Chapter 79: The Cavalry came
Seeing that the hit didn't land, the man twisted his wrist and swung the sword diagonally at Jun Huang. This time Jun Huang was on her guard. She foresaw the man's move and dodged the attack easily by propelling herself into the air with a push against the ground.
The men didn't expect Jun Huang to be able to defend herself. One of them threw another man a glance before they lunged at Jun Huang together. The two swords were crossed like a scissor, making it impossible for Jun Huang to dodge sideways. Leaping up wouldn't do her any good, either.
Just when the blades were about to bisect her at the waist, she dropped down and kicked one of the men in the stomach, causing the man to stagger back two steps.
She swept her leg and tripped her second assailant who was behind her. Clank! His sword fell onto the ground, while he remained unharmed.
The attackers quickly regrouped and surrounded Jun Huang with their weapons raised. They closed in on her little by little, causing Jun Huang having less and less room to maneuver. Panic slowly rose from her heart.
It was a hopeless fight. The men sheathed their swords and clenched their fists. They were going to fight Jun Huang with bare hands.
Without giving her any time to react, the man right in front of her threw his punch, making a swooshing sound with the velocity of his movement. The blow would have landed if Jun Huang was a second slower in dodging.
Her forehead started breaking into a sweat. She didn't dare to relax her guard, lest someone else sneak up on her. She was one person against a whole group of men. The odds were not on her side.
The man right before her seemed to have read her mind. He became bold and struck a blow at Jun Huang again, splitting the air with his force. Jun Huang was able to dodge the attack, but she was hurt by the harsh winds brought about by the hit.
The other men didn't intend to give Jun Huang any chance to rest. One after another, they struck Jun Huang with their fists. Jun Huang struggled to protect herself, but there was a limit to her agility. Finally one of the punches was going to land on her, and she was too exhausted to move out of the way. She clenched her teeth and braced for the attack with her eyes squeezed shut, but the pain never came.
When she opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was white fabric. Nan Xun tilted his head and threw her a glance before turning back to the men in black, who were still in shock. Without any warnings, Nan Xun punched the man before him in the stomach.
The man grunted and stepped back, covering his stomach with pale face. The other men started to attack in earnest when they saw that Nan Xun was here to help Jun Huang. Jun Huang felt her heart spasming in nervousness.
Nan Xun kept Jun Huang shielded and blocked the punches with open palms. He seized the attackers' wrists and crack! Their bones were broken.
They soon realized that Nan Xun was no ordinary man. One of the men was suddenly filled with murderous intent. He unsheathed his sword and stabbed at Nan Xun. Nan Xun's eyes turned cold. He scoffed and stopped the sword with a pinch of his index finger and middle finger. The man could neither pull his sword out nor drive it towards Nan Xun. He was stuck in an awkward position.
The other men lost their composure and started attacking with their swords without any semblance of order. Jun Huang believed in Nan Xun's ability, but their enemies were many. She joined in the fight and kicked one of the men in his hand. He lost his grip and dropped his sword. Jun Huang caught the sword as quickly as a lightning strike and fought the man off.
Their attackers were obviously well-trained. They didn't possess the same mastery in martial arts as Nan Xun, but they were difficult to dispose of. They could keep someone occupied through sheer stubbornness. Nan Xun was surrounded by a handful of them and couldn't break out of the circle for the time being. Jun Huang was thus faced with enemies on both fronts.
Jun Huang learned her rather limited skills in martial arts from Nan Xun, which were only intended for her to defend herself. It was difficult enough for her to fight against one man in hand-to-hand combat, let alone two men who were better trained than she was. On top of that, Jun Huang's endurance wasn't as good as these people.
She was used to fighting with poison. With Nan Xun here, however, she couldn't use it. She knew how to protect herself against the poisonous fog, but Nan Xun didn't. She wasn't willing to let Nan Xun get hurt in any way. Thus she could only fight with force.
Fortunately, Jun Huang was an agile fighter. And she always had a few poisoned needles on herself when she went outside in case something happened. She couldn't throw the needles because it was too dark at night, but the two men were trying to fight her in close quarter, which gave her the opportunity to hit them with the needles.
Nan Xun was stuck fighting four men, but he was not at a disadvantage at all. He was someone who could fight ten or even a hundred enemies on his own on the battlefields. Four men were not enough to trap him for too long. He soon spotted their weak points.
Every time the men attacked with their swords, their abdomen and feet were left unguarded. This time, when they raised their swords, Nan Xun dropped down and forced the men to step back with a sweep of his leg. He used this opportunity to pick up some sharp stones from the ground and hit the men in the stomach. Stones could be effective weapons when used well. A trained general knew how to apply his force. The men were flung backwards by a good distance.
