Pill Furnace Master gave a contemptuous sniff. “The hell you wanna know?!”
There were plenty of things for Han Yunxi to worry about. If this didn’t involve Gu Qishao, she wouldn’t even bother asking. This old thing, how am I supposed to help if he doesn’t say a word?
Han Yunxi immediately pulled out the agreement she’d written with Pill Furnace Master in the past and tossed it back at him. “I’m giving this back! The original contract said I’d get everything in the Medicine Requesting Cave if I found your disciple within three years. First of all, I haven’t gotten anything from your cave without payment. Secondly, our agreement was for three years and time’s not up yet. If you’re saying I’m going back on my word now, it’s a little early for that!”
Pill Furnace Master was still flailing over how to retort when Han Yunxi took a step forward, forcing him backwards. She went on, “You said I wasn’t actually searching for him so I broke my promise. But you’ve never answered any of my questions about your disciple, so can’t I say you don’t really want to find him either? You never wanted to give me Medicine Requesting Cave in the first place, did you? Who are you trying to fool?”
“I, I…” Pill Furnace Master stammered a few times, but couldn’t finish his sentence. After Han Yunxi’s outburst, he felt like her words made sense.
Han Yunxi didn’t always censure others, but when she did, there was no mercy. “Old Pill master, you’ve lived for so long. Don’t you know what it means to be open and aboveboard? If you’re unhappy that I broke my word, then just tell me. Why did you screw with us instead? Heheh, I’m even giving you face by saying you’re untrustworthy. Since you won’t even save that, then I’ll tell it straight: you’re nothing more than a petty little villain!”
Pill Furnace Master was rendered dumb by Han Yunxi’s curses as he clutched at the contract. For a long time, he had no retort. Seeing this, Han Yunxi decided to make a clean break of things. “I’m returning the contract to you. I’m not interested in your Medicine Requesting Cave, so I won’t help you find your disciple! This matter between us is over!”
Then she took Long Feiye’s hand and stalked off, leaving Pill Furnace Master gaping after them with words stuck in his throat. Han Yunxi made sure to walk very slowly and even stopped briefly, but Pill Furnace Master still didn’t speak. Soon enough, Long Feiye took to the skies with her so they could fly out of the hole in the ceiling. The whole way, Han Yunxi was fighting the urge to go back and curse out Pill Furnace Master again.
“Let’s go,” Long Feiye coaxed.
“I’ll just count it as asking questions in Gu Qishao’s place,” Han Yunxi muttered. Yet she hadn’t turned back before Pill Furnace Master finally spoke.
“Lass, how about I tell you the truth and you keep looking for my disciple? As long as you find him for me, I don’t care about some Returning Dragon Pills. I’ll even give you this entire furnace!”
Thrilled, Han Yunxi immediately jumped back to the ground. “Done!”
Only then did Pill Furnace Master tell her about the events of the past. He’d ran into “Little Loony” by chance and discovered the boy was similar to himself. He was not only a medical genius, but had the same temper and personality. He doted on the boy like his own grandson and prepared to pass down his legacy to him. But one day, Little Loony accidentally kicked the furnace, so he beat the boy and forced him to kowtow to the furnace in apology. He even threatened to chase him off if he dared to hurt the furnace again.
Despite his years, Pill Furnace Master was a careless lunatic who acted more like a naughty brat. Still, he was every inch a lonely and pitiful old man when recounting these events.
“He’d only kowtowed once when it made his forehead bleed. The blood got all over his face and even into his eyes, because they were red when he looked at me.” Pill Furnace Master’s eyes were red too as he recalled the bygone scenes between master and disciple.
One day, Little Loony had held his hand and said, “Old Loony, I don’t want to be your disciple.”
He had chuckled and asked, “Who said you could call me Old Loony?”
“How about I call you grandpa?” Little Loony asked sincerely.
One day, he tricked Little Loony into refining a very bitter pill, then coaxed him by saying, “Little Loony, be good and eat this medicine. You’ll grow up very soon.”
“Master, I don’t want to grow up so fast,” Little Loony had been dead serious.
“Why?” he’d asked.
“If I grow up, master will get old and die. Then I’ll have no more family again,” Little Loony had replied.
One day, Little Loony had suddenly ran over to ask him a question.
“Master, will you toss me into the furnace to refine into medicine?”
He had laughed out loud and said, “Master couldn’t bear to do that.”
Little Loony had buried himself into his chest them, hugging him for a long time before letting go.
Hearing all this turned Long Feiye’s icy face even frostier, while Han Yunxi was left knitting her brows. She finally understood why Gu Qishao was still denying knowing this master, much less returning to his side. For an ordinary child, even the fiercest beatings could be forgiven, but to Little Qi, Pill Furnace Master’s curse cast him into utter despair.
That was because the old man had first given him hope before destroying it by his own hands again!
Old Pill master, do you know your Little Loony was none other than Little Qi, the boy who was expelled from Medical City after being used and betrayed by his own father as a living science experiment? The same little boy who lived like a rat in the streets until he ran into you?
