Qin Sheng once came across a phrase saying, “What is the height a man should attain in his life before he could make a name for himself after he dies?”
How much was Han Guoping worth?
Perhaps his death would only cause ripples within the upper circle of society. To the commoners by and large, his death could be likened to a pebble being tossed into a lake. It would not make big waves. His death would be insignificant.
How about he himself?
If an accident were to happen during this trip to Tianshui, who would be aware of his death? And who would shed a tear for him?
Qin Sheng could only laugh at himself. He must not die. He had to turn the tables. After all, this was not the first time he was faced with such a crisis in the last two years.
Although this was the first time Qin Sheng was taking such a high-class private jet, he was not especially excited. After all, he was not an ignorant young lad. He had been brought up by his grandfather to be one who did not care much about material luxuries.
Sitting across from him was Han Bing, who was staring out of the window too. Perhaps she was also thinking about what Qin Sheng was thinking. The ashes of Mr and Mrs Han Guoping were placed on the seat next to her while Chen Beiming and Old Wu were sitting a row behind.
“I bet you didn’t sleep well last night. Sneak some rest if you are sleepy. I will wake you once we arrive. You have to handle many matters tomorrow,” Qin Sheng said gently as his heart went out to Han Bing.
Han Guoping’s death was a great blow to Han Bing. There was no way she could ever be the same since that fateful day. There seemed to be an invisible weight pressing down on her and it felt as if she was going to collapse.
“Erm…” Han Bing nodded. She was truly exhausted and fell asleep not long after she shut her eyes.
Qin Sheng looked at the beaten Han Bing who had lost much weight, looking pale on her face and having dark circles around her eyes. Where had that prideful, fair-skinned, rich, and beautiful lady in her gone?
Qin Sheng let out another sigh.
Our fathers are our confidence whom we rely on. When they take turns to fall, we are forced to grow up quickly even if we are unwilling to.
It was a two-hour flight from Shanghai to Tianshui City of Gansu Province.
Although Tianshui was a small city, it was a rather affluent one in the western region apart from the capital cities. It had a small airport with flights traveling only to the nearby cities.
After the jet landed, Han Bing and Qin Sheng held on to Mr and Mrs Han Guoping’s ashes respectively and walked out of the airport. Han Bing took a deep breath and through gritted teeth she mumbled, “Mom, Dad, we are home.”
The air smelt of yellow soil. It was almost the end of November and its weather compared to the warmer Shanghai was more like winter.
At the arrival hall, the relative of the Hans had been waiting for some time. Given that Han Guoping was doing so well in Shanghai, his relatives in the country had also become some sort of vulgarians from his providence. In this respect, Han Guoping definitely carried himself with more grace than his relatives back home.
Han Guoping’s old house a distance away from Tianshui city center. It was located some thirty kilometers south-east of the city, within the Mai Ji area. One famous landmark at close proximity to his house was the Mai Ji Caves, which were still a distance away from the Han village.
Being used to the skyline of Shanghai, the mountain range in the north-west of Tianshui was a refreshing sight. The mountains were named Long Mountains. They belonged to the same mountain range as Zhongnan Mountains. Han Village was situated at the foot of a hill called Duke’s Hill, although there had never been a Duke from here. In fact, the most well-known celebrity from here was really Han Guoping.
Given that this was Han Guoping’s hometown, he had never forgotten about it when he made it in Shanghai. It was Han Guoping who forked out the money to repair and maintain the infrastructure within the village and interstates that connected it to the outside world. In fact, he had also sponsored the construction of the city square and the new houses for over ten families in the village.
Although most of the relatives within the Han family had moved out into cities or the Lan Province, they would return to their hometown on festive seasons. Therefore when this happened to Han Guoping, all the relatives and neighbors came over to render their help.
Qin Sheng, who grew up in the Zhongnan Mountains naturally felt a special bond with the mountains. He could not take his eyes off the mountains outside the car windows. Han Bing, who was sitting behind him asked, “Is Xi’an far from here?”
Qin Sheng pondered before replying, “Not far. Xi’an is around 300 kilometers from Tianshui. It would only take a few hours to get there.”
“Oh, I have never been to Xi’an,” Han Bing mumbled.
“I can bring you there if opportunity arises,” Qin Sheng said, nodding.
“How about we visit Xi’an the day after tomorrow?” Han Bing was reluctant to return to Shanghai. She wished she could go elsewhere to cheer herself up.
Knowing the increased risk in remaining outside, there was no way Qin Sheng would allow her to stay outside Shanghai. Moreover, there were still matters in Shanghai, waiting for Han Bing to handle. Qin Sheng could only remain silent in response to her request.
