While Han Yunxi and Mu Linger were visiting the unconscious Gu Qishao, Long Feiye and Gu Beiyue were standing beneath the thorny thistle tree. They had started studying it last night.
Like Gu Qishao, the tree was immune to fire and poisons. This only verified Han Yunxi’s theory about it being the amalgamation of the plant extract essence. As it had been born from the essence inside Gu Qishao’s body, it would naturally carry on Gu Qishao’s undying characteristics.
To put it simply, it wasn’t truly undying or immune to decay; it simply had high immunity and a long lifespan.
Long Feiye suddenly unsheathed his sword and channeled Lustbite energy into the blade before slashing at some vines. All of them disintegrated upon contact. Han Yunxi and Mu Linger glanced back before Han Yunxi grinned. “Long Feiye, this tree belongs to Gu Qishao. You’re not allowed to destroy it!”
Long Feiye saw that Han Yunxi was in a good mood, so he didn’t bother arguing back. Her words reminded Gu Beiyue, who quickly added, “Your Highness, better have some men guard this tree. If its essence falls into others’ hands, they would be identical to the Poison Sect’s Poison Gu humans. That would be very troublesome!”
If plant extract essence could turn humans into undying constitutions, how many ambitious figures would figure to obtain it? How many more unscrupulous doctors would try experimenting with it on live humans? They had to keep this an absolute secret and protect this tree well.
Long Feiye had already thought of all that, so he left the details to Chu Xifeng last night. He wasn’t just going to protect this tree, but this entire mountain. Otherwise, it’d be too suspicious. As this was currently military property, it wasn’t strange to deploy guard detail here.
At noon, Han Yunxi’s group headed back to the army camp. Gu Qishao was settled down in a tent of his own. Ning Jing felt much better after seeing them all return unharmed. Mu Linger then discovered she and Tang Li were here too. She didn’t bring up Qi gege, but dragged Ning Jing off to tell her all sorts of fun stories about little Tang Tang. The baby was one years old now and full of adorable anecdotes. Her cute antics were too much for even a basket full of letters!
As everyone gathered in the main tent, Ning Jing called over Tang Li as well for Gu Beiyue to take a look. As usual, Tang Li treated the world as air while sitting blankly by Ning Jing’s side.
It was impossible for Gu Beiyue to cure pure mental trauma. His specialty wasn’t in physiological areas, either! But he still put up an act of examining his patient to give Ning Jing good news and some hope. Ills of the heart needed the heart as a cure, and Ning Jing was Tang Li’s medicine. Gu Beiyue had to let her have hope so she could keep going strong.
“Since he’s interested in weapons and doesn’t reject them, I suggest you go back to places he’s familiar with,” Gu Beiyue was telling the truth.
Ning Jing nodded. If not for Gu Qishao’s affair, she would have brought Tang Li back to the Tang Clan today.
“Big sis Jing, don’t worry. Lady Tang dotes on little Tang Tang a lot. She takes care of her very well and always talks about why you’re not back yet, since you’re the mother,” Mu Linger added quickly.
“I’m preparing to head back,” Ning Jing said lightly.
Mu Linger looked apologetic. “Big sis Jing, I can’t come with you. I want to go to Medical City with Qi gege.”
“Silly girl, it’s not like I need you to keep me company,” Ning Jing was very blunt.
Mu Linger had bumped into her at Three-Way Black Market and almost caused her to miscarriage. She had paid back her debt more than enough since then. Now it wasn’t Mu Linger who owed her, but the other way around. Although Ning Jing didn’t voice this out loud, her heart was quite clear on the matter.
Han Yunxi thought of something just then and laughed. “Ning Jing, Tang Li still owes Linger a debt!”
Both Mu Linger and Ning Jing were blank-faced, wondering what she meant.
“Back at Three-Way Black Market, Tang Li said that the Tang Clan would prepare a generous dowry for Linger whenever she got married,” Han Yunxi explained.
Because Tang Li was so thankful to Mu Linger for faking a pregnancy in his wife’s place and ruining her own reputation to protect Ning Jing, he promised the dowry on behalf of the Tang Clan. For a woman, reputation and namesake were absolutely priceless.
“I’ll remember it!” Ning Jing declared.
Han Yunxi looked at Tang Li with a teasing tone, “Tang Clan Head, you can’t go back on your words.” It was just a joke, but Tang Li suddenly looked at her with interest.
Now everyone was alarmed. Unfortunately, the eye contact only lasted for a second before Tang Li stopped reacting.
“Miss Jing, perhaps you can tell the Tang Clan Head about matters of the past when you return to the Tang Clan. Treat him like an amnesia patient,” Gu Beiyue suggested.
Ning Jing nodded and kept the advice in mind. While everyone was celebrating Tang Li’s reaction, nobody noticed Mu Linger’s eyes grow dim. When they mentioned “dowry,” she remembered her promise with Jin Zi. She had agreed to marry him and go with him to Wintercrow Country. Jin Zi had also agreed to give her a one-year deadline. If Qi gege didn’t like her, she had to go no matter what.
How long could one year be?
