ng his breathing, he very carefully examined the wounded man’s pulse.
All this time, Xiao Tingsheng had fixed his eyes on the old master’s movements almost without blinking.
Observing his bleak expression, panic broke out in his heart, and it was only his years of battle experience that enabled him to stabilize himself as he said in a low voice, “I’ve known Li xiong for thirty years.
Whether it’s good or bad, please speak your mind.”
He had asked this question frankly, so Li Qianzhi did not attempt to conceal the truth.
Raising his head, he replied, “Your Highness probably realizes that this is a similar situation.
Whether it’s an injury to the lung or elsewhere, the arrowhead must first be taken out.”
“You mean….” Xiao Tingsheng’s face was as white as paper, and he felt as if the blood had drained from his chest.
“Pingzhang, he…..like Lin Shen back then….are their injuries the same?”
Xiao Pingjing, who had been listening by the side, did not know much other than that Lin Shen, whom his father just mentioned, could not be saved.
His body suddenly felt like it was immersed in iced water, and he fell to the side of the couch as his legs gave way.
There was sadness in Li Qianzhi’s eyes as he nodded and said, “Yes.
There is only a 50-50 chance of the heir’s ability to survive this.”
Xiao Tingsheng remained stunned for a long while, and didn’t say much more after.
Li xiong, please proceed.”
Li Qianzhi shook his head and muttered, “I failed once twenty years ago with the same injury…..why does Your Highness still dare to let me treat your son?”
Xiao Tingsheng’s eyes were red with tears.
“It wasn’t your fault that we couldn’t save Lin Shen back then.
If I can’t even trust your medical skills, who else can I trust?”
As the both of them talked, Lin Xi, who was beside them, had kept herself busy.
First, she instructed a soldier to carry a low table over and place it behind her, over which she spread a white piece of cloth.
Then, one by one, she removed a tongue depressor, a pincushion, a small knife and other similar implements from her medicine box, placing them neatly on the cloth.
Igniting the wick of a porcelain oil lamp, she picked out a small knife with a short and fine blade, dipped it into some medicinal liquid in a jade bow, and held it over the flame.
When the preparations were complete, she called out softly, “Shi fu?”
Li Qianzhi knew that they couldn’t afford to delay any longer.
He composed himself and focused his attention, then took the silver knife from his apprentice’s hand.
Lin Xi used a piece of cloth to wipe away the fresh blood that had oozed from the wound, and then kept two fingers on Xiao Pingzhang’s wrist, monitoring his pulse while intently observing her shi fu‘s movements.
The shiny silver knife slowly moved towards the wound, its edge inclined downwards.
Just as it was about to come in contact with the patient’s skin, it suddenly trembled, and was quickly stopped in mid-air.
This made Xiao Pingjing jump in fright.
He drew in a breath of cold air and exhaled with some difficulty.
Li Qianzhi stared at his fingers, and appeared to have come to a decision.
He turned aside and handed the knife in his hand over to his apprentice.
Looking up at Xiao Tingsheng, he calmly said, “My apprentice’s hand is steadier than mine.
Your Highness, please allow her to remove the arrow from your son.”
“How can this be?” Before Xiao Tingsheng could respond, Xiao Pingjing had already hit the stone ground angrily in refusal.
“My da ge‘s injury is so serious.
You can’t possibly leave it in the hands of a girl……if Old Master dared not do it, is there no other capable military doctor who can?”
Xiao Tingsheng raised his hand to restrain his son as he searched Li Qianzhi’s eyes.
After a while, he nodded with some difficulty and said, “I trust Li xiong‘s judgment.”
“Father! This is da ge! Even if the risk is low, we still shouldn’t be so rash….” Xiao Pingjing’s face was flushed with agitation.
His voice, which had been raised into a shout, suddenly stopped mid-sentence as he stared speechlessly ahead.
As soon as Xiao Tingsheng nodded his head, Lin Xi didn’t hesitate at all.
She immediately raised the knife and made the cut, and with the slightest of movements, she pulled the arrowhead out and threw it onto the tray.
Then, replacing her knife with another silver knife she had kept over a flame, she quickly pressed it against the wound to stanch the flow of blood before covering it with a thick piece of gauze smeared with medicinal paste, holding it in place with the flat of her palm.
From the moment she began till she finished, her movements were smooth and fluid, not leaving Xiao Pingjing time to say anything else beyond those few words.
The room was suddenly quiet.
It wasn’t until Xiao Pingzhang stirred against his pillow that the stillness was broken somewhat.
“Pingzhang, Pingzhang….” Xiao Tingsheng called out softly as he leaned down and squeezed his eldest son’s hand.
Xiao Pingjing leaned over too, reaching out to feel the temperature on his brother’s forehead.
Raising his head, he asked Lin Xi, “How is he?”
Lin Xi was still pressing against the wound with one hand, while the other was on the patient’s wrist.
With her attention focused on examining the pulse, she didn’t seem to have heard him at all.
Xiao Pingjing began to panic again.
“Why are you not replying? Have the lungs been injured? Is it normal for da ge to be breathing so weakly?”
In the face of his continuous questioning, Lin Xi relaxed her fingers a little, looked at Xiao Tingsheng and said tersely, “Your Highness, please ask him to leave.”
Xiao Pingjing was shocked and pointed at himself in disbelief.
“What did you say? As me….are you referring to me? Leave? Me?”
“Why are you arguing?” Xiao Tingsheng glared at his younger son and scolded him sternly, “Go and wait outside.”
Xiao Pingjing gritted his teeth unhappily but dared not disobey.
