Too many people wanted to go underground, but not just anyone qualified. Finally, Han Yunxi and Department Head Ouyang talked it over before selecting six people to descend. These were: Medicine City’s Wang Clan head, Tang Clan’s Tang Li, Western Zhou’s crown prince Duanmu Baiye, Tianning’s military officer Ye Lǜzheng, Tianan’s young General Mu Qingwu, and Northern Li’s imperial physician Nazha Delin.
These six represented the main power factions of the present Cloud Realm Continent. Although the Tang Clan was a hidden force in the world instead of a mainstream power, he was counted amongst them thanks to being a son-in-law of Cloud Realm Trade Consortium. For the sake of staying objective, neither Han Yunxi nor any members of the medical academy descended into the room.
Department Head Ouyang had said that Chu Xifeng and Xu Donglin had brought out poison manuals from who knows where, so those couldn’t count as proof. If they wanted to verify Gu Qishao’s words as fact, then they’d have to look for evidence within the chamber. Once everything was settled, Department Head Ouyang opened the entrance to the chambers under everyone’s eyes and allowed the six people to enter. As their figures disappeared past the door, the scene grew silent.
Time passed slowly. At first, everyone waited patiently, but soon many of them grew impatient and began whispering amongst themselves. Department Head Ouyang and the other upper ranks of the medical academy were all standing on one side of the door, lost in their own uneasy thoughts. Han Yunxi and Gu Qishao were on a rock, she standing and staring unmoving at the door while Gu Qishao sat easily with a stalk of grass in his mouth. He wasn’t very interested in the chamber, finding the ashen faces of the medical academy leaders much more interesting. Perhaps he had finally started to feel the joys of having his revenge. Between pain and happiness, of course he’d prefer to forget the former and enjoy the latter.
He couldn’t resist laughing out loud as he tugged at Han Yunxi’s sleeve until she knelt down. “Hm?”
“You’re that tense? Afraid that Qi gege sold you off?” Gu Qishao asked with a grin.
Han Yunxi rolled her eyes at him. She really couldn’t figure out if this fellow was just heartless. While she was still aching over his past, he seemed to feel as if nothing had happened at all. She scooted closer and looked carefully into his eyes. “Little Qi, I’d rather you did sell me off today.”
She really would prefer Gu Qishao to betray her rather than relive his old injuries and expose them to the world. Gu Qishao couldn’t resist rubbing her nose with a warm smile. “Qi gege couldn’t bear that. I never would.”vo l
Gu Beiyue was still wearing his disguise as he stood by the rock. His focus wasn’t on the secret chamber either, but towards the upper echelons of the medical academy as he knitted his brows in thought.
Finally, Tang Li flew out of the entrance with a huge load of bottles and jars. After him came old Wang and Mu Qingwu, their arms full of books and their expressions extremely cold and serious. The Northern Li imperial physician, Duanmu Baiye, and Tianning’s military officer had nothing in their hands, but their expressions were bad as well. Department Head Ouyang and the rest felt their legs go weak at the collection of items. They had no strength left to even interrogate the group.
Old Wang tossed two thick stacks of books on the ground with a hmph and no further comment. Mu Qingwu stuffed his books into Department Head Ouyang’s arms with another cold snort while keeping silent. Tang Li wasn’t so subtle. He dropped his armful of bottles onto the ground with a cold smile.
“All of these are poisons we found in the underground chamber! Heheh, Department Head Ouyang, I know you’re going to say that Gu Qishao might have found people to slip these inside and frame you guys, right?”
Even if Department Head Ouyang didn’t want to claim such things, it was his only choice. Still, he didn’t open his mouth before Tang Li picked up one of the discarded volumes and flipped it open.
“Everyone take a look, these are authentic works of past medical academy heads! Their research into Poison Gu humans are all written here.”
Mu Qingwu’s face was full of fury as he blurted out, “Ladies and gentlemen, Gu Qishao wasn’t lying! The medical academy eliminated the Poison Sect purely because they held different views! But they still kept all of the sect’s books and records! These accounts are all research notes from previous academy heads regarding Poison Gu humans. The Poison Sect only presented the theory, but the medical academy wanted to turn that into reality! The real culprit who wanted to hurt the world was the medical academy! The Poison Sect is innocent! Han Yunxi even more so!”
Those last two sentences were probably Mu Qingwu’s true feelings on the subject. His father would definitely punish him for being so impulsive and outspoken today, but he didn’t want to consider so much anymore. No one could understand his current, secret rejoicing. He was so happy that he didn’t have to treat Han Yunxi as an enemy, and that he could claim justice on her behalf! Could this count as repaying his life-saving debt to her? Although he was unable to repay it in full, at least he paid part of it, right? He had dreamed and hoped for the chance to return the favor and not owe her a life.
Han Yunxi, will I have the right to like you after I clear my debts?
The crowd passed around the books. Even Department Head Ouyang and the rest had a careful, unable to accept the heavy truth in their hands.
“Looks like the medical academy owes my Poison Sect its innocence!” Han Yunxi said coldly, drawing everyone’s attention in an instant.
