Song Lijun continued to make his way over to the direction of the Jing family household. He was just about to turn into a corner to go through the empty alley when An Liu stopped him.
“What now? This path is the fastest way to uncle’s house. The more we delay, the higher the chance that she’ll escape our grasps,” Song Lijun said, feeling slightly impatient.
“Yuan-ge, there are two people who have been tailing us ever since we left the palace wall. We should avoid going through the quiet street and follow along through the main street,” An Liu replied in a whisper. “If they wanted to try anything, it’ll be harder with the people present.”
Song Lijun narrowed his eyes and was about to turn his head around to look behind them when An Liu warned him again. “Don’t look. If they knew that we know, they might simply forgo their sneaky plan and go all out…”
“What do you think they plan to do?” Song Lijun asked, careful not to speak too loudly.
“Might be kidnapping. Let’s go over there,” An Liu pointed at a direction where a stall selling candied fruits can be seen. The stall appears to be popular because the crowd appears to be surrounding it. “We can try losing them by moving through and blending in with the crowd.”
“Alright. Let’s go,” Song Lijun agreed with An Liu’s plan and grabbed the servant by the hand. Pulling him along, they went to the direction of the heavy crowd.
Jin Rongqiu who saw this scene where the object of his affection took the hand of another man and his mood plunged down to the lowest. His face turned dark as he continued to follow them. If it were not for his own self-control, he would have already gone over and taken his beauty away from that unknown man.
“Rongqiu, ah! Control yourself. You’re seething with murderous intent!” Bai Ruohan placed a hand on Jin Rongqiu’s shoulder in an attempt to calm his friend down.
“…” Jin Rongqiu didn’t answer, and his eyes never left Song Lijun’s figure. Wherever they went, Jin Rongqiu would follow them faithfully.
Naturally, An Liu took notice of this and informed Song Lijun. “He’s still following us. And he didn’t even hide his killing intent. Yuan-ge, at this rate, it might turn dangerous.”
“What is the chance of us throwing them off?” Song Lijun asked in a soft whisper.
An Liu only shook his head before he told Song Lijun his answer. “Not possible.”
“Alright. I understand,” Song Lijun said before he looked around the place. Then, he saw a tavern just a few shops away from them. Leaning closer to An Liu, Song Lijun then whispered to his ear: “Let’s go there. Surely there would be a few martial artists inside, drinking and relaxing. Maybe they would be willing to help us if we pay them.”
“Yuan-ge, I don’t think that is a good idea.”
“Then do you have any other suggestion?”
“I can go and distract them, and Yuan-ge can rush over to Jing Family estate for safety,” An Liu said and Song Lijun just frowned at him.
“Not allowed. It’s too dangerous,” Song Lijun replied. “No. Let’s just go with my plan. Worse comes to worst, we will have to pay a large compensation to the tavern owner.”
Before An Liu could even protest, Song Lijun had already dragged him to the direction of the tavern. He could’ve stayed his ground and struggle if he wanted to but it would’ve been considered a disrespectful acts towards the prince. So in the end, An Liu could only follow.
Even before entering the tavern, Song Lijun’s nose was assaulted by the smell of wines. He scrunched up his face as he covered his nose. Compared to the wines he had back in the banquet, the cheap wine in the tavern doesn’t smell as good. Especially when the smell of several types of wines were mixed together.
When he entered, he could see that the first floor was crowded, filled with people who are enjoying themselves during the celebration. Most of them had red face, drunk from drinking too much. Song Lijun felt a tug on his sleeve and turned to see An Liu’s worried expression.
“Yuan-ge, I still think this is a bad idea. Look at them. Even if they are all martial artists, I doubt they can help us with their current state. Let us leave now before trouble arise,” he said, trying to convince the young prince.
“But going back there is very dangerous. What if—”
“Hey, little brother! What’s with you wearing a hat at night? Don’t be too uptight. Come, come! Get in and sit and drink with us!”
As they were too focused on the two people who were tailing them, both Song Lijun and An Liu failed to notice a drunkard approaching them. By the time they reacted, the drunkard had already taken Song Lijun’s hat and threw it away at a random direction.
As if it had become a game, the crowd cheered and another person stood up, intending to catch the hat before it fell to the ground. Unfortunately, because he was too intoxicated, he fell to the floor instead, inciting laughter from everyone around him. The hat, now lay on the ground, forgotten.
“Hahahaha, look at those fools!” the man who snatched Song Lijun’s hat said before he turned to face Song Lijun again. “So little brothe—! Huh? You look familiar…” as he said this, the drunk man’s eyes narrowed and he leaned closer to Song Lijun.
Smelling the foul breath coming from the male’s mouth, Song Lijun’s face turned ugly as he quickly took a few steps back. “Ah, yes. I remember now! You’re that woman from Flower Pavilion!”
The clearly male Song Lijun: …
‘Who is this person again? Do I know him? He said Flower Pavilion?’ Song Lijun tried to remember the event on Flower Pavilion in an attempt to jog his memories on who the person before him was. But unfortunately, he only remembered the kiss he shared with Jin Rongqiu, which made his face turn red in embarrassment.
