11 Promises, Not Threats
"You have a long few years ahead of you to glare at my granddaughter, its best to go home for today." The Commander finally spoke up. He placed heavy emphasis on the word 'granddaughter,' in order to remind Shan Dong the importance of the girl before him.
"Have a good day, Commander Moyao." Shan Dong cupped his fists and performed a small bow to the Commander. He didn't bother acknowledging Yuxi before strolling down the halls.
"Get home safely, Mister Shan Dong!" Yuxi called after him, her voice pure and filled with curtness.
Shan Dong's back was already turned, but the slight hesitance in his footsteps was enough to let Yuxi know he had heard her. She felt a small smile settle on her lips.
Regardless if he treated her with respect or disrespect, she would always dish out the former. It was best to add water, not fuel, to the fire.
The Commander walked to Yuxi and placed a warm and comforting hand on her forehead. He lightly patted her head.
"Child, pay no mind to his words." He hummed to Yuxi who raised her head to stare at him.
"Grandpa, what type of man is Shan Dong?" Her voice was filled with pure curiosity, when her brains were silently calculating a strategy to win the man over.
The Commander was quick to pick up her keen eyes. He felt a smile settle on his lips. His little granddaughter wasn't as naive as he had thought. Though it was small, he saw the fire in her eyes.
"He is a fool at heart." The Commander chuckled at his words. If Shan Dong was here to hear it, he would surely counter the comment with sharper insults.
"What do you mean?" Yuxi felt her eyebrows draw together. She didn't expect the confusing and loose-ended answer.
"Shan Dong likes to wear a cold and scary facade on the outside. But deep down, he is a big softie. His demeanor scares away women and children, even though the only thing in this world that can make him smile is the purity of a child."
- - - -
Two days have finally passed, and the blacksmith had finished constructing the best bow, arrows, quiver, and saddle he could imagine creating.
"Will you show me how to use this bow and arrow?" Yuxi quietly asked Shan Dong. Her hands ran over the bow, quiver, and arrows. She was too sheltered to know the value of her expensive equipment.
Made of the finest quality that money could buy, it had taken two Master Blacksmiths to craft the polished equipment. The arrow was made of gold and had the symbol of the Chen carved into it. Each arrow was worth twenty gold coins, and the Commander didn't even flinch when he ordered one hundred arrows!
Not even Weihao, his prized and treasured grandson, received such a grand treatment. And he was the most-likely candidate as the Chen family heir!
"No. You have to learn stances first." Shan Dong said while inspecting the equipment.
Yuxi was smart enough to have her hair in a bun and out of her face. Her head was bare if any accessories. Dressed in robes befitting of a boy, Yuxi had the perfect outfit for training.
"Will you show me?" She asked, her eyes wide and curious.
From being so loved and spoiled recently, without worrying about mice running across her room or when her next meal would be, Yuxi's soul was greatly enlightened.
Commander Moyao had treated her better than her uncles ever would.
"If I don't, who else?" Shan Dong grumble, thinking of the Commander's threat.
When the bow and arrow had finally arrived and Shan Dong was called, he had the misfortune of running into the Commander. Moyao has purposely reminded Shan Dong of his threats which sounded like promises.
"Mei-mei, I finished my training early!" Weihao ran through the hallways and straight into the open field behind the Chen Manor. He was still dressed in his battlefield gear, but his hand held a bow and arrow.
"We can practice together!" He hadn't seen Yuxi since the incident with Han Suying.
Busy with training, learning martial arts, or attending strategy classes, he seems to rarely have time for her. But it was the weekend, so naturally he would finally get a break. But instead of resting, he decided to spend his leisure times with Yuxi.
"Wei-ge, look at how amazing Master Shan Dong is! He shot through his first arrow three times and each time, it cracked perfectly in the center!" Yuxi purposely bragged, knowing Shan Dong was within hearing distance. In bragging and purposely flattering him, she would eventually earn his adoration.
- - - -
"Mei-Mei, look how good I am at shooting! My skills rival Shan Dong's!" Weihao excitedly shouted, in hopes of grabbing Yuxi's fleeting attention.
She was constantly praising Shan Dong, until his face was bright red with embarrassment. Yuxi was too occupied with Shan Dong to realize she was neglecting Weihao.
Chen Weihao was used to girls constantly fawning over him and showering him with love and attention.
For him to suddenly get the cold shoulder was very rare. Not even his mother, Commander Moyao, or the Emperor ignored him!
Weihao's lips curved down at Yuxi's neglect.
He watched her eyes light up at Shan Dong's instruments, watched her clap her hands in glee when he shot an arrow, and how greatly she praised him for teaching her the most basic stances.
She really was an expert in sweet talking! Weihao had been trying twice as hard as Shan Dong, but only got half of the compliments.
"Mei-Mei!" He whined, finally setting down his equipment. He walked to the little girl, grabbed her shoulders and turned her over to face him.
He was startled to see the sweat on her forehead which was beginning to stick her bangs together. From standing underneath the glaring sun without any rash guard and protection, her face was bright red.
Weihao's eyes narrowed at her tired expression and bruising hands. He could feel his anger boiling and the unbearable heat was fanning his temper.