194 On Your Way to Hanjian
Li Wenmin did not wait for his cousin's response before taking his leave. He walked past one of the entrances that separated each palaces within the large Imperial grounds. When he turned a corner, he paused and hung around there.
"We're not actually leaving?" Li Xueyue asked in a quiet voice upon seeing Li Wenmin ushering everyone away from the entrance.
Li Wenmin nodded. "We don't need the Duke and Second Prince to see where we're heading to."
"Okay," Li Xueyue said, leaning against the wall with him.
Thinking back to his cousin, Li Wenmin couldn't help but grow curious about the Second Prince's servant. Why was she wearing a veil? There was something so distinctive about her that he couldn't place a finger on. He pondered the Second Prince's words.
Wang Jing was right.
Li Wenmin didn't believe Li Minghua was dead. He would not believe it until he personally buried her, even if it was a possibility that would never happen. He let out a quiet sigh. 'Minghua, where are you?' he asked himself, looking up to the sky.
'Was life so unbearable that you had to leave us this early in your life?'
"What are you thinking about?" Li Xueyue asked. She saw he was staring deeply into space.
Li Wenmin reached out to touch her face, his fingers grazed the thin and fluttering cloth of the veil. He couldn't help but bring himself closer to her. "Please don't ever leave me, Xiao Yue."
Li Xueyue blinked. There were so much angst and sadness in his eyes that she could do nothing but part her lips. "Wen-ge… you're thinking too ahead into the future."
"Even if you do leave me, Xiao Yue, please remember to come back once in a while," Li Wenmin said, upon realizing it was too unfair of him to request her to never leave his side. She was a woman. Her life would be bound to her husband's family when she would get married.
Even so, he couldn't help but be selfish.
Li Wenmin wanted to keep Li Xueyue safe. He wanted to give her the things that Li Minghua never had. He wanted to see her smile the brightest and laugh the loudest. Forever and always, he wanted her to never worry about anything.
Li Xueyue did not respond immediately. She reached her hands out and hugged Li Wenmin, hoping to squeeze the pain and fear out of him. "It's going to be okay, Wen-ge."
"I hope so," Li Wenmin sighed, gently patting her on the head. "I'm just a worrywart."
"For once, you're similar to Chen-ge." Li Xueyue laughed, looking up at him.
Li Wenmin seemed less depressed now, but wore the small smile he was known for. He rubbed his nose with one curled finger. "Hmph, he should be honored to resemble me. I mean, look at how handsome I am," he boasted, gesturing to his face.
"You guys don't look that alike," she said and chuckled. "Maybe it's because of your clashing personalities."
"Thank god I don't have his face. I mean, imagine being that brooding at such a young age? Gosh! He reminds me of Dad." Li Wenmin darkened his features, scrunching his brows together. In a low voice that was supposed to mimic his younger brother, he said, "You should be reading more books!"
"Pft!" Li Xueyue covered her mouth, resisting a laugh. She was worried that if they were too loud, someone might overhear them.
"That sounds a lot like Chen-ge," she said and grinned. "I think he has actually told me that before."
"Chenyang looks and sounds like an old man stuck in a young man's body. I pity my future nieces and nephews. He's going to be such an overbearing and strict father."
"I have a feeling you will be the same, Wen-ge."
"I would never be that boring!"
"You already are."
"Hey!" Li Wenmin scowled, angrily sticking a finger out to jab her forehead backward.
"Ow!" she cried, massaging her forehead. What was with the twins and their obsession with her forehead? First, Chenyang loved to flick it, and now Wenmin enjoyed pushing it backwards.
Li Wenmin rolled his eyes at how dramatic she sounded. He shifted his attention towards the entrance leading to the guest palace. Poking his head around a corner, he looked around to see if his uncle and Wang Jing were gone. They were.
"Okay, let's head to Yu Zhen's palace again. Everyone is out of sight, out of mind," Li Wenmin said.
