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Chapter 31: In for a penny, in for a pound[1] Original and most updated translations are from volare.

It wasn’t clear what Mu Liuyue said, but both Princess Changping and the North Court Official looked happy when she was done. The official even raised her a thumbs-up. “Ingenious! Miss Mu is truly intelligent!”

“All right, Liuyue! When everything’s over, I’ll reward you for this!” Princess Changping’s eyes were laughing as she instructed the North Court Official to make preparations.

Han Yunxi, this time you’ll definitely be killed!

Han Yunxi waited anxiously for an entire afternoon with no news of Mu Qingwu. Now it was already dark out. Another day had passed, and tomorrow was the last day of the allocated time. She almost wondered whether Gu Beiyue had gotten the blood sample and was on his way over already.

But when night fell, only a small boy came with a specially prepared soup to ward off the chill. Han Yunxi took one sip and knew that Gu Beiyue made it. Her heart felt warm thinking of such a conscientious person.

“Has there been any change with the young general?” she asked in a low voice.

The young boy shook his head. “Qin Wangfei, your father came by today. After he left, Imperial Physician Gu’s been keeping watch over the young general without leaving him a step.”

“Han Congan? Did he say anything?” Han Yunxi hadn’t calculated on that person, which left her a bit nervous. All the people in the capital knew that Han Congan was the empress dowager’s dog.

“This one isn’t very clear. Esteemed wangfei, please drink your soup while it’s hot.” The young boy couldn’t stay for long, so Han Yunxi drank the soup while he talked. “Divine Doctor Han couldn’t diagnose him so General Mu lost his temper. Imperial Physician Gu offered up a life-or-death waiver before General Mu allowed him to stay.” When she heard this, Han Yunxi’s heart gave a leap before her eyes began to inexplicably sting.

“Esteemed wangfei, Imperial Physician Gu told me to tell you not to worry and relax. You should take care of yourself and wait for him to come.”

Unconsciously, the image of Gu Beiyue’s warm, clear eyes appeared in her mind, somehow soothing her anxious heart. Gu Beiyue, will you show up tonight?

How was Han Yunxi supposed to sleep tonight?

It was already late at night, but her eyes were still wide open. She was convinced of her diagnosis, which meant either tonight or tomorrow would put her and Mu Qingwu’s life to the test. Gu Beiyue was her only hope, as long as no one caused him any trouble. Han Yunxi waited and waited until the skies showed signs of brightening when she heard a disturbance coming from outside that sounded like hasty footsteps. She couldn’t tell who it was in her groggy state, but felt suddenly excited. Despite this, she suppressed the feeling as best as she could.

Very quickly the light glimmered, revealing Gu Beiyue coming her way!

A thrilled Han Yunxi leaped off her bed, keeping her voice low in the presence of the prison guards nearby. Gu Beiyue nodded covertly at the guards until they left. This was no time for visitors, so he must have paid a lot of silver to get in. As soon as they were gone, he anxiously said, “Hurry, the thing you want is here!”

“The poison’s shown itself?” Han Yunxi asked in a low voice.

Un, you were right. Continuous fever with the tongue turning purple, I took a blood sample and rushed right over. General Mu finally believes us and is personally standing guard ove


r his son.” Gu Beiyue handed over the needle to Han Yunxi. Though he didn’t understand poisons very well, Mu Qingwu’s complexion and pulse showed clear signs of hypertoxic poisoning. Anyone knew that time was of the essence when facing off against these toxins, so he had to get the antidote immediately to save him. Otherwise, all their hard work over the past days would be a waste. Han Yunxi didn’t ask much, but turned to slip the needle in her detoxification system for analysis. As it turned out, the results were enough to make her face fall.

“It’s Ten-Thousand Snake Poison!”

“Ten-Thousand Snake Poison?” Gu Beiyue had never heard of it.

“It’s poison extracted from the world’s top ten poisonous snakes, then purified and mixed together. This kind of poison can hide its toxicity very well, but once it shows itself, it’ll kill the victim within two hours!” Han Yunxi didn’t have time to explain further, but grabbed some pre-prepared medicines from her detox system. “Here, these will postpone the effects of the poison. Let him take these first before you make the antidote, which you’ll have to give him within two hours. Otherwise…” There was no need to say any more as she hastily told Gu Beiyue the prescription and let him go.

Actually, she could treat the poison directly with acupuncture needles if she was there. But she was stuck, so feeding medicine was the only method left. Fortunately, the ingredients needed for the antidote were easy to find for Gu Beiyue. It took awhile to travel from the justice courts to General Mu’s house and even more time to boil the medicine, so they were really racing against the clock to save a life.

If they made it, then everything would be well.

If they failed, then two lives would be lost!

Gu Beiyue was anxious to begin with, but hearing Han Yunxi describe the situation thusly made him rush out without even saying goodbye.

But!

He’d only ran a few steps before the North Court Official personally brought over some guards to surround him. “Imperial Physician Gu, it’s the middle of the night, but you were here the whole time. No wonder I couldn’t find you at home.”

Gu Beiyue kept a tranquil countenance despite burning with impatience. “I can’t imagine what the North Court Official needs my presence for?” And yet the official raised a hand for his guards to move forward and grab Gu Beiyue.

“He Ze[2] of the Northern Court, what do you mean by this?” Gu Beiyue asked coldly.

“You harmed Mu Qingwu with a wrong diagnosis, so I suspect that you’ve been collaborating with Han Yunxi. You’ll be kept under arrest until trial,” the North Court Official loudly proclaimed. It was enough for Han Yunxi to overhear from her own cell, making her angry enough to kick the walls. Were these people doing it on purpose?!

