The mountain wind in the summer night was still extremely cold, and damp mist gathered.
Liu Xian’an’s fingers had been clutching the saddle for a while.
The wind made his joints sting as if someone was pricking them with needles of ice, so he decisively withdrew both hands and rubbed them together to stimulate circulation.

Xuan Jiao was still galloping at this moment, and when he let go, his body subsequently lost its balance.
Seeing that he was about to fall, Liang Shu had no choice but to reach out his arm to catch him.
Liu Xian’an’s fingers were stiff and he was determined not to let the wind blow on them again, so he took advantage of the situation and leaned back, putting all of his weight on His Royal Highness Xiao Wang.
Then he wrapped his hands together and shrank his head like a lazy golden monkey.

Liang Shu was displeased: “Sit up straight.”

Liu Xian’an heard but didn’t listen, and quickly exiled himself to the illusory realm, not seeing, not hearing, not thinking, and closing his eyes by the way.
Anyway, there were thousands of wonderful worlds in his mind.
He could just find a corner to squat in and let others yell outside for a while.

Of course, Liang Shu would not raise his voice to wake up the young master like A-Ning did.
In fact, this was the first time in his life that someone had the guts to lean into His Royal Highness Xiao Wang’s arms, and he couldn’t even drive him away.
Those rumors of bloody murder from the outside world seemed to have no effect on him at all – or was it true that he was so lazy that he would rather die than ride a horse?

Liang Shu remained calm, and his hands relaxed.

Sure enough, Liu Xian’an fell straight to one side again with his hands folded, his eyes closed, and his upper body motionless, as if he was an ascending immortal.

The moment he was about to touch the ground, Liang Shu pulled him back in front of him.


Xuan Jiao treaded the wind all the way, and finally stopped at a fork in the mountainside.
Not far away, the city wall of Chixia City was vaguely outlined in the mist.

Liang Shu dismounted his horse, and Liu Xian’an “just now” woke up and jumped to the ground.
He took out two cloth towels that had been fumigated by the medicine in his pocket and could be used to cover the mouth and nose.
Liang Shu took one and saw that the other party was staring at him, so he asked: “Is something the matter?”

Second Young Master Liu pursed his lips and shook his head.

But shaking one’s head did not necessarily mean nothing was wrong.
It might also mean that something was the matter but he didn’t want to talk about it.
Liang Shu didn’t know why he got off his horse and gave him such a knowing look, so he frowned and asked again: “What are you smiling at?”

“It’s nothing.” Liu Xian’an first slowly tidied up the cloth towel, and then tied it securely behind his head.
“It’s just that this time I finally counted the prince’s heartbeat.
It is calm and steady, and the old injury is not a problem.
This will save Lieutenant General Gao and Cheng-guniang from worrying too much in the future.”

Liang Shu: “…….”

He forgot.

So on the way here, this person had been sitting against his chest with his eyes half-closed like an old monk entering meditation, as if he had nothing to do with the world, but he was secretly counting his heartbeat?

How preposterous!

Liu Xianan raised his head: “Prince……wu!”

He suddenly flew up without notice and spun around in the air, his mouth tightly covered so that he couldn’t make a sound.
The sky spun, and then he was half-bent over a boulder.

Liang Shu firmly suppressed him, lowering his voice to order: “Hide well, someone is coming.”

Someone was coming? Liu Xian’an’s heartbeat thumped.
He calmed down a little, closed his eyes to listen carefully, and sure enough, the sound of footsteps was getting closer.

Crunch, crunch.

After a while, there was another crashing sound as a man came out of the forest.
He was a burly man dressed as a hunter, with a bow and a long knife on his back, a trap in his left hand, three pheasants in his right, and a sack that was constantly dripping blood tied around his waist.
It looked like he had acquired a great deal.

He didn’t take much of a look around, and just quickly ran down the mountain as if he were in a hurry, disappearing into the vast night.

Liu Xian’an surmised: “Could it be that the people in the city venture into the mountains to hunt because there isn’t enough food?”

Liang Shu said: “Let’s follow him.”

Liu Xian’an nodded.
He stood up and jogged two steps forward, the hem of his robes fluttering in the wind, and they almost caught on a branch.

Not bothering to speak, Liang Shu wrapped his arms around the other’s waist, slung him over his shoulder, and flew down the mountain.


“Don’t shout!”

The topic of the non-beating heart was also dodged.

“Cough, cough!” Liu Xian’an’s stomach was pressed against a firm shoulder, almost crushing his internal organs.
In order to give himself a little room to breathe, he had to grab the other’s clothes with both hands and exert all of his strength to lift his upper body with his chin raised, like a big, unlucky fish desperately struggling.

Liang Shu ignored his twisting, and only tightened his arms more and more until a weak warning was spoken into his ear: “I’m going to vomit.”

Only then did he finally let go.

