Chapter 200: Devotion
Jun Huang threw a questioning glance at Nan Xun. What did he mean by that?
Nan Xun couldn’t stop himself from staring at her. She looked adorable when she cocked her head. After a long pause, he said, “You’ve always been more beautiful than other people. Your smile is capable of bewitching anyone.”
Jun Huang widened her eyes slightly before chuckling. “Only you are able to say such shameless things with such a serious face.”
Nan Xun didn’t want Jun Huang to think that he was joking. He hurriedly added, “I - I meant it.”
Jun Huang paused. They shouldn’t continue this topic. She fell silent. Nan Xun wasn’t going to say anything either if she didn’t give him a response. He continued to push the wheelchair forward.
The sun had risen near the top of the sky. Under the shade, the warmth was pleasant, and it made them reluctant to leave.
They reached the front palace, which was where most visitors went to pray. It was said that the Buddha honored here could ensure the worshipper a lifetime of safety.
That reminded Nan Xun of something. He told Jun Huang to wait for him before rushing into the palace.
Nan Xun said a few words to the abbot, who nodded in response. He took Nan Xun to the back. When they came back out, Nan Xun was holding something in his hand. He bowed to the statue of Buddha earnestly, whispering something at the same time. Jun Huang assumed that he was expressing his gratitude to the Buddha.
Nan Xun hurried to her with a wide grin. His forehead was covered in sweat, but it didn’t dampen his grace.
“Why are you smiling like that?” Jun Huang couldn’t help her curiosity. “Has something good happened?”
“I requested for this charm some time ago. I just got it blessed. It’s said that this charm can protect you for your whole life. I’ll put it on you.” Nan Xun leaned in to put the protection charm on Jun Huang’s neck. He nodded in satisfaction and added, “I know you don’t believe in things like this, but it can’t hurt. I heard that after being exposed to the incense smoke for some time, a charm would become magical.”
Nan Xun’s attitude compelled Jun Huang to take his gift seriously. She lowered her head to look at the yellow protection charm. After a moment of silence, She looked up at Nan Xun and smiled at him. “Then I’ll accept this gift.”
“Of course you will,” Nan Xun said with a smile. “I got it for you. It’s not going to work on me if I keep it. Your health condition isn’t the best. The incense smoke may help. It’s going to waste on someone like me, someone who’s taken countless lives.”
Jun Huang gave him a meaningful look. Nan Xun didn’t see anything wrong with his explanation. “Come on. It’s getting late.”
Time flew when one wasn’t burdened by responsibilities. Jun Huang didn’t usually have such feelings. After resting for days to recover from her wounds, though, she started to feel lazy.
Due to her injury, Nan Xun had ordered the cooks to prepare specially designed meals for her every day. Qi Chen sometimes delivered rare medicinal ingredients to the manor as well, which Nan Xun would have the cooks put into her food. She was almost getting overly nourished.
She felt like she had been wasting time, but Nan Xun disagreed. He thought that Jun Huang was overtaxing herself by reading books all the time. He knew he couldn’t stop her from doing it. She would get bored.
The opportunity to stay with Jun Huang for days did not come often. He didn’t want to anger her and cause her to move out.
Nan Xun wanted to let her rest for a few more days, but Jun Huang turned him down. Once she was able to walk on her own, she started planning her next step.
She now knew about most of the forces supporting Qi Chen openly, but she didn’t know about his secret benefactors. If she went head to head with Qi Chen recklessly, it wasn’t going to end well for her. It was better that she stayed at Qi Chen’s side for now.
Nan Xun didn’t want Jun Huang to exhaust herself. Besides, he had not forgiven Qi Chen for hurting Jun Huang without thinking things through. He didn’t think Jun Huang should return to Qi Chen. He had even prepared a speech to convince her.
Nan Xun went to Jun Huang the day she planned to return to Qi Chen and said without preamble, “I don’t think you should go back to Qi Chen again.”
Jun Huang arched an eyebrow. “Why?”
“Think about it. He put you in the water prison because of someone’s false accusation. What’s going to happen next time? Will you be lucky enough to make it out alive? I can’t imagine the possibilities. You still have a lot of goals. Why must you focus all your efforts on Qi Chen? There are other angles we can attack to get what we want.” Nan Xun slowly told her the arguments he had prepared and rehearsed several times. He didn’t even have to stop to think.
