Jun Huang thought he was overreacting, but Nan Xun disagreed. She knew he was afraid that something similar would happen again. To assure him, she let him do as he wished without complain.
However, she still ended up falling into a trap.
That day, Nan Xun had accompany Jun Huang on a walk. Under the summer sun, the city was even more beautiful. Jun Huang looked around, enjoying the view. He followed her with a faint smile at his lips.
Just when they were enjoying themselves, a shadow guard showed up suddenly and said, “Something went wrong on the training ground, Your Highness.”
They came to a halt. Nan Xun frowned. “What is it?”
The shadow guard explained. It turned out that two soldiers had gotten into a fight. It might seem like a trivial matter, but the two were both from important families and were sent to the troop to gain some experience. Nan Xun would be criticized if he let other people take care of the issue. It was best that he did it himself.
He knew what he should do, but Jun Huang had just started to have fun. He didn’t want to force her to go back to the manor. He hesitated.
Jun Huang could tell that the matter wasn’t as simple as it seemed. She looked at the shadow guard, then at a hesitant Nan Xun. He had more important things to take care of. “Go. I’ll return to the manor soon.”
“Don’t worry, they aren’t going to do anything in broad daylight,” she assured. “Besides, you’ve left a lot of guards with me. It’ll be fine.”
Nan Xun nodded after a short pause. “Don’t go anywhere people can’t see you, and don’t get too far away from the shadow guards. I’ll come back for you after taking care of the problem.”
Jun Huang nodded. Once Nan Xun left, she went back to strolling along the street.
Suddenly, a girl got hit by a coach. No one offered her a helping hand. Jun Huang didn’t make it a habit to get into other people’s business, but her breath hitched when she saw the little girl crying in pain. She couldn’t possibly watch and do nothing. She rushed to the girl.
“Are you alright?” She knelt down and reached out to help the girl, who looked up at her with big eyes brimming with tears. Jun Huang’s heart softened. She picked the girl up.
Suddenly, a burly man snuck up on her from behind and covered her nose and mouth with a handkerchief. Jun Huang wasn’t able to react in time with the girl in her arms. She knew what the smell was. She struggled but failed to break out of the man’s hold. In her fuzzy state, she let go of the girl and was thrown into the coach. The man drove the coach away at full speed.
The shadow guards’ line of sight had been obstructed by the coach. They only realized what had happened when the coach rushed away, leaving only the little girl on the street. The girl told them that Jun Huang had been knocked out and taken away. They ran after the coach.
The street was too crowded. The coach was able to force its way out, but the guards couldn’t. They tried their best to follow the coach. When they reached the city gate, though, they were stopped by the guards for a routine check. They were Nan Xun’s shadow guards. What they did would reflect back to their master. They had no choice but to comply. Once they were let go, the coach had already vanished.
From the way the man grabbed Jun Huang off the street, it was clear that the kidnapper was their enemy, and very likely Prince Duan. They went to find Nan Xun and admitted their mistakes. A city-wide search started.
Jun Huang was woken up when freezing water went into her nose and mouth, sending her into a coughing fit. Her head hurt. Her heart sank when she saw Qi Chen. She was more nervous now than she had been the last time Prince Duan grabbed her.
“Tell me, Feng Baiyu, when did you target me?” Qi Chen said through clenched teeth, his face red with rage. Life hadn’t been treating him well. He’d lost a lot of weight, giving him a ghoulish look. “Have you always planned to betray me, or were you coerced?”
Jun Huang wanted to lie, but Prince Duan was watching them from the dark. She had to be careful about what to say. She lowered her head, staring at the floor, trying to find the right words.
Her silence made Qi Chen furious. He kicked her, hard. She looked up at him with a pale but calm face, her thoughts indiscernible.
“This gentleman’s told Your Highness that Prince Nan saved me once. He only managed to rescue me. All my family has been murdered. I’ve always been thinking about taking revenge. I thought Your Highness would be the best candidate, but you have your ambition. You don’t have time for my revenge. Prince Nan knew of my trouble and helped me. I have to repay him for saving my life and fulfilling my goal.”
