Chapter 69 A Previous Engagement
Dongcheng Hanguang looked visibly absent-minded as he walked back into the small reception room. Li Tianlan was a little startled by the way he looked, but it was not his place to say. The hour hand of the clock was nearly five o’clock. Looking at Dongcheng Hanguang, who was sitting on the couch and deep in thought, Li Tianlan stood up and tentatively said, “Old Master, if nothing else…”
He didn’t finish because he couldn’t. How could he go on?
He was familiar with no one except Thunder God in the whole Dongcheng Clan. Now facing the family’s Old Master alone, what should he say? Could he say that he would return to Huating if there was nothing else?
That would make him impolite.
Besides, the Old Master specifically invited Great Master Wuwei to give him some pointers. Even though what he obtained was not good news, their kindness for him was obvious. Therefore, it seemed inappropriate for him to leave right now.
On the other hand, if he didn’t go now, could he ask him to arrange a place for him to rest?
It would be like he belonged here.
Li Tianlan thought that he was too reserved for that.
“Er? Oh, I forgot you were here.”
Dongcheng Hanguang’s grave face relaxed a little. He looked at Li Tianlan with a big smile.
The old man acted breezily, but Li Tianlan felt a wave of uneasiness.
The way the Older Master looked at him was weird as if he was looking at a treasure. The soft and surprised look in an old man’s eyes gave Li Tianlan goose bumps instinctively.
“Come with me.”
Dongcheng Hanguang patted Li Tianlan on the shoulder and led the way.
Li Tianlan was not sure if the villa had any underground space, but because of the four floors above ground, he guessed that such a huge luxury villa must have an elevator. As he expected, Dongcheng Hanguang took him into an elevator, then all the way up.
“Metaphysics is just metaphysics,” Dongcheng Hanguang suddenly opened his mouth in the elevator. “It exists, but it can’t tell everything. I’m an old man now, and the older I get, the more I believe in fate. But I also believe that man can conquer nature.”
He stared at Li Tianlan and said in an unemotional voice, “Boy, I’m not messing with you. Great Master Wuwei is one of the most prestigious metaphysical grandmasters. What he said has reference value, even very high reference value. It is not in your nature to get mopey at his words, but I’m afraid that you will go to the other extreme. You’ve got a long life ahead of you, boy. Don’t live like you have only 10 years to live. It’s not worth it. It’s stupid.”
Li Tianlan gave a little start. He had no idea that Dongcheng Hanguang would try to encourage him. He gave Li Tianlan a comforting smile and gently replied, “I’m not going to allow a few words to affect my life. No matter what happens in ten years, I will always do what I have to do.”
In a turmoil, Dongcheng Hanguang nodded and said nothing. His mind still reverberated with the words the old monk Wuwei told him before he left.
Wuwei said it was he who changed Li Tianlan’s birth destiny!
And it happened more than 20 years ago!
“What does that mean?” wondered Dongcheng Hanguang uneasily.
There was at least one thing he could stake his family’s life on: it had absolutely nothing to do with the Li family.
“And how did Great Master Wuwei know about Li Tianlan?”
“Li Tianlan wasn’t even born then.”
Dongcheng Hanguang was distraught. The most maddening part of having dealings with a metaphysical grandmaster was that one only told part of the truth. At such times, the puzzled person almost wanted to hack the grandmaster to death.
At this time, the elevator reached the fourth floor.
After taking a deep breath, Dongcheng Hanguang stepped out of the elevator.
On one side of the elevator was a series of small stairs, about a floor high, ending in a small delicate door.
Dongcheng Hanguang said and went up the steps.
Li Tianlan followed him silently, watching the old man open the door.
The night air filled the villa.
A vast expanse of night came into Li Tianlan’s eyes.
Li Tianlan gaped at it.
Behind this door was not a secret room but the rooftop of the villa.
Dongcheng Hanguang then walked out.
Li Tianlan was close behind.
The rooftop was large and clean, surrounded by delicate and ornate white marble balustrades.
It was a bit windy and chilly. When the wind blew in his face, Li Tianlan’s mind was suddenly clear.
