An extremely urgent missive from nine days ago? Long Feiye and Han Yunxi exchanged uneasy glances. There had been nothing but urgent messages from the commander-in-chief’s estate at South Ning since they came to Celestial Mountain. But this was the first time it was “extremely urgent.”
Just what happened?
Under these circumstances, even the most pressing news became less important. It was hard to imagine the situation now after nine whole days! Xu Donglin’s expression was ghastly. He had all but forgotten about the letter. If not for another urgent missive today, he never would have remembered the first.
When Long Feiye read the contents of the message, his face paled even further. He looked at Han Yunxi and muttered, “Gu Beiyue…”
Han Yunxi instantly grew alarmed. “What is it?”
“He’s been poisoned. Even now, he can’t stand,” Long Feiye said.
“What?!” Han Yunxi couldn’t believe her ears. She quickly took the letter from Long Feiye’s hands to read it herself.
Long Feiye wasn’t lying. The letter was all about Gu Beiyue’s poisoning and its symptoms. Mu Linger was writing to ask for an antidote even as she consulted other poison doctors for treatment options. Han Yunxi studied the contents word for words before her fingers grew weak, allowing the paper to flutter to the ground.
“Corpse Cripple?” Long Feiye asked urgently. That was the name of the poison mentioned in the message. Han Yunxi stared at him without a word. Cold sweat had long broken out on her back.
Neither Long Feiye nor Xu Donglin knew what Corpse Cripple was, but the sword sect master did. He was stunned. “Is it really Corpse Cripple? That really exists?”
“People from Pill Fiend Valley diagnosed them. It shouldn’t be wrong,” Han Yunxi murmured.
The details of the letter were very exact. Gu Beiyue’s legs had originally recovered enough to let him walk, but thanks to the poison, they had lost all feeling again. Mu Linger wanted to find Gu Qishao first, but failed. Without a choice, she invited the old steward of Pill Fiend Valley to help her out. He determined that Gu Beiyue had been poisoned with the exceptionally rare Corpse Cripple toxin. The so-called Corpse Cripple was actually a poisonous plant that only grew at gravesites. It was shaped like a ginseng, except much bigger. It thrived in cold, wet, stinking soil, so graves and their absorbed moisture was its perfect resting spot.
It was classified as both medicine and poison, because it had numbing properties. Han Yunxi had remembered reading about it in ancient texts. The miracle doctor Hua Tuo had used it as a anesthetic. What made it poisonous was that set quantities dissolved in drinks would paralyze the entire body and cause the limbs to lose all feeling. One would be reduced to a human vegetable and then die.
Han Yunxi’s heart was wavering. She couldn’t even began to wonder why only Gu Beiyue’s legs were affected, only that the symptoms were typical of partial poisoning. As time went on, the poison would spread to the rest of the body.
“This is already a hypertoxic poison, but it’s been eight to nine days. I’m afraid...the prospects look grim,” the sword sect master intoned.
Han Yunxi glanced at Long Feiye, who was looking towards her. Both of them stiffened as their eyes exchanged fearful, uneasy glances. Although she didn’t want to accept the sword sect master’s words, Han Yunxi had to admit that he was right. Corpse Cripple was a lethal poison. Even partially poisoned victims would only take a day to succumb to its effects. With nine days already past, Gu Beiyue was simply bound for death!
The sword sect master stopped speaking as a complicated look flickered past his eyes. The room suddenly fell silent as the very air stilled. Long Feiye’s complexion looked terrible, while Han Yunxi looked down at the letter on the floor, suddenly deathly quiet. Xu Donglin was so afraid that his body started trembling on its own. Finally, he found the strength to move and hand over the second message with a stammer. “Master, th...this was j-just d-delivered!”
Everyone spun to look at him as Long Feiye said coldly, “Why didn’t you bring it out earlier?!”
Too afraid to answer, Xu Donglin worked himself to Long Feiye’s side. His master was still calm enough to question him as he undid the seal. “Are there any more?”
“N-none, j-just these t-two,” Xu Donglin’s teeth couldn’t stop chattering.
The letter that was asking for help had come nine days again. But why weren’t there any messages in between? Perhaps Gu Beiyue was already long past help, and so they didn’t send any letters until today to speak of...Han Yunxi didn’t dare finish the thought. She stared at the paper in Long Feiye’s hands as she silently prayed that it wasn’t bad news. This was her first time realizing that she didn’t take scares well. Long Feiye had already given her a fright over the past few days, so she couldn’t take much more shock.
Despite praying for the best, she couldn’t make herself wait any longer. As soon as Long Feiye opened the missive, she asked, “What does it say? Is Gu Beiyue…”
Long Feiye looked at her and exhaled.
“He can still be saved, right?! He’s still alive, right?” Han Yunxi asked desperately.
“Still alive. The poison only started spreading last night,” Long Feiye had exhaled in relief. Although he didn’t understand it, even he was uneasy at the thought of losing Gu Beiyue, the Shadow Clan’s only heir.
Han Yunxi’s heart finally settled back in her chest. She was so moved, she could cry! Of course, there was no time for tears now, much less to celebrate. She immediately took the letter from Long Feiye’s hands and discovered that it was written this morning. It described Gu Beiyue’s current condition in detail. Since they’d never written back, Mu Linger had gone to find Baili Yuanlong for help. Considering the fact that they had no idea what was going on in Celestial Mountain, they didn’t dare risk sending more letters. Gu Beiyue had used his acupuncture skills to keep the poison contained to his legs. With supplies from Pill Fiend Valley, he could delay the onset of poison and hold out for this long. But starting from last night, the poison resisted his efforts and started spreading upwards. Gu Beiyue was worried that trouble had broken out on Celestial Mountain and didn’t let Mu Linger write them any letters, but she’d sent this one out in secret.
