Gu Qishao was already starting to back away, but Mu Linger didn't go to pester him. All she did was smile at him. Instead, it was Huang Gengchen that walked up and cupped his hands in greeting. "Esteemed wangfei, Doctor Gu, long time no see. This old man has brought 60 of my disciples with me this time. 10 of them will stay in South Ning City while the rest have been dispatched to various places in search of ill children and the elderly. This...can count as part of this old man's humble efforts."
Han Yunxi was so moved, she didn't know what to say. If anyone had to ask for her feelings, her only thoughts would be that it was a shame she wasn't a doctor with a bunch of disciples, too.
Gu Beiyue returned the greetings. "Old Huang, this one has been waiting for you for a long time."
Old Huang laughed. "Heheh, this old man helped you convinced many doctors. Over the next few days, they'll come with disciples in tow as well. You can set your cares at rest." As he finished, he nodded at Han Yunxi once before heading for Pill Fiend Pharmacy.
Han Yunxi's cold heart finally found warmth. She just knew it, this world still had plenty of good-hearted doctors!
Mu Linger still stayed put after Huang Gengchen left. "Don't you worry, just leave Pill Fiend Pharmacy to me and Doctor Huang!" she called out cheerfully. Then she winked at Gu Qishao and abruptly left without a word. Despite his surprise, Gu Qishao couldn't help but secretly exhale in relief.
It was very busy at Pill Fiend Pharamacy. Plenty of patients were waiting for Mu Linger to examine them, so as a member of a medicine family, she could help out with some minor cases. At times like this, she didn't have space to waste here. In any case, it's not like Qi gege will like me if I cling to him. I should hurry back to Pill Fiend Pharmacy and resist everything that Medical City's done.
She never liked Medical City to begin with. After realizing that Qi gege was the same Gu Qi Sha they'd kicked out in the past, she hated them even more. But after walking some distance away, she couldn't resist turning back to shout, "Qi gege, take your Poison Corpses and destroy Medical City. Linger will always support you!"
"Silly lass!" Gu Qishao smiled helplessly. That girl had actually supported what Han Yunxi herself rejected.
Although Doctor Huang had won the support of many other physicians, their help was still limited.
"Doctor Gu, I think our chances of success...aren't high," Han Yunxi spoke the truth.
But Gu Beiyue only said, "Esteemed wangfei, if you turn yourself in, you can save the innocent citizens temporarily, but it won't last them a lifetime. There's no need for a guilty conscience, nor should your resolve be shaken. We have to seize this chance to change Medical City's rules. That's purely a school of thought and has nothing to do with power plays."
Han Yunxi never expected Gu Beiyue could understand her so well. He even knew exactly what she had been thinking. His gaze wasn't sharp, but soft and warm. Despite this, he could see through people's worries.
Gu Beiyue, you can heal illnesses, people, and the country. Can you...heal hearts as well?
"Esteemed wangfei, our chances for victory are extremely high," Gu Beiyue continued. "It'll be the Apricot Woods Conference in a few days. This one will go to participate in the congress."
The Apricot Woods Conference was held once every five years, It was the most distinguished gathering of Cloud Realm's medical community, a place where everyone showed off their medical arts. Its competition, combined with the physician's achievements in the medical field, would re-assign ranks to all its doctors. Physicians of fifth-rank Divine Doctor titles or lower needed the competition to evaluate their ranks. There was a limit to the quota of such participants. But Primogenitor, Sage, Empyreal and Sovereign level doctors relied mostly on their own achievements to evaluate their respective ranks.
Once a doctor earned a rank, he or she could received multiple benefits from Medical City. For example, they could seek instruction from higher-ranked physicians, or access the medical academy's exclusive medical skills, or earn an allowance from the academy for research purposes, etc. Even without all these benefits, just an official ranking was enough to send applicants scrambling for a chance. Doctor's ranks were proof of a physician's level of skill within Cloud Realm Continent. It was a way to validate one's professional knowledge, an honorable and glorious title.
"You…" Han Yunxi always knew that Gu Beiyue's skills far surpassed his fifth rank title, and that he didn't care for Medical City's ranking system. That was why he'd never gone to get ranked.
Is he going to show his true skills at the Apricot Woods Conference?
"Esteemed wangfei, this one is planning to challenge Academy Head Gu Yuntian. I'm just worried that esteemed wangfei won't believe in me," Gu Beiyue was smiling despite the serious situation.
Han Yunxi's heart was pounding. It'd be a lie to say she wasn't anticipating the results. Although she had no idea where Gu Beiyue found such self-confidence, she knew that his words were definitely dependable!
"I believe in you!" she said firmly.
Medical City had such power to rally supporters in the medical community because it represented the "pinnacle" of medical arts along with its wealth of resources.
If...if Gu Beiyue challenged Gu Yuntian's authority and expressed his willingness to accept disciples, then what will be the results?
Even if they couldn't shake the medical academy, they'd at least attract a few doctors their way. Han Yunxi could finally see hope!
Gu Qishao started to chuckle. "Gu Beiyue, I never expected you to have the Apricot Woods Conference as your goal too! This old man has my eye on it too. If you can get rid of that old Gu Yuntian, I guarantee that the position of academy head will be yours!"
"Gu Qishao, you have something to use against Gu Yuntian, right?" Han Yunxi asked anxiously.
Gu Qishao was (publicly known as) the head elder's foster son in his youth and also extremely familiar with the Poison Sect. Han Yunxi figured that he must know a thing or two to speak so boldly.
