Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 133: Medicinal Battle
Since the beginning of history, there has never been a time where merchants have never tied themselves with the imperial officials.
For Min Shang Shan to have been sitting so comfortably in his high seat for so long, there was no doubt that the district magistrate was supporting him from the shadows.
Min Shang Shan had always been generous towards their estate, so when so many have seen him in conflict with Xiao Feng Wu, he only has to double down on how Xiao Feng Wu was trying to harm him in secret, and the magistrate would naturally side with him.
Two servants tightly held onto Xiao Feng Wu by the arms, but he seemed unphased, as if he had never intended to struggle.
Instead, it was Qin Ming Yue who stood up with a bang to block them from the front, and the one who coldly said to Min Shang Shan,
“Since the laws have been created, to capture someone requires evidence and the truth.
For Min Lao-ye to evade the officials in order to capture someone yourself because of some rumors through the grapevine, is that following the law?”
Min Shang Shan did not care about such an insignificant person, and upon hearing his words, his eyes lit up like lasers and they narrowed, forming a vicious countenance,
“Even if it’s against the laws, I have already done so.
You could go to the district magistrate’s estate and make a racket over it.
This, Min Shang Shan will not stop you!”
Xiao Feng Wu said as well,
“It’s not that I won’t be coming back.
Move aside first.”
Qin Ming Yue was used to such despicable actions from powerful and wealthy families.
How hard was it to kill someone with no status or wealth? Stuff their flayed flesh and bones in a bag and toss it towards a random hill or cliff, or even the lake where it wouldn’t float for ten or twenty years.
But he thought that if Xiao Feng Wu left, he would not have any chance at living, so how could he move aside?
Min Shang Shan did not want to spend any more time on this and waved his sleeves in a menacing and commanding manner, spreading cold air around the room,
“Bring them both!”
Great, now the both of them have been caught up in this.
The Min family was in great disarray as the two of them were blindfolded and brought in through the back door.
Even with the distance separating them from the front courtyard, they could hear the ruckus coming from it.
Maids and servants rushed around in the midst of some plaintive cries of men to women, young to old, ringing up randomly, as if someone had died.
Xiao Feng Wu felt himself get pushed into a small, dusty room, something like a wood storage, as his nose was filled with the scent of that ashy, wooden smell.
When he heard the sound of the door being locked, he reached out against the wood to push off his blindfold.
After a moment for his eyes to get adjusted to seeing again, he saw Qin Ming Yue with his foul looking face sitting crossed legged on the floor.
Xiao Feng Wu was delighted even with his hands tied up in front of him and he leaned against the door to listen for any sounds,
“Hey yah, you think that idiot Min Si Xing wouldn’t really be dead huh?”
Qin Ming Yue had lived in a theatre troupe since he was young, and he was able to do some sort of joint manipulation.
With his eyes closed, he fooled around for a while before he was able to free himself from the ropes.
Holding on the abrasion on his wrists, he coldly said,
“If he’s dead, Min Shang Shan would have dragged you along with him.
You better ask your grandfather and grandmother right now, begging them to keep Min Si Xing alive for a hundred years.”
“Living could be possible, but that would depend on what kind of living.”
Xiao Feng Wu shuffled over closer to his side,
“Come, help me untie these ropes.”
Qin Ming Yue pushed him away, mockingly laughing as he said, “Better keep you tied up, stopping you from doing anything worse!”
And then rose up from the ground.
He walked over to a window and used his hands to break open the layer of paper1.
Seeing the servants of the Min family rushing back and forth with buckets of water, the water the colour of blood, and the entrance holding two guards who looked like good fighters, his eyebrows couldn’t help but tightly furrow up and he sunk into a deep contemplation.
Then he looked over at Xiao Feng Wu sitting on the floor and asked,
“…..you didn’t really poison him did you?”
Xiao Feng Wu leaned against the pile of logs,
“You’re really looking upon me with too much respect.”
Qin Ming Yue fell into a deep silence and then walked over to release him from the ropes.
“Don’t play around.
Whatever you know, say it out quickly.
Don’t always keep it inside you, making me feel so unsafe as I try to follow your logic.”
Xiao Feng Wu thought about it and then said,
“…….Actually I’m not too sure.”
Today at Sheng De Lou, he had found there were many tightly clustered red dots around Min Si Xing’s fingers, and blisters around the fingertips, the edges of which were yellow and the inside deep purple.
It looked like something he had seen before in the Xiao family’s library of medicinal books, of lotus patterned sores.
When the illness sets off, the entire body will burn hot, and rashes and blisters will emerge all over the body, pairing with lines and lines of red, resembling the lotus pattern2.
