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135 The Fourth Miss In Red

    Needless to say, Yujia panicked.

    Her first action was to search every corner of the room. Upon seeing that she couldn't find the box of taels anywhere, she then proceeded to interrogate Hui'er which led to some interesting discoveries that Yujia connected with the little that she remembered.

    She recalled just blacking out after catching some sweet scent in the air. The next memory that followed that was waking up when it was already late into the morning. Hui'er's experience seemed to be fairly similar as well. When she finished discussing with Manyu, she walked back into the room and immediately felt drowsy, then passed out on the floor. Hui'er woke up only a few minutes before Yujia did.

    With the fact that they both simultaneously passed out, and that the taels were gone, Yujia could only come to one conclusion: she had been drugged with something that had to do with sleeping, and while she was passed out, her taels were stolen.

    There was no time to afford for thinking too long on these matters. On a typical day, Yujia might have even spent some time thinking about the dream she had and piecing together all the tiny details, but she definitely didn't have any time for that either.

    Without spending more than a second to prepare herself, Yujia ran out of the courtyard, heading in the direction of the courtyard where the Old Master lived. She had to explain herself- if she could just get one more day- or no, a couple more hours- she could get the taels to him. She just need some more time. Any amount of time would do.

    But when she arrived at the courtyard, all she was met with was the face of Madam Zhang. The Madam placed one of her hands onto Yujia's shoulder, then spun her back around to leave. "It's your wedding day, Fourth Miss," she said with a sly smile, "Why be so rushed to come to this courtyard? I'll be sending all your wedding materials soon. No need for any hurry."

    Yujia turned herself back around, speaking a little breathlessly, "I had the five hundred taels- five gold taels- yesterday night. They were right next to me. They're- gone now- though-"

    "How, then?" Madam Zhang raised her thin eyebrows. "It's not like your taels grew legs and walked, was it?"

    "Thieves!" Yujia exclaimed, "It must be thieves!" Her thoughts raced through her head. "Right, do you remember- a few weeks back, the incident with the thieves? It was never solved. There must've been some thief who targeted my taels-"

    "And conveniently decided to steal them right at the night before the marriage? How was it that this didn't happen earlier on? And, Fourth Miss, you never reported any numbers back to us from the start of the deal. Whether or not you truly had the set amount of taels is a skeptical truth. How do we know that the

    thieves

    that you claim so fervently are not just an excuse to make up for the fact that you never made it to the promised amount?" she replied, her voice sharp.

    "It's just that-" Yujia struggled to explain herself, but before she could say anything, Madam Zhang cut in again, her voice turning softer.

    "Fourth Miss- no, my

    darling daughter

    - it's alright. It's perfectly alright that you didn't come up with the five hundred taels. It's such an impossible task after all." A sigh escaped from her lips.

    Yujia's eyes widened. She never expected for this sudden attitude change from Madam Zhang. "So it's okay? I don't have to be married?"

    "Oh, no- when did I ever say that?" The older woman's eyes widened as well. "No, I just meant to say that it's fine that you never came up with the amount since you should be satisfied with your marriage anyways. You're already getting much more of a ceremony than typical concubines, and you can rest assured that the Yu Family is a good family to marry into. Now, now, why don't you hurry back to your courtyard and prepare yourself for the marriage? Perhaps say goodbye to one or two people, if you need to?"

    "I won't get married!" Yujia exclaimed, sick of dealing with this woman. "Let me talk to the Old Master- my father-"

    "He's still sleeping. And I'm sure that he'll have the same response that I do." Madam Zhang waved her hand.

    By now, Yujia was clinging onto every last strand of hope desperately. "It's already so late in the morning- surely he'll be up by now- please, just let me speak to him-"

    "Fourth Miss, I'll say this one last time, return to your courtyard. I won't have you delaying your ceremony with all this nonsense."

    "I need to speak to him! I won't be going through any ceremony." Yujia stepped forward.

    "Yes, you will." Madam Zhang clapped her hands, and two servants emerged from behind her, grabbing Yujia by her arms. Instantly, Yujia began to struggle, trying to push the hands of the servants off of her, yet to no avail.

    "Fourth Miss, if you will please return," the servants murmured.

    Yujia's eyes frantically glanced back and forth. "No-"

    "Well then, I didn't want to do this, but I'm afraid I have to," Madam Zhang mused with a sigh, tilting her head. "Escort the Fourth Miss back to her courtyard, lock her in her room, and watch over her until the entire ceremony is carried out. I won't be having any disorderly brides today."

    "Wait- what- no-" Yujia proclaimed in protest, but it was already too late. The obedient servants began to drag her away despite all of her struggles.

    The last thing that Yujia saw before she turned around and finally gave in to the servants dragging her was the cold smile on Madam Zhang's face.

    ...

    They had brought in robes of red a few hours after dumping Yujia into the room, locking the front and only doors in the room shut tight. Not even Hui'er, despite both of their loud cries of protest, was allowed to stay in the same room as Yujia. This left Yujia completely alone with her pure chaotic thoughts in the middle of her room, pacing back and forth until one servant brought in a tray with folded red robes.

    The servant who brought the robes left just as quickly, leaving Yujia to stare at the clothes.

    The situation that Yujia was in felt almost eerily unrealistic, as if she was a withdrawn outsider who wasn't going to get married to some old man. Yujia's fingers caressed the soft red silk fabric of the robes, looking at the bits of embroidery that peeked through the layers of red. The tailor did an excellent job.

    Yujia would've loved to wear the robes, if only she were in a different situation. But now, the more she stared at the robes, the more they were like a haunting realization of the reality that she was in.

    The doors to her room were locked. Yujia was alone.

    She seemed to be lost in thought, but that was when Yujia looked up and saw the windows at the back of her room. She knew how to open them, and surely they weren't locked. If she just planned things out carefully... then what she had in mind could definitely work.

    So, that was what it was going to have to be, wasn't it?

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