Time flew by, the main thing was that the rumours spread very quickly.
Under the influence of money—ah no, under the influence of the newspaper fanning the flames, even the old man who sold deep-fried dough cake knew that Old Master Lian found his long-lost granddaughter—that was due to him using newspaper to wrap his dough cakes.
As the focal point of the rumour, Ning Ning finally ended her two month training. She reported to the Lian family along with Pei Xuan.
“Besides Old Master Lian, no one else would welcome you.” Pei Xuan told Ning Ning on the way to the Lian Estate, “Old Master Lian has an ex-wife, a current wife, a lover, and a lot of grandchildren. The things that happen in his family are enough material for seven to eight seasons of drama, with every season spanning up to eighty episodes—that will increase to one hundred episodes when you are added in the mix.”
The car stopped at the entrance of the Lian Estate. Ning Ning took a deep breath before she got off the car and entered the battlefield.
Although what Pei Xuan had said sounded more like a mockery, it was not completely baseless.
The chatter in the living room immediately stopped the moment she walked in. Everyone looked at her uniformly, no matter if it was men, women, adults or children. None of them had the expression of someone who was looking at a long lost relative, they had the expression of someone who was looking at a long lost enemy instead.
“She dares to claim to be Cheng Zhi’s daughter when she doesn’t look like him at all?”
“She looks witchlike.”
“Who let her in? Chase her out!”
A middle-aged voice rang out among the commotion.
“It was Old Master Lian who invited her.”
The commotion died down. The crowd looked towards the direction of the voice and saw a middle-aged man walking down the stairs. He was dressed smartly in a suit, solemn and slightly balding, holding a document in his hand.
“Lawyer Huang, how is my father?”
“I want to see my grandfather!”
A group of people immediately rushed up to him.
“My condolences.” Lawyer Huang told them apologetically, “Mr Lian had just passed away. He had written a will before he passed away. Let me read it out to all of you.”
The group of people immediately forgot about their husband or father, their eyes were locked onto the document he was holding.
“Mr Lian has decided that the shares of his company, his properties, his jewelries, his antiques…” Everyone took a deep breath as Lawyer Huang read up to this part—although they knew that it was a small possibility, they still held onto the hope that they would be the sole inheritor of the will. “will all be donated to the Hope Project. Every heir present will receive one hundred thousand dollars from his savings, the remainder will be donated to the Hope Project.”
“What did you say??” The crowd started to complain loudly.
Old Master Lian’s lover who had given birth to two of his children snatched the will out of Lawyer Huang’s hand. She read it twice with gritted teeth then she sat on the ground as she covered her face and cried, “I gave the old man a son and a daughter, I gave him all ten years of my youth, now he wants to send me away with one hundred thousand dollars, sob sob sob…”
The house descended into chaos, Pei Xuan sighed as he turned and said to Ning Ning, “My apologies, I was not able to let you meet your grandfather for the last time.”
The corner of Ning Ning’s eyes twitched slightly.
Did she really arrive late and missed her chance to meet Old Master Lian for the last time?
This was not what was written in Lian Lian’s biography.
At the same time, in Old Master Lian’s bedroom.
The room was filled with the smell of medicine. An old man was sitting on the bed, the arms extending out of his sleeves were skinnier than that of a girl’s arms, it was like branches extending out of a tree.
Besides him, there was a woman—no, a man wearing a big white coat in the room.
Teacher Li was sweating profusely as he helped the old man put on the make up.
Ning Ning would have been shocked if she was here, because Teacher Li was not only not beautifying the old man’s face, he was making him look more and more like a corpse.
The old man looked into the mirror and turned his head from side to side.
“Ah, Old Master Lian, don’t move.” Teacher Li said frantically.
“I say, Little Li.” Old Master Lian looked at himself through the mirror in a picky manner. “I don’t feel any different from how I usually feel, why don’t you add some livor mortis on my face.”
Teacher Li blurted out in exasperation, “A person who just died would not have livor mortis.”
“It happens on television.” Old Master Lian said.
“What show?” Teacher Li asked.
“<<Jiangshi Old Master>>.” Old Master Lian looked at him suspiciously. “You did a great job on the makeup for that Old Master—you could tell that he was a dead person from one look, he even looked like he died a horrible death—why can’t you do that for me?”
Teacher Li continued to talk in exasperation, “He is a jiangshi!1 How can a normal person who just died have a green face with fangs, spewing miasma from the mouth and have a face full of livor mortis??”
Teacher Li was a makeup artist, he provided his service to every big production crew most of the time. He excelled in putting on makeup for beautiful women, but he could also do different kinds of makeup, including jiangshi makeup. A talent was hard to come by, Old Master Lian asked a friend to get Teacher Li for him, he splashed money on him so that he would provide an on-site service.
He wanted Teacher Li to put on a makeup that made him look like someone who had just died.
“I don’t care, make me look more desolate.” Old Master Lian was still not satisfied, he tossed away the mirror in his hands and said, “I currently look like someone who died peacefully on his bed, I can’t scare anyone. ”
Teacher Li felt that he completely didn’t understand how a rich person thinks. Under the strong request of Old Master Lian, he had no choice but to make changes to Old Master Lian’s makeup so that he would look like someone who died of sickness. As he put more powder on Old Master Lian he asked, “Why are you doing this? They are your wife and children, the people who are closest to you, why do you want to scare them?”
