Ning Chen wasn’t a physician so he wasn’t all that familiar with the yin and yang energies flowing through a person’s meridians. However, no matter unfamiliar he was with them, he wasn’t blind; this was clearly a girl’s meridians!
Seeing the reaction on his face, the little Great Khan started to panic. She hurriedly pulled back her arm and retreated a few steps.
“You’re a girl?” Asked Ning in a serious voice as he stared at the rapidly paling face of the little Great Khan.
“No.” She furiously shook her head. However, her fatigued voice only made her denial seem that much weaker.
Softly sighing, Ning Chen chose not to pursue this matter any further. Whether she knew it or not, her panicked expression had once again proved his theory.
To think the little Great Khan of the Mongols was actually a girl, how laughable and how pitiful it was at the same time.
So, the previous Great Khan didn’t leave behind a living prince in the first place. No wonder Fan Lingyue chose to purge all the eunuchs and maids in the palace the moment she took power –she wanted silence all of them.
Truly, how audacious could that woman be. To think she was actually able to shoehorn a young princess onto the throne. Even Ning Chen was a little befuddled as to what he should do now. Logically speaking, he should use this secret to blackmail Fan Lingyue or perhaps even leak this news so as to throw the Mongolian Empire into further chaos.
However, could he truly do that? She was just a child after all. The moment he revealed the truth, the entire Mongolian Empire’s fury would be directed onto a little girl barely seven years of age. Even without imagining so, he already knew how terrifying of an outcome that would be for her.
For a girl to hold a governing position, that was still something unacceptable in this world, especially when that position was the head of an empire.
There could only be one Fan Lingyue in the empire and that was the absolute limit of which the Mongolians were willing to accept.
Suddenly, little Ming Yue’s face grew even paler like she had just realized something horrible. Crouching down, she started shivering uncontrollably in fear, gone was the strong-willed Great Khan and instead all that remained was a pitiful seven year old.
Seeing that, even Ning Chen’s ruthless heart couldn’t bear to see her in such a state. While his heart might have been made out of cold steel, he simply couldn’t bring himself to perform such a cruel act at this moment. He was a human after all, a human with a living, beating heart.
If the Great Khan had already grown up into an adult, he would have definitely revealed this matter in order to weaken the Mongols. However, it was a little girl that stood before him right now, a seven year old girl.
“Just stand up, I promise I won’t tell anyone.” Ning Chen sighed softly as he walked up to comfort her.
Hearing that, Ming Yue immediately raised her head, eyes filled with astonishment, disbelief and a trace of hope as she stared into his eyes.
“A man’s word is his bond, since I promised I won’t say anything, then I definitely won’t reveal it.”
“Really?” Her beautiful eyes sparkled with expectation as she asked that question using her weak, fatigued voice.
“Really!” Ning Chen nodded.
Of course, while he had promised not to say a word, that didn’t mean he was going to let this potential weakness go completely. No matter what, he had to at least extort something from Fan Lingyue. However, that was a matter between adults and had nothing to do with this little Great Khan.
Having received his assurances, Ming Yue finally listened to his words and stood up. As she looked at Ning Chen, she found that her impression of him had improved significantly: perhaps this ugly man wasn’t a complete villain after all.
“If you escort us back, we promise not to kill you.” Having hesitated for a while, she made, what was in her mind, an extremely generous concession.
However, all that earned her was a swift smack on the back of her head. “Enough with the we this, us that, irritates me just listening to that. Also, just because you promised not to kill me doesn’t mean I won’t die, those officials of yours would love for nothing more than to swallow me whole.”
Wincing in pain, she turned to glare at her captor but just as she was about to angrily open up with a “we”, she stopped. Seeing the palm that threatened to smack her once more, she promptly changed her tone, “I’m the Great Khan here, not them. I’ve already said I don’t want you to die. If someone dares to defy me, we, I will have his head on a platter!”
How domineering. For that, Ning Chen gave her a mental thumbs up. This little Great Khan had guts!
“We can discuss this matter later, first let’s get out of this desert.”
Having decided not to continue discussing this topic, he surveyed the surroundings using whatever bit of illumination he could scavenge using the moonlight. However, instead of finding his bearings, he found himself with a headache instead. Right and left looked exactly the same so how was he even going to navigate?!
Ming Yue didn’t dare to oppose him so she merely followed his lead in looking around. However, the same confusion clouded her adorable black eyes; she couldn’t find a way to leave the desert as well.
“Do you know which direction we should take?” Asked Ning Chen.
At that, Ning Chen grew irritated and in a scornful tone, said, “Some Great Khan you are, don’t you even know how to navigate through your own country?”
“…” In the first place, how was she supposed to be familiar with every corner of this giant empire?
“Well whatever, let’s just head this way.” Ning Chen randomly chose a direction and dragged Ming Yue along with him.
Yet just as he took a couple more steps, he felt something was off once more. Looking at the girl, he asked, “You can’t walk anymore?”
“Yes, I can.” She answered with gritted teeth.
However, that bit of stubborness wasn’t able to escape Ning Chen’s eyes. Frowning, he bent down and undid her shoes after which his face immediately darkened.
Little Ming Yue’s milky white feet were covered in blisters from all those hours of constant walking. Of those numerous blisters, some had already been burst and the bleeding flesh underneath was in full display for all to see.
Looking at the grisly sight, Ning Chen couldn’t help but sigh in resignation. This kid was just too stubborn sometimes; even after her feet were reduced to such a state, she still refused to say a word.
“I’ll carry you on my back.” Said Ning Chen after carefully putting her shoes back on.
“We, I can walk by myself.” Though her little face was slightly red, she still insisted stubbornly on having her way.
“You either let me carry you on my back or I’ll cradle you in my arms, your choice.” Chided Ning Chen in a furious voice.
At that, Ming Yue’s petite little face underwent a myriad of changes but in the end, she chose to relent, “Piggyback!”
This kid truly deserved a spanking sometimes, Ning Chen muttered to himself, his expression noticeably softer as he did. It was as if she refused to cooperate unless he lost his temper.
“Come on.” As he said that, Ning Chen lowered his back to let her climb on. Slightly embarrassed, she shuffled her feet around reluctantly before finally climbing onto his back at which point her already reddened face grew even redder.
In this world, the men and women were more gender sensitive than one could ever imagine especially little Ming Yue who was a member of royalty. Compared to the average peasant, she knew a lot more about the wide variety of gender customs. For example, a woman shouldn’t casually allow a man to see her feet. Also for example, allowing a man to carry like this or hug her was a major taboo.
Prior to this, they were in the midst of running for their lives so there was no helping it then, neither did she really consider such matters then. Now that the situation was markedly different, such close contact just seemed like such a breach of etiquette.
However, why would Ning Chen even know about such nonsense. Back when he was in the palace, he was basically a little master of the land. Other than Zhang Sun and Qing Ning, no one was able to control him. Plus, by the time Zhang Sun was ready to teach him these rules, he had already made his escape.
Besides, she’s just a little girl now, were there even that many things to fuss about?
The nights in the desert were particularly cold. Taking off his outer tunic, he draped it over the girl before placing her on his back once more. At the end of the day, this little Great Khan was just a little girl; her fragile constitution simply couldn’t be compared to that of an adult’s.
Sometimes, he truly felt that this hostage of his wasn’t really worth the effort at all. Not only did he have to risk life and limb to kidnap her, he still had to treat her like a little ancestor.
As she leaned on his back, the soothing warmth from his body slowly had a lulling effect on her.
Yet, in the midst of that drowsy spell, Ming Yue suddenly noticed that the scar on Ning Chen’s face was beginning to peel off. Curious, she reached out and gently tugged at it.
And then, it fell off with a crisp ripping sound.
Swatting the little hands in front of his face, he did his best to frighten her into obedience, “Stop messing around or I’ll toss you onto the ground.”
However, it was already too late for Ning Chen to play the bad guy. By now, she wasn’t all that afraid of him seeing as she had already figured out that he clearly wasn’t as bad as he initially seemed.
Furthermore, once a girl’s curiosity was set off, nothing could stop it from charging ahead. While Little Ming Yue was just a child, she was still a girl in the end.
Now that her sleepiness had all but vanished, her little arms stubbornly and carefully peeled off the scars on his face, one by one.
Seeing that his attempt at scaring her failed, Ning Chen no longer attempted to control her and merely let her do as she pleased.
After peeling off all the scars on his scar, Ming Yue stopped to marvel at her masterpiece. However, it still felt a little off to her. Thinking about it for a second, she then directed her gaze to the beard on his face.
“You’d better behave back there.”
Feeling her gaze shift, he snapped at her with a resigned tone. However, the thing about a stern image was that once you lost it, it was basically impossible for you to get it back. Little Ming Yue had already determined that he wouldn’t harm her so the fear in her heart was basically non-existent by now.
After groping for an eternity with her petite little hands, she finally found what she was looking for, the connecting points of his beard. Ever so carefully, she peeled it off and then she beamed. At the same time, her eyes curved downwards in a smile of their own, resembling a pair of crescent moons, the look on her face could only be described as adorable.
“You look a lot better now.” She commented in that soft, crisp voice of hers while glancing at the side of his face.
“Hah, you have good eyes.” Ning Chen praised the glib girl.
Hearing that, Ning Chen extended his palm forward and a silvery mote of light burst forth from it. Immediately, a miniature field of snowflakes rained down upon them, each of them so tiny they were almost invisible. However, this was the only source of snow in the entire desert.
Placing her own palms on his much larger ones, she cupped the fallen snow and slowly gathered water for herself.
“Aren’t you thirsty?” Asked Ming Yue.
At that, she took a sip of the gathered water after which she raised her cupped hands to the corners of his mouth without saying a word.
He drank from it without saying a word either. It was cooling.
Having quenched their thirst, she wiped off her moist hands using his clothes and then wrapped them around his neck once more.
“Do you think we can leave this place tomorrow?” She asked in a soft voice.
“We can.” He answered without a shred of doubt in his voice.
Even if they couldn’t, they had to find a way. In this vast desert of nothingness, there was no food or water to be had anywhere. It was still alright for him but for little Ming Yue, it was an entirely different story altogether. Without a martial base to strengthen her body, she wouldn’t last long in such circumstances.
While he was the one who kidnapped her from the Mongolian palace, he didn’t wish for her to be harmed. Though he was a cold heartless person, he couldn’t bring himself to act in such a way towards a little girl.
Besides, until he met with Fan Lingyue, this little Great Khan mustn’t suffer any injury. A Lady Strategist in her normal state was already scary enough, the last thing he wanted to face was a berserk Lady Strategist.
“After we leave this place, we will command our men to capture you, but, we won’t kill you.” As she said that, her eyelids started to droop and her words began to slur.
“I’ll leave that up to you.”
Finally, she spoke no more having succumbed to her weariness. In this day alone, she had already experienced more surprises than she had in her past seven years. No matter how strong-willed she was, she had to be at her limits by now.
Realizing that she had fallen asleep, he adjusted his arms slightly to give her a better sleeping position. Turning around, he found that she still had the mark of her authority, her crown, on her head. At that, he couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows. Reaching carefully for it, he casually tossed it into the desert.
A second later, her long silky hair flowed down like a waterfall and draped over her tiny little back. As the night winds blew, they gently danced in the air and from time to time, they would tickle his face ever so softly.
Under the moonlight, Ning Chen continued trudging on quietly. On his back, the little girl slept soundly and dreamt a dream where there was nothing she had to be afraid of and where there was no fighting…