Considering all the work the girl had done for her, Rin volunteered to lend her hand.
That evening, carrying two bundles of fishermens' clothing, Rin and Jia walked to the cove. Their long skirts gathered and tied, the two crouched by the stream as Jia set up the washboard. The icy water froze her hands, the skin on them thickened and rough from years of work.
Jia looked up from her work and saw Rin folding the wet shirts on the side.
"You don't have to help me with this, you know. You're still recuperating, especially with your injury." Jia helplessly said, remembering the girl's arrow injury.
Rin shook her head while neatly gathering the clothes. "I don't mind."
After that, Rin turned to the side and tackled a pair of dark trousers, stained with fish blood and guts. Without complaints, Rin continued scrubbing the clothes in the icy water.
Jia had been observing Rin's actions from the side. Jia sank into silence and went back to washing clothes.
After the two finished, they took the bundles of clothing and walked back to the hut. While walking, Jia would occasionally steal glances to the girl beside her.
Unconsciously, her mind went back to the sight she saw in the woods that day.
When they had found Rin, she was covered in blood – an arrow wound.
Who could have done that?
Jia had been taught from young to help those in need and was less fortunate. Possibly because she had habitually taken the intuitive to speak to Rin, she hadn't noticed it until now.
She didn't know anything about Rin.
Besides small conversations, the girl was reserved, polite and would occasionally display a sincere expression.
Apart from her name, there was no other information.
It was clear from her mannerisms and appearance, she was raised in a well-put household, perhaps a young miss.
Jia's eyes glanced down at the girl's small white hands. Her young hands showed work; they were not the soft, knowing hands of a highborn young miss.
Who exactly was she?
Just as Jia parted her lips to ask, she suddenly spotted a familiar figure sitting in front of their hut. Upon a closer look, Jia's eyes widened.
"Aiguo! What happened to you?!"
Upon seeing his sister, the spike-haired boy quickly lowered his gaze and rushed to enter the house. However, before he could pass through the door, his robe collar was tugged, pulling him backward.
Jia kneeled and peered into his face. "What happened? Who did this to you?"
The young boy's face was covered in bruises and his spiky hair was slightly disheveled.
It was clear just by looking, the boy got into a fight of some sort.
"What did I tell you about fighting with the other kids? Being a man doesn't mean to throw your fists whenever you meet a conflict!"
Aiguo retracted his gaze and the corners of his lips stiffened indifferently. Jia frowned at his silence and took a deep breath to keep calm. She reached her hand out to touch his cheek, but the boy quickly evaded her touch.
Jia irritably twitched her brow and stood up.
"Stay right there, I'm going to go get a cloth with cold water. Hopefully, we can suppress the swelling."
Aiguo pretended not to hear her and averted his sister's gaze. Jia shook her head and turned around to see Rin watching on the side quietly. She looked at her with a complicated expression and compressed her lips together.
"Could you watch him for me?"
"Mm." Rin nodded her head slightly.
As Jia retreated to collect cold water, Rin shifted her sight to the young boy in front of her.
The two were silent.
The boy's head lowered slightly, his eyes looking down. Without a word, Rin collected the bundle of clothes in her hands and walked inside the hut, ignoring the young boy.
Aiguo was somewhat surprised by her muteness and turned to see her setting the clothes on the wooden table. Rin suddenly shifted her head and looked at the boy standing at the entrance.
Rin's voice was soft, but it caused Aiguo to feel slightly startled. Oddly enough, he listened to her commands and walked over.
Rin was still silent as she went to the kitchen and reached for a wet rag. Walking back to the boy, she kneeled and began to wipe the dirt and sweat off his face.
Aiguo was slightly dazed for a moment and felt a blush creep on his cheeks. Observing the lovely girl's face up close, he suddenly felt nervous, his heart pounding fiercely inside his chest.
Though Rin wasn't ignorant of the boy's unusual interest in her, she acted as she hadn't noticed and continued to wipe his face.
Rin was silent for a moment before she suddenly asked: "Do you get into fights often?"
Aiguo raised his head to look at Rin before he shrugged his shoulders.
"Only a couple of times." He muttered.
Frowning slightly, Aiguo's eyes were frosty, and nobody could tell what he was thinking. Unseen by Aiguo, the girl's eyes softened.
Rin casually threw the rag on the small table and reached over to pinch the boy's cheek. Aiguo woke from his haze and suddenly blinked his eyes at Rin with a stunned expression.
"I am sure you had a justifiable reason, however, did you try using your words instead?"
The boy's lips minced together into a frown. "What use do words have? Won't fists handle things quickly?"
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Rin sighed helplessly. She looked at the boy and couldn't help but think of a certain, fiery man.
Rin felt the two were vaguely similar.
Thinking this, her gaze involuntarily softened.
She stretched out a finger and softly poked the center of the boy's forehead.
"Raise your words, not your fist. Physical strength may be useful for the time being, but don't diminish the power of words. In the long-term, they can hold more power than a fist."
Aiguo tilted his head. "How?"
Rin paused for a moment and gradually looked into the young boy's eyes, her gaze becoming more meaningful. She said with a slight smile, "It all depends on the situation, but you'll see one day."
Aiguo stared in a daze. The beautiful, peach blossom eyes the shape of crescent moons and was accompanied by two beautiful dimples on her white, rosy cheeks.
Aiguo's face exploded into a furious blush again.
"Rin…" Aiguo cautiously spoke up.
"Hm?" Rin tilted her head.
The boy lowered his eyes before looking up to stare at the girl with a bold gaze.
"When I grow up and become stronger, will you wait for me? Even if you're old and no longer wanted, I'll still take you!"
Aiguo couldn't help but reveal a bitter pout. "Why not?"
"You are far better suited with girls your own age." Rin sighed.
"But girls my age are all flat-chested and ugly!"
The room was quiet enough to hear the sound of a needle drop.
"Ow!" Aiguo clutched his forehead.
"Someone once told me this was a light form of punishment for bad behavior."
Rin stood up and walked toward the table of clothes. Grabbing a set of clothing, she quietly began folding them as if nothing happened.
"Next time you encounter those people again, just remember to use your words first. If it comes down to it, then you may use your fists as you please." Rin said calmly.
Aiguo looked at the girl by the table and blinked his round eyes rapidly. He didn't know why, but he felt the Rin he saw now was far more interesting than the soft, fair girl he thought he knew.
Her words were sharp but meaningful. The look in her quiet eyes was darker compared to before, a slight chill running through his spine.
He suddenly felt that he liked this version of her more…
The middle-aged man extended his arms over his head. He looked up at the visible, cloudless sky and breathed out a cloud of white fog.
"What a beautiful view. Don't you think, Ju?"
The small brown falcon on the man's shoulder flashes its beady black eyes and remains silent. Wei Jingyi chuckles as he strokes its head gently. The mountain is pristine and white, even the dark green of the pines are coated in the crystalline snow.
"Your master is rather heartless with her requests." He sighed when thinking of the long journey ahead.
Wei Jingyi grazed his head and looked down at the paper in his hand. The girl's letter was blunt, but it explained all the necessary details he had to grasp about the situation concisely.
[Head North. Divert the Head An from Sun]
Wei Jingyi's lips curled into a helpless grin. He murmured, "Who would have thought the girl would be so kind to that ruthless commander."
Glancing back up at the mountain path, Wei Jingyi tucked the letter into his clothes once he was done reading. He clutched the wooden staff in his hand and stepped forward to his task.
Over the last week in Su Village, Rin had grown accustomed to the general routes and civilians within the market. Rin learned as extra work, Jia volunteered to wash a few fishermens' clothing.