“I want to see who is actually the closest to me.” Old Master Lian sighed deeply. “They call me their husband and father so passionately because I usually give them pocket money. Now I want to see, if they would still care for me and miss me if I don’t give them any money… Are you really not adding livor mortis?”
“…I will add anything that needs to be added!” Teacher Li broke down.
Old Master Lian did not die an hour or two ago. According to the farce he had planned, he had at least died a night ago, or even up to a few days ago. With that, it was possible to add livor mortis on his face and body as he had wished.
As Teacher Li put on the finishing touches on Old Master Li, a flurry of footsteps rang out from outside his door. Lawyer Huang shouted to stop them, “Line up properly, we’ll do this one at a time. Mr Li wrote in his will that everyone can have a one-to-one opportunity to bid him farewell… Doctor Li, are you ready?”
Teacher Li frantically put all his makeup brushes into a medical kit, hung a stethoscope on his ears, then put on a medical facemask and shouted at the door, “Ready”.
The door opened. Lawyer Huang nodded to him so Teacher Li picked up the medical kit and walked out. There were only a few people left of the original crowd of wife and children who were in the living room.
“A few people immediately left after I read out the will.” Lawyer Huang told Teacher Li. He seemed to be informing Teacher Li, but he was actually explaining everything that had happened to Old Master Lian who was behind the open door, “The people who have left are…”
“Lian Cheng Ren, Lian Cheng Li, Lian Mei Li, Lian Mei Xin…” Ning Ning read out a few names in her mind.
“Lian Cheng Ren, Lian Cheng Li, Lian Mei Li, Lian Mei Xin.” Lawyer Huang said.
Ning Ning looked at the crowd of people in front of her with a complicated expression.
Because of a few consecutive accidents, she had thought that Lian Lian’s biography was fake and that none of what was recorded in it was real. What was weird was that since Pei Xuan appeared, the things in the biography would—come true, why?
Suddenly, she understood.
“Lian Lian previously told me that anything regarding Pei Xuan—anything in the time period when she returned to the Lian family— was a blur to her, so she wrote them based on the accounts of the people around her, most of them from the servants.” Ning Ning thought, “In other words, she could fake any other part of her biography except for things that happened in this time period—because her memories of this time period were based on the memories of others.”
Who was the person whom Lian Lian saw as a servant? Based on Ning Ning’s assumption, every person who provided service in this residence were all servants. Ning Ning first looked at Lawyer Huang, then looked at the female doctor beside him…She did not know if she was seeing things as she felt that the doctor looked a little familiar…
“Four people in total.” After announcing the four names—in other words sentencing these four people to the death sentence in Old Master Lian’s heart—Lawyer Huang looked at the remaining people and asked, “Which one of you wants to go in first?”
Ning Ning quickly shifted a vision to Old Master Lian’s lover. As expected, she said in a deep voice, “I’ll go first.”
She quickly closed the door after she entered the room. The room had really good soundproofing, on top of that, her voice was very low, so the people outside could not hear what the people inside were talking about.
“Old man, I was with you for ten years.” She sighed softly by the bed. “Although I knew that this day would come, my heart still has a hard time accepting this.”
Old Master Lian laid on the bed and felt warmth in his heart. As expected of a person who had been by his side since her school years, a female student who had not been polluted by society would be simple and single-minded…
“…Bastard! You only gave me one hundred thousand! Is there anyone who is that stingy?” His lover laughed coldly. “It’s a good thing I was prepared. I have already hooked up with your friend the last time you brought me to the resort he owns. That’s right, the two children I have are his. Did you think that you can impregnate anyone at this age?”
Old Master Lian felt a wave of sadness in his heart. He only had those children in the later years of his life, he used to dote on the son and daughter his lover gave him so much. Before he could get back to his senses, his eldest son had entered the room.
“Father, I hate you.” He said coldly, “Mother sold her land and property so that you can have the money to start your business. The first thing you did after you made it was to get a new wife, then you started having children like rabbits, do you know, I have long decided that…”
…Hang on, why is the hand of a dead man warm?
The eldest son who had accidentally touched Old Master Lian’s hand fell silent. To clarify his doubts, he slowly held Old Master Lian’s hand. A few seconds later, he squeezed some tears out of his eyes and said painfully, “…I thought of a hundred ways to get back at you, but I couldn’t use any of them, because you are my most beloved father!!”
He wailed for five whole minutes, he even felt faint from crying. Teacher Li had no choice but to go in and help him. He eventually left while he was still crying. The second son entered. Before the door could close, he started to point at the old man on the bed and berated him, “Even if you were to give the great me two hundred thousand, it wouldn’t be enough for me to survive for a year! You chose to leave your money to outsiders instead of your own son, are your wires crossed…”
The people entered and left the room one at a time.
Lian Lian’s biography used a term to describe this entire incident—a screening.
This was not a test of affection. It was a test of your eyesight, your intelligence and your adaptability instead. Only the bravest and the most meticulous people would be able to last till the end! The rest of the people would all lose their rights to inherit after this “funeral”!
The person beside her bumped her with their elbow.
Ning Ning came back to her senses and looked over. The last person from the Lian Family had walked out of the room. Lawyer Huang scanned the crowd before fixing his sight on her.
“It’s your turn,” he said, “go on in.”
1A jiangshi, also known as a Chinese hopping vampire or hopping zombie, is a type of reanimated corpse in Chinese legends and folklore. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangsh