The sound of men's laughter and cups clanking could be heard throughout the night. Their laughter echoed throughout the hard, icy mountains.
Inside a large pen, An Sun lazily sat at a table beside a brazier and lifted his cup of wine toward his red lips – black satin hair flowing down his broad shoulders. His gray, emotionless eyes staring off into the distance.
Without his armor the man's appearance enhanced significantly, revealing all his noble features. From his strong, hard build, porcelain skin, and cold, confident gray eyes, all was unveiled.
Manchu, standing in front of the handsome, unresponsive man, read aloud a list of tributes given to them by a Northern Province.
After Manchu finished reading the list, An Sun's eyes still never wavered from the view outside the pen's window.
"The gold they sent us is good quality but…" Manchu scratched the back of his head. "Delivering you ten beautiful women during this weather is unlike our usual."
Taking a sip of his wine, An Sun glances down at his cup. "I have no need for the women or gold. Divide them up between the men. The days are colder, so they need something to warm up their beds."
A strange look came over An Sun's face a fleeting moment.
"And make sure the women are properly dealt with after they're used. We can't afford any mishaps."
Smiling with a nod in his head, Manchu places the scroll in his cloak before walking to leave the pen.
"How has he been doing so far?" An Sun's calm voice halted Manchu's steps.
Turning around, Manchu arches a light eyebrow and scratches his cheek.
"I haven't checked. But no movement from inside was seen since we've arrived. The kid has been silent so far."
An Sun went silent in response, his gray unreadable eyes looking down at the cup's contents. Manchu, noticing his silence, sighed.
"He did look a little unwell earlier," Manchu said in a calm tone.
"So, who knows? For all one knows, the cold finally took him and now he's lying dead in the pen floor."
A faint twitch could be seen in the man's sharp bushy eyebrows. Seeing as he irked the man, Manchu held back his amused expression.
"Send someone to check on him. If he's dead, dispose of his body. If he's not, then leave him be. I don't need my dog dying on me just yet."
Chuckling lightly, Manchu bobs his head and exits the pen to give out orders. Left alone in the warm pen, An Sun irritably chugs down his cup of wine before refilling the cup once more for another round.
Rin had already passed out.
The flames from the brazier warmed the small pen keeping her small, frail body heated while she fell unconscious. From top to bottom, Rin was covered in sweat – faint smudges of dirt on her pale cheeks.
Rin remained in an unconscious daze, her mind heavy and fuzzy while her body felt cold and weak. Only after a few minutes, did she begin feeling the warmth of the brazier as it heated up the pen.
Afterward, Rin's body relaxed and closed her eyes, fainting. Feeling as if only a small amount of time passed, Rin could sense the heavy footsteps of a figure walk inside the pen.
As much as she wanted to sit up and see who the figure was, her body was too weak and heavy to move. Thus, she closed her eyes and drifted away, hoping for the figure to leave her be.
A few hours passed and Rin's sense awoke as the feeling of her stomach rumbling woke her.
Opening her eyes to reveal her emerald pupils, Rin blinked dazedly. The previous coldness she felt within her body melted away as her discomfort was warmly soothed by the burning brazier.
Once more, the sound of her stomach echoed through the pen.
Sighing, Rin weakly hoists her body up from the mat to look around the pen. Although she felt warm, that didn't soothe the heavy and faint feeling she felt.
Furrowing her brows, Rin stroked her growling stomach, releasing another sigh.
How was she going to get food? Should she just wait it out?
Just as Rin was considering to hold off her hunger until the morning, her eyes landed on an object resting on the table across from her.
Resting on a plate, stacked high, was an aromatic stack of roasted meat. And based on the familiar smell, Rin could tell it was wild-boar meat.
Widening her eyes slightly, Rin stared dazedly at the plate of meat. After an indeterminate amount of time, did Rin break from her daze and weakly get up from her mat to walk toward the plate of food on the table.
Plopping herself down on a cushion, Rin stared at the plate with furrowed brows and straight pale lips.
Was this hers? But why would the Tuhan give her food?
Fingers resting on her chin and emerald eyes narrowing, Rin stared at the fragrant meat for a while before Rin picked one up with her fair fingers.
Because there were no chopsticks, Rin was forced to use her hands to eat – not that she minded.
Sniffing it quietly, Rin places a piece of the cut meat on the tip of her pink tongue.
The simple light touch on her tongue was enough for Rin to get a full taste of the cooked meat. Due to it being cooked with nothing but fire, the flavor was lacking with blandness compared to most extravagant meats.
But to Rin, the meat was just perfect. Flavorless, cooked, and not poisoned.
Although not advanced and highly skilled in medicine, Rin was given the few basic tips on how to recognize poison from her grandfather.
One could tell if it was poisoned based on the smell, taste, and appearance of the food. Thanks to these simple tips, Rin frequently utilized them when needed.
Biting into the full piece of meat, Rin quietly enjoyed the chewy, firm texture of the meat. Her furrowed brows eased after finishing a piece of meat.
Staring at the rest of the slices of meat, Rin reached for another making sure to savor the flavor and experience.
Who knew when she'd be given food like this again?
A few minutes later and Rin had merely eaten five pieces of meat before covering the rest for later. Wiping her fingers on a piece of cloth, Rin's previous relaxed eyes sharpened.
Although she was appreciative for the food given to her, she wasn't foolish enough to think it was given out of kindness.
It was clearly a warning for her to get her act together.
Based on the small amount she was given she could tell it was deliberate. Coldly glancing her eyes around the pen, Rin's lips raised into a silent, unreadable smile.
If he demanded her to be useful, she would be useful.
The sky, now dark, cloaked itself around the Tuhan camp. A short yet slightly tall stone wall was structured around the camps' large area - within the walls were multiple pens and tents built all around.