Chapter 24: Fake Robbers
Nan Xun didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at her unreasonableness. He could only agree in the end. He knew that Jun Huang wouldn’t really tell on them, but that she would never drop the matter if he didn’t agree. She might be in danger if she snuck into the yamen herself.
Once she’d reached her goal, Jun Huang quickly returned to her room and fished out black night-walking clothes, reconvening with Nan Xun after she changed clothes.
Nan Xun was also dressed in black with his hair tied up, seeming to blend into the night itself. He was holding a dirk in his hands which he shoved into Jun Huang’s after seeing her, telling her to keep herself safe. Jun Huang didn’t stand on ceremony, deftly accepting the dirk and holstering it at her waist. Her lips curved into a smile when she saw the band of “robbers” standing behind Nan Xun. They set off without a word, Jun Huang following in the rear.
Since Qi Chen was stashing his embezzled funds in the yamen, he’d naturally set some guards on it. Jun Huang wanted to scatter some confusion powder and take all the guards out when they reached the door, but Nan Xun stopped her from doing so.
“Apparently there are lots of local robbers and thieves here. All of them have their sights set on the yamen. When they do business, they rarely use drugs. We just need to barge in. Don’t give rise to suspicions,” Nan Xun spoke.
Jun Huang looked at Nan Xun through her veil and nodded, putting her powder away. The group surged into the yamen after a sharp command. Perhaps they’d grown lax after such a long period of peace, the drowsy guards jerked awake when they saw that robbers had come calling. They were all a-fluster and quickly restrained after a panicked scramble. Worried that too much chaos would create danger since swords possessed no eyes, Nan Xun and Jun Huang stood guard outside. It wasn’t the proper time to reveal themselves either.
Jun Huang was a bit worried as she clenched her fists, peering anxiously inside. Sweat soon grew on her palms as she waited for Nan Xun’s band of men to return triumphantly. Nan Xun reached out to grasp her cold fingers when he noted her nervousness. He squeezed them twice in soundless comfort. “It’ll be fine, don’t worry too much.”
Nan Xun’s voice was cool and had a calming effect. Jun Huang nodded, taking a deep breath in but keeping her eyes on the yamen, waiting for those inside to emerge. A large hubbub grew from the inside before long, and the flames of a fire lit up the night sky. The sounds of swords and blades clashing together made hearts jump in fright. Jun Huang asked with a small frown, “Is something the matter?”
Nan Xun’s brow was likewise tightly knit together. He stepped forward and patted Jun Huang’s shoulder after a moment’s thought. “Wait here. Return to the inn immediately if I don’t come out after twenty minutes.” He was about to charge in after speaking.
“And where are you going?” Jun Huang reached out and snagged Nan Xun’s hand, uneasiness in her clear eyes.
“I’m just going to take a look, I’ll be fine.” Nan Xun didn’t linger further after reassuring Jun Huang and charged straight in.
Fear and apprehension still swirled within Jun Huang as she pulled out the dirk that Nan Xun had given her earlier and clutched it tightly in her hand. The beads of sweat on her forehead dropped down, but she didn’t feel them at all until moisture blurred her vision. She raised her hand to rub at her forehead then and maintained her stance leaning against the wall, completely motionless.
A man in the yamen’s uniform ran out before long, headed in the direction of the inn. Jun Huang looked at the yamen, then looked back at the yamen runner who was already far away. After swiftly debating a few decisions, she resolutely turned and took a shortcut back to the inn. She had to get back before the runner did and use all methods possible to buy time for Nan Xun and the group. They must obtain the silver. The citizens were waiting for the money.
Jun Huang picked up the pace as her mind sped through these thoughts and accidentally tripped over a tree root on the ground. She grunted and endured the pain shooting up her knee with a frown. Jun Huang scrambled up with an ashen expression, limping her way in a quick trot back to the inn. After she’d slipped soundlessly back into her room and changed her clothes, cleaning up the evidence of her fall, the runner had arrived as well and knocked on Qi Chen’s room door.
It was almost midnight, so Qi Chen was fast asleep. He was naturally somewhat displeased at being woken up. When he saw the yamen runner kneeling at the side of his bed with an anxious look, the prince suppressed the anger in his heart. “What are you doing here so late?”
“Your… Your Highness, something bad has happened! A group of robbers have broken into the yamen and now…” Qi Chen had already sent the runner sprawling with a kick before the runner had a chance to finish. The prince clenched his fists tightly, the look in his eyes vicious. It was at this time that Jun Huang pretended she had been woken up and walked in after knocking.
She looked at the yamen runner cowering on the ground, then at Qi Chen in a towering rage. Jun Huang snorted derisively inside but didn’t show anything on her face. “Why is Your Highness so angry?” she asked in feigned surprise.
Qi Chen naturally wouldn’t tell her about his embezzled funds being stolen by robbers. He could only gnash his teeth and swallow his anger. He took a deep breath in and forced a smile, “It’s nothing much. I’ve just heard that the magistrate’s been broken in to by robbers. I’m punishing the servants for being useless.”
“This matter is of grave importance. Your Highness, shall I go with you for a visit?” Jun Huang nodded and pretended to understand.
“Alright.” Qi Chen gave orders to be dressed and led Jun Huang to the yamen. Nan Xun and the others had already left, leaving behind only broken fragments everywhere. No one had died or even been injured however. Jun Huang took a moment to inwardly sigh with appreciation at Nan Xun’s methods, but still maintained a firm poker face.