Was Gu Beiyue harboring doubts and placing his hopes on Gu Qishao instead?
But what did Gu Qishao want to do?
"Doctor Gu…" Han Yunxi mumbled.
Gu Beiyue recovered enough to look at her with a light smile. "Don't worry."
At this moment, a man dressed in military garb stood up from the audience. He proclaimed loudly, "Academy Head Gu, Tianning's Great General Ning has already sent troops down south. Tianning is willing to cooperate with Medical City's arrangements and disregard past grudges. We'll join hands to destroy the Poison Sect and protect Cloud Realm!"
"Such cardinal principles of righteousness shouldn't leave out my Western Zhou!" Duanmu Baiye raised his hand next.
The man sitting next to the Northern Li Head Imperial Physician raised his right hand as well. "Count my Northern Li as a companion!"
"Han Yunxi took advantage of His Highness Duke of Qin's absence to collude with General Baili's estate and arrogate military power to trap us five prominent clans. This old man came today just to ask you ladies and gentlemen to help the south central region's people out of their misery!" Clan Head Xiao stood up next.
As expected, there were no such things as eternal allies or enemies, just eternal interests! For the sake of self interest, friends could turn against each other, brothers could betray each other, old enemies could form an alliance, different nations could walk the same path! How could any of these people truly care about the life and death of the people? How could they have any sense of righteousness? All they wanted was benefits and profits. After destroying the south central region's commander-in-chief's estate, they could split up its land as they liked.
Han Yunxi looked coldly towards Mu Qingwu. She was curious as to why Tianan had sent him out to participate in the Apricot Woods Conference. As it turned out, Tianan Country had long predicted that Medical City would play this move. Medicine City didn't express any views, but they had long cut off supplies to the south central regions. Meanwhile, more great clans expressed their views while Mu Qingwu remained silent.
Perhaps Han Yunxi still held wild hopes for that upright young man, but she kept staring at Mu Qingwu. Yet in the end, he disappointed her.
Mu Qingwu raised his hand and cried, "Tianan agrees to join in everyone's united efforts!"
Han Yunxi sighed and turned back. Her disappointment wasn't blaming Mu Qingwu for forsaking his old life-saving debt at her hands, but the fact that such an upstanding and candid general could not only act so poorly in defense of his little sister, but in major matters of principles concerning human lives.
In his bones, Mu Qingwu disdained Medical City. His heart was burning with indignation, but he was helpless. Before he came to Medical City, his father had already told him a thousand times to act according to his discretion and follow the majority. He mustn't stick out. There was no way he could defy his father's orders, which were military law. Once, he disobeyed and contradicted his father for the sake of helping Han Yunxi. But he had never gone against military law. Having joined the army since he was young, he always took laws of the army as an immovable mountain.
Nearly all of the representatives had expressed their support, letting Han Yunxi see Medical City's formidable rallying strength. At the same time, she witnessed everyone's hypocritical faces. This was the first time in her life that she earnestly wished to join hands with Long Feiye to destroy all of these powers and stamp on their sham mouths. They could fight across all of Cloud Realm Continent and create a whole new country with a different world order.
Gu Yuntian was very pleased by the results. He raised both hands and gestured for everyone to quiet down. "Since everyone agrees with Medical City and wants to eliminate the plague upon the people, then I hope you can all stay a few more days after the Apricot Woods Conference. This old man shall take the lead and have us all discuss a plan to kill the Poison Sect's remnants!"
The audience didn't have time to react at his words when a vine suddenly burst out of the ground by his food. Thorns and thistles sprouted from its body, its tendrils waving wildly until it trapped him inside. Alarm passed through the crowd as everyone stood up. Medical City's guards were the first to rush to the scene and hack at the vine with their swords.
"There's an assassin!"
"Who's there? Show yourself!"
"Someone come, surround the premises! No one's allowed to leave!"
The crowd was flustered, but didn't budge from their spots. Gu Yuntian well deserved the title as Medical City's leader, because he remained quite calm despite being trapped in the vines and even had the guards withdraw. He touched the vines gently and smiled. "Brambles. This should count as a type of medicine."
"And if I tell you it's a type of poison instead?" Gu Qishao stood up and strode step by step onstage.
Gu Yuntian didn't express any sign of fear, but he did stop touching the vines.
"Who are you? You could have killed this old man, but you didn't. Why? What demands do you have?" Gu Yuntian asked. He was right. If Gu Qishao could plant a seed silently by his foot, then he had enough skills to kill him outright.
At this, Medical City's people relaxed. Every year, there were multiple relatives of ailing patients that came to beg for treatment. If they didn't get it, they would resort to extreme methods. Everyone assumed that Gu Qishao was here for the same reason. It was a smart idea to slip into the Apricot Woods Conference and ask for aid, because Academy Head Gu would be unable to refuse his request in front of so many people and treat him as a special case.
But Gu Qishao's answer took everyone by surprise. He didn't stand on stage, but remained below it looking up with a cold gaze. "I'm here to ask for justice!"
Finally, Gu Yuntian was surprised as well. "Just who are you?"
