Chapter 171: Seeking Attention
“Enough,” Nan Xun snapped, cutting Rong’er off mid-sentence. His cold gaze landed heavily on Rong’er. “You’re only making me hate you more. Do you know how much I despise you now? If you have even a little shame left in you, you’ll disappear from my view. I truly cannot stand looking at you for another second.”
Rong’er was rendered speechless. She had always fancied herself a beautiful woman. It was the first time a man insulted her like this. She stared at Nan Xun, who had already turned away from her. He was proving his point through his actions.
Rong’er was a woman after all. She couldn’t stand staying here after being insulted by Nan Xun. She felt her eyes sting as tears streamed down her cheeks. Even in this state, she refused to let Jun Huang off the hook. She hurled insults at Jun Huang as she stormed away.
Jun Huang wasn’t going to pay any attention to Rong’er, but her words had hit Jun Huang where she was most tender. She froze.
Rong’er didn’t notice Jun Huang’s reaction. She ran away crying with her seniors shielding her from the outside world.
Nan Xun knew the pain Jun Huang kept to herself. Her face had gone as pale as sheet. He took Jun Huang’s hand in his. “Don’t pay any attention to other people’s words. You should not be weighed down by them. Don’t let those with ulterior motives hurt you. Don’t let them win.”
Jun Huang looked up at him. His eyes were more serious than ever. She nodded after a pause and smiled. “I know.”
Her smile dropped off as quickly as it appeared. In its place was a deep frown. Nan Xun pursed his lips. It was Rong’er’s fault. It was already rare enough for Jun Huang to be happy. Rong’er’s insults had put a damper on Jun Huang’s mood.
The audience turned their attention back to the stage. Jun Huang didn’t want to stay here anymore. She looked up at the blue sky before walking away with a sigh. She wanted to return to the inn.
After some deliberation, Nan Xun caught Jun Huang’s hand when she turned away. Jun Huang frowned at their entwined hands. Her heart was pounding hard, but she kept her expression in check. She looked at Nan Xun, waiting for him to explain.
Nan Xun was worried that he had crossed a line. He let go of Jun Huang’s hand with an awkward smile. After a moment of silence, he said, “You’re in a bad mood. Staying in the inn may only make you feel worse. We haven’t had a chance to look around in Yun Town since our arrival. The weather is nice today. How about we go out for a walk? We can find peace in this bustling city.”
Jun Huang hummed. It was as Nan Xun said. They had tread through every part of the town looking for Jun Hao and Yin Yun. Never had they stopped to look at the scenery. Yun Town never left an impression on them. They should remedy that. It would be a good outlet for her foul mood.
She nodded with a faint smile. Her face regained some of its usual color.
Nan Xun let out a sigh of relief. He feared that Jun Huang would be trapped by her pain and decided to shut everything and everyone out like a celestial being.
He knew that there was no celestials in the world. Those who were known to be outside the mortal realm were simply put on the pedestal by others. If there was going to be a celestial being in the world, however, it would be Jun Huang - with her fine features and distant smile, she possessed such a surreal grace.
She was dressed in men’s clothes, but her aura was captivating. How could anyone not be infatuated with her?
Nan Xun didn’t understand why Rong’er kept taunting Jun Huang. He came to the conclusion that she was jealous of Jun Huang’s grace.
Jun Huang took a few steps before realizing that Nan Xun had stopped walking. She frowned. What was with him? She turned around to look at him and asked, “What?”
“Nothing. Let’s go.” Nan Xun jogged up to her with a quiet laugh. He suddenly wanted to hold Jun Huang’s hand, but he didn’t know if Jun Huang would allow that. He tilted his head toward Jun Huang and smiled.
“If there’s anything you set your eyes on today,” Nan Xun said slowly, earnestly. “Tell me. Even if I have to pay a thousand gold, I will do so willingly to get a smile from you.”
If those words had been uttered by anyone else, Jun Huang would consider them to be shameless men who didn’t know what boundaries were. From Nan Xun, however, she didn’t feel being taken advantage of. Her earlobes burned hot.
Silence stretched. Jun Huang jokingly asked, “How many times has Your Highness said that to a woman?”
Jun Huang’s eyes were as clear as crystal. Hidden inside was her vision for an ideal world - there would be no killings. Only peace and harmony. She wanted to make this chaotic world a prosperous country where everyone could lead a happy life.
“Only once,” Nan Xun said. His honesty was clear in his eyes. Jun Huang had meant the question as a joke. Nan Xun’s serious response caused her to forget what she was going to say.