Standing up, he walked out to the courtyard.
Plants and trees in the courtyards of the north weren’t as luxuriant as those in the south.
There were only two rows of evergreen cypresses planted symmetrically in front of the hall.
Xiao Pingjing leaned back against one of the sturdy tree trunks, but finding it difficult to calm his anxious mind, he would walk around the courtyard from time to time and peek into the room.
After waiting for about half an hour, the half-shut room door stirred, and Lin Xi walked out alone, her expression still as calm as before, though some exhaustion showed between her eyebrows.
The highly adaptable second son of Chang Lin humbled himself and said cautiously, “I was rash just now.
Now….can I ask how things are?”
Lin Xi unrolled her sleeves and replied steadily, “Shi zi appears to be stable.”
Such a short reply obviously did not satisfy Xiao Pingjing.
He hastily asked again, “Does that mean that he’s alright? The injury didn’t reach his lungs? He’ll get better soon, right? How long will he take to recover?”
“We don’t know yet.”
“What do you mean you don’t know yet?” Xiao Pingjing had travelled day and night for several days, tired and full of worry, so he was easily irritable.
He said with unconsciously raised eyebrows, “You’re a physician.
As long as you’ve done your best, how can you not know?”
Lin Xi swept the stray strands of hair away from her cheeks and said coldly, “The world’s greatest misunderstanding of physicians is that we are gods.
If we can’t save a patient, it’s because we did not do our best.” Her eyes were cold as they looked at Xiao Pingjing.
“It’s rumoured in the capital that the second son of Chang Lin Mansion is being schooled in the great Lang Ya Pavilion.
At first, I thought it was something special, but seeing it today, it’s nothing much.”
With these words, she cut directly across the path to leave by the courtyard gate.
Xiao Pingjing had always had a devil-may-care attitude, so Lin Xi’s mockery didn’t bother him.
It was only when he saw her leaving that he anxiously got up to chase after her.
Grabbing her arm, he said angrily, “You’re a physician.
My brother is still unconscious.
Where are you going? Putting fate aside, don’t doctors have to care for their patients before they can say they’ve done their best?”
At that moment, Dong Qing just happened to leave the room.
Hearing the second half of his words, he hurriedly came forward to explain, “Second Young Master, Miss Lin has gone to prescribe medicine to shi zi….don’t worry, Fufeng Hall’s medical skills are beyond doubt. Shi zi‘s injury has already stabilized.”
Lin Xi snatched her arm back from his grasp, turned around and left without a word.
Xiao Pingjing originally had no intention of offending her.
At that moment, he felt embarrassed and could not chase after her.
All he could do was remain where he was and scratch his head.
Dong Qing had spoken the truth.
After Xiao Pingzhang’s wound was treated, his breathing had become a lot calmer, but for such a severe injury, his condition could relapse anytime.
For the sake of caution, Li Qianzhi decided to stay in the government office for a few more days so he could immediately attend to things if the situation took a turn for the worse.
This gave Xiao Tingsheng partial relief, and he solemnly thanked the physician before instructing Uncle Yuan to send him out and make proper arrangements for his daily board.
It was only after this that the soldiers standing guard dared to go forward and collect the blood-stained armor, cloak and robes scattered on the ground.
A soft satin brocade pouch rolled out from one of the robes, and the soldier carrying them bent down to pick it up.
Not knowing what to do with it, he timidly called out, “Your Highness”, and presented the pouch to him.
The moment his eyes fell on the embroidered satin, Xiao Tingsheng’s grizzled eyebrows trembled.
He had no idea when Pingzhang had gone to Lang Ya Mountain, but in his heart, he already knew the questions this child wanted to ask.
This light satin pouch that he felt in the palm of his hand felt as heavy as a boulder.
Hearing the sound of footsteps outside the door, he knew that it was his younger son quickly running in.
Xiao Tingsheng quickly retied the pouch strings, tightly sealing the open pouch, and after putting it under Xiao Pingzhang’s pillow, he stroked his son’s cool forehead with the palm of his hand.
Approaching the bed, Xiao Pingjing knelt on the ground facing him, greeting him formally.
“This son greets Royal Father*.”
*”Fu wang” as explained earlier = “Father Prince” but in this context it’s too strange, and using “Father” alone is insufficient as a formal term of respect hence the modification.
Xiao Tingsheng responded with an “Ng*”, then lifting his hand, he motioned his younger son to follow him to the window where he asked in a low voice, “You were in Lang Ya Pavilion.
What made you come to Ganzhou?”
*expression of acknowledgment
Xiao Pingjing clenched his jaw grimly and said savagely, “Though Da Yu initiated this war in the north, it was something Father had already predicted. Da ge commanded the line of defense at Ganzhou, so one could conclude that it would be the most difficult place to breach and therefore, unlikely to require reinforcements.
But with the shipwreck at Datong Prefecture, all the military supplies were cut off.
Without military supplies, and reinforcements, Ganzhou was in a perilous situation….”
A faint smile appeared on Xiao Tingsheng’s face, and he sounded pleased as he said, “You’ve always enjoyed learning different things since you were young, and never enjoyed reading books on military strategy.
Fortunately, you were born with a natural talent.
Looks like you’re descended from a line of generals after all.” At the last few words, his voice sank to a whisper, and his gaze moved to the corner.
A tray lay in the middle of the small table by the wall, on which a bloody arrowhead lay quietly.
It was a gruesome sight.
Following his gaze, Xiao Pingzhing looked over, and the faces of both father and son simultaneously displayed a trace of anger.
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