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Qing Shu clenched herself, pinching her own body several times. The final pinch was so hard that it nearly brought tears to her eyes. This convinced her that she wasn’t dreaming; she had truly come back to life again. 

Looking at the green canopy above her, Qing Shu couldn’t understand, “Why am I alive again?” 

She didn’t want to live at all. Throughout her life, she hadn’t experienced a single day of peace. Despite her father’s official position and the family’s reliance on him, he held a significant status in the family.  

However, when she was young and living in the Lin family, she was frequently bullied by her cousins, and no one from the Lin family stood up for her. When she went to the capital city, she expected life to improve with her biological father there. Yet, her half-sister, who was arrogant and sarcastic, made her life miserable. 

After being forced into marriage with Cui Jianbo, he didn’t even spare her a glance. Her daughter, Nannan, suffered because of him as well, and he ultimately caused Nannan’s death. Even though Qing Shu had avenged Nannan’s death by killing Cui Jianbo, it couldn’t bring her daughter back to life.  

She didn’t want to experience such a tragic life again. 

Later in the morning, Zhang Chengzhi brought Sorceress He back. 

Old Madam Lin wanted to remove the evil entity from Qing Shu as soon as possible. She immediately took Sorceress He to the room where Qing Shu was lying. 

Inside the room, Old Madam Lin pointed at Qing Shu on the bed and said, “Auntie, that demonic presence has attached itself to my granddaughter. Please, you must save my granddaughter.” 

Sorceress He confidently replied, “Rest assured, Old Madam. The young lady will be safe.” 

Seeing the kind and compassionate appearance of Sorceress He, Qing Shu displayed a look of disgust. 

Compassionate appearance? It’s all just a facade to deceive people. They may appear kind on the surface, but who knows what they’re truly like inside? Even the Abbess from the Lion Temple appeared kind but was actually ruthless and had blood on her hands. 

Feeling that her authority was being challenged, Sorceress He sternly declared, “Daring demon, quickly leave the young lady’s body. Otherwise, I will make you vanish immediately.” 

Qing Shu had been by Old Madam Lin’s side for a decade, and she understood Old Madam Lin’s personality well. Old Madam Lin would easily believe that she was possessed by evil spirits.  

It was very clear. With her actions just now, the old lady would think that it was not surprising that she was possessed by evil spirits. It also happened that she wanted to find her daughter, it didn’t matter how chaotic things became. Qing Shu didn’t say anything, she just watched Sorceress He quietly. 

Sorceress He felt a chill down her spine as Qing Shu’s black and white eyes were fixed on her. Swiftly taking out a talisman from her cloth bag, Sorceress He placed it on Qing Shu’s forehead and began chanting incantations while shaking a bell. 

Qing Shu wanted to remove the talisman, but Qi Pozi1 held her hands tightly. 

After finishing the incantation, Sorceress He burned one of the talismans and let the ashes dissolve in a bowl of water. “Give this talisman water to the young lady to drink. After drinking it, she’ll be fine.” 

Qing Shu didn’t want to drink it. She wasn’t a demonic presence; she wouldn’t consume such unclean things. 

However, Old Madam Lin was determined and had Qi Pozi hold Qing Shu down while she personally poured the talisman water down her throat. 

Qing Shu struggled vigorously, but she couldn’t break free. She loathed this feeling of helplessness—she had experienced it in her previous life and was experiencing it once again now. It seemed that Heaven had allowed her to return to her childhood to experience suffering once more. 

Halfway through the process of forcing the talisman water down her throat, Qing Shu fainted. 

Old Madam Lin anxiously asked, “Divine Sorceress, how is my granddaughter now?” 

Sorceress He smiled and said, “Don’t worry, that evil presence has been removed. The young lady is safe now.” 

Only then did Old Madam Lin feel relieved. She gave Sorceress He a silver coin as a reward and thanked her profusely before seeing her out. 

For the past few days, Zhang Shi had been taking care of Qing Shu during the nights, and this day was no exception. Since it was still early, Zhang Shi was sewing by the bedside using the dim light of an oil lamp. 

Suddenly, Qing Shu curled up, clutching her stomach and rolling on the bed. 

Zhang Shi was alarmed and dropped the clothes she was sewing, rushing to embrace Qing Shu. “Hongdou, what’s wrong with you?” 

“It hurts…” Waves of cramps surged through her stomach, making it hard for her to speak. 

Zhang Shi quickly called Zhang Chengzhi to go and fetch Village Doctor Peng Langzhong. 

Hearing the commotion, Old Madam Lin and Qi Pozi hurried over. Seeing Qing Shu covered in sweat, her face as pale as paper, Old Madam Lin was taken aback and urgently asked, “Qi Niang, what’s going on?” 

Retching sounds were followed by a foul mess that landed on Old Madam Lin’s brown coat. 

Old Madam Lin nearly threw up at the sour smell coming from her coat. “I’m going to change my clothes,” she said, rushing out in haste. 

Qi Pozi followed suit. 

The Village Doctor arrived and took Qing Shu’s pulse, frowning as he said, “This child is experiencing stomach pain due to consuming something unclean. What have you given her?” 

Sorceress He’s visit to the Lin family wasn’t a secret, but Peng Langzhong had returned from his rounds after dark and was unaware of the situation. 

Zhang Shi hurriedly explained, “Today, she only had red jujube porridge. She didn’t eat…” Zhang Shi’s words trailed off as she remembered the bowl of talisman water. 

Hongdou had been running a fever for two days and was already weak. Now she had eaten something that upset her stomach, and Zhang Shi wasn’t sure how to care for her properly. 

Due to the fact that the Lin family had produced a Jinshi2 and held a prominent position in the village, Peng Langzhong didn’t want to offend Old Madam Lin. Therefore, he didn’t say much, only advising, “I’ll prepare some medicine for her. If the vomiting stops by tomorrow, she can take it for two more days. If it doesn’t stop, you’ll have to take her to the county.” 

The doctors in the county were more skilled, and they had a wider range of medicines. The medicines Peng Langzhong had were collected by him from the mountains. They were suitable for minor illnesses, but they weren’t enough for serious ones. 

After the medicine was prepared, they found that Qing Shu stubbornly refused to take it. Zhang Shi tried to persuade her, but she still wouldn’t open her mouth. When they managed to force it down her throat, she vomited it out. 

Old Madam Lin became anxious seeing this. 

Zhang Shi couldn’t understand why Qing Shu wouldn’t take the medicine. In her desperation, she said, “If something happens to you, how will your mother cope?” 

Qing Shu’s pupils contracted. When she was four years old, her biological mother had died during childbirth. She was too young to remember anything from that time, not even her mother’s appearance. 

Suppressing her excitement, Qing Shu intentionally spoke in a tone of distress. “She doesn’t come to see me?” 

Hearing this, Old Madam Lin thought Qing Shu wasn’t taking the medicine on purpose because her biological mother wasn’t visiting her. This also confirmed that the demonic presence had indeed been eradicated by Sorceress He. 

Zhang Shi wiped away her tears and said, “Your mother’s not feeling well, which is why she hasn’t come. But don’t worry, once you’re better, Auntie will take you to the county to see your mother.” 

Old Madam Lin furrowed her brows. What did it mean to go back to the county? This place was their home; the county was just a temporary stay. 

Qing Shu shook her head. “I want my mother.” She had heard Zhang Shi mention more than once that her biological mother was a gentle and kind woman. Unfortunately, after Zhang Shi’s death, no one ever spoke to her about her mother again. 

After coaxing Qing Shu for a while and still not getting her to take the medicine, Zhang Shi said in a worried tone, “You behave and take the medicine now. Once it’s morning, I’ll take you to the county to see your mother.” 

Within the Lin family, Zhang Shi held no position. All decisions within the inner courtyard were made by Old Madam Lin. If Old Madam Lin didn’t agree, they wouldn’t be able to go to the county.

  1. 婆子: literally old woman. There are three primary meanings: a despicable/pitiful woman, a wife, or an old female servant. Only the last meaning is relevant in this case. Po zi are usually lower ranked servants, used for common-labor or other tasks.
  2. successful candidate in the highest imperial examination