Wuxiaworld > Emperor of Blue Flower Mountain > 135 Volume 5: Cures and Medicine

135 Volume 5: Cures and Medicine



[Editor: Ajax_Flameborn, Rain]

A young man, looking no more than twenty, stood in a greenhouse. There were strange plants of all sizes and shapes and statues big and small surrounding him.

He was a tall man with broad shoulders and pale unblemished skin, giving off the impression of a quiet stream with a deep current. His kind but handsome face and warm eyes with gently arched eyebrows softened his image into that of fresh morning dew. His scholarly style clothes, in colors of tan and black, were neat without a single wrinkle while his glossy black hair tied into a perfect bun. All in all, he looked like a perfect gentleman without a single defect.

In a delicately painted ceramic pot was a tall flower. The flower had a solid stem that was straight as a rod, and on the stem were many thick, smooth leaves. At the very top was a single flower, its color was red, like blood, and as big as a man's hand, fingers spread open. The flower had many wide petals, each spread open and facing an invisible sun. It would have been beautiful, except for it's strangely shaped center. Where a pistil and stamen should have been there was instead what appeared to be the face of a man, warped in agony.

The gentle-looking man had a pair of gardening shears, standing in front of this odd flower. He would occasionally clip off one of the many smooth leaves sprouting out of the stem and then abruptly chuckle as if he'd heard a humorous joke.

Behind him was a man on bended knee, his face looking towards the ground. The man wore sheer white, except for his belt, which was black and gold. His outfit was very plain, without a single extra stitching in it than was necessary. He was older looking, by perhaps ten years. If the young man's face was filled with benevolence, this other man's face was ruthless and cunning. His aura was sharp, cold, and brutal.

But he did not dare look the young man in the face just then. He did not dare ask the other to hurry up and speak. He waited patiently, as always.

Finally, the young man seemed satisfied with his trimming and turned to the older man on the ground.

"Are you enjoying being the Dragon Head?"

"Yes, Master."

"Hm, just don't be so sloppy as the last one," The young master glanced at the flower he'd been trimming, from where the leaves were trimmed dripped a thick red liquid. His eyes curved slightly in amusement, "and you won't have to worry about your future."

"This slave is forever grateful for this opportunity."

"Mmmm…" The younger man answered noncommittally. The kneeling man tensed slightly at this response, but the young man continued, "Some of our uninitiated are being a little too eager to prove themselves. I'm not angry with them, mind you. In fact, I rather admire their enthusiasm… but since that last failure, I've revised my plans for the east. Now I've got something special planned. With that in mind, it's a little too early for them to be stirring up the pot."


The kneeling man brows drew together slightly.

"Master, it is useful to leave them over there. They distract the Butcher."

"Distract him?" The young man raised his eyebrows. "What do you need to do that for?"

"The Butcher is… inconvenient… to deal with—"

"Are you afraid of him?"

The whole man's body stiffened at this seemingly innocent question.

"This slave fears only one."

"That's right." He walked forward, bent down in front of the other man and smiled widely, "Why fear the hissing cat in front of you when the hungry tiger lurks at your back? Is it not so?"

"As Master says."

He chuckled slightly and stood up straight. "And what are you dealing with in the end? Just a little boy running around with his pet dog and vermin as his escorts. If Jianghu knew the Dragon Head feared such a little lad, where would the Association keep its face?"

This time the older man couldn't quite keep his face neutral. It twisted in barely concealed frustration and rage.

"Oh, don't be like that." The young man put his hands on sides and tilted his head, sighing. "I'm not saying you can't mess with him. Just keep it in Jianghu. It's not like he won't come back, you know. He can't stay away from us. Apparently he enjoys getting frustrated to death. I do question how his parents raised him, seeing how he keeps coming back for more..."

The kneeling man said nothing to such an absurd observation.

"Everything has its time and place. Right now, I'm focusing on Jianghu, so you—" He stopped speaking. For a moment he looked surprised and then delighted, "What amazing timing! Never mind about what I was going to say. A good opportunity has presented itself, we must take advantage!"

The man who'd been avoiding looking directly at this young master finally looked up, his expression eager.

The young man seemed excited and flustered, he paced around for a little before deciding on something. "Let's see, Zong Chi is still around right?"

