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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 43

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by sienz


    “So, are there things you’re afraid of?” The Bai Shiqi whom he knew had always looked so interesting and fearless. He truly did not expect that there were things he could make fun of.


    Bai Shiqi cupped her hands, exaggerating in a terrified manner: “I’m really afraid if my subordinates lose their arms or break their legs.”


    Returning jokes with jokes. Ever since he met Bai Shiqi, Zhao Wujiu had unexpectedly developed a tacit understanding: “Those fools! If the leader doesn’t even care about the lives of the people under his hands, who would follow him?” As someone who had led soldiers to war, he was also afraid of losing the generals. Thus, he could somewhat understand Bai Shiqi’s fear.


    Bai Shiqi laughed, grabbed his hand, and shook it energetically: “Nobody knows me better than Helmsman Zhao!”


    And that one sentence lightened Zhao Wujiu’s mood.


    The chap had always liked liveliness and disliked serious matters, so she said: “The ancient people scraped their bones as treatment without even changing their face. I should come over tomorrow to witness Helmsman Zhao’s courage, perhaps he would cry in pain?”


    Zhao Wujiu tapped her forehead: “Bastard!”


    Bai Shiqi fished out a fragrant pale pink kerchief from her pocket and caressed it affectionately: “The little concubine from back home, Miss Si, has gifted me this kerchief. I’ve never been willing to use it even once. When Ziheng fell into the mud today, he asked me for a kerchief to wipe his face, but I didn’t use it for him. Tomorrow, let’s use it to wipe the tears of Helmsman Zhao!”


    Zhao Wujiu: “Wow! I really should thank you for your generosity!”


    Meanwhile, outside, Zhao Ziheng and Shu Changfeng who had been eavesdropping through the window were dumbfounded. Both of them admired Bai Shiqi’s skill in coaxing.


    Shu Changfeng wanted to worship her. He lowered his voice and praised: “Young Leader Bai is truly… magical.” He had thought about it but couldn’t find any other words to describe it.


    “For people with good taste, Shiqi is fun to be with!”


    Zhao Ziheng had always been simple. He is more than happy to praise his brother more than himself. Even though this brother had previously mocked him for being sloppy and had just poured two buckets of cold water on him, he was still his brother.


    Two events occurred in the small courtyard on the next day. The first one was that Huang Youbi re-formulated his diagnosis and treatment plan again, and the other one was that Zhao Ziheng fell into the well this time around after he fell into the mud just a day before, and ended up with a cold.


    Zhu Shoumei was busy preparing medicinal materials for Huang Youbi, so he handed the medicinal liquid over to Bai Shiqi and let her boil the medicine in his stead.


    Bai Shiqi secretly added two ounces of yellow lotus and boiled the medicine in front of the small clay stove, then once she finished, she pinched Zhao Ziheng’s nose and poured it down his throat. The bitter flavor made Zhao Ziheng jump in surprise and yell: “It’s so bitter!”


    She acted: “Good medicine tastes bitter. Maybe it’s because Old Man Huang’s medicine is better than that of other people’s, so it tastes especially bitter.”


    Zhao Ziheng doubted her though: “Then why have I not seen Helmsman Zhao saying it’s bitter?”


    In reply to this, Bai Shiqi said: “Can you be compared with your master?”


    This made Zhao Ziheng think about Zhao Wujiu’s accomplishments and his injuries, then he suddenly wilted: “Of course I can’t be compared to my family’s master!”


    He wanted to see the process of breaking the bones for the treatment, but Bai Shiqi prevented him from going: “You have a cold now. If he catches it too, he will not only have pain in his legs, but also a runny nose, pain in his head, and all over his body.”


    Hence Zhao Ziheng could only lean from the outside of the window and peeped, watching helplessly as Bai Shiqi pushed open the door and walked in. Shu Changfeng was also guarding the room, drowning in anxiety.


