Sha Po Lang

Chapter 38


T/N: enjoy adorable lovesick Chang Geng Y_Y

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He hadn’t seen Gu Yun for more than four years. His missing and longing had piled up into a mountain, he could not help but be frightened every time he gazed upon it, for he feared that it would collapse even with just the slightest of breeze.

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Chen Qing Xu complained once, but there was not a trace of anger on her face. She seemed to have been long used to having uninvited guests entering her house.

She came in to set the herbs in her hands down, then paid courtesy to the strangers: “My name is Chen, I am a doctor from the pugilist world.”

Although she claimed to be from the pugilist world, her mannerisms belonged to that of a lady from prestigious families. She did not smile, her expression ice-cold. The woman could not help but feel a bit rigid, she was not good at talking, after a moment, she only managed to greet back with a deep bow.

Chen Qing Xu glanced at Chang Geng, who was applying the needle and said: “He could count as being half an apprentice of mine. Resurrection is impossible, but he can handle ordinary illness just fine, this older sister please rest a.s.sured.”

One could not tell her age from her appearance, yet she dressed like a young lady, the little soldier’s heart was starting to beat like a drum.

His Highness had directly entered the chamber of an unmarried lady without any greetings. Even if she was a doctor…still, was it appropriate? And with his actions seeming all too familiar, who knew how many times he had come here?

If this was the capital, in certain households which paid great attention to manners, even when husband and wife wished to meet with one another, they must send a servant to announce it first.

Although she was a woman of the pugilist world who did not pay much mind to trivial courtesy…

This was the first time the little soldier followed Chang Geng, he was constantly speculating about the relationship between this strange woman and His Royal Highness, he could not imagine how furious Gu Yun would become if he were to find out. His heart was reaching the boiling state, he wasn’t able to think of the proper way to report this to Marshal, almost bringing him to tears.

During the conversation, the elderly man on the bed coughed a few times then regained consciousness.

Chang Geng did not mind the filth, taking a spittoon from the side to help him spit out.

The woman was incredibly happy, continuously expressing her endless grat.i.tude. Chen Qing Xu gave a hand towel to Chang Geng and instructed: “You go write the prescription, I will give him a check-up.”

She spoke softly, but her sentence did seem to resemble a command. Chang Geng did not oppose either, he spread the paper, pondered for a while, then wrote down the prescription.

The eyes of the little soldier almost popped out as he watched on. When he was still with Gu Yun, he has heard Marshal mentioned it more than once, that His Highness had grown up, he couldn’t manage him anymore – but it was clear that he was more well-behaved compared to little children in school, not at all resembling the child that already quarreled with the Marquis at a young age.

His mind was in a mess of confusion when Chen Qing Xu had already started a conversation with the woman.

Seeing that the patient’s condition has improved, the woman had become a lot more relaxed. It was only after talking that they found that this was originating from the implementation of the farming puppets project. The local people no longer had lands to do farm work, although the imperial court had issued regulations forbidding landlords to mistreat the tenants and farmers, but after a long period of time, who would still be willing to feed a group of idling bunch?

Arrears and shortfalls were also common. Those who possessed farming puppets gradually became more and more irritated. Later, farmers, mechanics, other small business owners and landlords, each divided into different factions, each felt that they were the ones at a loss, gradually becoming hostile towards the other parties.

The woman’s husband had refused to sit idly at home for others to vent their anger on, he had gone to the south to find work together with his fellow countrymen. Unexpectedly, there had been no news from him since his departure.

The old father-in-law law had fallen ill, the children were still young and could not be counted on. The village doctor had soon moved away due to boredom from the lack of things to do. She now had no other choice but to carry her husband’s father and travel at long distances by herself to find a different doctor.

Chen Qing Xu frowned as she heard this: “The south? The south had just undergone a big flood this year. The disaster has still not stabilized yet, how would one be able to find jobs?”

The woman was dumbfounded; having spent all her life in a mountain village, apart from the one-acre land at the front of the house, she did not know that there were other places in this world, or what this concept was.

Chang Geng, who was writing the prescription, asked her: “Was madam able to receive this year’s rations that were sent down?”

Hearing this question, the woman took one look at the ill elderly man on the bed then sadly said: “To tell you the truth, we haven’t. I am… I am already at this age, I don’t wish to come to pick a fight at their doors. Fortunately, this year’s food prices are quite low, there are still some savings in the family, we could go out to purchase some.”

Although she said this, Chang Geng knew that these people have been working as farmers for generations, they were not used to spending money. Each spending was like a knife that cut through their hearts, otherwise, why did she choose to carry her father-in-law to travel step by step and was not willing to call for a cart?

