In the room, Wei Yi was seated on the ground. A bright ray of light abruptly shone through the door, making him squint. After a moment, he finally opened his weary eyes to see the person who just entered the room.
It’s the unruly Princess Jing Xuan? Whenever Wei Yi had met the princess, he had always been bullied badly.
Carrying a lantern in her hand, Jing Xuan strolled toward Wei Yi, and looked him in the eye. A few seconds later, she averted her gaze and fixed it on the bamboo strips he was weaving. She laid the paper, ink and brush prepared by Sui’er right next to him.
“Why are you here?” Jing Xuan asked.
Wei Yi lowered his gaze, shook his head, and continued making the Kongming lantern, all the while acting as if Jing Xuan was non-existent.
If this happened back then, Jing Xuan would definitely snatch whatever he was holding. However, she was no longer the brainless fool like before.
Getting no reply from Wei Yi, she squatted beside the latter, and placed her lantern on the ground. “Wei Yi?”
Wei Yi remained silent.
“Haven't you left the capital already? Why are you in the capital again? What brought you here of all places?”
Wei Yi paused what he was doing, and lifted his gaze to look at her. “I don't know.”
“You don't know? Then, what about Teacher Ji? Where's my Seventh Imperial Brother?”
“I don't know.” His gaze did not waver a bit. He had completely no idea where they were.
On top of that, he understood that none of them from the imperial palace was worthy of his trust, not even this woman who was standing before him.
Jing Xuan was left floundering. What actually happened? Does it have anything to do with Wei Yi? Or my Imperial Mother?
She pondered the situation, and all of a sudden, she jolted as if she finally understood what was going on. If Wei Yi is involved in this, it must be related to Ji Yunshu too. And if Ji Yunshu is in this, it must have something to do with Jing Rong.
Similarly, if my Imperial Mother is involved, Jing Yi must be part of this as well!
The only thing that involved both Jing Rong and Jing Yi… were the court factions.
The realization hit her hard.
Besides feeling shocked, she was disgusted by her Imperial Mother and her Imperial Brother's shameless acts.
She comforted Wei Yi, “Don't be afraid. I'll get you out of this place.”
“Where will I go then?” Wei Yi tilted his head as he asked.
Yes. Where can he go?
“Whatever happens, I'll not allow them to use you as their pawn. It was wrong of me to bully you the last time we met, so just think of it as my apology towards you.”
“Sure,” he agreed without a second thought. His gaze, despite his weariness, was no longer thoughtless like before.
Jing Xuan seemed to have noticed something. Her expression darkened as she mumbled, “You…” The words never left her throat.
On the other hand, Wei Yi seemed rather indifferent as he asked, “Can you help me make this Kongming lantern?”
The sudden question woke Jing Xuan up from her reverie. She merely nodded as she answered, “Sure, I'll help.”
It was as if she had returned to her childhood. She sat beside Wei Yi, and began weaving the bamboo strips and gluing the papers together.
It had been a really long time since she last felt like this. She truly wished she could freeze this moment.
When the Kongming lantern was about half done, Jing Xuan rose to her feet. “I've got to go now. I'll come and help you again tomorrow night.”
Wei Yi was immersed in his work, and did not reply.
Jing Xuan relighted the candle in the room, and placed it beside Wei Yi.
She muttered a few more instructions to Wei Yi. Then, she left with her lantern in her hand. Before she closed the door, she touched the cold padlock. After contemplating for a long while, she eventually locked the door behind her and left.
The next day, Jing Xuan summoned Sui'er to her room, and passed the latter two bags. “There are fruits in these bags. One is for you, and the other one is for Wei Yi. He likes them.”
Despite not knowing the reason, Sui’er promptly ran the errand. When she handed the bag to Wei Yi, she said, “The princess told me to pass this to you.”
Wei Yi did not even bother to look at it.
“You don't like it?”
He shook his head.
“Do you like it?”
Again, he shook his head.
Sui’er was puzzled. “The princess is really nice to you. Also, I don't think the princess is a mean person! But they told me that the princess used to bully you.”
Hehe. Wei Yi flashed a smile at her. “Do you like her that much?”
Sui’er nodded. “Yes. The princess has been really nice to me. She gave me a lot of gifts. Look at these fruits. They are from the princess too. She even said that she will bring me along to Huyi when she moves to Huyi for her marriage later. It’ll be much better for me to be her dowry than stay here.” What a foolish girl!
Wei Yi was taken aback. “She is getting married?”
“Yes. She’s marrying the third prince of Huyi. Later, when the third prince succeeds the throne, our princess will become their Empress. It’s such an honour to be able to serve an Empress.” Sui’er’s eyes were sparkling in excitement.
Wei Yi lowered his gaze to look at the Kongming lantern Jing Xuan helped make yesterday. Not only was it half done, but it was also hideous.
Seeing that Wei Yi was not answering, Sui’er called out his name. “Wei Yi?”
He lifted his gaze and said, “I don't like these fruits. You can have it.”
“But, the princess said that you love it.”
“Are you sure? It's alright for me to keep this?”
Sui’er held the bag of fruits in her arms as she laughed gleefully. She took out one, peeled it and stuffed the whole fruit into her mouth at once. “This is delicious!”
Seeing how satisfied she was, Wei Yi thought he made the right decision to leave the fruits to Sui'er. He smiled to himself but Sui'er noticed it. What a beautiful smile.
Sui'er, with the bag of fruits in her arms, squatted beside Wei Yi and asked, “Wei Yi, if you can leave the Imperial palace, will you visit me?” Sui'er kept staring at Wei Yi even though she received no reply.
Sui'er was rather disappointed. She carried the bag of fruits and walked away.
Wei Yi was left alone in the room. He stared at the wavering candlelight on the table. Then, he closed his eyes and leaned on the pillar behind him.
He did not know how much time had passed when he opened his eyes again. He went through the pocket on his chest, and took out a little book.
The cover read ‘Yunshu's Record'. It was the book Ji Yunshu left at Jinjiang’s yamen. He clutched the book in his hand without flipping through it. Then, he heaved a quiet sigh.
That night, Jing Xuan visited him again with the same lantern from yesterday. Just like before, she continued helping Wei Yi in making his Kongming lantern. Both of them worked without speaking a word.
After a long while, Wei Yi turned to look at her. He asked, “Sui'er said that you're moving to Huyi. You're going to be their Empress?”
“Will you ever come back?”
Wei Yi was briefly frozen, but quickly regained his composure. The two of them had not spoken a word since then, and focused only on making the Kongming lantern.
After about an hour, the Kongming lantern was finally done. Although it was not pretty, the shape was there.
“Can I go release this Kongming lantern?” Wei Yi pleaded.
Jing Xuan was hesitant. She sneaked out to visit Wei Yi when no one was around. If she was to bring Wei Yi out to release the Kongming lantern, someone would definitely notice them. However, she agreed.
They carried the Kongming lantern to the courtyard. Then, Wei Yi wrote some words on the Kongming lantern and lit it, letting it fly up into the sky.
Meanwhile, Duan’er arrived at Jing Xuan’s room and found no one in the bed. She panicked and quickly gathered around a few other maids. “Where’s the princess?”
The maids shook their heads. No one knew the princess’ whereabouts.
“Why are you still standing here? Hurry up and find the princess!”
Just when the maids were about to go on, Duan’er added, “Keep it quiet. Don’t alert Her Ladyship for now.”
The group carried their lanterns as they searched through Zhangzhi Hall. Some of the maids carried out the search outside the hall.
Despite searching high and low, they failed to find Jing Xuan.