"Adopt...me?" Rin spoke in a whisper with a glazed expression.
"En. However, I understand if you sincerely wish to refuse and move elsewhere." Commander Bai spoke almost immediately.
Rin's innocent gaze on the Commander remained for a few possible minutes, slowly shifting down towards her rosy palms. She stared there for a while in breathless silence lost in thought.
He was allowing her a choice. A choice to have a family again. A choice that could possibly alter her fate forever.
Rin hadn't really planned what she'd do once she entered the neighboring city. She could get a job and work there until she grew stronger.
However, the possible chances of a puny child getting a job would be tough.
She'd most likely spend most nights sleeping comfortably in the woods with Ju until she got one.
But...how come she was hesitating?
Typically, had it been before she would have courteously declined on the spot, however, somehow thinking of abandoning the Bai army, Commander Bai and surprisingly even General Guo produced an unknown yet familiar pain to her heart.
Clenching her fists tightly Rin abruptly stares at the old Commander with fiercely determined eyes.
"Um…" Rin hesitated.
Commander Bai's ears perked as he waited for the little girl to complete her sentence. She appeared hesitant as she struggled to allow the words to come out of her mouth.
After a few minutes, she opened her small mouth once more.
"D-Does this mean…" Rin began, not breaking eye contact with the Commander. "I can call you grandpa?"
For what seemed like forever, the old Commander Bai sat seated in his chair with a straight posture and wide eyes.
"Ahaha!" The Commander laughed with genuine joy a wide almost painful smile spread across his lips. "Of course! Call me grandpa as many times as you'd like!"
Rin's eyes sparkled, the previous fear and hesitation in her eyes fading, replaced with eagerness and joy.
"Mm! I will grandpa!" The petite girl bobbed her head vigorously.
Watching the flushed cheeked girl look at him with admiration, the old man couldn't help but chuckle. Standing up from his stool he leans over to rub the girl's silken hair.
"Get plenty of rest. In a few days, we'll be returning to the Bai household." He smiled tenderly.
Rin's eyes shone even brighter towards his words. She shyly bobbed her head while looking down, allowing the Commander to stroke her head.
Pleased with her reaction, Commander Bai smiled once more before exiting the tent, not forgetting to prompt her to drink plenty of fluids and take some medicine.
After the Commander exited, Rin was left alone in the large tent. She couldn't help but smile foolishly and unconsciously grip onto the blanket in her palms.
Suddenly, the sound of a pair of wings flapping gained her attention.
Looking in front of her a small brown falcon stood in front of her, it's eyes showing a hint of amusement and tenderness.
"Ju…" Rin smiled even wider. "I have a grandpa…"
Hearing the words come from her mouth once more, Rin looks down in her palms a tender smile spreading on her lips.
She had a family again…
However, would she be able to protect them this time..?
She was merely a child, and the Commander was someone who fought in battles facing danger every day.
Could she bear losing another family member?
The thought of it caused the girl's frown to disappear from her soft face, replacing with a firm tight line. The light in her emerald eyes slowly fading.
No. She couldn't let them end up like her mother and father. She'd make sure of it!
Declaring her determined promise in her mind she bobbed her head outwardly. Ju, who had been watching the girl from the beginning, tilted its head.
Ju hopped near the girl, nudging its feathered forehead on her palms.
Looking down Rin stared at the bird's large eyes. Giggling softly Rin pets Ju on the head.
"Don't worry, I'll naturally bring you with me." She smiled reassuringly. "As if I could willingly leave you behind, Ju!"
Ah...That's not what it was thinking…
Before it could back away, Rin had enthusiastically embraced the bird in her grasp - once more rubbing her plump cheek against its head aggressively.
The following day, Elder Feng would occasionally pop in to feed Rin her medicine every two countless hours to help her recover her bodies strength.
To willingly help the medicine activate more, she would ordinarily have to walk around for a few consistent minutes to exercise her muscles.
Once Rin stepped out of her tent, she would encounter the expressive eyes of various Bai soldiers staring at her with genuinely concerning warm smiles.
However, some would stare fiercely at her with what Rin could be seen as fear and respect.
Unsure why she enthusiastically received those gazes Rin decided to shake it off and continue walking humbly around the camp.
With Ju on her shoulder, she walked peacefully through the Bai training grounds, watching as few Bai soldiers pursued their training with clashing swords, some even running along the mountain pathway with bags of rocks on their shoulders and ankles.
The Bai army sure had intense training…
Suddenly capturing the sight of a familiar figure, a mischievous smile curls up on her lips.
Calmly making her way towards the armored towering figure, Rin stands beside him as the two were currently standing alongside one another.
With her hands behind her back, Rin looks up peeking a look at the tall man moreover known as General Guo.
"Do I call you Uncle Guo now?" Rin said.
General Guo suddenly began to cough violently his large hand concealing his mouth. He shifted his stern face down to look at the little girl standing beside him.
He had previously noticed the girl walking through the camp with the bird on her shoulder -including when she saw him and eagerly made her way near him.
However, he hadn't expected her to voice such bold words!
"No." He spoke harshly.
"Oh," Rin said with a pondering expression her head lowering softly. "Then how about I call you grandpa as well?"
General Guo's entire being tensed, his body delicately flushing a rare shade of brilliant red as if he were forcibly holding in words filled with dreadful curses.
Intentionally trying to compose himself back to his calm collective self, he grips his hands into clenched fists, strategically placing them behind his back.
The two stood in breathless silence, Rin would occasionally look up at the General waiting eagerly for his official response.
Rin sighed finally thinking he wouldn't say anything and decided to walk away.
"Uncle Guo is fine."
Genuinely surprised, Rin gently twisted her head in the man's direction only to witness him striding away. However, Rin could vaguely see the glowing tips of his ears tinted a shade of red.
Instantly seeing this Rin giggled softly before turning around while humming a light tune.