The fourth prince chose a teahouse near the Ning manor as the meeting venue. Upon arriving at the teahouse, Jun Zishu brought Ning Qinghuan straight to the third floor.
The privacy of the teahouse's third floor was done well, and the rooms here were a suitable place for people to have private conversations. Though, the soundproofing of the rooms was nothing to brag about.
"I see you came here as well, Miss Ning."
The fourth prince's expression stiffened when he saw Ning Qinghuan entering the room. Then, he turned to look at Jun Zishu, his eyes asking her what the meaning of this was.
"What? Am I not allowed to come here, Your Highness? How can I feel at ease about letting my Little Wan'er come out and meet a man by herself? Aren't I right, Your Highness?"
"Yes, Miss Ning, you are right."
After Ning Qinghuan and Jun Zishu sat down, the fourth prince frequently glanced at Jun Zishu, questions filling his mind.
Ning Qinghuan pretended not to notice the fourth prince's awkwardness, her body as steady as a mountain as she sat beside Jun Zishu.
"Aren't you here for a send-off?" Ning Qinghuan asked as she looked at Jun Zishu. Then, she continued, "Why aren't you two talking?"
Jun Zishu glanced at the fourth prince, telling him to calm down. Then, she held Ning Qinghuan's right hand and whispered into her cousin's ear, "Wait for me in the carriage, Big Sister. I'll be done in a moment."
Ning Qinghuan frowned. However, when Jun Zishu tickled her palm and sent her a pleading look, Ning Qinghuan quickly caved. Then, she gritted her teeth and left the room.
"My big sister insisted on coming with me when she heard I was going out," Jun Zishu said, sticking out her tongue and giving the fourth prince an apologetic expression.
"It's fine. Do you still remember the matter you talked to me about before?"
The fourth prince didn't really believe Jun Zishu's words during the lotus-viewing banquet last year. He only found her confident statement that he would be meeting with an accident this year's summer to be mysterious.
The fourth prince naturally didn't know what kind of accident he would be met with. However, two days ago, when he was summoned into the palace to receive an imperial decree, he immediately recalled Jun Zishu's words.
Honestly, the fourth prince didn't know why his father, the emperor, would suddenly order him to suppress a bunch of bandits. If he handled this matter properly, it would be highly beneficial toward his reputation. However, in a situation where his eldest brother, the crown prince, was still alive, there shouldn't be a reason for their father to support another prince.
Hence, the fourth prince remembered Jun Zishu telling him that he would meet with an accident this summer, and he couldn't help but wonder if there was something fishy with the expedition this time. However, after suffering several sleepless nights and failing to figure out the problem, he decided to invite Jun Zishu out for a meeting instead.
"Can you go into more detail, Little Sister Wan'er?"
"I don't know why those images keep on appearing in my mind. I never experienced such situations before. However, ever since we coincidentally looked at each other at the teahouse that day, some trivial images would suddenly appear in my mind. Moreover, these images would become clearer the closer I am to you. Such a situation has never happened when I approach other people."
Jun Zishu frowned, a look of confusion on her face.
"In those images, I see you clad in armor and riding on a horse while leading soldiers out of the city around this time of the year. As to where you are setting off to, I do not know."
Jun Zishu closed her eyes, making it seem like she was trying to recall something in her mind.
"Afterward, I can see you fighting with other people, and you and your troops eventually win. When you are on your way back, wait… You seem to be injured. I can also see many other people around you. These people should be ordinary civilians. You stopped to rest, and then you caught a plague.
"I see many people in a panic… You are laying on a bed with your eyes closed, looking very weak…"
Jun Zishu opened her eyes, complicated emotions appearing on her face.
"Whenever I meet you, your frail appearance would appear in my mind. Then, you would close your eyes and stop breathing."
The fourth prince's complexion turned uglier and uglier along with Jun Zishu's narration. Jun Zishu's description of the situation was so vivid that he subconsciously imagined himself lying in bed and dying.
"Can you detail the situation further? Specifically, do you know how to avoid that situation?"
Closing her eyes again, Jun Zishu faked trying to remember something.
Make sure to keep me updated on the fourth prince's expression, Little Fairy.
[OK, no problem. He looks a little nervous right now, but he doesn't seem to doubt your words.]
"I can see a boulder, and written on it is the word 'Ping(平)' in peace(平安). You came across it on your way back, so that should be the origin of the plague. If you come across that place, you should immediately avoid it, Your Highness. In the images I see, you fell ill because you were injured and stayed at that place. If you don't go there, nothing should happen to you," Jun Zishu mumbled.
"I'll take note of it."
"Do you really trust me, Your Highness?"
"I'd rather believe your words that discredit them. Not to mention, I won't stand to lose anything even if I believed them. I can also verify whether your words are true just by conducting a simple inspection."
With that, their conversation here should come to an end. Yet, it did not end.
"Actually, I can also see some other things, but I don't know if I should say it."