"Yes, Master."

"Good, good, Zong Chi will do nicely. Mmmm… tell them to stick with what they're good at and…" He chuckled, "...if all the cattle are slaughtered and eaten, what's left for me, hm? So, they must keep a good balance."

"Of course, Master. Zong Chi would never take what is rightfully Master's."

"Would any of you?" His lips curled upward slightly and then said, "The only objective is to cause trouble, but things can't be taken too far. I'm picking Zong Chi because they are the most cautious and meticulous in the Association.. Make sure they understand they are being sent for that reason. If they stay true to their nature, then all will be well and I will be very satisfied with them."

"This slave will do as Master commands."

"Come here," The young man waved his hand in a "come hither" motion. The older man immediately did as commanded, standing up and walking over until he stood right in front of him.

"It's been awhile since you've received a blessing from me, has it not?" The young man trace a slender finger along the man's face. "I imagine you're feeling a bit empty, mm?"

"This slave is happy with whatever Master chooses to give," but the older man's face showed a hint of longing mixed with fear.

"Such a humble slave…" The young man spoke in a low voice, so low it didn't seem natural. His eyes and pink lips and mouth seemed to darken to black, the color of a bottomless pit. Around the room the shadows grew, the liquid that dripped around the bottom of the flower pot shifted slightly away from the young man as the very sun seemed to dim. He grabbed either side of the other man's face and leaned forward, almost as if he were going to kiss him but stopped at the last moment.

Miasma like black smog slipped out of his black eyes and mouth and flowed into the other. The older man's eyes rolled back into his head, the veins in his face seemed to turn black as he breathed in the smoke, his body beginning to convulse.
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Unnoticed behind them, the strange red flower began to tremble.

As if it were afraid.

———

"Lady Mei Hua, Doctor Zufu is requesting an audience."

Mei Hua had been in the middle of talking with Xui Shi, the Bloodstone Seal. He was now the official Secretariat of all Lanhua and it's Subjugated States in Dalu. While there were technically several people above Xui Shi, in terms of raw bureaucratic power, he was actually at the top. This was mostly because he had been a major part of creating the government of Lanhua and then the primary person writing all the current laws.

In any other country, a person like Xui Shi would not have been tolerated. He had too much power and could easily abuse it. But he wasn't human and he lacked a desire to rule, a feature built into him early on in his existence. His Master through blood-pact was Mei Hua and he'd never do anything to harm her.

As far as 'abusing power' went, it was more likely for him to get abused by his Master, than for him to do the abusing. While he always served faithfully, he liked Mei Hua the best out of all the Masters he'd served in the past. It wasn't just that she was a responsible person, a trait rarely found in his previous Masters, but she also paid him for his labor and gave him weekly days off. He even got holidays off.

He was so thrilled with the novel concept of not having to work all the time, that he inversely worked harder than was required. Though he was given days off, it didn't mean he'd take them. Sometimes he'd completely forget himself and work for weeks at a time…

"Doctor Zufu?" Mei Hua eyebrows furrowed at the fairy servant, "Let him in, let him in."

It was rare for the Fairy Doctor to visit her of his own volition. This was partially because, as a Doctor, he only came as needed, and partially because over the last few years he'd gotten quite busy. Even though he complained about never getting a break, he was the one who kept accepting patients that he could have very well turned away.

Of course, all this was for a price. He never saw anyone for free unless the Royal Family commanded it of him.

So for him to show up like this…

Mei Hua knew it couldn't be good news.

Sure enough, when Doctor Zufu walked in he had an unpleasant expression. This wasn't the usual grumpy face he sported, but a strained tired look.

She waved him over to a chair. He sat down but then immediately got up and began pacing.

"You know there's been a sickness going around, right?"

Doctor Zufu was a straightforward person to begin with and, in emergencies, wasn't the slightest bit polite. Mei Hua's alarm raised another few degrees at his behavior.

"Yes, there was a report on a few weeks ago. Daughter Jia Ying requested funds for it to be properly investigated."

"We got the results back."

"And what did you find out?"

"First of all, the source of the illness started in the north, specifically Shangsu State. It wasn't their capital city, but the next biggest one in the country. And..." The Fairy Doctor made an annoyed face, "From what we can tell...."

