‘Xingzilin’ was not the name of the village. But because ‘Xingzilin’ was the name of the courtyard of the Qiao family, and they were known all over the world, over time, people in the surrounding villages used ‘Xingzilin’ to refer to where the Qiao family lived.
If you want to go to Xingzilin, you have to pass through Baiyun Village.
As dusk approached, the sound of hooves broke the tranquility of the village.
The villagers gathered together in twos and threes, watching the strangers who came riding by.
The villagers were very quiet, but the four riders felt a strange oppressive atmosphere from this silence.
There were no villagers who were chatting and laughing loudly and no young children who were curiously watching the strangers. The people here were all dressed in white. Against the backdrop of the cloudy sky, it was clear that spring was coming, but the four riders felt chills.
“Xi Xi, why do these villagers look a little strange? Do you want to get off the horse and ask some questions?” Yang Er drove his horse to Chi Can’s side and spoke to him.
Sitting in front of Chi Can, Qiao Zhao studied her surroundings, looking at both the familiar and unfamiliar things in front of her. She scanned the sad faces of the villagers, causing her heart to sink suddenly and her breathing to become difficult.
She couldn’t tell why, but her heart seemed to be suddenly suppressed by a boulder, and the horse’s hooves seemed not to be stepping on the ground, but on her heart.
“Come on…” Qiao Zhao tried her best not to let the others notice her strangeness, and spit the two words with great difficulty.
Chi Can, who also noticed something was wrong, said to Yang Er; “Let’s not waste time, follow me.”
He squeezed his horse’s belly with his legs and the horse began to run faster, with Zhu Wu and Yang Er following closely behind.
The three horses sped off, leaving behind a trail of smoke and dust. The villagers looked at each other, shook their heads, sighed and dispersed silently.
Going through the village, they saw the apricot forest in the distance.
At this time, the apricot blossoms were already in full bloom and, from a distance, it looked like a large splendid cloud, which contrasted with the sunset in the sky, giving a beautiful scenery.
Qiao Zhao’s eyes unconsciously became red with tears.
Grandfather once said that apricot flowers were cold-resistant. The colder the weather, the earlier the flowers bloom, and the flowering period were much longer than that of peach blossoms.
Her grandfather admired apricot blossoms.
Now, the apricot flowers were still there, but the person she loved the most was no more.
“Coming through.” Chi Can obviously had no intention of admiring the beautiful scenery. He arrived in Xingzi forest in a flash, turned over and dismounted, tied the horse to a tree and led them along a path in the Xingzi forest.
Qiao Zhao clenched her fist quietly, her palms full of sweat.
She was surprised at how nervous she was, even when she had gotten married, she was never like this.
This was the cowardice of near-nostalgia, it is human nature. Qiao Zhao comforted herself with this.
Chi Can, who was walking in front of her, suddenly stopped.
Qiao Zhao’s heart skipped a beat; “What’s wrong…”
The words later came to an abrupt end and the broken wall in front of her made her face pale and her figure shaky.
Chi Can looked down, watching the little girl’s hand grab his sleeve.
The hand was small and slender, as soft and white as jade, and the green veins on it were clearly visible.
Chi Can was silent for a moment and glanced at Yang Er.
Yang Er nodded knowingly and went to investigate.
After a while, he returned and said in a heavy tone; “It was a fire. It looks like it happened not long ago.”
The three looked at each other in dismay and suddenly understood the strangeness of the villagers.
With the Qiao family’s reputation and the good deeds they’ve done, it was not surprising that the villagers wore white for the family’s tragic occurrences.
No one spoke for a while.
Qiao Zhao’s heart hurt her even more than when the arrow had pierced through it on the Yancheng city wall.
No, they weren’t comparable at all.
At that time, when the arrow had pierced through her heart, she felt the pain in an instant and she fell into darkness before she could even feel it again. When she opened her eyes, she had become the little girl, Li Zhao.
At this current moment, the pain felt endless.
What did she do wrong? To come back from the dead and face such a tragic situation?
Qiao Zhao clenched her fists subconsciously.
“You are hurting me.” Chi Can said lightly.
Yang Er and Zhu Wu looked at each other.
Others didn’t know, but as his friends, they knew that Chi Can was in a bad mood at this moment.
