Cui'E didn't stay for long and her parting words could be summed up as: “Even though you've become like this, the Qi Family still hasn't forgotten you. You should eat well, sleep well, and keep your heart free of any grudges.” Then she turned around and walked away. It goes without saying that the Qi Family had to maintain its reputation. While her words were tactful, she couldn't hide the condescension behind her intent.
Gu Zuo really felt that he didn't share Qi Tianyou's saintly tolerance. If he really came across such circ.u.mstances, there was a good chance he'd just call this shameless hussy  out on her words.
This Qi Family servant had such an awful personality! But to be honest, the Qi Family really did invest a lot of resources into Qi Tianyou's development. Since Qi Tianyou could produce potions, he'd been able to tide a profit and generate some prestige for them. The reputation of the Qi Family in Yunyang City skyrocketed, which gave them many benefits in the city. As a result, now…
Gu Zuo ma.s.saged his forehead again.
He'd already begun integrating Qi Tianyou's memories as if they were his own. This was unacceptable.
Then, Gu Zuo walked over to the table to look at the dishes on the serving platter.
Two servings of meat and vegetables each, as well as some soup. It looked okay, but it was a far cry from the standard ten course meal  of the Qi Family.
But who cares, at this point he was practically starving. It was good enough to fill his belly.
But Gu Zuo didn't expect a sudden sense of alarm as he reached out towards a serving of vegetables — this incredible feeling of danger caused him to drop his chopsticks.
Is this dish poisonous!?
Gu Zuo's face stiffened; he definitely couldn't eat it. He dabbed his finger against the five dishes and his expression worsened.
What was the Qi Family playing at? When Qi Tianyou degenerated to this sorry state, they really wouldn't let him off. It couldn't be that this was another of Qi Feng's schemes?
But this, too, was a stroke of good luck for Gu Zuo.
As previously stated, since he was a child, Gu Zuo always had a keen awareness of medicine. Besides being able to distinguish the quality of medicinal ingredients, he had something of an innate ability. He could detect the toxicity of a drug by its fumes alone.
Because of this, Gu Zuo and his feeble dad were able avoid being scammed. But right now, he didn't know what he was going to do with these tainted dishes. An ordinary person wouldn't detect it, but he could. The fumes of the poison blended into the dish's fragrance…were sickly-sweet.
In other words, this was a slow acting poison! 
Gu Zuo was extremely troubled.
Originally, he thought that he could a.s.sume Qi Tianyou's ident.i.ty and endure the Qi Family's drama for a bit. In order to complete the system's task, he wanted to use Qi Tianyou's high favorability rating among the servants to gather some basic medicinal ingredients.
Now it looked like if he persisted in staying at the Qi Family, he could forget about playing pharmacist because his life was at stake. No time for games — this was a complete disaster!
After indecisively pacing back and forth for a bit, Gu Zuo's stomach began to growl uncontrollably. The most important thing was that he had to find an opportunity to escape from the Qi Family.
Since he planned on leaving the Qi Family, what use did Qi Tianyou's ident.i.ty give him? Once he began refining medicine, other people would find it suspicious that his yao beads were undamaged.
[This host requires an ident.i.ty in Tianwu as a talented pharmacist.]
Gu Zuo stared blankly for a bit: Fine, but what am I supposed to do about the ingredients once I leave the Family? I'm broke and Qi Tianyou didn't have much saved up. I might not have enough to buy ingredients.
[This host's first priority should be to find a financial backer.]
Gu Zuo: “…Huh!?”
The system sure was quick to change the subject.
Gu Zuo was quiet.
It seems like this was the only way… But what value did he have that would make people want to invest in him? Plus, they not only had to place their confidence in him, but do it without fear of reprisal from the Qi Family.
Also, he still needed to urgently consider how he would escape from here.
Under the cover of darkness, there was a meek figure who quietly widened a hole at the base of a border wall near the city's southern residential district. Once he finished, he turned his head left and right to check for any pa.s.sersby outside. When the coast was clear, he crawled through and stuck to the side of the wall, carefully walking away from the hole. Only then did he make his escape deep into the night.
