Unfortunately, Pill King didn’t even spare her a glance, much less accept her greeting.
“Couldn’t extricate yourself? It only takes four to six hours to send a message by flying hawk between here and Yaoshui. As this old man sees it, you don’t have your master in your thoughts at all, do you?” He stroked his beard as he spoke, obviously unhappy.
Han Yunxi only felt helpless! Although she called him master by name, she really wasn’t familiar with this man at all. She technically lost all rights to be his disciple already when she refused his offer to stay here for the next ten years. And thought His Excellency Pill King was calling her his disciple and blaming her for not visiting him, he probably didn’t take her as a real student, either. Otherwise, why would he be causing so much difficulties now?
Han Yunxi went on to explain further. “Master, disciple really was in the middle of a battlefield then. I didn’t even think about celebrating the new year until it was already over. Flying messenger hawks lack sincerity and good faith. No matter what, disciple should really pay you a visit in person instead, shouldn’t I?”
“Heheh, you wouldn’t come here unless you wanted something!” Pill King laughed coldly.
“How could that be? I came expressively to wish you a happy new year and ask for medicine at the same time!” Han Yunxi knew she sounded like a hypocrite, but she still had to force herself to finish the sentence. Pill King was showcasing his strength right now, so she had to charge through his feint before they could start talking about the medicine.
She opened the giftbox in her hand and added, “Master, take a look. This is a present personally prepared for you by your disciple. I promise you’ll like it.”
Pill King didn’t spare the box a glance before he huffed, “If you really want to show sincerity, then stay and don’t leave this time. How about spending an entire year with your master instead?”
As expected, they were back on that topic again. Ice gathered in Long Feiye’s eyes. He hadn’t spoken a word, but now he said, “Senior Pill King, wangfei came expressly to pay her respects. Your lordship is here just to ask for medicine. The Muscle Growing Ointment is in your hands, so please state your terms.”
Like all rare geniuses, His Excellency Pill King was a ambitious, proud man. He arched a brow at Long Feiye and laughed coldly. “The Duke of Qin must not know the rules here. Heheh, this old man has never given away any of my medicine to beggars!”
“Senior Pill King must be misunderstanding things as well. Your lordship never begs! State your terms for giving up the Muscle Growing Ointment!” On the other hand, Long Feiye was not only ambitious and proud, but supercilious as well. No one entered his eye.
He might not be as old as Pill King, but he certainly had high aspirations and a more commanding presence. Because he didn’t beg, he wouldn’t allow Han Yunxi to beg or coax others for favors, either. Pill King had always felt that Long Feiye was the one blocking Han Yunxi from staying at his cottage. He didn’t like him for that, and now his words only served to fire up his temper. “Hmph! This old man doesn’t trade his medicine with just anyone! You, get out!”
“If you won’t trade your medicine, why did you ask wangfei to come with the patient in tow? You’re obviously plotting something, heh!” Long Feiye laughed in scorn.
“These are this old man’s matters! They have nothing to do with you!” His Excellency Pill King was hopping mad. He’d never been so provoked in his life.
“Wangfei’s matters are your lordship’s matters! Just what will it take for you to give up the Muscle Growing Ointment? Get to the point!” Long Feiye refused to budge an inch.
“You...you…” Pill King’s face turned green with rage, but he had nothing to retort. If this was anyone else, he could have ordered them towed away by now, but he was facing Han Yunxi of all people. Ever since witnessing her skills first hand, he had always wanted to keep her by his side and have her inherit all her skills and knowledge to be the new authority of the medical world. How could he bear to drive her away after all that effort to get her here?
He was worried that Han Yunxi would get angry and look down on him if he told her to stay in exchange for the medicine. Thus, he used the excuse of paying calls to cause her difficulties. Hopefully, she’d volunteer to stay on her own. But right after making her speechless, Long Feiye butted in. Abominable!
Han Yunxi watched from the sidelines, knowing that Long Feiye was relying on the fact that Pill King wouldn’t drive her away to force his point. Her eyes flashed craftily before she cried, “Your Highness! How can you be so rude to master? Master said that the Muscle Growing Ointment was right at the cottage and even told me to bring Doctor Gu here. He’ll definitely save him. Master is the best master in the world!”
Gu Beiyue narrowly avoided laughing out loud. Meanwhile, Pill King’s mouth twitched as he stroked his beard, as if at a loss for how to reply. Han Yunxi quickly stepped forward and stuffed the present box into his hands. “Master, His Highness has merely misunderstood you, hasn’t he?”
How was Pill King supposed to reply? If he said no, then he’d be ‘plotting something’ just as Long Feiye accused; if he said yes, then he’d be the ‘good master who will definitely save’ the patient. He suddenly felt like the husband and wife pair had led him into a trap.
“Master, isn’t that right?” Han Yunxi was acting like a spoiled child, but her schemes were pressuring him inch by inch.
Pill King coughed multiple times before he was forced to nod. “Aye, it’s fine if His Highness Duke of Qin misunderstands me, but master’s worried that you’ll misunderstand too.”
“I won’t, I won’t! Master, let’s go inside. It’s more important to save the patient first,” Han Yunxi got straight to the point.
Yet Pill King didn’t take them to his cottage, but led them around it to a forest of stones instead. At the very end was a cave headed by a placard that had three blood-red characters painted on: Medicine Requesting Cave. The inside of the cave was completely dark, making it impossible to see its depths.
