Phoenix Ascending

Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Saved

“General, what’s happened to you?” Meng Yao’s eyes reddened with anger when he saw Nan Xun’s body covered with wounds. “Who did this! I heard you were ambushed, who’s the bastard who dared to do such a thing?! My surname isn’t Meng if I don’t find the snake and take his skin off!”

“Forget that, hurry and help me find someone.” Nan Xun halted Meng Yao’s chatter with a rasp. “A girl’s wearing my cloak, but she’s dressed as a man. She should’ve headed north. Send people north. You have to find her!”

“Eh?” It was a rare sight to see Nan Xun so anxious, so Meng Yao froze for a moment.

“Why aren’t you moving yet!” Nan Xun raised his foot to kick Meng Yao, but the movement tugged at the wound on his leg, making him hiss with pain.

“Alright alright alright, I’ll go right now. There’s a carriage below the mountain, I’ll have someone escort you there. Your wounds need to be tended to…” Meng Yao quickly shut his mouth when he saw Nan Xun’s gaze turn increasingly unfriendly. He swiftly scuttled off to carry out his orders.

Below the mountain, in a horse carriage.

Meng Yao had just come back with his search party. He didn’t even have time to catch his breath before Nan Xun asked anxiously, “Where is the person? Did you find them?”

“I found them, I found them! They’re right here, aren’t they?” Meng Yao rolled his eyes and waved at his soldiers to carry a body forward. Jun Huang was covered in blood and had long since passed out. Her pale face made her seem all the more fragile.

Nan Xun’s face blanched when he saw the large patches of fresh blood. He whispered, “Is she… dead?”

“She’s alive, don’t worry.” Meng Yao yanked the cloak off without another thought. “Even though she’s practically dripping in blood, most of it isn’t hers. As far as I can tell, she’s only got a few scrapes and a twisted ankle. She’s running a bit of a fever from lying out in the rain all night long, but that’s the only reason she’s still unconscious.” He tsk’ed with amazement as he looked down at her figure. “This woman is something else alright. She took out a dozen elites! General, where did you find such an amazing woman? She’s practically…”

Meng Yao’s heart spasmed with shock when he glimpsed Nan Xun’s expression. He hastily clamped his mouth shut.

“Bring her up to my carriage. We return to Saddletown.” Nan Xun kept his eyes fixed on Jun Huang’s small, pale face as he enunciated each word very clearly.

“Oh, understood…” Meng Yao only reacted halfway through his response, surprise coloring his voice, “What? Yourcarriage?”

Nan Xun glared coldly at Meng Yao, not a hint of emotion to be found in the depths of his eyes.

“Okay okay I got it. Your carriage, right? Immediately, right away. Sir, yes sir!” Meng Yao didn’t dare utter another word and arranged for Jun Huang to rest in Nan Xun’s cart at the speed of light. However, he kept up a silent stream of gossip inside. Just which family’s girl is she to ride in the general’s carriage? He’s never had anything to do with women! Honestly, the general’s about as romantic as a block of wood! Oh, wasn’t there that one woman in the capital who’d wanted to get close to him and found her way into his carriage? If I remember right, he actually kicked her out of his carriage in broad daylight. Into the street and in front of a crowd no less!

Nan Xun hurriedly had his guards locate a doctor when they rode into Saddletown, prompting Meng Yao to go, “Wait, general, your wounds are also severe. You should…” He hastily shut his mouth again when Nan Xun’s unfriendly glare swung across to him.

“How is she?” Nan Xun looked at the pale-faced girl and felt his heart clench over and over.

“In response to the general, there’s nothing much wrong with the young miss.” The doctor carefully tucked Jun Huang’s hand back beneath the blankets. “There are only a couple of minor wounds on her. A night out in the rain is the main culprit behind her cold and why she’s been sleeping. She will wake on the morrow at the latest if she takes some medicine.”

Nan Xun’s heart could finally settle down in its proper place after he heard the doctor’s assessment.

“Alright alright, since she’s fine, come take a look at the general, doctor. General, you’re far more injured than that tomboy!” Meng Yao immediately tugged the doctor over to Nan Xun’s side when he finally heard the all clear for Jun Huang. Nan Xun didn’t protest this time. The doctor took his pulse and then carefully looked at the wounds on his body, his brow slowly furrowing over time.

Meng Yao thought that the situation was dire when he saw the doctor’s expression. “What is it, doctor? Is the general in a serious condition?”

“There’s no mistaking that the general’s wounds were serious, but they’ve already been treated and dressed quite well. They’re actually already starting to heal after just a day!” The doctor shook his head and praised, “I wonder who made this medicine, it’s so miraculous! Wondrous, simply amazing!”

Nan Xun started, his gaze involuntary flitting over to the girl on the bed. She hadn’t paid heed to her own injuries, risked death to save him and had such miraculous medicine on her. Just who was she?

“General, that Eastern Wu dog got away. We couldn’t track down Jun Yu either. The capital’s sent word for you to return as soon as possible.” Once he saw the doctor off, Meng Yao adopted a rarely seen serious tone.

“Mm.” Nan Xun gave a noncommittal response as he nodded, looking down at Jun Huang on the bed. “Have someone investigate her background. And, don’t tell anyone that she’s a girl wearing men’s clothes.”

“Understood!” Meng Yao rolled his eyes. She’s a girl, but she’s dressing in these crude male clothes. She must have grown up a rough tomboy…

The room became stiflingly quiet when Meng Yao left. Only Nan Xun and Jun Huang remained in the room. Dressing as a man, able to cut to the heart of the matter with just a few words, and carrying extraordinary medicine with her. How could she possibly be an ordinary person? Nan Xun looked at Jun Huang’s ghostly pale face, all sorts of emotions he’d never experienced before rippling through him. “Just who are you, and why did you risk your life to save me?”

The person on the bed naturally didn’t respond. A smile drifted across Nan Xun’s face. No matter what, I will repay this debt of gratitude of saving my life. He took a deep look at Jun Huang and tucked her blankets in more securely. He was about to leave when he glimpsed a crimson red symbol out of the corner of his eye. That’s… a phoenix!

Nan Xun started and abruptly flipped over the blankets covering her feet, only to be greeted with the sight of a glorious phoenix unfurling its wings on the back of her foot, proud and upright, about to take off.

Seventeen years ago, natural phenomena had descended across the lands as every bird had cried out in unison. The “fire phoenix” had come into the world in Western Que. Western Que “Fire Phoenix” princess Jun Huang had been uncommon from birth, carrying the birthmark of a crimson red phoenix on her feet. She was hailed as the one selected by the fates, and it was said that whoever possessed her would have the world. It was because of this that the three other nations had always coveted her.

So… she’s the Western Que princess Jun Huang? Nan Xun cast a complicated look at the unconscious Jun Huang. He recalled how serious her tone had been when discussing the debt of gratitude, and when she said “You’re a good person”. He gently tugged down her pant leg and arranged the blankets around her again, covering the phoenix about to soar into flight. He could now guess at Jun Huang’s mission to Northern Qi. He could protect her from one danger, but could he protect her forever? He took another deep look at her before turning to leave the room.

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