As the night turned to day, the celestial lunar ball in the sky got replaced with the fiery sphere that illuminated the boundless heavens. Morning birds chirped their symphonies in celebration of a new day and the fresh scent of morning dew filled the noses of the residents of the waypoint. Ever since the announcement that the Watkin Murderer had passed, the heated hustle and bustle of the town had returned causing the streets of Chilyoja Waypoint to be extremely boisterous.
Merchants, who had avoided opening their businesses too early for fear of being compromised, had risen up from their late-night slumber and started their shops in the wee hours of the morning. Elated that the markets no longer open late, housewives rushed from their humble abodes and bolted to the stores, hoping that they would be able to catch a good deal.
Now that security had relaxed, children could now freely leave the walls of the town with their friends to enjoy life outside of the constricted community. As the commotion around the Watkin Murderer had died down, the city had returned to its usual self.
“Alright, Shin… Like always, I will give you a series of questions. You have an hour to complete the test.”
Unlike how active the waypoint was, in a particular corner of the western ward, a young boy was being confronted by an elderly blonde lady. Pulling out a yellow parchment, Lady Seph handed Shin a feathered pen while urging him to start the test.
“Shin, good luck…”
A soft, mellow voice sounded out from behind the youth. Turning his head over his shoulder, Shin’s eyes quivered as he saw the young girl that had caused him to have an anxious night. Since Ariel and the First Elder had no other plans for their stay, the scarlet-haired girl decided that she might as well be a cheerleader for her childhood friend’s test. From what she had heard from her grandfather, if Shin manages to pass the examination set by the intimidating old woman, he would be able to formally accept her as his master.
Ariel did not know much about Lady Seph. However, she did know that the terrifying woman had once barged into Frie Mountain without consequence and even forced the exalted clan master to fall to her knees. If Shin became her student, there was no way his future prospects won’t be bright.
Deliberately avoiding the passionate gaze of Ariel, Shin took the yellow parchment and headed to the adjacent room. When they first met in the hallways of the Mushinkei earlier this morning, there was an awkward silence as the both of them did not know how to react after that interaction on the rooftop. Eager to evade Ariel, Shin desperately tried to escape straight to Yakkyoku Clinic. Unfortunately, the First Elder suggested to Ariel that they could watch Shin pass Lady Seph’s test. After all, they had nothing else to do before they left.
Hence, Shin could only endure the uncomfortable walk from the Mushinkei to the clinic as the two abashed youths tried their best not to maintain eye contact.
“Seph, if you have already decided to accept Shin as a disciple, is there really a need for you to hand him such a difficult paper?”
Unaware of his granddaughter’s feelings, the First Elder stroked his beard as he asked his long-time friend about the need to test Shin. Although he was not trained in medicine, just the vocabulary on the paper that Lady Seph handed to Shin made him dizzy. If he couldn’t read it, how could a ten-year-old child ace that test?
“Just shut up… Do you really think that Shin is as dumb as you?”
“What?! Since when am I dumb?”
“You have always been a musclebrain from the first day I met you. Thankfully you brought this child to me… Otherwise, you would have squandered his talent.”
Sighing, Lady Seph moved her head up and down twice and scanned the elderly man’s body. From the first day she met the old man, they had always been at loggerheads, and the reason for that was because of how drastically they approached problems. Lady Seph would use all the knowledge at her disposal to carefully plan out the best course of action. The First Elder, on the other hand, would much rather charge headfirst and destroy any obstacles that stood in his path, regardless of the potential ramifications his actions brought.
“Hmph! You’re still as unbearable as ever!”
Although Lady Seph could brush off the old man’s comments, the furry white gerbil on her shoulders didn’t like the fact that its master got insulted. Baring her teeth, Bingbing snarled at the First Elder, threatening to use her sharp fangs to gnaw the man’s eyeballs out.
“Woah, there! Bingbing, there’s no need to get so angry… Hey, Seph! Stop your partner! If she gets in my shirt again, my old heart won’t be able to take it!”
“Serves you right!”
Evidently, the First Elder had an unpleasant prior experience with the snowy gerbil, which seemed to be harmless. Gradually backing away from the little critter, the honoured High Elder of the Frie Clan looked like a frightened prey, backing away from its predator.
As the two old friends were fooling around, a half hour had passed since Shin disappeared into the separate room.
“Arghhh!!! I’m done!”
