149 Crossbow

A thin slice of ascending light arced across the dark sky. The new moon appears, its edges behind clouds and silver stars shining brightly around it. Snow dusted the camp's tents and huts, yellow chrysanthemum blossoms clotted below, surrounded by the swollen night.

At that moment, the heavy boot of a guard crushes the blossoms beneath his feet, as he rushes toward a hut to relay orders.

The news of An Sun's death had finally spread amongst the other clan members. While others were surprised, most merely snorted contemptuously from the news.

There was no remorse or grief that day. Only scorn and relief for the bastard son's death.

Unaware, but even An Hongyu felt relieved.

Having raised the young man by his side, he couldn't deny the fact that he neglected him. When only a few years passed and he had seen the boy's achievements, he was surprised and remorseful.

An Sun had grown more powerful and wiser than many of the other children in the clan, attracting the emotions of envy and resentment. When An Hongyu thought to take him under his wing once more, he was cautious.

One knows a little neglect may breed great mischief.

An Hongyu felt it was only wise to cut off his resources and restrain An Sun while he still had power.

Now, An Sun was dead. All his feelings of caution and regret were no more.

Only relief and slight discomfort. After all, he was a son he took in, how could he not feel grief?

While lost in thought, An Hongyu heeded the voice of the guard in front of the tent requesting permission to enter.

"Come in, what is it you have to say?"

The guard entered with cupped fists and lowered his head.

"Great An, the trader Mister Wei is here."

An Hongyu's eyes brightened. "Does he have the items requested?"

"Yes, my Lord."

The previous gloominess in the clan leader's eyes vanished as he laughed.

"Well then, let's not keep Mister Wei waiting. Bring out the finest wines and meats for our guest!"

The guard nodded before stepping out.

Meanwhile, a frail middle-aged man with a wooden stick in his hand waited patiently in front of the camp's entrance. Not a second later, he perceived the sound of footsteps approaching.

"Mister Wei, the Great An accepts your presence. Please follow me."

"Oh, thank you." Wei Jingyi chuckled.

The guard nodded and glanced at the brown falcon on the man's shoulder. As if sensing his gaze, the bird flashed its beady eyes at him and tilted his head. Thinking nothing of it, the guard escorts the man forward into the camp.

With his back turned to the man, he missed the dull smile on the middle-aged man's lips.

At dawn, Rin carried out her errands at the market, earning the sales of various shops around her. Walking passed civilians; their eyes couldn't help but follow wherever she went.

However, what attracted her the most was not the girl's outstanding looks, but the pair of moist, bright eyes she carried. A single look seemed capable of seeing through anything, even human hearts.

While her young, rare features captured the hearts of many, it also attracted the envious.
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A group of young girls crowded near a shop and saw the girl enter the market. They all cast a look of disdain towards Rin.

"Look who's here again. It disgusting how she flaunts her looks when she's just a cheap slut." A girl rolled her eyes in scorn.

"Hmph, look she's got some bags under her eyes." Another girl also followed along.

"She put on weight too."

"Mm, but she's still so beautiful! Makes one want to scar her face a little."

Rin passed by the group and suddenly froze. The young girls who murmured stiffened and watched as Rin shifted her gaze at them.

With a faint smile on her face, she calmly and generously greeted them. "Good morning."

The girls felt slightly uncomfortable with Rin's soft greeting. Under her calm, expressionless gaze they felt the urge to retreat. However, they could only bear with it on account of being in public.

"Ah, yes, g-good morning," One of them forced a crooked grin.

After greeting the women, Rin returned her gaze and continued to walk around the market to proceed with her tasks.

Although she could hear the discussion from the girls and their opinions regarding her, it was no use getting angry over it. They could choose to say whatever they wanted with their mouths, and she couldn't control that.

She knew who she was and what the people she cared about thought about her. That's all that mattered. With this thought in mind, Rin's expression softened.

Holding the basket in her hand, Rin had finished her errands for the day and was quietly passing by, when she happened to notice something from the corner of her eye. Shifting her eyes toward a stall, her eyes brightened.

Without thinking, her feet were already walking in the direction of the shop. Sitting behind the booth counter was a buff, tall man, his head slightly bobbing up and down as he forced himself awake.

When the man saw the village's new beauty approaching his stall, his black eyes widened as he sat upright. He stepped forward to welcome her in delight.

"Welcome customer!"

Rin had a faint smile on her face as she replied to his greetings with a small nod.

"How may I assist you today?"

Though the man said this, he couldn't help but be surprised to see the delicate beauty showing interest in his stall. It was, after all, a weapon stall.

Rin looked up and glanced around the booth, her eyes glowing as they fell upon various weapons. At that moment, Rin's gaze landed on a wooden crossbow and her clear eyes blinked. A hint of a smile flashed through her eyes.

The man at the stall followed Rin's line of sight. After a moment, he cleared his throat and carefully asked, "Would the young lady like to hold it?"

"May I?"

Rin shifted her gaze at the man. Those bright, clear eyes were blinking at him so much that he felt uncomfortable under that gaze. He quickly cleared his throat and nodded his head.

"Of course." He grabbed the crossbow from behind him. "Here you are, and don't worry there's no arrow inside, it's safe."

When Rin held the crossbow in her hand, her expression relaxed. It was a small horizontal bow with a short wooden stock, easy to hold with only one hand. The trigger and firing mechanism was made of metal, it looked like bronze.

"Did you make this?" Rin tilted her head to the side. Her eyes were as clear as glass, and their pretty color sparkled brightly. Her honest expression generated plenty of goodwill from the man.

He laughed and proudly replied, "Yes, I did."

Rin's eyes on the crossbow remained as she softly stroked it.

"Beautiful." She whispered.

The man noticed her gentle actions toward the crossbow and felt somewhat surprised. He hadn't expected to see her so attached to the object.

Not to mention it was a weapon!

It seems there was more to this little beauty than others would expect.

Meanwhile, as Rin held the crossbow in her hand, a flood of memories emerged through her head. The thought of when her mother first taught her to defend herself and when she made a bet with Uncle Guo.

Such a weapon...held so many precious memories.

Rin moved her gaze away from the crossbow and softly asked, "How much for this?"

The man was about to reply with the original price but stopped upon seeing the girl's bright, big eyes blinking at him eagerly. He swallowed and cleared his throat.

"Ten silvers." He coughed. This was only half of the original price.

Rin nodded and took the pouch from her pocket and handed the man ten silvers. Luckily, her help with washing fishermen's clothing had earned her enough to afford such a precious weapon!

Not only was the crossbow good defense, but it would also help with hunting meat. This way, she could contribute to the siblings after everything they've done for her.

After delivering the man ten silvers, Rin clutched the crossbow in her hand and turned away. The man counted the silvers in his hand and suddenly paused when he noticed the girl departing.

"Ah wait, don't you need arrows?"

Rin turned in the direction of the man, a slight smile surfaced on her lips. "There's no need."

Though she saved enough, she couldn't possibly spend any more on arrows. Besides, she could make her own with wood and a stone rock from the woods.

After that, Rin turned in the direction of the sibling's house. A rare smile etched across her youthful, beaming face.
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