It is said that the Guan family has a prestigious ancestry. This surname is divided into several branches, including Suwan Guerjia and Yehu Guerjia.
However, overall, from imperial concubines, princes' legitimate wives, to high-ranking officials, they have all been illustrious and prosperous, with wealth and glory accumulated in one body.
Along with the rise and fall of dynasties, just like other children of the Eight Banners, the Guerjia family's fortunes have plummeted.
In order to avoid disaster, not only did they scatter and change their surnames to a Han name in various places, but their glorious history of producing generals and ministers has long since disappeared without a trace.
The branch of the Guan family from Yue Dingtang's mother's side was not like those fallen families.
When Yue Dingtang's mother was young, their family was still a wealthy and influential household with many visitors.
Yue Dingtang had heard his mother talk about how the elders had given her a white jade pillow as a gift.
Sleeping on this pillow, she would dream of mountains, rivers, and lakes from all over the world, as if her body was flying through the clouds and sky.
Yue Dingtang thought it was just his mother's imagination from her youth, but Lady Guan said it was just one of the many gifts she had received from the elders, showing how extravagant the Guan family was.
As time passed, the era changed and there were no more emperors or kingdoms.
The Guan family was forced to change their surname and move from Beijing to Tianjin. They originally planned to settle down and observe like other ethnic groups, but the elders of the Guan family felt that Tianjin was not safe.
So, they moved their entire family back to their hometown of Fengtian, thinking that this was their ancestral foundation and a safe haven away from the wars in the Central Plains.
However, a few years later, everything changed. Even the Zhang family was driven out and the area became controlled by another ethnic group.
At that time, the Guan family was already struggling. Although they still had some wealth, their large family could not withstand the turmoil of moving again.
Additionally, the elderly Guan patriarch was unable to handle the stress of another move. So, they had no choice but to continue living in Fengtian.
As for Yue Dingtang's mother, she had gradually cut off contact with her family after marrying into the Yue family and had not heard from them for decades, until news of the elderly Guan patriarch's death reached her.
Yue Dingtang knew very little about the Guan family, his only impressions coming from his mother's descriptions. He had never been there himself, let alone confirmed the truth of these descriptions.
"If the Guan family is really as you say, having fallen from power but still possessing great treasures, chaos is sure to ensue once Old Master Guan is gone. The rumors of fighting and chaos are probably not exaggerated," said Ling Shu, yawning and slumping over the table, feeling drowsy.
At this point, they had already passed Tianjin and were heading towards their destination.
With each passing moment, they were getting closer to Fengtian City.
Douli and Shi Er had already been handed over to the local police station in Tianjin, along with the bodies of Mr. Zhang and Ah Cai.
They couldn't possibly drag these people all the way to Fengtian for the funeral procession.
After some communication, the local police station promised to keep in touch with Yue Dingtang regularly to update him on the progress of the case.
However, in the eyes of the two men, it seemed unlikely that this case would make much progress in the end.
After all, the efficiency of handling cases was low these days, and most of the case had already been resolved. The only possibility left was to try and get something more out of Douli's mouth, but that was highly unlikely.
"Last year, the Manchukuo was established, claiming to be the legitimate successor of the Qing Dynasty. But in the end, it's still controlled by the Japanese. It's not like Shanghai, where things can be done more openly. We need to be careful and low-key," Yue Dingtang said, pondering the situation and advising Ling Shu to be cautious, which was rare for him.
In Shanghai, various forces were mixed and intertwined, and even the Japanese couldn't dominate everything. Everyone maintained a delicate balance, which ironically made it safer.
But things were different in Fengtian.
In the three eastern provinces, even the Zhang family had been driven out. The people behind the Qing Dynasty's emperor had complete control, and Yue Dingtang couldn't be sure if his connections still held any weight.
Ling Shu promised, "Don't worry, do I look like someone who causes trouble?"
Yue Dingtang thought to himself, "Actually, you do."
Ling Shu continued, "I'll just follow you, Captain Yue, and enjoy the food and drinks. I won't pay attention to anything else, whether it's the Guan family's treasures or lost pearls in the sea. Of course, if you do end up repairing your relationship with the Guan family, don't forget about me, your little follower. And if you happen to reward me with some big or small yellow taels, that would be even better..."
He was feeling drowsy and his words became increasingly unclear towards the end, but the big and small yellow taels was pronounced with clarity and could not be mistaken.
"I heard that there are many gambling houses in Fengtian, you can go and play a few rounds and win big or small yellow taels."
"But aren't those places just being taken advantage of by the local police? Let's make it clear, I didn't bring any money with me this time, it's all up to you."
Yue Dingtang chuckled softly, he wouldn't let himself be taken advantage of even when he was half asleep.
"There's a new gambling house in Fengtian that's not bad. I heard it's run by local gentry and it's quite fair. They even brought over some of the tricks from the Shanghai Bailemen dance hall, so it's quite popular. I'm going back for a funeral this time, but you don't have to be stuck with me. You can go out and explore on your own as long as you're careful and don't cause any trouble.
"You might not know this, but in Fengtian, the local gentry are actually backed by Japanese bosses. There's even a place there that offers bathing and massage services, which many local celebrities enjoy. But, as a result..."
Ling Shu suddenly fell silent, his drowsiness dissipating. He felt that Yue Dingtang was testing whether he had actually been to Northeast China or not.
Seemingly just chatting, but actually delving deeper and deeper.
He pretended to be deeply asleep, murmuring a few words before falling silent.
Yue Dingtang didn't ask any further questions.
It was all just Ling Shu's imagination.