But she didn’t feel like many days had passed. Why was the deadline approaching so soon? In two months, that’d be it. Mu Linger didn’t know what to do. She shook her head and decided to forget about it for now. For the next couple of months, she would focus on taking good care of Qi gege.
As the group chatted, Zhao mama carried Rui’er into their midst. Han Yunxi and Long Feiye stood up at the same time, both of them reaching out for the baby. This time, Han Yunxi let Long Feiye have him first. But Long Feiye backtracked and said, “You carry him.”
Although it had only been a day since seeing his precious son, Long Feiye missed him dearly. Why did he refuse to hold him? Only Han Yunxi and Zhao mama knew.
Mu Linger quickly ran to the baby and said, “Big sis, let me see let me see!”
The almost one-month old Rui’er was different from a newborn. He was much cuter and had skin so tender and white it could have been washed with milk. His face was exquisite and delciate like carved jade, making him very lovable. Currently, he was staring curiously at Mu Linger.
Mu Linger couldn’t rip her eyes from him. After a while, she suddenly cried, “Big sis, I want to have a baby too!”
Han Yunxi smiled helplessly. “Sure. Go get married first.” She still remembered the matter of Mu Linger and Jin Zi, but she had been too busy to deal with it. When she had time, she would find out what Jin Zi was doing in Northern Li right now.
She couldn’t be bothered with other people’s business, but this concerned Mu Linger. Otherwise, Heaven knows who’d snatch the girl away.
“Big sis, can I hold him a bit?” Mu Linger begged with large, blinking eyes.
“You can even hold him for two bits,” Han Yunxi teased.
Mu Linger was thrilled. She loved little children to begin with, to say nothing of her big sister’s son, her very own nephew. She excitedly picked up little Rui’er from Han Yunxi’s arms, her movements more practiced than his actual mother. After all, Mu Linger had looked after little Tang Tang since her birth, so she had her own methods of holding and coaxing babies.
“Big sis, look! Rui’er isn’t afraid of strangers!” Mu Linger was overjoyed.
As soon as she spoke, little Rui’er split his lips into a smile, almost killing Mu Linger with cuteness.
“Big sis, look look! Rui’er likes me, he’s smiling at me! At me!” Mu Linger was deeply moved.
Zhao mama was happy to see the little master smile as well. She broke into a broad grin and added, “Miss Linger, the little master is brave and doesn’t fear strangers! If he smiles, that means he likes you. If he cries, then he definitely dislikes you.”
“Zhao mama, isn’t that obvious? Is crying supposed to mean you like someone?” Mu Linger retorted.
Laughter greeted Mu Linger’s words. No minding it the slightest, Zhao mama smiled foolishly and went on, “This old servant...was just so happy I forgot my brain, ah!” Ever since the little master’s brith, Zhao mama had been in high spirits and was still basking in happiness now.
But it was true she’d forgotten her brain. Otherwise, she would have long noticed the ugly expression on Long Feiye’s face as he stood on the sidelines. The reason he hadn’t held Rui’er himself was because he was afraid everyone would see the baby crying!
Mu Linger couldn’t bear to part with Rui’er after picking him up. If not for the fact that she had to take care of Gu Qishao, she’d definitely stay behind. She teased the baby by making faces and tickling him until he gurgled happily and finally hiccuped.
Gu Beiyue walked over to carefully study the little master, his gentle eyes softening even further with doting and care. It was enough to leave its viewer a lifetime of beautiful dreams!
“Doctor Gu, do you want to hold him?” Mu Linger asked.
Gu Beiyue did, but he didn’t dare ask.
“Hold him, he’ll definitely like you,” Mu Linger smiled.
“Definitely! Hurry and pick him up!” Han Yunxi urged. She wasn’t trying to give another blow to Long Feiye, but testing whether little Rui’er really was fearless of strangers.
As soon as Gu Beiyue picked up little Rui’er, he not only didn’t cry, but even parted his lips into a grin.
This has nothing to do with fearing strangers! He’s too young to know who they are!
He just doesn’t like his daddy!
Infants didn’t understand many things. Han Yunxi looked at Long Feiye trying to hold himself back and realized there was actually one male in the world capable of provoking him: his precious son!
Gu Beiyue knew enough etiquette to return the baby to Mu Linger after holding him only briefly. Mu Linger didn’t care about those rules. She just wanted to hold Rui’er as much as she could before she left! Turning to Han Yunxi, she grinned and asked, “Big sis, we’re only leaving tomorrow. Can I sleep with Rui’er tonight?”
Of course Han Yunxi agreed!
A single night was short, and the time for farewells eventually came. Before Gu Beiyue left, Long Feiye mentioned Medical and Medicine City joining hands with the military to hurry to Northern Li to save the plague victims. Gu Beiyue knew Long Feiye’s long-term goals and simply replied, “Your Highness can prepare for the ascension without worries. Leave this matter to this subordinate’s hands.”
Long Feiye lowered his voice and added, “I hope you can become the Head Imperial Physician of the Imperial Physician Courtyard as well as the Grand Tutor. What are your thoughts?”
1. Grand Tutor (太傅) - traditionally, the official teacher of the heir apparent to the throne.