Chapter 184: Intentional
"Hm… let me go, Nan Xun." Jun Huang tried to push Nan Xun off her, but she wasn't strong enough to move a man like him. Nan Xun took both her wrists and pinned them above her head.
"I won't hurt you," Nan Xun whispered as he kissed Jun Huang's eyes. Her eyelashes fluttered and she started to tremble. Nan Xun, though, was overcome by the desires burning through him. He made quick work of his topwear and reached out for Jun Huang's robe.
His fingers found their way to her waistband. With a tug, her robe fell loose. Nan Xun planted a feather-light kiss on Jun Huang's cheek. His fingers snuck into her robe. His heart started to race.
As if woken up from a dream, Jun Huang used all her force to push Nan Xun away. He was caught off guard and fell on the bed. Jun Huang stumbled off the bed and pulled her robe tight around herself. Her hair ran messily down her shoulders, and her robe was rumpled. It aroused one's desires to take and make her his.
Nan Xun felt the urge to pull her back to bed without thinking about the consequences, but Jun Huang's pale face made him pause. He looked at her without a word.
Jun Huang took a deep breath to calm herself and tried her best to sound natural. "Wake up, Nan Xun. Do you know what you're doing?"
"I – "
"Enough, I don't want to hear a word from you. I'll sleep outside tonight." She quickly put on her boots and fixed her robe before fleeing the room. Nan Xun was left on his own.
Seeing Jun Huang running away like she couldn't bear to stay a moment longer, Nan Xun tightened his jaw and punched the bed, his eyes filled with frustration. He sat on the bed, trying and failing to control his breathing.
Someone knocked on the door. He had thought it was Jun Huang, but it was the clerk.
The clerk brought in a bucket of cold water and shuddered when he saw the intimidating scowl on Nan Xun's face. For a moment he couldn't say anything. "A – a gentleman told me that – that the guest in this room needs some cold water. He told me – told me to bring it here."
Nan Xun took a deep breath to suppress his anger and nodded. "Put it down and leave."
The clerk nodded frantically and put the bucket of cold water behind the screen. He then fled the room. He was scared by the coldness radiating from Nan Xun, but he couldn't stop himself from wondering why anyone would want to take a cold bath in this weather. He hunched his shoulders as he imagined what it would feel like.
Nan Xun stayed unmoving for a while before getting to his feet. He took off all his clothes and let out a bitter laugh when he saw the state he was in. He walked behind the screen and poured the bucket of cold water over his head, grinding his teeth together to brace for the sharp chill. He let out a long breath as freezing water streamed down his body.
Another wave of heat rose up from his body. His expression turned darker.
He must have consumed more aphrodisiac than he had thought. A whole bucket of water wasn't enough to quell his desires. He looked for Jun Huang's needle pouch and took a silver needle out. He pricked his wrist without hesitation and continued along his arms. Pearls of blood trickled down his hand. When he stopped, his arm was covered in puncture wounds. Finally he was able to clear his system of any aphrodisiac by letting out his blood. He put the needle away and put on a robe.
It was close to midnight. Nan Xun was exhausted. He made his way to the bed and fell asleep immediately.
Jun Huang was staying in the main hall downstairs. She frowned when the clerk rushed into the main hall like he had seen a ghost. She walked up to him and asked, "What's wrong? Is my companion alright?"
The clerk swallowed and said timidly, "The honored guest upstairs looked as if he could spit out fire. I was wondering why you would tell me to bring cold water to him. Now I know. He does need to cool down a little."
The clerk hurried away. Jun Huang let out a sigh of relief. Fortunately the aphrodisiac didn't seem to be too harmful.
She had escaped the room without hesitation. She believed that Nan Xun would be able to fight off the effects on his own. Her face paled when she thought back to what had happened, but she forced herself to remain calm.
She stayed the night lying on a bench in the main hall. When Nan Xun woke up the next morning, there was no one else in the room. With a frown, he sat up and stared at the wall for a moment before getting off the bed. He looked around and didn't see Jun Huang. He was worried that something had happened to her. When he rushed out of the door, one of his guards was waiting right outside.
"Have you seen gentleman Feng?" asked Nan Xun.
The guard looked downstairs. Following his gaze, Nan Xun saw Jun Huang having breakfast in the main hall with an aloof expression. It was as if she had forgotten about everything.