Chen Qing Xu: “Are there public properties of the imperial court? I heard when public properties finish paying to the national treasury every year, after a.s.signing to the officials, the rest will be distributed among common people.”

The woman smiled bitterly: “Our land could not be used for planting, it has been abandoned for two years.”

Chang Geng: “How come? Is it due to its poor condition?”

The woman: “I heard that because it stayed near the home of an official. The district magistrate wanted to use that land to build a shrine, but for some reasons, the people above had refused him. Both sides went back and forth, in the end, no agreement was made regarding what to do with the land. It has been left empty since.”

As soon as this statement came out, all three people in the room fell into silence.

“Three parts mountains and six parts rivers, they can only have one field, yet it was also being wasted like this,” Chen Qing Xu sighed, “These people are truly…”

Chang Geng did not speak up, no one knew what he was thinking. He quickly wrote the prescription and handed it to Chen Qing Xu for her to check through: “Mm, this is alright – Sister please come with me, I have some common medicines here, there is no need to buy any more.”

She then led the woman who was continuously expressing her grat.i.tude to the back room for the medicine.

Seeing her leave, the young man of the Black Iron Camp immediately felt relieved and slowly came in front of Chang Geng. He did not say a word, just silently followed him, whatever Chang Geng intended to do, he would roll up his sleeves and go to do it for him first.

It only took a while for him to tidy up the pen and papers. He finally managed to let out the first sentence, his voice stiff: “Young master is very familiar with this place.”

Chang Geng replied: “Mm, I often settle here whenever I travel to Sichuan.”

What! A single man and a single woman!

The face of the little soldier went red, suddenly aware that his task was of utmost importance. If he did not make clear of this matter, perhaps when he returned, the Marquis would even cut him into a spittoon as well.

Chang Geng caught sight of his expression that appeared as if he had been struck with lightning, only now that he understood what he was thinking, he quickly said with a smile: “Where are your thoughts running to? This is indeed Miss Chen’s house, but she is absent for most of the time. The house is usually left empty.

“Her friends from the pugilist world, whoever traveled to this area can rest here for a few days. If it happens that she is also at home, the women can stay, the men will go to find another place. This time I intended to take you here to rest for two days, but since she had come back, the two of us should go find an inn.”

The little soldier’s heart first felt relieved, thinking to himself: “Ah.”

However, before he could completely relax, he soon tensed up again. The little soldier thought sadly: “Even though he is the Fourth Prince, he had to save a bit of inn money this way…”

Looking at Chang Geng’s old robes, the young man could not help but blurt out: “If Mar – Master knows that young master is living days of hardship like this in the outside world, he would feel very saddened.”

He wasn’t good at talking, he was better in action than in words, thus as he occasionally spoke of things like this, he made them feel all the more extraordinarily sincere.

Chang Geng’s heart was heavy, he momentarily could not respond.

At this time, Chen Qing Xu had finished getting the medicine for the woman, as she led her out, Chen Qing Xu glanced at Chang Geng’s face and frowned: “Stay calm, what did I tell you?”

Chang Geng came back to his senses, letting out a bitter smile.

Chen Qing Xu was his half-teacher, this was true.

Two years ago, Chang Geng’s teacher had found out about Bone of Impurity during one of its attacks. The secret that only he and the heaven knew of has finally had another way out.

His teacher said he was not well-versed in medicine, thus had taken him to many places, and finally, in the east, they managed to find Chen Qing Xu. It was a pity that Bone of Impurity was the secret of the Northern Witch, even Doctor Chen with her vast knowledge in medicine momentarily could not find a cure. She could only prescribe him a tranquilizer to help him stay calm as she slowly made her research.

During this period, Chang Geng had come to inquire her about Gu Yun’s affairs, he used a roundabout way to ask: “Miss Chen, is there a kind of person in this world whose eyes and ears sometimes work but sometimes do not?”

Chen Qing Xu certainly knew what he meant, but it was not in her place to speak, she simply replied: “Yes.”

Chang Geng asked again: “Then which type can be relieved by medication and which type cannot?”

Chen Qing Xu replied: “It is impossible if one was naturally born with it. Damage in sight caused by injury after growing up needs to be a.s.sessed by case. It may still be possible for ones who were poisoned.”

She a.s.sumed that as Chang Geng had asked in a roundabout way like this, he would next inquire directly about Gu Yun’s case, but he did not. She found that she seemed to have underestimated the intelligence and sharpness of this boy.

Upon hearing this, Chang Geng only stayed silent for a long time, then in the end, begged her to accept him as her disciple.

