On that very same night, the houses throughout the capital were illuminated brightly by lanterns, and fireworks were erupting throughout the sky.
Most families were having their reunion dinner tonight, and they were happily eating together, having fun together, and sharing all their gains and happiness throughout this year.
But the atmosphere in Courtyard 37 on Octagon Alley was extremely oppressive and deathly silent.
Zhao Zhicheng was lying on a stretcher while his entire body was covered in bloody bandages, and he was in an unconscious state.
The lights in the hall were brilliant. The master of the Zhao Family, Zhao Guangpu was leaning on a cane as he sat there silently.
This old man who was one of the seven great generals that fought for the creation of the empire experienced all sorts of storms throughout his life in the military, and he’d very rarely interfered in the matters of his family.
However, it didn’t mean that the old man didn’t pay any attention to the family at all. He was finally infuriated when he saw his grandson being carried back in such a state.
The commanding officer of the Star Ocean Fleet, Lieutenant General Zhao Pingbo, was standing upright in silence. Moreover, all the other kin of the Zhao Family who commanded great authority amongst the bureaucrats were standing at the side as well.
However, there was actually not a single sound throughout the entire hall.
Because that old man had been silent until now, and no one dared to speak until he did.
“The last time, that little girl, Liang Liang, broke three of Zhicheng’s ribs right in front of me because of a joke Zhicheng made.” The old man spoke after a long time passed, and his voice was rough and low. “That wasn’t a huge deal, and it was just an argument between children, so it can be forgiven so long as it doesn’t have any major implications.”
The old man paused for a moment, raised his head, and shot his aged gaze towards everyone here. After that, his hunched and emaciated figure stood up straight, and he revealed a strand of indescribable power and influence.
“But she went a little too far this time.” His voice was low, and it caused the others to feel like a strand of pressure was assaulting them from him.
“Father, leave it to me.” Zhao Pingbo spoke softly.
“Sure. But tell me what you plan to do.” The old man spoke indifferently.
“That little girl, Liang Liang, is simply running wild, but the emperor really dotes upon her, so we can’t touch here. Thus, we can only act against the Mu Family.” Zhao Pingbo spoke calmly. Obviously, he’d found out about the sequence of events.
“Continue.” The old man nodded.
“Even though this child, Zhicheng, is good-for-nothing, he can be considered to be a top figure amongst the younger generation. Moreover, the relationship between our Zhao Family and the Mu Family has always been good. It would naturally be even better if Zhicheng could marry that little girl, Qing’qing.” Zhao Pingbo considered how to word it before he spoke slowly. “But now it would seem like the Mu Family clearly isn’t of the same mind.”
The old man asked, “How did you discern that?”
Zhao Pingbo spoke casually, “I don’t have to care about that. I only have to know that Zhicheng was beaten up in the Mu Family residence. Since we can’t act directly against that little girl, Liang Liang, then the Mu Family naturally has to step forward and resolve the matter.”
The old man nodded, “Not bad, you were able to think about using them to deal with her. But what if the Mu Family refuses?”
A wisp of coldness arose in Zhao Pingbo’s eyes, “Then we can only use some forceful methods and force the Mu Family!”
The old man frowned. He fell silent for a long time before he said, “I have quite a good relationship with that old fellow from the Mu Family. We’re both brothers who’d gone through thick and thin together. If the matter really comes to the point that you don’t have a choice but to use force, then give old man Mu some face and don’t make it too difficult for the Mu Family.”
Zhao Pingbo nodded, “Don’t worry, Father. I know the limits of things.”
“All of you can leave. I just hope that I’ll be able to have a good new year and no more trouble will arise….” The old man stood up and left while supporting himself on the cane.
New years was coming. As the working class returned home, the usually bustling streets of the capital seemed quite quiet.
After they left Octagon Alley, Chen Lan and Mu Qing walked side by side through the empty streets, and they frequently noticed the shadow of stray cats flashing by.
Fireworks erupted like blooming flowers of fire, and they decorated the night sky in gorgeous and dazzling light. The countless high-rise buildings had their neon lights on, and it simply seemed like a dream-like sight which made one look forward to the future.
However, Mu Qing was similarly clearly aware that a cruel and strict law of survival existed behind the gorgeous and flourishing surface of the capital.