Gu Qishao tossed his face mask aside to reveal his bewitching countenance. If a face like his smiled, it would devastate entire cities and mesmerize hundreds! Unfortunately, he didn't. His eyes were cold without a trace of warmth. Even Han Yunxi, who saw his smiles the most, couldn't help but feel a hint of dread in her heart. She grew uneasy as she sensed that Gu Qishao and Gu Yuntian had a huge grudge between them!
This time, Gu Qishao had gotten serious. His beautiful face stunned the crowd.
"He's Gu Qishao! The one who raised a huge Poison corpse army against Carefree City was him!"
"Yes yes, that's Gu Qishao!"
"He has to be a member of the Poison Sect!"
"Definitely, for certain. Only Poison Sect members could raise so many Poison corpses. It's too horrific! Surround him, don't let him escape!"
Between the startled cries, no one dared to advance a step. The Northern Li Imperial Physician Nazha Delin, who was sitting in the first row, could only gape at him in continued astonishment. Gu Qishao and Gu Yuntian allowed the commotion to grow without paying the crowd any attention. They gazed at each other with icy eyes as if nothing around them mattered. In the silence between them lurked a terrifying storm that only the two of them could understand!
If Gu Yuntian didn't believe Academy Head Ling's guesses before, he did now. Gu Qishao was none other than Gu Qi Sha, the Little Qi of bygone days and his biological son. Little Qi hadn't lost his memories, but he had returned. To seek revenge!
When Little Qi had gotten "amnesia" in his youth, he and Academy Head Ling had put on a play for Medical City's insiders. They had plotted to expel him from the city first, then secretly kidnap him back so they could lock him up for more experiments. But Little Qi vanished into thin air after leaving Medical City. The people who followed him searched through all the surrounding areas of Medical City without finding a clue.
Many years later when Little Qi grew up and established Pill Fiend Valley with his own power, he realized that the child was still alive. By then he already suspected that the boy had faked his memory loss and schemed a way to escape. So many years had passed, but his Little Qi had finally come back! But for vengeance?
Thinking up to here, Gu Yuntian suddenly smiled. He had concealed everything back then and done such a clean job to prevent leaving any traces behind. So what if Little Qi knew the truth? What could he do to him? Who would believe words from Little Qi's mouth? Rather, he was hoping that Little Qi would return, because then he could continue his research! He couldn't figure out how Little Qi recovered his pulse after succumbing to that pestilence all those years ago. His body had returned to normal, too.
Gu Qishao glared icicles at Gu Yuntian as his lips quirked up into a smile. It was a sight that made one's hairs stand on end. One could tell that his smile held nothing good, but not what he was planning. The world seemed to freeze around the father and son pair as they exchanged gazes filled with different thoughts.
Abruptly, a voice rose from the ground. "Who knows, Gu Qishao might be Han Yunxi's older brother! All of them are Poison Sect remnants! They have to be killed--"
"Rubbish, careful I don't poison your mouth rotten!" Gu Qishao ripped himself from his cold stare to snarl at the speaker like an evil wolf. "This old man has no blood relations with Han Yunxi!"
Han Yunxi didn't know whether to laugh or cry at those words. Does he dislike my bloodline that much?
Gu Beiyue was reduced to a helpless smile. This fellow, how much offense did he take to such a tiny detail!
His temper quelled the crowd as they quieted down. The person who spoke wanted to save face, so he asked, "Then who are you? How can you raise so many Poison corpses?"
Gu Qishao's lips quirked up into a smirk as he adopted a strange and eerie voice. "This old man is Gu Qi Sha, Head Elder Ling's foster son…" He paused for effect as he turned to look at Gu Yuntian.
"This voice, he--he's Gu Qi Sha! He's Gu Qi Sha!"
"This...how is that possible? Gu Qishao is actually Gu Qi Sha, that makes him part of the medical academy, ah!"
"Gu Qi Sha, Gu Qishao...so he was Little Qi from the past! Little Qi!"
Many members of the medical community here had visited Pill Fiend Valley and met Gu Qi Sha in person before, so they recognized his unique voice. All of them were utterly flummoxed by the revelation. Even the old veterans of Medical City were showing expressions of amazement.
They had seen Little Qi in the past, but now he was back…
Because Little Qi had cultivated a single poisonous plant in the medicine fields and then stolen ingredients from the storehouse, he was expelled from Medical City. To avoid staining the city's reputation, they hid the fact about the poisonous plant and simply labeled him as a thief. But how could he have planted something so toxic? And how did he raise Poison corpses? Who taught him?
The various department heads and three elders, as well as the remaining directors, were all exchanging whispers between each other. Gu Yuntian also pulled himself from his thoughts and studied Little Qi's face closely. He never expected his son to grow up so much, or so handsome. He had long forgotten what his mother looked like. But Little Qi probably resembles her more.
Even though he was delirious with joy inside, his face remained impassive. "Little Qi, I never expected you to seek refuge with the Poison Sect!"
1. Remember that in Chinese, 'Gu Qishao' (顾七少) and 'Gu Qi Sha' (古七刹) are visually and phoentically quite different from their English pinyin counterparts.