Chapter 174: Dangers lie await
Jun Huang’s eyebrows jumped up. So this was why Nan Xun suddenly wanted to move out. He was right to worry. After their fall out with Rong’er, who knew what she would do next? Besides, Rong’er’s seniors had declared Jun Huang and Nan Xun their enemies. Even though Jun Huang and Nan Xun weren’t scared of Rong’er’s seniors, it was better to stay low when they were away from their home territory.
“True,” Jun Huang said. “It won’t do us any good to get dragged into another conflict. Besides, we don’t know if there are Qi Chen’s informants in Yun Town. It’ll be a nuisance to explain to Qi Chen if someone talk behind our back.”
It was best that they moved out as soon as they could. She started to pack as well.
Nan Xun had made the orders to the guards when they first returned to the inn. When he and Jun Huang left the room after finishing packing, the four guards were waiting right outside with a blank expression on their faces. They looked like mannequins without a human soul. Only when they saw Nan Xun and Jun Huang did they became more animated.
Nan Xun handed their bags to the guards before Jun Huang could get a good look at them. He led her to another inn. It was unassuming from the outside, but comfortable and elegant on the inside.
Jun Huang’s heart softened when she saw the inn. Everything about this place was in line with her preferences. Her eyes lit up in delight.
Pleased by her reaction, Nan Xun pushed aside his jealousy and booked a few premium rooms.
The tournament was halfway to its end. Many had left the town already. The inn had a good number of rooms available. Nan Xun, however, said that they should stay in the same room because there might be people from Eastern Wu in Yun Town. Jun Huang nodded in agreement.
She wasn’t afraid. She just wanted to stick close to Nan Xun. As soon as she agreed to the arrangement, she started doubting if she had crossed a line. However, she didn’t know how to bring up the topic again, so she let it be.
Once they settled down, Jun Huang sat at the table and took out the piece of blood jade Nan Xun had bought her. Her expression was calm as she considered the jade.
Nan Xun put the glass lamp over the bed. When he turned around, he saw the setting sun shining on Jun Huang’s face, covering her features with a faint golden glow. An indescribable feeling crept into his heart.
“Come on, let’s go,” said Nan Xun. He cleared his throat and brushed away the dust that wasn’t really on his clothes.
Jun Huang turned to him in question before nodding. She put away the piece of jade and fixed her sleeves before following Nan Xun out.
Nan Xun had ordered his shadow guards to look for the base of the House of Heavenly Fiends. He took Jun Huang straight to a tea house that looked just like any other tea houses. Inside were a few customers.
“Are the two gentlemen here for some tea?” A clerk dressed in silk clothes came up to them. Jun Huang frowned at him. Even though the fabric was dark and the clothes could parade as ones of a peasant, Jun Huang could tell that something was off. She had been a princess. This was how she dressed when she snuck out of the palace. This wasn’t an ordinary tea house.
“We have come from afar,” Nan Xun said slowly. “Only bamboo leaf tea could comfort our tired body.”
The clerk gave them a once-over before motioning at them to follow him. He led them to a room deep inside the tea house before walking away.
Nan Xun’s words did make sense in the context, but Jun Huang knew how Nan Xun was. He wasn’t someone who would say such pretentious words. The only explanation was that the phrase was a secret code for the House of Heavenly Fiends.
Soon, a man in his thirties walked up to them. He seemed to be the owner of the tea house. He looked at Nan Xun and cupped his hands. “It’s an honor for this peasant to meet the prince who bears a different surname.”
Jun Huang and Nan Xun shared a look. Realization dawned on them. The House of Heavenly Fiends was the biggest organization in the martial arts world. Of course they would be able to identify Nan Xun. When the man turned his gaze to Jun Huang, Nan Xun’s fists tightened, his breath hitched. Jun Huang’s identity must be kept a secret, he thought to himself.
The man did not recognize Jun Huang. She now lived under a different name. And the name Feng Baiyu was known only within the imperial city. She wasn’t famous enough for the House of Heavenly Fiends to take notice.