"Sounds like a plan to me." Li Xueyue nodded, adjusting her veil to make sure it covered her face.
"Let's go," Li Wenmin said. As he took his first step forward, he cautiously scanned his surroundings. Upon noticing someone lurking in the corner, he nodded in that direction.
Three guards instantly got the cue. They departed from the group and made their way towards that servant who was lurking in the corner. But it was too late. The servant realized that he had been discovered and instantly fled from his spot.
Li Xueyue nervously played with her fingers. Was the servant observing her interactions with Li Wenmin? Or was he just passing by?
After a few minutes, the guards came rushing back. They kneeled before Li Wenmin and bowed their heads. "Young Master, we were unable to capture him. I apologize."
Li Wenmin's lips thinned. "Continue trailing that direction. Let me know if anything suspicious comes up."
The guards nodded and departed yet again.
Li Xueyue knew they were going to be fine. They had the Li signet on them. No one would question their motives unless it was too suspicious.
"Come on." Li Wenmin gestured to her. "You need to play the role of a servant better."
"I know," Li Xueyue sighed, lightly jogging to catch up to him.
Together, they advanced towards the enormous guest palace. It was overly decorated and designed to perfection as a means of boasting to any visitor. The Emperor of Wuyi wanted to make it clear how wealthy Wuyi was. Every foreign ambassador or diplomat would reside here. Clearly, the intent was for them to report back to their country about the generosity of the Great Wuyi.
"Huh, how interesting," Li Wenmin said, tilting his head. "There are a lot more people left behind than expected."
Li Xueyue knew what he meant. There were still many servants and guards around. The servants were busy carrying things around. "Maybe there was a lot of stuff that needed to be moved?"
"Even so, why would Yu Zhen leave all of them unattended like this? If I remember correctly, he came with two of his closest friends… What were their names again?"
"I think the female one is called Lu Tianbi and the male one is called Hu Dengxiao."
"Yeah, those were their names. They're pretty well known, even in Wuyi. I just don't pay much attention to them," Li Wenmin responded. He began to walk down the pavement leading to the entrance of the residential area.
Unsurprisingly, Hanjian guards instantly swarmed the area.
"Halt! State your purpose with our Commander and Second Prince!" one of the men shouted in a stern voice, presumably the leader of the pack. He was in light armor, but it didn't conceal his buff build.
"As a General of Wuyi, I would like to inquire the whereabouts of your leader."
The guard cupped his fist in acknowledgment and bowed his head. "Greetings to you, General. Unfortunately, we can't disclose the location of our Commander. It is confidential."
"Fine then." Li Wenmin shrugged. He made a big show of looking around the place, specifically the servants who were walking back and forth along the corridors.
"Busy day, huh?" he suddenly asked.
The guard nodded. "Yes, more than usual, General."
"What's the rush for?" Li Wenmin conversed, nodding towards the servants who were still carrying things.
"We are packing, General."
"Ah yes, to depart for Hanjian, I assume?"
"I'm afraid I can't answer that question, General," he bowed his head, "This soldier apologizes for his insolence."
Li Wenmin waved his hand as if he didn't care. "Bah, don't worry about it. You're just doing your duties, right?"
"But there's nothing wrong in answering questions, don't worry."
��Would you like some assistance on your way to Hanjian? I heard it was raining in the other provinces which made the roads leading there very muddy and dangerous. Are your horses and carriages prepared for that?"
"Rain?" the guard asked, befuddled.
"Oh, nevermind. It's just my observation." Li Wenmin lightly laughed, brushing it off. "Well, in that case, I won't keep you busy."
The guard bowed low and in response, so did his men. "We thank you for your understanding, General. You are ever so kind!"
"Heh, I know." Li Wenmin smiled.
With that said, Li Wenmin made another grand gesture to show he was leaving. He turned around and headed in the direction he came from, followed by his servants and guards.
Li Wenmin departed from the guest palace without another word or a second glance. He didn't have to look back. He had gotten his answer already.