There are various rituals held in the palace, and today was no exception. A procession of people dressed in monk-like outfits was walking around in the imperial court.
“There are more than usual, huh.” Maomao wrung the washed bandages.
“It seems the Prince of the Moon will be heading a ritual today. It’s at the shrine close by,” En’en said with a little irritation.
“You’re quite knowledgeable.”
“Yes. The court ladies have been squealing about it in excitement.”
I see, Maomao understood.
En’en peered at Maomao.
“What’s up?” Maomao asked.
“No, just a question…”
“What is it?”
En’en beckoned Maomao over discreetly, as if wanting to keep it a secret. “Do all women, fall for that man?”
“Hah?” Maomao unintentionally let out a stupid sound. It was as if En’en was talking like a young maiden. Moreover, she looked a little troubled.
(Ahhh, is that how it is?)
Maomao understood why En’en asked that kind of question. In other words, that man, referred to Jinshi.
This time, Maomao whispered into En’en’s ears. “I don’t think Yao-san is interested in that kind of thing since she has her hands full with work still.”
En’en’s face brightened.
(So easy to read.)
At least, Yao had seen Jinshi’s face on several occasions.
“Even when Yao-san sees the Prince of the Moon’s face, her face does not flush and her heart doesn’t race, nor does she get short of breath or freeze up. I think she only thinks about what she has to do next,” Maomao said.
“…then that’s fine,” En’en said.
“However—” Maomao knew. Certainly, the chance of Yao falling in love with Jinshi is low at this point in time. It is low, but she didn’t know what it would be in the future. Yao is still young. The likelihood she’ll fall for that sickly-sweet face one day is not completely zero.
In particular, things will get dangerous once the pressure of work eases.
“If they meet during their private life outside of work, there might be a slightly different reacti—”
Maomao heard a crash. En’en had knocked over the bucket of bandages. She looked pale.
“….j-just for milady, that kind of thing is…”
“Calm down. The chance of them meeting outside of work is low, right?”
En’en was pale, teeth chattering and trembling. Maomao patted her back.
“Oi, what happened?” A young court physician nearby had come over, noticing that En’en’s condition was off. As a court physician, his speedy reaction was good, but he wasn’t needed here.
“There’s nothing wrong. It’s okay. I’ll have her rest a bit.” Maomao supported En’en, and decided to return to the medical office.
“Okay, here you go.” Maomao passed tea to En’en who was lying on the bed.
It was good timing that Yao was off work today. As expected, even En’en can’t get days off with Yao every time.
Court Physician Ryuu was in the medical office. She thought that he would be angry about them slacking off, but as soon as he saw En’en, he ended the matter with a single word: “Rest.”
“I don’t know if there’s a point in saying this, but when it comes to Yao-san, wouldn’t rampaging about be a little dangerous?” Shocked, Maomao said to En’en who was drinking tea.
“…I know, but.” En’en replied.
“What are you going to do when Yao-san has to get married?”
When Maomao thought that En’en will turn pale again, she calmed down.
“Milady will have to get married someday too. I am prepared for that moment. But I will be investigating to see if the potential groom is appropriate for milady. In fact, I have already done so.”
It was in past tense.
“Could it be, the engagement proposal that her uncle brought in?” Maomao had heard it in passing. The uncle was currently looking after the family following the death of Yao’s father.
“Yes, that damned geezer… no, the family head had brought in engagement proposals one after another since three years ago when milady grew up nicely. Even now, since she started work, he’s been sending her letters about attending marriage interviews alongside other things!”
Three years ago, when Yao was twelve. She had a reason to be super vigilant against lolicons.
“En’en. I understand, so put down your cup. It’s going to break.”
Fine cracks were starting to appear on the cup. Maomao took it away and set it down. She had unintentionally panicked.
“…but, arbitrary partners aside, if he were someone Yao chose, you won’t need to find any faults with him, right?” Maomao asked.
With that question, En’en hung her head. She was muttering something under her breath. It seemed like she was spitting curses, but such things were unforgivable in the palace. She covered her mouth so no one would hear.
(Yao has it hard too.)
Maomao felt sympathy for Yao who has a troublesome follower.
“Then, I’ll be returning to work—”
So please take it a little easier—as Maomao was about to say that.
The medical office door was violently thrown open.
“Oi, what is it?!” Court Physician Ryuu, who was on standby, asked the officials who entered. There were three people, and one was slumped down on an emergency stretcher.
