Chapter 5: Deliberately distorting the truth
Lu Qingyi was lying on the ground, pale and thin beyond recognition, her forehead was bloodstained and one could barely sense her breathing.
Lu Mingshu kneeled beside her in a daze. Had she known this would have been the result of looking for a relative, she would never have let her mother come.
With the changes in the affairs of life this half a year, she had long thrown aside her past yearning for a family reunion, extremely disappointed in a father like this. If not for her mother's insistence, she did not even want to recognize a parental figure in the first place.
Seeing Yu Wen Shi walk over, Lu Mingshu was jolted awake. Grabbing his clothes, she looked up and pleaded, "Uncle, please save my mother. We won't look for our relative anymore. We will head back to Dongyue once you save my mother."
Yu Wen Shi squatted down, comforting her with a smile, "Don't be anxious, let me take a look first."
He first looked at Lu Qingyi's forehead wound, lifted up her eyelids, and then took her pulse.
When Lu Mingshu saw him furrow his brows, she grabbed Hui Niang's hand nervously.
After a moment, Yu-Wen Shi sighed. "She has exhausted her life force."
Lu Mingshu fell into a daze, looking at him with pleading eyes.
When Yu Wen Shi saw how confused she was, the look on her face softened his heart despite his intentions in taking advantage of the situation. "Don't be upset, life and death is only the path of all living beings…" But what was the point in telling a seven-year-old child such things? One could only fathom the pain of bereavement* through personal experience.
Hui Niang stared into blankness, before covering her face to weep.
Her weeping sounds were mournful, and how could Lu Mingshu not understand? Her whole body suddenly lost all strength, tears rolling down her face continuously as she slumped on the ground.
Yu Wen Shi cast a glance towards Fu Shangqing, seizing the opportunity to speak, " Who are you people? Why are you trying to smear our Sect Leader's reputation? Even if there are difficulties, you can't spout such words irresponsibly."
Knowing that Lu Qingyi was a spent force, Hui Niang's hatred towards Fu Shangqing grew. She cried in desolation after swallowing her weeps, "We did not spout these words irresponsibly! Your Sect Leader, who is our master, was formerly called Fu Ze and born in Qingfeng town of Dongyue. Because he lost his relatives from young and lived in poverty bullied by his neighbors, our old master often took care of him out of pity. Later on, when Madam was of age to marry, Fu Ze admired her and offered himself to become a member of her family. Old Master did not permit this originally, but through persistence, he married in and was even regarded by our old master as his own son. When Fu Ze desired to look for a good teacher to practice Martial Arts, Old Master took out all his savings and sold half of the Lu family's fields for his road expenses. Who could've known – that once he left, he was gone forever. Half a year ago, a female suddenly came to our household with an absolute lack of courtesy in every possible way while stating that she came under the orders of Fu Ze to send the divorce papers. In his rage, our Old Master vomited blood and passed away. Our madam fell deathly ill after being dealt such a big blow. We only came to Xichuan to look for a relative, as Madam was afraid Miss would have no one to rely on."
1Hui Niang wiped her tears while trying to muffled her sobs. "We only found out after we arrived that Fu Ze had long remarried six years ago. It's probably because of this that Madam is on her deathbed."
These words were heard clearly by the onlookers, inadvertently devolving into a spirited discussion. The majority of them found it hard to believe that the Nine Jade Palace's Sect Leader was actually such a character, but with Hui Niang's sobbing at every word, it did not seem to be entirely false.
"Is this so?" Yu Wen Shi revealed a face of astonishment, looking towards Fu Shangqing.
Previously, Fu Shangqing did not speak out to prevent them because he knew that it was useless. With Yu Wen Shi around, he would definitely have to let Hui Niang finish speaking. He had already thought up countermeasures as she spoke. Fu Shangqing sighed, looking over to Lu Qingyi, "We were once a married couple, so there is no need to bring up all our gratitude and grudges from former days. A human being eventually dies, what is there to argue for? Hui Niang, speak your mind about your madam's wish. I will definitely complete them for her based on our former relationship."
Listening to his words that suggested she was spouting nonsense, yet he was magnanimous to not argue with her, Hui Niang felt deep hatred, "Fu Ze, why didn't you say you knew us earlier? Invertedly acting like a good person now!"
"Hui Niang, I don't wish to argue anymore on past matters. Therefore, we are only strangers even if we meet, so why are you trying to pressure me?"
"Stop trying to speak elegant but insincere words here. If you left, then so be it, the Lu family lives on fine without you, but why did you still have to send the divorce papers? Infuriating the old master to death and madam to illness. Poor Miss is only seven years old but already living a life of solitude and impoverishment …"
1"You are the one that should stop speaking elegant but insincere words here." A female's voice traveled over from the distance. When everyone looked over, it was a ten-plus years old female dressed luxuriously with delicate makeup applied on her face, exhibiting a fairy-like appearance.
