Warning: The following content contains abuse and might not be suitable for a younger audience.
- - - - -
Someone was going to die tonight.
Thunder crackled in the distance as heavy rain poured from the gloomy grey clouds. Rivers nearly flooded the forests, as trees crashed to the ground, and crops were overturned.
Chaos erupted everywhere that the eyes could see.
Inside the enormous Bai Manor, a pale-faced young lady hovered over a bleeding body. Not less than a minute ago, she had awakened from a fitful sleep. She couldn't remember the events that occured before waking up in the tiny room of the servants' corridor.
"N-nanny…?" Xueyue breathed out in shock, her eyes trembling in disbelief.
Lying in front of her was the unconscious body of the elder woman who took care of her father, Viscount Bai Sheng, since he was a mere child. A sharp hairpin was embedded through her chest, a pool of blood soaking the ground.
"What happened here?" she said through shaking teeth. She frantically turned the woman over until the nanny was lying flat on her back.
"Oh my goodness," she muttered upon seeing the pale lips and ghastly white skin. The nanny had been dead for hours now. She reached for the hairpin, hoping to distinguish whose it belonged to. Who could've done this? What was she doing here? Questions swarmed her thoughts.
Just then, the door slammed open without warning. Her head shot in that direction and to her horror, her entire family was there.
"M-murderer!" Bai Tianai, the older sister wailed, pointing a shaking finger in Bai Xueyue's direction.
Bai Xueyue instantly understood this was another scheme set up by Bai Tianai. But this time, there would be no escape from it. She was doomed. Everything here was too obvious to ignore. She was afterall, hovering over the dead body, her hands too close to the murder weapon.
"No, wait, Father, it wasn't me—"
"Guards!" Viscount Bai Sheng snarled, his face marred with disgust and pure hatred. Instantly, servants swarmed the room, armed with spears and weapons.
"Take this filthy scum and drag her to the Prayer Halls!"
"Mother, please, it wasn't me!" Bai Xueyue shrieked, right when guards grabbed both of her arms, forcing her into submission.
Bai Xueyue knew the Viscount would never take her side, but there was a small possibility that his wife, Viscountess Mu Yihua would show compassion towards her daughter.
Viscountess Mu Yihua was frozen by the door, her eyes larger than the full moon outside. Her attention darted from her pleading daughter to the dead body on the floor. One thing was for certain. Bai Xueyue was doomed. Regardless if she killed the Viscount's nanny or not, there would be no way out of this punishment.
- - - - -
Deep within the Prayer Halls, a maiden was screaming for her life. Unfortunately, her cries were silenced by the disruptive storm outside.
Even so, almost every guard outside of the Prayer Halls' gates could hear the sickening sound of wooden paddles repeatedly striking a thin child. They did not flinch as her painful howls bounced off the walls.
They were too used to this sound.
Bai Xueyue's face was covered with blood and bruises. Her bright-hazel eyes had lost its shimmer, her rosy lips were split open, and her cheeks were filled with cuts. Ugly purple bruises could be seen on her neck and each plea came out hoarse until she could barely speak.
She was barely over sixteen and her life was already flashing before her eyes.
"P-please…" she sobbed, struggling against the weight holding her down. Through the corner of her hazy eyes, she saw the blurry figure of Zheng Leiyu, her childhood best friend. A man she had desperately fallen in love with only to be scorned by him.
Like any man greedy for power and wealth, Zheng Leiyu decided to pursue the oldest daughter of the household, Xueyue's older sister.
Bai Tianai was the most beloved child in the Bai Household. So long as she desires something, she shall get it without qualms.
Xueyue was skilled in archery, horseback riding, and sword fighting whilst possessing a face that easily swayed men into her bidding. She was supposed to be a sparrow that soared the skies, but she had trusted the wrong man and allowed her wings to be snipped off.
"It wasn't me!" Xueyue hoarsely cried out, but it sounded like the wheeze of an elderly woman.
Zheng Leiyu glowered down at her as if she was a sinner who massacred his entire family. In reality, her only sin was loving him.
When Xueyue saw how unresponsive he was, she decided to plead someone else. Viscount Bai Sheng sat in the corner of the cold, dark room of the Prayer Halls accompanied by his wife.
They were drinking tea without a care in the world, as if they were watching the Koi fishes swim in the pond on a warm, summer day.
Viscount Bai Sheng glowered at Xueyue. His dark, chilly eyes were filled with disdain and hatred. His eyes showed no remorse at the horrific sight before him.
If she wasn't such a failure of a filial child, maybe he would've loved her a bit more. 'Stupid girl,' he thought to himself. 'Useless brat,' he added on.
Bai Xueyue was not his blood-related kin. She did, however, share the blood of Viscountess Mu Yihua. The unfortunate Viscountess Mu Yihua claimed she was raped after running home one night.
