“Early Nascent Soul realm of cultivation…” The physician murmured, Lu Jing Yi’s desperately fleeing figure reflected in the old man’s lucid eyes.
“To be able to spy on one’s life force regardless of their progression in cultivation, <Heaven’s Eye> is truly formidable.”
Turning to face the maidservants, the physician waved at them, his wrinkled countenance clean of any expression.
“Take the Fourth Young Miss back to the study,” he ordered in a light tone.
“This physician shall converse with the Master regarding this matter.”
Bowing as once, the maidservants quickly detached themselves from their single file. As Xiao Wen grasped the wheelchair’s handles, Xiao Ying and the others formed a simple entourage.
The vibration as the wheels traversed across the grass caused An Fei’s body to jerk, her head lolling to one side. As they departed from the courtyard towards the study, nobody noticed that the supposedly asleep girl was in fact, wide awake.
Each immersed in their own preoccupation, not a single one of them, be it maidservant or aged physician, had realized that a pair of dulled scarlet irises were observing the previous scene with great interest.
Watching the entourage of maidservants and a sole wheelchair gradually assimilating into the embrace of darkness from the fringe of his vision, Physician Gao released a light puff of breath.
Turning around and raising his head to see the night sky alit with stars, the aged physician pondered for a few moments before his presence abruptly vanished.
A tired voice remained behind, accompanying the fleeting breeze in a light elegy of stars.
“<Heaven’s Eye>, Lu Imperial Family…it seems that the winds of tragedy have shifted once more.”
In the darkened study of the Flowing Wind Residence, the soft sounds of breathing were the only sources of noise in the tranquil room. Of the two sets of breathing, one was deep and relaxed, the other lighter and uneven.
After an incense’s stick of time had passed, the curtains surrounding the bed slowly pulled apart, two scrawny limbs reaching out from within.
Eventually, a small, palm-sized face accompanied the two arms in observing the interior of the study in cautious timidity.
The pair of scarlet irises examined the desk, the various lamps hanging from wooden beams, and the reclining willow chair near the door of the study.
“She’s finally asleep…”
Slowly exhaling a sigh of relief, An Fei began to crawl out of the bed. Peeling the blankets and depositing them to the side one cun at a time, the girl stepped onto the floor, precariously balancing her body’s weight on her toes.
Only when there was no reaction from the sleeping maidservant just a few mere meters away, did she allow her heels to rest onto the wooden panels.
Balancing the majority of her weight on the pads of her toes, An Fei carefully crept towards the study desk, her arms outstretched before her to detect for any nearby objects.
When her fingertips pressed against the hard, smooth surface of mahogany, the young girl revealed a small, triumphant smile. Her gaze examining the surface of the table, An Fei’s joy couldn’t help but magnify upon seeing a blank, pristine paper as white as snow resting on the center.
The sheet that Physician Gao had ultimately spared from defiling with a useless prescription, now fell into her hands.
“Brush…and ink…” she mumbled to herself, squinting heavily in the darkness as her eyes attempted to fumble through the overbearing patches of black dotting the fringe of the table.
Her right hand brushed and latched onto an object, of which An Fei later realized was an ink grindstone when she brought it closer to her gaze.
Her left hand quivering as it roamed on the surface of the drawing table in search of either brush or container of ground ink, An Fei cautiously glanced at the sleeping form of Xiao Wen. Reassuring herself of the lack of potential dangers, An Fei inched her face closer to the table to get a better sight.
Helplessly curling bottom lip into a pout, the girl looked at the ink grindstone and miniature tray clenched in her hands, before exhaling in a long, exasperated manner. Placing the writing implement components on the paper, the girl started to tip-toe towards the row of bookshelves.
Her strained vision numbly presented to her a hazy view of several towering bookshelves, each shelve crammed full of various books, jade slips, and leather scrolls. Brushing her fingertips along the length of the surface of the shelves, An Fei started to navigate her way to the leftmost bookshelf.
Just hours ago, when the physician had asked for a brush to write with, Xiao Ying had obtained one at the highest shelf of the leftmost bookshelf.