Han Yunxi kept these thoughts to herself. She now knew why Gu Qishao hated Medicine Requesting Cave and threatened Pill Furnace Master with his own furnace when they met. Now the furnace was nothing more than an eyesore to her. In a cold voice, she said, “You shouldn’t search for your disciple anymore. Isn’t it fine to just guard that treasured furnace of yours for a lifetime?”
Pill Furnace Master grew agitated. With Han Yunxi and Long Feiye’s resources, it’d be a cinch to find someone. If they couldn’t do it, who could? He didn’t want to lose this chance and quickly explained, “This old man had never yelled at him since taking him in--not a single sentence! That was the only time, just once...I had taken some pills that day and couldn’t control my temper. This old man...this old man’s regretted it ever since!”
“You took medicine?” Han Yunxi clarified.
“That day, this old man took some Fire Dan pellets, which made my temper explosive. I couldn’t keep my temper in check. Even if I cherish this furnace, I wouldn’t get rid of Little Loony, ah!” Pill Furnace Master explained hastily.
Han Yunxi gave a start. Does...Gu Qishao know that?
“Lass, it was my fault first with the Returning Dragon Pills. Can’t I apologize to you? Just help this old man with this one request. I’ve already got one foot in the grave, but no matter how many mistakes I’ve made in my life, I can’t let down that child! This is my only wish. I have to explain myself to him.”
Han Yunxi felt stifled. She couldn’t help glancing towards the hole in the cave ceiling as she spoke. “Old Pill master, that child has long grown up. Even I don’t know if I can help you find him again.”
Pill Furnace Master didn’t get the message and only went on to describe Little Loony’s looks, temper, and talent in medicine all over again.
“Alright, I’ll help you find him,” Han Yunxi intoned. When she and Long Feiye left, neither of them stopped to look back again. By the time they reached the carriage, one of the shadow guards on standby came forward to report.
“Your Highness, Master Gu still hasn’t appeared.”
Xu Donglin and Baili Mingxiang were puzzled upon hearing this. Hadn’t Gu Qishao been the first to leave? Han Yunxi wasn’t surprised. She guessed that Gu Qishao had only been hiding away instead of really leaving. Otherwise, why would she try so hard to get answers out of Pill Furnace Master?
At this moment, Gu Qishao was hiding outside the cave, silently observing Pill Furnace Master spacing out in front of the Celestial Fire Qian Furnace. He didn’t leave, but remained concealed, having overheard every word between Poison lass and Old Loony. His expression was blank as he stood unmoving until a young medicinal assistant pushed him from behind. Before he could call out for Pill Furnace Master, Gu Qishao muffled her mouth and said fiercely, “Shhh! Don’t talk, or I’ll poison you mute!”
Terrified, the boy remained mute. Gu Qishao dug out a copper coin tied to a red cord and stuffed it into the child’s hands. In a low voice, he instructed, “Give this to your master and tell him…”
The little assistant waited for a long time, but Gu Qishao didn’t speak. He timidly looked up and saw the pretty older brother in red robes was absolutely expressionless.
“What should I...tell him?” the medical assistant ventured.
Gu Qishao’s voice had turned hoarse by the time he spoke again. “Tell your master that Little Loony’s grown up, so he should stop looking for him. Have him find a new disciple instead.”
Then he abruptly left, leaving the little assistant confused and lost. Still, he didn’t dare dawdle and quickly went into the secret entrance until he reached the end of the tunnel.
“Master, master! That big brother in red robes told me to give you this,” the assistant raised his hands to show the copper coin with string.
Pill Furnace Master was lost in his thoughts and ignored him. When it came to Gu Qishao, he had nothing but bad impressions of the man--besides his striking eyes.
“Master, that big brother in red robes wanted me to pass on a message too.”
Only then did Pill Furnace Master looked down, but froze at the sight of the coin in the medical assistant’s palms. The copper coin was unlike any other in that there was a flame insignia burned into the metal. He’d done the same just for his Little Loony. Snatching the coin, he cried in alarm, “Who...who gave you this?!”
“That big brother in red robes--the one who looks really pretty,” the little boy replied.
How could Gu Qishao have this? How…
When he recalled Gu Qishao’s riveting eyes again, Pill Furnace Master’s heart gave a start. Without a word, he fled for the exit. It had been decades since he left the grounds of the Medicine Hut, but by the time he ran outside, Han Yunxi’s carriage was long gone with the rest of the group.
Pill Furnace Master hastily retraced his steps and asked the little medical assistant, “What else did he say?”
The little assistant had never seen his master so agitated or panicked and repeated all of Gu Qishao’s words without fail.
“He said, ‘Little Loony’s already grown up, so you should stop looking for him.’ He also told you to go find a new disciple instead.”
Pill Furnace Master clutched the copper coin in his hands and exclaimed, “It was him—it was actually him!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter