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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 05, 2024 1 Comment
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Chapter 25: Master of Acupuncture and Medicine: The King of Hell

A Thread of love Wrapped around Black Silk (Part Four)

Three women journeyed along the village’s main path, under the looming threat of a mountain storm. Mists wrapped the hills in a ghostly veil, and the wind picked up, bending the wild grasses at their side.

When they reached a particular courtyard, they spotted a child at playing in the yard, her fingers clumsily entangled with a bamboo dragonfly toy. A sudden gust swept the toy onto the path, prompting the child to chase after it. As she moved, her little body wobbled and eventually, she stumbled, falling down to the ground.

Mo Wen stepped forward to pick her up, dusting off her clothes, then went to retrieve the bamboo dragonfly to return it to the child. Suddenly, a woman burst from the house, holding her child close in a protective hug.

Mo Wen, holding out the toy, said, “Here you go.”

The child extended her hand to take it back, only to be restrained by the woman. The woman, like a hen guarding her chick, enveloped her child completely. Her stance towards Mo Wen was one of guarded wariness, yet she was unable to hide the panic and fear in her eyes.

“Thank you… thank you, madam,” the woman stammered, her hands shaking as she took the toy before quickly retreating into the house with her child, closing the door behind them.

As the three continued on their way, but as they left, Yu’er noticed the woman quickly putting down the child, throwing away the bamboo dragonfly as if it were a snake, and then hurriedly closing the front door.

Yu’er’s brows knitted in concern, a feeling of unease settling in her heart.

Mo Wen, Zizhi, and the others had been diligently offering their medical expertise to the villagers. While the villagers respected Zizhi and the others, showering them with affectionate titles like ‘divine healer,’ they treated Mo Wen with a mix of suspicion and avoidance, as if she were a dangerous beast. This glaring inconsistency struck Yu’er as both hypocritical and mean-spirited.

Yet, on second thought, Yu’er realized that the villagers’ reaction might not be entirely without reason. Having been hurt before, their behavior was similar to someone who fears a rope after being bitten by a snake. Enduring the torment of poisons and curses day after day, their wary avoidance of Mo Wen was, in some ways, an understandable human response.

After much thought, Yu’er was left with nothing but helplessness. The brief warmth stirred by Qing Jiu dissipated before she could fully appreciate it, leaving her feeling frustrated.

Ahead, Qing Jiu and Mo Wen appeared to be unaffected by the villagers’ reactions. Qing Jiu, with a light-hearted laugh, suggested, “You might as well change your clothes; you’re scaring the villagers as much as anything could.”

Mo Wen thought about this, adjusting her clothes as if genuinely considering the advice.

Upon reaching a house at the southern end of the village, they were greeted by the soft sounds of weeping from inside.

Entering the room, they found a person lying on a bed, their face ashen and breath still. The patient’s robe was open, and Zizhi was at the bedside, administering medicine and performing acupuncture, with Zelan assisting by handing over the necessary supplies and monitoring the patient’s vital points.

Zizhi’s forehead was covered in cold sweat, her brows furrowed in concentration, her expression grave. Each insertion of the needle was met with hesitation, a far cry from ease.

At the foot of the bed stood two women and a child. One of them was Aunt Shen, the other, significantly younger and bearing a look of illness, gazed sorrowfully at the person on the bed – her husband. The two women sobbed quietly, careful not to cry out loud and disturb Zizhi’s life-saving efforts. Nearby, an elderly man sat with a hand on the table, his back hunched and his expression grave; he was the patient’s father.

Mo Wen approached and asked Zelan in a low voice, mindful of the two women nearby, “How is it?”

 Zelan, keeping her voice down, replied, “The poison has reached his heart and is draining his strength. Medicine and stones are proving ineffective. As disciples of the Medicinal sect, we lack expertise in acupuncture. Otherwise, we could block his meridians with needles to contain the poison, if not cure him, at least delay until we find the blood coagulating flower.”

Zizhi’s needlework grew more cautious. Mo Wen stepped forward, took the silver needle from her hand, and declared, “Let me try.”

 Zelan’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Don’t mess around! If my senior sister can’t do it, what makes you think you can?”

As she moved to intervene, Yu’er stepped in, blocking Zelan’s path. “Hey! Don’t get in the way, little girl!”

