“Hanlun?” Lin Haihai was confused. “Why should you marry Hanlun? Do you like him?”
“That’s beside the point. Do you think he’s a reliable man?” Yu Qing frowned. “It’s better to marry him than to marry a random guy.”
“He is reliable,” Lin Haihai said in concern. “But I worry that he’ll be unable to move on after what Chen Birou did, and you won’t be happy with him!”
“Do you really think I won’t be able to weed out whatever lasting influence Chen Birou has on him? I didn’t live to this day and learned nothing!” Yu Qing laughed. Yang Hanlun was naive, especially in matters of the heart. That was exactly the kind of man she needed now, though, since she had lost her faith in love.
Suxin came up to their table with their order. Li Junyue smiled at her. There was something inexplicably eerie about the way she smelled - like she had emerged from a sea of damp, rottenly sweet flowers. The fragrance was incredibly strong, and yet it seemed to lack body. He managed to identify the smell of a specific plant that was the most potent poison in the world!
“Business seems to be blooming, Miss Suxin!” Li Junyue struck up a conversation with her.
“It’s been a while, Physician Li. You must be busy lately!” Suxin smiled. Her tone was faint, but tinged with a trace of delight.
Smiling, Li Junyue looked at Suxin with inquisitive eyes. “I am. I happened to have some free time today, so I came to have a drink.”
“Drink to your hearts’ content, Physician Li, Physician Lin!” A glint flickered through Suxin’s eyes. “And you are, Miss? I don’t think I recognize you!”
“Hello, I’m Yu Qing!” Yu Qing greeted her politely.
“Well met, I’m Suxin. Please enjoy the wine, Miss Yu Qing!” Suxin smiled. She seemed dissatisfied with Yu Qing’s simple introduction, but she wasn’t going to press.
Yu Qing nodded at her with a smile. Suxin left with the empty jug.
“She smells of red lucky seeds and nerium,” Yu Qing observed.
“Moreover, she smells like a poisonous plant found in jungles,” Li Junyue said calmly. “It’s often used by the locals in India to poison their arrows. It’s really potent!”
“It seems the owner of the tavern is more than what meets the eyes.” Lin Haihai smiled. “Look at the flower on her head. It’s a laurel-leaved daphne. The strong smell can cover the scents of all other poisons, while the flower itself is a potent poison!”
“Have Chen Luoqing keep a close eye on the Carefree Tavern, Xiao’hai!” Li Junyue said in a low voice.
Lin Haihai nodded. “Of course. We need eyes on this establishment immediately! Ah, that reminds me. What about Keqing’s gu? Have you found a way to deal with it?”
“The journal is lost,” Li Junyue said. “I’ve talked to Master many times and even visited a shaman in Miao. The shaman told us that the Gold Caterpillar Gu is the most vicious of its kind, and it can only be resolved by the death of whoever poisoned her. There’s no other way!”
“A life for a life?” Lin Haihai was stunned. How could a poison like that exist?
“Do you know who poisoned Keqing?” Yu Qing asked.
“I do!” Lin Haihai remembered what Keqing had told her. “She's the consort of Rong’s regent, but she should be the empress of Rong now!”
“Huh?” Yu Qing was confused. “Isn’t Keqing the empress dowager? The relationship between the royals sure is complicated!”
“I’ll explain to you one day. The consort, no, the empress is a terrible person!” Lin Haihai detested vicious tricks like gu.
“Killing her will be the only way out then,” Yu Qing said. “Let’s go back to discuss the matter with Keqing!”
“Later. I’ll go back to the hospital first!” Lin Haihai wasn’t sure how she should face Yang Shaolun yet. She wanted some time to make up her mind.
“Is the pain going to start again?” Yu Qing asked darkly. Lin Haihai silently nodded.
“What pain?” Li Junyue asked.
“Let her explain to you!” Yu Qing said in resignation.
Li Junyue turned to Lin Haihai. She had no choice but to tell him everything. Stunned, he demanded, “Once every day?”
Lin Haihai nodded.
“That… That...” Li Junyue turned to Yu Qing, speechless. She had to go through such pain for two hours every day? The pain would kill her first before the child was even born!
“Can you really endure the pain?” he asked. “You can’t have any painkillers while you’re pregnant!”
“There’s nothing I can do but to bear it,” Lin Haihai sighed. “There’s no pill that will make it better.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Li Junyue scoffed. “Yu Qing has just come, and yet you’re leaving. She can’t go back since her body is dead already. What a farce this is!”
Lin Haihai lowered her head, dejected. Feeling a sympathetic pang in his heart, Li Junyue softened his voice and said, “It’ll be fine. The future isn’t set in stone!”