Awkwardness filled the space between them. Jun Huang was caught off guard by Nan Xun’s response. She looked away bashfully and coughed.
Nan Xun had never seen Jun Huang like this. It delighted him. He let out a chuckle and didn’t say another word.
The vendors’ cries filled the street with a great energy. The items these stands sold weren’t necessarily expensive, but they were finely crafted. The stilted air between Jun Huang and Nan Xun melted gradually. They browsed over the items chatting and exchanging smiles.
Rong’er had caught up with them like the stubborn pest she was. She never intended to stay in the dark. She walked up to Nan Xun without even trying to hide herself. Nan Xun frowned when he saw her. A trace of annoyance showed on his face.
Jun Huang had noticed Rong’er as well. She shrugged in resignation when Rong’er cast a taunting glance at her and looked away.
The clothes Jun Huang wore had covered up her femininity and added a touch of handsome charm. With the grace she was born with, she had won many young women’s hearts along the way. Jun Huang tensed up. She had an odd feeling she could not put into words.
She knelt down to check out the intricate lanterns. She could feel someone’s hostile gaze boring into her back. She turned around and saw Rong’er staring at her, keeping as close to Nan Xun as she could as a declaration of her territory.
Jun Huang wanted to laugh. Rong’er looked ridiculous this way. Rong’er clenched her fists when she noticed Jun Huang’s amused look. If Nan Xun hadn’t been here, she would have beat Jun Huang up to satisfy her hatred.
Upset by Nan Xun’s cold attitude, Rong’er pitifully defended herself, “I didn’t mean to do that, gentleman Nan Xun. It’s just that… in the tournament we fought with real weapons. I failed to control myself and accidentally hurt gentleman Feng. I hope you’ll forgive me.”
Nan Xun threw her a freezing glance and said coldly, “What does that have to do with me?”
Rong’er fell silent. How could Nan Xun be this dense? Or perhaps his tenderness was reserved for Jun Huang alone… Oh how she wanted to ground Jun Huang’s bones into ashes! Without Jun Huang, Nan Xun would surely fall for her.
Rong’er had been spoiled. She didn’t know that love could not be forced. She didn’t know that the truest kind of love meant feeling genuine happiness when you saw the other smiled. It meant wanting to take the pain from the other when they were hurt.
“But - but I did everything for you!” Rong’er batted her eyes at Nan Xun. Her delicate face was shrouded in pain.
Anyone else would have show pity when a beautiful woman cried, but Nan Xun wasn’t just anyone. He was a general who had been staying at the border surrounded by sand. He had killed people without blinking. Now, he offered all the tenderness he could muster to Jun Huang. Stoic men like him didn’t have a big heart. He had reserved the space for one and only one. It had to be Jun Huang.
“This gentleman cannot accept your feelings,” Nan Xun said, enunciating every word. “Your feelings are nothing but a burden to me. If you truly have my best interest in mind, please stay away from me. Thank you.”
Nan Xun’s tone was polite, but his words were harsh. Rong’er staggered back, her eyes brimming with tears.
Jun Huang got to her feet. The sudden movement made her dizzy momentarily. Nan Xun quickly steadied her with a hand.
It took a moment for Jun Huang to recover. When she opened her eyes, she was faced with Rong’er’s venomous glare.
Jun Huang had no clue why Rong’er decided to chase after them. Hadn’t Nan Xun been clear enough when they were at the tournament? She didn’t know that Rong’er had been trying to get Nan Xun’s attention and wanted to change how Nan Xun saw her. Rong’er, however, didn’t know how to hide her feelings and only made things worse.
Jun Huang hadn’t realized that Rong’er was such an unpleasant person when they first met. She even thought that Rong’er’s stubbornness was endearing. She couldn’t have been more wrong. A spoiled woman like Rong’er wouldn’t know how to love a person.
“Gentleman Feng truly has no backbone!” Rong’er said through clenched teeth. Her expression twisted with hatred.
Jun Huang paused before pulling away from Nan Xun. She straightened her back and smiled. “I’m certainly not as headstrong as you.”
She turned around. Nan Xun grabbed her hand before she could walk away. Jun Huang looked at him with a frown. What was he trying to do?
Nan Xun pointed at the lantern Jun Huang had been looking at earlier and asked, “Do you like it?”
Before Jun Huang could respond, Nan Xun went ahead and told one of the guards to pay the owner of the stand. He pointed at the glass lamp Jun Huang had been interested in. The owner gave it to Nan Xun without missing a beat.
Nan Xun took the lamp and handed it to Jun Huang. Her frown grew deeper in response.
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