Outside the window, the scenery flew by, indistinct in the darkness, with fleeting shadows and light.
Only the distant mountain shadows were hazy, ancient and unchanging, familiar yet unfamiliar.
He had indeed been on this road before.
At that time... The train was well-heated, especially in the first-class carriage. Passengers could sit comfortably in the warm compartment and look out at the cold early spring through the frosted windows.
However, Ling Shu was not sleeping soundly. He trembled slightly, especially his teeth, which were tightly clenched as if he were freezing or enduring some kind of pain.
In his dreams, he was still in a colder, snowy wilderness, enduring the harsh winter and slowly moving his fingers to force the numbness and tingling sensation back.
His body had been stiff for so long that he had lost all sense of pain and the ability to sense cold and warmth, and gradually, even his blood flow and breathing would freeze.
His companion, Qin Laosan, was just as helpless.
Qin Laosan was a rough and tough man from Northeast China. He couldn't go three sentences without cursing, and he didn't care about the little things. He went around carrying a gun and a stick.
Once, he picked a fight with Ling Shu over a small matter, and they even came to blows. He thought he could easily take down this pretty boy, but Ling Shu turned the tables on him. From then on, Qin Laosan behaved himself and didn't dare to cause trouble.
But once he truly respected someone, he would treat them like a friend.
Qin Laosan had a bullet hole in his waist, which he got while protecting Ling Shu from gunfire.
Later on, he stayed by Ling Shu's side without moving, no matter how much he was called.
He never responded again.
Ling Shu couldn't bury him on the spot or take him away, so he had to let Qin Laosan rest forever under the ice and snow.
Under the ice and snow, there were many people like Qin Laosan.
Yue Dingtang noticed that Ling Shu was trembling and sweating profusely on his forehead.
He gently pushed the other's shoulder.
Ling Shu made a sound of agreement, stopped trembling, but his teeth were still tightly clenched, and even his cheeks were slightly bulging.
Yue Dingtang whispered in his ear, reaching out to pinch the back of his neck.
Ling Shu's expression suddenly relaxed.
Yue Dingtang took out a handkerchief and wiped away the fine sweat on his forehead.
On the way, his hand suddenly stopped.
Yue Dingtang remembered a phone call he received from his second brother, Yue Dingjin, just before leaving.
That phone call made this trip not just about mourning.
Looking at Ling Shu's calm sleeping face, Yue Dingtang's expression became somewhat complicated.
But a few seconds later, his emotions were swept away like the wind, quickly returning to normal.
He put away the handkerchief, put it in his pocket, closed his eyes, and began to rest. "I hope this trip will be safe and smooth, and that we can quickly resolve the matter at hand.
The name "Fengtian" carries the meaning of being blessed by heaven.
This former capital of the Qing Dynasty was given special attention and significance by the rulers of that era.
Although the dynasty has changed and the city has undergone many transformations, Fengtian still boasts a large population and bustling streets.
If there is one noticeable difference, it would be the presence of many fair-haired and blue-eyed Russians, as well as those dressed in Chinese wear or Western suits with unmistakably foreign faces.
Outside the Fengtian station, the crowds are just as dense as those in Beijing or Shanghai. The city's prosperity seems unaffected by the changing of powers or outbreak of war.
There are those driving yellow carts, hauling goods, and standing under eaves waiting for work, as well as pickpockets who appear to be well-dressed but are actually waiting for an opportunity to strike...
The only thing that hadn't been arranged was for the Guan family to come and pick them up.
Ling Shu let out a yawn.
It wasn't that he hadn't slept enough, but the exhaustion from the long journey couldn't be shaken off no matter how long he slept.
"Captain Yue, Old Yue, I thought someone would come to pick us up. It's been so many years since we've seen each other, the Guan family should at least send a car to pick us up. A yellow cart is not good enough!"
Yue Dingtang looked at him for a while before shaking his head.
"The Guan family didn't come to pick us up."
Ling Shu's drowsiness disappeared in an instant.
"What's going on? Don't tell me we have to walk to the Guan family on our own two legs. My skinny arms and legs can't handle it!"
Yue Dingtang replied, "The Guan family sent a letter saying they would send a car and someone to pick us up. The person in charge of the pick-up is Guan Shizhi, the fifth son of the Guan family. They even attached his photo, but I haven't seen him."
Ling Shu asked, "Is it possible that we arrived before the agreed time?"
Yue Dingtang checked his watch: "We still have five minutes. If the person doesn't show up, we'll go to the hotel ourselves."
Five minutes passed, but they not only didn't see the person they were waiting for, but also attracted a lot of attention.
After all, two well-dressed young men standing at the entrance of the bustling Fengtian City train station for half a day was eye-catching in itself.
It was not a big deal, but enough to make them stand out to those who were paying attention.
Even Yue Dingtang, who had good patience and composure, was starting to feel uneasy.
He picked up his suitcase and hailed two yellow carts, asking the drivers to take them to the largest hotel in the city, Yuelai Inn.
The two of them rested and dined at Yuelai Inn, not leaving for most of the day.
Yue Dingtang entrusted someone to deliver a letter to the Guan family, and it wasn't until the next morning that a middle-aged man claiming to be a representative of the Guan family came to visit, saying that he was sent by several old masters of the Guan family to invite the young master of the Yue family to come over.
Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang thought they would see a scene of mourning with white cloth and mourning bands everywhere. But they were completely wrong.
Ling Shu stood in front of the gate of the Guan family, stunned and frozen in shock.
Yue Dingtang was no better off.
He was speechless and didn't even want to take another step forward.