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211 The First Memory Fragment of the Pas

    The story began in pieces of memories. At some of these memories, her master spoke with more ease than at the others. But regardless, there was never a moment where he hesitated from doubt, or corrected himself. He knew his past well, as if each memory had been carved into his head. As if these memories, perhaps, were memories that haunted him in his sleep, memories that he could not forget simply because they had replayed over and over again too many times.

    ...

    In the first memory, he was no longer wrinkled, no longer white-haired, and no longer nearing the end of his life.

    He was a young boy named Yue Ze, barely something more than a child. Sixteen. That was the age where he first met her.

    She was the only young miss of the esteemed Wei Family: Wei Yunjing. He was the third son of the equally esteemed Yue Family. The two families, however, were competitors. Both of their fathers were considered as one of the heads of the legislative bureau. It was no secret that each one wanted to kick the other fellow chancellor off, and the two frequently had heated debates with each other. Their viewpoints clashed far too much.

    So during one chance occasion, where Miss Wei threw herself at him over the Wei Villa's walls, Yue Ze frankly didn't know what to do.

    It all happened because his master had fallen ill. When Yue Ze visited him, he was told to pick up some painting homework assignments that he gave before he fell ill. Yue Ze gave the argument that his master could get some servants to pick it up, but his master simply replied that he wanted Yue Ze, as his closest disciple, to give some artistic advice to the fellow students as well for each assignment. With his role as a disciple, Yue Ze couldn't quite say anything, so he went house-to-house like an errand boy.

    When he arrived at the last house, the scene was chaotic. The front doors were slammed shut, and there were shouts and thumping noises from the inside.

    Yue Ze looked up, then down at the list his master gave him, making sure that this was the right place he was supposed to go to: the Wei Villa.

    It was.

    That was when a girl's face, with messy hair, a forehead wrapped with white bandages, and large eyes, popped up from the top of the outer walls of the Wei Villa. Her eyes latched onto his, while he was still trying to process the situation.

    The girl then yelled out, \"Hey! You- I mean- Noble, please help me! I'm being kidnapped!\"

    Kidnapped?

    Yue Ze's eyes widened. He didn't even have time to react before the girl just vaulted herself over the wall. Instead of catching her, she straight up fell onto him, knocking him over, onto the ground. More shouts came over from the other side of the wall.

    She quickly sat up, seemingly fine despite tossing herself over the wall. This made sense. After all, Yue Ze was the one who cushioned her fall, and the one who fell back onto the ground on his back. She didn't seem to notice this, pulling him up with her.

    \"Come on!\" she exclaimed, \"Run!\"

    The door from the Wei Villa burst open, servants swarming out. She used a second to take this in, then launched herself in the opposite direction.

    Her hand pulled his wrist along with her. Yue Ze was unwilling at first- his back began to ache from the impact to the ground- but the sight of all these servants chasing seemed a little threatening. He found himself intuitively running along with her as well.

    He didn't even have a single moment to process most of the events that just occured. He could only go along with it.

    As the two ran, she called out, \"Do you know a good place to go?\"

    In a split second, he calculated the best road to take in the city. He signaled her over to turn to the left, and she listened. Now, it was him leading her.

    A few twists and turns later, the two found themselves alone, with the servants thrown off. They were also at one of the edges of the city, past a sparse section of trees, in a clearing where a young plum tree grew.

    Yue Ze was the one who planted this plum tree. This secluded location, at the corner of the city, was also a place he discovered and frequently went.

    As the Third Young Master only interested in painting, his family didn't pay him much attention. His two older brothers had far more accomplishments, so he frequently found himself in the background of things. Solitude became his friend, in a way, far more comforting than the presence of people and human interactions. That was how he discovered this clearing and quiet space surrounded with nature. No one ever visited this place, so he came to claim it as his own.

    The girl, who didn't question where she was, collapsed under the tree, her breathing heavy. \"Thank you- so much-\" she said while she leaned up against the thin trunk of the tree.

