Jun Huang was getting antsy watching Nan Xun train. After a short break, she stood up and resumed her sword practice. She executed every move perfectly and smoothly. Nan Xun allowed himself to relax.
After a while, though, Jun Huang’s wrists gone weak and the sword flew out of her hand. She collapsed to the ground before she could call out a warning. Nan Xun had been keeping an eye on her; he noticed the sword immediately. With a frown, he took a side step and caught the sword by its hilt. He then rushed to her side and picked her up, carrying her to her bedroom.
Jun Huang woke up after some time. When she opened her eyes, Nan Xun was looking at her with worried eyes. Warmth bloomed within her chest. She’d grown to love the peace and serenity of a life with him. Her heart went soft every time she woke up to him by her side.
Nan Xun loved being able to see her every day. It warmed his heart to imagine spending his life with her.
The moment of peace didn’t last. Nan Xun sighed in relief once she woke up and asked, “What’s going on with your health?”
Jun Huang felt embarrassed when she thought about what had happened during the morning training. She looked away with her head lowered.
Nan Xun refused to let it go. He repeated his question again.
He wouldn’t give up until he got an answer. Jun Huang couldn’t stay silent forever. She told him that she hadn’t been sleeping well, but she wasn’t sure if that was the source of the problem.
She wasn’t too worried about herself, but Nan Xun thought otherwise. He wanted to send for a doctor. She didn’t let him.
“This is a critical time. Everything we do is under scrutiny. I’m fine. I’ll recover after a few days of resting. Our effort will be in vain if something go wrong on our side. That’s the last thing I want.”
Her tone was distant and her eyes were cool as they settled on Nan Xun. There was something about her gaze that compelled him to do as she said.
He sighed and stopped arguing with her.
They spent the next few days together day and night. Since Jun Huang’s wasn’t in a good condition, Nan Xun stopped asking her to train with him at dawn. He told her to get more rest.
Every morning after training, he’d told the cooks to make a bowl of plain congee and put supplementary medicine in it.
Time passed slowly, but Nan Xun didn’t find such a life boring. Living together with Jun Huang made him feel as if they had been married for a long time. It filled his heart with uncharacteristic glee. This was the kind of life he yearned for. He didn’t want to go back to the cold and monotonous life he had been living.
Jun Huang could see that his eyes had gone even softer when he looked at her. She didn’t point it out. She was often quiet when they were together, but there was usually a smile tugging at her lips. They read books in the garden together and appreciated the flowers together. Life couldn’t be better.
She recovered under Nan Xun’s attentive care. She got more clear-headed as well. He relaxed somewhat.
There was a storm brewing in the imperial court. Jun Huang’s manor was the only patch of peaceful land in the city. There were people who came to seek out Nan Xun, but they were turned away by his subordinates. His subordinates would tell him what those people were here for after Nan Xun retired to his room.
Nan Xun would give the people who sought him out some consideration, but he never paid them too much attention. This was a rare chance for him to stay with Jun Huang. He didn’t want it to go to waste.
Today, Jun Huang and Nan Xun were again in the garden enjoying the sight of the flowers. Many of them had bloomed recently. The warm weather was perfect for the butterflies to come out and dance around the flowers.
Jun Huang’s eyes were soft, and her lips curved into a faint smile. Nan Xun watched her quietly with a loving expression.
The housekeeper of Prince Chen Manor spotted them from afar. He didn’t want to interrupt their peace, but he had a message for Jun Huang. He reluctantly approached them.
“Gentleman Feng,” he called out with an apologetic smile.
Jun Huang turned around and saw him. She glanced at Nan Xun before giving the housekeeper a smile and asked quietly, “What is the housekeeper here for?”
The housekeeper snuck a glance at Nan Xun before answering, “The prince has invited the gentleman to the manor for a talk.”
Jun Huang arched an eyebrow. There must be something more to it. She had a feeling this was a conversation she shouldn’t miss. She turned to Nan Xun and said, “I’ll be back soon.”
Nan Xun was worried that something might happen if she went alone. “I’ll go with you.”
She shook her head. “There’s no need. You should do what you need to do.”
She followed the housekeeper to the crown prince’s manor. She had a lot of questions, but she knew she shouldn’t ask the housekeeper. They were outside, and the housekeeper had come to get her personally. This was bigger than she thought.
They made their way to the crown prince’s manor in silence. There were a lot more guards outside than usual. That gave her some ideas about what was happening.
Someone important must have come to the manor. She wondered if it was the one she expected it to be.
They walked through the winding hallway to the study. Qi Chen was the only one inside. She looked at him curiously and wondered what Qi Chen was planning. She knew it’d be unwise for her to voice her questions. She greeted him with a smile. “What has Your Highness summoned me on such short notice for?”
