Fu Nian continued to stare suspiciously at the bloodstains on the floor, silently watching Gao Gonggong, who had turned pale, cleaning them up.
The lingering sensation and warmth from his severed limb hadn’t completely faded, but there was no particularly strong evidence at the scene to prove that the busy man had been there. For a moment, Fu Nian even began to doubt himself, wondering if he had dreamt it all.
“Later, the imperial physician will come to change your dressing. I’ll go check if your breakfast has been delivered,” Gao Gonggong said.
Fu Nian gave a response but didn’t say anything more. He continued to lower his head and fix his gaze on the carpet.
Let’s just assume it was a dream. Fu Nian didn’t dwell on it any further.
Before he even entered the room for breakfast, Fu Nian caught the aroma of food.
Having been hungry for so long, he had only managed to eat a piece of coarse grain flatbread last night. Now, the scent of porridge and dishes made his heart race with excitement.
As the dishes were placed on the table and pushed in front of him, Fu Nian’s excitement immediately waned.
Although the porridge and side dishes were exquisite, he hadn’t expected even the utensils to be this delicate.
“Come, let me help you up slowly.” Gao Gonggong arranged the dishes and hurried over to assist Fu Nian to his feet. “I specifically told the kitchen to prepare some easily digestible porridge and dishes for you last night.”
“Thank you.” Fu Nian glanced at the food in front of him.
The ingredients seemed to be quite expensive. If he were to replace this meal with a few plain steamed buns, not only would his hunger be satisfied, but he might also have some leftover silver.
He sighed silently, and while Gao Gonggong was busy closing the doors and windows, Fu Nian picked up the bowl and quickly drank the porridge in two gulps. He then emptied the side dishes into his mouth all at once.
By the time Gao Gonggong turned back around, Fu Nian’s bowls were all clean, even the chopsticks.
“…I’m not very used to using my left hand,” Fu Nian glanced at the puzzled expression on the person in front of him and quickly came up with an excuse, “I just dumped it straight into my mouth.”
It wasn’t that he truly wasn’t accustomed to using his left hand. It was just that Fu Nian was well aware that his eating manners weren’t refined. Moreover, in his previous life, he never had the opportunity to dine in a sophisticated manner.
Gao Gonggong glanced at Fu Nian holding his right arm with the bandages and quickly averted his curious gaze, refraining from bringing up the matter again. “That’s not what I meant. Just now, the Internal Affairs Gonggong came by and brought a wheelchair, which His Majesty bestowed upon you. I had the maids take it away to be cleaned—”
“No need,” Fu Nian interjected before Gao Gonggong could finish.
In his previous life, during an attack, Fu Nian had injured his left knee, and he remembered that Chu Zhaoyi had ordered someone to make a wheelchair for him.
At that time, although the imperial physician had said that he might never stand again, he could still manage to stand with the support of his prosthetic limbs. He could bear the pain and stand, even if not completely upright. Even if he couldn’t stand straight, he could crawl to move his body. It wasn’t to the extent where he needed someone to push him.
However, just when he was in this situation, they used the excuse of taking good care of his injury to confine him, confiscate his prosthetic limbs, and now this wheelchair. It was undoubtedly the cruelest irony.
This led Fu Nian to instinctively shiver every time he heard the word “wheelchair.”
“I still have one hand and one leg, and I’m not completely unable to stand. Nevertheless, I appreciate His Majesty’s kind intentions,” Fu Nian interrupted, feeling embarrassed by his own interruption. He forced a smile and added, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
“That’s alright. Whatever you want to say, feel free to tell me. Don’t keep things bottled up inside. Let’s leave the wheelchair aside for now, and I won’t let the maids bring it in later,” Gao Gonggong smiled and continued, “By the way, the Royal Physician’s Office sent word that they’re busy at the moment. Later, only Physician Xu’s apprentice will be able to come and change your dressing. Although Physician Xu’s apprentice is young, he’s quite clever… You shouldn’t try to change the bandages yourself anymore.”
“Mmm.” Fu Nian didn’t mind who would change his dressing. Even if no one came, as long as the medicine was there, he could handle it himself.
Having someone help would be good though. While he could manage to tie the knots on the bandages himself, it was always somewhat uncomfortable. However, the chances of infection were definitely lower than if he did it himself.
Before long, Fu Nian heard the sound of footsteps outside, a hurried rhythm that was likely a child’s gait.
“Greetings to Gao Gonggong.”
“Little Lingshan is here. Go inside, the esteemed person is in there. You know, I’m not very skilled with treating injuries. I entrust this to you. By the way, is your master still busy?”
“Mmm, leave it to me. My master is currently preparing medicine. I’ll be helping him prepare medicine later.”
Even the apprentice of Royal Physician Xu had entered the palace.
Fu Nian remembered that when he left the capital city, he had heard that Royal Physician Xu had taken in a talented child as his disciple.
It turned out Gao Gonggong couldn’t stand the sight of blood… No wonder he had been frightened while changing the bandages last night, and his face had turned pale when he was tidying up the bandages in the morning.
