His highness's Allure - Chap 87
Shen Huan took her little disciple back to the Ghost Valley.
During these past three years, Shen Huan had not only taught Shen Shijiu about medicine, but she had also taught him about the many principles of being a good person.
Shi’s personality had always been soft and gentle, and he was also a bit dumb, so he looked extremely easy to bully. This, coupled with how beautiful he was, made Shen Huan afraid to take him outside unless he was tied to her waist.
Fortunately, after giving him a human skin mask, he finally looked like an ordinary person.
But Shen Shijiu had sustained such serious injuries in the past, and had almost died. Though Shen Huan had preserved his life, from that point onward, his body had stopped growing. Three years had passed and that little dumpling retained his small stature; he was about the same size as Shen Huan.
Due to drinking too much medicine during this period of time, Shen Shijiu’s voice was also quite different from before.
“Disciple,” Shen Huan stirred the dark medicinal soup in the pot while watching Shi, who was squatting and burning firewood.
“Did you recognize that Prime Minister you met in the restaurant that day?”
Shi shook his head.
“I heard from the manager that this Prime Minister is quite the weirdo. Every year on the tenth day of the twelfth lunar month, he heads up to the mountain alone and stays there for the day. Don’t you think it’s coincidental that the day I saved you was also the tenth day of the twelfth lunar month?”
Shen Shijiu threw a piece of firewood into the flames, and nodded obediently, “Very coincidental.”
Shen Huan stared at him thoughtfully.
“Shifu, the medicine’s about to burn…”
Shen Huan came back to her senses, quickly took the pot off the fire, and poured the dark and viscous liquid into a bowl.
“Good disciple, come here.”
Shen Huan was full of smiles as she looked at Shen Shijiu, “Come and try your master’s new recipe.”
Shen Shijiu shook his head, took two steps back, covered his mouth, and looked at Shen Huan, his eyes filled with alertness.
“Come on, your master promises that this will be the last time, okay? You’re young, what’s there to be afraid of? And everything in here is good stuff, like centipede legs, scorpion tails, snake skin, toad tongue…”
Shen Huan was still listing out the ingredients, but Shen Shijiu had long since turned and ran out.
“Shifu, you’re a liar, you said that last time too, I’m not going to drink it…”
Shen Huan picked up the bowl and chased after him, “Ai, Disciple, stop running! Last time doesn’t count, this time is definitely the final time! Your master swears on her honor!”
Shen Shijiu slowly stopped, turned around, and looked at Shen Huan, his eyes wet, “Shifu… the medicine is so bitter… this disciple doesn’t want to drink it…” Upon seeing how pitiful he looked, Shen Huan closed her eyes helplessly.
Here we go again.
Every time he softened his voice and looked at her with those clear, teary eyes, Shen Huan couldn’t bear to force him anymore.
In the past, he had always used this little trick to escape drinking medicine, and it worked every time, even now.
Shen Huan put the bowl down, “Shi, your master asks you this, do you want to regain your memory and remember what happened in the past?”
Shen Shijiu lowered his head, mulled it over for a while, before shaking his head lightly, and tugging Shen Huan’s sleeve.
“Shifu, this disciple just wants to stay by your side forever.”
Shen Huan stroked his hair, “Ai, you little dummy.”
Forget it, since he didn’t want to, Shen Huan decided that she wouldn’t force him to drink the medicine anymore, and she wouldn’t experiment further with new formulas to bring back his memory.
It would be best to just leave everything up to fate. At least the pair of master and disciple spent their days in happiness and freedom.
Since Shen Huan suddenly had nothing else to research, she was sick of idling about in the Ghost Valley, so she did what she did in the past: dressed up, left the mountain, and set off in search of patients.
Except this time, she brought a little assistant along with her.
The two first journeyed to the Imperial City where Shen Huan used all of her savings to open a small clinic. The clinic had already been open for two days, yet not a single person had come in.
Shen Huan sat in the doorway with an anxious expression on her face. If she was unwilling to reveal herself as the Ghost Doctor, the world would be unwilling to come to her obscure little clinic, and she, in turn, would become more and more obscure herself.
She was now starting to regret being too detached from the world in her youth; she went out with her real face, and only charged a small amount of money for medical treatment. The name “Ghost Doctor” would bring her instant success, but it would also cause a lot of trouble.
Now, she could only sit around and eat away at her savings.
Shen Huan turned her head and saw her little disciple, who was slouched over the edge of the counter, pondering about what to write on his paper, and walked over out of curiosity.
Upon closer inspection, the account book had a portrait of Shen Huan sitting by the door painted over it.