 Zelan hesitated to push past her, and in that brief pause, Mo Wen had already administered a needle, reaching for another.

The child ran to the bedside, pounding on Mo Wen with tiny fists, crying out, “Let go of my father!”

Aunt Shen, as if her world had collapsed, knelt before Mo Wen, her face a mix of anger and terror. “You, please, Madam! I beg you, spare my Kun’s life!”

In her cries, Aunt Shen’s mistrust of Mo Wen hadn’t dissipated, her fear and anxiety clouding her judgment, not realizing Mo Wen was there to help, thinking instead she had come to take her son’s life.

Qing Jiu moved quickly, stepping up to the bed, lifting the child by the collar, and said to the woman, “Ah, you speak wisely. My friend here excels in both medicine and poison, hence earning the nickname ‘The Living King of Hell.'”

Holding the child up, Qing Jiu’s eyes narrowed into a chilling smile. “As the saying goes, ‘If the King of Hell wants you dead by midnight, no one can keep you alive till dawn.'”

Whether it was Qing Jiu’s grim tone or the cold light in her eyes that frightened the child, he shivered and stiffened, not daring to make a sound.

Qing Jiu continued, “If my friend decides to take a life, nothing can stop her. If she chooses to save someone, they will survive even in the face of death. Her influence extends even to the underworld – they hesitate to take those she wants to protect. Your plea to ‘spare my Kun’s life’ is wise. If you truly touch her heart, she might negotiate with the judges of the underworld, granting your son forty more years of life.” Qing Jiu’s words, spoken with conviction, left everyone in the room shocked.

Mo Wen, well aware of her temperament, paid no mind to the distractions and focused solely on her acupuncture. Yu’er, having spent some time with everyone, had grown to understand them a bit and found Qing Jiu’s ability to render the crowd speechless with her words amusing. Despite the urge to laugh, the solemnity of the situation forced her to bite her lip to contain her amusement, her eyes betraying her desire to observe the unfolding scene.

With a casual flick of her wrist, Qing Jiu effortlessly tossed the child into the elderly man’s arms beside the table, her smile teasing yet ambiguous, “Your son is fortunate to have her intervention.” The room fell silent, and even the sobbing ceased, scared into silence.

The room fell into an eerie silence. Mo Wen extended her hand, waiting for Zizhi and Zelan to hand her a needle, but they hesitated. With a soft sigh, she quickly flicked her garment and extracted a silver needle.

Yu’er, observing closely, realized the needle wasn’t taken from a pocket but pulled from the embroidery of the clothing. She had thought the silver patterns were embroidered with silver thread, but now she saw they were half-exposed needles hidden within Mo Wen’s clothes. Yu’er was amazed, thinking, “No wonder Mo Wen doesn’t wear ordinary clothes.” It was a clever concealment within her garment.

Mo Wen’s acupuncture was exceptionally fast, her technique both swift and skillful. While Zizhi was hesitant, Mo Wen swiftly sealed 108 acupuncture points on the patient in a matter of moments.

 Zelan was dumbfounded, pointing at Mo Wen, stammering, “How… how do you know the acupuncture techniques of my Xuhuai Valley’s Needle Sect?”

Yu’er was stunned, thought, “Mo Wen is using Xuhuai Valley’s acupuncture technique?”

She looked at Mo Wen, who showed no change in expression, then looked at Qing Jiu, who cast a brief look at Zelan and casually remarked, “You’re not a disciple of the Needle Sect, how would you know she’s using your Xuhuai Valley’s technique?”

 Zelan retorted, “I haven’t eaten pork, but I’ve seen pigs run.”

Qing Jiu feigned realization, hummed, “Oh?”

With a smile, Qing Jiu said, “Then how do you know she isn’t in the ‘seen pigs run but hasn’t eaten pork’ category?”

 Zelan, her face flushing with frustration, pointed at Mo Wen, “Nonsense! The sixty-four techniques of acupuncture in Xuhuai Valley are complex and difficult to master, not something you can learn by just looking. My senior sister, with all her talent, has only grasped a fraction after years of study. Her? Hmph!”

Qing Jiu chuckled, “Her? It just shows she’s more gifted than your senior sister.”

“You!”

“Zelan!” Zizhi interjected sharply, “Saving lives comes first. If you can’t keep your composure, then leave.” Zelan bit her lip, her face a mixture of hurt and reluctance, but she fell silent.

