Book 30 Chapter 12 – Being a Divine Doctor Is Hard
Since Xu Ziling was familiar with the surroundings, he did not take the last night’s route, instead, he got out of the West Market Gate and walked toward the Vermillion Bird Boulevard; he only need to cut across Wang Xian, Qi Yu, and An Shang, four north-south streets, and then he would reach the Vermillion Bird Boulevard.
He barely left Xing Chang Long’s head office, Xu Ziling already felt someone was tailing him from a distance. Naturally whoever it was did not have good intention. Therefore, he deliberately slowed down his steps and pretended to look around.
In the market, most of the shops had just opened for business. The shoppers thronged into the market from four sides, eight market gates; the noise gradually grew, brimming with early-morning, start-of-a-new-day vigorous vitality.
The market gate was in sight.
Three men were mingling among the crowd streaming into the market, coming right toward him. At the same moment, Xu Ziling sensed two more men were rushing toward him from behind.
Knowing something was not right, although on the surface he pretended to be unconcerned, inwardly he already prepared a strategy to deal with this matter.
Two groups of men, from front and back, rapidly approached.
The three men in front were chatting and joking, but Xu Ziling clearly grasped that the enemy was storing up momentum in waiting, preparing to attack. Xu Ziling sniggered inwardly; he suddenly stopped dead on his track.
The situation has changed.
Originally the enemy has made accurate calculation. Based on the current pace of the two groups, from front and back, by the time Xu Ziling and the group in front were brushing past each other, the enemy from behind would reach the position where they could attack from a close distance, and thus sealing Xu Ziling’s retreat path completely by forming an encirclement around him.
Xu Ziling suddenly halting his steps had made the two enemies from behind a tad too fast.
While the three enemies at the front were stunned and looked at Xu Ziling, Xu Ziling rapidly moved backward, and rushed into the space between the two men at the back.
The change was so sudden that the two enemies at the back automatically pulled the short dagger that was hidden inside their brocaded gown, a weapon that was convenient to be used in assassination operation – and stabbed it toward Xu Ziling, who was rapidly moving back.
The three men at the front were unable to conceal their intention any longer; one after another they pulled their hidden dagger and rushed forward in triangular formation to attack Xu Ziling.
All these happened in a flash-of-lightning, spark-of-a-flint moment; before the other pedestrians around them found out what actually happened, success of failure have already been decided.
Swift beyond human comprehension Xu Ziling flashed twice; the blade of the two enemies from behind hit empty air, while Xu Ziling was right in between the two men. Striking to the left and right, both elbows hit the weak point on the two men’s torso.
The two screamed in pain. Their bones broke their flesh split; they were thrown sideways and were turned into a pair of rolling gourds. If Xu Ziling was not being lenient, this strike would be guaranteed to take their little lives.
Fast as lightning Xu Ziling swayed forward; unleashing his secret consummate skill in close hand-to-hand combat, he brushed past the three enemies coming from the front. With miserable scream the three spun around and fell.
The terrified pedestrians ran like flying chicken and scurrying dogs; the situation turned into chaos.
Xu Ziling laughed aloud. Without even looking back, he resumed his previously leisure pace, calmly leaving the East Market [sic], musing inwardly that very quickly he had become a celebrity in Chang’an. As for whether what has just happened was an ominous or auspicious matter, he had no time to ponder; who would have time to care his mother’s?
The Old Master Sha Tiannan was sitting straight at the edge of his bed, taking a deep, slow breath, and opening his clear eyes.
Deeply concerned, the Old Madame asked, “Laoye, how are you feeling?”
Sha Zhijing, the Third Madame Cheng Bisu, Sha Fu, and Bao’er, Xiao Feng, the two maids, were all waiting expectantly for his answer.
This was Kou Zhong’s third treatment on Sha Tiannan’s illness. It could be said that this time he exhausted everything he had, using his outstanding talent and the method that he obtained after pouring out his heart and mind, spending one full sichen to drive away the cold air from Sha Tiannan’s body and to open his blocked meridians. Furthermore, he was using his originally cultivated energy to make Sha Tiannan’s qi meridian flow freely. If he still could not cure his illness, he had no choice but to roll up his tent and retire, to abandon his dream about becoming the number one divine doctor in Chang’an.
