Chapter 1193: His backbone


How could one sabotage the ingredients?

For example, those with aged mildew could be sunned and washed before being delivered; those with the essence already extracted could be dried out and sent over. Such things were commonplace in the medical world.

Some mildewed ingredients could still be used after a wash, but others would turn poisonous. Meanwhile, the ingredients with essences extracted were less effective when used at normal dosages, thus affecting the treatment of patients. Gu Beiyue was fretting over who to delegate the task to, but a straightforward girl like Mu Linger who dared to offend anyone was the best choice.

When he saw her dusty, travelworn state, he said, “Miss Linger should rest first. I’ll go ahead and you can join me tomorrow morning.”

“I’m not tired! Doctor Gu, a day’s delay means many lives lost in the quarantined district!” Mu Linger was serious.

Currently the plague had been basically brought under control in Northern Li. Every city had been divided into half to separate the sick and healthy citizens. The various medical teams were sent off to different regions to save the patients. Ning Cheng’s soldiers were in charge of delivering medicine to the healthy to avoid getting sick. Everything had its own sequence, but many severely ill patients still died daily. Their corpses were all cremated as a precaution.

Gu Beiyue wanted to head here personally so he could save the seriously ill victims. Seven cities had surrendered to Ning Cheng so far, making up half of Northern Li. About 300 or so sick patients were divided between them. It was impossible for Gu Beiyue to save them all, so he could only do his best and rescued each one he could. 

Gu Beiyue admired Mu Linger’s professionalism and nodded. “I’ll give you two hours. Eat something and take a break.”

This was the moment Jin Zi entered the tent and ran into Mu Linger. He startled but so did she. The two of them stood at opposite ends of the doorway only ten paces apart to stare at each other. Gu Beiyue left soundlessly with Ning Cheng following.

But Jin Zi suddenly turned back and said coldly, “Ning Cheng, I need to find you for something!”

“Oh…” Ning Cheng said meaningfully. “Then speak.”

“We’ll speak elsewhere!” Jin Zi’s tone was obviously unkind. However, his gaze never left Mu Linger. 

Mu Linger truly disliked his staring. Every time she saw his eyes, they were always cold and sharp, as if they could see through to her inner heart. She was a hopeless fool who couldn’t even recognize her own thoughts, so she both feared and hated eyes like his.

“Then...shall we go?” Ning Cheng asked next.

Jin Zi withdrew his stare and turned to stalk off. The hanging curtains over the door fell back to its spot before Mu Linger recovered her wits. Actually, she had come to Northern Li both to save its people and settle accounts with Jin Zi. In two more days, their one-year deadline would be up.

Mu Linger shook her head, not wanting to think about it any longer. She had already decided on the way here to have a falling out with Jin Zi as soon as he asked her about it! Exhaling softly, Mu Linger went to sit down on one of the soft lounge beds nearby.

But suddenly!

“Cheep…”

The sharp cry made Mu Linger leap up, only to see Lil Thing with its four limbs stretched out on the rabbit-fur seat. It had been squashed flat. Mu Linger didn’t realize it’d been napping here when she sat down. She quickly picked up Lil Thing and tugged at its front paws, then at its back legs.

“Lil Thing, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t know you were here.”

Lil Thing stretched its paws lazily and moved its neck a few times before peering at Mu Linger.

“I really didn’t do it on purpose,” Mu Linger apologized.

Lil Thing immediately stood up straight and turned around in a circle to show Mu Linger it was perfectly fine.

Mu Linger broke into a smile. “You’re still the best!” She sat back down to rest, allowing Lil Thing to jump onto her. It was very happy to see Miss Linger after all this time. 

Although Mu Linger was exhausted, she couldn’t fall asleep. She wanted to go outside and ask after the situation in the quarantine regions, but she didn’t want to interrupt Jin Zi and Ning Cheng if they were outside too. She placed Lil Thing in her palms and struck up a conversation.

“Lil Thing, do you know Doctor Gu’s going to get married?”

“That’s not right. You have to know if you talk to him everyday!”

“Lil Thing, have you ever seen that Eldest Miss Qin? I haven’t, but I heard she’s confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.”

“Lil Thing, you understand Doctor Gu best. What do you think he’s thinking?”

As Mu Linger prattled on, Lil Thing remained lost. It didn’t even know anything about that Eldest Miss Qin. Originally, its duty was finished after the gentleman brought Gu Qishao back to Medical City. It was supposed to return to Mama Yunxi’s side and take a look at the little master. But it couldn’t bear to part with the gentleman. Mama Yunxi didn’t send anyone to pick it up either, so it happily followed Gu Beiyue to Northern Li.

While Mu Linger was spacing out with Lil Thing, Jin Zi and Ning Cheng had settled down in a different tent.

“Why didn’t you tell me she was coming?” Jin Zi’s face looked furious.

Although Ning Cheng was blind in one eye, his other one was still sharp and incisive enough to see Jin Zi’s temper. “What,” he asked, “You can’t bear to see her head to the quarantine regions?”

“I’m asking you, why didn’t you tell me she was coming?” Jin Zi said word for word.

“Why should I?” Ning Cheng smiled coldly.

“You!” Jin Zi fumed.

“What are you so excited about? If you don’t want her to go, just take her away. My eye isn’t so good so I’ll just pretend I didn’t notice,” Ning Cheng teased.

