Gu Beiyue had hardly spoken when Gu Qishao strode in cheerfully. “Poison lass, with your Qi gege here, no one can bully you.”
With strife at home and abroad, Han Yunxi had to deal with Medical City’s pressure, Medicine City’s troubles, Ning Cheng’s threats, the prominent clan’s coercing, and the judgment and censure of the world on her shoulders. But these words made all her worries evaporate. Actually, she knew as early as Celestial Mountain that it’d be impossible to return as soon as she cured Gu Beiyue’s legs. How could she simply depart when he’d been doing his utmost for their sake?
Without Long Feiye around, she had to stay put and give all her energy to protecting his dominion. How great would it be if he was here. Then everyone could join in a big battle together and subvert the world that took Medical City as its master. They’d beat back all the rules and laws and build up a new world order!
Han Yunxi had no idea that Long Feiye was exchanging letters with Gu Beiyue nonstop from atop Celestial Mountain. He was fighting shoulder-by-shoulder with the doctor as well--or rather, directing everything from behind the scenes.
“We can discuss the Poison Sect’s matters in detail later. I’m going to take a look outside first,” Han Yunxi announced. There was still a ruckus going on, which worried her. Gu Beiyue accompanied her out of the bamboo forest before listening next to the wall. He wouldn’t let her leave th estate. “Esteemed wangfei, are you still ill at ease with this one managing matters?”
Han Yunxi couldn’t refute his words. She suddenly felt that Gu Beiyue was a lot more different than before, but she couldn’t figure out why. Gu Qishao was an impatient man by nature, so he simply copied Han Yunxi to listen by the wall as well. To curb the riots, General Baili had come to suppress the five main clans for daring to trespass on the Duke of Qin’s grounds. The two sides were still debating against each other, but no one could settle things with General Baili’s miliary logic. He was taking advantage of the fact that “literati had to explain themselves clearly before men of the military.”
Clan Head Xiao was an intelligent man who knew that civil officials didn’t fight with military officials, and vice versa. Currently, the five prominent clans controlled most of South Ning and could indirectly check the military by controlling their grain rations and armor. But that was only the long term picture. For the next few months, at least, they restrain the military powers. Thus, Clan Head Xiao became the first to yield.
“General Baili, is Han Yunxi a descendent of the Poison Sect or not? How much catastrophe will she bring upon South Ning’s commander-in-chief’s estate? Why don’t we sit down and talk over this nicely? If she can convince this old man with words, then I’ll support her wholeheartedly. Otherwise, we’ll try something else, alright?”
“You can’t agree to his terms!” Han Yunxi muttered.
As expected, General Baili rejected the offer. Until Celestial Mountain gave a formal announcement, he declared, anyone using the Poison Sect against they were simple people with ulterior motives against the Duke of Qin’s estate. Meanwhile, Gu Qishao’s collection of Poison Corpses had nothing to do with esteemed wangfei at all. Like this, General Baili refused the five prominent clans’ demands and publicly issued orders for his troops to surround the city. An announcement was made that South Ning’s commander-in-chief’s estate was going to fight against Medical City until the end.
His military orders made the five clan heads, as well as the rest of South Ning officials, realized that everything was a foregone conclusion. Clan Head Xiao was the first to protest. “General Baili, just you wait. South Ning will be ruined at this woman’s hands within three months!”
Han Yunxi was clear on the ramifications as well. If they couldn’t keep doctors in the prefecture, the citizens would either move away or revolt. They’d lose the commander-in-chief’s estate then. Thus, every single second of their actions from this point would be crucial. She had entertained plenty of ideas on the way home, and now sat with her group in a gazebo in the gardens to voice them.
“The most urgent matter of the moment is the withdrawal of doctors from the prefecture. We have to find countermeasures to this immediately to ease the pressure they’re facing.”
Gu Beiyue said, “Calculations were already done. Three days ago, about eighty percent of all pharmacies in South Ning Prefecture shut their doors. The remaining 20 percent are overcrowded by patients. There’s been many cases of dysentery since it’s summer, so it’s natural to have more patients now. This one has already transferred all of Pill Fiend Pharamacy’s on-call doctors here and contacted a few good friends. They have disciples who are willing to treat the ill. However, I don’t think we’ll be able to last past two months.”
“This is even more horrific than a famine…” Han Yunxi gnashed her teeth. Medical City’s schemes would probably have no peer, past or present! A doctor had the heart of a mother or father, but the people there simply had knives for hearts! The only purpose of medical arts was to save people, but they turned it into a weapon in order to seek power and force the world to submit.
It was inexcusable!
After a pause, Han Yunxi declared, “I’m planning to pay high salaries for our doctors. Those that are fifth rank or higher will get larger bonuses per month. Have the government build up pharmacies and provide the medicinal ingredients to keep the physicians here. Also, before announcing this news I’m planning to acknowledge my status as a Poison Sect descendant because that’s the identity I’ll use to face off against Medical City.”
