Chapter 1:Season 2

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A thunderous boom of the ballista echoed from behind. She pivoted her head, only to meet the angry eyes of Yan Xun. His hand hovered in front of his chest menacingly, like a glaring saber ready to draw blood, ready to swing down at any time to signal the firing of the arrows.Chu Qiao was awash with fear. It overwhelmed her entire being, and her previous notions of pride, self-worth, and dignity were thrown out the window. She collapsed to the floor in a flurry of kowtows, and soon her forehead seeped red as her tender skin gave way to flesh and bone. Tears flowing and arms flapping, she pleaded aloud, "No! Please, Yan Xun, no..."Yan Xun peered at her forlorn figure with an aching heart. This woman was the only person who stayed by his side in when he was desperate and had nothing. She stayed through those eight years of agony with him in the jails of the Imperial Royal Capital. He once swore to provide for her; to protect her; but alas he was the oathbreaker. He was the one who broke all these promises made to her. A faint smile touched his lips. That expression wasn't too dissimilar to the one on his face all those years ago, when she came back to find him at his desk, writing. His face flickered with the same warmth under the candlelight in those days.AhChu, I never actually changed. It's just that you never knew what I truly wanted. Today will be the day that I will share with you my beliefs, my ambitions, and my everything. One by one."Fire!" The world descended into a muted silence, and the wind died down. The only discernible sound was the buzzing of a diminutive fly, seemingly the only living creature not trapped in this hateful conflict.The 20,000 strong cavalry of the Black Eagle Army released their deadly barrage. A titanic swarm of arrows blotted the sky, obscuring the very sun that would usually dominate the heavens. Day turned to night as a waterfall of metal cascaded from above. The arrows came replete with scintillating hooks and long ropes attached to their tails flying toward Zhuge Yue."Protect the General!" Yue Da, riddled with arrows and missing a leg, leaped in front of Zhuge Yue. The remaining Yue persisted stubbornly, despite being bloody, battered, and losing parts of their bodies. The arrows did not hit the troops but instead embedded themselves firmly in the unforgiving ice of the frozen river like metal gauntlets.Yan Xun gave an order, and the 20,000 horses turned around abruptly and galloped off into the distance. The ropes attached to the arrows pulled taut, and in a series of cracks, the ice sheet covering the frozen river collapsed, giving way to the frigid waters beneath. Chu Qiao turned her head in desperation, and through the blood and dirt covering her eyes, she caught sight of Zhuge Yue falling into the deadly current. Sharp icicles penetrated his body and drew blood. His face, however, was stoic and expressionless, which belied the turmoil of the battlefield. His eyes met hers, and at that moment she saw only calmness: no hatred, no animosity, no joy, and no desperation. It was just like all those years ago, when he gazed at her with those expressionless eyes from afar, seeing her abandon him, seeing her brandishing her weaponry and swinging her sword towards his forehead.Alas, how fast the time rushed past. Chu Qiao widened her eyes, she knelt on the ground as tears flowed once more. She took two steps forward, like a confused doll, helplessly watching the tragedy unfold before her eyes. Their eyes met, and slowly, he sank. The wind bellowed, as though it was the war cry of a ferocious beast, as it swept up a storm of snow between the two of them, obscuring any vision. The frigid water swept up his figure, as his emotionless eyes disappeared from vision. One could no longer see his face that he always held high in arrogance and his jet black hair too disappeared into the depths of the water. Chu Qiao opened her mouth, wanting to shout, yet no voice came out, and the freezing wind poured into her mouth. She started to cough, and struggling to stand up, she tumbled over. With a loud splash, she jumped into the icy water.It was so cold. The chills pierced deep into her bones, as her entire body quickly turned numb. With all her strength, she swam about as she opened her eyes wide in a search. With the sunlight shining in from above, she could see countless struggling shadows passing before her eyes, with the taste of iron filling her mouth. It was not him, still not him, and still not him. She started to cry in despair as her tears mixed into the icy water and fresh blood around her. Her lips started to turn blue, as her body started to freeze up and was no longer so agile. She felt as though something was tugging at her waist trying to pull her up.No, she didn't want to go up yet. She drew her dagger and was about to cut away whichever hindrance that was pulling her up against her will. Yet, at this moment a pair of icy hands pressed on her wrist. So strong, yet so cold, the hands stopped her in her tracks. As though through telepathy, Chu Qiao knew that it must be him. Twisting around, a handsome face entered her eyes. His pitch black eyes, his pale lips, and his tall nose. His eyes looked at her while shining with fervor, and grabbed her hands. Blood seeped out from his wound, entering Chu Qiao's mouth. Overwhelmed with joy, Chu Qiao tried to embrace him, and pulled on him with all her strength, wanting to pull him up. Zhuge Yue snatched her dagger, and pulled her hand over. With his fingertip, he wrote on her palm again and again: Live on....Live on....Live on...."Together!" She opened her