Truthfully, Jiang Chen considered Commander Yong’s display rather sincere. He wouldn’t have agreed to the man’s request otherwise, given that he could possibly be walking into a trap.
The commander couldn’t contain his jubilation at Jiang Chen’s agreement.
“Please let me lead the way, Sir Jiang.” The commander astutely dismissed the other guards. “Go back for today. You don’t need to stay with us any more. I’ll mark this down in my book. I appreciate it.”
The guards typically flattered and buttered up the commander at any opportunity. They were more than happy to help the commander even a little bit, so didn’t dare take credit for anything so weighty. All of them made generic protests before excusing themselves.
“I must trouble you, Sir Jiang.” Commander Yong thanked Jiang Chen again.
The young lord nodded slightly. “I’ve noticed that many who live on Winterdraw are cold-blooded, ruthless folk. The lengths to which you cherish your wife, Commander Yong, means that you’re not like them. I agreed to come because of your exceptionalism. Let the heavens decide the results.”
“I am in your debt whether you succeed or not,” the commander guaranteed.
The commander’s residence wasn't nearly as luxurious as Jiang Chen had expected. Sin City was evidently a place with expensive real estate. Even a commander of the city lord’s guard didn't enjoy a large dwelling.
The court of the residence wasn’t large, but it was homely and well-organized. Two children rushed to meet the returning duo, one boy and one girl. “Daddy,” they called out.
Commander Yong’s eyes were filled with love. He embraced both children with great affection.
“Zhen’er, Li’er, this is Uncle Jiang. Daddy asked him to come look at mommy’s illness.”
“Uncle Jiang.” The two rather cute children were equally lovely and sweet.
The sight of both children caused Jiang Chen to remember his own daughter. When he’d caught sight of her at Plumscore Retreat, she had been about this age as well. His heart softened.
“Uncle Jiang, you can definitely cure mommy, right?”
“Uncle Jiang, you must be really amazing!”
The children’s expectant looks were impossible to turn down. “I’ll absolutely try my best,” Jiang Chen nodded.
Children were the most innocent almost anywhere. There was no disguising the purity and sincerity in their eyes. They were completely artless existences.
Jiang Chen found such an avenue of attack the most difficult to handle.
Commander Yong lightly caressed his children’s heads. “Zhen’er, Li’er, go play for now. Let Uncle Jiang look at your mother.”
The two children were loath to leave, but nodded dutifully and stepped aside. Their eyes radiated hope and entreaty, having banked all of their hopes on Jiang Chen’s skill.
Jiang Chen followed Commander Yong further in.
“I invited a few pill dao masters before,” Commander Yong stated bitterly. “But perhaps my wife’s illness is too strange. They had no idea what to do about her. My children are always hopeful, then disappointed,” the commander exhaled a ragged breath. “They’re too young. I’m worried if they’ll be able to bear it if they lose their mother.”
“Let’s see to your wife first, Commander Yong.”
Jiang Chen didn't like making promises he was uncertain of fulfilling, but the authenticity of the children had caused him to make his mind up already. He would push himself to the fullest today.
The commander led Jiang Chen to an inner room.
“Ah Tang, Ah Tang. I’ve invited another pill dao master here to diagnose you!” His voice of excitement reached inside before he knocked upon the chamber’s door.
There was a sound of greeting from within. A weak female voice sighed. “Brother Yong, I don’t think I’ll make it. Don’t waste any more money. My sickness has cost the family so much money the past few days. The kids are young and your job is dangerous, so our home can’t afford…”
“What are you going on about, Ah Tang?” The commander was a bit upset. “You’re the one who’s keeping the family stable. Without you, our home is incomplete! I can always make more money. Stop worrying and get better, alright?”
Though his words were ones of rebuke, his tone was filled with compassion. Clearly, he loved his wife very much; he wouldn't allow her to give up on herself.
Jiang Chen admired the commander more for what he saw. Someone who was willing to spend all his possessions to save his wife couldn’t be incorrigibly evil. Many spouses were willing to abandon each other in times of trouble. That this specific husband and wife pair was able to maintain such genuine affection for each other was rare indeed, considering the general malaise that permeated Sin City.
This city contained very little beauty, and Jiang Chen wasn’t about to let the few instances he saw of it wither.
They entered into a chamber with a sickbed within. A woman reclined upon it, her face pale and bloodless. Her pupils were similarly much dimmer than ordinary.
A single glance was enough to tell Jiang Chen that this woman wasn't in a good state. In fact, anyone who wasn’t blind could see that she was very ill. Her pretty features had been drained of most of their life. The ravages of disease had done a number to her vitality.
