Ji Bo ignored her accusation and looked down at her with pity. Once she had calmed somewhat, he continued, “I told you the truth not so you could blame me. I’m warning you to not repeat your mother’s mistakes. I was willing to kill my sister for my goal. I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to you.”
“Don’t worry though. I want you to help me conquer the world and rebuild Tianyu. Do you remember asking me what my ideal world is like? I’ll tell you now. It’s a world where the countries have united, and Tianyu is restored to its past glory.”
Jun Huang’s head hurt, her eyes unfocused. She’d heard Ji Bo’s words, but they didn’t register. On one hand, she thought him was delusional. On the other hand, she had a feeling that Ji Bo was telling the truth. He didn’t have a reason to lie to her.
Ji Bo’s heart clenched. He wiped her tears away, his voice thick with sympathy. “Jun Hao is safe, Jun Huang. I’m not going to do anything to him. I’m his uncle. And he’s going to be the new emperor of Tianyu. Why would I want to hurt him?”
Jun Huang laughed, the sound cold and quiet, but dripping with sarcasm. She looked up at Ji Bo and uttered her words like a sigh. “What wouldn’t you do? You were willing to kill your sister due to your hatred. You used me as bait to exact revenge against Western Que and left me with no place to call home. You don’t want to hurt him? What a joke! You only keep him alive because he has value to you. There’s nothing you wouldn’t do!”
“Your plan to rebuild is but a pipe dream! Who do you think you are? Do you think you can get everyone to do your bidding?” Her words hit him hard. Jun Huang didn’t think she’d said anything wrong. Ji Bo was too obsessed with rebuilding a nation that had been long lost.
Ji Bo couldn’t help the anger rising in his heart. How dared she criticized the revenge plan he’d spent years executing? He gritted his teeth to control his fury, but as soon as he saw Jun Huang’s face, he was reminded of what his sister had said to him.
“Why must we live in torment? Our nation has been destroyed. Revenge isn’t going to bring it back. Even if you do rebuild it, it wouldn’t be our Tianyu. Give up, my dear brother. Don’t let hatred consume you.”
His sister looked at him with pity in her eyes, as if he was a man on his deathbed.
“Tianyu isn’t doomed. You are!” Ji Bo had growled. “You’re a descendent of Tianyu, and yet you betray it. You just want to be with that man! Will he still love you if he knows you were from Tianyu? No, he won’t. He will kill you himself. He’s not going to allow a potential threat to live on...”
Ji Bo broke out of his trance to see Jun Huang’s cold eyes. The way she looked at him was different from his sister’s gentle gaze, but it made him breathless all the same. Ji Bo grabbed her collar and forced her to meet his eyes.
“It’s our duty as Tianyu’s descendents to rebuild it,” he said through gritted teeth. “That’s your fate. How can you discard it for a man?”
Jun Huang stared at him like he’d lost his mind, her brows furrowed in discomfort. “You keep saying that I am a descendent of Tianyu, but why should I believe you? You stubbornly drag everyone down so that they’d suffer like you have. Is that what you call revenge?”
Ji Bo slapped her across the face, hard enough to make her head ring. He was convinced that Jun Huang had refused to join him because of Nan Xun, which stoked the fury in his heart. “You’re going to rebuild Tianyu with me. You will not side with Nan Xun.”
“What does that have to do with you?” Jun Huang exclaimed. “We’re strangers! My personal affairs are none of your business. You’ve been living in the past. Tianyu was destroyed a long, long time ago. There’s no rebuilding it. You’re deluding yourself by thinking there’s any chance...”
Her frigid voice prompted him to clutched at her collar like a man possessed. His body trembled and his breaths grew shallow.
He dropped Jun Huang to the floor and took out a ceramic bottle. Jun Huang picked herself up. Her heart sank when she got a good look at it.
“What… what are you doing?” Her face was pale as she moved back, trying to get away from Ji Bo.
There was no sign of recognition behind his eyes. He grabbed her robe and forced her to drink the liquid.
Jun Huang didn’t know what it was, but she knew she couldn’t let Ji Bo get what he wanted. She struggled with all the force she could muster.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t as strong as he was. It didn’t take much for Ji Bo to overpower her and pinned her to the floor.
Ji Bo laughed maniacally and tried to pour the liquid into her mouth. Jun Huang did her best to move away.
Enraged, he slapped her and kept her head still by grabbing her chin. Jun Huang was about ready to give up on any hope.
