Whilst the Imperial Court was cracking under the pressure of three hundred volatile ministers combusting at the same instant, the Flowing Wind Residence was in the midst of experiencing an odd tranquility.
A young girl sat at the drawing table in the center of the study, the ink brush clutched in her fingers sweeping over the stationary paper.
“To bestow benevolence… is to cultivate a peaceful heart,” the girl murmured to herself as she read the printed strings of characters on the sheet.
Tapping the tip of the brush against her cheek, she mused in silence for a brief moment, before placing the brush onto the drawing table.
“A peaceful heart… bestows positive karma. With sufficient positive karma, one may achieve reincarnation with the appropriate renumeration.”
Admiring her work, An Fei frowned and released a light sigh.
Placing the sheet filled with characters onto a prepared drying rack and rolling out a new sheet of stationary paper, the girl glanced towards the fringes of the study.
“What’s going on with Xiao Ying and Xiao Wen?” she muttered as confusion filled her gaze, her brow furrowing into great lines.
“They haven’t been here all morning, and I haven’t seen any other servant in the courtyard…”
“Oh well. I’ll finish this page, then Father can’t complain if I sleep a little longer tonight…”
An Fei rolled her shoulders, stretching her arms and extending them towards the sky.
Seating herself in the half-moon chair and padding the wooden surface with a square of comfortable fox fur, the girl picked up the brush and turned the page of the book placed in the upper section of the drawing table.
“To cultivate a peaceful heart, one must exhibit benevolence, fairness, filial piety, and respect towards the natural laws of the world…”
The drying rack supported several dozens of sheets of papers, each filled with compact characters to the extent that it was difficult to spot a single clean streak of white among the pages.
To be quite frank, however, though An Fei’s calligraphy was indeed quick-paced and direct, whether it had captured the implicit essence of the text was a different matter.
The doors of the study suddenly opened, startling the girl who had just begun to immerse herself in Wei Xuan’s assignment. The brush dropping from her fingers and rolling on the drawing table, An Fei suppressed a curse as she craned her head to see past the maze of furniture.
Standing at the doors of the study was a cold youthful man appearing less than twenty years old.
Even without taking a proper glance at the youth’s appearance, the girl fully knew his identity. The direct contact between them spanned less than an hour in total, but the cold aura emanating from his body was sufficient evidence.
After all, who else but Wei Chang Feng, the Eldest Young Master of Wei, could exhibit such demeanor of detachment to the world?
“Eldest Brother, what do you require? Where’s Xiao Ying and Xiao Wen?”
An Fei called from the drawing table, the brush not ceasing to stop as it danced over the page. At the doorway, the man did not respond, silently gazing into the depths of the study.
“Eldest Brother, what are you doing here?”
The Eldest Young Master blinked once, but his lips remained frozen shut.
“Eldest Brother, are you hungry?”
“Do you need something from the study?”
“Are you looking for someone?”
Finally, the girl couldn’t help but release a heavy sigh, tossing the brush onto the wooden drawing table. Glaring at the silhouette of the youth silently standing besides the doors of the entrance, An Fei didn’t know how to react.
He could clearly listen to her calls, couldn’t he reply? He didn’t lack intelligence nor was he a mute, so was a simple response of affirmation that difficult?
“…Eldest Brother,” the girl drawled in exasperation, sarcasm dripping from her voice as she narrowed her eyes towards the youth.
“Are you here to kill me?”
“Father told me to stay here until he had returned.”
“As expect – Ah!?”
The sudden reply from Wei Chang Feng startled the young girl, causing her to nearly fall from her chair.
Clutching tightly onto the outer rims of the half-moon chair with her fingers, An Fei glared at the cold youth with daggers shooting from her eyes.
“Father doesn’t care that you would attempt to kill me at every moment?”
“Father knows that I would not.”
The Eldest Young Master walked into the study, closing the doors behind him. Slowly navigating throughout the maze of tables, stacked chairs, and partially-upended lampstands, Wei Chang Feng stopped before An Fei, looking at the girl with an indifferent countenance.
