Please Note: Once again, child abuse and torture warnings are in effect for this chapter!
Kill Little Qi?
Academy Head Gu looked at him doubtfully as if he was having trouble understanding his words. “Say that again.”
“Daddy...you should just kill Little Qi… Kill me, Little Qi…” A child’s pleas easily moved hearts, but the ‘kindly’ two men from Cloud Realm Medical Academy, who saved innumerable lives each year, were cold-blooded and completely unconcerned by his plea.
Academy Head Gu even chuckled in disbelief. “Little Qi, daddy spent so much effort just to get you. Why would I kill you? Do you know how much time and hard work daddy spent for your sake? You’re only joking with daddy, aren’t you?
“Little Qi, daddy knows you’re feeling very uncomfortable right now, but your suffering can help daddy bring relief to endless scores of patients and relieve their pain---even save their lives. Daddy is proud of you!”
Little Qi had no words to reply. He looked at his most beloved daddy, his only family in this world, and suddenly felt like the man in front of him was a complete stranger. In the past, he always knew he had a daddy when he was feeling afraid. But now, his daddy was his greatest source of fear. The teardrops hovering by his eyes finally overflowed and ran down his face. But Little Qi bit his lips, afraid to cry out. He was terrified!
Seeing his tears, Academy Head Gu grew tense. He quickly wiped them away and coaxed, “Little Qi, be good… Little Qi, don’t cry, daddy’s here.” He was still as gentle and warm as he’d always been, showing nothing but kindness as his fingers brushed aside the falling teardrops.
“Little Qi, be good, daddy’s here. Don’t cry.... Daddy’s been here the entire time, daddy will always stay by your side.”
At those words, Little Qi burst into uncontrollable, miserable sobbing. He had once wished fiercely to stay by his father’s side, but now the thought brought him nothing except horror. As a child, all he could do was cry…
I don’t want daddy anymore! I never want him again.
He didn’t dare to voice his thoughts out loud. Who else would he have, if he didn't want his daddy?
Little Qi cried for a long, long time. At one side, Head Elder Ling was beginning to get annoyed, but Academy Head Gu comforted him with endless patience. But the more he coaxed, the more frightened Little Qi grew. He struggled and shrieked, his cries filling the confines of the secret chamber.
Suddenly, there was a resounding slap. Little Qi’s cries stopped abruptly in the wake of Academy Head Gu’s blow against his face.
“Enough!” Academy Head Gu said sternly. As he spoke, he signaled Head Elder Ling to immediately start with the next round of Medicate Poison. Of course they wouldn’t stop with just one round. There were at least 100 different Medicate Poisons waiting to be tested, and all of them would be used on Little Qi’s body until they achieved the most satisfactory results.
For the next two years, Little Qi was kept locked up in that secret room. Days and nights blended into an endless torment of suffering and disease as he wavered between the cycle of sickness and health. Without exception, all the diseases he suffered through were serious illness previously considered incurable by the masses. It was impossible to use words to describe his agony. In the beginning, Little Qi would still shed tears, but gradually he stopped crying at all. All that was left was pure resentment and hatred in his heart.
At the end of those two years, a severe pestilence fell upon Cloud Realm Continent. Both the medical academy and Medicine City worked together to combat the disease, but it only grew worse until the entire continent was swathed in palpable fear. Academy Head Gu attempted to treat various patients afflicted with the illness, but made precious few inroads. In the end, he decided to use Little Qi and his unique constitution. Illnesses would develop abnormally fast in his body, which was equipped with stronger resistance than normal humans to disease. He wasn’t one to die easily.
But Little Qi almost did die this time! His condition grew worse than any patient they’d seen so far, sending him into a senseless coma as Academy Head Gu and Head Elder Ling experimented on him in various ways.
“Academy Head, could Little Qi have…” Head Elder Li didn’t spit out the ‘died’ at the end of his sentence before Academy Head Gu shot him a glare.
Just like when Little Qi was born, Academy Head Gu grew afraid. He didn’t sleep, but looked after Little Qi for multiple days to try and find ways of preserving his life. Unfortunately, Little Qi didn’t improve this time, yet…
“He’s stopped breathing!” Head Elder Ling said in alarm.
Academy Head Gu leapt to his feet. He knew that Little Qi’s pulse had grown extremely weak since last night, but he didn’t want to face the truth. He reached out with his shaking hand towards Little Qi’s nose, wanting to test his breathing, but ultimately stopped himself.
“Academy Head, this child has really stopped breathing…” Compared to Academy Head Gu’s frenzy, Head Elder Ling was still cool and collected.
Academy Head Gu’s hand dropped to his side as he mumbled, “He’s dead?”
“Yes!” Head Elder Ling replied honestly.
Academy Head Gu fell back onto the ground as if he lost his soul, staring blankly at the floor without moving. Head Elder Ling moved to sit by his side. “Academy Head, since he’s dead, we should get rid of the body quickly. He has been infected with the pestilence, after all.”
Academy Head Gu sat there in a long silence. In the end, he started muttering about things from the past. He talked about all the pregnant women he had sought out and how he offered them large sums of money as long as they obediently took his medicine, only to refused by them all. He talked about how he never loved Little Qi’s mother, but forced himself through a night of passion just so he could beget Little Qi. He talked about how he’d made himself hold back his impatience during all those years at the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds, earnestly spending his time playing and fooling around with Little Qi. He talked about all the things he’d planned to get back from Little Qi’s body, etc.
