Chapter 15: Assassination
“Does it have to with the crown prince?” Qi Chen guessed as he focused his gaze on Jun Huang.
“The crown prince called for almost a dozen girls last night at Ladies of the Lake, but couldn’t have his way with them. Everyone’s saying now that the crown prince isn’t man enough to do the deed.” Jun Huang poured another cup of tea. “The people are the foundation of the country. Is it not a good thing that the crown prince’s image has plunged in their eyes?”
“The gentleman has good schemes indeed!” Qi Chen instantly reacted.
Jun Huang smiled faintly in response and offered the tea cup to Qi Chen. She enunciated each word clearly, “As long as Your Highness doesn’t treat me as an outsider and trusts me, I will plumb the depths of my abilities to help Your Highness gain the throne!”
“Good, good, very good!” Qi Chen repeated himself. “This gentleman is wise and knowledgeable, and with your help, how will this prince fear not gaining the world? From today forth, you are my brother! You need no longer to call yourself ‘this commoner’, this prince is a few years older than you, so you may call me Brother Qi!”
“Elder brother Qi.” Jun Huang immediately changed her title of address.
“Younger brother Feng!” Qi Chen laughed heartily.
In the depths of the foggy night, Jun Huang was reading at a table, a lamp merrily lit in front of her when a thought struck her. She suddenly looked outside. The shadows of the trees thrashed wildly as the branches danced in the night wind beneath the moonlight. She could see nothing out of the ordinary. However, Jun Huang trusted her intuition. She thought for a moment and lightly put down the scroll in her hand. She rose to open the door to take a look for herself.
She’d just cleared the corner when a longsword suddenly whistled through the air. Thankfully, Jun Huang was very alert, deftly dodging the stab by weaving.
“Who are you?” She narrowed her eyes at the assassin, her tone cold.
The assassin was garbed in black from head to toe, revealing only two eyes. Discovery seemed to only make him more fearless as he raised the longsword in his hand, viciously stabbing towards Jun Huang again.
The look in Jun Huang’s eyes sharpened as she no longer pulled her blows. Although she didn’t have a weapon in hand, she’d practiced martial arts since she was young. Since she was also equipped with poisons, dealing with a mere assassin wasn’t a problem for her. Jun Huang quickly restrained him after a few exchanges and threw him up against a wall. She yanked off the cloth covering his face. As she thought, it revealed an unfamiliar face. “Who sent you!”
The assassin didn’t respond, but an ominous feeling suddenly welled up in Jun Huang’s heart. Almost subconsciously, she threw herself to the side, barely dodging a couple of silver needles as she did so. Sharp thuds echoed through the room as they buried themselves in the wall in front of her. Jun Huang whipped around just in time to see the assassin’s mouth leak a few drops of blood. He wasn’t breathing anymore.
The Prince Nan Manor.
Nan Xun’s face was so dark after hearing his daily report that he almost blended into with the shadows of the room. “You say that Feng Baiyu was attacked tonight?” Absolutely murderous fury uncoiled around every word. It was enough to make listeners shudder at the very sound.
“Yes, master. Sir Feng only suffered some bruises and scrapes. She wasn’t seriously injured,” Wuqing responded.
Nan Xun didn’t say anything, the surging emotions in his eyes the only testament to the wrathful flame that burned in their owner. “Dismissed! Stray not even a foot from her side!” He finally laid down a curt order after a long silence.
“Yes, master.” Wuqing bowed and slowly vanished from behind Nan Xun.
Nan Xun remained with his fists tightly clenched, the nails sinking into his flesh and drawing deep trails of blood. He’d thought he’d only just admired Jun Huang, but fear had actually slipped into his heart when he heard the concealed guards say that she’d been attacked. It’s a good thing she’s alright, otherwise…
“Qi Yin.” A bloodthirsty smile suddenly blossomed on his face. In all of the capital, only Qi Yin would raise a hand against Jun Huang at this moment. A frosty light glinted out of Nan Xun’s deep eyes. Aren’t you something, Your Highness? Jun Huang has just given you a minor setback, and look at you in such a hurry to give her a warning!
He let out a short sigh and unconsciously picked up the brush on the table, penning down a word on the clean paper after dipping it in ink. A meaningful smile graced his face when he looked at the result. Since you’ve started it, Your Highness, I’ll help you continue this game. Since you’re making moves against Jun Huang in the dark, I’ll just have to help her in a similar fashion.
On a dreary and rainy day, the sky was several degrees darker than usual. The emperor had set a heavy guard outside the crown prince’s palace to keep Qi Yin under lock and key during his confinement. The palace was much quieter since the crown prince had been grounded. All of the servants in the palace were the ambitiously materialistic sort, so who would come fawn over the crown prince when they saw how he’d fallen out of favor?
A serving girl pushed open the door to Qi Yin’s room, allowing her lithe figure to sashay into view. “Your Highness, we’re here with your breakfast.”
Another maid entered with clothes in hand as she snuck a quick look at Qi Yin. He didn’t look at either of them and remained sitting in front of his desk, responding lowly, “Just leave it there!”
The second serving girl, garbed in pink, placed the clothes down and reported to Qi Yin, “Your Highness, Consort Ping is worried about you and specially commanded us to deliver this clothing for you.”
Qi Yin nodded after taking a look at the garment. “I know.”
“Milady says that she is afraid the garment may not be the right fit, and so wishes this servant to help the crown prince dress.”
Qi Yin still didn’t feel anything untoward about this. He couldn’t leave the palace at the moment anyhow, so he had the two serving girls help him change. When the two finished helping him behind the changing screen and he was fully clad, the pink clad girl surreptitiously stepped on the hem of the other girl. The other girl stumbled into Qi Yin’s embrace, “Ah…”
Soft, panicked breaths aroused certain thoughts in Qi Yin as the two girls immediately dropped to their knees, begging for forgiveness. “We know our guilt, please forgive us, Your Highness!”
Qi Yin waved his hand lightly as a smirk graced the face of the pink clad girl. She immediately withdrew outside the door. He reached forth and his finger traced the remaining girl’s face, turning her face to his. Things were different from the Ladies of the Lake, as Qi Yin was finally man enough in his own palace.
It was a pity that good times don’t last for long. Just as the two were having a good tumble in the sheets, Qi Yin began to itch all over. He scratched himself to and fro to try and alleviate it. The girl in his arms even asked, “Your Highness, what is it?”
“I don’t know, I feel strangely itchy all of a sudden.” He kept scratching himself even as he spoke. The girl soon started itching as well, and the two were soon so itchy that they couldn’t stop scratching. It got so bad that they dug furrows into their skin, and blood started flowing freely.