"Xueyue?" Li Chenyang called out when he finally found her. She was in the far distance but he knew it was her. Only one person would walk around with tightly-knit guards and servants.
Li Chenyang rushed to her just as she turned around at his voice. The guards parted and his shoulders relaxed upon seeing her. A smile graced her features and stars swarmed her eyes at the sight of him.
"There you are," Li Chenyang said when she reached him. He affectionately patted the top of her head but stopped. He didn't want to ruin her appearance.
"Did anything happen?" he asked her with a pleasant smile.
Li Xueyue wondered if she should tell him about what happened. She had dealt with it accordingly, didn't she?
Well, it wasn't like she should keep it a secret. She didn't want to lie to him either.
Intertwining her fingers together, she truthfully said, "I ran into Wen Jinkai and one of the Second Prince's servants."
"What?" Li Chenyang deadpanned. Grabbing her shoulders, he scanned her for any visible injuries. "Did he hurt you?" he immediately asked.
The thought of Wen Jinkai anywhere near her repulsed him. Li Chenyang never wanted Li Xueyue to go through the same thing as Li Minghua. He would never put another sister in danger.
"No, but he nearly strangled the Second Prince's servant to death."
Li Chenyang was taken aback by this. He always knew Wen Jinkai was very violent, but he was not the type to harm a woman without reason. "Did this servant do something to you…?"
"She was rude." Li Xueyue frowned. "But there's something so strange about her."
"What do you mean?"
"Most people who are being choked will fight against it, right?" Li Xueyue asked
"Yes, of course," Li Chenyang nodded. "Her fight or flight responses should've been activated."
"The woman cried the second her eyes met Wen Jinkai."
"What?" Li Chenyang didn't think such a thing was possible. Why would a random servant cry at the sight of Wen Jinkai? "Well, I know he's ugly beyond comparison, but to cry…? What an odd behavior."
"And she's audacious." Li Xueyue pressed her lips together. "Well, I suppose I was also at fault for wanting to see her face, but she slapped my hand when I tried to unveil her."
"A veil…?" Li Chenyang trailed off. "The palace servants are all beautiful. There is no way the Eunuchs will let a woman pass if she wears a veil."
Li Chenyang grabbed her hands and asked, "Did she hit you hard? I will have her dragged out in front of everyone and thoroughly punished for touching you."
"I think she already learned her place," Li Xueyue said. "Especially after Wen Jinkai tossed her to the ground. It looked like it hurt."
Li Chenyang shook his head. "It must be done. No servant should get away from hitting a Princess. She should be grateful that she's alive in the first place."
Li Xueyue decided to let him do as he pleased.
"Let's take you home now. The Palace isn't safe for you. I should've never let you wander the gardens. I apologize," Li Chenyang said. He placed an encouraging hand on her upper back and began guiding her down the hallway.
"Chen-ge…" Li Xueyue trailed off. "Aren't you going to ask me about how Yu Zhen obtained the decrees?"
"I don't need to know," Li Chenyang responded. "I already have my predictions."
Li Xueyue peered at him. His attention wasn't in her direction but elsewhere. She glanced at what he was staring at, her lips parted upon realizing it was a bush of flowers.
"Hydrangeas, how pretty." Li Xueyue smiled. "We have them at home. Mother loves tending to them."
Li Chenyang's expression softened. "Yes, hydrangeas are Mother's favorite flowers."
Li Xueyue felt like there was more to his words but she couldn't pinpoint it. She wanted to ask about Li Minghua but she knew it wasn't her place to do so.
- - - - -
Upon reaching home, Li Xueyue slipped the hairpin out of her hair. She ran a finger over the petals of the small flowers that clustered together. Indeed, it resembled a hydrangea, but her hairpin wasn't deliberately trying to resemble the large flower.
"Hydrangeas…" she trailed off, feeling like there was some significance attached to this beautiful flower.
Yu Zhen had given this to her. Did the Second Prince know that? Was that why he was asking about this?
Li Xueyue sighed. It was one of the gifts that he had bought for her after seeing she was interested in it during their tour in the market. She had originally wanted to give it to the Duchess, but seeing as it was worn now, there was no need to.
"Mother likes hydrangeas," Li Xueyue quietly said to herself as the servant began to undo her complicated hair.
Li Xueyue caught the eye of a servant through the mirror. "Do you know why the Duchess is so fond of hydrangeas?"
The servant didn't expect the question. "P-pardon, Young Miss?"
Li Xueyue hummed. "How long have you been working here?"
"Less than three years, Young Miss."
"Oh." Li Xueyue pressed her lips together. That was quite recent. She supposed there was no need to indulge in the question any longer.
Li Xueyue slipped the hairpin into her drawer. There was no need to think so much. Perhaps her mother liked hydrangeas because of the mesmerizing hues of it.
From the corner of her eye, something caught Li Xueyue's interest. Crafted from obsidian with cracks of gold to resemble lightning, it was hard to not notice it—Yu Zhen's pendant.
Li Xueyue realized she had never carried it with her. It was always safe inside of her drawer.
Yu Zhen hadn't reached out to her, at all. It had been days since she had last seen him.
Li Xueyue wrapped her fingers firmly around the pendant, holding it close to her. She wondered if he was still out there, in that forest, doing the things she should've done, but didn't.
It was her revenge. But he did it for her. It was her who was supposed to bring the Viscount's demise. But he ruined that satisfaction. All because they were the ones keeping her in Wuyi.
Letting out another sigh, Li Xueyue shook her head. She wondered what went through his mind at times like this.
Please go to https://www.qzxyzy.com/The-Rise-of-Xueyue/
to read the latest chapters for free