Chapter 173: Diagnosis and Treatment
The two of them played speed chess. In the first game, Emperor Yu gave Liu Zhongming a handicap, resulting in a draw. In the second game, no matter how much Liu Zhongming pleaded, Emperor Yu didn’t give in, and in the end, Liu Zhongming lost.
While they were in the middle of reviewing the game, a voice from outside the door interrupted them. It was Bo Yan’s voice saying, “Your Majesty, Ling Shaoqing requests an audience.”
Since the second game, the voice from the side hall had gradually become hoarse and weak, almost inaudible. Even Emperor Yu was somewhat restless, occasionally glancing towards the door.
Yu Dexi had gone twice and was met with firm resistance from Ling He before even entering. He was sent back.
Upon hearing Bo Yan’s voice, even before Yu Dexi could speak, Emperor Yu hurriedly said, “Come in.”
Liu Zhongming lowered his head and calmly put away the black and white pieces on the chessboard. In his peripheral vision, he saw Ling He enter the room, still as indifferent as before, holding a scroll like an old-fashioned scholar in a school.
Emperor Yu took the scroll handed over by Yu Dexi, his hand trembling. He tried to open it several times, but failed. His gaze remained fixed on the door.
“What’s the result?”
Ling He calmly bowed and said, “All the questions Your Majesty asked have received responses. Qu Sitian’s answers have been recorded truthfully in the register. To prevent any mistakes, I asked twice. On the third round of questioning, Qu Sitian fainted halfway through.”
“Fainted?” A rare sense of unease appeared on Emperor Yu’s usually calm face.
“This is my first time using the Bi Hongzi. I used one bottle, and its effects were quite potent. After Qu Sitian fainted, I had someone wake him up once, but I only managed to ask two more questions,” Ling He asked, “Please instruct, Your Majesty. Should we continue administering the medicine?”
“What about the person?” Emperor Yu hurriedly asked.
Bo Yan went out, and after a moment, he called for soldiers to carry a person inside and placed him on the ground.
The golden woven clothes with a sandalwood hue had been removed before the torture, leaving only the undergarments. The white clothes and black hair were damp, making the person’s face pale as paper, devoid of any trace of color, as if devoid of life.
Emperor Yu suddenly straightened up, not even caring that the scroll on his knee slipped to the ground.
“How did this happen?”
Ling He replied, “According to Commander Bo, he just checked Qu Sitian’s pulse and said his vitality is weak. It seems his physical condition was too weak to withstand severe torture. I’m afraid that if we don’t treat him now, he won’t last much longer. That’s why I’ve come to report to Your Majesty.”
“Yu Dexi! What are you still standing there for!” Emperor Yu roared, “Prepare a carriage! Take him back! Quickly summon the imperial physician! Quickly summon the imperial physician!”
Yu Dexi dared not delay and hurriedly ran, instructing the palace servants to lift Qu Chenzhou onto the carriage and send him out of the gate.
As Ling He watched the group of people move farther away, he finally spoke, “Your Majesty, the three Wang Yes have already left.”
Following the Emperor’s orders, Ling He and Bo Yan took Qu Chenzhou to the side hall for interrogation, while the three Wang Yes listened from behind a privacy screen with Rong Jiuan accompanying them.
After they left the palace, it should have been Rong Jiuan’s turn to speak.
But Emperor Yu seemed to have not heard Ling He’s words and just stared at Liu Zhongming, sternly questioning, “Zhongming! How did this happen?”
Liu Zhongming covered the chess basket and stood to the side, saying, “Your Majesty, after taking the Bi Hongzi, even if one is a deity, they cannot resist confessing. But Ling Shaoqing unexpectedly only used one bottle…”
“I’m not asking you about that!” Emperor Yu suddenly slapped the table, “How did he end up like this? Didn’t you say there wouldn’t be any other issues except for the pain?”
“When Qu Chenzhou was in my hands, he endured whippings and branding irons, but he didn’t become this precious. His current act is just to seek Your Majesty’s pity,” Liu Zhongming sneered, “His life is worthless, and I refuse to believe him…”
A heavy slap landed on his face, causing him to stagger a few steps. Unable to support himself on the table in time, he fell and sat on the steps, gritting his teeth in pain but not daring to utter a sound.
“Liu Zhongming! He is now the Si Tian Guan under my command! If you dare to have any wicked thoughts about him in the future, don’t blame me for not considering your father’s face!”