Sha Tiannan reached up to touch his cheeks with both hands, his gaze fell on Kou Zhong, who was standing on the side. He said, “Mo Xiansheng has become the benefactor who saved Laofu’s life. My feeling right now is like I have never been sick at all. Unexpectedly there is indeed such miraculous medical skill in the world.”
Everybody burst into a cheer.
Immediately Kou Zhong – from head to foot – relaxed, as if he had just put down the thousand-catty heavy burden from his mind. He mused inwardly that the chance of the doctor curing you or the doctor killing you was actually fifty-fifty.
Old Madame’s eyes brimming with tears of excitement, she exclaimed, “Thank Heaven and thank the Earth! Laoye is really well!”
Sha Zhijing elatedly called out, “Niang! You ought to thank Mo Xiansheng first!”
The Old Madame blabbered, “That’s right! Ah! But I should thank Heaven and Earth first for letting us coming across Mo Shen Yi [divine doctor].”
Kou Zhong felt his cheeks were burning. Clearing his throat, he said, “Laoye, please rest for a little bit; excuse me, I must leave!”
After going through a lot of trouble, he finally knew that he was ‘Mo Yixin’; thinking about it, even he himself thought that it was ridiculous.
Sha Zhijing and Cheng Bisu respectfully sent him, this Divine Doctor, out of the room. The former offered the copper case containing the nine moxibustion needles with both hands, with a smile on her face she said, “This is a gift of doing obeisance to you as my master; Shifu, you must not decline.”
Kou Zhong groaned inwardly. Should he teach her how to train the Secret to Long Life’s inner power? Embarrassed, he laughed and said, “Wu Xiaojie is joking; I just cured your esteemed father’s illness by chance!”
While his mouth said those words, he accepted the copper case without any trace of politeness. These nine moxibustion needles would be the tool he would use to earn a living when he pretended to be a divine doctor in Chang’an in the future. Naturally it was something that he sought but failed to get.
Rolling her eyes at him, Sha Zhijing said, “Are you saying that last night you cured Er Sao [second sister-in-law] also by coincidence?”
Cheng Bisu cheerfully said, “Mo Xiansheng is just like his Shushu, they are both modest persons of noble character who never want to take credit for their achievement, great doctors who come to be of help to the people in the world.”
Obviously she was extremely grateful to Xu Ziling for snatching back her son’s life from the brink of death, so that when she mentioned him, her words came from the depth of her heart, without concealing anything.
Kou Zhong could not refute anymore, he mumbled some vague response and hurriedly slipped away into the corridor, and happened to come across Chen Laiman. The latter raised his thumb and praised, “Mo Xiansheng’s insight is indeed accurate. That ship was only passing through; they just passed us on their way to Guanzhong, the people on the ship even greeted us.”
Kou Zhong inwardly said, ‘Of course they are; could it be that Shan Wanjing changed profession to become river pirate?’ However, his mouth modestly said, “It was just a lucky guess!”
Chen Laiman put a hand on his shoulder and said with a laugh, “Come! We are going to the hall to have some drink. Mao Laoshi is waiting!”
As soon as the First Young Master, the Second Young Master, along with their concubines, heard the news, they hurriedly came to see Sha Tiannan, so when the two stepped into the hall, the situation was quite chaotic.
Mao Shichang and two warriors who had quite a position within their ranks were sitting around the table, chatting. Seeing the Divine Doctor gracing them with his presence, they all stood up to greet him.
In the midst of everybody congratulating him and praising him, Kou Zhong elatedly sat down. The attendant immediately poured wine for him. The ship suddenly slowed down.
Having the weight off his mind, Mao Shichang raised his cup to offer a toast, “Cheers! We finally arrive in Guanzhong! After going through the river guards’ checkpoint, in one or two sichen we can continue our drink in Chang’an! Brothers! Let’s drink for victory!”
Kou Zhong downed the fine wine in his hand in one gulp, while secretly thinking that not even in his dream he would imagine that he could drink peacefully while secretly entering the Pass.
Things of the world are so bizarre; oftentimes it exceeds all expectations.
Two cups of tea clinked together. Lei Jiuzhi laughed quietly and said, “This is of me, your LaoGe congratulating you for arriving in Chang’an safely.”
In this corner of a restaurant attached to the Dong Lai Inn, the two men were in a very good mood, they were very happy to see each other; their only regret was that they had not seen Kou Zhong yet.
Xu Ziling quickly recounted everything that happened before and after they entered the Pass, and then he asked about the situation on Lei Jiuzhi’s side.