She kept her head low and her fists clenched tight, trembling as if she’d been reminded of her hatred and sorrow.
Qi Chen looked at her with narrowed eyes, his expression changing several times. “You’ve taken your revenge?” he asked in a cool voice. “And paid him back?”
Jun Huang frowned, wondering what Qi Chen was aiming for. She nodded.
Qi Chen broke into laughter. He bent down and grabbed Jun Huang’s chin, wrapping his mouth around every syllable as he said, “Since all your wishes have been granted, you can die now.”
Jun Huang widened her eyes in shock, which pleased Qi Chen. A peel of laughter left his mouth. He let go and looked down at her with his arms crossed.
He clapped his hands. A man carried in a censor filled with soil, protruding from which was an incense stick.
That was enough for Jun Huang to guess what Qi Chen was going to do. Cold sweat broke from the side of her face. She held her breath and looked at him frigidly, waiting for him to continue.
“I’m a sensible man who dislikes non-sensible killings,” he said at a deliberate slow speed, cackling at Jun Huang’s stilted expression. “You’ve always been smart. You should know what I’m planning to do - Run. Run for your life. Once the incense stick’s burned completely, I’ll send out my men to chase after you. What do you say?”
He wanted Jun Huang to feel desperate.
Jun Huang knew she must save herself. Qi Chen’s desires to torture her gave her a chance to live. She must seize it. She took a deep breath and let Qi Chen’s men pull her upright. Her hands were tied behind her back before she was shoved out of the door.
She quickly adjusted herself. She left the manor and surveyed the area. This place was completely foreign to her. She was on a broad street. On her left was a narrow path leading to the mountain. She knew that was her best chance of survival. Without hesitation, she ran in that direction.
The path was covered in dust. It went into her mouth whenever a wind blew. Jun Huang ignored her discomfort and tried her best to run up the hill. She knocked into a woman when she made a sharp turn.
Neither of them saw the other coming. They both fell to the ground.
The woman Jun Huang knocked into got to her feet first. Her eyebrows jumped up in surprise when she saw Jun Huang. Jun Huang stared at her owlishly. It was the girl she’d saved in Yun Town.
The girl hurriedly helped Jun Huang up. She frowned when she saw that her hands were tied up and untied her.
“Didn’t expect to run into you when I came to the mountain to gather herbs,” the girl said with a chuckle. “It must be fate.”
Jun Huang didn’t want other people to get hurt because of her. She told the girl about her situation and told her to leave, or she might be caught in the crossfire.
The girl paused. She looked down the mountain. So that was why Jun Huang had looked so anxious. She thought back to the graceful gentleman who’d saved her life. She couldn’t accept that fact that her rescuer was treated like this by a villain. “Please don’t turn me away. This woman may not be educated, but I know the importance of reciprocation. I cannot stay on the sideline when you’re in danger. I notice that we have similar form. Let us exchange our identities.”
“You mustn’t!” Jun Huang couldn’t let that happen. She waved a hand in denial. “It’s my burden. I can’t let you shoulder it for me. What I did last time was only a trivial matter. Please don’t think too much of it.”
“Do you think I’m not good enough to help you?” demanded the girl.
Jun Huang hurriedly explained, “This gentleman doesn’t mean it that way. I appreciate your offer, but I can’t - ”
“Then stop arguing. I’m familiar with the terrain here. I can flee from them. We don’t have a lot of time, honored gentleman. We have to do it now.”
She dragged Jun Huang forward, her grip tight due to years of manual labor. Jun Huang couldn’t break out of her hold. The girl knew that Jun Huang would try to lead the pursuers away even after they changed clothes. She hesitated for a brief moment before knocking Jun Huang out. She caught her and hid her in a hidden corner.
She took a deep breath. She could hear people coming this way. The clock was ticking. She disrobed Jun Huang and frowned when she realized that Jun Huang was a woman. She didn’t have time to dwell on the that, though. She exchanged their clothes and fixed Jun Huang’s shirt before running towards the source of the commotion.Previous Chapter Next Chapter