Lin Qingyang did not resist; seemingly in tacit understanding, he was directly pulled away by Xu Wenze.
By the time Chu Lishu reacted, the two had already vanished without a trace. A stinging sensation emanated from his hand, and upon lowering his head, he realized that the “bang” sound from earlier was just the handle of the food box being snapped.
Chu Lishu stiffly tugged at the corners of his mouth, attempting to smile but failing to produce the right sound.
An impulse lifted his legs, but in the final second, he turned defiantly in the opposite direction, heading back to his own courtyard.
What concern did those two people have with him?
On the other side, because Qi Yan was absent, it happened to provide them with an opportunity to talk.
Xu Wenze paced back and forth, looking anxious. After Lin Qingyang poured him a cup of tea, he finally spoke, “Luojia Mountain belongs to the jurisdiction of the Imperial Academy, so the entire mountain is essentially sealed off. Only those with proper credentials and through the main gate are allowed in and out. Generally, no one would come up here.”
Lin Qingyang remained silent.
Xu Wenze looked up at Lin Qingyang and said, “Today, Lord Ying came with his family and entourage for a visit. They are the outsiders. You just went to meet them.”
Lin Qingyang directly asked, “What do you suspect?”
“Young Lady Ying and Rui’er are close friends in private. They… have left no evidence, and I can’t speculate, but it involves my sister’s reputation. I shouldn’t have come to you about this, but it might be related to the Ying family, so I have no choice but to trouble you. When you met Lord Ying today, did anything unusual happen?”
How could Lin Qingyang answer this? Should he say, “I suspect your sister is involved in an affair with my brother-in-law”? He wasn’t sure how Xu Wenze would handle it, but speaking out might only cause trouble for Lin Qinglan, so he had to be careful.
“Weren’t you going to question your sister?” Lin Qingyang countered.
Uncharacteristically, Xu Wenze lost his composure, clenched his fists, and couldn’t help but slam them on the table. “She kept crying, adamantly denying it, insisting that I misunderstood and wrongly accused her. It’s because we usually indulged her too much, allowing her to commit such a disgraceful act.”
Lin Qingyang responded cautiously, “It was just a brief encounter today, so it’s hard to make any judgments. However, the Ying family will stay here for two nights and will depart early the day after tomorrow. During this time, I will keep a close eye and observe. But… if it turns out to be as you suspected, what would you do?”
Xu Wenze’s expression darkened, “I would definitely intervene. Although Rui’er is a concubine-born child, our father would not allow her to become a concubine in such an unclear relationship.”
If it were an ordinary matter, Xu Wenze could handle it discreetly, ensuring no information leaked. However, if this matter was indeed related to Ying Wenlong, Xu Wenze wouldn’t be able to handle it alone. To preserve his sister’s reputation, he would have to report it to Duke Wei Guo, seeking his advice.
“If it is indeed him, then what about your eldest sister’s side?” Xu Wenze came to Lin Qingyang because, if things went wrong, it might involve Lin Qinglan.
“I’ll assess the situation as it unfolds; thinking too much now would only frighten myself,” Lin Qingyang replied. While he mourned for Lin Qinglan for a moment, the truth was, in their ancient times, having multiple wives and concubines was normal. He believed that someone like Lin Qinglan should be able to come to terms with it.
If it turned out to be Ying Wenlong, Lin Qingyang found it somewhat perplexing. Could it be that he was acting furtively just because he knew Duke Wei Guo would oppose their relationship?
As Lin Qingyang pondered, sipping tea, he suddenly heard a rumbling sound. Looking up, he saw Xu Wenze looking embarrassed.
“I suppose you’ve been so busy that you haven’t had time for a meal,” Lin Qingyang said as he opened a food box. “This was made by my eldest sister; it’s quite filling.”
