This was originally a straightforward setup. First, plant some dead objects in Yufang Garden to cultivate Yin energy. Then bring in some spiritual old objects to materialize using the Yin energy. This way, as long as the timing is right, ghosts would appear. When the main household encounters the ghosts, the one who set up the scheme would appear as a skilled person, expel the evil, pacify the ghosts, and then collect a generous reward. Some unscrupulous martial artists in the Jianghu often use this method to seek wealth.
Of course, if this setup occurred in the Ming family, there should be a different purpose; otherwise, the “skilled person” would have appeared already, and they wouldn’t have waited for Lady Liu to be invited.
Without delving into the reasons behind it, just talking about this scheme, it could only frighten people and couldn’t harm them. In this case, the strange creature that frightened Miss Ming Qi seemed out of place in this setup. In a complete scheme like this, the appearance of such an anomaly could only mean that it didn’t belong to this scheme.
Someone might have discovered this setup and seized the opportunity to introduce the malicious creature to muddy the waters. Or perhaps someone else harbored ill intentions towards Ming Qi and coincidentally stumbled upon this scheme.
Ming Wei had already seen that ominous creature. The aura of malevolence emanating from it indicated it had existed for at least ten years, likely the spirit of an unjustly deceased soul. Such a creature would be difficult to control without proper martial arts inheritance. As Lady Liu mentioned, it had to be a genuine Taoist master.
It was strange. As a Taoist master, one could enjoy wealth and glory if desired, so why come to harm the Ming family? Or more specifically, harm the widow and a orphan ?
Lord Ming San had passed away more than ten years ago, and the Ming family was currently not in a powerful position. No matter how you looked at it, it didn’t seem worth it for a Taoist master to intervene. Ming Wei stared at the cups on the table, lost in thought.
And Ming Si was also peculiar. On the day Lady Liu performed her ritual, he burst in, vehemently denying the existence of ghosts. However, the next day, he led people to set up a barrier around the sinister tree. It wasn’t just any barrier; it was a genuine soul-burning array using cinnabar to consume the malevolent spirits’ energy. This meant that not only did Lord Ming Si believe in ghosts, but he also knew it was an evil spirit.
The Ming family was indeed intriguing. One scheme aimed at scaring Lady Ming San and her daughter, another involved secretly introducing a malicious creature which affected Ming Qi, and then there was Lord Ming Si, who claimed not to believe in ghosts but secretly suppressed evil spirits.
What exactly did Lady Ming San possess that was worth the trouble for others?
“Miss, what are you doing?” Duo Fu’s voice brought Ming Wei back to reality.
“Nothing.” Ming Wei looked at the teacups on the table, arranged in a peculiar manner. She glanced at Duo Fu. “Is there something?”
“Oh!” Duo Fu remembered. “Second Madam and Fourth Madam are here.”
Of the five Masters of the Ming family, the First Lord and the Fifth Lord served in the capital. Since Senior Lady Ming didn’t like to meddle in her daughters-in-law’s affairs, she did allowed them to reunite as a family. Therefore, the ones remaining in Dongning were the Second Lady, Fourth Lady, and Sixth Lady.
Ming Wei hadn’t even entered the house when she heard the voices of adults and the clamor of children inside. Yufang Garden had never been so lively during her stay.
Duo Fu whispered, “Fourth Young Master, Sixth Young Master, Ninth Young Master, and Eighth Miss are all in there!”
“Oh.” Listening to their conversation, she heard a gentle female voice. “Is Ming Qi here? Come in and let Auntie take a look.”
Ming Wei entered the room and saw two more women inside. The leading lady was around forty, wearing a blue dress, with a round face and delicate eyebrows, giving off a warm and charitable aura. Behind her was a slightly younger woman, with half-closed eyes and a hint of bitterness in her features.
Lady Ming San smiled and beckoned, “Ming Qi , Second Aunt and Fourth Aunt is here. Say hello.”
Ming Wei bowed, “Hello”
Second Lady looked at her with a hint of surprise, “Ming Qi seems more mature and steady. Have you forgotten how you used to be?”
In the past, although Miss Ming QI could be polite, she often spoke like a child, unlike today, where she appeared mature and composed.
Lady Ming San explained, “She was seriously ill a while ago, often in a daze. Now that she’s better, she doesn’t talk much.”
Second Lady nodded, “I see. She has grown up quite a bit.”
Lady Ming San continued, “This is Fourth Brother, the one you always asked about. Remember?”
Ming Wei had already noticed a young man in the room. About sixteen or seventeen years old, he bore a striking resemblance to Lord Ming Si, dressed in a green robe. He was almost a younger version of Lord Ming Si, lacking the maturity that comes with years but exuding the charm of youth.
Ming Wei thought that if Mr. Ming San and Ming Si looked like this in their youth, it’s no wonder Old Nanny always spoke of the past with such emotion. It also explained why Lady Ming San, a woman like her, still cherished the memories of her husband.
Seeing her gaze, Ming Sheng smiled shyly. “Little Qi still remembers me? Last year, Fourth Brother gave you a beautiful kite, and you said it was very nice.”
Ming Ming Wei wasn’t truly Miss Ming Qi and didn’t remember. She shook her head.
Lady Ming San explained, “Sheng, you haven’t been here for a few years. She must have forgotten what you looked like. She often asked me where the brother she used to play with had gone.”
Second Lady and Fourth Lady both smiled.
This way, Fourth Master Ming Sheng, at seventeen, two years older than Miss Ming Qi, used to play with her when they were children. Later, he went north for further studies, and these past four or five years, he rarely returned home. Miss Ming Qi, with the mind of a child, gradually forgot what he looked like.
“Sheng, take Qi and the others to play.” Fourth Lady suggested.
“And me, and me!” A coarse voice interrupted. “Fourth Brother, let’s go play cuju!”
This semi-grown young man was probably the Sixth Master. He was the youngest son of Second Lady, just thirteen years old, currently going through puberty.
“I, I want to play cuju too…” A weak voice joined in.
Ming Wei turned to see a seven or eight-year-old boy staring at them eagerly. He was another son of Lord Ming Si.
Second Lady chuckled, “Since you want to go, all of you go. Sheng, take care of your younger siblings.”
“Got it.” Ming Sheng agreed with a cupped fist salute. “Auntie, we’re going then.”
“Humph!” A faint humph came from a refined and ladylike girl sitting properly. “Are you all going to play? I’m not going. I’ll stay here and listen to our aunties talk. Just be aware that it might be boring.”
The girl revealed a hesitant expression.
Lady Ming San smiled and said, “Ah Xiang, if you don’t go, are you staying here just to listen to us talk? Well, it’s fine. Our topics might be dull, but you can keep an eye on them. Isn’t that good?”
This reasoning made Ah Xiang comfortable, and she quickly nodded, “Okay, then I’ll go watch them. In case they get too wild and forget to come back.”
The group of children ran off, leaving the adults to chat.
Fourth Lady sighed, “Ah Xiang is not that young anymore, but her love for play is still strong. It’s really worrying.”
Lady Ming San poured her a cup of tea, “Ah Xiang is only thirteen. It’s normal for her to love playing. Besides, if you tell her to be more mature, she’ll suppress her playful nature. She seems sensible, let her play for a couple more years. When the time comes, and she has someone, she won’t be so carefree.”
Second Lady also nodded and asked Lady Ming San, “Third Sister-in-law, speaking of which, Little Qi is not young anymore. Do you have any plans?”