200 The Artist’s Infiltration, 2nd Edition: the Yu Villa

Yujia arrived at the Yu Villa soon enough, a wooden basket in one hand and a folding fan in another. The wooden basket that she held contained two layers, each layer holding a plate with three steamed buns on it. She got it from Chef Hong, who had plenty of these baskets for sending out meals to the various courtyards. 

The front doors to the Yu Villa were closed. Yujia raised her hand with the fan, rapping at the large wooden doors two times. A moment later, a servant dressed in dark blue— which seemed to be the signature servant robe color of the Yu Household— pushed open the doors, taking a look straight at Yujia and observing her robes. His eyes caught on the Lingxin Jade Pendant hanging on her belt. 

He spoke first, "Does this Young Master perhaps need something?"

Yujia nodded. Coughing and making her voice deeper, she replied, "I'm looking for your First Young Master. I am his junior brother, a disciple of Lingxin Pavilion, and I come on behalf of Noble Ye, who asked me to deliver some steamed buns to your young master. One of the disciples decided to cook for all of the other disciples at Lingxin today, and there were many extras left. We couldn't figure out how to get rid of them, so we decided to offer them to the other disciples who weren't here today."

"I see." The eyes of the servant trailed down to the basket she held. He reached an arm out. "You may hand them to me. I will see them delivered to the young master."

Yujia stepped back. There was no way she was going to give these steamed buns to the servant. It wasn't because she didn't trust the servant, but more of because the entire reasoning she told him wasn't specific enough. She didn't want Zixu to just take the steamed buns without knowing that she made them. That destroyed the whole purpose of repaying her "debt".

"I was told to hand them specifically to Senior Brother Yu. Besides, I have a few things to talk to him about involving Spirit Resonance and Bone Method. He promised to explain to me some of the details of Bone Method, and since I'm already here, it would be a waste to leave without knowing." She threw in a few art terms for good measure. 

The servant paused, thinking for a moment. He stared at the Lingxin jade pendant for a longer moment, then finally relented, "Alright. Young Master may enter."

He pushed the doors open wider, gestured for Yujia to follow, and led her through the Yu Villa. 

It was Yujia's first time seeing the inside of the Yu Villa. She found that the gardens and ambience of the villa were quite excellent. In comparison to the more flamboyant and vivid style of the Bo Villa, which she had visited previously, the Yu Villa seemed more tranquil and elegant in the way that it was decorated. 

It suited Yu Zixu's temperament well. Surely, the environment that he was raised in played a role in the kind of person he was now— serene and sophisticated. 

As she walked through the villa, led by the servant, Yujia admitted that she was a tad bit nervous. She was supposed to be married into this household, after all. But considering that she thought her disguise to be well enough, and that no one except for Yu Zixu had ever seen her face, she wasn't as nervous as the time that she snuck into the Yang Villa. This time, this infiltration was much less risky, in her opinion. Though being caught would lead to higher consequences, the chances of being caught were miniscule. No one would see someone dressed as a Lingxin disciple walking around in the Yu Villa and think that it was the runaway concubine Fourth Miss. The public didn't even know that Yang Yujia became a disciple at Lingxin; only those in the art world may have heard about Lingxin Pavilion taking a female disciple.

Therefore, Yujia relaxed herself, striding in the method that she practiced until she and the servant came to the courtyard of what she presumed to be Yu Zixu's. In such a wealthy family like the Yu Household, the young masters each had their own courtyard. 

The servant stepped aside, gesturing for Yujia to go ahead. She nodded and left a brief thanks, then stepped foot into his courtyard. 

Zixu lived in a courtyard that was somehow even more quiet and still than the already tranquil Yu Villa. He lived simplistically. A few plants and grasses grew along the edges of his courtyard walls. A stone table sat in the center of the yard, the path under Yujia's feet splitting into two smaller paths that wrapped around the area of the table. Under the window of one of his rooms grew a small flowering shrub. Find authorized novels in romanticlovebooks,faster updates, better experience,Please click for visiting.

That was about all in his yard— no ancient plum trees, no detailed greenery, and nothing too notable. No servants were in the area, now that the servant who brought Yujia here left. 

The door to his room with the flowering shrub was open. Yujia went there first, leaning in and knocking. 

Yu Zixu sat in there, at a desk, his head tilted down. He was reading intently, so focused that he didn't even notice Yujia's approaching footsteps. 

When she knocked, he jolted, but didn't even look up as he ordered, "Didn't I say to not disturb me?" He turned a page, then looked up, "What do you— oh." Seeing Yujia standing there, the irritated frown on his face morphed into his usual smile, his tone shifting into a kinder reply almost immediately, "Junior… Brother. I didn't expect to see you here. Apologies."

Yujia smiled back. "Am I disturbing you? Should I leave?" she asked. 

Zixu shook his head, waved his hand, and coughed. "No, I thought you were a servant. Come have a seat. What are you here for today, dressed like that?"

"I made some steamed buns. Had extras. Decided to give them to you," Yujia answered, walking forward to the opposite side of his desk and sitting. "Do you like salty or sweet buns?"

"If I'm to be honest, I prefer salty ones."

"Ah. Then good thing I made both." Yujia lifted the lid of the basket, taking out the first layer's plate. "They're still somewhat warm. You should try one."

Zixu took the plate from her, placing it at the top corner of his desk, but he didn't take one immediately. Instead, he noted, "Thank you, Junior Brother."

Yujia said in return, "It's strange to hear you call me Junior Brother. I'm so used to Junior Sister, even though I dressed today as a man for convenience."

"Is that so? Then… I should continue calling you Junior Sister if you are more comfortable with that." 

At the end of his words, Zixu erupted into a fit of coughs, holding his arm over his mouth. 

Yujia stared at all of this, her eyes fixed on Zixu. 

When she walked in, she noted that Zixu already looked terrible today. His skin was much paler than usual, dark eye circles lining under his eyes, and his lips almost colorless. He moved and answered with more hesitation than his usual, smiling self, who always had an instant, flawless reply to every conversation. 

And now, with the coughs… A few days ago, Yujia remembered that he was coughing on the carriage ride too during her infiltration of the Yang Villa, but they were only a few light coughs that Yujia didn't think much of. He was fine back then too. 

"Are you alright?" Yujia hesitantly questioned. 

"Me? I'm fine," Zixu dismissively responded, rising up and staggering a step forward, "Though my bad, I should've served Junior Sister a cup of tea." 

He walked in the direction of a table to his right. Yujia stood up as well, her eyebrows furrowed. Zixu picked up a teapot and a matching cup, pouring some clear tea into the cup and bringing it to Yujia.

Yujia accepted it with uncertainty. While her hand brushed over Zixu's as he handed her the cup, she noticed that his hands were shivering. She noticed that his whole body was shivering. 

It wasn't cold outside. It was in fact, fairly warm, nearing summer weather. Zixu wore a normal amount of clothes. He should have no logical reason for shivering. 

Unless he had a fever. 

Yujia's free hand flew up to Zixu's forehead, the idea of etiquette thrown out of her head, considering that Zixu previously told her etiquette wasn't all that necessary when the two were alone. Yet his eyes widened, and he immediately flinched back.

"You're burning," Yujia exclaimed, the brief touch she had with Zixu's head enough to tell her the answer. "You have a fever. You're sick. You're not fine! What are you doing, studying like that?"

"What?" Zixu spoke slowly and loudly, as if he couldn't hear her properly. "You don't have to worry. I told you before; I'm fine—" 

And then, his gaze slid and he collapsed forward, into Yuija's arms.
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