Chen Chang Sheng walked towards the middle aged woman and bowed.
Even though he saw the person wasn’t Luo Luo, he didn’t turn around and leave because he knew this middle aged woman.
That night of the Ivy Festival, he was sent to the depths of Black Dragon pond by Mo Yu. After struggling against life and death, he finally broke through the seal and came back to the surface of the pond. This middle aged woman was next to the pond, perhaps cleaning her hands or washing her cloth and was almost harmed by a tricky squirrel.
He had guessed that the candle light in the Herb Garden was probably not due to Luo Luo’s return, but he was still a little sad knowing that it was not Luo Luo.
Glancing around the dark forest, he thought confusingly: If this middle aged woman is living in the Royal Palace, how would she appear at the Herb Garden? From her age, she should be a female officer at the royal palace. However, if she’s a concubine of the former emperor, then this would be a troublesome situation.
He was alarmed. He walked in front of the middle aged woman and gestured in sign language. He was afraid that he would scare the woman, so he kept his expression calm. His speed of gesture was also smooth and slow to not frighten her.
He asked her how she left the royal palace.
The middle aged woman looked at him quietly, but didn’t answer.
Chen Chang Sheng was confused. He gestured again, but this time even more slowly. He believe that his intention was clear enough, How did you get here from the royal palace?
The middle aged woman smiled and raised her right hand. There was a key between her fingers.
Chen Chang Sheng’s eyes were keen. Even though the lighting in Herb Garden was a little dim, he still saw the rust on the key, and there were two new scratches. Perhaps they were new marks, but the old key seemed to not have been used in a long time before tonight.
When Mo Yu left Tradition Academy that day, he saw the old door in the palace’s wall. Maybe this key was used to open that door.
Perhaps this middle aged woman has the permission to leave royal palace whenever she wants? Then her status in the royal palace was extraordinary.
The middle aged woman pointed at the stone table and gestured him to sit down,
Chen Chang Sheng thought for a moment and followed her gesture.
The middle aged woman turned around and glanced at a wooden house in the depths of Herb Garden. She was silent for a long time. Suddenly her left hand landed on the stone table and lightly knocked on the surface two times.
There was a teapot on the table, and two tea cups behind the oil candle.
Chen Chang Sheng understood her meaning and picked up the teapot to fill a teacup. He handed the cup mannerly to the middle age woman.
Although the tea in the pot had no fragrance, it was thick. It should be old black tea.
It was easier to see across the table. Looking at the middle aged woman’s complexion, she shouldn’t be a concubine of the former emperor. Perhaps she’s one of the female officers under the command of Divine Queen, she may even be the leader of the female officers. But Chen Chang Sheng’s respect for her had nothing to do with her status in the royal palace, it was only because she was much older than him.
He believed that the years a person lived for was an important factor. Just like the black tea in the pot, the older, the thicker and the richer, the more a person can taste from it. He was sad that he may not live very long so he respected the elders even more.
The middle aged woman picked up the teacup and moved it close to her lips. She took a sip.
Chen Chang Sheng noticed that her lips were thicker than those of ordinary females.
It was unmannerly for him to stare at a woman’s lips, even though she was much older and just average looking. Chen Chang Sheng realized his misbehavior and quickly shifted his glance, then he saw the other teacup on the stone table.
The garden was empty during the autumn night, why were there two teacups?
He glanced at the middle aged woman and gestured to ask if he can drink some tea. He had sweated a lot previously when he was helping Xuan Yuan Po with his wounds. He was kind of thirsty right now.
The middle aged woman didn’t look at him but she nodded lightly in approval.
Chen Chang Sheng picked up the teacup and took a sip. He noticed the tea was rich and soothing, it was a pot of righteous tea.
Even the famous teas that Luo Luo previously gifted him couldn’t compare to the seemingly ordinary black tea in this pot.
How a pot of tea tastes depends on the leaves itself, but more importantly, the person who boiled the tea.
A person who can boil such a pot of black tea was definitely of no ordinary status.
Chen Chang Sheng’s looked at the middle aged woman with even more respect in his eyes.
He put down the teacup and waited for her to ask a question.
But even after they finished their cups of tea, the middle aged woman didn’t say anything.
She sat quietly next to the table and looked around the surrounding of Herb Garden. There was no emotion in her eyes, there were only countless memories.
But Chen Chang Sheng wasn’t one of them.
Chen Chang Sheng was a little embarrassed, a little nervous even. He wasn’t use to this kind of silence.
As time passed, he slowly adopted to this atmosphere and didn’t think too much of it. He poured tea for the middle aged woman and himself, and then drank from the cup. Both of them were silent as they listened to the crickets in the Herb Garden. Slowly, his mind calmed and wandered off.
Only until then did he realize that he had always liked quiet and was used to quiet.
He never liked to talk much when he was little.
Only until he arrived at the capital did he really started speaking to others. He spoke with Madam Xu, Shuang Er, and Lady Mo Yu for some particular reason. After Tang Thirty Six came to Tradition Academy, he showed his true self and talked all day and
Chen Chang Sheng had no choice but to talk back.
