Two days had passed since the Tuhan men took over and headed back toward their camp. Two days since Rin left with their men.
The closer they got to Guando, the heavier Bai Han's heart sank. By the time Bai Han and his army arrived, they were already gone.
Arriving in in front of the northern borders, Bai Han and General Guo mounted off their horses and were lead inside by the province general.
While walking, Bai Han and General Guo took notice of the glances directed their way from the citizens.
They were looks of resentment and betrayal.
Lead to the provincial office, a cold pressure spread throughout the room. Bai Han, with crossed arms and piercing eyes, stared at the soldiers across from him intensely.
"Where's Bai Lan?"
Detecting the blanched and weary expressions of the soldiers, the previous sinking feeling in his heart increased the longer he waited for the men to speak.
Bai Han's voice came hoarse and cold as he spoke, "Answer me. What happened to my grandson?!"
All the men in the room lowered their heads, refusing to look the angered commander in the eyes. Xu Mujin, who arrived three hours after Rin left, clenched his fists and stepped forward. Casting his eyes down, the young man knelt down on the floor and lowered his head.
"To protect the citizens, Young Master Bai agreed to go with the Tuhan's men." Xu Mujin's voice was clear and firm as he spoke. "This subordinate will accept any punishment for not protecting the Young Master properly."
Hearing that made the expression on Bai Han's face turn from icy to blank. General Guo, standing on the side's expression, on the other hand, set the example of terrifying. The veins on his neck bulged as his eyebrows hardened.
Due to the chill and menacing pressure, the rest of the generals and soldiers knelt on the floor.
"Forgive us for not undertaking better care of your grandson. However, we are eternally grateful to him for his aid in our battle and sacrificing himself for the people. Thanks to him, we were able to fight and protect the citizens until the end."
Bai Han's cold face eased slightly, yet his eyes remained emotionless.
Without another word, Bai Han exited the room leaving the men to kneel on the floor in a cold sweat. General Guo glares down at the men in a threatening stare.
"Twenty lashes each, and use the whip."
After issuing out his orders, General Guo stared down coldly at the men one more time before following after Bai Han. The men left kneeling on the ground finally gasped a breath of relief once the two men left.
But the guilt in their hearts remained after recalling the brave young boy who traded himself for the citizens – people who saw him as a coward and traitor.
Finally standing up, the group of men walk out to receive their punishments.
Outside the provincial office, Bai Han looked out into the snow-white scenery with a grave expression. The fierce winds and falling snow landed against his wrinkled face.
Despite the numbing in his face, Bai Han didn't feel a single thing. All he could feel was the sinking, emptiness in his heart.
That girl. That foolish girl…
The sound of General Guo's deep gruff voice sounded through the old commander's ears. Now that the two were alone, General Guo didn't hold back from back calling Bai Han by his full name.
General Guo as well understood the pain the old man was going through after hearing what happened to Rin. He, who was known to be brutal and supposedly unfeeling, felt his world become dull and numb.
The young girl they raised, cared for and loved, was taken away from them.
The urgent footsteps of a figure jogged in their direction. Looking up, both men saw the province prime minister rushing in their direction.
Now standing in front of the men, the prime minister panted heavily, his frail face was red as he breathed for air.
"This…The Young Master…wanted me to deliver this to you." He breathed.
In the prime minister's outstretched hand was a small envelope. Widening his eyes, Bai Han's dull eyes came to life once more as he strode forward with great urgency in the prime ministers' direction.
Taking the envelope out of his hand, Bai Han frantically opens the letter.
The conflicting emotions in Bai Han's heart increased upon recognizing the familiar handwriting of his beloved granddaughter.
[Dear grandfather and Uncle Guo,
I apologize for many things.
I apologize for breaking our promise.
I apologize for not being an ugly, boring granddaughter.
I apologize for not cooking your favorite meals one last time.
I apologize for being a foolish granddaughter, with no sympathy for her elders.
And I apologize for giving you a short letter.
This foolish granddaughter will happily accept her punishment when she returns.]
Bai Han's hands gripping tightly onto the letter, trembled. Thinking of the young girl's witty, calm smile, his heart felt as if we're being stabbed by one-hundred blades.
Bai Han suddenly felt a newfound emotion that was beyond his control.
Folding the letter, Bai Han places it within the envelope, clutching it tightly in his hand and strides forward. General Guo, who had also read the letter from the side walked forward with a dark aura.
Startled and confused, the prime minister follows the two men. "C…Commander Bai?"
The prime minister couldn't comprehend what was written within the letter to cause both men to express a deadly, threatening aura.
What exactly did Bai Lan write?!
Walking toward a group of Bai soldiers, Bai Han coldly halts in front of them.
"Send word to the rest of the men to search the northern areas. All provinces, mountains, and lands will be heavily searched for any sign of a camp."
Without questioning their commander, the Bai soldiers cup their hands with a bow. "Yes, sir!"
Bobbing his head, Bai Han walks toward his horse and mounts onto it.
"General Guo, I want you in charge of the men searching the province areas. Don't rest until you find something."
"Yes, commander." General Guo grunted, already grasping the old man's thoughts.
Bai Han's silver eyes looked forward with murderous intent. He couldn't allow his emotions to take over him. No matter how much it hurt, he refused to display weakness.
"Those Tuhan bastards..."
If anyone touched a hair on that foolish girl's head, he wouldn't hesitate to kill and torture every single one of them.
Back in the province Guando.