Warning: The graphical chapter ahead may make some readers uncomfortable. Please take caution if you have any form of helminthophobia, scoleciphobia or vermiphobia! (aka fear of worms.)
Chapter 524: Meat on the chopping block Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
When a person told one lie, he would need to tell more lies in order to support the first lie. Rather than calling this a rule, it was better to label it an inescapable curse! Xie Hongming could only make up more and more lies in the face of Head Elder Xie and the clan head’s questions.
“How did the Duke of Qin and Qin Wangfei treat this matter?” Head Elder Xie asked him next.
“The Duke of Qin didn’t say a word. Qin Wangfei refused to believe it until both Second Old Master Wang and I convinced her otherwise. But she didn’t say much by way of a reply, either,” Xie Hongming replied.
Head Elder Xie had his doubts, but hearing that made him believe in the story more than before. With Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s subtle ways of thinking, they would never express their views openly on such sensitive subjects.
“Ming’er, you heard a Mu Clan member from the Medical Materials Association speak about this, but is that rumor reliable?” the Xie Clan head was quite cautious when dealing with this subject.
“I heard it from Mu Chaoran’s two footmen! Father, it is better to have trust in these things rather than leaving them to chance! As this son sees it, it has to be true! Just think, how could the poison pond in Medicine Forest just disappear like that? Wasn’t the Mu Clan head in Medicine Forest on the night it happened? Moreover, Northern Li’s Duke of Kang is the head of the Hundred Poisons Sect as well, don’t you think that it is all too much of a coincidence?”
One could very well say that Xie Hongming was doing his best to convince his elders, but his blunt remarks all had strong persuasive powers. Both Head Elder Xie and the Xie Clan head exchanged pensive looks at his words, feeling extremely tense. In the end though, they really did believe that the Mu Clan long had liaisons with Jun Yixie. After Xie Hongming left, the Xie Clan head was the first to speak.
“Father, you haven’t rejected Ouyang Ningnuo’s offer yet, correct?”
“Of course not! Do you actually think I’ve grown muddle-headed in my old age?” Head Elder Xie retorted irritably.
The Xie Clan head could only keep his silence resentfully.
Head Elder Xie remained quiet before he finally slapped the table. “What a Jun Yixie! He joined hands with Mu Yingdong to trick this old man! Heheh, he won’t have a single chance to get Mu Linger back!”
“Father, as I see it, Ouyang Ningnuo only wants to marry Mu Linger for her pharmacy skills. We should teach Mu Linger a lesson first—that way we’ll suppress any momentum of the Mu Clan before the Grand Medicine Testing Convention while testing the sincerity of Ouyang Ningnuo’s words,” the Xie Clan head replied.
“Heheh, this old man has sent men from the Lin Clan to watch over her prison cell,” Head Elder Xie smiled coldly. The Xie Clan head immediately understood the underlying meaning. Recently, a young master born from a Mu Clan concubine had crippled one of the only sons in the Lin Clan who had learned a specialized craft passed down from his master. The Mu Clan had simply settled the tragedy with some silver. How would the Lin Clan ever spare Mu Linger in return, now that they had the chance to take revenge?
Before Mu Linger was examined, no one had the right to punish or torture her, so Head Elder Xie could only lock her up. If he had sent anyone from the Xie Clan to deal with Mu Linger, it’d only leave them vulnerable to the Mu Clan when the latter inspected her during the trial. That would limit their options to act in the future. But if it was Lin Clan getting involved, then none of their actions would implicate the Xie. After the father and son pair finished talking, one of the retainers arrived to announce, “Your Excellency Head Elder, Northern Li’s Duke of Kang is outside the city and asks for an audience.”
Head Elder Xie was about to reject the offer out of hand when the Xie Clan head spoke. “Father, Mu Linger’s trial hasn’t begun yet. Let’s not startle the snake in the grass and see what kind of schemes they will be playing at. If we can find ironclad proof that Mu Yingdong was collaborating with Jun Yixie, then the Mu Clan…heheh, they’ll have problems explaining themselves to Medical City!”
Head Elder Xie approved of this plan immensely and ordered, “Tell the Duke of Kang that we can discuss everything after the Grand Medicine Testing Convention.” After giving it some thought, he added, “Help me make an appointment with Ouyang Ningnuo. Before the convention begins, this old man wishes to have a good talk with him.”
The Xie Clan head was thrilled and quickly left to make arrangements. The foregone conclusion of Mu Linger’s fate had been affected first by Ouyang Ningnuo’s words, then by Han Yunxi and Long Feiye’s meddling, and finally by Xie Hongming embellishing his tall tales. Now, a new ending was settling into place. Mu Yingdong and Jun Yixie were both the ones who set a trap, yet they were quickly turning into meat on the chopping board themselves!
Even now, the pair of them were secretly celebrating their progress. After recieving Head Elder Xie’s reply, Jun Yixie held no suspicions. He too, wished for the matter to delay a few more days so he could stay longer in Medicine City. After all, his master had kept him sequestered in Northern Li’s horse farms for the past few months. He almost felt like he was growing mold by doing nothing but staying put. He had originally wanted to take another trip to Medicine Forest to check on the emptied poison pond, but his shoulder started acting up again. In the end, he had no choice but to return to the Mu Clan.
The reactions from his poisoned shoulder were growing more frequent and intense. Now, the pain was so bad that he could only use anesthetic to dull the agony.
Han Yunxi, this lord will definitely teach your Pill Fiend Pharmacy a lesson once I’ve taken over Medicine City! Jun Yixie silently vowed in his heart.
Currently, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye were sharing a horse on their way to Medicine City. In the midst of their galloping, Han Yunxi sneezed. Long Feiye immediately took off his cloak and wrapped her up in it before taking her into his arms again.
“I’m not cold. I’m guessing that someone is cursing me out there,” Han Yunxi said teasingly.
Long Feiye kept silent until he finally asked her in a soft voice, “Han Yunxi, you’ve offended quite a list of people since you’ve entered the Duke of Qin’s estate, right?”
Han Yunxi really wanted to correct his words. Technically speaking, entering the Duke of Qin’s residence wasn’t enough to offend others as much as the fact that she’d married him.
“That’s right, and all of them were women, too.” Han Yunxi raised her head to look at him, her expression serious. “Your Highness, don’t you think that’s strange?”
Long Feiye only pretended not to hear as he remained staring straight ahead. His face was expressionless, but clearly stiffer than before. Han Yunxi couldn’t help but to laugh at the sight. In response, Long Feiye pushed her head against his chest before his lips curved up into a half smile.
Actually, Han Yunxi just wanted to ask what his thoughts were about all those women who liked him. But she wasn’t quite bold enough to voice the question yet…
As the day of the Grand Medicine Testing Convention drew nearer, various figures from the medical community congregated in Medicine City. Gradually, the city grew lively and bustling, while the jail cells of Medicine Forest were still deathly still. Aside from the prison guards and extra manpower from the Council of Elders, no one else was allowed to approach Mu Linger before her trial. Early every morning, a ray of sunlight would seep through a tiny opening in the roof to illuminate her dark jail cell. Mu Linger would place a single pill into a white porcelain bowl in response to the sight.
Everyone on her had been confiscated during her imprisonment except for a bottle of life-saving pills that she’d hidden away and an empty bowl. This was how she was keeping track of the days. Currently, the bowl contained 13 pills. She’d need to put in 7 more pills until the Grand Medicine Testing Convention finished and those people came to interrogate her. No matter how they questioned her, they couldn’t leave her dead. As long as there was life, there was hope.
