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38 Must The Dragon Know?



WEI LI LIAN

PRINCESS LE-ANNE

If Luo Meng did still exist, he probably was a man who was married, with children and a family name to honor. What were the chances he would be willing to be with another woman―a foreigner for that matter? And what about the baggage she came with, a princess who must become empress?

So Le-anne decided that Luo Meng had to be forgotten; no matter the pain, no matter the heartbreak.

It was after an hour of heading North before Le-anne noticed the Military Grounds Camp flag. Slowly, grass thatched buildings rose from ahead, molded by gloomy grey soil that was lazily plastered without much care. Here and there were bush green tents that stood like midgets next to the tall domineering buildings. The gate was even less appealing as it was just two metal scraps that were held together by silver chains.

When she finally neared the menacing military servicemen that stood protecting the gateway, they did not utter a single word to her, but rather just leisurely crossed their spears as denial of entry before looking away like she existed not.

"I have been sent with a message from the palace," she held her military gate pass that the guard had handed over to her. Acknowledging the round wooden object that only consisted of the signatory's seal, they retracted their spears and opened the scrappy gate.

Le-anne was about to ask for directions to get around the place before realizing that another wall that had spiked glass at the edge of it protected the camp. By the second gate, she saw two military servicemen that set behind a built in desk.

Peculiarly, the two men were spitting images of one another. They had thin, pointed faces, that were almost femininely delicate with small goat-like beards. It was intriguing to see twins that had adopted the same line of job, but what was more intriguing is how they reminded her of the two eunuchs she caught spying on her and General Feng.

"Greetings!" she smiled sweetly towards them.

"Is this a girl or my eyes no longer see well?" one looked at her skeptically. It was rare for unaccompanied women to visit the Military Grounds.

"I, myself am baffled." The next one replied.

Le-anne squinted her eyes in suspicion, still not sure if they had met before.

"What is her name?" the first to speak asked the other.

Although the question had not been directed at her, they looked at her with great expectancy for her to respond.

How weird.

"Wei Li Lian," she blurted out without thinking.

"Heh? How can a servant have a honorific name? Has she lost her mind?" the second speaker looked at the first.

"Li Lian," she corrected herself. Shame on Mistress Kei for making her repeat the name thousands of times until it was ingrained in her brain.

"Her name reminds me of the girl who refused the emperor at the dancing festival," First assessed her critically this time.


Second riposted with much amusement, "The one who danced like a flower and thought the emperor to be a frog?"

"I heard she chose to kill herself than becoming a concubine!" They laughed loudly. It surprised Le-anne how news traveled faster than lighting and all the more how it was now entangled into a web of junk.

"Where is the pass and what is her reason for being here?" First frowned. Was it a thing for the military mongers to speak directly to people using indirect speech?

Le-anne presented her pass and sealed letter, "Here to deliver a message to the emperor's Senior Court Lady."

"Hmph." Second took her items and started jotting an entry into one of the books that lay on the table.

"Take this and carry it around everywhere you go when here, this is proof that you have been allowed entry," First instructed. "And you must take the left turn then right and there you will find the tent that belongs to the emperor's entourage." They handed back her belongings alongside a wooden small tag that had red inscriptions on it. Le-anne tiredly dragged her feet and opened the small gate.

***

"Brother, why did you not ask her to reveal her face. What if she is a spy?" Li Jun furrowed his eyebrows.

"Who cares? Has there been an invasion in this dreadful place, especially when the emperor is present?"

Li Jun whispered quietly this time, "But Brother… do you realize that you gave her the wrong directions?"

"Did I?" Li Jie tried to act innocent. "Waaah… what a shame? What have I done? Do you think she will die?"

They looked at each other for a second, their faces bearing serious expressions, then loudly they burst into laughter.

"She will die?" Li Jun cackled.

"She will die anyway!" Li Jie guffawed even louder and they fell into deeper fits of laughter.

It was a little while later when Li Jun immediately straightened, all humor gone. "On a serious note Li Jie, do you think we should let the dragon know that the woman who poisoned him is here?"

S.V