195 The Key
When they were far from earshot of the guest palace, Li Wenmin halted again. "Did you see what I did there, Xiao Yue?" he asked, making sure she would learn from his methods.
Li Xueyue nodded her head. "Yes, you made it look like you were conversing with them. In reality, it was a tactic to lower their guards and wait for information to slip out."
"And it did." Li Wenmin chuckled. "Intimidation will only shut a person's mouth. We have to be pleasant so they're open to share."
"We can safely conclude one thing," Li Wenmin added on. "Yu Zhen was not heading to Hanjian."
Li Xueyue nodded in agreement, relief instantly flooded her. However, it was suddenly replaced by uncertainty. If he wasn't heading to Hanjian, then where did he go? It wasn't like he had any other business to deal with.
Wuyi was still foreign territory to Yu Zhen. Unless, he had a friend here? She ruled out that possibility. It simply doesn't make sense.
Li Xueyue spoke up, "If he truly was heading to Hanjian, the soldiers would've been aware of the weather conditions and made preparations ahead of time. Since they were uncertain about the weather enroute to Hanjian, it meant their final location was somewhere else."
"Yes, they didn't study the weather because they didn't have to. The routes to Hanjian weren't their destination in the first place." Li Wenmin nodded. "There was a reason I pretended to be nice and offered them a hand."
He looked around his environment and realized there were a few palace servants who were beginning to curiously look their way.
"There's too many people here. Let us head home now."
Li Xueyue didn't respond. She, too, had seen the stares. She waited for Li Wenmin to take the first step before accompanying him, mindful of his shadow. It was a rule that the servants should never step in their master's shadow for it was one of the larger forms of disrespect.
- - - - -
"What do you mean he left?" Li Chenyang scowled, crossing his arms irritably. What a waste of time for them to head to the Palace.
"He didn't leave for Hanjian, that's for sure." Li Wenmin sighed. "But supposedly, he departed from the Capital. His servants were moving things around."
"Hmm," Li Chenyang hummed, scratching his chin while he attempted to come up with a plan. "Well, there is not much that we can do. It's not like we can force his men to obey us and answer our questions. They're under a different jurisdiction."
Li Xueyue nodded as she took a sip of tea.
"Unless, we have leverage over them?"
Li Xueyue spat out her tea.
The twins both turned to look at her.
"Is there a problem, Xiao Yue?"
"Yeah, what happened, Yueyue?"
"Ew, stop using that nickname!" Li Wenmin shuddered in disgust. "It's so cringeworthy!"
"Shut up, you're just jealous that I have a better nickname."
"Oh yeah, Yueyue is a good nickname? Says who?! Everyone in this household and even the servants know Xiao Yue is more adorable."
"Bah, they only tell you that because they know how weak-hearted and sensitive you are."
"Pft, is that how you comfort yourself?" Li Wenmin loudly cackled, purposely shaking his shoulders. "Poor you! All you do is read books, but none of them make you creative."
"Oh, I'll show you creative." Li Chenyang scowled, shooting out of his chair.
"Come at me, Brother!" Li Wenmin pounded his chest, getting ready to defend himself from a beating.
"You better not cry to Mom when you run out of here in tears," Li Chenyang provoked. He took a dangerous step closer to his overly confident twin.
"And you better not complain to Dad about what I'm about to do to you."
"Oh please, not everyone is crybaby Wenmin. Ow! You brat how dare you yank my hair?!" Li Chenyang growled as he rudely kicked Li Wenmin's shin.
"T-that doesn't even hurt!" Li Wenmin argued, picking up the teacup beside him. Suddenly, he realized something.
"Uh, where did Xiao Yue go?"
Li Chenyang's brows drew together in confusion. What was this idiot talking about? He turned his head and sure enough, Li Xueyue was gone. What the? She was here just a second ago. Where did she go?
Li Wenmin placed the teacup back onto the table. He decided to be a civilized person today. "Did she ditch us because we were too loud again?"
"Hah, she was probably just tired of hearing your obnoxious voice." Li Chenyang chortled.
"I'm sure she was even more aggravated by your 'oh I'm so wise because I read a lot of books, so look at me!' behavior!" Li Wenmin bickered back, purposely lowering his voice to mimic his younger brother.
"I do not talk like that," Li Chenyang growled, grabbing his brother by the collar.
"Oh, but you do!" Li Wenmin snickered, "Sucks to be you, brother. You sound like a grandpa."
"It's a lot better than talking and behaving like a five-year-old."
Li Wenmin gasped. "I do not behave like a five-year-old. Take that back!"
Li Chenyang snickered. "Oh, but you do!" he said, purposely raising his voice to mimic his older brother.
Li Wenmin was yet again offended by his brother. "You're disrespectful and—"
"I got it!" Li Xueyue shouted.
Finally, the twins' attention was on anyone but themselves. Standing by the door was a slightly out of breath Xueyue. She looked like she dashed back to this place.
"Where have you gone, Xiao Yue?" Li Wenmin asked.
"Yeah, where did you go, Yueyue?"
"Stop mimicking me!" Li Wenmin hollered, his face scrunched like an angry kid who didn't get his way.
"I'll stop when you start behaving your age." Li Chenyang scoffed.
"So never," Li Xueyue deadpanned.
"Xiao Yue, you're supposed to be on my side." Li Wenmin pouted.
"In my defense," Li Xueyue mused, "I never said Yueyue was a great nickname."
Li Chenyang's mouth dropped open. "It is an amazing nickname and you love it. So take that back right now, Yueyue."
Li Xueyue scrunched her nose. "Both of you don't behave your age. The oldest behaves like the youngest and the youngest behaves like the oldest." She huffed, stepping into the room.
"That's because Wenmin was probably dropped on the head as a baby."
"I was not!"
Li Xueyue resisted rolling her eyes. She could not wait for the day these bickering brothers of hers would get along. Settling back onto the chair, she took a gulp of her tea to quench her thirst.
"So, YUEYUE," Li Chenyang said while placing emphasis on the nickname, "What happened? You abruptly left the room."
"Yes, I went to fetch something." Li Xueyue nodded, placing the object she retrieved from her room onto the table. It was neatly wrapped in her handkerchief.
"What is it, Xiao Yue?" Li Wenmin asked, analyzing the decently-sized item.
"This, dear brothers," she pointed to the silk cloth, "Is the key that will make Yu Zhen's men talk."