Li Xueyue silently cheered on the inside. If Heiyue would return home without his Master, the stable boy would immediately alert everyone. There would be a massive search for her.
The Lieutenant sneered. "Let that horse go. He's blind. I doubt he will know his way back here."
Li Xueyue felt her hope instantly die off. Did Heiyue know the way back home? She hoped he did. Her horse was smart so he wouldn't get lost. But then again, it was their first time riding this far.
She had a bad feeling about this.
"Sir, what are we going to do about the girl?"
Li Xueyue couldn't even protest when a cloth was tightly wrapped over her eyes.
"Knock her out."
Her eyes widened. Before she knew it, a harsh blow was dealt on her head. The force was so strong, it felt like her entire brain shook inside of her skull.
It did not take long for her body to slump motionlessly.
"And the tiger?" the soldier said.
"He already left. Most likely to his master," the Lieutenant sighed, glancing in the direction that the tiger disappeared off to. He could not believe his leader would let it wander around like that without a chain collar.
No one knew how their leader tamed a tiger, but perhaps it had to do with the fact that he raised it since the tiger was a cub.
- - - - -
"Please spare us! We did not know!" a voice wailed in the distance as loud crashes could be heard.
There was the shuffling of clothes before the sound of men dropping to their knees could be heard.
Li Xueyue felt like her world was spinning. She was lying upon something soft and warm but did not know what it was. Her head was no longer pounding, but it was very sore.
With her eyes closed, she rubbed the spot that was bothering her. Everything was fine until it wasn't. Memories of what happened flashed in her mind.
Immediately, she snapped her eyes open just as the clink of a sword being unsheathed could be heard.
"How dare you touch her?!" a voice roared like that of a ferocious beast.
Li Xueyue had never heard something so frightsome. She nervously looked around her, realizing the lack of ropes bounding her together. Her eyes widened at the scene that unfolded before her.
"I should cut off your hands for this," he seethed in a low, dangerous voice.
A familiar back, a familiar posture, a familiar set of black robes.
She was dreaming. It had to be a dream.
What was he doing here? He was grabbing a man by his throat. The Lieutenant was being choked to near-death.
Lu Tianbi leaned against one of the poles holding up the tent, her attention focused elsewhere. She could not bear to witness the sight of her raging Commander.
Hu Dengxiao heaved a sigh, knowing this would get rough. When the Second Prince was aggravated, no one could hold him back. Not even groups of men.
There was no point in trying to hold him back. He would simply kill those who get in his way. That was how the Second Prince behaved. And that was what the soldiers had to accept.
Hu Dengxiao was standing beside Lu Tianai. He patted her on the back but she slapped his hand away.
"Yu Zhen…?" The words left Li Xueyue's mouth before she could hold her tongue.
It took two simple words to grab the Commander's attention. It was only his name, yet she was able to quell his wrath. Perhaps, it was not these two words that worked like magic. It was her voice, frightened and hesitant, like a nervous bunny.
What would take tens of men a long time to calm him down only took her a single second.
Commander Yu Zhen dropped the man he was holding. He turned around, a murderous expression on his face. But that did not scare her. He would never terrify her. She knew that much.
He would never hurt her. But she had hurt him.
"What do you want?" he snapped.
Li Xueyue opened and closed her mouth. She had never seen him like this. He had never treated her like this. After what she had done to him, what did she expect? For him to welcome her with a smile and hold her like he used to?
Li Xueyue wished she was stronger than this. She wished she was not weak. Her eyes watered and her throat tightened. She had missed him. Even if red flags were waving in front of her, she did not care. For his sake, she would pretend to be colorblind. Red flags, green flags, they did not matter. She never knew what she lost until it was gone. And the days without him had been tortuous.
Yu Zhen's expression hardened at the sight of her moist eyes. "Everyone get out," he seethed.
Lu Tianbi nervously glanced at Li Xueyue, wondering if she would be alright.
No one knew what happened on the Li training grounds. No one knew their great Commander was rejected for the first time in his life.
Nonetheless, Lu Tianbi couldn't do anything but obey her higher-up, even if he was a friend. Dragging Hu Dengxiao by the wrist, she left the large tent that was practically the size of a cabin.
The soldiers and the Lieutenant rushed out of the tent as well, wandering far away from it.
"Speak," Yu Zhen deadpanned, glowering at her. He was furious with himself, but also at her.
Li Xueyue had broken his heart, yet here he was, disciplining his men because of her. He should've never stolen the decrees. He should've quietly left Hanjian. So why the hell was he doing this? Why did he waste resources and men for her sake? Was it to see her one last time? Was it to give her a reason to go with him to Hanjian? Was it to see that tiny smile of hers?
There were so many things he wanted to say or do, but he held it in. He swallowed his pride and dignity for her.
Yu Zhen remained rooted in his spot, even when his supposedly broken heart yearned for her. She was going to cry. He could predict that much. Every part of him wanted to dash to her and dry her eyes. He wanted to reassure her that everything would be okay. He would slay her demons, so long as she asked.
But the thing was, she never asked. He still did it. At his own expense.
"You're wasting my time," Yu Zhen growled. He turned his back to her and headed for the entrance of the tent.
Li Xueyue panicked. The familiar sight of his disappearing form terrified her. She never wanted to see it again. She never wanted him to leave.
Everything within her told her to look away. To turn her back to him, to ignore him, to do anything but chase him. Yet, she did the opposite of that. She scrambled off the bed and ran to him.
Li Xueyue did not dare to touch him. She lost that right the day she played his heart. It was her fault for tempting him, for teasing him, expecting he would understand where everything came from.
So, she grabbed his sleeves.
It was the lightest of touch, a tug that would never be able to hold him back, but Yu Zhen instantly paused for her. He couldn't take another step forward. It was as if an invisible force was holding him back.
Yu Zhen cursed himself for stopping for her. Why was he doing this? He had already gotten his heart broken once and had yet to heal. But like a moth drawn to a flame, destined to burn and die, he waited for her to speak.
Hell, his heart skipped a giddy beat. He hated himself. If only he knew, she hated herself more.
One word, one command, and a lifetime of heartbreak for he did not listen to her plea.
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