After completing the acupuncture, Mo Wen took a deep breath and instructed Zizhi, “Hold these two acupoints, Tai Yuan and Tai Xi.” With that, Mo Wen headed out.

“Where are you going?” Zizhi asked.

“To get the medicine,” Mo Wen replied.

As Mo Wen left, Qing Jiu turned to follow, and Yu’er trailed behind them.

Instead of heading back to the village chief’s house, Mo Wen entered the kitchen of this house. Yu’er watched from outside as Mo Wen filled a bowl with clear water and drew another silver needle.

Qing Jiu quickly grabbed Mo Wen’s wrist. “If we don’t save him now, he’ll die. If he dies, all your bluffs will have been for nothing, wouldn’t that be a slap in your face?”

Qing Jiu playfully scolded, “You’re really using my own words to pressure me for their sake.”

Mo Wen reassured, “It won’t take much.”

It was then that Qing Jiu sighed, releasing her grip, conceding, “As you wish.”

Yu’er watched their exchange, puzzled by the cryptic conversation and the subtle actions between them, until she saw Mo Wen prick her fingertip, squeezing out a bead of blood as large as a pea into a bowl of clear water. Mo Wen added a few more drops, then sucked her finger before taking the bowl to the main room to administer the mixture to the patient. It was only then that Yu’er began to vaguely understand.

In no more than the time it takes to drink a cup of tea, the color returned to the patient’s face, and his breath steadied. His family, overwhelmed with joy, cried tears of happiness, looking at Mo Wen and hesitantly wondering how to express their gratitude as Mo Wen and the others simply said their goodbyes and left.

Walking along the road, the group felt a collective sense of relief for having snatched the patient back from death’s doorstep. Zelan had forgotten her earlier embarrassment and approached Mo Wen with curiosity, “Stone-face, what kind of miracle medicine did you mix that was so miraculous it cleared his toxins so quickly?”

“Just ordinary herbs for expelling toxins and boosting qi,” Mo Wen replied.

Zelan stuck out her tongue in disbelief, “Liar!”

Seeing Mo Wen was not inclined to elaborate, Zelan lost interest and looked back to find Zizhi trailing behind, lost in thought and seemingly disheartened. Zelan thought Zizhi might be feeling demoralized, seeing Mo Wen’s superior medical skills overshadowing everyone else’s, and went to comfort her.

Meanwhile, Mo Wen and Qing Jiu led the way, with Yu’er following behind. Mo Wen pulled out a bottle of pills from her robe and handed it to Qing Jiu, saying, “Your arrival was unexpected, and I forgot to give this to you earlier. This is a new pill I’ve made; it’s been almost three months. Fortunately, it was ready just in time before your poison had a chance to recur.”

Yu’er, quietly following behind, felt uneasy under the watchful eyes peeking from behind closed doors and windows. Her attention returned to Mo Wen and Qing Jiu as they mentioned “poison.” Surprised, Yu’er wondered when Qing Jiu had been poisoned. Alarmed, she wanted to check Qing Jiu’s pulse. Then, remembering Mo Wen’s mention of ‘recurrence’ and ‘three months,’ she recalled Qing Jiu’s illness on their journey through Jiangnan, which indeed was almost three months ago. Recurrence? Was it due to the poison in Qing Jiu’s system, although they had previously said it was just an illness?”

Yu’er’s mind was in turmoil, her concern for Qing Jiu overwhelming. She felt obligated to repay Qing Jiu for saving her life, hence her keen interest in Qing Jiu’s well-being. Yet, deep down, there was an indescribable mix of emotions she couldn’t quite understand, leaving her agitated and restless.

Translation notes:

“I haven’t eaten pork, but I’ve seen pigs run” – is based on a common Chinese idiom/saying: “没吃过猪肉,还没见过猪跑?” (Even if I haven’t eaten pork, haven’t I seen a pig run?). This idiom is used to indicate that even if someone hasn’t had direct experience with something, they’re still familiar with it or have some knowledge about it through observation or indirect means.

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Khriss
Khriss
28 days ago

Hmmm is there something special about her blood or is it just that she wants to keep it a secret so that the village doesn’t turn on each other to keep their loved ones alive?
Thanks for the chapter!