Early in the morning, Lin Haihai took Wangchen to the Yamen of the Capital Magistrate. A month of secret investigation had yielded her evidence proving that Bai Muyang had been hoarding medicinal ingredients; however, Bai Muyang refused to reveal the whereabouts of the warehouse.
Lin Haihai couldn’t wait any longer. The herbs at the plantation weren’t ready for the market yet. Even if they could sell what they’d planted, the supply wouldn’t be enough to meet the demand. Many cost effective herbs could no longer be found in the market. Therefore, the workers and disciples at the plantation had to gather herbs in the nearby mountains with a basket on their backs during their freetime.
Autumn wind blew, and desolation spread. An epidemic was most likely to break out on a large scale at the turn of the season. Lin Haihai knew that influenza wasn’t unique to the modern day. It could happen at any era and in any region. There was a serious shortage of medicines, which made Lin Haihai uneasy. Although she could purchase pharmaceuticals in bulk and bring them here, she and Li Junyue were the only ones professionally trained in modern medicine. The imperial physicians knew only the basics and couldn’t practice western medicine on their own. Traditional medicines were the only safety net they could rely on.
According to Zheng Feng, tension was already rising among the general public due to the shortage of medicines. There were still many who had been buying a lot of medicines from individual gatherers, while the markets in the southeastern area had been closed for days. Pharmacies around the nation were panicking.
Lin Haihai had taken time from her busy schedule to pay the local Yamen a visit. If Bai Muyang insisted on staying silent, she wouldn’t pull her punches. She could be merciless if circumstances necessitated it.
“I’m looking for Official Luo!” Lin Haihai said to a runner.
The runner recognized her and responded respectfully, “This way, Physician Lin!”
Lin Haihai nodded before entering with Wangchen. Luo Kuangyuan was already waiting for her. He rose to greet her as soon as he saw her.
“Is there any progress, Official Luo?” asked Lin Haihai.
Luo Kuangyuan’s usually righteous expression was shrouded in frustration. “None! That man responds neither to persuasion nor force. We’ve interrogated him with torture, but he stubbornly refused to utter a word!”
“That’s fine. Allow me to meet with him!” Lin Haihai felt an unusual viciousness rising in her heart. She had been losing her temper easily the past few days as if she had no self control. Was it because of the weather? She wasn’t sure what was going on.
“I’ll go with you!” Luo Kuangyuan said with a nod.
“No need,” Lin Haihai simply said. “I have Wangchen!”
“Then I’ll wait for you outside. Remember, though, the man is more powerful than he appears to be. Although he’s locked up at the moment, you must be careful.”
“I will. Don’t worry, Official Luo!”
The three of them made their way to the prison. Lin Haihai said, “Don’t come in with me. I’ll enter with Wangchen!”
“Please keep your guard up!” Luo Kuangyuan was a little worried, but she must have done this for a reason, and he didn’t want to interfere.
Lin Haihai entered the prison with Wangchen. Bai Muyang was kept in a five-square-meter cell, guarded by four men. Lin Haihai indicated for them to leave. The four guards exchanged a look before one of them cupped his fists and said, “Please be careful, Madam. Don’t get too close to him!”
They didn’t know who Lin Haihai was, but she must not be an ordinary person if she was able to get into this prison.
“I understand,” Lin Haihai said politely. “Please shut the door behind you!”
The four guards cupped their hands in response and took their leave, closing the door after walking away.
Lin Haihai approached the cell and looked down at the unkempt Bai Muyang. Blood had left red patterns all over the white inmate uniform he wore. It was obvious that he had been tortured. Lin Haihai despised hard-headed villains. A sudden sense of disgust overwhelmed her. She held her breath to calm herself.
Bai Muyang glared at Lin Haihai coolly. Suddenly, he spat a mouthful of blood at Lin Haihai. She dodged it with a side step. The sense of disgust returned, and she doubled over as she dry-heaved. Wangchen cast a worried look at her before handing her a clean handkerchief.
Bai Muyang laughed darkly. “This isn’t a place for someone like you to visit, Consort Lin. You should stay in the comfort of your residence!” Then he closed his eyes with contempt and leaned against the wall.
Lin Haihai got to her feet and wiped her mouth with the handkerchief. “Open the lock with your sword,” she turned to order Wangchen. “I’m going in!”
At her order, Wangchen made a swift strike with her sharp sword, and the lock was cut in half in a flash. A strange look passed through Bai Muyang’s gaze before a peel of chilling laughter escaped his mouth.
“Keep guard at the door and don’t let anyone in!” Lin Haihai ordered frostily.
Wangchen didn’t protest. She knew what Lin Haihai was capable of. When Lin Haihai was treating her, she sensed the unimaginable reserves of power within Lin Haihai. She made her way to the door of the prison, silently standing guard with her arms crossed before her chest.
Unable to contain the agitation in her heart, Lin Haihai kicked the door open and demanded, “Where did you put the medicines you’ve hoarded?”
Bai Muyang rose and stared at the angry Lin Haihai. The princess consort would be his best leverage. If he took her hostage, no one would dare stop him from escaping.
“Do you think I’d tell you?” He broke into laughter. “Fate has smiled upon me. You came to me with a death wish! Everything happened because of you, and it’ll end with you!”
Viciousness hardened his expression, and the thirst for blood flashed through his eyes. He reached out to grab Lin Haihai by the neck.
