Chapter 249 – Fight to the Death
After a chilly autumn rain, the season grew even colder.
As the morning brightened, the autumn rain finally ceased.
Chen Yunlan rose to his feet. Years of holding a paintbrush had calloused his hands, yet his fingers remained slender and distinctive. He traced the photograph on the gravestone. “Qu Ran, happy birthday.”
“I’m leaving. I don’t know when I’ll come back. Perhaps, I’ll bring our son next time to let you see him.”
Drenched from head to toe, Chen Yunlan looked disheveled, yet there was a glint in his fox-like eyes.
With Chen Li’s appearance, Chen Yunlan’s desolate heart revived. He walked out of the cemetery and hailed a taxi.
The taxi driver curiously eyed Chen Yunlan, feeling a bit apprehensive. Getting out of a cemetery in the early morning, soaked to the skin, was quite an unusual sight and somewhat eerie.
Ignoring the driver’s unease, Chen Yunlan mentioned an address and closed his eyes to relax. Despite a sleepless night, he felt excited now and devoid of any drowsiness.
After an hour’s drive, the taxi stopped in an upscale residential area.
Chen Yunlan got out and rang the doorbell of one of the houses. Shortly, the video intercom near the door lit up, displaying the face of someone inside.
“Hello, may I ask whom you’re looking for?”
Clearly, the person inside didn’t recognize Chen Yunlan and maintained a somewhat arrogant tone, the pride of a servant of the Chen family.
“I am Chen Yunlan,” Chen Yunlan stated calmly, showing no expression on his face.
Returning to this place after more than twenty years, Chen Yunlan felt an odd sense of calm, free from any emotional turbulence.
Even though the staff didn’t recognize Chen Yunlan, having served the Chen family for so many years, they were somewhat familiar with the names of the family members. With the surname Chen and the character ‘Yun’ in the name, he must be of the same generation as Master Chen Yunsheng, they speculated. Hence, they didn’t immediately refuse Chen Yunlan’s entry but went to inform the steward.
Upon hearing the name “Chen Yunlan,” the steward was stunned, repeatedly confirming, “Are you sure the person outside is Chen Yunlan?”
“Yes, he said his name is Chen Yunlan!”
“Hurry!” The steward became somewhat agitated. “Quickly bring Young Master Yunlan in!”
The staff, sensing the steward’s urgency, dashed towards the front gate to invite Chen Yunlan in. The steward hurried to the study’s door and knocked.
“Master, Master, Yunlan… Young Master Yunlan has returned!” The voice sounded somewhat excited.
Before long, the study door opened, and Chen Shihuai wore an expression of disbelief. “Who? Who did you say is back?”
“Master, it’s Young Master Yunlan who has returned,” the servant reiterated.
“Go and bring him up,” Chen Shihuai replied, displaying a hint of excitement. He returned to the study and sat down, awaiting Chen Yunlan’s arrival.
The servant respectfully escorted Chen Yunlan inside, devoid of the previous arrogance, addressing him as Young Master Yunlan and wearing a placating smile.
Chen Yunlan made no response, merely inquiring, “Is Chen Li at home?”
“Chen Li?” The servant appeared puzzled. “There is no Young Master Chen Li here!” He had worked for the Chen family for a decade but had never heard of anyone named Chen Li.
While questioning the servant, Chen Yunlan didn’t shift his gaze away from the servant’s face. Observing that the servant’s expression didn’t seem feigned, Chen Yunlan had an inkling.
Even if Chen Li had survived, he hadn’t been treated well, otherwise even a servant wouldn’t be ignorant of his existence.
So, why did they let Chen Li live back then?
While contemplating this, he was led into the study.
“Yunlan, you’ve finally chosen to come back,” Chen Shihuai sat on a sturdy chair, smiling at Chen Yunlan.
Expressionless, Chen Yunlan said, “I’m here today to ask you about Chen Li.”
Chen Shihuai’s expression faltered, immediately realizing that Chen Yunlan had learned about Chen Li being his child.
“Ask your question,” Chen Shihuai’s smile faded.
“Is Chen Li the same child from back then?” Chen Yunlan inquired, though he had already speculated, he needed a definite answer.
Chen Shihuai had no intention of concealing the truth. “Yes, he is that same child from back then.”
“Good, I know now,” Chen Yunlan didn’t ask anything more and turned to leave. However, although he seemed calm, his hands were tightly clenched, unable to contain his inner excitement.
“Yunlan!” Chen Shihuai saw Chen Yunlan leaving and shouted after him, “You’re just going to leave like this? Don’t you want to know about Chen Li’s life all these years?”
This was the reason Chen Shihuai had encouraged Chen Yunlan to connect with Chen Li – to make him aware that his son was alive and return to the Chen family. Yet, Chen Shihuai hadn’t anticipated that Chen Yunlan would simply leave after confirming his suspicions, without further inquiries.