“Sir Jiang, this is my wife, Ah Tang.” Commander Yong introduced.
“Ah Tang, this is Sir Jiang. He’s a newcomer to Sin City, but his medical knowledge is superior to many pill dao masters.”
The commander had little evidence aside from Jiang Chen’s ability to spontaneously mix up poison antidotes. He was betting on the unlikely.
Jiang Chen was very polite. “Madam, please allow me to take your pulse first.”
Half-crouching by the bedside, he closed his eyes and pressed his fingers down. His concentration put his nature on full display.
Originally, Ah Tang had been mildly suspicious as to whether her husband had invited a quack home. She didn’t have time to voice concern however, before she was awed by his presence.
Jiang Chen’s relaxed composure was impressive to his onlookers. His youthfulness created questions, but his aplomb was sufficient to suppress them. The young man’s process to check pulses was much finer and more detailed compared to normal people.
After a long while, he gently took his hands away. His eyes remained closed, however, as he sank deep into thought. He was quite plainly sorting out his thoughts.
After a few moments, both eyes suddenly snapped open. His God’s Eye examined the seriously ill woman in consideration of something.
Commander Yong stood anxiously to the side, incessantly rubbing his hands together. He was even tenser than his wife. He was desperately worried that Jiang Chen would say something utterly crushing. He didn't want his last ray of hope to be snuffed out. His heart was in his throat; he made every effort to hold his breath in order not to disturb the youthful doctor.
Jiang Chen broke the silence with no indication whatsoever. “Your wife doesn’t seem to be a cultivator.”
Ah Tang nodded, her eyes reddening. “I wasn't a cultivator as a child. Brother Yong married me because he took pity on me, but now I’m dragging him down.”
Jiang Chen waved. “Not at all, madam. The relationship between husband and wife isn’t like that. You aren’t a burden on him at all.”
Commander Yong nodded in hasty agreement. “Yes, yes. Don’t say silly things like that, Ah Tang.”
The woman could only weep silently in response.
Jiang Chen inclined his head imperceptibly before turning to the commander. “Commander Yong, do you mind if I check your pulse too?”
The commander blinked. “I’m not sick at all. Quite healthy, in fact. Why do you need to take my pulse?”
Jiang Chen smiled. “I’d like to try. Do you mind?”
“Alright!” The young man’s insistence eliminated the commander’s need to ask why. He walked up, offering his hand without reservation.
Jiang Chen placed his hand on the man’s wrist, sensing through his fingertips once more.
It went much faster this time. Nodding thoughtfully to himself, Jiang Chen had found a few clues.
“Commander Yong,” he asked suddenly. “Did you begin refining an exceptionally fierce method in the past half-year? The kind with a ton of killing intent involved?”
The commander blinked. “You’re talking about my Celestial Tyrant Blade technique?”
“I don’t know what the name is, but it’s definitely a method that brims with both the metal attribute and carnage.” Jiang Chen had given his own guess.
Commander Yong’s mouth opened wide. “T-this…” he stuttered. “Did you guess all this?”
“No, I concluded it from your pulse.” Jiang Chen smiled. “Your meridians have taken on similar attributes to your method. Every inch of your body contains lethal brutality, and your pores exude blade aura. Unfortunately, you haven’t attained major achievement yet – so you can’t retract your edge.”
Commander Yong was speechless. Matters of cultivation were unknown to even his subordinates. Who could know aside from himself alone? He’d never told the outside world a thing about what he was doing. Was Sir Jiang able to read all these things through checking pulses alone? This was astounding!
“Sir Jiang, can it be… that Ah Tang’s illness is related to me?” The man’s brain spun quickly to the inevitable realization. There was no other reason for the rapid shift in conversation topic.
Jiang Chen sighed. “I wanted to avoid saying it outright so that you wouldn’t feel too fuilty. But I did need to communicate in some way, or your wife would remain at risk. I thought I would err on the truthful side.”
“I’m perfectly fine with your directness, Sir Jiang,” the commander hastily reassured. “Don’t worry about my feelings.”
“It’s rather clear by now, I should think. You can’t fully control your method, so there’s invisible blade intent seeping out from every bit of your skin at all times. Over the past half year, you and your wife have slept in the same bed every night. Even if you didn’t engage in any intimate relations, you still would’ve harmed the wood energy within her…”
Commander Yong gasped, then became completely ashen. He suddenly remembered his drastically increased sexual drive after the refinement of this method. During the past six months, he’d worked his wife over several times a night…
Can it be…
The commander found it difficult to contain his embarrassment.