    \"They weren't actually kidnapping you, were they?\" Yue Ze replied expressionlessly.

    \"Nope. You knew, but you still helped me?\" She leaned forward, an incredulous smile surfacing on her lips.

    He folded his arms. \"I heard the servants yelling 'Miss' inside. You're wearing high quality silk. There were many servants chasing after you, one dressed like a personal maid. This is the Wei Family. I don't believe that a family like this would have the need in kidnapping someone like you. Let me guess: you are the only young miss of the Wei Family?\"

    She didn't answer his question. \"Ah. You know the Wei family?\"

    \"Not that well,\" he responded, \"Your father is the chancellor of the legislative branch.\"

    \"Oh?\" She raised her eyebrows. \"And your father is?\"

    He paused before giving an answer. \"Also the chancellor of the legislative branch.\"

    Her posture immediately tensed. \"How can that be? You're... not my brother?\"

    \"No. There are two heads of this branch.\"

    He almost wanted to laugh. Or cry.

    What was wrong with this girl- the person he presumed to be 'Wei Yunjing', the name listed on his master's list- for her to not even know these most basic details? From the start, her behavior had been so erratic.

    Yue Ze knew that his master had spent some time teaching the young miss of the Wei Family. It was all because this precious, treasured only daughter of the Wei Household had suddenly found interest in art, so they hired a teacher for her. He hadn't heard about this Wei Yunjing otherwise, however, but he didn't expect her to be this... strange.

    She seemed to notice how he perceived her. \"Wanna know why I'm here?\" she asked.

    He nodded for her to continue.

    \"You're right. I'm not kidnapped. I'm also that young miss you're talking about. But at the same time, I'm also not that young miss. You see- something happened- I am actually a soul from the future.\" She waved at her bandaged head. \"I am under the impression that the past owner of this body died after hitting her head under a table, and I, who shared the same name as her, managed to take over this body.\"

    Silent for a moment, Yue Ze let her words settle for a moment before replying with, \"You're joking.\" He set his jaw, unamused.

    She stared back at him, gaze unwavering for a few seconds. Seeing that he was perfectly serious, she exhaled deeply, waving her hand. \"Fine. Sure. Take it like that; it's a joke. I hit my head, and now I have a serious case of amnesia and craziness. That's what they all say.\"

    \"They probably all say that for a reason. I find it more believable,\" he remarked.

    Only a month later, of course, he would find out that she was absolutely not joking. Yet for now, he was just the stubborn, insolent boy that he was. He wouldn't accept any 'future soul' nonsense like that.

    \"Who are you, then?\"she asked with a little bit of sarcasm layered in her voice, \"Could I possibly know the great name and identity of my gracious savior?\"

    \"I'm Yue Ze, of the Yue Family. Your teacher is my master.\"

    \"I have a teacher?\"

    \"Oh. You might have forgotten.\" He glanced at the bandages wrapped around her head.

    She definitely had some sort of amnesia.

    Instead of being embarrassed by her lack of knowledge, the girl just patted the grass in front of her. A big smile blossomed across her face.

    \"Then, sit down. Tell me some more.\"

    Yue Ze hesitated. He probably had better things to do.

    Except, looking at this girl, the way she grinned unabashedly, and considering the fact that she had brain issues, it would be irresponsible for him to just leave her here.

    So he stayed, and the two talked, under the unblossomed plum tree.

    Later on, as he looked back at this part of his life, perhaps he would consider it a great luck that the two met on that fateful day. Perhaps he stayed and talked because it was fate urging him- the subconscious part of him that knew that the two would have a story together. Perhaps this choice, to help her in the first place, was the best choice that he would ever make in his life.

    Or perhaps, it was the worst mistake. This day, perhaps, was where everything began to go wrong.

    From the very beginning, the two had been fated to end with a tragedy.
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