With only an hour left to death, they had to either cure themselves and pass the third trial, or end up dying here. Neither Han Yunxi nor Long Feiye even considered admitting defeat, but placed all their hopes in Gu Beiyue. Right now, the most important thing was to wake him back up and ask if he had any way to treat their ‘Halfday Cough.’
Long Feiye checked Gu Beiyue’s pulse intently while Han Yunxi asked in confusion, “You know how to examine pulses too?”
“Only a little. The true qi I left him is circulating wildly in his body. He must have lost consciousness because he wasn’t able to bear it,” Long Feiye remarked.
Han Yunxi didn’t understand much about martial arts, but she felt Gu Beiyue’s pulse as well. There was nothing wrong besides its usual weak state. “Then what do we do now?” she asked in a low voice.
“Keep giving medicine to a dead horse,”[1. Keep giving medicine to a dead horse (死马当活马医) - sima dang huoma yi, an idiom that means “to keep trying everything in a desperate situation.”] Long Feiye’s eyes flashed sinisterly. Before Han Yunxi could understand what he meant, he had already taken Gu Beiyue’s hand to send another stream of true qi into his body.
Gu Beiyue was already overwhelmed by the true qi, so she couldn’t imagine what more would do to him. She tried to stop him, but Long Feiye’s stern gaze froze her in place. Lil Thing stood on Han Yunxi’s shoulder, feeling thrice as hesitant as her. It wanted to bite Long Feiye, but didn’t dare to move. Long Feiye only saw Han Yunxi’s worried gaze and felt helpless. This woman probably had no idea how much damage he was doing to his own body today, feeding Gu Beiyue true qi like this.
His true qi was strong and domineering, and entered Gu Beiyue’s dantian as soon as he channeled it into the body. If Gu Beiyue’s dantian had still been intact, then the qi would be an excellent remedy to repair his health. Unfortunately, his dantian had suffered heavy injuries, making it impossible to gather the qi. It scattered as soon as it reached him to circulate wildly within his body, affecting his normal breathing. Long Feiye’s continued attempts to feed him more true qi was the crudest, most direct method to force Gu Beiyue’s systems into smoothing themselves out. Once it succeeded, Gu Beiyue would definitely wake up filled with energy and clarity of mind. But if it failed, it’d send his body astray into chaos and heavy injuries, enough to make blood leak out of his seven orifices.
This was the extent of Long Feiye’s ruthless nature!
Pill King saw Long Feiye’s efforts and chuckled silently in the dark. “Using all that effort just to make him wake up? What use is it then?”
By his side, the same old man who’d been threatened by Long Feiye’s side couldn’t help but give a long sigh. “Let those young people squander about as they want. In the end, they’ll still have no choice but to give up.” His Excellency Pill King was none so patient. He stared at Han Yunxi and the rest while mentally calculating the time.
Suddenly, Gu Beiyue gave a light cough.
Both Han Yunxi and Lil Thing stared intently at him while Long Feiye kept going with his treatment--in fact, he even intensified his efforts. Rather than channeling his true qi, he was all but pouring it in.
“Urk!” Gu Beiyue groaned before suddenly spitting up a mouthful of fresh blood. Any martial arts practitioner would have recognized the secret state of his dantian by that reaction, and knew that his internal energy was now in chaos. He was teetering on the edge of mental and physical collapse. However, no one else present could tell except for Long Feiye.
“Long Feiye, what’s going on?” Han Yunxi asked urgently.
Before Long Feiye could answer, Gu Beiyue cried out, “This one is fine! I must trouble Your Highness Duke of Qin to continue!”
He didn’t even have the strength to open his eyes, but his words were loud and clear. Those tightly shut pupils and ashen white face were both filled with stubbornness like a foolish child. He knew that he was in a precarious situation right now, unable to bear any more beyond risk of death or insanity. The probability of success was far too low. But still, he persisted in forging ahead. The two men present both knew that this was his life and death test.
Admiration flashed through Long Feiye’s eyes before he continued to pour strong true qi into Gu Beiyue’s hand. More blood poured from the doctor’s lips as the energy rammed against his internal organs, making him feel like he’d explode from the inside out.
“Stop!” Han Yunxi grabbed Long Feiye’s hand. She might not understand everything, but she knew that Gu Beiyue was in danger.
Somehow, Gu Beiyue mustered up the strength to rip Han Yunxi’s hand aside. Because he was too forceful, he ended up toppling out of the wheelchair, but still Long Feiye held tightly to his hand, continuously channeling his energy.
Since Mama Yunxi had made a move, Lil Thing pounced on Long Feiye’s hand as well. It was about to bite him when his other hand simply batted it far away.
“Long Feiye, stop, he’ll die!” Han Yunxi held onto Long Feiye’s hand.
“If he doesn’t survive, neither can any of us,” Long Feiye said coldly.
Han Yunxi knew this, and that Long Feiye was staking everything on this chance because he had no other choice. But despite this, she couldn’t bear to see it happen. He didn’t try to persuade her beyond looking at her with cold eyes. His heart would always be colder, calmer, and more ruthless than her. While the two of them were locked in a mental struggle, a potent stream of true qi came from Gu Beiyue’s hand and violently tore Long Feiye and Han Yunxi apart! Both of them staggered back while the doctor sprawled on the ground as if stripped of all breath, completely inert.
