Lanxi stared at the image of his back, standing under the shade of another willow tree at a distance away, on the other side of the paved pathway. His white robes swayed along with the draping willow branches in the gentle spring wind. But why was she always the one chasing after his shadows? Did he actually see her? Or did he only see a stepping stone to the King? Perhaps it doesn’t really matter, as long as she is able to see him. That is all she hoped for. But now that he has finally reached his destination, does he still need the stone?
“Stop staring,” Lanyi suddenly spoke out. “You’re being too obvious.”
“Huh? What? What’s too obvious?” Lanxi pretended to not understand what Lanyi was referring to.
“Oh come on. How long have we known each other? You don’t think I know what’s going on in that head of yours?” Lanyi rolled her eyes, “Plus, pretty much the entire servant quarters knows about it.”
“Eh?” Lanxi suddenly felt a burning sensation running up her cheeks. She quickly stared away. Was it really THAT obvious?
Lanyi sighed and spoke tenderly, “It is better break off your feelings for him now. He’s leaving for battle in a few days. Once they capture Donghai, they may never return to Luoyang, again.”
She will even be denied the opportunity to chase his shadow? Is this the last that she will see of him? Lanxi stared back at the figure standing under the green willow branches. Her vision quickly blurred as tears gathered at the corners of her eyes. She clenched her jaw and swallowed her tears. Her eyes began to burn as she was afraid that a teardrops might fall down her cheeks if she blinked. This was public space. She must not cry.
“Even if they did, with Prince Ying becoming the new King of Donghai,” Lanyi continued, “His office will at least be that of a Chancellor, Prime Minister, or equivalent. At that time, he won’t be looking at a lowly maid.”
“He’s not like that…” Lanxi spoke quietly but firmly. Was she trying to convince Lanyi or was she trying to convince herself?
Suddenly, Lanxi saw him turn around. Was he looking at her?
No. His eyes appeared to be following a group of people stepping on shore, walking down the paved pathway separating her and Zhou He. As they walked in between, their bodies blocked her view of Zhou He. Lanxi recognized the one walking in front to be Yue Fei’er. “Strange,” Lanxi thought. “I have never seen that expression on her face before.”
Behind Yue Fei’er followed two men. From the way they were dressed, they appeared to be the captives tied in ropes earlier. Behind them, a few servants and maids followed. As the last servant exited her frame of vision, Zhou He once again appeared in her sight. This time, she saw his face instead of his back. Was he looking back at her? Or was it just a figment of her imagination?