Death Progress Bar

Death Progress Bar

Chapter 43 - The Substitute

Lost in thought for a while, Shi Jin gathered his mind and opened the second part of the information. 

Two photos popped up, one of a man and one of a woman. The man's appearance was both familiar and unfamiliar, with eyebrows and eyes like Shi Xingrui's, but his overall features and temperament were like the woman in the other photo. He looked cold and unapproachable, making it difficult to get close to him.

Shi Jin was stunned for a moment before he remembered that this man was Shi Family's second son, the original owner's only elder brother he had not yet met, Fei Yujing, the big lawyer who flew around the world.

He carefully looked at the photo of Fei Yujing, who was smiling but had a cold look in his eyes. He remembered the original owner's memory of his kind and accommodating elder brother, and furrowed his brows deeply.

This Fei Yujing seemed to have two faces when it came to dealing with people. No, to be precise, he had a different face when facing the original owner. The kindness and consideration that the original owner thought he had was probably just a polite mask that Fei Yujing used to cover up his true emotions.

Glancing at this second brother, Shi Jin shifted his gaze to the other woman's photo.

This woman should be Fei Yujing's mother. Shi Jin carefully examined her appearance and found that she was another style of woman - different from Shi Weichong's mother's beauty and Li Jiuzheng's mother's gentleness. Fei Yujing's mother was very "ethereal", both in appearance and temperament, a true ice beauty.

So that's three different styles. It seems that Shi Xingrui doesn't have any specific preferences for women.

Shi Jin became even more suspicious of his previous speculation and furrowed his brows as he continued to flip through the information. 

Fei Lin, the mother of Fei Yujing, was born into a slightly down-and-out literary family in N City. Her parents were an unknown painter and a calligraphy teacher, but Fei Lin herself had no interest in art and instead pursued dance. 

She met Shi Xingrui at a charity performance, where she was a promising young dancer and he was a successful businessman in his prime. They fell in love at first sight and moved in together after only a month. Two months later, Fei Lin became pregnant, but Shi Xingrui had to leave N City for long business trips to expand his company. Fei Lin put her dance career on hold to focus on her pregnancy, and the two of them separated. 

After Fei Yujing was born, Shi Xingrui visited Fei Lin once in N City, but they had no further contact after that. At the same time, around the time when Fei Lin was pregnant, the once destitute Fei family suddenly discovered a precious collection of ancestral paintings and calligraphy. After selling them, their financial situation greatly improved.

Fei Lin's father used the money to open an art gallery, while her mother opened a painting and calligraphy training class. From then on, the Fei family seemed to have received the script for the lead role. Her father's gallery grew bigger and bigger and is now one of the top galleries in the industry. His own paintings were also sold for sky-high prices. Her mother's painting and calligraphy training class also expanded and became a golden signboard in the industry, earning them both money and fame.

Compared to the glory of her parents, Fei Lin, who gave birth to Fei Yujing, seemed much more low-key and dim. She stopped dancing, moved abroad, and focused on raising Fei Yujing, never returning to the country again. She still lives in a picturesque town abroad, living a life that seems almost reclusive.

The information did not include any recent photos of Fei Lin, and one can imagine that she rarely takes any now. Apart from her son, Fei Yujing, she seems to have lost interest in everything else.

As Shi Jin finished reading this part of the information, he couldn't help but question Fei Lin and Shi Xingrui's 'love at first sight'.

Considering the time when the Fei family rose to power, it seemed more likely that Fei Lin had made a deal with Shi Xingrui - she would bear him a child and raise it, while he would help her turn her family's fortunes around and help her parents achieve the success they desired.

Of course, this was just Shi Jin's own speculation. The truth of what happened back then is known only to those involved. After summarizing the second part of the materials, Shi Jin continued to flip through the third part.

As expected, a photo of a woman with Rong Zhouzhong popped up.

Shi Jin quickly skipped over the handsome photo of Rong Zhouzhong and looked at his mother's photo.

The woman in the photo had peach blossom eyes, an oval face, and a charming expression that exuded a bit of allure. It was a very attractive look for men. Rong Zhouzhong looked very much like his mother, but because he was male, he had intentionally toned down his charm and allure, making him more appealing.

