The Eternal Sanctum - Chapter 14
Wei Xuan raised a brow towards Physician Gao. For some reason, the aged physician seemed rather enraged, panting heavily as the latter glared at the minister.
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” the physician screeched.
“That Imperial Physician clearly has alternative intentions for your fourth daughter, otherwise he wouldn’t have indicated a second visit! What studying ancient medicinal texts? He’s just using that as an excuse to the emperor! Why didn’t you decline his offer, even if you had to humble yourself for it, ah!?”
Drawing Wei Xuan closer until the minister’s toes were dragging on the floor, the aged physician continued.
“You and I, we are well aware that there needs not to be any social convention between the two of us junior and senior apprentices under Master. You may not have been able to see that young physician’s intent, but I saw it clearly, even if he had concealed it the moment after.”
“Not to mention, just to hide all other ailments and only present cold deficiency syndrome, I forced your daughter to undergo quite a few moments of pain and some rather uncomfortable side effects, a case that will last for a week. You think she will be able to withstand such prolonged strain if that esteemed Imperial Physician were to come for successive visits?”
“Are you going to listen to your Junior Brother’s words, or will I have to take off this disguise and give you a severe thrashing?”
Wei Xuan murmured, his countenance pale. As Physician Gao let him go and stepped back, the minister lowered his head, countless memories flashing before his eyes in moments.
Not long after, he raised his gaze to look at the aged man’s back.
“…Thank you, Yun Zhi,” Wei Xuan said. “I wonder if I would have even gotten to this point if it hadn’t been for your reminders.”
“No need for thanks,” Gao Yun Zhi brusquely responded.
“Although this disguise can become rather uncomfortable at times, it isn’t that great of a burden compared to the one carried by Master that year. You should be more conscientious, however. In Jiang’an, neither of us can really relax and take things for granted, even in our own home.”
“…I understand. I won’t do such things anymore. Is Fei’er fine?” Wei Xuan asked.
To this, Gao Yun Zhi merely shook his head, having completed his checkup of the girl sleeping on the bed.
“Senior Brother, I didn’t wish to hide this from you, yet it seems I must reveal it so quickly. The technique I utilized to disguise all symptoms except for cold deficiency syndrome was the World of Ice’s <Needles of Sealing>. Surely, you know the implications within that monstrous technique.”
“World of Ice…” Wei Xuan murmured. Suddenly, his eyes blazed with an unknown ferocity, silver light threatening to break out from his body.
“Yun Zhi, you promised Master not to use that technique! Techniques originating from Natural Domains naturally have a severe consequence in exchange of manifesting their miraculous effects. Just…” his voice trailed into a soft whisper as he silently gazed at Gao Yun Zhi.
“<Needles of Sealing>…who was the sacrifice?”
“An ordinary passerby. Such is the advantage of a city as large as Jiang’an. Nobody will be capable of tracing it back to the House of Wei.”
Gao Yun Zhi’s reply was curt and indifferent, as if the death of a civilian was of the same as cutting vegetables. Picking up the toolbox and taking one last glance at the brooding Wei Xuan, he departed from the study.
As he stepped out of the door, a fatigued voice could be heard once more, but this time was young and valiant, completely different from the aged voice earlier.
“Senior Brother, you mustn’t forget our identity. Do not convert to the life of Yong.”
The door slid shut, Wei Xuan remaining inside the study as he gazed at the figure of the sleeping girl. Moments later, he opened his eyes, fierce determination and rage blazing in his dark irises.
“The House of Wei…must go through some purging tonight. This incident may never happen again.”
Gently squeezing An Fei’s exposed hand, Wei Xuan carefully tucked the girl underneath the blankets before blowing out the lights.
Draping a black outer robe around his body, the minister departed from the study, his back radiating a bleak coldness.
“Minister, you mustn’t!”
“Lord Minister, you must not!”
“Father, you must calm yourself!”
