Chapter 55: Overcome with Want
Nan Jihan couldn’t take his eyes off Jun Huang. He had never met a man as beautiful as Jun Huang. His expression softened.
Jun Huang cursed under her breath. She was a little drunk, however, and was too dizzy to do anything. She rested her head on her palm.
Nan Jihan felt his self-control wavering in the dim light. He had drunk quite a lot of wine and couldn’t control his limbs well. He took a step back to steady himself and took a deep breath with his eyes closed. When he opened his eyes again, his attention was drawn to Jun Huang’s misty eyes. She looked good with her cheeks flushed.
It may be that Nan Jihan had lost his reason, it may be that he was bewitched by the moonlight – he was suddenly overcome with want. His pupils dilated in response. Jun Huang didn’t notice it.
The air went still. Nan Jihan stepped into Jun Huang’s personal space. She looked up when she saw his gilded boots and frowned. There were desires in his eyes. Her eyebrows drew closer and she struggled to stand up.
Nan Jihan didn’t give her a chance to escape. He pushed Jun Huang back down with his hands on her shoulders and leaned in.
“Your Highness – ” Jun Huang instantly sobered up and said, but the rest of her words were muffled by Nan Jihan’s hand.
Jun Huang looked up at Nan Jihan. Her face turned impassive and lost its brilliance. Her eyes became as empty as the void. It agitated Nan Jihan. He smoothed over Jun Huang’s eyebrows with a finger and murmured, “Has anyone said that the gentleman would make a radiant woman?”
Jun Huang gave him a weird look. She assumed it was only a drunk man’s talk, but, well, might as well humor him. She nodded and let out a quiet laugh. “The crown prince said so once.” She touched her own face with a resigned smile. “I suppose it’s true. I want to be a respectable man, but alas, I was born with a face like this.”
Nan Jihan looked at Jun Huang without a word, his eyes growing darker and darker. His fingers dug into her shoulders, burying in between her bones. Jun Huang frowned, but she didn’t struggle. She didn’t want to act recklessly without knowing what Nan Jihan was trying to do.
“Why couldn’t you be a woman? A woman as beautiful as you would be loved by tens of thousands of people.” Nan Jihan caressed Jun Huang’s face. It made her hair stand on end.
Jun Huang couldn’t tolerate this harrassment anymore. She pushed his hand away. “Your Highness should try to control yourself.”
Nan Jihan’s eyes went icy as if she had said something highly offensive. He grabbed Jun Huang by her wrist, using so much force that he left a mark. The dark red looked frightening against her pale skin.
“Do you know who you’re looking at right now, Feng Baiyu?” Nan Jihan said through clenched teeth. His features twisted into a threatening scowl. He looked like a demon from hell. “Do you know what happens to people who say no to me? Do you know that I can kill you right here, right now, and everyone will be none the wiser?”
Jun Huang remained calm and collected. She was as prideful as the flower Queen of the Night. The moonlight covered her with a thin layer of silver. She quirked her lips into a faint smile. She seemed indifferent to the world, but her charm was irresistible. “This gentleman knows you are Nan Jihan, the first prince of Southern Mu. Does Your Highness want me dead? Go ahead and end my life. I wonder, however, if Your Highness… has the passion of Longyang and is interested in men?1”
Her words hit a nerve, and Nan Jihan woke up suddenly from the dream he weaved for himself. He found himself covered with sweat. He almost did something sinful. He felt a lingering fear in his heart.
Nan Jihan coughed. He wanted to pretend nothing had happened, but Jun Huang’s blatant stare was a clear reminder that he had lost his calm and reason. He snapped and seized her wrist again.
“Face it, Feng Baiyu, if I wanted to take you into my harem, you’ll have no choice but to obey,” he sneered. “You’re merely an honored guest of Qi Chen. What reasons does he have to keep you? Qi Chen is now in power and you’re under his wing, yes. But that doesn’t mean you’re absolved of all hardships in the world.”
Jun Huang’s gaze was fearless. She let out a laugh, her brows and eyes curved into crescents like the moon in the sky. There was a universe of stars within her brilliant eyes.
“Why is Your Highness so angry?” She said mockingly, raising an eyebrow with a wide smile. “For you, I am merely a man of no importance. Besides, I’m a man who is bound to marry a good woman. How can I be part of Your Highness’s harem? Has Your Highness lost your sanity to the moon?”
Nan Jihan glowered at her and clenched his teeth to tamp down his rage. He wanted to do nothing but to slap Jun Huang on that pretty face of hers, but he managed to control himself. Subconsciously, he didn’t want Jun Huang’s cheeks to become red for reasons other than being drunk.
