Qiao Baishi’s heart was full of wryness. His gaze was filled with some bitterness as he swept his eyes across these people’s faces.
These were his colleagues in the Hall of Healing? These were his so-called brothers in life and death?
When the Heavenly Karma Pill, Vast Ocean Pill, and One Buddha Powder were produced and available on shelves, what attitude did these people have? Each of them couldn’t keep their mouths closed from laughing so much, praising that he was wise and brilliant and had accomplished a great service for the Hall.
But now, how short of a time had it been until it had all been forgotten? They could easily distort the facts just because the Duke of Soaring Dragon had risen to power, and twist all of his previous achievements into crimes.
One had to know that the profit the Hall of Healing had gained from these three medicines in the past couple of months was profit they would have had to previously earn over three years.
This was to say that the profits of the Hall of Healing had increased manyfold in a short period of time.
This didn’t even take into account future anticipated revenue — and that could all be estimated.
Qiao Baishi’s heart grew cold as he said remotely, “If you thought I was wrong, then why didn’t you speak up earlier? How come you didn’t object when we originally introduced those pill medicines?”
“What kind of attitude is this? What’s wrong in us saying a word or two about you? Do you not think that our Hall of Healing is not now a thorn in the side of the newly ascended ruler?” The second hallmaster Yue Qun admonished.
Elder Blue also said sourly, “Huh, you won’t allow others to speak against you just because you have a bit of accomplishments to your name? Mark my words, you had ulterior motives in introducing those pills.”
“Ulterior motives?” Qiao Baishi was enraged. “Have I diverted a single bit of money that the Hall has earned into my pockets?”
“Who knows?” Elder Blue was completely unwilling to back down.
“Enough.” Song Tianxing slammed his hand down on the table and said upon seeing that the two were about to dissolve into a yelling match.
There was still quite a deterring force from the lord hallmaster’s words. All of them immediately shut their mouths and didn’t dare say anything else.
Qiao Baishi stood up and cupped his hands, “Lord Hallmaster, I, Qiao Baishi, do not wish to argue over this matter. The annals of the Hall’s history will attest to my merits and faults. I was raised by your hand and I have nothing to say if you wish to punish me. But these people… huh. They’re not worthy.”
Qiao Baishi also had a lofty and unyielding character. These people normally didn’t do anything, but now all of them wanted a piece of the action if there were benefits to be had. All of them shirked responsibility when something went wrong, and pushed everything onto him.
How was Qiao Baishi an easy target for them to bully at will?
Song Tianxing sighed lightly, “Number three, the bigger picture is greater than the individual. If Long Zhaofeng hadn’t usurped the throne, our Hall of Healing needn’t have feared his status as first duke. But now…”
“Lord Hallmaster, I suggest that we hand over Qiao Baishi. He is a confederate of that Jiang Chen, if we hand him over to the king, it will absolutely appease some of his anger. Also, His Majesty has just recently conquered this land. The country has disintegrated and the people’s hearts are shaky. There are untold multitudes of injured, he will need the Hall of Healing as well.” Elder Blue’s suggestion was a drastic method to deal with the situation.
“I feel that Elder Blue’s suggestion is quite good.” Second hallmaster Yue Qun also assented.
“I agree with this suggestion.”
“I too agree.”
To think that a large half of the senior leadership actually favored handing Qiao Baishi over!
“Lord Hallmaster, this isn’t fair! The third hallmaster has accomplished deeds of valor in battle. Does his deeds become crimes merely because of a change in the political situation?”
“Absolute bullshit. If Qiao Baishi really has won distinctions in battle, then the Hall needs him to accomplish even more achievements now. Sacrificing just him to preserve the entire Hall is the biggest accomplishment of all.”
“Indeed, if you want to talk about worthy deeds, then helping the Hall distance itself from danger is a worthy deed.”
These senior executives were truly shameless. Even lord hallmaster Song Tianxing felt embarrassed when he heard these words.
Just as these senior executives were chattering ceaselessly and embroiled in fierce arguments, a low curse suddenly sounded in the air. “Quarreling amongst brothers in the same family late into the night, and quite energetically at that? Can a body get any rest around here?”
