Volume 2, Chapter 23 – Gifting Pills for Reputation, Quarreling in the South Palace
Ren Cai looked at Zhang Yan with a dumbfounded expression. He had met countless famous experts, but none of them could be like Zhang Yan, who was very certain to tell which one was a true pill and which one was the poisonous one, much less see the pills’ property.
In fact, the two pills’ toxicity was divided into two types, Yin and Yang. These pills needed to be crushed before it was consumed, and then take the last pill to neutralize the effect before taking another one.
In the past, when he read part of that incomplete ancient prescription, it was precisely describing that refining it would produce three attributed pills that would combine into one.
After Ren Cai had obtained this formula, he had been experimenting in complementing and improving it, only then did he come out with such an out of place thing. While the pills’ efficacy also was not as good as the original and only one-third of it, it was said that the neutral attribute of this pill could increase longevity. However, it was like pointing one’s horn to oneself, and since Zhang Yan had revealed the naked truth of its mystery, his embarrassment unavoidably made his face redden with shame, leaving him speechless.
Upon seeing his embarrassment, Zhang Yan only smiled and said, “The matter today, I will never reveal it outside even a bit. However, I have a presumptuous request.”
Ren Cai was secretly relieved and spoke hurriedly, “Fellow Daoist, there’s no harm in saying it, please do tell what’s on your mind.”
Zhang Yan pointed to the three “Longevity Augment Pill” and said, “I would like to take and exchange this superior-grade pill along with this Fellow Daoist’s homemade supplement prescription, how about it?”
“Oh?” Ren Cai was surprised for a moment, this concocted pill was called “Longevity Augment”. However, it could only prolong life for 15 or 20 years. Although the herbs’ consumption was not rare and precious, but it also couldn’t be considered as small either; for cultivators, it could be considered as low valued. He couldn’t help but hesitate and carefully ask, “Can I ask… for what purpose does Fellow Daoist intend to do with it?”
If the concocted pills were related with toxicity, they had no choice but to be very careful. Not only was this related to a Pill Masters’ reputation, but moreover, if Zhang Yan refined this pill to harm others and they happened to find out that this was his unique secret formula, wouldn’t it be the same as that they would come to kill him afterward?
He didn’t expect that Zhang Yan would then reply in a frank and straightforward manner, “This matter might not be divulged to outsiders. However, in recent years, this one’s Master had always felt that the Pills Record List only contains little records of concocted pills since old times. There still are a lot of famous pills that hasn’t been recorded in it. Master intends to collect and compile all rare homemade pills’ formulas in the world, and it could be said that it’s his old hobby of seeing somebody else’s creations, and thus it would inspire him also.”
“So, that’s how it is.” Ren Cai suddenly understood, however, he didn’t give his consent and instead asked, “I don’t know who that revered master is…”
Zhang Yan stood up and cupped his hands toward the direction of the Azure Ocean Sect and then spoke, “The Respected Master is Zhou Chongju.”
“Oh?” Ren Cai was taken by surprise as he hastily stood up. With deep veneration expressed on his face, he spoke, “Originally, it is Grandmaster Zhou’s disciple, please accept this one’s respect.”
Zhang Yan hastily stepped aside and replied in an astonished expression, “Fellow Daoist, why should you be like this?”
Ren Cai sternly spoke, “This respect is not for Fellow Daoist, but is my deep respect toward Grandmaster Zhou. Grandmaster himself is but the Sun Order’s Zhou Family’s branch’s Elder Fang’s direct successor. He resolutely decided to give up the profound cultivation path and wholeheartedly and resolutely took the path of alchemy. He is but a true model for alchemists in this generation and is even called the Alchemy Saint. And now he is compiling a Pills Record List of which no one dares to do!”
Upon hearing this, Zhang Yan was startled. He had never thought that Zhou Chongju, who was literally met with calamity and forced to leave the family in the past, could have such an unexpected spread of reputation in the outside world to this degree. This was truly unexpected, but it was also probable that the Zhou Family secretly had acted for this reputation, since it was not only to cover up the truth, but also to provide a perfect explanation for the motive of why Zhou Chongju left the family.
