Chapter 337: Unexpected appearance of the Serpent Frui
Lil Thing didn't dare to disturb Mama Yunxi anymore. It sat there quietly and watched her use her needles. A long, long time later, Mama Yunxi finally finished with her acupuncture treatment, but the gentleman still hadn't woken up. Lil Thing's pudgy paw rubbed at its face to wipe away its tears before it jumped off the bed and vanished like a streak of smoke.
Soon enough, it came back with a huge haul of medicinal ingredients and dumped them at the gentleman's side. Han Yunxi was resting by the bed when the commotion startled her. She was stunned to see that Lil Thing had hidden away so many precious medicinal ingredients. Moreover, one of them was the rarely-seen Serpent Fruit! That was a key ingredient for the antidote to Mute Granny's poison! The specific growing conditions required for the fruit meant that there were at most three samples that existed on Cloud Realm Continent. She never expected Lil Thing to have one of them on hand. Despite her shock, Han Yunxi felt that this was still reasonable. Lil Thing had lived for countless years, so it might have hidden away the Serpent Fruit a long time ago.
The tired Han Yunxi picked up the Serpent Fruit, causing Lil Thing to stand on its hind legs and stare at her with wide eyes.
"Lil Thing, your pile of ingredients won't be able to save Gu Beiyue now. We can only use them to nourish his body after he gets better, understand? This Serpent Fruit can't nourish his body, but it can save someone else. I'll keep it for now," Han Yunxi explained gently, her voice a completely different tone from her previous anger. She had been impatient because she hated people disturbing her acupuncture sessions.
Lil Thing didn't blame Mama Yunxi, but it didn't understand what Mama Yunxi was saying. It assumed that the Serpent Fruit could be used to save the gentleman, so when it saw Han Yunxi slip the fruit into her sleeve, it grew unhappy. Lil Thing jumped on Han Yunxi's arm and started scratching at her. Helpless, Han Yunxi could only take out the Serpent Fruit and shake her head at Gu Beiyue. When Lil Thing understood, it jumped off her arm resentfully to curl up by Gu Beiyue's side.
"Zhao mama, put away these ingredients," Han Yunxi said listlessly. Zhao mama did as she was told, but Lil Thing didn't even spare her a glance. It huddled up next to Gu Beiyue and nuzzled his hand with its head. Not being able to see the gentlemen's smile again made it very sad.
Han Yunxi had to furrow her eyebrows at the sight. Why did Lil Thing like Gu Beiyue so much? The little creature hadn't been shy since their first meeting.
"Lil Thing, don't worry. His life isn't in danger, he just needs time to get better," Han Yunxi said.
Gu Beiyue really had been severely injured. He not only needed to recover his energy, but his lack of sleep as well. Perhaps losing consciousness was a good thing, but he still needed to replenish his food and liquids.
"Esteemed wangfei, the medicine's getting cold. Let this old servant feed him," Zhao mama said in a low voice, her mood equally glum.
Chu Xifeng walked in then and said, "Esteemed wangfei, Gui mama's losing her temper." Gui mama had been waiting for close to an hour.
"Let her keep waiting," Han Yunxi said coldly. The empress dowager hadn't been in a hurry when they were in the palace, so she wouldn't be in a hurry now.
A subordinate of His Highness Duke of Qin had nothing to fear. Chu Xifeng grinned and said, "Alright!"
He was about to go when Zhao mama said, "Come over here and help support the patient."
There was only her and esteemed wangfei in the room, so Zhao mama was worried that her unobservant mistress would trespass the bounds of appropriate contact between men and women again. Fortunately, Gui mama had been late to follow them out of the empress dowager's palace, or else she might have spread all sorts of rumors after seeing Han Yunxi help up Gu Beiyue.
Chu Xifeng understood the meaning in Zhao mama's eye and sent a pageboy to deal with Gui mama before coming over himself. Gu Beiyue was completely out of it, so it was very difficult to feed him medicine. Zhao mama and Chu Xifeng fiddled for a while before forcing a few spoonfuls into his mouth.
