46 Encountered Four Years Ago
But the claps died down when they realized the arrow was still intact to Chenyang's bow.
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Their confused eyes followed Chenyang's stare to Xueyue who was about to sit back down on her saddle, but then something horrifying happened. An arrow flew straight towards her leg and before she could even dodge that, another flew towards her arm.
Hearing the "woosh" sound of arrows flying in its direction, Heiyue panicked and tried to change his body to ensure Xueyue would dodge it. But the sharp movement made Xueyue loose her footing and she slipped off of her horse.
The people gasped at the sight of her falling off, but no one dared to move.
Chenyang galloped as fast as he could to Xueyue. He couldn't get to her in time because their distance was too far.
Xueyue squeezed her eyes shut and braced herself for the painful fall, but it never came.
Instead, her back collided with something very hard and solid. Startled at the warmth that eluded from it, she opened her eyes and it connected with eyes so dark, yet beautiful. Staring into it was like staring into the limitless night sky without stars to guide the lost souls.
"Xueyue!" Chenyang hopped off his horse, running to her and yanking her behind him. He glowered at her savior, a man he knew all too well.
"Chenyang? What are you doing here?" She blinked into reality, her lips dipping into a frown. Why was he in the archery competition?
"Jinkai, I've already warned you once." Chenyang's dark voice surprised Xueyue. Warn him once? When? Did Chenyang know this man?
Wait did he just say Jinkai? As in Wen Jinkai, the Commander she encountered four years ago?!
Curious at his condition, Xueyue peered out from behind Chenyang's back. She was curious about the man that had saved her life.
Her breath was caught in her throat when she inspected him closer. Brooding eyes, tall nose, thin lips, sharp jawline, he was unbelievably handsome. Instantly, Xueyue understood why so many women ran after him.
When his eyes connected with Xueyue's curious ones, she felt a blush spread through her cheeks. Like a bashful child, she went back into hiding.
Wen Jinkai's eyes flickered with amusement. How cute.
"Jinkai, are you even listening to me-"
"So what if you've warned me once?" He answered.
Xueyue was surprised at his voice. Betraying his fearsome aura was a smooth, deep, and enticing voice that made her want to draw closer to him.
Chenyang blinked at his words. "What did you just say-"
Xueyue sensed the high tension in the air and how suffocating it was. She needed to put an end to this conflict before a brawl broke out.
"Chen-ge, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be inside the tent or sidelines watching?" She wisely changed the topic into something much more distracting. Last time she checked with the Duchess, neither of the twins have ever participated in archery. As a matter of fact, both of them really disliked this sport.
Sensing the angry tone, Chenyang turned around to face her. "T-that's not important right now-"
"Were you trying to sabotage me?" She interrupted him again, her eyes flashing with warning. She crossed her arms and frowned.
Chenyang was surprised by her fierce expression. Since when did the little bunny know how to glare? He had never seen her eyes dance with fire and annoyance, despite his constant nagging and aloof personality.
"I would never try to sabotage you-"
"So you didn't plan on making me lose this competition to look bad, right? You didn't want to ruin my first entrance into society so that no suitors would pursue me. You wouldn't do that to me, right?" She guilt-tripped him, already knowing the truth. No wonder why the twins looked so suspicious, they had planned on making her lose from the start!
Chenyang's silence and sullen expression was enough for Xueyue to know she was right. Her frown deepened.
Suddenly, the drums went off. The heavy noise brought attention to the Eunuch. "After counting the arrows, it was evident Li Xueyue has won this year's archery competition!" He loudly announced to the people, his voice running throughout the field.
Not wanting to get on the Li family bad side, the people were quick to cheer for Xueyue. Regardless of their identity, this Xueyue girl has the Li family name attached!
Not only that, but she was a capable girl that could hunt! It was the second time in the last three decade, that a woman has won a competition that was usually dominated by men!
Chenyang was glad for the distraction. He took a glance at Xueyue's expression, and was surprised to see the fire had died down. As a matter of fact, her complexion looked really pale.
"Xueyue, what's wrong-"
"They've heard him..." She whispered, suddenly taking a fearful step backwards.
"Who heard him?" Chenyang worriedly asked, his brows drawing together in confusion.
"I-I want to go back to the tent-"
"Li Xueyue, please step forward to be personally awarded by the Emperor and Empress for being the first winner of today's competition!" The Eunuch added on, his eyes centering on the girl surrounded by two handsome men.
Chenyang frowned at her complexion that had become even paler, to the point of where she looked ghostly. He looked closer and saw the cold-sweat that broke out on her forehead.
She turned towards Chenyang, her eyes suddenly wide with freight.
"Xueyue-" Chenyang doesn't get to say anything, before she tried to walk away from the ring. But she didn't look at where she was walking and instantly, she bumped into something hard again.
'Damn it!' She cursed in her head. Why is there a wall here-
"Are you alright?" A low and deep voice asked her, his voice strong and enticing.
For the third time, Xueyue made eye contact with the man that saved her. She felt at loss for words at how incredibly handsome he was. Wasn't this the same man that spoke boldly to the Emperor?
"I'm fine-" She trailed off when she realized how many people were starring at her.
She swallowed hard. They were all waiting for her to step forward. Xueyue knew running away and delaying the acceptance would only cause more conflict and suspicious.
"Xueyue, come with me. I'll walk you to the award table, you don't have to be afraid of the crowd." Chenyang offered, noticing her fearful gaze of the crowd.
"Come on, let's not delay time for the next competition to start. It's alright, you have me besides you." He added on, not noticing the distress in her eyes.
There was a clear reason why she didn't want to walk towards the award table. Because the table was directly in front of the Emperor and Empress, who sat on an enormous high-rise platform for the people to see, everyone would be able to get a good view of Xueyue...