Only then did Qi Yun realize that something was wrong. He rushed to the south wing with a group of people in tow and opened the door, only to find the room empty. Panic rose from his heart. He forced himself to calm down, but then he stepped on a dagger on the floor. It was a clear warning sign. He tried not to jump to conclusions.
Taking a calming breath, he turned to Little Girl and said, “Perhaps she’s left early. Go to Prince Nan Manor to check if she’s there. I’ll keep looking.”
Little Girl nodded and hurried away immediately. She happened to run into Nan Xun at the door to his manor. He was about to leave for work. He looked at her with a frown. “Why are you in such a rush? Has something happened?”
“Your Highness, Gentleman Feng has disappeared,” Little Girl said with her eyes fixed on Nan Xun once she could finally breathe. “Prince Qi Yun is looking around the manor. I came to check if Gentleman Feng’s here.”
Nan Xun’s face fell. Clearly Jun Huang wasn’t here. Nan Xun dragged Little Girl back to Jun Huang’s manor with a dark expression. She could only try her best to catch up, too afraid to say anything.
Once they arrived, Nan Xun grabbed Qi Yun by the collar, his eyes frosty. “What the hell were you doing? Do you remember what you’ve said? You better pray that she’s alright. If anything happens to her, I won’t go easy on you.”
Qi Yun knew he’d made a mistake last night. He didn’t know what to say. He could only let Nan Xun take his anger out on him. “I know it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have driven your guard away. None of us expected her to disappear suddenly. There were no warning signs! If I knew, I wouldn’t - ”
“Enough! She better be alright.” Nan Xun dropped Qi Yun with a scowl. Qi Yun had a matching expression on his face. No one had ever treated him like this, but he was in no place to defend himself. He was at fault.
After a long time, he took a deep breath and said, “We have to find her as soon as possible. I don’t know what happened, but my instinct told me she was kidnapped.”
Despite his anger, Nan Xun knew their priority now was to find Jun Huang. The rest could wait.
They looked around Jun Huang’s bedroom. Eventually Nan Xun found a token outside the window. His mood took a further downturn. Qi Yun’s face clouded as well.
Nan Xun and Qi Yun had both planted people in Qi Chen’s circle before, so they knew the token was given to Qi Chen’s confidantes. It wasn’t difficult to deduce what had happened for the token to be dropped here.
Qi Yun was tormented with guilt. He knew this wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t driven Nan Xun’s shadow guard away. His jealousy created an opening for the villainous prince to exploit. Jun Huang had thus fallen into Qi Chen’s hand. Everyone knew how much he hated her. Qi Yun didn’t dare even think about how she was.
His eyes went red as he silently cursed at himself. Despite his disappointment, Nan Xun wasn’t cruel enough to put him down now. He sighed.
“We know who took her,” Nan Xun said after some musing. “Don’t panic. We’ll go to Prince Duan’s manor and ask for her.”
Qi Yun couldn’t stand waiting any longer, but he didn’t want to appear childish before Nan Xun, and he thought it would be reckless of them to barge into Prince Duan’s place. Now that Nan Xun had brought the idea up, he nodded earnestly. “Alright, let’s go.”
Nan Xun sighed. He knew they had to be calm. They didn’t know what Prince Duan was trying to do or how Jun Huang was. The only thing they knew was this was a malicious attack.
Nan Xun and Qi Yun made their way to Prince Duan’s manor with an entourage without even attempting to put up a front. Nan Xun wanted to get Jun Huang back as soon as he could. He wasn’t in the mood to think about anything else.
Prince Duan was surprised to see Nan Xun and Qi Yun here. Why would they suddenly visit together? He didn’t become the imperial prince without knowing how to deal with surprises, however. He sent a few servants to lead them in while he watched them in the dark.
Nan Xun had hidden his emotions well. His eyes were cold, but that was the extent of his tell. Qi Yun, on the other hand, kept fidgeting. He was clearly anxious about something.
When he’d gathered enough information, Prince Duan walked up to them and put on a fake smile. “Gentlemen, what can I help you with?”