Mei Hua and Xui Shi leaned forward slightly.

"....it all started with chickens."

"....chickens?" Mei Hua eyes widened in surprise.

"Yes, and what's even stranger was that the chickens came from a reputable farmer who sold only the highest quality chickens. The illness isn't from eating the chickens either, though that does make it worse. Just handling the chickens is enough to cause infection."

Both Mei Hua and Xui Shi were speechless at this information.

"If it were sickly chickens or an unscrupulous farmer, there would be some sense to this…" Doctor Zufu scowled, "Who ever heard of perfectly healthy domesticated chickens causing an illness of this kind?"

"What kind of illness is it exactly?" Xui Shi asked curiously. As a literal stone, he wasn't worried about becoming ill but his Master was mortal.

"High fever, extreme nautiousness, and severe diarrhea."

Mei Hua's face wrinkled in disgust at the last two symptoms,"Shouldn't killing the chickens solve the problem?"

"No, that's what's even more baffling. It seems that the chickens… mmm… carry the illness, passing it on to humans. Once a human has it, all it takes is getting touched for it to spread."

Mei Hua felt herself break out in a sweat. "H..how far has it gotten?"

"Bagong and Kuwei States already have several severe cases, and that's only those that are getting properly reported."

Mei Hua went mute. Bagong State bordered Lanhua. Kuwei State had a low population but was huge.

"What about Peiyu Country?" Xui Shi had a mental map of the entire Dalu continent. Peiyu Country was an allied nation with the ocean to the east, Shangsu State to the north-west, and Kuwei State to the south. Basically, it was sandwiched between the infected countries.

"There have been a few cases reported near the borders but nothing too severe. Nothing on the coastlands."

Xui Shi raised an eyebrow at this information, feeling it was a little odd.

"How deadly is this illness?" Mei Hua asked.

"Not very if caught early and treated properly." Doctor Zufu answered immediately. "Keeping oneself clean, drinking plenty of water, resting properly, and taking medication to lower the fever, fortify and calm the body's gut guarantees recovery almost every time."

Mei Hua was silent for a moment.

"And how many are actually being diagnosed early enough and treated?"

The Fairy Doctor looked at his Lady and could only sigh heavily.

Mei Hua didn't need to have him say it to understand.

Cleanliness and medicine standards varied wildly from place to place. For instance, in the northern countries they rarely cleaned themselves during the winter and during the rest of the year they only periodically washed themselves down using a bucket and cloth. Actual bathing was ceremonial, such as after births and deaths.

As to why... well... part of it was to save their firewood, coal, and clean water. The other reason was an oddly persistent belief that too much cleaning stripped away people's natural immunity to evil spirits. The only time one completely washed off this 'protection' was when the evil spirits were believed to 'stick to a person' (births and deaths). Efforts to correct this stinky belief system had thus far failed.

Even outside of the northern regions, the only people able to bathe regularly were the wealthy. The poor could only afford to wipe themselves down with hot water, often without any soap, and usually once or twice a week. Between times they would simply wash their face and hands with water in the morning.

In Lanhua everyone was expected to clean regularly. While Mei Hua certainly approved of a fresh smelling nation, the actual reasoning behind the high cleanliness standards were due to Jia Ying. She insisted that basic personal hygiene was the first step to preventing illnesses and promoting good health. What to clean, how to clean, and when to clean were added to the basic Lanhua school curriculum thanks to her.

Jia Ying's instance on everyone being squeaky clean was a well-known national obsession. Her explanation to the masses was simple: impurities exist on the body, particularly the hands. To prevent these impurities from spreading and causing illness and early death, one must be constantly clean off these impurities to protect oneself.

Mei Hua once asked her daughter-in-law what exactly these impurities were and the explanation was so beyond her understanding she never asked again. She was not the only one who struggled with the technical explanation of impurities, which explained why Jia Ying didn't bother putting it into the curriculum. Some things were just better left to the professionals.

One would think this teaching on impurities and cleaning them off would spread, but it didn't. Other than border cities that got Lanhua travelers, no one outside of Lanhua followed the teachings. Some of it may have been a resource problem, not having easy access to clean water, but most of it was the unfortunate conclusion that Lanhua suffered from more impurities than other places and thus the population needed to clean more frequently.