The central residence of the Wei Manor was destined to experience a bleak and bloody night. Sitting in a wooden chair and crossing his legs whilst gazing at the servants kneeling before him with half-lidded eyes, was Wei Xuan.
His expression was mild, as if teaching a lecture on the art of calligraphy. However, all of that merely caused those standing next to him to panic, trembling fiercely.
“Father, you must control yourself. The laws of Jiang’an forbid unjustified murder.”
A young girl anxiously tugged at Wei Xuan’s arm, her soft voice kneading at the listener’s heart and mind. Almost immediately however, a woman in her early thirties tugged the girl into her embrace, softly chastising her in a hushed voice.
Sure enough, Wei Xuan opened his mouth as he gazed at the girl who had spoken.
“Unjustified murder? Yan Yue, you have some interesting choice of words.”
Wei Xuan spoke with a leisure voice, his eyes displaying a cold mirth.
“Your elder sister was nearly murdered by these unfaithful servants. Does my punishment of them remain as unjustified attempt of murder?”
“Lord Minister, Yue’er didn’t mean it like that. She wasn’t aware that they attempted to murder her sister, hence she offended her father. Please forgive her, she is only a child.”
Luo Shuyan anxiously defended her daughter, pleading for Wei Xuan to calm down. Seeing the Second Madam displaying protective care towards Yan Yue, the Fifth Young Miss of the Wei Manor, the minister couldn’t help but slowly calm down, no longer exploding with cold wrath.
As if to slam the nail into the coffin, another woman stepped up to massage Wei Xuan’s shoulders.
“Minister, it is fine to vent your emotions and worries, and sometimes even necessary to retain a healthy mind,” she spoke.
“However, one must also remember that these are the streets of Jiang’an, where any act of murder must be supplemented with clear evidence to avoid being pursued by the Imperial Court.”
“I am aware,” Wei Xuan replied.
Musing silently to himself for a cup of tea’s time, the minister abruptly stood, sweeping his sleeve with a flourish of his arm. Looking down at the servants, the minister carefully examined each one, his cold gaze scanning their appearance and actions to the slightest detail.
“Seven years ago, I hired you all as servants of my Flowing Wind Residence,” he spoke, his voice detached and distant, as if the content of his words were insignificant in magnitude.
“All of you were promising, each honest, sincere, and hardworking. However, I would have never thought that the first time I would be forced to enact punishment, would be in such a form.”
The servants remained silent, lowering their heads in penance. Seeing this, Wei Xuan waved towards a bodyguard to his right dressed in a set of steel armor.
The bodyguard clasped the handle of his sword before Wei Xuan in a salute, before rushing off into the residence. No less than half an incense’s time had passed did the guard return, carrying a joss’ stick and a complete writing set placed on a tray.
Placing the contents of the tray onto a prepared table nearby, the guard quickly returned to his original position, his right hand resting on the pommel of the sword. Wei Xuan reached out with his right hand to lightly stroke the writing brush, before turning his attention to the inkstone.
“As citizens of Great Yong, we are instructed and expected to maintain benevolence amongst master and servant,” he spoke while grinding the ink.
“Hence, I will give you one final chance, placing my trust in you all once again.”
Having finished grinding the ink, he applied a thin layer onto the brush. Standing and holding the joss stick in his left hand, Wei Xuan marked five lines along the stick’s length. Placing it down after he had finished, Wei Xuan directed a cold glance to all of the kneeling servants.
“Each segment that the joss stick burn through, you all will lose a limb. By the time the final segment has turned into ashes, you will have lost your heads.”
His glacial voice drumming like hoofbeats in their ears, the servants a quickly kowtowed, cold sweat trickling down their neck. Their bodies felt abused and battered with the combination of hours of kneeling and the chilly autumn weather, and yet the minister’s following words chilled them to the core.
“In the morning, I noticed an extra four servants. Now in the afternoon, they are nowhere in sight. Such servants who are willing and bold to defy their master’s orders, where have they gone? This is my first question.”
A/N: Natural Domains… where are they located again?
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