"When the boy wakes up, tell him to take my head to the Tuhan's, it'll ensure the citizen's survival. And if he thinks he's at fault, remind him that this was my choice. When one becomes a ruler over people, big or small, only they will understand what's best for his followers. All lives in this world have a purpose. And mine is to protect the people even if it cost me my life."
Flashing a gentle smile at the man, Governor Tao directs his gaze toward the unconscious Rin lightly laid out on the floor.
"Serve the boy well, he's an interesting fellow."
Wei Jingyi widens his eyes before lowering his gaze.
"Yes, Master Tao."
Following those words, and without hesitation, Governor Tao raises the sword toward his throat before ending his life.
Rin's eyes dulled, tears welling up in her eyes once more after hearing his words.
"A fool…" Rin's voice shook. "Such a fool."
His sacrifice, no one would thank him. No one would feel anything, as his or her only concerns would be on themselves. He was a fool!
"Princess, you must understand. Sir Tao, didn't do this to be thanked or to draw emotion out from the people. This was his path and he chose to serve it with honor."
With pained filled crinkled eyes, Rin stares up at her former servant.
"What do you plan to do from now on?" He asked.
The girl remained silent for a few moments, her eyes slightly widening. Her complexion had lost its previous rosy glow and was now a sickly white, causing her to appear dainty.
Yet, despite her feeble appearance, the girl's eyes burned intensely with strong emotions.
Rin's lips pursed into a firm line and her brows crinkled. "The path I choose…even if my uncles is a prosperous heavenly path, I will nevertheless serve it and take back my country. If I follow this path, will you still accompany me?"
Silence descended over the two. With Rin kneeling on the floor and Wei Jingyi looking down at her, neither of them said a word – their eyes boring into one another.
"If you're all right with someone frail and old like me, then I'll be willing to serve you on your path, young Master Bai Lan."
Widening her eyes, Rin's lower lip quivered, however, her eyes remained firm and determined.
"Thank you. From here on, I will request for your aid in supporting my path."
On a snowy cliff, ten miles from the province Guando, two men in shining armor mounted on horses gazed ahead.
The air, bitter and harsh blew soft winds, and drops of light snow fell from the pale sky.
"I have to admit, I'm shocked by how long they're holding up. They must really be desperate." Manchu hopelessly sighed.
"Should we attack when the snow stops?"
"En." An Sun, seated on a black gallant horse grunted, his mask covered eyes staring off in the distance.
"Well then, we should head back and drink more of that wine. I heard we got new packages for it and it's high quality from the Western Empire!" Manchu cheerfully drove his horse away from the mountain view.
"Manchu. Their captain…he's from the Bai family, correct?" An Sun's deep voice rumbled.
"Yes, I did say that as it was in his report." Manchu arched his brow curiously.
An Sun's hidden eyes narrowed as he recalled the small figure on top of the hill watching him and his men from above.
Curling his lips into a mocking blood-thirst sneer, An Sun darkly chuckles. "So that means out of ten years of fighting in battles, my opponent is a pampered little kid from a prominent military family?"
Manchu, noticing the man's irritation held back a snort.
"He did grow up in a military family, so he must have been trained quite a lot growing up. But I guess you're right. That doesn't change the fact that a kid younger than you by four years was able to win a victory against you." Manchu's crystal blue eyes flickered with mischief.
Twitching his thick brows, from the corner of his eye, An Sun leers intently at Manchu who continued to smile at him ignorantly.
"Tsk. Let's go." Disregarding Manchu's smiles, An Sun steers his horse away from the frosty cliff.
"Hey, wait up for me! Sheesh, you always leave without me…" Manchu mumbled as he follows the man away from the mountain's edge.
"Cough! Cough!" Rin quickly covered her mouth to muffle out the violent sound.
Taking in a sharp breath, Rin dipped her head to stare at her palms.
"Does his daughter and wife know yet?"
"I informed his wife, however, his daughter…she's still young, I believe it'll be best to not tell her." Wei Jingyi calmly poured a cup of tea for the girl seated across from him.
Rin silently accepts the cup and merely gazes at its contents. Her jade-like fingers softly grazing the rim of the cup.
"How is she?"
Releasing a grave sigh Wei Jingyi pours another cup for himself. "In shock is all I can say. Of course, it's an expected reaction after telling someone their husband killed himself to save his people."
Wei Jingyi's sentence caused Rin's hands to squeeze her cup tightly and her eyes to droop. The man seated opposite from her in the lantern-lit room silently examines her expression.
"Princess, I don't mean to be frank, but I'm curious as to why this has affected you so. I believe you and the governor knew one another for one month, correct?"
Softly, Rin nods her head while vacantly staring at her cup.
Why does it bother you so much?
Already knowing his question, Rin purses her pale lips and feels her jaw clench.
For a few seconds Rin hesitates to speak, but after finally thinking it through, she spoke her thoughts.
"After my mother and I escaped the Li Palace, the two of us lived in a village in the Northern Empire." Rin begins to speak softly.
The girl's emerald, inscrutable eyes release a faint glint of coldness.
"Once three years past, Li Chang found us and sent men to kill me and kidnap my mother. When they caught us she told me to run, and I did. After that she..."
Rin's voice gradually trailed off as she spoke, her voice from the beginning firm and resolute.
"I see. So just like your mother, Governor Tao also gave up his life to let you live along with his people."
Unable to hold in a sigh, Wei Jingyi light scratches his bearded chin.
"Princess, do you ever wonder why they gave up their lives so you could live?" He asked as he calmly sipped his tea.
Raising her eyes toward the man, Rin's forehead wrinkles. In response to the girl's confused expression, a gentle smile curls up on Wei Jingyi's lips.
"It's because they believe in you."
"Why would they…"
"Princess, do you remember what Sir Tao said? Every living thing in this world has a purpose, a path to serve. Some people's path is to follow or support others, while there are also those who are meant to lead. They believed in a few years or so, you'd make a difference someday. They believe in the power you hold and the knowledge you obtain. They didn't sacrifice their lives for you, but for a better future."
Slowly, Rin processed his words, allowing them to sink in deep within her heart.
At the time of her mother's death, she had always thought back to when she ran away.
Times where she dreamt of that night all over again and wondered if things would have changed if she went back. But as a child, all she would be was a nuisance.
Looking back at her moments in the village the two stayed in for the past three years, Rin soon remembered the repeated reminders her mother would tell her and how she'd trained her years of self-defense.
The simple facial expressions and actions her mother showed quickly made Rin understand something.
Her mother was prepared to die. From the beginning, she knew her days were coming to an end.
Rin sometimes wondered if everything she's done was what her mother wanted.
Seeking revenge on Li Chang and killing him.
It was the only thing that kept Rin living and thriving to succeed, however, if she were to continue to follow this path did that mean more would die for her?
Taking in a deep breath Rin slowly calms the anxiousness in her heart. For now, she'll push those thoughts aside. She had other things to worry about at the moment.
Rin stands up feebly. "Take me to the provincial office. I need to inform the troops of our surrender."
Quietly nodding his head, Wei Jingyi follows Rin out of the room.
For the time being, she needed to push her fate in a new and dangerous direction
Before Governor Tao's death.