Shen Shijiu’s brush stopped, and nodded solemnly. Then, as if he was asking for praise, held it up to Shen Huan.
“Shifu, do you think it looks like you?”
Shen Huan looked at the unclear face and extremely deformed body in the book; the part that bore the closest resemblance to her appearance was actually the fake beard stuck on her chin.
The corners of her mouth twitched, “It does, almost too much! Your master isn’t even one-tenth as beautiful as your painting!”
Shen Huan patted Shen Shijiu’s head, “Let’s go, accompany your master on a little stroll. If we stay here any longer, your master will lose her mind.”
The two arrived at the Imperial City’s main street. Both sides were packed with various stalls selling goods that were all very novel and interesting, so Shen Shijiu couldn’t help but glance around.
Shen Huan knew what he was thinking, and quickly pulled him away. As long as he walked fast, he wouldn’t be able to see those things clearly. A horde of people were gathered further down the street, and Shen Huan pulled Shen Shijiu to join in the fun.
Only when they squeezed to the front of the crowd did they see clearly that an imperial announcement was posted on the notice board.
It said that the Imperial Hospital was recruiting talents, talented doctors from all walks of life would engage in a medical skills competition. Whoever came out on top would receive a rich reward.
Shen Huan looked at the imperial announcement, and her eyes were about to pop. She cycled through several quick calculations in her mind; this money would be enough for her to open several more clinics.
“Me me me…ahem, this old man would like to try it out.”
Shen Huan lowered her voice and raised her hand in the crowd.
Unexpectedly, the guard glanced over, ignored her, and yelled at the noisy crowd.
“We won’t accept anyone that’s too old or too young!”
Shen Huan reacted quickly, and she immediately raised Shen Shijiu’s arm, “Sir, I’m signing up on behalf of my disciple, he can, he can!”
Shen Shijiu was dumbstruck; he had been sold out by his shifu just like that.
Many people had signed up; as long as they had some knowledge in the field of medicine, they were eager to participate.
Shen Shijiu was about to enter the palace with the other doctors, when Shen Huan secretly pulled him aside while they weren’t paying attention.
“Don’t be scared, my disciple. Your master has participated in these medicine knowledge competitions a few times in youth. As long as you pass through the preliminary round, you’ll be rewarded. Then, you just need to pretend that you don’t know how to write prescriptions, and you can take the reward and leave the palace. Your master will come to pick you up when the time comes.”
Shen Huan held his hand, “It’s about time for you to leave your master’s side and get some experience. Just remember to talk less and do more, your master will have a way to secretly protect you.”
Shen Shijiu nodded, and followed the group of doctors, looking back anxiously several times.
The guards led the doctors into the palace through the side entrance, and a chief eunuch explained some rules to them, before arranging for them to wait in the empty courtyard outside the Imperial Hospital.
Shen Shijiu kept his shifu‘s words in mind, and stood alone at the side of the crowd, quietly staring at the elaborately carved stone tiles under his feet, dazed.
The others gathered into groups of twos and threes to chat until they were interrupted by a voice.
“Everyone, please be quiet for a moment.”
The person who came was a young imperial physician wearing an official uniform. He looked delicate and beautiful, had fair skin, and exuded an aura of excellence.
“I am an imperial physician of the Imperial Hospital, Jiang Yubai.”
As soon as those words fell, everybody present was filled with a sense of reverence. They had all heard Imperial Physician Jiang’s name before, and now they would finally get to meet him.
“First of all, I welcome you all here for the medical skills competition. I think you are clear about the specifics. Now please go back to your residences to rest. Tomorrow, the first test will officially begin.”
After he finished speaking, a eunuch came and took everyone to the wing on the side of the Imperial Hospital.
Shen Shijiu was also following the eunuch, but unexpectedly, when he passed Imperial Physician Jiang, he was suddenly pulled back.
“You, what’s your name?”
Imperial Physician Jiang stared at his face, his gaze complicated.
Shi felt a bit strange from being stared at. He lightly jiggled his wrist, and asked in a quiet voice, “Imperial Physician Jiang, can I go now?”
The grip around his wrist suddenly loosened, and Imperial Physician Jiang smiled at him, “Of course, sorry about that, I hope I didn’t scare you.”
Shen Shijiu’s eyes curved, and a flash of radiance appeared on that extremely ordinary face, “It’s okay, Imperial Physician Jiang.”
After he spoke, he followed the eunuch and left.
He entered his room. He was living with a young doctor with thick brows and large eyes, who was very kind and compatible.
