The construction of the new hospital was complete, and Lin Haihai became even busier than before. She wouldn’t return to the palace until the lamps were lit after nightfall. Sometimes she was so busy that she would spend the night in the hospital. Yang Shaolun often visited her at midnight when that happened.
Yang Shaolun had been busy as well. Chen Luoqing and he were training a group of shadow guards, planning to infiltrate Prince Pingnan’s faction. Thus he often didn’t return until late at night. Still, he was used to having Lin Haihai around, and he couldn’t rest easy without seeing her every day.
One day, Yu Qing interrupted Lin Haihai when she was discussing a case with Li Junyue. “Take a look at this patient, Xiao’hai,” Yu Qing said. “He’s in a peculiar state!”
Lin Haihai and Li Junyue exchanged a glance before walking out. The patient was a fit man in his twenties. His consciousness had gone dull, and his eyes unfocused. He had his arms extended and kept pushing forward. His complexion was darkened with yin energy concentrated between his brows.
“No heartbeat, no breathing, no pulse!” Yu Qing said with a frown.
Living corpses! Lin Haihai remembered the living corpses Zhou Junpeng had sent after her on her way back from Yangzhou, but they should be his secret weapon. Why would one show up here?
Lin Haihai turned to the crying old woman and asked, “Is this your son, ma’am?”
The woman wiped away her tears and stumbled toward Lin Haihai, her gaze pleading. The creases on her face scrunched up as her tears continued to drop despite her effort. “Please save my son, Physician Lin! I’ve raised him on my own with great difficulties, and we’ve depended on and supported each other over the years. Now that he’s sick, I won’t be able to keep living should anything happen to him!”
“Please don’t say that, ma’am.” Lin Haihai squatted down to her eye-level. “How long has your son been ill?”
“He had gone missing after he went into the mountain for firewood last month. I searched and called out for him every day, but couldn’t find him anywhere. Yesterday morning, I got out of bed and went into the mountain like I always did. I ran into him at the crossroad, but no matter how I spoke to him, he never responded!”
The woman was beside herself thinking back to what had happened. Her voice trembled several times, but she didn’t let herself cry again.
“He’d been missing for a month?” Lin Haihai had some idea about what had happened. She said to the woman, “Your son has developed a serious disease and must stay in the hospital for further observation. You should go home for now. Come visit him tomorrow when you have time. Don’t hinder the treatment!”
“Would you be able to cure him?” The old woman looked at Lin Haihai with hopeful eyes like she was some deity. Like her son would recover fully as long as Lin Haihai gave her the word.
“I’ll try my best, okay?” Lin Haihai said gently.
“Then I’ll go. I’m going, my son!” The woman followed Lin Haihai’s instructions and left them to treat her son in peace. She knew there must be a reason for everything Physician Lin said.
Lin Haihai watched the old woman go. Then she told Qing Feng, “Have the patient moved to a single ward. Don’t let anyone get near him!”
“Understood!” Qing Feng hurriedly summoned a few helpers. As soon as several young helpers rushed in, however, the docile patient leapt off the bed, his eyes glinting viciously and his empty mouth open wide to form a macabre expression. He lunged at Lin Haihai. She took a step to the side to dodge him, grabbing the rope on the floor and leaping into the air to tie the crazed patient up.
The young helpers broke out of their reverie and rushed to grab onto the rope, helping Lin Haihai subdue the patient. Yu Qing had lost her composure completely in fear. Li Junyue was stunned as well despite the wealth of experience he had.
“Wind bent the grass in the dim forest, in the dark the general drew his bow taut!”
The patient’s holler pierced through the air. Even Lin Haihai was a little stunned. His words seemed to be a warcry or a cryptic message. She immediately set up boundaries to keep the patient in the ward before rushing outside.
“Where are you going?” Yu Qing stopped her and asked.
“Order every disciple and physician to stay in the hospital!” Lin Haihai instructed seriously.
Yu Qing was about to say something else, but Li Junyue stopped her. “Stop asking. Let her go!”
Then he nodded at Lin Haihai and said, “Go ahead, but be careful!”
Lin Haihai gave him a nod before flashing out of the hospital. With a light push of her foot, she flew past the woods and waded through thickening yin energy. She stopped to scan around. Ahead of her was a vast patch of shrubs, which were unusually green deep into autumn.
Alerted, Lin Haihai controlled the wind to propel herself into the air and landed on the patch of green. Before she could gain a firm footing, torrential air sent by palm strikes shot at her from behind. Lin Haihai jumped up high following the force and landed elegantly on the ground like a wisp of catkin. She turned to her attacker. It turned out to be a beautiful daoist nun, who stared icily at Lin Haihai with frost in her eyes, her pearly whites hidden behind her crimson lips.
“Did you train the living corpses?” Lin Haihai asked faintly.
“The meddlesome kind often meet a tragic end!” The daoist nun smiled maliciously before waving her horsetail whisk in an elegant arc.
