The Wedding

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Almost immediately, the planning for the wedding began. Jian didn't want the wedding to happen as long as there is a war. Marrying during the time of war is a bad superstition, it was never the right time to bring two people together and he's afraid it'll bring us bad luck. Only clans with desperate political alliances wed at times of war and those marriages typically do not last. The couple always winds up dead in the end. 

But since no one knew when's the war is going to end, he's also wanting to make this happen. He had waited long enough, Jian is the crown prince nearing his late twenties. He needed to provide the kingdom an heir soon. 

Jungjie was confident enough he's going to win this war, and within another month, he took over another provincial capital from the central kingdom of Sui clan. 

His battles almost came too easy. Jungjie won them all with lord Chanshin, Yuanji and the entire Changi clan behind his back. His braveness spread across the country,  and soon, people sang songs and told stories about the handsome warlord. They called him Lotus Bane, a suiting alias for a member of the Yi clan.

We received a message one afternoon. It was from elder brother Jungjie letting us know of his approval. 

We moved forward and conquered the province of rooster while eldest brother and Lord Chua Chanshin took out the naval forces on the eastern coast of the kingdom. I stationed most men in camps and scattered hostages in case we face retaliation. Things are going according to plan, before long, we will have the central kingdom within our palms. It's just a matter of time. I believe a proper celebration of marriage is in order. It'll raise the morale of our men. 

Jian agreed, and within the next month, the invitation for the wedding was being handed out. Jian was careful not to let the word of marriage spread further than necessary. The invitation was limited to our clan members and nobles with the alliance to the southern kingdom. Most of the guests were soldiers, members of Jian's own forces. 

Even though everything was going our way, my trouble didn't ease. No one knew how many spies the Sui clan had and where they are. Even Jian's eunuch had spies everywhere deep inside the Sui's palace. It was a dangerous game of deception, hide and seek, and these people are too good at the games they're playing that no one could ever tell who are the spies and not. At times like this, I don't believe we should let our guards down. We might've won every battle but we haven't won the war, yet. 

The guests started pouring in at the day of the wedding, Jungjie had made a trip back north to fetch elder sister Lin Lian with her two daughters. They were the first ones to arrive and I was surprised at how good my elder sister looked despite having given birth to two children. There was a time when we believed she had the worse fate among all of us. Sent as a concubine to a much older warlord with the reputation of being feral and savage in the front line. 

We were wrong, fierce as his reputation may be, the warlord was still human and he knew how to love and treat a woman right. He married Lin Lian and treated her with such love and devotion that made every woman envious.  

"Elder sister!" I exclaimed as I wrapped my arms around her. 

"Little sister!" Her wide simper greeted me as she threw her arms around. She looked over at her children who stared at us wide eyes. Elder sister Lin Lian gave them both a nudge on the back and introduced them to aunt He Lian. 

"This is your auntie." She said, "go, give her a hug." It's amazing how motherly elder sister became. 

I greeted them both with open arms as they jumped on me. It is as though they had known me their entire lives. 

"Auntie!" They chimed in rhyme. 

My parents arrived next, they were escorted by eldest brother Yuanji who made a trip back to the manor to bring them south.  Father and mother are grey beyond their time. Stress took hold on them and it was evident on their haggard and worn out state. Mother had always been a beautiful woman even though it was father who had the Yi bloodline. 

She lacked her typical elegance this time. Her hair tied in a simple bun, wrinkles etched deep in the crevices of her face. This would have given her a heart attack before, but now, she doesn't care about her appearance. She'd been through a lot and I know she worries about her two sons that are leading the war right now. It's sad to see my mother not care, her vanity had always been her pride.

Father was the same way. Though not as gravely affected as my mother. His genes gave him the inept ability to maintain his youthful appearance.  

My entire family was here, the only one missing was Ying Yue. I think I understood why she hadn't shown up. Ying Yue had been elusive the past couple months, slowly erasing the bond between us. Ying Yue wanted to be forgotten, she lived in a different world now, a world none of her family understands, and she doesn't expect to hang on to her relationship with us. She became a demon, she knew her own family could no longer accept her. 

Ying Yue came to visit me once. The visit was short and the conversation was limited. She merely came to check on me, but since the relationship between me and Jian grew stronger, Ying Yue retreated as she felt the confidence in our love.

I'm so happy for you. Ying Yue murmured against my forehead as she gave me a goodnight kiss one night. That had been the night when Jian came back home to the palace. 

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