Chapter 1323: [Beiyue] Doctor Qin

Gu Beiyue lay on the bed, his consciousness awake but too weak to speak. Even when he wanted to, all he did was cough. It was hard to tell how much Qin Min's acupuncture skills had improved in the past three years, but a few needles were enough to calm his coughing. Otherwise, he didn't know how much he would have to suffer. 

After the reforms were finished, he had been waiting for Jin Zi to return from Wintercrow Country in triumph and for the emperor and empress to officially enter the imperial capital and live in the palace. Then he could leave. Actually, he wanted to rest even without the empress chasing him away. To be precise, he wanted to retire to somewhere where nobody knew him and personally teach little Shadow. He couldn't cure himself, but was very clear about his condition. All he could do was estimate the time he had left. 

Little Shadow was so naturally talented that he was certain he could teach everything to him. Everything was calculated into his plans, including his own life. Qin Min had always been beyond his calculations, but also induced him to feel "reluctant" beyond his plans. He couldn't figure it out and was pondering it even now. Perhaps such "reluctance" was what spurred his sudden return back today. 

Just when Xi Yubo was about to tell Qin Min the truth of the Shadow Clan, Gu Beiyue did his best to lift his head and stop him. 

"Master is awake!" Xi Yubo was thrilled.

Qin Min rushed over and asked, "Gu Beiyue, how is it? Still uncomfortable anywhere?" 

Gu Beiyue proffered over the divorce letter he had been gripping in his hand the entire time. Stunned, she assumed he didn't want this anymore, but instead saw that he had signed it with a clear, bloody fingerprint. He had coughed blood into his left palm, but his right hand holding the letter had remained spotless! When did he have time to sign the letter?

He was almost dead, but still took time to finish the divorce proceedings?

Qin Min didn't know whether she was furious or grieved. She didn't hesitate to tear the letter to shreds and cried, "Gu Beiyue, I regret it! Unless you recover from your illness, I'll never divorce you in this lifetime. I'll never leave you either! If you want me to get lost, then get well faster!"

Gu Beiyue slowly opened his eyes and shook his head helplessly at the huffy Qin Min. She nearly exploded on the spot. Perhaps anger was her only balm against sorrow as she threatened, "Try and shake your head one more time. I'll write a letter right now to tell the emperor and empress about this, as well as Mu Linger and the rest. I'm going to tell everybody!" 

At this, Gu Beiyue stopped and didn't dare shake his head again. This was a very effective threat against him. He had been alone for so many years without relatives or family, only this circle of friends. They had weathered the wind and waves together, passing by all difficulties. He didn't want to ruin their hard-earned quiet years. 

Seeing him still, Qin Min's anger subsided slightly, but soon she was feeling miserable. It was as if something was painfully strangling her heart until it hurt to even breathe. Many times, anger was a false emotion. The true feelings beneath it was sadness. Fury was simply a mask and form of self-defense that projected externally, while sorrow was hidden in the heart. Once anger faded away, nothing was left but unbearable pain.

Qin Min remarked, "Uncle Xi, you should leave first. I want to talk with your master one on one."

Xi Yubo was afraid to act wantonly and gave his master a questioning look. After Gu Beiyue's silent permission, he left and shut the door behind him. Whatever Qin Min and Gu Beiyue talked about took the entire night. When the first rays of sunlight shone into the courtyard, Qin Min opened the door and walked out. She went into the yard, stretched out her arms and took in a breath of fresh air. Although her eyes were obviously tearstained, they were no longer dim. Sunlight illuminated her irises and made her entire person glow. Soon enough, she went to personally make breakfast and left a portion for little Shadow before taking the rest to Gu Beiyue's room.

By now Gu Beiyue could already get off the bed. Like before, he looked unwell but not seriously ill or on his deathbed. He was standing in front of the study table when she went in, holding up the tillandsia plant[1] by the inkstone. Qin Min had given this to him in the past and he kept it here without looking after it. Although tillandsia had no roots and didn't need any care beyond occasional watering, someone still had to maintain it. In these nearly four years, the child-sized fist  plant had already fully grown up to be the size of his own palm. A spit of yellow flowers sprang up from its center. Although not very beautiful, it was worth admiring and had its own kind of beauty. Moreover, two smaller buds had sprouted at the bottom of the flower, like two little babies. 

Qin Min must have looked after it herself in the past four years. Otherwise, even the most tenacious flower would have withered away by now.

She carried over breakfast on a tray with a smile. "Be careful, don't knock off the buds on the side. They'll fall off on their own in a few days and can live independently. Come and eat, I'll take care of your three meals from now on. However, you have to express your views of the food as payment."

"All right." Gu Beiyue carefully set down the tillandsia and went over for a look, only to be surprised by Qin Min's prepared breakfast. 

She had spread a beige napkin on the table while the dishes were light pink. Even the tableware was so delicate that it included chopstick holders. There was a small pot of boiled white rice porridge with some speck of yellow from added millet, as well as four small dishes: fish, chicken eggs, and two vegetable dishes. For a summer morning, such a light but not vegetarian meal was enough to whet one's appetite. At the very least, it had been a long, long time since Gu Beiyue had quieted his heart to slowly eat a meal. He usually ate a mantou and a glass of water to deal with it. 