“This… Thank you, Brother Lin.” Xu Wenze stayed with Lin Qingyang for a while. After confirming that Lin Qingyang would be with Lin Qinglan tomorrow, Xu Wenze focused on Xu Rui’er’s plans. As the night grew late, Xu Wenze took his leave.
Returning to his own courtyard, he found that the room was still illuminated by candlelight.
“Brother Lishu, not retiring for the night yet?” Xu Wenze approached and saw Chu Lishu practicing calligraphy again. It seemed like he had been doing it quite frequently lately.
Chu Lishu looked up, his deep, dark eyes meeting Xu Wenze’s. “Brother Wenze, you’ve returned quite late.”
“Got a bit held up,” Xu Wenze awkwardly smiled, then turned and walked towards his own area.
Chu Lishu withdrew his gaze, but the pen in his hand trembled slightly. A character he wrote went awry—horizontal strokes weren’t horizontal, and hooks weren’t hooks. It seemed to mockingly distort with a sense of his impatience and killing intent.
There were remnants of green pastry crumbs at the corner of Xu Wenze’s mouth. The pastries that were supposed to be for Chu Lishu ended up being eaten by Xu Wenze.
On the other side, Xu Wenze had already washed up and gone to bed, preparing to rest. In the adjacent room, the sound of practicing calligraphy continued under the dim light. Through the crevices of Treasure Pavilion, a faint silhouette could be seen on the other side.
With picturesque features, it was truly a celestial posture.
Even in Xu Wenze’s occasional casual glances, he couldn’t help but be struck by Chu Lishu’s astonishing appearance. It was unforgettable at a single glance, explaining why Lin Qingyang might have developed feelings for him.
As this thought crossed Xu Wenze’s mind, he was momentarily stunned, finding it somewhat amusing that he could feel a twinge of regret himself.
During this period of interaction, his perception of Lin Qingyang had undergone a complete transformation. Today’s events even left Xu Wenze feeling grateful to Lin Qingyang. Upon a closer look, he found himself appreciating the present Lin Qingyang to some extent. He could only hope that Xu Rui’er’s matter had nothing to do with Lin Qingyang’s brother-in-law.
On the second day, Xu Wenze went to confront Xu Rui’er early in the morning. However, since Xu Rui’er lived in the Shooting Star Pavilion, being a man, he could only wait outside. When he saw Ying Xiaodie, Xu Wenze’s expression wasn’t particularly pleasant. However, he patiently inquired about Xu Rui’er’s condition, only to be informed that she had cried the entire night and was unwell, resting in bed.
On the other hand, Lin Qingyang also took the initiative to visit Lin Qinglan.
Lin Qinglan was somewhat surprised to see Lin Qingyang so early.
“Where’s brother-in-law? I have some questions about a literary writing, and I wanted to seek guidance from him,” Lin Qingyang explained, finding a reasonable excuse.
Lin Qinglan felt a mixture of satisfaction and regret. “It’s rare that you’re willing to study hard. However, your brother-in-law went to handle matters with the head master. He’ll be back during lunch.”
Suspicious, Lin Qingyang watched Lin Qinglan bustling around and asked, “Eldest sister, what are you doing?”
“Aren’t we gathering for lunch? I plan to cook personally and make your favorite dishes. By the way, I don’t know much about our cousin’s preferences. Do you know what he likes to eat?”
“I’m not sure, but he’s not picky.” Lin Qingyang, having stepped on so many landmines, didn’t dare to rashly claim to know Chu Lishu’s food preferences.
Watching Lin Qinglan’s gentle and virtuous demeanor left Lin Qingyang with a guilty conscience. He just wanted to find Ying Wenlong as soon as possible. Even though he had about ninety percent suspicion, he hoped that the remaining ten percent was true. Otherwise, the idea of Lin Qinglan busily preparing lunch for everyone while Ying Wenlong might be having an affair was something Lin Qingyang’s modern mindset couldn’t bear.