Liu Xian’an fell to the ground and staggered, bending over while supporting himself with one hand on a tree.
It took a long time for him to recover his breath.
When he raised his head again, he was like a frail little soul just fished out of the water, his eyes full of tears, his cheeks pale, and his sweat-soaked hair plastered to his forehead.

In all honesty, Liang Shu really hadn’t done it on purpose this time, so he was also very surprised.
But it was only surprise, and His Royal Highness Xiao Wang would certainly not reflect on it.
He just lifted this person upright in a cold and noble manner and said for mercy’s sake: “We have arrived.”

They had already arrived? Liu Xian’an turned around, only to find that the city gate was not far away.

He immediately breathed a sigh of relief.

The hunter was shrouded by thick fog, leaving only a vague, ghostly black shadow walking forward.
A few black crows landed atop the city wall and raised their voices at this moment, sending their desolate cries into the wilderness.
The echo pierced through the cold wind as two strings of broken lanterns blew back and forth.
Everything about this city seemed extraordinarily frightening and strange.

Not knowing that he was being watched from behind, the hunter went around the city gate in a practiced manner and knock knock knocked three times before squeezing in sideways.

The door was quickly closed again.

Liang Shu took Liu Xian’an and leaped up the city wall in two or three steps, falling to the ground lightly like a shadow on the wind.
This time his approach was more humane, likely because he was afraid that the other party would really vomit on him. 

And Second Young Master Liu was very good at learning through experience.
He even felt that flying just now was very novel.
Although his thoughts often traveled freely between heaven and earth, this was the first time that his body was so high off the ground.
The scenery changed at that moment, and the breeze filled his sleeves and robes.

It was a pity that the timing was wrong and his spirit was still imprisoned in the world of mortals, with no opportunity to wander around.

As soon as they entered the city, there was a strong and persistent smell of medicine in the air.
Liu Xian’an briefly took off the cloth towel to sniff it carefully, saying: “These are common herbs for detoxification and lowering heat, and to relieve coughing and difficulty breathing.
It is similar to what A-Ning prepared on the road.
But the situation in this town —” He turned his head and glanced around.
“It is more than one point better than I had guessed.”

The streets were still tidy, and there were no hordes of rats or disorderly corpses, nor could painful moans and cries be heard.
It was completely different from the several major plagues recorded in medical books.
If not for the dregs of medicine and lime that could be seen everywhere, the smell of vinegar in the air, and the colorful plague warning papers hanging on both sides of the street, this was really a very normal and ordinary city.

Liu Xian’an asked: “Is that hunter gone?”

Liang Shu took his arm and walked sideways through another alley.
They saw the hunter run past not far away, untie the prey from his waist, and throw it over a low wall to the left. Thump thump, the pheasants fell into the courtyard.
He breathed a sigh of relief and turned to run over to the other side, finally entering a large courtyard.
Then he washed his face and body with a basin of cold water in the corner and went back to his room to rest.

“So this is his home.” After speaking, Liu Xian’an was a bit puzzled.
“He didn’t go hunting for himself.
But the courtyard just now looked dilapidated, not like it belonged to a wealthy person who could afford to hire a hunter.”

The two walked into the courtyard.
A loud snoring came from a row of wing rooms on the east side, and some beans and pickles were still drying on the steps.
Liang Shu pushed open the kitchen door, and the moonlight shone through a window, illuminating everything in the room.
The stove was still a bit messy, but it was only the sort of mess that resulted from daily life.
There was rice in the vat and oil in the urn, and although the steamed buns in the bowl were crude, they were still soft.

There was no rat infestation in this city, and no shortage of food.

“But the plague should be real.” Liu Xian’an crouched down and grabbed a pinch of dried medicine residue piled up in the corner.
He put it into the small cloth bag he carried with him, planning to study it carefully after going back.

After leaving the courtyard, the two randomly selected two or three households to investigate.
There were also rice and noodles in the kitchens, and in one of the households, the lights in the courtyard were still on.
A young couple was busy frying pancakes in the kitchen.
The sweet, cloying smell of honey drifted out, and some faint chatter could be heard.
The husband was urging his wife to hurry up, otherwise it would be too late for the officers and soldiers to go up the mountain in the morning.

“The officers and soldiers going up the mountain is likely because of the plague.” After walking to a deserted spot, Liu Xian’an explained, “Bringing all the patients together in one place away from the city can not only protect the remaining uninfected people, but also facilitate the doctor’s inspection and care.
At least in this respect, that Shi-daren is doing a good job.”

The watchman knocked on his clapper and walked across the street, so the two of them entered another alley.
A noisy conversation could be heard across the courtyard wall.

Liang Shu took Liu Xian’an to the wall and then moved to the eaves.
He pressed his head with one hand: “Duck down!”

Second Young Master Liu: “Oh.” His muscles hurt.

