Whatever he said left Long Feiye with a satisfied smile. He laughed coldly and said, “Gu Beiyue, will your lordship be nurturing a tiger if I leave you by our side?”
Gu Beiyue didn’t harbor any evil ambitions beneath his gentle mien, but he had a very cool, calm, and decisive heart. This was a formidable weapon for anyone hoping to accomplish great deeds. Men like him spelled disaster if they decided to act for themselves!
As long as you treat Miss Yunxi sincerely, I, Gu Beiyue, will never be your enemy. If there comes a day that you mistreat her, I’ll give you no end of trouble even if both my arms and legs are crippled! These were the words Gu Beiyue kept in his heart.
Out loud he said with a smile, “Your Highness Duke of Qin, it’s not too late to regret. You can simply kill this one with a sword and end it all here.”
Long Feiye arched a brow to stare at him before leaving without a word. If he was keeping Gu Beiyue, he naturally had means to suppress any threats he posed. But as soon as he reached the doors, it was to see Han Yunxi and Gu Qishao heading over. She wore a face full of smiles that obviously revealed how she’d found a way to help Gu Beiyue.
“You found the medicine?” Long Feiye asked.
Before Han Yunxi could reply, Gu Qishao cut in. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, since when have you turned so kind? You’ll even save useless men?”
Long Feiye knew what Gu Qishao was insinuating, so he glared at him and asked, “Any progress with the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion?”
Right now they had the Wood, Water, and Earth of Ten Thousand Poisons on their hands. They were still missing the Metal and Fire, but he’d left the hunt to Gu Qishao. Nevertheless, Gu Qishao had been too busy spying on Head Elder Ling and Lady Lianxin to bother with his investigations. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “There was no way to progress.”
“Then you can scram,” Long Feiye snapped.
Gu Qishao’s eyes narrowed into slits. “This gentleman doesn’t understand what ‘scram’ means. Perhaps Your Highness Duke of Qin can do a personal demonstration?”
“Fine, your lordship will teach you.” Long Feiye kicked as soon as he spoke, forcing Gu Qishao to dodge to the side.
“You might not have the skills!” he shot back.
Long Feiye rarely spoke, but he was always talkative when Gu Qishao was around. Gu Qishao always lost, but still provoked him every time they met. The two of them couldn’t exchange more than a handful of words in peace!
Before they started fighting, the door opened behind them. Somehow, Han Yunxi had already walked past them to enter the rooms. The two of them dropped their tussle and went to follow her inside.
Han Yunxi was telling Gu Beiyue the good news about his leg when they entered. The quiet doctor seemed more energetic than before, his clean white robes glowing with a beautiful soft light.
“Really?” he asked, visibly moved.
“I’ve already sent a flying hawk message to ask. Even if the Muscle Growing Ointment isn’t with the Pill King, as long as it exists, we’ll definitely track it down!” Han Yunxi declared.
Hearing ‘Pill King’ gave Gu Beiyue a start. He briefly glanced at Long Feiye, but quickly looked back with a smile. “Now esteemed wangfei will have even less objections to this one than before.”
Han Yunxi’s heart twinged with pain as she felt at a loss for words. Finally, she picked herself up and said sternly, “As long as you can stand again, I won’t have any objections!”
“Definitely!” Gu Beiyue was serious.
Gu Qishao stood on one side rubbing his nose while scrutinizing Gu Beiyue’s face. Although he’d heard of the man long ago and seen him multiple times, he had never paid any attention to him. After a close examination, his final conclusion was that...he was really weak! Besides his excellent medical skills, what else was good about him? How did he gain enough interest from Long Feiye to live until this day?
Gu Qishao felt that something was strange, but he was too lazy to consider the issue. To him, Gu Beiyue was still no one worthy of interest. Meanwhile, Long Feiye stood silently with a complicated look in his eyes. That very night, he personally sent some intelligence reports on the Chu Clan to Gu Beiyue. After reading its contents, the doctor didn’t hesitate before murmuring more words back. Although Long Feiye didn’t speak, he kept nodding at the man’s words. The two of them seemed to be plotting something.
After about two hours’ worth of talk, Long Feiye prepared to leave when Gu Beiyue called him back. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, please hold. There is one more thing this one wishes to discuss with you.”
“Esteemed wangfei will have to pay a price if she asks the Pill King for medicine, correct? This one was thinking…”
Before he could finish, Long Feiye cut him off. “You have no right to discuss her matters with your lordship!”
“This matter involves I as well,” Gu Beiyue said calmly. “This one has no more internal energy, hehe, so what’s the use even if...my legs are cured?” He wasn’t a self-deprecating man, but he was ruthless when he had to be, especially to himself! Despite all his hopes, he was willing to stay confined to a chair for the rest of his life if it meant that Han Yunxi would avoid paying the price.
He understood the Pill King very well. Even if he took Han Yunxi as his disciple, he wasn’t open to negotiations. Even Gu Beiyue hadn’t heard of Muscle Growing Ointment before, so it had to be counted amongst the rarest of the rare. How could anyone give that away easily?
Long Feiye arched a brow. “Gu Beiyue, if you were going to give up from the start, why give Han Yunxi any hope at all?”
