Lin Qingyang was startled, immediately reflexively thinking about evading something.
But the alarm sounded for two seconds and then stopped.
“Hey, system? What’s going on? Are you malfunctioning?”
【 Upon inspection, there is no bug. There was just a crisis alert a moment ago, and now the crisis has passed.】
Lin Qingyang: ???
The surroundings were empty with nothing but Xu Wenze in front of him…
Lin Qingyang silently took a step back, watching Xu Wenze warily. Could it be that this guy, in order to protect his sister’s reputation, wanted to silence him? Xu Wenze, you’re too unscrupulous.
“Brother Lin?” Xu Wenze, having sorted out his clothes and emotions, lifted his head to see Lin Qingyang looking at him defensively, with a face full of question marks.
Lin Qingyang was also a bit puzzled. Xu Wenze had some descriptions in the original plot that portrayed him as not such a heartless person. This couldn’t be, right?
Unable to figure it out, Lin Qingyang even suspected that the surroundings were no longer safe and decided it was better to leave quickly.
After coming up, Lin Qingyang discovered that his arranged painting tools had fallen over. Lin Qingyang wore a gloomy expression, and Xu Wenze went forward to help, but he remained silent.
“By the way, how did you come here?”
“I didn’t find a good place, so I went to a less crowded area to take a look. I happened to see you walking in, so I thought I’d come and say hello.” After saying this, Xu Wenze paused for a moment. In reality, he didn’t tell the truth. When he painted alone, Ying Xiaodie was nearby, as if wanting to run into him coincidentally. To avoid trouble, he could only hide in less populated areas.
After tidying up, Xu Wenze said, “Brother Lin, I’ll take my leave. I…”
Lin Qingyang nodded in acknowledgment, naturally understanding where he was going. He didn’t want to meddle in other people’s private affairs.
With his head down, Xu Wenze walked ahead, retracing the previous path. However, he spotted Chu Lishu by the side of the road.
At this moment, Chu Lishu was standing in front of a tree, with his arm resting on the trunk.
Xu Wenze approached with confusion, “Brother Lishu, what are you…”
As Xu Wenze began to speak, he fell silent when he noticed that Chu Lishu’s arm wasn’t resting on the tree trunk but holding a small knife inserted into the bark.
Chu Lishu turned his gaze toward Xu Wenze as he called out.
Suddenly, Xu Wenze felt as if he were under a gaze that held power over life and death, an overwhelming pressure from top to bottom.
It wasn’t until that gaze softened, partially concealed by the black feathers of Chu Lishu’s lashes, that Xu Wenze felt he could breathe again.
“Brother Lishu, what are you doing?” Xu Wenze felt uneasy, sensing that Chu Lishu always seemed to surpass his understanding at certain moments.
“Looking for something,” Chu Lishu replied indifferently. “And what about Brother Wenzhe? You seem… relaxed and carefree. Have you encountered something joyful or… someone special?”
Xu Wenze’s expression stiffened, and with a heavy heart, he didn’t pay much attention to Chu Lishu’s peculiar tone. “There’s no special someone. I haven’t encountered anything.”
Chu Lishu raised an eyebrow slightly, and a chill in his eyes deepened. “So, Brother Wenzhe, in such a hurry now, are you heading to…?”
“Looking for my sister. I shouldn’t have rejected her earlier,” Xu Wenze explained.
Chu Lishu almost sneered, “Didn’t my Second Cousin help you in vain?”
Xu Wenze’s expression became more natural after a while. “Don’t tease me. Brother Lin did help me, and I will express my gratitude properly.”
Chu Lishu’s face stiffened, almost distorted, but Xu Wenze didn’t want to linger on this conversation and quickly walked away.
Watching Xu Wenze’s figure in the distance, Chu Lishu slowly pulled out his small knife and tossed it in his hand a few times.
Gratitude? Hmph, expressing gratitude in that way? Disgusting.
Just now, Chu Lishu was painting on the side and saw Xu Wenze walking in that direction. He knew that place was where Lin Qingyang was. Chu Lishu knew that the interaction between those two had nothing to do with him, but for some reason, he followed them.
As a result, he witnessed a scene that made him feel extremely disgusted.
The figures of Lin Qingyang and Xu Wenze were faintly visible in the bushes as they rose one after another.
Xu Wenze straightened his clothes, while Lin Qingyang wiped his lips.
What have they done, and why bother thinking about it?
Chu Lishu’s throwing knife at his waist was instantly in his hand, and the next moment, he instinctively wanted to shoot it out.
His emotions were difficult to control once they erupted, but Lin Qingyang suddenly looked around anxiously at this moment, and Chu Lishu almost got caught, so he had to hide.
After committing such a disgraceful act, feeling guilty now?
However, this disrupted Chu Lishu’s emotions for the moment.
His rationality questioned why he lost control, but unable to find an answer, he could only quickly leave.
After calming down, he reflected on himself. After the events three years ago, his emotions were easily triggered, and once he lost control, he wanted to kill.
