15 Completely Erased
From a window with the perfect view of the open field, a man stood watching Xueyue and Wenmin practice archery.
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His eyes were guarded and it was hard to read his emotions. But if one wee to look closer, there was the ghost of a smile on his lips.
Duke Li watched Xueyue patiently teach Wenmin the tricks and skills of archery.
Even though Wenmin was horrible and performing very poorly, she never lost her temper. Instead, she continued to teach him through a series of encouragement.
Duke Li stood with his back facing the door of his study and his hands tucked behind him. His eyes never left the people outside of the window.
A soft knock rang throughout the room and a man dressed in all-black strolled in. His face was covered with a mask, revealing nothing but his soulless eyes. From years of killing people without flinching and carrying out the Duke's dirty work, how could one have life in tFengr eyes?
His name was simple and just one character, because he saw himself unworthy of a full name.
"Feng, what did you find out about Xueyue?" Duke Li solemly asked.
His composure was relaxed. Feng was his right-hand man and someone he grew up with. Duke Li trusted his life was safe within the man.
Even though Duke Li had his back turned to him, Feng still bend his knees to kneel onto the floor.
"Her full name is Bai Xueyue, it was a name given by her mother seconds before she died at childbirth. Her father, Viscount Bai, shortly remarried Zheng Fanuo, his current wife, two years after the death of Xueyue's mother." Feng reported..
"Any mentions of her mother's name?" Duke Li asked.
"All traces and records of the mother was completely erased. Viscount Bai made it look as if the woman never existed at all."
Duke Li thought about what had said. Why would they erase the records of her mother? What were they trying to hide?
He turned away from the window to finally look at Feng who was still kneeling. His head was bend towards the floor and he had one arm leaning on the ground.
"What about her burial?"
"Viscount Bai had slaughtered every maidservant and wetnurse involved with Xueyue's birth. His former wife's death was kept a complete secret. Whereabouts of her burial ground was unknown."
Duke Li frowned at the information presented before him. What was the point of keeping tight lips on the death of his first wife? Everyone in court knew he was previously married.
He thought about the rumors that speculated around Viscount Bai. Gossips had said he was obsessed with his late wife, because of how beautiful she was. Her beauty was so fair, there was suitors lining up at Viscount Bai's door, despite the fact that she was already married.
Speaking of marriage, he remembered the uproar in society. Xueyue's mother was barely sixteen when she married Viscount Bai, and rumors had it she was pregnant before her marriage.
But the uproar was silenced because Viscount Bai had connections to the royal court. The entire ordeal was immediately silenced.
After thinking for a very long time, Duke Li finally said, "Investigate more into the mother."
"Yes, sir." Feng immediately responded.
"Now list the details of Xueyue's life to me."
"Not much is known about her. Viscount Bai and his wife kept Xueyue locked within the Bai Manor. Her birth and presence was kept a secret. Aside from the servants and Xueyue's guardians, no one knew about her."
It wasn't rare for fathers to keep their daughters tucked away in their wealthy Manors.
Many parents didn't want scandals to form around their daughter. Most girls of noble families weren't introduced into the high society until they were of age.
But mothers usually wanted their daughters to get well-acquainted with other girls in order to strengthen relations.
It would be hard to keep daughters from outstanding families hidden..
Even Duke and Duchess Li struggled to keep Minghua away from society.
Many people were curious about the only daughter of the outstanding and extremely wealthy Li household. They were curious if she was as beautiful as her mother.
Unknown to Duke Li, Minghua would occasionally sneak outside of the Li Manor to stroll and explore Lanbei. However, she was always disguised as a servant, so not many people paid any attention to her.
Duke Li turned back to the quiet Feng. "Find out more information for me. And only report back when you have a decent report."
Feng nodded, cupped his fists, and excused himself. He left so quietly, his footsteps weren't heard throughout the halls. None of the servants knew of his existence, and he planned to keep it that way.
"Look! It landed on the target!" Wenmin's loud shout brought Duke Li's attention back to the window.
Duke Li turned towards it and watched as Xueyue gleefully clap her hands. After four miss shots, Wenmin's fifth arrows finally struck the edge of their closet target post.
The seriousness and chilliness left Duke Li when he saw the bright expressions on Xueyue and Wenmin's face.
He was originally worried the twins and her wouldn't get along, but it seems their relationship wasn't strain.
Knowing his schedule was clear and empty, Duke Li spend the remainder of his afternoon watching the two practice archery for a very long time.
The more he watched their interaction, the more he began to see Xueyue in a positive light. Perhaps having her around wasn't so bad afterall...