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134 Dream Fragments of the Fourth Miss

    Yujia was in a land of white fog. Stretching from every corner that she could see was billowing white fog, rising up to her knees and rolling over her bare feet as she walked through it. She looked down and saw herself dressed in not white robes, which she would be familiar with, but a white dress that was almost contemporary. The thin material cut short at her knees and hung from her shoulders in thin straps. Though the blurred air that she touched felt cold to her fingertips, she felt oddly numb from the cold.

    Her thoughts were all muddled. All of her attempts to think clearly fell apart- she didn't seem to want to think much at all. The only thing she knew was that she wanted to walk through all of the fog, into the endless whiteness. The desire to walk almost felt like an instinct, something she had to do for no particular reason besides the feeling tugging at her heart.

    She walked, and walked, and walked.

    Time flowed by like the slow motion of the fog. Her motions felt fluid, each step that she took feeling quite like she was walking on air. There was a sense of weightlessness enveloping her.

    After much more walking, Yujia finally looked down, noticing that the fog had parted at her feet, revealing a reflective surface, shining like a mirror, beneath her.

    In the mirror, she saw her own face. Not the face that she had gradually grown used to, the face of the Fourth Miss with all her slender and delicate features, but the rough structure of her true face. The face she carried for twenty-four years of her past life.

    It felt like a long time since she saw that face of hers, the one with all the imperfections that she constantly noticed and hated about her past self. Some things about it seemed changed though- maybe it was the remaining bits of fog shifting the appearance of the reflection. The skin on her face looked smoother, free of the blemishes or redness that bothered her so much in the past. Her eyes seemed darker, and the persistent dark circles under them had vanished. Her lips held color to them for once, instead of being pale and colorless.

    Yujia lowered herself to her knees, one of her hands reaching out to brush over the face reflected back at her. She tried to fit herself into the identity of the Fourth Miss so much that she nearly forgot about this face.

    Yet with the thought of the body of the Fourth Miss, the face in the mirror-like floor shifted with rippling motions like water. The eyes of the face grew larger. The nose grew slimmer, and so did the lips. The skin of the face turned even paler and more flawless. The eyebrows became willow-like, and the eyelashes framing the eyes lengthened.

    Just like the previous face that Yujia saw, she knew this face as well. It was the exact face of the Fourth Miss. Yujia stared at the face, her heart racing in her chest with... was it terror? Or no, pure surprise.

    It wasn't the sudden change that surprised her, or the shocking difference between the two faces. Rather, she was surprised by exactly how much more

    familiar

    the face that she saw now was. This was the face that she saw for the past month every single morning while Hui'er did her hair. It was the face that she caught occasionally when she glanced at reflections in the water, or a smooth metallic surface. Somehow, because of all of that, she felt like the face in the reflection was more hers.

    Yet she carried her previous face for more than twenty years. How could this newer, prettier face that she only owned for a month seem so much more like

    her

    face? Why was it that when she tried to think of what she looked like, this was the first face that she recalled?

    With these new questions that emerged in her mind, the face reflected below her began to shift chaotically. Each of the features flashed back and forth between the two completely opposite features of the two faces that Yujia owned. They clashed together in a complete mess, looking like they belonged more in an abstract piece than a face from reality.

    Yujia could only stare at all of this in horror.

    Eventually, the shifting paused. The face settled on the face that Yujia knew from modern times, the one that seemed more foreign to her.

    That was when a dim shadow loomed over her kneeling figure.

    Yujia looked up, seeing herself. Or, actually, the Fourth Miss.

    It was't a reflection. This part was clear. The person who stood over her was another entity, dressed in white robes with long sleeves that fluttered in the breeze. It looked exactly like the body of the Fourth Miss that Yujia knew, except it had two pairs of swirling silver orbs in place of her usually dark irises.

    Remaining in her kneeling position, Yujia found that she couldn't move in front of this person. Her body was frozen in place. She couldn't even raise the strength to lift a single finger. All she could do was to look back at the other.

    When the body in front of her opened her mouth, Yujia expected to hear the light voice that she was used to speaking in. Instead, she heard a rumbling voice as deep as thunder. The voice echoed though all of the endless whiteness, and the world trembled from it.

    "

    What have you learned?

    " it asked.

    Yujia found that she could open her mouth. Shakingly, she replied, "I-"

    What has she learned?

    What a strange question. Had she learned anything?

    Seeing that she was hesitating in her answer, the voice continued firmly, "

    Not enough. You have not learned enough.

    "

    It waved its hand, almost as if it were ready to dismiss Yujia, but Yujia's eyes suddenly widened. Her thoughts cleared in an instant, her consciousness rushing back to her and taking in the situation within a second. She found that she could move, and her hands reached out instinctively.

    "Wait!" she cried out, "Who are you? What do you mean by what I've learned?"

    For some reason, Yujia seemed to just know that this person was not anything ordinary- and that it had the answers that she needed.

    "

    Too late

    ," the voice echoed again, "

    All too late

    ."

    It backed away a step. Yujia's eyebrows tightened, and she flinched, reaching out to grab the sleeves of the person as if that could keep them from leaving.

    Yet, right before her eyes, Yujia watched as a few white chrysanthemums sprouted out of the two eyes and fingertips of the person she grabbed, growing at a rapid speed until the entire body was encased with the flowers. A breeze blew by the tower of chrysanthemums, and then, the shell of chrysanthemums scattered to the floor.

    The person simply vanished. It only left flowers behind.

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    Yujia found herself gripping onto a few white petals in her hands instead of the fabric that she was expecting. She stared at the petals, her hands trembling.

    The world then fell apart.

    ...

    When Yujia woke up, she found that her neck hurt. She blinked a couple of times and raised her head. As she rubbed the back of her neck, she looked around the room filled with sunlight.

    That was when Hui'er appeared in her vision, shouting, "Miss, the taels- they're- they're gone!"
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