Chapter 457: A human heart must have compassion Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“I didn’t lie to anyone!”
“I didn’t lie! I didn’t, I didn’t!”
The stubborn, desolate cries of the girl soon filled the courtyards of the Duke of Qin’s estate. Half of Su Xiaoyu’s scalp was now scorched, making her feel dizzy and light-headed. She was using sheer willpower to sustain herself. She knew that death was coming for her, but she still obstinately defended her words. Even though master abandoned me, I’ll never sell him out! Master had raised her for so many years. Without him, she wouldn’t even exist today. I’m not some traitor who forgot her debts of gratitude!
Long Feiye watched coldly with the rope firmly in his hands. There was no need to let Su Xiaoyu down any further. If he kept her in the water long enough, her situation would be hopeless as soon as she was burnt enough to stop crying for help. Han Yunxi and Baili Mingxiang had both suffered from second-degree burns that scalded partway through their skin. Immediate treatment would ensure a full recovery within ten days. But Su Xiaoyu’s state was much more severe. Here was a full third-degree—perhaps even fourth-degree—burn.
Of all the people present, only Long Feiye looked unmoved. His callous, icy face was akin to that of a malevolent spirit. Both the guards and pageboys had long found the sight unbearable, while Han Yunxi had lost all sense of resentment. Her heart felt stifled by the sight of Su Xiaoyu being so stubborn and shouting her lungs out. She could admit that she wasn’t heartless enough to let this go on.
After all, Su Xiaoyu was less than ten years old! She was still a child!
Finally, Han Yunxi said, “Your Highness, as chenqie sees it, she’s told us all she knows.”
Su Xiaoyu’s screams abruptly halted at Han Yunxi’s words as she hung limply from the rope with her eyes squeezed shut. It was unclear whether she’d lost consciousness or simply died from shock. Her small body hung miserably amidst the steam, making for a distressing sight. How could a child so young not fear death? Perhaps that really was all she knew.
Long Feiye had long given up hope of getting any intel from the girl. Han Yunxi’s words only further made him relent. Judging from the current situation, continuing to boil the girl would only be pointless. He handed the rope over to the guards and said frostily, “Get rid of her.”
But Han Yunxi grabbed the rope from the guard instead. “Your Highness, she’s still breathing. In the end, she’s just a child.”
If this had been adult or someone like Wang Laifu, she wouldn’t show any mercy. Every adult had to take responsibility for their own actions. But Su Xiaoyu was just a seven-year old girl. How many other kids her age were still naive innocents who acted spoiled in front of their mother and father? Han Yunxi was an orphan herself, so she knew the pains of forcing yourself to grow up and mature before your time.
When Long Feiye didn’t speak, Han Yunxi added, “Your Highness, as hateful as this girl is, she was still just following orders. Boiling her like that can count as her punishment. Since she’s still alive, chenqie wants to save her first and see what happens after that.”
Currently, all of the guards were silently counting down in their hearts. Typically, it only took esteemed wangfei three times to speak up before His Highness Duke of Qin gave in. This was already the second time, so the limit was almost up.
Reality proved that the guards were right, because the next thing Long Feiye said was, “You decide.”
Han Yunxi exhaled in relief before having Su Xiaoyu brought down from the rope. For the sake of preventing her body from going into shock, she gave her a life-saving pill before dousing her with cold water. She didn’t mind treating Su Xiaoyu when the child’s burns were far more severe than hers or Baili Mingxiang’s. After giving her a cursory examination, Han Yunxi still couldn’t determine whether Su Xiaoyu was suffering from third or fourth-degree burns. She knew that third-degree burns cut through the entirety of the skin, but also involved injuries to deeper tissue such as muscle, tendons, and bone. Since Su Xiaoyu had her head boiled, the damage might have even reached her brain!
Without hesitation, Han Yunxi ordered someone to summon Gu Beiyue while she and the guards brought Su Xiaoyu to a room. Long Feiye shook his head helplessly as he watched her hurry off. This was the first time he’d realize that the woman who held plenty of sinister methods up her sleeve could also be so compassionate. Still, he admired what she was doing. He didn’t follow her into the room, however. Since they couldn’t get any information out of Su Xiaoyu’s mouth, he had to think of other ways to uncover the intel.
Meanwhile, Han Yunxi started dealing with Su Xiaoyu’s head as soon as they set the child down in the room. First she used scissors to cut off all her hair and expose her burns, thus preventing possibility of infection. By the time Baili Mingxiang and Zhao mama arrived, Su Xiaoyu was already completely bald. Half of her skull had been left reddish-brown, swollen and blistered by the burns, while other parts looked even black. Her complexion was like a bruise—greenish-purple—while her breathing was weak and labored. If Han Yunxi hadn’t fed her a life-saving pill in time, she would probably be dead by now.
“This…that girl’s has such a hard head. She’ll save us a lot more trouble when she’s dead, so why try to save her at all, esteemed wangfei?” Zhao mama huffed angrily despite her red and teary eyes.
Her anger came from the fact that she wished that she could have done better. Back in the palace, she’d never been lax with the various court ladies and eunuchs, but her heart couldn’t help aching with complex feelings over the child she’d doted on for the past year. Baili Mingxiang remained quiet as she watched esteemed wangfei creating a liquid disinfectant before stepping forward to help.
