It was truly difficult to collect venom from ten different snakes, but quite easy to find a few out of the ten.
"General Mu, of the ten snake poisons, seven are commonly found in medicine. Many major pharmacies should sell them. The remaining three are seldomly seen snake venoms. If we've determined that the Young General's poisoner is one of the people by his side, then this enemy agent would've have to buy the snake venom to make the poison within the last two or three years. The completed poison only has a shelf life of one day."
Han Yunxi's words stunned General Mu. Here was a critical clue. He rejoiced and said, "Qin Wangfei, please write down the ten names of these snake venoms. I'll go investigate them immediately!"
Han Yunxi's speech had already left Mu Liuyue stupefied even as it cheered up the Mu father and son pair. Though her bet had high stakes, it was nothing compared to searching out the enemy agent. One more day the traitor stayed amongst their ranks was another day of danger for Mu Qingwu and General Mu. Such a thing might even implicate the spies of Northern Li Country, so it was imperative to take care.
Mu Qingwu had long gotten sick of the sight of Mu Liuyue and wished she could be taught a lesson. General Mu had no time to care so much at the moment when it was more important to find the enemy agent. Everything else could be discussed at a later date. Han Yunxi only wrote down the names of seven poisonous snakes, leaving three out.
"Qin Wangfei, aren't there ten of them?" Mu Qingwu didn't understand.
"Find these seven first. See which pharmacies sell them, and if anyone's bought them first. I have my own arrangements for the last three," Han Yunxi said sincerely.
Mu Qingwu was an intelligent man and didn't ask any more questions. Mu Liuyue watched from behind them, unconsciously growing worried. But after all that, Han Yunxi was still just making guesses. The results of the investigation were still undetermined! Mu Liuyue wasn't scared of this and immediately went to write a letter to Princess Changping. By the time Han Yunxi left, Mu Qingwu had gone out to personally investigate the matter.
He spent three days' time to look into all the pharmacies in and out of the capital. It really was as Han Yunxi had said: many pharmacies sold these ingredients, but the results were still beyond his expectations. Three days later, he paid another visit to the Duke of Qin's residence.
"Esteemed wangfei, there are 32 pharmacies within the city, of which ten stock the snake venoms listed. However..." Mu Qingwu wrinkled his brows, looking serious. "However, the shopkeepers all said that these ingredients aren't commonly used. Unless it's for a specific prescription, no doctor would dare use such snake venom. Of the ten pharmacies, eight of them have never sold the venom. The remaining two pharmacies only sold them one time each, both five or six years ago."
Ten-Thousand Snake Poison had been accumulating in Mu Qingwu's body for at least three years. This discovery meant that the enemy agent hadn't bought the snake venom from the local pharmacies.
"Esteemed wangfei, could the agent had acquired the snake poison from somewhere else and made Ten-Thousand Snake Poison at home?" Mu Qingwu guessed.
But Han Yunxi resolutely shook her head. "Then they would have to bring enough with them to make the poison. This is venom. No enemy agent would take so much with them."
"Then maybe someone delivered the ingredients until there was enough to take the poison to the general's estate," Mu Qingwu guessed again.
Such slow-acting poisons needed to be administered once every two or three days. The completed poison only had a shelf life of one day, or else it'd start to smell and change color.
"To deliver things so frequently into the general's estate within these three years..." Han Yunxi looked pensive.
The general's estate was different from other houses. It housed the Great General and Young General. In modern times, it'd be considered a military compound and important headquarters for military affairs. All the servants there were either soldiers or ordinary folk, neither of whom could enter or exit casually.
Suddenly, Mu Qingwu's eyes lit up. "Old Li who collects wastewater, and Old Wang who collects solid waste!"
These two people didn't come once every two or three days, but every single day. Though it was just a guess, it was better than having no direction at all.
"Young General, keep investigating along these lines. I'll go check on the source of the other three poisons," Han Yunxi said earnestly.
"Yes! If there are any developments, your subordinate will report promptly!" Mu Qingwu stood up in perfect military posture as he cupped his fist and bowed, his masculine movements crisp and clean.
Though this fellow was still young and had little records of service, few people could afford to accept such an imposing bow from him. Mu Qingwu was about to leave when Han Yunxi called him back.
"Young General, in the future when there's no one around, don't be so formal. And don't go wangfei this or wangfei that, you can just call me by name."
Mu Qingwu's steely expression turned slack before he grew doubtful and scratched his head. Once again, he resembled a little boy. "Esteemed wangfei, you...what did you say?"
Han Yunxi didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Forget it, he was such a stickler for rules that she'd give up on making things hard for him.
"Nothing, you can leave," Han Yunxi could only say this.
After Mu Qingwu left, she immediately had little Chen Xiang send word to the Gu house to meet with Gu Beiyue. She only had a month's time so the quickest, most precise method to solve the case was to divide up the labor. The seven commonly found snake poisons could be bought within or around the capital and were hard to track down. That clue had reached a dead end. But the other three snake venom weren't commonplace poisons. A large quantity was needed for the poison administered over three years, so Han Yunxi believed that finding the source of these three poisons would bring her closer to the truth.
These three snake poisons came from the Misdirection Viper, Bamboo Viper, and Clear River Viper, each were mini-snakes less than three to four cun long, whose poison rivaled that of the poison python Han Yunxi once saw.