Once the convention had concluded, she’d need to put in 70 more pills until three months had passed. Then, she could take a trip to Pill Fiend Pharmacy and see Qi gege once. But Mu Linger hadn’t even put away her bowl when someone suddenly kicked open the door to her cell. Bright sunlight poured into the normally dim space, causing Mu Linger to squint. She could hazily make out a tall, broad-shouldered figure in the doorway. Because the light was too bright, she couldn’t make out his features, but she only knew him to be a stranger and not one of her usual guards.
Before her eyes could adjust to the brightness, the door was slammed shut again, leaving the two of them back in the usual darkness. With that, Mu Linger was able to recognize her new visitor. She saw a strong man around 30 years old with a full beard and a savage, fierce look in his eyes. Feeling uneasy in the unexpected situation, Mu Linger sprang to her feet and cried, “Who are you? Who let you in?!”
The man gave a boorish laugh, revealing a mouth full of black teeth. “Mu Linger…heheh, your looks certainly are as fresh and beautiful as your name!”1
Mu Linger gave a start as she unconsciously backed away. Her voice was furious. “I’m warning you, don’t come any closer! The Council of Elders haven’t put me on trial yet. Even if they did, don’t you dare hurt a hair on my head! My Mu Clan will definitely investigate everything until they find the culprit!”
The man only snorted in contempt. “Hurt you? Will you have any proof?”
Mu Linger’s face was turning green with the thoughts running rampant in her mind. Her head filled with the sound of her pounding heart, but her year on the run had taught her a few things. She immediately changed her tone and said, “Who sent you here? What kind of benefits did they offer you? I can double that!”
The man didn’t answer, he only smiled coldly and crept closer. Mu Linger kept backing away, her lips trembling as she put up a brave front. “I have a completely new prescription on me right now. If you let me off, it can all be yours. Take it and sell it to Mu Chaoran, he’ll definitely pay you the highest price of anyone in all of Medicine City! And also…” Before Mu Linger could finish, the man had already stopped in front of her.
“Lass, if you can cure my disciple’s crippled legs, I might consider letting you go.”
Mu Linger’s heart stopped at those words! This is a man from the Lin Clan! She tried to escape, but it was already too late. The man grasped her by the hair and pressed her head against the wall, then leered at her with his face.
“Lass, how about you lick me a few times? Then this uncle will forgive you, alright?”
Mu Linger gagged from pure disgust, displeasing the man. He was about to touch her with his other hand when his hands and legs began to hurt as if thousands of insects were gnawing at his flesh. He quickly released Mu Linger and went to inspect his limbs, only to see a tiny roundworm crawling on his arm. He was just wondering where it’d came from when Mu Linger suddenly pointed at his beard and shrieked.
The man lowered his head and saw a mass of roundworms crawling out of his beard. Before long, even more worms were dropping from his hair.
“AHHH!” the man screamed as he thrashed about where he stood, but it only aggravated more worms to crawl out of his hair and beard. The squirming worms moved as one quivering lump. It wasn’t clear whether they were trying to bore into his skin—or dig their way out! Now, the man was in no mood to care about Mu Linger. He yelled for help as he ran out of the cell, leaving the door wide open. Mu Linger was extremely frightened as well and leaned blankly against the wall, her eyes grew unfocused as her mind turned blank.
The man ran out of the prisons while screaming the entire time, the prison guards chasing in his wake. Everyone who saw him was badly scarred by the sight, and no one dared to approach him. Unnoticed by all, a black-robed figure took this chance to slip into Mu Linger’s jail cell. Currently, Mu Linger had only just recovered her wits and was searching all over the floor for her porcelain bowl. The black robed man was already standing by the door, but she still hadn’t noticed him.
After waiting for awhile, the man finally lost his patience and queried in an eerie voice, “Lass, you’re still not escaping?”
- fresh and beautiful as your name – the Ling (灵) character in Mu Linger’s name can also be found in the phrase shuiling (水灵), which means “fresh and juicy, bright and beautiful, radiant and vivacious.” ↩