Liang Shu knocked on his forehead, signaling him to shut up, and silently lifted a tile.

Liu Xian’an held his breath cooperatively.
Although he had no jianghu experience, he had reading experience. 

This was a large pharmaceutical workshop.

Several large vats sat in the courtyard, steeping the concoction needed for cleaning the streets the next day.
The kitchen was brightly lit, and dozens of earthen pots were gurgling simultaneously with bitter decoctions.
About seven or eight doctors and assistants were busy adjusting the fires, and five apprentices sat in the room, each with several large packages of medicinal materials in front of them.

“What is it?” Liang Shu asked.

“The preliminary work for making pills.” Liu Xian’an carefully differentiated the medicinal materials.
“The purpose is still for lowering heat and detoxifying, but without blue bullrush and qinghong root, the efficacy will be greatly reduced.
These two herbs are very common, and every doctor knows to add them.
I suppose they have run out of stock and haven’t had time to replenish them.
But it doesn’t matter, A-Ning already made preparations and bought a lot on the way.”

After leaving the pharmacy, the two climbed up an even taller old tower.
Liu Xian’an’s body swayed as he stepped on the creaking wooden boards, and he felt that if the wind blew any stronger, this rickety place might topple over.
Thus, he stretched out his hand from behind and calmly grabbed a bit of the sleeve of His Royal Highness Xiao Wang.

Liang Shu glanced at him from the corner of his eye: “Do you think this small piece of fabric can hold you in the air?”

Feeling that his words were reasonable and that he really couldn’t hang on, Liu Xian’an moved his fingers forward and grasped more.

Liang Shu: “?”

I meant for you to let go!

Liu Xian’an would not let go.
He felt safe standing like this. 

The sages embraced the spirit through stillness, and Second Young Master Liu securely held His Royal Highness Xiao Wang.

Moonlight shone upon the entire city, and the black crows on the wall had already flown away.
The strange and gloomy atmosphere from before had dissipated a lot, perhaps because many doctors were still busy, which always made people feel more at ease.
The long street was silent as the thick fog began to disperse.
At this time, a man suddenly appeared around the corner of the street not far away, appearing to go in the direction of the pharmacy.

He walked fast at first, and jogged a bit, but slowed down again after a few steps, standing still with one hand against a wall.
After standing there for a while, his body slid down limply like a thin noodle.

Liang Shu took Liu Xian’an and jumped down the old tower.

The man was completely unconscious, and looked to be in his forties or fifties.
He was tall and thin, with sunken cheeks.
In addition to the blue-black stubble and chapped lips, his appearance was sallow and sickly.

Liu Xian’an called out twice, and seeing that he would not wake up for a long time, he propped up the other’s head and took his wrist to check his pulse.

“Plague?” Liang Shu asked.

“No, he’s just exhausted.” Liu Xian’an withdrew his hand.
“He’s not sick, and will wake up after a short rest.
It is best for him to drink some boiled broth.”

He took out a few cooling pills and fed them to the man.
After a while, the man coughed with his eyes closed.

“My lord, my lord!” Someone in the distance called in a rush.

Liang Shu and Liu Xian’an hid in the darkness.

“My lord, what are you doing……” An old man holding a lantern searched around and saw that the man was lying on the ground.
He quickly stepped forward to help him up.
“I said that you should rest early tonight, why did you go out again? See, it is fortunate that I am clever, otherwise if you slept on the street all night, wouldn’t you be burned into a piece of red coal tomorrow morning?

His nagging was loud, no different from a string of firecrackers exploding in the air.
The man wanted him to keep his voice down, but he was suffering from a lack of strength and could only lean on the steps and pant heavily.
Soon after, the lights in the surrounding houses turned on one after another, and many common people came out wrapped in clothes to see the lord sitting at the door.
Naturally, they were very surprised.
Some people hurriedly put thick clothes on him, some poured hot tea, and others invited him to go to their own homes to rest.
There was a big, impenetrable crowd surrounding the stone steps.

“Okay, okay, everyone go back, ba.” The man drank two cups of hot water and finally heaved a sigh of relief.
“I’m going back to the government office to sleep.”

The crowd was abuzz, all chattering in unison and telling him not to be too tired.
They talked for a long while before going home.

The man held the old man’s hand and stood up laboriously, glaring at him again: “When will this voice of yours be changed?”

“What change, I won’t change it.” The old man was very stubborn.
“If my lord won’t listen to what I say, then let the common people speak.”

The man sighed and shook his head, slowly walking the other way with him.

The surroundings were quiet again.

Liu Xian’an said: “Based on what the common people called him, he should be Shi Hanhai, the head official here.
But this person doesn’t look like a money-obsessed official, and even seems to be quite popular.”

“The hunter’s pheasants were probably given to him just now,” Liang Shu said.
“We can’t wait for answers here.
Let’s go and meet that Shi-daren.”


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