Three days before the Lunar New Year, Bingxin followed me back to my hometown. At first, my aunt had assumed that I brought my girlfriend back. I quickly explained that she was Officer Sun’s daughter.
My aunt and Sun Tiger barely interacted with each other. She had heard of this person and greatly welcomed Bingxin's visit.
The family was still unaware of my deeds over the past six months and I didn’t intend to reveal that either. During the Lunar New Year, we ate, drank and went frolicking up the hill. Since this was the first time she was visiting my home, Bingxin found it all very exciting.
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, I wanted to visit Grandpa's grave, so I went out with Bingxin early in the morning. When we arrived, we saw a man in a white trench coat standing expressionlessly in front of Grandpa's grave.
I recognized him as the mysterious man who had saved me all those times!
I entrusted Bingxin with the task of snapping a photo of the man. This time, I had to find out who he was.
Despite hearing footsteps behind him, the man remained motionless. I asked, "Why don't you have your Tang Sword with you today?"
He replied without turning around. "I'm afraid a lethal weapon would offend the spirits of the dead."
There were a bunch of flowers on the tomb. I curiously asked, "Did you know my grandfather?"
He replied, "Your grandfather was a great man but unfortunately, he was born at the wrong time and met a rare formidable enemy."
My curiosity grew stronger. "From your tone, you sound like a member of the Song family."
After checking our surroundings, he said, "When your grandfather died, he told you not to track down the Jiangbei Daggers. I hope you’ll listen to him. You have yet to realize what your weaknesses are. There are some forces you can’t touch."
Hearing this, I was fired up. "Were you there when my grandfather died?"
He replied dully, "If I had been there, that wouldn’t have happened."
Aside from me, no one else knew what Grandpa said right before he died. No, I was wrong. There was another person at the scene. I asked coldly, "Are you the Jiangbei Daggers?"
He laughed. "Stop overthinking it. Like you, I am surnamed Song. My name is Song Xingchen. Your grandfather's death was no accident. When he was your age, the Song family had warned him not to interfere with the Jiangbei Daggers’ affairs. But he didn't listen and was determined to investigate, and finally came to a bad end... "
What he said confused me. Were there other branches of the Song family?
Judging from the voice of the Jiangbei Daggers, he was at most a middle-aged man of thirty. Wouldn’t that make him too young to even have been alive when Grandpa was my age?
Song Xingchen turned and headed down the hill, but I quickly overtook him. "Stop, I still have questions for you!"
He walked as he said, "I know you have the same character as your grandfather so you’ll definitely go on investigating. I’ll leave you with these words: The Song family is more powerful than you think, and the Jiangbei Daggers more cruel than you can imagine. Never become an official or an officer and you’ll have no trouble with safety. Remember, your life doesn’t belong to you alone."
For a long time after hearing these words, I found it hard to regain my composure. Bingxin stared blankly at the spot where Song Xingchen disappeared and asked, "Who’s the mysterious hottie?"
I asked, "Did you manage to snap a picture of him?"
Bingxin nodded. "I got it."
Having said that, she found that her cell phone had crashed when she tried to unlock it. Upon restart, all her photos were missing. Bingxin lamented, "Aw, even the selfies I took in your house are gone. How did this happen?"
When I examined her cell phone, it seemed to have been hacked. The firewall on cell phones offered minimal protection, so technically, that wasn’t hard to do.
Song Xingchen had clearly been standing in front of me yet someone had covertly hacked into Bingxin's cell phone which indicated that he wasn’t acting alone. The thought gave me the heebie-jeebies. No wonder he always showed up in time.
Ever since I was little, I presumed my family was the only remaining descendants of the Song family. No unfamiliar relatives attended Grandpa’s funeral either. But could the truth be exactly as he said–maybe the Song family was really a powerful force?
When I returned home, I asked my aunt if there was anyone called Song Xingchen in the Song family.
She said the name rang a bell but she couldn't remember, so I dropped the subject.
We enjoyed a relatively warm climate here so there was only a thin sheet of snow during the Lunar New Year. The flowers would soon bloom. On the third day of the Lunar New Year, Bingxin cheerfully suggested we go out for a hike. I said, "The county hill hardly makes for an enjoyable hike. Let’s hike up Mount Tai when we get the chance."
Bingxin pouted, "You really suck at romance. I just wanted to spend more time with you! This year, we’ll both have internships, so we might not have the chance to get together."
I said, "Fine then, let's have a picnic too."
Bingxin clapped her hands excitedly. "That’s great! I get to have a picnic with you!"
After informing my family that we wouldn’t join them for dinner, we brought a large bag of charcoal, a firelighter and frozen mutton skewers and climbed up the hill. The strong wind made me tear up while I was grilling the mutton skewers, much to Bingxin’s amusement.
After gobbling up our food, Bingxin took out a stack of cards and said, "Let's play truth or dare!"
I shrugged helplessly. "What a stupid game. Can’t we play something that stimulates the mind?"
Bingxin sulked. "Your intellect is already well-developed, but your emotional intelligence leaves much to be desired. Playing this game can cultivate that. It’s of great benefit to you."
I remained doubtful. "Really?"
We sat on the ground and took turns drawing cards. If we drew the same suit, the punishment was to choose to reveal a truth or take on a dare, and the questions had already been prepared. Bingxin was the first unlucky one. She chose truth, so I read out the question on the card. "If you were visiting your crush in their home and suddenly had the runs, what would you do... What sort of question is this?"
Bingxin grinned, "Ask where the restroom is!"
Then, it was my turn to step on a mine. I opted for truth but was asked a rather sensitive question. "How many pornographic movies have you collected?"
I was embarrassed. Which guy didn't have a small collection? Bingxin warned, "You’ll be punished if you don’t answer honestly!"
Counting with my fingers, I admitted, "If I’m being honest... six or seven."
Bingxin was dumbfounded. "And here I thought you were a pure, innocent boy! I really want to see your collection though. What type of girl do you like?"
I straightened up and complained, "How many questions have you asked?"
Laughter filled the air as we played on. Because some of the questions were too uncomfortable, I chose a dare instead. But this was what I got–hug a lamppost and yell at the top of your lungs, “I’m cured!”
Bingxin applauded and burst out laughing. "I want to see you do it!"
I scratched my head awkwardly. "There aren’t any lampposts around here. I’ll just hug a tree!"
She refused. "No way. You chose the dare yourself so you’ll have to complete it by hook or by crook."
"Fine, I'll go down the hill and grab a lamppost."
There was a small village nearby but the place was probably deserted during the Lunar New Year. As soon as we arrived at the bottom of the hill, I heard the loud clanging of gongs, drums beating, and firecrackers. It turned out that someone was getting married. I broke out in cold sweat. "Let's go somewhere else."
Hands on her hips, Bingxin solemnly said, "No way. You must obey the rules of the game. The card states that you have to hug the first lamppost you come across."
I sighed and gritted my teeth. Throwing caution to the wind, I flung my arms around the lamppost and allowed my emotions to ferment before shouting, "It’s a miracle! I’m finally cured!"
Several passers-by watching the wedding threw a look of surprise at me. Choking with laughter, Bingxin covered her stomach. I vowed, "I’m never coming to this village again! Let’s get out of here!”
Just then, a shrill cry pierced the air. "Ahh! There’s a dead body!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter