Wei Xuan stuttered in a faltering voice, his countenance displaying an unhealthy sheen.
Without waiting for a single moment, the minister extended his arm to latch onto the girl besides him, dragging the wheelchair to rest behind his figure.
“Why are you here today?” Wei Xuan finally spoke in a concerned tone.
“Isn’t Chang Feng coming back today?”
“Hehe, Lord Minister is surprisingly uninformed!” Sheng Miaolan released a giggling laugh as she entered the pavilion.
As the woman stepped past the shimmering symbols of the protective array surrounding the pavilion, her figure was exposed to view.
“Lord Minister, Chang Feng is waiting outside. Should Miaolan call for him?”
Seeing the mature woman startled An Fei, and the girl slowly began to glance towards Wei Xuan with a different light.
The woman was clearly well over the age of thirty, yet her beauty had not diminished in the slightest. Remaining untarnished by the passing of time, the woman in the begonia winter dress portrayed the epitome of a mature lady’s charm and gravitation.
The First Madam of Wei had chosen a plain appearance as usual, without the slightest tinge of makeup on her countenance, and her hair was adorned in a soft bun of a married woman, a few loose strands coiled around her shoulder.
However, the beautiful figure was unbellied by her plump and well-rounded bosom, as well as the plump and tantalizing lips that entranced any male.
Combined with the timid, subdued gaze restrained within her gaze, the mature woman standing before Wei Xuan was indeed a fatal attraction regardless of how much time had passed.
Looks like Father had obtained himself a great beauty…
An Fei mused as her vision remained completely covered by Wei Xuan’s back. Unfortunately, the curious gaze of the young girl hidden behind his back seemed to give the minister the greatest terror of his life.
Wei Xuan’s countenance continued to fluctuate between unhealthy shades of apprehension, panic, and uncertainty, causing the First Madam to involuntarily mirror the same emotional turmoil in her heart.
After noticing the unnatural trembling of the minister’s fingers, the woman strode forth, bolstering her courage.
“Lord Minister, are you alright?” Sheng Miaolan intoned with a concerned and caring gaze.
“Does Miaolan need to call a servant to deliver some refreshing Setting Sun tea?”
“Ah? No need, no need,” Wei Xuan quickly refuted. His gaze stabilized into a neutral expression as he stepped forward, clasping Sheng Miaolan’s right shoulder.
“Rather than worrying about this old me who can’t withstand a slight chill, why don’t you go grab Shuyan? The two of you must not have eaten yet, this minister must take the both of you to the Golden Phoenix Restaurant immediately!”
“N-no need for that,” the First Madam shook her head, attempting to worm out of the minister’s soft yet vice-like grip.
“Sister Shuyan and I have already had our lunch with the children. Lord Minister does not need to be concerned with a trivial matter as this one!”
“By the way, are you hiding someone behind your back, Lord Minister? Usually, you would embrace me in such an aggressive manner…”
Sheng Miaolan suddenly inquired in a suppressed tone, greatly shocking Wei Xuan. Taking advantage of the minister’s momentary stiffness and worming her body out of his embrace, the First Madam craned her neck to gaze at the young girl seated in a wheelchair.
“This…” the woman hesitated before realization quickly settled in, followed by astonishment.
“This… must be Shuyan’s second daughter! Good girl, tell me your name!”
“Miaolan… don’t be so abrupt, the lass is too shy…”
As An Fei tilted her head to the right in response to the woman’s words, the minister gave a light, awkward cough. Alternating between forceful and gentle pats to her body, Wei Xuan finally ushered the First Madam out of the pavilion, returning with a heavy expression on his countenance.
“…who was that beautiful lady?” An Fei finally asked after noticing the unsightly expression darken a shade further.
“Erk… this…” Wei Xuan sweated, his hands nervously wiping against his robes.
Finally, he sighed, kneeling on a knee as he gently grasped the arms of the wheelchair.
“Fei’er… the matter is that your father married two women as equal wives, both granted by the emperor’s blessing. The woman you just saw… is called Sheng Miaolan, and she is… the First Madam…”
The minister’s voice trailed off with each word that escaped his throat, eventually lapsing into a momentary and awkward silence. The young daughter and father pair stared at the other for several long moments, until An Fei finally opened her mouth.
“She seemed nicer and more considerate than Chen Shuyan…”
The girl’s murmuring did not escape Wei Xuan’s ears, and he involuntarily released a huge sigh of relief.
The girl didn’t despise him or harbor resentment for his marrying of two woman, or for the fact that she wouldn’t receive the necessary respect due to her identity as a daughter of an equal wife – a obsequious title for a concubine.
Nonetheless, the minister couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow in confusion just a few moments later.
He had married a Luo Shuyan, so who was this woman with the surname of Chen?
Wei Xuan parted his lips to speak, but stopped himself at the last moment. As he raised his right hand to thoroughly dote on the young girl seated before him, a sudden question knocked him off his feet.
“Father, why have you married twice? Shouldn’t the law prohibit someone from marrying multiple people?”
Wei Xuan burst into a fit of mixed coughs as his throat spasmed. His countenance alternating between a series of scarlet and purple shades, the minister directed an astonished glare towards the young girl.
“Great Yong does not prohibit successive marriages,” he intoned after a moment’s conflict.
“Some of the influential manors have multiple Madams overseeing their… operations, and your father was a little… roguish when he was young…”
“…why did Father stop at two? Both Chen Shuyan and Madam Sheng seem to be beauties, shouldn’t Father aim for more?” the girl inquired, her countenance displaying an amused interest.
The minister glared at the girl, the veins at his forehead threatening to pop in anger…
“Little lass, are you only going to be satisfied after hearing your Father admit that he has a low appetite!?”
Wei Xuan roared in frustration, his eyes twitching as they flared at the girl.
Immediately after the act, he felt a surge of guilt flood his heart as he looked at the pitiful appearance of the girl clutching her forehead with both hands.
However, the instant his hand reached out to pat An Fei’s head, the girl’s infuriating remarks caused his countenance to darken with frustration.
Guilt; frustration; the bitter cycle resulted in a rather grotesque expression to paint his face, creating a rather amusing sight.
The girl couldn’t help but release a giggle of laughter, making Wei Xuan wish that he could drag her over his knee, and give her a good spanking as punishment!
A cold voice rang out from outside of the pavilion, the speaker cold and incomparably indifferent. Hearing the voice, Wei Xuan instantly ceased attempting to punish An Fei and her teasing expression.
Turning around and standing to face the door, the minister’s complexion warmed, before a gloomy shade overtook it in mere seconds.
A young man stepped into the pavilion, dressed in a clean, white robe devoid of wrinkles or unnecessary folds. As he stepped onto the wooden floor, the young girl noticed that the youth possessed a handsome appearance, one that could be found appealing to the eye, but the glacial demeanor caused others to distance themselves.
Tall and slender stature, no over or underexemplification of his features, the young man was truly blessed by the heavens. The indifference portrayed in his gaze produced a placid atmosphere, yet An Fei felt as if something was drastically wrong.
“I have returned, Father.”
The youth intoned in a dull tone, his expression not changing in the least.
To An Fei’s utter shock, the usually playful and calm Wei Xuan completely erupted in an uncontrollable rage as an intense silver light exploded from his body, flooding the entirety of the pavilion’s interior as a vicious aura surged towards the sky.
“Unfilial brat, you still haven’t kneeled!?”