After determining that he had to escape, Gu Zuo effortlessly swept up the poisoned food and sent it into his storage s.p.a.ce. Cui'E returned two hours later to clean up and took away the platter and dishes. While hiding behind the door, he ruthlessly struck the back of her head.
According to Qi Tianyou's memories, although Cui'E had not cultivated to the first stage of blood refining, she'd still been practicing martial arts for a long time. Though she fainted, she was certainly not going to die.
While Gu Zuo was aware that his life was in danger, he didn't spare any thoughts for the fairer s.e.x . Considering that he had zero martial arts experience, he did a good job finishing things with a single strike. After settling his affairs, he disguised himself with her outer skirt and hid Cui'E under the covers of the bed. Gu Zuo took the platter back and hurriedly saw himself out .
— To maintain his ident.i.ty as Qi Tianyou, it was only natural that Gu Zuo would leave behind a note. It contained a single sentence: “The food was poisoned, so I'm breaking off all ties with the Qi Family.”
After leaving his room, Gu Zuo met some people on the way. Since it was late in the evening, no one paid attention to him. He quickly found a place to hide and had to knock another servant unconscious to switch his clothes for theirs.
Using Qi Tianyou's memories, he moved towards a small, inconspicuous hole . This was another stroke of luck. Many years ago, Qi Feng bullied Qi Tianyou and forced him to hide in this exact hole. Qi Tianyou was dead and Gu Zuo was his imposter. Unexpectedly, he faintly recalled this event and took this chance to escape.
As a result, once he breached the other side of the hole, he immediately fled. He didn't dare stay in Yunyang City to leave any clues to his whereabouts. He messed up his hair and rolled around in some mud to pretend he was a hobo. That night, he rushed to another city.
After traveling for no less than three days, Gu Zuo finally came to the gates of an unfamiliar city. In spite of his bloodied feet, he paid off the guards with half of Qi Tianyou's funds and smoothly entered the city.
At this time, Gu Zuo breathed out a quiet sigh of relief.
This place was called Yongqing City. Compared to Yunyang City, it was slightly smaller, but the important thing was that Yongqing City didn't care about the influence of aristocratic Families. Due to incidents in the past where Families would fight over resources, this city firmly paid them no heed. If the Qi Family tried to exert their power to find him, it would definitely be impossible.
Gu Zuo thought that he was currently useless to exploit since Qi Tianyou was a total waste. The Qi Family shouldn't expend too much effort to “erase all traces of him” . For now, he was safe.
Then he found an inn, bought some clothes, and settled down.
Although the threat of the Qi Family wasn't completely dispelled, Gu Zuo was preoccupied with another matter.
He thought about how he was going to contact the patron he selected. He couldn't be slow with this; otherwise, all the effort he expended on the road would be wasted. But he was at a loss at how to complete this venture.
That's right. Gu Zuo integrated Qi Tianyou's memory and after a period of consideration, he chose a patron — the name of this patron was Gongyi Tianheng , the young master of a powerful family.
Gu Zuo mulled over it. He must a.s.suredly use up tons of resources when refining. In the prop books the system gave him, it detailed many rare things. At the very least, those three hand arts, compared to Qi Tianyou's refining technique, were definitely not worthless. It was common sense that the finer things in life were expensive.
With such a valuable thing falling into the hands of some n.o.body without a patron, if this secret was exposed, he'd inevitably meet his doom. Therefore, he had to find someone with both wealth and influence.
Within Tianwu continent, he could accomplish this with many to choose from except for the royal family, which had a dynastic history filled with martial artists. Between the royal family and other aristocratic families, the former was too troublesome. He could only start out with the latter.
But many powerful families already kept pharmacists in their pockets. What could Gu Zuo possibly say so that they'd bend over backwards to accommodate him? He had potential as a pharmacist. Even if he intended on relying on a powerful family, the most likely outcome was that he'd be exploited for all he was worth. He'd be cast to the side and work himself to the bone without any chance at freedom. When the time came to complete the system's tasks, it would simply be a “dead” end .
