To Chu Yunyi, it was more important that they delivered Empress Xue into General Chu’s hands so she could be the Chu Clan’s pawn in negotiations. It had to be said that the rebel army kidnapping their empress was both Western Zhou’s greatest joke and its deepest disgrace. Fortunately, Emperor Kang Cheng had seized his chance during the embezzlement case to check the Chu Clan’s power and reduce their troops; otherwise they would have been able to destroy Western Zhou singlehandedly.
While the Chu Clan troops were causing chaos in Western Zhou now, they still couldn’t match up to Emperor Kang Cheng’s combined forces. Neither did the Chu Clan want to waste their troops there. Their plans were to concentrate most of their strength in Western Liang and at least take over four of the border cities on Western Zhou’s east end. Then by combining their troops with Tianning’s strength, they’d be able to suppress Western Zhou’s soldiers and force an end to the potential war.
As the head of the clan, Chu Yunyi knew the restrictions and powers allocated to a person of authority. Emperor Kang Cheng might be the unrivaled sovereign of an entire nation, yet he still had his limits. If his soldiers couldn’t rescue the empress within the next three months, his ministers and officials would definitely persuade him to cast her aside for the sake of the country---especially the factions allied against the crown prince’s Eastern Palace.
Empress Xue was favored, but she couldn’t win against an entire kingdom in Emperor Kang Cheng’s heart. He too, knew that the quicker he put the Chu Clan rebellion down, the better. He wouldn’t be able to fight against them indefinitely, or else he’d have to give up on Empress Xue. Thus, the Chu Clan had a temporary advantage now, which meant Chu Yunyi had to seize the chance and flee the country!
“Rest well. We start out at daybreak tomorrow!” he ordered his men icily.
The night was long and cold. Silent snowflakes fell from the sky, heralding the winter’s first snow. Afraid to alert their pursuers, none of the soldiers lit a fire. All of the archers put on thick coats and huddled within them for warmth, leaving only Gu Beiyue himself to sit alone beneath an old tree, covered in chilly snowflakes.
Being alone meant seeing her clearly before him and yet keeping a solitary distance.
Being lonely meant seeing her smiling with eyes shut even though she was nowhere near him now.
In this life, you are the master and I am the servant. You’ve already married and become his wife, but I don’t regret my infatuation or protecting you. If you can be happy and healthy, then my life...was worth it!
After the snowy night, Chu Yunyi’s group kept fleeing east until they were out of the mountains. Then they disguised themselves as merchants for the rest of the journey. Empress Xue was hidden at the bottom of a horse cart, while Gu Beiyue was all tied up, stuffed into a burlap sack, and secured to the back of a horse. To outsiders he looked like nothing than a big parcel.
Chu Yunyi was no fool. After giving Gu Beiyue medicine the first time to treat his wounds, he withheld all medicine from him thereafter. He knew Gu Beiyue’s skills were formidable enough to heal himself with a short time. But once his wounds recovered, it’d be all too easy for him to escape. During their journey, he even forbade giving him any rations, but only fed him some grains soaked in cold water everyday. This was enough to preserve his life without starving him to death. Even though Gu Beiyue was already weakly to begin with, Chu Yunyi still feared him. He dreaded the possibility of the man slipping away!
Today they were walking in the wilderness when the guard in charge of Gu Beiyue spoke up. “Clan Head, this man hasn’t moved an inch since last night. Could he be dead?”
Gu Beiyue might be sickly, but how could he die so easily? From what Chu Yunyi knew of Gu Beiyue, there simply had to be a plot afoot. When Gu Beiyue still hadn’t budged a muscle by nighttime, Chu Yunyi finally began to grow alarmed.
If Gu Beiyue really dies, how am I supposed to threaten Long Feiye and Han Yunxi?
He hastily opened the burlap sack and found that Gu Beiyue had curled up into a ball inside as if frozen stiff. He didn’t move when Chu Yunyi ripped off his fake beard to reveal his ashen white face. It looked quiet and calm, a gentle, soothing face that looked like a sleeping child’s. But its expression tugged at one’s heartstrings, for it looked like he’d never wake up again…
Chu Yunyi went to test Gu Beiyue’s breathing by holding a finger under his nose, only to discover that there was none.
He was dead!
Chu Yunyi panicked then. He checked and checked again just to make sure, but Gu Beiyue took that chance to spit a needle out of his mouth. Chu Yunyi tried to duck in alarm but missed and took the needle in his right eye!
“AhhHHHHHh!” Chu Yunyi screamed as he staggered back. He was in so much pain that he instinctively covered his eye, but this only served to drive the needle deeper into his flesh. Immediately, fresh blood came pouring from the wound!
Gu Beiyue opened his eyes and glared icily at Chu Yunyi before a scornful smirk rose on his lips. Even while disdaining others, he was always so breezy and carefree…
He had been brewing up ideas to kill Chu Yunyi with a single needle, but missed the space between his eyebrows---and thus his brain---by just a smidgen. For the sake of this needle, he’d sacrificed much and didn’t regret the present results. All he did was smile lightly at Chu Yunyi with nothing but contempt. This was a fatal wound as well! Which archer could shoot properly with one blind eye?
