him was a man about thirty years old, dressed in a long robe of blue, with a green jadelike waist belt, making for an impressive picture.
As they stepped forward, the district magistrate in front of him immediately bent over, lowering himself by almost a head, very eagerly smiling.

All around them were soldiers bearing swords in hand, so the unknown man’s status must be quite high up.
Upon this commotion, normal citizens immediately hid away to avoid their notice as the blue long-robed man walked in front, talking to the old man who had just interrupted Xiao Feng Wu, 

“Xiao Da-ren, did we not set out to go to Tao Tie Lou to eat.
Why have you stopped in the middle of our journey, making us go and find you.”

“Ha ha ha Fan Da-ren, please don’t mind me.
This old man has taken a shortcut here, coming here especially upon hearing that there was a young physician capable of miraculous feats.
Who could have thought that it would have been my nephew that had not been a model young man.
Wouldn’t you say that this is a coincidence.”

The old man before Xiao Feng Wu replied and looked at Xiao Feng Wu who was slightly shocked, and the old man rested his hands behind himself before he sighed.
He smiled and said, 

“Oh Sixteen, do you still remember your second uncle?”

Xiao Lao-tai-ye had few children, having only two sons: the eldest Xiao Ping Zhang, the second Xiao Lin Ru.
Ignoring the eldest who had passed away quite early, the second was not quite filial.

When Xiao Lao-tai-ye had been at the head of the physician’s chair in the capital, he had seen through all the schemes and the undergoings of what happened in the Imperial Palace.
He decidedly quit, brought his whole family with him to retire, but never expected that his second son would not be willing to give up the status and the power.
Instead, that second son of his had secretly learned the acupuncture techniques passed down in the Xiao family and used it to cure the Royal Concubine who had been deep in the woes of an illness — who was now the Imperial Empress. 

Since then he has been cruising through the ranks, stepping over everyone without much trouble.
Xiao Lao-tai-ye had been enraged beyond all rage and immediately disowned him, taking him off the family tree and declaring that no one from the Xiao family may dare to utter his name again, saying that he never had such a son.

It has been a story from many years ago, and Xiao Feng Wu had quite forgotten such an uncle.
But come to think of it, Xiao Lin Ru, in these few years, had been treading on thin ice considering how he was evidently tired and aged despite his good looks.

Xiao Feng Wu watched him say something to the blue robed man and then lifted his hands in a greeting to ask for forgiveness.
The other man only shook his head with a smile before leaving with the district magistrate

Only two servants were left behind with Xiao Lin Ru, and he looked up at Hui Chun Tang’s old dusty, broken sign, lost in his thoughts before suddenly slowly saying, 

“……I had not come to Yan Cheng in quite a few years, Sixteen, if you still recognize me as your second uncle, how do you feel about finding a quiet place to trade a few drinks between an uncle and his nephew?”

Xiao Feng Wu contemplated this for a bit before smiling slightly, 

“Second uncle, there is no need for such formalities.
I have the perfect restaurant in mind, and if you are alright with it, let’s go together.”

Xiao Feng Wu did not drink wine with a high alcohol content, and he would always go to the small quaint restaurants in Sycamore Alley.
He frequently visited Pin Yi Pin for their wine, Qin Mei Ren, which was brewed with plums, but it had been a while since he went there that the Zhang-gui had not recognized him.

There weren’t a lot of customers in the restaurant.
Inside was a large steel wok that was stewing perfectly seasoned beef, going ‘gu lu gu lu’ as it emitted hot steam and filling the restaurant with the delicious smell of meat.
Xiao Feng Wu said to the owner, 

“Bring up two dishes of beef and two jugs of Qin Mei Ren.”

And then went to a private room upstairs with Xiao Lin Ru.

Rain started drizzling intermittently outside as Xiao Lin Ru picked a table by the window to enjoy the beauty outside.
Seeing Xiao Feng Wu calmly eating peanuts, Xiao Lin Ru’s  expression became a bit complicated, hesitating a few times before finally uttering out loud, 

“You…… have you all been doing alright?”

Xiao Feng Wu’s movements paused at that.