Lin Qingyang quickly left and headed to Danxin Pavilion. If Ying Wenlong hadn’t lied, he should be there.
However, after circling around, Lin Qingyang saw all the scholars from the Imperial Academy but couldn’t find Ying Wenlong. Upon inquiry, it turned out Ying Wenlong had visited briefly earlier but had left long ago.
Taking a detour near Shooting Star Pavilion’s corridor, Lin Qingyang spotted Xu Wenze sitting in a pavilion. When their eyes met, both of their expressions weren’t great.
One disappeared, and the other didn’t show up. It left room for speculation, so they decided to split up and search in less crowded areas.
After walking for a while, a notification sounded in Lin Qingyang’s mind.
【 Main Mission 1, Mission 3: Help the male lead complete the task of finding the letter.】
Why did this mission have to be assigned at this moment?
He remembered the letter mission. In the original plot, after gaining Mr. Cao’s trust and assistance, Mr. Cao informed the male lead about some hidden information he had learned during this period.
The events from the past were too complex, including the transmission of a forged letter.
Someone had imitated the handwriting and seal of the original letter to fabricate false information, creating confusion and framing others.
The male lead was aware of this matter. Although the person responsible had been silenced, a private investigation revealed that the forger was a speaker from the Imperial Academy, likely manipulated by someone who had bribed or coerced them.
What the male lead didn’t know was that, in order to protect the lives of his family, the speaker had kept the original letter they had imitated as leverage. To this day, no one had found it.
Mr. Cao had already discovered the location from the clues left by that person. It wasn’t until the male lead recognized him that they went together to retrieve the letters.
Of course, the male lead didn’t believe those letters would have much impact. Even if they could prove his innocence, it wouldn’t matter. Leaving aside the question of whether he would live long enough to present evidence in the imperial court, even if he did, the person on the dragon throne wouldn’t allow him to reclaim everything rightfully his. Pushed to the edge, he would be like a cornered beast. Even if he managed to break free, the current court was completely under that person’s control.
So, the male lead’s approach remained unchanged. From the shadows, he disrupted everything, making it difficult for that person to fight back, giving the male lead a chance to ascend and prove himself once again.
However, in the original plot, the male lead, who had gone through many ordeals, no longer cared about his innocence and reputation. At that point, he was completely insane, doing whatever he pleased.
Those letters were merely helping him understand the truth of the past better, preventing further mistakes in judgment.
But now, Mr. Cao hasn’t recognized the male lead yet. Why did the mission come up?
Could it be that the male lead himself discovered something?
He remembered Chu Lishu mentioning that he would be organizing books in the library today. Could the letters be there?
Lin Qingyang snapped back to reality, realizing that the path he was on would lead to the library. This library was not the usual study room accessible to scholars; it housed ancient books and classics. It was far from the main residence, and only selected scholars were given the opportunity to organize and read the books when the head master periodically assigned the task.
However, this privilege was mainly enjoyed by bookish scholars who loved reading.
Though uncertain if the location of the task was indeed here, since he was so close, Lin Qingyang decided to check whether the male lead was there or not.
As Lin Qingyang reached the library, the thick wooden door with iron chains was already open.
He tried to push the door to enter, but it wouldn’t budge. Peering through the gap, he discovered that a bolt had been inserted from the inside. Faint sounds could be heard.
Had the male lead arrived, noticed something unusual, and closed the door to investigate?
In that case, did Lin Qingyang need to go in? What if the male lead could handle this task on his own? Maybe it was better not to go in and disturb things.
No, no, he couldn’t rely on wishful thinking. What if the male lead needed him at the last moment, and he wasn’t there? Failing the mission was no joke.
Lin Qingyang decided to take a look inside first to assess the situation.
He couldn’t open the door, but there were numerous windows around the library. He checked each one, and when he found an unlocked window, he simply climbed through.
After over half a month of training, though his body hadn’t completely slimmed down, it had become more agile.
