Yan Xun's furrowed his brow even deeper, and avoided Zhao Chun'er's eyes. He instead turned to the side. The side view of his face looked even colder and firmer.
"Chun'er, come back!" Zhao Song shouted, enraged.
Zhao Chun'er suddenly dropped down, and crawled forward. She reached out to clinch on to Yan Xun's robe, and started wailing again, "Brother Xun, do not rebel, I am begging you!"
Zhao Song's eyes were filled with pure rage. He exclaimed, "Chun'er, what are you doing?" Saying that, he whipped his horse and dashed forward. At that instant, the warriors of Da Tong Guild simultaneously stepped forward, and shielded Yan Xun with their blades, giving off an intimidatingly warcry!
"Brother Xun, Chun'er is begging you! Father will kill you! He will send men after you!" Zhao Chun'er wept on the ground. Yet Yan Xun was completely unmoved, and he raised his head to look at the heavens, completely disregarding his robe that had was being clutched by Zhao Chun'er. His eyes were slightly blocked by his hair, but when the chilling night wind blew past, one could see that on his well defined face there was a pair of eyes shining in the dark that spoke of unparalleled resolution and determination.
It was just then, intense sounds of blades clashing came from afar, and an golden burst of flames exploded in the sky above the south side of the city. Yan Xun and Chu Qiao both turned their heads at the fireball with grim looks.
"19th Division has charged in! Yan Xun, if you do not want other innocent people to die with you, quickly surrender yourself!" while brandishing his blade to force the warriors of Da Tong back, Zhao Song loudly proclaimed.
"Yan Xun, we cannot delay any further."
Yan Xun turned back and slowly nodded, and instantly turned his horse around. Without hesitation, he headed toward the source of the conflict. Zhao Chun'er, still sitting on the ground, lost her balance and fell flat on the ground. Chu Qiao and the black armored warriors followed behind Yan Xun. From afar, Chu Qiao could still see Zhao Chun'er still crawling and wailing with Zhao Song sitting upright on his horse beside her, his hand tightly gripping his blade. The cold wind continued to send his robes fluttering, and even his ruffled jet black hair seemed to exude a sense of loneliness and desolation.
Eight years of friendship, ultimately was just a fleeting dream, and returned to oblivion. From that instant when she followed Yan Xun into Sheng Jin Palace, the result was already destined. Thirteenth Prince, I have ultimately betrayed your friendship and trust.
"Giddyup!" With a short cry, Chu Qiao whipped her horse and sped away. Leaving not just the duo, but also those fleeting eight years behind. Her eyes were fixated on the front, on the black Iron Eagle war flag.
On Nan'An Road, the riotous civilians had already been suppressed. 19th Division Commander Fang Baiyu held his longsword with his body bathed in blood, killing any belligerent along the way with his soldiers. Everywhere he went was left a mess.
The messenger sped through the battlefields, bringing back piece after piece of disadvantageous news. Yan Xun sat on his horse, speechless and expressionless, and it was impossible to tell what he was thinking.
Chu Qiao squinted and asked, "Is it not enough yet?"
Yan Xun replied softly, and calmly shook his head, "Not enough."
"There have been great casualties!"
Chu Qiao inhaled deeply and frowned. In a serious tone, she replied, "Yan Xun, the casualty rate is too great, the Xi Nan Town Emissary's forces cannot hold out any longer. If we continue to wait, they will be crippled."
Yan Xun retorted, "The 12th Division and 36th Division are still waiting for an opportunity outside the city. If we retreat now, they will pounce upon our men. Should that happen, our return to Yan Bei will not be smooth sailing, and will be continually harassed by the empire."
"Even then, if we continue to wait, our casualties will be severe! Treating the wounded and arranging a retreat will create chaos among our own ranks."
Yan Xun gave a light frown, but immediately followed with a shake of his head. "Worry not, I have my plans."
"AhChu, leave the capital first."
Chu Qiao was dazed, but immediately replied replied, "I refuse."
"AhChu." Even under in the afterglow of killings and blood, the man put up a gentle expression, and softly said, "Leave the capital first, and go to Chi Shui to arrange river crossing operations together with AhJing. He is not very good with intricacies, I am worried."
"No way, I want to be with you!" Chu Qiao stubbornly shook her head, and insisted.
Yan Xun put up a harsh face, and sternly admonished her, "Chu Qiao, this is a matter of great importance, do not be childish now!"
"There is danger everywhere in this capital, and the 12th Division and 36th Division are staring at us, waiting for an opportunity to strike anytime, how can I leave you here to face this alone!"
Yan Xun smiled. "Dumb*ss, how am I alone? There are still the ten thousand soldiers from Xi Nan Town. You need not worry about me!"
Chu Qiao immediately retorted, "They just switched sides, who knows if they would capitulate again? How can I trust them?"
"If Xi Nan Town's forces are not reliable, even if you remain, we would not escape our fate. AhChu, one should not rely on someone they doubt, and should not doubt someone they rely on. That line, was what you taught me."
Chu Qiao looked suspiciously at Yan Xun, and expressed her doubts, "Yan Xun, do you really trust them that much?"
"I do not trust them, I trust myself!"
Sounds of war cries pierced the night sky yet again. It was another round of attacks and counter attacks. Arrows dotted the sky, and the city was tainted the color of blood. His black robes still fluttering, Yan Xun's gaze was sharp like a sword, and he peacefully observed the clash of blades in front of him. Slowly, he stated, as if a fact, "Apart from capitulating under me, they have no other way to survive. Fight to the death, they still have a glimmer of hope of survival. But if they surrender themselves to the empire, they will be viewed as traitors by both Yan Bei and the Xia Empire."