The imperial physicians were all busy. It seemed that there was something going on with that person from Chengyuan Hall. Fu Nian recalled that the man’s condition hadn’t been great yesterday, and he had been coughing continuously.
Before he could dwell on old matters, Fu Nian saw a child about the size of a bean-sprout entering through the door, carrying a small medicine box.
When their eyes met, Fu Nian noticed that the child suddenly stopped in their tracks.
“…,” Fu Nian hadn’t even spoken yet, but he saw the child in front of him wear an expression that seemed like they wanted to cry but held back. His emotions were complex for a moment.
After a moment of silent confrontation, the child in front suddenly burst into tears and ran out with a “wah” sound, dropping the medicine box from their hands. The herbs, bandages, and some handwritten prescriptions inside the box fell all over the floor.
“Wah-wah-wah, Gao Gonggong, he, he looks like, like the person who was by His Majesty’s side before…”
“Quiet! Hasn’t your master taught you what you can and cannot say?” Gao Gonggong’s voice admonished.
Fu Nian listened quietly to the commotion outside.
He looks like the person by His Majesty’s side?
Fu Nian pondered. He was sure that this child was brought into the palace by Royal Physician Xu after he left the palace in his previous life, so they couldn’t have seen him before.
Why would they just blurt out that he looks like…
After thinking for a while, Fu Nian couldn’t make sense of it.
Just as he was speculating, Gao Gonggong entered with the little physician.
“Sorry, this child… is usually quite clever, I don’t know what happened to them today. I’m sorry, or else I’ll see which physician is available later. Please don’t be upset…” Gao Gonggong apologized.
“It’s alright. I must look pretty intimidating in my current state. Children, after all, cry and make a fuss.” Fu Nian smiled and glanced at his prosthetic limb and then at the little physician, who had stopped sobbing, “Did I startle you?”
Xu Lingshan shook their head hurriedly, washed their hands, and then squatted beside the bedside to patiently remove the bandages. While their tears had ceased, their hands were still trembling.
During the dressing change, Fu Nian noticed Gao Gonggong leaving. He took the opportunity to ask, “Little Physician, you said earlier…”
“I, I’m not a physician, my master is,” Xu Lingshan’s voice still carried a trace of sobbing, and they hurriedly fell silent after speaking.
“Alright then, apprentice of Royal Physician Xu. You said earlier that I look like someone by His Majesty’s side. Who did you mean?” Fu Nian was genuinely curious and softened his tone as much as he could as he quietly inquired.
Even though he deliberately softened his voice, it seemed that he only thought he did, as the child in front of him was still quite frightened.
Xu Lingshan shook their head continuously, “No, I can’t say.”
“Why can’t you say? Did your master tell you not to say?” Fu Nian continued to inquire. Children were prone to letting things slip, so maybe he could coax some information out of them.
However, Fu Nian underestimated this child’s resolve.
No matter how he asked, they kept their lips sealed.
The more they remained silent, the more curious Fu Nian became.
A child who hadn’t seen him before was not frightened by his prosthetic limb, but because he looked like someone?
Could it be that Chu Zhaoyi had kept his portrait? Had it been seen? Fu Nian remembered that Chu Zhaoyi’s artistic skills were indeed a bit… less than praiseworthy.
“What does it look like?” Fu Nian saw that using gentle words wasn’t working, so his tone returned to its usual sharpness as he pressed on.
Yet, Xu Lingshan still only shook their head, offering no response.
Seeing this, Fu Nian stopped talking as well. He glanced at the overturned medicine box on the floor, along with the scattered prescriptions that hadn’t been collected. He reached out and picked up a few.
Sure enough, the moment he did, the little physician before him abruptly stopped changing the dressing and grew anxious, “Put those down, you mustn’t touch those prescriptions!”
“I’ll put them down if you answer me.” Fu Nian said calmly. Afterward, he mockingly glanced at the prescription in his hand.
【Frost-cold ginseng 20 grams, steep in tea】
Unexpectedly, Fu Nian managed to read a line clearly. He was briefly taken aback, and then the next moment, he tore the prescription directly and threw it into the charcoal brazier.
Fu Nian held onto the remaining scraps of paper in his hand.
“Frost-cold ginseng… Wasn’t that the medicinal herb that the physician mentioned was extinct when he visited the medical clinic earlier?”
It was highly effective against heat toxins, such as the strange poison that had affected Fu Nian before. If he hadn’t been planted the gu by someone at the time, Fu Nian might have consumed all the Frost-cold ginseng in the entire continent of Jiuzhou.
Originally, he just wanted to scare the child in front of him to make them spill the beans.
But now, with the prescription being burned like this, it was practically screaming out its hidden implications.
“What exactly do I resemble from beside His Majesty? I saw the prescription earlier, and you burned it too late. If you don’t answer, I might accidentally let it slip, and if questioned, you won’t be able to escape involvement,” Fu Nian said, his eyes fixed on Xu Lingshan.
Fu Nian already looked fierce, and with the addition of stitched wounds on his face, he looked even more intimidating.
“Then you won’t tell anyone…”
“Yes.” Fu Nian assured.
“Resembles… resembles what I’ve seen before around Your Majesty…”