Chapter 32: Rescue effort, racing against time Original and most updated translations are from volare.
Han Yunxi’s cowardly expression abruptly vanished, to be replaced with indescribable wrath. She stepped viciously on the assassin’s face with her foot. “What do you mean, ‘you’? Go ahead and die! Go back and tell He Ze of the Northern Court that the wangfei will remember this slight!”
She was a doctor, a doctor of poisons, but that was only something that sounded nice. To put it frankly, she was poisons master. She understood how to treat toxins but could use them even more efficiently. While the black-robed assassin was dragging her here, he hadn’t taken any personal precautions. If she hadn’t taken advantage of that chance to poison him, then she wouldn’t be upholding the ethics of her ‘profession.’
Han Yunxi knew that she’d be branded a fugitive once she escaped the justice court prisons, regardless of whether or not she was dead. But with the time so tight, she risked everything to leave anyways. If her enemies wanted to help her this way, then she might as well go all the way to act like a criminal! An hour’s worth of time had already been wasted, and she had less than that remaining. Leaving the alley, Han Yunxi ran for her life towards General Mu’s estate, her thin speeding body resembling a young deer in the early morning mists.
“Master, that…that seems to be the esteemed wangfei,” Chu Xifeng said hesitantly.
He and the Duke of Qin had just returned to the city after searching for antidote ingredients, but the first thing they saw was Qin Wangfei running like mad through the streets. Thankfully, they dodged in time before being knocked out of the way. Master and subordinate were now perched on the roof of a streetside house. Long Feiye was dressed in the white brocade robes of a commoner but still looked extraordinarily handsome with a certain chilly respectability. His eyebrows crinkled slightly before the two followed after her without a word.
What was this woman doing running so quickly this early in the morning? Was she fleeing for her life?
Han Yunxi ran and ran. This was for the sake of saving a life, but she ran faster than fleeing for her own. Why is the dratted justice court so far away from the general’s house?!
She didn’t know how hard she had ran, but she was out of breath by the time she reached the general’s gates. Her hands grabbed the door rings and clanged them incessantly since she couldn’t breathe enough to talk. Very quickly, the gatekeeper opened the door, frightened by her sudden appearance.
“Qin Wangfei…why is it you? Where’s Imperial Physician Gu?”
“Hurry…I…” Han Yunxi was still gasping for breath. Since she couldn’t speak, she gave up trying at all and pushed open the door to rush inside. Right then, a shrill cry sounded from behind her.
“Han Yunxi, why are you here?! Stop right there!”
Wasn’t this voice none other than Princess Changping?
Han Yunxi paused in her steps but didn’t look back. Instead, she ran further inside, stirring up Princess Changping. “Someone, chase after her! Han Yunxi’s broken out from prison!”
A few of her attendants hastily rushed forward, followed by Princess Changping herself. She just received news from the North Court Official that Gu Beiyue had been locked up and went to look for Divine Doctor Han. He said they had to wait for news from the medical academy’s directors and recommended an imperial physician in the meantime.
Once again, Han Yunxi fought for her life to run towards Mu Qingwu’s rooms with multiple guards in pursuit. Very quickly, chaos and disorder descended upon the general’s estate. She was convinced that this was the fastest she’d ran in years. When she reached Mu Qingwu’s door, she couldn’t even stop herself from crashing into the door. Luckily, her hand hit it first and stopped the rest of her.
Pengpengpeng! Pengpengpeng! She knocked on the door as she heaved for breath.
General Mu left his personal vigil to open the door, shocked to see Han Yunxi instead. “You…Han Yunxi, why is it you? Where’s Gu Beiyue? Didn’t he go…”
When Gu Beiyue didn’t return, he’d sent people after him, but they hadn’t come back either. He was just caught between leaving Mu Qingwu and feeling anxious when Han Yunxi appeared and threw him for a loop. Han Yunxi really couldn’t talk at the moment, but only made gestures towards the room, signaling General Mu to let her in. At this time, Princess Changping’s voice carried over.
“Han Yunxi…Han Yunxi, you better stop! …don’t let her inside! General Mu, she’s a fugitive! Catch her!”
What was going on now?
No matter what, treating the poison was more important.
When General Mu saw Gu Beiyue extract the pitch-black, poisoned blood from Mu Qingwu’s wound, then see his son’s lips turn dark, even he knew that these were signs of poison! No matter how much he mistrusted Han Yunxi, he had to believe her now. When Han Yunxi said he was poisoned, he really was poisoned. When Han Yunxi said the poison would show itself in a few days, it really did reveal itself. Wasn’t it also Han Yunxi who’d extracted the poisoned needles from Mu Qingwu a few days ago?
The more General Mu thought about it, the more he felt things weren’t right. What Han Yunxi discovered, Han Congan had never noticed. He even said something about inviting directors from the medical academy, but they still hadn’t shown up today.
Treating poison was time-sensitive!
He’d hail the person who could cure this poison as his own ancestor!
Thinking up to here, General Mu recalled Gu Beiyue’s reminder before he left for the prisons. The empress dowager had personally issued the arrest warrant to make sure Han Yunxi was locked up. No matter what, she’d find a way to produce evidence against her.
And that evidence would be none other than Mu Qingwu’s death!
The power struggles within the capital were ferocious. General Mu wasn’t a fool and knew that the crown prince coveted Qingwu’s military leadership and power. Seeing Princess Changping and her men heading this way, he made a quick decision and let Han Yunxi slip into the room before coming out to shut and lock the door in front of Princess Changping and the others. General Mu stood before it with frowning brows and angry eyes like some sort of demon. The guards who’d relied like a dog on the power of their master to be fierce, suddenly grew timid and wary. None of them dared to approach him.
