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WEI LI LIAN

'NO LONGER PRINCESS LE-ANNE'

YIYUAN

Later on, Li Lian awoke to find herself tucked in bed in a room she did not recognise. The room was dark and she presumed that a day had passed and night had come. She touched her body and realised that they had removed her white Lady of Art hanfu, changing her into comfortable silk sleeping garments.

Silk... could only be worn by nobles because of its expensive nature.

When she tried to sit up, her body rebelliously ached, dizziness intimidating her from doing what she wished to do. She shuddered for warmth as she pulled the covers over her.

Grand General.

Being with him was like a tornado of unknown feelings. Sometimes she craved to be in his arms, his comfort, then at times she was just angry at him for how he entreated her.

It would be not be presumptuous to think it was him who took her to this place, since it was him who she last saw when conscious.

The doors opened and a lamp illuminated the room. She quickly closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep. Few feet padded into the room, the door closing behind.

Li Lian slowed her breath to feign sleep. She didn't want to talk to him. How could she when she barely gathered her thoughts?
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Two fingers touched her forehead before moving to her wrist. "I think her fever broke. She is out of the woods." The person who was holding her wrist spoke.

Relief washed Li Lian like cold sea water on a hot day. It was a woman's voice and not one of a man.

"Grand General's room is opposite hers. What is so special about her that he is letting her sleep in his quarters?" Another woman who sounded younger accused Li Lian.

"Mind your business, you are just an assistant."

They were both assistants, Li Lian assumed. Only men could be physicians in Nevoria while the most title a woman could get was assistant physician. A derogatory system, indeed.

The woman treating her slid a spoon into her mouth with some bitter sweet medicine. Le-anne swallowed it without frowning in detest, wishing to keep up the act.

"What if she wakes in the middle of the night and harms him? The Ladies of Art say she is new, so she may possibly be a spy."

"If you do not tame your mouth, death will not be a surprise for you," the older woman corrected her assistant, "people die in the palace for just a slip of the tongue. Remember that."


"But Grand Consort Shu also thinks she is disloyal otherwise why would she call her Li'er? And ask us to observe her vitals to find out her true nationality?"

Li Lian's heart almost drummed out of her body. The one person she thought was sold out on her was actually the most suspicious person. How was it possible? She did everything right by her, leaving no tracks behind.

Though drowsiness attempted to swallow her, she struggled with it, desperate to know more.

What was going on?

Grand Consort Shu... so her mistress sent her out to YiYuan not because she cared for her?

The next time Li Lian woke up, she was struggling to breathe. Her body was sweaty and she was choking uncontrollably. The bird soup they fed her earlier was sending her body into convulsions. Since this was the second time within one moon that she was eating what was considered forbidden by her body, the consequences were quite severe.

She surveyed the dark room. There was no one. Who would help her?

She thrust her hand on the little cabinet by her bed and felt a cup. She touched it then it crushed on the floor. Her hands were trembling that she was failing to hold things too. Every part of her body was throwing its own fit to protest against her for entreating it without care.

Each breath she took was an instrumental noise, her throat the instrument and air being the fingers that played it. It was like her lungs existed not. Her head was fuzzy, and dizziness settled in making her confused. She held her neck tightly as if that would open up her throat and have her breathe properly.

Li Lian had to find a bucket or anywhere she could throw up. Her stomach muscles were clenching pushing bile up. In a feat of hysteria she crawled out of bed to the door. She weakly pushed it, to which it opened up for her to a dark hallway lit with small candles along the wall.

From her hazy sight she saw closed double doors opposite hers, most likely the chamber of the Grand General as the assistant mentioned earlier. Looking to and fro she was faced with the decision of whether she should go left or right. She has to guess which direction would lead her outside.

On a moment basis, she crawled to the left. Her palms slapped the floor, feet moping the ground while she dragged herself forth. Every movement proceeded from mental strength beckoning her to keep moving.

But in her condition that wasn't good enough. Li Lian collapsed her weedy body on the floor, weaned of all brawn.

A door suddenly opened from behind her. She saw from her peripheral a shadow rush toward her. The person slightly lifted her and when the familiar scent of ylang ylang and exotic herbs engulfed her, she knew it was the Grand General, there to save her again.

"It's you..." She ruggedly breathed.

"Running away so soon?" he grinned widely, shadows of the candles dancing on his handsome face. She shook her head and smiled back feebly.

"Then what are you doing here?"

"Bucket..." she muttered, then what happened next she did not remember. She only caught on to the Grand General loudly summoning for a bucket and the next thing she experienced was her stomach contracting, congealed contents with a pungent smell flooding out. She coughed loudly and gushed as he sat behind her holding her hair back, rubbing it smoothly. Few maids watched by she was only aware of him with her as she hugged the bucket, throwing up repellently.

What was a lullaby were the soft words of comfort that the Grand General whispered. Afterwards he lifted her back to bed then held her in his arms. They were warm and being in them again was not something she had anticipated to happen sooner from the last time. In them she felt safe and protected, no nightmares that had bothered her for the past nights could creep in.

She shifted in his arms, searching to hear his heartbeat which was not audible to her ears. Steady sounds were good when it came to calming her but she dozed off before she could find one.

It was not long when she opened her eyes again to the pressure of her bladder. And the Grand General was still there. His breath was not slow as you would get from someone asleep. He breathed fast, just as how dogs breathe when sleeping. A normal person did not breathe like that even when awake. Could it be that he was having a nightmare?

She was tight in the blankets while he slept by her on top of the blankets, still close for his heat to envelope her. She could not go out without him moving because he blocked the way for her. She shook him quietly and he quickly rose.

No wonder he heard her in the hallway. Even in sleep he was acutely alert.

"Everything alright?" he panicked. "What hurts... do you need the physician?"

"No," her heart melted. "I just need the toilet."

"Oh." He stretched his hard body and breathed deeply. She felt bad for waking him when he sounded so tired.

"You can go back to sleep," she offered. "I will manage―"

"Don't be ridiculous." He got on his feet in silent objection. "You don't even know your way around this place." His tone left no room for arguments.

So he carried her there ignoring her qualms and patiently waited outside while she relieved herself.

He could have asked one of the servants to do it for him but he did it himself. And after, he was there to carry her back. She expected him to huddle her but he didn't. He just sat down to watch her in the dimness of the candlelight.

It was not awkward to stare at the other. It was supposed to be but it was not. More than anything it felt familiar, felt right and meant to be. She fell back into sleep, like that. Staring at him and a picture of him in her mind.

They said a picture could speak a thousand words, but the picture of him spoke infinity.

S.V