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Chapter 156: Taking a Leap of Faith
Nan Xun was a man of integrity. He knew where to draw the line. He went to one of the guards' rooms to take a bath. When he came back, Jun Huang was drawing under the candlelight.
Jun Huang noticed his approach before he got close. She turned around. Nan Xun felt awkward all of a sudden. He scratched at his nose and coughed before walking to Jun Huang's side. He looked down at the portraits on the sheets of rice paper.
"Are they Yin Yun and Jun Hao?" asked Nan Xun.
Jun Huang nodded and let out a sigh as she laid down her ink brush. "I hope we can find them without accidents."
The bone deep tiredness she radiated made Nan Xun's heart clench. He paused and, with feign nonchalance, said, "Get some rest. I'll stay outside for the night."
With that, he walked out of the door, leaving Jun Huang staring after him.
Nan Xun's consideration made warmth bloom in her heart. A hint of smile snuck onto her face without her noticing. She contemplated the drawings in her hands for a good while.
She was exhausted. It didn't take long for her to fall asleep. When she woke up, the sun was rising from the horizon. The peaceful Yun Town slowly came out of its slumber. Jun Huang cleaned herself up and opened the window. At dawn saw Yun Town covered in a thin layer of fog.
The climate here was comfortable, and this was the most serene area in Northern Qi. Raised on this land, the locals weren't as strongly-built as those in other parts of Northern Qi. Instead, they were more similar to the gentle people of Jiangnan.
The day had only just broken. Jun Huang took a deep breath. She could almost taste the dew in the morning air. She opened the door when she was fully awake.
As that day in the relay station, Nan Xun had been keeping watch at the door throughout the night for her safety. He only fell asleep lying against the chair early in the morning.
The other customers were still asleep. Only the clerks were up and working. Jun Huang had thought that Nan Xun would rest on the divan. She didn't expect him to stay at the door again.
It took a moment for her to shake away the tender feelings filling her heart. She walked up to Nan Xun and tapped him on the shoulder.
People trained in martial arts kept their guard up even in sleep. Nan Xun had woken up before Jun Huang reached him. He opened his eyes when Jun Huang touched his shoulder and blinked at her beautiful face.
"Why did you sleep outside again?" asked Jun Huang. She didn't notice the concern in her tone.
Nan Xun shook his throbbing head and straightened his back. "It's nothing. This way, you won't feel uneasy because of my presence. Besides, the divan is… small. I can't really fit on it. Might as well stay outside and use the opportunity to observe other people."
His tone was casual, but Jun Huang knew it was deliberate. Nan Xun simply didn't want her to worry. She looked at the divan Nan Xun spoke of. She had not had a good look last night, but now she realized that it was small. Nan Xun was a tall man. It would be uncomfortable for him to sleep on it.
When Nan Xun was trying to come up with something to a.s.sure Jun Huang, the four guards they brought with them walked out of their rooms. They stood on the side and respectfully awaited their orders. It wasn't a good time for such conversation.
Nan Xun cleared his throat and told the guards to go get something to eat first. He returned to his room to clean himself up before following Jun Huang downstairs.
When they arrived yesterday, it was late, and the main hall was empty. Now, in the morning, people started trickling in to have breakfast. Most had come to Yun Town to attend the martial arts compet.i.tion. All of them looked like formidable foes.
Nan Xun kept an eye on them. As someone who had fought on battlefields, he knew better than many that a healthy dose of suspicion was crucial to survival. His guards kept their guard up as well.
Jun Huang was the only one who didn't react. She couldn't care less about the compet.i.tion. Her sole focus was on finding Jun Hao and Yin Yun. It had been too long since she last heard of them. She couldn't help getting both excited and nervous over the possibility of seeing them again. She was afraid that this might turn out to be another disappointment.
Once she had finished eating, she put down her chopsticks and drank her tea without a word.
After breakfast, they went to the room Jun Huang shared with Nan Xun. Jun Huang handed the guards the portraits she had drawn last night and said, "Thank you for the help."
"The gentleman is too kind," said one of the guards. "These subordinates are simply fulfilling our duties."
They left the room, leaving Jun Huang and Nan Xun on their own.
Nan Xun sighed at Jun Huang. "Don't think too much. We'll find them."
Contrary to his words, Nan Xun actually suspected that Yin Yun and Jun Hao might not be in Yun Town at all. He, however, couldn't possibly rain on Jun Huang's parade. He had to take this leap of faith with her.