    Huang Youbi was familiar with human bone meridians, so he started very neatly. When Bai Shiqi entered, he had already started on the bones and was in the process of reattaching them. Zhao Wujiu was covered in medicine, while Shu Changfeng and Zhu Shoumei were holding him down from the sides.


    Zhao Wujiu was drenched in a cold sweat, and his face was pale. He noticed Bai Shiqi’s bright expression but didn’t expect the little bastard to take out the fragrant kerchief from her pocket and started wiping his face while smirking: “Helmsman Zhao, if you want to cry, then just cry. In any case, there are only us in this room, once we leave this room, nobody will remember this incident. Rest assured, I won’t speak of this matter to your beloved lady in the future as we don’t want to ruin your future marriage prospect!”


    Zhu Shoumei laughed, while Huang Youbi cursed: “This little bastard has too many bad ideas inside his head since childhood, what offending things have you not done while you were under my care!”


    Shu Changfeng only turned a blind eye to it, after all, he had seen Young Leader Bai do too many things that overstep the bounds of what was proper and said too many things that were alarming. On the other side, Yu Ang was scared silly from her brazen acts and secretly thought about the rumors from the capital that the word “friendly and carefree” could never be applied to Prince Zhou.


    Zhao Wujiu had been focusing all of his attention on the injured legs, but he was distracted a lot when he was teased, so he did not know whether to praise or to scold her. He held her slender wrist under the pain, but for fear of crushing her bone, he had to control his strength.


    “It wasn’t about how many things I’ve done or not done while I was under your experienced care.” Bai Shiqi added: “It’s because during those days I’ve wasted a lot of your yellow lotus, right?”


    Huang Youbi finished the work at hand, fastened the splints on Zhao Wujiu’s legs, bounded them, and recalled those old matters with a laugh. He actually found those memories endearing: “Your father was not wrong in scolding you. How old were you at that time ah, you didn’t even cry because of your broken leg and bones. You could endure the pain, but how many children could do the same?” Then the topic changed direction: “… Surely eating more yellow lotus shouldn’t pose a problem for you!”


    Bai Shiqi: “… …”


    Zhao Wujiu was amused by Huang Youbi’s words even though the pain was unbearable.


    The number of patients in the small courtyard had increased to three. There was the severely injured Yu Ang and Zhao Wujiu, then there was Zhao Ziheng, who kept sneezing until he was tearing up. The living conditions became very strained. After a discussion, Zhao Ziheng was moved to live together with the little servant.


    Zhao Ziheng’s nose was stuffed, but it did not hinder his sense of smell. After staying for one night, he fled back and complained to Bai Shiqi: “That place smells, and I don’t know when was the last time the blanket got washed. It’s so difficult to bear. Can I just lay on the floor of your room?”


    Zhu Shoumei disagreed firmly: “You haven’t recovered from your illness, don’t infect Shiqi with your illness!”


    However, Zhao Ziheng still insisted on living in the same room as Bai Shiqi with the excuse of ‘’to enhance our brotherhood!’’


    Zhu Shoumei stood with his view, so the two quarreled fiercely. When Zhao Wujiu heard the two arguing in the room, he scolded through the window: “Zhao Ziheng, stop causing trouble! Will you only be happy once you pass your sickness to Shiqi? If you argue again, I’ll break your legs!”


    Even though he could not move, Shu Changfeng’s ability in executing orders was excellent. Under Zhao Wujiu’s instruction, he came out with a rod, which scared Zhao Ziheng enough to beg for mercy: “I understand! It will be okay once I find that little servant and tell him to change the bedsheet, wash the blankets, and change his clothes, right?”


    A member of the Imperial family actually went to work as a health inspector in the deep mountains and ridges, even Bai Shiqi laughed at this turn of events.


    And so, Zhao Ziheng lived with the little servant for more than a month in the smell of black locust. The weather in the mountains were getting colder as the late autumn had passed and early winter was arriving. Zhao Wujiu’s legs and Yu Ang’s serious injury were getting a lot better. Zhao Wujiu could even try standing with the help of the splint, while Yu Ang could walk a few steps inside the room as long as he’s wrapped in thick clothing. Meanwhile, Huang Youbi had received a call for help from the Wu family in Baoying County.