“I’m Zhou Wu, xiao-xiongdi1, what’s your name?”
Shen Shijiu stood beside the door, tidied up his robes, faced Zhou Wu, and said in a serious voice, “My name is Shen Shijiu.”
“Shi?” Zhou Wu asked, “Are there ten children in your family?”
Shen Shijiu didn’t know why he would ask that, but he shook his head blankly, “My shifu gave me this name, and I’m my shifu‘s only disciple.”
Realizing that he seemed to be a bit dumb, Zhou Wu stopped teasing him.
The two chatted a little more, and Zhou Wu became even more sure that this man was a bit of an idiot, but when they talked about medicine-related things, he was actually quite knowledgeable.
But the world wasn’t short of oddities, so maybe this really was a xiao-xiongdi who possessed great talent in the field of medicine.
The two went to bed early that night.
The next day, all the doctors gathered in the courtyard in front of the Imperial Hospital. There were many desks and grass cushions in the courtyard, one for each person.
The place was surrounded by guards. After all the doctors had been seated, Jiang Yubai came out to ask the question.
It wasn’t a difficult question, so Shen Shijiu quickly finished writing the prescription. Seeing that the others were still scribbling frantically, he was a little bored sitting in his seat. He gnawed on his brush and fell into a daze.
Jiang Yubai walked to his side, and was surprised by his neat handwriting. He carefully examined the prescription; it was indeed a recipe that didn’t require many ingredients, but still produced quick results, so he nodded in satisfaction.
When the time was up, everyone’s prescriptions were collected, and Jiang Yubai looked over them one by one, while the others stayed in their seats, waiting for the results.
“Which one of you is Qian Xingwang?”
Someone stood up.
Jiang Yubai swept a glance over him, “If someone were to eat what you’ve prescribed, they’d be killed after one dose. Take him away.”
Qian Xingwang was led away by two eunuchs; he had failed the preliminary test, so he would be sent straight out of the palace.
Someone else stood up.
Jiang Yubai looked at him with suspicion, “Do you actually have any medical knowledge?”
“A little, I’ve treated cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, and the like.”
The corner of Jiang Yubai’s mouth twitched, and he waved his hand, “Get out of here.”
In this fashion, the number of people sitting in the courtyard gradually decreased, and in the end, only eight people had passed the preliminary test, including Shen Shijiu and Zhou Wu. Shen Shijiu’s prescription had won first place,and Zhou Wu won second place, so the two of them would be rewarded handsomely.
“All right, that’s all for today’s test. I will inform you all of the next test at a later time. You may all return to your rooms to rest.”
After hearing this, everyone rose and left. At this moment, an anxious palace maid ran through the gate of the Imperial Hospital.
“Imperial Physician Jiang, Noble Consort Xi’s illness has relapsed! Quickly come and take a look at her!”
Jiang Yubai’s brows creased, and he was about to follow the maid and hurry over to Noble Consort Xi’s residence.
He suddenly stopped, and called over the two people who were about to leave.
“Shen Shijiu, Zhou Wu, the two of you, come with me.”
Zhou Wu’s face was full of excitement when he heard this, and immediately followed Jiang Yubai’s receding, hurried figure.
Shen Shijiu stood on the spot and thought for a while, but unfortunately, he couldn’t think of anything. In the end, he simply jogged after them.
Noble Consort Xi was the Third Princess Qi Yirou’s biological mother. She had once been very favored – and that favor had even extended to the Third Princess, who had been the Emperor’s favorite and most beloved daughter.
But since ancient times, emperors had always been heartless. Once Noble Consort Xi’s favor was gone, her health plummeted. She began to suffer from lung disease, and would sometimes even cough up blood.
Upon arrival, they smelled the bloody odor wafting through the residence. The visage of the person on the bed, their hearts were filled with terror.
The blood Noble Consort Xi had coughed up had almost completely soaked the pillow, which was covered by a patch of bright red. Her eyes were shut tight, and she looked to be in terrible pain. She was still coughing incessantly even in her sleep, and a thin line of blood spilled from the corner of her lips.
The maid beside her kept wiping it up with a handkerchief, but it was no use.
Jiang Yubai hurried over to take her pulse, before sealing the blood in her throat with a silver needle, ensuring that she wouldn’t continue coughing blood for the time being.
Noble Consort Xi’s face was pale, and she mumbled continuously in her sleep.
“Your Majesty… Your Majesty… I2 know what I did was wrong… Your Majesty, please come visit me…”
Shen Shijiu stood a short distance from the bed and watched Jiang Yubai skillfully prick the needle. His eyebrows creased and he thought hard, before he suddenly figured something out and walked over.
