Chapter 766: Real feelings, false feelings

Lady Tang was watching Ning Jing as well, but she still hadn’t moved after her third lash against Tang Li. Her glanced showed that Ning Jing even looked like she was enjoying seeing Tang Li suffer! 

How could she bear it? This woman’s heart is simply made of stone. Tang Li’s efforts have all been in vain!

“Ning Jing, how dare you come!” Lady Tang pretended to just notice her and rushed over with a lash of her whip. Ning Jing barely avoided being hit herself and had a scare. 

“It’s all because of a slut like you! You seduced my son, but my Tang Clan gave you face and married as his proper consort. What else do you want? You won’t be satisfied until you throw the Tang Clan into disorder, is that it?” Lady Tang was stirring up a fight as well as being sincere. She lashed out again, but Ning Jing avoided that blow, too. A crafty gleam stole into her eyes before she rushed into the room and hid by Tang Li’s side.

This…

Both Lady Tang and Tang Li knew that things had turned back. Lady Tang turned back and had to keep on acting. “Tang Li, get out of the way! This old mother’s going to teach that little vixen a thorough lesson today. Otherwise, she’ll forget that the Tang Clan goes by ‘Tang,’ not ‘Ning!’”

“I won’t let you!” Tang Li declared bravely.

“Are you getting out of the way or not?” Lady Tang asked again.

“I’m not. Even if you kill me, I still won’t!” Tang Li said loudly. Ning Jing simply hid behind him while holding tightly onto his clothes.

“This old mother’s giving you one last chance! Are you moving or not?” Lady Tang was waiting for her son to figure out a way out of this mess! But Tang Li had no ways to compromise. He was waiting for Lady Tang to give them a way out instead.

In the end, Lady Tang whipped him three more times before pretending she’d angered herself into a heart attack. Tossing the whip aside, she clutched at a table while her hand grasped her chest and gasped for breath. She strained to speak while Tang Li panicked.

“Mother, mother what’s wrong? Someone come!” 

A servant girl immediately arrived on the scene. All of Lady Tang’s servants were astute people, so as soon as she saw her mistress pretending to be ill, she put on a worried expression and helped her into the inner chambers without calling for a doctor.

“Jing’er, don’t be afraid. You go back first while I take a look at my mother,” Tang Li said seriously.

But Ning Jing wasn’t interested in his injuries or Lady Tang’s health at all. Instead she asked, “And what about the assassination weapons?”

Tang Li almost wanted to spit up blood. In the end, he bore it, refusing to believe his “wife-spoiling” tactics had failed. “It’ll be fine, don’t worry! I’ll definitely do what I promised you!” he declared.

“Mm, then I’ll stop worrying!” Ning Jing smiled happily. It was obvious she was doing it on purpose. Her smile widened as she left Lady Tang’s courtyard. Tang Li can keep dreaming if he wants me to fall such some petty tricks. Only an idiot would buy it!

It was nighttime by the time Tang Li made his way back to his quarters. Ning Jing had long retired to the bedroom and was lying on her side with her back to him. Tang Li hadn’t treated any of his wounds, looking as if he’d just dashed over from Lady Tang’s quarters. He looked down at Ning Jing and saw that she was really asleep. 

A self-mocking smile rose to his lips. Although it was only playacting, where the two of them raced to see who could conquer the other first, the sight of Ning Jing sleeping left his heart cold. Instead of waking her up, he took off his outer robes and went to wash up in the back courtyard. A big pail of cold water splashed over his head to chill him thoroughly and sting his cuts, clearing up his thoughts. 

“Tang Li, are you seeking death?” Behind him, Ning Jing’s voice filled the air.

Tang Li turned and saw Ning Jing standing on the steps, dressed in a thin nightgown. Her loose hair fell past her shoulders, framing her small but tenderly sleepy face. Even after marriage, she had insisted on wearing men’s clothes, so Tang Li didn’t get to see her feminine side except during bed. If he ignored what she just said, he could simply pretend she was a delicate and fragile girl, gentle and demure, who stirred up protective instincts. But it wasn’t just any man who could protect this woman. 