“I’ve heard about what happened last time,” Qi Chen said worriedly, not responding to her question. “What a hateful man he is! Don’t worry, Brother Feng. I’ve talked to those in the Court of Judicial Review. We’ll give him the punishment he deserves.”
Jun Huang snorted silently, keeping up a calm face as she looked up at him. “Thank you, Your Highness.”
Noticing her sickly look, Qi Chen invited her to sit down and poured her a cup of tea. “Those loyal to the third prince have been getting more and more infuriating. They went against me in the court openly. Royal Father insisted on staying neutral and never intervened. I believe that it’s high time we get rid of the third prince. He’s crossed a line. I ask you here to discuss how we should take him out.”
Jun Huang had an idea about what Qi Chen was going to do, but she didn’t expect him to be this impatient. The third prince did have to be taken care of. Even if Qi Chen hadn’t brought it up, she’d do it herself. Now that Qi Chen had brought it up, she could just follow his lead.
She nodded. “Your Highness is right. However, the third prince isn’t as easy to deal with as we expected. We should be cautious and come up with a plan first.‘
“The gentleman is overly cautious,” another man said. Jun Huang widened her eyes slightly. Qi Chen calmly walked behind the screen and led the man - Prince Duan - out.
Jun Huang stood up and came up to Prince Duan with her hands cupped. She didn’t even have the time to be shocked. “This gentleman Feng Baiyu greets Your Highness Prince Duan.”
Prince Duan waved a hand in the air, indicating her to stop with the formalities. He took a seat and continued, “The third prince possessed courage but not intellect. He was able to get to this point only because there was a wise man helping him.”
“Your Highness is right,” Jun Huang said, considering Prince Duan from the corner of her eye. “Many people in the imperial city invite guests to their manor to make plans for them. It’s no surprise that the third prince has done the same.”
Prince Duan scoffed. “It’d be a woeful underestimation to call him a guest.”
Jun Huang’s heart sank. She knew she must stay calm. She played ignorant and asked in a surprised tone, “Does Your Highness know who the person assisting the third prince is?”
“It’s Ji Bo.”
“The wise Ji Bo?” Qi Chen asked with a shocked expression.
Prince Duan nodded without a word and let Qi Chen digest the information. Qi Chen too thought that someone reckless like the third prince shouldn’t be able to stir up such a big trouble. There must be something or someone that gave the third prince the confidence to go against him. He was hesitant to accept Ji Bo as the answer. Ji Bo was someone who never got involved in conflicts in the court.
“I don’t know how the third prince recruited Ji Bo, but I’m sure that Ji Bo is living in his manor,” Prince Duan said cooly. “It doesn’t matter if we take out the third prince. As long as mister Ji Bo is out of the picture, so will the prince.”
Qi Chen nodded in agreement.
Jun Huang’s heart jumped to her throat. Her expression didn’t betray her emotions, but her palms were covered in sweat.
After the discussion, Prince Duan turned to Jun Huang with sharp eyes. Jun Huang averted her gaze.
“What do you think, Gentleman Feng?” asked Prince Duan.
“Well...” She took a deep breath to calm herself and put on a smile. “Your Highness may not know that many strategists consider Mister Ji Bo a role model. He’s one of the most talented man of this generation. This gentleman naturally admires him greatly as well, and would like to make his acquaintance. I didn’t expect him to come to the imperial city. Your Highness and the crown prince are right, but this gentleman believes that it’ll be even better if we can get Mister Ji Bo to join our side.”
Her arguments were solid, but her heart refused to settle down. There was something odd about the way Prince Duan was looking at her.
Qi Chen didn’t notice anything wrong. He introduced her to Prince Duan with great seriousness and told Prince Duan how much she’d helped him.
Prince Duan nodded. “It’s natural to appreciate a great talent. However, Gentleman Feng should give up on convincing us. Ji Bo joined the wrong side in the beginning, which tells us he’s not that good of a judge of character. Why would we recruit him? Gentleman Feng is a smart man. You should know what the right thing to do is.”
Cold sweat streamed down the side of her face. She inhaled deeply and smiled. “Your Highness is right. This gentleman knows what needs to be done.”
Her robe was drenched by her sweat. She could tell that Prince Duan wasn’t someone easily cheated. She must lay low for the time being.
She returned to her manor. Nan Xun noticed how drained she looked. He went up to her and asked, “What happened?‘
“As we predicted, Prince Duan is the one who’s been supporting Qi Chen,” she said after making sure they were alone.
Nan Xun widened his eyes slightly. “Are you certain?”
Jun Huang nodded and told him everything that had happened in the crown prince’s manor. Nan Xun was silent for a moment.
“You’ll have to be careful,” he said. “Prince Duan isn’t our usual enemy.”
Jun Huang made a sound of assent.Previous Chapter Next Chapter