Chapter 184: Where’s The Antidote?

Ten days later, Lin Haihai and the others arrived at the capital of Rong. The fifteenth day of the month was close, and Keqing’s gu would soon hit her. She was already rendered weak and helpless.

They found accomodation in a luxurious inn, housed within which was a high-class restaurant court officials frequented. Lin Haihai chose the place since she wanted to know what was going on with Rong’s imperial court.

After two days of not hearing anything, though, Lin Haihai could no longer wait. She set up a boundary around Keqing’s room and barged into the palace with Wangchen and Zheng Feng.

Rong’s palace befit its image of a great nation. It was just as extravagant as Daxing’s palace, if not more. However, Lin Haihai didn’t stop to appreciate it. Seeing a palace maid coming their way, Lin Haihai gestured at Wangchen, who whisked the maid to behind the fake mountain without missing a beat and demanded in a low voice, “Where’s the empress’s bedchamber?”

They were running out of time. They must find the vicious woman at once and demand her for an antidote, or Keqing would suffer a terrible end.

The maid looked at Wangchen with wild eyes. However, she didn’t dare call out for help or make any sound at all with her body restrained and a dagger held to her waist.

“Take me there, or I’ll kill you!” Wangchen growled darkly with killing intent.

The maid hurriedly nodded, her big eyes brimming with tears. Lin Haihai looked away. They couldn’t afford to go soft on her under the circumstances.

The maid led them through twists and turns before finally arriving at a palace - no, it was a plain common house. Why would there be such a building here? Lin Haihai thought of Bao Xiruo from The Legend of the Condor Heroes. Could the empress be a woman who disregarded all material riches?

Wangchen gave the maid a questioning look, who sobbed and said, “This is Her Majesty’s bedchamber. Please believe me and keep what this servant’s done a secret, or this servant will surely die!”

“Go, we’ll keep it quiet!” Lin Haihai said faintly.

The palace maid ran off. Lin Haihai and her two guards vaulted over the wall to get in. As soon as she landed on the ground, she scoffed. A thick, metallic smell permeated the air, mixed with the scents of poisonous gases, disguised by the faint fragrance of the flowers. It might be enough to fool regular folks, but not Lin Haihai, who wasn’t of the mundane world.

“Stop, who are you?!” Two women dressed in maid uniforms flew out of the house and charged at Lin Haihai. Zheng Feng and Wangchen rushed to engage them. After exchanging a few blows, Zheng Feng and Wangchen ended up defeated. They threw up black blood as they collapsed. They had been poisoned!

Lin Haihai scoffed. It better not be Golden Caterpillar Gu, or she would have no choice but to take all their lives. She wasn’t going to let people who dared employ such dirty tricks off the hook!

“No intruders ever got out of here alive!” a maid declared arrogantly.

Lin Haihai sealed Wangchen and Zheng Feng’s meridians to stop the poison from spreading. Then she picked herself up and stared at the two women. “Get Empress Consort out to meet me!”

“You have no right to demand for Her Majesty’s presence!” the maid scoffed after a brief pause, her sharp eyebrows tilted upward in an insufferable manner.

“Who are you?” Out walked a beautiful woman. She looked to be about thirty-five years old. There was something wild about her expression, while her brows and eyes seemed ethereal. This was a woman who was difficult to pin down, but exuded an indescribable charm nonetheless!

At the same time, the woman was considering Lin Haihai as well. The beautiful woman had a steely expression on her face, and her brows and eyes revealed a righteous personality. The woman hated those who believed themselves to be righteous. She was from Miaojiang. Gu and poison were her expertise. These Han women always looked at her and her people with derision. Well, she didn’t want to be around Han women, either. She also looked down at them!

“Are you the regent’s consort?” asked Lin Haihai, her expression cool.

“You should call me Empress!” The empress leaned in to inspect Lin Haihai.

“Empress? Alright.” Lin Haihai wasn’t going to beat around the bush. “I’m here to demand the antidote for Golden Caterpillar Gu. Do you have it?”

