In Jilin Province standing on top of the high barricaded walls, a thin middle-aged man stood.
Looking up at the sky, Wei Jingyi elevated a frail hand up as the falcon landed gently on his arm. Upon looking down at the bird's leg, he saw a small scroll attached to it. Taking the scroll, Ju flew away from his arm and landed on the edge of the province walls, his head tilting curiously.
When Wei Jingyi unraveled the small scroll, the edge of his lips curved into a broad smile.
"It would seem our Princess is near."
Hands behind his back, he looked up at the broad, white field, a look of contentment flickering within his eyes.
They had finally found Rin. Finally, her fate could begin.
"How far have we come along?" Manchu set his hands on the table and looked down at the map.
"As of now, we've dug it beneath at least four northern provinces." The Tuhan soldier said before adding, "Thanks to the help of the Bai and Jilin troops, we may even be able to complete our task ahead of schedule."
It was only after hearing the soldier's words did Manchu breathe a sigh of relief. A rare smile appeared on his face.
"We're almost there, Sun…" He whispered to himself.
At that moment, the door slid open. Manchu raised his head and glanced over. A Tuhan soldier, who was out of breath, stood in between the doorway, his face flushed. Manchu's brows drew together in a slight frown.
"What's the matter?"
The soldier caught his breath and quickly responded, "Outside…they're…Commander An has returned!"
Once those words fell, the room fell silent. Manchu returned with an expression filled with shock, his eyes slightly wide.
Finally having recovered his thoughts, Manchu slowly blinked his eyes, his gaze looking a little stunned.
A thin layer of frost coated the land, harsh, chilling winds whirled through the air and past the snow-covered trees. When dawn finally broke, a group of men standing in front of the city walls stared straight ahead, waiting. The hands by General Guo's side clenched nervously. He was impatient.
While he remained composed on the outside through the last few months, he too grieved endlessly. The thought of never seeing his niece again...the girl he raised as a child…
General Guo breathed out a heavy breath of cold air. He was even more impatient now. His face had turned cold due to his inward tussle with his thoughts.
Suddenly, a Bai soldier standing beside him raised his head in alarm.
"I see them!" He shouted.
After saying that, everyone's ears perked and quickly sharpened their gazes even more intently up ahead. Seen a few feet in the broad, snowy field, they spotted a group of figures and horses traveling in their direction.
General Guo froze for an instant before his eyes gradually softened upon noticing a familiar figure mounted on one of the horses.
It was Rin!
The horses drew closer and closer until finally, they were only a few feet in front of the group. Sitting on the front of the horse, Rin's eyes browsed the familiar faces. Her heart was thumping rapidly in her chest. It was impossible not to be scared.
After so long, they were all reuniting. The Bai family, the Tuhan members, Governor Duyi and his soldiers.
They were all waiting for their return.
When they gradually drew closer to the group in front of the city walls, An Sun could sense Rin's rigid movements. After a slight pause, he cast a searching gaze down towards the figure sitting in front of him, trying to see through her thoughts.
Her brows wrinkled as she thought earnestly. Her expressions were like an open book. In just that moment, all of her thoughts and emotions could be read just by looking at her.
It was clear she was nervous.
He let out a light sigh and said, "Don't worry."
That one sentence pulled Rin's thoughts away from her anxiousness - slightly. She looked up at the man behind her and nodded her head. An Sun resisted the urge to smile and quickly mounted down from his horse then turned to hoist her down.
Suddenly, there was a swift movement, and before Rin could take in what was happening, a small falcon was in her arms. Rin stood still for a moment, surprised as she looked down to see a pair of beady, bird eyes looking back at her.
"Ju…" Rin muttered the name subconsciously.
The small falcon's eyes lit up at the sound of his name and tucked his head in the crook of her arms.
"He's missed you."
Rin abruptly raised her head, and her eyes met with Wei Jingyi's serene gaze. The corners of her lips curved into a warm smile and she glanced back down at the falcon nestled in her arms.
"I missed you too." She giggled.
In response to her words, Ju raised his head and flew out of her arms to land on her shoulder. She sighed and gently stroked the top of Ju's feathery head.
"You look different." Wei Jingyi said, a frown on his face as his eyes locked on the girl's hair.
Rin chuckled. "Different can be good."
Hearing her words, Wei Jingyi sighed and helplessly shook his head. "Indeed it can."
While Rin held back a grin, she suddenly noticed from the corner of her vision a figure staring at her silently. Shifting her gaze, her eyes locked with General Guo's firm stare. She froze a bit. He gazed at her for a few seconds with no visual emotions on his cold, hard face.
She didn't dare to move an inch.
General Guo did not utter a word and moved two steps closer to her, their eyes never leaving one another.
Rin awkwardly coughed to hide her guilt and secretly glanced at General Guo. "Uncle…"
When he heard her voice, General Guo's body visibly stiffened. Without a second thought, he reached out and hugged the nervous Rin tightly.
It was her voice. Her figure was in his arms.