Han Yunxi had finally calmed down, but the sight of their feeding attempts agitated her all over again. "Let me do it!"
She was about to grab the medicine out of Zhao mama's hands when the latter hastily dodged out of the way. "Esteemed wangfei, keep calm! Don't get impatient!"
"You're clumsy beyond belief, let me feed him!" Han Yunxi said anxiously.
Zhao mama didn't dare. "Esteemed wangfei, all patients are like this. This old servant has experience, so let me do it."
"Stop wasting words! You barely gave him anything after all this time!" Han Yunxi roared.
Suddenly, Lil Thing hopped onto Zhao mama's arm and sucked up all of the medicine in her bowl. As the three humans watched, it jumped onto Gu Beiyue's body and bent down to feed him with its mouth. Lil Thing fed Gu Beiyue very, very slowly, but not a single drop of medicine leaked from Gu Beiyue's lips. Han Yunxi and her servants were stupefied by the sight. They never knew Lil Thing had skills like this, too.
Once the medicine was all gone, an entire hour had passed. Lil Thing's head felt completely stiff, but it was delighted upon seeing Gu Beiyue's complexion recover somewhat. Then it scrambled up Zhao mama's arm again to ask for more medicine.
"Zhao mama, quick. Pour some warm water into that bowl, then have the kitchens cook some thin rice gruel," Han Yunxi ordered hastily.
Gu Beiyue needed medicine as well as food. Right now, he could only take in porridge. If he ate too much or too well, the results would only backfire. Zhao mama immediately set off, with Lil Thing following her up to the door before it realized something was off and backtracking.
Why should it follow her? It wanted to watch over the gentleman instead!
Thus, everyone ended up watching over Gu Beiyue and completely ignoring Gui mama. Imperial Physician Chen was also left kneeling in the guest hall. The empress dowager waited and waited, even sending multiple people to urge Han Yunxi on, but she simply blocked them all with a single excuse.
Han Yunxi told the empress dowager's servants, "Go back and tell Esteemed Empress Dowager that His Highness put away the Medicine Fan. Chenqie can't find it, so we'll have to wait until His Highness returns."
Truthfully speaking, Han Yunxi had brought the Medicine Fan with her on her trip to the palace. Currently, it was being stored in the very same room where Gu Beiyue was recovering. The empress dowager was so infuriated that she started smashing things left and right in the palace. If she knew this would happen earlier, she wouldn't have let Han Yunxi leave at all. Unfortunately, few people possessed the power of hindsight in this world.
All she could do was let Gui mama keep waiting.
Gui mama waited until nightfall before Han Yunxi finally emerged. She quickly asked, "Esteemed wangfei, it's already so late. His Highness still hasn't returned yet?"
Han Yunxi wore a helpless expression. "His Highness went out on a trip. It'll take a few days before he returns. Didn't I tell you?"
Gui mama had waited an entire day, so she had long lost her temper. At Han Yunxi's words, her fury exploded. "Esteemed wangfei, you did this on purpose!"
"Impudence!" Han Yunxi said coldly. "You dare speak to this wangfei with that tone of voice?"
Gui mama was very familiar with such words. After all, the empress dowager had quoted the same line to Han Yunxi at the Palace of Heaven and Earth. She immediately regretted her outburst. Unfortunately, it was already too late.
"Someone come, take this audacious servant and drag her out. She'll be punished with 50 canings!" Han Yunxi said coldly.
When one hit a servant, one looked at their master first. Before the empress dowager could begin her nightmare, Han Yunxi was going to slap her old face!
"Esteemed wangfei, have mercy! Esteemed wangfei, this servant was wrong!"
"Esteemed wangfei, this servant doesn't dare to act like this again! I'm begging you, please have mercy on this servant! Just this once!"
Gui mama's cries followed her as she was dragged out of the hall. Eventually, her pleas turned into warnings.
"Qin Wangfei, this old servant has served the empress dowager for over 30 years. If you dare touch a hair on this head..."
Before she could finish, a pageboy struck her with a wooden plank, changing her cries into ones of pain.