The three people were neither civil officials nor military officials. They were dressed in flashy ritual robes. The person who had been carried in by a stretcher was breathing laboriously, and there were specks of vomit on the side of his mouth.
“He was struck by an arrow.”
The man in ritual robes who had been carried over had his arm wrapped in blood-soaked bandages. He looked pale.
Hurriedly, Maomao carried over a kettle from the cooking stove.
Court Physician Ryuu tore off the first aid treatment. The wound site around the arrow was discoloured.
Maomao carried over a small knife along with boiled water. She heated the knife, cooled it, and handed it to Court Physician Ryuu.
“Wh-what are you planning to do?”
“Even if you ask that, we’re just cutting it. The first aid treatment wasn’t bad, but if you leave it as is, the poison will remain. Did he experience diarrhoea?” Court Physician Ryuu answered.
“I-I don’t think so.”
His bottom half wasn’t soiled, which was good as he won’t have to go through humiliation.
Blood will be drawn to allow the remaining poison to flow out.
Perhaps due to the commotion next door, En’en got up.
“It’s all right. We have enough hands,” Maomao said.
They were just making an incision, sewing the wound back up with a needle, and preparing some medicine.
They had the other officials hold down the struggling official before draining his blood.
“If it’s arrow poison, could it be monkshood?” Maomao asked.
“From the symptoms, that’s likely,” Court Physician Ryuu replied.
If that’s that case, they didn’t have an antidote. Let’s prepare antibiotic ointment and medicine that will aid in blood replenishment.
While Maomao was in the middle of preparing it, a new guest entered.
Dressed in the same ritual robes as the previous guests—no, his clothes were superior, and he was wearing a cap with a bamboo screen.
It was Jinshi.
As everyone lowered their heads, Court Physician Ryuu finished with the blood-letting. Maomao passed him a threaded needle.
(What a gutsy court physician.)
Even before the imperial brother, the treatment of wounds took priority. While it wasn’t on Dad’s level, he is a capable and well-rounded court physician.
“How are things?” Jinshi asked.
“He’s fortunate. As it only pierced flesh, there’s no need to shave off any bone. It’s also good that the treatment to drain the poison first was prompt,” Maomao said.
“Is that so? Seems like I did well for my first time,” Jinshi said a little boastfully.
For some reason, the pale-faced, wounded man flushed red.
(This guy performed the treatment?)
Maomao moved faster than she could be shocked. She grabbed Jinshi’s collar and closed in. She pinched his surprised face with both hands and peered into his mouth.
Jinshi stopped the panicking officials who tried to restrain Maomao with his hand.
“Seems like you don’t have cavities,” she said.
The neat row of teeth was perfect to the point of being irritating. The pearly white teeth must be due to his nanny Suiren’s daily meticulous brushing.
“You don’t have cuts or ulcers in your mouth either.”
“No,” Jinshi said.
Maomao was facing Jinshi fully. She gently released her hands. She prepared a cup that contained half fresh water and half boiled water.
“Have you rinsed your mouth? If you swallow it down with saliva, extracting the poison will be pointless,” she asked.
“I have rinsed my mouth. If you’re worried, prepare an antidote for me,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there’s no antidote for monkshood.”
Spitting the poison out is the first priority
“This person is saved, right?” he asked.
“Yes. Thanks to your prompt treatment.” Court Physician Ryuu answered instead. Done with sewing, he was wiping the wound with a towel soaked in alcohol.
“He used his body to protect mine. Treat his injuries well,” Jinshi said.
The face of the official who had been struggling from the pain of bloodletting now transformed into one of shock. As Jinshi had personally sucked the poison out of him by mouth, this man looked like he had already passed on to Sukhavati.
“Prince of the Moon, please leave the rest to us. It’s a problem to have you in such a place,” one of the official aides said. He was probably implying a place stinking of blood wasn’t appropriate for Jinshi.
“No, I’ll stay. It’s better than moving elsewhere carelessly. At least, there’s no space here for an arrow to come in.”
A lot of herbal medicines prefer cool, dark places. If even the windows were closed, a poisoned arrow wouldn’t be able to fly in.
“More importantly, if the medical treatment is completed, carry him to a bed. And send a message to Maamei.” Jinshi flapped his right hand. Grudgingly, Maomao prepared writing materials and paper.
She passed the effortlessly written document to the official aide.
“Is it fine that it’s not to Basen-sama?” she asked.
