Phoenix Ascending - Chapter 375 - Lingering Threat
Chapter 375: Lingering Threat
“Should be that way.” Jun Huang pointed at where the eunuch had appeared from. Nan Xun nodded and let go of the eunuch’s collars. The eunuch collapsed to the floor.
Hearing something shattering, they exchanged a glance and ran toward the source of the sound.
Nan Xun told Jun Huang to wait outside first. She nodded and let him take the lead.
Nan Xun opened the door to see the former Eastern Wu’s emperor sitting atop shards of ceramic. His eyes lit up at first, mistaking Nan Xun as his ally, but then Nan Xun waved at someone outside and in came Jun Huang.
The former emperor’s face paled, silently cursing at his men for failing to finish her off.
With a scoff, Jun Huang walked up to the former emperor and considered him with icy eyes. A shudder ran down his spine. He was going to run when Nan Xun seized him.
“I’m curious,” Jun Huang said with a frown. “Why did you decide to invade Western Que? Western Que and Eastern Wu started out as allies. Why did things turn out the way it did?”
The former emperor gave Jun Huang an odd look. “Don’t you know? It’s because of you.”
“Me?” asked Jun Huang.
“Whoever gained Jun Huang, gain the world. If not for you, the two nations would have continued to be allies. I had wanted to marry you and deepened the bond between our nations, but your father refused to oblige. I could only do things the hard way.”
He said it like it was the unequivocal truth.
Jun Huang laughed incredulously. She’d heard that explanation before, but she’d thought it was a jest. And yet the man himself confirmed the reasoning.
Noting the changes in her expression, the former emperor smiled. He knew he was going to die one way or another as soon as he saw Jun Huang. He’d like to forgo torture and get a quick death. “I thought you know. Let me tell you the truth: You were the reason Western Que was destroyed.”
Overtaken by uncontrollable fury, Jun Huang grabbed Nan Xun’s swords and killed the former emperor with a wounded cry.
It wasn’t until the blood stream down along the blade that she came to her senses. She dropped the sword and fell to the floor.
Her head hurt, and she couldn’t stop her tears. Her anger and sorrow threatened to take over her brain. She’d put the blame on the former Eastern Wu’s emperor for so long. She never once believed that she would be a contributing factor as well.
She knew Ji Bo was the instigator, but she couldn’t forgive herself. She couldn’t escape the spiral of guilt.
Nan Xun knelt down and took Jun Huang into his arms, but she didn’t seem to notice him at all. Her body trembled from the weight of her sorrow. Her temples throbbed painfully.
She couldn’t stop crying. In the end, she cried herself into unconsciousness. Nan Xun picked her up and turned to see Nan Jihan standing outside the door.
Nan Jihan had been watching them for a while, and he’d witnessed Jun Huang’s fit of anger. His breath hitched when Nan Xun turned to him with Jun Huang in his arms. He wanted to keep them, but he didn’t have the right. In the end, he watched the couple go further and further away from him.
Nan Xun took Jun Huang to a relay station and placed her on the bed. He retrieved some hot water and a handkerchief to wipe the tears on her face. Only when his shadowguard told him that Nan Jihan had arrived did he shift his focus away from her. He turned to the door.
“Let’s talk outside.” Nan Xun rose to his feet. He didn’t want to wake Jun Huang. Nan Jihan agreed easily and followed him to the room next door.
An official from each of their respective countries had also come. Representing Northern Qi was Qi Yun’s confidante. They sat down and talked about the split of their gains. Nan Jihan asked for only a few Eastern Wu cities bordering Southern Mu, some silver, and two horses. The rest would go to Northern Qi.
The Northern Qi’s official was pleased with the results. He excused himself and left to report to the court.
Nan Jihan looked at Nan Xun, watching him rub at his forehead tiredly. After a pause, he asked, “The old Western Que is now yours. What do you plan to do with it?”
