If it wasn’t for Han Yunxi that year, Lady Helian and Little Yi’er would have long been driven out of the house by Lady Xu, much less live until today. The Han Family owed Han Yunxi so much. She had striven to protect them even when her own life was at stake, just to save their most talented son. Lady Helian could admit that she once suspected Han Yunxi of doing everything to keep mother and son under her thrall. This way, all of the Han Estate’s pharmacopeias, estates, and properties would belong to her.
But Han Yunxi did no such thing. Everything she accomplished was for the sake of the Han Clan. She had taken care of Little Yi’er so that he could grow up as a man in his own right and shoulder the revival of the Han Estate’s pharmacies on his own shoulders. Han Yunxi doted on Little Yi’er just as much as his own mother. Looking at the stubborn gaze in her son’s eyes now, Lady Helian only knitted her brows.
Just what was she worrying about?
In the past, she would always praise Little Yi’er for being a good boy whenever he said he wanted to repay his older sister. She even taught him not to be ungrateful. Today, however, she was filled with nothing but anxiety. She wasn’t afraid of anything except losing this son. That’s why there were certain things she could only keep to herself!
“Seventh Mother, what are you spacing out for? Come here and drink tea,” Han Yunxi might be the high and lofty Qin Wangfei, but she always treated Lady Helian with the respect due a senior member of the family. By rank alone, she was supposed to call Helian Zuixiang ‘Seventh Mother’ to reflect her status as her father’s seventh concubine.
Lady Helian went over and pulled Little Yi’er into her lap. Like always, she asked after Han Yunxi’s health and spoke of the Han Estate’s four pharmacies and how they were doing. After a while, Han Yunxi said they should let Gu Beiyue rest and they all left together.
As soon as they exited the courtyard, Lady Helian asked in a low voice, “Yunxi, it’s been so many years already. Why isn’t there any news from your stomach yet?”
Han Yunxi wasn’t expecting this. Although she knew plenty of people were interested in the answer, no one had ever asked her again after her last interrogation at Tianning’s New Year’s banquet.
“It is about time for some news…” she muttered to herself.
“His Highness Duke of Qin...doesn’t want children?” Lady Helian’s voice dropped even lower.
Han Yunxi just laughed. “He’s too busy to have any time.”
“Then when will he?” Lady Helian murmured. “His Highness Duke of Qin is grown now, and no longer a child.”
“Probably not in the next year and a half. I’m busy as well.” This wasn’t an excuse, but the truth. How could she stay idle while Long Feiye was so busy? Two days later, she’d have to keep the appointment to rescue Grand Concubine Yi. A few days after that, they were to go to Celestial Mountain. Both were dangerous tasks. In the meantime, she had to train her poison storage space to break through the third rank so she could be more helpful to Long Feiye. There was barely any time to flirt or date, much less birth a child.
Thinking up to this made her laugh.
“What are you laughing about?” Lady Helian was puzzled.
“Nothing. You should busy yourselves, I’m going to find Linger!” Han Yunxi said.
Lady Helian stayed put. “Yunxi, there’s war and chaos in the north. Will you two stay for good this time? South Ning’s such a nice place, so stop putting yourselves in danger all the time!”
“I’ll go wherever Long Feiye goes. Nothing’s dangerous with him around,” Han Yunxi teased. She wasn’t planning to tell anyone unrelated of their trip to Celestial Mountain.
“It really is true what they say, a married off daughter is like spilled water that can’t be gathered back again!” Lady Helian was helpless, but Little Yi’er was quite happy.
“That’s right! With His Highness Duke of Qin here, big sister won’t be in any danger. Mother, you can stop worrying.”
“Yunxi, come to Han Estate for dinner tonight, won’t you?” Lady Helian asked.
“No, I still have things to do tonight. Maybe another day,” Han Yunxi refused. Lady Helian didn’t press her and left with Little Yi’er in tow.
