[In a sea of withered red magical poppy, amidst the rubble of the ruined residence]
Su Qianqian had a look of misery on her face as she cradled Rao Yinyin, whose aura had finally stabilized.
She looked at the sword wielded by the masked man hovering in the sky, and her eyes filled with longing.
The choice her family had made to take possession of the famed sword had ruined them.
To protect her family, Su Qianqian took the sword and left home. Because the sword was in her possession, many people whom she cherished died, one after another.
Things had gotten so bad that even her master was almost killed. If it had not been for Elder Sang showing up in the nick of time, perhaps even her Brother Xiaoshou might have met with that fate.
Su Qianqian clenched her fist tightly, and as much as she wanted to just let go, she could not do so.
It was still difficult to give the sword up.
She heard what the masked man had said. She already had such views even before that, for her grandfather had once told her that the wielders of such swords should expect to face death.
“Grandpa,” Su Qianqian whispered sadly.
Her mind drifted as she thought of her father and her family. She recalled what the masked man said to her when he took the sword away.
“Was I wrong?” Su Qianqian asked herself.
Her eyelashes fluttered. Beads of tears dropped onto Rao Yinyin’s supple face and slowly rolled down to the corner of her lips.
Rao Yinyin opened her eyes, and she touched Su Qianqian’s face with her hand.
She gently scratched away the dried blood on the little girl’s forehead. While her voice was weak, her words were resolute.
“Sacrifice is a path chosen by those who protect. It is because such people have love in their hearts. Those who survive would always face unhappiness. But it is because of such sacrifices that you are deemed worthy,” Rao Yinyin said.
Su Qianqian shook her head slightly.
“There is no need to be sad,” Rao Yinyin said.
Su Qianqian could not contain her sorrow any longer and wept as she said, “But I do not want the sword. I want my family to be around!”
Rao Yinyin cradled Su Qianqian’s face and looked at the girl with gentle eyes. The young girl, who had been putting up a tough facade, finally let her guard down.
Rao Yinyin looked at her sympathetically and said, “There are times we have no choice.”
“I hate that sword! I hate those people who are after the sword.”
Su Qianqian broke down and cried, burying her face in Rao Yinyin’s chest.
Rao Yinyin had a look of empathy on her face as she gently squeezed the young girl’s shoulders.
She opened her hands and saw dried blood on them. It was from the ruins.
She visualized a vague silhouette from the dried blood on her hands as it glinted in the dim moonlight.
The silhouette looked like a girl dressed in red and bound in shackles, with her knees pulled into her
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