Chapter 235: Chaos, the real and fake crown prince
Qinwang Rong was the first to greet the elders upon news of their arrival. If the positions of these medical academy elders were placed in a monarchy instead, then they'd be high-ranking officials a step down from princes who were superior to all but the emperor. Han Yunxi harbored a cold smile in her heart. Long Feiye had been right; Emperor Tianhui didn't really have the guts to threaten Medical City. When Long Tianmo had been missing, the emperor had demanded an explanation from Medical City, but now that he'd inexplicably resurfaced, the proud Qinwang Rong had condescended to bend his will without any words from the city at all. Still, if she gave it careful thought, she realized that Qinrang Rong didn't lack backbone. It was just that Medical City's might was too terrifying.
Cloud Realm Medical Academy and Medicine City's three great clans controlled all of Cloud Realm Continent's medical trade. They had complete power over the life of any doctor. In other words, these two powers were capable of controlling all lives under Heaven! A single bout of illness could take your life, regardless of whether you were a high and mighty emperor or some low and humble slave. A single pestilence could destroy a battalion of soldiers, an entire city, or even the whole country. If any of the three empires in Cloud Realm Continent could draw on Medical City and Medicine City's powers, then their might would surpass that of the other two to become the true hegemon of Cloud Realm Continent. Looking at it from a different angle, anyone who offended Medical or Medicine City stood to gain unthinkable consequences.
There were a total of five Elders at the medical academy; three had come this time. Han Yunxi's impression of such elders was that they should be old but hale and hearty, white-haired and ruddy-faced. Perhaps they'd give off a celestial air like ancient daoists. However, of the two men and one woman who showed up, only one of them was advanced in years. The remaining man and woman looked to be in their middle age. The eldest had white hair and whiskers, with kindly eyebrows that made him resemble an agreeable old immortal; the middle-aged man had a stern face that didn't lend itself to smiles, while the middle-aged woman was dressed impeccably, with beautiful features that marked her as a formidable female with one look.
"Why are there Elders even younger than the directors?" Han Yunxi asked in a low voice.
"That old man there is Third Elder Shen Jueming1, one of the three Sage Doctors of the medical academy. Of the other two, one is Fourth Elder Li Tianci2, a Primogenitor Doctor like the two directors, and Fifth Elder Lady Lianxin3..." Gu Beiyue's voice grew softer once he reached this point. "Lady Lianxin is a Divine Doctor."
There were two major systems in place at the medical academy. One was the administration system, which had different levels amongst the directors, Council of Elders, Vice-Council courtyard and various department heads. The other was the medical skills system, which applied to all doctors across Cloud Realm Continent. From lowest to highest, there was Medical Apprentice, Medical Scholar, Medical Adept, Grand Medical Adept, Divine Doctor, Primogenitor Doctor, Sage Doctor, Empyreal Doctor and Sovereign Doctor. Luo Zuishan and Xi Yubo were both identically ranked Primogenitor Doctors who were directors in the administration system. Gu Beiyue's skills were equal to that of a Divine Doctor, but he'd yet to join up with the medical academy.
Typically speaking, higher medical skills led to more authority, but the Council of Elders actually had a Divine Doctor amongst its staff. It seemed like skills weren't the only things pulling weight at the medical academy and that this Lady Lianxin was an exceptional existence. When Han Yunxi saw Lady Lianxin, she couldn't help but think of Han Congan. As a Divine Doctor, he'd somehow become a director as well. This was the exception that Lady Tianxin had given him.
Just what kind of exceptions were permitted in the medical academy?
"How come she can be part of the Council of Elders?" Han Yunxi hastened to ask.
"That, I don't know. I just know she's a daughter of the Mu Clan in Medicine City," Gu Beiyue said honestly.
Han Yunxi digested the information with interest. Long Feiye depended on Medicine City's Wang Clan and could probably investigate a lot about the medical academy. It seems like the upper tiers of the academy still gave face to the three great clans of Medicine City. Besides those three, who else did the medical academy give face to? Could Lady Tianxin have come from Medicine City too? Han Yunxi's thoughts wandered away before Lady Lianxin looked over.
"You're Lady Tianxin and Han Congan's daughter?"
Very surprised, Han Yunxi replied, "That would be this junior! Fifth Elder knows my mother?"
But Lady Lianxin only replied arrogantly, "I've heard of her, that's all." She didn't plan to continue the topic, but went straight to the point to explain the particulars of the consultation in a concise and comprehensive manner. This time's public consultation would take place in the Elders' Hall with the three of them taking part. Luo Zuishan and Xi Yubo could only act as observers. If there were any points of doubt, they could discuss them after the consultation was over. Lady Lianxin might've been the lowest-ranked elder, but she was the one most in charge. The other two elders didn't even bother to open their mouths.
"Tianning's crown prince is already in the consultation hall. Ladies and gentlemen, please proceed." Lady Lianxin turned around as soon as she finished speaking. The other two elders and Qinwang Rong all stood up simultaneously, but none of the others present had the intention to proceed. Everyone knew that Long Tianmo's swollen stomach had disappeared.
Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue had talked this over in length just then. They couldn't make heads or tails of Long Tianmo's "chronic ailment" to begin with. Now they hadn't even gotten to see the patient or feel his pulse, making it impossible to figure him out. The two of them stared at Luo Zuishan, hoping to see his previous self-confidence on that face. Unfortunately, Luo Zuishan had lost his self-assurance and only had furrowed eyebrows, his heart heavy. As for Xi Yubo, his head was bowed and his entire person seemed swathed in dim shadows.
