"Catch her! Don't let that woman escape!" Golden eyes darted back to see the trees and bushes rustling. A dash of urgency flashed across the woman's eyes and she picked up her pace. There was no way in hell she was going to be caught, no way in hell she was going back to that infernal place, no way she'd allow that grotesque pig touch her; Dong Zhuo, what a disgusting b*****d he was.
"There she is! Grab her!" Jolting at the commands, the woman turned to see horses galloping for her; they had caught up to her. 'Damn!' She thought, why were they even so fixated on catching her? Dong Zhuo could find women prettier, he had women prettier, than her! Trying to move her legs faster, the woman closed her eyes, but she ran straight into what felt like a wall. As her bottom collided with the dirt ground, she heard a loud, irritated neigh and quickly scootched back to avoid being trampled on by the disturbed horse she ran into. Her gaze then shifted from the horse to the intimidating and daunting man who rode the animal. Dark and powerful eyes stared down at her, seeming undeterred from the horse's jerking movements and the woman felt as if his gaze made gravity intensify ten-fold. His presence made her feel small and the darkly colored robes of blue, purple and gold he wore seemed to give him an even more powerful air. Most of his dark hair was pulled up into a gold ornament save for the sides which were too short and two long strands which he let cascade down the sides of his face. She barely had time to notice the other two men that rode along the sides of this intense being before the soldiers she was running from came to a skidding halt behind her.
"We finally caught you woman!" The Captain spat, moving his hand and motioning two of the other soldiers to grab her. At their movements, the tattered and tired woman moved away from them and closer to the three unknown men. Assuming her actions meant the men were protecting her, the Captain narrowed his eyes. "Please do not interfere. This woman is to be returned to my Lord immediately." The two soldiers from before moved closer in order to grab her, but she just scooted away more. The Captain's face scrunched up in anger and he jerked his steed's reigns, making the horse neigh and scoot closer to the woman. "Wench, you WILL return to the castle and back to Lord Dong Zhuo's harem!"
"Over my dead body." She spat, kind of hoping he did kill her instead of taking her back. No man repulsed her more that Dong Zhuo. Anger flashed in the Captain's eyes and he jerked forward to grab her himself, but was stopped by a deep bellow from behind the woman.
"Stop," The Captain and his fellow soldiers looked up to see the mounted man move from behind the woman and place himself and his horse protectively between her and the soldiers. The female shockingly looked up at her savior and tilted her head slightly, wondering what reason he had to interfere. "Let me purchase this woman off of you." A gasp came from the woman's mouth and Zhuo's soldiers seemed just as shocked.
"Pardon?" The Captain asked, needing to let what the mystery man said soak in, "Purchase her? I'm sorry, but I don't think-"
"One thousand Gold for her," Not only did the woman's eyes widen at his generous offer, but she swore she saw the Captain's eyes glitter before it disappeared and he frowned a bit.
"Lord Dong Zhuo would not appreciate one of his most favored concubine being sold off." The woman's eyes shifted into that of disbelief. That disgusting pig hadn't laid a finger on her, she took off before he had the chance, but she felt the way he looked at her, the way his eyes raked over her body as if he imagined having her. The grotesque thought made her shudder and a bit of worry sunk into her mind. The captain was obviously trying to milk this stranger for all that he was worth and she feared he would not give into it.
"Two thousand then." The already shocked expressions widened at the increased price and the Captain rubbed his chin in mock thought. As if considering his offer, he made some mummers and finally held out his hand for the money.
"However, I do think Lord Zhuo has plenty of women to satisfy him, one wench is no large loss." The man nodded his head in understanding and turned to his companion that had been mounted on the horse beside him. The woman now got the chance to observe him. He was a fairly big fellow with dark hair all pulled up into a tight bun atop his head and he wore in interesting circlet over his brow which had cloth flaps falling down the side of his face, it looked like it wrapped around behind his head too. His head piece didn't obscure any part of his features though; neat facial hair that was less regal looking than the paying stranger and he- unlike his companion- had dark brown eyes that were friendly and warm. His clothing was also colored shades of blue, but his attire had more pieces of armor such as the shoulder plates, gauntlet which covered his left arm, thigh guards and knee plates.
