Ministers gathered inside the parliament, debating politics with the emperor. In the middle of the debate, a royal guard rushed in and reported to the emperor in whispers. As soon as he received the intel, the frown on his face turned into a pleased look, nodding at the guard as a kind of approval.
Taking the emperor’s order, the royal guard stepped back to announce, “please welcome Prince Xiang Yu to the parliament.”
Xiang Yu, a young man in armor, walked down the aisle to pass by the ministers standing aside.
“Father, our army has defeated the intruders at the border,” Xiang Yu reported to the emperor with a courteous bow.
“Well done, my son,” the emperor praised.
At this moment, an old minister came forward to make a proposal, “Your Majesty, the first victory of his highness is a good sign. In my humble opinion, we should make good use of our high spirit and commence war on the Western Empire, claiming the sovereignty of the Central Sanctum to be ours the Eastern Empire.”
The proposal received general consensus among the ministers, but Xiang Yu’s heart sank for this aggressive move.
“For God’s sake...Is it worthy to start a war for such a meaningless purpose? How many more lives will be sacrificed for it?”
“With all due respect, father, we’ve had way too many wars with the Western Empire in these decades. Instead of wartorn suffer, I suggest that we seek a peace treaty with the Western Empire,” said Xiang Yu.
“Nonsense!” The Emperor scolded, and continued, “the Western Empire has killed countless of our people. It is not my resentment but the whole nation’s. And it will be a national disgrace if I bow down to our sworn enemy!”
“Save it. Your mind must be scrambled by the exhausting battles,” said the Emperor, signalling the royal guard. He then continued, “guards, escort the Prince to his residence.”
Xiang Yu stopped persuading as his father had made up his mind. Without taking off his armor, he vented his anger by smashing a wooden table once he returned to the residence.
“Why does everyone want wars!? Wars do no good but merely takes away innocent lives! Dammit!”
Xiang Yu banged the table one more time, which had shaken a silky gift box off to the floor.
“She’s the only one understands me...I miss her…”
Following his heart, Xiang Yu took off the armor to put on casual wear. When he headed out to a tranquil lake at the border, he never forgot to bring that luxury gift box.
An ancient temple was built at the lake side, where a petite figure knelt down praying. The lady stepped back on alert as soon as she sensed someone coming.
“Miaoyi, it’s me,” Xiang Yu revealed himself to calm the lady down.
“Yu!” Yu Miaoyi exclaimed. “Why are you here so early today? I thought we agreed to meet at night.”
“I’m here early because I miss you...What about you? Aren’t you here early too?”
Xiang Yu looked at Yu Miaoyi with infinite love, making her blush.
“Me...Me too...I miss you,” Yu Miaoyi mumbled, lowering her head shyly.
Unable to hold back the affection, Xiang Yu pulled her into his embrace, holding tightly. Yu Miaoyi, feeling his vulnerability, held him back to comfort him. Hugging each other for a while, Xiang Yu finally felt better and let go of her a bit.
But he frowned when seeing a palm-sized wound on Yu Miaoyi’s wrist.
“What happened to you?”
“Nothing. It’s just a scratch,” said Yu Miaoyi. “Having injury is very common in this war time.”
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t here with you when it happened.”
Xiang Yu kissed the wound gently. With care and love, his lips eventually met Yu Miaoyi’s lips.
The heartache from yearning was soothed by the intimate skinship. At this moment, Xiang Yu gave the gift box to Yu Miaoyi.
“It was your birthday two days ago, right? This is a gift for you,” Xiang Yu spoke softly.
Opening the box, Yu Miaoyu found a jade hairpin with a strand of red tassel.
“This is made of prestigious icy jade. It’s too expensive to take it,” said Yu Miaoyi, who was about to close the gift box.
Xiang Yu turned the hairpin around, revealing a carving of “Miaoyi.” He smiled and said, “your name has already been carved on it. If you refuse to accept it, no one will.”
“You witty head.”
Yu Miaoyi felt speechless but also touched by his romantic gesture. “Thank you...I guess,” said Yu Miaoyi with a shy smile.
“I wanted to carve Yu & Miaoyi at first, but that would be too obvious. I hope our names can be put on every gift I give you without hiding it in the future.”
When Xiang Yu reached out to put the hairpin on Yu Miaoyi, she shook her head in refusal woefully.
“The anti-Eastern Empire sentiment has been raging among the Western Empire lately. Anything related to the Eastern Empire will be smashed into pieces once they find out, so it’s better to keep it safe in the box...Why are people always crazy about wars by the way?”
“Trust me. Peace will eventually come one day. By then, we’ll be able to hold our hands without keeping our love secret,” said Xiang Yu, holding Yu Miaoyi’s hand firmly.
“Ma’am, it’s getting late,” a young man Panhe said, who walked out of shades and bowed at Yu Miaoyi.
“Panhe, please escort Miaoyi home.”
Panhe nodded as he received the order from Xiang Yu.
Looking at the two figures, Xiang Yu clenched his fists and swore to himself, “I will stop the war at all costs.”
