Li Shiqing’s villa was situated in the most prominent residential area of the city.
During the ride there, Xiao Li was on edge the entire time, and when he arrived, that feeling persisted. There were two vehicles parked in the front. Just as he drove up to park near them, he saw two of Li Shiqing’s men, Fan Peng and Liu Zicheng, emerged from the vehicles.
When they saw his face, it was odd that they looked at him with a sympathetic expression. Since Liu Zicheng was closer to him of the two, he promptly said: “Hurry up and go in. Qing-Ye is waiting for you.”
As Xiao Li entered with his heart hanging in suspense, Li Shiqing was sitting on the sofa, smoking a cigar.
“Qing-Ye,” Xiao Li slightly bowed. “My brother—”
Li Shiqing waved his hand which caused Xiao Li to hold back his words. Then Li Shiqing sighed and signaled for him to come over. “Sit down first, what do you want to drink?”
Xiao Li sat on the other side, feeling worried as he spoke. “There’s no need. Qing-Ye, what happened to my brother?
Li Shiqing remained quiet for a moment. “When you were ambushed, you had suspected that it was Luo Dong seeking revenge from you, correct?”
“After you told me, I had Zicheng investigate the matter. Since he was already doing business there, he quickly found out something.” Li Shiqing paused then spoke again, “When Luo Dong escaped to the neighboring province, he took a man as an adoptive father. That man is Lu Wu-Ye.”19
Xiao Li was dumbfounded. Although the territories that they reigned were far part, Lu Wu-Ye’s name had wings of its own, spreading widely throughout the Yangtze River.
Li Shiqing frowned, “Luo Dong was driven out of here by us but now he has someone supporting him. If he wants to regain the territory he once controlled here, there will be trouble for us. That’s the reason why I went to Sun Zeyu because through him, I had connected with Lu Wu-Ye. Surprisingly, Lu Wu-Ye was delighted and even his words were quite beautiful. He had said that since his adoptive son was driven out, he doesn’t want to return to this hurtful place but that is only if we promise him a condition in return…only then will he not make things difficult for us.”
Seeming to know intuitively what it was, Xiao Li still asked: “What condition?”
“He wants me to hand you and Han Jia over to him,” Li Shiqing paused, then said: “He said that Han Jia had lied to Luo Dong quite miserably and sold him out to the police. And you… you broke one of his legs causing him to become a handicap. He won’t hold anyone else accountable but you two, he won’t let go. He had also mentioned that when he was the one behind the mess done to Han Jia’s business and the ambushed that happened to you.”
Xiao Li was not surprised and asked, “Qing-Ye, why didn’t you mention this matter to us?”
Li Shiqing gave him a glance, “I didn’t want to hand either of you over, so why should I mention it?”
Xiao Li lowered his head and faintly said, “Thank you, Qing-Ye.”
“Don’t be so quick to thank me.” Li Shiqing sighed, “You’re both my right-hand man, if I were to give both of you over to them so easily like that, I wouldn’t have any face left. But Qing-Ye doesn’t have any capabilities, I talked to him for quite some time and he gained many profitable deals but throughout the whole ordeal, he didn’t give me any precise answer. Not until this morning… I received a case…” He sighed again, “It’s on the table. You can look at it yourself.” After saying that, he twisted his head away, unable to bear the expression on Xiao Li’s face.
Xiao Li had noticed a black case on the tea table earlier, but now that he heard Li Shiqing’s words and the meanings behind it, he was unexpectedly concern. A frightful premonition rose from the pit of his stomach and his hands could not help but tremble as he opened the case.
Inside was a pale and sickly white hand that had been cut from the wrist down with not an ounce of blood remaining. There were two characters carved impressively by a sharp knife at the back of the hand: ‘Xiao Yang,’
Xiao Li’s eyes widened in shock as he immediately shut the case and flung it to the side. He held onto his own head and let out a painfully thunderous roar.
When Li Shiqing went over to embrace Xiao Li, he could feel him trembling uncontrollably. There was pity and gentleness as he consoled him, “Don’t be too broken-hearted.”
Without saying anything, Xiao Li shook his head and calmed himself down before he struggled free of Li Shiqing’s embrace. Then he stood up and went to pick up the case.
As Li Shiqing watched him, he asked: “Are you thinking of getting your brother back?”
Xiao Li nodded.
Li Shiqing, “I called you here to tell you that I don’t agree with you doing that.”
Xiao Li was shocked as he spun around.
Li Shiqing, “What Lu Wu and Luo Dong sent is your brother’s hand, that I have no choice but to tell you. But I hope that you don’t throw your life away. You have to understand, Luo Dong hates both you and Han Jia. You alone won’t be able to get your brother back. If you go, do you think Han Jia will just go along with you?”
Xiao Li was stumped for words.
This prompted Li Shiqing to quicken his speech, “I haven’t told Han Jia yet, so you should think over it clearly.”
There was a conflicting expression riddled with pain on Xiao Li’s face as he lowered his head to look at the case with his brother’s left hand.
Li Shiqing continued: “Moreover, if you both go, you are just throwing your lives away. Afterward, the gangs within the country will say that with just one word from Lu Wu, I, Li Shiqing, obediently sent two of my backbone to death. Wouldn’t that mean that my presence will be just a passing breeze in the future?”
A shudder ran up Xiao Li’s spine, “Qing-Ye, are you telling me not to care about my brother?”
Hearing such words, Li Shiqing stood up and lightly patted his shoulder. “Xiao Li there are things that aspirational men must do, and at times, sacrifices need to be made in order to obtain it. How has the gang treated you after all these years? How has Han Jia treated you? How has I, Li Shiqing, treated you? You should be well aware of it all. Compared to your brother, which is important, and which isn’t. You need to think it over first.”
Those sentences started to circulate in Xiao Li’s mind, keeping his voice away. Then he buried his face in his hands and said, “Qing-Ye, there’s nothing else I can do… give me some time. I can’t think straight right now…”
Letting out another long sigh, Li Shiqing stared at him for a moment, “Come back and find me again tomorrow.”
Xiao Li nodded and walked toward the door with a confused mindset.
“Xiao Li,” Li Shiqing called out.
Xiao Li stopped.
“No matter how you want to take revenge in the future, I will help you. If you want Lu Wu’s life, I will help you get it.”
Without giving him a reply, Xiao Li walked directly out of the door. He placed the case in the passenger seat, then sat down in silence for a long time.
As he sat there, endless thoughts rushed into his head, thoughts of when his brother was still a kid hiding behind his back, wearing an adorable appearance; thoughts of the promises he had made at his mother’s grave to protect and take care of his brother; thoughts of how his brother hated him more and more with each passing day and how he himself was powerless to change it; thoughts of how happy his brother was when he was together with his girlfriend…
As these thoughts continuously flooded him, he drove in the direction of Jin Ting.
But he cannot implicate Han Jia.
Han Jia was the only close friend he had who had gone through life’s joy and sorrow with him. He had always accompanied and remained by his side during the bloodiest years of his life. They were familiar with each other’s’ past as well as the greatness that they enjoyed now.
He does not have the right to ask Han Jia to give up his future for the sake of his brother.
Just as he was almost at Jin Ting, Xiao Li stepped on the brake and turned his car around.
He did not want to return to that cold and lonely place called ‘home’.
He did not want to see the subordinates who called him ‘Li ge’, worshipped him, and would sincerely sacrifice their lives for him.
He did not want to go to any debauched and corrupt places of entertainment.
As he drove around in all corners of the city, he suddenly thought that no matter how big the world was, there was actually no place that he could go to – no place that he belonged to.