Volume 8, Chapter 9: Blood and White Robe

Laundry that had piled up like a mountain awaited them upon their arrival at the medical office.

“Quickly, clear it all away.”

Court Physician Ryuu phrased it as if it were nothing, but doing the washing during wintertime is cold. You’ll end up with numb hands.

“Understood.”

The accumulation of laundry meant that the court physicians continued working even while Maomao’s group were on break. They had no other choice but to shut up and do it.

Most of the washing consisted of bandages that required sterilising. They’ll first separate the comparatively cleaner ones from those dirty with blood and bodily fluids.

The awfully dirty items will be discarded. Being bandages, those with only a few dirty sections can be cut and reused.

To begin with, bandages are disposable items to be discarded when they get old. The use of bloody bandages, if at all possible, should be avoided. Human blood is a source of infectious diseases.

“What’s this…”

Yao held up something pinched between her fingertips. It appears to be someone’s white robe. It had blood on it—perhaps there was a procedure for a critically ill patient. It had a whiff of alcohol to it, as if the clothing was also disinfected.

“It’s concerning that a court physician’s robes were left here. Whose could it be?”

En’en inspected the lining of the robe. Although everyone wore the same robes, their name should be embroidered along the lining.

“….”

En’en furrowed her brows. Maomao glanced over and saw “Tenyuu”. It was the young apprentice court physician, a superficial man. He had asked En’en out on many occasions, but was ignored every time.

(She threw it away.)

En’en set about sorting the bandages as if nothing happened.

“En’en, why not clean it for him since we’re already at it?” Yao asked.

“Milady Yao, even if he’s a court physician, I don’t think we should spoil him. It’s rules and regulations,” En’en answered.

“But, he was working while we were on break.”

En’en’s face was unusually aggrieved.

“How do we remove the bloodstains?” Yao asked.

En’en’s movements were dull so Maomao stepped forward reluctantly.

“Let me borrow that for a bit,” Maomao said. She glanced at the section blotted with blood, which had changed to a dark red. She had no idea if it would come off, but decided to submerge it in a pail of water.

“What are you doing? Are we using ash as well?” Yao asked.

Ash is used to remove filth, but something else is required for this.

“I’ll be back in a moment with the materials.”

Maomao returned to the medical office and fished through the shelves.

“What are you looking for?” Court Physician Ryuu, who was inside, came over to question her.

“I was thinking of using a daikon radish to remove some stains,” she said.

If she remembered correctly, daikon is used in cough medicine so it should still be in stock.

“Stain removal? Ahh, you want to remove blood.”

As expected of him, catching on after hearing about the daikon.

“While you’re at it, wash these too.” He passed her more court physician robes. It wasn’t just one or two. Were there five or six?

“…”

“Not happy?” Court Physician Ryuu asked.

“No, it’s nothing,” Maomao said.

This demon court physician’s tone was a little mean. His features are chiseled in a way that might have made him popular in his youth, but at his age, he’s a mean old man.

“Was there a major surgery?” she asked.

“Perhaps.” Court Physician Ryuu scribbled on the logbook as he gave a vague reply.

However, with this many robes dirtied from a surgery, it would mean several people were involved or something really large scale was done.

(They must have worn aprons.)

There wasn’t that much blood, but the splotches here and there were curious.

(It kinda stinks.)

She didn’t know whether the clothes washer on duty was away during wintertime, but she didn’t want them to abandon their post.

Maomao placed the court physician robes in the laundry basket and grated the daikon.

“If you’re going to use it, use just one. They’re not disposables like bandages,” Court Physician Ryuu said.

“…understood,” Maomao said.

It was an order from above, so she listened meekly, but in this case, she regretted not just keeping quiet and just leaving with the daikon.

When she saw Maomao return with more items, Yao smiled wryly.

Apologising internally, Maomao soaked the white robes and placed a cloth underneath the stained sections. She wrapped the grated daikon with cotton and struck the top of the robes.

“Will this get rid of the stains?” Yao peered closely at it.

“Yes. Daikon contains a component that breaks down blood. Aside from blood, it also works for bed wetting and spilled eggs,” Maomao said.

“Hehh, is that so.”

Maomao showed the cloth on the bottom to Yao who was in awe. The blood on the white robe had dissolved and transferred onto the cloth underneath it. “If you understand how it works, please help out. It’s most effective when it is freshly grated, so I want this finished quickly.”

“I, I got it.”

En’en also joined in. The three of them struck the white robes.

“I’m done,” Yao said.

“Then, rinse them in water immediately. If it becomes stained with daikon juice this time, it’ll be for naught.”

“…got it.”

Yao is someone who acts immediately once she’s told. If she can be convinced by another person’s opinion, then it’s a straightforward matter, while at the same time, she won’t proceed if she has any doubts.

When the washing was done and the bandages and white robes hung out to dry, a sickly-looking court physician happened to pass by. It was the apprentice court physician, Tenyuu.

