General Li was initially lacking in interest, but when the cork was pulled out of the spout, he was shocked. The fragrance of wine spread and made his alcohol addiction clamor. If not for fear of losing his composure, he couldn't wait to grab the flask and drink it first!
However, when the cup of wine was finally delivered to him, General Li became cautious again. He picked up the wine cup tentatively and took a small sip.
In that instant, it felt as if a thousand thunderstorms exploded in his head. He heard the drums of war, horses neighing, people roaring, the cold light of the iron-clad moon, and the bloody battlefield filled with smoke and frosty white bones!
All that he had experienced in the past reappeared one by one.
But this time, even the joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness of a soldier could be clearly distinguished. It was as if he had the eyes of a god and he could see all the stories in their hearts.
After one cup, General Li’s eyes went slack as if he was drunk, but Grand Maester Liu and Marquis Yong'an were no better. As they stared blankly at the wine in the cup, their thoughts drifted far away.
The former thought of all the things he had done from a humble beginning until today. The latter saw himself wearing a dragon robe, sitting on the purple gold throne, accepting the bows of a hundred officials, and from then on, all the people submitted!
Marquis Yong'an was about to say ‘All ministers rise’ when he heard a loud bang that jerked him back to reality. General Li had drawn his sword and put it heavily on the table. “Good wine! If there is really an immortal wine in the world, it must be this!”
Marquis Yong’an swallowed a mouthful of saliva and swallowed those words in the throat. His back was already drenched with cold sweat and his lips were pale at this time. He shivered for a long time without saying a word.
Grand Maester Liu couldn’t help the reddening of his eyes and sighed, “This wine will definitely be enshrined in hundreds of poetry articles, praised by thousands of literati, and last forever!”
Things had progressed to this point and the result was already obvious.
Wan Changpeng felt as if he had fallen into an ice cellar. He dared not attack the officials in the hall but could only direct his anger at the two people nearby. As soon as he turned his menacing gaze over, the two looked over at the same time. They raised the corners of the lips simultaneously and even the curvature was exactly the same.
And the meaning in the smile could be easily interpreted—You lost! You’re finished!
Wan Changpeng's brain heated up and all reason was burnt. Even if he was to be swallowed by the cold water, he would drag the two of them down with him!
“Marquis! My lords! The Apricot Blossom Village wine is actually the Wan family's wine recipe. They stole it and tried to harm the Wan family!”
Wan Changpeng knelt down and shouted miserably, but only after he shouted did he realize what he had said. At first, he was a little scared, but when he thought about it, the idea was actually not bad? Anyway, everyone in the Chen family was dead except for these two evil offspring. Since the dead couldn’t testify, and he was careful to keep the trail clean back then and not afraid of being investigated, and had also slandered the Chen family thoroughly, he could say whatever he wanted now!
Marquis of Yong'an was still in fear. Now, he was startled by Wan Changpeng's shout and immediately said with an ugly expression, “How did they steal your Wan family's recipe? Could it be that all the wine recipes under the sky belong to your Wan family?”
Wan Changpeng heard Marquis Yong'an's impatience and said anxiously, “Marquis! Chen Jing and Chen Qin are the sons of my late wife, Madam Chen, the first sons of the Wan family! However, Madam Chen has no maternal virtue, jealous in nature, and brought chaos to the family. Thus, she has been divorced by this one. In order to take revenge on me, Chen Jing and Chen Qin stole the wine recipe and escaped from the Wan family, and changed their family registry without permission. Therefore, I only know the truth today!
At such a sudden twist, everyone in the garden was stunned.
“Hehe…” With sarcastic laughter, Chen Jing of the Chen family brothers said, “Master Wan, you said that the Apricot Blossom Village wine is the Wan family wine recipe. Why has the Wanchun Distillery never brewed it? As the imperial merchant, the wine you serve must be the rarest and most precious wine of the Wan family. The gap between Apricot Blossom Village Wine and Wanchun wine is obvious for everyone to see. Can’t you taste it? Or are you deliberately deceiving the emperor?”
