Li Tianming’s father, Li Yanfeng, was Flamehaven’s governor, while his mother, Wei Jing, was the lady governor. Both mother and son had resided in the Rain Appreciating Pavilion for years. It was the best residence in the governor's manor, a sign of Wei Jing’s position in the manor once upon a time.
Through the grapevine, Li Tianming had heard that Wei Jing had had both talent and skill in her younger years, and had even been a country-toppling beauty. She had been very impressive then, and had married his father in the end.
However, after Wei Jing gave birth to Li Tianming, she contracted some strange illness. It had accelerated the aging of her and her lifebound beast. Today, she was only forty, but her age was belied by a head full of white hair and looked like she was at death’s door. Only her face’s outline gave the barest of hints of the beauty she used to be.
Like her son, her lifebound beast was also a Four-Winged Goldroc, which was currently sprawled on the ground. Nearly all of its feathers had dropped off, and its movements were sluggish. Movement sometimes wasn’t even possible. It was rare for a master to get sick along with their beast. Supposedly, she had traveled far and wide , but she had never found a cure. At this rate, she would pass from old age within half a year.
They mostly stayed in the Rain Appreciating Pavilion and never went out, rarely meeting anyone. That was why it was unexpected that someone would barge in on Wei Jing’s birthday!
Two women walked in. One was in a red dress, looking every bit a graceful and refined madam, if not for her long and narrow eyes, which hinted at her sinister nature. The other was a young girl dressed like a martial artist. Her body was well-built and overflowing with heroic spirit. Evidently, she was born into a family of warriors, her eyes filled with the loftiness that only came from having a high status.
Or to put it more bluntly, it was arrogance!
“Third sister, Xuejiao?” Wei Jing came out. That madam was Li Yanfeng’s third wife, called Madam Huang. Men in Vermilion Bird were allowed up to three wives and four concubines. As a wife, Madam Huang had a high status in the manor, and her family was also of great importance in Flamehaven. The young girl by her side was her daughter, Li Xuejiao, Li Tianming’s younger half-sister. Her talent wasn’t bad, and she had experienced a meteoric rise in Flamehaven in the last three years.
“Big sister, are you well?” Madam Huang immediately plastered on a smile upon seeing them as she brought her daughter in.
“How well could she be with one foot in the grave?” Li Xuejiao’s eyes lit up with amusement as she couldn’t resist mumbling.
“That’s impolite.” Madam Huang gave a stern glare, but didn’t scold her. Instead, she continued to smile, “I heard today was big sister’s birthday. Milord specially ordered a present. He’s a little busy today as he has to receive some guests, so he told me to come in his stead.”
Li Xuejiao almost snickered out loud, but managed to hold it back.
“What is it?” Wei Jing was slightly confused.
“Take a look,” Madam Huang handed over a document, holding back her sniggers as she did so.
Wei Jing’s hand was trembling slightly as she opened the document. At a glance, it was obviously written by Li Yanfeng from the vigorous calligraphy. Just a brief overview left Wei Jing’s eyes red and unable to even stand properly. It was only with Li Tianming’s support that she could sit.
Li Tianming took a look as well. While the tone was polite and it kept beating around the bush, the main message was clear: this was a divorce letter!
He spoke of how grateful he was for Wei Jing’s company these years as well as her contributions to the family, before waxing eloquence for a while. Finally, he invited Wei Jing to leave the manor. It wasn’t just a removal of her role as the main wife, but her identity as the governor mistress as well!
In summary, she was being evicted.
Then, it mentioned Li Tianming. The words were curt, telling her to bring him along as well, clearly removing his status as the son of the first wife. It had to be mentioned that Li Tianming had always been the future Flamehaven governor!
This was a major event for Flamehaven, but here it was just a side note. However, this showed how merciless Li Yanfeng was.
If this had happened three years ago, it would have caused big waves. Now however, it was an insignificant thing. After all, the only thing worth noting about Li Tianming these days was how he had chased after Mu Qingqing and failed, before resorting to drugs.
Li Tianming had always known the world was filled with those who liked to kick others while they were down. He had also known Li Yanfeng was heartless. However, he had never drawn a conclusion that it would be his father who kicked him while he was down in the end.
In the three years he had returned, Li Yanfeng hadn’t visited often, but he would at least come on his mother’s birthdays.
