Chapter 217: Assassination Attempt
Jun Huang turned to Nan Xun in surprise. “How did you find this place?”
Nan Xun relaxed when he saw her eyes light up. With a smile, he tucked a strand of her hair to the back of her ear. They were close enough to hear each other’s breathing. The faint moonlight illuminated their faces.
Jun Huang lowered her eyes when she noticed Nan Xun’s gaze. What was he trying to do? She was both nervous and excited. In the end, she took a step back instead of facing him.
That hurt a little for Nan Xun, but he quickly pushed it aside. He took a deep breath and whispered, “Stay here and close your eyes.”
His earnest tone prompted Jun Huang to close her eyes without hesitation. Her eyelashes trembled in the wind, and her sleeves fluttered. She could hear the cacophony of sounds surrounding her, including the faint chitters of toads and cicadas.
Nan Xun’s footsteps went away from her. It was unsettling to keep her eyes close, but she trusted Nan Xun. She tightened her hands around her sleeves and relaxed them slowly.
Nan Xun didn’t let her wait for long. After about the time for a pot of tea to brew, she heard him say, “Open your eyes.”
Jun Huang’s eyes fluttered open. She gaped at the item in Nan Xun’s hand. It was the jade tree! She looked up to meet Nan Xun’s gaze. With a smile, he pointed at the jade tree and said, “I got it back for you.”
Jun Huang felt a sting in her eyes. Her heated gaze fixed on the glittering jade tree and her hands reached out to take it. She lowered her head to look at the tree before meeting Nan Xun’s eyes. She was too overwhelmed to say anything.
“It’s all thanks to you, Nan Xun,” Jun Huang suppressed her emotions enough to said. “If not for you, this will be in other people’s hands, and I’ll never get to see it again.”
Nan Xun smiled without a word and wiped away the tears at the corner of her eyes. Jun Huang only realized then that she was crying. Her embarrassment was short-lived before she regained her composure.
She hummed. “I couldn’t have done this without you. I had wrongfully blamed you for not letting me take the jade tree at the market, but you were right to be careful. I don’t know what I can do to repay you. I can’t just take this without giving you something in return.”
Nan Xun’s breath hitched. There was a whole new world within Jun Huang’s eyes. She looked even more captivating under the moonlight. He barely stopped himself from getting closer. He didn’t want to stay as her friend. He wanted her to accept his love.
“I don’t need anything material from you. You may as well pay me back with yourself.” Nan Xun’s tone was light and teasing. He didn’t want to pressure Jun Huang. She was free to take his words as a mere jest, and they could be like they’d always been.
Jun Huang met his eyes. He was waiting for her answer. Before she could say anything, Nan Xun heard a suspicious sound from a distance. Jun Huang straightened her back and held tight to the jade tree before looking around warily.
A group of men dressed in black came out of the waist tall grass with long swords in their hands. Their faces were masked, revealing only their sharp eyes.
“Be careful,” said Nan Xun. “We must eliminate all of them, or troubles may follow.”
Jun Huang agreed with him. She unsheathed her sword. The jade tree felt awkward in her other hand. She found a spot to lay it down.
Nan Xun nodded in approval, silently telling her to not get distracted. He would keep an eye on the jade tree.
The men in black didn’t give them much time to communicate. They charged at them with weapons raised. Jun Huang stood her ground and blocked the attack with her sword. Her hand shuddered when the blades clashed. The man was strong. Jun Huang was pushed back by the sheer force he’d put into this attack. Nan Xun’s eyes turned cold. He leapt toward them and kicked the man away. The man’s sword dropped at their feet.
Nan Xun frowned. “You good?”
Jun Huang didn’t want to show her vulnerability. Even though there was a prickling pain in her fingers, she tightened her jaw and nodded. “I’m fine. Don’t worry. I’ll protect myself.”
“This is a suicide troop that has been through professional training,” said Nan Xun. He was still concerned. “You can’t win by fighting them head on. Find their weaknesses. Do you understand?”