Shi Jin was now certain that he had guessed wrong before. Shi Xingrui didn't have any particular preferences when it came to women. He was more like a stamp collector, collecting women of different styles and having a child with each one. 

What a lively stallion. 

Shi Jin was thinking like this as he scrolled through the photos, revealing more information behind them.

The mother of Rong Zhouzhong, named Rong Xili, was born in a small town in China and was a beauty from a young age. She ventured out into the world before she even reached adulthood and, by chance, became an actress. However, she never became famous and was often typecast as a villainous supporting character in eight out of ten roles.

During a certain business event, Shi Xingrui, who was already a big boss at the time, somehow took a liking to Rong Xili and supported her for a while, even spending money to make her a little more famous. A few months later, Rong Xili became pregnant and temporarily left the entertainment industry, causing her recently gathered popularity to quickly dissipate. 

After a ten-month pregnancy, Rong Zhouzhong was born and Shi Xingrui ended his relationship with Rong Xili and left without a care in the world. However, he did not completely lack a conscience, as he invested a huge sum of money to create a film for Rong Xili before leaving.

After giving birth, Rong Xili became famous overnight thanks to the film and won the Best Actress award. But instead of continuing to strive for success, she retired from the limelight and started her own entertainment company, where she signed new talent. Now, decades later, her company has become a giant in the industry, and she herself has gracefully retired from the game of life.

So not only is Rong Zhouzhong an award-winning actor, but his mother, Rong Xili, was also a powerhouse in the industry as a former Best Actress and a second-generation star with strong connections behind the scenes.

Shi Jin wiped his face and sighed at the lack of information about the original plot. In the entertainment industry, where information is almost transparent, the original owner's memory had no information about Rong Zhouzhong's mother. Was it because Shi Xingrui protected the original owner too well, or was it because the original owner was too trusting? 

But it wasn't just the original owner. He himself was also too trusting. You see, he had infiltrated Rong Zhouzhong's fan site and had talked to some of his private fans, but he had no idea that Rong Zhouzhong's mother was also a celebrity in the entertainment industry. 

He was too careless. 

He reflected on himself for a moment and then turned to the next section of information. 

A photo of Xiang Aoting and his mother popped up. 

Xiang Aoting's mother had a dignified appearance and a sophisticated temperament. She was also a very beautiful woman. Unfortunately, Xiang Aoting looked more like Shi Xingrui and did not inherit his mother's elegance and beauty. Shi Jin only took a quick glance at the photo of Xiang Aoting's mother before flipping to the back page for more information.

Xiang Aoting's mother, Xiang Qing, was born in G city. Her parents were a police officer and a nurse, making for a very reassuring family profession. Xiang Qing herself was a student at a teacher's college, and if she had graduated smoothly, she would have become an excellent teacher without a doubt.

Unfortunately, she was unable to complete her studies. In her third year, her father passed away while on duty, her mother fell ill, and her underage sister suffered a mental breakdown due to the shock. In order to take care of her family, Xiang Qing resolutely gave up her studies. 

At the end of the year when she gave up her studies, she met Shi Xingrui. It was a cliché love-at-first-sight scenario, and they quickly moved in together. In the early part of the following year, Xiang Qing became pregnant, but unfortunately, she miscarried in the third month, probably due to the strain of taking care of her mother and sister.

Afterwards, Shi Xingrui waved his hand and sent Xiang Qing's mother and sister to the best hospital and sanatorium, and then almost kept Xiang Qing hidden away like a treasure in a golden house. In the second half of that year, Xiang Qing became pregnant again, and her sister finally overcame her illness and returned to school to study hard. Her mother's condition also improved, and their family situation gradually improved.

After Xiang Qing's pregnancy stabilized, Shi Xingrui left, leaving without any hesitation. He only came back to take a look after Xiang Aoting was born, and then cut off contact with Xiang Qing again. 

