Duke Li followed his servant towards the edge of the forest. With each passing step, he felt his heart suddenly go uneasy. He didn't know why, but he suddenly felt antsy and nervous, as if something was wrong.
He tried to brush the thoughts aside, but it would come back to him every few seconds. He tried to focus on the steps of the servants who were guiding him to the spot that they mentioned.
Just when he was caught in his daydream, the group had reached the spot that the female servant had pointed out. Surely enough, there was an enormous fallen tree blocking their path.
Duke Li climbed over the tree and was surprised when he nearly stepped on top of an enormous object covered with leaves. At a closer glance, he saw the shape of a human body...more specifically, he saw the foot of a girl.
Duke Li raised a brow. Why hadn't the servant removed the leaves from the body? Duke Li sighed. It was probably because they were too scared to touch a lifeless body.
When Duke Li bent down and walked closer to the girl, he felt the same uneasy gut-feeling come back. He frowned as he pushed the thoughts away.
Duke Li breathed in and prepared himself for the sight he was about to see. But never in a million years would he think he'd ever witness the sight before him. When he pulled the leaves back, he felt his breath caught in his throat. His eyes went wide and his hands shook.
A girl with her eyes closed, and blood staining her eyelids, pale blue lips, and ghostly white skin greets him. But that wasn't the most startling thing about her. It was her stark resemblance to his daughter.
The servants besides him gasped. A few covered their mouth in shock and everyone shared the same surprised expression. They had also seen the resemblance between the girl and their Young Miss.
"M-M-Minghua?" He shakily breathed out the forbidden name of his daughter. He never dared to mention the name in front of his wife, in fear of breaking the woman further.
'N-no...this isn't possible. She was declared dead. I watched her lifeless body being buried with my own eyes!' Duke Li told himself.
He felt as if he had gone insane. Was this an effect of painful remorse? Was his own eyes playing tricks on him?
Duke Li raised his head and saw the surprised and shocked faces of his servants. He realized he wasn't the only one who saw the striking similarity.
"Master Li, the girl is still breathing!" A servant immediately called out. With shaky fingers, he pointed towards Xueyue's chest. It was barely moving, but upon closer inspection, she was steadily and slowly breathing.
Duke Li observed the dried blood path that began from her forehead down her face and then the bruises that covered her face. He didn't know what happened to the girl, but one glance at her was enough for him to guess the girl must've done something wrong. To have been beaten to such a horrible extent, he couldn't help but wonder what she had done.
"Bring her back to the Manor and immediately call fourth the best doctor in town!" Duke Li commanded his servants.
At the stern voice of their Master, the servants immediately snapped out of their shock and got to work. A few servants ran towards the city of Lanbei to fetch the best doctor in town, and a few other servants carefully carried Xueyue back to the Li Manor.
The entire time, Duke Li was nervously biting his nails. He didn't know what he would tell his wife when she brought the girl back home, but he hoped she would have a good reaction towards the girl.
The worst that could happen would be sending the unconscious girl out of the Li Manor...but the best reaction is that Duchess Li allows the girl to stay within the Li Manor. With how much the girl resembles their daughter, Li Minghua, he had hoped this girl would be able to cheer up his wife.
He missed the cheerful laughter of his wife and the bright smile that seemed to light up her face. Ever since the tragic death of Li Minghua, his wife had rarely smiled. The only time she would smile would be in front of their sons, who were too young to understand the concept of death.
Within the Eastern Wing of the Li Manor...
"Doctor Yu, how is her condition?" Duke Li asked the fragile old man in front of him.
Doctor Yu stood up after examining the poor girl. He had a sorrowful expression on his face and slowly shook his head. His cotton-white beard slightly moved with the head shake.
"Her condition is horrible. She has broken bones on her left arm and right leg, but I was able to crack it into place. She has suffered an incredible hit to the back of her head, which I've stitched up. I've done the best I can to heal this girl and only time will tell when she will wake up." Doctor Yu explained to Duke Li, just as he was beginning to pack away his materials.
"Try to get a servant to trickle this down her throat three times a day. These are the bandages that would need to be changed every two days." Doctor Yu placed all of the medicine and bandages onto the polished wooden table besides him.
"Based on her bruises and the strike towards the head, she was most likely severely beaten by someone. It's a miracle she had survived such a heavy blow towards her head." Doctor Yu commented when he shut his wooden basket of materials.
"Luckily, someone has covered her body with thick layers of leaves. If she wasn't covered, the heavy rain the night before would've given her hypothermia which would be fatal." Doctor Yu told Duke Li who was intently listening to the older man in front of him.
Duke Li's eyes trailed towards the girl's cleaned face. The blood was washed off of her face and though there was some ugly bruises covering her soft features, it was evident she was a very beautiful girl...perhaps even prettier than his precious daughter.
Seeing her unconscious state, he felt his stomach churn with uneasiness. In a soft mummer, Duke Li asked, "When will she wake up?"
Doctor Yu hummed for a few seconds and ran a hand through his long, white beard. "From her current condition, I'm not sure what to say. But if she doesn't wake up within one week, please fetch for me. I need to check on her future condition in order to see if the medicine is working or not." Doctor Yu told Duke Li who slowly nodded at the information.
"If there's nothing else, I will take my leave." The doctor said while picking up his basket of supplies.
"Thank you, Doctor Yu. Have a good day." Duke Li bid the Doctor goodbye. A few Eunuchs guided the aging man out of the door.
Duke Li breathed out a heavy sigh as his shoulders sagged. He walked towards the girl and gingerly sat down at the edge of the bed. After a few seconds of observing Xueyue's features, he felt his heart painfully clench when he saw the similarity between the unconscious girl and his daughter, Li Minghua.
Duke Li clenched his teeth and forced himself to walk out of the door. Strolling down the open-hallways that revealed the Manor's expansive garden and enormous pond, Duke Li prepared himself to tell his wife the startling news.
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