Chapter 179: Restricted area, terrifying poison
Amongst Medicine City's three great families of Mu, Wang, and Xie, the Wang family used to be the first and foremost in the city. But in recent years, the Wang family's male heirs had declined, while the Mu family produced people of talent in large numbers. As a result, the Wang fell behind the Mu.
In his youth, Long Feiye had traversed the jianghu, so he'd been to Medicine City long beforehand. He and the head of the Wang Clan were considered bosom friends, so he understood much about the city's current affairs. Of course, he knew about the affairs of the Mu and Xie families too. However, very few people were aware of his knowledge. Though a chill was still present in the air of early spring, the Wang family courtyard was filled with blossoming flowers. Those who were ignorant might assume they were ordinary plants, but adepts in the field could tell these were all medicinal plants. Every single flower, grass, and wood in Medicine City was medicine. In a pavilion in the courtyard, Wang Gong and Long Feiye were sitting across each other. One had the righteous form of an Immortal, while the other emanated a cold mystery. Dressed in white and black, they formed a picturesque scene in the courtyard.
"I heard you brought along your wangfei, why didn't you bring her over?" Wang Gong asked with a smile.
"It's troublesome that I couldn't shake her off. Why mention her?" Long Feiye said simply.
"I heard this wangfei's rather formidable? She's treated quite a few poisons?" Wang Gong asked again.
"News sure travels fast," Long Feiye replied. Before this elder, he seemed to lose some of his frigidity and speak with a more casual air.
Wang Gong stroked his beard with a laugh. "If she really has some skills, this can be regarded as your fortune. In the future..." Wang Gong didn't finish. He looked at Long Feiye and saw the latter sip at his wine and decided to drop the topic. Soon after that, he switched to talk of other things. The elder and the youth chatted for a while before a subordinate quickly came to report.
"Old Master, there's been movements in the Medicine Forest. The Mu family's brought someone inside again, moreover..."
Long Feiye's gaze sharpened as he raised his eyebrow at the words. The matter with Madame Li was over, but he was still investigating the identity of that masked man. Ever since last year, he'd been busy over this matter. Leaving aside the large possibility that the masked man was a high-ranking member of Northern Li's imperial family, there was the presence of an even bigger conspiracy hidden behind him. Just the mere fact that he'd kidnapped Han Yunxi was something Long Feiye couldn't accept.
Han Yunxi said back then that Ten-Thousand Snake Poison required the use of three very rare venoms from the Misdirection Viper, Bamboo Viper, and Clear River Viper. Those in possession of these three toxins would either be a medical or medicine oriented family. As luck would have it, his investigations led him to Medicine City. With the Wang Clan's help, he further pinned the culprit as the Mu family.
In these two years, the Mu family had sold a sizable quantity of Misdirection, Bamboo, and Clear River venom. Once, they'd even taken a masked man secretly into the Medicine Forest to catch the three vipers. This Medicine Forest was publically owned by the city's three big families. The plants planted within the forest were all rare types, so growing and harvesting anything required discussions with all three families. It was forbidden for any one family to take the lead in decisions, much less bring outsiders inside. However, the Mu family's power had grown to be like the noonday sun in these few years. The Xie family had firmly attached themselves to the Mu family, leaving the Wang family alone to fend for itself. Although the Wang Clan was filled with resentment, it could only turn a blind eye.
"Moreover...they..." the subordinate lingered on his words as he equivocated on the rest. Wang Gong signaled the subordinate to speak by his ear, but his complexion changed drastically after he heard the message. He suddenly rose to his feet.
"What? For real?"
"Beyond a doubt. It was the forest guards who reported the news!" the subordinate was very certain, his face ghastly pale. Seeing Wang Gong's agitation, Long Feiye was about to speak when Wang Gong looked over with a serious expression.
"Your Highness, things have turned complicated."
"How so?" Long Feiye asked.
"They've entered the restricted area of the forest."
The forest's restricted area?
This was a secret area that had been protected by successive generations of the three big families. It was also a place where anyone was prohibited from entering. Unexpectedly, the Mu family had actually dared to bring an outsider inside. Since the situation had already developed to this extent, Wang Gong decided to risk telling Long Feiye as well. The Medicine Forest was a very mystical place. The soil there could raise many types of rare and difficult plants with ease, while its center contained a peculiar patch of forest called the restricted area.
A poison miasma blocked the way into the area year round, so even members of the three great families rarely went near its borders, much less into its depths. They only heard legends passed down from their ancestors that said there was a medicine pond inside the restricted area that turned every plant raised by its waters into poisonous plants.
In other words, if anyone could raise plants with this water, they could create a whole new type of poison. And the antidote to that poison would only lay with the original creator! The Mu family had to have met up with an extraordinary masked man!
Long Feiye was amazed by Wang Gong's explanation as well. This matter might be something significant! After all, medicines were just medicine in the end, meant for saving people. But poisons were a terrifying weapon that could kill. Who was that masked man, and what did he want to do?
"Duke of Qin, there's poison miasma in the restricted area so we have no choice but to stand guard outside," Wang Gong said.
A complicated look flitted past Long Feiye's eyes. It was important to capture his own masked man, but also paramount to figure out the situation of the medicine pond. He had to go into the restricted area and see what they were doing. Rising to his feet, he gave an order in a low voice to a guard by his side. "Immediately have Chu Xifeng bring over Qin Wangfei."
Currently, Han Yunxi was happily haggling prices in the auction market. She'd collected quite a few good things in under two hours. Shopping was a pleasurable activity to begin with, much less bidding on prices against other people. Standing amongst the crowd, she'd thrown her all into the competition. She was about to raise her hand again when Chu Xifeng pulled her back by the shoulder. Han Yunxi had a fright when she turned to look back. "You came, too?"