Reputation was a terrible and powerful thing. Despite all these years and Jin being a "model citizen", there was still a strongly held belief among foreigners that the Blue Flower Mountains were cursed. The "Curse" varied from nation to nation, with everything from eating babies to people turning into beasts at night being included, in some regards to Jin that last one wasn't exactly wrong…. but the idea was still the same: something wasn't right about those mountains and anyone who crossed over them or lived on them better be careful. Therefore, it made a weird sort of sense to many outside that everyone in Lanhua was constantly washing off impurities. They viewed it as 'washing off the curse'.

Mei Hua could only hold her forehead and feel exceptionally helpless when she got such information. Exactly how long would it take before people would forget the Fairy Emperor being a tyrant? Surely it wouldn't take the same amount of time to forget as it did to remember, right? Right???

Next was the common practice all over Dalu, and even in Jianghu, among physicians of keeping their knowledge 'within their school'. That is, an experienced doctor would only teach their particular brand of healing to their students. These techniques were closely guarded secrets. Thus, medical knowledge was limited to only a very few while everyone else had to depend on home remedies.

The other problem was that Dalu doctors based their entire treatment procedure on the idea of balancing the human body's qi, yin and yang, with external nature elements. These kinds of ideas worked in Jianghu, to a degree, but in Dalu? Where cultivation was pitiful and common men had not a single bit of cultivation ability at all? Not only was trying to cure a person's illness from this method useless in Dalu, it was dangerous. If people survived, it was often because their bodies just happened to be strong enough to get through it.

Despite Lanhua being the only place in Dalu that a person really could cultivate, the majority of the medical knowledge in Lanhua did not prescribe treatments based on qi and internal balances. This was entirely thanks to the Empress' obsession with humans. The Empress studied the physical and spiritual aspects of humans, writing extensively on everything she saw. And she could see deep into the human body, observing and revealing all kinds of strange and wondrous processes the body used to survive.

The Fairy Doctor learned from her observations and then passed that on to Jia Ying. As Jia Ying traveled, she realized that cultivation based healing was worthless to most of Dalu. They simply couldn't use it. Thus, she further refined what she'd been taught, creating an entire school of medicine devoid of qi or spiritual processes. It was an entirely physical-based treatment system.

Jia Ying set the standard for doctoring in Lanhua as well. There was no "secret medical knowledge" or cultivation-based medicine in Lanhua, unlike the rest of Dalu. Even the most ordinary person could learn medicine. They only needed the ability, drive, and experience to diagnose and treat well.

But just reading books wasn't enough to be a good doctor. To prevent accidents and misdiagnoses, a seniority system had been put into place. This system had been refined over the years to show more than just how experienced a person was with medicine. It now included things like 'specialization'. That is, a doctor being particularly skilled in one area over others (childbirth vs disease treatment). The Boshi Family, personally trained by Jia Ying, had some of the highest ranked medicine professionals in the Lanhua.

This bucked against the traditional way medicine was done in Dalu. Some people accepted the changes with open arms while others were firmly against it. Doctors of the traditional way of doing things often spread malicious rumors among the population about Lanhua Doctors, saying they were monsters that cut people open while alive, brought evil spirits with them, etc. There were certain places in Dalu where a Lanhua Doctor wouldn't dare say their profession out loud, lest a mob form and stoned them to death.

All this meant that disease spread easily outside of Lanhua and was difficult to stop once it started. Even in the Subjected States that Mai Hua had control over, the deeply held superstitious beliefs would cause all kinds of problems. And even should she overcome them, it wouldn't be fast enough to stop people from dying.

She put her elbows on the table, twining her fingers, and rested her forehead on them. She let out a long, low sigh. Even if it was hard, even if people fought her and in the meantime some died, she would still do her best to save as many as possible.

Still though, how long had it been since an epidemic had spread like this? When they'd looked into her family history, they'd discovered the plague that had killed so many in her hometown had come from a southern seaport. Either foreign sailors or food they carried on their ships had brought a terrible illness that had killed many people. That had been about a little under a 100 years ago, now that she thought about it…

Mei Hua frowned slightly.

Honestly, what were the chances that something like this would happen after she'd been in charge only a scant few months?

This was just a coincidence... right?