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80 My Lord

Rin stared at An Sun with furrowed brows, an evident frown forming on her lips.

What was he saying? He wanted her to work alongside him and change sides?

Manchu, standing off to the side with crossed arms, elevated his eyebrows with surprise but quickly transformed them to a look of amusement.

Hmm...seems like things were becoming interesting.

Clearing her thoughts, Rin looks up at An Sun with an impassive expression. "Surely Commander An jests. I couldn't possibly serve alongside you. I may have helped this province in our battle, but I am, nonetheless, a member of Bai family."

"Are you rejecting my terms?" An Sun's eyes gradually tinged with a dangerous light and the air suddenly turned cold and suffocating - the smile on his lips lingered.

Rin stared unwaveringly at An Sun, her clear eyes not revealing the slightest bit of fear, but instead was clouded with uncertainty toward the man's plans. No matter how hard she searched into his eyes, Rin couldn't decipher what went on through his head.

Paying no attention to Rin's look of uncertainty, An Sun glances to the side.

"Your grandfather, he's a noble military leader. I admire his ability and success."

Rin's eyes darkened toward the shift in conversation. At that moment, her body tensed.

What was the meaning behind his words?

"Additionally, I'm surprised by his dedication towards protecting his family members. Even after he'd just battled for two days without rest, he's still on his way to aid his nephew." Having not gotten a reply from Rin, An Sun continues to speak with a hidden glint in his eyes.

Squeezing her trembling hands into fists, Rin coldly looks up into the man's cold eyes.

Despite his seemingly generous and admirable words towards her grandfather, Rin knew behind those words of flattery was a warning.

His words were a threat.

Rin lowers her eyelids and stares down at the wooden table in front of her.

This...what was she to do?

It was clear from An Sun's words that he had her grandfather under surveillance. If she were to reject his offer, he wouldn't hesitate to attack and kill the Bai army along with her uncle and grandfather.

But if she accepted, she'd have no choice but to leave her family -  betraying them to side with the enemy of their empire.

Rin began recalling the day eight years ago when she first entered the Bai camp and fought off those bandits who raided the camp.

That time, in the tent, was the day Bai Han asked for her to be his granddaughter.

The emotions that flooded her heart that day were indescribable. Those feelings she once thought were buried away with her mother were reborn. Love, safety, protection, warmth, all of those had come back to her with a simple sentence.

Afterward, Rin couldn't bear losing her family again, therefore, she made a promise. That'd she'd protect them with everything she possessed, and to never let them end up like her mother and father.

And she wasn't about to back down from that promise now.

Rin opened her eyes, completely calm. She raised her head to look back into An Sun's cold gray eyes. Within her shining emerald eyes was nothing but a flowing river of calm.

"I am willing to serve my Lord, however, if you don't mind may I ask you three requests?"

With crossed arms, An Sun looks at the figure with steady eyes and lightly grunts in approval.

Not breaking eye contact, Rin speaks. "First, the cities citizens, you must promise not to harm or trouble them as you're free to the province storage vaults."

Lightly coughing, Rin continues. "The governor and his wife, I ask that you please set up a proper burial for them. And thirdly, no harm or death will come to any of the Bai soldiers or members."

An Sun remained silent, keenly staring into the small figures' eyes.

"I take that you're now accepting my terms?"

Staring at An Sun with a raised head, Rin's eyes blank, and a twisted, bitter smile forms on her face.

"Do I have any other choice for me, my Lord?"

"There is but seeing as you've already made your choice, I'll accept your terms." An Sun lightly places a hand on the golden chest on the table. "I respected Tao Guozhi. He was a nobleman and a hero to his people. Even without your asking, the arrangements still would have been done."

"As for his wife, we'll carry those out as well. And the citizens and your tributes, I have no interest in them."

Lowering her head, Rin cups her hands gently. "Thank you, my Lord."

Looking down at Rin, An Sun's expression remains indifferent.

"Let's go." Walking around Rin, An Sun makes his way out of the room, Manchu following behind from a distance.

Manchu, walking beside Rin, glances down at her figure.

"You made the right choice, Mr. Strategist." He chuckled. "Now come along, and I wouldn't try anything funny if I were you either."

Coughing lightly with her head still lowered, Rin stares at her hand blankly.

"Yes."

[Grandfather, Uncle Guo, I'm sorry. It seems I won't be able to see you again for a long time. The course of my fate and path has now changed.]

...

"Haaah!"

The clear sound of swords clashing echoed throughout the snow-covered field. Men in armor charged forward as they fended off their attackers.

Bai Han aimed his sword aggressively toward his opponent who aimed their arrow toward him - ready to attack.

Despite their drained energy and sore bodies, the Bai soldiers continued to fight with the spirit of a raging beast.

No matter the circumstances, they would never quit. Rather than not trying and living they'd rather be tortured until their last breath fighting.

Clash--!

General Guo's blade collided with an incoming attacker before he brutally impaled his iron sword into their shoulder. The sight of crimson blood dripped gently onto the icy ground.

Just as he was about to deliver the final blow, the sound of a man whistling could be heard.

From that faint sound, the previous men swiftly departed away from the Bai army, withdrawing their attacks and ran deep into the mountains trees.

All the Bai soldiers stared stunned in place at what had just happened. Or as if it never even took place.

Confused yet still and on guard, General Guo and a few soldiers march toward Bai Han.

"Commander Bai, those men, who were they?"

Bai Han coldly glanced in the direction of the forest. From the beginning those men attacked, something didn't sit right with him. The aura they held was strong yet their attacks were low and weak.

As if they weren't even trying to harm them...but distract them.

With his heart pounding, Bai Han strides towards his horse.

"We must head to Guando immediately!"

"Yes, sir!"

General Guo mounting on his horse beside Bai Han frowns. He too noticed their enemies true power and how they held back. It was all too suspicious, especially after they had retreated so hastily.

"Bai Han. That girl...she may seem reckless at times, but she knows how to protect herself properly."

Looking off in the distance, Bai Han's wrinkled lips purse. "You're right, but that's not what I'm worried about."

As if understanding his words, General Guo's expression turns stern and with a few orders, they continue to depart toward Guando.

Never did they imagine the tragedy that awaited them.
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