He could hear the loud pounding of his chest sound through his ears. But he could also detect the sound of the girl's heart as well. Pounding just as fiercely as his.
She was here. Voice, body, and heart. All of her was here before him. The burly, middle-aged general's eyes reddened. He took a deep breath and tried to suppress the excitement in his chest that felt as if it was about to explode at any moment.
His restless mood instantly dissipated and he hugged her tightly, letting out a pleasant and satisfied sigh.
His voice sounded a little hoarse as he whispered into Rin's ear. "You're back."
Rin froze up after hearing her uncle's words; her moist eyes widened in surprise. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath. The next time her eyes opened, they were as bright as stars reflected in a flowing river.
"Mm, I'm back." She hugged him, her eyes closing once more to enjoy the warm and comfortable hold.
Suddenly, feeling another pair of arms wrap around her, Rin opened her eyes and glanced back to see Bai Han joining the two in their hug. She couldn't hold back the smile tugging up the corners of her lips. She sighed in relief and finally let herself relax fully.
Occurring at the same, Manchu and An Sun were having their own heartwarming reunion.
"You look like shit." Manchu surveyed An Sun's appearance up and down.
An Sun didn't look as handsome as his usual self. Right now, he looked more like any normal man. However, he didn't look frail or unkempt. Instead, the marks of fatigue on his face gave him the allure of a mature man.
However, Manchu didn't dare bolster his ego.
Upon hearing Manchu's first words to him, the corners of An Sun's lips twitched. "Good to see you too."
A grin spread on Manchu's face and he laughed.
"Welcome back, Sun."
An Sun stared at him and sighed, but following that, his eyes curved into a smile.
"Yeah, I'm back." He chuckled, patting Manchu on the shoulder.
When Rin finally separated from the two men, she raised her head to see Governor Duyi approaching.
"I'm glad to see you safely returned, Bai Rin."
She smiled with a slight bob in her head. "Thank you, Sir Zhong."
"Little strategist." Rin heard Manchu say from behind her.
Shifting her gaze, an eyebrow rose on her face.
"Sir Manchu," She nodded her head.
Manchu stared down at her, a grin on his face. "I have to say, you look more like a boy than when we first met."
Rin froze in her spot at that moment. The corners of her lips twitched. "Yes. And it would seem you've become even smarter with your words than when we first met."
It was Manchu's turn to freeze in shock. His brows wrinkled for a bit before he broke out into a sudden smile. "I guess I deserved that."
There was a faint smile in Rin's eyes, but she said nothing. Very quickly, she noticed Aiguo standing awkwardly outside the large group of people, Yun Suyin stood beside him, equally appearing uncomfortable.
Sighing helplessly, Rin paid no heed to the girl and looked at Aiguo while motioning him forward. Aiguo's eyes had widened a bit before he nervously walked over, his head lowered. When the boy was in front of her, Rin reached and settled her hands on his stiff shoulders.
"Who's this?" General Guo's brows raised as he glanced down at the boy.
The moment Rin opened her mouth to speak, she was suddenly interrupted by Aiguo's words.
Suddenly elevating his head, He straightened up and put on a serious face as he said, "My name is Aiguo. I'm twelve years old, however, in the future, I will grow up and marry Rin! So please take care of me until then!"
While the boy's eyes were sparkling with clear determination on his face, everyone had grown silent. At that moment, the quiet had become like icy drips onto frozen skin.
Upon hearing a declaration like this, Bai Han and General Guo's expression dropped drastically. An Sun had been watching off to the side the entire time. The corner of his lips twitched.
Meanwhile, Manchu couldn't help but cover his mouth with a hand, his cheeks flushing red as he held back his laughter. In the end, he lost the fight and burst into a fit of coughing.
"Rin, what does he mean by this?" Bai Han's right eye twitched.
Rin glared at Aiguo icily before smacking the back of his head. The boy cried out and clutched his head. She looked back at the two men looking at her with displeased expressions.
"Ignore him," Rin said with a heavy sigh. "However, there's a lot to explain."
While Bai Han's tone remained cold, it just so slightly thawed as he said, "In that case, when we return home, you'll have all the time to explain. For now, let's go inside and settle down."
Rin nodded her head and glanced at her side. An Sun had sensed her gaze and returned it. Understanding the meaning to her gaze, a faint smile appeared in his eyes, though he wasn't aware of it. He reassuringly nodded his head to her.
"Let's go," An Sun said and followed behind Bai Han.
"Mm," Rin nodded her head and felt Ju land gently on her shoulder again. Glancing at the falcon, she chuckled before looking up at the broad blue sky.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
As those words sounded through her head, a smile spread across her face.
"Rin!" Bai Han turned back to shout upon seeing the girl suddenly stopped.
Shifting her gaze away from the sky, Rin chuckled.
"Coming!" She took one step forward and followed behind the rest.
Hello, readers! I wanted to relay an important message regarding the recent events going on in the world. Right now, people are fighting so hard right now. So please, sign petitions, make donations, make calls, text and more to support the black lives matter movement -
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hank you all. Please rest well, eat well, and stay strong.
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