Cursing at the annoying darkness for the umpteenth time in her mind, the girl found herself craning her head upwards towards a row of neatly stacked rectangular boxes covered with a layer of silk, the numerous embroidered patterns obscured by the lack of lighting. A hint of joy rushed through her heart but was quickly replaced by a cold embarrassment.
…That shelf containing hosting the odd dozen of brushcases, was at least two chi taller than her. Even the maidservants had used a stool earlier, much less her attempting to fumble around in the dark.
Anxiously shifting her gaze around, An Fei quickly rushed towards the other side of the drawing table to stand behind a willow chair. Placing both hands around the armrests and gripping tightly, the girl lifted the chair and began to move back towards the indomitable row of bookshelves.
Her arms trembling from the exertion, An Fei nearly dropped the table in fright when one of legs brushed against the edge of a vertical wooden beam.
Once the chair had been placed onto the ground, she quickly clambered onto it to stand in an unbalanced posture. The moment her hand became level with the stacks of brushcases, the girl had swiped a random one before landing onto the floor.
Completely forgetting the abominable physique that now belonged to her, An Fei misjudged her reflexes rather severely as she jumped onto the ground.
What should have been a simple, nimble jump of less than a meter of height became a wave of excruciating pain as her left knee slammed heavily onto the wooden floor.
A low moan escaping her throat, the girl abruptly clapped a hand over her mouth as her gaze flickered over to the sleeping maidservant.
Ensuring that Xiao Wen was still confined in her dreams, An Fei craned her head towards the ceiling to quietly release a pent up breath of relief.
Having acquired her brush, An Fei quickly made her way towards the drawing table. Depositing her treasure next to the sheet of paper and opening it in a hurry, the girl gingerly picked up the brush, admiration displayed on her beautiful countenance.
Though the lack of light made it near impossible to admire it properly, the brush was exceedingly smooth, the carvings on its sides allowing for a comfortable grip.
Dabbing the brush’s tip onto a corner of the inktray, An Fei nodded in satisfaction when she saw the darkened tip. Although she couldn’t use proper ink, the dried recesses were sufficient to fit her needs.
Leaning against the half-moon chair, she began to drag the brush across the paper, creating faint trails of a dark powder, viciously marring the pristine, snow-white surface.
“Xia above, Heavens below… Shatter the crest of Jing and sunder the Divine Palace…”
Skree… Shua. Zheng…
“…Huh? Ci Ci, leave me alone…”
Frowning in her sleep, Xiao Wen blearily opened her eyes at the sound of scratching.
Having experienced a vivid nightmare, the maidservant fully expected the warm and cozy sensation of the few rays of sunlight piercing through the windows to greet her eyes, but found herself immersed in darkness.
Squeezing her eyes shut, the groggy maid desperately attempted to return to sleep, preferring a terrifying nightmare than hearing the ear-piercing screeching of brush scratching on paper.
“What, can’t let this maid sleep in peace, ah!?”
Infuriated, the maidservant leapt out of the extended willow chair, the blanket covering her body falling onto the ground. Faint ripples of spiritual essence emanating from her body as she primed herself to give Xiao Ci a miserable lesson for her prank, Xiao Wen couldn’t help but freeze in place.
Her eyes stretched to the widest limit, her pupils constricted as her mouth sprung agape.
Her vision illuminated by the scarce light from the stars, the maidservant could see a young maiden no more than the age of fourteen sit at the drawing table, her body leaning against the supporting edge of a half moon chair.
The girl was holding a snow-white sheet of paper flat onto the table with her left hand, her right grasping a weasel-whiskered and ivory brush at the low base.
As the girl moved the brush in what seemed to be a reverse calligraphy style, the ear-grating sounds of dry brush grinding on paper once again floated into Xiao Wen’s ears.
Recovering from her shock, the maidservant pointed at the maiden with a trembling finger, her voice quivering with equal intensity.
“F-F-F-Fourth Young Miss, ah, w-w-w-what are you doing in the m-m-middle of the night!?”