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170 Expedition of the Artis

    Times like these were times where Yujia missed modern technology. Life would be so much easier if she had her phone on her. She could just call someone to pick her up. Or she could just use a GPS and find her way out herself. Or she could search up

    "how to survive in the wilderness"

    if things really became that desperate.

    The wonders of the smartphone...

    But the reality was that she just had to be transmigrated into ancient times, as if she were the character of a novel, drama, or something of that sort. There were no smartphones.

    So Yujia had to do things the hard way.

    Along with Zixu, she caught Mimi from running away for the thirteenth time. Next, they tried to put together their lack of directional skills to come up with a solid plan that would prevent them from getting even more lost. It wasn't going to be a perfect plan, but there was that saying that two heads were better than one, right?

    Their plan wasn't too complicated either. It was all rather simple.

    They were just going to walk in a single direction until they walked out of the forest.

    Yujia's logic consisted of the idea that if they kept turning whenever they felt like it, or to the whim of Mimi, they would be walking in circles. But if they headed in one direction, and kept Mimi going in the same direction as them instead of running after prey animals, they would have to eventually hit something- perhaps a landmark or a road. Or even better, to find the exit of the forest.

    Thus, after Yujia proposed this idea to Zixu, the two of them continued to walk in what they assumed to be a fairly straight direction.

    Halfway through, Yujia suddenly picked up a topic she had on her mind for a while now.

    "So, why is there a forest in the capital?" she asked.

    Zixu thought about it for a second before replying, "I think it has to do with some tradition of some sort. And because of the walls you had to pass through to get here, though it might feel like it's part of the capital, it's really not."

    Yujia thought about it for a second, recalling any memories she had about the walls separating the forest from the capital. On all the occasions that she passed through it, Yujia never paid too much attention to it. She was a person by herself, after all, and there were only two guards who briefly looked at her as she passed through the open gates. If Zixu hadn't just mentioned this detail, she wouldn't have even recalled it. It would've just become a vague detail buried within all her other memories.

    "Interesting. Do you know how large this forest is, even?"

    "I'm not sure." Zixu said again after giving it a thought. "On the normal days where I take Mimi to go on walks, we don't walk far. I haven't ever tried exiting the capital in this route either. So I don't know much about navigating this area, especially when there's no road."

    "Oh."

    An old man told her the first time she went in the forest that if she went down far enough through the roads and turned right at a split path, she would find her way out of the capital. It didn't seem like that long of a road, now that she thought about it, to bring her out of the capital.

    To find out more about her speculations, Yujia asked, "I don't see many people taking the forest road to leave the capital though. There also aren't that many people going in and out of the gates. Why is that?"

    Zixu gave her a wry smile. Instead of replying right away with a thought, he instead said, "You have a lot of questions today. Do you think that I am one who has an answer to everything?"

    Yujia blinked, then put on an overly sweet smile. "Of course. You're Young Master Yu, my Senior Brother who should know everything."

    He paused at this, then tilted his head. "Your flattery is very kind," Zixu admitted, "but the best answer I can give you to that question is that I imagine that the forest roads are more inconvenient. They aren't paved too well, and if you take the wrong path, you could reach a cliff, or get lost- like we are now."

    "Ah. So Senior Brother

    does

    have an excellent answer."

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    "They're only mere inferences."

    "Then, Senior Brother's inferences are good enough for me," Yujia said with a hum and grin.

    She glanced over at Zixu's face and saw the corners of his lips twitching up. His eyes glanced back over to meet hers, and she hastily looked away and pretended to survey the area by looking back and forth a couple of times.

    Moments like this- where she half-teased Senior Brother Zixu and he gave his dry remarks back- were what brought her entertainment.

    ...

    It felt like at least two hours of walking passed by the time that they finally reached a landmark of a sort: a coursing river.

    Yujia stared at all of this, then stepped back a few steps, her eyes looking away.

    She should've felt celebratory that the two finally walked out of the forest, but the problem was now of what one could do with a river as a landmark guide. The capital had a canal, so maybe that had something to do with the river. If they walked by the river bank, would they eventually hit something else as well? Except, there was also the risk of walking in the wrong direction, and heading further and further from the city as well by walking along the river.

    Besides that, Yujia was honestly too exhausted. Her legs ached from walking. The Fourth Miss never walked for so long before, without a stop.

    And out of all things, why did it have to be a

    river

    ? The day had already been unpleasant enough. Yujia attempted to prevent those equally unpleasant memories from rising up by looking away from the river.

    She was tired, both mentally and physically. A headache was rising up. The memories were resurfacing again. This day had been a series of emotions, ups and downs.

    Yujia sat down by a tree and slumped her head into her hands. A few moments later, she heard the sound of someone sitting next to her. She looked up to see Zixu by her side, staring out to the river, his expression unreadable.

    The two of them remained like that, drowned in silence, for a long, long time.

    ...

    Meanwhile, during Yujia's expedition to finding her way back in the forest, Fu Yushang was panicking.

    Once he got his senses back, he immediately jumped on his black stallion and chased after Little Cutie. Yet Little Cutie was nowhere to be seen, and after a while of chasing after nothing, Yushang realized it was hopeless.

    He then pulled his horse back and headed out of the woods.

    He had to do something. He couldn't just leave Yujia with her life at risk, riding on Little Cutie!

    Should he organize a search party? Should he order all the men at his palace to go into the forest to find her? But what if she was already thrown off of Little Cutie? By the time he organized a search party, she could be bleeding with all her bones broken! She could be dead by now!

    At this thought, Yushang looked up with horror, seeing a familiar chestnut horse heading in his direction.

    Was that Little Cutie?

    Yushang leapt in that direction, looked and checked, and that was Little Cutie with no doubt. The saddle on her was the exact one that came from the palace stables.

    But the problem was, Little Cutie was alone. No rider sat at her back.

    Where was Yujia?

    Did Little Cutie throw her off? If the horse did that, then Yushang knew that Yujia wasn't a sturdy person. In his mind, she was possibly as fragile as a vase sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes.

    And if Little Cutie threw her off...

    All of her bones would shatter! She might get thrown on a rock, or hit her head! She might bleed to death from getting scrapes after falling! Little Cutie could trample all over her and crush all of her organs!

    Did she die?

    The fact that she was not on the horse only meant this one fact.

    She was dead! She had to be dead!

    Yushang stared at the peaceful looking chestnut mare in front of him, his eyes glaring wide with horror. In less than thirty seconds, his brain went through all those chaotic theories.

    Heavens, what was he going to do?
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