Outsiders held various different dreams as they converged from all over and settled down in the capital. They yearned to make a name for themselves, they yearned to rise to prominence, and they yearned to create a kingdom of their own. However, most of them would be completely destroyed and have no choice but to leave in dejection.
That was reality. All hard work and the will to fight for success was weak like a bubble before the absolutely strict system of hierarchy and social class.
Amongst the youths who fought for their dreams, merely a few might be lucky enough to gain success, but most were bound to be rejected from the capital.
Authority, wealth, women, status…. The capital had everything. But all of it had already been split between others, and only some scraps remained for the low classes of society.
There was a ‘river of ascension’ in the capital, and it implied ascension to success. Countless youths had gone there to offer prayers for their dreams throughout the years, and it also drawn over countless prominent and powerful figures to pay their respects.
However, did anyone know how much ambition and how many hearts were buried beneath that famous river?
Mu Qing glanced at Chen Lan, and she sighed in her head. She was very well aware why her parents had firmly refused Chen Lan.
It was none other than because they weren’t suitable for each other. Regardless of whether it was status or background, the gap between them was too huge. It was clearly that her parents who stood amongst the upper reaches of society weren’t able to accept Chen Lan who was from the bottom.
Such levels were like a barrier that was present in every single corner of society, and one who could destroy such a barrier was definitely an absolutely mighty person.
However, Mu Qing’s intent to spend her life with Chen Lan had never wavered.
While reality was reality, the meaning of life was absolutely not to bow before reality, right?
“About what happened tonight, I….” Mu Qing had pondered in her heart for a long time before she spoke apologetically.
But she’d merely spoken halfway when Chen Lan interrupted her and said, “It’s not your fault. But your parents will be very sad that you’ve left with me tonight.”
Mu Qing bit her cherry lips while her thick hair swayed with the wind, and her beautiful and exquisite features had a wisp of sadness on them. But it wasn’t long before her sadness was replaced by resolve. “What’s the point of staying at home when they’ve made such a decision. Once we’ve… once we’ve made it so that it can’t be undone, then they’ll have no choice but to agree.”
Clearly, she intended to make it a done deal before facing her parents!
Mu Qing was the top student in the Imperial Academy, and she was an absolute beauty who possessed both talent and knowledge. Regardless of whether it was her bearing, character, or appearance, all of them were outstanding. She was absolutely a goddess.
Yet such an absolute beauty intended to run away from home for a bookworm, and she even intended to ‘make it a done deal’ to force her parents to acknowledge her relationship with that bookworm…. Such a decision predetermined that the sacrifice she had to make would be absolutely beyond imagination!
If news of this were to spread to the academy, it would definitely make all the male students spit blood from their envy.
Chen Lan was clearly aware of it, and he fell silent for a short while before he said, “If it’s possible, then follow me home to spend new year’s eve there with me.”
Mu Qing was clearly stunned, and then her beautiful eyes opened wide. She stopped on the spot and stared at Chen Lan for a long time, and she stared at him until he felt quite uncomfortable before a wisp of a smile suddenly arose on the corners of her mouth.
That smile was like a ripple that spread throughout her gorgeous face. Her eyes, her brows, her mouth…. Her entire face was covered in a smile and joy.
After that, she suddenly cheered, placed her hands by the sides of her mouth to form a cone, and then shouted towards the sky. “God, did you hear that? This bookworm finally gained a conscience! I’M SO HAPPY!!!!”
The young woman wore a black woolen coat and skinny jeans, and she seemed beautiful and dignified. But at this moment, she seemed like a child that was smiling as she shouted towards the night sky. Her voice drifted along the winter breeze, yet the winter breeze didn’t seem cold anymore and carried a trace of warmth.
Chen Lan watched all of this in silence. As he gazed at the happiness all over Mu Qing’s face, he removed the black rimmed glasses he was wearing while his constantly calm and composed face revealed a rare wisp of a smile at this moment, and he walked over to Mu Qing.
He stood by Mu Qing’s side, and he looked up into the sky and watched the picturesque scene of dazzling fireworks erupting throughout the sky.
God, did you see that? I’ll be bringing this young miss home to see you on new year’s eve…. A long time later, Chen Lan chuckled in his heart as he felt that the name ‘god’ was quite amusing.