"Esteemed wangfei, master's urgently looking for you. Don't buy, let's go," Chu Xifeng said in a low voice.
As soon as she remembered the room with a single bed, Han Yunxi grew anxious. "He went back to the inn?"
"No, but esteemed wangfei should still hurry over with me. It's urgent," Chu Xifeng said seriously.
After she'd ascertained that Long Feiye hadn't returned to the inn, Han Yunxi was much less anxious to leave. No matter how important the matter was, it couldn't compare to restocking her detox system inventory.
"What kind of urgent business?" Han Yunxi asked as she raised her hand again. "3,000 taels!"
"A case involving human life is one of supreme importance. Esteemed wangfei, hurry and go," Chu Xifeng was getting impatient.
Only then did Han Yunxi withdraw her hand, surprised. "A case involving human life? The master's?"
It wasn't convenient to explain things in the middle of an auction, so Chu Xifeng could only try to explain. "Not the master, but it seriously concerns human lives anyways. It's better if you hurry up and leave."
Despite being relieved, Han Yunxi still wore an earnest expression on her face. "I didn't bring much silver drafts, so I can't leave the auction. Hurry and help me settle accounts and then we can go."
Chu Xifeng was momentarily lost for words. He'd stood guard here for less than two hours, but this woman had already lost fifty to sixty thousand taels. Moreover, they were all gold. These weren't small numbers, so he assumed she'd brought her own money. He'd even inwardly sighed with emotion over her secret stash of cash, but who knew...
"Hurry, human lives are at stake," Han Yunxi urged. She really hadn't brought any money. Originally, she planned to bid until daybreak, then have the auction people notify Long Feiye at the inn so he could come over to pay money and pick her up. With no other choice, Chu Xifeng could only pay up personally, and ended up using all of the gold paper money that Long Feiye had brought along before taking Han Yunxi away. When she reached the entrance to the Medicine Forest and understood the situation, she was really frightened by how serious things had become.
"New poison plants. In other words, those who get poisoned will definitely suffer."
Her detox system seemed to have met its match. As soon as a new poisonous plant emerged, one that the detox system couldn't identify, it'd be impossible for her to determine the poison, much less create an antidote. This was the first time that Han Yunxi discovered the limits of her detox system's intellectual capabilities. She couldn't allow such a horrific thing to exist!
"Let's go in. The poison miasma shouldn't be able to block me," Han Yunxi said.
Chu Xifeng had brought along quite a few guards to stand sentry outside the forest. Long Feiye brought Han Yunxi along, his figure as vigorous as a cheetah's as they travelled soundlessly through the woods, avoiding the other guards scattered throughout. Under the moonlight, Han Yunxi saw a good number of precious medicinal plants, but the situation at hand was more important than them right now. She didn't have time to think much before her detox system notified of her poison ahead from the restricted area.
"It's still a poison mosquito swarm, the same type as before!" Han Yunxi concluded quickly as she fetched an antidote pill for Long Feiye. She was puzzled. The masked man shouldn't be coming here for the first time. Mostly likely the poison mosquitoes they'd met before were all taken from this place. Or perhaps, this was actually his lair, but this was the first time anyone had discovered its location?
The moonlight turned dim as they entered the restricted area. Things nearby could only be seen with difficulty, and they hadn't walked far before Long Feiye stretched a hand out towards Han Yunxi. He'd grabbed her hand for the first time when they were in the inn, but she'd been too surprised to react back then. This time was more like a proper offering, but...was he asking for her opinion this time?
Should she take his hand?
Han Yunxi stared at the hand before Long Feiye grew impatient. "Hand! If you get lost, it'll cause more troubles for your lordship."
Han Yunxi's expression immediately turned gloomy. With a pah, she swung her small hand into his palm. She just knew it, this fellow had a motive behind everything he did! Long Feiye instantly wrapped his fingers around Han Yunxi's hand and led her forward. Since he was used to holding a sword, his palm was coarse despite the fair skin on the back of his hand. Han Yunxi could clearly feel the rough skin as she was led along. Though she was clearly angry, her heart had an inexplicable sense of security as well.
The restricted area was clearly different from the places outside. There were large scattered boulders about the place and no plants in sight. Gradually, even the poison mosquito swarms disappeared, leaving silence in their wake. It made it hard for Han Yunxi to even speak, lest she disturb her partner. The two of them went according to Wang Gong's directions towards the center of the area. But suddenly, Han Yunxi stopped, making Long Feiye stop along with her.
"What is it?" he asked in a low voice.
But Han Yunxi only stood with her eyes shut, her brows furrowed as if in pain.
"What's wrong?" Long Feiye immediately pulled her over to sit down behind a large rock. Han Yunxi only waved her hand, temporarily unable to talk.
Just then, she'd suddenly been hit with a loud warning gong from the detox system. The noise was beyond deafening and enough to sent every one of her brain nerves jarring from pain! Typically, the detox system's dootdootdoot only appeared when poison was present, but when faced with unfamiliar poisons, it'd give a gong alert instead. The louder the sound, the more potent the poison.
Just then, the noise was so loud that Heaven only knew what kind of poison lay ahead!
Long Feiye's eyes turned worried as he looked at her. "Are you all right?"
Han Yunxi tugged on her ears as she recovered from the pain, before speaking in a low voice. "We should be almost there. There's hypertoxic poison, but I don't know what kind it is."
 Wang Gong () - Wang is a surname that also means "ruler, king," Gong means "equitable, impartial, common," or "prince."
 silver drafts () - yinpiao, in former times, a type of paper money.