Wan Changpeng didn’t expect that the older son, who was honest and capable, would become so eloquent and could debate so well. Moreover, he felt a little stage fright under the eyes of everyone, and it took him a long time to spit out, “The recipe for the Apricot Blossom Village wine was secretly hidden away by the ancestor, and I just discovered it. Who knew that you stole it as soon as I found it!”
Jing Yue, “Have you seen the recipe then? Since you say it is an ancestral recipe, you should remember something about such an important recipe, right? Why don't you tell us and let us compare it on the spot? Master Wan should be able to read and write, right?”
Wan Changpeng, “You…”
“That's enough!” Marquis of Yong'an said angrily, “This is not the place for you to quarrel!” At Wan Changpeng’s behavior just now, any fool could see that the wine recipe had nothing to do with him, but the Marquis of Yong'an still asked out of curiosity, “Chen Jing and Chen Qin, where did your wine recipe come from?”
Jing Yue, “We discovered it by accident when we went back to our hometown and cleaned up the house.” He abruptly changed the topic, “My lords, I want to sue Wan Changpeng! First, I want to sue him for causing my grandfather’s death when he colluded with the officials for the sake of the wine recipe. Secondly, I want to sue him for causing his first wife’s death by favoring the concubine. Thirdly, I want to sue him for promoting the concubine as the first wife and expelling me and my brother from the Wan family! How can such an unethical, unrighteous, and heartless person be worthy of being an imperial merchant?”
Everyone was shocked again. Why did the old man sue the sons, and now the sons were suing the old man?
It should be known that the reputation of a son suing the father was extremely bad. Although this dynasty did not practice the law of caning when the son sued the father, in the eyes of the world, it was still unfilial, unless the father was really a villain.
In the audience, Grand Maester Liu had served in the Ministry of Justice many years ago and had always been fair and honest. Since he heard that the matter involved human life, he immediately asked, “Is what you said true?”
Jing Yue, “I dare not make false accusations.”
Grand Maester Liu, “Tell me the details of the incident.”
Jing Yue started from how the Wan family made their fortune, how they forced the Chen family to their deaths, and how they slandered Madam Chen after her death.
“When we were driven out of the Wan family, we were desperate and found a wine recipe. Thinking that it was a chance of life for us and the Chen family, we went to great lengths to make the Apricot Blossom Village wine. We sent a challenge notice to Wanchun Distillery, hoping to rectify the name of the Chen family, but we didn't expect him to try to covet the Apricot Blossom Village Wine.”
Jing Yue looked like he couldn't bear it. “I’m even willing to disclose the Apricot Blossom Village wine recipe instead of letting the Wan Family have another chance to profit from the Chen family wine and drive us into dire straits again!”
Before Grand Maester Liu could speak, there was a thud and Wan Changpeng fainted.
Although he was passed out, he couldn’t stop the development of the situation. With the intervention of Grand Maester Liu, the magistrate quickly accepted the case.
In the end, Wan Changpeng was found guilty of all three charges of harming human lives, killing his first wife by favoring the concubine, and promoting the concubine as the first wife. He was sentenced to be executed. 90% of the Wan family’s properties were awarded to the brothers Chen Jing and Chen Qin. At the same time, Wanchun Distillery’s status as the imperial merchant was taken away and they were forbidden to use the Chen family wine recipe to make wine again.
The concubine who had been promoted as the first wife remained a concubine and could only live on 10% of the Wan family's property. It was not a small fortune, but for a weak woman with a bad reputation, it was uncertain if it was a blessing or a curse.
As promised before, Jing Yue and Qin Yanzhi disclosed the wine recipe of Apricot Blossom Village Wine and donated all the family property they obtained. This move won praise from everyone, and the reputation of Apricot Blossom Village wine reached its peak with this case, and was eventually selected as a tribute wine.