Head Elder Ling silently allowed him to ramble on, so Academy Head Gu ended up talking listlessly from night til dawn. Both of them were sitting cross-legged on the floor right in front of Little Qi. While both of them were reminiscing over the past, neither realized that Little Qi had long opened those long, narrow eyes of his...to hear everything!
He had already stopped breathing and his pulse was dead, but he was still clearly alive and feeling every bit of pain. He had no idea what was going on with his body, but neither did he care. He was a freak from the moment he was conceived in his mother’s womb. What was the point of so many questions?
Little Qi was already 14 years old. His innocent and childish features had been replaced with the dashing air of a young man, his features no longer fine or exquisite but carrying a hint of his devastating beauty instead. Those long, slender eyes were of special note, narrowed dangerously and with a vicious glint that spoke of poison behind its bewitching allure. He was currently locked to a cross-shaped rack and clearly a prisoner, but the arrogant, demonic enmity spilling from those eyes seem to look scornfully down at the two men below him. As he stared at them, his bloodstained lips suddenly curved into a cold smile filled with self-mocking and pain.
His first six years in the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds---all of those precious memories he’d carefully hoarded away as fond reminiscences---were nothing but part of a conspiracy and completely worthless! His entire existence had been nothing but a plot by someone else’s hands. It had been eight years since he turned six, and every one of them was filled with torment!
Gu Yuntian,[1. Gu Yuntian (顾云天) - Academy Head Gu’s full name. Gu is the surname, the same Gu found in Gu Qishao and Gu Beiyue. Yuntian means “cloudy sky.” It is currently unclear whether he is the exact same medical academy head who was Gu Beiyue’s grandfather, as many surnames are shared in China between people with no familial relations whatsoever. (Case in point: Chu Xifeng versus the Chu Clan.)] just you wait. There’ll come a day when I make you regret ever birthing a monster like me!
Gu Yuntian had taught him the poison arts since he was young. Why would the upright head of the medical academy even have such knowledge on hand? Little Qi had lived in Head Elder Ling’s courtyard since childhood. How could any of the medical academy’s more sordid transactions escape his eyes? In the past, he never paid attention to such details, but now they would be the ammunition he needed to take his revenge. One day, he would not only ruin Gu Yuntian, but the very medical academy that birthed, raised, and wrecked him!
Academy Head Gu had rambled on until he drifted off to sleep, so Head Elder Ling softly got to his feet. He had already ordered people to make arrangements to preserve Little Qi’s body when he absently felt the child’s pulse, only to see that it’d turned back to normal.
“Academy Head!” Head Elder Ling’s exclamation rang through the entire secret chamber. Academy Head Gu woke up from his dreams to hear Head Elder Ling’s cries of alarm. “Academy Head, Little Qi isn’t dead! He’s not dead!”
Academy Head Gu practically jumped to his feet and went to test for Little Qi’s breathing with a finger below his nostrils. He then discovered that Little Qi really had breath, then quickly moved to check his pulse. It had returned to normal, but not Little Qi’s standard of ‘normal.’ Instead, it resembled the pulse rate of a completely ordinary human being!
The pestilence in his body had been cured! And the unusual pulse Little Qi had developed after years of imbibing medicine was gone as well.
Academy Head Gu and Head Elder Ling exchanged identical glances of alarm. They quickly took Little Qi off the rack to begin a thorough examination.
“Everything’s returned to normal...but how can this be…” Head Elder Ling didn’t know what to say.
Academy Head Gu frowned, his expression turning solemn. His mouth kept on muttering ‘this is impossible’ as he checked and rechecked Little Qi’s pulse, body, and ran multiple tests with his acupuncture needles. The results were all the same. The boy lying on the low narrow couch before them was a little pale with a weak pulse, but ultimately no different from any ordinary human. If not for his face, Academy Head Gu might even suspect this was a different child altogether from his Little Qi.
“Has he...gone into a coma?” Head Elder Ling asked hesitantly.
Academy Head Gu thought over all the words he said throughout the night. His first reaction was to take out the dagger hidden on his body and prepare to finish off Little Qi, but he stopped himself at the last second. Just like he said in his rambling, he couldn’t bear to lose this hard-won child.
“Let’s...wait and see,” he finally relented.
For the next three days, the two of them watched over Little Qi without sleeping, but the boy seemed completely normal besides his unconscious state. Academy Head Gu couldn’t accept it, while Head Elder Ling only fretted. The two of them began to use all sorts of ruthless methods in an attempt to wake him up, just to test whether Little Qi was faking it.
The cruelest thing they did was stab the space under Little Qi’s nails full of needles, but the boy didn’t even twitch or furrow his brows.
But... did he really feel no pain?
Little Qi had been in constant torment for the past eight years. Instead of building up resistance to pain, he’d grown extremely sensitive to the slightest provocation. But his driving hatred allowed him to endure this torture! I have to last until the very end!
Since Little Qi didn’t even wake up from nail torture, Academy Head Gu and Head Elder Ling finally and fully believed that he had fallen into a coma. Still, they couldn’t figure out how he had come back from the dead only to be stuck sleeping. Why had his vital signs all reverted to a normal human’s? Their two days and nights’ worth of study yielded no results.
What were they supposed to do with Little Qi if he was unconscious? It would be a waste to throw him away, but they couldn’t perform any experiments on him like this, either. His very existence now posed a danger to them...