“My future is bound to be a tragic one. What else would I be afraid of?” Lin Haihai could already see her worst nightmare - leaving the man she loved the most!
“You court death!” The daoist nun narrowed her eyes at Lin Haihai. “Don’t blame me for not showing you mercy!”
“You serve Prince Pingnan?” Lin Haihai asked with a frown. Chen Luoqing hadn’t mentioned someone like her.
The daoist nun’s expression darkened and her gaze grew sharp. “You’re His Highness’s enemy! I’m not letting you go!”
This must be Lin Haihai, who His Highness considered a great threat. She had to seize this opportunity when the woman was alone!
“Did you train the living corpses?” Lin Haihai asked again fearlessly.
The daoist nun scoffed and put away her whisk, taking out a short flute to play a discordant melody. Rustling noises came from the originally silent grassland, and the noises grew louder and louder as the tall grass fell haphazardly. A pungent stink permeated the air. Lin Haihai hurriedly moved back a few steps, hiding her surprise.
The melody grew even more aggressive. It seemed like a great army was travelling through the grass. Lin Haihai took a closer look and found the land infested with a great variety of snakes - green, grey, black, red, multi-colored. Some were large. Others were small. They all swarmed toward Lin Haihai, flickering their tongues.
Lin Haihai had never been afraid of anything in her life save for snakes, the cold-blooded vermin. She panickedly took flight, only to find her body going boneless from fear. She could only watch as the snakes slithered their way to her. The daoist nun’s expression grew vicious, her eyes glinting with cruelty.
But then the unthinkable happened!
All of the snakes stopped a meter away from Lin Haihai, lying prone on the ground and keeping their tongues to themselves, paralyzed by fear. Lin Haihai was still reeling from the sight. It repulsed her.
The daoist nun was stunned by the snakes’ inaction. That had never happened before. She put the short flute to her lips and played a series of off-kilter notes, which resembled a snake’s hiss. However, the snakes remained unmoving rather than growing vicious. It looked like they were bowing down to Lin Haihai in deference!
That was when Lin Haihai remembered that the spiritual pearl in her body belonged to a snake demon. Perhaps the snake demon had been the queen of the species, which would give Lin Haihai the power to command snakes!
The daoist nun realized her recklessness when she saw the way the snakes acted. Lin Haihai turned out to be a difficult one to deal with. The daoist nun had been a master snake-whisperer for almost a decade, and yet Lin Haihai was able to tame the snakes in such a short time. How powerful must she be?
Lin Haihai made a gesture to dismiss the snakes, which followed her instructions after raising their necks to bow to her thrice. The daoist nun was shocked. The snakes were her pet, and they feared her, but they never respected her. In an uncertain voice, the daoist nun asked, “Who are you? Why are you able to command them?”
Now that the swarm of snakes had retreated, Lin Haihai was no longer afraid. She stared at the daoist nun and said, “It doesn’t matter. Why would a daoist outside the mortal world do something this vicious? A daoist should be kind and merciful. Those who stand on the side of justice would naturally gain more support. You shouldn’t help villains with their wrongdoing!”
“My life belongs to His Highness, and I, too. What’s so wrong about helping my man? I don’t know much about the greater good, but I know Prince Pingnan is the only one who cares for me earnestly. Everyone else is an insidious, cunning man fighting for their own selfish interests. The emperor today are incompetent and foolish, who incited unrest among the commoners and prevented them from leading a peaceful life. His Highness has vowed to help them. How can I not give him my support?”
The daoist nun seemed self-righteous, but there was a trace of yin energy between her brows, which was a sign that she had deviated during her cultivation!
Lin Haihai grew curious. The daoist nun seemed to have led a reclusive life in the mountains and didn’t know much about the world. Prince Pingnan was the usurper disturbing the peace, but she saw him as a great hero. It seemed that she had been a capable daoist cultivating her abilities who fell for Prince Pingnan’s lies. It was a shame that her devotion would be wasted on the man!
Lin Haihai pitied her. She tried to talk some sense into the daoist nun, “Prince Pingnan isn’t a good man. He’s not worth your loyalty!”
“That’s not for you to decide!” the daoist nun growled, glaring at Lin Haihai. “This is my territory. You better leave now!”
“Where are the living corpses? You trained them, didn’t you?” Lin Haihai’s expression darkened as well. The nun must know where those people were. She had to stop these people from claiming more victims!
“I did, but you’ll have to find them yourself. Aren’t you a capable woman?” The daosit nun turned and threw a smoke bomb at the ground. In the blink of an eye, she was gone. She knew she wasn’t Lin Haihai’s match, so she must not fall into Lin Haihai’s hand. Without her, the prince’s plan would fall apart!
Lin Haihai stomped on the ground, frustrated. The mountain had become peaceful again, and the yin energy dissipated. More and more people with unique masteries had joined Prince Pingnan. The best way to deal with them was to act quickly. After a bemused pause, Lin Haihai flew out of the mountain.Previous Chapter Next Chapter