"Director Xi, go on," Qinwang Rong urged in a low voice. He could tell that Xi Yubo was restless. Last night, he'd gone with him to see Long Tianmo's stomach and asked about the crown prince's condition. Had he recovered, or had the nature of the illness changed? Xi Yubo hadn't given him a straight answer.
Xi Yubo darted a glance at Qinwang Rong. He seemed to want to say something, but held back when he saw that Qinwang Rong had no complaints. The three elders and Qinwang Rong remained standing while everyone else was still sitting. Silence pervaded the room as the atmosphere suddenly turned odd.
"What, do the two directors have other matters?" Lady Lianxin asked with creased eyebrows.
Luo Zuishan was about to speak when Xi Yubo opened his mouth at the same time. "Fifth Elder..."
When they heard each other's voices, both of them fell silent.
"Just what is going on?" Lady Lianxin was an impatient type, but the other two elders had sat back down. Xi Yubo looked at Luo Zuishan, who looked back at him. Both of them harbored sinister intentions but refused to speak.
"Director Luo, you were the one who brought up this consultation. If there's anything to say, you say it first," Lady Lianxin commanded.
Luo Zuishan's heart was filled with grievances. It wasn't him who asked for this, all right? He was forced! Gu Qishao said that this Long Tianmo was a fake, so he had to be fake. Using a false Long Tianmo to do a public consultation would lead to a big mess, Heaven knows how big! Leaving aside the ramifications and the fact that Gu was involved, a public consultation like this could damage the medical academy's good name. As the person who brought up the idea, he wouldn't escape responsibility, either.
Han Yunxi was already astonished to see Luo Zuishan's hesitation. It looked like Long Tianmo's illness had exceeded Luo Zuishan's control and that Xi Yubo was about to win.
"Luo Zuishan!" Lady Lianxin said crossly. Though she was 30 years younger and less medically skilled than the man, her status was still there. Her anger still gave Luo Zuishan a fright.
"These three elders, let's delay the consultation. I suspect that the Tianning crown prince is a fake," Luo Zuishan finally spoke up.
Everyone was startled by his words, Qinwang Rong the most of all. He grew anxious. "How could this be? Why do you say so?"
Han Yunxi looked at Gu Beiyue in disbelief. He was looking back as well, and the two of them grew even more confused.
"Luo Zuishan, what do you mean by your words?" the ever silent Third Elder finally spoke up.
"The stomach...just, just judging by the Tianning crown prince's illness, it's impossible for his stomach to recede within these few days," Luo Zuishan explained hesitantly. As long as he exposed the matter of using Gu, the three elder would definitely believe him, but he couldn't do such a thing.
First off, the real Long Tianmo wasn't present, so he had no evidence. Secondly, he didn't dare say it in public. Although his explanation lacked confidence, it was still reasonable under the circumstances.
"A fake?" Han Yunxi began to think it over carefully. Long Feiye had reminded her that Jun Yixie would interfere. Perhaps Jun Yixie had switched the real Long Tianmo for a replacement instead of doing something to him personally.
"As this old man sees it, whether or not the Tianning crown prince's stomach could recede so quickly should be a question left for discussion at the consultation," Third Elder said as he glanced at Xi Yubo.
Logically speaking, Xi Yubo should step forward and rebut Luo Zuishan's claims. When it came to Long Tianmo's stomach, he had more right to speak. But right now, Xi Yubo was extremely quiet. It was a silence that stretched beyond the surface to turn him restless in the very depths of his heart. Why was Luo Zuishan so certain that this Long Tianmo was a fake? Did Luo Zuishan know he had used Gu?
Impossible, Luo Zuishan knew of the Gu arts, but definitely not how to use them. Nor could he tell just by looking. He had learned his own Gu arts through a lucky chance, and only a bit from secret studies.
The three elders finally lost their patience when they saw Xi Yubo refuse to answer. "Someone come, arrange for the consultation immediately."
At these words, Xi Yubo finally sprang up from his seat. "Not so fast! I suspect that this Tianning crown prince is a fake replacement as well. Director Luo's words are reasonable. There's no way that the Tianning crown prince's stomach could recede in such a short time."
Aside from a high level Gu master, no one else could remove Gu planted in a person. His own Gu was nearly impossible to remove by anyone other than himself. Rather than believe there were still expert Gu masters in this world, he'd rather believe that the Long Tianmo in the consultation hall right now was a sham.
How could he formulate a successful strategy for the consultation of a fake crown prince? Heavens knows if Han Yunxi and the rest had acted out a play to get this fake for the consultation?
Xi Yubo's words surprised everyone present. Could it be that this Long Tianmo really was a fake?
"How could he be a fake? That's clearly Mo'er!" Qinwang Rong didn't believe it.
"Prudence first. Why don't we delay the consultation until later?" Xi Yubo suggested. It was rare for him to stand on the same side as Luo Zuishan.
"How do we tell if he's real or a fake?" Han Yunxi asked quietly.
Gu Beiyue could only shake his head. Real or fake, these matters had completely gone out of control. Should they delay the consultation? Was this the truth, or a sham?
As everyone stared at each other in silence, a young medical assistant ran over to report, "Three elders, the Tianning crown prince has woken up!"
After a prolonged coma, Long Tianmo was finally awake...
1. Shen Jueming () - Shen is a surname that can also be read as Chen, which means "deep, profound, heavy, to sink." Jueming means "cassia" in botany; the words themselves means "to determine" and "bright, brilliance, clear," respectively.
2. Li Tianci () - Li is a surname that also means "plum." Tianci means "be bestowed by Heaven."
3. Lady Lianxin () - Lian means "sympathize with, pity, love," and Xin means "heart."