Chapter 24: Fake Robbers
Nan Xun didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at her unreasonableness. In the end, he could only agree. He was well aware that Jun Huang wouldn’t really tell on them, but she would also never drop the matter if he didn’t agree. She might even go so far as to sneak into the yamen herself, and possibly put herself in even more danger.
Once she’d reached her goal, Jun Huang quickly returned to her room and fished out a set of black clothes, suitable for sneaking around at night. After she changed clothes, she reconvened with Nan Xun.
Nan Xun was also dressed in black, but his hair was tied up. He almost disappeared into the shadows when he stood still. He was holding a dirk in his hands which he shoved into Jun Huang’s hands after seeing her, telling her to keep herself safe. Jun Huang didn’t stand on ceremony, accepting the dirk and deftly sheathing 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 had stashed his embezzled funds in the yamen, he’d naturally put a guard detail to watch it. Jun Huang originally wanted to scatter some confusion powder and take all the guards out, but Nan Xun stopped her from doing so.
“Apparently there are lots of local robbers and thieves around here. All of them have set their sights set on the yamen in one way or another. But when they make their move, they rarely use drugs. We just need to barge in. No need to arouse unnecessary suspicion,” Nan Xun spoke.
Jun Huang looked at Nan Xun through her veil and nodded, putting her powder away. A harsh whisper was the trigger for the group to break out in a silent charge.. Perhaps they’d grown lax after such a long period of peace, but the drowsy guards jerked awake a beat too late when they saw that robbers had come calling. They were all a-fluster and were quickly restrained after a panicked scramble. Worried that too much chaos would create danger for them, Nan Xun and Jun Huang stood guard outside while the rest of the men snuck in. It wasn’t the proper time to reveal themselves either.
Jun Huang was a bit worried as she clenched her fists, peering anxiously inside from time to time. Sweat soon greased 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 noticed her nervousness. He squeezed them twice in soundless comfort. “It’ll be fine, don’t worry too much.”
Nan Xun’s composed tone was calming when it registered in her ears. Jun Huang nodded, taking a deep breath in but keeping her eyes on the yamen, waiting for those inside to emerge. It didn’t take long for a hubbub to start and grow louder, as flames started to illuminate the night sky. The sounds of swords and blades clashing together made hearts jump in fright. A small frown creased her forehead as Jun Huang asked, “Is something the matter?”
Nan Xun’s brow was likewise 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 in twenty minutes.” He shifted his weight forward as he prepared to leap in.
“And where are you going?” Jun Huang reached out and snagged Nan Xun’s hand, uneasiness clear in her eyes.
“I’m just going to take a look, I’ll be fine.” Nan Xun didn’t linger after reassuring Jun Huang and charged straight in after gently disengaging.
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. The beads of sweat on her forehead followed the creases of her frown as they made their way down her face, but she didn’t feel them at all until moisture started to blur her vision. She raised her hand to rub roughly at her forehead before continuing to maintain her stance leaning against the wall, completely motionless.
She hadn’t manned her post for long before a man in the yamen’s uniform ran out. He took a moment to get his bearings before bolting in the direction of the inn. Jun Huang looked at the yamen, then back at the yamen runner who was about to disappear from view. After swiftly debating the pros and cons of a few decisions, she resolutely took off herself, taking advantage of a shortcut to get back to the inn. She had to get back before the runner and somehow buy some more time for Nan Xun and the group. They had to 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. Pain shot up her knee and knocked loose a grunt from her throat. She scrambled back up to her feet instantly, enduring the pain with a frown, and limped the rest of the way to the inn in a hasty trot. She slipped back into her room unnoticed and changed her clothes, removing any trace of her fall. By the time she wa once again presentable, the runner had arrived and started to knock on Qi Chen’s door.
It was almost midnight, so Qi Chen was fast asleep. He was naturally somewhat displeased at being woken up in the middle of the night. When he saw the yamen runner kneeling beside 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…” Before he could finish, Qi Chen had leaped up from the bed, sending the runner sprawling with a kick. His fists curled into fists as his face turned vicious. It was at this moment that Jun Huang knocked on the door, pretending to have just woken.
As she walked in, her eyes first found the the yamen runner cowering on the ground, then Qi Chen, who looked to be in a towering rage. Jun Huang snorted derisively inside but didn’t betray the slightest hint on her face. “Why is Your Highness so angry?” She asked, feigning surprise.
Qi Chen naturally wouldn’t tell her that his embezzled funds was currently being stolen by robbers. He could only gnash his teeth and swallow his anger. He took a deep breath to try and settle his emotions and forced a smile, “It’s nothing much. I’d just heard that the magistrate’s been broken into by some robbers. I’m just punishing the servants for being useless.”
“This matter is of grave importance. Your Highness, shall I accompany you for a visit?” Jun Huang nodded and pretended to understand.
“Alright.” Qi Chen gave orders to get his clothes ready. Once he was dressed, he led Jun Huang to the yamen. Nan Xun and the others had already left, leaving behind nothing but broken fragments everywhere. It seemed that no one had died or even been injured. Jun Huang took a moment to inwardly sigh with appreciation at Nan Xun’s methods, but still maintained a firm poker face.