- TL: AmeryEdge
- ED: Azusky, JSmith
Republic of China, Year 1923, Spring. Suzhou City.
It was the morning of March during spring. The continuous rain in the last few days had finally dispersed, revealing colourful hanging branches glittering in the sunlight.
“Chirp chirp”, the birds sang. A flowery aroma followed the wind and breezed by, bringing with it people who were heading to the morning market. At Suzhou City Center’s outer perimeter located a courtyard decorated in the style of the previous time period. Inside, servants were busily going about their duties. From the kitchen, the delicious scent of food being cooked flowed out, signaling the start of a new day.
Overlooking Suzhou City was the famous “Embroidery House” — the Su Family. The Su family dwelling was distributed into many small courtyards divided by curving paths. Interspersed between them were elegant pavilions and lakes, flanked with lush blooming flowers and shrubbery. It had to be said that the Su Family’s head really knew how to enjoy their wealth, causing others to feel appreciative.
“Where is your Young Miss?” The Su Family Eldest Young Master Su Tingyi did not pay any attention to the polite greetings from the surrounding servants as he walked through the exquisite courtyard. He made great strides towards the large room facing the direction of the rising sun and asked the two maids cleaning inside it.
The two maids glanced at each other strangely. The tall skinny maid hurriedly replied in a polite tone, “Dear Eldest Young Master, earlier today Young Miss was woken up and told to go to the Patriarch’s courtyard. The one who sent for her was you.” Speaking up to here, her voice slowly got weaker and weaker. Based on the young master’s expression, it seemed like someone else had used his name to get the Young Miss to go outside.
Su Tingyi’s frowned. He immediately turned around and left. His destination was Su Family’s most prestigious area – the Patriarch’s courtyard.
Before he even made it to the courtyard, there was a loud scream that echoed from afar. Su Tingyi’s frown deepened, his pace quickening.
“A Fen, quickly inform Master and Eldest Young Master, I’ll get the Mistress.”
Following that were the succession of rapid footsteps from the two panic-stricken maidservants as they ran towards the Patriarch courtyard’s direction.
“What happened?” Su Tingyi called out to the oblivious maidservant who was too busy running along to even notice their surroundings.
“Ah! Eldest Young Master!” The two maidservants seemed like they had just met a savior, and began to weep hysterically.
“What’s going on? Have you seen the Young Miss? Did that old man…” Su Tingyi quickly asked, not paying mind to their rudeness as they clung to him tearfully.
“Eldest Young Master, it’s… it’s the Young Miss… the Young Miss, she…” One of the maidservants was still too upset to speak, while the other one was just rambling on.
Su Tingyi gave up in getting anything useful from them. Instead, he pushed them off and ran towards the Patriarch’s Courtyard. Damnit! He could only blame himself for being careless. If something happened to Shuilian because of this, he would definitely not forgive this mother and daughter pair, no matter how much that man loved them.
While consumed in fury, he finally arrived at the courtyard of the Patriarch. Su Tingyi pushed the main hall’s door wide open and rushed in while hurriedly calling out: “Shuilian! Shuilian!”
Not in the main hall, not in the side hall, and not in the left hall. Su Tingyi had looked all over the place in a short period of time. When he reached the right hall curtained entrance, he immediately detected a putrid scent, causing him to hastily enter inside. As the curtain behind him crumbled, a scene appeared in front of his eyes that made him weak at the knees.
“Shuilian… Shuilian…” Su Tingyi hands trembled. He took several steps forward before falling to his knees. He gently lifted up the figure lying on the ground. It seemed like the person’s head had hit the table’s corner, revealing a small wound that bled constantly. The blood dyed the girl’s green clothes red as her face grew pale.
“Shuilian, you will be alright. Big brother will bring you to the hospital, you will be alright.” Su Tingyi face turned ghostly white in a blink of an eye. He hugged the girl and lifted her up. While mumbling under his breath, he made his way out of the door.
On the way, he called out loudly, “Servants, prepare the car.” He did not spare any effort as he ran as quickly as he could. Occasionally, he glanced down at his pale sister that did not display any signs of life, his forehead wrinkling.
“Mother, you said she wouldn’t…”As Su Tingyi ran with everything he had, he ran passed a detailed and beautiful reproduction of a hill. Inside, the conversation of the mother-daughter pair rang out.
“If it’s true, that’s even better. From now on let’s see who will dare to pressure you.” A middle-aged woman in garish and expensive clothing’s face was slowly revealed, her expression full of hatred.
“But this matter will definitely not get ignored by the Patriarch. It happened at his own courtyard!” A young girl who seemed to be at sixteen years of age twisted her lips, her expression flustered.
“What are you scared of? How would they even investigate? This was an accident. Nobody has any proof, and would they be able to blame the accident on us? Furthermore, Su Shuilian is dead. Only the talented are favoured by the Patriarch. Now that Su Shuilian is dead, you are Su family’s number one in both name and title. Why would they go out of their way to punish you?” Under her veil, the woman reached out with her index finger and poked her worried daughter’s forehead, urging, “Even if your father the Patriarch asked, you will not shoot your mouth off, remember? Regarding that ‘Along the River during Ching Ming Festival’, you should hurry outside and dispose of it.”