Lei Jiuzhi shook his head, sighed and said, “I am not afraid to tell you, LaoDi [ol’ younger brother], I did suffer a great loss under Ming Tang Wo’s Da Xian Hu Fo’s hands. Speaking about gambling skill, he and I are like the oldest and the middle brothers, but he had the home-field advantage, plus his gambling capital is strong and solid, hence I fell short and ran away in defeat. This time I am doing it all over again, other than to lure Xiang Gui, father and son – out of their hiding place, it is also to wipe out the former disgrace from Hu Fo.”
Xu Ziling asked, “Is Lei DaGe intending to have another showdown against Da Xian Hu Fo?”
Smiling wryly, Lei Jiuzhi said, “On the gambling table, my confidence and acute spirit against him had already gone. This psychological shadow will make it difficult for me to conduct myself freely. Therefore, my only hope of revenge is to entrust it on you, this green-came-out-of-blue brilliant student. No matter what, you must vent this bird anger for me.
Aghast, Xu Ziling said, “How could I do that? Lei LaoGe must be joking!”
Lei Jiuzhi spoke with straight face, “Why would I joke about it? Just treat it like you are going into the exam room to take imperial examination. If you can defeat the number one expert in Guanzhong gambling world, the Da Xian Hu Fo, your fame will soar immediately. And then if you coerce Xiang Gui, father and son – who are struggling with their remaining prestige to survive, to appear at the Six-Happiness Casino, another casino which is equally famous with Ming Tang Wo, Xiang Gui will have no choice but to show himself to meet you. Since he won’t be able to defeat you, he will resort to huge sum of money to bribe you to be his man. At that time, you could infiltrate his lair.”
With a deep frown on his face, Xu Ziling said, “How can I do that? I hate to say that I am not a gambling material.”
Lei Jiuzhi leaned forward and said with a smile, “I have never met anybody like you, who, on the gambling table, can still maintain ice-and-snow-like cool-headedness. In term of flexibility to change and the ability to adapt to situation, nobody can compete with you. On top of that, with the skill that I imparted on you plus a bit more field experience, I guarantee that you will win Ming Tang Wo back. Now everything is ready, we only lack gambling capital. But if you could unearth Duke Yang’s Treasure, would you still be afraid about not having gambling capital?”
Smiling ruefully, Xu Ziling said, “Your counting-your-chicken-before-they-are-hatched may not necessarily work. In my opinion, the chance of finding the buried treasure is next to nothing. Let’s wait for Kou Zhong before talking about this further.”
Seeing Xu Ziling no longer refuse, Lei Jiuzhi’s mood improved considerably; he laughed and said, “In my opinion, your countenance is very fine; when the time come, your luck will be here, there is nothing that you cannot do. It would be better for us to go to Ming Tang Wo first tonight to test the water. Chang’an’s high officials and noble persons, sons of nobility and rich guys, which one does not go there to enjoy the excitement?”
Shaking his head, Xu Ziling said, “I can’t go tonight! I’d like to see Li Yuan first.”
“What?” Lei Jiuzhi blurted out.
Xu Ziling explained the relationship between Yue Shan and Li Yuan. Distressed, he said, “How in the world will I be able to see the Emperor inside the inner courtyard of the Imperial Palace? Dropping by at the door asking to see him definitely won’t work. It will only provide an opening to Li Jiancheng, Huang Gongcuo, and the others to kill me.”
Lei Jiuzhi pondered hard for half a day. Finally he gave up and said, “I really don’t know how to help you in this matter. Inside the Imperial Palace, the security is very heavy; sneaking in is practically an impossibility. Even if you have the ability to sneak in, in such a huge palace, where can you go to find Li Yuan?”
Xu Ziling was about to reply, Xiao Xiuming came in a hurry. Seeing Xu Ziling, he said in great delight, “I am lucky that Mo Xiong is indeed in here drinking tea; otherwise I don’t know where to find you.”
After introducing Lei Jiuzhi to him, Xu Ziling asked, “What’s the urgency?”
Xiao Xiuming said, “Feng Daren wants to see you!”
Xu Ziling and Lei Jiuzhi looked at each other; they both thought that was it possible that Feng Deyi had seen through his real identity? Otherwise, he was such an important minister within the House of Tang, how could he have any interest in seeing him, a mere Jianghu wanderer?