“Mother, you go back first. I’ll come home at night, I want to show master a whole bunch of medical cases,” Little Yi’er said seriously.
A complicated look flickered past Lady Helian’s eyes before she murmured, “Yi’er, why don’t you stay at Pill Fiend Pharmacy tonight? Mother will come pick you up tomorrow.”
Little Yi’er immediately shook his head. “Big sister Chen Xiang isn’t at the estate. I have to stay with you.”
“Silly boy, mother’s going to pay a trip to the temple and I might stay there overnight. You just be good and stay with Doctor Gu. Mother will come pick you right up tomorrow morning,” Lady Helian said.
“Mother, why are you staying in the temple?” Little Yi’er didn’t understand. In the past, his mother would never stay outside the estate overnight.
“There’s a religious assembly at the temple tonight,” Lady Helian explained as she rubbed his forehead with a smile. “Since when have children asked so many questions? You should hurry up and help out at the pharmacy instead.”
Little Yi’er didn’t think much of her answer and bounced away to do as he was told. With both master and big sister back again, he felt that the world was a beautiful place. Lady Helian only exhaled and hurried out. Su Xiaoyu happened to pass by and felt bewildered by her harried state. She chased after the woman a few steps before losing her around a curve.
“Lady Helian? What’s the rush, is she hurrying to her next reincarnation?” Su Xiaoyu muttered to herself. She headed for the pharmacy next, where she saw Mu Linger personally checking the inventory with Little Yi’er helping on the side. Han Yunxi was nowhere to be seen.
Actually, Han Yunxi had doubled back to find Gu Beiyue again. When she said the man needed rest, it was only an excuse to send Lady Helian and Little Yi’er away. Gu Beiyue was again steeping tea by the time she returned, and her cup was still on the table. It was obvious that he knew she’d come back.
“It’s a pity that Doctor Gu isn’t playing the role of adviser instead of doctor,” Han Yunxi teased his perception skills.
“It’s only because I’ve stayed long enough in the palace to get used to reading people’s expressions. Now it’s a habit for me to notice the little things,” Gu Beiyue replied modestly. “Esteemed wangfei, is there something to discuss?”
“His Highness and I are going to Celestial Mountain at the start of next month, and it’ll...be a dangerous journey,” Han Yunxi got straight to the point. If she and Long Feiye could leave the peak by mid-autumn, that would be best. But if not, then Gu Beiyue would be the most trustworthy person to leave in charge of affairs down here.
In truth, Gu Beiyue had long learned of the Celestial Mountain trip from Long Feiye. But still, he feigned a face full of shock. “What...but His Highness Duke of Qin is the sword sect master’s closed door disciple! Esteemed wangfei, what has happened?”
“Those are internal matters of the sword sect,” Han Yunxi paused, before adding, “Gu Beiyue, you should be very clear on the unrest between the three nations right now. The situation at the commander-in-chief’s estate here in South Ning…”
Han Yunxi summarized the current events while mentioning Northern Li as a threat and the Baili Navy’s strength currently holding them in check. Gu Beiyue patiently waited for her to finish talking before he spoke.
“Esteemed wangfei, to tell this one so much, I…”
“If His Highness and I aren’t off the mountain by mid-autumn, then I ask that you help General Baili over at the commander-in-chief’s estate. He’s a soldier after all, and not well versed in the art of politics,” Han Yunxi murmured.
Gu Beiyue smiled helplessly. “Esteemed wangfei, this one is only a doctor…”
“A doctor cures the heart, which in turn cures the nation and the world. All of these things can be treated!” Han Yunxi was serious, her eyes shining bright. “Gu Beiyue, just treat it as me--”
Before she could say ‘begging,’ Gu Beiyue cut her off. He never wanted to hear Han Yunxi asking him for favors. He didn’t like the phrasing, nor did he feel he had the right to accept.
Yunxi, do you know? I am wholly at your bidding.
A doctor cures the heart, the nation, and the world? Yunxi, I only hate the fact that I couldn’t cure myself or recover my martial arts in time to protect you completely!