This voice was aged, but it was suffused with a presence that demanded respect from others.
“Elder Shun has spoken?” An elder was astonished.
Elder Shun was only the Hall of Healing’s resident expert, but his position within the Hall was greatly revered. Even the lord hallmaster Song Tianxing himself had to treat him with the utmost respect.
When Jiang Zheng had marketed the recipe for the Heavenly Karma Pill to Qiao Baishi, all the senior executives had been unable to make a decision. It was only through Elder Shun’s verification that Qiao Baishi was able to make up his mind.
Song Tianxing smiled awkwardly and apologized, “Elder Shun, we’ve disturbed your rest in the middle of the night. We are deeply sorry. It’s just that the winds of change have blown into the capital and the Hall needs to discuss a responding strategy.”
“Discuss what? Discuss how to give up the only person of talent within the Hall to amuse and placate the anger of the new king?”
Elder Shun’s voice was filled with contempt as he cut straight to the point with sarcasm.
Those senior executives who had wanted to hand Qiao Baishi over all looked on with uncomfortable faces, feeling indignant but not daring to voice it.
“Song Tianxing, my granddaughter and I have no interest in intervening with your internal affairs. However, Huang’er and I have both verified that Heavenly Karma Pill. If you all think that Baishi has acted incorrectly, then that also means we were wrong as well.”
“Not at all, not at all.” Song Tianxing knew more clearly than anyone else the power that Elder Shun had.
“If that’s not the case, then what are you blathering on about? Winds of change in the capital? Do you think everything is over now that Long Zhaofeng has ascended to the throne?”
Elder Shun’s words left everyone dumbfounded.
Song Tianxing gathered his courage to ask, “Elder Shun, we are silly and foolish. Does Elder Shun think there are further twists and turns about to take place in this matter? Who in the kingdom can contend with the Long family’s power now?”
“Huh. I have no interest in the stupid affairs of a change in royal power. I’ll only say one thing, Qiao Baishi cannot be touched. Whoever moves against him is making a move against me.”
Elder Shun remained silent after saying these words. He gave no further responses no matter how much Song Tianxing asked or what he said.
Song Tianxing hadn’t wanted to punish Qiao Baishi in the first place. After all, Qiao Baishi was a treasured subordinate that he had personally mentored. He had once wavered for the profits of the Hall, but that had certainly not been his true intentions.
He took advantage of the situation to find a way out. “Alright, since Elder Shun has spoken, it’s inconceivable that any of you have greater foresight than our Elder Shun. Since the dust has settled within the capital, even if the Long family wishes to settle their debts, it won’t be the Hall’s turn for the time being.”
Qiao Baishi felt dispirited, but said nothing and kept silent. He actually felt quite desolate inside. To think that despite devoting his entire life to the Hall of Healing, he still needed a resident expert, one whom he ordinarily had no dealings with, to save his life in the end.
“There’s no real reason to stay with the Hall of Healing.” Qiao Baishi thought of Jiang Chen, and remembered this mysterious and honorable young master, and a current of warmth rose up in his heart.
Compared to his honored master Jiang Chen, Qiao Baishi felt that these colleagues were as boring and disgusting as maggots.
In another room in the Hall of Healing, a girl dressed in green sat beneath a single lantern. Her features were stunningly beautiful as if an immortal had descended upon the mortal realm.
“Elder Shun, it’s rare to see you fly into a rage.” The girl played listlessly with the lantern wick as traces of worry were evident between her brows, appearing all the more wondrous beneath the lantern’s light.
“Heh heh, Huang’er, the senior leadership of this Hall of Healing are simply ridiculous. Qiao Baishi is a crane amongst chickens, and it was a foregone conclusion that he would be envied by others. Yet they wanted to hand him over to Long Zhaofeng! It seems like this Hall of Healing is also a place that envies the wise and not worth lingering in.”