In the same year that Xiang Aoting was born, Xiang Qing's younger sister received a precious admission to a top domestic university and effortlessly entered. She worked hard and pursued further education, and is now the head of a major official scientific research project, leading a large group of talented individuals and having a significant say in the field of scientific research.

Meanwhile, Xiang Qing continued her studies after giving birth to Xiang Aoting and is now a university professor at a certain institution.

Both Xiang Qing and her sister remained unmarried for life, dedicating all their energy to their careers and giving all their love to Xiang Aoting.

Shi Jin looked at the recent photos of Xiang Aoting's mother and her sister, his brow furrowed in concern.

The feeling of a transaction was even more apparent.

To confirm this feeling, he quickly looked at the next set of information. The fifth set of information belonged to Li Jiuzheng and his mother, Li Yuewei. Li Yuewei was a gentle and lovable woman with a naturally soft and weak personality. She was a local of Rong City and her parents ran a small hotel, making their family financially stable.

Li Yuewei met Shi Xingrui at a joint university lecture. At the time, Shi Xingrui was a model of success and she voluntarily fell in love. 

According to the information, the two fell in love shortly after meeting. A few months later, Li Yuewei became pregnant. Despite her parents' objections, she dropped out of school and decided to keep the baby.

After dropping out, Li Yuewei moved directly into the house that Shi Xingrui had bought for her. Shi Xingrui doted on her for a while, giving her almost anything she wanted. However, this kind of love abruptly ended after Li Jiuzheng was born. 

Li Yuewei could have anything she wanted, but she could never see Shi Xingrui again - yes, Shi Xingrui left after Li Jiuzheng was born.

The following plot was Li Yuewei waiting foolishly in Rong City for Shi Xingrui to return, but Shi Xingrui was heartless and never went to see her. Li Yuewei even tried to actively find Shi Xingrui, but he never saw her. Every time Li Yuewei looked for him, he would ignore Li Jiuzheng for a long time. Gradually, Li Yuewei stopped looking for him and focused on waiting for Shi Xingrui in Rong City.

Shi Jin felt very strange and repeatedly read this part of the information. Gone was the feeling of transaction. Unlike the mothers and families of his other brothers, the Li family did not receive any benefits from Shi Xingrui after Li Yuewei and Shi Xingrui got together, not even after the birth of Li Jiuzheng. Even now, Li's parents do not even run their small hotel, having sold it early and retired. 

Shi Jin furrowed his brows and skimmed through the previous information, then discovered a phenomenon - the mothers of the first four brothers did not actively seek out Shi Xingrui after he left, with a decisive and resolute attitude. But Li Yuewei was different. She loved Shi Xingrui and couldn't bear to be abandoned, wanting to find him back. 

So this is the reason why the Li family didn't receive funding? Because Li Yuewei is too clingy? 

Shi Jin's expression twisted as if he had eaten shit. 

Considering the situation with the other brothers' mother, Li Yuewei didn't seem to have any dealings with Shi Xingrui. She seemed more like she was unilaterally deceived by him. 

Shi Xingrui was really a scumbag... 

Suddenly, a pair of chopsticks reached in front of him. Shi Jin was startled for a moment before looking towards the person handing him the chopsticks. 

Lian Jun shook the chopsticks, gesturing towards the breakfast that had been placed on the rattan table at some point, and said, "Eat something first before you continue." 

"Uh... thank you." Shi Jin took the chopsticks and glanced at the steaming breakfast on the table. His thoughts slowly pulled away from the documents, and he apologized, "Sorry, I was too engrossed in reading and forgot that you haven't had breakfast yet." 

"It's okay," Lian Jun poured him a glass of juice, moved the tablet to the side, and said, "Eat quickly, it will hurt your stomach if it gets cold." 

Shi Jin responded with a sound and picked up the juice next to him, taking a sip. Then he suddenly realized that Lian Jun's words sounded familiar. Wasn't this what he always said to Lian Jun when he tried to persuade him to eat? And what was the situation now? Lian Jun helped him order breakfast? He even gave him chopsticks and poured him juice? 

Was he being served breakfast by Lian Jun? He actually let the boss serve him breakfast! 

