Chapter 232: Sickness, substitution
Jun Yixie sat with crossed legs on the hassock mat before a Buddha statue, puzzling over Long Feiye's words. "Using Northern Li to trade for one woman..." He appeared calm, but his tightly clenched fists had long betrayed him.
He was arrogant, but Long Feiye was even more arrogant than him!
Originally, he thought that Long Feiye and Han Yunxi would join forces to steal away Long Tianmo, but the fellow hadn't even deigned to show up. All of the traps and snares set at the Suspended Temple were now wasted. Today, Jun Yixie had sat from noon until sunset. When night fell, he was finally convinced that Long Feiye wasn't coming.
He'd already said that he'd kill the hostage if they missed the deadline. But now that it had really happened, what should he do? Jun Yixie had to think it over carefully. If Han Yunxi hadn't revealed his identity beneath the facemask to Long Feiye at Medicine City, he'd be more happy that Long Feiye didn't show up today. Then he would've cut off Long Tianmo's head without hesitation and delivered it to Emperor Tianhui, thus dealing a vicious blow to Long Feiye. But now his identity had been exposed. Northern Li's Duke of Kang was a title that stood for the Northern Li imperial clan. He was forced to have misgivings and take precautions against Long Feiye, who could use his identity against him. He wasn't a scion of the imperial bloodline, but he was the most favored prince. There were plenty of people in the imperial clan waiting to seize on his shortcomings.
When Jun Yixie rose to his feet, his attendant on the side finally dared to approach. "Master, Long Feiye couldn't really have taken that woman to heart?"
Jun Yixie gave a cold, disdainful smile. "Long Feiye...does he even have a heart?"
The attendant didn't understand. "But there was no need for him to..."
"False words used to win a useful woman's heart..." Jun Yixie said before he paused. He suddenly turned around, his devilish, handsome face taking on a serious expression. "It'd be worth it!"
Han Yunxi's poison skills weren't only consummate but also mysterious. With such a woman as support, what kind of unexpected surprises would lay in store? To a man like Jun Yixie, a single Han Yunxi was equal to all of the Poison Humans he'd nurtured. Thus, although Han Yunxi had ruined many of his plans and even used hypertoxic poison against him, he'd never truly wanted to kill her. Instead, he really wanted to draw her to his side.
False words to a woman?
The attendant didn't understand. In his memories, the Master had never been enticed by a woman before. When faced with females, he didn't even bother speaking with them, much less coax or lie to their faces.
"Master, then....Tianning's crown prince..." this was the main point of concern for the attendant. What should they do with Long Tianmo? They couldn't afford to kill him, but could they simply let him go like this? Wasn't that too cowardly? The rest of the subordinates were all on tenterhooks, worried for their master's sake. Still, Jun Yixie had planned for this long in advance.
In a low voice, he said, "Bring over the Hundred Leaf Purple Jade Grass."
Stunned, the attendant hastened to remind him, "Master, that thing...doesn't have an antidote yet!"
His master was planning to poison Long Tianmo before letting him go. Yes, the person could be released, but they'd have to have an advantage somehow. Jun Yixie himself had named this poison Hundred Leaf Purple Jade Grass, if only because this was a new toxin that no one had ever seen before. His cultivation of poison plants at Medicine City's Medicine Forest had been suspended by Han Yunxi. Despite this, he still had some materials on hand. During the past few months, he'd harvested enough ingredients to produce three completely new poisons. However, their antidotes still didn't exist yet. In other words, anyone afflicted with these three poisons would be incurable.
Hundred Leaf Purple Jade Grass wasn't a fatal poison, but caused extreme torment to its victim. The sufferer experienced acute pain in his bones and joints, making it impossible for him to move.
"There's no risk of anything going wrong precisely because it has no antidote!" Jun Yixie smiled coldly as he walked out of the Suspended Temple. This time, he'd like to see if Han Yunxi had enough skills to combat Hundred Leaf Purple Jade Grass. He wanted to make things impossible in Tianning for Han Yunxi and force Long Feiye to give up on her!
In the back courtyard, Long Tianmo lay in a listless stupor on a horse cart, his figure covered by thick blankets. Someone who didn't know any better might even think he was an ordinary person taking a nap. Jun Yixie climbed onto the cart, but only gave Long Tianmo a passing glance. Forget about Tianning's crown prince, he wouldn't spare a second glance even if this was Tianning's emperor. Of all the people in Tianning, only Long Feiye was worth counting as an obstacle. He sat quietly on one side until the attendant brought him the Hundred Leaf Purple Jade Grass. Then he personally lifted the covers over Long Tianmo, only to notice his swollen stomach.
This...what was the matter?
It was rare for Jun Yixie to look surprised. Nearby, the attendant found things unexpected as well. What was a man doing with such a big stomach? Before Jun Yixie could move, his attendant had already recovered. He took off Long Tianmo's upper robes to reveal the reality beneath. It really was a large stomach, almost as if he was pregnant.
"Master, this...how is it possible?" the attendant asked in astonishment.
Everyone knew that Tianning's crown prince had been sickly for a long time, but there were conflicting stories on the precise nature of his illness. Nobody knew the truth. This time, Luo Zuishan's appeal at the justice courts had spread far and wide, but all the public knew was that the crown prince's "chronic ailment" had flared up again. Jun Yixie knew about the upcoming consultation at the medical academy, but he wasn't clear on Long Tianmo's exact illness. Nor did he care.
