Chapter 63: Instigation
Nan Xun looked at the letter with a hand supporting his chin. It did seem like this was written by Jun Huang. She was used to being aloof and quiet. Sometimes she could be slavishly concise in writing her letters. Even one unnecessary word was one word too many.
Night fell. Nan Xun rushed to Jun Huang's building. He noticed that there weren't a lot of guards in Prince Chen Manor today. It was odd. Usually there were quite a lot of patrols. He had a bad feeling about this, but he didn't stop or slow down.
Once he reached the side building, he noticed there was someone behind the fake mountain. He frowned. Jun Huang was waiting for him when he arrived at the door, however. So she did ask me to be here?
Before he could say anything, Jun Huang asked with her eyebrows furrowed, "What happened? The prince manor isn't a good place for us to talk. Why don't we meet outside?"
Nan Xun's expression changed. He knew what was happening now. He leaned into her. "Something is wrong. Let's get inside first." He pulled Jun Huang into her room.
Nan Guyue saw that they had gone inside. She jogged up to the backyard and listened in on their conversation by the window.
Jun Huang was confused. Nan Xun quickly covered her mouth before she could ask what was going on. He pointed at the dark shadow outside the window. He didn't explain further, but Jun Huang got the idea.
Jun Huang knew they couldn't stay silent now. "How can I help, Your Highness?"
"The gentleman was hurt a few days ago. I was wondering if you'd recovered. I couldn't stop worrying, so I came to check." It was a perfectly logical answer. Nan Xun kept an eye on the person outside the window, waiting for their reaction.
Suddenly, there was Wei Lanying's voice. "Your Royal Highness, I saw someone breaking into the gentleman's residence. It'll be bad if it's someone with ulterior motives. That's why I have people surround the building. Your Royal Highness can make the call."
Jun Huang, Nan Xun, and Nan Guyue all tensed up. Even Nan Guyue didn't expect Qi Chen and Wei Lanying to be here so soon. She clenched her teeth and showed herself.
"Guyue is here to greet Your Royal Highness." Nan Guyue stopped at the door and bowed slightly.
Qi Chen frowned. "Why are you here, Guyue?"
"I – "
Before she could finish, the door to Jun Huang's room creaked open, and Jun Huang walked out with Nan Xun in tow. Wei Lanying smirked. Let's see what the great Feng Baiyu looks like when he's kicked out of the manor.
Qi Chen stared at Nan Xun, his frown deepening. For a moment, the air seemed to have come to a halt.
Jun Huang had thought about having Nan Xun hide, but they both knew that Qi Chen would have the whole place searched if Nan Xun didn't show himself. If he was discovered then, they really wouldn't be able to get out of this.
Just when Jun Huang was trying to think of an excuse, Nan Guyue took a deep breath and smiled. "I asked the gentleman to invite Prince Nan Xun here for me." She lowered her eyes as she spoke.
"Why?" asked Qi Chen.
"Guyue has been feeling tired recently. I worry that something may happen to the child. I heard that Prince Nan Xun has traveled all over the world in his early days. He might have a way to help me. So I asked the gentleman to invite him here."
Qi Chen knew that Nan Guyue had been having troubles sleeping after she got pregnant. She didn't dare to take medicine for fear of harming the child. After some contemplation, he looked up at Nan Xun and asked, "Does brother Nan Xun have a solution?"
"He does, and he has told me the prescription," Jun Huang piped up. "This gentleman will have it written down later."
Qi Chen nodded. Nan Guyue pretended to be tired, and Qi Chen didn't question them any further. He asked the guards surrounding the building to leave before helping Nan Guyue back to their room.
Wei Lanying was left grinding her teeth, craving for a chance to strangle Nan Guyue.
After walking Nan Xun out, Jun Huang went back to the side building and saw Wei Lanying standing at her door. It was obvious that she was waiting for her. Jun Huang pouted. Wei Lanying was like a ghost that insisted on haunting her. It was annoying. She had to be civil with Wei Lanying, however, so she cupped her hands and greeted her.
Wei Lanying huffed. "Show your fake smile to someone who cares, Feng Baiyu. Don't think you're off the hook now. You got lucky today. You won't be as lucky next time."
Jun Huang sighed. "Why must Lady Wei antagonize me? This gentleman has never done anything to you. Why can't you leave me alone?"
"Ha! I would have still been the closest person to the prince if not for you. Nan Guyue wouldn't have been here. Do you really think I don't know what you're planning? You better not let me catch you in the act, or I'll make you disappear from this world." She left with a flourish of her sleeves. Jun Huang watched her go without any expression on her face. She couldn't be more tired of this woman.
When she turned around, she saw Wei Qian standing right behind her. Qi Chen had asked Wei Qian to complete some tasks for him. Jun Huang didn't know when she had returned.
Jun Huang threw her a glance before looking away. She didn't think that there was a need to explain herself to Wei Qian. She went back to her room, leaving Wei Qian in the garden.
Wei Qian narrowed her eyes at Jun Huang. If Nan Xun is here for Nan Guyue, why didn't he enter through the front gate, but instead come straight to the side building? She swallowed down her words before they could fall out of her mouth, though. She wasn't in the place to demand an answer.