Now that things had been cleared up, it was time to collect on old debts. Everyone was filled with their own thoughts in the ensuing silence. The Northern Li imperial physician never took his eyes off Han Yunxi, his lips curved up in a faint smile. He seemed both amused, admiring, and anticipatory. Duanmu Baiye’s face was gloomy. He thought that the alliance could serve as revenge for his little sister against Han Yunxi, but now Medical City was hard-pressed to even protect itself. I came for nothing this time.
The military officer from Tianning had the worst expression of all. He quietly told his retainer to report to Ning Cheng. What happened here today would affect all of Cloud Realm Continent, so it was best that his general received updates as soon as possible. Without the medical academy’s sanctions, Ning Cheng would have less chance of victory invading the south even if he used his red coat cannons.
Tang Li only smiled at Han Yunxi like a fool. More and more, he worshipped this sister-in-law of his. Of course, he was more happy for Long Feiye’s sake. To restore the Poison Sect’s name meant that Long Feiye could have its power in his hands as well. In the future, he’ll have another chip in his fight for dominance over the continent. However, he didn’t notice Ning Jing had suddenly started staring at him as well..
As a hush settled over the scene, tension mounted between Medical City, Han Yunxi, and Gu Qishao. Seeing that no one spoke, Han Yunxi asked, “Ladies and gentlemen, now that the truth’s been revealed, are you going to destroy the Poison Sect or Medical City?”
Her words stirred the waves. Department Head Ouyang’s eyes widened before he coughed up a mouthful of fresh blood and fainted away. So this is the medical academy I’ve been protecting with all my heart? How can I accept this?
Since the academy head was in trouble, it was up to the Vice Council to oversee matters. Department Head Lin dreaded Gu Qishao too much to try anything. He seized this chance to help hold up Department Head Ouyang instead of speaking out. Since there were only three department heads in the academy, that only left the ever-silent Department Head Huo.
For someone in a high position to remain silent all this time meant that he wasn’t a simple character. Department Head Huo’s full name was Huo Qiujun, whose medical arts was evenly matched with Department Head Ouyang. However, his backing and support far surpassed the other man as he hailed from the Huo Clan, the second largest family in Medical City after the Gu.
Members of the Huo Clan held important posts all throughout the academy and had plenty of their own pupils and followers. More importantly, Department Head Huo had direct jurisdiction over the examination to test doctors for appropriate ranks. If anyone wanted to leave Medical City and practice medicine on their own, they had to pass Department Head Huo’s exams.
When he finally stepped out of the crowd, he had none of Department Head Lin’s snobbishness nor Department Head Ouyang’s aggression. He was more like a doctor, refined and gentle while filled with courtesy. Even as countless stares shifted his way, he still bowed with hands clasped towards Han Yunxi. “Yes, the medical academy must return the Poison Sect’s innocence.”
Is the medical academy going to compromise just like that? Many in the crowd were bewildered.
Before Han Yunxi could ask, Department Head Huo spoke again. “However, before that happens, this old man hopes that Gu Yuntian can give the academy an explanation! This way, we can give an account to the tens of thousands of doctors and people in Cloud Realm Continent!”
What...did he mean by that?
Han Yunxi began to grow uneasy while Gu Qishao narrowed his eyes.
“The Poison Sect was a faction of poisons doctors that branched off from the medical academy. Later on, they established their own independent schools of thought and matched the academy in strength. I expect everyone already knows this point,” Department Head Huo said. “It’s been centuries since the medical academy destroyed the Poison Sect. Just then, Gu Qishao told us that it was the academy head of the past who slandered and framed the Poison Sect in order to get rid of dissidents to his views. All these years, the secret has been passed on to generation after generation of academy heads, including the existence of these poison manuals. Aside from the academy head, no one else in the medical academy ever knew of such a thing, much less the poison arts.”
Department Head Huo looked towards Han Yunxi next. “Han Yunxi, this old man can support you if you want to seek justice for the Poison Sect and regain its innocence. The medical academy will support you as well! We too, want to seek Gu Yuntian and the previous academy heads for justice!”
At his words, the Northern Li imperial physician broke into immediate applause. “Department Head Huo is truly the fair and impartial one!”
“I was just saying, how could everyone be as low and hypocritical as Gu Yuntian?” Duanmu Baiye silently exhaled. Neither of them wanted Medical City to topple just like that.
Han Yunxi was rather taken aback. This Department Head Huo was too formidable! He not only pushed all the blame to the academy head to absolve the academy of its crimes, but even placed the medical academy on the same tier as the Poison Sect---innocent. She hesitated over whether to refute the man and demand the academy take responsibility. But the man’s words weren’t wrong--this wasn’t wholly their fault. To claim justice for the Poison Sect without knocking down Medical City was, in some ways, a defeat for their side.
Unless they broke Medical City’s monopoly and its rules, they’d still be controlled by it one day!
Gu Qishao clenched his fists and prepared to speak when Gu Beiyue abruptly pulled him by the hand.
“Little Qi, there’s no rush,” he said in a low voice. “Leave the rest to me.”
Long Feiye had already left Celestial Mountain, so Cloud Realm Continent was about to get busy very soon. He couldn’t lose for their side at Medical City…
1. Ye Lǜzheng (耶律铮) - Ye is a transliteration of a similar sound in a foreign language, also used for more ethnic names, Lǜ is “law/statute, pitch-pipes” and a style of poetry, Zheng is the metallic sound of “clang” or “clank.”