Upon arrival at Han Village, Qin Sheng could see the village square from afar and that there were already red and white tents set up. The villagers were busying themselves with preparation of food for the guests. The Han couples’ pantheon was set up in the garden of their house. This tradition was similar to that of the Xi An.
As their group of cars finally arrived at Han’s house, the relatives closed in on them and the women, as well as Han Guoping’s cousins, started weeping uncontrollably. Qin Sheng could not be certain if they were truly saddened, or if some of them were merely pretending to sorrow.
A band started playing the tune for the funeral and suddenly, an air of sadness filled the air and Han Bing was already tear-streaked on her face. Qin Sheng and Chen Beiming were following closely behind Han Bing to make sure there were no trespassers.
Han Bing’s eldest uncle was the overall planner of the funeral. All the people present entered Han Family’s main gate at his instruction and the ashes of Mr and Mrs Han Guoping were brought into the pantheon. Following that, the people started to burn incense and pay their respects.
Be it the house belonging to the Han Family or the other houses in the village, they were like most houses seen around the north-western region, which comprised the main gate, front yard, main building, and the backyard.
Han Bing, clad in funeral costume, knelt along the two sides of the path with Han Guoping’s nephews and nieces, as they welcomed the friends and guests who had come to pay their condolences.
Old Wu had sneaked out of the house to look around. Chen Beiming, who stood next to Qin Sheng muttered, “Let’s take turns to eat our meals, you go first and later it will be my turn.”
The two had agreed to take turns to be by Han Bing’s side twenty-four seven so that she would not be left alone at moment in time.
The funeral would last until after the burial which would happen the next morning, during which time the atmosphere would be more chaotic and complicated. As time slipped away, the sun had set and night fell.
Night time in the north-west was indeed chilly.
At this moment, Qin Sheng and Chen Beiming were feeling even more anxious. They were keeping themselves on their toes in case of any dangers. After the guests helped themselves to the meals prepared by the relatives and women, there was going to be a condolence service when Han Guoping’s elder brother would be delivering a eulogy.
Outside the house, the yard was crowded with friends and relatives. When the condolence service had ended and Han Bing got up to go to the washroom, the crisis finally befell them.
A man wearing a white funeral headgear had infiltrated into the crowd. He was holding a dagger and glaring at Han Bing. At that moment, Chen Beiming and Qin Sheng were following closely behind Han Bing. The moment the man drew close to Han Bing, Chen Beiming dashed over and blocked him, held on tightly to his wrist and pushed him towards the foot of the wall.
Qin Sheng, on the other hand, held on to Han Bing. They had blocked the vision of the crowd from what was happening between Chen Beiming and the trespassing man. Even Han Bing had no idea what had happened.
Both Chen Beiming and the killer were silently wrestling over the dagger when finally the stronger Chen Beiming overpowered the killer and jabbed the dagger into the killer’s abdomen. Covering the killer’s mouth with his hand to keep him from making any noise, Chen Beiming continued stabbing the man a few more times.
While Chen Beiming carried the killer out of the premise to cover up the trouble, Qin Sheng was simultaneously dragging Han Bing back to her room. Although no one had noticed this small episode, it would be safest for them to stay in the room.
After the condolence service ended, the relatives and friends who were helping in one way or another began to take their leave. It was extremely cold outside so the rest returned to their respective rooms. On the corridor leading to Han Bing’s room, once again, Qin Sheng and Han Bing came across another man who came up directly to Han Bing with a knife.
In that instant, Qin Sheng’s face drained off its colors. He quickly pushed Han Bing away on instinct so much so that she almost fell over. Although in a state of panic, Qin Sheng managed to dodge the attack, albeit not completely. His shoulder was scraped by the knife.
“Motherfu*ker.” Qin Sheng cursed in his heart.
When a very angry Qin Sheng came to his senses again, he threw a kick at the killer’s face only to be blocked by the killer’s arms. The killer made another attempt to attack Qin Sheng with the knife but Qin Sheng bent at his waist and dodge the attack once again. Before the killer turned around, Qin Sheng chopped down on his back with his arm and grabbed on to the killer’s arms. Finally, he lifted his knees onto the killer’s face.
Han Bing could only look on as Qin Sheng and the killer wrestled one another. She was totally in shock and was unable to even shout for help. Yet this was only the beginning of the real crisis.
Another killer emerged from the yard and came towards them. What he was holding was none other than a gun.
When he spotted Han Bing, the killer immediately pointed the gun at her.
At this moment, Qin Sheng, who already spotted the killer, was totally helpless.
Qin Sheng panicked. “It’s finished…”