"I swear Lord An, I had no idea they planned an ambush!"
The slim strategist begged as he kowtowed onto the ground.
Seated in a large chair at the end of the tent was An Sun, a cold impassive expression on his face as he propped his chin with his fist.
From the beginning, he remained silent and aloof toward the man's explanation and pleas, his cold gray eyes glancing off to the side as he sighed irritably.
"Then I take it the inside information you received was false?" An Sun's cold voice chilled throughout the room.
"N...No. It was that Captain Bai, it was his doing! I was informed that he was dealt with but..."
"So, you were out-smarted by him?"
Unable to reply, the slim man drew his lower lip between his teeth. It was true, Captain Bai truly outsmarted him this time.
Not only was he able to hide the fact that he called in for reinforcements from the Bai army, but he also tricked one of his men into claiming he was dead to fool them.
Previously, he received information from Captain Delun about Governor Tao's plans from the emissary from the Eastern Empire.
However, who would have thought even a top skilled spy was unable to detect Bai Lan's plans.
An Sun, watching the strategist lower his head bitterly, releases an enigmatic smile.
Leisurely standing up from the large chair, An Sun stares down at the kneeling man on the pen's ground.
"You should be fully aware I don't need useless people in my army." With casual movements, An Sun reaches for the sword beside him, his rough large hands stroking its blade smoothly.
The strategist's figure trembles, his eyes widening.
"L...Lord An, please give me another chance! I still have more schemes we can use against them!"
As if not hearing his pleas, An Sun swiftly and with taunting movements twirls the large sword in his hand.
"Moving on from unimportant matters. There's something I'm far more interested in."
Gulping at An Sun's swift angelic movements of his sword, the strategist felt his kneeling limbs go weak.
"Besides that treacherous Hong family who else sent you to spy on us? Was it that dear brother of mine?"
"W...What are you talking about? I'm innocent, I was solely sent to aid you and Lord An in battle!"
"Has anyone told you, lying is a sin?"
As the strategist stammered, An Sun, with a broad bloodthirsty smile aims his sword toward the strategist's frail body.
"It doesn't matter now anyway. Your recent acts of betrayal have provided me just the reason to finally kill you."
Without hesitation, the sharp blade slashes down piercing through the man's flesh and bone - causing his head to fall off from his shoulders.
Splashes of the strategist blood sprayed onto the pen's floor. An Sun's eyes dimmed with a cold indifference and he lifted his hand to splash the drops of blood off his sword.
"Manchu," An Sun turned his body away from the bloody corpse and walked toward the corner of the tent where a table was placed.
Quickly entering the tent with an amused expression on his face, Manchu stares down calmly at the decapitated head near the entrance.
"I've bet you've been wanting to kill him since the day he entered our camp." Manchu teased.
"Tsk, just have someone clean up the mess."
Sighing gently, Manchu fixes his gaze on the decapitated head.
"I'll have men come in and clean it up and bring in some wine," Manchu said and playfully kicked the bloodied head.
Humming in approval, An Sun gracefully wipes the blood off his sword with a cloth - a calm indifferent on his face, completely void of the expression a man would possess after killing someone.
"How much damage did our troops take?"
"The damage is minimal, but still surprising that we even took damage in the first place."
Sitting calmly at the wooden table with a cup of wine, An Sun silently stares at the burning warm brazier within the pen's center.
"You're right. It was a dirty move they did." An Sun eyes narrowed down dangerously.
"That new captain of theirs truly is skillful. Using tactics even their past captain hadn't used before, he's not kidding around." Manchu said as he poured wine into his cup.
A strange look came over An Sun's face for a fleeting moment before quickly disappearing.
"Captain Bai Lan; he's a member from the Bai family, right? Get me more info on him, including his past battles." An Sun said suddenly.
"I'll get people on it," Manchu replied.
For a while, the two sat in silence. Drinking wine and staring at the fire inside the tent. However, occasionally Manchu would shift his gaze in An Sun's direction with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Noticing the man's glances his way, An Sun's brows twitch.
"Oh, nothing. It's just I noticed during their attack the soldiers were all especially aiming for you. Looks like their captain was hoping to get your head." Manchu smirked behind his cup.
"I'm well aware of what his aim was. Unfortunately, his plan was far from being achieved." An Sun sipped his wine lazily.