The two of them sat down while Gu Beiyue was still creasing his brows. Qin Min said seriously, "Grand Tutor Gu, if you keep making that face, our agreement will be null and void!" 

Last night, she had found out about the Shadow Clan's secret and the truth of his condition. The main branch of the Shadow Clan had persisted to the present with this illness with the exception of his grandfather, who had managed to live until he was forty. Gu Beiyue's own father died at 25. There was a strange disease passed down from their ancestors from generation to generation with nearly no one spared. They could only nurture their body through medicinal baths to delay the onset as long as possible. By the end, they would simply die from nonstop coughing. He used to suspect his father hadn't died from the coughing itself, but was killed by his grandfather to spare his suffering during his last moments. 

Last night, Qin Min had been very direct. She said, "I'll leave after you're cured."

He then told her the whole truth and said, "You won't be able to wait for me to heal. You have no connections with my illness, life, or death. Just go."

In that moment, she had cried. She had shed tears while looking at him and said, "Gu Beiyue, can I rely on you? Not for very long, just five years. If you really can't recover, I'll leave. If you recover anyways, I'll still leave."

He refused. "You can't."

She threatened, "Unless you kill and silence me, you'll regret it."

He was silent for two whole hours while she simply waited. In the end, he caved and gave her one of his little daggers, his voice serious. "If you're prepared to kill me, then I'll agree to your terms."

She took it without hesitation. "Fine. Gu Beiyue, from this day forward, you are my patient and your life and death are connected to me."

Their five-year agreement came to a head just like that. There was no love, life, or death involved—or so Qin Min convinced herself. Seeing Gu Beiyue refuse to budge, she personally got him some food.

"Grand Tutor Gu, treating the heart is better than medicine. You should understand this too. Be happier, I'm not really going to pester you. What are you worried about? Three meals a day on time and a two-hour bath in the mornings, but the rest of the time is all yours. Also, you can just call me Dr. Qin in the future."

Seeing her smile, Gu Beiyue's lips finally curved slightly in response as he moved to take his chopsticks. Just one sip of porridge changed his calm expression into one of pleased surprise. He never expected Qin Min's cooking to be so good. Even plain white porridge tasted so fragrant. 

"Try some of the side dishes to see if they fit your tastes," Qin Min said.

Gu Beiyue gave her plenty of face and tried them all. "Dr. Qin's cooking skills are excellent. From now on, my mouthfuls will be blessed."

Qin Mins smiled. "Then eat more."

Gu Beiyue thought she'd say something more, but she simply went back to eating quietly. After breakfast, Qin Min went to deal with the medicinal spring while Gu Beiyue found little Shadow. The five-year-old was just about ready to be personally taught marital arts. Perhaps it was Qin Min's upbringing or the two monthly letters, but Shadow didn't feel like his father was a stranger despite three years of absence. Add that to Gu Beiyue's gentle patience and the two were as thick as real father and son in just a few days.

Their days passed like so. Besides his three meals with Qin Min and morning baths, Gu Beiyue spent the rest of his time on little Shadow. Qin Min spent her times cooking, helping Gu Beiyue with food therapy, and all the rest on her medicinal bath and acupuncture skills. She inquired about his condition and all his symptoms since youth, hoping to find a combination of bath and acupuncture to treat him. She only used their mealtimes to probe Gu Beiyue and never used his other times. Gu Beiyue never mentioned that he'd actually been soaking in her baths for the past three years, leaving Qin Min to assume he never did. 

Good news came from Northern Li at the beginning of autumn. Jin Zi had captured the last stone city in Wintercrow Country and took down the entire nation. He stationed troops at the border fortress and planned to spend the winter there with Mu Linger before his triumphant trip south! His sole regret was not being able to capture Le Zheng, the biggest slave trader in Wintercrow Country. His entire caravan had escaped for the Mysterious Continent. 

It had to be mentioned that Mu Linger birthed Jin Zi a daughter last winter. Jin Zi capriciously named her with his "Jin" and Mu Linger's "Ling," so the child was called "Jin Ling" (金灵).

As Han Yunxi put it, "It's like he's afraid the entire world won't know that's his and Mu Linger's baby."

Thus, Mu Linger became "Big Linger" while Jin Ling because "Little Linger."

Another piece of good news was that the imperial capital had completely finished construction. The ministers of the court recommended multiple diviners to calculate an auspicious day for the emperor and empress to officially move into their proper palace. Long Feiye simply chose a date himself: the Midautumn Festival! 

When there was only half a month left before the big day, Gu Beiyue was eating breakfast in the courtyard as he told Qin Min, "Prepare to pack. Tomorrow, we'll go north to the capital."

1. Back in Chapter 1275 I translated their name literally as "hydrophonic pineapples," but they're actually a real plant! Check out their Wiki page—they're probably named after pineapples in Chinese because of their shape.

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Ruyi's Thoughts

lol thanks for bearing with my rants folks, they're the one thing i look forward to after translating these recent chapters (besides Qin Min being awesome and little Shadow ofc). 

sigh, why must we suffer...

Qin Min must have looked after it herself in the past four years. Otherwise, even the most tenacious flower would have withered away by now.

you know what, qin min's rather like a tillandsia herself, huh. and she's done a good job being strong and taking care of her heart all these that now she can take care of her two "babies" named husband and child too, hehe.