“I get it.” Jun Huang nodded. Nan Xun allowed himself to relax. He didn’t want her to risk her life fighting these men. He knew Jun Huang was a person of her words. He raised his sword at the other men.
Nan Xun had reminded her to fight smartly, and she did. Still, her guard wasn’t perfect. Just when her arm was going to be cut by a long sword, she hurriedly threw her silver needle at the attacker from his blindspot. The man froze and collapsed to the ground. The sword cut only the tail of her robe.
Jun Huang exhaled slowly. She must keep her guard up and focused solely on the fight, or she’d be a burden to Nan Xun. With that in mind, she grew even more careful.
The men had sensed her change. They didn’t dare to be reckless. Both parties tried and failed to find an opening. They came to a standstill.
Nan Xun and Jun Huang stood back to back facing off the men circling them. Nan Xun’s eyes were as calm as a frozen pond as he considered them. He tilted his head and whispered, “They’re getting wary. Give them all you’ve got. We might not be able to kill all of them, but this can’t go on. Understand?”
Jun Huang nodded. “Alright. I’ll take the outside. We’ll do this together.”
Nan Xun nodded. Jun Huang charged at the enemies with reckless abandon, aiming for instant kills. The men was caught off guard by her unpredictable moves. They suffered some casualties before they regained their composure.
Without giving them a moment to regroup, however, Nan Xun came at them as well. He kicked one of the man in the stomach, sending him flying into a tree. The man coughed out a mouthful of blood.
Jun Huang gave Nan Xun a smile. Nan Xun didn’t show any obvious reaction, but his eyes softened.
The men closed in on them again. Nan Xun lifted Jun Huang by her shoulders and let her step on his knees. She leapt into the air and twirled her sword in one swift movement. The men surrounding them blocked the attack with their swords. Neither them nor Jun Huang was hurt. The gridlock remained.
These bastards interrupted Nan Xun when the mood was just right. Nan Xun had been harboring the anger. His glare was deadly enough to kill. One of the men shuddered when he met Nan Xun’s gaze. In an instant, Nan Xun’s sword had sped through the air and buried into his chest. He died before he could register the pain.
Nan Xun was getting ferocious. Jun Huang gave him a side eye every once in a while, but she didn’t consider him cruel. In her opinion, these men deserved to die. There was no need to show them any mercy.
They made a great team. The men could not break through the line of defense Jun Huang and Nan Xun held up. After about the time for an incense stick to burn, the two of them were still unhurt. The men in black, on the other hand, had suffered great casualties. Originally there were more than twenty of them. Now there were only a little more than ten.
The leader of the group was still trying to find an opening. Time was ticking. Jun Huang and Nan Xun, however, did not give him any opportunity to attack. He knew it was over. There was nothing more they could do to complete the mission.
The men in black took a step back in unison. Jun Huang and Nan Xun kept their eyes on them, wary of any sudden attacks.
Jun Huang stared at the men with her breath held. Suddenly, all of the remaining attackers collapsed and died. Their weapons clinked as they dropped to the ground. Jun Huang widened her eyes in shock.
This was just like the group of men they had encountered in the city. Jun Huang exchanged a look with Nan Xun. Nan Xun took a deep breath and approached the bodies. He tore one of the man’s mask off and waved Jun Huang over once he made sure the men were dead.
Jun Huang knelt down next to him. She smelled the same fragrance again. She asked Nan Xun to open the man’s mouth and, as expected, his mouth was filled with tainted blood. Under the moonlight, they could see that the man’s tongued had been cut from the root. It was eerily to see an empty cavity in his mouth.
“This is unusual. Something is wrong. It doesn’t seem like they were sent out to kill us. Rather, their mission seems to be keeping us here and dying before us.”
Jun Huang shuddered in the night winds. She was covered in sweat from the fight. Her clothes now stuck uncomfortably to her body.
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