Chen Yunlan paused for a moment, not looking back, and spoke in a cold tone, “I will investigate how he’s been living these past years. If the Chen family treated him unfairly, I will rectify it tenfold. Father, you know, I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t care about anything.” With these words, Chen Yunlan left without turning back.
His intention in returning was indeed to learn about Chen Li’s life in these past years. However, the probing he just did with the servant revealed that Chen Li’s life in the Chen family wasn’t good. Therefore, hearing about Chen Li’s past from the mouths of the Chen family members might not yield any reliable information. How could he be sure of the truths in their statements? It was due to these doubts that after confirming the answers he sought, Chen Yunlan departed. He wanted the truth, and he would investigate it himself.
Watching Chen Yunlan’s resolute departure, Chen Shihua pondered over his words, and it felt as if all his strength had been sapped away. Chen Yunlan was determined to see this through, no matter what!
If there was a possibility of Chen Yunlan returning to the Chen family before, upon learning about Chen Li’s life, it was now certain that he would sever all ties with the family. He might even resort to any means to seek revenge against the Chen family. This was something Chen Shihuai didn’t want to see but now felt helpless to prevent.
Perhaps the decision to let Chen Yunlan connect with Chen Li was wrong from the start. Chen Shihuai had misjudged the explosive force created by Chen Yunlan’s once dormant heart when hope clashed with it.
Outside the Chen family’s gates, Chen Yunlan stood still for a very long time. Finally, he pulled out his phone and dialed a long-forgotten number.
“Hello,” the person who answered the call clearly didn’t recognize the number but spoke politely. “Zhuge Yu, it’s me, Chen Yunlan,” Chen Yunlan calmly said but moved the phone away from his ear. As expected, the next second, a voice at an amplified volume exploded from the phone.
“Chen Yunlan!” Zhuge Yu was outraged. “How dare you call me? What do you want now? Get lost as far as you can!”
“Let’s meet,” Chen Yunlan ignored Zhuge Yu’s agitation and said directly.
“Meet? Who’d meet a despicable person like you?” Zhuge Yu refused outright.
“Twenty-two years ago, I had a child. I thought he was dead. But I’ve recently discovered he’s alive,” Chen Yunlan explained his reason for calling, irrespective of Zhuge Yu’s reaction.
“Rubbish! How old were you twenty-two years ago? Were you seventeen or eighteen? Where did this child come from?” Zhuge Yu expressed extreme doubt.
“That child’s surname is Chen, he has autism,” Chen Yunlan finally dropped this bombshell.
“… ” After a moment of silence, the sound of a phone falling to the ground was heard.
About two minutes later, Zhuge Yu’s voice resurfaced, “Chen Yunlan, what do you mean?”
“You’re right, Chen Li is my child,” Chen Yunlan’s voice quivered.
“Let’s meet! Right now, immediately!” Zhuge Yu shouted at the phone, “You better appear in front of me right now and explain everything! What do you mean Chen Li is your child? Being a father like you!”
“I’m in Shanghai right now, I’ll come directly to your school when I get to Beijing,” Chen Yunlan said.
“Good, I’ll wait for you at the school,” Zhuge Yu said through gritted teeth. Chen Yunlan’s words felt like feathers scratching in his heart, making him intensely itchy.
If Chen Yunlan was indeed Xiao Li’s father, how could there be such an irresponsible father, not caring about his own son for more than twenty years?
Still, at a cemetery on the outskirts of Shanghai.
After a bout of autumn rain, the air became much fresher. Rainwater dripped from the leaves, reflecting a faint golden light under the sunshine.
Several people walked along the cemetery’s pathway, led by an elderly man who, despite his age, appeared sharp and vigorous.
Behind the old man stood a few sturdy men dressed in fitted black suits, exuding a resolute aura. They seemed to be individuals who had emerged from turbulent times; these men were the old man’s bodyguards.
“Wait for me here,” the old man gestured, refusing the bodyguards to follow. He then walked toward a tombstone with a young man beside him.
The tombstone had a bunch of flowers, scattered by the last night’s rain, but judging from the freshness of the petals, it hadn’t been there for long.
“Grandpa, someone has visited Uncle,” the young man spoke.
Surprisingly, the young man was Cookie, and the elderly man beside him was the same Mr. Qu who had acquired a portrait of Chen Li from Wu Zhang earlier.
This was Cookie’s first visit to his deceased uncle. According to his father, his uncle had autism and went missing over twenty years ago. Even with the formidable influence of the Qu family at the time, they couldn’t find him.
Ten years ago, they finally heard news about his uncle, only to encounter a cold tombstone. Cookie’s gaze fell upon the photo on the tombstone. As he looked at the face in the picture, Cookie’s pupils suddenly contracted…