“I am indebted to esteemed wangfei for thinking so highly of me. If needed, this one shall do his utmost to cooperate with General Baili.” Gu Beiyue clasped his hands respectfully.
“I believe you.” Han Yunxi trusted her own judgment, but her intuition even more. Both of them ended up chatting over inane topics before Mu Linger found the pair.
“You should really rest now, I’ve disturbed you long enough,” Han Yunxi said.
Gu Beiyue had his share of trauma listening to Mu Linger and Gu Qi Sha argue the entire way there, so he didn’t ask Han Yunxi to stay. Han Yunxi ended up pushing Mu Linger out the courtyard as soon as she stepped in.
“Where’s Gu Qishao?” Han Yunxi asked.
Mu Linger rolled her eyes at her. “I should be the one asking you!”
“He’s gone. Probably won’t be back for a while, so you don’t need to wait,” Han Yunxi admitted. “When you have time, take a trip back to Medicine City to tidy up the Mu Clan. Don’t let Lady Lianxin galavant here instead.”
Mu Linger’s limpid eyes dimmed at the words. She accompanied Han Yunxi into the flower gardens in silence until she inexplicably grasped her by the wrist. Han Yunxi glanced at her fingers, but kept quiet. After walking for a while, Mu Linger finally spoke.
“Why is it so hard to like someone?”
“Tired?” Han Yunxi asked lightly.
“Exhausted,” Mu Linger admitted. “It’s been years, but all he does is run while I chase him. I’ve almost run the length of Cloud Realm Continent by now, but I just can’t catch him.”
“You won’t be tired if you stopped liking him, right?” Han Yunxi herself didn’t understand.
“I’ll die! I’d die if I stopped liking him!” Mu Linger blinked and declared resolutely. Han Yunxi had nothing to add to that.
“It’s not worth it.”
“Then will you stop liking Long Feiye one day?” Mu Linger asked.
“I’ve never thought about that.” Han Yunxi would never entertain the thought.
“Aiya, you guys are so different from us!” Mu Linger hung her head, depressed. But in the end she looked up again, face filled with pride. “Hmph, I’ll wait! I’ll wait until he grows older. There’ll come a day when he won’t have the strength to run!”
Mu Linger raised her head to stare at the skies. The clean and gentle warmth of sunlight from the fourth month spread over her small, stubborn face. Her heart was as solid as gold as her eyes shimmered with determination over her upturned lips. At the prime of youth, she looked lovely!
Gu Qishao, Linger will wait for you. Until the earth grows old and the skies desolate, until the seas turn into endless fields, until everything flourishing dwindles and fades, until years give way to calm.
But Gu Qishao, just when will you...grow older?
Han Yunx didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as she looked at Mu Linger and replied, “Mm, that’s a good idea!”
“I’m serious!” Mu Linger exclaimed.
“I know, I know,” Han Yunxi said as she nodded her head.
When night fell, Han Yunxi called Su Xiaoyu over before leaving Pill Fiend Pharmacy to give the blood mushroom to Mu Linger.
“Master, this is a precious item! You should leave it for yourself!” Su Xiaoyu might worship Mu Linger, but she always saved the best things for Han Yunxi first.
“His Excellency Pill Fiend gave it to her. Give it over,” Han Yunxi ordered crisply. Su Xiaoyu rubbed her nose before doing as she was told. Although these methods were too much like meddling in other people’s business, Han Yunxi really did feel distress for Mu Linger’s sake. Which woman wouldn’t grow foolish in the name of love?
Perhaps the ones who didn’t were only the ones who feared getting hurt, or the women who had stopped believing in love altogether.
When she saw Long Feiye coming her way, Han Yunxi stopped thinking such thoughts. She knew that she was plenty foolish in front of him. On their trip back home, she held his hand tightly. Two days later, they would follow the ransom note directions to Lost Void Lake…Previous Chapter Next Chapter