Should they use the Rising Dead?
Duanmu Yao’s gaze finally settled on her mother’s body as she grew hesitant. Empress Xue had already suffered enough. If her dead body melted away, she’d probably never rest in peace.
In the dense silence, Cao Tong let out a long exhale. Although he dealt with corpses daily as a coroner, he still found such cases hard to bear. In the end, Duanmu Yao asked in a voice choked with sobs, “Great Coroner Cao, are there really no other methods?”
Cao Tong helplessly shook his head. “This is already a method that can hardly be considered a method at all.”
Once again, Duanmu Yao fell silent. For some reason, Han Yunxi felt a twinge of pain. It wasn’t because of Duanmu Yao, but because of Empress Xue. After all, she was the innocent party in all of this! She glanced at Long Feiye, who looked as unmoved and cold as ever.
This man...just how cold is his heart?!
Even though he’d been nothing but warm to her now, she still remembered his cold-blooded ruthlessness. Suppose Duanmu Yao really uncovered the truth one day. How would she feel then?
Abruptly, Duanmu Yao’s voice broke into Han Yunxi’s thoughts. “Let’s use the medicine. If the body is laid to rest without the truth, her spirit won’t rest easy! What would be the use of that?” She looked towards Han Yunxi with a cold harrumph. “Han Yunxi, keep to your words! If you can’t request the Rising Dead, then you’re the one who murdered my imperial mother!”
Han Yunxi ignored her and issued orders instead. “Someone come, send a flying hawk message to the Medicine Hut and ask for the medicine!”
Just like that, the matter was delayed once more. It would take half a day for the hawk to reach the Medicine Hut and return with a response. Duanmu Yao was in no mood to leave, but Han Yunxi wasn’t going to keep her company. She and Long Feiye went back to rest first.
Ning Cheng sat on the corner of the roof, still staring at Han Yunxi as she vanished around the corner while lost in his thoughts.
“Master, this...there might be a plot afoot,” one of his retainers murmured.
Ning Cheng rose lazily to his feet and stretched. Then he asked, “What do you think that woman Han Yunxi is hiding in her brain?”
The retainer was left speechless. How should I know?
“Master, if Duanmu Yao begins to suspect Chu Qingge, then won’t we…” another retainer reminded.
“What’s the rush? If anything, she’d only suspect the Chu Clan.” It was obvious that Ning Cheng had planned a move against the Chu Clan as well.
Half a day later, Han Yunxi received Pill King’s reply. Indeed, the Medicine Hut had “Rising Dead” in stock, but there was a special method to brew and use the medicine. Not just anyone could master it, so he suggested they bring Empress Xue’s corpse to the Medicine Hut instead.
“Is there really a special way to use this pill?” Han Yunxi muttered to Mu Linger.
“As I understand, not really. Once it’s finished brewing, you can simply pour it over the body,” Mu Linger muttered back. “Senior Pill Fiend, is that right?”
“That old Pill King’s just finding excuses to lure you all over there,” Gu Qi Sha exposed the truth.
Han Yunxi was at a loss. She was in a rush to deal with Duanmu Yao, so she didn’t have time to consider Pill King’s plots for now. In any case, the old man couldn’t force her into anything, especially if they all went over.
“Suppose that old man Pill King starts demanding terms as soon as we show up there?” Mu Linger asked with worry. She’d more or less heard of Han Yunxi’s last adventures there.
“Then that would be downgrading my worth as a disciple, wouldn’t it?” Han Yunxi teased back. “If he tries anything again, I’ll go ask that old eccentric in the for help.” She cast a side glance at Gu Qi Sha when she spoke the words, but he had remained mute throughout the entire conversation.
Before the day was over, Han Yunxi told Duanmu Yao and Cao Tong the latest news. Neither of them had any objections. The two of them made their preparations, specifically manufacturing ways to protect Empress Xue’s corpse from decomposing any further. Duanmu Yao woke up early the next morning, invited Cao Tong to join her in the carriage, and rushed to Long Feiye’s gates to wait for them.
But neither Han Yunxi nor Long Feiye showed up after ages of waiting. Duanmu Yao couldn’t put down her dignity, so she asked Cao Tong to knock on the gates. As it turned out, the two had left late last night.
“How could...how could they have gone on ahead?!” Cao Tong was incredulous.
“Esteemed wangfei said that you can look for the Council of Elders as soon as you arrive in . Someone will take you to the Medicine Hut then,” the servant replied.
Cao Tong didn’t ask further, but went to report the news to Duanmu Yao, whose face fell. Obviously Long Feiye and Han Yunxi didn’t want to travel with her! Hidden within the shadows, Ning Cheng was wearing an equally black expression. He’d gotten up early just to wait for the same people, only to be foiled.
“Master, Miss Jing’s wedding affairs are just about set. We’re pressed for time. A few days from now, the Tang Clan will propose marriage formally. The wedding is set for the end of the month,” the retainer with the latest news reported. “Miss Jing has raised a fuss with Young Master Nuo for two days now. She refuses to stay a full year at the Tang Clan, so Young Master Nuo has requested for you to come back and oversee things to the end.”
“Troublesome!” Ning Cheng said impatiently, but he headed back to Cloud Realm Trade Consortium all the same. He couldn’t afford to be careless with the Tang Clan, nor could he allow Ning Jing to cause a row.
“Follow Duanmu Yao and the rest. Report to me immediately if anything happens!” Ning Cheng declared before leaving, but then stopped to add, “And keep an eye on that acupuncture needle for your lordship!”
Bewildered as they were, his retainers dared not disobey his commands. Currently, Han Yunxi’s group had already traveled an entire night, leaving behind them. Gu Qi Sha and Mu Linger did not follow along. Originally, the latter was quite enthusiastic about visiting the Medicine Hut, but after hearing that Gu Qi Sha wasn’t going, she stayed behind to keep him company.
