Chapter 41: Autumn’s Fragrance, A Frigid Heart of Snow (3)

“He’s…gone?”

Two trembling hands slowly peeled back the violet curtains, exposing a pale but pretty countenance, the pair of scarlet irises observing every inch of the interior of the study room.

After confirming that there was nobody else present, the girl dragged herself out of the bed, staggering as her feet stood again in what must have been weeks.

“This…really isn’t good,” An Fei murmured to herself, grabbing onto the ribs of a wooden chair for support.

“If this continues for much longer, there’s bound to be permanent repercussions…”

Massaging her still sore neck, the girl ambled towards the drawing table in the depths of the study, a sigh of relief escaping her parched lips as a pitcher of water entered the fringe of her vision.

Exerting her strength to precariously lift the pitcher into the air, she blatantly ignored the cup placed directly to the right and drank straight from the spout of container.

What was contained within the ceramic pitcher was a dense tea, fully cooled due to sitting in the open for far too long. As the liquid gushed down her throat, An Fei reveled in the airy and sour taste of lemongrass tea, her eyes closing in bliss as she finished a long draft of the tea.

Smacking her lips in contentment, the girl carefully examined the drawing table with renewed vigor.

She didn’t have to exert much effort, for just within an arms reach was a blue cloth pouch embroidered with dipping swans and river streams. Loosening the drawstring, An Fei discovered eight light green pastry cakes stacked on top of each other, a delicate flower pattern on the top of each cake.

…munch.

The soft mung bean cake disintegrated within her mouth, a faint sweet taste enveloping her taste buds.

To the famished girl, such a pastry cake was akin to a hot coal dispatched during a fearsome winter, almost making her stagger from the fulfilling aftertaste of the unsweetened red bean paste packed inside the center of the cake.

When An Fei had returned to her senses, she found herself staring at the contents of the embroidered pouch with a predatorial gaze. Her fingers instinctively flexed as they reached for another pastry, and she barely reined in her self-control with conscious effort.

“This…”

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Gulping down a mouthful of saliva, the girl whispered consolations to herself as she reached for a second pastry, her fingers caressing the top of the cake.

Raising it to her dainty mouth and biting off half, the girl quickly accompanied the pastry with a mouthful of cooled tea, releasing a sigh of contentment as she eventually finished the remains of the cake.

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Staring at the blue pouch with a forlorn gaze, An Fei retied the drawstring to close it once more, tucking it under a fold within her gown. Hearing a series of nimble footsteps resound near the walls, the girl flurried over to the linen bed in a rush, climbing in with great haste whilst throwing the blanket over her body.

Moments later, the sound of a window slowly creaking open could be heard, and a rough thump echoed in the study within a few seconds.

“Father really didn’t hold back with his punches…”

The complaining of a male youth filtered into An Fei’s ears, causing her to narrow her eyes in confusion and alertness.

Snuggling deeper into the warm blankets, the girl drifted into a light sleep in an attempt to minimize her presence.

But more importantly, the temptation of a lazy, slothful life was too hard to pass up.

“Just an incense’s stick of time. Perhaps not even half of that if he’s quick about it.”

Wei Chang Luo whispered to himself as he righted his clothes, peering at his appearance in the copper mirror on an adjacent table near one of the walls of the study.

Though the face hadn’t received injuries that couldn’t be quickly restored with high-quality medicine, the poor youth was agonizing over the creaking, painful sensation surging in his bones.

Each movement he made would introduce a fierce spasm of pain, causing Wei Chang Luo’s countenance to momentarily distort, an unhealthy shade blazing across.

“One day!” the youth fiercely whispered to himself as he hugged his right shoulder.

“One day, I’ll triumph over Father. Then he won’t have to beat me so fiercely, nor do I have to be confined by so many rules!”

Shaking his head twice to clear the unnecessary thoughts floating around in his mind, Wei Chang Luo began to tiptoe around the various articles of furniture. Diverting spiritual essence towards the pads of his feet, the youth quietly stepped over the many willow, half-moon, and oaken chairs haphazardly laying around in the study.

