Volume 2, Chapter 25 – A Court Lady Visited to Exchange The Pills for The Manual
After he closed up, Zhang Yan came out at midnight every night to condense 2 strands of Impure Qi, and only returned back at dawn as he needed to refine and integrate its essence. With the support from his Self Moonheart Jade, his progress was amazing and extremely fast.
Most of Zhang Yan’s time was used to practice the Inner Opening Arts, while in addition, he specially used an hour every day to condense the “The Fate Guardian Jade Tablet”, since this jade tablet could withstand 3 magical treasures’ attacks for each refining process. Of which, in Zhang Yan’s view, its value was even higher than other common magical treasures.
Once he had successfully practiced this technique, he wouldn’t have to use the Broken Jade to identify a lot of medicinal substances’ properties and attributes. Not only that. Even if the spiritual medicinal herbs’ root was planted deep underground, as long as he walked past it nearby, he could also recognize it, and the technique was also very easy to use.
He secretly thought that some day in the Azure Ocean Sect, he would also be able to concoct his own pills using this technique, and didn’t need other’s help to do it.
Having been practicing for almost 100 days, he finally had fused 75 strands of Impure Qi. Added with the previously 3 strands, he had 78 strands of spiritual qi, and he only needed 3 more strands to be able to breakthrough the threshold and enter the Third Stage of the Radiant Qi Realm.
While he was thinking and was prepared to go back to his practice again, he suddenly heard a golden bell ringing outside, causing him to stop his meditation.
He opened the door to the quiet room and then went outside, as Luo Xiao, who had been waiting in the corridor, then came up, “Royal Sovereign Ji’s youngest son—Ji Zhang—sends an envoy, and is now waiting outside the Bluish Green Cloud Pavilion.”
Zhang Yan actually didn’t expect that this Ji Zhang would come to look for him, causing his expression to be slightly astonished.
Everyone knew that the Royal Sovereign of Water State, Ji Jiushang, intended to abolish the current Crown Prince of the East Palace and make his favored prince be King Zhen. If there was no mistakes, Ji Zhang would become the next Royal Sovereign of the Water State. Moreover, the protagonist for this Alchemy Competition was none other but this person. Thus, he couldn’t be easily offended, and it was imperative not to neglect his envoy outside.
Luo Xiao was obviously aware about the importance of this matter, therefore, she particularly reported it to him. Zhang Yan quickly looked at her with praise and appreciation and then took out the Token Seal, opening the island’s restrictive seal.
When he saw the lake’s surface, more than 50 people were standing above a gigantic lotus leaf as a woman wore a Rainbow Stonefield Water State’s high official attire walked forward. Her appearance was like a blossom peach, with a graceful and beautiful posture.
It’s unexpectedly a court lady!
Zhang Yan’s complexion changed. The Sect Master of the Azure Ocean Sect loved to use woman cultivators, and this Ji Jiushang seemed to imitate it and also used court ladies to manage the competition in the Water State from top to bottom. It appeared that this King Zhen was of no exception.
Upon seeing that the restrictive seal had been opened, that Court lady, with a group of people, then embarked to the island as she was followed by 4 maidservants carrying a plate, they then gracefully approached him. She glanced at Zhang Yan first before she smiled sweetly and spoke, “His Highness, the revered King, has commanded, and he has heard that the Azure Ocean Sect’s emissary—Lord Zhang Yan’s—alchemy skill is extremely deep. He specially bestows a set of brilliant Daoist robes.”
She articulated each word clearly with a deep voice without much expression, and was somewhat slightly obscure and dull, but was still very comfortable for people to hear.
Then, she ordered someone to deliver a deep purple-colored Daoist robe in front of Zhang Yan and said, “This robe can avoid fire and water as well as able to block metal-made objects, while also soothing the nerves and gathers qi. Fellow Daoist Zhang, please accept this.”
Zhang Yan waved, indicating for Luo Xiao to receive it. The Water State’s Royal Family bestowed each Pill Master with this robe, so he was not too surprised with it.
Soon after, he let Luo Xiao present a hundred of spirit shellfishes for the ceremonial memorial.
Who would have known that this court lady would refuse it with a smile. At first, Zhang Yan thought that it might be too few, but he then heard a maidservant speak, “My Master might not cherish your spirit shellfishes.”
The court lady’s phoenix-like eyes turned over at her, and then scolded, “Wan’er, don’t be rude. Fellow Daoist Zhang is but a direct successor of Grandmaster Zhou, how could you be lacking in manners?”
The maidservant replied in a low voice, “Yes.”
Zhang Yan looked over. This court lady’s visit seemed to have some other reasons. Then, he cupped his hands over and spoke, “I don’t know how I should address high official’s revered name?”
The court lady also calmly and confidently cupped her hands to return the salute and spoke, “Fellow Daoist Zhang doesn’t need to be overly courteous, myself is Zhen Ming. And please don’t address me as high official, and call me Fellow Daoist instead.”
Since she didn’t speak as a Water State’s high official, Zhang Yan was also quite happy, so he stepped to the side and spoke, “Fellow Daoist Zhen, please come in and let’s speak inside.”
Zhen Ming stretched out her green onion-like lily-white hands, gently waved and spoke, “No need, this one’s visit today is but an official matter, and secondly, this one is privately seeking help from Fellow Daoist.”
Zhang Yan smiled and said, “Ah, this one wasn’t aware about it. Fellow Daoist, please say it.”
Zhen Ming sighed, “This one’s younger blood brother is cultivating a profound cultivation law and was rather too extreme in his practice a month ago, resulting in a demonic fire backlash that damaged his internal organs. He needs a Reed Imperial Pill to recuperate. But although this pill is easy to concoct; however, from one stove, it only produces one pill with sufficient efficacy for it to be useful. While the rest would be useless. I heard that Master Ren regards Fellow Daoist Zhang in high respect, and praises Fellow Daoist’s ability to distinguish medicine’s properties as well as your deep knowledge in medicinal natural substances. Thus, this one then ask for Fellow Daoist’s assistance.”
Zhang Yan nodded and understood her intention for the visit. It turned out that it was Ren Cai’s publication in raising his reputation.
The Reed Imperial Pill was an extremely famous pill. It was able to pacify one’s internal fire, reducing and eliminating the poisonous qi, as well as tempering ones’ meridians. Cultivators who took the “Strength Path” were sometimes too bold in advancing forward, and likely used their internal fire to temper themselves inside out, leading to slowing their brain’s reaction, causing them to be short tempered, and would frequently kill people and cause them to barely control their temper. If they did not take any medications and recuperated, it would be very possible that they would lose their sanity.
However, Zhang Yan felt that it was somewhat strange. There were a lot of Pill Masters in the Water State, could there be none able to recognize medicinal properties? Why would they seek him first? There should be some other intentions.
Zhang Yan secretly thought, “I heard that this King Zhen really likes to concoct pills to the point that he’s almost obsessed with alchemy. Could it be that he heard my reputation and then used this excuse to test me?”
With this thought, his spirit instantly sparked, “Where is this pill?”
Zhen Ming replied, “I’ve brought it along with me. Wan’er, take it out.”
Wan’er quickly complied and held up a crane copper furnace on a plate.
Luo Xiao stepped forward and took over as Wan’er suddenly pouted and spoke, “As soon as this furnace is opened, the pill inside it needs to be taken within an hour. You mustn’t wildly boast to have abilities and then destroy the pills inside the furnace and make the Second Young Master’s injuries worsen, making him bear hardships in vain.”
Zhang Yan’s expression didn’t change, but he stopped moving his hand that previously stretched out to take it, as he then quietly stood and didn’t move.
Zhen Ming’s delicate eyebrows rose. Her phoenix-like eyes showed a frightening imposing glare as she spoke in a cold tone, “Wan’er, slap your mouth 10 times.”
Wan’er was surprised for a moment, and then revealed a grievance-filed expression. But she didn’t dare to refuse as she lifted her white and delicate palm and repeatedly slapped her cheeks. When she stopped, a trace of blood seeped from the corner of her mouth.
Zhen Ming shifted her sight to Zhang Yan and said, “This one’s maid lacks manners, much to this one’s shame and be laughed at by Fellow Daoist.”
Zhang Yan only faintly smiled, took the furnace and opened it. When the cover opened, a white-colored gas vacated as a fragrance surged out and hit straight to his nose. He squinted and looked. After a moment, he pointed at one of the pills and spoke, “This is the one.”
Zhen Ming glanced at Zhang Yan with a surprised expression, and exhorted to one of her maidservants at her side, “Take it away to the Second Young Master, and return at once, quickly!”
The maidservant didn’t dare to neglect and prepared a fine silk handkerchief to take the pill out. She hastily returned to the Lotus leaf on the lake. A youth was vaguely seen being surrounded in the middle with his ankles and wrists shackled with chains. He struggled when he saw that some people were trying to feed him a pill.
This youth, presumably, was Zhen Ming’s younger brother. Zhang Yan actually didn’t expect that she would bring him here. He didn’t want to see any longer and acted like nothing happened, as he stood and chatted with Zhen Ming.