At the turn of night and dawn, it was dim outside.
Li Tianlan leaned on the white marble balustrade and looked around. Everywhere was luxuriant. He saw wide roads, thick forests and vast plains. From where he was, everything in sight was below him, and he was at the top, looking down at everything around.
Li Tianlan was silent but was getting really passionate.
“Tianlan, what do you think is the most important thing a man should pursue in his life?”
Standing beside Li Tianlan, Dongcheng Hanguang lit a cigarette, took a puff, and addressed the question in a mile tone.
Li Tianlan’s mouth moved. At this moment, a poem burst into his mind. Without hesitation, he blurted out.
“When shall I reach the top and hold all mountains in a single glance?”
Dongcheng Hanguang laughed heartily and cried, “Yeah, reach the top, that’s what a man wants in his life.”
He pointed to the mountain at his feet and asked, “Tianlan, what do you think of the Dongcheng Clan?”
Li Tianlan got nothing to say. To him, this was more of a mountain than a family.
Dongcheng Hanguang’s house was on the top of a mountain, and there were some side roads. Li Tianlan didn’t care about them at first, but now from the top of the mountain he discovered that the Dongcheng Clan was more than a villa at his feet. It was just the centre, and there were villas of similar architectural style in all directions around the top of the mountain. Li Tianlan wasn’t sure how big the mountain was just yet, but as he stood there looking out, he was struck by the magnificence.
“The atmosphere of a wealthy family deserves its reputation.”
Li Tianlan responded quietly, his calm voice holding a hint of longing that he hadn’t even noticed.
It was his first visit to the headquarters of one of the Zhongzhou State’s most wealthy families. What he saw not only shocked him, but aroused his desire.
Dongcheng Hanguang’s smile vanished. “This is my family, the Dongcheng Clan, with hundreds of thousands of troops, the authority to lead a group, nearly 20 large military enterprises, the ability to bring dozens of senior generals to their knees and the market value of hundreds of billions,” he said in a piercing and aloud voice.
He then slapped Li Tianlan hard on the shoulder and asked with a proud smile, “Do you want such a family?”
Li Tianlan’s mouth curved. The question was so crude that no one could lie. He took a deep breath and murmured, “If I say I don’t want it, it’s a lie.”
Dongcheng Hanguang looked at Li Tianlan, his face creasing into a knowing smile. He could clearly feel the fever in the eyes of the young man beside him, which was called ambition.
Every man should have ambition.
“How about I give you the Dongcheng family?”
Dongcheng Hanguang’s tone was bland, but what he said was startling.
Li Tianlan gave a jerk of surprise. He looked at Dongcheng Hanguang in astonishment.
“You don’t want it?”
Dongcheng Hanguang knitted his brows slightly. Li Tianlan’s reaction was completely unexpected to him.
“I can’t accept it.”
Li Tianlan replied with a bitter smile. He was really a little frightened that he even thought the old man beside him had a brain problem.
Give him the Dongcheng family?
He could think of no other possibility but that the old man was mad.
“What? Didn’t your grandfather tell you? You have an engagement with my Dongcheng family. When you marry Rushi, I’ll give you the family. Everything here is yours, and so is the Border Praetorian Corps.”
Dongcheng Hanguang stated in a lukewarm tone.
Li Tianlan could not help wincing. He knew that he was engaged, but his grandfather didn’t tell him who the girl was. When he first met Qin Weibai and felt her deep feelings for him, he even guessed that she was his fiancée.
The Dongcheng Clan?
In Li Tianlan’s previous impression, this powerful family had nothing to do with him. Tonight Thunder God’s presence led him to come into contact with the Dongcheng family. Li Tianlan already had a vague guess, but it was only a guess. The engagement didn’t come to light until Dongcheng Hanguang told him.
Li Tianlan mused on this name. He had heard it for a long time and knew that she was one of the core disciples of Jade Pool and Dongcheng Wudi’s youngest daughter. In addition, she possessed Exquisite Bones, and was a 19 years old expert in the Fire-flaming Realm. In the ranking of the top ten young experts, her ranking was even one place ahead of Li Baitian’s.