Sure, the system provided many things to make survival possible, but the system's existence itself was a huge secret.
And this huge secret wasn't something that he could conceal by himself. He wouldn't be able to keep it hidden from his patron either.
Thus, whoever he chose to become his patron was very important.
Gu Zuo felt that it was better to rely on a single influential person in an aristocratic family than the family on the whole. Also this person must have an upstanding moral character. He had to create a justifiably mutually-beneficial relationship such that they'd have no choice but to rely on each other when the time came. This was to minimize the possibility of betrayal.
And Gongyi Tianheng was the person whom Gu Zuo meticulously selected.
First of all, Gongyi Tianheng was part of the Gongyi Family, which was one of the five major Clans  in Cangyun City. This city was actually the capital of Cangyun country.
The Five Clans and the so-called Qi Family of Yunyang City were not alike. The influence of the Five Clans spread through the entire country of Cangyun. The estates and businesses of the these Clans were found in all regions of the country. Each Clan was filled with countless martial artists and their martial strength was formidable. Their status was only barely less than that of the royal family. The descendants of the royal family and the Clans were invariably close and could consider themselves martial brothers of the other.
In the eyes of the Five Clans, the Qi Family was an insignificant ant. It would take but a single step to wipe them out.
Gongyi Tianheng was the eldest grandson of the Gongyi Clan. He was brilliant and talented. By the age of ten, he'd mastered most of the Clan's businesses. And through several years of hard work, these businesses prospered, which caused the other four Clans to acknowledge him.
It's said that not only was he talented, his visage was like that of the full moon; he was very handsome, modest, and had a clear temperament. When dealing with a promise worth his weight in gold, from his behavior to his personality, there wasn't a single bad thing to say about him.
Someone once praised him saying that if it weren't for a particular reason that prevented the Gongyi Clan from placing its affairs in Gongyi Tianheng's hands, the Clan would definitely grow to become the number one Clan in Cangyun country. The other four Clans would be suppressed for hundreds of years.
As for that “particular” reason, Gongyi Tianheng had only one flaw.
He couldn't practice martial arts.
He couldn't do this because he was a very sickly person.
 丫头 -Ya tou, or a servant girl in a deprecating tone. An insult, but considering Gu Zuo's state of mind, I went with something that had a little more oomph.
 三荤四素一汤两点心一果盅 - San hun si su yi tang liang dian xin yi guo zhong. Altogether this is three servings of meat, four servings of vegetables, one serving of soup, two servings of light appetizers or desserts, and one drink (of fruit juice).
 Actually, my computer doesn't recognize two characters in this sentence. There's just □□ here instead. Shout out to an Unknown user for the actual translation!
 怜香惜玉 - Lian xiang xi yu, literally pity fragrance and cherish jade, an idiom.
 低头出去了 - Di tou chu qu le, bowing one's head while leaving, maintaining etiquette or respect when leaving a premises. Not sure if Gu Zuo is doing this to keep his ident.i.ty as a servant or just out of sarcasm to that disrespectful girl. Since they're alone, I'm guessing it's the second reason.
 狗洞 - gou dong, literally dog hole. Imagine the kind of burrowing tunnels dogs make when digging under a fence.
 斩草除根 - Zhan cao chu gen, an idiom that literally means to cut weeds and destroy the roots.
 功仪天珩 - Gong (Public) Yi (Instrument, rite, ceremony) Tian (Heaven) Heng (Gem).
 I also considered that the phrase 还是一个“死”字 could have a “death” note pun somewhere, but decided not to include it.
 I wanted to make a proper distinction between Family and Clan, where a Clan is superior in terms of resources, organization, and martial strength. Not sure if this will just needlessly complicate things, but I just got tired of seeing the word “family” all the time. I might revert this change later.
Please don't forget to support the .