After traveling thousands of miles, it was understandable that he wasn’t in a good mood. What’s more, no one would feel good after seeing the Qiao family in such a situation.
Qiao Zhao came back to her senses at his words, met the cold and indifferent face of that handsome man, and slowly let go.
Grandfather taught her self-respect and self-reliance and, of course, her mood should not be a problem for others.
“Let’s go and ask those villagers what happened.” Chi Can turned and walked into Xingzilin.
Qiao Zhao followed him slowly, with her legs feeling like they were filled with lead, and then she slowly fell to the ground.
Zhu Wu turned his head and stopped to wait for her.
Although the little girl didn’t cry, he noticed the extreme pain she was going through.
‘Why is she so?’ he asked himself.
“Are you OK?”
Qiao Zhao looked at him and opened her mouth in reply; “Obviously, I’m not good.”
Zhu Wu hesitated a little, took out a neatly folded white handkerchief from his sleeve and handed it over to her; “it’s better to cry.”
Although he didn’t know why the little girl was so sad, he couldn’t bear seeing her like that.
It turns out that sometimes, girls feel sadder when they don’t cry than when they do.
Such kindness, at this special moment, Qiao Zhao could not refuse nor did he want to refuse.
She reached out and took the handkerchief, wiped her eyes, cleaned her nose and sincerely thanked him; “Brother Zhu, you are such a nice person.”
After a while, he replied; “It’s good as long as you feel better.”
Passing through the apricot blossom forest, Zhu Wu looked at Chi Can, who was obviously depressed, hesitated for a moment and then asked Qiao Zhao; “Would you like to ride with me?”
Qiao Zhao paused.
Chi Can’s eyes swept over to her coldly and he said impatiently; “What are you dawdling at, you still haven’t gotten on the horse!”
He reached out and lifted Qiao Zhao onto the horse’s back and ran forward.
The four returned to Baiyun Village and asked a teenage boy to take them to the village chief, giving him a piece of silver in return.
“You guests came to visit Mr. Qiao, right?” the village chief asked, straight to the point.
Seeing as Chi Can was in such a bad mood, Zhu Wu spoke in his place; “Yes, we came a long way to visit Mr. Qiao. Unexpectedly, after passing Xingzilin, we saw…”
The village chief sighed; “Some of you don’t know. The Qiao family’s house caught on fire a few days ago and the Qiao family was buried underneath the debris of the house.”
Qiao Zhao trembled at the words, but luckily, she sat in the corner and no one had noticed.
“Why did Hao Duanduan catch fire?” Chi Can suddenly asked.
The village chief looked at him sadly and sighed; “Who knows? The fire started sometime in the evening. When we had finally noticed, the fire was already very big and no one could get in. Qiao Jiayulang rushed into the sea of fire regardless of everyone’s obstruction and was able to save his younger sister before the house collapsed.”
“Qiao Jiayulang?” Qiao Zhao was heartbroken when she heard this name and her heart jumped suddenly.
‘Is my brother still alive?’
“So, Master Qiao is still alive?” Zhu Wu had asked what Qiao Zhao was thinking.
“That day, Master Qiao had gone out to visit some friends, so he had escaped the catastrophe. When Master Qiao came back, he met his home on fire, so he rushed into the sea of fire and rescued his younger sister.” The village chief explained.
“So, Young Master Qiao and Miss Qiao are all right?” Qiao Zhao tried her best to restrain her emotions and asked softly.
The village chief glanced at Qiao Zhao and said; “Miss Qiao seemed to be fine, however, Young Master Qiao…”
“How is he?” They asked in unison.
“Young Master Qiao’s face is ruined.” The village chief sighed.
The three of them had seen Qiao Jiayulang, and his peerless appearance flashed in their minds.
When he was in the capital, his reputation was as good as Chi Can, and it was hard to imagine what it would be like to have such a face ruined.
“It’s a pity.” The village chief said.
Qiao Zhao’s lips moved.
“Where is Master Qiao now?”
“I don’t know about that. The Qiao family’s funeral was handled by the Murakami with the help of Master Qiao. When the matter was finished, Master Qiao took his sister and left without saying goodbye. He was injured on his face and we don’t know where he went to…”
“The capital!” Qiao Zhao blurted out, drawing the attention of everyone in the room.