Even Qi Chen didn't question Jun Huang. Why would she?
On their way back, Nan Guyue kept stealing glances at Qi Chen. She knew that her lie was full of holes. It wouldn't be difficult to figure out that she wasn't telling the truth. Qi Chen didn't say anything, however. It made her anxious.
They were both preoccupied. Once they were in their bedroom, Nan Guyue decided that she couldn't keep this to herself. She sighed. "Your Royal Highness must have a lot of questions. You are my husband. I don't want to continue lying to you. What I said earlier was just a way to protect Feng Baiyu and put pressure on Wei Lanying."
Qi Chen raised an eyebrow as he helped Nan Guyue sit down on the empress chair. "Oh? What do you mean?"
Nan Guyue told him everything. She told him that Wei Lanying was trying to eliminate Jun Huang once and for all, and this was merely a scheme of hers. And Nan Guyue had listened in on Jun Huang's conversation with Nan Xun. They didn't talk about anything suspicious.
Qi Chen's face was difficult to read. Nan Guyue could feel her heart in her throat. She was worried that Qi Chen might get angry and their relationship would be damaged.
Qi Chen could tell how nervous she was. He chuckled and patted her lightly on the hand. "Feng Baiyu has been my strategist for a long time. Everything he did has been for my sake. Of course I trust him. As for Wei Lanying, you should be wary of her. Avoid her if you can."
Nan Guyue nodded and lay down in Qi Chen's embrace, her expression soft. Qi Chen put his arms around her shoulders and closed his eyes.
Jun Huang sat in her bedroom with a teacup in her hand, frowning. They couldn't really talk earlier. Good thing that Nan Xun came prepared and wrote her a note. She opened the slip of paper.
"The border sees no unrest for the time being. Eastern Wu hasn't made its move. They even delivered a great amount of precious medicinal ingredients here. It seems they may be seeking a truce."
She didn't have a lot of time left, and yet Eastern Wu still wasn't prepared to invade Northern Qi. The two countries were on a tightrope, both reluctant to start this war that was bound to happen one day.
She expected Eastern Wu to come for Northern Qi immediately after destroying Western Que. She was wrong. The invasion of Western Que must have taken more out of them than she had thought. Eastern Wu was still recovering and cultivating its strength.
She didn't want to instigate a war. The people were always the ones that would suffer the most. She needed conflicts between the two countries for her revenge, however. The more chaotic the situation, the better.
Jun Huang fell silent. Her gaze dropped to the words medicinal ingredients, and she quirked up her lips. A plan was formed in her head.
Next day afternoon, she decided to send a message to Consort Zhen. Consort Zhen usually stayed in the palace and rarely left, however, and Jun Huang wasn't an official. It was difficult for her to contact the consort. This was where Rou'er came in.
Rou'er was Qi Chen's serving concubine. Since Nan Guyue had gotten pregnant, Qi Chen would visit Rou'er every once in a while. Rou'er was quiet. The way she looked when she poured tea for him always made him want to drown in her tenderness.
He did feel like he had wronged Rou'er in some way. He thought about marrying Rou'er as his concubine, but he was worried that Rou'er might end up like Wei Lanying. In the end, he decided not to bring it up.
Rou'er poured Qi Chen a cup of tea. The smell filled the room. She looked up at him and let out a quiet laugh, her lips curved into a small smile. She put the teacup before Qi Chen.
"Is Your Royal Highness worried about something?" she asked quietly.
Qi Chen rubbed at the skin between his eyebrows and sighed, shaking his head. "Nothing. I've just been thinking about something. Your company makes me feel better."
Rou'er didn't go outside a lot, but she knew what was happening outside her building. Jun Huang had put her in charge of the new servants she planted in the manor after all. Gossips and rumors ended up reaching her ears sooner or later.
"If Your Royal Highness is worried, why don't you invite Consort Zhen here to discuss your concerns with?" Rou'er suggested. "Besides, it's been a while since the last time Consort Zhen visited. Rou'er would like to serve her."
Qi Chen frowned in bemusement. Rou'er had a point. Moreover, Consort Zhen didn't know about Nan Guyue's pregnancy yet. He could invite his mother here for a meal, ask her to help convince Wei Lanying to control herself, and tell Nan Guyue about what pregnant women should pay attention to.
It's decided then. Qi Chen had people pick up Consort Zhen from the palace and bring her to the manor. Jun Huang watched them enter from the hallway.
Consort Zhen left the main hall and came to the garden to appreciate the flowers. Jun Huang sauntered up to her.
Consort Zhen had never liked Jun Huang. She gave her a cold look and asked, "What do you want?"
Jun Huang bowed slightly in greeting and looked at the lotuses in the pond. "Has the consort thought about gaining the throne for the prince?"
"Ha! Chen'er is now the crown prince," the consort said mockingly. "It's only a matter of time that he becomes the emperor. Why would I want to do anything?"
Jun Huang fell silent. There were a few dragonflies skimming the surface of the pond, making ripples after ripples.