WEI LI LIAN
The Grand Consort Shu was not happy about the idea that her most valued servant was going to a camp rather than serving her. It was the reasoning of Court Lady Park that made her relent, though she was not pleased.
Le-anne was just exhausted from lack of sleep to care about where she was going or not going, who was there or not there. She just needed rest.
"That conniving woman chose us because she thinks the emperor will not kill us due to us belonging to the women his Majesty respects the most," the Grand Dowager Empress' palace maid sniveled, "but the emperor is ruthless. He will kill us both!"
Le-anne sighed feeling plagued by the girl's insistent complaints. Emperor or not she had not survived long enough to die now. Besides, if her cards played out right, the emperor could fall for her that day. She just needed one night with the emperor and her woes would come to an end.
Le-anne looked around at the veld of long sunflower grass that surrounded them and seemed to run for miles, busking under the torturous sun. In her poignant dreams this was the kind of place that she ran around with her mother, laughing and playing around.
Trying to push away her feelings of chasmic longing, she looked ahead at the palace guard who was leading the way to the Military Grounds Camp. From the moment he joined them at the palace gates up to now, he had not said a word.
He was the one meant to ensure their safety and also be their guardian because according to the palace rules no palace maids were allowed to journey out of the Capital alone.
"Senior!" Le-anne called out to him, leaving behind the unbearable company of the palace maid.
"Senior brother?" she repeated herself and tagged along by attempting to match with his impossible wide steps.
"For speaking with me, they will execute you for committing adultery against the emperor," he said sharply, not willing to be of acquaintance.
"Senior brother!" Le-anne cooed and put her arm around him, but he stiffened and tried to push her away.
"What are you two doing?" the palace maid puzzledly asked from the back.
Le-anne tugged on him again. "Senior brother, please answer me and I will let you be."
"What do you want?" His adolescent like face scrunched with detest as he stopped in his tracks.
She got to the point, "Who do you identify as the Great General who has never lost a war among yourselves?"
"The emperor!" Both the palace guard and the maid answered at the same time like she had asked a common sense question.
It couldn't be.
Why would the emperor be a manwhore when he had thousands of concubines begging for his attention and why would the emperor steal her pendant when he had the whole world at his disposal? It couldn't be him.
"Do you know about the General that was once in charge of the Dura Mountain Camp?" Le-anne inquired further, only to be met with blank eyes that showed complete confusion.
"Forget it." She rolled her eyes and started moving. If General Feng didn't have any idea about the Dura Mountain Camp, why would a palace guard have information on that?
"Wait!" The palace guard ran after her. "I thought you..." The guard seemed to be lost for words and gave her a coyish smile. "Don't you?"
Le-anne blushed and kept walking. So his refusal for her had been his way of brushing his ego, after all? To any normal person, he was not being coherent but being a young lady who had seized the hearts of many men in her lifetime, she was certain about what he wanted to say. One would have sworn that he had no interest in her and was immune to her poor flirtatious ways.
"I do not know what you are talking about," she stifled herself from giggling.
"My stom... my stomach..." the palace maid called from behind, expressing deep agony. Le-anne turned around feeling concerned but also glad for the excuse to circumvent the pursuit of the palace guard.
"My stomach... it hurts..." The girl struggled to speak then dropped to the ground, clutching her stomach.
Le-anne hurriedly knelt beside her, "Young girl! What is the matter?"
"Help me, I am going to die." She grasped Le-anne's shirt as rivers of tears began to trail down her cheeks. "Help me, please."
Le-anne grabbed the girl and held her at a nearer proximity. A pungent smell that she had ignored earlier was now all the more detectable.
She knew the smell.
She had gotten a whiff of it among the herbs that Mistress Kei believed to be the most common plants used by concubines to bane one another. Le-anne closely sniffed the girl again then pushed her away.
"I understand you have family problems but how could you? How could you poison yourself?" Le-anne raved. "Is the emperor's rumoured temper worth that much to you?"
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