When Han Yunxi recalled Gu Qishao’s abnormal behavior, then looked at the pretty eyes of the boy in the drawing again, she couldn’t help but suspect him as the missing disciple. He was well known as a fiendish genius in the medical world. At the medical academy, he had been fed medicine growing up, then expelled for reasons unknown from Medical City. If she remembered correctly, Gu Qishao was still young when he left the academy and didn’t immediately establish Pill Fiend Valley.
So where did he go after that? How did he create Pill Fiend Valley in the first place? After all, Medical City was the one that drove him out, so Medicine City wouldn’t have welcomed him, either. Where did he get the wealth and ingredients to create his own property?
“Why did Little Loony leave Medicine Requesting Cave?” Han Yunxi asked.
The old man suddenly grew angry. “Just find the person who matches this picture! As for the rest….hehe, stop minding other people’s business!”
Knowing that his moods were extremely erratic, Han Yunxi stopped arguing and coaxed patiently, “It’s been over 10 years now. Nobody can tell what he’d look like now. Even if he’s standing right in front of you, you might not recognize him. How are we supposed to rely on a single picture to track him down?”
The old man fell into thought while staring at Han Yunxi. Eventually, tears started flowing down his face. “It was all this old man’s fault. I shouldn’t have beat him back then.”
“Why did you beat him?” Han Yunxi was startled. If he left because of that, how severe was the beating in the first place?
“That day, this old man…” Abruptly the man stopped himself. “Stinkin’ lass, it’s not that easy claiming my Medicine Requesting Cave! If you can find the person in this picture, this place is yours!”
Actually, he wanted to tell her more details, but he really had no idea where the child had come from or even his real name, much less his actual age now. Many years ago, he had ran into the boy while picking plants in the back mountains. He thought that it was one of Sun Zhong’s medical novices come to steal his medicinal plants, but upon closer inspection he’d actually seen the child eating the medicine instead as if they were the most delicious things in the world. This was the first time he’d ever met a child who ate medicinal plants as food. He wanted to ask more questions, but the child fled as soon as he noticed him. Somehow he’d managed to find a secret passageway to the pill refining cave and hide.
He was the only one who knew the existence of that passageway, which he used exclusively to leave the cave and pick his plants. He couldn’t figure out how the boy had found it too, because he refused to believe it was mere coincidence. After sealing the exit of the tunnel and trapping the child inside, he stood in a cold war with the boy for three days and three nights before the child surrendered and asked for something to eat. He gave the child some hot food and saw him all but devour it down. It must have been ages since he last ate. After a slew of questions, he discovered to his astonishment that the child had found the passageway by following the scent of pills in the air. The boy could even distinguish the different types and quantities of medicine contained in a single pill. The old man had been both surprised and delighted, because he’d been looking for ages for a successor. He never expected to run into a fiendish genius just by chance. From that day on, he accepted the boy as his disciple and taught him medicine. Once he mastered all the knowledge available to the medical cottage, he was going to teach him how to refine pills as well.
Unfortunately...whatever happened next left the old man in a deep depression. Faintly he demanded, “Stinkin’ lass, I’ll give you a three year deadline. Are you going to find him or not?”
“I will! But we have to list out the terms on paper, in case at that time…”
Before she finished, the old man was already calling out. “Someone come, bring brush and ink!”
When they saw the old man craft out a written agreement, Long Feiye and Gu Beiyue were taken aback as well. Although this man was eccentric and strange, his mind was clear enough. He was neither a lunatic nor a fool.
He’ll give me the Medicine Requesting Cave as long as I find this person for him? Han Yunxi felt like she was being tricked. “You’re certain,” she asked.
“What, can’t the three of you find one single person?” the old man scoffed.
Before Han Yunxi could answer, Long Feiye was already taking the written contract in his hands. “That’s settled, then!”
Why hesitate in the face of such good fortune? If the old man regret his choice, there wouldn’t even be time for Han Yunxi to cry. The terms of the agreement looked lax, but upon second thought it really was quite hard. If Han Yunxi hadn’t passed the first trial, they wouldn’t have met the old man in the first place, much less impress him.
“That’s settled!” the old man echoed without regrets. The one thing he felt remorse over in this life was beating that boy. He was willing to pay any price to get him back. He knew that he had to put out big stakes just to get people like that stinkin’ lass and her cohorts to take it seriously. Three years was still long enough for him to wait.
Before Han Yunxi left, she stopped to ask one more question out of curiosity. “Old senior, how did you learn to pluck fire out of thin air?”
The old man only pretended he didn’t hear and strolled back into the furnace. Han Yunxi figured the mysterious fire had to be related to the constant head powering the pill refining furnace, but she could figure that out after they found their target. This time, they’d not only obtained the Muscle Growing Ointment, but a bonus prize as well. Their journey hadn’t been in vain!
As they retraced their steps, Han Yunxi felt much lighter. When she thought of Gu Beiyue standing up again, she was thrilled! “Doctor Gu, you have hope now!” she said seriously.
Gu Beiyue’s gentle smile was now especially brilliant. “Thanks to esteemed wangfei and Your Highness Duke of Qin!”