Princess Changping was so angry that she couldn’t run anymore, huffing and puffing as she walked up to take multiple deep breaths. Then she commanded, “General Mu, open the door for the princess right now!”
“Princess Changping, these are my son’s chambers. What do you wish to do so early in the morning?” General Mu asked unhappily.
Princess Changping jerked in surprise, amazed by the reply. What was wrong with General Mu? Didn’t he loathe Han Yunxi as well? It was Han Yunxi who’d hurt Qingwu gege to this extent!
“General Mu, are you crazy? You let that murderer Han Yunxi inside! What do you mean by this?” Princess Changping was in a rage.
“Imperial Physician Gu is treating him, don’t you dare interfere!” General Mu was very blunt.
Princess Changping seemed at a loss before breaking into a shout. “General Mu, you’ve been possessed! You’re still pretending when I saw you let Han Yunxi inside with my own eyes. The princess is telling you that Han Yunxi’s a fugitive! Do you want to be accused of harboring a criminal?”
“Princess, you saw wrongly. Qin Wangfei’s locked up in the jails of the justice courts, how could she be here?” General Mu was quite bold and self-assured when he lied. For the sake of his son, he was willing to risk everything and speak blatant falsehoods. As long as his son woke up, then he would do anything.
“You!” Princess Changping fell into a gloom. “I know what I saw! You’re lying!”
“Yes, General Mu is a first rank high official, you can’t just open your eyes and speak lies!” her guards chimed in.
General Mu gave them a stormy glare. “So you all know that this general’s a first rank high official. What right do you have to talk to me? Dismissed!”
Ashen faced and pale, the attendants could only retreat until they were standing behind Princess Changping. Her mouth stuck up into a sneer. “Hmph, I don’t care! I saw her so I want to go in!”
As she spoke, she prepared to rush inside, but General Mu braced himself against the door and spread open his arms. “Qingwu’s severely ill and needs his rest. Who dares to charge in today? Without the emperor’s orders, I won’t open this door even if I die!”
Inside the room, Han Yunxi was currently racing against time to scan for poison, verifying the the strength and location of the toxins. Hearing General Mu’s words made her relax a bit. At least this old fellow had finally stopped being muddle-headed. She only had 30 minutes left and no time to look for ingredients or boil the medicine. Since she was here, she’d use acupuncture to expel the poison. The detox system scanners swept back and forth as it quickly determined its location.
By the door, Princess Changping was pulling at General Mu’s hand with all her strength without success. “General Mu, you’ll end up killing Qingwu gege!”
“No matter what, you can’t just leave Han Yunxi by herself in there. I’ve brought an imperial physician, so you should let him take a look!”
“Han Yunxi treated him twice without effect. She said he’d wake up but he still hasn’t! You really can’t believe her! General Mu, I’m begging you, let the imperial physician in!”
“The imperial physician? Sent by the empress dowager, is he?” General Mu had a cold smile in his heart, his body unmoving like a mountain. Princess Changping could neither move nor persuade him. Just when she was getting desperate, Mu Liuyue arrived with a group of men in tow, the North Court Official He Ze at the head. She’d given the North Court Official a marvelous plan: arranging an assassin to break Han Yunxi out of jail. Then they’d chase after him, find her body, and brand her as an escaped fugitive after her unfortunate murder. Nobody expected such a weak woman to escape from the assassin herself. If Mu Liuyue hadn’t tipped him off, the North Court Official wouldn’t know where to start looking for her. Seeing them arrive delighted Princess Changping.
“North Court Official, Han Yunxi’s inside that room! Hurry up and arrest her!”
General Mu felt uneasy as soon as he saw the North Court Official. He was ready to hang Mu Liuyue up and hit her right there and then! Soldiers had dominion over turbulent times, officials ruled over peaceful days. A soldier couldn’t fight with an official, or else he’d be accused of conspiring against the state!
Within the room, Han Yunxi had already approximated the acupoint leading to the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison. Much of it had amassed in his chest, originating from a point deep down. This acupoint was very, very close to the heart and needed immediate action without delay. Han Yunxi rejoiced over the fact that she’d actually arrived a bit early. She tried her best to block out the noise outside, stilling her senses to concentrate. The necessary needles were retrieved and placed in rows by her side as she undid Mu Qingwu’s robes to search for the acupoint.
“General Mu, I have a duty to apprehend fugitives. Please make things easier for me,” He Ze of the Northern Court was still very polite in this situation.
“The fugitive isn’t here. Please take your leave, North Court Official,” General Mu didn’t give him any face as he blocked the door.
“Princess Changping clearly witnessed the fugitive go inside. Unless General Mu thinks Princess Changping was telling a lie?” the North Court Official asked.
General Mu didn’t reply, but turned his head to look away.
“Since General Mu refused to cooperate, then don’t blame this official for his lack of manners!” When his peaceful means failed, He Ze of the Northern Court decided to use force and commanded, “Men, move General Mu aside and enter the chambers!”
In a flash, various officers surrounded General Mu and prepared to take him away. The North Court Official was different from Princess Changping because he had the authority to arrest escaped fugitives. His command and use of officers to fight was well-known.
“You all dare!” General Mu roared, scaring everyone so much that they could hardly move. He was a great general who could command tens of thousands of men under his hand!
“The empress dowager ordered the arrest of the fugitive. Why are you all still hesitating?” the North Court Official said angrily.