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    Chapter 104 - The Cure, Part Three

    After a long moment of contemplation, Shen Yuan stood there, his gaze fixed on the shop without averting it for an instant.

    Intrigued by what had caught his attention, He Mengfang followed his line of sight.

    Yuewei Hall — this was the name of the shop that Shen Yuan was staring at, from which a strong aroma of traditional Chinese medicine wafted out.

    Peering inside, they noticed a striking figure.

    The person's back was turned to them, but it was clear that she was female.

    Her hair was lustrous and thick, tied into a long, dark braid that reached her waist, with a pale pink ribbon tied into a butterfly knot at its end. As she bustled about, the ribbon fluttered gently with her movements.

    — Shen Yuan was actually looking at a woman?

    He Mengfang turned back to Shen Yuan, only to see him narrow his eyes, curve his lips into a smile, and flash a radiant grin.

    — Shen Yuan was actually looking at a woman!

    He Mengfang blinked frantically, assuming it was just a temporary optical illusion.

    In Shen Yuan's case, besides the absence of pain, his emotions were also incomplete.

    Of course, this was merely He Mengfang's personal observation after prolonged interactions with Shen Yuan. After all, emotions were intangible and could only be perceived through understanding.

    He Mengfang found it incredulous. "You're telling me that love at first sight happened to you?!"

    Upon hearing this, Shen Yuan immediately retracted his smile, though his gaze remained fixed on the woman. He replied, "I believe in love at first sight, while affection developed over time is likely a result of habit." He tried to reassure He Mengfang, "Don't overthink, nephew. I've merely stumbled upon a charming maiden."

    "Are you really going to break up with Wang Pan?!" He Mengfang probed further.

    At the mention of Wang Pan, Shen Yuan let out an impatient sigh and coldly said, "Dream Visit, go find Wang Pan and have her wait for me outside the clinic. Don't show yourself, I need to have a word with this beauty first."

    Seeing that Shen Yuan was entirely absorbed, He Mengfang, being perceptive, decided not to meddle as an awkward spectator. If he had to be involved, it would be better for Wang Pan to accompany him, so the awkwardness wouldn't fall on one person alone.

    He Mengfang agreed with an "oh," reminding Shen Yuan to "be careful" before turning away.

    For quite some time, Shen Yuan didn't step foot into Yuewei Hall nor did he alert the woman. He waited until she turned around and noticed him.

    Spotting Shen Yuan from afar, the woman paused her activity and approached him.

    Upon closer inspection, she appeared to be no more than seventeen or eighteen, yet already exuded an elegant grace. However, at this age, girls often retained their youthful plumpness, and her cheeks still held a touch of baby fat. Petite in stature, she resembled a snow-white rabbit, cuddly and utterly endearing.

    Reaching Shen Yuan's side, they exchanged smiles. She invited, "You've run out of medicine, I assume? Conveniently, I just prepared several pounds of herbs and a few gallons of medicinal pills yesterday. Take them all with you and distribute a bowl of the decoction to each person as a preventive measure against illnesses."

    Shen Yuan didn't rush inside. He chuckled and said, "You're just letting me in like that? Don't you find me unfamiliar, someone who doesn't belong to Xun Wu? Every door on this Xun Wu street is tightly shut, and there's not a single soul on the streets. How come I suddenly appear? Don't you find me suspicious?"

    Hearing this, the girl covered her mouth and giggled. "I've treated hundreds, if not thousands, of patients. Could I possibly remember everyone's name, family members, and occupations?"

    "What if I'm not here for treatment?" Shen Yuan knew his question was foolish, but he followed up with a smirk, mocking himself. "What else would one do at a medical clinic except seek treatment?"

    The girl asked, "Are you here to see someone?"

    A spark ignited in Shen Yuan's eyes as he playfully continued the girl's train of thought. "Yes! Exactly! I'm here to see someone!"

    With only the girl in the clinic, it was clear who the 'someone' would be.

    Despite herself, the girl's cheeks flushed a delicate pink at the handsome young man before her.

    Shen Yuan observed all this and, taking advantage of the moment, continued smoothly, "I've come from a distant island, lured by a brother from Xun Wu who spoke of a maiden in his hometown, a lady of serene grace and exquisite beauty, surpassing all others by a millionfold. Hence, I journeyed afar just to catch a glimpse of you. Now that I have seen you, your charm echoes deeply within me, and I fear that each day apart will feel like an eternity, leaving me in constant yearning..."

