Dafeng's Night Squad - Chapter 7
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“Ningyan?” Xu Pingzhi was shocked.
The tears of joy rolled down Li Ru’s face—her expression was frozen.
“Two days ago, Xu Qian was calling for the governor. He had important information to report. After their meeting, Governor Chen solved the case. Therefore, your punishment has been lifted,” the official explained.
“Right…so that’s what happened…” Xu Pingzhi stuttered. He had taken Xu Qian in when he was just a babe. Xu Pingzhi was aware of his nephew’s strengths and weaknesses.
Hence, he doubted the official’s story but he said nothing.
That bastard nephew… Li Ru looked stricken.
It was not their son’s connections that saved them but the unlucky nephew they took in. Was he not in jail?
Head heavy with questions, Xu Pingzhi led his family out of the building. At the exit, he saw a man brushing his unkempt hair—it was Xu Qian.
The sight of his nephew dispersed all the queries in his mind. The born and bred martial artist felt a warmth in his heart. Tears prickling at the corner of his eyes, Xu Pingzhi strode up to his nephew and patted him firmly on the shoulder. He wanted to hug him but his pride and masculinity stood in the way. “Ningyan, I see you’re well.”
The gesture nearly killed Xu Qian.
“Uncle, glad to see your Qi is still strong. It seems we’re one rank apart,” Xu Qian said naturally as if they were close friends.
The pat on his shoulder was a surprise. He glanced over Xu Pingzhi’s shoulder and saw the three other members of the family.
‘Heh, who knew I’d get to see my aunt in such despair…’ The insidious thought appeared in his mind.
Xu Qian’s attention was then captured by the teenager.
The girl was in a drab prisoner’s uniform and her hair was a mess. The sharp nose and common oval face made her appear mixed-blood.
She was at the age of blooming and her natural beauty was hard to resist.
Xu Qian was shocked to find out the sister was such a pretty girl.
The girl was hazy in the host’s memories, likely because the host paid little attention to her. There was a hint of resentment toward the girl due to his aunt’s obvious bias.
The host was distant toward his cousins.
Noticing Xu Qian’s eyes on her, Xu Lingyue greeted him, “Brother!” Then, she lowered her head as if embarrassed.
Her greeting was followed by another.
Xu Lingyin’s juvenile voice called out. She tottered over to Xu Qian and raised her head, a hopeful look in her eyes.
Xu Qian showed her his empty hands. “I don’t have sweets for you. I also just came out from jail.”
The host did not like his cousins but he treated the youngest well. She was the least like her mother.
“What is jail?” the young girl asked.
“It’s the room you slept in for the past few days.”
“Where’s my other brother? Does he have sweets?”
“He’s not here.”
The disappointment on the little girl’s face was evident. The brother she asked for was her biological brother, Xu Xinnian. She was too young to understand the difference between a brother and a cousin brother.
The 5-year-old was not too bright—an inherited trait from her mother according to the host.
Lastly, Xu Qian turned to his aunt, Li Ru. The woman had always thrown her weight around the house. She never imagined the day would come when she had to show gratitude to her nephew.
The attractive woman lowered her head and said rigidly, “Tha— Thank you, Ningyan.”
At that moment, a memory resurfaced in Xu Qian’s mind.
A younger Xu Qian had been chased out of the house by his aunt. That day, the young boy swore to the sky, “I, Xu Qian, will achieve excellence in life. Just you wait!”
The memory was awkward but Xu Qian was glad to have his aunt humbled.
From a third person’s perspective, the testy relationship between the host and his aunt was not completely her fault.
Xu Qian’s martial arts lessons had cost an arm and a leg. The money spent was equivalent to the life savings of some common folks.
His aunt’s disapproval was understandable so he replied graciously, “There is no rush. Let us sit down and have a meal. You can say it again then.”
Li Ru’s sparkling eyes widened in surprise, then she glared at her nephew.
Xu Pingzhi felt his temple throb. “Let’s go home!”