"En. I noticed. Though, his tactics have to be quite good if he's able to win a small victory against the mighty Commander An Sun." Manchu teased.
An Sun irritably casts a murderous glare in Manchu's direction.
Manchu not minding his dangerous glare, smiles. "But in the end, he lacks something in his tactics."
The blazing fire in the center of the tent sparked, the glowing embers crackled, casting a red glow over the men's faces.
"What do you think? Are Captain Bai Lan's tactics good enough for you?" Manchu asked amusingly.
"Tsk, hardly. If anything they're pathetic. He lacks the willpower and experience in battles." An Sun said.
In response, Manchu laughs lightly. An Sun, ignoring the man, continues to look at the gleaming fire while drinking his wine.
That captain of theirs still had a long way to go before he was worthy…
"Young Master Bai."
Currently walking down the hall, Rin turns in the direction of the voice. Instantly, her clear eyes catch sight of the familiar emblem of the Bai soldier's armor. The corner of her mouth quirking up.
"General Liwei, it's a pleasure to see you again."
Walking up toward the girl dressed in men's clothing, the general smiles with a polite nod.
"Same to you, young Master Bai." General Liwei bows his head.
General Liwei was a known general in the Bai army. He was second in command to her Uncle Guo and was skillful in leading their troops.
Seeing a familiar face, Rin felt her stiffness somewhat ease.
"I guess I should send Commander Bai something in return for his help this round." Rin scratched her cheek.
"Haha, he would like that very much." General Liwei chuckled, his bearded chin vibrating. "Maybe try making your letters longer than one sentence for him as a gift this time."
Blinking her eyes rapidly, Rin's lips curve up into a smile.
"I'll take that suggestion into consideration." Rin chortled.
For a while, the two continue to converse as they walk, with Xu Mujin and a few other Bai soldiers trailing behind.
"Is the young Master returning to Huushin anytime soon?" The general suddenly questions.
Folding her hands behind her back, Rin's eyes stray to the setting sky.
"Not yet. Not until this is all over." Rin responded softly.
Examining the girl's determined yet peaceful eyes, General Liewei sighs. He somehow knew the young girl would say that.
As much as he understood her longing to reunite with General Guo and Commander Bai, just like always she was determined to never run away from a battle.
"I understand young Master." He sighed once more.
Nodding her head with a smile, Rin and the general stare up at the sky.
"I also came here to inform you, young Master, that our men and I will be departing soon."
With a questioning gaze, Rin turns her eyes toward General Liwei.
"Did something happen?" Rin's voice was traced with slight concern.
"En. There's been some suspicious activity in the Eastern Empire's Capital. Their emperor called in for reinforcements, including the Bai army." He explained sternly.
"The Eastern Empire?" Rin softly uttered those words, her eyebrows furrowing.
Suspicious activity? What could possibly be so suspicious that they had to call in so many strong reinforcements?
Creasing her brows, Rin's expression turns grave as she soon lost herself in the endless thoughts surrounding her head.
"Don't worry too much young Master, I'm sure its minor. Your grandfather and the other Bai soldiers will be fine." General Liwei smiles reassuringly.
"En, thank you." Rin smiled generously in return. "You be sure to stay safe as well."
Saying a few more words, General Liwei and the rest of the Bai soldiers lowered their heads courteously in Rin's direction before departing away.
Rin watched their armored backs disappear and narrowed her eyes – her lips pressing tightly together.
All of this was too suspicious. Could the Tuhan's have something to do with it? But that wasn't possible if they were fighting here. Wouldn't that mean they didn't have the time to head to the Eastern Empire?
Then who was it that was starting a war with them?
"Cough! Cough!" Run abruptly breaks out into fits of coughs, her small white fist lifting up toward her lips to muffle the sound.
"Young Master are you all right?" Xu Mujin, standing behind Rin asks with furrowed brows.
"I'm fine. Just a little thirsty."
"Should I get the young Master some water?"
"No. It's fine. I'll get some later."
Right now she had to go plan out their next attack and hopefully get some information on what was going on in the Eastern Empire's Capital.
Covering her mouth to soften the light coughs escaping her mouth, Rin walks down the halls to head toward her room in the governor's estate.