“North Court Official, who gave you the right? You dare to imprison the emperor’s personal physician as well?” Gu Beiyue was unmoved, but his eyes were stern.

The official clasped his hands before his chest and made a slight bow towards the air. “The empress dowager!”

“And the proof? He Ze of the Northern Court, General Mu already believes me. I’m going back now to treat the young general so if you dare imprison me, be prepared to face the consequences!” At last, the mild-mannered Gu Beiyue had lost his temper. Both Mu Qingwu and Han Yunxi’s lives were in his hands!

“Heheh, what nonsense. Divine Doctor Han already went to invite the directors of the medical academy for a consultation. You might as well give up now!” the North Court Official gave a cold snort.

“Let me go! You’ll all doom the young general!”
“I want to see the emperor!”
“He Ze of the Northern Court, the emperor’s been feeling unwell recently. I must be on duty whenever he calls! You better think this through carefully!”

……

Gu Beiyue kept struggling, but as a doctor, his chicken-strength hands were no match for the young tiger-like jailers. Very quickly, his voice disappeared into the hallways. Princess Changping had long urged the North Court Official to arrest him, saying that she’d take responsibility for any blame placed by the emperor. Of course the North Court Official had misgivings regarding Gu Beiyue’s position which made him hesitate, but he’d checked beforehand to see that the emperor’s recent health was excellent. In this way, he knew that Gu Beiyue was making up lies and silently arrested him.

“Someone, go report to the princess that we’ve settled matters without alarming anyone,” the North Court Official yawned as he spoke, eyes sweeping over everyone before dismissing his lackeys. Very quickly, all the people left, taking their torch lights with them. Han Yunxi couldn’t take it anymore and gave a vicious kick to the prison bars. She couldn’t use words to express her furious indignation and worries. Taking deep breaths, she continuously paced back and forth.

There were only two hours left. What could she do in two hours?!

When General Mu saw the Gu Beiyue hadn’t returned, would he find it abnormal? Would he try to look for him? But when would he show up? If he sent someone to bring back the medicine, would they still make it in time? Without Gu Beiyue, how could they find all the ingredients in time? Even worse, what if General Mu thought that Gu Beiyue lied to him? Remaining calm was one of the basic requirements for a doctor, even in the face of death. But right now, Han Yunxi was extremely irritated!

She could neither afford to gamble nor wait.

Time trickled by as Han Yunxi wrapped her hands around the bars, heart beating faster and faster. She was more or less like a wild caged animal. And yet right at this time, a dark shadow suddenly appeared before her. Surprised at first, she saw that it was a figure dressed in black with a mask on his face. The sight of a large sword in his hands made her quickly back away as she asked, “Who are you?”

“Han Yunxi, someone paid to have you broken out of jail. Stop wasting words and come with me,” the masked man spoke. A single stroke of his sword shattered the lock to the door as he rushed inside.

An assassin? A break-in?

Her enemies hated her to the point that they’d rather she never escape at all. How could they spend money to break her out of jail? Thinking back to the act by that old jailer this morning, Han Yunxi could tell that something was peculiar. If she was really stolen away, they’d probably brand her as an escaped fugitive the next time. Just when she was about to dodge, the black-robed figure grabbed her by the shoulder. Han Yunxi was about to cry out for help when she suddenly changed her mind.

A chance!

Wasn’t this the chance to leave the prison and save a life?

“Great hero, please don’t kill me! I’m begging you, please don’t! I’m willing to go with you,” Han Yunxi said, pretending to be frightened.

“As long as you obediently follow me out, I promise I won’t kill you,” the dark assassin would prefer Han Yunxi to be more docile as well. She nodded her head, so he took her out of the cell and towards the exit. On the way, Han Yunxi saw many guards lying on the ground, including a few head jailers, as if the assassin had really killed his way in. They met a few more guards by the main doors, but the black-robed assassin had superb skills and valiantly fell them all in one strike. Then, he and Han Yunxi escaped through the gates of the justice courts.

A doctor’s eyes were sharp, capable of noting the finest details. Han Yunxi had been harboring suspicions before, but after all that, she was completely certain that this black-robed assassin was actually one of the North Court Official’s men. He was helping her escape on purpose so she could be branded a criminal! They didn’t stop upon leaving the gates, but kept running for a while until they halted their progress in an alley.

“Where are you taking me?” Han Yunxi asked timidly.

The black-robed assassin gave a cold smile. “Qin Wangfei, my employers wanted to kill you, but you had to die outside the prisons. Heheh, my apologies.” So speaking, he suddenly raised his sword to swing at Han Yunxi’s neck. She hastily dodged out of the way, making the assassin laugh in disdain. “It’s almost daybreak, Qin Wangfei. This one will send you on your way!”

And yet as he raised his sword, his muscles suddenly twitched and lost their strength. The weapon fell with a clang on the ground at the same time his other hand and both his legs suddenly started spasming. Without any more energy, his entire body fell paralyzed to the ground.

“You…you…” the assassin sprawled motionlessly on the ground, too shocked to speak.

-o-

[1] in for a penny, in for a pound (一不做二不休) – yibuzuo, erbuxiu, literally “don’t do number one, don’t stop number two”, meaning to carry something through regardless of the consequences.

[2] He Ze (何泽) – name of the North Court Official.  He is a surname that also means ‘what/which/how/why’, Ze means ‘pool, damp’, the ‘lustre’ (of metals or pearls), or ‘favor, beneficence.’


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