Chapter 579.1: Mental State

Lu Heng stared dumbly at the light going out of his grandfather’s eyes. Black blood trickled out of the elder’s nose and mouth. Half-lidded eyes slowly lost their focus and the wizened hand clutching Lu Heng’s sleeves gradually loosened…

It felt like someone had dug a piece out of Lu Heng’s heart. His eyes stung and his head began to ache.

“Grandfather, grandfather…” His voice rasped like two coarse rocks rubbing against each other and his lips vibrated soundlessly as he tried to wake his grandfather.

Had he done wrong?

Had he really done wrong?

“Don’t be too sad, second master.”

“Indeed, sage nephew. Your grandfather was advanced in age and ready to go to his final rest. He was undoubtedly overjoyed to see your safe return.” Those around him tried to comfort him, but Lu Heng remained stock-still.

Would they still say all this to him if they knew what grandfather had whispered before he passed on?

He didn’t know if he’d made the right decision in breaking the family rules, but the assassinations and ambushes he’d suffered on the way back with Cao Yuqing had been very real. He’d been hesitant at first, but the indecision faded away each time he nearly died to Crane Red poison and the blade from an assassin grazed his neck.

He’d had enough of cowering and huddling in on himself. He hadn’t had a day of peace since leaving the capital in search of treasure. Concealment and subterfuge had been key in Tatar, then he’d been herded into the desolate desert. Was he to be a saint when he clung to death’s doorstep? How was it possible to not feel a hint of bitterness or injustice?

Why did he have to be the one to sacrifice?

Second uncle was already the patriarch, why didn’t he let his nephew live in peace?

His tentativeness ultimately coalesced into resolution after repeated attempts on his life and betrayals from his servants. Only gold and power wouldn’t betray him in this world.

Why was grandfather so furious?

Although Lu Heng hadn’t laid down his neck for the family tradition and deposed his uncle, everything he did was out of consideration for the family’s benefit. He’d also reached an agreement with Li Qitian and had obtained an even more stable position than before, one that still guaranteed the clan’s profits. What was so bad about this?

Lu Heng’s mind churned with thoughts and his conscience interrogated himself, wondering if he’d made the right moves. But each time a voice questioned his actions, another voice would ring out with loud denunciation.

As he knelt in front of his grandfather’s coffin and mechanically fed joss paper to the flames, Lu Heng’s tears flowed down his cheeks in an uncontrollable stream. Those who curried favor with him sighed with appreciation at his filial piety. Look how grief-stricken he was that his grandfather had sought the afterlife!

Lu Heng was indeed saddened, but he mourned even more the uncertainty of his future.

The woman he loved was pregnant with another man’s child. He’d reminded himself again and again to not force or fight for anything, that it was enough to just silently gaze upon her. But when he received word that Qin Yining was pregnant, it felt like lightning had struck him.

He was lost and heartbroken.

When they ran for their lives, he’d spent every day with Qin Yining. He was able to convince himself not to force anything because he’d been able to see her everyday. He could set it all aside under those circumstances and tell himself that she should live happily ever after with her husband.

But when he was truly parted with her and realization sank in that this was how life was to be, that he would see her only during the new year banquets, his heart churned with anguish.

Perhaps grandfather had been right.

Bastard.

He really was a right old bastard.

He’d thought that accepted everything, but it turned out he’d accepted nothing at all. He would be satisfied with seeing Qin Yining everyday and just keeping her company, but how would Pang Xiao ever allow that?

Lu Heng would never have the woman he loved.

He would also never possess genuine family ties, and the grandfather who loved him the most was gone as well.

Lu Heng closed his eyes and let his tears flow as they would. It seemed that only gold and power would be the only things that kept him company throughout this life.

The Lu funeral was a grand and magnificent affair. Since Qin Yining was pregnant, there were many occasions that’d become taboo for her. While she couldn’t pay her respects in person, Pang Xiao could.

It was now the seventh month of the year and the days were growing hotter. Lu Heng was much thinner than before and his face wan and pale. Compared to Pang Xiao’s high spirits, he seemed to have brought back a wretchedness from the desert that was yet to dissipate.

“Your Highness.” Lu Heng bowed.

Pang Xiao sighed and returned the gesture. “Brother Lu, my condolences.”

“Thank you, Your Highness,” Lu Heng sighed.

“You’ve become a lot thinner these days. Although you are doubtlessly busy with the family’s affairs and sorrowed by the late patriarch’s passing, you must take care of yourself as well. It is up to you to guide the Lus in the future.” Although Pang Xiao had detected the other’s feelings for Qin Yining, Qin Yining was his wife and pregnant with his child. Lu Heng had never done anything inappropriate and saved Yining’s life in Tatar, so he truly was concerned about the new Lu patriarch.

Lu Heng’s lips cracked and blood oozed out when he smiled. “Thank you, Your Highness, I will take care of myself.”

Pang Xiao nodded and said nothing about the other’s meeting with the emperor.

Lu Heng looked at the prince and couldn’t help but blurt out, “How is the princess consort these days?”

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etvolare's Thoughts

I do feel bad for Lu Heng. :(

Happy 2023 everyone!! May the first day of the new year bring everything that you wish for!