Chapter 178: Medicine City, splitting up
Gu Qishao's words turned the quiet scene even quieter. Long Feiye remained expressionless, but he didn't shift his gaze from Han Yunxi, who had long lost patience after pleading with him for so long. She was seriously considering Gu Qishao's offer.
And yet, looking at Long Feiye's deep and still pupils, she couldn't move a step. All she could do was cast a resentful look at Gu Qishao. Unexpectedly, this single glance was enough to turn Long Feiye's cold eyes even colder. Han Yunxi could even sense killing intent infusing the air. He and her were only husband and wife in name. Although he told her to abide by so-called "wifely virtues," he wouldn't go as far as restricting her personal freedoms, right? Why was he acting so serious and ferocious?
Well, she wouldn't cause trouble for him, then. She had legs of her own. When they left, she could follow them by herself. Ignoring Gu Qishao, Han Yunxi laughed out loud. "Then I won't go. Your Highness, safe travels."
But Long Feiye actually extended a hand. "Get on first. When your lordship thinks of the terms, I'll naturally tell you then." It was clearly Han Yunxi who'd suggested the idea to him, but she suddenly felt like she was being cheated.
Is it all right if I don't go?
She didn't have a chance to change her mind before Long Feiye grabbed her by the shoulder like an object and lightly lifted her atop the horse. Just like before, she was bundled up in his embrace. But unlike last time, he kept one hand on the reins while the wrapping the other around her waist, as if proclaiming to the world that he had the right to hold her this way. He held her very tightly, tight enough for her to feel the warmth of his hands and the roughness of his skin. In an instant, her entire person grew unwell as she forgot about everything else. Gu Qishao glanced at them, disdaining to smile as he left first with the horse.
"Imperial Physician Gu, you'll take full responsibility for the matter of the epidemic. There's no need to tell the emperor where we're going." Long Feiye left Gu Beiyue with these words before galloping off with Han Yunxi in his grip.
It was as if they'd all abandoned Gu Beiyue. He stood alone, watching the horses speed along into the distance until they disappeared. His figure looked desolate, but his expression still held that refined and elegant gentleness. It was serene and beautiful, as if nothing in the world could ever trouble him. He took the Violet Wormwood from its transparent bottle and examined it carefully, muttering to himself.
"It was picked only recently?"
His familiarity with medicinal plants far exceeded anyone's imagination. He'd harbored suspicions at his first glance of the Violet Wormwood. Now he could be certain that this Violet Wormwood had been freshly unearthed from the soil not more than two hours ago. Besides Pill Fiend Valley's own Violet Wormwoods, where else could one find such a plant in the wilderness of these parts? Unless one just happened to be growing coincidentally nearby? He carefully put the plant back into the bottle before smiling thoughtfully. Then he cast a glance at Pill Fiend Valley before leaving it behind.
To make the antidote for poison pestis, he still needed large quantities of Dragon Sunflowers and Sky Vanilla plants, before picking the best specimens from each batch. They were the primary ingredients of the prescription, while Violet Wormwood made up only a fraction of the whole. Yet Gu Beiyue had easily left Pill Fiend Valley behind. As to where he went to gather those fine quality plants, it was probably something only he knew.
When Gu Beiyue returned to the capital, he immediately started creating the antidote. Poison pestis differed from other diseases in that there was no convalescence period. People ill from regular illnesses wouldn't recover immediately after taking medicine, but they recovered quickly from poison pestis since it was simply detoxifying a poison. Only a few days passed before it was brought completely under control.
Naturally, Gu Beiyue didn't tell Emperor Tianhui where Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had gone. It was likely the emperor wouldn't let Han Yunxi off so easily after all that had happened. Even if he couldn't get rid of Long Feiye, he'd find ways to eliminate Han Yunxi. She was the woman who actually dared to challenge his authority!
By now, Han Yunxi and the rest had already arrived at the gates of Medicine City. The doors were huge, in no way inferior to the ones of the capital city. Their lofty, magnificent structures gave off a feeling of simple unsophistication. During the journey, Han Yunxi had gained quite a bit of knowledge regarding Medicine City. It occupied a vast expanse of land, but the soil within the city itself was most suitable for raising medicinal plants. There were large outputs of such plants within the city, many of them rare and uncommon types. Each and every household in Medicine City sold and traded medicinal ingredients to make a living. Most of these plants were hand grown by the families themselves, while a portion came from trading and selling with others. Both common and precious ingredients were available in a plethora of different varieties. One could call this city Cloud Realm Continent's giant medicine warehouse. Rumors had it that two-thirds of all medicine sold in the world came from this city.
Medicine City's three most famous established families were the Mu, Wang, and Xie clans. They controlled over half the resources from the city. These three families shared custody of the forest in the center of the city, which possessed the highest grade soil for cultivating medicinal plants. The logic here followed the reasoning that one couldn't make bricks without straw-no matter how good one's medical skills were, one was useless without proper ingredients. Everything one attempted would be futile efforts. Thus, although Medicine City's prestige and position couldn't compare with Medical City, the two cities had countless ties and connections between its respective residents.
When Han Yunxi walked into Medicine City, she caught the scent of fragrant medicinal grasses in the air. She couldn't help but wonder whether there'd be clues here about Lady Tianxin, since there were none from Medical City. Of course, this time she was traveling with Long Feiye and Gu Qishao. She didn't want either of them to know so much, especially Long Feiye. He had suspected her poison skills before. Since it was approaching dusk now, they entered an inn and prepared to settle down for the night before making plans. Gu Qishao seemed to be very familiar with this place, because the innkeeper greeted him as soon as he came in.