Unfortunately, this was misunderstood by the drunkard before him. “Heh, that man said he was going to buy your freedom. In the end, you still come to a place like this! How about you accompany me tonight and I’ll forget what happened back then.”
It was only after the man said this did Song Lijun remember who this person was. ‘Isn’t this that poor drunkard that had his wrist broken by Brother Qiu?’
“No, thank you. Xiao Liu, let’s go. We’re leaving!” Song Lijun said to An Liu.
‘To think that I would meet him again. The situation feels very familiar. Things are really not working for me today. First, my dear sister went missing. Then, I was forced to be her double and entertain the guests from Ruanyu. Now just as I want to find her, I got chased by some kidnappers and even meet this drunkard again! Just what did I do in my last life to deserve this?!’
Song Lijun was about to drag An Liu out of the tavern when the man reached out to grab his hand. Unfortunately for him, unlike the time in Flower Pavilion, Song Lijun was not alone. An Liu saw this move, and his protective instinct kicked up.
He took out the small dagger hidden in his sleeve pocket. In one swift upward movement, he cleanly chopped off the drunk man’s wrist. Blood spluttered out of the amputated arm and An Liu immediately went in front of Song Lijun in a protective manner. It wasn’t until the man was keeling over and howling in pain did An Liu realized what he had just done.
The supposed to be a simple servant An Liu: “Ah… I messed up.”
The tone that An Liu used wasn’t the timid or playful tone that Song Lijun was used to hear. Instead, it was cold and ruthless. Song Lijun eyed the servant before him and he became more certain of An Liu’s identity. ‘As expected. He is not a normal servant at all…’
“You bastard! You chopped off my hand! I’m going to make you pay!” the drunkard’s roar fell into the deaf ear of Song Lijun who just pulled at An Liu’s arm.
“Come on. Let’s just leave this place. That man only thinks with his third leg and not his head. He won’t be in pain for long,” Song Lijun said to An Liu.
An Liu only flicked his dagger to remove the small amount of blood and was about to place it back inside his sleeve pocket when they were suddenly surrounded.
“Brother, you actually cut off the hand of our young master. If we don’t bring back your corpse then how can we answer to our lord, ah?” one of the people who surrounded them asked. Looking around, they could see that the people surrounding them each have a weapon.
Seeing that their situation isn’t good, An Liu could only pull Song Lijun closer to him in a very protective manner. “Your Highness, at my sign, let’s breakthrough from our south-west,” An Liu said in a soft whisper.
Song Lijun who heard the serious tone of An Liu. He knew that he had gotten themselves into trouble. He knew it was his fault so he didn’t even correct the way An Liu is addressing him when he was in disguise.
When he tried to turn his head to look at the direction which An Liu mentioned, he felt the hold around him tighten even more. “Don’t look!” he heard An Liu hiss. “Right now, he’s the weakest link. If they knew we plan to go through there, they will move. Just trust me.”
“Alright. You’ve been with me for ten years, I’ll trust you with my life,” Song Lijun replied as he stared right at An Liu.
There was a shift of emotion flickered across An Liu’s face, and Song Lijun thought he saw guilt written on his face. But just as it had appeared, it disappeared a moment after. ‘Did I imagine that?’ Song Lijun wondered.
Before he could ponder more into his thought, An Liu suddenly made his move. He threw his dagger towards the drunk young master who was still rooted in his place due to the pain of losing his hand. The sharp tip of the dagger was aimed right over his forehead and if it were to hit, his life would be forfeited.
When the young master’s guard saw this, they quickly rushed over to their young master’s side and it was this exact moment that An Liu was waiting for.
“RUN!!” An Liu grabbed Song Lijun’s hand and ran towards their south-west. Sure enough, after distracting the guards by attacking their young master, this spot became less guarded with only one person left in charge. And this man wasn’t even focused on them as he was looking at his young master with worry.
An Liu simply delivered a kick across the man’s stomach and their path is now open. They had just exited the tavern when An Liu suddenly bumped into a person. Thinking it was another guard, An Liu raised his free hand and threw a punch, only for his arm to be grabbed.
“Oh, a mere servant dared to attack me?”
Song Lijun heard the familiar voice and when he looked over, he saw a very familiar face. “Hanxin Gong, Bai Ruohan…” he uttered in a soft whisper. ‘Why is he out here?!’
Song Lijun has yet to recover from his shock when he felt himself being roughly pulled away from An Liu.
“Your Highness!” An Liu tried to pull Song Lijun back, but the arm that was holding onto the young prince was roughly pried away by the general. An Liu could only glare at Bai Ruohan hatefully. “What are you planning to do to him?!”
On the other hand, the prince in question was held safely within another man’s arm. He could feel the gentle hold around his waist while his whole beings were covered with warmth. As his face was placed on top of the other’s chest, he could hear the steady heartbeat of the other man though as he listened to it closer, it seemed to be beating faster than normal. Then, he heard that familiar, low baritone voice which made his own heart skips a beat.
“Why are you acting so hostile? I saw that you two were in trouble and as a friend of ‘Jing Yuan’, I should help you two.”
Written by: Lin Xiaolong
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