The perpetrator was never caught. A child was growing inside of her—Bai Xueyue. It was a miracle that the offspring even inherited the Bai surname, considering the fact that she was not Viscount Bai Sheng's daughter.
In Viscount Bai Sheng's eyes, the least that Bai Xueyue could do was bring honor to the family. Instead, she was deemed a murderer.
Viscount Bai Sheng swirled the teacup he had in his hand. "Do something about that obnoxious mouth," he commanded his men who exchanged nervous glances with each other.
Viscountess Mu Yihua struggled to remain calm. Her nimble fingers painfully clenched the green ceramic in her hand. If one looked closely, they could see the tea was trembling.
How could a mother sit through such a thing?
Her eyes teared at the pitiful sight of her daughter, but she could do nothing but watch. She couldn't speak up for Xueyue.
She never could.
Not without Viscount Bai Sheng holding the facts above her head: Xueyue was the unwanted product. Something to be shamed, but was saved by his generosity.
Viscount Bai Sheng had convinced his wife that Xueyue was unworthy of everything.
"I swear I woke up in the room and she was already lying there dead! I didn't kill her!" Xueyue's wretched cries pierced the hearts of the servants.
Many of them found this scene unbearable. They prayed this would be over soon.
"Tianai framed me!" Xueyue naively shouted, in hopes of convincing her father. But the mention of Bai Tianai significantly worsened Viscount Bai Sheng's mood.
He slammed his teacup onto the table beside him. The force was so strong, it caused a crack within the table.
Viscountess Mu Yihua nearly jumped at the sudden force. Her head dropped to stare at her tea. "How dare you drag your sister into this!"
The poor child.
Xueyue was the spitting image of her unknown father. No one knew the man who touched the Viscountess, no one except for the woman herself.
Viscountess Mu Yihua's heart quivered. Her youngest daughter, indeed, was nothing like Bai Tianai. Their appearances were so vastly different, but that didn't mean Xueyue was not beautiful.
Dear heavens, Xueyue was gorgeous. Her flaw was that she was too naive to use it to her advantage. Had she played her cards correctly, maybe she could've become the renowned Beauty of Hechen.
Her inquisitive autumn hazels would've made her popular among scholars. Her naturally pink lips the color of peonies should've swayed even the worst of players into bending their knees. Yet, none of these happened. They didn't happen because she was too invested in a man who never loved her back.
Viscountess Mu Yihua snapped back to reality when she heard her husband's thundering voice.
Despite the long years of marriage, she still shivered at his fearsome voice.
She hadn't realized that in her daydream, Viscount Bai Sheng had stormed towards Xueyue whose white clothes were torn and tainted with blood and false sins.
"You are an unwanted brat!" Viscount Bai Sheng roared at Xueyue. He had a fresh cup of tea in his hand, and it was piping hot.
Before anyone could react, he grabbed Xueyue's dainty jawline.
"Father—" Before Xueyue could finish her sentence, Viscount Bai Sheng had forced the piping tea down her throat.
A loud scream ripped through the silent air. Her cries were so bone-chilling, people flinched back.
Xueyue tried to thrash in her father's hold, but his grip was as strong as iron. More tears rolled down her eyes.
At the disgusting sight of Xueyue, Viscount Bai Sheng threw her back onto the ground.
Even the servants felt remorse for the poor girl. She was only sixteen years old! This punishment was too severe and harsh on such a frail and young girl!
"Continue the beating," Viscount Bai Sheng said to his men who immediately nodded.
The servants cringed when the men raised their paddles and continued the beating. They never expected the refined Viscount Bai to be so rough and heartless towards her. No one knew of the Bai Family's secret about Xueyue.
Placing a gentle hand on her protruding stomach, Viscountess Mu Yihua wiped the sweat off her brows.
Sensing his wife's distress, Viscount Bai Sheng turned towards her with a soft smile.
The superstitious signs indicated she was pregnant with a baby boy, and Viscount Bai Sheng would finally get an heir.
"It'll harm the baby if you listen and watch this scene any longer. I'll end this now," Viscount Bai Sheng gently told his wife.
Viscountess Mu Yihua panicked at his words. "Wait, my lord husband—"
"I've had enough of this. Finish her." Viscount Bai Sheng demanded.
When the guards raised their wooden paddles, lightning flashed in the distance. The sound of the sky immediately blended with the sound of a head bashed to the ground, and the flash of the lightning revealed a pool of blood on the ground.
The pain was so excruciatingly painful, Xueyue didn't even register what had happened to her. Her tear-filled eyes fluttered, and black dots tainted her vision.
In her blurry sight, she saw Viscount Bai Sheng guiding his pregnant wife out of the Prayer Halls.
The last thing Xueyue saw before blacking out was the sight of Leiyu bending down to press a kiss onto Tianai's lips.
Hatred and a thirst for revenge grabbed Xueyue's heart. Using her last breath of air, Xueyue vowed to seek revenge on the injustice that had fallen upon her.