Chapter 16: Itching Powder
Qi Yin’s face wasn’t spared the reaction, so unintentionally, the crown prince’s face was criss-crossed with bloody welts as well.
In the Prince Nan residence, Nan Xun was quietly painting by himself in his study. A guard walked in to report, “Your Highness, Miss Shangguan has sent someone to say that the crown prince matter has been handled appropriately.”
“Oh? How so?” Nan Xun responded carelessly, without lifting his head. He wanted to know exactly how Qi Yin had suffered bodily harm.
The guard did his best to stifle a smile as he continued, “When Miss Shangguan entered the palace to pay respects to the empress, she had her maid bribe one of the palace maids to scatter itching powder inside the clothes that Consort Ping dispatched to the crown prince. The crown prince has probably scratched himself bloody by now!”
“Hahaha… Miss Shangguan had a marvelous plan indeed. The crown prince is in for it this time. It’s likely the first time he’s felt the pain of being unable to voice an indiscretion, and no place to vent his grievances!”
“We have also received word that he showed favor to a serving girl, so the two of them should be suffering the same symptoms at the moment.”
Although Nan Xun felt that to be a delightful outcome, he still wanted to make further use of the rumors that Qi Yin wasn’t man enough. “Is that so?” He’s certainly in good spirits to want to roll in the sheets with a serving girl after being grounded! You’re having a grand time, Your Highness!
In the Prince Chen Manor, Qi Chen had just risen when the servants reported news that Sir Feng had been attacked by assassins during the night and had been injured. The news badly startled him, but his surprise quickly gave way to fiery wrath. “The manor’s security is particularly heavy, how could assassins have slipped past?! Investigate this well and find the hole in our security!”
Assassins skilled enough to slip into the Prince Chen Manor would not be ordinary characters, and by extension, their patron was likely equally uncommon.
“Your Highness, I’m afraid that there’s no way to investigate this. The assassin who attacked Sir Feng also died last night.”
“Well, well we can’t have Sir Feng just suffer this blow!” Qi Chen slammed his hand down hard on the side of the bed. Without a doubt, this was an added debt on Qi Yin’s head. Qi Chen sat there silently for a while before summoning a serving girl, intent on paying a visit to Jun Huang’s house after dressing himself.
Jun Huang was sitting in front of the desk, her left arm already dressed and bandaged. Her head was low, gaze fixed on a point on the table as she carefully went over the events of the previous night. She’d picked up the sword after the assassin’s death and drawn it down her left arm before letting it clatter to the ground. Grasping her arm tightly, she’d then called for the Prince Chen manor guards and had them take care of the assassin.
Qi Chen arrived just as she was deep in her recollection. She could hear his scattered footsteps before he even walked in. When the prince failed to glimpse Jun Huang on the bed, he called out softly, “Sir Feng, Brother Feng…”
It was then that Jun Huang lifted her head and put on an unconcerned smile, “Your Highness, I’m over here.”
When Qi Chen looked over, the first thing he noticed was Jun Huang’s bandages. “I heard that you were attacked last night and injured. I wanted to see how you were.”
“It’s but a small injury, Your Highness. It won’t prove to be a big hindrance. There’s no need for Your Highness to be so worried. However, when the assassin came in, he actually mistook me for you. I’m afraid that the person who sent him must be a fearful character…” Jun Huang looked at her left arm after speaking, reminding Qi Chen that the assassin had come to kill him.
“Brother Feng is quite loyal to this prince. You have suffered this injury for me, and I shall remember this dearly.” Qi Chen turned back to bark an order, “This prince has words for Sir Feng. You are all dismissed.”
“This is but a small matter, Your Highness. Not at all worth mentioning.” Jun Huang gracefully took her seat again when the servants had all left. She took the opportunity to pour Qi Chen a cup of water.
“It looks like this prince needs to arrange some guards for you after this matter, so that I may keep you safe and sound.” Qi Chen mused as he sipped on the proffered cup.
Jun Huang decided to press her advantage when she saw how worried Qi Chen looked. “Guards? It could be that mere guards won’t be enough. Who does Your Highness think sent the assassin?” She couldn’t be too obvious. What she wanted was more than just a few bodyguards. She wanted power.
“I too would like to know. This matter can’t be this simple. However, the assassin is dead and we have no leads. But don’t worry, Brother Feng. I won’t let you suffer this for nothing.”
Qi Chen’s title of ‘Brother Feng’ gave Jun Huang a great excuse. After all, she couldn’t remain idle by his side. How would she gain any benefits otherwise? “What does Brother Qi seek to do?”
A mysterious smile appeared on Qi Chen’s face. What should he do? He hadn’t actually thought that far. “You’ve just offended the crown prince at Ladies of the Lake. Although he’s been grounded, there’s still his mother. Logically speaking, if he didn’t send the assassin, then following the train of thought, we can postulate that his mother did, to seek justice for her son.”
Jun Huang maintained a composed and leisurely expression on her face as she chatted with the second prince, but her mind was furiously racing through all the possible angles. She hadn’t considered the fact that Qi Yin was currently grounded. Regardless, whoever the culprit ultimately was, the crux of the matter still lay with Qi Yin.
“Whether it was the mother or the son, it was all for the crown prince.” Jun Huang suddenly changed the topic when she saw that Qi Chen had relaxed his guard. “Since Your Highness views me as a brother, I will certainly serve Your Highness at all times. Although I need to recuperate at the moment, I still wish to think of plans for Your Highness.”
How would Qi Chen not want Jun Huang to keep working for him? It was just… this person was already injured, so he had to be careful not to overly use them! “The crown prince has been grounded anyhow, so nothing else will crop up. Just be at ease…”
Qi Chen’s words seem to have another layer of meaning to them.
“Be at ease? I could never be at ease with regards to the prince’s matters. Since Your Highness treats me as a brother, I naturally want to do something for Your Highness, no matter the time…” Jun Huang gave another long sigh and shook her head weakly, dejection clear in her eyes. “But I haven’t the slightest bit of power in my hands right now, so I have no way of helping Your Highness even when I wish to.”