"But this battle is too bloody. I worry for your reputation of benevolence."
"Benevolence?" Yan Xun scoffed. "Father was too benevolent, and that was how he died on the highlands of Yan Bei. I will make sure I will not be like him."
Suddenly, it was as if Yan Xun's face was shrouded by a layer of black mist. Taken aback, Chu Qiao lifted her head and looked towards him, and softly asked, "Yan Xun?"
Yan Xun lowered his head, and looked toward Chu Qiap. Still on horseback, he spread his arms open and tightly enveloped her frail figure in his embrace. "AhChu, trust me. Wait for me at Chi Shui. We would leave together."
The wind intensified, and Chu Qiao suddenly felt chills. She stretched out, and returned the embrace, with a noticeable trembling in her voice. "Yan Xun, if something happen to you, I will make sure to get revenge for you."
The whooshing of the wind sweep across the road, and the warcries from afar seemed so distant. Ink black hair fluttered on King of Yan Bei's handsome face, as he lifted the lady's chin with one hand, and smiled tenderly. Looking at each other, their emotions for each other were overflowing. Eight years of companionship through life and death, their relationship had long been engraved deep into their souls.
Yan Xun's eyes were dead serious, and he whispered, "AhChu, I never told you this before. I will only say this once, so listen carefully. I want to thank you for accompanying me all these years in hell. Thank you for not abandoning me during the darkest days of my life. Thank you for standing by my side. If not for you, Yan Xun is nothing, and would have probably died in the snowy night eight years ago. AhChu, this will be the only time I say these words. I speak with actions, and will make it up to you with the rest of my life. There is something between us that we need not say to understand. AhChu, you are mine alone, and I will protect you. I will leave with you. From the moment I held your hand eight years ago, I never planned to let go."
Chu Qiao slowly closed her eyes. The night wind was whooshing like the silkworm, and in that instant, her heart felt like Morus leaves being slowly eaten up.
Yan Bei, Huo Lei Plains, Hui Hui Mountains…
"Yan Xun, I have no home. It was because you were here with me that I think of your hometown as mine."
The man deeply inhaled, and tightened his arms. His heart was like a huge lake melting in the warmth of spring. "AhChu, trust me." He lightly sighed. He had not said what to trust him about, but AhChu understood. She told him in her heart that of course she would believe in him. If she did not trust him, who else could she trust? In this world, they only had each other.
"AhChu, there is something I wanted to do for very long."
The young lady's pristine white face was suddenly tinged with redness that was clearly not from the reflection of the flames of war. She raised her head, and tenderly smiled. "Then what are you waiting for?"
"Haha!" The young king gallantly laughed, and leaned forward. Gently, he pressed his lips against her tender lips.
At that moment, Chu Qiao closed her eyes, and loosened the reins of her mind and emotions. All the bits and pieces of emotions within the past eight years rumbled in her mind. Meanwhile, in the distance, rallying cries shook the earth, and closer to them, sounds of blades clashing reverberated. All of Zhen Huang City was trembling under their footsteps, and it sounded like the last shrieks of a cornered beast. The majestically embellished Sheng Jin Palace had been engulfed in flames, along with the surrounding golden towers and palaces, sinking into a blazing inferno. The corrupted elders and nobles of the empire rubbed their eyes in disbelief, unable to believe their sight.
Eight years ago, no one would have believed that two frail and powerless children would have such courage and strength. Now, eight years later, no one would doubt it, that the cubs of the past had grew up, and they had been polishing their claws, ready to tear apart the walls of the capital to escape from this land of degeneracy into the outside world.
"AhChu, wait for me!"
"Sure." Letting go of the man, Chu Qiao's face blossomed into a smile. "We will ride in the grasslands of Yan Bei Plains, step into the snow of Hui Hui Mountain. I will wait for you, Yan Xun!" In the violent night wind, with a click of her tongue, the young lady signalled the horse to move. With a team of escorts, they dashed towards the West Gate!
Yan Xun sat still on his horse and fixed his gaze on Chu Qiao, who was slowly fading into the darkness of the night. Under the night sky, his figure was like a tall tree standing aloof in the plains, without a single indication of bending or breaking. "History will not remember the details, it will only remember the results. And these results are always written by victors!"
"Prince! The 12th Division is starting to move, and 36th Division is also showing signs of advancement!" A Scout galloped forth on his horse, and Yan Xun nodded, muttering, "It is about time."
A streak of light flashed across in the night sky. The dazzling fireworks were flashy, and the sky blue color of the flames attracted everyone's attention. On the desolate plains, a group of men were quickly moving along, but upon seeing the fireworks, everyone halted.
"The complete counterattack has begun." Chu Qiao's face was tense, and she quietly muttered under her breathe, "Yan Xun, take care. Giddyup!" On the grassland, the young lady rushed toward Chi Shui riverside. Meanwhile, on a tower, a man with a serious and firm expression raised a cup of liquor and proudly declared, "Warriors! The glory of Yan Bei is now dependent on you! The many elderly in Yan Bei Plains are depending on us. We lose, they die with us! I, Yan Xun, will await your victorious return!"
The tens of thousands of soldiers immediately roared back, "Long live your highness! Yan Bei will not perish!"
"Yan Bei will not perish!" The deafening roar echoed in the skies above the capital. Even Sheng Jin Palace seemed seemed to tremble under the might of this war cry. Yan Xun pull out his blade, and and loudly shouted, "Yan Bei War Eagle, will soar in across all land and rivers. We will never be restricted by anything! Warriors, use your blades to tell this useless capital what the war spirit of Yan Bei is!"