But unlike the poison python, there were many Misdirection, Bamboo, and Clear River Vipers, though few people were skilled enough to catch them. By Han Yunxi's estimation, less than ten households owned such poisons in all of the Cloud Realm Continent! Of course, that was only her own guess. She had no way to verify it, but a senior member of the medical community like Gu Beiyue should.
Gu Beiyue was very busy and didn't have time to meet her like before. The emperor had caught a chill, which meant he had to stay in court to attend him and couldn't leave. It wasn't clear when he'd be finished, so Han Yunxi could only wait.
"Mistress, is the one month you wagered with eldest Miss Murong enough time?" Chen Xiang fretted.
"It's just a chill. At most it'll take five or six days for the emperor to recover. The young general needs time for his own research as well," Han Yunxi replied mildly, secretly rejoicing in her heart. Thankfully, the emperor hadn't contracted a major illness, or else Gu Beiyue would be stuck in the palace for one or two months instead.
Little Chen Xiang stuck up her mouth unhappily. "Mistress, why don't you ask His Highness Duke of Qin for help?"
Han Yunxi heard her clearly but pretended not to, and got up to leave.
Chen Xiang continued whispering. "His Highness Duke of Qin has a lot more connections than Imperial Physician Gu. Mistress is recklessly wasting the fruits of Nature."
Hearing this, Han Yunxi couldn't help but stop and smile. "Be good, it's not as if I've never used those fruits of Nature before." Of course she knew the Duke of Qin had more connections than Gu Beiyue. But she couldn't believe that man would help her out when he had nothing else to do.
"Mistress, even if you don't have nerve to ask the Duke of Qin, you could get the young general to do it. These are matters of the general's estate." Chen Xiang reminded her.
This time, Han Yunxi narrowed her eyes. "Which part of me lacks nerve?"
Seeing her mistress's dangerous expression, Chen Xiang finally shut her mouth and thought, Your heart...
After shutting up little Chen Xiang, Han Yunxi strode along especially unrestrained. The reason people made things difficult for her was because she couldn't earn Long Feiye's true recognition. If that fellow really accepted her and she sat firmly on the position of Qin Wangfei, she could set her sights across all of Tianning with no one daring to provoke or offend her!
In this era, mothers relied on their sons, wives relied on their husbands. As for her, she could only rely on herself, and she could only think of relying on herself.
Han Yunxi waited for updates as she studied the 《Cloud Realm Compendium》, an ancient record of nations and influences within the Cloud Realm Continent. The Cloud Realm Continent contained the three nations of Tianning, Northern Li, and Western Zhou. Between these three countries were powers that existed beyond their sphere of influence, the most notable being Carefree City, the City of Daughters and Medical City.
The medical academy that Gu Beiyue liked to mention was a large school within Medical City. It could be said to be the authoritative academy within Cloud Realm Continent's medical community. But in the end, the 《Cloud Realm Compendium》was but an ancient record with very little information on medical families or poison-related sects. Han Yunxi ended up not finding what she wanted within its pages.
"Mistress, the Han Family is one of Tianning's foremost medical families. I heard they've hidden plenty of medicines."
Little Chen Xiang's throwaway remark stirred Han Yunxi's memory.
Of course, the Han Family!
In Tianning's capital city, in fact in all of Tianning, there was no one besides the imperial family who'd hidden away more medicine than the Han Clan. How could she have left them out?
"Let's go, we'll take a look at the Han estate!" Han Yunxi decided right then and there.
At midday, Han Yunxi took Chen Xiang with her to knock on the Han estate gates. When she first transmigrated here, she was already on a bridal sedan. Her impressions of the Han house came purely from her memories.
The door opened, and a grumpy pageboy murmured, "Who is it? Can't a person nap at noontime?"
"Qin Wangfei has arrived!" Chen Xiang proclaimed loudly.
"What's Qin Wangfei doing here?" The little pageboy disapproved, but quickly recovered his wits and opened the door in terror. He half stumbled, half crawled outside, prostrating himself at the sight of Han Yunxi.
"Esteemed Wangfei! This humble one didn't realize it was Esteemed Wangfei! We are honored by your presence, may Esteemed Wangfei have mercy!"
This pageboy really had a fright. It wasn't just him, but all the members of the Han house never believed that Han Yunxi would cross over the threshold Duke of Qin's gates. Many of them even thought their eldest young Miss would die! The emperor had decreed the marriage. If the Duke of Qin didn't want to marry her, then having Han Yunxi die was the only solution.
But no one predicted that Han Yunxi would not only enter the Duke of Qin's household, but completely change her personality and improve leaps and bounds in her medical skills, saving the young general's life with a fleeting moment of fame. There were even rumors recently that the eldest young Miss had cured the crown prince's strange illness. Her father was a convicted criminal but she was completely fine. Many theories arose from the populace because of these facts.
"Rise," Han Yunxi said coldly.
The little pageboy raised his head and looked at Han Yunxi's beauty in amazement. But after meeting her fierce, threatening gaze, he dared not look again. He couldn't help but believe in the rumors as he hastily rose to his feet, though he was still too afraid to stand up straight.
The calm and composed Han Yunxi sat down on the threshold of the door and asked, "How many wives are still left in this house?"
The little pageboy had no guts to conceal the truth and answered honestly.
 Misdirection Viper, Bamboo Viper, and Clear River Viper (, , ) - misong, zhuqing, xiaoxiang, of these three snake species, only bamboo viper seems to have a real-life equivalent.