Nan Jihan pushed her arm away and took a deep breath before standing up with his arms folded behind his back. He turned around with a huff and walked towards the door, only stopping to say to the guards, “Watch him. If he escapes, I’ll have your heads.” He was so angry that he didn’t even try to keep Jun Huang from hearing what he said. With that, he left.
The guards shut the door immediately. They didn’t say a word to Jun Huang for fear of making mistakes. And they didn’t dare to tie Jun Huang back up without Nan Jihan’s order.
The room quieted down. Jun Huang rubbed at her wrists. Nan Jihan had been forceful, but he did show some restraint. Her wrists were red, but not hurt.
The alcohol had done quite the damage to her body, and her nerves were tense from fear. She was a woman after all. How could she not be afraid of what Nan Jihan might do?
She was an ordinary person living in the mortal world. She felt fear just like anyone else.
Now that Nan Jihan had left, she finally came down from the adrenaline rush. Her mind was on the verge of a nervous breakdown after all the dangers she had faced tonight. Her clothes were drenched, and her forehead, too, was covered in sweat. Her temples were throbbing so hard it was as if her skin was going to break.
She collapsed to the floor. She had no strength left to even move a muscle. It took a long time for her to regain her focus. Her face was terrifyingly pale. She could taste blood in her mouth. She swallowed down the rusty taste.
Her clothes were wrinkled and she was a mess. Those were the least of her problems, however. She forced herself to sit up and took a breath to suppress her discomfort.
She picked up a cup from the table and took a swig. It was so harsh that she had to blink back the tears.
After a moment or two, her temples had finally stopped hurting and the burning sensation in her stomach had dulled. The moon lost its form in the reflection of the wine. Jun Huang stared at it absentmindedly.
The spilled wine was not dried yet. Half of her sleeve was soaked and and the dark fabric was stained. It almost seemed like this was how her clothes were supposed to look.
After a few more drinks, she finally got drunk. The moon was cold and the reflection in the wine was like starlight. She couldn’t help but be captivated. The winecup dropped from her hand and fell onto the mat with a dull thud.
Hearing the noise, one of the guards rushed to open the door, worried that something might have happened to Jun Huang. He saw that Jun Huang was just drunk and fell asleep lying on the table, though. The guard let out a sigh and went back out. The thought that Jun Huang may catch a cold never crossed his mind.
“What happened?” The guard that had stayed outside asked.
“Nothing. He is drunk like a fish. We can go rest. Come on.”
After returning to the relay station, Nan Jihan was too agitated to rest. Jun Huang’s words had hit a nerve. How could he lose his composure like that? One man was no reason for him to act like a fool.
His thoughts were a tangled mess no one could figure out. No one even knew about his troubles. He didn’t fall asleep until the small hours.
When Jun Huang came to the next morning, she felt like her head was going to split in half. It was as if someone had made a mess out of her brain, or hundreds of horses had stepped on her head. It was so painful she couldn’t stop herself from tearing up.
After the pain became more manageable, she got to her feet unsteadily. The window was shut. Only a ray of sunlight could come in through the crack, illuminating the dust floating in the air. Suddenly she felt like everything had been a dream, and she was still enjoying her life in the palace of Western Que.
What was lost could not be recovered. She was filled with sorrow, but she knew this wasn’t the time for her to dwell on her pain. Her priority now was to leave this place as soon as possible.
Her wish wasn’t granted, however. Nan Jihan was nowhere to be seen. Someone did come in to bring her some food, but it wasn’t much. She felt herself getting weaker and her face turned an unhealthy color.
Jun Huang stared at the winecup on the table. No one knew what she was thinking.
Eventually, Jun Huang decided that she had to do something to break this gridlock. She had important things to do. And Qi Chen would get suspicious if she disappeared for too long. Most importantly, she had to think about Nan Xun. What would he do if he couldn’t find her?
She didn’t know. She didn’t want to consider the possibilities.
In the evening, one of Nan Jihan’s people brought food to the room. He was surprised to see that Jun Huang was wide awake. Jun Huang had been in a trance the whole day.
Jun Huang stopped him before he could leave. “Can you please go find the first prince for me?” she said with a smile. “Just tell him I have matters I’ll like to discuss with him.”
The man nodded and left the room. Immediately, he sent a messenger to the relay station. He couldn’t afford to wait. Nan Jihan wanted Feng Baiyu on his side. “He” must have given up on resisting.
- It was recorded in history book that King Anxi of the Warring States period had a male lover called Longyang. Apparently the king announced that anyone who dared to tell him to take beautiful women into his harem would be killed and would have their family killed. Passion of Longyang is then used to refer to homosexuality. ↩