On the quiet streets of the Capital, not a single sound could be heard except for the occasional footsteps of the patrolling soldiers keeping the city safe.
A man leisurely walked the empty streets before he turned a discreet corner down an alleyway.
"I know you're there." He shifted his chin slightly to catch a glimpse of the man following him.
"I made it deliberate."
"You have a lot of guts to stalk me in my territory," Wen Jinkai said, turning around to see the figure of a familiar man.
"I wouldn't call it stalking." Yu Zhen's voice was filled with laughter. The moon illuminated his features, revealing the even-tempered smile on his face. It looked out of place, especially with his indifferent eyes.
"What do you want?" Wen Jinkai did not have all night. He had places to be and a house to break into. His fingers tightened on the small jar of ointment in his hands. He wondered if prolonged time might form a permanent bruise.
"To warn you." Yu Zhen nonchalantly shrugged. He didn't care that the soldiers patrolling the grounds were Wen Jinkai's men. Nor did he care about the possibility of getting killed—if they could even get past his sword skills.
Wen Jinkai chuckled deeply, so entertained by Yu Zhen's words A slight smirk rested on his lips. "Last time I checked, these grounds are my battlefield. Everything yields to my favor here."
Wen Jinkai's face grew serious and eerie. "If I wanted to, I could deliver your head back to Hanjian. Do you think I care about this alliance?"
Yu Zhen tilted his head and mused, "It'd be fun to have your head spiked in the town center for everyone to spit on."
Wen Jinkai stepped closer, his face filled with threats. "Try me."
It was Yu Zhen's turn to laugh. "A small provocation and you instantly took the bait. They weren't lying when they said the Commander of Wuyi was nothing but an empty-headed man."
Wen Jinkai's hand flew to his sword and he challenged, "Let's not waste time on pointless talks. You want my head? Come get it."
Yu Zhen shook his head in disappointment. "Can't we have a civilized discussion?"
"Soldiers talk with their swords."
"Uneducated men talk with their fists." Yu Zhen clicked his tongue, his hand comfortably resting on the hilt of his sword. He was laid-back and carefree, his face as placid as before.
"All bark and no bite?" Wen Jinkai humored the man, realizing Yu Zhen had a point. They were both raised in the right environment.
Yu Zhen shrugged. "That's not what your comrades said," he paused, "Oh, wait. Dead men tell no tales."
Wen Jinkai's face grew more serious. Instantly, he unsheathed his sword at the same time Yu Zhen yawned and stretched.
"You get provoked so easily."
"What do you want?" Wen Jinkai snarled, tossing the sheath of his large sword onto the ground. It clacked and created a small commotion, but not enough to draw the attention of the soldiers. He wanted a fair fight.
"Stay away from Li Xueyue."
"Why should I?"
Yu Zhen's serene and untroubled expression instantly became stoic and stony. "A man like you will only ruin her."
Wen Jinkai laughed yet again, a dark edge to his tone. His eyes flashed with a warning. "As if Hanjian's backstabbing hierarchy wouldn't kill her. You're a Prince whose life is destined in the palace. Do you think she'd be happy in the palace harem who wouldn't hesitate to rip her into pieces and feed her to the pigs?"
Yu Zhen simply smiled. "Why don't you worry about your own court politics. Last I checked, the people that raised you tried to send her away to the enemy lines. And now they're toying with her life."
Wen Jinkai snarled, "I had it under control."
"How is Hanjian's Princess treating you?" Yu Zhen snickered. "You're being married off like livestock for the benefit of your country."
Wen Jinkai raised a brow. "Would you like to meet her?"
"In the grave I've dug for her lifeless body to be tossed into."
"You'd kill an innocent woman?" Yu Zhen seethed, instantly grabbing his sword.
Wen Jinkai didn't even bat an eye. "Why don't you go and ask her?"
"Did you really kill her, you son of a bitch?" Yu Zhen snarled.
Wen Jinkai didn't answer. "Duel me and find out."
Yu Zhen spoke with his actions. He uncapped his sword and tossed the sheath onto the ground, the heavy equipment glistened under the moonlight.
"You're the scum of the Earth," Yu Zhen snarled.
Wen Jinkai raised a brow. "As if you're any better."
"Does Li Xueyue know?" Yu Zhen's lips curled upwards.
"That you've sullied the Princess before killing her."
"As if I'd touch that vermin," Wen Jinkai spat out. "Keep the name of my woman out of your mouth."
"Your woman?" Yu Zhen loudly laughed. "You couldn't even woo her today. I saw what you did to her, bastard," he hissed as his fingers tightened on his sword. "You've hurt her."
Wen Jinkai's stony expression cracked the slightest bit. "It was fucking unintentional—"
"Tell that to the bruises on her back," Yu Zhen said before storming to Wen Jinkai, sword drawn and ready to duel.
In a blink of an eye, their swords clashed against each other, pure strength oozing from both men. Their forms were perfectly balanced and both men jumped back in defense before charging again. Their swords clanged and clashed, creating a loud commotion that neither of them cared about. The only thing that mattered was blood being spilled. When their swords met again, it was a whirlwind of iron and steel, raw power and brute, speed too fast for the human eyes to register.
"Who goes there?!" Guards shouted from behind them, holding up lanterns to guide their path. Instantly, they dropped to their knees upon seeing the murderous expression of both Commanders.
The atmosphere was thick and tense with promises of brutal deaths.
"Commanders, we were not aware of this duel. We apologize!" they said, bowing low.
Wen Jinkai's lips curled in irritation. The mood was dampened by the distraction.
Yu Zhen glowered at Wen Jinkai. "This is my last warning, stay away from Li Xueyue."
"She's not your property," Yu Zhen said in disgust, his eyes flashing with contempt.
"Neither is she yours."
"You have no right to warn me away from her." Wen Jinkai shook his head. "Besides, you'd never be able to keep her from me. What I want, I get."
Yu Zhen tossed his head back in a burst of thundering laughter. "We'll see about that." He picked up the sheath of his sword and strolled off into the darkness with the moonlight illuminating his path.
Wen Jinkai's face darkened before he capped his sword and examined the jar for any damages. There was none. He slipped it back into his pocket.
"Return to your post," he instructed the guards before disappearing into the night, a destination in mind.
Please go to https://www.qzxyzy.com/The-Rise-of-Xueyue/
to read the latest chapters for free