    Just as one's appearance does not always reflect their inner goodness or malevolence, a person's demeanor can sometimes be misleading.

    Shen Yuan was the epitome of a perfect young man in the eyes of most maidens. His behavior was restrained, never crossing the line into absurdity.

    His slightly melancholic brows complemented his bright, youthful eyes, adding depth and narrative to his gaze.

    Most importantly, his articulate speech made even the most sentimental words sound fresh and sincere.

    The girl blushed and playfully retorted, "Do you think less of me when you speak of 'yearning' in my presence?"

    "May I ask for your lovely name?" Shen Yuan inquired politely.

    "Jiang... Jiang Yue," she replied.

    Shen Yuan praised, "Like clear river water reflecting a bright moon. A beautiful and poetic name."

    "I am Shen Yuan," he said after a moment, shifting the subject. "Ah, Miss Jiang Yue, I've wandered around, but why are all the doors on Xun Wu Street shut tight?"

    "Ai-" Jiang Yue let out a long sigh and revealed, "To be honest, two months ago, an epidemic suddenly broke out in Xun Wu Street."

    "Epidemic?!" Shen Yuan's eyebrows shot up, his eyes widened, and his mouth gaped as he feigned surprise.

    "I see... I recall placing a wooden sign at the entrance arch of Xun Wu, clearly stating the situation. Didn't you see it, Young Master Shen?"

    Shen Yuan recalled the wooden board he had seen upon entering the arch and replied, "I did." He then promptly added a compliment, "Indeed, your handwriting mirrors your character—graceful and elegant."

    At that moment, Wang Pan was crouched on the roof of the Reading Rose Hall, eavesdropping on Shen Yuan and Jiang Yue's conversation.

    His expression gradually turned grave, and he clenched his fists slowly. He softly snorted through his nose and continued to listen stealthily.

    Wang Pan assumed that Jiang Yue would let Shen Yuan off the hook due to his compliments.

    However, Jiang Yue's delicate brows knitted slightly, showing no signs of being pleased by the praise. Instead, she reproached him unhappily, "If you saw it, why did you ignore it?"

    She didn't cease her interrogation despite Shen Yuan's flattering words.

    Shen Yuan's mind raced, and he chuckled, saying, "Mad with love, mad with love—" He used an analogy, "In 'The Western Chamber,' Zhang Sheng falls ill with lovesickness for Cui Yingying, losing his vigor and wandering in distress. This demonstrates the power of emotions, not so different from an epidemic."

    Jiang Yue blushed but quickly regained her composure. "The Western Chamber is a legendary tale, how can one take it seriously?"

    "Sigh, I get it." Shen Yuan understood that he wasn't here for 'flirtatious banter.' He promptly shifted to the main topic. "Miss Jiang Yue, being a physician, do you believe in lovesickness as a medical condition?"

    Jiang Yue hesitated. "Well... If emotions are pent up... It's likely possible..."

    A faint smile appeared on Shen Yuan's face. Silently, he stepped into Yuewei Hall, scanning the room for a chair. He walked over, sat down, held his forehead, and pretended to be in distress, groaning, "Lately, I've been experiencing constant headaches and labored breathing. It feels like lovesickness. Could I trouble you, Miss, to examine me? Would that be alright?"

    "Of course," Jiang Yue agreed without hesitation.

    She extended her soft and delicate hand to take Shen Yuan's pulse. After a moment of silence and a thorough diagnosis, she slightly furrowed her brows, barely noticeable. "There does seem to be a blockage."

    In his heart, Shen Yuan muttered, Huh? How could I really have a problem just from mentioning it casually?

    Seizing the opportunity, he asked, "What should I do then? Will I die?"

    "It's not a big issue," Jiang Yue stood up. "I'm a doctor, I won't let anything happen to you." With that, she turned to fetch medicine from the cabinet for Shen Yuan.

    Shen Yuan followed her gaze.

    Jiang Yue clicked the ivory abacus a few times before picking up the nearby Sima scale. She then walked over to the herbal cabinet, took two small handfuls of herbs, and weighed them on the scale.

    Watching her smooth and efficient actions, Shen Yuan couldn't help but inwardly sigh in admiration: Indeed, she's a genuine physician...

    Promptly, Jiang Yue approached Shen Yuan with the bag of herbs in hand.

    Shen Yuan stood up and greeted her, pointing at the medicine pouch while asking playfully, "Miss Jiang Yue, what medicine did you prescribe for me?"

    Jiang Yue replied, "Beech flowers."

