting his clothes and leaving blood marks on his skin.
With just a little effort from Qi Yan, the sword could drive straight in, piercing He Cong’s chest.
When the sword was ready to move, there was a sound of horse hooves from far away, and Qi Hui’s figure appeared in the night.
“My lord!” He quickly dismounted and rushed to Qi Yan’s side, “I found Yuzhu!” ”
Qi Yan immediately pulled away his sword and asked anxiously:
“Found Yuzhu? Where is Xia Xun??”
Qi Hui was nervous and said hastily:
“Master Xia was not found, and… Moreover, when Yuzhu was found, it was already dead!”
A few hours ago.
Xia Xun took Yuzhu to come home.
The dilapidation of Xia Mansion was unexpected to him.
The entire mansion was almost reduced to ruins and he could no longer tell who had been living in what courtyard.
The water in the pond had long dried out, and all the water lilies planted there had withered, the dry leaves turned into dust that would rise from the bottom of the pond when the wind blew.
He raised his arm to block this dust.
Yuzhu was frightened by the scene in front of him and stood still in a daze, his nose twitching constantly, as if looking for clues to allow this place to overlap with the home in his memory.
Xia Xun picked him up and walked forward slowly, bypassing the broken pillars and decayed walls.
The house was in disrepair, the wooden window frames distorted into hexagonal shapes, the plaques on the courtyard doors fallen to the ground, the letters on them wiped away by the wind.
Many routes were impassable. Xia Xun walked around the dry pond and unintentionally walked to the vicinity of the main house.
The main beam of the house was broken, jagged stubs of wood exposed in its place.
It was on this beam that Xia Xun’s mother hanged herself. The white silk was the gift from the emperor, specially sent from the palace, and Qi Yan personally handed it over to her.
Xia Xun glanced inside the house in the moonlight, but did not walk in.
Behind the main house and to the north, the courtyard farthest from the main gate was where Xia Xun had lived.
Yuzhu recognized it before him.
They were still dozens of feet away from the small courtyard, but he was so excited that he desperately kicked Xia Xun with his paws to get down from his arms.
Xia Xun put him on the ground and Yuzhu walked into the yard impatiently.
He looked the happiest since Xia Xun reunited with him.
He seemed to completely forget the physical pain and wasn’t bothered with his ageing heart and swollen joints anymore. It was as if he had returned to many years ago, the first time he had escaped from Xia Xun’s second brother and hopefully ran to this small courtyard to find the master who would shelter him.
Holding his head high, Yuzhu strode in, and Xia Xun followed him, belatedly.
The small two-story building in the yard was just as ruined as other buildings in Xia Mansion, no more dilapidated than them, and in no better condition.
Xia Xun stood at the gate of the moon-shaped courtyard, looking ahead from a distance.
He was not remembering the things from the past; his attention was on Yuzhu. He knew what he had to expect and tried his best to prepare himself.
Yuzhu finally returned to the land of his dreams. He slowed down and sniffed.
Everything about this place was familiar. Yuzhu doesn’t mind how dilapidated it was here. This small courtyard meant the happiest time of his life for him.
There were two people who treated him very well, gave him delicious food and played with him every day.
Even if he did something wrong, he would not be punished, not even reproached.
He remembered breaking a lot of things, and at most he was scolded as a “little villain.”
He had a very happy time, either rolling among the grass all day long, or going to the pond to scare the koi in the water.
He thought that this kind of life would last for a long time; until that man came.
He brought many people and rushed into his home, smelling of murder.
One of Yuzhu’s masters knelt in front of the man, and the other master hugged Yuzhu and shivered, hiding behind the house.
Yuzhu didn’t understand what happened and licked her hand.
She pressed her forehead against his body, crying non-stop.
Later, she hid him in the cellar.
When he was too hungry and ran out of the cellar, no one was there.
He ran around the mansion, whining, his paws bruised by stones, his voice hoarse, but no one paid attention to him.
He returned to the courtyard, jumped onto the bed, curled up in a ball and lay down.
The bed was still full of the smell of his master; so, maybe they would come back soon.
He waited in place for seven days.
When all the koi in the pond died, he could not wait any longer.
After getting into the dog hole that he had crawled through several times before, he got to a new place.
The people in that place treated him well, fed him on time and occasionally played with him.
But there was the man he hated most. He knew it was that man who took away his master and destroyed his home.
He barked as soon as he saw the man, and if he approached, Yuzhu bared his teeth and attacked him.
After a few times, the man stopped approaching and stopped trying to touch his head.
He just lived like this; he lived like this for seven years.
He had never regarded this place as his home for a moment and he never forgot his real home.
After many years, suddenly one day, the master came back.
He had lost a lot of weight and his smell was not the same as before. He always looked unhappy.
He stopped making trouble and laughing with Yuzhu and would only hold him quietly.
Yuzhu didn’t care.
As long as he could come back, his wish was fulfilled.
In Xia Xun’s old house, Yuzhu climbed over the threshold with difficulty.
Back then, he passed this place with a single lift of his paw, but now it was a big obstacle for him.
He walked slowly to the side of the bed and looked up at Xia Xun.
Xia Xun understood, ignored the dust on the bed, sat down and then picked up Yuzhu.
When Yuzhu got on the bed, he couldn’t stand anymore, swayed and fell down.
Obviously he had lost all his strength, but he still held on, resting his head on Xia Xun’s lap.
This was his favourite posture in the past. Every time he came back tired from playing, he had to lie down with Xia Xun like this.
Xia Xun stroked him again and again.
His fur was dry and rough, lusterless. Even under a light touch, large pieces of hair would fall out.
His legs were extremely swollen, and his breathing became more jagged and raspy with every moment.
Xia Xun patted him while talking to him:
“Yuzhu, you are good, you are the best puppy in the world… I know, you persisted to this day just to see me.”
His throat suddenly felt blocked; he paused, choking:
“Thank you for your hard work, I will always be by your side, you… can rest.”
Yuzhu was waiting for this sentence.
After listening to Xia Xun, he glanced at him, his eyes full of love and nostalgia.
Xia Xun touched his moist nose for the last time. Satisfied, Yuzhu closed his eyes.
His heartbeat gradually weakened, his belly stopped undulating, his pink nose turned pale and his warm body slowly cooled, his limbs stretched out as he collapsed softly on the bed.
He sighed contentedly, licked Xia Xun’s hand, lying on his lap, and slowly stopped breathing.
Like that, Yuzhu left him.