Upon entering, a wave of dust hit Lin Qingyang’s face, making him almost sneeze. He quickly covered his nose and began to look around.
The library was spacious, filled with rows of bookshelves and cabinets arranged like a maze, obstructing the view. It was impossible to see any figures. Lin Qingyang had to search through the shelves row by row.
Carefully following the sound, Lin Qingyang navigated past rows of bookshelves. Gradually, he realized that the voices weren’t right. They seemed to be the intimate whispers of a young couple.
Lin Qingyang blushed furiously, but in an instant, he realized – wasn’t this the voice of Ying Wenlong and Xu Rui’er?
They were having a secret rendezvous here? So, it really was his brother-in-law!
Lin Qingyang was shocked, and inhaled sharply, inadvertently taking in too much dust. He tried to cover his nose in time, but it was too late. A suppressed sneeze erupted with a distinctive “Ah… Choo!” in the quiet library.
“Ah!” Xu Rui’er exclaimed in fear.
“Who’s there!” Ying Wenlong’s voice immediately sounded, followed by the unsheathing of a sword.
Lin Qingyang could have confronted them directly, but feeling a bit thin-skinned, he decided to retreat first.
However, just at that moment, an alarm sounded in his mind, signaling a threat to his life was imminent.
Lin Qingyang was startled. Could Ying Wenlong have murderous intent? Was he ready to kill anyone who witnessed their affair?
Unexpectedly, his brother-in-law turned out to be quite ruthless.
Wait a minute, Ying Wenlong seems to be ranked fourth in martial arts, which means… he knows martial arts? Moreover, the system prompt indicated that he was highly likely to die here.
Lin Qingyang turned around to escape. The original window was definitely not an option now, as Ying Wenlong had taken the path closest to it.
He even heard the sound of Ying Wenlong locking the window, seemingly planning to catch him like fish in a barrel.
“Come out, I saw you. Let’s discuss things. What do you want?” Ying Wenlong’s voice echoed once again.
Lin Qingyang, taking advantage of the terrain, continued to evade Ying Wenlong’s line of sight, hoping to make it to the main entrance.
The alarm in his mind persisted, and Lin Qingyang’s forehead was covered in cold sweat.
This place was too far from the main residence. Even if he shouted for help, there was no guarantee anyone would hear. Even if someone did, before they arrived, Ying Wenlong could kill him, and they could easily shift the blame onto anyone else.
Lin Qingyang knew that his only chance was to escape through the main gate and lock it behind him, gaining some time for his getaway.
However, the next moment, Lin Qingyang felt despair. He heard Ying Wenlong shout, “Rui’er, guard the main gate. Don’t worry, as long as someone is there, he won’t be able to run away.”
It was over.
Lin Qingyang could only dodge as much as possible, inadvertently finding himself cornered between a row of bookshelves. With no way out, he thought of toppling the bookshelves to obstruct Ying Wenlong. However, when he tried, he found the shelves surprisingly heavy and immovable.
As Ying Wenlong’s footsteps drew nearer, Lin Qingyang, in desperation, could only pick up a nearby candlestick, preparing to make a desperate fight. He hoped this wasn’t a world from a martial arts novel, where even if he could fight back, he didn’t want to be defenseless.
The long sword extended from a corner before Lin Qingyang could see the person, but the glint of the sword sent chills down his spine.
The alarm in his mind grew more urgent.
Muttering under his breath, Lin Qingyang said, “Chu Lishu, if not for you! I swear…” Thank you, damn it!
Meanwhile, Lin Qingyang, unaware of what was happening behind him, felt a chilling gaze fixed on everything outside.
Just as the system warnings were reaching a crescendo, the wall behind him silently shifted, and a hand swiftly reached out.
The alarm abruptly ceased.
Ying Wenlong, sword in hand, circled around. To his surprise, there was no one there, just a fallen candlestick and a chubby old mouse.
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