129 The Fourth Miss Picks Up the Pas

    The sun hadn't even rose in the sky when Yujia woke up. Her room was dark. As she stared up at pure darkness, she couldn't hear anything in particular either.

    Hui'er likely was still asleep in her own room, which was a small room in the same courtyard as Yujia's. When Yujia walked across her room, pushing open one of the few windows, she caught sight of a darker sky with only a couple of stars. Based on the fact that there was no longer any sound of fireworks or drums, the elaborate festival that Yujia had missed was over. Just like that, the Emperor's and her birthday had concluded, stepping aside some room for a new day.

    Yujia didn't know what time it was. She went back to her bed and tried to fall asleep, except that failed after half an hour of restless turning.

    Soon enough, she gave up on the notion of sleep and decided to take a walk in the cool night air before morning came.

    The first thing that Yujia noticed when she stepped out into the courtyard was that the silence of everything was oddly soothing. There was always some sound in the Fourth Miss's courtyard. Since the servants lived in the same yard, sound came from the kitchens or the chit-chat of servants. Occasionally, Yujia could even overhear some of their conversations as she worked on various things, learning all sorts of pointless gossip. Now, however, there were no voices. Everything was pure silence.

    Yujia walked around the courtyard, but soon found herself bored of that. She headed out into the rest of the villa, finding with comfort that everything was quiet as well. It was as if all the noise in the world had been used up during the festival, leaving pure stillness behind.

    By this time, Yujia already had a decent understanding of the layout of the villa and how the courtyards were organized. She could easily walk anywhere she wanted to without getting lost. Yujia didn't want to go inside any specific courtyards though, so she merely paced around the different connecting hallways within the villa until she found herself at the front of the villa, where there were two closed doors.

    The front yard wasn't particularly interesting either. This nighttime stroll turned out much more uneventful for Yujia than she thought. Being stuck in a villa was definitely stuffy- she couldn't comprehend how so many young misses and concubines stayed in their respective villas all day long, for weeks, for months, for years.

    She was about to turn and head back to try to get sleep again, but that was when there was sound at the two front doors.

    Yujia froze.

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    Who could be coming to the Yang Villa at this time?

    She didn't have time to make a speculation, for in the next second, the doors were pushed open. A figure stumbled a few steps forward until he was under the dim light of a paper lantern hung near the doors.

    Yujia paused. She recognized who it was.

    The man who stood in the light was Yang Chen, the old master of the Yang Household, and her father.

    Yujia had no idea why he was here, or what he was doing out of the villa during this time. She didn't know what she would say if he asked her what she was doing either. But as Yujia turned around to leave, he called out one name.


    Yuxi? Who was Yuxi? Yujia recognized the "Yu" part of the name- it was the same one her name started with, likely- but her name was Yujia, not Yuxi.

    So, who was this person that he was calling for?

    It was too late to just leave. Yujia turned back around, walking up to the Old Master "Father, you're mistaken. I'm Yujia, your daughter."

    Up close, she could finally smell the scent of alcohol clinging to his breath and his clothes. She also watched as the tentative smile on his face dropped when he recognized who she really was.

    "Ah. Daughter." His eyes looked down, and he slouched against the wall.

    Yujia was prepared to leave, since he didn't look like he was going to question her presence, but curiosity got the best of her.

    "Father, who's the 'Yuxi' that you called me earlier?"

    He looked back up at her, the light from the lanterns reflecting from his glossy eyes. "Yuxi..." he murmured..."Liu Yuxi... she's..." The rest of his words were slurred, a pile of incomprehensible mutters.

    Yujia caught the surname of the mysterious person.



    Madam Liu. That was the name that Hui'er called Yujia's birthmother by. And with the fact that the two shared the character "


    ", could it be that the woman the Old Master was referring to was her mother?

    This only intrigued Yujia more. She never knew much about the identity of the mother of the body she owned. All she knew were facts told to her from Hui'er's perspective, which was surely lacking in comparison to her father's.

    With a quiet voice, she continued with her questions, "Is Liu Yuxi my mother?"

    Her father paused with his slurred speech. His eyes were surprisingly clear for a moment, his gaze stronger than the previous drunken state they were in. But then, they went glossy again, as he nodded slowly. "Yes... your mother..."

    Yujia didn't have to say anything. In the next second, her father's face scrunched up. His eyebrows drew together and his lip trembled the slightest as he drew in a shaky breath. One of his arms reached up to cover up his face. He dropped downwards even more, sliding down the wall until he sat, gathering himself together, on the dirt floor.

    "I don't- I don't deserve her- I forsake her- I- I regret it. So, so much."

    She had never seen the man before her like this before. He was always stoic, keeping to himself and never revealing much emotion to her.

    "What do you mean?" she snapped, her words coming out sharper than she wanted them to.

    A new mystery seemed to unravel in front of her. All of a sudden, so many unexplained things in the Yang Household that Yujia simply ignored seemed ever so obvious now- from the Fourth Miss and her past actions, to how everyone in the household treated her, to Madam Zhang's unexplained distaste of Yujia. At the start, Yujia brushed all of those things away, dismissing them under the idea that Yang Yujia was treated that way only because of her illegitimate status. Except, seeing the Old Master act like this in front of her tonight, in a completely vulnerable state, she began to wonder if there was something more to all of this.

    If this father of hers really loved her mother, how could he tolerate such obvious neglect of this woman's child that he spent so much effort bringing into his household? Why would he leave her mother alone and cut off all ties with that woman? Why even bother taking Yujia away?

    How did Yujia not see any of these obvious glaring issues in the past?

    Yet despite her desire to know, her father didn't answer her question. He only looked back up at her, both of his glossy eyes shimmering and both of his hands now tucked in the strands of his disheveled hair. The words that came out of him next were nothing more than a whisper, easily carried away by the breeze, so faint that Yujia barely heard the mumble.

    "Happy birthday, dear daughter."

    And then, his eyelids folded, his posture loosening up. His head nodded downwards, and he evidently fell asleep or passed out.

    "Father," Yujia called out, tentatively, to no avail. He didn't move, deep slumber taking his consciousness away. "Father," she called again, but she knew that he would have no answer.

    She didn't bother waking him up, or carrying him to the proper courtyard he belonged in. Perhaps it was due to the fact that she never held any strong emotion towards him that she felt oddly detached in this situation. Distant.

    Yujia stared at the man in front of her for a few more seconds. After that, she turned around and returned to her own courtyard, lying down on her bed.

    For the rest of the night, or early morning, Yujia found herself unable to sleep. She could only wonder about what the words of the Old Master implied, and what sort of story there could possibly be behind the Fourth Miss's complete background.
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