Normal people wouldn’t be able to survive past three days before becoming like a wooden doll: unable to speak, unable to move, a life that would only be waiting for death.
This illness was too rare and special, so much so that the Xiao family, even with their ancestral history involved in the medicinal arts, only saw it a few times.
The average physician, unfortunately, would probably only try and treat this as smallpox.
Qin Ming Yue was just about to say something when the door to the storage house suddenly opened up.
A man that seemed to be the chamberlain looked at them, then waved over to some servants.
Without any words, the two of them were led away through twists and turns before arriving at the courtyard where Min Si Xing lived.
The normally quiet small courtyard was filled with a crowd of people in somber moods.
With one glance, Xiao Feng Wu could see that it was all of the most famous physicians in Yan Cheng – Physician Gong Sun of Qian Jin Tang, Physician Zhou of Xing Lin Ge, and other such familiar faces.
Qin Ming Yue whispered to Xiao Feng Wu,
“Isn’t your second uncle an official in the capital? Min Shang Shan would give you some face over that right, if he really did take your life, what would he do?”
Xiao Feng Wu moved his lips,
“For his only son, the only one that he would treasure just like his own body, if Min Si Xing really did die, even if my second uncle was the Emperor, he would not care.
Besides, I haven’t seen my second uncle more than a few times.”
And then purposefully looked at Qin Ming Yue pitifully,
“Only, I must pity you.
Such a young age and you’ll have to follow me to die.”
Qin Ming Yue coldly flipped his sleeves,
“Although it’s been said that a prostitute has no feelings, a theatre actor has no heart, I am not someone who would be regretful from his love.
Since I have followed you all the way here, I had not planned to get out alive.”
Xiao Feng Wu slightly narrowed his eyes at that, and his long fingers lightly ran over a strand of hair on the other’s shoulders.
He smiled and said,
“Say, how have I never noticed that you were this good to me hmm?”
Min Shang Shan came out of the room, and seeing Xiao Feng Wu and Qin Ming Yue together, speaking and smiling, his face darkened a few degrees.
He looked over at the clustered physicians and gave a greeting bow,
“Everyone, has there been any progress on my son’s illness?”
Physician Shen shook his head and smoothed out his mustache,
“This, this……this physician only has in-depth knowledge of women’s health.
This illness is not within my expertise.”
Physician Gong Sun gave an unfriendly eye towards him,
“This old physician has his expertise in pediatrics, nothing remotely similar to this.
Min Gong-zi’s illness is strange, something I have never heard of before.
Perhaps if we all study a bit, there will be a good prognosis soon.”
Physician Shen thought to himself, I’m not even someone paid under the Min family, they were all those who have lived for more than half a hundred years now, who would be willing to stay here in this late night, and he snorted with a fake smile plastered on his face and didn’t say another word.
Evidently, he was not the only one who thought like this, as there were quite a few who were much more elderly that could not stand it and found a tree to lean against.
Some of them had started to nap, their snoring creating a rhythm.
Min Shang Shan closed his eyes and didn’t say a word, but his chest was heaving irregularly, about to explode in anger.
It was at this time that an old bald man walked out from the crowd and cautiously asked,
“Perhaps this is not natural but man made?”
The crowd all looked at him and even Min Shang Shan opened his eyes.
Xiao Feng Wu raised his eyebrow slightly, hmm, what does he mean? Did he think that this was a curse cast upon Min Si Xing by him!
With someone leading the group, numerous voices joined along to agree,
“Perhaps this is due to a curse, something related to witchcraft.”
Qin Ming Yue’s face was thunderous, staring right at that old baldy and saying,
“A group of charlatans! For you to be unable to find any good results, you will all push around the reason as witchcraft.
What a joke!”
The old man pushed up his sleeves, saying in an all knowing way,
“Xiao Gong-zi had cursed Min Gong-zi in Sheng De Lou to have a body full of blisters and rashes.
Quite a few people have heard it.
How could it be so coincidental that the moment he returns, the illness falls upon him.”
Min Shang Shan was at the point where he was willing to do anything to find a reason and a cure.
Hearing all this, his eyes became laser focused to the point that it could flay flesh.
Xiao Feng Wu held Qin Ming Yue back and then walked in front of the group of physicians and looked them up and down,
“Out of you all, who thinks that this is a curse and not an actual illness?”
That old man chuckled mockingly and walked forward a step,
“Senior Physician Li Si Mou.”
The crowd began to shift with movement and a majority of them stepped out in scatters.
“Senior Physician Kang Ji Ming.”
“Senior Physician Gong Sun Qi.”
It was all a group of elderly men who won’t die, leaving only Physician Shen standing by himself on the side.