    As Shen Yuan wasn't Chu Yun's disciple and had limited knowledge about medicine, he simply accepted whatever herbs Jiang Yue prescribed without asking too many questions. He acknowledged her with an "oh" and reached out to take the herbs.

    "There's one more herb," Jiang Yue said. "Please follow me, Mister Shen."

    Shen Yuan followed behind her.

    Once again, she performed the same series of actions. This time, Jiang Yue held a sheet of paper containing another herb and explained to Shen Yuan, "The beech flowers can be consumed by dissolving them in water, or they can be boiled together with this herb to make a decoction." With that, she passed the second herb to him.

    Shen Yuan glanced at the item, and instantly, cold sweat drenched his forehead as his face turned ashen. He looked worse than a corpse.

    Observing this, Jiang Yue asked in surprise, "Why? Is Young Master Shen afraid?"

    Shen Yuan took a step back, licked his lips, and after a moment of hesitation, said, "I was bitten by it when I was young." He tried to suppress his fear, but his voice still trembled.

    Jiang Yue chuckled and said, "By now, the centipede has been baked with gentle heat and is now a medicinal ingredient."

    Even a thoroughly dead centipede made Shen Yuan's scalp tingle! He said, "Then, I'll trouble Miss Jiang Yue to wrap them up for me. I'll take them with me."

    Xun Wu had extreme temperature differences between day and night. As Shen Yuan exited Yuewei Hall with a large bag of medicinal ingredients, he shivered from the cold as soon as he stepped outside.

    In the depths of the nocturnal darkness, Xun Wu Street was deserted, shrouded in thick fog that crept along the ground like white worms.

    Fear simmered slowly, tingling his body bit by bit. His vision blurred, as if he were in a dream, floating unsteadily in water.

    After walking alone for several dozen paces, he paused, believing he had put considerable distance between himself and Yuewei Hall.

    The rustling of his clothes could be heard as they danced in the wind, producing a "swish-swish" sound.

    Looking up, Shen Yuan saw a gentle, cold white light approaching from afar, eventually settling before him.

    Unable to discern the identity of the newcomer, he asked, "Are you alone?"

    "Wang Pan," the voice continued, "was sent to Yuewei Hall by He Mengfang after finding me. He's responsible for locating an inn for us to stay at tonight and will send me the location once he finds one."

    Hearing this, Shen Yuan, still recovering from the scare of the centipede, weakly responded with an "oh."

    As Wang Pan reached the roof of Yuewei Hall, he overheard Shen Yuan talking about "Qingqing Ziyin" to Jiang Yue. A strange bitterness rose in his heart, exacerbated by Shen Yuan's disheartened "oh." It was like simmering vinegar in an enclosed space – the pungent aroma was overwhelming. He coldly said, "Is it that one person isn't enough to escort you back?"

    Shen Yuan replied, "Enough – I just feel... a bit... uncomfortable..."

    Seeing the redness around Shen Yuan's eyes and his unsteady stance, Wang Pan suspected that he might indeed be unwell. He grabbed Shen Yuan's wrist to check his pulse. After a moment, he declared, "You're not sick."

    Shen Yuan knew his own body better than anyone else. His fear of centipedes wouldn't cause him to shiver or make his eyelids too heavy to lift, as if he had a cold or fever. "Um... but..."

    Wang Pan assumed Shen Yuan was trying to avoid the task and dismissed his concerns. "Want to be sick? Spend a night on the streets, and you'll have a cough and chills by morning." With that, he walked on in silence.

    Halfway through, Wang Pan turned to check if Shen Yuan was still following.

    Amidst the thick fog, there was no sign of anyone.

    He hurriedly traversed the mist, retracing his steps, and finally found Shen Yuan beneath a residential corridor at their starting point. Shen Yuan was leaning against one of the wooden pillars with Xiu Qu in his arms, seemingly asleep.

    As long as he hadn't gone missing, that was fine.

    Wang Pan let out a soft sigh and approached Shen Yuan. With a cold tone, he said, "Are you really planning to sleep on the streets?"

    After a moment of silence, Shen Yuan didn't respond.

    Wang Pan, resigned, placed his articulate hand on Shen Yuan's shoulder. "Get up. Don't even think about slacking off. I won't carry you back home." This time, his voice was a bit gentler.

    In that instant, Shen Yuan's head drooped downward, his neck brushing lightly against Wang Pan's fingers.

    His body temperature was chillingly cold, like that of a corpse!

    --------------------

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