An uneasy voice trailed into Wei Xuan’s ears, filled with a tinge of bitter worry and anxiety. The minister set aside his scroll onto the drawing table, before walking towards the entrance of the study.
The First Madam stood before the double wooden doors, dressed in a plain purple lily robe.
The woman clenched her hands in the folds of her dress, her delicate lips clearly displaying the aftermath of suppressed worry.
“Miaolan…?” Wei Xuan reached forward to caress Sheng Miaolan’s cheek in surprise.
“What caused you to worry so much? Quick, come in and tell me about everything, ah?”
The First Madam shook her head as she grasped the proffered hand with trembling fingers.
Stepping into the safe boundary of the study, the woman couldn’t help but tremble as she gazed at the minister with teary eyes.
“Lord Minister… this one has had horrifying dreams each night…” Sheng Miaolan pursed her lip, her attractive countenance displaying the inclinations of sorrow.
“Yes, dreams… though it would be more apt to label them as nightmares… Lord Minister, this one has dreamed each night that Fei’er was crying to us in agony, displaying numerous, horrifying wounds.”
Wei Xuan took a step back in surprise, his eyes involuntarily widening in surprise.
A moment later, the minister reached forward with both hands to firmly grasp Sheng Miaolan by her shoulders, a stern gleam emanating from his gaze.
“Miaolan, you must not joke with Fei’er’s life,” Wei Xuan scowled with a dark expression.
“Fei’er has the empress protecting her life, how can she encounter any harm? Miaolan, you must take a deep breath, and not speak of these matters again.”
“This one knows,” the First Madam nodded with a pitiful countenance, her hand grasping her bosom as she gazed towards the minister with a plea suffused within her eyes.
“Fei’er is Sister Shuyan’s daughter, that this one is fully aware. However, since we… toured the streets of Jiang’an, I’ve… I’ve considered her as my child as well – Lord Minister, this one is just worried, ah! Worried that the poor child will come into harm, having been separated from her parents at such a young age!”
“Alright, don’t start crying again,” the minister gently wiped away the tearstains on the woman’s countenance.
“Be good, alright? Fei’er should be fine with the empress’ protection, but let us hope that your nightmares remain as dreams.”
The First Madam nodded her head in quivering assent, her unadorned hair scattered across her shoulders and draped over her back in a messy state.
Wei Xuan took the woman by the hand, leading her towards the recesses of the study whilst closing the double doors with a push of his right palm.
What happened next, was of course, unspeakable yet easy to infer by a single glance.
As she climbed up the stairs of sky-blue crystal, the young girl couldn’t help but nurse numerous questions in her heart.
How did she come in here in such a fashion?
Why did her leather bag and clothes follow along?
What was… going on?
The desire to seek resolution gnawed at An Fei’s conscience, and caused her to reveal a rather unsightly scowl.
The young girl patted her chest to calm her rampant emotions, before surmounting the final step to stand before the throne.
When she had finally dared to direct her glance towards the sacred chair that she had spent numerous hours lounging upon, the young girl was unable to stop herself from jerking backwards in surprise.
Her eyes then narrowed as confusion and suspicion surged within the pair of scarlet irises, and An Fei took faltering steps towards the throne.
The number of books resting on either armrest had increased yet again.
From a single glance, she could recognize the enormous tome bound in black fabric, the <Eternal Sanctum>. Similarly, on the left armest, a book bound in black leather serenely gazed towards the dim sky, the blank cover revealing a dull aura.
Then… what were the other two books?
“<Heavenly Secrets>… and the <Golden Lotus of Establishment>,” An Fei read to herself in a quiet voice as her fingers stroked the letters sprawling across the covers of each book.
Her countenance remained dull for a long moment, before a sudden and drastic realization slapped her cheeks with vivacity.
“When did these two books appear in the Sanctum!?”
The two books of tattered leather and goldleaf covers were naturally those she had obtained within the Shattered Star continent.
Both were acquired from the opening of the Pagoda of Sun and Moon, the latter having been elected from a large selection by a group of elders of the Three Lotus Sect, whereas the former had been granted by the high elder himself.
However… how did they appear?
The <Golden Lotus of Establishment> was located somewhere amongst Xiao Ying’s possessions, and thus were not located within the study of the Flowing Wind Residence.
The young girl was even uncertain whether the book had survived the screening of the servants in the Wei manor, nor was she aware of its past whereabouts after it had fallen into the maidservant’s hands.
As for the <Heavenly Secrets>… she had stowed it into an obscure location in the study, and had forgotten about it ever since.
“These two tomes are indeed the exact manuals I brought out of the Three Lotus Sect…” An Fei nibbled on her bottom lip, the back of her palm slapping the cover of the <Heavenly Secrets> manual in an even rhythm.
“But… what exactly is going on…?”
The young girl twisted and turned as she searched for a possible answer to her inquiry.
However, she could do nothing but return in silent disappointment, for the crystal throne room remained in its ever-present peace and stillness.
An Fei patted the linen coat covering her body to reassure herself of its presence. Without anything else to do, she allowed herself to crumple into the throne, the pair of scarlet irises lazily roaming amongst the books resting atop of the armrests.
She was to remain in this dull state of mind for quite a long period of time, only recovering when her head accidently slid from her supporting palm.
The young girl blinked her eyes in innocent exasperation, before walking towards the first corridor looming towards her from the left.
For some apparent yet inexplicable reason, An Fei wished for nothing but to sleep in a proper bed.
Her mind felt as if it had been submerged into a pool of ice, sluggish to respond to its surroundings.
As she strode towards the gateway that certainly led to the comfortable boudoir, the sound of her foot striking the crystalline ground pounded in her ears with a force akin to that of war drums.
She nearly fumbled her grip on the <Heavenly Secrets> and the book bound in black leather, the imbalanced weights causing her pace to become disorderly and uneven.
[Approach the eternal river].
The Sanctum reverberated as a faint golden light shone from overhead, staining the crystalline ceiling with its golden radiance.
An Fei retracted her foot that had stepped into the corridor, and was forced to stare directly towards the source of the unusual light.
Just a few centimeters below the ceiling, a cloud of golden light remained suspended in the air above An Fei. Thin wisps of light detached from the cluster to coalesce with the crystalline walls, thin threads of light exchanging an unknown information.
When An Fei continued to silently observe the light with beaded eyes, she noticed that the cloud of golden light pulsed at asymmetric intervals, causing a wave of confusion to rise within her heart.
As for why the young girl considered it unusual, was due to the fact that the sky-blue crystal that formed the mysterious Sanctum only released such radiance when it contacted her skin, or was conducting a large body of divine or spiritual essence.
An Fei had never seen a circumstance in which the Sanctum suddenly revealed the golden radiance on its own accord, and thus couldn’t restrain her curiosity.
…what was the Sanctum intending to do?
“Approach the eternal… river?” the young girl tilted her head to the side, her brows furrowed in contemplation.
“What does it mean to approach the eternal river?”
Her fatigued and incapacitated mind wailed feebly in response, clearly wishing to spare itself from the torture. An Fei shook her head with a weary sigh, trudging into the first gateway of the Eternal Sanctum of Peace.
A brief moment of time later, and the young girl had snuggled into the blankets within the private boudoir, her palms folded and tucked underneath her cheek as she hugged a pillowcase to her chest.
The young girl was completely incapable of realizing that the dense cloud of golden light had followed her presence into the boudoir, nor did she expect that she would experience a monumental change in just a few hours.