Nan Xun's expression darkened. After a pause, he asked, "When did she go downstairs?"
"Gentleman Feng has been staying downstairs since last night," the guard said. "We thought something has happened. When we asked, though, he said that nothing was wrong."
Nan Xun huffed, narrowing his eyes at Jun Huang. "Why didn't you book another room for her?" he demanded. "You just let her stay in the main hall like that?"
The guard dropped down to the floor. "Please forgive this subordinate, Your Highness."
Jun Huang had heard their conversation. She looked up and saw the guard kneeling before a scowling Nan Xun. She frowned and looked away. Nan Xun's mood grew darker seeing her reaction. He slammed the door shut after returning to the room.
Jun Huang didn't pay him any attention. After breakfast, she got to her feet and whipped her sleeves loose. She happened to see Nan Xun walking out of the room. Their eyes met at a distance. Jun Huang could see that Nan Xun was troubled. His second in command must have sent a message.
Jun Huang jogged up to him and asked, "Has something happened in Yunzhou?"
Nan Xun shook his head. "No. The unrest there has been resolved. My men have reached the outskirt of Yun Town. They stay outside to avoid causing a panic. My second in command sent a letter through pigeon asking me if we should depart now."
Jun Huang let out a relieved sigh and nodded. "We should. We've stayed here for too long. Since the riot in Yunzhou has been suppressed, the emperor will know about it in no time. If we stay for too long, he's going to get suspicious. Besides, the House of Heavenly Fiends has agreed to help find my brother. We don't have to stay here. Let us depart. We shouldn't let so many people wait for us. And with the martial arts tournament too many troubles could arise if the wrong people saw us. It's better to go now."
"Alright." Nan Xun agreed easily. He had come to the same conclusion as Jun Huang. He told the guard standing at their door to notify the other three guards and walked back into the room.
Jun Huang realized that one of her needles was missing when she checked her needle pouch. Before she could ask, she noticed the red water in the bucket. The missing needle lay next to it with traces of blood on the floor. She threw a glance at Nan Xun and saw the bandages around his arm. Realization dawned on her. She stayed silent and put away the needle.
This time, when Jun Huang said she was going to ride a horse out of town to join the troop, Nan Xun didn't argue. He got her a horse of meeker temperament before they set off.
They spotted the second in command and the troop about twenty miles away from Yun Town. Nan Xun had not gone to Yunzhou himself. Instead, he relied on letters from his second in command to deal with the unrest. When a difficulty arose, his second in command would send a shadowguard to find Nan Xun. As a result, Nan Xun didn't have a full grasp on the situation in Yunzhou.
He went up to talk to his second in command immediately. He had not said a word to Jun Huang along the way.
The soldiers noticed that something was off, but they couldn't pinpoint what it was. Only the four guards following Nan Xun to Yun Town knew that something had happened between Nan Xun and Jun Huang, which had caused Nan Xun's dark mood. It was Nan Xun's personal affair, however. Mere guards like them were in no place to intervene. They kept the information to themselves.
The soldiers had spent most of their life fighting on battlefields. They were far from observant when it came to things like this. They quickly put the awkwardness out of their mind.
They traveled to the imperial city as quickly as they could. Upon their arrival, they found out that the city had been far from peaceful recently.
Jun Huang frowned listening to one of her men's briefing. Nan Xun followed her back to her manor instead of going back to his place or going to the palace.
"While the gentleman is away, the feud between the crown prince and the third prince has surfaced," the page boy Jun Huang had planted at Qi Chen's side said. "The prawns can't avoid getting into the fight when their masters wage wars against one another. Without the gentleman reigning the crown prince in, he has rooted out many officials who were on the third prince's side. They claimed to be innocent, but they couldn't run away from the investigation."
"…Are any of them innocent?" asked Jun Huang.
"The crown prince and the third prince have been attacking one another with no regard to their brotherly bond," said the page boy. "Those they arrested have not been released, and none of them deserve to be released. They are all corrupt in some way."
Jun Huang frowned. The page boy got nervous and asked her what was wrong. She pursed her lips without a word.
"Nothing is wrong," Jun Huang said after a pause. "It's just that it hasn't been long since the last investigation. Having so many officials arrested again so soon would have some serious repercussions. The foundation of the country may be damaged."