Nan Xun’s voice was the last thing she heard before her vision went dark.
When Nan Xun kicked the door open, a hysterical Ji Bo was holding Jun Huang down. Ji Bo had heard the thud. He knew he had to live to fulfill his goal. He dropped the bottle and rushed to the window.
“I’ll make you pay!” With those parting words, he climbed out and jumped.
Nan Xun made a gesture at the lead shadowguard, who immediately took a team to pursue Ji Bo. Nan Xun hurried to Jun Huang’s side and picked her up.
She seemed so very breakable at this moment. Nan Xun didn’t even dare feel her breaths, worried that she was already gone. His fear was heartbreaking to witness.
“Your Highness,” a guard spoke up. “Let’s take her back to the manor.”
Nan Xun nodded belatedly and carried Jun Huang back to the manor, seeking the poison master.
Oleg Cragfiend knew what had happened, but he didn’t expect Jun Huang to collapse again. He had Nan Xun put her on the bed before taking her pulse.
Oelg Cragfiend frowned. “Poison.”
Nan Xun’s heart sank. Now he knew what Ji Bo had given Jun Huang. He handed the bottle to Oleg Cragfiend.
The old man studied the residue, his frown deepened. “It’s a secret formula from the last dynasty. There’s no known cure.”
“What do we do? Is there no way to help her?” Nan Xun panicked, his forehead covered in sweat. It pained him to see her lying pale and weak on the bed again.
Oleg Cragfiend waved a hand. “She hasn’t gotten too much poison in her. There’s no record of a cure, but there must be one. I’ll study the poison and try to find a cure.”
Nan Xun let out a sigh of relief.
Noticing the flutter of Jun Huagn’s eyelashes, he pushed all his thoughts aside and hurriedly helped her sit up.
She remembered everything up until she fainted. Oleg Cragfiend’s and Nan Xun’s expressions further cemented her speculation. “Am I poisoned again?”
She would know the truth one way or another. Nan Xun told her what the poison master had said.
Jun Huang slumped down in despair. Ji Bo claimed to be her uncle, and yet he tried to murder her. It tore at her heart.
‘He’s supposed to be my family,” Jun Huang said with a bitter smile. “And yet he wants me dead. I might as well grant him his wish.”
Nan Xun rushed to pull Jun Huang into his arms. “How can you say that? Don’t forget about me. If I’m not a good enough reason for you to live, think about Jun Hao. You must pick yourself up. Don’t let Jun Hao fall into the hands of a mad man.”
Jun Huang calmed down eventually. She told Nan Xun everything Ji Bo had told her. Nan Xun didn’t immediately react. After a moment of silence, he assigned his men to investigate.
Nan Xun told Jun Huang to rest. He’d take care of the rest.
Jun Huang couldn’t relax when her brother was still at large. If she hadn’t let Jun Hao go outside, he wouldn’t have been captured by Ji Bo. It was her fault.
Nan Xun knew she would blame herself. He couldn’t offer her anything but comfort. “Ji Bo had been playing the role of our ally for so long. He’s a shrewd man. He wouldn’t stop until he reaches his goal. Even if you hadn’t let Jun Hao leave your sight, Ji Bo would’ve found another way.”
Jun Huang inhaled deeply and looked away. Nan Xun sighed. He knew Jun Huang wouldn’t listen. It made him feel helpless.
“I’m fine. I’m going to sleep.” Jun Huang’s voice was quiet, but her message was clear. She was still beating herself up, and didn’t want him to witness her moment of weakness. He reminded her not to overthink again before leaving.
The lead shadowguard was waiting outside when Nan Xun walked out of the door. He frowned and closed the door behind him. They made their way to another room.
“How did it go?” Nan Xun sat down on a chair and asked, looking up at the shadowguard.
The shadowguard kept his head low. “The man is cunning. He must have foreseen the need for a quick escape. There’s a secret tunnel around the manor. We followed him in but lost track of him. When we reached the exit of the tunnel, it’d been destroyed and blocked.”
Nan Xun’s frown deepened. He didn’t expect the level of thought Ji Bo had put into his plan, which allowed the man to flee successfully. He tightened his grip around his cup of tea.
“We were in a rush to leave. Have you returned to the manor and looked for Jun Hao?”
“We did, but no one was there,” admitted the shadowguard. “They must have moved beforehand.”
Nan Xun couldn’t contain his fury. He threw the tea cup to the floor, which shattered and splattered shards of ceramic everywhere. No one even batted an eye.