Chapter 1171: No can do

From Gu Qishao’s wrist onwards, the flesh and bones had all turned into a mass of stiff, twisted vines. Moreover, Long Feiye could clearly see that the condition was slowly spreading to Gu Qishao’s hand.

“When did this start?” Long Feiye asked.

“The day we came down the mountains. It turned into this overnight,” Gu Qishao had finally stopped smiling.

“Did you plant any seeds?” Long Feiye asked.

“No, not a single one. Poison lass had the right theory. These must have grown from my blood,” Gu Qishao replied.

“They’re eating away at you!” Long Feiye cried.

Gu Qishao lifted his hand for a look and grinned. “That’s right. I’m pretty sure they’ll gobble up my hand by tomorrow morning. Let me stay with you two a bit longer. I’ll leave after Poison lass wakes up, it won’t be any good if she notices.”

“I’ll help you hack this arm off,” Long Feiye said coldly. But Gu Qishao only revealed his other arm. The upper portion had already been taken over by the same growth. 

So what if his arms were hacked off? His blood ran through his entire body. Any place could sprout into vines that slowly eroded away his flesh, bones, and blood. If vines sprouted here and there on him quickly combined into one, they’d take over his body before long. 

Gu Qishao leveled Long Feiye with a serious look. “Long Feiye, if it ever eats up my brain one day and turns me into some kind of monstrous tree, cut me down! Tell Poison lass...and Linger, that I went off wandering into the Mysterious Continent.”

“No can do,” Long Feiye said coldly.

Gu Qishao suddenly laughed, a happy sound. “Don’t blame me for reminding you! If you can’t help me tell this lie, Poison lass will definitely cry over me! Her eyes might even get puffy, hahah!”

Long Feiye grabbed his reins to turn his horse around, his voice like ice. “Get back to Medical City this instant! Don’t waste time. If you really can’t save yourself, I’ll tell Mu Linger the truth. She’ll hug your tree and cry everyday, annoying you to death!”

Gu Qishao glanced back, his cheerful eyes suddenly flashing with pain. “Long Feiye,” he intoned, “If I really turn into a tree, will I still be able to think? Could I still hear any of you talking? Say...will my body sprout flowers?”

When he was very, very young and still “Little Qi,” he had a period of time when he loved his father dearly. The first time he left his little wooden house to run about the Poison Sect’s mountains, he saw a tree in full bloom. Then he’d ran back home and sat in front of his house for an entire day to wait for his father to come home.

“Daddy,” he’d told his father with excitement, “Qi’er wants to be a tree and grow flowers all over my body.”

When he saw a bird flying high in the sky, he would tell his father that night, “Daddy, Qi’er wants to be a bird and fly all the way to the other side of the mountain.”

Later on, he witnessed the four seasons. In spring the flowers bloomed, in summer the insects hummed, in autumn the leaves fell, and in winter snowflakes flew in the air. He discovered that all the plants grew barren and died in the wintertime. When his father came home one night, he asked sadly, “Daddy, will Qi’er wither and die one day, too?”

Those carefree days were his deepest memories. Even now, he remembered his father’s reply.

“Whatever withers and dies,” Gu Yuntian had said, “Will come back to life once winter goes and spring comes again.”

Gu Qishao’s eyes brimmed with tears. He said, “Long Feiye, let me stay a little longer. At least until day breaks. This might be the last time we see each other again.”

Long Feiye turned away, avoiding him. But he didn’t chase him off. The two men rode ahead of the carriage on horseback, shoulder to shoulder.

Behind them, the shadow guards were all perplexed. Although it seemed like His Highness was chatting with Gu Qishao, it didn’t seem quite accurate. Nobody dared to get close, so they couldn’t tell if the two men were silent or talking the entire time.

How long could a single night be?

As Gu Qishao watched the sun peek out from the east, he hid away his left hand, which was now overrun with vines. As he turned his horse away, Long Feiye asked, “You’re not going to say goodbye?”

“No. Poison lass should look prettier eating rather than sleeping. This old man wants to remember her eating face forever!” Gu Qishao grinned broadly. 

He didn’t hesitate, but whipped his horse to gallop off. Long Feiye stared after his back until it vanished before turning to look at the rising sun.

Daybreak had truly come…

Uncle Gao, Chu Xifeng and the rest were all lost. Wasn’t Gu Qishao heading for Pill Fiend Valley? He should be going south, but he left before we even reached the crossroads. Not only that, he’s heading back the way we came?

Long Feiye only remarked, “Gu Qishao’s turning off towards Pill Fiend Valley.”

Everyone restrained their thoughts and stopped making conjectures. Long Feiye didn’t return to the carriage, but personally took the lead. He hadn’t slept all night, so his gaze was heavy, his pupils so dark that no light could possibly penetrate their depths. Under the cover of dawn, Han Yunxi was still sleeping comfortably inside the carriage. Gu Qishao would never know that she looked much prettier sleeping than eating.

--

At this moment, Gu Beiyue was sitting on the roof of Medical City’s tallest tower, hugging Lil Thing as he gazed at the road leading back to the city. 

He was waiting for Gu Qishao.

He knew that the man would return this morning because he had no other choice. He was very quiet, but Lil Thing could clearly sense his feels. Gu Beiyue was...extremely sad.

Lil Thing bore with it at first, but when the gentleman’s sorrow intensified, it began to grow uneasy. After all, the gentleman was always calm and serene no matter what he faced. Only now did Lil Thing realize that he could...feel grieved as well.