An excited shout echoed through the pristine hallways of the clinic. A black-haired youth gradually emerged from the empty room and made his way to the blonde woman standing with her hands in akimbo and legs crossed. Handing her the piece of yellow parchment, the boy said:
“You finished it? You still have a half hour… Don’t you want to review your answers?”
“If they are all correct, there is no need to review them?”
Tilting his head in confusion, Shin wondered why Lady Seph was so amiable today. Usually, after he finished a test, the woman would snatch the paper away and immediately search for incorrect answers. However, today she actually requested him to review his work!
“If that’s the case, then fine…”
Collecting the paper from Shin’s hands, Lady Seph read through the answer sheet, in hopes of finding a mistake. After ten seconds, her eyebrows creased as she got further engrossed in the paper. One minute later, she began flipping the yellow parchment in shock as her eyes rapidly scanned the examination paper. Finally, after five minutes, the elderly woman gasped in horror and gave Shin a weird look, as if she was meeting an alien for the first time.
‘The material I gave him are questions that are tested in the healer licensing exam… Haha, that means if I send him to the healer’s association, won’t he become the youngest physician to ever get his license?!’
In her old age, few things could excite Lady Seph; but as she confirmed the results of Shin’s test, she could feel her stoned heart rapidly start to beat again.
“So did he pass, Seph?”
Bringing her hand to her chest, the elderly woman took a deep breath to quell her throbbing heart.
“Yeah, he did… Congratulations Shin. You are now my formal disciple.”
All Shin was told was that he was coming to Yakkyoku Clinic so that he could take a test. He had never heard anything about formally accepting Lady Seph as his master. Those present in the clinic had varying expressions after hearing the news. Bingbing leapt out from Lady Seph’s shoulder and jumped around on the floor in euphoria. The First Elder wore a proud and warm smile, and Ariel covered her mouth, trying desperately to contain her screams.
“Today’s test was somewhat of an entrance exam for you… I didn’t expect you to do that well, but you actually scored a perfect score!”
“Quick, Shin! Prepare some tea so that you can commence the acceptance ceremony!”
Seeing that Lady Seph was in an agreeable mood, the First Elder signalled for the boy to prepare her favourite tea. Nodding frantically, the black-haired boy quickly ran to the back and brought the familiar teapot and teacup from the cabinet and immediately started to brewing a portion of oolong tea.
“Lady Seph. Please receive my cup!”
With trembling hands, Shin presented the freshly brewed tea to the stoic woman, who was staring into blank space.
“Wait… Shin, before you formally become my disciple, there is a need for you to recite the Hippocratic Oath.”
“The Hippocratic Oath? What’s that?”
“It’s a pledge that all healers must take before they get their license… However, since you’re not going to the association, we might as well let you take the oath right here…”
Initially, for an apprentice physician to even get close to a patient, they would need the approval from the healer’s association. However, Lady Seph was currently at odds with the acclaimed organisation, and there was no way she was going to send her personal student the lion’s den. After all, once Shin’s talent is revealed, some of the old-timers in the institution might take a foot out of their coffins to personally accept the boy as their disciple.
“The Hippocratic Oath is a vow that was created by Hippocrates himself. The very first healer that ascended into the Immortal Realm. Not only was he virtuous and magnanimous, but Immortal Hippocrates was also credited to be the founder of modern medicine. The famous ‘Heal’ ability that all healers must learned was actually a self-created ability by Hippocrates.”
Being the first time he heard of this story, Shin attentively listened to Lady Seph’s words.
“Before he ascended, he created the healer’s organisation that had lasted to this very day. From then on, to become a healer, one had to recite the Hippocratic Oath first.”
“Alright, so repeat after me, I swear to fulfil, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:”
“I swear to fulfil…”
“Louder! With more conviction!”
Displeased with Shin’s lack of energy, Lady Seph shouted for the boy to raise his volume.
“That’s better! Now repeat after me, I…”
“I swear to fulfil, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the alchemist’s drug.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I lived and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
After the long speech, Shin dropped on the nearby bench and rested his tired body. Feeling thirsty, he drank from one of the teacups filled with Oolong tea. At the same time, the elderly blonde lady downed the cup of tea that was given to her earlier by Shin.
“With this, you are formally my student!”
Turning her cup upside-down, Lady Seph showed that she had completely emptied the tea.
“You’re still calling me Lady Seph?!”
At this point, everyone in the room started to giggle and look at the two with warm eyes.
~~~ End of Book 2 ~~~