Wu Zhaoyi stiffened the moment his mask was removed. He watched her expression changed as tears invaded her cheek. She remembered him. He exhaled as memories from his past flashed in his mind. His weakness. His regret. His death.
"Master, who are they?"
There was a little girl hiding behind their new master, her bright eyes were like the twinkling stars at night pulling him in an instant. He tried to smile but the tension in his heart made him unable to do so. He glanced at his brother who was already smiling toward the girl, giving a good impression.
"Fu Ya, meet Prince Zhao and Prince Liu Heng. They will be staying here for a few months." Master Fu Sheng brushed the little girl's head giving her the tickles, giggling at the warm of their master's affection.
"Really? You two will be staying here?" Those bright eyes of hers were staring at them in desperation. The way she looked right now made him remembered the bunny he once had before it died in his brother's arm.
"Yes, little sister." His brother, Prince Liu Heng was pulling him to shorten the distance between them and the girl. He didn't resist and let the force dragged his body forward.
"Excellent! Then, can we spar?" He stumbled, almost pulling his brother along.
"Sparring?" He asked and stared at her in disbelief. Then, he saw her jumped on the nearby wooden stool. She flipped and steadily stabilized herself in a one-handed headstand.
"I'll let you stay if you beat me." She declared and swayed before her foot landed perfectly on the ground.
"Can I fight for my brother as well because he has a weak body." His brother's right hand was patting his back causing him to shudder in fear.
"As long as one of you willing to spar." The girl agreed and looked at him in sympathy. He shivered and prayed that she canceled the spar. It was too early for her to die. That's what he thought, but the moment he saw her fight, hope rose in his heart.
Watching the intense match between the two, he finally realized that she wasn't bluffing. She was like a little warrior, subduing every attack from his brother. Her movement was that of a dragon; fierce and strong.
When she was forced to a corner, she wasn't scared and came up with a swift counterattack. This gave him hope. Hope that she would survive the coming tide. He was happy, thinking that she wasn't like his fragile bunny. Yet, the moment he saw her eyes, he knew she had fallen. Fallen for his brother's charm.
The match was a stalemate but he could see the irritation in his brother's eyes, perfectly hidden with his eloquent speech of praises. At the same time, her eyes were in admiration. Not to him but to the devil in the form of his brother.
"I told you to put the poison in her drink. Why didn't you do it?" He could feel his brother's hand on his swollen face. He swallowed and the taste of blood ran to his throat.
"Master was in the kitchen, I was afraid he would find out." He mustered his strength to speak. He already knew this would happen. But, he was prepared. For her, he would do anything.
"Zhao, the consequences are much worse if His Majesty knows about this. " He heard him spits, leaving marks on his face.
"It wasn't on purpose." He tried to give an excuse only to received another blow on his face. "I don't care. You failed!" and his head was slammed on the floor giving him severe concussion as he slowly lost his consciousness.
He was asleep for how long he couldn't remember. The moment he regained his consciousness, he saw her. Looking at him in tears.
"Brother Zhao, why are you always in bruises? Did you go to the cliff again? Why didn't you brought me along? I can protect you." He stared at the girl who was crying while applying for medicine on his bruises. He smiled and touched her hand.
"Thank you. I don't need you to protect me. I should be the one protecting you." He meant those words but coming from him, he knew no one would believe it.
If he couldn't protect her, telling the truth was his only solution. "Fu Ya, I have something to tell you. Brother Liu Heng is..."
"Oh, brother Zhao you are awake? What is it about me that you want to tell her?" His whole body convulsed to see a pair of wicked eyes were staring at him: a warning for him to shut his mouth.
"Fu Ya, I need to speak some sense to my brother. He was really stubborn. I found him unconscious on the ground again. Would you mind giving us room for some brotherly love?" He wanted to laugh at his brother's excuses and felt like vomiting when he heard him mentioned the last two words. Brotherly love? Since when? To him, he was merely a puppet.
"Hehe, sure. I'll go to the kitchen and ask for some refreshment." He watched her leave the room and the instant she was gone an arm pulled him up aggressively.
"Dear brother, your last chance is tomorrow. Kill her! This is an order from His Majesty. Failure means death." He closed his eyes, hiding the fear that had accumulated in his eyes.
"Heh, pretending to be deaf? Do you think I don't know that you were helping her in secret? And yet you failed. Why? Because you are weak and useless. Remember, you are nothing without the Imperial Family and merely a tool that can be thrown away." He clutched his fist and loured at his brother in hatred. He wanted to deny him but he knew he was right. He was weak. Weak enough that anyone could step on him.
Day by day, the desire to get stronger intensified. He needed the power to protect her from the cruelty of the world. He wanted to protect her smile.
"Remember, tomorrow is your last chance. Lure her to the reading room. I will do the rest."
"Fu Ya! Fu Ya! Stay conscious!" He screamed ignoring the wall of intense heat that threatened to burn his entire body, slowly cooking him. The smell of wood smoke drifted through the room like incense filled his nose, forbidding him from properly breathing.
"Brother Zhao. Run...leave me..." Her faint voice lingered and buried under the noises from the cracking and falling roof. Fire embezzled the whole room, sealing the exits. He embraced her and dragged his tattered body toward the door. All he could think of was to save her.
He was naive to think that if he ignored his brother's order, he would leave her alone and focus on torturing him for going against him. Alas, he was wrong, his brother probably had guessed his plan and executed the plan by himself.
"Give me the strength to save her." He prayed and step by step he arrived at the door. He covered her body with his and stormed out of the room.
"Tch, and here I thought I had her killed. Brother, you disappoint me!" He saw him, the devil.
"But, it's all good. The plan changed. Heh, I'll devour her slowly, blind her with my love before killing her. Pity, that you will not leave to see her die." His eyes glinted with malice as he laughed maniacally.
Save her! Save her! His mind was telling him to, but the burning had reached his throat leaving only his eyes whose watching his brother leaving the room with Fu Ya in his arms. Deep regret rooted in those eyes, formed into tears that could freeze the flame.
Wu Zhaoyi ended the memories before it consumed him. His chest was no longer heavy for the burden had lightened when she learned of his identity. He bet she had a lot in mind right now but the time wasn't ripe yet, He had a vision that the past would still hunt both of them. He had to investigate further so that he could protect her properly. Because that was his purpose to live a second life.
I'm sorry guys for giving you a cliff-kun when he was an entirely new character from the past. Really, I want him to be Liu Heng but I want Fu Ya to get her revenge. And Gui Jin, well he has a different purpose in this story. So, there you go. Fire away!