To him, Lin Qingyang was actually insignificant. He was just disgusted by Lin Qingyang, who professed secret admiration, claimed an inability to live without him, expressed worries about him, and pretended to be affectionate and careful while simultaneously maintaining a connection with Xu Wenze. Lin Qingyang used the pretext of being good to him to be good to Xu Wenze.
The so-called secret admiration held little truth for him; he no longer believed in it. In reality, it was just treating him like a fool. He felt ashamed for the slight kindness and hesitation he had shown to Lin Qingyang.
Alright, playing a role with him, huh? Once he used the identity of the Marquis An Nan’s residence to his advantage, he had plenty of ways to deal with Lin Qingyang. He wanted to see Lin Qingyang weep bitterly, regretting his actions, and dying in front of him.
Meanwhile, Lin Qingyang was completely unaware that his fate was about to become similar to that of the original body. After spending the afternoon painting, upon returning, he encountered Qi Yan, who seemed ready to leave, indicating his intention to depart that evening.
“Let me ask you one last time, are you coming or not?” Qi Yan approached and said, “Did you lose a hundred taels last time and run out of money? Brother’s treating you. We’ve always been together, never missed a time. Last time, you didn’t come, and Young Gentleman Yu Zhang said he missed you. You’ve been absent for so long… Don’t you need to relax?”
Looking at Qi Yan’s lecherous appearance, Lin Qingyang really wanted to curse and ask, “Aren’t you afraid of getting sick?”
“I’m afraid that going there won’t be more relaxing!”
“Who said that? Every time you come out of Gentleman Yu Zhang’s room, your face is written with satisfaction. You claim it’s like enjoying the pleasures of a deity!”
Lin Qingyang’s face was about to cramp from the corners of his mouth.
To be honest, the memories related to this part were somewhat blurry in his mind. He was thankful for the vagueness, as he had no interest in remembering such details. Regardless of what the original body did in his nightly revelry, he didn’t want to know, let alone encounter anyone like Gentleman Yu Zhang.
After finishing dinner, Shuncai hurriedly came to find him.
“Master, Eldest Young Lady is here.”
Eldest Young Lady? The original body’s biological sister, Lin Qinglan, the eldest daughter of Marquis An Nan.
Lin Qingyang had quite a few memories of Lin Qinglan. She was portrayed as an elegant and resilient young woman. In the original body’s impression, she was even more gentle and loving than their mother.
Being the eldest daughter of County Princess Yawen, Lin Qinglan naturally received a different upbringing. Moreover, with their maternal grandfather being an unrelated prince, in those times, even if she were to be betrothed to the Crown Prince, she would still be eligible to become the Crown Princess.
However, the problem at that time was that Marquis An Nan had a previous engagement with another prestigious family, the Ying family. Although the Ying family had declined, the father was still a Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Rites, and the legitimate eldest son, Ying Wenlong, was of marriageable age. If they were to break off the engagement publicly, Lin Qinglan would bear the reputation of being a gold digger, affecting the marriage fate of her younger siblings and even tarnishing the reputation of Marquis An Nan.
Lin Qinglan was a woman who understood etiquette, was brave, and was willing to marry into the Ying family for the sake of her family.
Later, when the Crown Prince encountered troubles, Marquis An Nan even felt relieved about the previous engagement.
Ying Wenlong was also considered to have some real abilities. After the new emperor ascended the throne and bestowed favor upon him, Ying Wenlong achieved outstanding results in the imperial military examination, securing the fourth position. This made him both cultured and martially accomplished, earning him a prominent position in the imperial court. He was appointed to the Ministry of Rites. Being an alumnus of the Imperial Academy, he had connections with the academic affairs.
As Ying Wenlong was responsible for matters related to the Imperial Academy, he often visited to inquire about the recent developments and educational situation.
According to Lin Qingyang’s memories, Ying Wenlong used to visit almost every month, but Lin Qinglan was not brought along in the previous visits. This time, however, she accompanied him.
Lin Qingyang and Shuncai hurried to the courtyard where the guests were received at the Imperial Academy.
Upon entering the courtyard, Lin Qingyang heard a melodious laughter—graceful and joyful. Even without seeing the person, he could tell it was the refined voice of a woman.
“Wei’er is getting better at talking. I came to see you all. Let me have a look, have you lost weight?” a voice said.
“Not at all. I would like to lose some weight, though.”
Lin Qingyang stepped into the room, “Eldest sister.”
“Yang Yang?” Lin Qinglan seemed somewhat surprised.
Lin Qingyang was slightly taken aback by the use of “Yang Yang.” In his current memories, a nurse in the hospital where he recovered used to call him that. No matter how much he protested, it seemed like they would be happy as long as they called him that.
Lin Qingyang awkwardly smiled, realizing that, apart from him, everyone else was already present in the room, including Chu Lishu.
“Did I see it wrong? Yang Yang, you’ve changed so much. Have you lost weight?” Lin Qinglan couldn’t believe her eyes. She reached out, beckoning Lin Qingyang to sit down, holding onto his hand and not letting go.