This warrior was certainly shocked, just like herself and the Zhuo soldiers, he obviously wasn't expecting his companion to do such a thing as buy a random harem woman- for so much gold nonetheless! The bulky man however, complied to his friend's request and reached into the brown pouch settled on his horse and grabbed two brown bags. The sacks jingled as the man moved over to hand them to the Captain and before he had the chance to fully extend his arm, the Captain snatched them.
"I thank you, kind sir." The Captain cooed, gripping the bags of gold tightly before looking down upon the woman he just sold. "Lucky woman you are." Was the last thing he said before ordering the other soldiers to remount their steeds and leave.
"You are free to go." The woman blinked and looked up at her hero. 'Free to go?' The man turned and began galloping away, his two companions following.
"Wait!" At her call, he turned his head and raised a dark brow. "Why did you do that?" The first question that came to mind made her forget to ask him who he was and as well as to thank him for his kind deed. She had wanted to add the two thoughts in, but he had spoke before she got the chance to.
"No being alive should should have to live with that malicious man's touch." The man distastefully answered. He seemed to have as much disgust for the man as herself. The woman opened her mouth to finish her thoughts, but as she did, she was cut off by the other man beside her savior that she had not gotten to observe.
"My Lord, I don't believe we have time to continue dawdling here." His deep voice bellowed. The woman gave a small gasp as the man's harsh tone and raised her gaze to him. Dark, choppy hair that looked to have been swept to the right, cold brown eyes, fine, yet course-looking facial hair and an eye patch covering his left eye. Much like his companion to the left of her savior, his attire was colored blue and he wore much of the same plated armor. The woman was so fixated on this man, she kept her gaze on him longer than necessary and he seemed to take notice as he narrowed his only visible eye at her.
"You are right, Dun" Lightly yanking on the reins of his horse made the animal neigh and jerk forward a bit. "Come, we have plans to make." Both followers allowed the dark yet kind man to lead before having their horses keep a slow pace behind him, not one of them looking back to the woman who stood watching them leave.
"Don't leave yourself open!" Lu Meng called to the Wu woman attacking him. "Watch your footing!" He added in after she nearly stumbled forward and fell. The youthful warrior could see she was getting angry and tired, her unrestrained and sloppy attacks also shouted it loud and clear to the mentor. Deciding to end training for the day, Lu Meng blocked her sword with his own weapon and quickly disarmed her. The woman's sword flew a small distance away and clattered to the stone ground, but was ignored by both warriors as Meng looked down at the exhausted woman instead. Her long brown hair fell like a curtain over her shoulders as she fell to her hands and knees. Her breath was heavy and she stared at the ground, not having enough energy to lift her head to look at her tutor. "Niu," Meng began, "You need to learn to control your temper." He scolded with disappointment and a bit of irritation. Xia Niu struggled to get the breath to answer back, but after a moment of panting, she looked up to him with narrowed, hazel eyes.
"It's difficult when you are shouting at me." She growled, obviously restraining herself from yelling. "Things that I already know." Her voice was raised a bit this time and she coughed from the rasp in her throat. Lu Meng closed his eyes and tried to ease his irritation at the hot-head.
"If you knew, why didn't you do them." He remarked with a bit of bite. Niu scrunched up her nose and- with a bit of stumble- stood up.
"Well, because..." She didn't know what to say to him. 'Because she forgot in the spur of the moment? Knowing how to do it, is different that applying it in battle?' No, neither of those was an excuse; if she gave him either of those, he'd scold her and she would once again feel foolish in his eyes. Nothing she could say would justify her lack of skill and so she just let an angry growl out before storming off into the walls of the castle of Jiang Dong. Sighing, Lu Meng watched the girl leave with a shake of his head.
"Don't worry, old man." Meng heard the raspy voice of Gan Ning say. At the unflattering nickname the insolent pirate had given him, Meng's lips tightened into a scowl. Did the fool even know he wasn't much younger than himself? However, knowing Gan Ning, Meng knew he was aware and just took pleasure in irritating him. "She'll realize her love for you sooner or later." Such as that. Caught off guard by the reckless warrior's comment, Meng looked over at him and noticed the teasing smile on his smug face. Embarrassed by his jokes, the elder man landed a blow to the back of his head making him stumble forward and rub his aching skull.
