Xin Li Garden existed even during my ancestor’s time. It underwent a thorough refurbishment when my father gave it to me, and he even sought my opinion on a lot of things at that time. Everything here was practically done up according to my likings, and Thousand View Garden in particular… was almost entirely done up by myself.
The clear jade stones underneath Chu Liuyue were arranged in an irregular but uniquely beautiful pattern, which was formed with different shapes and colors. Rays of light were reflected off this jade wall when the lake water rippled in the breeze.
Chu Liuyue lowered her eyes as if she was captivated by the sight.
After watching her for a while, the guards paid no attention to her because they thought it was only natural for her to find everything here novel since she came from a lesser kingdom outside Heaven’s Canopy.
She let her gaze linger on the wall for a little longer before she retracted it. She couldn’t help but feel glad that the things here hadn’t been touched. It looks like Jiang Yucheng hasn’t discovered this place’s secrets during the past year or so.
One of the main reasons that she had exhausted so much manpower and resources to renovate Xin Li Garden was that there were many secret mechanisms—which had lost their functions due to the years of wear and tear—hidden around here. Naturally, her familiarity with this place included the knowledge of them as well.
Back then, Jiang Yucheng often came here to accompany her. During their conversations, he would casually drop a question or two about the secret mechanisms, but she only told him about the less important ones. It was purely for the sake of leaving a space for herself that she never revealed the important mechanisms—especially the one in the zither room—to him. But judging by the current situation, she felt really thankful that she didn’t mention anything about them.
Jiang Yucheng has always thought that the mechanism here is at the winding passage, but in reality… It’s actually hidden on top of the jade wall. Feeling slightly at ease after making sure that everything was still intact, Chu Liuyue glanced in the direction of the zither room that was across the lake.
There, Jiang Yucheng had just taken out a key to open the zither room. After unlocking the door, he pushed it open and entered the room along with Weichi Song.
The zither room wasn’t big and only had two floors.
A somewhat bitter but refreshing scent wafted to their noses as soon as the door was opened.
“Is that… the smell of rosin?” asked Weichi Song in a daze.
Standing next to him, Jiang Yucheng nodded his head. “That’s right.”
When Weichi Song’s gaze landed on the antique zither that was placed right in the middle of the room, he walked over to it.
It was a phoenix-tailed zither carved from red cedar and golden silk wood, and it had a rich red-brown hue all over its body. Delicate golden threads could be seen when the sunlight shone on them. One of the strings, however, was broken.
“I come here every other month to apply a coat of rosin on this zither,” explained Jiang Yucheng.
Weichi Song frowned when he noticed the broken string. “What happened—”
“It snapped when she played the zither for the last time. I wanted to get someone to repair it at first, but after much consideration, I decided to leave it alone. This is the late Crown Princess’s favorite zither. Even if it’s repaired, she’s no longer around to play it. It’ll only make us more miserable,” said Jiang Yucheng lightly.
Weichi Song nodded despite his agony. This is the first time I’ve come here ever since she passed away more than a year ago. I thought time had healed everything, but now that I’m here in person, I realized that’s not the case at all. The pain still feels as fresh as before.
“Master Weichi, everything here is the same as before. Just take whatever you want,” reminded Jiang Yucheng.
After taking a deep breath, Weichi Song looked at his surroundings before he took a few items from the first floor.
Jiang Yucheng stayed by his side throughout, feeling relieved when the other had only taken the things he mentioned to him the day before. But when the latter wanted to go up to the second floor, his expression suddenly changed. “Master Weichi, haven’t you already taken all the things you want?”
“Oh, what I told you previously was just a portion of it. There should be some more on the second floor. What, is the second floor off limits?”
Jiang Yucheng squeezed out a smile as he clenched his fists tightly. “How can that be? I’ll follow you up.”
After that, he took the lead to head upstairs first.
Weichi Song narrowed his eyes as he followed him up.
There were much fewer things on the second floor, but they were all well-placed.
Weichi Song surveyed his surroundings before picking up two items. He found it strange that Jiang Yucheng was behaving so nervously when nothing seemed to be amiss with the second floor.
“Have you taken all your belongings, Master Weichi?” asked Jiang Yucheng.
He’s chasing me away. Weichi Song took another look at the second floor before he finally decided to leave. But just as he was heading downstairs, something caught his eyes, which made him frown.
He calmly continued walking down the stairs when he heard Jiang Yucheng’s footsteps behind him and only stopped when he walked by the zither. “This zither… is really a waste…”
Jiang Yucheng couldn’t detect Weichi Song’s insinuation and only thought that he was missing the zither’s owner. Thus, he said, “Yeah. Not only is the string broken, but its owner is also no longer around. I’m afraid nobody in this world can play the zither as well as the late Crown Princess.”
“Oh right,” Weichi Song suddenly said. “You were saying that the string accidentally snapped while she was playing the zither?”
“You were here with her at that time?”
Jiang Yucheng’s gaze flickered. “No, she mentioned it to me the next day when we met.”
“I see…” Weichi Song mumbled before adding, “I’m sure she must’ve felt terrible back then. This was her most beloved zither after all.”
Feeling uneasy over the way Weichi Song spoke, Jiang Yucheng hummed assent and said nothing else. He then saw the former walking toward the exit.
He was just about to do the same when he suddenly heard Weichi Song say, “I can go back with Liuyue myself. You don’t have to see us out, Eldest Young Master Jiang.”
It suited Jiang Yucheng just fine since he had no plans of doing that either. Thus, he agreed to it. “In that case, I’ll go back and apply another coat of rosin on the zither.”
When Chu Liuyue looked up, she saw Weichi Song walking toward her while Jiang Yucheng turned around and entered the room again. She stood up and was just about to speak when she noticed Weichi Song looking a little off. Puzzled, she called, “…Master?”
But all Weichi Song said was: “Let’s go back.”
Chu Liuyue didn’t ask him any questions. Instead, she just nodded and left together with him.
The moment Jiang Yucheng returned to the zither room and closed the door behind him, his expression immediately sank. Why did Weichi Song suddenly ask all those questions just now? Everything was fine before that… Don’t tell me he discovered something? But… that can’t be the case! I’ve already tidied up the entire place beforehand!
He couldn’t figure out the reason no matter how he thought about it. Thus, he could only put his suspicion aside. I was probably just overthinking it…
Meanwhile, Chu Liuyue and Weichi Song had left Xin Li Garden. Neither spoke the entire way, and it was only until they reached a secluded pathway that the latter stopped. He bent slightly at the waist as he put a hand on the wall to support himself.
“What’s wrong, Master?”