Nan Xun threw him a glance and took a sip of the cold tea. “I’ve discussed this issue with Qi Yun before. The Old Western Que will be under my rule. I hope to take Jun Huang back one day, even if all that’s left is her memory.”
Nan Jihan approved of Nan Xun’s consideration. He opened his mouth to say something, but then he sighed and stood to leave. Nan Xun got to his feet and said, “Thank you for your help. If not for your assistance, it wouldn’t have been as easy to destroy Eastern Wu.”
Nan Jihan paused but didn’t turn back. With a chuckle, he waved a dismissive hand. “It’s nothing. I came to get the imperial seal and to help Jun Huang get her revenge. It has nothing to do with you.”
He looked up at the setting sun, his throat tight and his heart filled with a sense of loss. “Treat her well, or I’ll come after you.”
He walked away in big strides, determined to leave everything behind.
Nan Xun said a quiet thank you, but Nan Jihan was too far away to hear. The young emperor didn’t dawdle at all. He summoned his men and returned to Southern Mu, sending some people to look for the imperial seal at the same time.
When Nan Xun returned to the bedroom, Jun Huang had woken up. She stared at the ceiling, deep in thought.
She turned to the door when she heard footsteps. “Where did you go?”
“Seeing Nan Jihan off.” Nan Xun hurried to Jun Huang’s side and carefully helped her sit up. He tightened his grip around her wrist.
He didn’t tell Jun Huang about their meeting. He knew her too well. She was still wallowing in regret because of the former Eastern Wu emperor’s words. Mentioning Western Que would only make her feel worse. He would tell her when she had moved on.
Jun Huang knew very well what came after a war, but she kept quiet since Nan Xun hadn’t brought their conversation up. She lay against his chest and closed her eyes, listening to his heartbeats. The sound calmed her.
“I’ve taken my revenge,” she said, opening her eyes. “I want to find Jun Hao.”
Nan Xun nodded. Once Jun Huang was feeling better, he took her back to Northern Qi. Qi Yun and Nan Jihan were both worried about her, so they offered to help find Jun Hao. They told Jun Huang to rest in Nan Xun’s manor.
Jun Huang knew how weak her body was now. She didn’t argue and stayed at Nan Xun’s place.
She’d thought things would’ve settled down, but there was still someone lurking about, waiting to strike at her.
Today, Nan Xun had left to take care of something urgent, leaving Jun Huang in the manor. She wasn’t too worried. The manor was filled with Nan Xun’s men. No one would be foolish enough to try anything. However, she’d forgotten that there was no shortage of people who weren’t afraid of dying for their cause in the world.
Bored, Jun Huang went to the back garden, idly taking in the scenery. She’d told the servants before she came, but she didn’t let anyone follow her. The servants were unhappy with that, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t going to appease them.
The sun was blazing, which was rare for a winter day. She dozed off in the garden. Very faintly, she heard footsteps. She forced herself to open her eyes. A man she’d never seen before was standing before her.
Frowning, she cleared her throat and asked, “Are you a servant at this manor?”
The man nodded. Jun Huang didn’t notice anything wrong. She made a sound in acknowledgement and turned away, asking the man what he was here for.
The man stared at her intensely. Noticing the heated gaze, Jun Huang turned to him and saw a scar on the man’s neck. It was covered by his clothes, but from her angle, she could see it clearly. She kept her guard up while maintaining a poker face.
“Would you mind pouring a cup of tea for me? I’m thirsty.” She looked up at the man with a smile. It was as bright as the winter sun.
The man nodded after a brief pause and hurriedly filled her cup. Jun Huang stared at the man’s hands. Now she saw the warning signs.
He started filling the cup with tea without cleaning the cup or testing the temperature. The inside of his thumb was calloused, which was a unique feature for trained fighters.
“When did you start working here? I don’t recognize you.” She took the cup and swirled the tea around. She didn’t intend to drink it.
The man’s face clouded. He stopped his act, his face contorting in hatred. “I’m here to kill you.”