119 Smallest of Saplings Pt.4

    Gyuri watched in consternation as Jimin dodged the burly man's lunges, his steps nimble and quick. While the burly man heatedly swung his sabre, Jimin successively avoided it. A sharp gasp escaped her lips as Jimin narrowly evaded his mighty swing. A clash. With bated breath, the crowd expectantly gawked as they waited to see what Jimin will do.

    Stuck in another stalemate, Jimin planted his feet firmly on the ground as the burly man attempted to break his rigid defence. The sound of metallic friction rang in the air as Jimin deflected the burly man's powerful strikes before jumping backward in retreat. A sigh of disappointment washed over the crowd as they voiced out their opinion.

    "Why isn't he attacking?"

    "Are all the imperial guards like this?"

    "What's he hesitating for?"

    "Oh! Isn't that the imperial guard from the soup kitchen?"

    Gyuri's head swerved to the right and her eyes widened when she recognised one of the peasants next to her. She grabbed onto his arm. "You!"

    The peasant jumped in surprise. "Little Madam? What are you doing here-?"

    "You've got to help!" she pleaded. "Chim Chim-he needs Zeren- you have to fetch Zeren!"

    "But I-"

    "Please!" she cried. "We have to stop them before someone ends up getting hurt!"

    Another clash was heard as the pair's swords collided once more. Gyuri shifted her attention to Jimin and saw that he was being overpowered by the burly man. She urged the peasant, "Hurry!"

    Unable to decline, the peasant nodded before sprinting back to the direction of the storage house. Once he was out of sight, Gyuri turned back to Jimin and was relieved to find that he was no longer within the burly man's reach. With some distance between them, she noticed Jimin standing upright while his opponent was bent double and panting laboriously.

    "Do you know why a dog barks first when it is threatened?" she heard Jimin ask as he began lowering his sword.

    The burly man grunted as he tried to catch his breath.

    "It is so that it does not have to engage in a meaningless fight." He glowered at the burly man as he added, "Even beasts know when they are no match for an opponent. You cannot keep up so, you should have ran when you heard my bark." Seeing that his opponent was exhausted, Jimin started turning away. "Be thankful I am merciful. After all," he murmured sarcastically, "I am just the emperor's dog. I have more bark than bite."

    An eruption of whispers soon followed as Jimin turned his back on the burly man.

    Relieved, Gyuri's lips stretched into a big smile. So, this was Chim Chim's plan all along! She thought as Jimin steadily made his way towards her. She glanced at the burly man and noticed how he was still gasping for breath. He must have noticed that he didn't have a lot of stamina. Gyuri continued to smile as Jimin made his way to her. But before Jimin could take another step, a meaty arm suddenly hooked around her neck, catching her by surprise.

    Jimin's eyes widened as he spotted one of the burly man's companions sneak behind Gyuri and capture her in a headlock.

    Struggling to breathe, Gyuri's face grew flushed with effort. She spluttered for air.

    "Unhand her!" Jimin screeched as he stepped forward.

    "Nah-uh-uh" he heard a voice say. He turned around and found that the burly man was struggling to get up. "Not until... I see you bleed, dog boy." With the help of his other companion, the burly man stood upright as he panted, "Not so smug now, huh?"

    A strangled yelp caught Jimin's attention momentarily as Gyuri tried to claw herself free. The beefy man fought to restrict her.

    "I am warning you if you hurt her I will-" he took a step towards Gyuri's captor but halted when the beefy man tightened his grip causing Gyuri to whimper in pain.

    "If you want to see the wench go free, you have to do as I say" the burly man declared.

    Jimin slowly turned to face him, his face dark. With the sound of Gyuri's laboured breathing, Jimin knew he had little choice. His voice was low as he questioned, "What do you want from me?"
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