"Cough cough cough-" Shi Jin was scared by his own imagination and choked on the juice, coughing loudly while covering his mouth. Lian Jun glanced at him and reached out to pull his hand down. 

He grabbed a tissue and wiped the juice off the corner of his mouth and his hand in a natural motion. "Take your time eating, no one is rushing you," he said, and then considerately moved some pastries closer to him.

Shi Jin's body stiffened as he recalled the feeling of Lian Jun wiping the corner of his mouth. He poked at his heart in fear and asked, "What's wrong with Lian Jun? Why did he suddenly become so kind and caring towards his subordinates? Is he possessed?"

Xiao Si happily replied, "Because he loves you, he loves Jin Jin the most. You are his little baby."

Shi Jin fell silent and decided to put Xiao Si in a small dark room to calm down for a while. He then glanced at Lian Jun's face, which looked no different from usual, and suspected that he was just being too sensitive. He shook his head and focused on eating breakfast. After breakfast, Shi Jin invited Lian Jun to go around the island, but Lian Jun said he had something urgent to deal with in the morning and could only go out in the afternoon.

Shi Jin immediately understood that Lian Jun was considerate of his desire to finish reading the materials. He didn't say anything, but he was deeply moved in his heart. He personally escorted Lian Jun to the study and settled him in before returning to his own small study to continue reading the materials.

Shi Jin opened his tablet and flipped through the materials, only to unexpectedly find that the fifth part of the materials was not yet complete and there was some other content at the end. He quickly skimmed through the remaining content and was surprised to find that it was actually the growth trajectory of Li Jiuzheng. 

The information showed that Li Jiuzheng had enjoyed the best resources and treatment since birth, and after deciding to study medicine, he quickly became the apprentice of Elder Sun, a famous old doctor in Rong City. These were all things that the Li family and Li Yuewei could not afford back then.

Not only that, because Li Yuewei was unable to take care of people and had some mental problems, Li Jiuzheng was actually taken care of by nannies hired by Shi Xingrui. According to the records, Elder Sun saw his own family's development improve greatly after accepting Li Jiuzheng. Thanks to his master's support and resources, Li Jiuzheng was able to open his private hospital.

Shi Jin understood the significance of this information. It was to tell him that while the Li family did not receive any benefits from Shi Xingrui, Elder Sun, who treated Li Jiuzheng like his own grandson, did receive help and support for his family's development.

With all the information about the five brothers and their respective maternal families now reviewed, Shi Jin hesitated for a moment before opening the last section of the records. He had a rough idea of what was inside. Two photos jumped out, one of the original owner as a child and the other of a young woman with gentle features and a warm demeanor.

Sighing, Shi Jin realized that this last piece of information belonged to the original owner's mother. He hadn't asked Lian Jun to look into it, but Lian Jun had thoughtfully done so anyway.

The original owner's mother was stunningly beautiful, with each feature individually perfect and even more so when combined.

Shi Jin's emotions were complicated. He looked exactly like the original owner, but he had no idea what his biological mother looked like. He was an adopted child, and while his adoptive parents loved him dearly, they bore no resemblance to him whatsoever. Thus, he had always known he was adopted. Since he looked exactly like the original owner, he wondered if his biological mother in his past life also looked exactly like the original owner's... 

"Xiao Si, why do I look exactly like the original owner, even down to the mole on my nose? Do you know the reason?" He couldn't help but ask.

Xiao Si remained silent, as if it hadn't heard the question.

Shi Jin also fell silent, guessing that it wouldn't answer. After staring at the photo for a while, he gathered his thoughts and continued reading the information.

The original owner's mother was named Yun Jin, an orphan who was abandoned and raised in a welfare institution. When Shi Xingrui met her, she was just about to leave the welfare institution to live independently. 

She was truly special. After meeting her, Shi Xingrui immediately displayed a near-obsessive passion, even going so far as to stop all his work and stay in that small town for half a year until he won her over and brought her back to his home in B city, satisfied and content.

Once they were together, Shi Xingrui was positively radiant, introducing her to his world and publicly declaring her as his fiancée. He even went so far as to order a wedding dress and ring, fully intending to marry her. 