"Ascites?" That was Jun Yixie's first guess. Medicine and poison were of one family, so while he was an expert at poisons, he was no slouch in the medical department either. Still, after some careful examination, Jun Yixie's serious expression gradually changed. A complicated look came over his chilly eyes. Seeing this, the attendant dared not ask too many questions. But Jun Yixie actually started speaking to himself. "It's not ascites, but actually..."
Jun Yixie seemed like he didn't dare to continue. Once again, he examined the patient carefully. This time, his eyebrows furrowed even further before he was absolutely sure. This wasn't "ascites," but...Gu1!
Long Tianmo wasn't sick, nor had he come down with his old ailment. Someone had given him a Gu, one of the poison arts' most terrifying skills. Gu was a class of poison studies created by the Poison Sect back when they were still part of Cloud Realm Medical Academy. But as poisons became forbidden at the academy, the art of Gu vanished from Cloud Realm Continent years ago. Even former members of the Poison Sect at medical academy were unlikely to know of its existence. Gu was classified into three levels from high to low. One type lived off plants, another off insects, and the last off humans. Gu that relied on humans was the ultimate goal of Jun Yixie when he started cultivating poison nurturers-a Poison Gu2.
Jun Yixie was knowledgeable about Gu.
"Xi Yubo knows the Gu arts? Luo Zuishan does as well?" he was bewildered. Long Tianmo's illness had come about from Emperor Tianhui using Xi Yubo in order to frame Han Yunxi. Thus, it had to have been Xi Yubo who set the Gu in him. Meanwhile, Luo Zuishan had appealed to the Council of Elders and vowed solemnly to overthrow Xi Yubo's diagnosis. He asked for a public consultation, which indicated that he knew about Gu as well. These two directors both had the qualification to study the Gu arts if they wanted, but Jun Yixie didn't understand why Luo Zuishan would publicize the matter if Gu was at stake. How did he dare? Gu was a huge taboo in today's medical academy. It was even forbidden to speak about it in private, much less expose it in a public consultation.
Had Luo Zuishan mistook this for another disease entirely? But he'd made such a big deal, so how could he have misdiagnosed it?
There were fishy parts to the entire situation. Jun Yixie caught the whiff of a conspiracy, but he wasn't at leisure to care so much about the medical academy. His motive in the end was still Han Yunxi. Thus, Jun Yixie removed the Gu from Long Tianmo and poisoned him with Hundred Leaf Purple Jade Grass. Overnight, Long Tianmo's swollen stomach disappeared, only to be replaced with pain plaguing all of his joints.
Early next morning, Jun Yixie gave his orders without even glancing at the man. "Send him to the medical academy before he wakes up." This time's consultation should be an exhilarating event, now that he stuck his foot in too.
Han Yunxi, if you can cure the poison this time, your lordship will be convinced of your skills! Otherwise, just wait for Emperor Tianhui to pin a crime on you. Your lordship would like to see whether Long Feiye can protect you then!
While Long Tianmo was on his way to the medical academy, Qinwang Rong was still searching for traces of him. Luo Zuishan, Xi Yubo and Gu Beiyue had already arrived at their destination, while Gu Qishao's status was still missing. It was impossible to proceed with the consultation with both Long Tianmo and Han Yunxi missing. Emperor Tianhui gave orders that the medical academy had to send back Gu Beiyue within five days. Meanwhile, they'd need to offer an explanation for Long Tianmo and Han Yunxi's disappearance. The elders of the medical academy didn't declare anything, but sent out countless men and horses to search for the missing people.
Everyone was waiting for updates when Han Yunxi arrived at Medical City. Instead of going to the academy, Long Feiye took her to an inn instead.The number one room in Medical City's most prestigious Auspicious Cloud Inn had a window that overlooked Cloud Realm Medical Academy's front door. Right now, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye were standing shoulder-to-shoulder by that window.
"There's no news at all from Jun Yixie's side?" Han Yunxi was rather worried. Though no news meant that Long Tianmo wasn't dead, who knew if Jun Yixie would let him go?
"One more day with no news about Long Tianmo means one more day of rest for you. Why the rush?" Long Feiye asked mildly.
They had been hurrying on the road for the entire time, while the words they exchanged during the trip could be counted on one hand. It seemed that nothing more nor nothing less had passed between them. The only difference now was that he seemed to hold her and grip her hand tighter than before. Meanwhile, she was more at ease and less awkward.
"Didn't the emperor only give Medical City five days' time?" Han Yunxi asked again.
Long Feiye arched an eyebrow as he looked over with a cold laugh. "Aren't you overestimating Tianhui a bit too much?"
The medical academy stood for Medical City. Emperor Tianhui wasn't stupid enough to make enemies with the city over a waste of a crown prince. Han Yunxi wasn't too clear on the power plays of Cloud Realm Continent, but she was concerned over Long Tianmo's condition. Would the state of his illness change over the course of five days?
After some hesitation, she spoke up. "I shouldn't rest. Let's go to the medical academy, I need to see Gu Beiyue." If she couldn't get any answers out of Luo Zuishan, she could at least talk things over with Gu Beiyue.
Hearing this, Long Feiye's eyes flashed with unhappiness as he replied coldly, "I have business today, so we're not going."
"What business?" Han Yunxi was puzzled. Besides the consultation, was there any business more important in Medical City?
But instead of answering her, Long Feiye called for dinner instead.