Han Yunxi had long wrote to him about keeping an eye on Jin Zi so he wouldn’t bully Mu Linger. Ning Cheng didn’t take it seriously because he knew what kind of man Jin Zi was better than anyone else. 

No matter how much Jin Zi liked his melon, he wouldn’t eat it if it was forced. 

Jin Zi said no more. He reached out a hand, but Ning Cheng easily took out the indenture agreement from his sleeve and placed it in Jin Zi’s palm.

Shocked, Jin Zi nevertheless tightened his grip around the paper in case Ning Cheng snatched it back again.

“There will be no more wars in Northern Li’s northern regions. I received news from the snow mountains yesterday that all of the civilians there rose in revolt.” Ning Cheng wasn’t joking as his expression turned serious. “We had an agreement back then. After you help me take down Northern Li, I’d give you your indenture agreement.”

Jin Zi had no feelings of gratitude in his heart. He had earned this paper fair and square. After studying it carefully to make sure it was genuine, he tore it to shreds and tossed it into a furnace.

“Heheh, you can take her away now! Do it before I change my mind,” Ning Cheng laughed as he left the tent.

Ning Cheng wasn’t doing this to test Jin Zi because there was no need. He simply wanted to persuade Han Yunxi not to worry. Compared to Gu Qishao, Ning Cheng still favored Jin Zi more. He even had a little bit of selfish motives at heart. If he couldn’t make Jin Zi stay behind to oversee the Black Clan, perhaps Mu Linger might. 

--

Mu Linger only had two hours left in the camp, but Jin Zi never went to find her. Ning Cheng discovered that he’d left all his affairs with a deputy general and disappeared before Mu Linger’s departure. 

After eating her meal, Mu Linger finally left the tent. She breathed a sigh of relief when she didn’t see Jin Zi around and went to find Gu Beiyue directly. Just like that, Mu Linger didn’t stay a single night at the main camp and left with the doctor for a quarantined region. That night, Ning Cheng sat alone on the grass outside the tent to drink wine. The guards felt strange after not seeing Jin Zi because he was Ning Cheng’s frequent drinking companion.

A single person drinking wine looked especially lonely. But nobody ventured any guesses and assumed that Jin Zi had business to take care of.

However, Jin Zi remained missing in action three days later.

Deputy General Chen, whom Ning Cheng had personally promoted, couldn’t sit still any longer and ran over to ask Ning Cheng about the details.

“Master Ning, could Jin Zi have ran away?”

“So what if he did?” Ning Cheng retorted.

“If Jin Zi flees, who else can control those people from the Black Clan?” Deputy General Chen was panicked! Those Black Clan members were tough and reckless and only feared Jin Zi.

“The indenture agreement is with me and you’re still afraid he’ll run away?” Ning Cheng asked next.

“Master, how could a single indenture agreement constrain him? He’s someone who doesn’t fear the laws!” Deputy General Chen declared.

Indenture agreements might have effects on ordinary civilians, but they were rather ineffective against someone like Jin Zi. Even if he fled without taking it with him, Ning Cheng couldn’t be guaranteed to track him down.

Ning Cheng raised his gaze at the deputy general and asked, “Since it’s so useless, why didn’t he run in all those other years?”

Deputy General Chen was rendered mute. That indenture agreement represented Jin Zi’s integrity, sincerity, and sheer backbone! 

“This subordinate misspoke,” Deputy General Chen made a military bow before backing out.

--

Currently, Mu Linger had just finished inspecting the medicinal ingredients and returned to her tent. She and Gu Beiyue had been extremely busy after reaching the quarantine region. Although it was late night now, she only had time to take a nap for the length of an incense stick before Gu Beiyue sent more ingredients to be inspected her way.

She should be catching a snooze right now, but all she could think of was Jin Zi. Yesterday was the deadline, but he hadn’t come to find her? It was completely unlike his character!

Did he give up?

Soon enough, Gu Beiyue’s medical assistant came with a fresh batch of ingredients, much more than Mu Linger imagined. 

“Miss Linger, these are all ingredients used to treat the plague. Doctor Gu said that we’re rather short on Chinese ginsengBuddha’s hand, and Sunda pangolin.[1] He estimates that we’ll run out of stock by the next month…”

Before the assistant finished, Mu Linger knew what Gu Beiyue meant. “Alright,” she said, “I’ll do my best to find adequate replacements and adjust the dosages accordingly. Pass on the message to Doctor Gu for me so he doesn’t have to worry.”

That night, Mu Linger didn’t sleep a wink, using the entire time to finish up a third of a potential prescription. After all, Gu Beiyue had sent her some rather complex ingredients.

Mu Linger busied herself by Gu Beiyue’s side until inexplicably, a month had passed.

Jin Zi never came to find her, nor did he show up at the military camp again.

Where did Jin Zi go?


1. Imagine my shock when PGC gave me three ingredients that actually exist in our world instead of fanciful made-up names…

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Ruyi's Thoughts

For example, those with aged mildew could be sunned and washed before being delivered; those with the essence already extracted could be dried out and sent over. Such things were commonplace in the medical world.

I'm raising my eyebrows here because that suggests a far higher level of corruption in the medical suppliers than I'm comfortable with. Seriously, how are more people not dead yet?

Anyways, quiz time guys! Where in the world is Jin Zi now? Before moving on to the next chapter, cast your votes in the strawpoll link below! I'll sum up readers' reactions and stuff in 24 hours!

Take a Guess at Jin Zi's Whereabouts Poll

(To those who already know, no spoilers in the comments!)