Nan Xun took Jun Huang's cool fingers in his hands. She looked up at him and put on a small smile. "I plan to go look for them myself as well," she said casually after taking a deep breath. "I can't stay here and do nothing while your men do the leg work."
"I'll go with you," said Nan Xun.
Jun Huang nodded and pulled her hands away with her lips curved. She quickly made some preparations before leaving the inn with Nan Xun and started searching.
Yun Town wasn't a big city, but it wasn't small either. It was difficult to track down an individual. Jun Huang didn't intend to give up. Nan Xun knew how determined she was to find her brother, so he kept quiet. He didn't want to make her unhappy.
Jun Huang showed her drawings to the local people, but they all shook their heads and said they had never seen these two men. Even if they had, they wouldn't remember with all the visitors coming to Yun Town recently.
After going through two streets, Jun Huang slowed down her pace. Nan Xun could tell that she was getting tired. He took the drawings from her and said, "Take some rest and wait here for me. I'll keep asking around for you."
"Remember to protect yourself," Nan Xun said. He usually talked to Jun Huang with a hint of smile, but now his expression was completely serious. His eyebrows were knitted together in his worry that Jun Huang would turn away his help. "There are a lot of people from the martial arts world coming to this town. They can all be dangerous. You should stay away from them. I'm going to that area and will return shortly."
Jun Huang knew she had made enough troubles for Nan Xun. Her health was not how it had been. She nodded after a moment of silence and took a seat at a tea stand. "Don't worry," she said with a smile. "I'll stay here and take a rest."
Nan Xun nodded. He kept looking back as he walked away. In the blink of an eye, he had disappeared into the crowd.
Why can't we find Yin Yun and Jun Hao, Jun Huang wondered.
Neither of them were ordinary men, and they were both good looking. They should have left an impression on people. It didn't make sense that she couldn't find anything.
Jun Huang stared at her cup of tea. And then realization struck her suddenly.
Yin Yun was a master of disguise! How could she have forgotten that? Maybe Yin Yun and Jun Hao were in Yun Town, but they had disguised themselves to avoid detection. That was why she couldn't find them.
The more she thought, the more convinced she was of her speculation. She downed her tea and paid the bill before rus.h.i.+ng to the direction Nan Xun had left in.
She walked so quickly it seemed as if there was wind beneath her feet. She had to find Nan Xun and told him about her realization.
In the shadow casted by a short wall stood two men. One was an adult. There was an air of n.o.bility to him. The sword he held in his hand was made of darksteel, which seemed to radiated coldness. The other was a young boy. His features bore a strong resemblance to Jun Huang's. His eyes were clear and free of any impurities.
Yin Yun pursed his lips and looked outside. A trace of apprehension crept into his heart. He had a feeling that something bad was going to happen.
"Why are we hiding here, Yin Yun?" asked Jun Hao, holding onto Yin Yun's sleeve. His voice was nervous and his breathing quiet. He was worried that he would attract their enemies even by breathing a little louder.
"Perhaps. I didn't expect them to be this resourceful." Yin Yun frowned deeply, but his tone was calm. He had a hand on the hilt of his sword, ready to fight men from Eastern Wu at any moment.
Jun Hao knew how to read people. His eyebrows drew together slightly. Even though he was on the run, and Western Que was no more, there was a presence to him that one could not ignore. His every movement reminded one of Jun Huang's grace.
He tightened his grip on Yin Yun's sleeve and said in a deliberately calm voice, "So what? We're not afraid of them. You're injured, Yin Yun. You can't get into a fight with them again. We should focus on finding big sister."
Jun Hao was a child after all. His line of thoughts was often unpredictable. He simply spoke his mind. He didn't care if Yin Yun could grasp his meaning.
Yin Yun knew him, though. He knew that Jun Hao missed Jun Huang dearly. They had spent a lot of time trying to find Jun Huang, but they couldn't find anything. That didn't make sense.
Someone like Jun Huang wouldn’t just disappear, and yet it seemed like she had. No one knew where she was. Not even the men from Eastern Wu.
Yin Yun had suspected the worst – maybe Jun Huang had been caught by people from Eastern Wu. He even snuck into Eastern Wu to investigate. What he found a.s.sure him that Jun Huang wasn't being held there, but he had been exposed and injured as a result. Now they were looking for Jun Huang with Eastern Wu's men on their tail.