The Tyrant’s Cannon Fodder Male Empress Chapter 80

Chapter 80

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Three days later, Xue Yao and Fourth Zhang, along with the bailiffs, arrived at the western outskirts, leading over five hundred villagers to a remote valley pre-arranged for isolation.

Among these five hundred people, not all of them had contracted the plague. Some were feeling unwell, suffering from coughs and fevers, and fearing that they might be ill and near death, so they sought help.

There were also some who were suspected of being ill by the villagers and were forcibly brought here.

The total number of infected individuals in various villages in the county was around three hundred.

It appeared that the number of infected individuals was relatively small, not just because the epidemic was well-contained but also because infected individuals were dying too quickly. There were no detailed records of the number of deceased infected individuals.

It was precisely because the disease led to rapid fatalities that the afflicted had no choice but to seek help from the Living Deity.

The short onset period of the disease left even the uncooperative patients with no opportunity to create trouble.

Fortunately, this county’s unique geographical conditions, along with the scattered population and distant separation between villages, gave Xue Yao a relatively longer response time.

Upon Xue Yao’s arrival, he promptly put a stop to ceremonial rituals, distributed soap and disinfectant water, eradicated fleas and rodents, and requested the government’s cooperation in handling the deceased bodies, thus significantly slowing down the spread.

It was also fortunate that the current epidemic was still in the bubonic plague stage, and pneumonic plague had only just appeared, with a relatively weak level of transmission.

Successfully getting the patients to cooperate with isolation gave Xue Yao a glimmer of hope in overcoming this epidemic.

When a group of people arrived at the mouth of the valley, Xue Yao instructed the patients to sit down where they were. He personally began to assess their symptoms.

Bubonic plague and pneumonic plague needed to be separated for isolation.

The former had a slightly lower mortality rate. With medication and cooperation, there was still hope of survival.

The latter was highly contagious, with an almost one hundred percent mortality rate. They had to be sent to a separate, more distant place for isolation.

Xue Yao divided the patients into three groups. Those with bubonic plague stayed in the valley, those with pneumonic plague were sent to a more remote location, and those who couldn’t be clearly diagnosed were isolated separately.

Patients were housed in groups of four in tents, with bailiffs brewing traditional Chinese herbal medicines daily.

They could only use traditional Chinese herbal formulas because these were readily available.

Over the years, Xue Yao had managed to procure a limited amount of antibiotics, mainly penicillin, from the market. He had to conserve them, wary of any future campaigns where the Crown Prince might risk injury and infection.

Among them, there were a few doses of streptomycin for the plague, calculated for a seven-day course, enough for just one person. It was practically negligible.

There was no choice but to try every important ancestral formula found in the records.

The patients brought to the isolation area were at different stages of the disease, and every day, twenty to thirty people would succumb.

In the pneumonic plague isolation zone, the disease progressed even faster, with a third of the patients already dead by the second day, too quick for them to even take the medicine.

Concentrated deaths were incredibly horrifying. The patients in the isolation zone felt like they were in hell.

On the third evening, a few patients attempted to escape the isolation area, only to find the valley exit sealed and guarded by armed protectors.

The patients immediately went back to rally those who could still move, claiming that Daoist from the capital was trying to lock them in with the plague spirits, dooming them all. With the valley already sealed, they were to await the plague deity’s judgment.

And so, the first riot began. Xue Yao was awakened from his sleep and hurried to the isolation zone with the messenger who brought the news.

Preventing the patients from causing a major disturbance was crucial. Their emotions needed to be calmed.

Otherwise, if word got out and panic ensued, future patients would surely attempt to escape, severely impacting the isolation efforts.

In the dead of night, Xue Yao stood outside the valley exit, the torches around illuminating the pale, lifeless faces within the enclosure, casting an eerie and dreadful atmosphere.

“Why are they locking us up like this? We haven’t committed any crimes!” one patient exclaimed, forcefully banging their body against the fenced gate.

The bailiffs around involuntarily took a step back.

Xue Yao, however, remained unruffled and calmly spoke, “Fellow villagers, please don’t misunderstand. This fence has been empowered by my spiritual abilities and is meant to seal the plague spirits, not to imprison innocent townsfolk.”

