Chapter 145: New Formula
Jun Huang took off her clothes and stepped into the bath, letting her eyes drift closed. Finally she could have some peace and quiet. She thought back to what had happened earlier.
If the needles she had thrown had been treated with poison, she would have fared much better than she had. Those men wouldn’t have been able to gain the upperhand.
She never anticipated how many needles she would need before she came to Northern Qi. The poison needles she had prepared had been used up. It was time for her to make some more.
The ingredient she needed was prohibited, however, and she wouldn’t be able to acquire them on her own. Again, she would need Nan Xun’s help.
Jun Huang got out of the bath when the water had cooled down. She dried herself and put on her clothes. When she walked out of the door, Nan Xun was waiting right outside.
Nan Xun turned around when he heard the door open. He let out a relieved sigh when he saw that Jun Huang was looking better. He smiled at her. “Feel better?”
Jun Huang nodded. She made sure that no one was around before inviting Nan Xun in. She poured him a cup of tea once he was seated. Nan Xun could tell that something was troubling her before she even opened her mouth. He asked with a frown, “What’s the matter?”
Jun Huang’s head snapped up. She only realized then that she had failed to keep her expression in check and thus had let Nan Xun get a glimpse into her mind. She said after a long pause, “I need a favor.”
“What favor? Just tell me. If I can help, I will gladly do so.”
Jun Huang had not planned to ask Nan Xun to do anything dangerous for her, but she still felt like a candy had melted in her mouth when she heard Nan Xun’s response. She covered up the glee in her heart and lowered her eyes, her fingers rubbing along the rim of the teacup. “I would like to ask you to acquire some herbs for me.”
“Herbs?” Nan Xun asked.
Jun Huang nodded. She put down her teacup and took a deep breath. “There’s a few important ingredients I need, but they are forbidden for trade in Northern Qi. I can’t buy them myself, or I’ll attract others’ suspicion. You are a general. You often have to acquire medicine for physical injury. I was thinking… if it’s possible, can you perhaps smuggle some in along with the medicine?”
Nan Xun hummed. It wasn’t that difficult a request, but it could have significant repercussions. Jun Huang was a peasant here in Northern Qi. If she was found out, it would be bad for her. He needed a plan to make sure that even if the herbs were found, no one would suspect that Jun Huang was involved.
His silence was a clear sign to Jun Huang that her request wasn’t as simple as she had thought. She put on a forced smile and said, “If it’s too much trouble, I can ask someone else - ”
“It’s not too much trouble. Leave it to me. You’ve saved my life before we knew each other. I’m also not entirely blameless for your condition now. I will do whatever I have to to get the ingredients. There are arrangements to be made. You may put your trust in me. Give me a list of things you’ll need. Once I’ve acquired everything, I will have them delivered to you.”
In his rush, Nan Xun had put down the teacup with too much force, spilling some tea over his fingers. Jun Huang hurriedly retrieve a handkerchief and handed it to him.
“Then I will leave the matter in your capable hand,” Jun Huang said with her lips curved.
“No need for you to be this polite.” Nan Xun smiled back at her and took a sip of his tea. He teasingly said, “Do you know that all the good tea in this manor has been brought to you by my servants?”
Jun Huang felt her heart soften as she looked at Nan Xun’s handsome face. She had been prepared to explain to Nan Xun why she needed the herbs, but Nan Xun didn’t ask her anything. It was as if he had never even thought about questioning her. Jun Huang felt warmth blooming in her chest. Her smile deepened.
“Why didn’t you ask me what I need the herbs for?” asked Jun Huang.
Nan Xun blinked. The question had flashed through his mind, but he had never thought about asking it. Sometimes it could be difficult to convey one’s true feelings with words. A simple question could be misunderstood as a show of suspicion. He didn’t want Jun Huang to misunderstand him. He didn’t want her to think that he was someone who allowed others to keep no secrets. That was why he hadn’t said anything. He didn’t expect Jun Huang to open up to him of her own accord.
