Protect with his life?
Han Yunxi found herself at a momentary loss for words. Gu Beiyue was smiling so warm and gently despite his ruthless promise. Everything he said had sounded cruel to her, and she pondered over their weight before Zhao mama interrupted her thoughts with a chuckle.
"Imperial Physician Gu, aren't your words a little too heavy? We're only leaving Lil Thing temporarily in your care. When His Highness and esteemed wangfei returns, Lil Thing will go back to her side, too." In truth, Zhao mama was reluctant to part with the small creature as well.
Gu Beiyue's eyes flickered with a helpless smile as he remarked, "Esteemed wangfei and Lil Thing both saved my life. My life thus belongs to them."
So that was it. Han Yunxi disliked such heavy topics. If she thought back carefully, then all of Gu Beiyue's injuries were actually her fault. "Alright already, enough with this swearing your life business. Just raise Lil Thing well. I'll find you for it when I come back," she said seriously.
Gu Beiyue nodded and grew serious in turn. "Esteemed wangfei, why don't I write some pestilence prevention prescriptions for you? Maybe they'll be useful when you go to the disaster areas."
Was he outright telling Han Yunxi that her medical skills were lacking? Fine, it was true that Han Yunxi hardly understood treating plagues aside from poisonous ones. Even the other physicians of the Imperial Physician Courtyard couldn't compare to Gu Beiyue. She would be fully prepared with his prescriptions. Pestilence was essentially widespread infectious disease. Areas of famine would naturally have the injured and the dead. Once their numbers added up, it was easy for plague to break out and infect others. Disasters, famines, or wars weren't as scary as the plague that came in their wake.
Historians had done textual research on the subject. The fall of multiple dynasties came not from war, but the effects of pestilence in its wake that crippled an entire country. Gu Beiyue did a thorough job and gave Han Yunxi a total of 30 different prescriptions that would cover every single type of plague that had once wracked Cloud Realm Continent. When Han Yunxi left, he sent her off to the door with his weak body and gave her a quiet reminded.
"Esteemed wangfei, it's very probable that the disaster areas will be lacking in medicine as well as grain."
Han Yunxi's heart gave a start. She would've forgotten this detail without his reminder. If Gu Beiyue wasn't so hurt, she'd want to take him along too! Fortunately, Long Feiye had contacts in Medicine City, so they wouldn't be blocked in terms of medicine. Of course, she hoped things wouldn't be so bad as to lead to pestilence. Otherwise, Long Feiye would just have more troubles on his hands.
After making arrangements for Lil Thing, Han Yunxi paid a visit to General Baili's estate early next morning. She had no idea how long her trip out of the capital would take, so she had to take care of all her responsibilities before she left. Baili Mingxiang was one of them. Han Yunxi arrived just as the girl was burning incense and steeping tea. She was dressed in snow-white robes, her jet-black hair falling behind her like liquid ink. Sitting in the tea room, she made for a pretty picture, distant and tranquil. Even Han Yunxi's heart skipped a beat at the sight.
She went to the great hall first to leave her delivery of poisons with General Baili, before retracing her steps to the Baili Mingxiang. As soon as the girl saw her, she grew delighted. Ever since coming back from the Tang Clan in her youth, she'd spent her years in the capital city without a single female friend who came to visit. She quickly put out some hassock cushions and offered her some tender tea leaves.
"Esteemed wangfei, sit."
"You have an identical habit to His Highness. What kind of tea do you like to drink?" Han Yunxi asked offhandedly.
"Black tea," Baili Mingxiang replied immediately.
"What a coincidence, His Highness prefers that too," Han Yunxi remarked.
Baili Mingxiang dearly wanted to continue this topic, but she ultimately chose a different one. "Esteemed wangfei, I heard my father say that His Majesty sent His Highness to the disaster regions?"
"Mhm, I'll be going with him. That's why you won't see me for at least half a year!" Han Yunxi grinned.
Baili Mingxiang gave a start before she hastened to explain, "Esteemed wangfei, Mingxiang never implied that I didn't want to see you!"
"I'm just joking with you, why so nervous?" Han Yunxi glanced at her. Every time they talked, this girl always used utmost respect. She couldn't bear such an atmosphere. Baili Mingxiang was probably her only female friend amongst the capital's noble families. Couldn't they forget their statuses and have a proper chat once in awhile?
After exchanging a few words, Han Yunxi got down to business. "I made a special trip today to tell you both good news and bad news. Pick, which one do you want to hear first?"
Baili Mingxiang didn't hesitate. "Good news!"
"Heheh, just like me. Let's feel happy first!" Han Yunxi smiled. If she heard bad news first, she'd probably be too preoccupied to enjoy the good news. "So I've figured out the consequences of completing the Beauty's Blood."
Han Yunxi had spent part of her time working overnight in her study. She hadn't slept much, but she'd finally made progress into the case.
"Does the bad news describe those consequences?" Baili Mingxiang asked anxiously. Knowing the conclusion was good, especially when she knew she wasn't destined for a long life. But she had no idea how she would die.
Instead of answering her directly, Han Yunxi explained things in a roundabout way. "Actually, Beauty's Blood is just a type of hypertoxic human blood. Your unique constitution comes from your inability to die from multiple poisons." Han Yunxi had prescribed her own poisons and looked through countless poison manuals before she came to this conclusion.