Chu Yunyi had been crippled…
When Chu Yunyi saw Gu Beiyue’s smile with his other eye, he angrily kicked the man until he fell off the horse.
“Someone come, call for a doctor, quick!” his angry roars filled the air. He knew better than anyone else how important this eye was to his livelihood. Like a crazed beast, he cradled his injury and spun around in circles. His eye was in agony from the needle!
I’m going to go blind! What can I do now?
How can I shoot any arrows with a blind eye? How can I still be the Nether Clan Head?
“Doctor! Someone! Hurry and find a doctor! Quick!”
His loud ravings alarmed all the archers around him in silence. Cloud Realm Continent’s most formidable doctor was right there in their ranks, but the most compassionate doctor could also be the most merciless executioner! Once a doctor had it in his mind to kill, he was the world’s most frightening murderer! They were all too familiar with a body’s vital points.
Where can we find another doctor in this wilderness?
Finally, a brave archer came forth and said, “Clan Head, there’s still a day and night of travel before we reach the closest town. Why don’t…” He wanted to say that rather than send for a doctor, Chu Yunyi should go find them himself instead.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get to finish his sentence before Chu Yunyi turned to glare at him. His eye wouldn’t stop bleeding, and the sight combined with his vicious stare, blood-covered face, and disheveled hair made him seem like some sort of demonic fiend.
The archer quickly retreated in silence. Still, his words were enough to drive reason into Chu Yunyi’s crazed thoughts. He could never leave his party while Empress Xue and Gu Beiyue were still here in his hands, but Gu Beiyue was a doctor himself! He ran like a man possessed towards Gu Beiyue and nearly crushed the man’s heart beneath his foot, but managed to hold himself back. One hand hauled Gu Beiyue to his feet before he roared, “Gu Beiyue, treat me immediately or else I’ll take your life!”
Gu Beiyue’s body was very weak. The only reason he was able to spit out that needle was because he’d sealed up one of his body’s meridians to simulate death. He’d been playing dead for one day and one night---the absolute limit for a human body. From a medical standpoint, playing dead like this was akin to a real death, so he would have died for real if he stayed there any longer. This was a medical technique that went against Heaven’s law and cast heavy retribution on its caster. The effects on his already weak body was like adding frost to snow.
Despite this, he was still smiling---not a self-mocking grin, or a conceited smirk, or a craze sneer or savage leer. He’d even lost the disdainful air to his lips and was simply smiling faintly, making him completely unreadable. Perhaps he might have been so tranquil and indifferent for the rest of his life if he had never met her.
His white clothes were covered in blood, his body exhausted without even the strength to stand, yet he didn’t look half-dead or pitiful at all. Instead, it was Chu Yunyi who found himself the weaker party despite his flare and bluster.
“What are you smiling about?”
“Gu Beiyue, our Nether Clan never mistreated you. Why did you repay our kindness with treachery?”
“Gu Beiyue! Do you hear me? Speak! Are you going to treat me or not?”
Chu Yunyi had Gu Beiyue by the collar as he jostled the man, completely ruining his dignity and demeanor as the head of an entire clan.
“I’ll kill you!” Chu Yunyi reached for an arrow and aimed it at Gu Beiyue’s heart, but Gu Beiyue spoke up.
“Give me medicine so I can treat my wounds. Otherwise, I promise no medicine will save you!”
“Heal my eye first!” Chu Yunyi shouted in reply.
“You only have two choices. Either give me medicine...or kill me,” Gu Beiyue intoned.
Chu Yunyi screamed in rage before he finally had to ask, “Are you or aren’t you going to treat this old man’s eye?”
“I’ll treat your eye after I’ve recovered. If I don’t get well, you’ll have no choice but to lose that eye,” Gu Beiyue said, before adding, “It’ll be useless even if you invite the head of the medical academy to help you.”
“You!” Chu Yunyi felt stifled. But he had no choice but to order his men to deliver medicine to Gu Beiyue. There was only Jinchuang Medicine, but Gu Beiyue didn’t fret. Chu Yunyi would know that the longer he left his injury unattended, the more dangerous it’d be. The man would find him better medicine without even being asked.
By the time they reached the town, Chu Yunyi immediately set off to find a doctor, but they were powerless before his injury. All they did was treat the injury and wrap it up with cloth, declaring that he’d go blind in his right eye. Chu Yunyi had no other options but to accept Gu Beiyue’s threats. As the man had predicted, he immediately prepared a pile of precious ingredients for him.
Chu Yunyi expected that Gu Beiyue would recover quickly and set up strict guards to prevent his escape, but Gu Beiyue had truly been seriously injured this time. His wounds simply refused to close up. Whether or not this was reality or Gu Beiyue’s own schemes, Chu Yunyi couldn’t tell. But as far as he knew, the man had no reason to fool him intentionally.