Shao Yi faintly pursed his lips, turned his head look through the carriage's window, and seemed to be looking at a distant place. "You don't need to have any more fantasies about him. That was the last time you'll see him."
"Your Highness, what are you saying? Are you feeling feverish?" Qing Qiao walked to his side and reached a hand out to feel his forehead.
"Ah" She screamed. Her wrist was firmly squeezed to the point that it hurt.
Shao Yi looked into her eyes and profoundly said, "... Chun Jiao. I tried to give you a chance. Don't blame me for this." Then, he leapt out of the carriage while dragging her along by her wrist.
The vigorous and overflowing sunshine was splashing down on the plants and all living things.
Standing on the hillside and looking down at the sight below, Qing Qiao was stunned.
There were fully armed soldiers at bottom of the hill. A sea of soldiers surrounded this entire hillside. They were so densely packed that it felt like air pollution. Their appearance was as unpredictable as a surging ocean.
The oppressive black cloud had the desire to destroy this city. If you looked up, the darkness was endless.
There were so many people. Each person was holding a bow and ready to shoot.
And the target for each arrow seemed to be… her.
Turbulent waves smashed onto the shores and hurled into a thousand snowflakes*. She stood at the top of this cloud and felt as if she was only a small boat riding on an unrestrained sea wave. She was light and insignificant as a feather.
*(T/N: This is a line from the poem "Ode to Red Cliff" by Su Shi, a Song Dynasty poet, about the fierce Battle of Red Cliff and how this battle shows the rise and fall of great historical figures, the brevity of life, the hypocritical nature of people, and the certainty of changes in life.)
"Chun Jiao, is there anything that you want to say?" Shao Yi let go of her wrist. His expression was solemn and his long hair was flying upwards.
What do you want me to say? What can I say? This was such a grand scene. It couldn't be that you want me to jump, dance, and call out in greeting, "Friends over there on the hillside, how are you? Please wave your glow sticks!"
She bitterly smiled. Her gaze floated down to look at that group of archers.
Then, she saw him.
At the end of the group of archers and sitting on Zuo Qing, he raised his head to look at them from far away.
He was dressed in silk clothing with a wide belt and had an impressive presence. He couldn't look more familiar. He was as lofty and grand as usual. His appearance was still insufferably arrogant as if the entire world belonged to him.
"... This prince has been late in coming here to protect Your Highness. Under His Majesty's orders, this prince is here to capture traitorous Du Chun Jiao!"
She heard his faint voice and only felt her throat tightening. She dimly saw a butterfly flying in front of her. It gradually vanished. Light couldn't be seen.
"... Whoever brings her to me, dead or life, will receive a heavy reward!"
The wind blew. Those words became indistinct. Not even an echo was left behind.
Suddenly, someone waved his hand. His loud words stopped this impressive display of manpower that was about to rush forward, "Wait! She doesn't know martial arts. You don't need to use so much force."
Qing Qiao blankly turned around and discovered that the person speaking was Shao Yi.
He looked at her with a complicated expression. There was pity, grief, and overwhelming distress.
"Obediently follow me down! If you resist less now, in the future..." He hesitated for a moment before whispering, "... in the future, you'll suffer less."
Then, in front of everyone, he tightly held her hand and walked down the hillside road to the group of archers.
The walk only took a few minutes.
But for Gu Qing Qiao, it felt longer than a century.
Just as the two of them reached the group of archers, soldiers immediately surged forward and pulled Qing Qiao away from Shao Yi.
Without any of the usual protective feelings towards a girl, they forcefully pushed and pulled her farther away.
Shao Yi silently stood in place and didn’t know what to feel or think.
"Your Highness, you suffered!" A solider kneeled down next to him to beg for forgiveness while trembling in fear.
However, Shao Yi didn't hear any of his words. He only looked at the teenage girl's departing figure. He looked at her petite figure that was between the soldiers as she walked farther away, step by step.
He thought she would turn around to look at him, but she never glanced back.
At this moment, her face was like a fog. He couldn't see her faint expression that was like layers of mist that would disperse as soon as he touched it.
He lifted his palm up. He remembered the touch of her soft, smooth hand that had a faint fragrance when he had recently held it.
She was so delicate. She definitely wouldn’t be able to endure suffering.
He silently felt wistful and his heart suddenly tightened.
In all directions, dust flew upwards on the scene.
Gu Qing Qiao was escorted in front of Zuo Qing.
Duan Yu was still sitting on his horse. Occupying the higher ground, with a cold expression, he seemed to have completely stopped caring about her. “Du Chun Jiao, do you acknowledge your crime?” These were the first words that he said to her. His face was expressionless, except for the hidden fire shining in his eyes. It was a cold, brilliant light.
… He was absolutely deciding to not recognize her.
Terror like fragmented snow that hid the sky and covered the earth smashed into her. It’s oppressive chillness seeped into her bones until even the air was frozen.
Gu Qing Qiao looked at this man that was fully estranged from her. She only felt very, very afraid. Her eyes became warm. The warmth changed to scalding heat. The heat painfully stabbed her eyes.
"If you want to condemn me, why worry about the pretext?" Her face was completely pale. She lightly bit her bottom lip.
"You don't have anything you want to say to me?" Duan Yu raised his eyebrow. His threatening eyes looked at her until it stretched forward and entered her gradually dilated pupils.
After considering for a while, she finally raised her face higher and with great difficulty, she smiled and said, "... Haven't seen you in a long time. Your Highness, you still bring forth overwhelming emotions!"