Chen family had many generations of doctors, they paid great attention to their rules of conduct, yet did not at the same time, the family’s teaching have one sentence only ‘practice medicine to save lives’, nothing like the eccentric ‘G.o.dlike doctors’ in stories, picking and choosing, only accepting patients with incurable diseases – such practice will be dismissed from the family.

She had treated serious injuries, severe illness to uncommon poisons, to children’s regular cold or women with troubles in giving birth, she would happily take them in.

Of course, she did not treat her knowledge as some sort of treasure that she kept away for only herself. There was no rule that stated ‘family’s knowledge cannot be pa.s.sed on to outsiders’ either. If someone inquired, she would teach them. But Miss Chen once said she had not graduated yet, she did not dare to accept any apprentice, thus she could only be regarded to as half a teacher.

The Chen family manor was in Taiyuan. Generally, around autumn and winter seasons, Chen Qing Xu usually did not stay in the south. Chang Geng a.s.sumed as she was still in Sichuan at this time, there must be some other business. He took out his pouch, handed the young soldier some money to call a for a cart to take the woman and the elderly man back to their home.

How could the young soldier dare to accept money from the incredibly poor Fourth Prince? After refusing for a few times, he hurriedly run off.

With the outsiders having all left, Chen Qing Xu then took out a bag: “How convenient to have run into you here, this is a new tranquilizer I made, give it a try.”

Chang Geng said his thanks, taking a small bit to put into his pouch then carefully put the rest away.

Chen Qing Xu accidentally caught sight of the pouch, her eyes immediately brightened up. She saw that there was no such complicated and dizzying embroidery designs such as ‘mandarin ducks in the lake’ or ‘flying b.u.t.terflies’ and the likes.

There was only a layer of clean silk inside, the outside was covered by leather that had been ground into a thin and soft layer. Around its surface contained small patterns that had been engraved on by a knife, resembling the iron wristband, with many gears connected, the tip also revealed a blade, appeared as if it was about to fly out, extremely detailed and well-made.

Chen Qing Xu complimented: “Where did you get this pouch? It looks very unique.”

Chang Geng: “I made it myself, do you want one?”

Chen Qing Xu: “…”

Doctor Chen who remained calm even in the face of thousand troops, at this moment, could not help but feel shocked.

“It’s very durable,” Chang Geng advertised. “Ah yes, I haven’t asked you yet, Mid-Autumn Festival is already over, how come you are still here in Sichuan?”

“The Marquis of Order will be traveling to the south, crossing through Sichuan, he had asked to meet with me here,” Chen Qing Xu said. “Why, you did not know?”

Chang Geng: “…”

The constant changing circle of fengshui, this time, the person in shock had switched.

Chang Geng only managed to find his voice again after a long while through the lingering fragrance of the tranquilizer: “No, I did not know, my yifu… why would he come to the south?”

Chen Qing Xu did not understand: “The Marquis’s departure from the northwest is of course due to his military affairs. I only have this chance to say a few words to him thanks to the names of my ancestors, he would not tell me what his business might be.”

Chang Geng: “But the little brother of the Black Iron Camp told me that he will return on the new year…”

Chen Qing Xu became even more confused as she heard this: “We are not reaching the Double Ninth Festival* yet, whether the Marquis returned for the new year or not, is it related to where he stays now?”

*Double Ninth Festival/Yang Festival is celebrated during the 9th day of the 9th lunar month

Chang Geng: “…”

He was at a loss for words for a moment, then finally could not help but laugh. Thinking about it, only people who were so eager yet so afraid at the same time like himself would consider the length of three or four months as nothing.

“I a.s.sumed you came because you know of this. Turned out it was a mere coincidence,” Chen Qing Xu said. “He had stated in his letter he would arrive soon during these few days. If you are not in a hurry, it would be better to wait for him, too.”

Chang Geng absent-mindedly made a sound in response, his thoughts had already drifted thousands of miles away.

“Chang Geng, Chang Geng!” Chen Qing Xu came closer to his ears and called out, only then did Chang Geng finally manage to come back to his senses.

Chen Qing Xu said with all seriousness: “I have told you before if it is not the antidote itself, any other formula that helps in soothing the nerves can only serve as an aid.

“Bone of Impurity first prohibited anxiety, every straying thoughts in your heart will become the nourishment for the poison. Today, in just a short time, your mind had already scattered twice, in the end, what is going on?”

Chang Geng replied with a ‘how embarra.s.sing’, then lowered his gaze. Not wishing to dwell on this topic any further, he naturally turned the conversation towards the prescription he made just now.