It was a similar situation to Lil Thing, who was immune to most poisons and didn't even suffer aftereffects from them. The only difference was that poisons did affect Baili Mingxiang's body, even if they didn't take her life.
"Did you know? I added a fast-acting poison to your last dose of toxins," Han Yunxi grinned. Baili Mingxiang was surprised. She really had no idea, because she didn't have any reactions to poisons besides differing degrees of pain.
"In other words, both slow-acting and fast-acting poisons can't kill you. However, Beauty's Blood requires slow-acting poisons to cultivate into completion."
Han Yunxi had looked into legends about raising Gu while researching Beauty's Blood. Poison Human, Poison Corpse, and Poison Gu were all different degrees of the same thing. Poison Humans and Poison Corpses could classified as poison nurturers themselves, such as what Jun Yixie did to his subordinates. Meanwhile, Poison Gu focused on raising Gu. Gu used to poison humans were also raised within humans. The Gu that Xi Yubo used on the crown prince had first been raised within an animal, so it'd only count as a Poison Bug Gu. Baili Mingxiang's body shared many similarities with a Poison Gu human, but as Han Yunxi understood it, true Gu poison was both immune to poisons and death itself. Thus, a body like Baili Mingxiang's could be said to be a small miracle.
Baili Mingxiang listened carefully to Han Yunxi's explanations. She'd never understood poisons, so she didn't get all of the details. All she wanted to know was how she would die.
"Esteemed wangfei, what happens after the poison's been complete?"
"After it's complete, your entire physiology will change. You'll..." Han Yunxi paused for a long time before she said, "You'll die from the poison outbreaks."
Die from the poison outbreaks! All of those poisons inside her, reacting at once until she expired? What kind of torture would that be? Baili Mingxiang couldn't imagine it, but hung her head and said, "Mhm, I understand."
Even if Baili Mingxiang couldn't imagine it, Han Yunxi was very clear. Baili Mingxiang's current sufferings came from poison reactions from one to two toxins at a time. They wouldn't take her life, but if all the poisons reacted at once, it'd be nothing short of agony! Han Yunxi could at least ascertain that a few of the poisons Baili Mingxiang took in the past would cause her skin to fester and ulcerate when the time came.
Naturally, she wouldn't say such things out loud. She simply remarked, "This is still good news. As long as it's poison, there's a way to detoxify the toxins. What we fear most is knowing nothing at all."
Baili Mingxiang raised her head, her eyes shining with hope for the first time in her life. So there's still a chance that I can be saved!
"Esteemed wangfei, how should I thank you?!" Baili Mingxiang covered her mouth with a stifled sob.
"No need. I just don't want an innocent life to end at my hands." If it wasn't for the fact that Long Feiye needed Beauty's Blood, Han Yunxi would never agree to administer these poisons. "You'll have a hard time for the next six months-harder than the past two decades combined. You have to mentally prepare yourself," she added earnestly.
Baili Mingxiang had been taking poisons nonstop, so now her pains came daily. Those flare ups would only happen with more frequency as the six months wore on. Still, the girl only nodded her head, touched. After a moment of silence, Han Yunxi rose to her feet.
"Then that's all well. That's all I wanted to say, so I'm off!"
On any other day, Baili Mingxiang would quietly escort her away, but this time she couldn't help but call out, "Esteemed wangfei, wait."
Han Yunxi turned back. "What is it? Speak as you like."
"How...how much longer until the Beauty's Blood is complete?" Baili Mingxiang asked seriously.
It was impossible to accurately calculate the changes in poison within a human body, so Han Yunxi could only give her a rough timeline. "I estimate six months to a year."
Baili Mingxiang nodded her head and said no more, but Han Yunxi added, "Don't worry. I've been thinking of ways to detoxify the poisons this entire time. I'll be there by your side on the day the Beauty's Blood reaches completion."
Han Yunxi had said similar words many times in her previous life. Whenever a patient was afraid, she'd comfort them with the same promise. It made her patients feel safer, especially those with life-threatening cases. Baili Mingxiang had never shown her fear of death, but Han Yunxi knew she dreaded it all the same. Long Feiye had left Baili Mingxiang to her care to make the Beauty's Blood, but Han Yunxi had always treated her as one of her patients.
Baili Mingxiang didn't know what else to say except 'thanks.'
"Don't worry. His Highness and I will both be there," Han Yunxi had brought up Long Feiye on a whim, but she had no idea how these words brought inexpressible comfort to Baili Mingxiang. In the past, she'd always waited for death, but now she was waiting to live. She hoped for the day when she could see His Highness Duke of Qin once more...
Han Yunxi thoroughly busied herself over the course of three days. After taking care of Baili Mingxiang, she found time to visit the Han estate. She didn't tell them about the trip to the disaster areas, but figured her family would be safe under Long Feiye's protection. Meanwhile, Long Feiye was busying himself with the imperial uncle's affairs. He was about to return to the estate on the night of the third day when news came from the Hidden Pavilion.
"Master, someone charged into the secret chamber and kidnapped our charge!" Chu Xifeng was terribly anxious to report.
Even the guards of the Hidden Pavilion had no idea who Long Feiye was hiding in that room. It was something between Tang Li and Chu Xifeng. While Tang Li had gone off to chase the kidnapper, Chu Xifeng ran back to call for reinforcements.