“I understand, mother. But I’m scared that Big Aunt and Big Brother…” Thinking about that older brother from a different mother and the quiet but solemn aunt, who seemed to be able to see through people at a glance. Who also happened to be the Headmistress of the Su Family, Su Shuiyan could not help but tremble.
“Good for nothing!” The middle-aged woman who was the Su family second mistress Su Deng Yun, gave her own daughter a glare. She waved her handkerchief: “Go back. For the next two days, the house will not be very peaceful, you should prepare an embroidery room for me to practice in. Tomorrow is the big event, the Patriarch would definitely make you go to represent us. Don’t you dare make me lose face.” Deng Yun glanced at her daughter. In order to save her daughter from the experience of being the lowly mistress that could not keep her head up, she had plotted all of this to give her a better chance at finding a good husband. If not for that, why would she have spent all this time and effort?
Su Shuiyan comply by bowing her head. In her heart there was still a sense of unease. Even if that over-achieving older sister that had always sat atop of her head would survive by some miracle, it would still be very difficult for her to attend the big competition tomorrow. Un, mother’s right, she had prepared for this for a long time. If she performed well in the competition, won’t the title of Embroidery House’s honorary head becomes hers easily? As for Wang Patriarch, he would definitely choose me to replace Shuilian. Since the Wang Patriarch would pick her, it was as if the Su family itself had chosen her! Su Shuiyan’s heart was full of confidence as she followed her birth mother back to their own courtyard.
Su Family’s Great Study.
“Peng!” A loud bang came from the table. The blue and white porcelain was shattered. On the seat glowering was the Su Family Patriarch.
“Who was the one who passed on those orders that caused Shuilian to head to my courtyard? Even though I have built this family from the ground up, I’m still not yet dead!” Even though the patriarch was nearing eighty in age, when he was furious, his aura was still as intimidating as ever.
“Father, please calm your anger!” Su family eldest son Su Fanghua quickly stood up on the Patriarch’s left side and begged, “For the past two days, I have been busy preparing for the big competition and did not know that Shuilian had met an unfortunate accident. The people who investigated said that it was Tingyi’s servant who had came to Shuilian’s place and told her to come meet him at father’s courtyard. Shuilian then headed to the courtyard, but did not catch sight of either you nor Tingyi’s shadow. Somehow, she ended up hitting her head on the table corner… this, I’m not so sure about.”
Su Fanghua spoke all the facts, but in his heart there was still some lingering doubts. Shuilian was always calm and collected, why did she rush out without even bringing her maids with her? According to Shuilian’s two maids, before leaving she even brought with her the embroidery meant for the upcoming exhibition. But afterward, according to what the two servants’, who first discovered her, words, they did not see any large piece of embroidery. He was afraid that this matter was no ordinary accident, but instead a ploy by somebody. But now…
“Where is Tingyi’s maidservant?” The Patriarch also thought up to this point, and asked.
“I have already sent people out to look for her, but unfortunately she has already… drowned in the lake.”
“Shit!” The Patriarch slammed down on the table in rage, “How is this an accident? It’s definitely a plot by somebody! Shuilian little brat… Ah… Quickly, go bring as many people with you as you can and investigate.” The patriarch frowned at his eldest son, and then added, “For now… get that Shuiyan brat ready, no matter what Su family must attend this big event.”
“Understood. I will go inform her.” Su Fanghua bowed and replied.
“What did the doctor say?” Outside the hospital operating room, a 40 something-year-old refined lady latched onto Su Tingyi and urgently asked. This was Su Family Head Mistress, first wife of Shu Fanghua, Li Ruxi. Right now, how could she maintain her usual calm and quiet posture? Her expression was one of endless concern towards the life and death of her own child.
“Mother.” Su Tingyi gripped Li Xuri cold hands, his voice soft. In the end, he couldn’t muster the courage to continue speaking, and only shook his head.
“Tingyi, what do you mean by that? Li Xuri could not hold on for much longer and her eyes began to rain tears. The maidservant by her side also looked at the Eldest Young Master intently, hoping the result would not make her mistress lose all hope.
“The doctor said…” Su Tingyi internally organised what he have just learnt from the doctor. He chose to mention the less frightening possibility, “The doctor said.. Little Sister, Little sister had incurred a brain injury. The blood clots in her head have not dispersed, and she may be unconscious for several days.” This was the first possibility, but the possibility for this as astoundingly small. The possibility with the most chance of happening was… From now on she would become a vegetable. If she did not wake up in a half a year, she would unfortunately… when Su Tingyi suddenly thought of such a scenario, he couldn’t help but fall to the nearby wall in weakness.
“Eldest Young Master!” Li Xuri’s maidservant called out in panic.
Li Xuri looked at her own son. Hearing his words, her mind gradually calmed down. Her son was probably furious about the people who had caused Shuilian such injuries. She tried to comfort him, “It’s okay, as long as it is not life threatening. As for the rest, we should not sit here and do nothing. The maidservant who had passed on the orders has died mysteriously, but there is no need to even guess who was behind all of this. It is definitely those two bitches. Tomorrow, I’ll go talk to your grandfather. I heard that Deng Family’s two useless sons have recently tried to start something, and have been raising money left right these past few days… Humphed, I don’t believe I can’t grasp those bitches’ weak points. I will make sure their entire family bite off their own tails.” Li Xuri spoke coldly, her eyes overflowing with incorruptible will. You dared to injure my daughter, you must be tired of living!