Chapter 718 – The Sunlight of the Courtyard Shines upon the Brewing Medicine by the Window
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
(TN: Way of Choices will be on break from December 25th, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
Zhou Tong stopped, his eyes narrowing.
Even in the dim light of the lanterns, he could still clearly see the color of the blood. The black blood was rather striking.
He felt that the heart underneath his palm was beating faster and faster, causing his hand and arm to tremble with it. Then his shoulders began to tremble, and then his entire body.
His face became abnormally pale, as if he had been afflicted by some grave illness in this brief span of time.
He had been poisoned, and with a fierce and very rare poison.
He had been able to conclude so quickly that this was a very rare poison because the Department for Purging Officials was the place most skilled in the use of poisons.
The poisons he personally saw and used were more numerous than the different foods a normal person ate in their entire life.
When had he been poisoned? The gloomy light in his squinted eyes continuously flickered as he recalled this past period. Although there were no clues, he very quickly determined who had poisoned him and when he had been poisoned. These did not require proof, only reverse deduction based on time and the grasp of a few details.
His poisoner was probably still there, but he did not turn around, because what he needed to prioritize was leaving.
He took a handtowel from his sleeve and wiped the foul blood from his lips, then continued walking forward, very quickly vanishing into the darkness.
After some time, a soft sound rose from the darkness. The gloomy lanterns on the stone walls revived, shining upon Zhexiu's pale face streaked with dried mud.
He crouched down and dipped a hand into the foul blood, brought it up to his nose, and sniffed.
The foul black blood exuded a faint fishy scent atop those blade-like fingers glimmering with cold light.
He was very satisfied and continued in pursuit along the trail of Qi, swiftly vanishing into the darkness.
The tunnels under the Department for Purging Officials spread out like a spider web and were extraordinarily complex. They were also longer than one might imagine, leading directly to very distant places. If possible, if this were any ordinary time, Zhou Tong would have spent much longer in the tunnels, winding through many paths, activating many more mechanisms, all to ensure his absolute safety.
This was not possible today, because a fierce poison ran through his body.
This poison was completely different from the poisons commonly used by the Department for Purging Officials. It did not particularly target the meridians, the star openings, or the sea of consciousness. Instead, it pervaded the organs like sand, imparting a coarse and rough sensation that made him think about the vast plains of the north.
This sort of poison that was so incredibly close to nature might not even be treatable using the Sacred Light technique. However, very few people in the world had his level of knowledge in poisons, and he could even be considered a grandmaster in this aspect. Even if he had not seen this type of poison before, he knew how he should set out to deal with it. In order to take care of such a poison, only medicine would do, and it had to be medicine made with herbs. Even in Zhou Prison, such herbs would be very difficult to obtain. Fortunately, he knew of a place appropriately equipped for this ask, and even more fortunately, it was the place he had intended to go to.
He walked through the cold, wet, and extremely long tunnels, taking many turns. The ground was no longer flat, but gradually inclinined upward. He continued forward, walking to the end of the tunnel. His hands accurately inserted themselves into a gap in the wall, removing an array. He activated a switch, and then his hands pushed forward, opening a door and delivering him from darkness.
A dazzling sunlight was waiting for him, and also a moving face as warm and gentle as the sunshine.
The sunlight came from the sky above the courtyard. The gloomy clouds of snow had at some point been blown away, revealing the porcelain-blue sky. Just like this, the warm light of the winter sun appeared before him. The warm and moving face belonged to a beautiful young woman.
Upon seeing this sunlight and the face of this young woman, Zhou Tong instantly felt his body warm up and his mind calm down. Moreover, the concern and anxiety evident on the woman's face made his chest turn hot. This was an emotion completely different from fear or loathing, and it was also the emotion that he most lacked and most required in his life.
The young woman supported him out of the tunnel and then closed it with great difficulty, once more activating the switch.
This courtyard was not very large, nor very refined, but every detail, whether it was the black eaves, the screen wall, or the border of green bamboo, brimmed with the word 'tranquility'.
When Zhou Tong first designed this courtyard, this was what he had pursued. He had always believed that only with tranquility did a place carry the flavor of home.
This courtyard was his home, his true home, the final place that he could serenely rest his exhausted body and poison-steeped heart.
Only after returning to this courtyard could his mind finally gain true calm, could it truly relax.
For his safety and to protect his secret, so that his hard-sought tranquility could not be disturbed, Zhou Tong had set up with this courtyard with extreme prudence.
Nobody knew of this place, not his most loyal subordinates in the Department for Purging Officials, Cheng Jun and the other Eight Tigers, or even the Divine Empress.
The only person that knew of this courtyard's relationship to him was already dead.
Every time he returned to this courtyard and he listened to the sounds beyond the patches of green bamboo from their neighboring courtyard, Zhou Tong would always recall a certain memory.
In these past few years, Xue Xingchuan had dearly hoped that Zhou Tong would treat the Xue Estate as his true home, but how could this be possible? Disregarding how every one of the servants and his juniors in the Xue Estate would view him with dismay and unease, he refused to do so solely because of his surname. His elder brother might not want this surname, but he did.
Along with the Demon Commander, Zhou Tong was probably the person that the greatest number of people wished to see dead. Perhaps for this reason, what he feared most was death. Besides this courtyard, he had a few more secret hiding places in the capital. However, none of those places was as safe as this or as important or comfortable.
He felt this way because this courtyard had a sweet-tempered and moving woman who also had heartfelt love and respect for him. More importantly, there were many precious things stored, like several extremely rare herbs. Of these herbs, the majority had been obtained via sending people to remove them from the Hundred Herb Garden, and another portion had been gifted to him by the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets.
He took a steaming towel and placed it over his face. He began to heavily cough, perhaps incited by the hot air.
Upon taking off the towel, he saw that its surface was now spotted with blots of black blood. They looked like flowers drawn in ink, completely unreal yet somewhat horrifying.
The woman was very anxious, but Zhou Tong seemed particularly calm and indifferent. He had her grind some ink while he sat on a chair, closing his eyes to calm his mind, but looking like he was tasting something.
He was tasting that fierce poison in his body carrying the flavor of the vast plains.
After some time, he opened his eyes. Supported by the woman, he walked to a table by the window. He lifted the brush and wrote with confidence and ease, as if he was writing calligraphy.
The strokes on the paper were dripping with ink, and the handwriting was extremely clear. This was not grass script, but a prescription of herbs.
(TN: Grass script is a type of calligraphy style.)
Which herbs to use, how many bowls of water, how to simmer it, what sort of fire, what sort of stove, what sort of coal, what sort of water, how to filter the medicinal broth, when to add crystals—everything was written with remarkable clarity.
The woman saw his expression and knew that he should be okay for the moment. Her mind relaxed, she took the prescription and went to the kitchen to make the medicine.
This sort of matter had happened several times, so she had some experience.
No mistakes were made with regards to the types and amount of herbs used, and she very smoothly heated the stove.
At some point, a beauty dressed in palace attire appeared by the stove. The fire shone upon her face, illuminating her sublime appearance.
This palace beauty was truly very beautiful.
In fact, in the past few years, she had been regarded as the most beautiful woman in all of the Great Zhou Dynasty.
The servant woman brewed the medicine with a calm expression, dividing the herbs and filtering their juices with great steadiness. It was like she didn't even see this beauty dressed in palace attire.
The beauty placed a few things in the medicine pot.
The servant woman still acted as if she did not see.
The room was silent, the only sound the gurgling of the broth in the medicine pot.