"Absurd!" He barked, moving to grab the girl's sword she had left behind. He heard Ning's footsteps on the stone clap as he shuffled to follow him.
"Why don't you just go and tell her already?" The pirate growled, the pain on his head no longer bothering him; Meng assumed it was because he'd gotten hit there many times already, it no longer had much of an effect on him. "Everyone in Wu knows already, except maybe her." Meng was quiet for a moment, highly doubting the whole army of Wu was knowledgeable of this information. Ning was was great at getting into business that did not concern him and it bothered him to a great extent.
"And what makes you so sure of this?" He called, picking up the sword and beginning to make his way to the armory just along the castle wall to the West. As expected, Ning followed him as they made way through the courtyard of Jiang Dong castle.
"Because you're still mentoring her. I would've dropped her already, she's got worse of an attitude than Gongji." Meng rolled his eyes at this. Always lashing at Tong. If anyone had the attitude in Wu, it was Gan Ning.
"Perhaps you would, but I finish what I start. No matter how extensively irritating she is..." Meng murmured, feeling a spark of guilt at saying what he did even if he was serious about how she irked him. Ning was quiet for a moment and Meng was glad he had finally decided to stop talking, but sadly he wasn't finished.
"Wow, how pathetic. Have you not come to terms with your own feelings, old man?" Meng rolled his eyes and wanted to rid himself of this nuisance; he was tired of talking about this. As the two approached the armory, Meng pushed the door open quickly and moved to kick the door shut behind him with his foot, hoping Ning got the hint to leave. He didn't, and instead, he just shoved his own foot in the door, stopping it from closing on his face. Ning stood at the entrance and grinned over at Meng, continuing his conversation. "Or you have and just don't want to let anyone else know you have?" Meng kept quiet as he placed both the sword and his glaive on the weapons rack, hoping that if he didn't answer, Ning would leave, also partly not wanting to confirm his claims or lie. Ning broke the silence with a hearty laugh and walked into the armory. "I knew you loved her! You'd better tell her soon then, before someone else gets to her." Deciding to rid himself of the pest's presence, Lu Meng shoved past Ning and out of the armory. He didn't get very far before the source of his irritation caught up to him and slightly leaned over his shoulder to see his expression of what he said next. "Ya know, I might make her mine if you don't say something. She is a cutie, ain't she? Woah!" Ning was just able to duck under a hook punch thrown at his head which made him chuckle. "Easy now! I was just joking with you, old man!" That didn't stop Lu Meng from taking another swing at him and landing a blow to his temple before walking off, leaving Ning standing there, rubbing his aching head for the second time that day.
Summer of 200
This is the third summer I've seen in Wu since Lord Zhou Yu had found me and convinced Lord Sun Ce to take me into his army. I never thought I would be a warrior, I always assumed I would end up some lowly housewife with two sons while my husband tended to our farm. Til this day I feel as if I'm in the wrong place, I don't feel like a warrior, but I don't believe I have much of a choice; I have nothing to go back to and no where else to go. I don't think anyone else in Wu sees me as a warrior either, I think Master Lu Meng is teaching a failing cause. Lord Sun Ce probably sees this too as I've not seen a single battle since joining Wu. For that I should be thankful, if Lord Ce were to put me into a battle, not only would I somehow jeopardize Wu's victory, but I'm sure I'd die. It's not as if I can't fight because I'm a woman, Lady Shang Xiang, Lady Xiao Qiao and Lady Da Qiao are great warriors, I'm just not a born fighter. Sometimes I feel bad for Lord Zhou Yu finding a wash up like me and presenting me to his Lord. How embarrassed he must be.
"Knock knock." Quickly closing her book and immediately hoping the ink didn't smudge, Niu looked back at her door to see one of her only friends in Wu leaning against the door frame.
"Gongji," Niu greeted with a grin, using Ling Tong's style name as opposed to his given one.
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