    The Wu family was a wealthy household in Baoying County. The head of the family, Wu Dai, and Huang Youbi had known each other for many years. The family also had a pair of son and daughter. Wu Dai had been a salt merchant in his early years, but later on, he switched to making tea and raw silk. The family was rich, but nobody expected him to get beaten at his own doorstep. His head was badly bruised and he remained unconscious until now.


    All the physicians in the county had been invited, and they had tried all means, but still failed to wake Wu Dai. Fortunately, Huang Youbi had been exchanging letters with him two months prior, and Wu Dai’s son had heard about him from his father, so he brought the letter to Huang Youbi’s location, and knelt in tears in front of Huang Youbi.


    “Nephew, if you have something to say, say it nicely. Don’t cry anymore!”


    Huu huu huu…


    “Nephew, is there something wrong in your family?”


    “… …”


    Zhao Wujiu was leaning against the wall in sweat, and his legs felt as if they were being punctured by needles. Bai Shiqi often accompanied him in his rehabilitation. Obviously, she was not there to support him, but to make disturbances around him. She even made fun of him by saying he was a “walking toddler”. He felt very helpless, but could only grit his teeth and keep moving forward.


    Zhu Shoumei calmly went to help Wu Rong up, but the other party would not get up. As if he had seen a god, he just clung tightly onto Huang Youbi’s legs and would not let go.


    When Zhao Ziheng witnessed this scene, he rushed over in surprise and asked in a low voice: “Shiqi, what is he doing?”


    Bai Shiqi replied thoughtfully: “There is a kind of person in the world to whom everyone will sincerely kneel to, even more than to Bodhisattva. Do you know what kind of person it is?”


    Zhao Ziheng answered cluelessly: “His Majesty the Emperor?”


    “Idiot!” Bai Shiqi hit him hard on the head: “Physicians who can save lives!”


    She pointed to Wu Rong: “This person is begging so hard and crying so miserably. It must have something to do with his family matters. Perhaps someone is on the brink of death from a serious illness.”


    Zhao Wujiu touched her head and complimented: “Shiqi is really smart!” Bai Shiqi stretched out her hand: “Am I not getting any reward for guessing it correctly?”


    Zhao Ziheng: “Shiqi, you’re so shameless.”


    Zhao Wujiu patted her palm lightly and smiled slightly: “Just remember it for now, I’ll make it up later.”


    Bai Shiqi said proudly: “Learn a little bit, idiot!”


    Were it not for the miserable cry of Wu Rong in the courtyard, perhaps a new round of tag would have been triggered between the two.


    Huang Youbi and Wu Dai had known each other for many years, so he could not just stand watching his old friend passing the Yellow River. However, there were still patients in the courtyard, so he discussed a feasible plan with everyone.


    It did not pose a problem for Zhao Wujiu, as he went to the south to seek medical treatment in the first place. But Yu Ang went to the south by the order of the emperor, and he had been feeling desperate for a long time. He felt helpless that his body failed to live up to his expectation and his injuries were not healed yet, so he could only stay in the mountain. However, once he heard there was an opportunity to leave for Baoying, he raised both hands in favor, even forgot to pretend to be mute, and nodded excitedly: “Good! Good!”


    Huang Youbi was startled to death by his reaction. The daily acupuncture on the acupoints did not even work, so he truly did not expect that Yu Ang’s inability to speak would be cured at the mention of going down the mountain. Huang Youbi was overjoyed and immediately grabbed his wrist to check his pulse: “So it was an emotional illness. I thought I had to think of other ways to treat you.”


    On that very day, taking the advantage of the darkness, the group packed their belongings and took their leave. They went down the mountain and took a ship to Baoying.