The robes swirled past his cheek like a gust of wind. Liu Zhongming watched as the elongated shadow on the ground disappeared from his sight, then gently touched his burning cheek.
A cane leaning against the chair was handed to him. He took it, supporting himself as he stood up, glancing at the scrutinizing gaze of Ling He, and quietly crossed the threshold.
“Shizi has difficulty walking. I will escort the Shizi,” Ling He followed closely behind as if unaware of the situation, and said in a low voice, “I have changed the medicine. Rest assured.”
Liu Zhongming made a sound of acknowledgment. Injured in his right foot, it became even more challenging to descend the stairs. After a few steps, he leaned on the railing and stood for a moment.
“Aren’t you going?” He turned to look at Ling He.
Since Ling He didn’t say much, it meant that their plans hadn’t encountered any unexpected issues. Right now, he wanted some time alone.
“My little actions probably can’t escape Bo Yan’s eyes,” Ling He looked straight ahead, calmly asking, “I’m curious, how did you manage to control him as well?”
“Everyone has their desires,” Liu Zhongming replied simply.
No one is a child who can be satisfied with a piece of candy. He wouldn’t naively believe that a mere dagger and an unfamiliar junior disciple could sway Bo Yan.
Fortunately, what Bo Yan wants is evident — no one wants to remain in a subordinate position forever.
Ling He didn’t pursue the matter further and simply nodded, glancing at his leg. “You’re really willing to do that? Whatever he says?”
“Whatever he says,” Liu Zhongming sighed softly. When he dismounted from the horse, there was even a moment when he felt too tired to struggle. He briefly considered pretending he couldn’t evade and let the horse trample him directly on the chest.
But there were still people who needed him.
“Even if he wants my life, I’m willing to give it.”
They couldn’t say much within the palace, so Ling He arched his hand and left first.
As he watched Ling He walk away, Liu Zhongming bitterly muttered to himself, “It’s a pity that I’m willing to give it, but he doesn’t seem to care.”
Qu Chenzhou closed his eyes and remained motionless. The person who lifted him was gentle, handling him as if holding a precious porcelain with cracks, slowly laying him flat on the bed.
The vision before him turned dark as the curtains were drawn.
There were footsteps outside, rushing up the steps, followed by someone reaching in and lifting his hand, placing it on a velvet cushion. Four fingers rested on his wrist.
After a while, another hand came to take his pulse.
His body felt itchy from those fingers, but he dared not move. He felt incredibly thirsty, and his ribs were throbbing with pain.
When he was bound to the pillar in the side hall, he saw the bottle of Bi Hongzi slip into Ling He’s sleeve.
Ling He had given him something to drink, and it felt hot in his mouth. Within a few breaths, he began sweating profusely. He felt a piercing sensation in his lower abdomen and his head grew dizzy.
Without even looking in the mirror, he knew his complexion must be deathly pale at the moment.
Next, all he had to do was scream in agony. He knew better than anyone how the Bi Hongzi would affect him, and the instructions on the wax paper were crystal clear.
Yet, despite all his years of acting, this was the first time he had to perform in front of Ling He, someone who knew him inside out. Thinking about it was somewhat amusing.
Lost in thought for a moment, his expression seemed inadequate, and Ling He jabbed him in the ribs with a pole.
The pole was sharp and hard, almost taking his breath away.
“Qu Si Tian,” Ling He’s voice was cold, as he asked, “I’ll ask again, have you ever divined for the Shizi?”
In the following moments, Ling He continued to jab him in the same spot seven or eight times, causing such pain that tears almost welled up in his eyes. Qu Chenzhou even began to suspect if Ling He was taking the opportunity to seek revenge.
No one else came in to examine his pulse after that, and the murmurs of discussion could be faintly heard from outside the curtains.
“Tonics… Weak constitution…”
“Weak energy… Shouldn’t be heavily supplemented… Angelica and deer antler…”
Finally, someone said, “Teacher happens to be here… Let’s consult teacher…”
All the voices started to fade away, which made Qu Chenzhou feel somewhat anxious.
Indeed, he had a tough life. He survived by enduring three bottles of Bi Hongzi and had been fed tonics day and night by the emperor until he managed to restore his life.
So, even if the imperial physicians were afraid of treating him too aggressively and cautiously used nourishing decoctions, he could still go with the flow and recover.
However, he had no idea what kind of pulse would be produced by Zhongming’s medicine, nor did he anticipate the presence of the “teacher” among the physicians.