However, Xiang Yu’s promise failed to accomplish as the clashes between two empires finally sparked off. His father had been severely injured by the Western Empire force in a battle. To revenge for the emperor, the old minister plotted an assassination against the queen of the Western Empire, putting her at the state of moribund.
Pushed by the public resentment, Xiang Yu reluctantly declared war against the Western Empire, battling the godsister of the queen. At the Central Sanctum, the sound of war drums marked the commencement of the battle, where hundreds of thousands of soldiers started killing each other. Very soon, the land was washed by blood.
At this moment, Xiang Yu watched the battle from a hillside away from the hot zone. This war, a handful of living men became dead corpses for every second passed.
“That young soldier should be living carefree in his age. But now he’ll never see the sunrise of tomorrow...And there’s nothing I can do to save him…”
Looking around, the frustrated Xiang Yu spotted a lady riding a horse at the opposite side. The royal mask on her face had implied her supreme status.
“She is...the godsister of the Western Empire queen...If I take her down, the enemy force will retreat, and I’ll be able to minimize the number of casualties,” a thought appeared in Xiang Yu’s mind.
Xiang Yu raided the enemy base alone regardless of the dissuade of his subordinate. He killed all soldiers who stood in his way. As this move caught the enemy unprepared, Xiang Yu managed to confront the lady commander.
Xiang Yu struck his sword at the lady commander, who could only parry it when the sword almost hit her. Still, the shock of the strike broke her mask, unveiling the true identity. The face under the mask was not only mesmerizingly gorgeous, but it was also the face that Xiang Yu had been missing everyday.
“No...How is it possible...Miaoyi…”
Xiang Yu was petrified by the shocking fact that she was actually the godsister of the Western Empire queen.
Meanwhile, a cavalry raided Xiang Yu from his right direction. Much as his muscle reflexion reacted in time, his helmet was bumped away by the spear, revealing his face in public.
“Ma’am, are you alright?”
The cavalry was Panhe, the guard of Yu Miaoyi, who paid no attention to the presence of Xiang Yu. In contrast, Yu Miaoyi was overwhelmed by the identity of Xiang Yu…
Apart from surprise, she felt a tremendous heartache as well.
Then, Xiang Yu was dragged away by his soldiers before he could say anything to comfort Yu Miaoyi.
“Your Highness, we can handle this. Leave now!”
The soldiers of both sides kept the lovers apart, and the battle went on until sunset. When the nightfall arrived, both sides ceased fire and rested at the border of the sanctum.
During the truce, the armored Xiang Yu sneaked to the lakeside by avoiding the sights of patrols. Just as he expected, the armored Yu Miaoyi was there too.
“Seems we have the same thought,” said Yu Miaoyi with a hint of a smile.
“I should’ve known that a graceful lady like you is no ordinary.”
“And I should’ve figured out your identity when you gave me such rare icy jade. We’re both blinded by love.”
“This war might end someday, but the thing I fear the most will happen before that.” Xiang Yu drew his sword.
“Us hating each other, am I right?”
Yu Miaoyi spoke Xiang Yu’s fear out as she pulled out a dagger.
“Right. When this war unfolds, it’s only a matter of time for us to become like that.”
“Those slaughters will eventually turn our love into resentment,” said Yu Miaoyi. Looking at Xiang Yu lovingly, she spilled out her thoughts, “let’s stop time before everything between us perishes.”
“Let everything stop here,” said Xiang Yu. The blades in their hands reflected a dazzling yet deadly sparkle.
“That’s...the hairpin from me...on her hair...Sigh. I can’t do it…” At that very moment, Xiang Yu was defeated by love——
Whoosh! Yu Miaoyi’s dagger was stabbed deep into Xiang Yu’s abdomen, but his sword was dropped onto the ground. This sudden plot twist completely shattered her.
“Yu...Why don’t you...Why don’t you——Ah!”
Her words were stopped by Xiang Yu’s hit, which put Yu Miaoyi into unconsciousness. Attempting to catch her from falling, Xiang Yu failed because of the nasty trauma on his abdomen, bleeding non-stop.
“Panhe, are you there? Cough…” Xiang Yu called towards the bushes. As expected, Panhe walked out of the woods sorrowfully.
“You didn’t stop us.”
“...This is what ma’am wants. I have no rights to stop her.”
“Yet you didn’t stop me from knocking her out either.”
Panhe silenced, but Xiang Yu laughed in irony.
“How silly I am...How ordinary can she possibly be if she can hire a royal soldier to be her bodyguard...Cough…”
As his condition worsened, Xiang Yu started coughing blood.
“Panhe, take her away from this meaningless carnage. Start over somewhere far away from here. You have my trust to treat her well,” Xiang Yu pleaded sincerely.
Then, Panhe carried Yu Miaoyi to leave the woods.
Xiang Yu crawled his way to lean on the temple, feeling the drainage of his life. At the final moment, his mind had never been so peaceful, for he could finally free himself from the guilt of taking someone's life at war.
“Miaoyi, please forget me and live a happy life.”
Xiang Yu made his last wish and closed his eyes for good...