Xu Xinnian staggered back to the Xu manor carrying a wine flask. The place that had housed him for 19 years was sealed off with a notice. There were no signs of human activity—the manor was cold and empty.
He kicked open the front gates and stepped over the threshold. He took a few shaky steps into the courtyard before turning around to close the gates.
Hanging oneself was a shameful deed, especially for a scholar such as himself. He did not want the authorities noticing.
Xu Xinnian wanted to die with his pride intact.
The walk from the outer courtyard to the inner courtyard felt like an endless journey.
Xu Xinnian could read at the age of three; he could memorize passages at five; at ten, he was familiar with the scriptures. He got into the White Deer Academy when he was 14 and successfully passed the imperial provincial examination when he turned 18.
He was undoubtedly a gifted scholar.
His intelligence and knowledge were the basis for his arrogance.
He always hoped to bring honor to the Xu family—to be a pillar of his family—so he carried himself with an air of pomposity.
Xu Xinnian would rather go out with a bang than live a life of humiliation.
At that point, he gulped down what was left of the alcohol and hurled the wine flask. The flask shattered on the ground.
With alcohol swirling in his blood, he rushed to his room and started preparing ink. He would leave a poem in his name—the last goodbye.
Laughter rang out from Xu Xinnian’s lips as he carried the paper to the inner courtyard. A hemp rope was looped around a branch on the gingko tree.
He was surprised to learn that in the face of death, he felt no fear. Instead, there was only an unprecedented relief.
In that moment, he had a glimpse into the life of a mad scholar—to live unrestrained and with abandon. Without any fear of consequences, the whole world was beneath oneself.
What was there to fear if death meant nothing?
Jingzhao City was a prosperous city, known as the All-Benevolent City.
Xu Qian weaved through the busy streets of the city. Carts, wagons and horses added to the traffic. There were vendors on both sides of the street—banners and posters competed for the attention of passersby.
A line of poetry read in his mind, ‘A wind blows, revealing a bridge amidst smokes and willows, banners and tents of jade swaying among a hundred thousand homes.’
In reality, Jingzhao City was more prosperous and populous than the featured setting—Qiantang River—in the poem. It was stated in Dafeng’s Geographical Records, [Yuanjing Year 1, the city population is at approximately 1.916 million.]
It was now Yuanjing Year 36.
The population of Jingzhao City would have long since surpassed 2 million.
The Xu manor had housed the family and a few maids and servants. Since the closure of the manor, the household staff had been excused. The empty silence was deafening.
Li Ru stared at the inscription on the gates—it roused many feelings in her chest. “I wonder how is Little Nian doing. He must be incredibly worried. Before we were locked up, he made a promise to save us.”
She entered the manor.
Real estate in Jingzhao City was expensive. A triple-courtyard manor such as this would cost at least 5,000 silver taels which meant the down payment would be approximately 1,500 silver taels. ‘Unaffordable housing is everywhere. I can never escape…’ Xu Qian thought.
He chewed his lips.
Xu Pingzhi said reassuringly, “Little Nian is a man of wisdom. He must be toiling away for our sake. He’s a reliable one, he’ll be surprised to find us home when he comes back.”
Oh no… Xu Qian suddenly remember his conversation with Xu Xinnian—the man had planned to commit suicide.
In the eyes of Xu Pingzhi and Li Ru, the second son of the Xu family was a stoic and steadfast man of rationale.
“Hahahaha, I am an unshackled man in life and a cruel demon in death.”
“Xu Xinnian is a talent and a gift, yet the gods punish me. Why?”
“If I was not born, Dafeng would have been in eternal darkness…”
The scholar stood on a chair under the gingko tree. He tore the hair pin from his head and shook out his hair.
At that point, Xu Xinnian was unbridled and unrestrained. As he placed the noose around his head, he realized there was an audience.
An unshackled man in life… A talent and a gift… Dafeng would have been in eternal darkness… His family had witnessed the drunken ramblings. Xu Xinnian stared at the unexpected arrival of his family and thought, ‘I should have killed myself sooner.’