Han Yunxi didn’t dare use random medicines at will, but disinfection was still important. The more they could minimize the risks of infection, the better the end result. She only hoped that Gu Beiyue wasn’t on shift at the palace so he could hurry over quickly. Zhao mama ended up falling silent as well, her expression serious. In the end, she found a silk coverlet to drape over Su Xiaoyu’s body and keep her from catching a chill.
Even the angels treated wicked children with tenderness before they grew up. Perhaps that was the reason why Su Xiaoyu was lucky enough to have Gu Beiyue resting at home today. Once he received the summons, he came over as fast as he could. Although it had been ages since he’d seen Han Yunxi, both of them forgoed all the niceties in favor of medical professionalism. Han Yunxi gave a brief outline of the burns while Gu Beiyue examined the patient. Very soon, he came to a diagnosis.
“It’s an extremely severe burn, she’ll completely lose her skin from this!” he said seriously.
Baili Mingxiang and Zhao mama were stunned speechless by his words. They didn’t know much about medicine, so losing all one’s skin sounded terrifying. But Han Yunxi remained calm. She’d heard of beautifying surgery from the past, while skin graft surgeries of the present weren’t very complicated, either. But usually patients took skin from their head to replace lost patches elsewhere since the head skin recovered very well. Since Su Xiaoyu was injured on her head, she’d probably have to use skin from the child’s thighs and buttocks. She privately wondered what Gu Beiyue do in these circumstances.
Still, she trusted his judgment and went on to ask about other things instead. “Would the burn have reached the bone and damaged her brain?”
Gu Beiyue’s expression was intense. “The bone was left uninjured, but with a burn like this…it’s hard to gauge the shock it would have on the brain.”
Han Yunxi didn’t tell Gu Beiyue that Su Xiaoyu had gotten the injuries as a result of torture. She only said that a careless mistake had left Su Xiaoyu’s head tumbling into some boiling water. If a great master doctor like Gu Beiyue was uncertain, then Han Yunxi had a pretty good idea of how things stood already. Gu Beiyue next made some preparations and wrote out a few prescriptions for Zhao mama to gather before Baili Mingxiang volunteered, “Why don’t I go instead.”
It wasn’t public knowledge that Baili Mingxiang was now working as a servant at the Duke of Qin’s estate. In the eyes of outsiders, she was simply here to learn poisons. Gu Beiyue finally noticed her existence and respectfully handed over his papers. “I’ll have to trouble you then.”
“Imperial Physician Gu is too polite,” Baili Mingxiang bowed before hurrying off.
Once the preparations were all done, Gu Beiyue began to start on the skin-graft surgery. Zhao mama retreated as well, leaving just him and Han Yunxi in the room. Most of their collaborations in the past had Gu Beiyue assisting Han Yunxi, but now the situation was reversed. Despite this, the good doctor remained unmoved by the presence of the beauty beside him as he focused his entire attention on treating his charge.
There was anesthesia, opening up the burns, repairing the muscles and disinfecting the affected areas before stopping blood flow and adding in new skin. Then the transfers were sewn up against the skull and covered with medicine and bandages. Gu Beiyue did his entire work in silence while Han Yunxi watched, mesmerized. His procedure was similar to modern day surgery, but he used different medicines and techniques to accomplish his goal. Han Yunxi thought that it’d take Gu Beiyue ages to finish, but his movements were so smooth and quick that he didn’t stop until he was done.
She couldn’t help but blurt out, “Can you slow down a bit? I didn’t see anything clearly.”
Gu Beiyue didn’t answer until he finished everything. Only then did his stern expression relax somewhat to reply, “Esteemed wangfei, one cannot tarry when saving lives.”
“Mm,” Han Yunxi nodded seriously.
Gu Beiyue smiled. “If esteemed wangfei is interested, this official can teach you anytime.”
Han Yunxi dearly wanted to learn, but she was so busy these days that there were still things left undone. After coming back from the disaster regions, she had even wanted to train up her own retinue of guards and teach them poisons, but there simply hadn’t been time. Instead, she took Baili Mingxiang under her wing instead—fortunately, the girl was quick enough to learn. Otherwise, she wouldn’t gain anything even after following her for two to three years.
She said helplessly, “Then I’ll consult you when there’s time. How is the girl doing now?”
“I’ll observe her for a day. If the newly grafted skin survives, she should be fine. As for esteemed wangfei’s concerns towards brain damage…that’ll have to wait until she regains consciousness,” Gu Beiyue answered honestly.
In the end, the surgery proved successful, so the aftercare was left to Baili Mingxiang. Thanks to the delays with Su Xiaoyu, Han Yunxi pushed the matter of hunting down Gu Qi Sha to the back of her mind. Nor did Long Feiye bother to remind her. Judging from Gu Beiyue’s anesthesia, Su Xiaoyu should have regained consciousness that very same night, but she was still sleeping by the next morning. Han Yunxi examined the girl and found that her breathing and body temperature were all normal. Her injuries hadn’t worsened either, so it didn’t make sense for her to still be out cold!
Han Yunxi grew uneasy.
That afternoon, Gu Beiyue dropped by and creased his brows at Su Xiaoyu’s unconscious state. He carefully examined her burns and confirmed that the new skin was settling in well.
“Esteemed wangfei, the injuries are doing fine and she received proper care. If they aren’t infected, she’ll recover from the burns in about 10 days and fully heal in about a month,” Gu Beiyue said.
Han Yunxi nodded. “Then when…will she wake up?”