Gu Qishao turned towards her with a bewitching smile. "Secret!"
Han Yunxi had no idea of the relationship between Gu Qishao and the academy head, nor the extent of his sufferings at the academy. Seeing his seductive smile, she couldn't help but grin back. "Gu Qishao, tell me the truth. Are you a member of the Poison Sect?"
"Pah!" Gu Qishao was extremely agitated. "Han Yunxi, this old man will never agree to be your relative!"
"It's fine if you're not part of the Poison Sect family. If you marry Mu Linger someday, you'll end up related to me anyways," Han Yunxi was serious.
Gu Qishao's mouth twitched as he pretended not to hear. Of course, Han Yunxi understood his feelings, but what else could she do about them besides returning them with jokes? You always have to be half-jesting when you talk about feelings with him. If you're too sincere, he'll always refute them on the spot or turn up his nose. He doesn't take it to heart.
"There's an important matter that I think we should discuss indoors," Gu Beiyue interrupted their joking. Han Yunxi knew that there was another trouble afoot besides "withdrawing the doctors," and that was: Ning Cheng. General Baili had already arrived via the back door when they entered the rooms.
Thanks to the threat of the red coat cannons, Tianan's Mu Clan troops had already retreated. Ning Cheng took over three of their cities before immediately withdrawing his troops. The Tianan army suffered heavy casualties, so Ning Cheng only left a third of the red coat cannons and two border defense troops to deal with them. Half of his remaining forces were divided between the western skirmishes with Chu Tianyin and the south--with South Ning's commander-in-chief's estate as their target.
General Baili finished laying out Ning Cheng's recent movements before he said, "Even if Northern Li gets their battle horses today, it'll still take them a couple of months before they can use them. This soldier intends to head north with soldiers before the start of the Apricot Woods Conference. The infantry forces can fight together with the navy to attack. Combined with the Chu clan troops, we'll be able to divert Ning Cheng's attention."
"The navy?" Han Yunxi grew doubtful.
"Yes. There's a large river running through Tianning called the Sandy River. It starts from the west in Western Zhou and runs all the way to the Eastern Sea. If Tianning's troops want to head south, they'll have no choice but to cross this river. As long as we race against time and take Tianning's Crane Forest Prefecture, we'll be able to control this waterway. Once we do, it'll be harder for Tianning to head south. We can drag things on until Northern Li sends their own troops," General Baili declared.
Han Yunxi immediately understood. This was called "gaining the initiative by striking the first blow." If they were doomed to fight with Ning Cheng, then it was better to deal with him now before he finished off Western Zhou's forces. Moreover, sending an army now would catch Ning Cheng by surprise. Perhaps they could even catch him unprepared on the battlefield. After all, Long Feiye was still on Celestial Mountain and everyone would assume they'd wait for him to come down before making a move.
Gu Beiyue and Gu Qishao would deal with Medical City together, so there was hope there; General Baili would pin down Ning Cheng over here. No matter what, Han Yunxi thought, We can at least control the overall situation to buy Long Feiye some time.
Naturally, she had no idea that Gu Beiyue would head to the Apricot Woods Conference or that General Baili would start attacking first because both men were following Long Feiye. That man could control everything even from the distant peaks of Celestial Mountain. Han Yunxi discussed a few more details with everyone else before realizing late night had set in. None of them had eaten yet.
"Zhao mama, have the kitchens prepare some food," Han Yunxi instructed.
General Baili didn't stay to eat, but hurried off on military matters. Gu Qishao would never leave. He couldn't even remember how long it'd been since he'd last eaten with Poison lass at the same table. He found a good flask of wine and said, "It's been years since the three of us ate at the same table. Long Feiye's still got this old man's restaurant closed up!"
"Doctor Gu's just recovered, so he can't drink wine. Neither I nor Mingxiang will drink either, so you can drink by yourself," Han Yunxi said.
Gu Qishao rolled his eyes at her. "Killjoy!"
Han Yunxi ignored him and told Gu Beiyue, "Prepare for tomorrow and delegate your tasks as needed. How about leaving in secret the night after tomorrow?"
Gu Beiyue nodded. After a pause, he finally said, "Esteemed wangfei, this one has been exchanging letters with His Highness Duke of Qin over the past few days. After learning of his serious wounds, this one has a needle treatment method that is extremely helpful for internal internals."
"Really?!" Han Yunxi was thrilled. Gu Beiyue's acupuncture skills were top-notch.
"Mm," Gu Beiyue was still hesitant. "Esteemed wangfei, this one cannot personally treat His Highness Duke of Qin atop Celestial Mountain. Perhaps you can have a trusted aide do the deed instead?"
Han Yunxi couldn't wait for Long Feiye to get well faster. Each day earlier was one day won.
"I can!" she immediately agreed. Before Gu Beiyue could recommend Baili Mingxiang, Han Yunxi was already pulling her over. "Let's make it Mingxiang. She learns fast, so two days should be enough."
Baili Mingxiang was extremely surprised. She couldn't believe her ears as her heart pounded in her chest. If esteemed wangfei wasn't holding her hand so tightly, her fingers would be shaking by now. Heavens! I'm going to Celestial Mountain to treat His Highness Duke of Qin with needles?
She unconsciously looked towards her left. Although Su Xiaoyu wasn't here anymore, it still felt like the girl was standing right here and staring at her with eyes filled with questioning hostility.