Xueyue was startled when the horse suddenly kicked its front legs.
Luckily, her reflexes were faster than the horse. The minute she realized her hands were still tangled within the leather reins, she immediately hopped on the horse seconds before it raced forward.
"Woah!" she breathed out in shock when the horse lifted its legs and fluidly hopped over the fence. With the wind tugging on her hair and the force pushing her back, she had no choice but to obey the horse's desire to run.
"Damn it!" Li Chenyang cursed.
He quickly ran to the closest horse he could grab and hopped on.
"Li Chenyang, don't just leave me here!" Li Wenmin whined, running to grab another horse.
But before he could hop onto a horse to join the action, the stable boy immediately stopped him.
"Sir, you need to pay for the other horse that your friend hopped onto!" the stable boy exclaimed.
Li Wenmin groaned in annoyance. While he settled the price with the stable boy, Li Chenyang was trying to catch up to Xueyue's midnight horse.
"Slow down!" Xueyue yelped when the horse leaped over another hurdle. Soon, it ran towards the trading ports. She gasped when the horse began to head straight towards a fruit cart being pushed by an elderly woman.
"No, don't!" Xueyue shouted as she grabbed the reins and tried to tug the horse in the other direction. Her heart raced and broke at the idea of harming an innocent civilian.
"Heiyue, please!" She didn't know where the name came from, but it smoothly rolled out of her tongue.
Suddenly the horse jerked its head. Seconds before it collided with the woman, it took a sharp turn in the direction of the port docks.
Xueyue knew if the horse continued to run, it would go straight into the ocean. "Heiyue, listen to me. At this rate, you won't be able to escape! You're only running faster towards death's door." She tried her best to keep her voice soft and coaxing, even though the horse couldn't understand her.
Xueyue saw the approaching docks just a few meters ahead. Her heart raced with fear. Winter had just ended and spring was starting, which meant the water would still be freezing cold.
No horse or human could last very long in the icy water. They could both die!
"I know you don't like to be roughly handled or forced into these uncomfortable reins, and I'm really sorry for what I'm about to do now!" Xueyue took a deep breath and roughly jerked the reins. It forced the horse to slow down, but that didn't stop Heiyue from running.
Sitting taller on the horse so that she was more in control, she yanked the horse backward again.
Seconds before the horse ran over the port, it suddenly stopped.
Xueyue breathed in and out as she tried to calm her heart.
Releasing a snort, Heiyue stomped on the wooden deck. It creaked and rattled with the intense force.
Xueyue bent down and lightly rubbed the horse's neck. "I'm sorry, it must've hurt..." she quietly whispered as guilt settled into her.
Xueyue gently massaged the horse's face, hoping to soothe and ease the pain. She leaned closer to the horse. "Can you take me back to the horse ring?"
The horse neighed and roughly stomped the wooden deck which sent a tremor through Xueyue's heart.
She sighed, knowing Heiyue was rejecting her request.
"You won't be sold again, I promise."
The horse tilted its head to the side as if thinking about the idea of returning her.
"I've already named you, I won't let you go," Xueyue added on, gently running her hand through the horse's mane.
After careful consideration, the horse began to walk back to the ring. Xueyue smiled at his compliance.
Suddenly, she became aware of the eyes that followed her. A few were admiring her for being able to ride a horse without the proper harnesses and the others were shocked that such a tiny girl could tame a horse three times her size.
Which noble family's daughter was this? To have a talented and skilled daughter with bright beauty, the family must've been blessed.
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"Xueyue!" Li Chenyang immediately caught up to her. His face was red from urging the horse to run so fast and there was a look of panic and fright on his face.
He helped her off the horse and pulled her within arm's length.
Xueyue tilted her head in confusion when his eyes began to scrutinize every part of her body — as if he was searching for something.
"You crazy girl! How can you run off like that! Why didn't you hop off?!" Li Chenyang began to scold, his voice rising higher and higher.
He was beginning to garner the attention of a crowd.
The young women were in awe at how handsome the boy was.
"Do you understand you could've gotten hurt?! What if you fell into the ocean?" he continued to lecture Xueyue, his face growing dark with anger.
"How am I supposed to explain to Li Wenmin if you drown? What will I tell Mother and Father?!" He stopped rambling when Xueyue suddenly hugged him.
He stood frozen, his arms hanging limp on his sides.
"I'm perfectly fine." Xueyue's voice came out muffled in his robes.
He pulled back until they were arm's length. "You fool." He sighed in relief when he saw she didn't have any visible wounds. Hesitantly, his hands reached out, paused on top of her head, before gently patting it in a fluid motion. "You can't do this again."
"Or else I'm going to bully you."
"Pft, I know."
"Or else I'm going to make you eat bitter melons."
"Okay, Worry Worm." Xueyue obediently nodded her head.
Li Chenyang lightly patted her head, suddenly feeling guilty for yelling at her. He didn't know why he felt so worried to see her standing so close to the port. Perhaps it was because he has already lost a sister and didn't want to lose another. Li Minghua wasn't much of a sister to him, but nonetheless, they shared the same blood and that was enough for him to care about her.
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