Tian Yi was the sixteen-year-old son of Tian Meng, the current Huaihua County General. Although Tian Yi was still quite young, he had trained with his father in the barracks for six years, now serving as a Deputy by his father’s side.
His return with his father to Beijing this time happened to coincide with the Shang Shusheng country’s minister, Dong Boyu’s birthday. His father Tian Meng brought him along to celebrate Dong Boyu’s birthday and along the way, introduced him to the ministers in attendance.
Tian Yi didn't like these kinds of gatherings. After he had given his best wishes to the old minister celebrating his birthday, he found an opportunity to sneak out. However, he did not know what to do, so he found himself wandering about the place. As he strolled into the garden, he began to hear a low sob coming from behind the bushes.
He frowned and stepped closer, only to find a child who looked no older than ten. He was hugging his knees and crying on the ground pitifully.
Tian Yi felt sorry for him and moved forward to provide some comfort.
“What happened to you?” Tian Yi calmed his voice to the best he could.
When he heard the voice, Dong Zhe’an was startled and he instantly lifted his head to look at Tian Yi, his tender face was covered with tears. When he saw Tian Yi, he was visibly flustered and hurried to wipe away his tears.
While Dong Zhe’an was busy wiping his face, Tian Yi noticed an obvious palm print on his left cheek and he wrinkled his brows.
“Did somebody hit you?”
“No…nobody…” Dong Zhe’an shook his head abruptly, but the tears continued to flow down his face uncontrollably and his voice was shaky with panic, “Nobody hit me! Nothing happened!”
Once Tian Yi heard what Dong Zhe’an said, he understood how Dong Zhe’an was. He no longer continued to press Dong Zhe’an, he just sat beside Dong Zhe’an instead.
“How old are you this year?” Tian Yi asked, pretending he had not heard anything.
“Ten years old,” Dong Zhe’an replied with a sob.
“When I was your age, I was already sent to the barracks for training,” Tian Yi fixed his attention on the void in front of him, “My father would discipline me very strictly and beat me ever since I was young.”
Dong Zhe’an was intrigued by Tian Yi’s words, and his sobbing gradually began to subside, “Does it hurt?”
Tian Yi laughed suddenly, making him look like the warm and dazzling sun during winter in Dong Zhe’an’s eyes.
“Pain is natural, how can it not hurt?” Tian Yi glanced at Dong Zhe’an, his eyes were filled with righteousness and confidence, “However, pain can also help nurture us.”
“At the start of my training, when I did not beat anybody in combat, I would get beaten by my father. I would cry in pain, like you.”
Dong Zhe’an blushed in embarrassment.
“I thought that if I cried, my father would let me go back home. But in the end, it was no use. Later, I started to realise that crying was pointless, so I stopped crying. Even though the pain was unbearable, I would grit my teeth and endure the pain.
Dong Zhe’an listened more and more attentively, the tears on his cheeks were already dry, though his eyes were still red.
"From then on, their beatings could no longer hurt me.” The confidence that radiated on Tian Yi’s face made Dong Zhe'an feel a little bit awkward. However, this time, Tian Yi looked into Dong Zhe'an's eyes, his eyes were brimming with an energy that seemed to invigorate Dong Zhe’an, making his heart pump faster and faster. "Crying is useless. No one cares about your tears. No one will give you what you want because of your tears. No one will sympathize with you because of your tears."
“If you want to achieve something, you have to put in the effort to achieve it!”
This sentence was like a fire cast upon Dong Zhe’an’s heart, burning bit by bit.
After Tian Yi finished speaking, he got up, dusted his clothes and left.
Dong Zhe'an was feeling hopeful as he watched Tian Yi leaving. His heart was a little hot and it was thumping quickly. He knew that he was completely different from that person. He was stuck in the corner of the darkest and dampest place, whereas that person was like the hot afternoon sun, bright and dazzling.
Dong Zhe’an glanced at the figure in the distance once more, his eyes full of eagerness and yearning.
After remaining fixed on the ground in a daze for a long time, Dong Zhe’an returned to his yard.
“Mother…” Dong Zhe’an called out in a low voice with remaining traces of fear hidden in his words. He could not help but shrink back his body.
“At least you know how to come back,” The lady sneered and laughed coldly, “I only slapped you once, and you dare to run away! The older you are, the more disobedient you get!”
Dong Zhe’an flinched, “Mother…I was wrong…”
“Where were you wrong?”
“I shouldn’t have run away…there must be a reason why I deserved the beating…”
The lady just interrupted him instead, her eyes stone-cold, “It’s wrong of you to dare hope that this Dong family will ever accept you!”
“How many times do I have to tell you, nobody in the Dong House will ever see the two of us as part of their family. To them, the Dong House has only Dong Haoyang as a grandson, you don’t even exist in their eyes!” The lady pulled Dong Zhe’an to her side, staring into Dong Zhe’an’s eyes while enunciating each word, “Dong Boyu only forbade you from attending his birthday banquet, and you started sobbing like a newborn baby. How grown-up you are!”
“It’s been so long already, haven’t you realised your place in the Dong House is?”
Dong Zhe’an’s face assumed an aggrieved expression and he took two steps back but was immediately pulled in by his mother.
“They have banished us, mother and son, only letting us walk around this yard, forbidding us from having meals with them, not allowing us to go out and greet guests. They even ordered both of us to not disturb anybody at the birthday banquet.” For every sentence that the woman spoke, Dong Zhe’an’s heart squeezed uncomfortably. “They never cared about you. They are your enemies!”
“You are just a disgrace to Dong Boyu.”
“The only one who cares about you and loves you is your mother. I am your only relative.”
The woman held Dong Zhe’an in a tight embrace, her voice softening, though she still looked cold in this dimly lit room.
“An’er, don’t take their words to heart. If you want something, you must work for it. In future, you will achieve whatever you want,” The lady stroked Dong Zhe’an’s head, her voice softening and taking on a manipulative tone.
Dong Zhe’an buried himself in the lady’s embrace, slowly nodding his head.
The lady felt Dong Zhe’an’s movements against her body, the corners of her mouth curving upwards as a cold glint formed in her eyes.