Unfortunately, before they could prepare for the wedding, Yun Jin unexpectedly became pregnant.

During her pregnancy, Yun Jin focused on taking care of herself while Shi Xingrui, afraid of her overexerting herself, put their wedding plans on hold. He also suppressed all his playboy tendencies and became a devoted husband, carefully accompanying Yun Jin and personally taking care of her throughout her entire pregnancy like a model husband. 

After the birth of their son, Shi Jin, Shi Xingrui no longer abandoned his wife and child as he had done before. He transformed from a good husband into a good husband and father, personally taking care of Yun Jin and Shi Jin.

However, the good times did not last long. Yun Jin passed away shortly after giving birth to Shi Jin, causing Shi Xingrui to sink into a long period of depression. After he pulled himself together, he immediately gave Shi Jin his name and carefully raised him by his side. From then on, he never went after any other women.

Shi Jin silently repeated the names "Yun Jin" and "Shi Jin," rubbing his face with force. Undeniably, the original owner and his mother were special to Shi Xingrui. But he didn't quite understand the reason behind this special feeling. 

Was it just because the original owner's mother was particularly beautiful? A scumbag's nature was not so easily changed. Sure, the original owner's mother was beautiful, but was she really that much more beautiful than the mothers of his other brothers?

What was the reason behind it all?

Without realizing it, he pulled out a photo of the original owner's mother and carefully examined the gentle and beautiful woman in the picture. 

His gaze swept over her eyebrows and eyes, which were very similar to those of Li Jiuzheng's mother, and then slowly moved to her nose and mouth. As he looked, he couldn't help but sit up straight, his eyes filled with surprise. 

Wait a minute, it seems that the original owner's mother is not just like Li Jiuzheng's mother. Her lips also resemble Rong Xi's mother Rong Xili, both of whom have very beautiful lips that beg to be kissed. However, Rong Xili's lips are fuller, while the original owner's mother's lips are slightly thinner and lighter in color.

Suddenly, a clue emerged. 

Shi Jin quickly flipped through the photos of several other mothers and compared them one by one with the photos of the original owner's mother. Finally, he couldn't resist and brought over his computer, importing all these photos and analyzing them with facial recognition software. An hour later, Shi Jin looked at the six photos of women on his computer desktop, each with analysis marks, and felt a chill down his spine. 

Apart from Shi Weichong's mother, the other mothers all had some resemblance to the original owner's mother, either obvious or subtle in appearance.

For example, Fei Yujing's mother, Fei Lin, had no resemblance to the original owner's mother at all, but if you slightly tilted their faces, you would find that the curvature of their profiles was almost the same.

As for Rong Zhouzhong's mother, the resemblance was even more obvious, with her lips resembling those of the original owner's mother. Xiang Aoting's mother, Xiang Qing, had a nose shape and facial contour similar to the original owner's mother. And as for Li Jiuzheng's mother, her eyebrows and eyes were almost identical to those of the original owner's mother. 

"What was Shi Xingrui really doing..." Shi Jin collapsed onto the sofa, looking at these women's photos. Something that was previously only a vague awareness now became clear to him. "Was he looking for a substitute for someone, and then trying to have a child that looks like the substitute?" 

And the ones that don't look like it, he just gives them all to their mother to raise?

Wait a minute!

He suddenly realized something even more terrifying - all the children that Shi Xingrui has had are boys, not a single daughter. This was almost impossible based on probability.

He suddenly remembered the first child that was lost by Xiang Aoting's mother, Xiang Qing, and felt a bit creeped out.

If that child was not a natural miscarriage, but was intentionally aborted... could it be that Shi Xingrui is looking for a female substitute who looks like a certain man? And even trying to replicate the other person through having children? 

The beloved Yun Jin and the original owner... As soon as Shi Jin thought this, his heart skipped a beat. He felt as if a huge conspiracy was looming over him, making him feel dizzy and nauseous.


A little frog who likes reading. Hope you liked this chapter, and thank you for your support! Coffee fuels my midnight translation binges.

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