Hua Zhu Yu sounded an assent and did as told. When handing the prescription to Lan Bing, she said, “This is the prescription for those who are sick. In addition, prepare some boiled mugwort water which can be consumed by those who aren’t infected as a preventative.”
Lan Bing listened attentively before turning to send someone to go brew the medicine. After half an hour passed, the medicine was ready but Ji Feng Li and Lan Bing were no longer present in the tent. Imperial Physician Zhang glanced at the bowls of medicine with disdain, not moving an inch from his spot. Hua Zhu Yu drained two bowls of the preventative tonics and left with the Imperial Guards. The physician that treated her last time had said that if she were to overcome this illness, she would no longer catch it so she boldly headed towards the village. This outbreak had to be dealt with as fast as possible or else who knows how many more people would die.
The guards accompanying her began to panic, their complexions pale with fright. One of them pulled on her arm, insisting, “Yuan Bao Daren, you can’t go inside! What if you get sick?”
Turning around, Hua Zhu Yu looked at them with a smile and said, “Even if that happens, I still have to enter!” Turning back around, she entered the village.
The village was populated with patients. Upon entering, she witnessed a few soldiers burning a corpse and a heaviness overtook her heart. Though this was said to be a natural disaster, it was actually man-made. If Wang Fu Gui had an inkling of care for the common people and handled the corpses in a timely manner, none of this would’ve happened. Leading the way, she found a small kitchen and began to personally heat the medicine.
A guard then led her towards a tightly shut room. Pointing at the room, he said, “There’s a sick patient inside.” He then quickly scuttled to the side after informing her.
Upon opening the door, the sight of a little girl barely 10 years old lying on a bed came into sight. The little girl was barely conscious so Hua Zhu Yu went to help her up. She tried to feed her the medicine but perhaps because the girl was so gravely ill, she began to vomit. So Hua Zhu Yu could only try again once she stopped.
It wasn’t until late in the evening that the little girl’s fever showed signs of subsiding. The little girl was no longer vomiting and appeared to be sleeping at ease.
Hua Zhu Yu left the room. Now she was absolutely certain that this illness was the same as the one she caught in the past. If the little girl shows signs of improvement tomorrow, she could instruct Ji Feng Li to acquire more herbs to treat the others.
With the fall of night, the relentless rain, which persisted for several consecutive days, finally came to a cease. The bright moon emerged from the scattered clouds to rest high upon the night sky, illuminating the lands with its warm rays of light. For the people of Xuan Zhou who hadn’t seen the moon in a long time, tonight’s moon was especially beautiful.
The moonlight fell upon Hua Zhu Yu, casting a faint haze upon her body. Rubbing her shoulders, she felt a sense of chill and sleepiness. Where was she to sleep tonight?
Swiftly approaching footsteps sounded behind her belonging to a guard who had securely veiled his face as he informed, “Yuan Bao Daren, Lord Chancellor gave orders for you to quickly return.”
translations at peachblossomgrove.com
Yawning, Hua Zhu Yu said, “I’ll remain here to keep watch. If that little girl improves tomorrow, I can brew the medicine for others to take.”
The guard’s expression changed, “Yuan Bao Daren, please don’t make it difficult for this one. Lord Chancellor instructed that you must leave at once. If you remain here, you’ll easily get infected. I beg you, please return. Otherwise, I will be punished.”
Hua Zhu Yu was suddenly in the mood to jest so she beckoned the guard with her hand and said, “Come here, I’ll tell you what to say to Lord Chancellor so you won’t get punished.”
The guard inched closer by two steps fearfully. Smiling, Hua Zhu Yu said, “Tell Lord Chancellor that I’m coughing and that if I were to return, Lord Chancellor could get infected. Just say that I, Yuan Bao, for the sake of Lord Chancellor’s well-being, even if I were to die, will never go back!” These past few days she stayed in the same tent as Ji Feng Li. Though their beds were separated by quite a distance, she was always wary and on guard. She feared he would find out that she was actually female. But it seems tonight she can finally rest here in peace.
Upon hearing this, the guard was scared, thinking that Hua Zhu Yu must really have gotten infected so he quickly departed in a panic. Looking at his disappearing figure in the distance, Hua Zhu Yu could not help but laugh.
“What did you just say? Repeat that again.” Hearing the guard’s report, Ji Feng Li’s phoenix eyes slightly narrowed as a trace of disbelief appeared on his face.
Frightened, the guard did not dare to lie and recounted the events of what transpired. “This subordinate came to invite Yuan Bao Daren back but he said that he must remain there tonight to watch over a patient. He said that if the patient gets better, he will brew the medicine for the others that are sick. Yuan Bao Daren also told this subordinate to report that he was coughing and that if he were to return he would get Lord Chancellor sick. So for the sake of Lord Chancellor’s well-being, even if he were to die he would not return.”
A stillness took hold of the air, leaving the tent in complete silence only to be interrupted a few moments later by a low chuckle that was brimming with contempt and derision.
Standing on the side, both Lan Bing and Tong Shou were dumbfounded. They wondered if Yuan Bao was insane or just plain foolish. He wasn’t even a physician yet he wanted to remain in the village to take care of the sick.
Ji Feng Li turned around, his white robes motioning with grace and unspeakable coldness. He swiftly went to his bed and sat down, ordering, “If he wishes to court death, this Chancellor shall let him! Tong Shou, bring men and stand guard at the village gate. Not even a single housefly is allowed to fly out!”
“Yes!” Tong Shou replied.
Sitting on the bed, his fingers unconsciously balled up in a fist as a complicated look flashed, deep in the depths of his phoenix eyes.