Li Tianming and his father’s relationship had been like water and fire since he was young, as the man had never shown much concern over his sickly mother. It had worsened since his return from Ignispolis, where they hadn’t even exchanged three sentences. These three years, that man’s gaze at him had gone from his usual disappointment, to naked contempt, and then finally indifference. When he came to visit during his mother’s birthday last year, he had just taken a brief glance before hurriedly taking his leave.
To be honest, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume if he was just checking if she had died yet!
This pitiful woman was still waiting for Li Yanfeng to play his part in the relationship. Li Tianming couldn’t even begin to calculate just how much Wei Jing had paid for the sake of this relationship. For her to be repaid with this ending would make anyone furious!
If you meet the wrong person, your life shall be ruined.
Madam Huang and Li Xuejiao could no longer hold it back when they saw Li Tianming and Wei Jing’s expressions. Li Xuejiao clutched onto Madam Huang’s arm, no longer able to hold back her laughter. “Seriously, dad always looks so old-fashioned, but he sends out quite the exciting birthday presents!”
“Big sister, don’t begrudge milord. This is all absolutely, positively for the sake of you and Tianming! After all, you aren’t doing all too well now, which people can easily use as grounds to criticize the old master. Even the brave knows when to retreat. Big sister understands that’s a virtue, right?” Madam Huang retracted her laughter to say seriously. “Milord has also made some plans. He took the effort to prepare these spirit gems! These are valuables only beastmasters can use, each one worth many a gold piece! It’s enough to set you up for life.” She took out a bag and casually tossed it to Wei Jing the way one would give a beggar alms.
“I really am jealous of you! I couldn’t get that many spirit gems even if I begged for it,” Li Xuejiao said enviously. Petty people really were something else. These two and their jibes would aggravate anyone to their deaths.
Li Tianming assumed his mother was suffering and wouldn’t be able to endure it, but she unexpectedly became incredibly calm after the initial moments of despondency. It seemed that she had come to some sort of understanding.
“In fact, this does have its positives. The two of us no longer owe each other anything,” she muttered, shaking her head.
“Big sister, if it really is too hard, feel free to cry. In fact, I’ll even lend you my shoulder!” Madam Huang covered her mouth to hide her twitching mouth.
Li Tianming was furious at this point.“ I think it’s about time for you two to scram, no?”
“Big brother Tianming, how could you say that! Know why it’s us two here to notify you? Dad has already promised that Rain Appreciating Pavilion is ours from now on. One divorced and one crippled, shouldn’t you two be the ones scramming?” Lu Xuejiao crossed her arms, her eyes alight with mockery.
“Xuejiao is correct. Big sister, I won’t make things difficult on account of our years of sisterhood. I’ll give you half an hour to pack up.” Madam Huang quirked an eyebrow, giggling.
Li Tianming himself was almost laughing at this point. All these people really were more merciless than the last one. If not for his fortuitous opportunity, this really would be their end. However, he refused to accept this!
Why should his mother have to suffer such unfair treatment? Even if they must leave, they would do it grandly! Not like some homeless dogs kicked out!
Just as he decided to confront Li Yanfeng, his mother, who had always understood him, grabbed his arm. The strength her delicate body exerted was a testament to her will. “We leave, Tianming. There’s nothing much to be fond about here. When we’re down, there’s no need to pointlessly struggle. When you make your comeback, we shall return for our lost face.”
These simple words rocked Li Tianming to his core. After all, he was aware that his mother had never been any simple person. If not for her strange illness, this Madam Huang wouldn’t be there smiling so complacently!
“Comeback? Lay off the jokes. Your son’s lifebound beast life is dead, and from his shameless actions no less. If the laughingstock of Flamehaven could make a comeback, well, that’ll be the day pigs climb trees.” Li Xuejiao snorted.
“Challenge accepted. I suppose I have no choice but to send you up a tree today then.” Li Tianming’s eyes glinted with fury as they stared at her.
“A challenge, big brother Tianming? I don’t hold back against cripples, you know.” Li Xuejiao’s smile left her face as it turned frosty.
“Still remember? That time you got kidnapped when you ran off to play, it was ME who trailed them for three days and three nights, leaving behind clues that led to your eventual rescue. If not for that, you’ll already be a lonely corpse in some dark, lonely corner. And yet... ” Li Tianming’s eyes narrowed. Some people really didn’t know gratitude.
She curled her lips. “That doesn’t change what a joke this is, Tianming.”
“That’s why I regret saving you. I’m a kind, magnanimous, elder brother. We have three trees here. I’ll let you choose which one you want to have fond memories of when you live here. The orange, locust, or parasol tree?”