The Children of House of Yi

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I still remember the day when eldest sister Ying Yue left the manor, how happy she was

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I still remember the day when eldest sister Ying Yue left the manor, how happy she was. I remembered her wide delicate smile and I wanted that same smile for myself. I wanted to have the fairy tale kind of romance that she has. A handsome prince charming who loved her with all his heart, a palace with maidservants to follow me around, and all the pretty dresses I could possibly have.

It was a different story with Lin Lian, my second elder sister. She cried all night and begged my parents to call off the engagement while she still had a chance. I felt sorrow for her, Lin Lian will not have a happy ending like Ying Yue. She'll never know what love truly is, and she will suffer in the hands of three jealous wives who will despise her youth and her beauty. She will suffer under a man that will probably never treat her like a woman.

I stood behind her door as I listened to her relentless cries, I may be twelve but I understood well enough. I tried to speak to her, but she could not be bothered.

"Don't worry, Lin Lian," I whispered behind her door. "You'll have elder brother Jungjie with you. He'll protect you."

Her whimper stopped for a few seconds to listen to what I had to say. "Jungjie is younger than me, what is he going to do? What can he do? That man I'm matched with is older than father, and he's the worst kind of warlord in the land."

Lin Lian went back to crying, her muffled whimper buried in her pillow. I tried coming up of something else to say, but there was none I could think of. There's nothing that could make her feel better right now, and anything I will say will only make her worse or angry at me. So, I thought the best thing to do right now was to stand there in silence and not say anything.

"Or maybe, he'll go to war and get killed. Would that make you feel better?" A voice came up behind me without my notice. I turned over my shoulder and saw eldest brother Yuanji towered behind me. His hand landed gently on my shoulders and grinned. I smiled back at him.

"Yeah, maybe someone will kill him, then you'll be able to come back home." I chimed in.

There was a soft laughter, it made me happy that we lifted Lin Lian's mood tonight. Her soft footsteps sounded on the other side of the wall, Lin Lian opened the door for Yuanji and me. She smiled, her eyes, nose, and lip are swollen. She'd been crying for hours.

"Would you kill him for me, eldest brother?" Lin Lian asked Yuanji.

"If I find out he wasn't good to you, then I will travel north and kill him for you," Yuanji answered.

Lin Lian wiped her eyes dry and smiled wider. She stepped back from her door to let us in. Yuanji pushed me forward while he followed behind and we all sank in Lin Lian's bed that night to keep her company until the morning comes.

It was a bitter goodbye. We don't know when are we going to see our sister again, she had the worse fate than any of us. At least elder brother Jungjie came down from the north. He will be living in the same palace as her. Jungjie traveled south with a few of the warlord's men to fetch Lin Lian for his master.

I haven't seen Jungjie in a while. His training required him to be a constant attendance at the warlord's side. To be his esquire, to learn, to be great like him.

We all saw the changes in him. The youngest son of The House of Yi slowly molding into a common bloodthirsty warlord. His soft jaw hardened into rigidness, his eyes that were young and innocent are now desensitized, his mouth pressed into silence. He didn't say much while he was home. A few words to my father, but I could tell he longed for the comfort of our mother's embrace.

He ate her meals and hovered around mother like a typical son who hasn't been with his mother in a while. Jungjie is fourteen, still a child, and yet, expected to be a man at that age.

When he leaves, I don't know when will I ever see him again. The house of Yi which once bustled with loud screams and laughter of their children became stale and quiet. There are only Yuanji and me left, plus hundreds of servants paid to keep the manor maintained.

Yuanji is a promising scholar who leaves the manor constantly called by Lord Chiangi sometimes. At eighteen, Yuanji is already a rising scholar, an apprentice to a master scholar like Lord Changi. And unlike the rest of us, he's burdened with the most pressure to succeed since he's the future of The House of Yi.

By the time Lin Lian and Jungjie left, Yuanji pulled me to the side. He bent over and looked at me directly in the eyes. Yuanji has always been so tall and he held my shoulders so tight that his fingers dug in my muscles. He gave me a stern look that made my chest tightened. I don't know what he wanted or what he's about to say.

"Listen to me, He Lian." He spoke and I watched the bobbed of his throat. "I don't want you to end up like Lin Lian or Jungjie. Their future has already been decided for them, they will not have a happy life."

I nodded and held my expression solid.

"You still have a chance, I don't want you to suffer as they will, and I don't want you to change to the point where I don't recognize you anymore. I want a good life for you."

"A life like Ying Yue?" I asked, my eyes widening with hope.

"Yes! I want you to have a life like her. Lord Changi's son, his name is Jingim, he's a good man, he will be a good husband for you."

"B-but, I'm twelve." I protested. "Why you talk of a husband?"

Yuanji grimaced, "I'm thinking of your best interest, do you think Ying Yue had a choice? She's a baby when she's promised to prince Wang Jian."

"But isn't he betrothed to the princess?" I asked, recalling his betrothal being announced not too long ago.

"I know, but you're a noble lady from The House of Yi." He said proudly as he drew up a quip of a wry smile. "What man would do anything to marry one of the noble women from the House of Yi?"

"They would do almost anything," I answered.

"Exactly!"

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