“Imperial Physician Jiang, can I?’
Shen Shijiu pointed at Noble Consort Xi’s wrist.
Jiang Yubai glanced at him and nodded.
Shen Shjiu lightly placed his fingers on it, and his brows slowly relaxed. Sure enough, it was just as he thought.
He gently pulled Jiang Yubai’s sleeve, and whispered in his ear, “Imperial Physician Jiang, I have a way.”
Then he told Jiang Yubai his thoughts. Jiang Yubai’s eyes widened, and he suddenly clapped a hand over Shi’s mouth.
“Shut your mouth!”
She Shijiu blinked innocently, and didn’t understand why.
Jiang Yubai sighed. This Shen Shijiu definitely wasn’t an idiot.
Did this kid really think that he was unable to cure Noble Consort Xi’s illness?
That wasn’t the case at all. It was the Emperor who didn’t want Concubine Xi to get better, so her condition had no cure, and there was nothing that could be done.
Jiang Yubai put on his usual act and wrote out another useless prescription, before hurriedly leaving the residence with the other two in tow.
On the way back, Jiang Yubai didn’t say a word. Shen Shijiu and Zhou Wu followed obediently.
After arriving back at the Imperial Hospital, Zhou Wu returned to the room to rest, while Shen Shijiu was told by Jiang Yubai to stay behind.
“Do you know why I brought the two of you today?”
Shen Shijiu shook his head, “I don’t know.”
“I just want you to see how complicated it is to work in this palace. Whether or not someone can be saved doesn’t depend on how good your medical skills are, but rather on if His Majesty wants them to live or not.”
Seeing how muddled he looked, Jiang Yubai could tell that his brain was different from that of a normal person’s, so the gears in his mind couldn’t help but begin to turn again.
“Who did you study medicine with?
Shen Shijiu obediently replied, “M-my shifu.”
“What is your shifu‘s name?”
Shen Shijiu shut his mouth tight and shook his head, which actually made him look a bit cute.
Jiang Yubai thought it was funny, “What, is it some big secret? Even if you tell me, I definitely won’t know who it is.”
Shen Shijiu shook his head again, “Shifu won’t let me say it, I have to listen3.”
Jiang Yubai sighed, “Forget it, if you don’t want to say it, don’t. It would be a surprise if I knew who it was anyway. You should hurry back to rest, there will be another test tomorrow, so you’ll need to have enough energy for that.”
She Shijiu obediently nodded and returned to his room.
The next day, the remaining eight doctors were taken to the Imperial Hospital, and were each sent into separate rooms.
Shen Shijiu stuck strictly to what his shifu had told him; no matter what questions were asked later, he wouldn’t answer them, and would just wait to be escorted out of the palace.
But unexpectedly, when the door suddenly opened, a bloody man was carried inside.
The two guards simply threw the unconscious man onto the bed and walked out.
Shen Shijiu hurried to the side of the bed and pinched the man’s wrist to feel his pulse; it was already extremely weak, and if he wasn’t treated immediately, his life would be in danger.
Jiang Yubai’s voice came from outside.
“The rules are very simple. Keep the person inside alive until sunset. Everyone, now is the time to show off your skills.”
After he finished speaking, everything fell into silence, and he couldn’t hear anything from the other rooms.
Shen Shijiu bit his lip, knelt down by the bed and clenched his fists, not knowing what to do.
The room was stocked with many medicinal materials, and there was a stove to cook the medicine. Shen Shijiu did have a way to keep him alive, but if he treated the man, he wouldn’t be able to leave the palace for the time being.
But he couldn’t sit by and watch the person in front of him die without being saved, he just couldn’t.
Gritting his teeth, Shen Shijiu stood up and began to busy himself around the room in order to treat his patient.
He gently stripped off the man’s bloody clothing. Several large gashes had to be stitched up, and then he had to gather the correct herbs and cook the medicine; both external application and oral administration were carried out methodically.
The sun finally set over the mountains.
Jiang Yubai went to check the rooms one by one. Out of the eight doctors present, only two of them had managed to keep their patients alive.
One was Zhou Wu, the other was Shen Shijiu. The man treated by Shen Shijiu was even showing signs of awakening.
The rest were taken away, given their rewards, and sent home.
Meanwhile, Zhou Wu and Shen Shijiu were left in the Imperial Hospital to become apprentices. After a period of learning through first-hand experience, perhaps they could really become imperial physicians themselves.
Zhou Wu was very excited; this was great news that would bring glory to his ancestors.