When Li Tianlan heard the name before, he always regarded Dongcheng Rushi as the opponent that he might meet in the future.
As a result, his potential rival had become his fiancee now.
This change could not be more dramatic, at least Li Tianlan could not accept it at all for a while.
He lit a cigarette and had a smoke, his mind in a whirl.
“Well, you have a few more days off, don’t you? Stay in Zhongyuan for several days. I’ll call some old friends later. We’re having an engagement party for you and Rushi first. You may exchange rings or something. It’s all the rage now, isn’t it? I know. You can get married when you graduate.”
Dongcheng Hanguang said quickly, before Li Tianlan could react. He seemed to think of something happy, and gave a strange laugh, his eyes narrowing so hard that they almost could not be seen.
“Er, I’m sorry, Old Master. I cannot get engaged to Miss Dongcheng, still less marry her.”
Li Tianlan suddenly interrupted Dongcheng Hanguang’s reverie in a calm and unemotional tone.
Dongcheng Hanguang’s laughter stopped abruptly.
‘You won’t marry her?”
He blurted out, sounding incredulous.
Li Tianlan said adamantly.
Dongcheng Hanguang stared at Li Tianlan, his face clouding. “You’ve engaged already. My granddaughter is talented and good-looking. In terms of appearance and temperament, as well as the talent of martial arts, among your peers, only the Wangs’ Siren could compare with Rushi. How could you refuse to marry such a good match? Who do you want to marry? Why don’t you marry my granddaughter? If you dare not marry her, I’ll order my people to shoot you bastard!” he threatened Li Tianlan curtly.
Touching his nose, Li Tianlan forced a wry smile. Though being threatened, he had no antipathy towards Dongcheng Hanguang. He shook his head and said earnestly, “Old Master, I have a girlfriend, and I will marry her.”
Dongcheng Hanguang, who didn’t know the situation yet, casually answered, “Then break up with her. Cut the crap! I’m telling you, you have to marry Rushi. It’s not negotiable!”
Li Tianlan repeated his choice without hesitation. His voice was calm, yet determined.
Dongcheng Hanguang was so exasperated that his carefully trimmed beard quivered as he glared at Li Tianlan.
“Damn it, I want to marry my stunning, noble and genius granddaughter to you with the whole Dongcheng Clan as a dowry, you bastard said no?” he swore in secret.
He gasped for breath, and at that moment he really wanted to shoot the little bastard.
The old man shouted, gritting his teeth as he grasped the white marble balustrade in front of him.
Li Tianlan found it both funny and annoying. Throwing down the end of his cigarette, he lit another, handed Dongcheng Hanguang one, and said, “Old Master, to be honest, I have a bit of potential. In all likelihood, I will reach the Invincible Realm. I don’t demean myself. I’m worth courting.”
“But the Dongcheng family, after all, is the one that has nurtured a proud Son of Heaven, so you don’t need to use the whole family as a dowry just for a grandson-in-law who might become an Invincible Realm expert, right?”
Dongcheng Hanguang was stupefied.
“A proud Son of Heaven?”
“What is it?” he thought in confusion.
Before he could ask, Li Tianlan continued, “Besides, my identity is very sensitive. The secret will come to light one day. Once the time comes and others know I am from the Li family, I’m afraid the Dongcheng family will get involved. Prince Group, Kunlun City and even the Wang family of Beihai will probably be eager to move.”
“My identity is a mess now, and once exposed, it’s easy to involve everyone around me. On the contrary, the Dongcheng Clan has reached such a scale that even if I break through to the Invincible Realm, it will not be of much help to this family. Such a marriage is not mature. Not only can’t I help you, on the contrary, but I will also drag you down. Why do you persist, Old Master?”
“What are you talking about?”
Dongcheng Hanguang winced, and beat over the old ground that made one want to cry. “Since you have been engaged to my granddaughter, you must marry. Dongcheng Clan still wants face, and won’t put the whole family as collateral for you. The family will be yours and Rushi’s from now on. It’s a contract, a contract, okay? Dongcheng family values the promise and will pay a debt of gratitude. It has nothing to do with your background and your potential.”