Chang He and Madame came out personally to meet the border guards and took them to see his father-in-law Sha Tiannan. With him appearing personally, the border guard officer only sent his men to make a cursory round over the ship and declared the inspection completed, and thus it greatly convenienced Kou Zhong, someone with ambiguous identity.
The two ships started again, sailing in the direction of Chang’an City. Soon afterwards Sha Fu came to see him, saying that the Old Master requested the pleasure of seeing him.
Stepping out into the corridor, Sha Fu talked in low voice, “The one wanting to see you is actually Si Guye [fourth son-in-law (used by wife’s family)]. When he heard that Mo Xiansheng’s medical expertise is like a deity, he immediately wanted to invite you to meet face-to-face.”
Kou Zhong secretly exhaled a mouthful of cold air, hoping that Chang He really wanted to see his medical expertise, and not because he grew suspicious. Otherwise, all his efforts would be wasted; the ‘secretly crossing the Wei River at Chencang’ stratagem became the ‘beating the grass to scare the snake’.
The hall was filled with a full-of-joy, happy atmosphere. When the entire Sha Family saw Kou Zhong, this ugly Divine Doctor – stepping into the hall, everybody warmly greeted him and came to meet him with smile on their faces. Fortunately Chang He, husband and wife, were no exception, so that Kou Zhong immediately felt relieved.
Three banquet tables were already set up in the hall. Sha Tiannan, spiritedly yet cautiously, stood up and said, “Come! Let’s sit down properly and discuss it in detail.”
He also introduced Kou Zhong to Chang He, husband and wife.
Chang He’s wife was the Fourth Miss of the Sha Family, Zhichang. Her appearance was dignified and pretty, carrying the air of a girl from a wealthy family; in term of beauty, she was only half a notch inferior to the Fifth Miss Zhijing.
Chang He himself looked young, handsome and grand, carrying the air of a promising man rousing to vigorous action. Perhaps it was because everything was going smoothly for him [usually referring to political career], he appeared to be glowing with health and vigor, but toward Kou Zhong he was respectful and polite, there was not the slightest amount of contempt toward his ugly appearance.
Kou Zhong was assigned the seat between Chang He and the First Young Master Chengjiu, naturally at the main table where Sha Tiannan as the respected senior sat. Other than Old Madame, the rest of the womenfolk were spread over the other two banquet tables. Chen Laiman, Mao Shichang, and Sha Fu also joined him at the main banquet table.
After three rounds of wine and some chitchat, Sha Tiannan cheerfully said to Kou Zhong, “After obtaining Shaoxu’s [young son-in-law] information, my guess is that this time Mo Xiansheng coming to Chang’an, you will be able to spread out your aspiration in medical practice to help the people.”
“It will definitely happen this way,” Chang He joined in, “Huangshang’s [the Emperor] doted imperial concubine Zhang Niangniang [queen/empress/imperial concubine] suddenly contracted strange illness; this past month or so she had no thought for tea or rice [idiom: no appetite], so day by day she is wasting away. The doctors are unable to do anything about it. Even Guanzhong’s Divine Doctor, who is called ‘Living Hua Tuo’ Wei Zhengxing also failed to wipe out her pain, which makes Huangshang frowning in anxiety all day long. Fortunately Mo Shen Yi is here. As long as you could cure Zhang Niangniang’s illness, not only you will bring glory to everybody in our Sha Family, Mo Xiansheng will also enjoy endless riches and honor, glory and splendor.”
Kou Zhong groaned inwardly, because he never thought that treating illnesses, he would have to visit the patient in the Imperial Palace. This was not a laughing matter!
In that instant he made up his mind; as soon as he entered the city, he would slip away; otherwise, if he entered the Imperial Palace, it would be strange indeed if he did not reveal the cloven foot. However, naturally on the surface he pretended to be grateful by saying, “Thank you very much Chang Ye for giving Biren this great opportunity today. Biren will certainly make an all-out effort to cure Zhang Niangniang’s illness so that I won’t fail this matter, which Chang Ye entrusted to me.”
The First Young Master Sha Chengjiu raised his cup and said, “This is to wish Mo Shen Yi’s magical hands that bring the dying back to life to cure Niangniang’s illness.”
Everybody responded loudly as they downed their cups. The atmosphere was very warm.
Only Kou Zhong nearly weeping bitter tears.
He was weeping with grief for the medical enterprise that he himself established via hard work.
 Hua Tuo (c. 140-208), ancient Chinese physician from the Eastern Han period.