Ren Cai walked to the writing desk nearby and took out a pen and paper to write his pill’s formula. He thought for a second and didn’t know what he had written in it. Afterward, he took two sheets of paper along with the pills in the brocade case and handed it over to Zhang Yan, “These two homemade pills, one is the incomplete ancient pills prescription and the other one is after having revised by this one. Now, all of it, along with these three pills will be given to Fellow Daoist, and this one also asks it to be accepted.”
Zhang Yan received it, but when he was about to take something from his sleeve for the exchange, Ren Cai stopped his hand as he then said, “Grandmaster Zhou intends to re-compile the Pills Record List, while this is only my humble contribution. All of this is my present for the Grandmaster.” He paused and then continued, “About this Alchemy Competition, there will be many Pill Masters from many schools and families, and they also must have many rare homemade pill formulas. I would be lobbying the others to support this to join and accomplish great things together, how would Fellow Daoist think?”
After having said that, he looked at Zhang Yan with an eager and anxious expression.
Zhang Yan was perfectly aware of his intention as he then replied with a smile, “Since Fellow Daoist has gifted this pill, the Pills Record List in the future would certainly record Fellow Daoist in it.”
Upon hearing this, Ren Cai was filled with great happiness. Alchemists had no hopes to continue treading on the cultivation path with a limited lifespan and could only gain unwarranted reputation. However, with Zhou Chongju’s Pills Master’s status, once he had compiled the Pills Record List, that would mark his good name to last for eternity.
Zhou Chongju was indeed collecting rare and homemade pills’ formulas to compile a new Pills Record List for these last few decades. Before Zhang Yan was going out, he urged him that if Zhang Yan had the opportunity to obtain some pill formulas, Zhang Yan could carry his flag and mention about this Pills Record List. He merely wanted to obtain a few pills and handle this person, using it as a pretext and nothing more. However, he didn’t expect that he could actually harvest a pleasant surprise. If Ren Cai were to publicize him outside, his reputation would spread over the Rainbow Stonefield Water State, and he could be said to have achieved half of his original objectives. However, he didn’t expect that he could actually harvest a pleasant surprise. If Ren Cai were to publicize him outside, his reputation would spread over the Rainbow Stonefield Water State, and he could be said to have achieved half of his original objectives.
Suddenly, as if he was recalling something, Ren Cai patted his forehead and said, “Fellow Daoist has been preoccupied with this small talk here and actually delayed Fellow Daoist’s traveling schedule. What if we travel together?”
“This younger brother is actually the Sect’s envoy and burdened with heavy responsibilities and couldn’t afford to delay elder brother.” Zhang Yan tactfully and politely refused his good intentions since he was aware of his doings, that he relied on the Broken Jade and deceived him. But in the case of Alchemy knowledge, he certainly was inferior to Ren Cai and communicating more with him would expose it, so the less contact the better it would be.
A regretful expression covered Ren Cai’s face, and after having several words again, Zhang Yan stood up and left.
The ship’s captain, Huang Bao, after seeing Ren Cai send Zhang Yan away politely, couldn’t help but reveal his admiration. He knew that this young cultivator’s identity was extraordinary. But he was also a seasoned person, and since Zhang Yan didn’t speak about his origin, he also didn’t raise the subject.
He steered the ship and directed it underneath the cliff’s wall as two Demon Whales then dropped six huge hooks. Huang Bao assigned some men to receive it. He commanded them to connect those hooks along the ship’s edge and tied it firmly as he shouted upward. The two Demon Whales above then pulled it with their strength and let out a “Ho, Ho” sound as the ship was then lifted up bit by bit.
When they had arrived on top of the entrance, the two Demon Whales on the cavern stood up, stretched their hands to the ship’s bottom and easily lifted the ship gently on top of their heads, placing the ship steadily on the river’s course. Huang Bao promptly took out a small bag of Spirit Shellfish and handed it over. The Demon Whale used its thumb and index finger to pinch it and weigh it for a bit. After having checked it and seemed to have enough weight, he then conveniently pushed the ship as the ship followed the cavern’s midstream where the torrent flowed all the way down.
The river channel in the cavern had hundreds of swings and various turns over with the rapid stream. If one was not carefully steering the ship at those turns, it could have hit the cliff’s wall and smashed. But relying on Huang Bao’s exquisite steering skill, they could get through without any accidents along the way. About two hours later, Zhang Yan and Luo Xiao then arrived at a relatively gentle lake.