“…how does Father know that you wouldn’t?” the girl blinked her eyes, tilting her head to the right as she stared upwards towards the youth.
“You’ve already claimed the lives of at least six of my maidservants. Given such a great opportunity, why wouldn’t you grasp it without hesitation?”
“Killing you back then was the optimal choice, for it could have resolved a future crisis,” the Eldest Young Master dully intoned, seating himself in a nearby chair.
Glancing at the girl who had befuddlement swirling in the pair of cracked scarlet irises, the youth continued to speak in a nonchalant tone.
“Now that the crisis is already here over our heads, killing you is no longer necessary.”
“No longer necessary? The crisis is already here?” An Fei stared at the Eldest Young Master.
“What do you mean by that?”
Wei Chang Feng drummed his fingers on the right armrest of the chair, his eyes closed in thought.
After several long moments of agonizing contemplation, the youth stared directly at the young girl, his voice stern.
“The messenger of Taiyi Sect has already contacted the Imperial Court of Great Yong. As the disciple of the former Sect Master, I must hide for the time being to prevent any additional troubles for the family. Thus, it does not make a difference for now if I were to kill you.”
“Then… what about my maidservants?”
“All servants in the manor have been redirected towards the training grounds, where Father’s secret guard will carefully comb them for any spies or suspicious activity,” the Eldest Young Master closed his eyes, leaning back into his chair.
“They should return by the time Father returns.”
An Fei mouthed, the fingers of her right hand spinning the brush in distraction. Hearing the satisfying rustling of the cloth loop rubbing against the wooden drawing table, the girl nodded in satisfaction that she had wiped off the ink prior whilst listening to Wei Chang Feng’s reply.
She had finished what she considered a significant portion of Wei Xuan’s assignment, which should permit her to laze around until he returned.
The sheets of paper were neatly placed on the drying rack, the finished pages neatly stacked at a corner of the table.
After all, Father wouldn’t expect a malnourished little girl as her to finish copying a book regarding human philosophy in a few days, right?
“Then… what are you doing here?” An Fei mouthed towards the Eldest Young Master, her thin lips pursed into an expression of disapproval.
“The study of Father’s residence provides the greatest protection against spying within the entire manor. Thus, I came here instead of my own courtyard.”
Wei Chang Feng replied in a monotone voice, his head beginning to lightly bob at an uneven rhythm. Before the youth could enter a light doze, An Fei’s voice cut through his hearing, the content of her words causing him to instantly wake.
“Eldest Brother, does Taiyi Sect… have great resources?”
“Huh?” the youth raised an eyebrow, creasing his forehead as he replied.
“The Taiyi Sect indeed has a massive repository of resources dedicated to cultivation and the practice of martial arts.”
“Then does it have a storage of cultivation manuals like the Three Lotus Sect?”
“The Three Lotus Sect…” Wei Chang Feng stared at the young girl before him, his mouth coming to a halt.
“The Taiyi Sect far surpasses the Three Lotus Sect regarding cultivation or martial arts techniques, be it in quality or quantity.”
…what was this girl trying to scheme?
“Then…” the girl hesitated, her gaze wandering throughout the interior of the study before deigning to reply.
“Has Eldest Brother heard of a cultivation technique called the <Golden Lotus of Establishment>?”
“<Golden Lotus of Establishment?>” the Eldest Young Master echoed, before giving a curt nod. The confusion was evident in his gaze when he bored holes into the girl with his eyes, yet An Fei didn’t appear to care.
The young girl then clapped her hands in excitement, her beautiful countenance radiating with a halo of joy.
“That’s great! Eldest Brother, can you explain me the fundamental concepts of the <Golden Lotus of Establishment>?”
The Eldest Young Master blinked in surprise and incomprehension. What was this girl planning to do?
The <Golden Lotus of Establishment>?
…and explain its fundamental concepts to her?