Someone cried out, “Didn’t you say you would help us drive away the plague? Yet everyone who came to this place ended up dead!”

“Don’t get agitated, everyone, please sit down to prevent your condition from worsening.” Xue Yao remained composed. “Please think about it. All the patients brought here were already possessed by the plague spirits. If they hadn’t come here, would they not have died?

“You’ve already endured inside this protective circle for three days. Some arrived already infected for three days. You all know that once these plague spirits entangle you, you’ll succumb within two to five days. If you hadn’t come here, you would have died even faster.

“Having the infected gathered together might make it seem like there are more deaths, but in reality, if everyone returned home, it would be more dangerous. Staying here, continuing to take the medicine, and enduring for seven days gives you a fifty percent chance of recovery. In fourteen days, you can be completely cured, and your bodies will possess immunity against the plague spirits. You won’t have to worry about being afflicted by them anymore.”

The patients’ resentment finally subsided.

The root of this disturbance was fear. Xue Yao’s assurance of recovery and “immunity” reignited hope among the patients.

Another four days passed, and to everyone’s surprise, there were indeed patients in the isolation area showing signs of improvement.

Once this disease was cured, it would generate antibodies. So, the patients showing improvement were kept by Xue Yao to handle some of the more risky treatments.

Xue Yao singled out the prescription that led to improvements in the patients’ conditions and gave them special attention.

Because each tent had a different prescription, in just seven days, Xue Yao had identified three significantly effective ones. This greatly enhanced the manageability of the disease, strengthening the trust of patients in him.

Especially those who had recovered from their illnesses regarded Xue Yao as if he were the Bodhisattva Guanyin. They served him devoutly, without complaint.

Half a month later, the infection rate in the entire county plummeted, and fewer patients were being sent to the isolation area each day.

As Xue Yao walked down the streets, the townsfolk knelt and bowed, as if they had encountered a deity descending from the heavens, expressing their gratitude.

However, not long after, the method of incinerating the bodies of the deceased in the isolation zone was leaked by one of the bailiffs involved in the cremation process.

The problem that Xue Yao dreaded most had arisen.

He had considered various ways to deceive the people, such as saying, “The bodies must be burned before the plague spirits detach from them. This way, the spirits will be incinerated along with the bodies. Otherwise, the spirits might transfer to another living person.”

While this explanation might work for the uninfected villagers and could be reluctantly accepted by some family members of the patients, most of the patients themselves couldn’t bear to accept it.

If the patients didn’t cooperate, they might escape or seek retribution.

However, if the bodies were not incinerated, family members might take the bodies back home and hold simple funeral ceremonies, causing another wave of new patients.

A swift and decisive action was necessary.

Unexpectedly, once this matter became known, nearly all the people in the entire county stood on Xue Yao’s side.

Even before Xue Yao had a chance to explain, some villagers stepped forward to support all the plague-dispelling methods of the Living Deity.

Actions spoke louder than words. Xue Yao’s final phase of epidemic prevention had completely eradicated the plague in several villages.

The number of patients sent to the isolation area daily, which had initially been hundreds, dwindled to just a few each day.

In the eyes of the entire village, he was a benevolent deity who had saved the lives of the entire county’s people.

This understanding and cooperation made Xue Yao have a deeper perspective on this group of “superstitious commoners.”

They knew how to be grateful and had the ability to discern right from wrong. They just hadn’t been exposed to progressive ideas due to their environment.

The continuation of life brought a better future. Despite the slow and arduous process, Xue Yao felt honored to be a part of this effort to combat the plague.

The secret leak about the body incineration didn’t lead to a revolt. As usual, Xue Yao visited the isolation area daily to supervise.

One morning, upon arriving at the isolation area, a bailiff reported that a patient was missing from one of the tents.

Xue Yao promptly ordered a thorough search.

A group of people nervously searched throughout the morning. In the end, they astonishingly discovered a pit in a corner of the valley, where the missing male patient had half-buried himself.

What kind of performance art was this?

Xue Yao, looking puzzled, ordered someone to dig the man out for questioning.

The man knelt on the ground and confessed to Xue Yao, saying that he felt he couldn’t endure any longer and didn’t want to trouble the officials with digging a grave for him, so he did it himself.

His confession elicited laughter from the bailiffs around him. “You’re quite good at saving us the trouble.”

Someone even teased him, “No need to go through all this trouble. We’ll drag you to the back hill and burn you when you’re dead.”

As soon as the man heard the word “burn,” he frantically kowtowed to Xue Yao, saying that his daughter was only three years old and asked if they could wait until she grew up and got married before burning him.

In this locality, the common belief was that when someone passed away, they couldn’t be reincarnated if they had lost arms or legs. If their body was burned, their soul was considered to be extinguished.

This man believed that even after his death, his soul could still watch his daughter grow up.

The bailiffs around him were all making fun of his foolishness for digging the grave and making things easier for everyone. However, Xue Yao remained silent, raised his hand to make the man stand up, and calmly said, “It’s time to take your medicine now. Hurry back.”

The man refused to get up and earnestly looked up at the Living Deity, hoping to persuade him not to burn him.

Xue Yao stepped forward, grabbed his arm, and forcibly pulled him up with a scowl. “If you want to see your child grow up, then take your medicine on time. What good does burying your body here do? Take good care of your health. A corpse can’t be a good father. You need to live on.”

In the afternoon, Xue Yao followed the team responsible for transporting the bodies to the back hill to supervise the cremation.

He had to personally oversee everything because the oil used for burning the bodies was expensive military-grade petroleum. If he didn’t watch closely, the bailiffs might help themselves to a few jars of it. Incomplete combustion of the bodies would be troublesome.

Unexpectedly, on the day the team opened the gate to transport the bodies, a group of patients suddenly rushed out of the isolation zone, brandishing stones, tree branches, and makeshift torches, and charged towards the exit!

“Step back!” Fourth Zhang immediately pulled Xue Yao behind him.

The bailiffs around them all gripped their swords and shouted, “Stay away!”

A group of patients who didn’t want to be burned had conspired overnight and decided to take the leftover medicine residue back with them to have it prepared at the apothecary, hoping to recover there instead of risking death and being cremated here.

There was a muffled sound.

Fourth Zhang kicked the leader of the troublemakers. The rest of the hundred or so patients immediately tried to evade him, attempting to escape but were blocked by the guards.

The patients had no real combat ability, but they were numerous, and the daytime guards numbered only a dozen or so. Several of them had their faces scratched by the patients in the chaos.

The guards feared being infected by the plague spirits and, in a panic, unsheathed their daggers. Without hesitation, they knocked down the patients who were biting and scratching them.

Amid the commotion, Xue Yao shouted urgently, “Don’t use your blades! Don’t let the blood touch you! Knock them unconscious!”

The group of guards hastily sheathed their daggers, but despite pushing and kicking, they couldn’t stop a large number of patients rushing in from all directions. More guards joined the escape.

Xue Yao called on one guard to help him close the wooden gate, but as he turned, he saw two patients sprinting towards them. The guard immediately dropped the chain and fled.

Xue Yao hurriedly picked up the chain to lock the gate, but the two patients had already arrived and grabbed his hand, preventing him from locking the door.

“Let us out!”

Xue Yao could see that his arm was about to be injured by the patients’ grip and quickly let go, abandoning the idea of locking the door. Several patients burst out like ferocious dogs!

Xue Yao had no time to dodge and was pushed by two of them. He stumbled back, about to fall, when suddenly a hand grabbed his arm, steadying his footing.

Following a few muffled sounds, the two patients who had burst out were kicked back. A figure in white clothes stood in front of Xue Yao.

Xue Yao looked up. “Your Highness!”

“Step back!”

Without more words, a few more people charged forward.

The Crown Prince had just located Xue Yao through the imperial physicians and hadn’t fully grasped who these attackers were, but he unsheathed his sword and thrust it toward one of the approaching individuals!

“Your Highness! Don’t let the blood touch you!”

In the blink of an eye, Xue Yao took a step forward, grabbed the Crown Prince by the arm, and turned to shield him.

Warm blood splashed across his back as Xue Yao swiftly shifted the Crown Prince away. Meanwhile, Fourth Zhang successfully subdued the remaining troublemakers. Upon turning back, he noticed the Crown Prince and promptly approached to offer his respects.

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