It was hot. The heat was unbearable. Warmth ambushed her on all sides. It felt so suffocating. She found it difficult to breathe, but at least, the biting cold had stopped.
Li Xueyue slowly opened her eyes. She blinked to adjust her blurry vision. Even so, it was hard for her to concentrate on anything. She wanted to rub at her eyes but found her arms were tightly tucked underneath something.
"Where…" she trailed off.
Li Xueyue was lost and confused. Even when her vision cleared, she couldn't focus on anything. It took her a while of slipping in and out of consciousness to fully understand what had happened.
She recalled falling asleep in the cave. The biting cold had lulled her to her death. But she wasn't dead. Or was she?
Li Xueyue's eyes grew wide. Heiyue! Where was her horse? She mustered all of her energy to sit upright. Layers of blankets slipped off of her chest. She touched the soft fabric and examined her surroundings.
This room was larger and grander than the one she had in Wuyi. Muslin curtains, tiled borders framing the ceiling, and gold-embedded decor greeted her. The room was spacious and fully decorated. The design, the furniture placement, the colors, it was a beautiful room.
"Where am I?" she wondered out loud.
Li Xueyue didn't remember much. But that didn't stop her from slipping out of the bed. She was confused when something slipped from her body. She reached into the blankets, feeling something warm. Pulling it out, she was perplexed to see it was a stone wrapped with a layer of cloth. The stone was still hot to the touch, meaning it had been heated prior.
"Did I catch hypothermia?" Li Xueyue asked. She glanced down at her clothes. They were changed. She was dressed in a thick nightgown. The style was completely different than the one in Wuyi.
"Is this… Hanjian?" she wondered to herself.
Li Xueyue noticed the different types of shoes placed next to her bed. She concluded that the place she was residing in, was undoubtedly not in Wuyi.
Putting on the shoes, she headed towards what seemed like an enormous wardrobe. She numbly browsed through it until spotting a robe. Letting out a sigh of relief, she wrapped it out her nightgown.
Afterwards, Li Xueyue headed towards the door.
She needed to find out exactly where she was. If this was Hanjian, then how did she get here? She didn't have a single recollection of meeting someone. Worst case scenario, she was in some random aristocrat's house. But who could be so wealthy to afford an enormous house like this?
Li Xueyue creaked the door open startling the guards stationed outside. They straightened at the sight of her before dropping to their knees.
"My lady, how may we help you?"
Li Xueyue paused a bit. There was a slight accent. It was faint, but she heard it. It was similar to the one that Yu Zhen spoke with.
"Uhm…" she trailed off, unsure of what exactly she wanted.
"Where am I?" she finally asked.
The guards were unsure of her identity. They weren't informed of who she was. Suspicions were raised when she was moved to the Crown Princess's Palace. They had their predictions but didn't dare to think more of it.
"My lady, you're residing within the Crown Princess's Palace."
Li Xueyue raised a brow. So she truly was in Hanjian. In the Imperial Palace, it seemed. But how? Who transported her here?
She opened her mouth, but closed it. Would it be improper for her to summon Yu Zhen? Wasn't he the Crown Prince? Was it better for her to be led to him? She touched her waist and fear dawned onto her. Where was her satchel? Where was Yu Zhen's pendant?!
Li Xueyue's head snapped back to the bedroom. It was so large, with nooks and crannies she didn't know of. Finding the pendant would be impossible.
"Is there a problem, my lady?" one of the guards asked.
The other guard felt like something was amiss. They had just begun their shift, after switching with their peers.
None of them were informed of who was inside, except to guard the door with their lives. What were they supposed to do at a time like this? Inform the Eunuchs?
The guards remembered hearing something about not disturbing the person inside of the room. There were also small talks that Lu Tianbi was supposed to stand-guard with them, which was strange, considering her newfound position. Of course, she used to be a soldier, but now, she was the Crown Prince's right hand woman.
The guards patiently waited for the young lady to speak. She was beautiful, but they didn't dare to take a second glance.
Li Xueyue licked her bottom lip. "Will you take me to the Crown Prince?"
The guards paused. The Crown Prince…? He was a man of high authority. Not just anyone could see him.
To catch a peak at him, one would need to make a request, at least three days in advance, before they would be granted an audience with their Crown Prince.
"Unfortunately, that is beyond our capabilities, my lady. The Crown Prince is not someone we can easily reach out to," the other guard said.
Li Xueyue frowned a bit. "Then where is he right now?" she asked. Their antics were strange, but she brushed it off. They didn't know who she was.
Li Xueyue debated the idea of showing Yu Zhen's pendant. It would cut to the chase and no one would deny her the request to see him. She was just hesitant about using it. It was something she had never done before.
The guards didn't know the answer. They averted their gaze.
Li Xueyue crossed her arms. "Get a Eunuch."
"Pardon, my lady?"
"You heard me," Li Xueyue deadpanned. It seemed none of them knew who she was. Whether it was for her benefit or not, she didn't care. Someone needed to explain to her exactly what happened.
The guards wanted to reject her command, but when they met her stony gaze, they couldn't do so. There was something about her aura that made it simply too difficult to refuse.
"Understood, my lady," the guard stated. He bowed his head and rushed off to find a Eunuch. But it was so late in the night. Who could be up?
As the guard wondered and searched, he came up empty-handed. He cursed his horrid fate. Why was he assigned to such a troublesome duty tonight?
He continued to wander around, until he finally spotted someone who could help. His eyes lit up upon spotting someone.
Was that… the Chancellor's son?
The guard stumbled over his footing. What was the Chancellor's son staying up so late for? He noticed the man was walking with his servants who seemed to be carrying a large stack of parchment.
"My lord," the guard stated. He approached the Chancellor's son and bowed his head.
The Chancellor's son, a young man in his late twenties peered down at the unexpected guard. What was this man doing away from his post? Nonetheless, he raised a brow and waited for the guard to speak.
"There is an…" the guard trailed off, unsure of what to address her. "There is a strange woman seeking the audience of the Crown Prince."
"What?" the Chancellor's son questioned in disbelief. "Turn her away," he snapped.
"She must be a crazy woman. It's the middle of the night," he added on.
"The thing is, my lord," the guard began. He glanced around, spotting the servants behind the influential Chancellor's son. He lowered his voice, making sure the servants didn't hear.
"The woman is residing within the bedroom assigned for the Crown Princess," the guard whispered.
At this, the Chancellor's son's brows shot upwards. Oh ho. How interesting. His lips curled into an amused smirk.
The Chancellor's son wanted to personally see the woman himself, but decided against it. The documents being delivered tonight were more confidential than usual. He'd need to do it in person.
"Return back to your post," the Chancellor's son instructed. "Inform the lady that her request to see the Crown Prince will be considered."
The guard couldn't do more than that. He just hoped the Chancellor's son was a lot more understanding of the situation. The guard bowed his head and hurried back to the Crown Princess's Palace to relay the message.
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