Chapter 301 – Mud Grub
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Considering the sensitive nature of the situation, I speak in a calm, respectful tone.

“Thank you for the generous instruction, Master Flowing Waters. I understand you are looking out for the safety and reputation of both this hospital and all within it…”

I keep my head bowed and try to infuse a bit of gravitas into my voice, to emphasize my understanding of his position.

However, I also didn’t affirm his words. Which allows everyone here to know of what choice I’ve made.

Rather than speaking empty words, showing my skill and ‘experience’ with action will be the only way through this.

After another bow to him, I receive a brisk nod in return, allowing me to begin.
His irritated look has only grown more so.

Several of his subordinates’ faces are pale, as I can see them glance between him and I. Something I won’t concern myself with, as there is much to do.

“I will now begin the analysis of the patient.”

I step forward toward the patient with the two healers there. They take a glance at me to see what I want them to do, to which I indicate for them to continue their work.

It would be best if I say everything aloud, to prevent unnecessary confusion. And to combat any interjections before they begin.

I observe the outer layer of blackened goop, forming the ‘armor’ around this person. Something that reminds me of the sarcophagi of the Ancient Egyptians. Except, it’s goop.

I grab one of the tools from a nearby stand that was brought in with the patient, a long flat metal one, meant for lifting the patient’s tongue.

With this tool in hand, I utilize an ancient technique passed down through generations of human history.

I poke the goop.

The judging stares from the others increase.

But I’ve done what I’ve needed to. A visual cue that I’ve ‘tested’ something.

“It appears this person is suffering from a rare form of Qi Parasite. One which paralyzes the host while utilizing the person’s own qi against them and anyone who would help. In addition, it uses any left-over qi to bring it to maturity. After completion, it violently erupts from an orifice.

The room is silent. All until one healer speaks up.

“… is this guy being serious?”

No one turns to look at the person, as it seems they all are thinking the same thing. All except one person here. Master Flowing Waters.

He questions my analysis.

“Why do you say that?”

The others glance over at him unsurely, as it seems this wasn’t an idea brought up previously in their own analysis.

I give a nod before continuing.

“On the surface, the blackened impurities forming a covering from the body appear to be from a malfunctioning qi flow. Potentially from a ‘failed’ technique, during a display of their cultivation.

“In fact, I bet the last action this cultivator had done before entering this state was to have their qi explode out of them, damaging their outgoing meridians before they fell unconscious. A sad, but typical scenario.”

I receive another cautious nod.

“What makes this different from that situation is the consistency of the impurities and qi overflow. Usually, you will see a bit of give for the flow. But here…”

I poke it again, which gives a slight bounce back.

“… you can see that it is actually quite firm.”

I raise a hand before one of the other healers can raise a counterpoint.

“And yes, some cultivators subconsciously shape their qi overflow and impurities into a body shape while unconscious. But there is an easy way to tell the difference between that situation and this.”

Reaching into my space bracelet, I pull out an easily recognizable item. One that any of them know well.

A spirit stone.

Their eyes are all drawn to it as I place it on the patient table next to the body.

And I wait.

After 30 seconds pass, one healer is about to say something, but this time Master Flowing Waters raises his hand to stop them. He’s gazing fixedly at the distance between the stone and the body.

He can likely see the changes far better than I currently can. Without my scan, at least.

It only takes a few more seconds for everyone to see the visible change. A slight portion of the black goop moves over to cover the spirit stone and brings it over into the sarcophagi form. All without a sound or additional theatrics.

“… As you all can guess, a person under the effects of a malfunctioning qi flow, in this form, could not manipulate their qi in such a way. And they especially would not do so for a spirit stone.”

An audible sigh erupts from Master Flowing Waters, startling even me from its loudness.

“This is quite unexpected. Considering the creature had merged with one of his organs and qi so seamlessly, even I didn’t detect it with the brief look of my spirit sense.”

Huh. That’s quite the admission.

He promptly turns it around on me.

“However, if I had handled this one personally, with a deeper look at the member, then I would have definitely caught it.

“The question now is how you plan on treating it.”

Multiple methods exist to cure this. One of which is to use my cultivation method to solve this… but I suspect that such a way, while quick and remarkable in its own way, will not gain me the respect I need from him and the others.

I at least need to ‘give’ something that they can work with themselves.

“The method I would like to use is with an alchemical solution and a bit of healing technique.”

I look toward Master Flowing Waters before continuing.

“Would you allow me the use of the alchemical ingredient stores?”

He waves his hand indifferently, as if it's not even a question. Meaning, that I have at least gained that right within the fortress, with the Patriarch’s request.

That doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have been offended if I didn’t ask.

I motion toward the healer at the patient’s side.

“Would you be able to grab a handful of powdered feline bladder, a spirit stone, and a cup of bone paste?”

They move off to grab the requested items, while I take over the pumping of the qi overflow from the patient’s throat. It’s not long before they return with the items and we switch back off.

Wanting to make the most of my time, I mix the bone paste and powder feline bladder in the cup before smearing it over the majority of the spirit stone.

