Chenyang stopped walking when he noticed a very familiar and dainty figure step out of the Li tent.
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His gaze turned dark when he noticed she wasn't accompanied by any guards or maidservants.
Wenmin was nowhere to be found and she was all alone.
And because she came out of one of the tents closest to the Emperor, she quickly garnered attention.
The people were in awe at her refreshing beauty.
Her eyes were sharp and clear like the rarest form of Jade.
There was no hidden motive on her carefree face.
She was different from the multiple women of noble societies. She didn't force herself to look weak and naive, but there was this air of elegance and innocence within her.
Perhaps it was because of the expensive white hanfu and swan-themed appearance, or it was because of her porcelain features, but many men were heavily watching her — not daring to miss a single movement.
But a particular gaze stood out from the rest, and it just happens to come out of the tent on the left of the Emperor's tent.
"That brat." Chenyang sighed, walking straight towards her. As he walked to Xueyue, Ning Huabing's gaze followed after him.
Her eyes turned dark and cold when she watched him approach her with her favorite snack.
He placed the warm bowl of Tangyuan and whispered something to Xueyue before taking off his heavy cloak to securely wrap it around her shoulders.
Ning Huabing gritted her teeth in jealousy, mistaking the adoring gesture for love. The women flocking around her exchanged nervous glances at her dark expression.
"Jie-Jie, don't try to overthink the situation. That girl might just be a distant cousin-"
"My Chenyang doesn't show care or affection towards any women, regardless if she was his sister or cousin." Ning Huabing coldly said, her eyes flashing when Chenyang guided Xueyue back into the tent.
"General Wenmin also seems smitten by her...She's more than a distant cousin." Another woman pointed out, frowning at the spot that Xueyue used to stand.
"I overheard their conversation on my way here, I think her name was Xueyue?" Her friend said.
"I've never seen her before. She's probabluy new to these competitions.When I checked the archery, horseback riding, and sword fighting competition boards, her name was on it." A different girl added on.
Ning Huabing raised a curious brow at the sections she was competing in. A slow smirk spread on her face. "And it just happens I know a few people in each section. Her defeat will be beautiful." She chuckled, walking in the direction of her other peers.
- - - - -
Xueyue noticed the group of women that was watching her. Even from a distance, she could see their distorted faces filled with hatred. It was the same one that Viscountess Bai and Tianai used to wear, so Xueyue already knew they were scheming.
"Chenyang, that girl is starring at us." She deliberately said, her voice filled with feign worry. He tilted his head and his gaze turned sharp when he made eye contact with Ning Huabing.
"They're pests." He said, placing a warm hand on her back to guide her back into the tent.
"Shouldn't pests be exterminated?" She innocently asked, following him back. Chenyang was slightly surprised by her harsh words. He looked at her and saw a slight glint in her eyes.
"Yes, they should be exterminated." He readily agreed with her, regardless of the mischievous look she had. Whatever she was planning, he would support it.
Besides, he already knew these women were plotting something against Xueyue, what was wrong with striking back? It's not like she was a white lotus to begin with.
Chenyang was very good at reading a person and their motive. When he had first met Xueyue, when everyone thought she was a simple and naive child, he saw something within her.
A thirst for revenge, or was it vengeance? There were times he would see her stare into the distance, twirling an arrow in her hand. When she practiced the word, the dangerous and feisty look on her face was hard to miss.
He let out a low chuckle that Xueyue didn't hear. She was a double-edged sword. Innocent features and docile smiles, the people didn't know what Xueyue was capable with. Why else would she learn skills suitable for men and killing?
She clearly had utter motives and Chenyang was already too attached to her to care.
In some sense, he realized she was a bit like Li Minghua, innocent but deadly. He only hopped Xueyue wouldn't walk down the same, dark path as her.
But Chenyang knew there was a a stark contrast between her and Minghua.
Unlike Minghua who constantly snitched and spied on Chenyang and Wenmin, Xueyue was quiet and always sided with them.
Xueyue was a clear ally and that was all Chenyang cared about.