Han Yunxi and Long Feiye exchanged glances and felt a premonition. She spoke up uncertainly to ask, “Master, this is…”
“The Muscle Growing Ointment you want is indeed at the cottage, but it’s not all that this old man has. It was my master who originally created the drug, which was stored inside this cave. There isn’t just Muscle Growing Ointment here, but all sorts of miraculous pills and drugs. My late master decreed that anyone who could take the medicine from this cave and leave without being charged a cent. Otherwise, they would face punishment.”
A sly look flickered past Pill King’s eyes before he continued. “As for what kind of punishment it was, you’ll only know after you go inside. Lass, think it over carefully. You can enter the cave, or leave empty-handed. Master can’t help you with this.”
“Esteemed wangfei, the Medicine Requesting Cave is exceedingly dangerous. There’s no need for you to risk yourself for this one’s sake!” Gu Beiyue said anxiously.
Han Yunxi laughed. “Risking myself once to save your legs is worth it!” What dangers hadn’t she faced before? She refused to believe that a simple cave could hide mountains of knives or seas of flames within!
“Bring a light!” Long Feiye said coldly to Pill King.
Pill King had been waiting for them agree so he could sit and watch the show. This time he was going to leave Han Yunxi for sure. He quickly brought over a lantern to Long Feiye and said, “The two of you can go in. Doctor Gu can stay with me, I’ll naturally take care of him.”
Gu Beiyue had given up on dissuading Han Yunxi now, but protested, “I’ll go with you two!”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be out very soon,” Han Yunxi comforted him.
“You’ll only be in the way if you come along,” Long Feiye added coldly.
“Your Highness Duke of Qin, I promise I won’t be a burden!” Gu Beiyue professed. Long Feiye ignored him and used the lantern to scope out the dusky depths.
Han Yunxi consoled him instead. “Doctor Gu, don’t worry. Once we’re out, you’ll be able to stand.”
“If esteemed wangfei doesn’t take this one with you into the caves, this one doesn’t want these legs at all! And I mean it!” Gu Beiyue’s eyes were shining with a serious light. Han Yunxi was startled by the sight, because she’d never seen this gentle man lose his temper before. But still, she refused.
“Doctor Gu, His Highness’s reasons make sense.”
Miss Yunxi, I’m supposed to be your guard. If you meet with dangers for my sake, what’s the use of me keeping these legs, much less this life?
“If Your Highness and esteemed wangfei insists, then this one has nothing to say. But I’m afraid your trip will be wasted and that the medicine won’t do my legs any good!” As Gu Beiyue spoke, a chill settled upon him, changing him into a completely different person. He had plenty of ways to cripple himself for good.
Now Han Yunxi was thoroughly stunned. She only felt that the man before her now was a stranger. In the midst of her hesitation, Long Feiye handed the lantern to Gu Beiyue and personally pushed him towards the caves without a word. Watching their backs, Han Yunxi stopped worrying and felt a touch of warmth in her heart instead. She hurried after them both.
“That’s right, this old man forgot to tell you. You only have two hours!” Pill King shouted after them, chasing them up to the entrance. He would never dare to enter that cave again in this lifetime. The last time he came here to ask for medicine, he’d been trapped inside and thus forced to spend the rest of his life here. That place was nothing less than his nightmare, but now also his only hope. He would wait until Han Yunxi was ready to follow in his footsteps!
The trio quickly vanished into the darkness. Pill King hurried along a side path next to the cave, which had tinted opening to show him what was going on inside. As Han Yunxi’s group headed in, they kept silent. Long Feiye pushed Gu Beiyue’s wheelchair with one hand while holding Han Yunxi’s hand tightly with the other. He was alert to everything around them, even the movement of the air currents. Gu Beiyue had lost all his martial arts skills, but his training was still there. Like Long Feiye, he was paying attention to every detail. Han Yunxi was on guard as well, her hidden needles ready to fly at a moment’s notice.
But despite all their worries, nothing happened. The cave had no traps or pitfalls, just checkpoints along the path for them to pass. As long as they could pass all the checkpoints to the end, they’d be able to bring back any medicine they wanted. Soon enough, they met with their first trial: choosing medicine!
A tightly sealed stone door stood before them, flanked by a small medical novice dressed in black with a bamboo flute in his hand. His other held a box of pills.
“As long as you can categorize all the different pills in this plate in the time it takes for a stick of incense to burn, you’ll be cleared to go on. Otherwise, you have to stay at the medical cottage for the rest of your life! Any violators will be cursed with a hundred incurable ills!” the novice’s voice was stiff and sharp without a hint of emotion.
“What’s the method for categorization?” Han Yunxi asked.
“You must stand no less than five paces away and do it purely by sight,” the novice explained.
“Just that?” Han Yunxi grew delighted. This was nothing to her. Forget about five steps, even ten to twenty steps was no problem.
“Just that. When you’re ready, we’ll begin,” the novice said.
“Begin!” Han Yunxi got straight to the point.
As the little boy opened the box, Pill King smile slyly from his hiding place on the path. He had witnessed Han Yunxi’s skills firsthand at the Grand Medicine Testing Convention. But he firmly believed that the first trial would be enough to stop her. After all, this was the same test that had failed him in the past!