On Lin Xulian's third day in the Qiangdu country, the clan head Gu Lingdao called her presence in the village entrance. Her companions guided her since she has no idea about the village's layout. Luckily the didn't cover her eyes this time so she was able to appreciate the village's sceneries.
All the houses or courtyards they passed through have simple designs the same as the one they lent to her. They only vary in sizes based on the count of their family members. It is totally different to the villages and towns that Lin Xulian visited before. Here, you can't tell the differences of their social standings. It made you feel like the concept of being rich and poor is non-existent.
Lin Xulian also noticed the large expanse of greenery encircling the village. And most of them are the very rare Buchong herb. Lin Xulian cannot help but salivate white looking at the abundant number of the herbs. As expected, her obvious desire gained more suspicion and distrust from her female companions. They note down that they would report her behavior to the clan head later.
When Lin Xulian and her group finally arrive at the village's entrance, clan head Gu Lingdao and Gu Rin are already there waiting for her. The father and son duo simultaneously turned around to look at her realizing that she finally arrived.
Today, Lin Xulian didn't wear her usual eye catching red robes. Instead, she is wearing a plain black female robes with silver silk thread embroidered in ethnic pattern just like the other women in the village. But it did enough to show her feminine and angelic beauty compared to her handsome yet androgynous one when she is wearing male robes.
Seeing how she looks right now, Gu Rin remembered his conversation with Hu Hai years ago:
"Rin, I met the King's great granddaughter today. Young Master Huang asked me to teach her too. I was completely flabbergasted. I'm expecting a tall, bulky and domineering woman just like our King or her brother or her father. Who would have thought that she is actually a warm girl with a face that completely embodies every definition of a fairy! Although she is taller than most of the young ladies in her age." Hu Hai said with exaggerated look on his face.
Gu Rin rolled his eyes at his friend's actions. "Aren't you a married man? Are you not worried that I'll tell your wife how much you admire the young miss?" Gu Rin said with a teasing smile.
"No! No! No! I didn't mean it that way! I'm just describing the young miss for your sake. You are my best friend, aren't you? You wouldn't want to risk your friend's life right?" Hu Hai fawned over his friend. But Gu Rin only gave him a snort of contempt.
Seeing the young woman in front of him that really looks like a fairy, Gu Rin felt like her claim as Lin Xulian is really possible. But he still refuses to fully believe her until the King said so.
Gu Lingdao on the other hand didn't linger any longer and commanded them to move and follow him towards the direction of the castle.
****** The three of them only used their qigong to travel. Lin Xulian noticed that there are no carriage or horses around. She realized that their qigong is their only means to travel around their whole country. Lin Xulian didn't mind it at all but she is just a bit worried about the time and distance.
She knows it herself that her body, skill and level of martial arts is not on par with the two men with her. But they are moving at the same pace as her. They are obviously slowing themselves for her sake. Seeing this, Lin Xulian is more resolved to give her all and be as fast as she can despite the difficulty.
But after almost three hours, Gu Lingdao signaled them to stop and rest. Lin Xulian didn't make a sound and tried to catch her breath as subtle as possible. Although they know that she is remarkably weaker than them, she still doesn't want them to think that she is a burden.
Then Gu Lingdao threw a bottle of draught at Lin Xulian. She clumsily caught it because she didn't expect him to give her anything. "What is this clan head Gu?"
"A draught made from Buchong herb. It will aid the replenishment of your internal energy." Gu Rin explained in behalf of his father.
Hearing that it is made from the very rare herb she's been salivating earlier, Lin Xulian got excited and opened it then sniffed the content. The next second, she wasn't able to hide her disappointment and heaved a deep sigh.
The two men both noticed her reaction. "What is it young miss Lian? You look disappointed." Gu Lingdao couldn't help but ask.
"I just noticed that this draught is not that pure. The apothecary only managed to extract half—. No, it is actually less than half of the herb's essences. I just felt like it didn't do any justice for such rare and precious herb. It was treated like a normal vegetable that was boiled in water." Lin Xulian said while examining the draught in her hand.
Lin Xulian didn't notice that the father and son duo's expressions changed dramatically during her entire speech. While Gu Lingdao is feeling awkward and ashamed, Gu Rin felt offended for his father.
"You surely know a lot about draughts young miss Lian." Gu Rin said with a hint of ridicule in his tone. Even after knowing that Lin Xulian is claiming that she is that medically talented empress, only a few knows that she could make draughts and medicines. So Gu Rin is having more doubts about her real identity.
Sensing that there is an underlying meaning in Gu Rin's tone, Lin Xulian got confused. "Did I say something wrong young master Gu Rin?" She asked innocently that only gained more of Gu Rin's ire.
Seeing that his son is taking the offense for him, Gu Lingdao decided to step in and mediate. "There is nothing wrong young miss Lin. We don't have any apothecary for decades now so I have no knowledge in making draughts. The books I had didn't help at all." Gu Lingdao explained.
Lin Xulian finally realized her fault and gave Gu Lingdao an apologetic look. "I-I didn't mean to criticize clan head Gu. On a positive note, although the draught is not pure, it is still passable. After all, as long as it works it is considered a success. How about I teach you how to improve it clan head Gu? I have more than one way to extract the essences of any herb, be it an herb or fruit. I could help you become a full pledged apothecary!" Lin Xulian fawned over Gu Lingdao to salvage her chance to learn the art of Gu poisons.
Seeing how Lin Xulian fawned over him, Gu Lingdao laughed heartily but didn't take her latter words seriously. "I'll be looking forward to it young miss Lian."