Her features were imposing, and she produced a piece of paper when she walked over, "Since you said our Sect Leader remarried while still married, why don't you take a look at when the divorce papers were signed. Eight years ago, when he was chased out of the Lu family, your ties had already been broken. Yet you have the cheek to sully our Sect Leader's reputation now!" As she spoke, she passed the paper over to Gentleman Lian Zhen on the wheelchair. " Gentleman Lian Zhen, I will have to trouble you to look at the date – when was this divorce paper signed?"
With the divorce papers before him, Gentleman Lian Zhen was forced to take a look at it despite intending to stay out of it, "Xuan Ping 5th year, and it's the 13th year of Xuan Ping now, so it's indeed 8 years ago."
With Gentleman Lian Zhen to bear witness, the date on this divorce paper could only be considered true. The crowd started its whisperings.
The woman snicked, "How is it, do you still want to make up stories?"
Hui Niang was shocked. The divorce papers had only been sent over in February this year, so how could it have been signed 8 years ago? Had they been preemptive and deliberately written an earlier date?
The woman took the divorce papers back and turn around to face the crowd, "Fellow folks, there's no need to listen to this woman's nonsense. As the previous Sect Leader's daughter Zhou Yinru, I have inside information. Sect Leader was indeed born in Dongyue's Qingfeng town, but this woman is not speaking the truth. That family has some inheritance in Qingfeng town, with only a daughter in line; Elder Lu set his sights on the young and promising Sect Leader and forced him to become a member of the Lu Household. Afterwards, when he realized that a martial practitioner such as Sect Leader could only squander his resources and would not profit him, he started to despise him, and therefore they signed the divorce papers and even expelled Sect Leader out of the household penniless. He headed to Dongyue's capital after that and met my father and my big sister, before entering the Nine Jade Palace. Who knows how they found out that Sect Leader wasn't as he was before. With a heart to cling on, they travelled here. Knowing they suffered a loss from their previous actions, they slandered the matter to force Sect Leader to accept them. How atrocious!"
"Nonsense!" Hui Niang anxiously shouted out while sweating profusely, but the other party made up a complete story, leaving her with no evidence to even refute.
Since they were currently at Jiulü Province, this crowd, as citizens in Jiulü Province, naturally would lean towards believing Zhou Yinru more. Moreover, Hui Niang only had empty promises, while Zhou Yinru had divorce papers as proof.
The gaze everyone gave Hui Niang, was already filled with condemnation. The saying went that Dongyue's people are cunning, and sure enough, it was true. No wonder the Sect Leader did not want to acknowledge them.
Fu Shangqing sighed, "Yinru, everyone makes mistakes, so we should forgive when possible. They are also at the end of their ropes."
Hui Niang did not expect Fu Shangqing to assume the moral high ground. Revolted, she spat on him. "Fu Ze, you show ingratitude to a benefactor, now you even want to pour dirty water on them. Sooner or later, you will suffer retribution for your actions."
1"Hui Niang …"
Right when Fu Shangqing wanted to open his mouth, Lu Mingshu called out, "Mother!"
Lu Qingyi was presently receiving Yu Wen Shi's internal force and had her final radiance before death could set in.
"Mother, how are you feeling?"
Fu Shangqing kneeled down, speaking in a soft voice, "Qingyi, why are you doing this?"
Lu Qingyi did not look at him, revealing a difficult smile towards Lu Mingshu; she stretched her hand out to Hui Niang.
"Madam!" Hui Niang's eyes filled with tears as she held her hand.
"Hui Niang, don't say any more." Lu Qingyi uttered weakly, "With things as they are now, what's there to say anymore?"
"But Madam, they …"
1Lu Qingyi lightly shook her head, "Hui Niang, although we are lady and servant, we are as close as sisters. Now that I am leaving, I only want to ask one thing of you."
Hui Niang wept with grief, "Madam …"
"The only thing I cannot bear to leave is Mingshu. She is still too young, hence I can only ask you to look after her till she's all grown up." She looked towards Lu Mingshu, "Mingshu, Hui Niang will be your aunt from today onwards. You are to treat her as you would Mother, do you understand?"
Tears rolled out of Lu Mingshu's eyes. She turned around to kowtow to Hui Niang. "Aunt Hui."
Hui Niang hugged her, her tears unceasing.
Lu Qingyi's mouth lifted up with a quiet smile, turning around slowly to look at Fu Shangqing.
This man was much more mature than when he left; the signs of his dire straits soured by the loss of precious adolescent years on his face were no more. With his imposing majestic presence, he exuded a genuine Sect Leader's bearing.
"Qingyi." Fu Shangqing wanted to hold her hand, but she shook it off.
At her critical moment, Lu Qingyi looked at this man calmly. "I know you are already different from the past, but no matter the hatred and blame you have for me, Lu Mingshu is your child. If you still remember our past feelings, give them a way out."
"This is natural. When have I ever rejected your requests?"
Lu Qingyi chuckled coldly, turning away. She rested her last glance on her daughter's face.
She showed a gentle smiling expression, but her eyes were filled with sorrow.
Her consciousness gradually grew fuzzy …