Chapter Four - Returning Home

The journey to Jian Ye from He Fei was a long one. It had taken them several days to arrive at the Wu capital, but when the barracks finally came into view, Xiao Qiao let out a squeal of relief, which made Da Qiao look up. She had been dedicating her thoughts to Sun Ce, she couldn't stop thinking about him ever since the Battle at He Fei and it was tough being here without him by her side, but Gan Ning seemed to take the pain away…

They arrived at the towering gates which were slowly opening, Da Qiao looked behind her where Gan Ning was following their soldiers slow approach, they seemed to of perked up now that they were finally at the capital, however. Gan Ning waved the hand that wasn't gripped on to the reigns at Da Qiao and smiled; Da Qiao returned the favour and followed her sister inside the gates.

The Capital seemed more elegant and beautiful than she could first picture. The grass was a very luscious green and seemed to shimmer in the golden sunlight radiating from the cloudless sky, blossom trees stood high and tall in the distance, their petals blowing and swirling down on to the grass or into the glittering clear lake that ran through the capital. The main building was gleaming in front of them, the Wu flag flapping gently in the warm breeze, whilst people applauded them as they rode through, crying words of encouragement as they passed.

Da Qiao smiled happily as she dismounted her horse, occasionally thanking the people and bowing her head to them. Xiao Qiao always enjoyed coming back for this, she jumped in the air and shouted thanks to everyone she passed, shaking hands with them whilst Gan Ning just nodded his head and thanked the people in a low voice.

"I'll take your horses from here M'Lady, Sir." Said one of the guard captains, bowing his head and taking the reigns from them. The three generals thanked him before making their way up the stone steps and into the Temple.

The three of them entered into the main hall, a very grand, spacious room lined with red and gold silks draped over scrubbed wooden tables, long swords encrusted with ruby jewels and portraits of the most important Wu Generals and the Sun family framed with gold. Da Qiao always admired the hall; she turned her head to the left knowing whose face she would see in the portrait. A sad smile reached her lips as she saw the face of her husband smiling back down at her. She bowed her head, biting back the tears for what felt like the third time that day. Gan Ning stopped just behind her whilst Xiao Qiao was staring at the portrait beside Sun Ce's.

"Oh. Zhou Yu." She said quietly, Xiao couldn't help it as the tears began to stream down her face. "If you could see the Wu Empire now," She said, her throat constricting slightly. Zhou Yu's portrait was seemingly looking up into the reddish coloured skies. Da put an arm around her sobbing sister.

"Sister," Da Qiao said softly in her ear, still fighting back her own tears. "He can see us; he is looking down at us from the heavens just like Lord Sun Jian and Lord Sun Ce." She said consolingly, patting her sister's head.

"But now, we need to go see Lord Sun Quan. He's expecting us."

Gan Ning had walked away, leaving them some privacy. Instead he studied a few of the many swords lined through the hall, stopping at what seemed to be the most beautiful and expensive one. His eyes dropped, knowing who it had belonged to.

"Lord Gan Ning." Da Qiao's voice rang out; he turned round and saw that Sun Quan had joined them. Gan Ning walked over and bowed his head.

"My Lord," He said, straightening up again. Sun Quan bowed his head to Gan Ning and they walked towards the Banquet Hall.

They entered silently, this room was just as large as the Great Entrance Hall but it was lined with dark polished wooden tables, the longest one being at the front of the Hall where the Generals sat, they too were covered in red and gold silk. Chairs lined the tables and in the centre of the Generals stood a large golden throne, decorated with a tiger, the symbol of Wu. Sun Quan sat down on the throne and gestured for the others to join him at the table. There were already several Generals sat down and seemingly waiting for them to join. Zhou Tai and Huang Gai, two of the most highly valued officers in the Wu Empire, were sat on either side of Sun Quan's throne. Chen Wu, Ding Feng and Sun Shao filled up the seats beside Tai and Gai. The soldiers that Da, Xiao and Ning had been guiding to Jian Ye were sat down at the smaller tables, looking longingly at the food on the plates.

"Now, you must be hungry." He said solemnly, waving his hand out to the plates of meat buns, chicken, rice and beans. The generals had their meal quietly, occasionally talking about the battle or otherwise general issues. Da Qiao was reflecting on the battle at He Fei, Xiao Qiao thinking about Zhou Yu and their past and Gan Ning deciding whether or not to ignore the thing he had told Da Qiao when they were together at He Fei. When the meal had finally finished, Sun Quan cleared his throat.

"There is no doubt that Cao Cao and his army will not let this defeat slip by. He will be gathering up his army as we speak and we must be ready for the next attack." He said, standing up and glancing down at his generals. "He Fei is the area that is most in danger, but some of our most fierce Generals have stayed to defend the area. Naturally, we shall send reinforcements if Cao Cao does indeed attack He Fei."

There was murmur of agreement through-out the hall which was immediately cut off as Sun Quan cleared his throat again.

"Now, we should owe our thanks to the Great Generals who invaded He Fei and succeeded. May we give a round of applause to Lady Da and Lady Xiao Qiao and Lord Gan Ning!" He said, clapping himself as the room yelled and clapped with encouragement.

"And of course, let us raise our glasses to those brave officers who have remained back at He Fei. To Lord Lu Xun, Ling Tong and Taishi Ci," He roared, as golden goblets gleamed in the air, the yells increasing. "And finally! Let us drink to VICTORY!" He yelled, his goblet reaching his lips as he drained the remainder of the liquid.
The army roared with approval and drank their wine.

Gan Ning raised his own goblet and glanced across at Da Qiao. She was smiling but she seemed very distant, she had not touched her goblet and instead resolved to simply staring at it. Gan Ning did not have time to talk to her or any further time to study her because the Generals and soldiers had been dismissed and they were all standing up to leave, now singing and yelling. Da Qiao rose from her seat and left with her sister, leaving Gan Ning feeling quite worried.

Authors Notes: Sorry about the long wait for the next chapter, I've been really busy what with GCSE's and everything. If you do read thanks and don't forget to review