Lil Thing scampered up Gu Beiyue’s arm to cheep at him from his shoulders. Gu Beiyue turned towards him, as gentle and warm as always. “What is it, Lil Thing?”

Lil Thing cheeped as it gestured with its paws. Patiently, Gu Beiyue looked closely and said in a tender voice, “Lil Thing, you could tell that I was sad?”

Lil Thing couldn’t understand its gentleman, but it knew the man had guessed its thoughts--and probably hit them right on the mark. So it nodded immediately.

“You’re the one who understands me best,” Gu Beiyue smiled before nuzzling up with his face. Lil Thing carefully hugged him and nuzzled back, hoping to bring the gentleman some comfort. It was so small that it couldn’t even offer the man a shoulder, so it didn’t how much comfort it could give. 

Still, the gentleman shut his eyes and allowed him to nuzzle back.

In the vast expanse of Medical City, Gu Beiyue sat alone on the roof of the tall tower, leaning lightly against Lil Thing. How lonely did he look in the pale morning light?

Gu Beiyue waited for a long time. It wasn’t until noon that he saw Gu Qishao return. He rose to his feet and made a vow towards the scarlet figure outside the city gates. 

“Qishao, no matter what, I’ll do my best to save you!”

--

When Gu Qishao entered the gates of the medical academy, Gu Beiyue flew down from the tower. He landed on the ground and resumed his usual state, placid and gentle.

Just as he reached the study, a young medical assistant came over to report. “Academy Head, Fourth Young Miss Ren and Vice Academy Head Shen requests an audience.”

“Tell them they can preside over any and all matters. Unless it’s a matter of life and death, they shouldn’t disturb me for the next few months,” Gu Beiyue instructed.

Before the medical assistant left, Gu Beiyue added, “That’s right. Help me pass on an apology to Fourth Young Miss Ren. Just say that Lil Thing won’t seek her out anymore, so she doesn’t need to worry.”

Then he entered the study. Knowing that he must be busy and couldn’t afford distractions, Lil Thing docilely hopped off his shoulder and went to curl up in the ceiling rafters. 

--

When the medical assistant passed on the message to Fouth Young Miss Ren, her lively eyes immediately dimmed. “Strange,” she muttered to herself, “The princess has already apologized, so why is Academy Head Beiyue doing it as well?”

Vice Academy Head Shen was completely out the loop, so he asked, “Fourth Young Miss Ren, what did that poison beast do to you?”

“Nothing. It was just fooling around,” Fourth Young Miss Ren hastily explained.

Vice Academy Head Shen didn’t probe. The two of them left Gu Beiyue’s courtyard before he muttered, “Fourth Young Miss Ren, have you heard?”

“What is it?” Fourth Young Miss Ren grew curious. There were plenty of rumors within the medical academy, but Vice Academy Head Shen was never one to pay attention to them.

“I heard that the academy head asked someone to act as matchmaker on his behalf to the Qin Clan in the south of the city,” Vice Academy Head Shen murmured back.

“What?” Fourth Young Miss Ren exclaimed.

“Shhhh...be a little softer,” Vice Academy Head Shen scolded. If this rumor didn’t involve Gu Beiyue, he wouldn’t be interested at all.

“When was this? Why don’t I know anything about it?” Fourth Young Miss Ren asked anxiously.

“It was just a few days ago. Plenty of people in the academy are aware,” Vice Academy Head Shen smiled.

Did I miss it because I was preoccupied with Lil Thing for the past few days? Fourth Young Miss Ren pressed, “The Qin Clan south of the city? The second most powerful family in Medical City?”

“Yes, that Qin Clan,” Vice Academy Head Shen nodded. The medical family of the Qins were filled with talented members! If Gu Beiyue hadn’t placed weight on Fourth Young Miss Ren in the past, the Qin Clan might have superseded the Gu Clan as the top power faction in Medical City.

“H-he...which young Miss of the Qin Clan does he fancy?” Fourth Young Miss Ren did her best to hold back, but her voice was turning hoarse.

“I don’t know if the rumors are accurate, but I heard it’s their eldest young Miss,” Vice Academy Head Shen said helplessly.

Fourth Young Miss Ren felt thunderstruck as she froze in place. Eldest Young Miss Qin is a cripple. Her legs are useless so she always spends her days in a wheelchair. All of Medical City knows her as an old maid because nobody’s willing to marry her!

Academy Head Beiyue’s never talked with her before, so...so when did he start liking her?!

“I don’t believe it!” Fourth Young Miss Ren cried stubbornly.

“This old man doesn’t believe it either. I don’t know if the news is true since the Qin Clan hasn’t made any movements either. Academy Head Beiyue is so busy these days that even if it’s accurate, we shouldn’t get any updates for a while,” Vice Academy Head Shen sighed.

Whatever the case, Gu Beiyue would have no time to mind marriage matters in the next few months. As soon as Gu Qishao returned, Gu Beiyue became very busy…

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Ruyi's Thoughts

*squints* You know what, I take my early opinion back. Lil Thing was right--Fourth Young Miss Ren isn't a worthy match for Gu Beiyue.

You got to need a special type of tolerant, mature, and intelligent woman to fit our good doctor, not some emotional teenage girl with a crush, tsk.

Not only that, our gal of choice would probably need to live with the fact that she'll never be GBY's true love, per se; he'll be a perfect husband but his heart is likely destined to be thinking of HYX forever.

Tsk, I wish more C-novels gave our second and third male leads alternative "true love" matches.

Anyways, we'll be spending the next few chapters catching up with LFY and HYX again, so GQS ad GBY's story (+ potential wife) will have to be put on hold for a while. Sit tight!