Chapter 293: Poisoning, Entry into the Capital City
Two days later, all of them gathered in Ling Zhang’s courtyard house. In the bedroom, Mr. Mu had had Ling Zhaowu ingest the pill given by the leader of the Millennium Pavilion and was now performing acupuncture on him. Everybody was waiting for Mr. Mu to come out and tell them things went well. Even Ling Maomao was sitting quietly, gazing in the direction of the doorway, a mixture of worry and anticipation in his eyes.
After about an hour, Mr. Mu walked out of the bedroom. He didn’t look very well, face full of fatigue.
Hearts of those waiting for him lurched at the sight of this, all of them somewhat afraid to ask him about it.
Eventually, Ling Zhang stepped up. “Mr. Mu, how’s my father’s condition?”
Mr. Mu answered, “Very stable. The pill is taking effect. Although he’s going to be asleep for two days, his mental trauma will be healed during the process and he won’t feel any pain. All we have to do now is wait for him to wake up in two days. Barring accidents, he’ll remember everything by then.”
Everybody heaved a sigh of relief at these words, their tension dissolving substantially.
“You look rather tired. Let me walk you to your room to get some rest.”
Ling Zhang also felt relieved. Knowing that Mr. Mu’s weariness was the result of performing acupuncture with rapt attention for too long, he offered to walk Mr. Mu to his room to rest.
Mr. Mu waved his hand. “Having a servant walk me there will do. You may go inside to see him, but don’t get too close, and don’t make any noise to disturb him.”
“Thank you, Mr. Mu. You’re really our savior.” Ling Xingzhong solemnly made a deep bow.
Mr. Mu hurriedly raised him. “There’s no need for such formalities, Old Master Ling. I’m just doing my duties as a physician.”
Ling Xingzhong was very grateful and thanked him again and again. After Mr. Mu talked with him for a while, Ling Zhaowen said to Ling Xingzhong, “Father, we should let Mr. Mu have some rest.”
It was only then that Mr. Mu was rid of the conversation and went to his room to rest.
And then they entered the bedroom to check on Ling Zhaowu in batches, strictly following Mr. Mu’s instructions, maintaining a certain distance away from the bed, not making any noises.
After checking on Ling Zhaowu, Ling Zhang said, “I’ll be here watching over my father. Paternal Grandfather, Maternal Grandfather, you both waited here for a long time and need to go have some rest.”
The two elders inclined their heads. In the knowledge that this was not the right place to talk, they took the lead and left the house, heading for the outer living room to sit.
Ling Zhang stayed, keeping an eye on Ling Zhaowu. He couldn’t help but wonder what he should say to Ling Zhaowu first when he woke up two days later. Ling Zhaowu would be a different person after recovering from his amnesia. When Ling Zhaowu had no memories of the past, Ling Zhang could talk to him in a relaxed way, but he couldn’t do the same when faced with a Ling Zhaowu who remembered everything. Actually, the two of them were almost strangers to each other… Furthermore, he still had a lot of questions the answers to which only Ling Zhaowu could provide.
Under the night sky, a rider on a fast horse streaked through the city gates of Tanyang just before the guards closed them. He galloped to the front gates of the Ling family and knocked.
Butler Li ran into Ling Zhang’s courtyard house in great haste, walked up to the door of the bedroom and reported anxiously in a low voice, “Young Master! Young Master! Something happened. Master wants you to go to the ante-room immediately!”
Ling Zhang was sitting at Ling Zhaowu’s bedside reading a book. On hearing Butler Li’s voice, he furrowed his brows, put down his book and went outside. “What happened?”
“Someone from the capital city delivered a message here. Something happened to the Marshal,” said Butler Li in anxiety.
With a twitch in his forehead, Ling Zhang instantly took to his heels.
He entered the ante-room and found that the messenger was Miao Shisan, a foreboding feeling rising in him. “What happened?!”
Miao Shisan was too concerned to pay his respects to Ling Zhang first before answering the question. “Childe Ling, the Marshal encountered some assassins on his way to the capital city and got some kind of poisoning. His life is in danger.”
Ling Zhang was momentarily winded by the shocking news. “How’s that possible? Who could hurt him?!”
Miao Shisan gave a minute account of what had happened.