If an experienced old physician noticed something amiss…
Before long, slow footsteps ascended the stairs, seemingly accompanied by the previous physicians, who were addressing the newcomer as “teacher” and discussing the pulse patterns.
Qu Chenzhou’s heart raced as the footsteps drew closer, gradually reaching his throat.
When that hand held his, he almost couldn’t help but pull his hand back. However, he hadn’t expected the “teacher” to considerately return his hand within the curtains and then feel his pulse.
Qu Chenzhou stole a glance and saw an obviously elderly hand. Perhaps due to years of practicing medicine and being skilled in healing, the wrinkles were not pronounced, and it felt warm.
Somehow, he felt a sense of familiarity, as if he had experienced the sensation of being held by that hand before.
The hand remained in place for a moment, but suddenly, it fiercely pinched his wrist. Caught off guard, he let out a sound of pain.
Outside the curtains, the elderly person calmly spoke, guiding the physicians.
“Listen, when I pressed the Lingdao point, he reacted. This is muscular paralysis.”
“In addition, he has Qi stagnation and blood stasis, poor blood circulation, and disharmony between Qi and blood. He can’t tolerate heavy tonics. I’ll write a prescription now and have the pharmacy prepare it. Administer it three times a day.”
“His life is not in danger. All of you can leave. I will administer acupuncture for him first, and after two hours, someone will be sent to check on him.”
As soon as Qu Chenzhou heard the first sentence, his hand trembled, almost causing him to spring up from the bed.
The footsteps outside gradually receded, and the person washed their hands, lifted half of the curtain, and handed him a glass of water. They watched as he drank it all in one breath before instructing him, “Lie down!”
Finally able to produce some sound from his parched throat, Qu Chenzhou obediently lay down and weakly called out, “Doctor Qin…”
The old imperial physician took out a silver needle and sat by the bedside, placing the needle on his neck, which didn’t hurt.
Qu Chenzhou hesitated for a moment before whispering, “How did you come to the palace?”
“I used to move around the palace myself. These incompetent doctors from the Imperial Medical Bureau are considered my students.”
“Unfortunately, the palace doesn’t suit an old man like me… I obtained the emperor’s favor and left the palace. Due to some events in my early years and the kindness of the Liu family, I settled in the Marquis’s residence and later went to the separate villa with Shizi.”
Doctor Qin inserted a few needles before grasping his wrist and carefully feeling his pulse.
“Now that the young miss is with child and had an incident similar to last year’s, Marquis Liu is worried and reported it to the emperor. He requested that I come and check the young miss’s pulse regularly.”
Given the timing of today, Qu Chenzhou had already figured it out upon hearing Doctor Qin’s voice.
He turned his face inward, not allowing Doctor Qin to see his somewhat uncontrollable expression.
“You have taken good care of your body and know how to cherish yourself. Today’s medicine was hurriedly prepared by the Shizi, and it’s not a good medicine. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be easy to deceive those incompetent ones.”
A porcelain bottle was thrown onto him.
“One pill from the bottle per day, and you’ll be fine after finishing it.”
Doctor Qin glanced at the window, removed the silver needles, and began packing up the medicine box.
“Don’t get out of bed for four or five days. Someone will bring you soup and medicine shortly. It contains something to calm your mind, so have a good sleep.”
Seeing him packing up the medicine box and about to leave, Qu Chenzhou suddenly sat up, saying, “Doctor Qin!”
Doctor Qin halted his steps, patiently waiting, but he waited for quite a while without Qu Chenzhou speaking up.
“You two,” Doctor Qin pointed at him with a trembling hand, “I’ve lived for more than half my life and never encountered anyone as troublesome as you two. Well, rest now.”
“Doctor Qin!” Qu Chenzhou finally managed to ask the question, “Is the Shizi… doing well lately?”
Doctor Qin made a sound of agreement and nodded. “The Shizi said that if you ask, to tell you that he’s doing fine.”
Glancing at the person sitting on the bed, lost in thought, Doctor Qin picked up the medicine box on his back and left, muttering to himself.
“Hiding one’s illness from the doctor… not good at all.”
Author’s note: Don’t worry, I assure you there won’t be any cruelty. Every time Qu Chenzhou falls, someone catches him. He won’t sacrifice himself alone anymore.
Can’t wait until next week to see more? Want to show your support? Go to my Patreon where you can get up to 5 more chapters right away or access to all BL early chapters available!! Or go show your appreciation by donating at Paypal or Ko-fi!!! <3 :)