Nan Xun didn’t notice Jun Huang’s reaction. He stared intently at the guards passing through and only relaxed after they were out of their view. He softened when he noticed the nervousness in Jun Huang’s eyes.
“Scared?” he croaked. Jun Huang shook her head awkwardly and pulled away from his hand.
Nan Xun pursed his lips, realizing how inappropriate his action had been. Jun Huang had lost her memory. She remembered nothing about their relationship. It only made sense for her to be caught off guard by what he did.
He helped her up and whispered, “Follow me closely. We must leave before the next group of patrols come.”
Jun Huang nodded and followed him to the wall. Nan Xun helped her to the other side before vaulting over himself. They relaxed after they’d gotten away from the manor. Nan Xun didn’t realize that he was sweating. Jun Huang took note of it and reached for her handkerchief, but thought better of it, worried that Nan Xun would find that inappropriate.
They soon reached a clinic near the city gate. Being so close to the gate, both Jun Huang and Nan Xun were worried about alerting the guards standing watch. Nan Xun wasn’t supposed to be here, and Jun Huang was now playing the role of the Grand Chancellor’s daughter, which meant she shouldn’t be running around in public.
Nan Xun told her to wait for him in the alleyway. He smoothed out his stealth clothes and walked up to the door to the clinic, tapping out a series of code. Soon, footsteps could be heard approaching. The door opened, revealing a grey-haired old man with a robe around his shoulders. He looked at Nan Xun with a smile.
“Come in,” said the old man, his voice matching his age, and the years leaving deep wrinkles on his face. There was something creepy about the way he looked at night, but Nan Xun didn’t notice anything wrong. He nodded and beckoned Jun Huang over.
She took a deep breath and entered the room. The old man shut the door behind them and invited Jun Huang to take a seat. He sat down across from her, reaching out to take her pulse.
“What’s wrong with her, doctor?” Nan Xun asked nervously at the old man’s hesitant expression.
The old man sighed. “To be honest with you, I didn’t find anything wrong with her. I can tell she’s recovered from a serious ailment.”
Nan Xun paused, feeling both relieved and worried. He didn’t know if that counted as good news or bad news. The trip had been all for nothing, and they were back at square one in terms of figuring out what the Grand Chancellor’s family was trying to do.
After bidding the old man farewell, Nan Xun led Jun Huang back to the manor. It was late, but the street wasn’t completely empty. Drunken scions could be seen wobbling towards their homes with the help of their friends.
Jun Huang’s hair flew and tangled in the air, swept up by the wind. She maintained a steady pace, unfazed by what had happened. Nan Xun stayed shoulder to shoulder with her, walking at the same pace as her. She cast her eyes downward at the road. Her dress moved as she walked.
Nan Xun couldn’t stand the silence anymore. When no one was around, he said, “I’ll take you back to the manor. You’re still easily exhausted. It won’t do you any good to run around with me. It’s better for you to stay in the Grand Chancellor’s manor for the time being. I’ll look for your master. Perhaps he’ll be able to answer our questions.”
Jun Huang stopped to look at him and finally nodded. “Don’t worry. Yin Yun will be protecting me in secret. And people in the manor aren’t going to hurt me just yet.” Her voice grew quiet as she muttered, “Just don’t take too long before you come back for me.”
Her words were so faint it was as if they would be scattered by a slight breeze. Nan Xun couldn’t be more pleased by her request. He wanted nothing more than to hold her.
He reached out for her, but she took a step back before he could touch her, her eyes growing distant. “Let’s return.”
It pained Nan Xun to see her being so distant. He knew why Jun Huang acted the way she did, but he couldn’t help being frustrated.
It had taken a long time for him to get her to open up, to break her cold mask, to make her fall in love with him. Although Jun Huang was never particularly passionate even after they got together, she hadn’t been so cold to him for a long time.
Jun Huang didn’t miss the flash of sadness in his eyes, but she pretended to not see it. She continued to walk with a polite smile.
Soon, they reached the manor. Nan Xun sighed and took Jun Huang to the other side of the wall. They avoided the guards and returned to Jun Huang’s room.
Nan Xun pulled away before Jun Huang did, which surprised her. She looked up at him questioningly. He paused and finally said, “Take care of myself. Always, always put your safety first. Don’t get reckless. I’ll take my leave now.”
He vanished into the night.
Jun Huang stared at the direction he’d left in. Finally, she quirked a smile and retired to her bed.
After that, Jun Huang played the ignorant young woman in the Grand Chancellor’s manor. Her good looks helped, and her naturally calm eyes didn’t hurt. The mistress had suspected Jun Huang of having found out the truth, but the way she acted later told her otherwise. Jun Huang managed to deceive the mistress.
Nan Xun had been in a dark mood since he left Jun Huang. There was nothing he wanted more than to take Jun Huang away and never return. However, there was no place for selfish desires in the current world. Everyone was part of the chess game. No one could stay out of the impending storm.
He’d stayed near the manor to make sure Jun Huang wasn’t in any danger before he left to seek out Oleg Cragfiend. Due to his suspicion of the House of Heavenly Fiends, he assigned his own men to look for the poison master. He also ordered a few men to keep an eye on the organization.
If dangers were inevitable, it was best to get prepared. Then he’d be able to react quickly.
His shadowguard soon returned with news. He said the last time Oleg Cragfiend had been seen was in Southern Mu. Without hesitation, he got on his horse and rode.
Instead of starting searching immediately, Nan Xun entered the palace as a delegate and requested an audience with Nan Jihan. The eunuch had doubts, but he told Nan Jihan about Nan Xun’s arrival.
Nan Jihan had always been jealous of Nan Xun. Jun Huang refused to stay with him, and yet Nan Xun had won her over so easily. He would love to just kick Nan Xun out, but he wasn’t foolish enough to do that. He took a deep breath to calm himself before letting Nan Xun in.
“What is Prince Nan here for this time?” Nan Jihan asked frivolously, supporting his chin with a hand as he stared at Nan Xun. “Here to brag about her chasing after you? Do you think I don’t know what you’ve put her through?”
He scoffed. “She hid the fact that she’d gone blind because of the poison so that you wouldn’t feel guilty. She ran after you right after her poison was cleansed. What have you done for her other than being a burden to her, forcing her to come up with plans for you?”
“And now she’s hurt again. Can you protect her or not? If you can’t, you should leave her be. Don’t get her in any more trouble!”
Nan Jihan hadn’t planned to get physical, but he got angrier as he spoke. He rose to his feet and grabbed Nan Xun by the collar, glaring at him.
Nan Xun wasn’t in a good state. He felt even more guilty hearing that Jun Huang had hidden her temporary blindness from him and insisted on writing him letters. However, Nan Jihan was in no place to question him or tell him to give up. He would make amends to Jun Huang after things were settled. Anything she wanted, he’d give.
Still, he had to control his temper since he was the one asking for help here. He gritted his teeth and swallowed his words. Nan Jihan felt as if he was hitting a ball of wool.
He took a deep breath and let go of Nan Xun, raising an eyebrow. “What? Did I say anything wrong?”
After a long pause, Nan Xun finally said, “I don’t care if you want to insult me or hit me. It’s about her safety. I hope you’ll push aside your grievances and help me.”
Nan Jihan stared at the general. He didn’t expect the infailable fighter in war to lower his pride for the woman he loved, asking for help from a once rival.
Nan Jihan was no saint, but he wasn’t completely cold-blooded. His throat felt tight at Nan Xun’s show of weakness. He closed his eyes and looked up at Nan Xun, shaking his head. “I’d help if I could, but Oleg Cragfiend has left Southern Mu. I don’t know where he is now.”