mouth and tried to scream, but could only blow out a mouthful of bubbles. He slowly shook his head as he continued to write the same thing again, and again.Her tears started falling like crazy, as she shook her head and tried to pull on him again.Come with me! Live on with me!do not want to head up alone. I do not want to live forever knowing that I will be indebted to you. I do not want you to die! No!She felt that the force on her waist started to push her up bit by bit. Strength had already left her, and only her hands continued to pull onto him. She had never known that his death would make her so anxious; that he had already had such an important place in her heart; that all that hatred and revenge were merely excuses to face away from her feelings; that she would feel so pained seeing him go.Zhuge Yue, Zhuge Yue, please, do not be so cruel to me. Do not let me live with this pain forever. If I have no way to repay you, let me die with you. The sunlight became brighter as she drew nearer to the surface,. She continued to weep, and her vision started to be blurred by her tears, with only his gentle eyes etched in her retinas. Her fingers pulled on his arms desperately, as all those unspeakable emotions were transmitted through her tight grip to him. She was still struggling and shaking her head, pleading him to stop pushing her up. Suddenly, she felt such remorse. If only she had not told Yan Xun what she had felt in the past year. If only she had not angered him. If only she had pleaded to Yan Xun earlier. If that was the case, perhaps Zhuge Yue would not need to die. Pain and fear was like a bottomless abyss, swallowing her, as she continued to grab onto him, refusing to let go. Zhuge Yue seemed ever so handsome, as he so gently gazed at someone for the first time in his life. After all these years, his dream seemed to finally receive some form of reply. With all his strength, he swam, and lightly embraced her. Onto the corner of her mouth he pressed his frigid lips. At that instance, tears overflowed from her eyes, mixing into the water around them. It was as though despair pierced a hole in her heart and the surrounding water had started to violently gush into that hole to fill the void within.Losing all her remaining strength, she started to float upwards, propelled by the force on her waist. Her arm, still grabbing onto his sleeve, straightened as she distanced herself away from him. Zhuge Yue pulled open her grip, one finger at a time, and before long their hands finally parted, and the distance between them grew larger. Chu Qiao stretched out her hand, only to see how he started to sink, deeper, and deeper. His eyes were still crystal clear even as he gradually swallowed up by the darkness of the depths.Her heart was torn apart, her vision faded out. His gentle yet determined eyes remained seared into her mind, as though still repeating those few words: Live on....Live on....Live on, you still have many unaccomplished dreams. Long ago, she said that to someone. But little did she know someone else was quietly praying for her safety behind her.The moment she broke out from the water, she felt as though she had died. Feeling the sunlight shine on her skin, she entered a daze. Even as Yan Xun loudly called out to her, she could no longer hear anything. It was as though she had died in that lake, and only her body came out of the water.The wind slowed to a breeze, as white birds soared in the sky above. The sun was setting, and the snow had stopped. The setting sun shone a dazzling radiance that basked the entire world in a gentle crimson glow. It was so beautiful. But, he would never see this ever again.She suddenly started to panic, as she magically gained strength, and pushed aside Yan Xun,. A staggering , shesteps dashed toward the hole in the layer of ice. Taken aback initially, Yan Xun gave chase,and grabbed her in a tight embrace. She was merely five meters away from that gaping hole, yet she could no longer get any closer. Despair overcame her heart like a flood as she could no longer control herself. Kneeling onto the ground, she screamed, "Get out! Get out from there!"mouthful of blood spurted out from her mouth onto Yan Xun's hand, as she fell onto the snowy grounds in despair, as she trembled like a falling leave."AhChu!" Yan Xun shouted her name by her ear, yet his voice seemed ever so piercing.Twisting her head around at him, she stopped weeping, and looked at him witha mix of feelings. What kind of emotions were there in her gaze?age, hatred, disappointment, and sadness flashed one by one,before blending into a lifeless sense of despair. Looking at him, the tears started to flow again. All her hopes had vanished like a mist in the midday sun, and all their shared dreams and aspirations disintegrated like ashes in a raging wind. All of Yan Xun's previous worries, fear, and heartache, started to freeze up in her chilly gaze. Loosening his grip on her, he stood up and looked down on her.The wind started blowing again, as bits of white stuff were attached to her eyelashes obstructing her vision. Her conscious started to drift, and in her daze she seemed to see that pair of eyes again.Live on, live on, live on.... it was as though a voice started to sound off beside her ears. Closing her eyes in despair, she fell onto the ground and fainted. She could only wish that it was all but a nightmare.With the raging wind continuing, the snowflakes fell into the river, and the exposed area slowly started to freeze back up. In the silence and lifelessness, it was as though the river was the embodiment of the mythological Yellow Springs.

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