After exchanging some pleasantries, the man looked at Nan Xun and asked, “What is Your Highness here for? Is there anything you need the House of Heavenly Fiends to do for you?”
“The gentleman is right. I have a favor to ask for.” Nan Xun threw Jun Huang a glance before continuing, “My friend would like your help in locating his family.”
The man turned to Jun Huang. She had been quiet with her head ducked. He looked up at Nan Xun and admitted, “We have our rules. We can help locate his family, but there are many tasks for us to tackle every day. Less important business usually won’t be our top priorities...”
“No, I must find them as soon as possible,” Jun Huang said without thinking. She realized her mistake when she noticed Nan Xun and the man’s gaze. She cleared her throat and cupped her hands. “I hope the gentleman will be willing to help.”
“Fate has brought you here. How about this. I’ll take you to another place. If you can pass the trial, we will do everything we can to track your family down quickly.”
The man turned away to leave. Nan Xun and Jun Huang exchanged a glance before catching up with the man.
The man led them to the backyard of the tea house. Parked in the backyard was a regular coach. They got inside. The clerk, who had been welcoming customers at the front door, showed up and sat on the box seat to be their driver.
Jun Huang had been keeping her guard up. Her instinct told her that things weren’t as simple as they seemed. She could tell that dangers lay await them.
The coach came to a halt. Nan Xun parted the curtain and looked outside. They had left Yun Town and was parked in the middle of nowhere. Alarms went off in his head. His sharp gaze swept over the tea house owner and the clerk, worried that they might make a move on them.
He shielded Jun Huang with an arm. Their nervousness did not faze the tea house owner at all. He kept his eyes shut, paying no attention to Nan Xun’s hostile stare.
“We’re here,” said the clerk. Jun Huang turned to Nan Xun. The tea house owner got off the coach and said, “There’s no need for Your Highness and the gentleman to be so worried. We are not going to force you to do anything. There are rules in the House of Heavenly Fiends that we must follow.”
“Of course,” Jun Huang said calmly. It would take more to make her lose her composure. She touched Nan Xun’s hand reassuringly before getting off the coach. Nan Xun followed after her closely.
Jun Huang surveyed their surroundings. They were on a hill with no signs of living creatures around them. Not even any traces left by birds. It was as if the hill was isolated from the outside world by impenetrable walls.
“This is where you start,” said the tea house owner. “If you have made up your mind, go in that direction. Once you pass our challenges, we will send people to look for your family.”
Jun Huang turned to Nan Xun. It was clear that he didn’t know about the rules set by the House of Heavenly Fiends.
Nan Xun hesitated. He didn’t want Jun Huang to risk herself. He couldn’t be sure how dangerous the challenges would be. He knew better than anyone how bad her health had been.
“Please give us some time to discuss it,” Nan Xun said after a pause.
The tea house owner nodded and took the clerk to the side, giving them room to talk it out. The polite smile dropped from Nan Xun’s face as soon as they were left alone. He wasn’t as calm as he appeared to be.
Before Nan Xun could say anything, Jun Huang said, “No matter what lies await us, I have to give it a try. I don’t want to regret not taking this opportunity in the future.”
Nan Xun let out a sigh and nodded, his brows furrowed in concerns. “If so, I’m going with you. If things go wrong, get behind me. Neither of us know what’s going to happen. I don’t want you to get hurt. Do you understand me?”
Jun Huang told him to relax with her lips curved. They went up to the tea house owner together and told him their decision. The owner was surprised that it hadn’t taken longer for them to give him an answer, but he didn’t comment on it. He nodded and took them to a cave.
All they could see were stairs leading into the seemingly endless darkness. Torches lined the walls on both sides, and the fire wavered in the wind. Any moment from now the fire could be put off.
Nan Xun and Jun Huang exchanged a look, communicating in a language only the two of them knew. He took her hand and led her down the stairs.
Once they had disappeared into the shadow, the tea house owner whispered something into the clerk’s ear before leaving. The clerk got on the coach and drove it away. It was as if no one had never been here.
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