The night had already fallen. Glittering spotlights such as basket lanterns could be seen for every thousand steps on the lake’s surface. When the ship approached, only then did they discover that each and every light turned out to be a small tray with a cup, held by smiling beautiful mermaids, with a resplendent small pearl on top of it, as if its luster radiated their glistening colors, sending out a bright halo.
These beautiful mermaids often threw coquettish and flirtatious glances toward Zhang Yan and also let out a light laughter.
Zhang Yan unconsciously felt somewhat novel while Huang Bao seemingly had long been accustomed to seeing them and turned a blind eye. After a moment, he gradually steered the ship to the wharf and then spoke, “Fellow Daoist, you can disembark here and then follow the way along the waterway to the south, and then you’ll be able to reach the southern end of the Water State, the ‘South Laurel Palace’. You can pay a small toll fee there if you want to go to somewhere. There are some relay posts with soldiers and servants there, and it would also convenient to inquire about things in that place.”
Zhang Yan cupped his hands over and said, “Many thanks, Captain Huang.”
Huang Bao returned the courtesy and spoke, “This Huang will stay here for 20 days, if Fellow Daoist has something that requires my assistances, you can come here and ask for myself.”
“Captain Huang is really kind, if something happens, this one surely will trouble you later, captain.”
A burst of laughter came from Huang Bao as he then looked at those beautiful mermaids, patted Zhang Yan’s shoulder and whispered, “Demon cultivators are inconsistently in love and only a few would last for a lifetime. Your elder brother, I, have gone through the sufferings, so Fellow Daoist has to be careful.”
When Luo Xiao heard this, she snorted with a discontented expression.
Zhang Yan revealed a faint smile and didn’t say anything. He cupped his hands over and bid farewell to Huang Bao.
He and Luo Xiao then came under the ship and saw the gleaming reflection of the waves surging in the aqueduct under their feet. The water was so clear that even the bottom of the lake bed could be seen as a sign made of white shellfish stood, radiating a flickering and soft ray of light. Extending all the way out to the south and indicating the direction where the path would advance to.
As Zhang Yan looked ahead to the far distant end, there was a piece of dot just like the twinkling stars in the sky, and it was precisely the direction where the “South Laurel Palace” was located. However, since the magnetic force here disrupted spiritual qi and rendered flying abilities to be useless, they had no choice but to tread on the surging waves if they wanted to cross over this boundless water lake.
At this time, Luo Xiao let out a light laugh behind him, “Young Master, you don’t need to be this way. Rest assured that I will lead the way forward.”
Zhang Yan replied with an astounded expression, “Oh, Fellow Daoist Luo has come here before?”
Luo Xiao only smiled but didn’t say anything.
Zhang Yan shook his head, since Luo Xiao said so, and then it must be justified. He stepped out one step, but when he just stepped on the water surface, whistling sounds came from out of nowhere as a carp jumped and cradled his sole. The next step, there was also a carp that jumped out, allowing him to tread on its back and carried him.
He walked all the way, and for each and every step, the carps would jump up at the right position and hold his footing. After having trodden on for 6 kilometers ahead, he then caught sight of hundreds of palace hall platforms floating above the water surface in the distance. They were connected together just like a ship land. A string of pearls hung from the palaces’ eaves as rows of bright and multicolored lanterns floated above the water surface. There was a noisy and bustling bazaar in front of the main palace as crowds of people were interwoven there. If it were not for some strange and grotesque appearances of Demon cultivators there, with the abundant amount of people in this place, he almost thought that this was a human country.
When he arrived at the palace on this water, it didn’t take long for Zhang Yan to find the South Laurel Palace. He then went to official post to show his identity and showed his documents.
When the post’s official saw that he was a Pill Master from the Azure Ocean Sect, he didn’t dare to neglect, and after reading his identity documents, he also respectfully returned it back to Zhang Yan, saying, “High Official Zao had said that if the envoy from the Azure Ocean Sect has arrived, then they may stay first at the Bluish Green Wave Pavilion. If the envoy finds that it doesn’t meet their standard, you can report to the High Official by tomorrow and he would then rearrange it.”
At this time, a martial looking youth cultivator, who just happened to pass by and heard the latter part of the sentence, was unable to restrain the anger on his face as he then came forward and loudly asked, “Hold on! We obviously came here first. Why wouldn’t we have any dwelling place but there is still a place for them to lodge in?”