He thought, Chen Qing Xu had traveled across the country, had cured countless wounds caused by blades and swords on mortal flesh, countless long-term severe illness, but could she know how to cure a person’s heart?

Not long after, the Black Iron Camp’s soldier who was sending the patient home had hurriedly rushed back. Seeing that Chang Geng did not disappear and leave him behind, he instantly felt relieved.

Chang Geng borrowed a few copies of ‘Pharmaceutical Cla.s.sics’, said goodbye to Chen Qing Xu, then took the little soldier to rest in an inn from a nearby town.

The autumn cicada and insects were very lively, and with the quiet of the night, they became all the more noisy.

Chang Geng put the newly-made tranquilizer beside his pillow, feeling that Miss Chen’s new medicine was not very good. Not only did it not tranquilize, but it also caused him to feel even more awake. Not being able to fall asleep, he had climbed up in the middle of the night to ignite the light and started reading.

After burning one bowl of lamp oil, finishing two and a half out of three copies of ‘Pharmaceutical Cla.s.sics’, it had ready reached the light dawn, yet he still wasn’t able to find sleep.

There seemed to be a golden box inside his chest, spurting white steam as it continued to burn a bottomless mine of Ziliujin.

Regardless of how Chang Geng repeatedly told himself to stay calm for tens of thousands of times in his heart, how he had intended to treat Gu Yun who would soon arrive with a normal state of mind, even as he forced himself not to imagine how this would turn out – still, eagerness and anxiousness combined together continued to wrap themselves around his bones, every minute and every second, slashing his heart with a vine covered in sharp spikes, hurting and aching. Even deceiving himself had proven to be useless.

Early next morning, Chang Geng stopped the young soldier of the Black Iron Camp: “Little brother, usually if you want to travel to the south, crossing through Sichuan heading for Xinjiang, what route would you take?”

The sergeant replied: “If it was for official business, we will naturally take the official road. Other occasions can be planned as we needed for conveniences, I cannot say for certain, it is even possible to come in from the valley.”

Chang Geng nodded silently.

After a short time, the little soldier was stunned to find that Chang Geng had actually changed the tattered robes he wore when traveling the pugilist world for a new set of clothes. Although it did not appear very luxurious, it was very exquisite, vaguely giving off the aura that if the wearer wasn’t of n.o.bility, they would undoubtedly be very wealthy.

Chang Geng had transformed from a poor student to a genuine young master, the innkeeper’s att.i.tude towards him could not help but become even more respectful than before.

Just like that, he donned his young master clothing and went for a horse ride on the official road every day. No one knew if he was waiting for someone, or putting on an exhibition.

The young master’s clothes could not help but get dirty, when returning after a whole day, the clothing would be covered in a layer of dust. Chang Geng refused to trouble the others, he would then get to thoroughly washing them by himself. There were no other options – as there were only two sets of ‘young master clothing’. If he did not work hard, there would be no other clothing to change into.

Every day as Chang Geng mounted his horse, there was always one thought in his mind: “Perhaps I should take my leave.”

He hadn’t seen Gu Yun for more than four years. His missing and longing had piled up into a mountain, he could not help but be frightened every time he gazed upon it, for he feared that it would collapse even with just the slightest of breeze.

He wanted to run, yet he could not bear to run, everyday battling with himself inside, but before a conclusion could be made, he had already arrived at the official road. Chang Geng could only go with the flow, spending the whole day sipping the wind and eating sand circling the area, but not even a single rabbit had shown up. When he returned in the evening, there was only one thought in his mind: “I will check out tomorrow morning then run for my life.”

However, in the next morning, he would then take back his words and return to the official road again.

Chang Geng had been living in this madness for the past four to five days. Nearing the evening of the fifth day, as he turned his horse back to the inn, he caught sight of the sun setting in the west, dyeing the sky in a shade of blood red, stunningly beautiful. He could not help himself from slowing down his pace, letting the horse feed on the gra.s.s while walking. He recalled his actions in these past few days and found that he did not know whether to laugh or cry: “If Liao Ran were to find out about this, perhaps he would laugh until his teeth fell off.”

At this moment, Chang Geng suddenly heard the sound of horse hooves behind him. It seemed that there was a team of riders pa.s.sing by, he turned to move out of their way, but as he subconsciously looked back, there were numbers of large and strong steed that were surging forward and closing the distance in the blink of an eye, there was a carriage behind them.

From a distance, the cavalry was dressed in normal attires, appearing much like any other travelers in a rush. Yet no one knew why, Chang Geng’s heart suddenly began to beat faster.


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