“It does seem like I’ve lost some weight. Eldest sister has sharp eyes,” Lin Qingyang replied.
“It’s so obvious. If I couldn’t see that, I’d be blind,” Lin Qinglan said with concern. “Mother would worry if she sees this.”
“Seems like… he loses some weight,” Lin Qingwei, who was sitting beside them, finally took a closer look at her brother.
As they lived together and saw each other every day, even if Lin Qingyang had lost weight, they might not have noticed immediately. It took Lin Qinglan, who hadn’t seen him for a while, to realize the change. Lin Qinglan, despite being only three years older than Lin Qingyang, had the air of a family matriarch. She handled matters with grace, and her care and concern for her younger siblings were evident, especially for Lin Qingyang and Lin Qingwei. It was as if she loved and cherished them, just like their mother.
Talking about their mother, Lin Qinglan had just returned home a few days ago and mentioned that everything was normal. However, judging from Lin Qinglan’s expression, it was evident that things were still not great. Despite this, Lin Qinglan didn’t let the somber mood linger on her face. She quickly invited everyone to enjoy some pastries, all handmade by her. Lin Qingyang picked up a rolled almond pastry and took a bite. Surprisingly, it had a burst of flavor, not a common pastry. It showed Lin Qinglan’s thoughtfulness.
In Lin Qingyang’s memories, he couldn’t tolerate hunger well, so Lin Qinglan often made various snacks and left them in his room for him to eat when he was hungry. This might be one of the reasons for the original body’s plumpness. It was similar to the care he received from the nurse in the hospital in the modern world, who kept feeding him, wanting him to eat more. It was a caring gesture that felt somewhat burdensome.
When everyone was enjoying the pastries, Lin Qinglan began to inquire about academic matters, “I heard that Cousin Lishu is very talented in his studies and has always performed well.”
The expressions of the other three people changed slightly, recalling the recent punishment incident. The previous praises for Chu Lishu vanished in light of that event.
Lin Qingyang spoke directly, “Of course, the most scholarly person in the family is him.”
Chu Lishu held a green square pastry in one hand, the other hand poised beneath to catch any falling crumbs. He maintained a neutral expression, seemingly oblivious to Lin Qingyang’s praise. Politely, he responded, “Cousin, you’re too kind. I’ve heard that Cousin’s husband is truly remarkable. I’ve even read some of his literal writings from the Imperial Academy.”
Lin Qinglan heard these words and naturally felt happy, subtly using a handkerchief to conceal the curvature of her mouth.
Listening to the conversation between the two, there was truly a sense of feeling like time had passed. Lin Qingyang secretly fantasized, if there hadn’t been an engagement with the Ying family back then, and Lin Qinglan had been chosen as the male lead Crown Prince’s concubine. Given Lin Qinglan’s personality, she would definitely not have undermined the former Crown Prince. In that case… maybe the Marquis An Nan’s residence wouldn’t have been completely wiped out because of Lin Qingyang’s relationship.
Thinking about this, Lin Qingyang suddenly woke up. How did he remember from the original plot that County Princess Yawen and Lin Qinglan did not die at the hands of the male lead?
County Princess Yawen died early from illness, and shortly after, Lin Qinglan also succumbed to an illness. So, they did not experience the bloodshed of the tyrant.
But now, seeing Lin Qinglan in good health, how could she have died from an illness? Could it be the influence of the incidents involving mother and younger brother?
However, for now, he shouldn’t be in trouble, so this gentle woman might be able to escape disaster.
Yet, it all comes back to whether he can safely survive, and that depends on the male lead.
While biting into the rolled peach pastry, Lin Qingyang looked at Chu Lishu.
Just as Chu Lishu finished talking with Lin Qinglan and withdrew his gaze, his eyes unavoidably met Lin Qingyang’s as he walked by. In a rare moment, the two locked eyes.
However, in an instant, Chu Lishu coldly averted his gaze.
Lin Qingyang: ????? Why did he just sense aversion from the male lead’s eyes? What did he do? Why is the male lead so impatient with him now?
Sure enough… Was it a mistake to maintain the secret admirer persona?
The male lead’s heart is like a needle at the bottom of the sea.
Because Lin Qinglan was present, the atmosphere in the room remained harmonious, and even Lin Qingyang and Lin Qingxu didn’t show signs of tension.
As they chatted casually, a voice suddenly came from outside the door.
“Eldest brother, why did you call me? I’m still busy.”
“Your sister-in-law brought pastries to give you.”
With the two voices entering, Lin Qingyang suddenly frowned. Why… does the male voice sound familiar?
Soon, Ying Wenlong and Ying Xiaodie walked in.
Seeing the two appear in his line of sight, Lin Qingyang’s face changed suddenly. He blinked his eyes several times, pondered for a moment, but still didn’t dare to confirm.
The clothes Ying Wenlong was wearing… a sapphire blue brocade robe. Why did it resemble the man he saw in the back mountains?
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