Chapter 144: The chronically-ill Imperial Physician
Han Yunxi stood dazed without reacting to any of the questions from passerby. She only recovered after seeing that familiar back disappear into the crowd. By now, the people around her had scattered.
Despite recovering her wits, her heart still felt stifled and unwell. Between Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao, this senior brother and junior sister, did a real relationship exist? Otherwise, why would that guy of all people make an exception to spend time with her? This completely wasn't his style. During their faceoff with the poison python, Long Feiye was sincerely concerned about Duanmu Yao's life. Yet in Pill Fiend Valley, he was more partial to her side. Though admittedly, he and her shared the same goal back then to obtain the Life Blood Pill.
If he didn't have to follow imperial orders, would he still have stood on her side?
Han Yunxi thought and thought until she smiled and lightly laughed at herself.
What was wrong with her?
She was just Long Feiye's wangfei in name. What did it matter to her what kind of relationship he had with his junior sister? Senior brothers and junior sisters were naturally on friendly terms, so what was strange about that?
Thinking up to here, Han Yunxi sucked in a deep breath and calmed herself. She even forced the corners of her lips into an optimistic smile. Keeping that smile on her face, she turned around to walk in the other direction. As if she'd go the same way as them! Unexpectedly, the motion caused her to crashed directly into the person behind her. Han Yunxi was about to apologize when the other harshly pushed her back.
"You looking to die? How dare you crash into this young master!"
Han Yunxi steadied herself and saw a fat, rich young master before her, dressed in fine silk robes with a fan stuck obliquely into his hair. Seeing that her looks matched his standards, the chubby young master grew aggressive and snapped, "What are you looking at? Don't you use your eyes when walking? Didn't you see there was someone behind you?"
"You think that everyone's like you, with eyes on the back on their heads?" Han Yunxi was still smiling.
"Aiya, this little woman's got a sharp tongue!" as the chubby spoke, he took out his fan and stretched it towards Han Yunxi's chin. Unfortunately, Han Yunxi knocked it aside before it reached her, using the chance to scatter something on the fatty's face. He caught a whiff of delicate fragrance before unconsciously inhaling more.
Just one sniff was enough to change his expression into a stupid smile. He stood in place and started taking off his clothes.
By now, the smile on Han Yunxi's face had all but vanished, to be replaced with a gloomy look. She didn't spare the fatty another glance before turning to leave. She was in a bad mood when that blind thing confronted her. Couldn't he tell she was very unhappy? And yet he'd tried to provoke her! That was equal to seeking death!
Fine, she admitted that she was in a horrible mood.
With her back facing the direction where Long Feiye had disappeared to, Han Yunxi wandered aimlessly down the streets. By the time she heard the drums announcing dusk, she finally remembered something important.
Her afternoon appointment with Gu Beiyue!
It was already six hours past their appointed meeting. Han Yunxi didn't think much as she dashed towards Tender Fragrance Teahouse. She actually found out that Gu Beiyue was still waiting for her when she burst into the private rooms.
Immediately, she apologized. "I'm sorry, I came late."
Gu Beiyue didn't blame her, but hurried to pour her a cup of tea. "For esteemed wangfei to come is already my honor. Have a drink first, there's no rush."
No rush despite her being so late? This fellow's temper was truly too good. Even though they differed in rank, she saw no trace of complaint in his gentle eyes. Every time she saw those irises, Han Yunxi would wonder what kind of girl would be lucky enough to marry this fellow. She drank a few sips and quickly discovered that Gu Beiyue's complexion didn't look well. Although she was more proficient with poisons, she was still a type of doctor. Judging by Gu Beiyue's face, he must have just recovered from a serious illness and still needed to recuperate.
"Gu Beiyue, what's wrong with you?" Han Yunxi was anxious enough to blurt out his full name.
"I was too exhausted in the past few days and caught a serious chill when I left the palace. It made me severely ill for a time," Gu Beiyue replied mildly.
"Serious chill?" Han Yunxi had her doubts. Though the saying went that a doctor shouldn't treat himself, something as common as a chill shouldn't cause Gu Beiyue such difficulties. Just by looking at his face, she could tell that it was ill. He wasn't hiding anything from her, was he? Filled with suspicion, Han Yunxi signaled Gu Beiyue to offer his arm so she could take his pulse.
"Let me see."
"Many thanks to esteemed wangfei for her concern, but it's just a chill. It's of no consequence," Gu Beiyue gracefully refused.
"Your hand, let me see it," Han Yunxi was very earnest.
Without a choice, Gu Beiyue rolled up his sleeve and rested his wrist on the table. Han Yunxi carefully took his pulse as her delicate eyebrows scrunched up. It was very weak, enough to affect his health, but it really was as Gu Beiyue said: a chill that had settled into the bones and nothing more.
Han Yunxi looked at him closely. Such poor health on his part resembled the state of a body after being cured of poison, feeble and weak.
"Imperial Physician Gu, a serious chill reduced you to such a weakened state? Your body is a little too frail, isn't it?" Han Yunxi asked curiously.
But Gu Beiyue actually nodded his head. "This official has been chronically ill since childhood. Currently, my body could be considered all right, but I used to get seriously ill almost every other day. Recently I've been treating the emperor at court, so I've had multiple sleepless nights. When I caught that chill, the illness that followed was like a mountain falling on top of me."
So he was a chronic invalid!
Han Yunxi never expected Tianning Country's head Iimperial Pphysician was prone to sickness. If Gu Beiyue hadn't said so himself, who would be able to tell?