    Once again, Yu Ang got on a ship, but despite his resolute character, he still shivered, recalling his unpleasant experience when he last boarded a ship. However this time, he was accompanied by Bai Shiqi and Zhao Ziheng who kept joking around. The two were just like clowns and managed to diminish his fear.


    He was someone who did not know how to swim. Last time, he was lucky to be able to get away with his life intact when he had fallen into the river with serious injuries. To this day, he still recalled those memories fondly, about the Heavens that were truly generous… and his savior Bai Shiqi


    They were traveling on the ship of the Wu family. The two injured people were arranged to recuperate in the same cabin, and Huang Youbi and his disciple got one cabin. After meeting Huang Youbi, Wu Rong wanted to rush back to Baoying as soon as possible, so he urged the sailors on board to speed up and they arrived early in the morning.


    The patriarch of the Wu family was seriously injured and was still unconscious. This made the atmosphere in the house gloomy. All the servants moved lightly and noiselessly and did not even dare to breathe too loud. The madam of the house had cried until she fainted, leaving only the crying sixteen years old Wu Jing on the bedside. Her eyes were red and swollen. The brother and sister had the same temperament, when they first saw Huang Youbi, they cried first before explaining.


    Zhao Wujiu and Yu Ang were both wounded, but no one came to arrange their accommodation, so they could only sit in the front hall and wait.


    The servants brought refreshment like they normally did and quietly walked out.


    Bai Shiqi had never been an idle person, so on the way here, she had already asked around about Wu Rong’s first name and surname. She had heard of Wu Dai as well, but she had never had business dealings with him. How unfortunate for this old man to experience such an unfortunate disaster.


    The Wu family’s tea shop was connected to the official salt store managed by the Huang family in the county. They originally had a good relationship, however, in the past two years, the price of official salt had become higher and higher, which was unbearable for common people. It was not that big of a problem before, as there were still private salt dealers roaming around among the people.


    But recently, the private salt dealers suddenly disappeared, so the people were forced to buy salt from official stores. Taking advantage of the situation, the Huang family raised the salt price to a ridiculously high level, which offended the people. Not knowing whether it was merely by chance or because they had made negotiations before, a group of young and strong men carrying clubs gathered in front of the salt store and started smashing things. It just so happened that Wu Dai was coming out from his own tea shop. Because the distance between the two buildings was too close, and he was richly dressed, he got beaten with a club by a young man who did not recognize him and got cursed at as: “Unscrupulous profiteer!”


    Under the heated atmosphere, someone had done the first hit, and so, the people behind him who had lost their reasoning followed after and started hitting down as well… When the door of the salt store was smashed open, the group of people rushed in to grab the salt, and the shopkeeper of Wu family came out only to find Wu Dai lying on the ground.


    On the contrary, even though the master of Huang family was in the shop that day, he sneaked away using the back door when he heard the noise outside, so nothing happened to him.


    If one wanted to talk about the unluckiest person of the year, Wu Dai of Baoying County would rank first.


    “The Wu family is in chaos at the moment. Why don’t we just go out to the street to find another place to live? It will be easier to get in and out.”


    Yu Ang had been wanting to listen to the news from the Imperial court, so he did not really like the idea of living in the Wu family’s house. Unfortunately, he was currently penniless and even his official seal was missing. He was the first to agree upon hearing Bai Shiqi’s proposal: “If the Young Leader wants to live outside, please bring me along.” Needing to suck up to somebody for food, his old face became ashamed: “I’ll be very grateful and will repay you once I return!”


    Bai Shiqi did not bother about such trivial things, and Yu Ang was not the first person she had rescued so far, so she only replied: “No need to be so courteous.”


    Hearing that Bai Shiqi was going to live outside, the Zhao brothers naturally had to go along with her. They all left the Wu family residence and followed Bai Shiqi to find a place to stay before the Wu family could even react.


    Read only at Travis Translations


    Wook's notes:

    You know it's a good story if you still laugh when you re-read it.


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