Tang Li quickly recovered his senses and said with a chuckle, “Did I wake you up?”

“Yes!” Ning Jing said crossly. “It’s the middle of the night, can’t you wash up in another courtyard?”

Tang Li’s temper was unimaginably good as he said cheerfully, “Hurry back and go to sleep. Be careful not to catch cold, I’ll switch spots right now.”

Before he could leave, Ning Jing demanded, “Come back! After waking me up, I can’t fall asleep again!”

Tang Li obediently came back. “Then I’ll stay and chat with you.”

Ning Jing rolled her eyes at him and took his hand to pull him inside. She was neither gentle nor soft, but very forceful as she pressed him down on a chair and went to get a hand towel. As she wiped him down, she was careful to use less force around his injuries. The Jinchang medicine she’d secretly hidden away was applied to Tang Li’s back. Aside from their activities in bed, this was the first time Tang Li had seen her caring side. 

Soon enough, all of his wounds had been taken care of. He looked at his soaked trousers and laughed in embarrassment. 

“Take them off, quickly!” Ning Jing knit her brows unhappily. She didn’t know whether it was because he woke up her, or because his wounds were untreated. Tang Li stripped soon enough, leaving him dressed in nothing but a pair of boxers. Ning Jing knelt down and began to treat his injuries there too. Tang Li wasn’t sure, but he thought he heard her sigh.

But what in this world could make your ironhearted self sigh?

After she took care of his leg whip scars, Ning Jing tossed her medicine onto the table with a cold warning. “If you wake me up again, prepare to shoulder the consequences!”

Then she rolled herself back under the covers again, leaving Tang Li sitting almost naked by himself. His cold heart had finally warmed as he quickly went to lie down next to her. At first, he was very careful, but soon grew restless. First he laid on his side to get closer to her, then threw his arm over her waist.

“Tang Li!” Ning Jing warned.

Tang Li turned a deaf ear to her voice, his hand roving restlessly over her body. “Jing Jing…” he coaxed, “Jing Jing…”

The silent night gradually grew heated with their embrace and lovers’ cries. What was real or false, who was acting or watching, all became meaningless details. Once the candles were out and the bed curtains drawn, their movements grew restless and indistinct. At the height of her passion, Ning Jing crooned. “A’Li, your injuries…”

Tang Li covered her lips. “Even if I die amongst the daisies, I’ll still be an amorous ghost.” 

He had never forgotten that daisies were her favorite flower…

--

While Tang Li was immersed in his warm and tender world, Han Yunxi was worrying for his sake in the distant Pill Fiend Pharmacy before her trip to Medical City. 

“Even if he’s tricking Ning Jing, the news spreading around will still cause trouble for the Tang Clan,” she said.

Tang Li had agreed to Ning Jing’s request to sell off some Tang Clan weapons. This was equal to telling the outside world that their regulations weren’t that strict at all. 

“The young Tang Clan head, sigh...haste brings no success!” Chu Xifeng was extremely worried as well. He only hoped that nothing disastrous would happen at the Tang Clan before His Highness Duke of Qin returned.

Gu Beiyue wasn’t clear on the details of this matter, so he didn’t speak much. He only handed over a few prescriptions to Mu Linger and Doctor Huang. “These are my supplementary prescriptions, please review them.”

After arranging all the details at Pill Fiend Pharmacy, Gu Beiyue had written a few prescriptions designed to prevent the outbreak of pestilence. He suggested that Mu Linger find someone to make the medicine and divide it up into bags. Then the various towns, counties, and prefectures could issue them to each and every family via the government offices. Han Yunxi but approved and admired Gu Beiyue’s attentive ways. With the lack of doctors and patients accumulating in South Ning, they would be susceptible to pandemics. 

Little Yi’er looked at the prescription while asking Gu Beiyue multiple questions. He patiently answered the all while Lady Helian sat on the side, looking rather absent minded.