Nan Xun frowned slightly. Before Qi Yun could say a word, he stepped before the prince and smiled. “Sorry for the intrusion. To be honest with Your Highness, I’ve lost a great treasure from my manor. Do you know anything about that?”
Prince Duan arched an eyebrow. “Oh? What is this treasure you’re talking about? I’ve never even heard of it. Why would you think I’ve seen it anywhere?”
Nan Xun considered him carefully. Prince Duan allowed the scrutiny. He had nothing to hide.
He stilled when he saw the token Nan Xun took out. Of course he recognized it. He didn’t need Nan Xun’s explanation to come to the conclusion. A myriad of emotions flashed through his face. He pushed aside his agitation. “What is it you’re missing?”
“It’s not an object, but a person - Feng Baiyu,” Nan Xun said with an eyebrow raised. “You don’t know anything, do you?”
Prince Duan nodded and sighed. For the first time ever, he took a deferential stance before the two princes and said, “Leave it to me. I’ll give you what you ask for. If Qi Chen has taken him, I’ll have him return Feng Baiyu to you unharmed.”
Nan Xun and Qi Yun exchanged a glance. There was no reason for Prince Duan to lie to them now. After some deliberation, Nan Xun nodded and bid the man farewell.
Qi Yun was still worried. Prince Duan was far from an honest man. “Are we going to just leave?”
“What else should we do?” Nan Xun glanced at him.
“Jun Huang’s still in their hands. What if something happens to her?”
Nan Xun came to a halt and looked back at Qi Yun. In the end, he decided to explain the situation. “It’s clear that Prince Duan didn’t know Jun Huang was taken. Now he knows Qi Chen was the one who did it. He’s agreed to give us Jun Huang, and he will. He knows better than anyone it’ll do more harm than good for him to clash with us now. A shrewd man like him isn’t going to make such a careless mistake.”
Qi Yun relaxed somewhat. He knew Nan Xun wouldn’t risk Jun Huang’s life for anything. There was no reason for him to doubt Nan Xun’s words.
Prince Duan had a grave expression on his face after seeing Nan Xun and Qi Yun off. The servants gave him a wide berth and tried not to draw any attention. The main hall was silent enough for one to hear a needle drop.
After a while, Prince Duan sent a servant to find Qi Chen. Qi Chen didn’t know why his father would ask for him. He’d been in a good mood after taking Jun Huang. He didn’t notice anything unusual when he entered the main hall save for Prince Duan being more silent than usual. He asked the older man what was wrong.
Prince Duan’s fury burned hotter seeing his careless attitude, but he forced himself to calm down. “Do you even know our priorities? It’s not the time to provoke Nan Xun! Do you think he’s just for show? Don’t you know how many soldiers he has under his control? Why do you never learn about what you should and shouldn’t do?!”
Qi Chen quickly figured out what Prince Duan had asked him to come for. He scoffed. “So what? Why should I be afraid of him?”
“I don’t want to waste my time on you. Return Feng Baiyu to Nan Xun and we’ll consider this behind us. If you insist on being stubborn - ”
“What if I keep him?” Qi Chen growled with his eyes dark and his face twisted. “I’ve gone to great length to take him. I’m not going to let him go. Nan Xun won’t dare do anything when he’s under my control.”
Prince Duan didn’t expect his son to be this blind to the big picture. He slapped him hard, lashing out at him for being nothing but a troublemaker. Despite his fall from grace, Qi Chen had once been a prince looking down on many others. He couldn’t take the verbal abuse.
However, Prince Duan was his only support now. A fallout would do him no good. He threw Prince Duan a glare and stormed out of the manor.
He made his way to where he was keeping Jun Huang and entered the room. The place had been dormant for a good while. The motion of him opening the door brought dust into the air. Jun Huang, who’d been resting, opened her eyes. She was surprised to see Qi Chen. She didn’t know how she should think when she saw the handprint on his face.
Qi Chen closed the door behind him and sat down on the floor, scoffing at himself. “Say, am I really that incompetent?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter