Chapter 121: Looking for A Cure
Jun Huang nodded. “Thank you for the reminder, doctor. This gentleman will keep that in mind.”
In truth, she didn’t pay that much attention to the doctor’s words. She was only humoring him.
Once she was left alone in her room, Jun Huang let out a long breath. Her arms gave out and she barely stopped herself from hitting the bed frame. The conversation earlier had used up all her strength. She lay back on the bed and covered herself with the blanket.
After the time for an incense stick to burn, she finally recovered enough to get off the bed. She put on an outer robe and got to her feet, but her legs started to wobble after only a few steps. She was ill after all. She supported her weight against the wall and sat down on a stool.
That was what Little Girl saw when she returned to the room. She frowned and walked up to Jun Huang. “How can the gentleman care so little about your own health? Why did you get off the bed even in this state? The doctor has said that you must rest!”
Jun Huang looked up at Little Girl. She was just in need for a helper. She asked Little Girl to retrieve her medical supplies from the other room. Forcing herself to fight against the overwhelming drowsiness, Jun Huang opened the bag full of silver needles of different lengths and picked one that was as long as her middle finger. She jabbed at her left wrist, her movement far from gentle.
Again and again, she put holes all along her arm. It was a horrifying sight. Jun Huang held her breath and let the waste energy in her body circle through her system before breathing it out. With her eyes narrowed, she pulled out the needle. The tip was drenched in black blood. Crimson droplets started to seep out of the holes she had put in her arm.
It was painful even for her. Sweat broke out of her forehead. She carefully controlled her breathing. She took the silk handkerchief Little Girl handed her and wiped away the crimson blood, but then black blood started to ooze out. Little Girl widened her eyes, unable to form a complete sentence.
Jun Huang let the blood stream down her arm until the bleeding stopped on its own. She let out a relieved sigh. When She turned around, Little Girl was right next to her. Jun Huang had been too hasty and therefore hadn’t asked Little Girl to leave the room. Jun Huang didn’t know how she should explain her condition to Little Girl.
As if she was able to tell what Jun Huang’s concerns were, Little Girl muttered, “This girl will not tell a soul about what I’ve seen. The gentleman can rest easy.” She turned to leave. Jun Huang stopped her when she was at the door. Little Girl looked back at her questioningly, awaiting her order.
“Send a messenger to Prince Chen Manor and tell the crown prince I have caught a cold. Tell him that I can neither take guests or leave my place. Send someone else to tell Nan Xun that I am well.”
Little Girl startled. She thought that Jun Huang had lost consciousness, but Jun Huang had been awake the whole time! Little Girl hurriedly ran out of the room and passed on Jun Huang’s orders.
Nan Xun was worried when he heard that Jun Huang had collapsed, but before he could leave his manor, Jun Huang’s messenger arrived. The messenger relaxed when he saw that Nan Xun was still in his manor. “What a coincidence, Your Highness. Gentleman Feng has woken up. He said that he is feeling well, and that there is no need for Your Highness to check on him.”
Nan Xun wasn’t sure if Jun Huang had truly recovered, or if those were simply words of comfort. He debated if he should visit anyway, but he decided against it. Jun Huang must have sent Qi Chen a message as well, he thought. She’s probably worried that Qi Chen will spot me if I go.
As Nan Xun expected, Qi Chen visited Jun Huang immediately after he got the message. Even though Jun Huang had said she couldn’t take any guests, he was still too worried to stay put. He ordered a servant to prepare some ginseng and velvet antler. With a whole group of servants, Qi Chen set out for Jun Huang’s place.
Qi Chen was worried about catching a cold, so he didn’t enter Jun Huang’s bedroom. Instead, he stayed on the other side of the screen as he talked to Jun Huang.
“Are you feeling better, brother Feng?” Qi Chen asked after he had told his servants to leave.
Jun Huang’s head was clearer after letting out some of her blood, but her legs were still weak. She lay back onto her bed. “This gentleman is feeling better now. Thank you for your concerns, Your Highness.”
She pretended to cough, which sent her into a serious coughing fit. It felt as if she was going to cough her lungs out.
Qi Chen thought that Jun Huang had started coughing due to her answering his question. He thus told her to rest well before taking his leave.
Nan Xun had been waiting for news in his manor, but Jun Huang had not sent any other messengers. His heart was in a tight grip for the whole day. At night, he finally made the decision to visit Jun Huang. The messenger had told him that Jun Huang was alright, but Nan Xun could not rest easy until he saw for himself that Jun Huang had recovered. He would be the next one to collapse if he let his heart continue to pound this hard due to his worry.
Originally Nan Xun was going to enter through the front door, but when he got close enough to see the entrance, he saw the men Qi Chen had left outside Jun Huang’s place. Qi Chen must have been worried that he wouldn’t be able to get updated promptly should something happen to Jun Huang.
The front door was no longer an option. Nan Xun looked around and snuck his way to the back of the living compound. This spot was closer to the south wing. Behind the wall was the building Jun Huang’s room was in.
Nan Xun was a master of light body technique. With a push of his foot, he lept into the air and landed on the other side of the wall. He made sure that no one was around before making his way to the south wing.
The room was still lit by candlelight. Nan Xun could see Jun Huang’s silhouette through the paper window. He frowned and quickened his pace.
With a quiet creak, he opened the door. The servants seemed to have left the door unlocked so that Jun Huang could call out for help if needed. Cold wind swept into the building and sent the paintings hanging on the wall fluttering.
In the silence of the room, Jun Huang heard the creaking door and the fluttering sound clearly. She frowned.
“Who is it?” she asked, alert.
“It’s me,” said Nan Xun as he entered the room. Jun Huang lay on her bed, her face pale. She had lost even more weight. Her skin might as well be hanging over bare bones.
She was holding a book with her hands resting on her torso. Her broad sleeves fell to her elbows, showing her delicate wrists. Beautiful, but terrifyingly fragile.
Her frail form made Nan Xun angry. You push yourself to this extent for Qi Yun, he cursed in his head, but do you know that he is only using you?
He stared at Jun Huang coldly, but didn’t voice his thoughts. Jun Huang looked up at him in confusion.
Nan Xun’s heart ached when he looked at her thin face. He couldn’t suppress himself any longer. “If you want to find Jun Hao, if you want to make the traitor that destroy your family and country pay, you have to take care of yourself. That’s what you must do first. You have to rest so that you can live long enough to achieve your goals.”
“I know what you want isn’t merely to destroy Eastern Wu. You want to see this war-torn land unite into one peaceful country as well. If that’s the case, it’s even more important that you take care of yourself. Don’t worry us so much.” His anger drained from his voice as he spoke, and his scolding turned into a plea. Nan Xun was incapable of staying angry at Jun Huang once he met her eyes. He could only turn his anger to himself.
Jun Huang looked at Nan Xun with round eyes. She would be lying if she said she wasn’t touched by his concerns, but she knew her body. Her knowledge in medicine was enough for her to tell that she couldn’t give Nan Xun a future.
How could she not know that Nan Xun was worried? She knew even that Nan Xun reciprocated her feelings. But knowing was one thing. The reality was a different matter. She didn’t have enough life in herself to give Nan Xun what he wanted.
As long as Jun Huang didn’t tell Nan Xun what she felt, Nan Xun would keep his feelings to himself. He thought that Jun Huang knew not the love two people could share, that she was driven by only revenge and a desire to see the world unite. He didn’t know that Jun Huang was keeping her feelings a secret because she couldn’t see a future for the two of them.
If she admitted to Nan Xun what she felt, what would Nan Xun do once she took her last breath?
That was the problem with being clever. She would never be free of concerns for the future. Jun Huang pushed her overwhelming emotions aside and took a deep breath, pulling her lips into a cold sneer.
Even with such a cruel smile on her face, Nan Xun still found her unbelievably beautiful. Jun Huang had to force herself to ignore the fondness in Nan Xun’s eyes. How deep is this man’s feeling, she wondered. But she couldn’t dwell on it. She had to purposefully wield her words like weapons to deter him.
“I know what I’m doing. There’s no need for you to worry.”
“I – ”
“Nan Xun!” Jun Huang cut him off. She placed the book on the bedside table and met his gaze. “Don’t you think you have been prying into my business too much lately? You and I are merely allies. There is no reason for you to be this nosy. Your Highness is kind, but your kindness is too much of a burden to me.”
Nan Xun never knew that Jun Huang was capable of such cruelty. Her voice was so cold it was as if they had always been enemies. He felt his heart clench at her words.
“You – you’re too stubborn for your own good!” Nan Xun’s expression darkened. In his rage, he stormed away, slamming the door shut after him. The bright moon only served to stoke his ire. He vaulted over the wall, disappearing into the night.
Jun Huang lost all her strength and flopped down to her bed, breathing heavily. She knew what she had said was hurtful, but she didn’t want Nan Xun to waste his time on her. He deserved someone he could build a life with.
She had knocked off the book she placed on the bedside table when she lay down, but she didn’t care. Slowly, she closed her eyes, seeking the warmth Nan Xun had left behind.
But what was gone was gone. There was only a cold and empty void in his place.