Inside the hall, Imperial Physician Chen trembled with terror from his kneeling position. He didn't dare make a peep. The beatings left Gui mama half dead before Han Yunxi threw out out of the estate with Imperial Physician Chen.
By dawn of the next day, news of the affair had spread throughout the capital. It raised an uproar just like last time, when the Duke of Qin had punished the emperor's most favored Eunuch Xue. Although the news wasn't as big as Eunuch Xue's punishment, plenty of people still found out that Qin Wangfei wasn't someone easy to provoke. By the time news reached Long Feiye's ears at the Tang Clan, he simply nodded in satisfaction.
"It was a well-deserved beating."
Of course, he also sent people to secretly tell Chu Xifeng to keep an eye on Gu Beiyue!
The empress dowager was so angry that she lost her breath. It took three cardiotonic pills before she recovered. She wished she could tear Han Yunxi to pieces, but the woman had sufficient reason to beat her servant, so there was no way for her to find fault.
In the end, the empress dowager ended up waiting for three entire days. Because she was preoccupied over this problem, her insomnia grew worse. Typically, it'd only take her half the night before she fell asleep, but she spent the next three days unable to sleep even after day broke. Although she was exhausted, she couldn't fall asleep. The longer she lied down, the more her head ached, and yet she had no energy when she did sit up. It was agony to the extreme.
Finally, on the fourth day, she couldn't bear it anymore. "Someone come, prepare a carriage! I want to go to the Duke of Qin's estate!"
That hateful Han Yunxi. Does she really think the reigning empress dowager is so easy to bully? Wait 'til I show her!
And yet, the empress dowager hadn't even left the palace when Han Yunxi arrived. She only wanted to make the empress dowager mad. How could she really wait until Long Feiye came back to give her the Medicine Fan? Everything had its own degrees. She had to pace herself when it came to tormenting this old thing, walking a fine line between leaving her hanging and completely pissing her off. More importantly, she had to give her the Medicine Fan. Otherwise, how could she make sure the empress dowager would have unending nightmares?
The empress dowager returned to her rooms as soon as she heard the eunuch announce Han Yunxi's arrival. She sat on her warm couch and straightened out her robes, then adjusted her expression so she looked calm and unperturbed. In truth, she was rather surprised by Han Yunxi's arrival. Still, she soon reasoned that it made sense because she was still the empress dowager while the other was only a wangfei.
"Heh, so she finally knew to came! I've been waiting!" the empress dowager said, before Han Yunxi entered the room.
As before, Han Yunxi appeared cool and indifferent, natural and at ease. "Chenqie pays greetings to Esteemed Empress Dowager. May Esteemed Empress Dowager be well."
"Hurry and rise," the empress dowager said with a loving smile.
Regardless of age, women competed with each other in the same things: ruthlessness, self-possession, and patience. Whoever could endure to the end would be the winner. As soon as Han Yunxi straightened up, the empress dowager had her sit down.
"I thought you wouldn't come until the Duke of Qin returned!" said the empress dowager.
"How could I do that?" Han Yunxi smiled slightly. "Is Esteemed Empress Dowager doing better now?"
Weren't her words jabbing the empress dowager's sore spot? The empress dowager's heart burned with rage, but she kept her genial expression. "Much better."
"Have you slept well?" Han Yunxi looked concerned.
The hands hidden in the empress dowager's sleeves balled into fists, but her expression was still affable. "Much better than the past few days."
Han Yunxi was very satisfied. "Then that's good. Yunxi was organizing His Highness's clothes last night when I came upon a certain something. Would Esteemed Empress Dowager like to guess what it is?" As Han Yunxi spoke, Zhao mama stepped forward with an object wrapped in red cloth resting on a plate.
The empress dowager knew that Han Yunxi had come to deliver her coveted Medicine Fan, but despite it being within arm's reach, she was still excited. In the end, she was still human, after all!
"This..." the empress dowager was moved.
"Esteemed Empress Dowager, have a look," Han Yunxi said, still wearing a smile.
The empress dowager impatiently lifted up the red cloth...