Saddletown, courier station.
Saddletown was a common destination for any travelers going from Western Que to Northern Qi. The west passage led to Western Que and the north passage led to Northern Qi, so traders and travelers alike used this town as a waystation. Jun Huang had just ordered some random dishes in an inn in Saddletown when she heard some traders conversing loudly at the table next to her.
"The Northern Qi border skirmishes have started again! I passed through there this morning, and guess what I saw!" One of the traders spoke mysteriously.
"War's never stopped on that border. Fights break out every few days, do you really need to be so surprised?" One of the other guests snorted disdainfully.
"Those are just small scuffles, but guess what I saw this time?" the trader replied emotionally. "The Nan troops! That war god prince of Northern Qi!"
Jun Huang's hand hesitated for a second as she picked up some food with her chopsticks, her forehead knitting together slightly. Nan Xun, titled Prince Nan. If the rumors were true, even as a young man, he commanded three armies and was undefeated in battle. He roved the lands freely, and all his enemies quailed and cowered at his arrival. He was the war god of northern Qi. But why was such a heroic character getting involved in the scrapes of the border?
"Oh come off it. What kind of character is General Nan Xun? How would he possibly come to this tiny place?" Another trader skeptically voiced Jun Huang's thoughts at that moment.
"Oh, oh, you don't know, do you?" The previous trader was quite proud of himself. "Did you know that Western Que has been destroyed, and there are no survivors of the royal clan? So who do you think held the funeral for Western Que Emperor Jun Hongmo?"
Another trader detected the connotations behind these words. "You mean to say that Nan Xun held the funeral?"
Jun Huang started as her chopsticks clattered to the ground. "What did you say?!" She surged to her feet and stared hard at the trader. "Nan Xun held a funeral for the ruler of Western Que?"
The trader hadn't anticipated such an exaggerated reaction and blinked in surprise. He still replied, "Yeah, apparently the funeral was quite something. Every place within Western Qu hung white veils for half a month to mourn their fallen emperor." He sighed at the end. "They all say that the prince is cold-hearted and brutal, but to think that he was the only one who rushed to Western Que after it was destroyed..."
Complicated emotions flashed through Jun Huang's eyes. Indeed, how tragic and laughable was this? Western Que had stood strong for almost a hundred years, and it lay in ruins after only a night. She'd thought that her father and mother would remain unsated, vengeful souls in the underworld, but someone had actually held a funeral for her royal parents!
"Where did you say you saw the Nan troops?" Jun Huang took a deep breath in and looked at the trader again. Logically and emotionally speaking, she should personally thank Nan Xun after he'd treated Western Que thus.
She left Saddletown and headed north, making fast time. After a while on the road, Jun Huang could make out bodies lying scattered on the ground ahead. She sped up and ground to a halt next to them. Her heart anxious, she hastily turned over the nearest body. Her expression changed drastically when she recognized the uniform and insignia of a Northern Qi soldier. Moreover, there was a large "Nan" emblazoned on his chest. The Nan troops! Jun Huang hurriedly flipped over multiple bodies. All of them had "Nan" on their chests. Had the Nan troops lost this battle? What of Nan Xun? She suppressed the anxiety in her heart and began searching the battlefield closely. The piercing smell of blood and gore filled her nose, inciting the urge to vomit more than a few times.
She'd never met Nan Xun, but as the leader, his accoutrements would certainly be different from ordinary soldiers. She frantically searched through the wreckage of the battle and finally found a man slumped over in a corner of the battlefield. He was wearing a suit of armor reserved for generals.
This was a handsome young man. The lines of his face spoke to his determination, and his eyebrows extended vigorously towards his sideburns. He overflowed with strong male charisma, and his heavy armor was stained with blood. He looked like a Shura god who had crawled out from hell. Jun Huang's breath caught, and she hastily extended probing fingers towards his nose.
Thank goodness, he's still breathing. He's alive. Jun Huang sighed with relief, but also knew that no more delays could be brooked. Someone could come over at any time; she had to leave right away. The man was too heavily injured, so she didn't dare walk too far. She hastily found a discreet cave nearby and hauled the man into it after expending all the strength in her body.
His wounds had to be treated immediately. Thankfully, the month she'd spent devouring medicinal books with Ole Cragfiend wasn't for nothing. With the large packet of medicines that the old man had given her when she left, it wasn't a difficult process to treat him.
The wounds on the man's upper body were soon dressed, and Jun Huang blushed as she looked at his thigh, still seeping blood. The wound in his lower body was in an awkward place, but his life would be in danger if she didn't do something about it. She hesitated, then ducked her head with a murmured apology, taking a deep breath and reaching towards his crotch.
Just as Jun Huang touched the man's pants, a hand snapped out like lightning, catching hers. At the same time, his other hand closed around her neck. Cold eyes met her startled ones. It seems that Nan Xun had woken up some time ago. "Who are you?"
"Let... let go of me..." Jun Huang was startled and the look in Nan Xun's eyes grew savage, his expression even colder. Her hand seemed ready to snap in his, and her lungs were beginning to protest as his hand around her neck tightened. Her struggles grew fainter, and she almost couldn't speak.
In the moment that she thought that she would die from suffocation, the strength binding her abruptly ceased. Nan Xun had fainted just as suddenly as he'd awoken.
Jun Huang heaved and sucked in great gasps of air, her brain still struggling to react. She'd really felt that she was facing the god of death in that split second. She hadn't felt that kind of suffocating despair even when she'd been surrounded by enemy soldiers on the cliff. This man was completely unfathomable. She couldn't oppose him no matter what! Jun Huang didn't have any other thoughts after that, and she swiftly applied medicine to the rest of his wounds.
By the time she'd tied off the last bandage, it was almost dusk. Jun Huang looked at the unconscious Nan Xun and weighed the situation. She decided to find some food first.
Jun Huang turned over the wild rabbit she'd caught. The flesh was nicely browned now and a delicious scent filled the cave, tempting one's appetite. Nan Xun slowly came awake, his mind still groggy. His nose twitched as he inhaled the delicious smell of the rabbit. His eyes snapped open, and flicked from side to side, taking in everything around him. The ruthlessness in his eyes dissipated as he realized where he was.
This wasn't the battlefield, but a cave. There was only a man dressed in white facing away from him in this place.
"Who are you?" Nan Xun watched Jun Huang's back warily, his voice low and hoarse.
"Awake hmm?" Jun Huang looked back and saw that Nan Xun didn't seem in immediate discomfort. She casually tore off a piece of meat and threw it to Nan Xun. "Eat something, you've been out for most of the day."
It was only then that Nan Xun saw the man's face and blinked. This man is stunningly beautiful. "You saved me?" Nan Xun narrowed his eyes at Jun Huang as his memories started to come back to him. His tone was quite certain, even though he'd framed it as a question. Even though he'd been unconscious, he still remembered that brief brief moment of lucidity. He remembered someone drawing near him and how he'd wrapped his hand around the person's neck. In his injured haze, he only remembered a set of pure and clear eyes, the same eyes that the man in front of him now sported.