The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 78

Chapter 78

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The number of commoners kneeling at the government office’s entrance increased day by day.

To prevent potential plague carriers among them, Xue Yao demanded the local officials to disperse the commoners.

However, most of these commoners had sick family members or had lost loved ones due to this.

Filled with anxiety, the immortal “Daoist Xue” had become their only hope.

So, even if the government office’s entrance forbade kneeling, they would still kneel outside Xue Yao’s residence, seeking the protection of the immortal.

The common people knew that Xue Yao and the imperial physicians lived here, not because they were well-informed, but because when officials from the capital came for inspections, there were only a few designated lodgings.

Usually, high-ranking officials like provincial governors would stay at Xue Yao’s residence, making them easy to find.

Xue Yao was concerned about the risk of revealing his residence. In ancient times, the general population had much less theoretical knowledge than modern commoners, making communication and reasoning difficult. In modern times, there had been numerous medical disputes, while in ancient times, persuading people was an even more formidable challenge.

Xue Yao’s current duty was to save the common people, much like other imperial physicians. This easily attracted irate family members of patients who wouldn’t listen to reason.

The plague, in this case, was the sort that led to certain death. Without enough medical personnel to observe and diagnose the patients at various stages, a patient could be brought in and, upon sitting down in a chair, suddenly succumb to the illness. This often led to medical disputes.

The top priority was to prevent the spread of the plague, so it was essential to ensure that isolation measures were in place before concentrating on treatment.

Therefore, Xue Yao made his first public appearance. “For those with sick family members, you can line up to receive the holy stones, and for those who have lost loved ones due to illness, you can line up to receive holy water.”

Items that had come into contact with the deceased, such as clothing, bedding, and even utensils, had to be buried as part of the funeral. The entire house had to undergo a purification process with holy water, involving thorough cleaning of floors and beds. Doors and windows should be open for ventilation, ensuring no hiding place for lurking plague spirits.

Those who had been in contact with the sick needed to wash their bodies promptly with holy stones, cover their faces with cloths washed in holy water, and then attend to the patients. They also had to make sure to wash their hands with holy stones after each interaction to guard against the plauge spirits taking hold.

Of course, the so-called holy stones and holy water were just soap and disinfectant. To ensure that the people took these seriously, Xue Yao cleverly used a marketing strategy.

“The holy stones and holy water are in limited supply. This humble Daoist asks for nothing in return. They will all be distributed to those afflicted by the plague spirits. Please, fellow villagers, line up to receive them. Those without patients in their homes should not take them.”

The common people erupted in astonishment.

Onlookers who had initially suspected this “Daoist” to be a swindler from the capital had their doubts dispelled.

Swindlers would never give away “holy relics” for free.

The imperial physicians in the courtyard stood with their hands folded, their expressions devoid of emotion as they watched the commoners express profound gratitude to Xue Yao, this self-proclaimed Daoist with no medical qualifications.

One of the physicians muttered coldly, “With his holy stones and holy water, he claims to ward off sickness and calamity. What use do we, the medical practitioners, have?”

Another physician sneered, “Let him engage in his fanciful endeavors. When the diseases remain uncured, the common folk will eventually discern whose advice to follow – true physicians or charlatans.”

The senior imperial physician took a deep breath and sighed. “I sincerely hope that his bizarre actions can somehow restrain the epidemic. You see, initially, five colleagues were dispatched to Pingrong County, and two of them have already fallen victim to the plague. One passed away right here in this courtyard, and another, wanting to return to his hometown, couldn’t even make it out of Pingrong. Yet, our group remains unscathed. Perhaps it’s due to the holy stones that this Young Master Xue initially distributed to us…”

“Physician Xu!” one of the physicians interjected angrily, “Do you also believe in the Daoist’s claims?”

Most of the imperial physicians despised the pseudo-Daoists concocting elixirs for the imperial family.

Throughout the dynasties, emperors, as they grew older, yearned for immortality and insisted on consuming “immortal pills” prepared by these quacks, laden with excessive mercury and lead.

When they developed health problems, it was up to the imperial physicians to find remedies. While the Imperial Institute of Medicine strove with all their might to counteract the poison, the retired emperor continued to consume those “immortal pills” without a care.

The pseudo-Daoists and the Imperial Institute of Medicine began to shift responsibility onto each other, eventually leading to an irreparable rift between the imperial physicians and the Daoists.

Hence, ever since Xue Yao donned these Daoist robes, the physicians in the courtyard were filled with a seething hatred, believing that Xue Yao’s intentions were to bring harm to the common people.

Only the senior imperial physician, in a privately skeptical manner, had been discreetly analyzing the composition of the holy stones crafted by Xue Yao.

He believed that Xue Yao’s pretense as a Daoist might be a unique path to gain the commoners’ trust, thereby enabling the promotion of the medicines he had developed.

Xue Yao’s “medicines” appeared to the senior imperial physician as topical remedies, which left him perplexed.

Two days later, following a specific formula, Xue Yao began distributing internal medication packages to the populace.

The prescription was a blend of traditional Chinese medicine methods with a relatively better track record in treating the plague.

However, it was a prescription that greatly alarmed today’s imperial physicians.

“Using a cooling-blood treatment for a Yin ailment – this is tantamount to murder!” One physician, after examining Xue Yao’s prescription, could hardly contain his anger as he glanced at the senior imperial physician, hoping he would intervene to halt the audacious “misdeeds” of the young man.

The senior imperial physician, with a composed demeanor, sipped his tea and reassured his subordinates, “There’s no need for anger, everyone. This epidemic is unlike any other we’ve encountered. Even with our well-established treatments, none have proven effective. Patients develop symptoms and succumb within days. Even if Xue Yao doesn’t provide these unconventional remedies, people will still perish. Using poison to counteract poison may save a life. Since we are powerless, why not allow this young man to make an attempt?”

The group of physicians had no rebuttal to offer and could only sigh deeply as they examined Xue Yao’s prescription.

Xue Yao found the recent implementation of his plan unbelievably smooth.

He had initially thought that, even if he could deceive the common people, he wouldn’t be able to deceive the group of learned individuals in the courtyard.

The act of masquerading as a Daoist and dispensing medicine recklessly was bound to face opposition from the imperial physicians sooner or later.

However, surprisingly, no one was challenging him at the moment.

Although those physicians would shoot him angry glances upon sighting him, not a single one dared to discourage his “foolish antics.”

It wasn’t until the late afternoon of the third day of distributing medicines when Xue Yao was stopped while passing by the pond in the courtyard. The senior imperial physician by the pond called out to him.

The senior imperial physician approached Xue Yao with a gentle smile. “Master Xue, may I have a moment of your time? There’s something I’d like to inquire about.”

Xue Yao was taken aback.

It was quite intimidating to be questioned by a senior physician nearing his seventies, especially for a novice like him who was merely seventeen.

He quickly turned to nod and paid his respects, “Please, Master, you’re too kind.”

The senior imperial physician asked with warmth, “I would like to inquire, Master Xue, how do the holy stones, holy water, and cloth masks washed in holy water drive away the plague spirits?”

A faint hint of consternation crossed Xue Yao’s face as he looked at the senior physician, hesitated for a moment, and then countered seriously, “Master, what do you believe is the reason behind the rampant spread of this plague?”

The senior imperial physician replied thoughtfully, “The ‘Rites of Zhou’ states: ‘In each of the four seasons, there are prevalent ailments – in spring, you have the onset of spring fevers; in summer, you have itching and scabies; in autumn, you have intermittent fevers and chills; and in winter, you have coughs and respiratory illnesses.’ This current epidemic exhibits numerous similarities to the symptoms of malaria, which frequently arises in the malarial regions of Sichuan and Guizhou. I suspect that the spread of the disease is related to the unseasonably warm weather this autumn, leading to a proliferation of mosquitoes, snakes, and rodents that have aggressively propagated and bitten people. Therefore, when making my medical rounds, I often advise patients’ families to be vigilant in pest control and rodent eradication to prevent the illness from spreading.”

Xue Yao was greatly shocked upon hearing this!

He had always assumed that these imperial physicians, who lacked an understanding of modern science, had no insights into infectious diseases. He hadn’t expected the senior imperial physician to make such a crucial assessment, pinpointing the fundamental route of transmission of bubonic plague!

The theory of transmission through insects and rodents was originally established by the Japanese bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato in 1894.

Considering the era, the senior imperial physician’s ability to deduce the method of bubonic plague transmission from the route of malaria was truly ahead of his time.

Xue Yao believed that this senior physician was a reasonable person. After a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “What you mentioned is indeed one of the causes of the plague’s spread.”

The senior imperial physician inquired further, “But how do you explain that half of the participants in the ritual fell ill?”

Xue Yao furrowed his brow slightly.

Because the transmission routes of pulmonary and bubonic plague were different, pulmonary plague could spread without the need for flea bites, as it was transmitted through respiratory droplets. How could he explain this to the senior physician?

“Master, do you believe that the plague is caused by invisible tiny creatures? They are so small that the human eye cannot see them, but they are not supernatural beings. They are tiny enough to float in the air without falling to the ground. These creatures move around, and when inhaled through the nose and mouth, they can multiply rapidly inside the human body. They then spread in large numbers through a person’s exhaled breath or coughed-up phlegm.”

The senior imperial physician was left stunned on the spot after hearing this.

In that era, this theory, which modern people considered common knowledge, was entirely beyond their comprehension.

The senior imperial physician struggled for a moment to grasp the concept, unable to fathom the idea of “tiny creatures too small to see,” let alone the understanding of bacteria.

However, he found Xue Yao’s theory to be plausible and easily resolved all the doubts in his mind.

Xue Yao continued, “The holy stones I distributed to everyone can exterminate these tiny creatures, and the cloth masks washed in holy water can to some extent reduce the probability of inhaling them.”

The senior imperial physician was astonished. “Since the holy stones can kill the pests, why not have patients directly cook and ingest them to combat the disease?”

“……” Xue Yao patiently explained, “Orally administered medications can only pass through the digestive system, while these tiny creatures can hide within the bloodstream and organs. Moreover, holy stones and holy water not only exterminate the pests but also inflict severe damage to the human body, making them unsuitable for internal use.”

“No wonder,” the senior imperial physician nodded in realization, observing Xue Yao with admiration, “Impressive, a lifelong learner indeed. I have much to catch up on.”

“You’re too kind, Master,” Xue Yao replied with a respectful nod.

The senior imperial physician inquired further, “Can your eyes see these invisible creatures that none of us can see? Otherwise, how would you know of their existence?”

After some contemplation, Xue Yao realized he couldn’t produce a microscope to validate his statement and reluctantly nodded, “Yes, I can see them!”

The senior imperial physician was even more amazed. “Truly a remarkable gift.”

Xue Yao: “……”

Under Xue Yao’s preventive measures, the spread of the plague had noticeably slowed compared to before.

The rescue from the Crown Prince had not arrived yet.

Xue Yao had already come to terms with the fact that there might be no rescue. He would have to rely solely on deceiving the common people.

Initially, his ego had swelled, thinking his silver tongue could conquer the world through deception. However, five days later, more than ten beggars suddenly died in the streets, shattering Xue Yao’s hope completely.

Rumors of the Plague Deity returning to claim lives spread instantly.

Many common people, fearing the Plague Deity’s wrath, tied their bedding bundles and made their way to Xue Yao’s residence, sleeping right outside the “Living Deity’s” doorstep.

Despite Xue Yao’s attempts to reassure them, he couldn’t persuade the terrified people to return home.

In the eyes of the people, they believed that the plague spirits controlled by the Plague Deity would dare not approach the Living Deity. Therefore, staying near the Living Deity was the safest option.

Before cremation, Xue Yao examined the condition of the beggars’ bodies, hoping to analyze why they had all fallen ill simultaneously.

After careful observation, Xue Yao discovered that all these beggars had one or two relatively new clothing accessories, which led to a chilling suspicion in his mind.

He immediately visited the homes where entire families had perished due to the plague. He inquired with the neighbors if they had seen beggars entering these households to take valuables.

The neighbors’ faces changed, and then they displayed an irritable expression. One of them spoke firmly, “Master, their whole family had already perished, and we helped bury them. Nobody was using their belongings in the house. Taking them out, how can that be considered stealing?”

Xue Yao was so frustrated that he stammered, “Did you… Did you disinfect or… no, did you clean the clothing, dishes, and utensils they used with the holy water I provided?”

The neighbors quickly nodded in agreement, eager to please, “We’ve purified them as you instructed, Master!”

That was it. The belongings of the deceased had not been disinfected. The beggars had taken them and subsequently contracted the plague, leading to their mass demise.

On the way back, Xue Yao wore a look of despair.

He could inform the people that the belongings of the deceased were contaminated with plague spirits, and using them would lead to infection.

However, this threat might deter ordinary, more well-off citizens, but it would hardly stop beggars who had nothing to eat or wear.

Fourth Zhang, seeing Xue Yao’s troubled expression, asked with concern, “What’s wrong, Master?”

Xue Yao murmured, “I need manpower, I need everyone to cooperate with the isolation measures. We can’t wait any longer.”

He turned to Fourth Zhang and asked, “Old Zhang, can you help me establish some authority?”

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