But Shen Shijiu looked sullen. He wanted to tell Jiang Yubai several times that he wanted to leave the Imperial Hospital, then leave the palace to find his shifu.
But Jiang Yubai was too busy. He wasn’t the only Imperial Physician in the palace, so why did everyone only want him to treat them?
Jiang Yubai was so busy every day that his feet were never stuck in one place for long. He just hoped that he could accept a well-behaved and talented apprentice who could shoulder some of his burdens. Although Zhou Wu was very hardworking, his appearance was too unsettling, strangely cunning.
That slightly silly Shen Shijiu wasn’t bad; he was dutiful, never broke rules, and spoke softly in a way that could steal someone’s heart. It was a pity that someone had already snatched him first.
Before Shen Shijiu could find the right time to explain to Jiang Yubai that he wanted to leave the palace, someone came to the Imperial Palace to ‘request’ Jiang Yubai.
This time, it wasn’t a eunuch or maid from a certain residence, but a black-clad guard.
When Shen Shijiu saw the guard’s face, he couldn’t help but be stunned. This man, wasn’t he the one that he saw in Yi Pin Xiang last time?
The guard obviously recognized him too, nodded lightly at him, before heading straight into the pharmacy where Jiang Yubai was.
A moment later, the cold-faced guard was holding Jiang Yubai by the wrist and dragging him out.
“Cheng Feng! I don’t want to treat that woman! Let me4 go! It hurts! Can you take responsibility for my broken wrist?”
The guard relaxed his grip a little, ignored Jiang Yubai’s struggles, and expressionlessly dragged him towards the gate of the Imperial Hospital.
Shen Shijiu obediently stepped aside to make way, and waved goodbye to Jiang Yubai.
Jiang Yubai rolled his eyes in anger, “Shen Shijiu! Get over here! You’re coming with me!
Shen Shijiu didn’t know what he did wrong. Was it wrong to wave goodbye to people as they were leaving?
He stood at the gate of the Prime Minister’s Manor. As he gazed at the impressive manor, he was a bit scared to step inside.
Just what was this resistance in his heart? He didn’t know either.
“Both of you, hurry up, what are you dawdling for? Are your feet stuck to the ground?
Jiang Yubai walked in with ease, and, as if he was standing in his own courtyard, turned to look at Shen Shijiu and Zhou Wu, who were still at the gate.
Zhou Wu was too shocked; even entering the palace hadn’t frightened him as much as the prospect of entering the Prime Minister’s Manor did.
Shen Shijiu looked at the large, open courtyard and stepped in.
They passed through the front garden, the covered corridor, several round arched gates, and a bamboo forest. A small building appeared in front of them, with a plaque that read “Waterside Pavilion”
They hadn’t spotted a single servant along the way as they walked through the enormous Prime Minister’s Manor; the entire courtyard was quiet, gloomy and lifeless.
This waterside pavilion was where the second Princess Qi Bingzhi resided. Everyone knew that she had been engaged to Pei Zheng three years ago, but what happened that year was unknown; during the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom had actually disappeared.
Later, when the bridegroom reappeared, he was seriously injured and unconscious.
The Emperor promised to wait until Pei Zheng recovered from his injury, and choose another auspicious day to make up for their incomplete wedding. But even after Pei Zheng recovered from his injury, the matter had been delayed time and time again, and had actually dragged on for three years.
The door of the waterside pavilion opened. Jiang Yubai walked inside first, and had Zhou Wu and Shen Shijiu wait outside.
Shen Shijiu stood outside the waterside pavilion and looked around. Suddenly he saw a little pavilion not too far away; it was a pity he could only see the exquisite eaves that soared upward like swallows, and was slightly entranced as he gazed at them.
At this moment, a little maid rushed toward the waterside pavilion, opened the door and shouted, “Princess, Princess, His Lordship is back!”
A surprised voice came from inside, “Quick, help me up, I must go and welcome him back!”
Thanks for reading~~
1.小兄弟 (xiǎo xiōng dì): little brother
2.妾身 (qiè shēn): it’s a way that concubines address themselves when speaking to the Emperor. I think 妾身 is actually used more by nobles’ concubines, and the royal concubines refer to themselves by ‘臣妾’ which is ‘subject’ and ‘concubine’.
3. Well this sentence sounds quite bad, but in Chinese, the words for he, she, and them all sound exactly the same, so it’s impossible to tell which one is which. He said 她 here, which is ‘her’
4.HAHA he called himself 老子, which is a… more disrespectful (?) way of saying ‘I’.