Chapter 219: Urgent Summon
Jun Huang didn’t immediately respond. She thought for a moment and concluded that Nan Xun was right. She nodded. “We have to leave. We can’t predict what they’ll do if they can’t find the jade tree. It’s going to be difficult to leave the city, though.”
“We don’t know the situation yet. You should pack and take a look at the city gate. Then we’ll talk about what to do.”
Nan Xun walked out of the room. Jun Huang agreed that they didn’t have any other choices. She packed up and put the box containing the jade tree into her bag.
They left the inn without having breakfast. They intended to exit the city immediately. Once they reached the city gate, however, they realized that things weren’t as simple as it appeared to be. No one would put in so much efforts just because the city lord lost something. Besides, the authority didn’t say what the missing item was. Weren’t they worried that people would panic?
Jun Huang didn’t have an answer. She handed her bag to Nan Xun and walked into the crowd. She knocked into a kind-looking woman on purpose. The woman dropped the package in her hands. Jun Huang quickly picked it up and said apologetically, “Sorry, sorry. I didn’t mean it. I hope you can forgive me.”
The woman was kind and friendly. She smiled and said, “It’s alright.”
Noticing Jun Huang’s magnanimous attitude and handsome face, the woman got into a conversation with her. Jun Huang pretended to not know why the security at the city gate had suddenly grown tighter. The woman said with a smile, “Don’t you know? The city lord lost something. He insisted that the thief had an accomplice, and that he hadn’t recovered the lost item. He worried that it would be taken out of the city, so he tightened up the control at the gate this morning. Everyone coming and going has to be checked thoroughly.”
“Doesn’t that count as an abuse of power?” asked Jun Huang. “What if the emperor knows of it?”
The woman patted Jun Huang’s shoulder commiseratingly. “Do you know why he’s known as the city lord? The city is under his rule. Generals may ignore the emperor’s words while they’re on battlefields. It’s the same in this case. No one dares to oppose him here, so he’s free to do whatever he wants.”
Jun Huang nodded, chewing over this new found information. She slowly made her way out of the crowd. Nan Xun rushed to her. She told him everything she knew while he listened, his brows furrowed in bemusement.
Nan Xun was reminded of something. He clapped himself on the back of his head and looked around before dragging Jun Huang to a place without unwanted ears. He whispered, “Before we came to Eastern Wu, I met with someone from the House of Heavenly Fiends. He mentioned that we had comrades in Eastern Wu as well. We can seek them out for help.”
Jun Huang looked up at him and asked, “How do we contact them?”
Nan Xun silently led her away from the city gate. Jun Huang followed without asking any questions. They came to a teahouse. The sign looked familiar to her. She realized that the icon appeared on the sign of the teahouse in Yun Town as well. It belonged to the House of Heavenly Fiends. No one would notice if they didn’t know what they were looking for.
The clerk’s eyes darted between these two graceful and good-looking men. “Have the gentlemen made an appointment?”
Nan Xun looked around to make sure that no one was watching. He made a gesture at the clerk. The clerk nodded. “Come with me, gentlemen.”
The clerk took them upstairs and asked for the owner of the tea house. The owner was on high alert seeing two unfamiliar faces. “What do the gentleman want from me?”
Nan Xun knew the owner was a member of the organization. He took out his token without hesitation. Stunned, the owner dropped down to the floor and bowed to Nan Xun.
Nan Xun helped him up. “The city is on high alert. We cannot leave through the gate, but we must. I hope you may be able to solve this problem for us.”
The owner didn’t ask any more questions. He nodded. “I can help, but we have to wait until the afternoon. This teahouse sends people to the neighboring city to buy tea leaves every day. You can just go out with our staff.”
Jun Huang took out the box in her bag and met the owner’s surprised gaze. “This is what the city lord is looking for. We are leaving with it.”
“Understood. I’ll make the arrangements.” The owner left. A few servants were ordered to bring them some snacks. The sight of the osmanthus cakes made Jun Huang stomach rumble. Her hunger was somewhat sated after a few bites..
Nan Xun poured her a cup of water and sighed. “Don’t worry. We’ll leave safely. You should trust the ability of the House of Heavenly Fiends.”