“Why are there so many seats and tables?” he wondered, his fingers trailing across the surface of a miniature drawing table of sandalwood.

“Almost as if there’s supposed to be several people living in here, not a room for studying and practicing calligra-yikes!”

Distracted in his thoughts, the youth just barely reacted in time to avoid smashing his face into a porcelain jar. His hands darting out to catch the jar as it fell towards the ground, Wei Chang Luo carefully replaced the porcelain craft as cold sweat dripped down his back.

After some pondering, he decided to allot even more spiritual essence within his body towards masking his presence as much as possible. His senses and abilities heightened by the influx of spiritual essence, Wei Chang Luo’s gaze sharpened as his agility magnified to a frightening degree.

Within mere seconds, he had crossed through the miniature maze of tables and chairs to stand before the bedcurtains.

“I’ve taken too much time,” Wei Chang Luo calculated as his gaze regularly grazed towards the entrance of the study.

“Just one look. That’s all I’ll aim for, just a single look if I can.”

To draw to a distance of which the curtains were within an arm’s reach, Wei Chang Luo only needed to stride forward for three steps.

Three steps, and he could finally peek at this younger sister’s appearance whom he had never seen before, the only information he had obtained being scraps tossed from the Second Madam’s mouth when she indulged on fruit wine.

Three steps was all that was needed to assuage his curiosity, and Wei Chang Luo could leave the next moment. A swift peek, and if he left quickly enough, not even Wei Xuan would discover that his son wasn’t properly ‘reflecting’ in his room.

A mere, insignificant distance of a meter, and yet Wei Chang Luo felt as if a great chasm lay before his feet.

Gulping saliva in nervousness, thin beads of sweat dotting his brow, Wei Chang Luo stepped forth thrice in rapid motions, his fingers grasping the edge of the violet curtains surrounding the bed. One twitch and pull of the right hand’s fingers, and the goal would be reached-

Knock!

“…Huh?” A young voice sounded from outside, followed by the rustling of a keychain.

“The door’s still locked…”

Taken by surprise, the youth haplessly stumbled backwards, miraculously sparing himself from an embarrassing fate of crashing onto the ground and creating a rather nasty ruckus. His eyes darting across the interior of the study, Wei Chang Luo sought for a place to hide.

He was going to observe the shy face of the moon, be it if he had to reap unripe rice or toil in menial labor for some time!

Tick! Creak!

Hearing the locking mechanism disengage, Wei Chang Luo hurriedly threw himself underneath a maplewood table, obscuring his figure by use of the tablecloth.

As the steps grew louder in intensity, the youth stilled his breathing, wishing that the spiritual essence contained within his legs could quickly disperse already…

“That’s odd…” Xiao Wen cocked her head to her right in confusion and uncertainty as she placed a wooden container on the surface of a maroon maplewood table.

“I was sure I heard something inside…”

Cautiously examining the interior of the study room with her big eyes, the maidservant huffed and pushed her bottom lip into a pout as a faint, nearly imperceptible light flickered around her body.

Hidden just within arm’s reach of the maidservant, the Second Young Master was currently sweating massive bullets in panic and shock, not daring to disengage the hastily-constructed barrier of spiritual essence at all.

That uniform was clearly that of a maidservant of the Wei Manor, one of the first rank.

But she was an early-stage Foundation Establishment cultivator!

The Pillars of Unity had not been fully constructed yet, but Wei Chang Luo experienced the premonition that if the maidservant before him were to engage in a fight with him, he wouldn’t get off easily.

A conservative estimate would be that he would receive a grievous injury if he dared to be careless for even a split second, causing the Second Young Master to increase the density of the storm of spiritual essence cloaking his presence.

“There’s an odd sensation… Almost as if someone else is here…” Xiao Wen frowned, before shrugging, her fingers moving across to remove the lid of the wooden box.

“Fourth Young Miss!” the maidservant called out in a warm voice.

“Fourth Young Miss, it’s me, Xiao Wen! Please have some lunch, it’s not good to starve yourself for so long, ah!”

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