Gu Qi Sha only said, “It’s got nothing to do with this old man,” before refusing to budge. Han Yunxi didn’t press the issue, while Long Feiye had his own guesses but kept them to himself. Right now, he was reading a letter sent from the Tang Clan about Tang Li’s impending wedding.
“Any progress with Cloud Realm Trade Consortium’s medicine planting plans in ?” Long Feiye asked.
“Nothing yet. I’m afraid Ning Jing’s marital matters have delayed things,” Chu Xifeng responded from outside the carriage.
“Keep an eye on it.” Long Feiye was still concerned. After all, it would affect Han Yunxi’s position in the markets with Pill Fiend Pharmacy. She herself didn’t seem worried. As she saw it, even if Cloud Realm Trade Consortium succeeded in their plantations, all she had to do was expose their alliance to to make their wares unmarketable. She was more preoccupied with the matter at hand.
“Long Feiye, just how did Empress Xue die?” she asked, still ignorant of the truth.
She knew that he had sent people to kill her, but the cause of death was still a mystery. She assumed it had been a simple assassination, but after seeing the corpse, she didn’t notice any obvious wounds. The Chu Clan and Ning Cheng must have done their own inspections, too, but without success. If they knew the truth, they would have exposed the true murderer rather than framing her with a postmortem wound.
Long Feiye leaned against the tall pillows and feigned sleep instead of answering. Han Yunxi scooted over and pushed him. “Come on and say it. How are you so sure that Cao Tong won’t be able to figure it out? Aren’t you afraid that the corpse will reveal its secrets once it’s been restored to the state right after death?”
Long Feiye reached out a hand to pull her into his arms. “This matter isn’t important.”
The outcome wouldn’t matter to them either way. It was the process, and Duanmu Yao’s perspective on the event, that was more important.
“Come on and spill. It’s not like I’ll betray you.” Han Yunxi wouldn’t give up until she knew the truth.
Long Feiye still remained mute, so she narrowed her eyes in a threatening manner. “Are you telling me or not?”
Long Feiye shook his head, so Han Yunxi started scratching his armpit to tickle him. He quickly dodged and put her hand down. His greatest weakness was being ticklish, but that was something only Han Yunxi knew. She persisted in attacking him. “Are you telling me or not? Are you?”
Long Feiye started silently evading her attacks, but couldn’t help bursting into laughter by the end. Still, he kept his lips firmly sealed and refused to say a word. The two of them started roughhousing right there in the carriage, their movements loud and occasionally pierced with Han Yunxi’s pants for breath. Outside, Uncle Gao and Chu Xifeng exchanged silent glances, unwilling to voice their theories about what was going on within.
Using a postmortem to declare a person’s innocence was a big deal. News of their travels to the Medicine Hut had spread far and wide, so all of Cloud Realm Continent was paying attention! Yet this couple still had the mood to fool around in their carriage. If Duanmu Yao found out, wouldn’t she go mad in her rage?
In any case, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye arrived after a few days’ worth of travel. Pill King didn’t cause them any difficulties as they imagined, but happily handed over the Rising Dead and enthusiastically offered to help them apply it properly. Han Yunxi couldn’t help but think that the old man had finally learned how to be docile for once.
“Yunxi, have you read through the ancient medicine text I gave you last time?” he asked with a chuckle.
“I have, I have,” Han Yunxi said offhandedly. In reality, she’d been so busy trying to break through to Rank Two of the poison storage space that she’d left Mu Linger and Gu Qi Sha to study its contents. Once these matters had passed, she could simply flip through the girl’s notes instead.
“Then do you have any areas where you’re unclear about, or need help on?” Pill King asked next. He had given her the text just so she could write him more letters and keep in touch with him for pointers. Like this, master and disciple could grow closer until it was a true teaching relationship. If he couldn’t keep the girl here by force, he could at least be her master in more than name.
“I’m...still reading through it. I can just study the areas I’m unclear on a bit more. Asking about the particulars afterward won’t be too late,” Han Yunxi went through the motions again.
After a few more rounds of casual conversation, she went to the to pay a visit to the old eccentric. Compared to Pill King, she preferred him much more. Unfortunately, the man refused to see her without good news in tow. He was waiting for his own disciple to come back. Han Yunxi couldn’t help but think of Gu Qishao’s laughing eyes. No matter how much she pitied the old eccentric, she still wouldn’t betray Gu Qishao for him.
She and Long Feiye ended up resting at the Medicine Hut for half a day before Duanmu Yao and Cao Tong arrived with the Council of Elder’s representatives. Pill King personally inspected the empress’s corpse and went to brew the medicine immediately without a word. Cao Tong was quite respectful of the old man and acted like a child despite his advanced years, hovering here and there to help him out. In the end, it was the disciple Han Yunxi who was left watching from the sidelines with nothing to do.
This really was...ridiculous!
Only now did Duanmu Yao finally accept that Han Yunxi had been accepted as a disciple of the famed Pill King. Her foul mood worsened. As the Pill King’s disciple, Han Yunxi’s status was quite high. Just what other outstanding roles did Han Yunxi bear beside the title of Qin Wangfei? Duanmu Yao disliked the feeling of the distance now growing between them!
Very soon, Pill King finished brewing the medicine and personally came to apply it to the body. Although he’d made a fine show of fancy gestures and tricks, in the end, all he did was pour the decoction onto the corpse. As the liquid trickled down from the body, it began to slowly recover. Cao Tong watched from the sides, his eyebrows knitting increasingly at the sight unfolding before him.
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