And then he smiled and said, 

“I’m doing alright.
I can at least afford a meal to eat.
My other brothers and sisters, well, I’m not sure about them.
They could be here, or they could have gone elsewhere.”

Xiao Lin Ru sighed quietly, 

“It was on me for not being a filial pious son, and also on me for being useless, unable to save the Xiao family……”

Xiao Feng Wu was not very pessimistic, 

“There was nothing to save.
It was not a falsity that the Xiao family was selling opium.
To still be amongst the living is already not a bad ending.
Right, second uncle, you have been doing quite well at the capital.
Why have you returned to Yan Cheng?”

Xiao Lin Ru waved his hand in the air, signalling his servants on hand to leave them both before saying, 

“It’s actually a long story.
The Imperial Empress is about to give birth but her pregnancy hasn’t been very smooth.
I’m not quite the best at the medicinal arts, and there still wasn’t much of a positive conclusion even after discussing it with my fellow physicians.
So on orders of the Emperor, I have come to Yan Cheng, hoping to find the medical records and teachings of the Xiao family that should have been released to the public treasury after the disbandment, hoping to find something, a cure, for the situation.
Since Fan Da-ren was going to pass by here to check on the districts, I decided to accompany him on his journey.”

The server came to bring up their order, from which Xiao Feng Wu poured out two cups of alcohol.
He said, 

“What could the Xiao family have? Those that you should have read, have you not already read them, second uncle?”

Xiao Lin Ru downed all the alcohol in his cup before letting out a long exhale, 

“I had been prideful at the very beginning, always feeling that Father had been too overly cautious.
Now that I am deeply entrenched in the depths of the Imperial Palace, I have finally understood the delicacies of treading within.
I was also not afraid of others poking and slandering me that I was not a pious son, but Father, he, he truly was vicious hoh.
He had been more willing to burn all the teachings than to hand them over to me.”

Whatever Xiao Feng Wu had been thinking then, it had made him chug down a cup of alcohol as well. 

He smiled and said, 

“He was indeed ruthless.”

Xiao Lin Ru looked at him and suddenly softened his voice, 

“I’ve heard the district magistrate say, amongst his sixteen grandsons and daughters, he had been the most doting to you.”

Xiao Feng Wu also looked back at him and waved his hands with his palms facing outwards, 

“And what if he was.
He’s a person of the past now.
But Grandfather had said something before he passed away.”

Xiao Lin Ru’s pupils widened at that and quickly asked, 

“What did he say?!”

Xiao Feng Wu thought about it before saying, 

“He said, the acupuncture skills of the Xiao family can only be taught to those in the Xiao family.
They cannot be passed to anyone else, or otherwise it will ruin the livelihood of any grandsons after.”

And Xiao Lin Ru, had already been taken off the family registry a long time ago.

Xiao Lin Ru blinked his eyes quickly a few times at that and it was immediately obvious when his face became ashen, evidently understanding the meaning behind Xiao Feng Wu’s words.
He, however, was not willing to let it go just yet and asked,

“Your grandfather he…… has he not said anything about me before he passed?”

“He had,” Xiao Feng Wu put down his cup, “Grandfather had said, out of the line of men in the Xiao family, you were the worst at the art, the most unfilial, unpious one and the one that did not have a future at all.”

“Dong tong—–“

A light green alcohol cup suddenly fell from the table, rolling onto the wooden floor.
A light smattering of rain drizzled through the window and Xiao Lin Ru could not stop himself from closing his eyes.

Xiao Feng Wu drank another cup, staring at him unflinchingly, 

“Grandfather had been afraid that there would be someone who could steal the Xiao family teachings.
Before he passed, he had burned all the books.
Those that were handed off to the officials are only common medicinal books that you can find everywhere on the streets.
You probably won’t need to go searching for them specifically.”

Xiao Lin Ru finally opened his eyes then, his hands shaking uncontrollably, 

“He still…… truly still that vicious…… that selfish……”

Xiao Feng Wu was still smiling as he agreed, 

“Indeed, vicious, ruthless.
Indeed, selfish.
But he is already dead, so to speak of such matters is of no use.”

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