Facing up against everyone’s eyes, he ho-ho’ed and waved his hands,
“A world that could be filled with thousands, there is an unending curiosity to be explored.
This old physician’s knowledge is very low, and I do not dare to pass any judgement.”
Xiao Feng Wu smiled and gave a respectful bow and then looked at the group of physicians who stepped out.
He placed his hands behind him and walked back and forth in front of them,
“This young man is not that good, living life as he pleases, taking in the pleasures of gambling and sexual pleasure, knowing only some things.
Although gambling is not good, as you live on this earth, you have to find some pleasures in things.
Why not think about this, how about we place a bet?”
The old man opened his eyes wide,
“You foul mouthed boy, what are you betting for?”
Xiao Feng Wu pointed towards the inner room,
“If I could cure Min Si Xing, proving that it is not of witchcraft but of a rare illness?”
The old man flipped his sleeves and scolded him,
“Foul mouthed youth, don’t think so highly of yourself.
There is no hero on this earth, trying to find fame for your own name.
Did you really think that just because the previous Emperor bestowed your family the name of the number one acupuncturists that you are that great?”
Xiao Feng Wu chuckled lightly,
“Bestowed by the previous Emperor, of course we are that great.
Or are you saying that you think nothing of the previous Emperor?”
The old bald man shook his mustache,
“This old physician will not battle you with words.
Fine, what if I make a bet with you.
If you cannot cure Min Gong-zi, then in front of all of Yan Cheng, you must acknowledge that your Xiao family are liars and deceivers who don’t deserve of such praise and then confess to your crimes to the district magistrate’s court.
Using your life to pay for the other.
How is that?”
Xiao Feng Wu fakely smiled,
“Alright, and if I can cure Min Gong-zi, what about that?”
“What do you want?”
Xiao Feng Wu looked at the group of people behind him,
“With the morning light as the time limit, if I can make Min Si Xing wake up and cure him, then all you old men who have lived past your time, when you see me on the streets, must give me the bow of a junior to his senior, respectfully greeting me as your ancestor.
How about that?”
The youngest of them all in this crowd was at least 40 or so.
To give someone who was not even a proper physician like Xiao Feng Wu a bow like a junior would to his senior was a great disgrace.
But since they were already in such a hard position to begin with, they all looked at each other, unable to decide and whispering quietly.
“There is no difference between Min Gong-zi from a living dead person.
Not even medicine could be force fed.
This old physician cannot believe that he would have any kind of way to do anything.
Why not gamble it all?”
“His pulse is very weak, and there is no possible way to do anything.
Not even saints could save him now.”
Xiao Feng Wu blew on the dust on his fingers,
“I’ll count down from ten.
Give me your response then.
If, at that time, you delay it any further, ruining any chance of Min Si Xing living, then that won’t be on me.”
The one who spoke those words was Min Shang Shan.
His eyes swept over the crowd with a great pressure, and the people could only nod their heads in agreement,
“Yes, yes, we will take the bet.”
Only then did Xiao Feng Wu lift up his eyes, blinking a few times, thinking to himself, what a bunch of sheep.
He nodded his head and finally agreed to walk into the inner room to save Min Si Xing.
But he was blocked by Min Shang Shan whose words came out one by one, gritting them out from the cavities of his teeth.
“If he dies, the two of you will be buried with him.”
Xiao Feng Wu looked back, seeing Qin Ming Yue standing underneath a tree in the courtyard and silently looking back at himself.
With the faded moonlight shining across the cobblestones, shimmering and glimmering, his pair of phoenix eyes never looked more beautiful as it was in its calmest state, and quieter than the dark of the night.
Xiao Feng Wu retracted his gaze and then walked right into the room,
“Bring a tub of water for me to wash my hands and prepare some acupuncture needles, pen, ink and paper, and a basin of burning coal.”
*1 Some of you who may be into historical cdramas may have seen a lot of “paper windows” where characters might poke a finger through the window and look into to find out secrets, but that’s kind of like a trope(?).
They did use paper windows back then, but it’s a lot more complicated than just “paper”.
They have a main ingredient that’s like paper (made from bark of course), but they add other ingredients on top to strengthen the structure, and they also add a layer of oil (kind of like the “paper” umbrellas you may have heard of) to block water and these kinds of windows are said to be actually pretty hard to break through.
Wealthier families are said to use a thinner material to make their windows as it lets light shine through much easier (and they also have money to hire guards so less security issues – although most cdramas will say no to that lol) and poor families usually use cloth instead – kind of like how the apothecary Xiao Feng Wu works at uses a cloth as a divider/door).
*2 Lotus pattern-
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