As Li Chenyang and Xueyue rode through the field, they noticed something strange.
They had been riding for a while now and were bordering the walls of the Li Manor. Looking ahead, they noticed a lump of clothes near the pristine white wall. When they rode closer, the metallic stench of blood assaulted their nose.
Li Chenyang's eyes darkened at the familiar smell. Heiyue whined and took a couple of steps backward, warning Xueyue. She urged him forward, but the horse refused to let her witness the scene.
When Xueyue gasped, Li Chenyang's eyes snapped to what she was staring at. There were imprints of blood on the wall of a handprint slipping downwards. It was almost as if a person was leaning on the wall for support before slipping to the ground.
Li Chenyang immediately stuck his arm out to prevent Xueyue from heading any closer.
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"Stay here, I'll go check," Li Chenyang said, climbing off his horse and walking closer to the body. He heard the rustle of clothes behind him and by the time he turned around, Xueyue was already an arm's length from him.
Li Chenyang sighed, placing his hands on his hips like an overbearing mother. "You never listen do you?" he nagged, flicking her on the forehead. "It might be a sight too gruesome for eyes like yours," he added, pushing her back a bit.
Xueyue tilted her head in confusion. 'Too gruesome for my eyes...?' she thought to herself.
Li Chenyang bent down and noticed that blood was trickling out of the body. His eyes lingered on the outstanding craftwork on the armor, sword, and helmet.
"It's a dead soldier," Li Chenyang concluded, not wanting anything to do with the injured man. "I'll inform Father and he'll have someone remove it."
Li Chenyang honestly wanted the man gone as soon as possible. It was dangerous to have a soldier in the house, especially when you don't know what rank and position he was in. For all he knew, this person could've been an enemy soldier from Hanjian, the enemy of Wuyi.
Li Chenyang wasn't Li Wenmin whose kind and gentle heart would be generous towards everyone he would come across. He was more logical and tended to see the worst scenario in almost everything. Right now, he envisioned his entire family being slaughtered or trialed for treason -- for housing an enemy soldier.
"Come on, let's go back." Li Chenyang began to walk off, but stopped when he realized Xueyue wasn't following him. He turned to see Xueyue peering closer at the man.
"Hey, step away from him. You might get your clothes dirty." Li Chenyang immediately walked back to her and placed a warm hand on her back to guide her towards the horse.
Xueyue didn't budge from her position. "He's breathing." She pointed to his chest that was slowly but surely rising up and down.
The man was a bloody mess. There was blood trickling down his forehead. His skin was hauntingly pale, and there was a big pool of blood around him. He was so close to knocking on death's door.
"Well, good for him," Li Chenyang dishearteningly said, not caring about this man's condition.
"We have to take him back to the house and patch him up," Xueyue said, eyeing the familiar symbol on the man's chest plate.
Li Chenyang scowled. "We are not going to save him."
"Because he's a soldier and an injured one too. If he's found dead within our house, it will damage our reputation."
"But we have to save him."
Li Chenyang shook his head. "No. We'll have him dragged out of our property. The risk of trying to save him is too high. If he dies during our care, our reputation would be tainted."
"He's a soldier serving our country! We can't leave him to die."
"He can die. Just not inside of our house." He shook his head. "Besides, he might be an enemy soldier-- Hey! Don't touch him. He's dirty!" Li Chenyang yelled when Xueyue used her handkerchief to wipe away the dried blood on the symbol found on the man's chest plate.
It revealed a dragon slithering around a sword and shield. Underneath the symbol was a carving that etched, "Wen."
Xueyue tilted her head as she began to think of any names she knew that had 'Wen' in them. Vaguely, she remembered something about a Commander. What was his name again?
"Don't you think his armor is too fancy to be an ordinary soldier? I think he could be a Commander," Xueyue breathed out, recognizing the symbol on the flags she saw in the Capital.
Li Chenyang scowled and thought, 'Just great! Now we really have to save him.'
"I saw a poster in the town that's looking for a missing Commander. What was his name..." Xueyue trailed off, placing a finger to her chin and putting on a thinking face.
After a few seconds, she finally remembered the poster. "Oh my god, I remember now! Wasn't his name Wen Jinkai?"
Li Chenyang's entire body stiffened at the name.
His face became slightly pale.
His best friend was missing?
Why didn't the Wen Family inform the Li Family? His throat tightened when he thought back to a memory of a battered young boy, hollow eyes starved of love.
"Let me see." Li Chenyang bent down and stared at the surname carved onto the armor plate. His eyes shifted to the pale face with dried blood dripping down the head.
Because it was too hard to identify the man with blood all over his face, he uncapped his jug of water and poured it over the soldier's face.
"Li Chenyang!" Xueyue gasped, hitting his arm. "How can you pour water like that on an injured person?!"
"It really is that bastard..." Li Chenyang muttered when the blood was slightly washed away. He was too distracted to realize it was the first time Xueyue had raised her voice at him.
Although Wen Jinkai's face was still smeared red, it wasn't enough to hide his appeal. Thick eyebrows, long lashes, strong nose, and a sharp jawline that could cut through stone, he was the type of man that could force a person to take a second glance.
Even with his eyes closed, Xueyue could tell he'd have the most piercing gaze.
Xueyue was absolutely awestruck by him, blinking rapidly. She faintly recalled a time that Bai Tianai fawned over this unattainable man.
Li Chenyang noticed her curious gaze and waved a hand in front of her face. "You can't have him." He chuckled, tossing the helmet aside.
Xueyue blushed before turning her head away from him. "I never said I did."
Li Chenyang laughed and patted her small head. "Well, we can't leave this fool here anymore. We'll ride back to the house and tell the servants to carry him back."
He wanted to have someone keep watch of Jinkai while he rode back to the manor, but the only other person around was Xueyue. He would rather risk his own life than hers.
What if Jinkai stood up and attacked her because he had mistaken her for an enemy? He couldn't take that risk, and decided it was best to ride back together.
Li Chenyang planned on helping Xueyue onto her horse, but he felt dumb when she fluidly got on by herself.
Her hair blew in the wind, making her look majestic even though she was a small child. Where has he seen the same posture and face? It was so familiar...
"Come on! We have to hurry." She didn't wait for him before urging Heiyue forward and the horse galloped as commanded. Faster than the wind tugging at her hair, she urgently rode in the direction of the house, fully unaware that Wen Jinkai was slightly conscious and had heard the entire conversation go down.
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