A few days after the interesting incident of the mysterious scene she had witnessed during sunset and the anomaly of the midnight sky, An Fei encountered an existence startling and shocking to the eye.
It was the silhouette of another human.
From the distant figure, the person appeared to be in the midst of carrying out a specialized task regarding the crops of the land.
Every moment or so, the young girl witnessed the figure lift an object over its head, swing it around thrice, before plunging it deeply into the ground.
The actions of the figure were interesting to watch and seemed harmless, but the young girl did not dare approach carelessly.
“Don’t expose your true appearance to anyone…”
An Fei murmured as she sat amongst the grass, cuddling with the little raven and the small fox.
Her eyes narrowed as she glanced across the tips of the strands in the direction of the mysterious silhouette, her mind abuzz with numerous thoughts.
Wei Xuan had repeatedly reminded her to retain as much mystery regarding her appearance and identity as possible.
Her countenance, her skin, none was to be displayed casually to others.
Thus, she had worn a veil throughout the journey until she separated from the empress’s convoy, but…
In an environment as this, a veil would become much more prominent and flagrant than anything else.
Under no circumstances was An Fei willing to entertain the possibility of a well-developed city at the brink of the plains.
Otherwise, the plains would not stretch for such an extensive region of land.
“The linen coat is passable – I can disguise that as a gift from a friend,” the young girl murmured as her fingers tickled the underbelly of the little raven.
“However, I need to do something regarding my complexion and skin tone; my appearance would indeed cause trouble at first glance, veil or not.”
An Fei directed a worried glance towards the direction of the humanoid silhouette, before revealing a sigh of relief. The figure had not moved much from its previous location, thus relieving her of one of her current worries.
…not that she was that conspicuous from a distance.
When An Fei stood, the grass within the current region brushed at the base of her waist. Thus, when she sat down… the stalks of grass easily matched her height…
Such was the misfortune of a short person, ah.
“Xiao Hei, I need to go somewhere for a bit,” An Fei tousled the feathery head of the little raven.
“Watch the small fox for me, got it?”
The little raven brusquely nodded its head and spread its wings at the young girl’s question, earning a pleased smile from the latter.
As An Fei released the small fox and set it onto the ground, the pitiful creature instantly cowered from the sinister gaze emanating from the crimson beads.
“Ahem… don’t bully it, alright?”
An Fei glared at the little raven, paying the two of them no more attention as she rubbed the base of her chin.
The young girl thought for a brief moment, before releasing a quick exhale of breath.
“[Reveal the eternal river].”
The air around the young girl reverberated with an unusual hymn of a mixture of emotions, distorting the atmosphere with a visible strain of black cracks.
As An Fei’s figure vanished from the world, the little raven directed a vicious gaze towards the small fox, the crimson eyes replaced with a pair of violent suns brimming with sinister malevolence.
The moment An Fei returned to the Sanctum, the first act she partook was to take in a deep breath of satisfaction.
As always, the realm of sky-blue crystal regulated the atmospheric temperature and humidity to the perfect levels.
Compared to being basked in a constant warmth from sunup to sundown, An Fei was much more appreciative and affectionate of the slightly cool environment of the Sanctum.
Leaping from the crystalline throne, the young girl patted her chest with an inquisitive expression as she nibbled on her bottom lip from time to time.
An Fei glanced at the first and second gates towards the left, her gaze flitting in all directions in hesitation.
“Disguise… to best disguise a person, it would be to completely change their appearance.”
An Fei could change her apparel or perhaps her conduct in an attempt of obscuring her identity, but the most effective was to completely alter her physical appearance.
Since neither her height nor her frame could be persuasively adjusted, the only manner in which the young girl could construe was to change her skin tone and complexion.
To obscure the fair, milky-white skin with a darker color, and make the silky-smooth texture much more coarser as though a villager girl.
“But to do that, I’d need an expansive set of cosmetics, ah…”
An Fei whispered to herself, before raising an eyebrow at the thought.
Without another word, the young girl rushed towards the boudoir in the first corridor, her consciousness revealing a tinge of excitement.
Didn’t the First Madam gift her a pile of cosmetics?
It would most probably not cover all of her needs, but she could utilize the rouge at the least, no?
An Fei grabbed the bottle of rouge from the top of a nearby dresser in the boudoir, before walking towards the medicinal garden a few doors away.
The young girl did not forget to grab a mirror as she left the boudoir, a cheerful tune escaping her throat as she traversed through the corridor.
Perhaps only the young girl would sway from side to side to an unknown rhythm accompanied by the fluctuations of the golden radiance below her feet.
An Fei scanned the outer layers of the medicinal garden for any of the medicinal herbs she may find useful, her eyes squinting and narrowing as they thoroughly combed through the sea of multi-colored light.
The young girl dove into the maze of medicinal herbs without a single word, her hands gently uprooting several herbs and replanting them with their fresh seeds.
When she had finally emerged, the young girl held within her hands a few cloves of parsley, a mysterious plant whose appearance was not unlike that of a pitcher plant, some angelica, a stalk of celery, and a few other miscellaneous herbs.
An Fei carried her spoils towards the area that had been prepared for her cooking, lighting a fire underneath the black iron wok with a wave of her fingers.
The young girl placed the herbs onto the ground not far from the cheering fire, placing the stalk of celery between her teeth as she uncorked the bottle of rouge.
The rouge powder scattered across the inner dome of the black wok, blooming in their scarlet glory for a brief moment as the fierce tendrils of heat reduced it into liquid.
The scarlet streams pooled at the base of the black iron wok, and a rich herbal fragrance soon graced the young girl’s nose, causing her to cough and pat her throat.
The rouge consisted completely of herbal ingredients… as expected of an ancient society…
An Fei sighed as she glanced at the scarlet pool at the bottom of the wok, her hands toying with the herb with the appearance of a pitcher plant.
The young girl took a deep breath, before suspending the herb above the epicenter of the black iron wok, and overturning it to present the mouth of the herb.
The clear fluid cascaded into the sea of scarlet, causing a storm of froth and golden color to ravage the mixture.
The onrush of steam was sudden, causing An Fei to jerk backwards and fall onto her bottom, the herb accidently thrown to the side.
The young girl shook her head in exasperation, observing the contents of the wok from a safer distance.
After the time of an incense stick had come to pass, the pool of scarlet liquid had transformed into a golden color following the addition of the pitcher herb’s fluid extract.
The liquid did not bubble despite the intense heat generated from the flames below the black iron wok, remaining completely stable regardless of the circumstance.
“I didn’t think the Abandon Mystery was that effective in stabilizing compounds…” An Fei murmured in elation.
“The book truly didn’t lie to me, ah.”
The young girl wriggled her fingers in preparation, a rumble of spiritual essence within her heart vibrating to produce a white lotus petal.
Under An Fei’s instruction, the white petal transformed into a small kitchen knife instead of its usual fearsome appearance, and the young girl reached for a herb amongst the pile she had accumulated.
An Fei tossed the herb towards the epicenter of the wok, and the knife swooped in to reduce it into powder that flowed into the golden liquid.
The young girl continued to toss the herbs towards the black iron wok, her eyes observing the liquid change color from gold to silver, then a rich creamy hazel to a pale violet, then calm into a light green, clear liquid…
All that remained was the piece of celery, of which the young girl had already eaten half.
With the addition of the ground celery, the green color of the liquid at the base of the black iron wok intensified, though its viscosity remained the same.
From the originally fragrant odor of a highly concentrated mixture of herbal remedies, the green liquid pooled within the wok released a faint hint of lemongrass, much to An Fei’s delight.