What he said was bold and straight, but Li Tianlan instinctively didn’t believe it. He silently smoked, and muttering to himself, “Pay a debt of gratitude, pay a debt of gratitude… ”
“Old Master, what do you think of my father’s treason?”
Li Tianlan asked suddenly.
Dongcheng Hanguang’s face changed. He took a deep look at Li Tianlan and hesitantly answered, “The inside story of that matter is complicated, many clues are not clear… ”
“I didn’t mean that.”
Li Tianlan lightly said as he blandly looked at the rising morning light in the distance.
Dongcheng Hanguang paused, and then he understood what Li Tianlan meant.
He pondered for a few seconds before he inquired quietly, “Tianlan, do you have a heart knot because the Dongcheng family didn’t help your father?”
“No, just asking.”
Li Tianlan shook his head while saying, “That’s not pleasantries. I really understand. When Li family’s closest comrades-in-arms, Wang family of Beihai, could choose to be silent and give up, it was reasonable for Dongcheng family to stand idly by. Forgive me, Old Master, for my being rude.”
Then they both fell silent.
Nearly five minutes later, Dongcheng Hanguang lit another cigarette and composedly said, “I can answer that. First, the friendship between the Dongcheng family and the Li family was so secret that almost no one knew about it except the two sides. Second, it was too big of a deal. It was a global game. Dongcheng family represents a group of powerful families. In that situation, Dongcheng family simply could not represent themselves. Whatever we did, everyone would think it was the will of the whole Giant Group.”
He then made a pause before adding, “Third, if there had been any Invincible Realm expert in Dongcheng family we would have given Li family an explanation in any case after the event, but unfortunately, we did not have such an expert.”
“Fourth… Dongcheng family had secretly helped the Li family. Tianlan, you’ll see what we did. Now is not the time to tell you.”
“As for your engagement to Rushi, I made it with your grandfather, and there is no complicated interest entanglement. We waited for so many years, but all of a sudden you said no to it. Who would allow it? Rushi is my granddaughter. You have to marry her anyway.”
Li Tianlan rubbed his chin helplessly.
There seemed to be something wrong with the old man.
His grandfather had told him that his fiancee’s family was quite realistic.
However, Dongcheng Hanguang’s performance didn’t show their attention to reality at all, and instead, what he did was quite emotional.
An idea popped into Li Tianlan’s head. Remembering what Dongcheng Hanguang had just said, he hesitated.
Dongcheng Hanguang cast a glance at him.
Li Tianlan skipped the story of the Li family and the Dongcheng family in those days, while quietly shifting the topic of engagement to the topic that he had been particularly interested in.
He tried not to talk about the engagement.
He smiled and said, “Old Master, may I ask you about someone?”
“Huh? Ask about someone, boy, don’t try to change the subject.”
Dongcheng Hanguang took a puff and warned with a puzzled look in his eyes.
“Well… What you just said about what the Dongcheng family did. Does it have something to do with Senior Dongcheng Huangtu? What happened… ”
“Ahem, ahem… ”
Before Li Tianlan could finish, Dongcheng Hanguang started coughing heavily. He seemed to be choked by smoke. It looked like heart-wrenching that he did not straight up for a long while.
Li Tianlan unconsciously walked over and patted the old man on the back. Put on a wry smile, he said, “I just overheard some of Senior Dongcheng Huangtu’s deeds. Forget it if you don’t want to talk about it.”
“Who did you say?” Dongcheng Hanguang asked with hoarse voice while waving his hands with difficulty.
“Senior Dongcheng Huangtu.”
Li Tianlan knew that this question might expose people’s scars, but after a little hesitation, he said the name again.
Dongcheng Hanguang straightened up and looked at Li Tianlan with complicated eyes.
Li Tianlan braced himself and stared directly at the old man and felt a little creepy somehow.
“I don’t know the man you’re talking about.”
Dongcheng Hanguang finally replied, “There’s no such a man in the Dongcheng Clan, and I’ve never heard of him outside my family.”
He shook his head and quietly stressed, “I’ve never heard that name before.”