“Golden Caterpillar Gu? Hahaha! That bitch is your master? It is about time she dies from the poison!” Rong’s empress broke into insidious laughter, her face twisted by cruel satisfaction and her eyes shining with bloodlust like wolves lurking in the night.

“I’m asking you again, do you have the antidote?” Lin Haihai asked calmly, unfazed by her outburst.

The empress walked up to Lin Haihai with a vicious gaze. Then she bit out in a low voice, “No, I don’t. She’s going to die!”

“Then I’ll kill you. The only way to cure Golden Caterpillar Gu is to kill the one who used the poison, isn’t it?” Lin Haihai scoffed. That was her last resort. She wasn’t going to kill someone if she had any other options.

The empress paused, surprised by Lin Haihai’s knowledge of the poison. Then she broke into a smile and said, “You want to kill me? Do you think you can do it?” Her derisive gaze dragged over Zheng Feng and Wangchen. “Look at your two companions. They’ll die sooner or later!”

With a wolfish smile, Lin Haihai made a point in the air, and the two maids immediately collapsed to the ground, holding their stomachs and rolling around, crying out in pain through their foaming mouths. Their faces were drained of all colors.

“Give me the antidotes, or I’ll destroy you as well!” Lin Haihai said coolly without even sparing the maids a glance. The empress was shocked. It turned out the woman was a poison master as well, and she couldn’t even tell how she had done it!

“Cure my companions first!” Lin Haihai ordered.

The empress sneered, “Go ahead and kill them. This Empress wouldn’t even frown. Once they’re dead, though, your two companions will die with them!”

She had no shortage of maids who were trained in the way of poison!

The two maids scrambled toward their master and knelt down to beg her, “Please save us, Your Majesty. Please!”

The empress kicked them away and growled, “Get away from me! You’ve embarrassed this Empress!”

Enraged, Lin Haihai was about to make a move when a high-pitched voice declared, “His Majesty has arrived!”

Lin Haihai watched as the empress immediately schooled her face into a meek and pitiful expression, her eyes misty with tears. Lin Haihai had to wonder if she was the one who invented the art of face-changing in Sichuan opera.

The emperor was a prideful and handsome man. The dragon robe he wore accentuated his remarkable grace. He seemed to be in his forties, and there was an imperious air about him. He stopped to look at what was happening.

The empress bowed and said with a dignified look on her face, “Greetings, Your Majesty!”

The emperor nodded and levelled his piercing eyes at Lin Haihai before glancing down at Zheng Feng and Wangchen. “Who are you? Why are you stirring up trouble in Her Majesty’s courtyard?”

Lin Haihai looked at the man Keqing had fallen for. He was someone worthy of a lifetime of yearning, but alas, the man was blind!

“I’m here to settle a score with your empress, one that should be settled with blood!” Lin met the emperor’s sharp gaze and said without giving an inch.

The empress said innocently, “Your Majesty, she viciously barged in with two poisoned people and beat up Chunxiang and Qiuyue without warning! Then she threatened to kill this Empress. This Empress doesn’t understand what’s going on!”

“Is that so?” The emperor had always believed in the empress. Over the years, she had been gentle and meek, and she had accepted the fact that he was in love with someone else.

“That’s a lie!” Lin Haihai said bluntly. “I’m here to avenge Keqing!”

She didn’t have time to talk in circles. In only a few days, Keqing would die of poison!

“Keqing? Where’s Keqing?” The emperor panicked, his sharp eyes darkened. Lin Haihai could tell that the love in his eyes was genuine. “How is she? Take me to her!”

“Who is Keqing to you, that you’re so worried about her? I don’t know how she is, but I know she’s dying!” Lin Haihai sighed inwardly. She didn’t have a lot of time left in this world, either. She wanted to return to her beloved man as soon as she could!

“What?” The emperor was stunned. “How did that happen?”

“Isn’t that what you expected?” Lin Haihai said faintly. “Even though she managed to run away from the group of assassins, how could she possibly run from the Golden Caterpillar Gu your empress used on her? In a few days, her poison would claim her. She would die terribly after a month of torturous pain. Your empress said there is no antidote for the poison!”