“Excuse me. Your white robe was mixed in,” Maomao called out to him. En’en treats Tenyuu like a hindrance and it’ll be a bother if Yao spoke to him. Maomao spoke up by process of elimination.

“Ahh, yeah. My bad. Wash it for me,” Tenyuu answered.

It was flippant, but he wasn’t cheerful like he usually was.

“Were you made to assist in a surgery?” Maomao asked.

“Ah, yeah. I guess.”

His answer was somewhat vague.

Maomao was caught onto it.

“You seem tired, but we won’t wash it for you from now on. It’s drying over there, so once it’s dried, please take it away,” she said.

“Sure.” Tenyuu offered an unmotivated reply then left somewhere.

“He’s so slovenly,” Yao raged as she cleaned the bucket they used. The white robes have dried but the bandages have to be boiled for sterilisation at the point.

For hygiene, it would be better for the robes to receive the same treatment, but they weren’t consumable items so the material may be damaged. While Maomao wondered if ironing them would be appropriate, she didn’t want to go that far for it.

(While the stove is lit, shall I grill potatoes as well?)

Rahan’s biological father had brought over a large amount of potatoes he grew. It was to check if they could be processed like kudzu powder, but they were more delicious when grilled normally.

She felt a little better after she thought about eating potatoes.

“Maomao, I’m leaving it here,” Yao said.

“Okay.” Maomao carried the wet bandages on her shoulders and followed after Yao and En’en.

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It was close to the end of a day of work when the bandages were disinfected and dried completely.

“I wasn’t able to do anything,” Maomao said.

It was due to there being too many washing items, but it was somewhat annoying that she couldn’t do anything else. What she was doing was no different to when she worked in the inner palace as a maidservant. By the way, the potatoes were eaten by Yao and En’en some way or other, reminding Maomao of her chats with Shaoran.

(I want to prepare doses.)

That being said, when it got dark, the court ladies immediately went home. The bandages can’t be moved inside until it’s dried to a certain extent; if frost forms on top of it, it’ll be meaningless.

Maomao looked at the dried white robes on the side of the drying area. Since it was missing one, Tenyuu must have taken his robe away.

(Take all of them, oi.)

Maomao checked the linings of the white robes. She thought of checking who they belong to, but.

“…”

Court Physician Ryuu’s white robe was there. That was obvious, but she tilted her head when she saw the other names.

(He said operation, right?)

If it were a major operation, there would be a lot of court physicians. However, what does it mean when the only skilled court physician among them is Court Physician Ryuu?

As far as Maomao knows, the other names on the white robes all belonged to apprentice court physicians.

She suddenly recalled the conversation she had with En’en yesterday. About the difference between a court physician and apprentice court physician.

(No, no, it can’t be right.)

So she thought as she returned to the medical office with the white robes.

Tenyuu was the only person in the medical office. She wondered what he was doing—he was ironing the white robe he took inside.

(Only your own?)

“I’ll leave the white robes here,” Maomao said.

“Ahh, got it.” Tenyuu ironed with a look of fatigue. He didn’t look like he wanted to do it, but if there were creases on the robes, Court Physician Ryuu would get angry and he probably decided to do it right now since preparing the iron at home is a hassle.

As if he was concentrating, he took no notice of Maomao. More importantly, he didn’t seem interested in looking around.

Maomao, paying no heed, set the white robes across Court Physician Ryuu’s desk. It was a little damp, but it can’t be helped.

(Hm?)

The logbook he had been writing on this morning was on the table. Maomao picked it up and flipped through the pages. It was fine for her to look at it, but–

(How strange.)

Maomao looked at the record for this past couple of days.

Considering the bloodstains, the court physicians had conducted operations while Maomao’s group were on break.

They ought to have.

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But—.

(There’s no record.)

Ordinary treatment of wounds aside, if there were a major operation that required a number of court physicians, it should have been recorded down even if it’s a single word.

No abnormalities

There was only a short phrase written down.

Maomao looked at Tenyuu. “Tenyuu-san. Was the operation tough?”

“…it was tough. That was intense.”

His reply a little belated. His slow response was either because he was in the middle of working, or he was bewildered about how to answer..

“What kind of operation was it?” Maomao asked as she folded the white robes.

“What kind of operation or whatever, it’s nothing comfortable.”

His reply could be taken either way.

(Is he forbidden to talk about it?)

Tenyuu seems like a superficial moron who can’t read the room from his behaviour towards En’en, but at least, he is intelligent enough to pass the court physician exam. Also, compared to the other apprentice court physicians, he’s skilled in talking.

(Am I the wrong person to have this conversation with?)

While feeling regretful she didn’t ask En’en to talk to him instead, she patted the folded white robes.

(Shall I try the other apprentice court physicians?)

Maomao left the medical office as she looked at the darkening sky. I have to bring the bandages inside, she thought.

 

 

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