Just like before, I place this stone next to the body while explaining my actions.

“The parasite we are dealing with, despite its fearsome effects, is known by a common name. Mud grubs.”

Looks of incredulity are abound.

“Yes, yes. I know the vast majority of mud grubs are harmless and only serve as food for small creatures. But there is an extremely rare variant of grub, that is parasitic. With its small size, during times of raining, it can find a tree and drop into a creature's mouth that uses qi. Whether spirit beast or human.”

I look around the room.

“Most people don’t worry about when rain falls onto your face or into your mouth, which is exactly what it would feel like, because of its light weight. And once it's in, it just has to grow slowly to attach to one of your organs. Over several months, of course.”

I give a disapproving glance at the body.

“Which means that this patient didn’t even cycle their qi for several months, which should be at least a daily activity. Otherwise, the cycle would have quickly killed the parasite and would ironically turn it into some nutrients for the body.”

By the time I finish, the spirit stone has already been absorbed by the blob. And now its entire form is shivering.

“Since we already here, though, I’ve used the powdered body part of one of the mud grubs’ natural enemies to disorient and cause it to damage itself. Enough for me to help the patient cycle qi, killing this parasite as if it had just entered the body.”

With a quick manipulation of my qi and healing technique, I alter the flow of the body’s qi. And almost instantly, the goop splashes down into a pool on the lipped table they lay upon. A young man lays there unconscious, but now unafflicted. With additional rest, they will wake up soon and get back to their life.

No one says anything, while the two healers at my side extract the tube from the person’s throat. Acting quite professional, by not overreacting to the sudden development.

Master Flowing Waters is the first to speak, orienting his body to the more veteran looking healers in the group.

“Bring the other two patients with a similar condition here.”

They nod and speed off before rapidly returning with two other patients. Along with accompanying healers that were taking care of them.

I can see his eyes focus on the two patients, his spirit sense washing over them. After a narrowing of the eyes, he barks out another order to them.

“Follow the same steps.”

He looks up at me, using a slightly more respectful tone than before.

“Back up and allow them to work.”

I can’t help but to look at Sister Nuan. She nods, which I mirror. I follow his request and allow them to work.

And as expected, the same results emerge once they finish. The goop falls off their bodies and they now appear unafflicted. Everyone’s eyes land on me.

Master Flowing Water takes another breath before addressing me.

“I cannot fault your knowledge. You’ve also done the sect a service by identifying an ailment and providing a solution at a much lower cost than we’ve been using.

“Considering what I’ve heard about your healing method, you didn’t need to do this. Note that I will add this to the merits you are to receive for the healings.”

He pauses, but the surprise on all our faces remains.

I honestly didn’t expect him to compliment me.

“But this isn’t enough to convince me you have the skill or experience necessary to treat the whole variety of patients that this hospital has. Adding to that, with the continuous influx of patients that this hospital receives, I have a hard time believing that you will outpace the inflow.”

“And we neither have the time or manpower to have the whole staff accommodate you the entire time, as even now, emergency cases are coming in.

“So, I must ask you. When do you anticipate completing your mission here?”

This is a reasonable request, considering his position. One situation isn’t enough to prove competence across a variety of areas.

With that said, I could give a cocky timeline that would probably be right, based on my scan’s general information.

But I need to show professionalism and a reasonable time frame. I will stick to my cultivation method and actually cultivating while using it, which will increase times for my work.

And considering some of the ‘people’ that I’ll be healing… the non-healing activities may take up quite a bit of time. If only out of pure frustration for dealing with them.

I don’t mention my thoughts out loud, giving a mostly straight answer.

“I expect to take under 4 days. At most a week.”

His eyes raise, but still shakes his head.

“That’s still too long. The most staff I can allocate to you is 2 healers, maybe 4, if you are willing to take some of the new ones.”

I nod, and he motions to the two who had assisted the first patient, who move to my side. Two youths, a guy and a girl, run up to me, already knowing their experience level. They seem to be around Mei Lin’s age and stand by the two healers.

For his part, Master Flowing Waters walks over to the door and the rest of the staff follows. No other words are spoken, as he briskly leaves. Making me wonder if I actually did a decent job with this.

Sister Nuan coughs, catching the attention of the four healers.

“Could you give us a few moments? We will let you know when we need you.”

She gives a request/order.

They scatter outside at her words. Closing the door behind them.

“… Nice job with that. That went as well as it could have. I suppose your other abilities helped with that, though.”

I flinch at her mention of it, but she swiftly corrects my misunderstanding.

“Don’t worry about holding your words here, as despite its humble look, this room is an isolated space, communication-wise. Comparable to the towers back at home. Ironically, this space is also meant to amplify and project healing cultivation techniques throughout the hospital, for ones that can affect multiple people.”

“Nothing that we don’t want to will leave this room. Plus, you have me here. I’m always watching out for you.”

Her face turns serious, right after saying this.

“But can you actually do it in 4 days? With only your cultivation method?”

Yeah, she knows what I’ve already done and could do. That normally I would pair it with my magic healing abilities.

Now it’s time to show her the fruit of my efforts in cultivation.