"Qishao, I haven't seen you in a while."
"Give me three high-quality rooms, I want the quiet ones," Gu Qishao said with a grin.
The innkeeper glanced at Long Feiye and Han Yunxi briefly before handing over three keys. But Long Feiye only took one, his face expressionless, before his other hand took Han Yunxi's and led her upstairs. Even she didn't react in time when he did such a thing. She'd almost reached for a key herself. They were husband and wife, so it was natural to sleep in the same room, but...they'd never lived together before! Han Yunxi stared at the large hand holding her own tiny one and followed docilely without a word.
The innkeeper was bewildered. "Qishao, this..."
Gu Qishao licked his lips in amusement, still all smiles. "What 'this'? I just want two rooms for myself, so there's one in between to cut down on the noise."
"Then do you want an empty room on the other side as well?" the innkeeper hastened to ask. It was rare for him to have such an opportunity to profit.
Unexpectedly, Gu Qishao's grinning face abruptly turned black. He didn't say a word, but snatched the keys and went upstairs, leaving a bewildered innkeeper behind him. By the time Gu Qishao reached the landing, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi's door was already shut. Inside, Long Feiye was brewing tea while Han Yunxi looked at him, then at the tiny bed on the side with a pout.
What does he mean by this?
She expected Long Feiye to explain, but he only poured her a cup of tea and remained silent. If he wasn't going to say anything, it was hard for her to ask for details. Maybe she'd try again when it was nighttime.
Long Feiye had no plans to eat downstairs, so after a break he called for a waiter to deliver dinner into their rooms. Unexpectedly, Gu Qishao followed their meal inside. He casually sat down and told the waiter, "Bring another pair of chopsticks and a bowl."
Long Feiye didn't stop him, but asked, "How do you plan on getting the Herbal Tea Tree sapling from the Mu family?"
Gu Qishao was very blunt with his reply. "Steal it."
Han Yunxi nearly spat out her soup. Stealing the Mu family's treasure? So this guy had brought them along to act as thieves!
"If Poison lass has any other ideas, I'm happy to oblige without stealing," Gu Qishao grinned. Han Yunxi rolled her eyes and kept eating.
Long Feiye was rather curious by contrast. "Why steal it? Are there no other ways?"
"A few days ago, the Mu family stole that sapling from someone else. It's impossible for them to sell it, so I can only steal it!" Gu Qishao said as a matter of course.
"Do you know where it is?" Long Feiye asked again.
"I just know it's in the Mu estate. As to where they've put it, I'm really clueless. That's why I wanted to ask Gu Qi Sha for help. He's an old man with unparalleled skills in tracking down medicine," Gu Qishao smiled. His words were an obvious reminder to Long Feiye that the task wasn't so simple. But Long Feiye didn't react much beyond nodding his head and eating.
Gu Qishao was quite excited after the meal. "Your Highness Duke of Qin, shall we move tonight?"
Long Feiye rejected the idea. "Since the item's at the Mu estate, news must have leaked out by now. We'll split up and and work separately to gather information. It won't be too late to move then."
No one noticed the flash of coldness that flitted past Gu Qishao's features before he gave an especially devious smile. "Fine, that's no problem."
That night, Long Feiye and Gu Qishao went their separate ways, while Han Yunxi was left in the rooms. She wasn't someone content to sit at home, so after the men left, she went downstairs. She asked the innkeeper about the medicine market before excitedly leaving the building. Stealing saplings had nothing to do with her anyways, she only came to walk around Medicine City.
Unexpectedly, Long Feiye hadn't gone to gather any information at all. He was sitting at a teahouse right across from the inn, waiting elegantly while he drank his tea, when he saw Han Yunxi walk out the door. Unhappiness flitted past his eyes. It was late night and she was unfamiliar with the roads, but this woman was still going out by herself. Even though she's unarmed and defenseless, she still has the guts?
He was about to chase after her when Chu Xifeng hastened to remind him, "Your Highness, the Wang family's been waiting for you for a long time. It's time you went over."
Long Feiye stilled his steps to speak in an icy tone. "You go, keep a close eye on her."
"Yes," Chu Xifeng obeyed, before asking another question. "Master, regarding Gu Qishao..."
"Don't bother with him for now," Long Feiye finished before vanishing in a flash.
Right at this moment, Gu Qishao was lying on the rooftop of the Mu estate and basking in the moonlight. Next to him sat a youthful girl with a clear and clever disposition, her shimmering eyes radiant even in the dark. This girl was none other than the Mu Clan's most favored Ninth Young Miss, Mu Linger, who nudged Gu Qishao.
"Qi gege, when will that thief you mentioned show up? My father set nets and snares for him long ago."
"In one or two days. There's no rush...no rush."
Gu Qishao was relaxed and carefree as he reclined lazily on the roof. His attractive face seemed even more bewitching beneath the moonlight. He seemed to have recalled something just then, because he abruptly laughed. "Linger, that thief isn't anyone ordinary. If you take a fancy to him, you should keep him as your husband."
Mu Linger looked askance at him unhappily. "Definitely not. I only want Qi gege!" Immediately afterwards, her face turned red, but Gu Qishao brushed it aside with a smile.
"Too late, too late! Your Qi gege already has someone else in his heart."
 Mu Linger () - Mu is a surname that means to "wash one's hair," Ling is "quick, clever, sharp; spritely, fairy," Er is diminutive that means "youngster, child,"
 gege () - literally 'older brother,' also used as an affectionate address to refer to slightly older males that the speaker knows well, even if there is no familial relation.