Everyone assumed that it was Han Yunxi offering Gu Beiyue hope, but he saw it the other way around: Gu Beiyue didn’t want to let Han Yunxi down. Long Feiye understood that woman all too well. If Gu Beiyue’s leg was really crippled, she’d feel contrite about it for life.
A complicated look flickered past Gu Beiyue’s eyes before he spoke. “This one has ways to convince esteemed wangfei…”
Once again, Long Feiye cut him off, but his tone was brusque this time. “Where do you have the confidence to persuade her to your ways?”
For a moment Gu Beiyue was rendered speechless. He knew that he’d spoke too rashly, and lowered his head in silence.
“We already owe you a debt for your kidnapping. Since the medicine exists, your lordship will definitely have you stand again. You only need to help your lordship get rid of the Nether and Di Clans!” Long Feiye tossed back before striding out the doors, not giving Gu Beiyue any chances to retort.
Gu Beiyue sighed lightly and had a sleepless night. Complex emotions swirled within him, hidden too deep for anyone to see. He didn’t dare to reveal a hint of it. As the guard of the West Qin imperial clan, he had the full rights and qualifications to speak his views, but that was forbidden. This was a secret he had to keep locked up in his heart.
Early next morning, His Excellency Pill King’s return letter arrived. He indeed had the Muscle Growing Ointment in his hands, but he wanted Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue to personally pay him a trip.
“Is he planning to apply medicine for Gu Beiyue himself? His Excellency Pill King shouldn’t be that kindhearted, right?” Gu Qishao stroked his chin in bewilderment.
Han Yunxi knew that Pill King wasn’t easy to negotiate with, so something had to be up. She shot Long Feiye a timid glance, assuming that he’d object. But he only said, “We’ll go together. If he wants to talk terms, then your lordship will speak with him.”
Han Yunxi was thrilled. One of the happiest things in her life was having Long Feiye’s support and understanding. Although the fellow was occasionally too jealous for his own good, he was still cool-headed and reasonable when it came to the important things.
By now, Gu Beiyue had recovered much of his cool despite a restless night. Like before, he feigned ignorance and sat on the bed to pay his respects. “Thanks to Your Highness Duke of Qin, thanks to esteemed wangfei!”
“Gu Qishao, come with us!” Han Yunxi added.
Gu Qishao understood medicine and was part of the medical community. If His Excellency Pill King tried to cause any trouble, he could help them come up with ideas. But Gu Qishao only gave a snort of contempt. “This gentleman’s never taken interest in men’s matters.”
Han Yunxi was ready to kick him flying. “Then go cool yourself off somewhere else instead!”
Gu Qishao was too thick-skinned and brazen this time to take the bait. He really did leave.
That very afternoon, Long Feiye finished wrapping up affairs in Yaoshui before helping Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue secretly leave the gates towards Medicine City. He only needed to sit and watch over the western regions at a time like this, so his current days were quite idle. Lil Thing had no idea where they were going, but seeing that its gentleman was coming along, it knew that there was hope for his leg and grew delighted. Meanwhile, Gu Qishao had vanished somewhere and didn’t accompany them out of the gates. Before departing, Han Yunxi looked back to make sure that Gu Qishao really wasn’t coming along. She’d gotten used to his sudden disappearances, so she was too lazy to care any further. Long Feiye was inclined to care even less.
Days later, they reached the edge of the Medicine Woods. When they got closer to the cottage in its depths, Wang Gong stopped escorting them and excused himself. Although there were no written rules forbidding his entry, outsiders rarely approached the hut without business in tow. Even the people who helped to carry Gu Beiyue’s wheelchair here retreated. Han Yunxi was about to take over the job when Long Feiye beat her to it to wheel Gu Beiyue forward. She was startled by the sight, before realizing she was even more of a vinegar jar than her husband.
Long Feiye glanced back at her dazed state and said unhappily, “Han Yunxi, you’re still not leaving?”
How she loved that line!
Every time he said those words, she would silently hurry after him. His eyes, too, would always follow her until she reached his side before looking away.
It was already noon. The sun shone on their backs, casting their shadows on the ground side by side like a pair of couplets. Gu Beiyue silently looked at the sight for a long time before forcing himself to close his eyes.
Don’t see, don’t think.
The three of them made their way along a path of crisscrossing footpaths before reaching the hut. In the midst of the bamboo fence courtyard was an old man with white hair, the master of the cottage and the medical community’s ultimate authority, Pill King Sun Zhong.[1. Sun Zhong (孙钟) - Sun is a surname that can also mean ‘second growth of plants,’ Zhong is “bell, clock,” or time measured in hours and minutes.”] They were still some distance away when His Excellency Pill King broke into a loud laugh.
“Hehe, my good disciple. You only came to see your master after the new year passed?” It was obvious that he carried traces of blame in his tone for Han Yunxi’s failure to visit earlier. But she had been so busy in the past few weeks that she’d lost all track of the dates, much less the new year. How could she have time to see him at all?
She quickly stepped forward to explain. “Master, the western regions have been caught up in strife. Disciple was still in the battlefields then and couldn’t extricate herself to visit. Disciple will make amends in return.” So speaking, she reverently offered him a greeting, then a full, formal bow.