“Seventh Madame, little Yi’er looks like he’s grown taller again,” Han Yunxi smiled, but Lady Helian didn’t even react.

“Mother, my big sis is speaking to you! I grew taller!” little Yi’er said loudly.

Lady Helian finally came to her senses. “Yes yes, you have gotten taller!” 

“Seventh Madame must be tired. Go back and rest up early. While we’re not here, I’ll have to trouble you and little Yi’er to come help out,” Han Yunxi said.

Lady Helian looked askance at her. “Now, now, no need to be so formal.”

Han Yunxi only had time to chat with Lady Helian and little YI’er now because she’d finished all her preparations too. But it wasn’t long before she had to leave--otherwise, it’d grow light soon. 

Baili Mingxiang had already left in secretly much earlier for Celestial Mountain. Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue didn’t return to the Duke of Qin’s estate after their work, but simply chose to depart directly from Pill Fiend Pharmacy. Meanwhile, Gu Qishao had been missing all night. Mu Linger, Doctor Huan, and Lady Helian with her son ended up sending them off. 

The carriage was already far off into the distance when Lady Helian suddenly asked, “That’s right, where are they going? I forgot to ask just then.”

“They’re off to save people,” Mu Linger said. Doctor Huang only smiled coldly without a word.

“Who are they saving?” little Yi’er asked curiously.

Mu Linger stroked his head. “This big sister doesn’t know either. When your big sis comes back, you can ask her then, alright?”

“Mhm!” little Yi’er was very obedient.

Early next morning, Mu Linger was, oddly enough, not present at Pill Fiend Pharmacy. She had a shadow guard help her track down Han Yunxi and the rest. As expected, Gu Qishao was amongst them. 

“Aiya, are you coming with us, lass?” Gu Qishao smiled heartlessly. He knew very well that she couldn’t afford to join them.

Mu Linger took out a bottle from her sleeve and handed it to him. “Here. I know you’re going back to Medical City to settle accounts with that lot. You have to be careful.”

Gu Qishao was at first greatly alarmed before he shot Han Yunxi a glare. So Mu Linger long knew that he was Gu Qi Sha, the expelled student of Medical City! 

Han Yunxi avoided his look and urged her horse forward. “We’ll wait for you up ahead!”

Gu Beiyue and the rest of the shadow guards followed suit, leaving Gu Qishao alone with Mu Linger. His fury at Han Yunxi was always quick to flare and fade again. This time was no exception. In any case, I’m not often at Pill Fiend Pharmacy. If this lass knows, then she knows.

He was already cheery and chuckling again. Instead of asking Mu Linger how she found out, he played around with the bottle and asked, “Lass, what are these?”

“A new medicine that I created. It can save lives in emergency situations. Don’t use it unless absolutely necessary,” Mu Linger said seriously.

“You mean to say...they can only be used on the verge of death?” Gu Qishao asked. 

“You and your crow’s beak!”[1] Mu Linger glared at him.

Gu Qishao openly accepted the pills. “I’ll remember. You can go back.”

“Qi gege, you...you have to be careful no matter what,” Mu Linger was still reluctant.

She knew that even if she said these pills were incredible, Qi gege would never open the bottle. His medical skills far outstripped her own and his eyes could hardly find her medicine worthy. In fact, the bottle contained not medicine, but a single strip of paper. Even if Qi gege never opened the bottle, at least he’d keep it on hand. Then it’d feel like she was by his side, too.

“Qi gege, you guys leave first. Linger will watch you all go,” Mu Linger was staring to get teary. They were always in a rush. When would they have a chance to meet again?

Would their journey to Medical City be smooth and peaceful?


1. crow’s beak (乌鸦嘴) - wuya zui, an idiom used to describe someone who has made an inauspicious remark, as crows represent death and are taboo from being mentioned casually lest they bring bad luck..

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Ruyi's Thoughts

Feels like Mu Linger's growing up. :')