“What’s going on, Empress?” The emperor wasn’t sure why, but he believed Lin Haihai’s words. He turned to the empress with inquisitive and accusative eyes. Those who knew him would be able to tell that as the calm before the storm. His hands had balled into fists, making it clear that he was trying his best to control his emotions.

“Do you really believe her, Your Majesty?” The empress looked at the emperor calmly, her dark eyes unreadable.

The emperor’s gaze was just as indiscernible, but his brows had furrowed in cold fury. “Have you sent assassins after Keqing?”

“This Empress hasn’t!” She remained as unfazed as ever.

The emperor’s forehead creased. “This Emperor is asking you one last time, Nuo’er. Have you sent assassins after Keqing?”

“This Empress said I didn’t, and I didn’t! Hasn’t this Empress done enough for you over the years? How can Your Majesty still suspect this Empress? This Empress has said that I didn’t need the title nor the glory of being an empress. I’m content with a peaceful life tending to flowers and chanting prayers in this stone house! This Empress doesn’t ask for much, Your Majesty. If Your Majesty doesn’t believe me, you may conduct an investigation yourself. If the investigation tells you that this Empress has gone after Keqing, this Empress will pay with my life!”

She painted herself as the victim, and there seemed to be no traces of trickery in her tone. At the same time she made clear her feelings for the emperor. Her reddened eyes had also supported her statement.

After a bemused pause, the emperor looked at Lin Haihai and asked, “Who are you, and where is Keqing?”

Lin Haihai didn’t spare him any attention. It was clear from the emperor’s gaze that he had again placed his trust in the woman! Lin Haihai stared at the empress. She remembered Keqing telling her that the woman’s name was Ning Nuoli. A pretty name that shouldn’t belong to a malicious woman!

“I’m asking you again, Ning Nuoli, is there an antidote for the Golden Caterpillar Gu?” Lin Haihai’s eyes were dark with brewing storms.

“This Empress has said that I didn’t know what it is!” Ning Nuoli seemed completely fearless. The poison would claim Keqing soon, and she must be in too much pain to utter a word even if the emperor went to see her. She wouldn’t be able to tell the truth!

However, Ning Nuoli didn’t know that Lin Haihai had blocked Keqing’s meridians with golden needles to slow down the poison, and Keqing was still able to function normally!

“Then don’t blame me for not showing you the proper etiquette! I’m Lin Haihai, Head Imperial Physician of Daxing, Your Majesty. I’m going to take your empress away for now. Perhaps she’ll be a corpse when I return her to you!”

Lin Haihai knew the man wouldn’t believe her, but she couldn’t just take Keqing here. Too many people in this palace worked for the empress. Keqing would end up dead before she could meet the emperor. She had to lure the emperor to the inn Keqing was staying in. Then the truth would come out naturally!

The emperor’s eyes darkened with overwhelming emotions. Lin Haihai was taunting him! How dared a mere Head Imperial Physician disrespected the empress of Rong? But then he remembered something. Isn’t Lin Haihai the living bodhisattva who’s highly regarded in Daxing? It’s said that she’s such a masterful physician that she’s able to save even dead people. If that’s the case, Lin’er wouldn’t have to die!

However, the woman seemed hostile and vicious. He had to find out first if Keqing was in her hand. How are you doing, Keqing?

“Is Keqing really with you?” he asked calmly, his expression perfectly controlled.

Lin Haihai had to admire the man for his self-control. She had declared her intention to kidnap his empress, and yet he was able to keep his anger in check.

“She is,” Lin Haihai said.

“Take this Emperor to her. You’re bold to go after this Emperor’s empress like it is nothing!” The emperor seemed to be reprimanding her with his look.

“I’m a timid woman who cannot take lives, but I hate people who hurt others through vicious means. I’m taking you empress with me!”

If there truly was no antidote, she would have to kill the empress to save Keqing. Everyone should think about the consequences of their wrongdoing beforehand. The empress had chosen an insidious gu that required the death of the poisoner to cleanse. There was no solution other than a life for a life in this case!

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