Elder Shun sighed lightly, his tone a bit bleak. “If it wasn’t for old man Qian Ji’s wondrous divination skills showing him a sign that the clue to curing your sickness would be obtained in this common kingdom, why would I be so bored as to subject Huang’er to the agonies of boredom in this forsaken place?”
The girl in question, Huang’er, instead smiled, “Elder Shun, the matters of divination are vague and insubstantial. It may exist, and it might not. Why should we overly care about them? Let destiny take her course. Besides, if we hadn’t come out, my sickly body would only be subjected to endless eyerolls and constraints at home.”
The girl’s smile was suffused with a kind of hazy, undefined, and mysterious feeling. Her beautiful and bright clever eyes sparkled with a light not of this mortal life, as if a current of clear spring from the heavens.
“Huang’er, don’t you think it’s a bit odd that the Hall of Healing recently introduced the Heavenly Karma Pill, Vast Ocean Pill, and One Buddha Powder? The quality and rank of these pills have obviously surpassed the limits of this ordinary kingdom.”
“Yes, I’ve also obtained a few of these pills from Song Tianxing for research. They are indeed not ordinary. With these pills, if the Hall of Healing managers things well, it won’t be a problem for them to dominate the surrounding sixteen kingdoms.”
“The point isn’t how the Hall of Healing will do, but rather where did these recipes come from? I seem to remember that the Heavenly Karma Pill was purchased from the hands of a Jiang family’s servant.”
“The Jiang family?” Miss Huang’er held a few traces of uncertainty.
“Yes, the Duke of Jiang Han. I’ve inquired around and learnt that Jiang Feng’s character is alright, but he’s quite ordinary in all other areas. However, I’ve also heard that his son is quite odd. He behaved atrociously at the Rites of Heavenly Worship and was beaten half to death by Eastern Lu. He then started treating Eastern Lu’s daughter and diagnosed her with something called a yin constitution. In addition, the servant Jiang Zheng is the body servant of this Jiang Chen. Wouldn’t you say that there’s something odd with regards to this Jiang Chen?”
“How can there be something odd about the son of a duke?” Miss Huang’er was a bit perplexed.
“It’s quite strange indeed. I even suspect that he is the mastermind behind the Heavenly Karma Pill. Including the Vast Ocean Pill, One Buddha Powder, his shadow is in the background behind everything that’s happened in the Hall of Healing. The sudden change in the winds and clouds of the capital this time were also heralded by this person. Also, this person can actually control the Goldwing Swordbirds and he even killed the son of Long Zhaofeng.”
The more he spoke, the more Elder Shun felt that things were increasingly bizarre. “This person was the shame of the capital a few months ago and couldn’t even pass the foundational exams. How many months has it been? He’s turned into the man of the hour that can influence the situation in the capital with a shake of his body. Huang’er, would you say that something will come true on this person?”
“Something will come true?” Huang’er smiled lightly. “Elder Shun, do you want to say that Elder Qian Ji’s divination will be fulfilled by Jiang Chen?”
“Anything is possible.” Elder Shun also thought that it was a bit farfetched. No matter from which angle one contemplated from, the son of a duke didn’t seem to fulfill the signs.
But, he couldn’t sit idly by and ignore the slightest clue, even if it didn’t seem like a clue.
“If there’s a chance, I’m going to meet this Jiang Chen.” Elder Shun made up his mind.
Nothing more was said that night.
Early next morning, a news bomb was dropped onto the Hall of Healing. Qiao Baishi had left and left behind one letter bidding his farewells to Song Tianxing. The words within the letter made it clear that with this departure, Qiao Baishi would never come back to the Hall of Healing.
This was to say that Qiao Baishi had broken off all relations with the Hall of Healing.
Song Tianxing was dismally downcast, he knew that his waffling attitude had hurt Qiao Baishi’s heart.
“Fleeing for fear of punishment. If he didn’t have a guilty conscience, why would he run away?” Elder Blue interspersed her talk with curses, putting on the air that she’d long since seen this coming.
“You, shut up!” Song Tianxing burst into anger. He was exceedingly irritated. Qiao Baishi’s departure had seemed to cause him to lose quite a lot in a single moment.