They fell to the ground on their backs, bringing up a fog of dust. They grunted in pain. Jun Huang had also seized the chance to sting the two men's neck with her silver needles. The men felt pain in their necks, but they thought they had merely been bitten by bugs and didn't pay much attention to it. Gradually, however, their movements started to slow down and they gradually lost their strength. Their qi seemed to have been trapped inside their bodies as well.
Jun Huang walked to Nan Xun's side. The men realized that their targets were no easy prey. It wouldn't be pretty if they continued to attack Jun Huang and Nan Xun. The leader of the group leveled Jun Huang with a cold stare before waving a hand at the remaining men. "Let's go." The men carried the two men who had lost their strengths and left.
After they disappeared, Jun Huang finally was able to relax. She let out a deep breath and collapsed against the wall, cold sweat streaking down her neck and her back was drenched. She felt a little cold in the wind.
She shuddered. If Nan Xun hadn't come to help her on time, she would have been knocked out.
Nan Xun looked at her pale face and unfocused gaze. He took a moment to think before asking, "Are you hurt?"
Jun Huang looked up at him and shook her head. "I'm fine."
"Have you made enemies recently?" Nan Xun asked.
Jun Huang frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Those men are clearly not robbers. Why would they covered their faces if they were only trying to rob you1? The only explanation is that they were sent here by someone. They obviously were waiting for you. Before I stepped in, it was clear that they weren't trying to kill you. They intended to only teach you a lesson…"
Nan Xun's analysis was logical. Jun Huang thought back to the tense interactions she had with Wei Lanying the past couple days. Wei Lanying had always held a grudge against her. She might have hired someone to hurt her.
Jun Huang couldn't be sure for now. She had never seen Wei Lanying dealing with unsavory folks like those men.
It couldn't have been the other people in the manor. Wei Lanying was only a concubine, while Jun Huang was a strategist valued by Qi Chen. Those people would sooner suck up to Jun Huang than harm her to please Wei Lanying.
Jun Huang rarely crossed paths with Wei Lanying. Why would she hire people to hurt her? It wouldn't do Wei Lanying any good if she was badly injured.
Jun Huang was deep in thoughts. Nan Xun looked at her without a word. It wasn't until a chilly wind hit her that Jun Huang came to her senses. She looked at the boundless darkness before her.
She turned to Nan Xun. He broke the silence and said, "No matter what, you should be aware of Qi Chen. He might be behind this attack. Perhaps he has become suspicious of you."
"I'll be on guard. Those men have suffered a great loss. I don't think they would strike again today. It's late. Let's bid each other farewell here. Goodbye." Jun Huang cupped her hands and disappeared into the night.
Nan Xun watched her leave. He couldn't help feeling concerned for her safety. He made a gesture at the dark alley. A shadow guard dressed in black robe emerged and greeted Nan Xun silently, awaiting his order.
"Follow him," said Nan Xun. "If there's any danger, help him. If not, don't let him discover you."
The shadow guard nodded and caught up with Jun Huang without making a sound. After a brief moment of silence, Nan Xun turned around and walked towards his own manor. He happened to pass the antique street on his way.
The first antique shop was not yet closed. After a moment of hesitation, he walked in.
It was late when he returned to the manor. The night watchman had already made a round. It must have been after midnight. Nan Xun was weary and weathered. His robe was covered in dirt from the fight earlier.
He carefully placed the item he bought at the antique shop on the cabinet next to him. He then had someone prepare a bath. Once everything was settled, he ordered the servant to wait outside the door and to let the shadow guard in once he was back. The servant nodded and left.
Nan Xun took off his clothes and let his hair down before getting into the wooden barrel behind the screen.
Leaning against the barrel, he thought back to the night he snuck into Jun Huang's room. She was in a bath as well. There was a screen between the two of them. He couldn't see her well. Nevertheless, he couldn't help feeling drawn to her. He hadn't seen how Jun Huang looked then, but he had noticed the fragrance in the room.
He got himself clean, feeling most of his fatigue draining from his body. He got out of the barrel and dried himself before putting on a thin layer of clothes. He stepped out from behind the screen.
The shadow guard had returned and was waiting for him in the room, staying so quiet he might as well be a lifeless statue. The window was left open. A stronger wind would have put out the wavering candlelight.
Nan Xun smoothed out his robe before walking towards the desk. He lightly knocked on the desk with his knuckle, musing about something without a word. The shadow guard silently waited for him to speak.
"Have you seen him return to the manor?" Nan Xun asked after a long pause.
The shadow guard nodded. "No dangerous encounters on the way back."
Nan Xun thought for a second before saying, "Go find out who Qi Chen has contacted the past couple of days. See if he has talked to anyone suspicious."
"Understood," said the shadow guard with cupped hands. Nan Xun waved him out. The shadow guard shut the door behind him.
This is how the original text was written. I'm not too sure about the logic here myself. ↩