“Even if it suddenly became a rumour, we don’t need to turn it into a commotion,” Jinshi said.
Considering Basen’s personality, it would only turn out like so. Although he’s extremely loyal, he’s a muscle brain after all.
She looked at the official who had been entrusted with the message. Maomao felt that he was being cleared out of the room.
“You people return to work. Okay? The ritual ended with no issues. This matter is about what happens after the ritual,” Jinshi said.
With this, nothing would be recorded down.
It seems Jinshi didn’t want to let this out in public.
The ones left was two of Jinshi’s official aides. They were people Maomao recognised but didn’t know their names, so she could trust them.
Maomao glanced at the room next door. “I’m going to take my leave from the room as w—”
“Stay,” Jinshi said.
“En’en is next door—”
“En’en would be fine.” Jinshi gingerly took a pouch out from his breast pocket. There was a broken arrowhead inside. “I want you to look at this.”
Court Physician Ryuu raised his hand when Jinshi took it out. “I am a court physician. Wouldn’t it be better to show the arrowhead to a military official?”
“Yes. I know that Court Physician Ryuu has excellent medical skills too. However, you probably know more than other people in regards to one art.”
Maomao studied the arrowhead.
The arrowhead, that was the length of the tip of an index finger, had a neat triangular shape. Though it was stained with blood, the surface looked smooth.
“May I touch it?” she asked.
“Don’t cut yourself,” Jinshi said.
Picking it up with a towel, she gently wiped the blood off it. As expected, it had a smooth surface.
“Can you think up the kind of person who would shoot this?” Jinshi asked.
He was testing Maomao like usual.
“To coat on poison, there is no notch on the arrowhead to contain it. If my main goal is assassination, I would put scratches and notches on the arrowhead to better contain the poison,” Maomao said.
Could it have been in a sticky consistency like resin? Or was resin itself smeared on and poison added? If they were to carry such a slippery arrowhead with the poison coated on as is, the poison will fall off.
“Can we take it that the poison was coated just before the arrow was released?” Maomao said.
“It’s fine to think that there is the possibility that it still carries poison, right?” Jinshi said.
“This is just a possibility,” she said.
“Oi, oi.” Court Physician Ryuu looked shocked. “I don’t want to hear anymore. May I leave my post? Of course, this girl as well.”
With this, there will be no more court physicians in the medical office.
Jinshi was speaking of dangerous matters before Court Physician Ryuu, but he probably believed that this court physician wouldn’t betray him.
“Court Physician Ryuu. This hinges on my life too, so I want to settle this quickly.”
The life of the imperial clan and the life of other people. The court physician raised his hand with a complicated expression.
“Is the poison monkshood?” Jinshi said.
“I cannot confidently assert that. Oleander is also used in arrow poisons, but in that case, symptoms are often accompanied by diarrhoea, so it doesn’t match with what we had from just now. The South uses poison frogs, but this also doesn’t match the symptoms,” Maomao said.
“Court Physician Ryuu, your opinion?”
“If she is mistaken with something, I’ll refute. I am a court physician, not a food taster nor an assassin,” Court Physician Ryuu said.
(I’m a food taster, but not an assassin, you know.)
However, at this point in time, he didn’t go challenge Maomao’s opinion.
“Then shall we hear of it? What kind of person shot this arrow?” Jinshi asked.
It was a mean question.
For an assassin, there wasn’t enough killing intent in the tool.
Even for a hunter, they would be a little more particular about the use of poison.
Then, if they went by the process of elimination…
A person who is good at archery and uses poison that they have no idea about. Additionally, if they had carried it out in a place close to the military grounds.
“Did you just say a military official who is good at archery?” Jinshi wilfully read Maomao’s answer. “Moreover, since they used poison they weren’t familiar with, could they have been forced?”
Jinshi should understand too. The moment they are caught, that person’s life is already forfeit. Even if they had been threatened, the death sentence wouldn’t change.
(Hold the ritual in a less dangerous place, hey.)
…was going to come out of her mouth but she held it in.
What if he had purposely used a place easy to aim at?
Jinshi probably knew very well that for his political opponents, he is viewed as an eyesore. To arrest them in no time, it should be a good idea to use himself as bait.
Maomao’s heart went cold.
This person is part of the imperial family, a person who rules, and at the same time, a person who doesn’t see himself as important.
Maomao couldn’t help finding people who rush through life as unpleasant.