“Idiot!” Han Yunxi was both worried and infuriated. “It’s lucky he’s a doctor, this is simply seeking death!”
Corpse Cripple poison wouldn’t just spread to the whole body, but had a terrifying side effect. If it stayed too long in the body without reacting, it would use it as fertilizing grounds to grow more of the poison within the organs! After the victim died, his or her body would be reduced to a feeding ground for the toxin. If he had used the antidote from the start, he could completely cure Corpse Cripple. But delaying so long meant that there was no way to fully eliminate the poison. They would have to use blood-seeking needles to expel the toxins. Not willing to delay any longer, Han Yunxi immediately took out an antidote from her detox system and wrote a quick letter before having Xu Donglin deliver it back.
Once he was gone, Long Feiye spoke up before she could open her mouth. “Do you have to leave the mountain?”
He had made all sorts of preparations to have her leave the mountain before him, but never thought he’d be so reluctant and worried when it was really her time to go. Even if Celestial Mountain hadn’t officially answered Medical City’s demands, everyone in the world knew she was supposedly the Poison Sect descendant! How much accusations and rejections, troubles and danger would she face down there?
“The antidote can eliminate 70% of the poison, but unless I expel the remaining 30%, the remnants will gather in his internal organs within half a month and start growing Corpse Cripple grass,” Han Yunxi intoned. “If I don’t leave this mountain, he’ll die.”
Long Feiye had just woken up from serious injuries and was currently weak and bedridden. How could Han Yunxi bear to leave him? How could she stop worrying? But another human life was at stake. She had to be cruel and ruthless, both to him and herself. Gu Beiyue was her best friend; how could she simply wait and watch him die? Moreover, it wasn’t easy to be poisoned with Corpse Cripple. She suspected a spy amongst their ranks.
In addition, Baili Yuanlong was a military man unskilled in political subterfuge. She and Long Feiye had been gone for so long that all of the matters at the commander-in-chief’s estate had been left to Gu Beiyue with his backing. Gu Beiyue had to stem the raging tide and stabilize the situation in the wake of her birth origins being exposed. If anything happened to him, the commander-in-chief’s estate would fall into chaos, especially since Long Feiye was weakened as well. Between public and private matters, emotions and pure logic, Han Yunxi had to get down there and save him as soon as she could. Naturally, Long Feiye understood these critical connections even better than sh did.
He hid his reluctance in his heart and said calmly, without hesitation, “I’ll immediately make arrangements for you to leave the mountain in secret. To the public, we’ll just say Celestial Mountain’s still investigating you. Until then, we’re supposedly keeping you here.”
“Good!” Han Yunxi also had no reservations.
“There’s only one path down the mountain. Leave tonight and have the shadow guards pick you up at the bottom,” Long Feiye added.
“Mm,” Han Yunxi was very obedient.
The two of them looked each other and didn’t waste any more words. By nightfall, Han Yunxi had already tidied up her things. Before she left, she found Long Feiye and said, “Take care of yourself. I’ll be back once I’ve cured the poison.”
“Mm,” Long Feiye was very obedient as well.
After some hesitation, Han Yunxi added, “I’m leaving, so you don’t need to send me off. Wait for me to come back. You can pick me up at the bottom of the mountain, alright?”
Long Feiye didn’t reply immediately, but stared at her for a long time before he finally said, “Alright.”
“Then I’m off!” Han Yunxi declared. Outside the door, the sword sect master and Xu Donglin had been waiting for ages.
“Mm,” Long Feiye nodded.
Han Yunxi still wanted to speak, but she bit her lip in the end and turned to leave. She’d hardly reached the door when Long Feiye spoke up. “Han Yunxi…”
Han Yunxi immediately stilled her steps, but she didn’t turn back. She waited for a long time, but Long Feiye still didn’t speak. Finally, she turned around. “Is there anything else?”
He smiled. “How about...your lordship go down the mountain with you?”
She grinned back. “Sure. Then I’ll help you pack your things too.”
“Alright,” he agreed easily.
But in the end, she did no such thing. Both of them knew this was only a joke. With his injuries, leaving the mountain was impossible.
“Long Feiye, goodbye!” Han Yunxi grew earnest.
He didn’t reply, but waved a hand to gesture her to leave quickly. This time, Han Yunxi kept walking and Long Feiye didn’t delay. As the door shut between them, they lost sight of each other. Life and death had almost kept them apart. Now they barely had time to exchange a few words before they were separating again.
Han Yunxi’s bright eyes were wet with the hint of tears beneath the moonlight. “Grandmaster, let’s go!”
The grandmaster arranged for a few guards and Xu Donglin to help her down the mountain. Despite her secret exit, Han Yunxi never would have known a whole crowd of people were waiting for her at the foot of Celestial Mountain!
Translator's Note: What do you know guys, the author had us all fooled! It wasn't Long Feiye who was destined for death, but Gu Beiyue! All that aside, take a break from cliffhanger woes to read up on exciting news for a PGC visual novel adaptation, woot! <3