On the day the two officially became imperial merchants, they suddenly felt that the cause and effect on their bodies had been resolved. Golden light and colorful clouds fell from the sky, and the two disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving only the eternal legend of the Apricot Blossom Village wine.
When Qin Yanzhi woke up, he found himself lying on a slightly outdated altar table with incense and candles burning on the table and a clay Buddha statue right in front of him.
His mind was a bit foggy, so he rubbed his forehead, and suddenly realized that something was wrong. Where was his brother?
Qin Yanzhi looked around. This was a small temple in the mountain and he was alone.
He shouted, but there was no answer.
What was going on? Why did they come out of the illusionary realm and his brother was gone?
Qin Yanzhi rushed to the entrance of the temple in a few steps and violently pushed open the dilapidated door. A strong gust of wind swept in, rolling up a few fallen leaves.
He narrowed his eyes only to hear a loud rumble. Silver lightning cut through the night, making people feel ominous for no reason.
Qin Yanzhi was even more anxious. Seeing the big raindrops, he ran out in a hurry, not knowing where to go. He was worried that his brother would be in danger!
However, before he ran for long, he gradually stopped.
The pouring rain clouded his vision. Not far away, a slender white figure was vaguely visible. Qin Yanzhi choked, “Who is there?”
The other party did not answer but just took a few steps forward.
The silhouette gradually became clear. The hair on the other party was loose like a waterfall, and the raindrops dripped from his hair like pearls. The youth was starry-eyed and had a jade-like face, standing tall and upright like a bamboo, dressed in drenched white robes that clung to his body and outlined his perfect figure.
He just stood quietly in the rain, with an odd flush on his pale face, and said to Qin Yanzhi, “Yanzhi, why don’t you come over?”
Qin Yanzhi was startled and quickly ran over, “Ge!”
To his surprise, as soon as he reached Jing Yue, the other party’s body went weak and fell into his arms.
Jing Yue whispered, “Yanzhi, I seem to be injured. Please hold me.”
Qin Yanzhi was flustered and lowered his head, just to see the rain slipping from Jing Yue's smooth forehead, staining his long eyelashes like a teardrop.
At the moment, Jing Yue's eyes are slightly red, and the gaze seemed to have hooked his soul. His pale pink lips were supple and full, making his throat tight, and he felt hot even in the storm.
Qin Yanzhi ignored the strange feeling in his heart and carried Jing Yue in his arms.
A pair of cool hands wrapped around his neck. Qin Yanzhi suddenly became numb all over and his neck seemed to be burning. He quickly carried Jing Yue back to the temple and carefully let go of him.
“Ge, where are you hurt?”
Jing Yue didn't answer directly but pulled the corner of his sleeve and shook it gently. “You are tired too, let's sit down.”
That gentle swaying was like a feather teasing at Qin Yanzhi’s heart, making his chest thump rapidly. It was a feeling like never before, both unfamiliar, but tinged with indescribable expectations.
Like a puppet on a string, he followed Jing Yue slowly to the altar.
Jing Yue turned around, smiled at him, pointed to the futon on the ground, and said, “You should sit.”
Qin Yanzhi sat and Jing Yue knelt next to him.
The candlelight illuminated the clear and elegant silhouette, making it look exceptionally soft. The light red mole on Jing Yue's earlobe seemed a little enticing at this time.
He averted his eyes and asked again, “Where are you hurt exactly? If you don’t tell me, I’ll be worried.”
Jing Yue pulled open the lapels of his clothes slightly, revealing the white and delicate collarbone, took Qin Yanzhi's hand, and placed it over his heart.
Qin Yanzhi felt like he was struck by lightning, withdrew his hand as if being scalded, and said hoarsely, “What are you do…”
He saw Jing Yue smiling and gently pressed closer to him. His voice sounded like it was near yet far away, and it seemed to resound in the depths of his soul. “Do what you like, okay?”
…What he liked?
Qin Yanzhi's eyes were full of bewilderment.
Jing Yue's lips were getting closer and closer to him. He could even feel the warm exhale of the other party as if in the next moment, he could touch…