She sighed. “From what I understand, Medical City destroyed the Poison Sect simply because of their ideas for ‘Poison Gu humans.’ But the Poison Sect’s never done such atrocious deeds, nor has anyone discovered the method to create them now. As I see it, Medical City exterminated the Poison Sect simply because they wanted to get rid of dissidents. They were using public office for private gains!”
Leaning against the door, Gu Qishao glanced at Han Yunxi as his eyes flickered. It was unclear what he was planning. Baili Mingxiang, on the other hand, grew worried. “Esteemed wangfei, once you admit you’re part of the Poison Sect, wouldn’t Medicine City have to stop giving you supplies?”
Han Yunxi nodded. “The situation at Medicine City is extremely complicated. They not only dread Medical City, but have over half of its members on the Council of Elders who approve of the Poison Sect’s destruction. But Medical City is determined to see me as a descendant whether I admit it or not! Wang Gong won’t be able to hold out past the month.”
She drank a sip of tea, then added, “I’ve already issued orders for Pill Fiend Pharmacy to take back all shipments of materials they’ve sent elsewhere. Combined with the medicine in the main pharmacy, we should have enough to treat all of South Ning for about three months. If that’s not enough, perhaps I can discuss things with the Pill King.”
Since the reclusive Pill King had long retired from worldly affairs, he wouldn’t care what Medical City thought, either. However, it wouldn’t work to simply ‘beg’ him for favors, so Han Yunxi hoped her last resort would only remain optional. Gu Beiyue started to speak next, but a commotion suddenly broke out outside.
Chu Xifeng rushed in to report, “Esteemed wangfei, it’s terrible!”
The five prominent clan heads had just departed, so they couldn’t have doubled back. What other ‘terrible’ news awaited them now? Han Yunxi felt rathered perturbed by Chu Xifeng’s breaking point expression.
“Esteemed wangfei, hurry and take a look outside. There’s a bunch of women with children outside surrounding our gates.”
Women with children? What’s going on?
Han Yunxi dashed through the gates and saw dozens of women kneeling by the entrance while holding children ranging from infants in swaddling clothes to toddlers. All of the children were bawling.
Gu Beiyue was the first to discover something amiss. “Esteemed wangfei, I’m afraid that these children have all fallen ill.”
Han Yunxi suddenly realized what had happened. She couldn’t face the crying children head-on and meet their innocent eyes or young, tender faces. She knew what they were here for. The woman at the front held her one-year-old child and stepped forward with the bawling child. Gu Beiyue rushed down the steps and gently felt the child’s forehead.
“How many days of fever?”
“Three days and three nights. Doctor Gu, I’m begging you, please save my child. I would rather fall sick myself then have him suffer. I’ve searched around all the pharmacies--it’s not that they don’t have doctors, but that the lines are too long. Even the lines at Pill Fiend Pharmacy will take ten days to reach the end! The child can’t afford to wait!”
As she spoke, she turned towards Han Yunxi next. “Esteemed wangfei, Medical City is heartless. We’re willing to follow you, but...but the children can’t shoulder this burden! Esteemed wangfei, please save the children! Please!”
All of the women raised their voices at her cry. “Please save the children, save the children…”
Their pleading mixed with the children’s cries to resound before the Duke of Qin’s gates and carry into South Ning City’s skies. Even the most ruthless heart would be moved by the sound. Han Yunxi’s hands were shaking. She desperately wanted to comfort the crying child, but couldn’t move. She knew that these people had been instigated to come here. Ordinary citizens wouldn’t raise a cry at their very gates, but the sight before her was real.
They couldn’t afford to beg for treatment!
Han Yunxi grew unsteady, not because of the scene before her, but because she had no guarantee that she’d win if she publicly went against Medical City! Fighting against them under the banner of the Poison Sect was only because she’d been pressured into a corner. Suppose she lost?
A second thought rose to her mind amidst the crying.
I can acknowledge my guilt!
She could shoulder all the trumped-up charges against the Poison Sect and accept Medical City’s punishment. The sight before her had really swayed her resolve. It’d be worth it if my one life could be used to exchange for hundreds of thousands of patients!
Han Yunxi never liked to compromise, but she couldn’t break free of her fate this time. Abruptly, a voice as clear as a bell rang out.
“The doctors are here. Pill Fiend Pharmacy arranged for ten famous physicians just to treat children and the elderly. There’s no need for long lines there, so everyone just hurry over. The head physician was once Tianning’s Imperial Physician Huang Zhengming, and he’ll guarantee that everyone will receive the proper diagnosis. He won’t take a cent for examinations, either!”
Everyone looked towards the source of the voice and saw Mu Linger standing there in her goose yellow dress, looking more lively than usual. Next to her stood an old man who was none other than Gu Beiyue’s friend, Tianning’s Imperial Physician Huang. It was true that the crowd had come to make trouble for Han Yunxi after getting some benefits, but their children really were sick. Hearing the news, all of them rushed towards Pill Fiend Pharmacy until the gates at the estate were left empty.
Mu Linger saw Gu Qishao from a distance, but she didn’t rush towards him like usual. Instead, she simply stared at him and smiled--a brilliant, if foolish-looking grin…
Oof I'm tired but okay working on these chapters~