“Father, what’s the fuss today?”
A young girl questioned Wei Xuan as the minister began to open a leather-bound scroll, a look of agitation displayed on his countenance. Her question prompted him to gaze at the girl in confusion, blinking twice.
“You, Xiao Ying, and Xiao Wen always talked about something special today,” the girl blinked as she repeated.
“Is there an event happening later?”
“Oh,” Wei Xuan came to a realization. Placing down the scroll and wrapping the girl into a warm embrace, the minister guided her to the depths of the study.
“There is indeed something happening later on at noon,” he spoke whilst reaching for a linen padded coat.
“It’s something that is highly significant not only to you, but every other youth in Jiang’an.”
Tucking the girl’s hair in as he wrapped the coat around her body, Wei Xuan ensured that it was a snug fit before buttoning the light blue coat. Ignoring An Fei’s confused glance as he called for Xiao Ying and Xiao Wen to enter into the depths of the study, the minister began to rummage through various storage boxes, as if searching for something.
Finally, An Fei couldn’t help but ask, the curiosity too difficult to bear.
“Father, what’s really going on?” the girl tilted her head.
“You’re so anxious today, is something the matter?”
“Hm? Nothing’s wrong!” the minister asserted quickly, his hands diving through a pile of jade ornaments.
“Your Father is just happy that his daughter is calling him ‘father’ instead of ‘Second Uncle’.”
“Then…why did you put an outer dress on me when all I have underneath is my nightwear?”
Wei Xuan came to a sudden halt, his fingers dropping the jade ornament he had grasped just moments ago. His gaze landing on An Fei, the minister flushed a healthy dose of scarlet upon realizing that other than the outer coat, the girl truly only had a paper-thin gown of silk.
Looking at her comical appearance, he didn’t know whether to laugh or lower his head in embarrassment.
“Xiao Ying, Xiao Wen, go dress Fei’er,” Wei Xuan capitulated, instructing the two maidservants nearby to fix his task. Standing up to leave to allow An Fei to change in peace, the minister paused at the door, fixing a silent gaze upon the two maidservants, speaking only after a few moments of hesitation.
“Remember to secure it well. Do not tarry on your duty!”
Xiao Ying and Xiao Wen chorused, the former respectfully closing the curtains shut, the latter approaching An Fei with a stack of folded clothing.
After several moments of struggling, some muffled grunts, and a muted cry of pain, the curtains were parted to reveal a well-dressed girl before the minister.
“…Can we go now?”
Wei Xuan paused for a moment to properly assess the girl, his eyes scanning every inch of her clothing. She was dressed in the same padded coat he had dressed on her, only the second button was replaced by a green jade ornament.
Not a single strand of her hair was exposed to the outside elements, her alluring countenance well covered and protected behind a white veil.
The translucent veil obscured the details of her face, and was secured to the coat on both sides. A fur cap covered her head, providing a warm, protective layer. Seeing such a sight, the minister could only nod in appreciation.
The two servants had indeed done a satisfactory job.
“Alright,” Wei Xuan reached over to pat An Fei on the head.
“Though I can’t accompany you on this endeavor and can only watch from afar, I can assure you that everything will be fine. Xiao Wen and Xiao Ying will answer any question you have.”
Thoroughly hugging the girl before him, the minister instructed the two servants to accompany An Fei as they departed from the Flowing Wind Residence.
Each time she looked back, the girl could see Wei Xuan’s smiling figure gazing at her with a warm and doting expression.
…it seemed as if he was willing to wait outside in the snow until she returned safely.
“So…” An Fei turned to glance at the maidservants on either side.
“What exactly is going on? Why did Father send me away today?”
“Hehe,” Xiao Wen replied with a giggle.
“Why, because today at noon is the opening of the Pagoda of Sun and Moon!”
“The Pagoda of Sun and Moon?”
Hearing An Fei’s quizzical voice and realizing that the girl literally had no inclination towards what the phrase even meant, the two maidservants exchanged a long glance. After a few moments, Xiao Ying took the initiative to explain.
“Fourth Young Miss,” the maidservant began to speak, waving with her arms to exaggerate the contents of her words.
“The Pagoda of Sun and Moon is the ultimate treasure trove for cultivators! The largest collection of cultivation and martial arts techniques within the entirety of Great Yong! The Pagoda of Sun and Moon only opens once a decade, hence this time is a great opportunity for the Fourth Young Miss!”
Cultivation and martial arts techniques?
Tilting her head in confusion, An Fei hesitated as the terms seemed familiar to her ears, even though she was sure that she hadn’t encountered them anytime soon. Her brows furrowed in thought, the girl opened her mouth to ask a question that startled the maidservants.
“…cultivation? What’s that?”
“Huh?” Xiao Wen started, only displaying a wry smile after pondering.
Smiling at An Fei, the maidservant pointed towards the clear sky with her right arm, speaking in an energetic voice.
“Fourth Young Miss, cultivation can be described in a few simple terms!” Xiao Wen danced as she explained.
“First, absorbing the spiritual qi within the earth and atmosphere. Second, refining it within the body’s dantian to accumulate into spiritual essence. And third, assimilating the spiritual essence into the various meridians of the body and refining the soul to attain powerful ability and longevity!”
Accompanying her final words, the maidservant spun in a graceful pirouette, her feet gliding on top of the snow, not penetrating even by a single centimeter. Besides An Fei, Xiao Ying smiled at the sight of Xiao Wen enjoying dancing on the snow, turning around to face the girl who had an astonished expression behind her veil.
“Fourth Young Miss,” the maidservant explained in a gentle tone.
“The abilities provided by cultivation are truly wonderful. An example would be Sister Wen gliding on top of the snow without sinking into the ground, or being capable of stepping on water. By employing spiritual essence to our whim, cultivators can even fly in the sky through a medium!”
…Fly? As in the televised ‘flying swords’ she had seen before?
An Fei mused to herself, carefully observing Xiao Wen’s graceful and light movement across the surface of the snow.
Unlike her, who could only travel through the cleared pathway, elsewise risking getting soaked and snow-trodden, cultivators like Xiao Wen and presumably Xiao Ying could simply bypass certain restrictions with ease.
Was it by the spiritual essence they had mentioned earlier? Then what was the limit, since otherwise such ability would break the natural laws of physics engraved into the world?
Noticing that An Fei was lost in her thoughts, Xiao Ying began to guide the Fourth Young Miss by hand in the direction of the main courtyard.
As they turned a corner to face the main gates of the Wei manor, a jubilant voice resounded, breaking An Fei’s train of thought.
“So you’re my Fourth Sister that I didn’t have permission to see until so long?”
An innocent voice rang in the clearing as Wei Chang Luo rushed towards the young miss and two maidservants, a happy smile displayed on his handsome countenance.
Though it dimmed significantly upon noticing that his gaze, however empowered by spiritual essence, couldn’t penetrate the veil nor the padded coat, the youth extended a hand towards An Fei, a warm expression on his face.
“Hello, I’m your Second Elder Brother, Chang Luo!”