“It’s not that I don’t trust them; I just have a bad feeling.” Jun Huang let her concerns shown. Nan Xun wondered if she was still reeling from what happened the past couple of days. He didn’t respond.
The owner knocked on the door some time later. He handed some clothes to the two of them. “Change into these and follow our workers later. They’ll tell you where to put the box.”
Jun Huang nodded. “Thanks.”
The owner waved a hand in lieu of a response and walked away. Jun Huang threw a glance at Nan Xun. She coughed and walked behind the screen. Nan Xun turned away and quickly changed into the costume, waiting for her to come out.
They went downstairs to the backyard together. There was a coach waiting for them. The workers approached them and pointed at the hidden compartment between the horse and the carriage. Only someone familiar with the coach would be able to spot it. Jun Huang put the box inside and followed after the coach with Nan Xun.
They soon reached the city gate. Jun Huang’s heart was in her throat. She was wearing a straw hat to cover her face, but she was still nervous. Her palms were covered in sweat as she clutched tightly to her clothes. They couldn’t afford to attract any attention.
She had always been bold even in face of death, but now, she had the treasure of her country in her possession. She must keep it safe from Eastern Wu. That was her duty. She would not allow any accidents.
The teahouse seemed to have an arrangement with the authority. The soldiers let them go after a simple check. Jun Huang sighed in relief. Before she could go far, however, a soldier grabbed her arm. She frowned. The others stopped to wait for her as well.
“You look familiar,” the man holding her arm said. He couldn’t quite recall where he had seen the face.
Jun Huang glanced up at him. He was the leading soldier from last night. She frowned. This could end badly.
Sensing her nervousness, one of the workers came up to her and patted her on the shoulder. “This is a recent addition to our staff,” he said with a smile. “He’s a wild one who can’t sit tight in the tea house. The official may have run into him in the past.”
The soldier cocked his head. That was a possibility. He let go of her arm and waved them away. “You can go now.”
Jun Huang only let herself relax after they left the city gate. She took off the straw hat, revealing her sweat-covered forehead. Nan Xun walked up to her. “Were you afraid?”
Jun Huang shook her head. “Not for myself, but I worried that I would expose the House of Heavenly Fiends. They had gone through many hardships to gain a foothold in Eastern Wu. I won’t forgive myself if their cover is blown because of me. I’m not a coward. If death comes, I’ll face it without fear. This is nothing in comparison.”
Nan Xun let out a long sigh. He took out a handkerchief to wipe her sweat for her. “If you can put aside your own safety, why must you put all this pressure on yourself?” he said after a moment of silence. “I know you’re a capable person, but I hope you won’t make everything your responsibility. You’re getting weaker. You should value yourself more.”
“I’ll have all the time in the world after getting my revenge,” Jun Huang said coldly. “If I let myself relax, all my hard work will be for nothing. If you know me at all, you should know I won’t let that happen.”
“You’re being unfair,” said Nan Xun. “Of course I know you. You’re trying to make me feel bad on purpose...”
Do you know that you’ll always be my priority? Nan Xun didn’t ask. This wasn’t the right time. It’d only be an added pressure on Jun Huang.
The man who had helped Jun Huang said that two horses had been prepared for them. It was time for them to depart. Jun Huang and Nan Xun bid the workers farewell. They then silently mounted their horses.
Eastern Wu was no place for them to linger. At night, they arrived at an inn. Nan Xun’s shadowguard appeared with a message.
They could tell immediately that something must have happened in the imperial city. The shadowguard was sent here on the emperor’s order. Something was wrong.
The shadowguard didn’t try to hide from Jun Huang. “The emperor put in an emergency order for you to return immediately, Your Highness.”
“Do you know the reason why?” Jun Huang asked bluntly.
The shadowguard deferred to Nan Xun, who gave him a nod. He thought for a moment before saying, “This subordinate doesn’t know the details, but the emperor seems to have gotten sick. That’s why he wants the prince to return at once.”
Jun Huang and Nan Xun exchanged a look. She fell silent. Nan Xun was in deep thoughts as well. After the guard had left, Nan Xun asked, “Do you think it’s true?”
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