My choice to support Commander An was not by force, but by my own willingness. Out of anyone, you should know loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.
As you had done for me when you brought me into your family, I am giving someone who may not have enough strength to grow. I believe with all my heart; he is a capable leader. Grandfather, Uncle, it was you who changed my life for the better. Now I wish to do the same for An Sun.
But I do not want you to look at this as a goodbye, nor a reason to wallow in remorse and regret. I am glad you allowed me the chance to decide my fate. You taught me the path of comfort is not easily given. It's fought for. I intend to fight for my peace, for our peace.
This is not goodbye. This is a thank you. Thank you for coming into my life and giving me joy, thank you for loving me and receiving my love in return. Thank you for the memories I will cherish forever.
Even if we can't be together now, we will be again.
I, your ungrateful, foolish granddaughter love you.]
Bai Han stood and stared at the letter in his hand in silence. Minutes seemed to pass before his hands clenched the letter in his hand tightly. The words inside were delicate and beautiful.
Just like his precious granddaughter.
As much as he tried holding it in, the pain came out like an uproar from his throat in the form of a silent groan. He suddenly couldn't bear it as his dark lashes brimmed heavy with unfallen tears; his hands clenched into shaking fists, in a desperate battle against the grief.
A lone tear traced down his old wrinkled cheek.
Bai Han's voice trembled, "Damn that foolish brat."
He glanced at the letter again, and his eyes were crinkled up in a smile. There was a sudden light in his heart. A light that wasn't there yesterday.
It was a feeling he hadn't had in so long that if felt foreign.
After a long time, he whispered: "I trust you."
He trusted his granddaughter's judgment. He trusted her decisions. Therefore, he should learn to trust An Sun as much as Rin did.
Bai Han folded the letter and placed it inside his robes. A light that wasn't there yesterday.
Outside on the balcony of the Jilin governor estate, An Sun leaned forward and held a gourd full of wine.
"That damn old man is testing my patience." An Sun's fist slammed against the railing, his other taking a heavy swig of wine.
Manchu leaned against the balcony walls and watched as the man emptied another gourd.
He glanced at the young man and said, "Sun, have you noticed you've drunken more since Bai Rin went missing? Especially so early in the morning."
"It can't be helped. I haven't had a seconds rest." An Sun grumbled.
Manchu nodded in acknowledgment.
"You're right." His eyes suddenly revealed a hidden glint. "It almost must be because of the discovery of the little strategist being a girl."
An Sun paused before replying in his usual magnetic tone, "I told you, I have no issue with Bai Rin being a woman."
Manchu's eyes curved with amusement. "That's not what I mean."
An Sun's brows furrowed deeper, his gaze swinging over to the man with a smug expression. A corner of his lips tugged downwards.
"Manchu, get straight to the point. I dislike beating around the bush." An Sun's voice held a slight coldness.
Manchu was used to his icy chill, so he thought there was no point in teasing him anyway.
"I mean, among all the troops you were the closets to the little strategist." Manchu released a mocking sigh. "Looking back at those moments for you now must be tormenting."
At that moment, a huge wave of emotion rose within An Sun's chest, even as he appeared calm while listening to Manchu's words.
His thin lips pressed together again, almost forming a straight line. His slender fingers grasping the railing of the balcony also tightened.
He once again recalled the clear white collarbone in the steamy pool and the night Bai Rin drank with him in her tent. Her round, flushed cheeks and misty, clear eyes as she smiled at him etched in his mind.
In the next instant, his mind went completely blank.
He was more than close with her, he was physically close to her!
The farther he looked back, the more shame he felt. The back of An Sun's ears felt a little hot. An Sun's deep, serious eyes were now filled with embarrassment.
Good god, he touched her thigh! He even held her!
Although the changes in An Sun's expression weren't apparent, Manchu had been observing him this entire time; he noticed when the glint in his eyes changed.
Even more so, after a few seconds, he noticed the sudden redness in the man's composed and handsome face. An Sun's skin was the type that tended towards lighter tones, so the flush of red was extremely obvious.
As he sensed the turmoil of emotions in An Sun, Manchu originally felt puzzled. That was until a sudden realization dawned on him.
There was a spark of interest in the glance Manchu tossed at An Sun. His eyebrows raised as he said, "Oh? Perhaps there is more that happened between you and the little strategist?"
Manchu just couldn't resist throwing in another jab. "Had she bent you before she bent?"
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An Sun body stiffened slightly. He shifted his gaze away from Manchu and clutched the gourd of wine.
"Shut up." The slightly hoarse voice was tinged with shame.
Although he had only said two words, that was enough to understand the turmoil of emotions within the young man. Manchu found An Sun's appearance entertaining but reframed from teasing him any further.
If he said anymore, he was certain the man would pull out his sword and whack him to pieces.
Suddenly, the sound of footsteps sounded nearby. Both men turned in the direction of the sound and were met with a Tuhan soldier hustling their way. Upon catching sight of the two men, the soldier strode over quickly.
"Lord An, General Manchu, Governor Duyi have reported a man at the front of the gates!"
An Sun finally loosened the tight grip he had on the railing. The burning emotions in his eyes also slowly faded away. "A man?"
The soldier nodded and didn't hesitate to continue his report, "From what I could see, the man had a small falcon on his shoulder and a carriage of supplies with him. However, when General Guo saw the man, he ordered them to bring him over."
"What was he so concerned about?" Manchu asked, his brows slightly drawn together.
"From what I overheard from General Guo himself, it would seem that the falcon on the man's shoulder was familiar."
A glint flashed through An Sun's dark gray pupils. His brows drew together, and he stopped sipping the wine in his hand to look at the soldier.
He darkly asked, "How familiar?"
The soldier felt his legs weaken slightly under his commander's grim, icy stare.
"He said it looked like the falcon that belonged to their young miss."
Without waiting for the soldier to finish, An Sun strode past him and down the hall. Manchu was slightly surprised by his hasty actions.
Despite Manchu's call, An Sun continued forward. With his quick movements, no one could see the glowing spark within his eyes.
He recalled during his battle in the province Guando, there had always been a small brown falcon gazing at them from above. When Rin's men ambushed his troops, he saw the brown falcon fly right back to the petite figure atop the cliff.
That bird…it has to be none other than Bai Rin's! Why else would General Guo rush to have him sent over?
An Sun hadn't realized that his heart was beating tremendously fast while he walked to the governor's office.
[Dear grandfather, by the time you receive this letter I will have already left Jilin with Commander An and his troops. If you may not know, Commander An's family situations have caused a complicated scenario that has caused me to make a difficult decision.