Jun Zishu put on a hesitant expression.
"What is it?"
"It is something very important and relates to the empire's future. I don't know if what I saw is true, so I dare not casually say it."
"Just say it. I promise not to tell anyone else."
The fourth prince could vaguely guess what Jun Zishu wanted to say, so he reassured the girl in a confident tone.
"That person will step down in the future, and the final winner will be him."
Jun Zishu spread out her right palm and gestured the number five.
"Honestly, I already expected that. I know he isn't a simple character. But looking at the current situation, he still seems to be a little dumb. After all, he soured his relationship with her, though I bet you have something to do with it as well."
The fourth prince pointed at the door, his eyes giving off a meaningful look.
"As the saying goes, even heroes have a weakness for the charms of a beautiful woman. Not to mention, I'm doing it for your sake, Big Brother Four," Jun Zishu said with an innocent look.
The fourth prince narrowed his eyes, seemingly noticing that Jun Zishu wasn't a kind little sheep like she portrayed herself to be.
"Why are you helping me?"
"Why shouldn't I help you?"
"If you can read the future, wouldn't leaking it bring retribution to you?"
"I dare not claim to be a prophet. I am merely an ordinary girl."
Jun Zishu faintly smiled, maintaining her kind and innocent appearance.
The fourth prince wasn't a blind fool. Initially, he thought that Jun Zishu was merely an innocent white rabbit that got flustered because she found out some information about the future. However, after hearing the last few sentences Jun Zishu spoke, he quickly realized that the girl in front of him wasn't a simple character. As a result, certain questions had also started appearing in his mind.
Jun Zishu was too calm and confident. She behaved as if everything that had happened thus far was within her expectations.
"It seems I have underestimated you, Little Sister Wan'er."
Jun Zishu smiled but did not speak up. Naturally, she had deliberately made the fourth prince feel that something was amiss. Otherwise, if she intended to continue her act, she would have plenty of ways to keep the fourth prince ignorant of her true personality.
However, now that she had already decided to cooperate with the fourth prince, she naturally had to reveal some of her cards. Otherwise, there would be no reason for the fourth prince to partner with an ignorant little girl.
"I can keep on helping you, Your Highness. That is, so long as you trust me."
"Do you have a bad relationship with him?"
The "him" the fourth prince referred to was naturally the fifth prince.
"You can think of it like that. In any case, I don't want him or Pei Xiuyun to have a good life."
"Can I ask why?"
Jun Zishu stood up. Then, looking at the fourth prince, she confidently said,
"You don't need to know that. I will be awaiting the good news you bring back with you, Your Highness. Once you're back, I believe you should have a way to contact me without letting anyone else find out, right?"
The fourth prince also stood up, a smile appearing on his face as he asked, "How about you marry me? Wouldn't we have an even easier time communicating with each other?"
"That won't do."
"Why not? Are you perhaps looking down on me, Little Sister Wan'er?" the fourth prince asked, pretending to be hurt.
"I cannot leave my cousin. I need to accompany her."
"What a pity. I doubt the first young lady of a general's manor can become my side concubine," the fourth prince regretfully said. He already had a princess consort, so he could no longer offer the position to Ning Qinghuan. Not to mention, he couldn't bring himself to like a rowdy girl like Ning Qinghuan. He preferred obedient girls instead.
"That's for sure. I will be awaiting your triumphant return, Big Brother Four."
"Will you not reconsider my offer, Little Sister Wan'er? I will protect you," the fourth prince promised. He was still interested in Jun Zishu even after finding out about her true personality.
"This is not something I can decide by myself."
"Isn't it alright so long as you wish for it, Little Sister Wan'er? I trust in your abilities."
"But I don't want to. Thank you for your kind invitation, Big Brother Four."
"Do you have someone you like, Little Sister Wan'er?"
"That has never happened."
"Do you dislike me?"
"That's not the case, either."
"I'll tell you why I detest those two people instead, Big Brother Four—It is because I can sense that they will bring harm to my big sister in the future. I will not spare anyone who dares harm my big sister. Hence, I will do everything I can to help my big sister. Do you understand, Big Brother Four?"
Jun Zishu spoke in a serious tone, her usually gentle expression turning stern.
"I understand. You two sisters share a close relationship."
After hearing Jun Zishu's words, the fourth prince couldn't help but recall the wary look on Ning Qinghuan's face when she looked at him. It looked as if she was afraid he would steal her little sister.
"I will be taking my leave first, Big Brother Four. Let us meet again next time."
After Jun Zishu left the room, the fourth prince stood by the room's window for a while. Only after Jun Zishu's carriage had vanished out of his sight did he take his leave.
Meanwhile, he sorted through the information Jun Zishu told him today and started planning for the future on his way back.
Many years later, when Ning Qinghuan and Jun Zishu got together, the fourth prince was the first person to find out. He was also the only person who wasn't surprised by this news. This was because he had already sensed that something was amiss at this time.
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