Jun Huang chuckled. “I’m using the herbs to make poison needles so that I can better defend myself. I made some before I came to Northern Qi, but not enough. I hadn’t expected the imperial city to be this dangerous. I don’t want to be at someone else’s mercy again.”
“I don’t fear death, but I refuse to be killed by anyone from Eastern Wu. They slaughtered my family. I have not taken my revenge yet. I will not let those villains have the satisfaction of killing me.”
Jun Huang tightened her hands into fists. Her whole body started trembling in fury.
Nan Xun frowned. He knew about Jun Huang’s story, but this was the first time he saw for himself the hate Jun Huang bore toward Eastern Wu. Worried that her heart would be harmed by her anger, Nan Xun took Jun Huang’s hands in his. Her fingers were so cold it was as if she had just walked out of a cooling chamber.
Feeling warmth enveloping her hands, Jun Huang jerked awake from her memories. She took a deep breath when she saw the concerned look on Nan Xun’s face. She pulled her hands away and cleared her throat.
The awkwardness in the air was thick enough to choke her. Jun Huang was suddenly reminded of the formula for a medicine she had seen from a book when she was being taught by Ole Cragfiend.
Nan Xun had showed her kindness without asking anything back. Jun Huang decided to tell him the formula. “I know a different way of making medicine for physical injuries. It’s more effective, and it costs less to make. It will be beneficial to your army.”
Nan Xun widened his eyes in surprise, excitement flashing through his expression. A better type of medicine could make a huge impact. His soldiers were still using traditional medicine, which was far from effective. It often took people dozens of days to recover from their injury. The cost was unreasonably high as well.
Nan Xun had tried to make changes many times, but he couldn’t find a better type of medicine. If there was a more effective and cheaper medicine, the resources they had could be used in other areas. The soldiers would be training and fighting in a much better condition.
His gratitude was clear on his face. He couldn’t find the words to express the current of emotions in his heart. He looked at Jun Huang with tender eyes.
Jun Huang felt her face flushed. She cleared her throat and stood up, pretending that she was sorting through her possessions.
“If that’s a success, it will make a big difference. I thank you on behalf of all the soldiers and the officers. I’ll take care of buying the herbs you need. And I’ll pay for everything.”
Nan Xun followed behind Jun Huang closely. His words came out in a rush because of his excitement.
Jun Huang turned around. Realizing how close Nan Xun was standing, she took a small step back. “There’s no need for that. I just happened to think of the formula. Besides, the herbs will cost quite a lot. You are careful with spending your money. There’s no need for you to splurge on this. I can afford to pay you.”
“I can’t let you pay,” Nan Xun took a step forward and said seriously. “You don’t know how much this has troubled me. I have to pay for the ingredients for the medicine. Don’t turn me away.”
“I’m already thankful that you are willing to help me acquire the herbs. You don’t have to pay for me. I don’t know what else to say to you other than a thank you.” She looked right into Nan Xun’s eyes. She wasn’t trying to be polite. She genuinely meant what she said.
They were both serious about their offers. Nan Xun looked at Jun Huang with soft eyes. The tenderness he showed was arresting.
“This subordinate has something to report, Your Highness,” a man said suddenly as the door creaked open, breaking the silence in the room. Jun Huang startled and tripped. Nan Xun quickly caught her hand and they fell onto the bed. Their added weight made a loud thud on the mattress.
Nan Xun’s second in command was worried that something bad had happened. He barged into the room. His jaw dropped when he saw the two of them.
Jun Huang was on top of Nan Xun. Her hair, which she had not tied up after the bath, ran down her shoulders, giving her a relaxed and lazy look. She also had not put on a formal wear after her bath.
Beneath her lay Nan Xun, whose cheeks were tinted with red.
The officer jerked out of his trance and babbled, “I had thought that the rumors were fake, but I was wrong. I hope Your Highness will forgive me. This subordinate is getting out of your hair. I will not bother you further.” With that, he fled the room.
When Jun Huang finally recovered from what had happened, she looked down and saw Nan Xun’s crinkled eyes. She shot up to her feet. In her rush, she stepped on her robe and stumbled back onto the bed.
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