176 Observations of the Artis

    The boat eventually stopped at a path that parted through the forest. The fisherman pointed down the path, telling the two of them, "Go straight down that path, and you'll walk right out of the forest. You two siblings can't possibly get lost if you follow the path."

    Both her and Zixu thanked the old man and went on their way.

    Yujia felt a lot better once she was on land. It made a big difference to know that though a boat could flood with water or flip over into the river, the land couldn't just fall away at her feet. The water couldn't get to her anymore.

    Her legs still felt unsteady. Within taking just a few steps, Yujia felt her legs nearly collapsing under her. She immediately reached over for the nearest steady, tall object she could grab.

    She expected a tree. Instead, she grabbed onto Zixu's arm.

    Zixu froze. Yujia flinched away the moment she realized what she grabbed on.

    "S-sorry," she stammered, taking a few steps to the side from Zixu.

    The closer the two got to the city, to the rest of society, the more that the etiquette Yujia previously learned kicked in. She could see why people were so concerned with manners back in the day. Once one was fed enough of the rules, they became almost a part of instinct.

    While she may have grabbed onto Zixu's hand without letting go back on the boat, Yujia couldn't just grab onto Zixu's arm now. One, because her fear overtook all her worries when she was on water, and two, because she wasn't sure if Zixu was comfortable with her doing so or not. He didn't recoil, but he didn't say anything about it either. He could either feel extremely uncomfortable, or fairly average right now.

    The two may have fallen asleep under the stars together, but they were nowhere close to holding hands.

    Except Zixu ended up letting out a laugh after a second of being frozen.

    "Are you alright?" he asked with tilt of his head.

    "I'm fine," Yujia said- though this part was half a lie; she was still feeling dizzy- and she leaned down, pressing her hands against her knees to balance herself.

    "Do you need a hand to hold again?" Zixu turned around and held out his hand, his lips curled upwards and his eyes curving with his smile. Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click www.webnovel.com  for visiting.

    Yujia recognized the subtle change in his tone, the way his voice had a slight lilt to it, different than before. His smile was also more open, his posture more relaxed.

    These were the traits that Zixu always took on whenever he joked in his subtle, indiscernible manner. At times, before Yujia got to notice these little traits about him, she wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between a serious suggestion and a lighthearted joke.

    Only now, she noticed these things. Just like how Yu Zixu always noticed everything with his sharp eyes, was Yujia becoming more observant just like him?

    Regardless, she rolled her eyes, straightening herself again. "You're joking."

    Zixu didn't say anything and spun around, his expression not revealing a thing. Yujia stared at his posture from the back, trying to determine anything from that.

    She came to the conclusion that she was overthinking things.

    The only thing different was that he held his hand behind his back as he walked, but when Yujia thought back to whenever she walked by his side, he had a habit of walking like that too. It wasn't anything to taunt her.

    Yujia quickly moved faster to catch up with Zixu. "I'm sorry about before, if that made you uncomfortable. I wasn't thinking straight."

    "It's not a problem," he replied, his voice slow, "Remember what I told you before? Etiquette is only a show put on for other people to see. When there are no others around, what is the point?"

    "There was that boatman."

    "He thought we were siblings. I was an older brother who had a little sister that was afraid of the water. Why should I not calm her down by holding her hand? Besides, he was half blind in both his eyes. I doubt that he even paid attention to that."

    "Half blind?" Yujia stared at Zixu. "How did you know that?"

    Zixu answered as if it was common sense, "He squinted whenever we first called out to him. I thought it could be because of the sun, but when his hands were free from rowing, he still squinted as he looked to the distance. Would it not be more natural for him to hold his hand over his head to give his eyes some shade? Besides, we also look nothing like siblings, and our clothes are more fine in quality than the clothes that would belong to reckless siblings who would run out in the woods. He didn't question a single one of those things, or show any doubt in his expression when I told him our relationship. How could he not be half blind?"

    Yujia gaped a little, her lips parted with awe. "How do you notice all these things?"

    She thought she was observant just a few seconds ago, yet that was only with her long observation of Zixu over all the time that she knew him. Even then, she could only come up with a few ideas.

    Zixu, on the other hand, determined the old man's poor vision within the few minutes that they rode on his boat. Even then, when Yujia was observing Zixu on the boat, he wasn't intensely staring at fisherman either. He only glanced at him once or twice, while most of the time, he was staring at the scenery around him. It looked nothing more than just a carefree, sweeping glance over the entire landscape.

    His way of deducting all these things just from a few glances was a skill Yujia wanted to learn. It would be helpful to figure out all these things without having to uncomfortably and awkwardly stare at someone for a few minutes just to figure out their traits.

    "I had a lot of practice."

    His answer to her question was so vague that Yujia couldn't help but say, "Alright then, Senior Brother has to teach me how you practice, sometime, if that's the case."

    Zixu pressed his lips together, asking, "And how many favors is that now?"


    Yujia looked down at her hands.

    He had a point. She owed Zixu quite a lot for everything he had done in the past.

    Her mind went back to the more important favor she wanted to ask from Zixu. This was far more crucial than him teaching her a few observation tricks.

    So, Yujia followed up with, "Then Senior Brother doesn't have to teach me these things. But I want to ask something else from you. It's important."

    "What is it? I might not have time. Yesterday already took up too much time. I need to study for the examinations," he sighed.

    In all honesty, Yujia didn't expect Zixu to be one so focused on studying. She did know that he was a fairly hard-working individual, but things seemed to come naturally to him. She knew that this idea seemed foolish if one went to logically take it apart, but Zixu seemed bright enough to be able to practically absorb any study material that was thrown at him. Or at least, that was Yujia's impression.

    "It won't take up too much time. I promise," Yujia hastily explained, "It'll probably just last a morning."

    "What is it?" he questioned, pausing in his tracks.

    Yujia stopped too. She took a deep breath, looked straight at Zixu in the eye, and declared, "I'm poisoned, and I need your help to figure out if someone's been trying to kill me or not."
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