Lin Haihai managed to smile. “I know. Baizi hasn’t given me a definite answer, either. Maybe I’ll be able to return!”
Their conversation was interrupted by a young man dressed in a yellow robe. Lin Haihai smiled when she saw Nangong Zixuan, followed by Zhou Junpeng. Lin Haihai knew Nangong Zixuan wasn’t in the same camp with Zhou Junpeng. He knew where his friend stood, but he was a man who didn’t pay much attention to worldly matters, and thus he didn’t judge Zhou Junpeng for his allegiance. Nangong had only treated Lin Haihai unfairly because he looked down on those fishing for fame, and he thought Lin Haihai was that kind of person.
“Fancy meeting you here,” Nangong Zixuan greeted them with a smile.
“Hello, Young Master Zhou!” Lin Haihai gave him a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
Zhou Junpeng returned a conflicted look, swallowing the words he wanted to say. Nangong Zixuan was puzzled by the look on Zhou Junpeng’s face since he didn’t know what had happened in the bamboo forest. He assumed Zhou Junpeng was acting awkwardly because he had lasting feelings for Lin Haihai.
“May I have a word outside, Physician Lin?” Zhou Junpeng’s handsome face was shrouded in shadow, but his eyes shone with bright earnestness.
“Why can’t you say it here?” Li Junyue said coolly. Zhou Junpeng wasn’t a simple scion. He seemed to have feelings for Xiao’hai, but he kept acting against her!
“It’s fine. You don’t have to wait for me. Go ahead. I’ll return to the hospital shortly!” Lin Haihai wanted to know what their next move was. His invitation came at the right time!
The two of them strolled along the riverside path. Zhou Junpeng was silent with a pensive expression. Lin Haihai wasn’t going to initiate the conversation since she was deeply disappointed with him.
Pedestrians passed by in a hurry, tightening their clothes around themselves to brace the cold and struggling to move against the autumn wind.
Discomfort rose quietly, followed by pain that spread through her body. Lin Haihai came to a stop, remembering belatedly that it was time for the pill to act up. She ground her teeth together to endure the excruciating torment with all her strength.
Zhou Junpeng turned to her and noticed her condition. Her face was pale, and her lips colorless, while she trembled nonstop like the fallen leaves. Surprised, he hurriedly supported her with an arm. Lin Haihai bit into his hand with great force, but Zhou Junpeng didn’t even frown, his gaze remained pure with concern and anxiety. He gently patted Lin Haihai’s back and let her gnaw on his wrist.
Once the first wave of pain receded, Lin Haihai let go of him. Zhou Junpeng ached for the exhausted look on her face. He softly said, “I’ll take you back. We’ll talk later!”
Lin Haihai stared at his bleeding wrist, touched. She was about to say something when pain struck her again. She cried out in pain. Zhou Junpeng picked her up and was about to run back when Lin Haihai stopped him by clutching his collars. She said with difficulty, “Don’t go back. It’ll only take a while… Just a while!”
Zhou Junpeng lay her down on a patch of grass and circulated his vital essence to alleviate her pain, but his power found nothing to latch onto, and it felt as if he was streaming vital essence into a ball of wool. Seeing her in such pain, Zhou Junpeng would do anything to endure that torment for her. He put his arms around her tightly to stop her from hurting herself, his eyes stinging with tears and his heart clenching. He knew how strong she was. She wouldn’t have acted like this if the pain wasn’t great. And there was nothing he could do!
Two hours crawled by like a century. Lin Haihai had lost all her strength and was lying bonelessly in Zhou Junpeng’s arms. Pain was most effective in making one lose their will. If not for Yang Shaolun and their child keeping her strong, she wouldn’t have lasted more than a minute!
Zhou Junpeng calmed his terrified heart and asked hoarsely, “What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Just an old illness.” Lin Haihai didn’t want to explain, and she didn’t have the strength to. She just wanted to sort her meridians out and recovered as quickly as possible. She couldn't even stand now.
“I’ll help sort out your energy!” Zhou Junpeng put his hands on her back to supply her with inner energy. Lin Haihai didn’t say anything, but she was moved by the gesture. The man seemed to genuinely care about her, and yet he kept making moves against her side.
After some time, Lin Haihai regained the colors in her face. She slowly sat up. Zhou Junpeng quietly combed her hair with his fingers. He knew she wouldn’t tell him anything, so he didn’t ask.
“What do you want to talk to me about?” Lin Haihai straightened her back and stared at Zhou Junpeng.Previous Chapter Next Chapter