“Cheep!” Lil Thing cried shrilly as it scrambled over like a thing possessed to check for Gu Beiyue’s breathing. It ended up trembling by his side. Han Yunxi’s face had completely paled as she clutched onto Long Feiye’s hand, afraid to go any closer.
She was terrified!
She was afraid that they’d done this all for nothing, that the Heavens had parted them forever, that the warmth of an April spring breeze would never ripple through this world again.
Doctor Gu, please don’t scare Han Yunxi, alright?
Long Feiye never expected these results. His true qi had actually been repelled by Gu Beiyue instead. Isn’t his dantian severely injured? Where did he get the strength? And what was his condition now---alive or dead? He too, had no idea.
Of all times, the old man hiding in the corner reminded them, “Your time is almost up. If you don’t admit defeat now, even gods won’t be able to save you from Halfday Cough acting up.”
Han Yunxi glared into the darkness, her looks enough to kill. The old man immediately shut up, but Pill King actually stepped forward with a laugh. “Even if you can save Gu Beiyue, so what? This old man isn’t afraid to tell you, but even the head elder of the medical academy can’t treat this illness, much less a trifling fifth-rank Divine Doctor like him.”
Han Yunxi suddenly realized that she’d cursed right. The rules of the Medicine Requesting Cave were simply designed to trap its challengers. Nobody would be able to crack a difficult case like this. They had come for nothing after all. If Gu Beiyue really died here, then this would be the biggest mistake they’d ever made!
“You cheater! Abominable!” Hatred rose up as she raised her wrist full of Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain needles, but then a weak voice called out from behind her.
“Esteemed wangfei...cough, cough...please calm your anger. This one, this one can cure this illness.”
It was such a thin and pathetic voice, but it gave them hope and strength all the same! Han Yunxi whipped back and saw that Gu Beiyue was already conscious. Lil Thing was standing on its shoulder, wiping away its tears. He wasn’t smiling like usual, but very calm. His soft, gentle hands were supporting himself against the ground, holding up both himself and their last hope. Han Yunxi had never seen the gentle Doctor Gu in such dire straits, much less witnessed his strength in the face of such weakness. Despite half lying on the ground, he was filled with an indomitable spirit as he challenged Pill King’s verdict and the medical academy’s authority.
He said he could cure something even Academy Head Gu was helpless against!
Han Yunxi stepped forward, but Long Feiye went first to help Gu Beiyue up. Because one of his legs was crippled, he supported the man himself. “It looks like your lordship’s true qi wasn’t wasted,” he muttered under his breath.
“This one’s life was given to me by Your Highness. This one will remember,” Gu Beiyue murmured back.
Seeing Gu Beiyue back to his old self again left Han Yunxi and Lil Thing delighted beyond words. Both master and beast pounced on Long Feiye and Gu Beiyue, giddy with joy.
“A trifling fifth-rank Divine Doctor dares to say such blatant lies? If you can treat something like this, why would you be so severely afflicted now? Hmph!” Pill King laughed mockingly.
Gu Beiyue was in no rush to retort. He sat back in his wheelchair, then replied, “Senior Pill King, have you ever heard of the legend of Shennong tasting 100 herbs to invent 100 medicines? Or how he established agriculture?”
“What do you mean by that?” Pill King didn’t understand.
Gu Beiyue only chuckled. “Unless I was afflicted myself, how could I know which illness it was. Unless I knew the illness, how could I move to treat it?”
In some sense, he was reaping benefits from his disaster. If it wasn’t for his weak body, the disease wouldn’t have spread so quickly nor severely, much less allow him to uncover the true nature of this whopping cough. Now that he’d suffered through the brunt of it, he had a better handle of his diagnosis as well.
“Gu Beiyue, you really know how to cure Halfday Cough?” Han Yunxi was pleasantly surprised. She knew Gu Beiyue’s skills far surpassed fifth rank, but he’d never bothered to get a promotion because he wasn’t interested in name or fame. Still, she didn’t expect him to be that formidable. Can he really surpass that medical academy head? From what she understood, Academy Head Gu was Cloud Realm Continent’s highest ranked doctor yet, an eighth-ranked Empyreal Doctor!
Meanwhile, Pill King was silently stunned that a young physician like Doctor Gu could enlighten to such principles at his age. Still, he refused to believe that he had the skills to cure this illness. Even if he did, they had no more time. The disease would react in earnest in less than 10 minutes.
But Gu Beiyue only gave Han Yunxi a firm confirmation. “Esteemed wangfei, I can cure this. Before it breaks out, we only need to boil the necessary medicine and take it to suppress the illness.”
Despite her incredulity, Han Yunxi still asked, “What kind of medicine do we need?”
“One each of Springsee, Summerhalf, Autumnstone, and Wintergrass,” Gu Beiyue stated seriously.
Hearing this, a complicated look flickered past Pill King’s eyes. These four were truly amongst the ingredients left by the last Pill King to cure this illness. He listened on in silence, but Gu Beiyue said no more.
“That’s it? Anything else?” Han Yunxi asked.