He was tired out from all the conversations.
There was no rule saying that when two people sit together, they must speak.
Sometimes it’s fine to just sit there quietly.
Even if they need to converse, they don’t need to speak. A simple gesture will suffice.
It was as if he returned to Xi Ning Village. He was with his senior near the river behind the old temple. They were reading the Scrolls of the Way with the help of starlight. When they read up to a confusing part, they would gesture each other to communicate, then they would continue reading silently.
The river was just like Herb Garden at this moment. It was quiet. It was comfortable.
Xi Ning Village was a rural area. Every night, the region would be pitch dark so the starlight was extremely bright. When it landed on earth, it was like snow covering the ground. After Chen Chang Sheng came to the capital, he wasn’t used to the complicated relationships between people, but he never got use to the candle lights at night and the dim starlight.
After several autumn rains washed the sky of the capital clear, there were no artificial lights left besides the oil candle on the stone table of Herb Garden. The lamps of royal palace were also blocked by the dense forest so at this moment, the starlight seemed to got brighter than usual.
The starlight shone through the branches of the trees and landed on his face.
He raised his face and glanced at the starry sky. He reminisced about the old temple of Xi Ning Village and his senior, but the bright starlight made him squint his eyes.
Under the silver starlight, his eyebrows were still so clean.
He squinted his eyes and all the youth of him surfaced.
He was just as kind as usual, but a little cuter.
Just this moment, the middle aged woman switched her glare from the Herb Garden to him.
She looked at him quietly.
He was squinting his eyes so he didn’t notice her attention. He was reminiscing, thinking back to the past.
She was stumped while looking at him.
Her reminiscence had just finished.
She picked up her right hand and smoothly touched his face.
Chen Chang Sheng was surprised. His eyes opened widely and he looked at the middle aged woman.
He wasn’t used to bodily contact because he had no experience when he was little. Plus he didn’t know the woman; they had only met twice.
He instinctively wanted to back off, but then he saw the eyes of the woman.
The eyes were like a lake of stars. They contained complex feelings, but slowly the mood became sad and despair.
He didn’t want to leave so abruptly. This woman must have faced countless evil and dark things in her years at the royal palace.
Therefore, he stayed calm and let her palm move across his face even though it felt weird.
The woman’s hand was warm and thick. It slowly rub his face and Chen Chang Sheng’s body got stiff. Only after a long time did he relax again.
Suddenly, the middle aged woman squeezed his cheeks, just like an elder would do to a newborn infant.
Chen Chang Sheng couldn’t sit still anymore so he stood up. He back off two steps and bowed, “I need to go back.”
After saying this, he remembered that she was deaf and mute so he quickly gestured.
The middle aged woman saw his reaction and laughed loudly.
Of course, her laugh was silent. But a sense of pride and power was within her laugh. Everyone who saw it would know that she was laughing openly.
She didn’t wait for Chen Chang Sheng’s departure. The woman stood up and walked towards the depth of Herb Garden.
Chen Chang Sheng thought for a moment and followed up.
The nightly gale blew lightly, the leaves fell upon the stone table and swirled around the teapot and the teacup.
For twenty years, the teacup and the teapot had been used by its owner. No one knew how long it would be until the next time.
What surprised Chen Chang Sheng was that the middle aged woman didn’t go to Tradition Academy, rather she went straight into the depths of the Herb Garden. She arrived at the old and broken down palace wall. Looking at that old door, he then realized that her way was different from the path of Mo Yu.
The middle aged woman didn’t bother with him, nor did she mind him following. She took out the key and inserted it into the lock. After two clicks, the lock opened. The old wooden door was pushed open and she walked in.
Until this point, Chen Chang Sheng knew nothing dangerous would happen. He calmed his heart and relaxed the hand that was holding the handle tightly. He looked at the back of the woman and yelled lightly. He wanted to say something but the door unexpected shut quickly before his eyes.
She left just like this? He was stumped, but after realizing she couldn’t hear voices, Chen Chang Sheng was relieved.
The closed wooden door somehow seemed to be a part of the palace wall.
He looked at the door and was confused.
Were the things that happened tonight actually real?
Why were they so similar to the fairytales in the scrolls?
But the bittersweet taste of tea was still swirling around in his mouth.
That warm feeling of contact was still on his face.
He shook his head, turned around and left.
On the other side of the door exists a long hallway.
Around the hallway were moss and ivies, beneath the ivies were at least six types of traps and seals that could kill xiuxingists of the Starfusion stage.
The hallway was constructed with stone bricks.
The middle aged woman stepped upon the stone bricks and walked forward slowly. Her expression changed gradually.
Just after dozens of steps, a sense of immense power returned to her body.
That seemingly ordinary complexion became a great beauty.
Not the weak and soft kind of pretty, but the shiny and blinding type of radiance.
When she walked out of the hallway, the surroundings changed as well.
Under the night sky, the Royal Palace stood in eternity.