“It’s what we should have done, what’s with the thanks?” Han Yunxi laughed.
Long Feiye was still wearing his expressionless face. He quickly changed the topic and asked, “Could that boy...be Gu Qishao?”
“We’ll know after we ask,” Gu Beiyue said.
Han Yunxi was actually hoping that wasn’t the case. Judging from the old man’s reaction, that boy had suffered no end of hardships in his youth. “Let’s not talk about that now. We still have three years to go, so even if we don’t find him, we won’t lose anything out of the deal. Hurry back so we can apply the ointment!” She was already anticipating the moment when Gu Beiyue could stand again.
The first person they saw upon emerging from the tunnel was His Excellency Pill King. He had been waiting there for a long time because he assumed that Han Yunxi’s group would just take the medicine and leave. Who knew they’d take ages?
Han Yunxi’s group collectively treated the old man as air and circled around him without a word. But the Pill King stopped them with a single sentence. “Han Yunxi, do you know how to use the Muscle Growing Ointment?”
Could it be that there’s a special way to apply it?
“What do you want to say?” Han Yunxi asked coldly.
“The Muscle Growing Ointment must be used in conjunction with other medicines. You guys can come with me,” Pill King said earnestly. This time, he spoke with the full intent to help.
“Why should we believe you?” Han Yunxi demanded.
Pill King stroked his beard with a stern expression. “Stinkin’ girl, master has a medicine chest to give you. Come here.”
“Don’t need it!” Han Yunxi chuckled back.
Pill King’s expression turned even more grave. “Stinkin’ girl, you accepted me as your master in front of all of Medicine City. Do you want to make enemies of them now?”
Han Yunxi had accepted the offer in public for fear of that very reason. Who knew that the old man would use it to threaten her now? The final authority in the medical community was still His Excellency Pill King, while the strange old man heading the Medicine Requesting Cave had no influence in the outside world at all. She and Long Feiye had expended all that effort just to gain control of Medicine City, so it’d be a joke if they lost it now because of Pill King. Some things were different between public and private eyes.
“Gu Qishao should know how to use it, right?” Long Feiye muttered under his breath. If the Pill King was insistent that Han Yunxi stay behind, he was willing to throw away ten Medicine Cities to take her away.
Han Yunxi knew what he was hinting at. With the western regions still in chaos, she didn’t want more trouble brewing in Medicine City as well, much less add another burden to Long Feiye’s shoulders. “It’s no guarantee that the old fiend does,” she replied. “Otherwise, he might have told us long ago. Let’s go with him first and then see.”
“Alright,” Long Feiye nodded.
They followed Pill King to the medical cottage, assuming that he’d try more tricks on them again, but he only mixed the medicine carefully and applied it to Gu Beiyue’s injuries without a word. Once everything was done, he gave Han Yunxi two packets of ground ingredients. “Use the green one in the mornings and the white one at night. Both should be mixed together with Muscle Growing Ointment. Remember, you have to use warm water and daub it on the injury both morning and night. Once you finish up all of the ointment, wait 100 days and the wound will recover.”
Han Yunxi looked doubtfully at Gu Beiyue, who nodded. Only then did she stop worrying. Next, Pill King took out a wooden chest and opened it up for Han Yunxi to see. Inside was a single ancient volume with the Yao (药), or medicine, emblazoned on the cover.
“With your talents, master has no need to teach you step by step. Take this book back with you to read and come consult me if you find anything you don’t understand.”
He’s willing to give me this medical text, but he won’t force me to stay at the medical cottage anymore? Did Pill King get a personality change?
This time, Han Yunxi accepted without hesitation. “Alright!”
Although she was surprised, Gu Beiyue thought this was only to be expected. She was worth such exceptional measures. Nobody who met her had ever forced her to do a thing, but ended up caving to her will instead. Meanwhile, Long Feiye only gave Pill King a final verdict in his heart: he’s finally caught up to the times! He himself had nothing but Han Yunxi in his.
Just like that, Han Yunxi’s group left the medical cottage fully satisfied. Pill King was secretly rejoicing as well. Although the girl didn’t give him any friendly looks, the fact that she accepted his book meant that their master-disciple relationship was still intact. The medical cottage needed disciples of her elk. He could always take his time finding someone to inherit the cottage itself.
Pill King had given Han Yunxi an extremely complex text on medicine just so she could visit him often to consult him about its contents. He could use those chances in the future to improve their relationship. However, the first thing Han Yunxi did upon leaving the cottage was to send someone to gift the book to Mu Linger. If it was in that girl’s hands, it’d be worth much more. Mu Linger was currently the pillar of Pill Fiend Pharmacy with her skills.
The return trip back to Yaoshui Prefecture also used up all of the Muscle Growing Ointment. Gu Beiyue personally inspected his wounds multiple times to confirm that it was indeed working. Now all he had to do was rest for 100 days before a full recovery.
Han Yunxi’s heart finally settled back down in her chest.
Mu Linger wrote a letter back asking for Gu Qishao’s whereabouts. Han Yunxi was looking for him too, if only to ask him about the eccentric old man in the cave. But before she got far, Gu Qishao himself barged into her doors one day and declared, “Poison lass, I have to tell you something!”