Miao Shisan and other bodyguards who had been waiting in Wu City all along had set off for the capital city immediately after receiving Yuwen Tong’s message, and rendezvoused with Yuwen Tong before entering the capital city, but got intercepted and ringed by a large assassin group over a hundred strong, all of whom were top-notch kung fu experts and seemed to be lying in ambush waiting for Yuwen Tong to return for quite some time.
Each of Yuwen Tong’s bodyguards was powerful enough to handle ten assassins; also, Wang Dashan and the others had arrived in time and trapped a dozen enemies, so eventually they’d managed to fight off the assassins. They had thought that the crisis had been resolved, but when they’d returned to the capital city, Yuwen Tong had found himself unable to circulate his internal energy smoothly. Suspicious, he’d had his body examined and discovered that he’d been poisoned. Those assassins had poisoned their own clothes. Yuwen Tong had just accidentally skinned his palm during the fight, but the poison had actually gone into his body because of it. Since the poison had never caused any discomfort, he hadn’t noticed it until he’d returned to the city.
After detecting the poison in his body, he had immediately swallowed an alexipharmic pill, and Xie Shi had promptly set out to detoxify the poisonous substance for Yuwen Tong, but it’d never crossed his mind that he’d make things even worse by doing this!
The mastermind seemed to have some time ago come to know that Yuwen Tong had someone adept in detoxifying poison at his command, and they’d actually turned this to their advantage and laid a trap for Yuwen Tong.
Xie Shi had thought that he was detoxifying the poison in Yuwen Tong, but in fact at the same time he’d been activating another poison that was hiding deeper and also of a higher level of toxicity. Its name was Mrs. Pistil.
This was a poison created by Mrs. Pistil, a consummate Jianghu poison master living in the previous dynasty. The ingredients of it were very scarce, so the antidote to it was also very rare. On top of that, the reason why this poison was world-famous was not only because it was hard to prepare and hard to detoxicate, but also because it was barely detectable after entering a human body. Without coming into contact with a certain stimulus, it could incubate for a decade or even several decades, and once stimulated, it would take effect immediately. As it could infiltrate into a human body with other poisons and lurk behind them, common physicians were totally unable to detect its existence. If someone tried to detoxify the other poisons that Mrs. Pistil hid behind, it would instantaneously be activated and quickly started to attack the victim’s cardiac meridian, and once the cardiac meridian was shielded, Mrs. Pistil would target other internal organs. It was a very cunning poison.
Mrs. Pistil had specially created this poison to take revenge on her lover who had forsaken her. After her love for him turned into deep hatred, she had sworn to kill him, which she knew would be very difficult to do, given his superb kung fu and medical skills. As a result, she had created this poison and successfully taken her lover’s life with it in the end. After that, people in Jianghu had directly named this poison after Mrs. Pistil.
Yuwen Tong, after being informed that the poison inside him was Mrs. Pistil, had immediately shielded his cardiac meridian with his internal energy, but the poison had spread to his other internal organs, causing his bodily functions to deteriorate quickly. Xie Shi had had a pill that could detoxicate almost all poisonous substances, but it had only served to dampen the toxicity of Mrs. Pistil and couldn’t detoxify it.
Apart from telling Ling Zhang about the life-threatening danger Yuwen Tong was facing, Miao Shisan had also made this trip to ask Mr. Mu for help, because Yuwen Tong was now pinning his faith on Mr. Mu’s superlative medical skills. If even Mr. Mu was unable to rid his body of the poison, he would have no alternative but to risk giving up most of his plans and directly leading his army southwards to take the capital city as quick as possible. If things really came to that, he wanted Ling Zhang to immediately go to South Xinjiang with all members of the Ling family while the capital city was in chaos.
All the color quickly drained from Ling Zhang’s face. If that was really what the future held in store, it was only too obvious how Yuwen Tong and other members of the Yuwen family would end up!
“Mr. Mu, can you save him?!” Ling Zhang’s eyes immediately flashed at Mr. Mu.
Mr. Mu raised his hand and bobbed it several times, motioning for him to chill out and sit down. “I can. This poison named Mrs. Pistil was very famous in the previous dynasty, and my ancestors had done some research into it. There are two methods of detoxifying it. The first one is to find the antidote, and the second is to neuter it forcefully.”
“What is the antidote to it?” Ling Zhang immediately asked.
Mr. Mu shook his head. “To my knowledge, the kind of herb that is the most precious ingredient of the antidote has become extinct. The place where the imperial household of the Xia retreated to after losing the war was the only area in which that kind of herb grew. The three sides besieging the imperial household turned the whole place into an inferno, burning everything and everybody in it to ashes. What with the horrible bloodshed, no plant has ever grown in that place for hundreds of years.”
Ling Zhang clenched his fists. “Then what about the second method?”
“It is viable, but he could only live for another twenty years at the most.”
Ling Zhang was stupefied, his face utterly ashen. After a while, as though something had just occurred to him, he quickly fished out the medicinal jade pendant around his neck and looked at Mr. Mu with an expectant face. “What about this medicinal jade pendant? Could it detoxify that goddamn poison?!”
Mr. Mu exchanged glances with Ji Yin, who shook his head and replied, “One of the main ingredient of this poison named Mrs. Pistil is also very rare. It is rumored that the herb used to grow in South Xinjiang, but the species had already died out before the downfall of the Xia, which means that this kind of poison should’ve ceased to exist a long time ago. It’s so surprising someone still has it at their disposal.”
Ling Zhang held the jade pendant tightly, the gleam of hope in his eyes fading. “But isn’t this medicinal jade pendant capable of detoxifying all kinds of poisons?”
“Only a miracle drug could detoxify a poison the ingredients of which include another miracle drug,” said Ji Yin. “There’s only one kind of miracle drug in the Millennium Pavilion, and it’s exceptionally precious. This medicinal jade pendant doesn’t contain its active constituent.”
Ling Zhang was slightly astonished to hear this. “Does that mean…”
Ji Yin chuckled, “Yes. You have the antidote right in your hand.”
Overjoyed, Ling Zhang slumped into a chair, as though drained of energy, the look on his face suggesting how lucky he felt he was. “I was nearly scared to death, Grandfather, Mr. Mu. Why didn’t you tell me directly?”
Miao Shisan was somewhat confused. Originally he’d been having a heavy heart, believing that the Marshal might not be able to survive, but what was going on? It seemed that things had taken a favorable turn. But he still couldn’t understand.
Ji Yin’s face grew grave, his piercing eyes gazing at Ling Zhang. “But you need to take this seriously. It takes many years for the herb to yield a fruit. The Clan Leader has only managed to prepare a couple of pills during the past twenty years. This time, the Clan Leader made an exception and gave you two pills, dashing a lot of clan members’ hopes to pieces. There’s no way he would give you another pill. If you use the pill on Yuwen boy, it’s very likely that you would never be able to reach the twelfth layer for the rest of your life, so you must think this through!”
Ling Zhang felt that he didn’t need to think about it at all. In his eyes, the so-called “twelfth layer of the cultivation method” was nothing but a pie in the sky. All previous leaders of the Millennium Pavilion had been stuck at the eleventh layer, and that foreseer living in the time of the first emperor of the Xia had been the only one in recorded history who’d succeeded in reaching the twelfth layer. Given the probability of success, it wouldn’t take much thinking for one to know how difficult that was. Besides, he didn’t really want to achieve this goal that bad. When it came to a choice between a chance to reach the twelfth layer and saving Yuwen Tong’s life, of course he would choose the latter.
“I’ll go to the capital city with you,” Ling Zhang said to Miao Shisan without a second thought. “Wait here. I’ll start packing right away.”
“Maternal Grandfather, Mr. Mu, Paternal Grandfather, Uncle, please take good care of my father.”
His father had already taken the pill. With Mr. Mu treating him, he would no doubt make a full recovery. Although Ling Zhang would very much like to wait for his father to wake up, Yuwen Tong was in such dire danger that he had to go to his rescue right away.
Ling Xingzhong gave a nod and looked at Ji Yin.
Ji Yin said to Ling Zhang with a sigh, “Just go. We’ll watch over your father.”
Ling Zhang hurriedly left. Ji Yin and Mr. Mu appeared rather serious. After quite a while, Ji Yin let out another sigh.
Mr. Mu said, “Why didn’t you tell him that with the strong Force of Blood in him, he would without a doubt reach the twelfth layer if he takes the pill? Now it’s become uncertain.”
Ji Yin said, “To him, that Yuwen boy’s life is of greater importance. Besides, our clan leader wants to cooperate with Yuwen Tong, so naturally, it’s best if he survives.”
Mr. Mu gave a smile. “Also, he’s your grandson-in-law, right?”
Ling Xingzhong and Ling Zhaowen couldn’t quite understand, but Miao Shisan seemed to have faintly fathomed out part of the conversation.