“You know I won’t do that at time like this, Nan Xun,” Jun Huang said seriously. She wasn’t just humoring Nan Xun. “That’s not going to help. I know what I’m doing and the risks I’m taking. This time Wei Lanying has caught me off guard, but she isn’t going to get lucky again. Do you think that I’m incapable of protecting myself? You don’t have to worry too much. If there’s something I can’t deal with, I’ll tell you immediately, and I’ll keep myself safe.”
Nan Xun knew that there was never a way back for Jun Huang. He knew how hard she had worked to realize her dream of a better country. If she gave up now, all the time and efforts she had devoted would be in vain. She had thus stubbornly insisted on dragging her tired body around in the imperial city. He knew he couldn’t convince her to pull away.
He sighed. There was nothing he could say to change her mind. They had finally resolved their differences, and they got closer because of it. He didn’t want to push her away, and he didn’t want Jun Huang to push him away.
“No matter what happens, don’t shoulder everything on your own,” he said after a long pause. “Remember to come to me. I’ll do everything I can to ensure your safety. Understand?”
Jun Huang broke into a bright smile. Covered in the warm glow of sunlight, her crinkling eyes made Nan Xun’s heart race.
Nan Xun was worried that he would lose control of himself. He quickly turned away. Jun Huang let out a silent laugh at his reaction.
One of her servants came to take her things back to her manor. She was going to visit Qi Chen. She shouldn’t go there with her hands full.
Qi Chen had not come to bother her the past few days - it was probably the guilt that stopped him from coming. It gave her time to recover.
On the other hand, the housekeeper, who came to deliver the medicinal ingredients to her, had exchanged a few words with her, telling her that Qi Chen had been looking into the one who drugged her, and that the investigation had yielded some results. Qi Chen was waiting for an opportunity to talk to her before deciding what to do.
Jun Huang knew Wei Lanying was the one who drugged her, but she didn’t have evidence to back herself up. She wasn’t someone who would point fingers without proofs, so she kept it to herself.
She was surprised that Qi Chen had found something. Even though Wei Lanying was prone to jealousy, she wasn’t brainless. Xiaoyun, who had so easily been manipulated by Wei Lanying, was the gullible one. Wei Lanying would not make the same mistakes. Jun Huang believed that things weren’t as simple as it seemed.
She went to the crown prince’s manor straight away. Qi Chen was sitting in the pavilion with his eyebrows furrowed. He put down the letters in his hand when he saw her and walked up to her.
“Is brother Feng feeling better?” Qi Chen gave her a once-over before letting out a sigh of relief. He still felt a little guilty for what happened. He was the one who wronged her. Every time he thought about the way Jun Huang had helped him without asking for anything return, he felt the urge to kill Wei Lanying with his own hands.
Jun Huang pulled her lips into a smile and nodded. “This gentleman is feeling alright. I only got sick because I’ve always been prone to diseases. After recovering from the illness, I’m feeling much better. I’m fine as long as I don’t stand for too long.”
Qi Chen was reminded of the fact that Jun Huang had stayed in the freezing water overnight. The water came from a river of negative energy. The cold would seep into the bones. Even if she had only put a hand underwater, her blood circulation would slow down after half an hour. The chill could stay in her body causing her pain for quite a long time. He couldn’t imagine how she felt after being immersed completely for a day.
“Then have a seat,” said Qi Chen. He helped her sit down and turned to the maid standing next to them. “Go brew a pot of ginger tea.”
Once the maid left, Qi Chen said, “It’s been proven that ginger tea can drive away the cold energy. It was remiss of me to not think of it until today. Brother Feng should take some ginger with you when you leave.”
Northern Qi didn’t produce ginger locally. Most of the time it was imported from other countries, and the prices were high. Only the rich royalties could afford it. Peasants normally lived their whole life not knowing the taste of ginger.
Ginger, however, had been a common produce in Western Que. Jun Huang hated the taste, but of course she couldn’t turn down Qi Chen’s earnest offer. She nodded.
“By the way, these are something I’ve been reading. Brother Feng should have a look.” Qi Chen handed the letters he had placed on the stone table to Jun Huang.
Jun Huang took the letters. She was surprised to see what’s written on them.
They were letters Wei Lanying exchanged with her parents. At first, Wei Lanying only complained to her parents that she had not been treated well, and that Qi Chen was being colder and colder to him. Then something caught Jun Huang’s attention. Wei Lanying’s mother had proposed some tricks she could use. They were shameless tricks that could not be brought up in polite company, one of which was the use of aphrodisiac.
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