The Knight in Shining Armor

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"Kill him quick, princess Li demanded."

Fourth prince Jingqi was about to slit the guard's throat when something else alarmed them. A noise coming from the other side of the wall. Prince Jingqi was quick to investigate, forgetting about his prey as he stalked to where the noise originated.

"What is it, elder brother?" Princess Li asked.

Prince Jingqi pressed his ear upon the wall and lifted his finger to his lip, urging her to be quiet. After a few moments, when the noise died down, he realized it was a false alarm. "It's nothing little sister, it's probably just some rat." Or so, he thought.

He walked back. "Common, let's get out of here. The air here is so thin it makes me nauseated."

"Leave me, I want to spend time with Yuanji a little longer."

"You're better off having him taken up to the surface where there's fresh air. Perhaps, he'll be able to think if you were to treat him better than this." At least the prince was decent enough to make sense. 

"Don't contradict me, elder brother. I do what I must to discipline my future husband."

"As you wish." Said fourth prince Jingqi irately. "I don't know what you see in that man, anyway. You can find you a better suited betroth, someone who enjoys killing as you do." He said on his way out of the dungeon. The prince had completely forgotten about the prey he was so delightfully playing with. 

The guard sighed in relief, taking this opportunity rushing back to his post with his life still intact.

"My love." Murmured princess Li to Yuanji. "Please say yes, please say you'll marry me, so I could get you out of this forsaken place." Her voice plunged into a sweet tender caress, she moaned and touched Yuanji intimately in places she pleased.

Yuanji snorted in disgust. "I'd marry a monkey before I marry you."

Princess Li scowled. "Are you sure you want to keep that attitude? I'm trying to make this civil, give you the opportunity to say yes without forcing you."

Yuanji shook his head. "If this is what you call civil, then, you're more delusional than I thought. I would rather die than marry you."

"Be careful what you wish for, my love. Even I can be unforgiving."

"You don't have to remind me of that."

There was some soft scratching on the wall that rattled both their attention. Princess Li picked up her head and narrowed her eyes. The dungeon was far too dark for her eyes to get used to. She used her fire to illuminate the walls but found nothing, no one else with them.

"Rats!" She snarled. "I hate rats!"

Yuanji, on the other hand, saw something else. After having spent weeks in the dungeon, his eyes had grown used to the darkness. What the princess didn't see – he saw perfectly.

He saw a man slipped inside the cell without being noticed. He saw how he distracted the fourth prince and drew him away from the cell. And now, he saw how he casually stood there, unseen as he waited for the perfect opportunity to make his move.

He saw him and made eye contact with him. He doesn't recognize the man, not inside the darkness, but his demure was someone familiar to Yuanji.

Who are you? Yuanji hummed inside his mind.

The man winked and flashed Yuanji a grin beneath the mask he wore.

Yuanji could've sworn the man winked and smile at him.

"Rats! I hate rats!" Princess Li hissed, she whipped herself around crowding Yuanji closer.

It distracted Yuanji for a moment, taking his attention back to the princess.

"Yes, you don't want to stay here. There are rats, rats big as humans." 

"Disgusting!"

The man dragged his fingers and scratched the wall again, making princess Li think there's a giant rat lurking unseen.

She writhed repulsed at the thought of a rat crawling to her feet.

How can someone so cruel, and evil be afraid of a mere rat? Yuanji thought. People are strange, and he doesn't get it. Princess Li can kill or order someone killed without guilt getting in the way, and yet, there she was, flinching and darting her eyes around, afraid of an innocent rat.

"You should leave princess. I don't want any rats getting near you."

The princess was touched at Yuanji's show of concern. She threw herself at him and kissed his lips. "I knew you care for me, my love. I knew you just didn't want to admit it but you do. You love me!"

Yuanji was glad it was dark in the dungeon, he needn't have to hide the disgust on his face.

The man scratched the wall again, louder this time as he grew more appalled and impatient.

This made the princess hurl herself out of the cell and shut the door behind her. Though not without quickly peeking back at the small window. "Don't worry, my love. I'll have you out of this dungeon as soon as I can."

"Yes, go! Get lost already. "

The princess leaped and skidded happily up to the stairs, convinced Lord Yuanji's feelings are finally surfacing.

The man waited for a few minutes and made sure the echo of her footsteps had dissolved before stepping out of the darkness. He wore a black robe and a mask that hid most part of his face. The only thing visible was his eyes, his familiar eyes that got even more familiar as he made his way near.

"Good god, I thought that wench would never leave. It was painful enough to watch her force herself on you."

At long last, Yuanji recognized him, his voice could not be mistaken when he spoke. It had been a couple years since he last saw or spoke to him.

"Chanshin?" He whispered, seeing the other man was always welcoming no matter what the circumstances.

"Your knight in shining armor to the rescue." Lord Chua Chanshin responded. He drew his sword out and stuck it in between the links that held his chain together, and with one good heave, he broke the metals binding them together.

It still amazes Yuanji how Chanshin can make everything seem so effortless. "You can say that again."

"Always a pleasure rescuing a beauty."

"Who are you calling a beauty?"

"You, my love." Cashin purred teasingly. 'You're the beauty."

"Stop messing around!"

Chanshin laughed. "...and I love how handsome you get when you get mad."

"How can you even see my face? It's dark as hell in here."

"Exactly, hell is my second home. Don't you know? I can see you perfectly."

Yuanji sucked his breath while Chanshin picked him up to his feet. "I will pick you up and carry you out of here like a lady if you want me to."

"Please stop." Yuanji murmured frustrated.

"...We both know who's topping who here."

"Don't you ever stop?"

Chanshin laughed a childish laughter and slapped the other man on the back. "Relax, I'm just having fun."

"You obviously don't know when's the proper time for having fun."

"Ah, don't be so mad. I just saved your life."

"We must not waste time. We have to clear out of here before they find out." Yuanji announced earnestly, he looked out to the door where the guardsmen are posted and found them knocked out on the floor.

The door swung open and it was the prince, the southern crown prince of the Wang empire who stood in the open. He's dressed as concealed as Chanshin. "Your Highness..." It had been a while since he saw his brother in law.

"Come Yuanji, your brother, warlord Junjie from the north is waiting for you."

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