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Chapter 113: “Freedom lies in being bold.” ― Robert Frost
In any case, Er Ya continued to nag Duan Xinghui and tried to persuade him not to go to the battlefield. When she rescued Duan Xinghui, he had been covered in blood and seemed almost at his last breath. That scene had left too deep of an impression on her.
There was also the fact that Duan Xinghui was the only person in the capital she was close to and could rely on. If Duan Xinghui left the capital, she would be all on her own. Just the thought of it terrified her.
In Duan Residence, Duan Xinghui was the only one that would approach her. Everyone else looked down on her. In addition, Yuan Dong always treated her cruelly and Madame Duan loathed her.
As Er Ya became more and more scared, she also cowered more. The beautiful innocence she used to have was no longer visible. Due to Madame Duan’s strict training, the first thing she would think about when doing anything was whether it complied with the rules. Whenever she made mistakes, those old female instructors would torment her with very creative means.
“Is it because you can’t forget Princess Jiahui? You’re following after her because she’s going to battle, aren’t you? Do you dare to say it isn’t because of her?” Tears streamed down her face and washed away the cosmetics to reveal her dark skin, making distinct gorge-like lines on her face.
Duan Xinghui closed his eyes. When he opened his eyes again, they were filled with disappointment as he said to her, “This has nothing to do with Princess Jiahui. I’ve already lost my position as general so I must go prove myself.”
“Dear, things are pretty good the way they are. This way you don’t have to risk your life.” Er Ya pleaded with him as she sobbed.
Duan Xinghui took a deep breath to suppress his anger. Inwardly he was quite depressed. Er Ya didn’t understand his great aspirations at all. Could it be that he should spend the rest of his life like this, without a single achievement to boast of?
“I must go this time. I’ve already accepted the marshal’s military order. Could it be that you want me to get beheaded?” Duan Xinghui was already very annoyed now. What he used to view as Er Ya’s purity now looked to him like immaturity. She didn’t seem to understand the larger picture at all.
Er Ya didn’t understand what he wanted either. He wanted to stand up again with his own power and heading to the battlefield was the best way to do so. Wealth and honor did not come without risks.
Duan Xinghui only felt helplessness when he saw Er Ya’s tears. The image of Princess Jiahui’s cold expression appeared in his mind. It seemed that he had never seen Princess Jiahui cry in front of him. She probably felt it beneath her dignity.
They were both women, yet Princess Jiahui could be strong to the point she could head to the battlefield fearlessly. Meanwhile, Er Ya had become a timid dodder flower that clung to him.
He remembered the first time he saw Er Ya. His first impression of her upon seeing her with wild flowers in her hands was that she was bright and pure. When she smiled towards him, he had felt that it was the most beautiful scene in the world. But there was no longer any hint of freedom in Er Ya now.
To Duan Xinghui, it now seemed that it was actually Princess Jiahui, who had always been bound by rules, who exhibited an unrestrained ease in her bearing.
Duan Xinghui felt very tired, especially when he saw that Er Ya was still weeping endlessly. Ineffably, an phrase emerged in his heart: too tired to love any longer.
When Madame Duan heard that her son was going to head to the battlefield again, she expressed strong approval. It was a must to obtain achievements in order to restore the Duan family’s glory. However, she saw that Er Ya seemed very depressed and acted as if her son was heading off to kill himself.
She immediately became angry and silently vowed to sort Er Ya out as soon as Duan Xinghui left.
Er Ya trembled when she sensed Madame Duan’s look and she felt even more desolate. She looked towards Duan Xinghui with eyes filled with distress. However, Duan Xinghui didn’t notice. He was too busy with preparing for the campaign.
Er Ya felt as if she was soaked in icy water, all alone to sink into despair.
“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984