"Could it be that you caught a certain disease when you were young?" Han Yunxi asked.
Gu Beiyue's eyes looked bitter and pained as he replied. "I heard my grandfather say that I was born prematurely. It was medicine that kept me alive."
Now Han Yunxi was even more startled, though the information dispelled all her doubts. No wonder. In the past, premature babies rarely survived past infancy. Thankfully this guy had picked the right womb and had a divine doctor as a grandfather. Otherwise, it'd be hard pressed to raise him even if one had medicine. Han Yunxi only knew that Gu Beiyue had been brought to Tianning's capital by his grandfather. As for his parents, she had no idea. Of course, she wasn't curious enough to ask after his personal affairs.
She gave him a teasing smile. "Looks like you should appeal to the emperor to lighten your workload."
Gu Beiyue smiled faintly. Despite his pale face, this smile was still as warm as an April breeze. "Esteemed wangfei, the information you asked this one to look into last time..."
"How is it?" Han Yunxi was excited. So this was the reason this fellow had asked to meet.
She'd asked him to investigate how Han Congan had become a director of Cloud Realm Medical Academy in order to find out the relationship between the academy and Lady Tianxin.
Seeing her so moved, Gu Beiyue was a little hesitant, but continued to speak. "Esteemed wangfei, I'm sorry to report. Although everyone in Cloud Realm Medical Academy has heard of Lady Tianxin, none of them knew her personally."
His words stunned Han Yunxi. Lady Tianxin's name had spread throughout all of Tianning's capital city in her day. She even promised Han Congan that he'd become a director of the medical academy, so Han Yunxi expected her to have excellent connections within the school. Who knew that these were the results?
A director in the medical academy was a mid-rank personage. There were various people and positions still above that. Perhaps if any of them knew Lady Tianxin, she could ask them to make Han Congan a medical director. Good connections had to be made with those higher up, right?
"Then amongst the elders and department chairs, are there any who knew my mother?" Han Yunxi pressed.
Gu Beiyue only laughed. "Esteemed wangfei, this is as much as I could find out. When my grandfather was still alive, he only met with the academy's elders a few times."
"Esteemed wangfei, perhaps Lady Tianxin really had no connections with the medical academy. It wouldn't have been hard to help Han Congan. His skills back then really were enough to shoulder the position of a director," Gu Beiyue said objectively.
Fine, Han Yunxi realized that she'd acted impulsively, but she was anxious. There was only this thread cluing her in to Lady Tianxin's identity. After drinking a few cups of tea in silence, Han Yunxi caused no more difficulties for Gu Beiyue. She couldn't figure out this matter with one shot, after all. Instead she asked, "Did you just ask to meet me here for this?"
"There's one other thing..." Gu Beiye seemed a little embarrassed.
Han Yunxi knew that her intuition was right. This fellow had to have arranged to meet with her in private for some other reason.
"There's no one else here, go ahead," Han Yunxi grinned.
Gu Beiyue's smile turned bashful, making him even cuter. Despite his shyness, he was still very earnest. "Esteemed wangfei, I heard that you and Miss Liuyue made a bet. So...I'm curious as to how you knew to use goldfish to test for Ten-Thousand Snake Poison?"
Many of the spectators that day had no idea what was going on, but Gu Beiyue was a doctor. He understood perfectly and because of that, saw nothing out of the ordinary. To test for poisons, there were two methods: 1) examining the poison itself, 2) testing the poison on others.
Examining poisons were the jobs of poisons masters. Through sniffing, tasting, or reactions with other poisons, they could experiment and gain knowledge from results that perplexed other people. Testing poisons typically used poison stones, people, or animals. Such tests were performed for the benefit of observers.
Ten-Thousand Snake Poison was a very unique poison. Its traces in the tea leaves were miniscule, so how did this woman know to test for it with a goldfish?
Han Yunxi laughed at his words. Not long ago, Gu Qishao had made a special trip to the Duke of Qin's estate to ask her the very same question. Gu Beiyue might not understand poisons, but he was still worthy of being called a divine doctor in his own right. Against Gu Beiyue, Han Yunxi was less guarded. She openly admitted, "I've read about it once in an ancient text. It's fortunate that I remembered."
"Was it one of the ancient books left behind by Lady Tianxin?" Gu Beiyue asked.
Urk...all right, she used Lady Tianxin as a shield against people who suspected her before. She might as well use her to the end.
"Mhm, it was left by my mother."
"It looks like Lady Tianxin was a poisons expert as well," Gu Beiyue said earnestly.
After telling a lie, one could only use more lies to cover it up. Han Yunxi's mouth twitched before she nodded her head. "Probably. She just never had a chance to use that knowledge." Han Yunxi didn't want to continue this topic, so she patted her stomach with a smile. "Since I was late today, let me treat you to a meal."
Gu Beiyue immediately moved to refuse, but Han Yunxi was faster. She yelled, "Waiter, waiter, bring over a menu!"
A waiter quickly opened the door and entered their room, making it hard for Gu Beiyue to refuse. Tender Fragrance Teahouse had a plethora of snacks that could perfectly stand in for a complete meal. This was Han Yunxi's first time eating out, so she ordered a slew of different dishes. Gu Beiyue's eyes grew affectionate as he watched without interfering.
Soon enough, the dishes were delivered, but the person bringing them almost made Han Yunxi fall out of her chair in shock!
This was none other than...?