Lin Haihai was enraged. She had been waiting for a month. She had run out of patience. Someone had put the common people in such a dire situation for their ambition. She didn’t care who was on the throne, but people’s livelihood must not be cast aside so carelessly.
She sent torrents of air from her right hand to offset Bai Muyang’s force before seizing his wrist with two fingers. Then she threw him off his feet without putting much force into her move.
Bai Muyang slammed into the wall and fell to the ground. Blood streaked down from the corner of his mouth. He stared at Lin Haihai in disbelief. She then made a point at him to hit his tian and tan acupuncture points. Numbing pain shot through his body. He curled into himself and couldn’t stop trembling.
Lin Haihai advanced upon him. “Talk! I’m running out of patience!”
Her voice was threateningly cold, indicating that she had more tricks up her sleeves should he refuse to speak up. Bai Muyang’s pale face arranged itself into a cold smile. “Do you think torture is going to work on me? If I even let out a grunt, my surname wouldn’t be Bai!”
Lin Haihai rose and peered down at him with frosty eyes. “Well then, I look forward to the show you’ll put on!”
Her lips curled into a smile, and her gaze turned mocking. She looked positively delighted by the turn of events. Without much effort at all, she set up a boundary around the cell. “Enjoy what it feels like to have vicious ghosts taking revenge against you!”
As she chanted, the air in the cell moved and converged into chilling currents of wind. Bai Muyang stared at the floating faces before him with wide eyes.
“Don’t you remember me, Milord? I’m Xiao Hong! You threw me into a well. It was so cold. Would you like to know how it feels?”
The girl walked up to Bai Muyang, drenched. Her slender fingers reached out and touched his face. Bai Muyang gazed fearfully at her, asking in a trembling voice, “Xiao Hong? Aren’t you dead?”
“Thanks to Milord, Xiao Hong has become a lone ghost wandering the path to the underworld with no hope of reincarnation!” Xiao Hong looked at Bai Muyang with darkened eyes. Her hair ran wildly down her bluish face, dripping water continuously.
Bai Muyang scrambled back and panickedly waved his arms around. “No, this is an illusion! There are no ghosts in the world!”
“Sir Bai!” A white figure arrived. The woman in light makeup quietly looked at him and said sorrowfully, “Do you remember me?”
“Piaoxue? Are you Piaoxue?” Bai Muyang’s eyes rolled toward the back of his skull, and he blacked out!
When he came to, he was faced with the same woman. He broke down into tears and dropped to his knees. “Don’t come to me, Piaoxue. You should be going after him, not me! Save me, Physician Lin! Please save me! I’ll talk, I’ll tell you anything you want to know!”
He trembled as he pleaded, timidly averting his gaze from the woman before him. Lin Haihai scoffed. “This wouldn’t have happened if you had just been honest with me. Leave for the moment, Piaoxue. I’ll give you the justice you deserve!”
Piaoxue knelt down with elegance and kowtowed once to Lin Haihai. Lin Haihai whipped her broad sleeve to send her away.
Gone were the ghosts in the cell. Bai Muyang collapsed to the floor, his pale face covered in sweat. “Don’t come after me, Piaoxue,” he muttered. “It has nothing to do with me. Don’t come after me!‘
Lin Haihai knew from the crazed look on his face that this was the perfect opening to make him talk. She levelled a piercing stare at Bai Muyang like she could look into his soul. “Talk. Where are the medicines stored?”
Bai Muyang looked up at her and asked in fear, “Who are you?”
“I’m not human, so you better open up. I don’t have the patience to play games with you!” Lin Haihai was getting tired of this. She resented the official before her.
“You’re not human? Are you a ghost as well?” Bai Muyang staggered back and stared at her with visible fear.
“Talk!” Lin Haihai had enough of this. She didn’t know what was wrong with her, but she felt like venting her anger at someone, anyone. With a wave of her sleeve, she sent powerful currents at Bai Muyang. The man couldn’t get out of the way in time and ended up thrown to the ground with a heavy thud.
“I’ll talk, I’ll talk!” Bai Muyang rose to kneel before Lin Haihai, his expression panicked. “We’ve been executing this plan for two years. Medicines have been unusually pricey over the past two years because we’ve been hoarding them. We bought herbs from farmers and gatherers in bulk to establish a good partnership with them. They almost never sell their medicines to the market, but instead deliver them to Baoyuan Pharmacies all over the nation. We kept some for our own use, sold some at a high price, and the rest we burned with fire! Our ultimate goal is to make it too expensive for people to seek medical help and buy medicines. Then there will be public unrest. Once people begin to riot, the Grand Councilor will take measures to stoke the fire.”
Lin Haihai trembled in fury. They burned the medicines they had bought at a higher price?! How dared they resort to such atrocity just to incite unrest?!
She glared at Bai Muyang icily and said, “Do you know how many patients will die every day because they cannot receive proper treatment without medicines? Do you know how many households you’ve destroyed? We’re all humans. The general public shouldn’t have been sacrificed for your ambition. Your master disregards human lives like they are nothing. I’ll stop him from becoming the emperor even at the price of my life!”
Lin Haihai marched out of the cell with a flourish of her sleeves, which sent a strong current to shut the cell door. Then a yellow string wrapped around the door. Lin Haihai had set up a boundary to prevent anyone from killing Bai Muyang to silence him.
Wangchen had witnessed everything. Her heart pounded heavily with shock. Who exactly are you, Master?Previous Chapter Next Chapter