After having some chats, Zhen Ming was greatly surprised. She originally thought that Zhang Yan was only a Pill Master, and never did she expect that, not only did he have a deep knowledge about ancient records, but he also knew a lot of various notes and records, as if there was nothing he was not aware of. Conversing with Zhang Yan unconsciously made her slightly depressed, and unconsciously raise up subjects about characters. After having chatted for a while, that maidservant came back and reported, “The Second Young Master’s mind and spirit has calmed down after taking the pill, and he’s already asleep now.”
Zhen Ming’s face revealed a happy expression, “Fellow Daoist Zhang is truly a person with an outstanding ability in the present era.”
Zhang Yan let out a faint smile and replied, “This one doesn’t dare to accept it, it’s just only a fluke.”
Zhen Ming pondered for a moment as she examined Zhang Yan’s eyes and then spoke, “From Fellow Daoist’s abilities and wisdom, it seems that you’ve understood the true purpose of the Royal Sovereign’s intention to hold this Alchemy Competition.”
Zhang Yan looked back at her and gently nodded his head
Zhen Ming seemed to be relieved and said, “However, King Zhen naturally will not let each and every Fellow Daoist suffer. This time, he agreed to give the Radiant Cloud Shellfish Field to Azure Ocean Sect henceforth, and won’t raise the subject about the dispute over the Three Anchor Lakes again. Moreover, King Zhen also regards Fellow Daoist as a fellow who walks on the same path. Whether Fellow Daoist has something that he needs, the prince would try to meet it to the greatest extent of his abilities.”
Ji Jiushang was using the Alchemy Competition event to promote and rectify Ji Zhang’s name to be the crown prince. And also to let the whole world recognize his worth as the next Royal Sovereign. On the other hand, people with discerning eyes would also realize that the “Golden Fruit Life Essence Manual”, which was a cultivation law for the “Strength Path”, could of course only be won by Ji Zhang.
But since it was an Alchemy Competition, thus, it must not be excessively manipulated. Since others had come to support them, wouldn’t they also have to give others some benefits? Besides, to befriend cultivators from all over the world with wealth and riches would also firmly secure his position as a crown prince, once the Alchemy Competition be over.
Zhang Yan thought for a while and then spoke in a solemn tone, “If I may, I would like to borrow and read “The Golden Fruit Life Essence Manual”.”
Zhen Ming didn’t expect that Zhang Yan would make this request. Her first reaction was startled and then became astonished, as she then spoke, “Fellow Daoist is a human cultivator. Forgive me if I speak bluntly, reading this manual is useless for you.”
Zhang Yan shook his head and replied, “I’m not reading this book to practice it, but to solve the doubts in my heart. But I also won’t borrow it for free. My Respected Master has a bottle of pills named “Body Transfiguration Pill”. With this pill’s effect, ordinary demons from any clan will be able to transform themselves and peel off their shells.”
“Oh?” Zhen Ming’s eyes brightened up. In the Water State, even direct descendants from Royal Family are not necessarily able to change their shape. One must know that only after mastering the profound cultivation law to a certain degree would demons be able to change their form. It was similar with when human cultivators opened their meridians. This bottle of pills was really as Zhang Yan said as to having this effect, of which, its value for Royal Family was simply too precious to be measured.
She hesitated for a moment before replying, “This matter is beyond my capabilities, I need to report it first to King Zhen.”
Zhang Yan nodded and said, “By rights, it should be so.”
Zhen Ming was really quite impatient because of this. After having said a few words, she hastily bid farewell and departed.
Zhang Yan didn’t know what she was thinking about as he whispered a few words to Luo Xiao. After having stood for a while and lost in his thought, he then returned back to the waterside pavilion and meditated.
He thought about the issue of exchanging the pills for the manual would at least take 10 to 15 days, and he would have to repeat the request for at least 2 or 3 times. But he didn’t expect that Zhen Ming came to visit again at night on the same day.
After having invited her into the room, Zhen Ming held a manual forged from gold as she spoke in a stern and solemn tone, “King Zhen has been informed that you have this medicinal pill. He was unable to contain his joy and hastily exhorted me to quickly take this manual for Fellow Daoist to read. But he also stressed out that Fellow Daoist must make an oath that, after you have read this book, you will never reveal the contents in it to a second person.”
Zhang Yan looked at the Dao manual in her hands. Never would he have the thought that this manual was already in King Zhen’s possession. Certainly, in this way, why would it be so easy, sending it for him to read?
Even for him, an inconceivable feeling filled his heart at this moment.
It was not surprising. This King Zhen was said to do absurd things beyond other’s imaginations, to the extent that he would regard pills as the same with his life. It seemed that he usually did things based on whims and didn’t even think about anything.
Upon seeing Zhen Ming’s words and manners, it seemed that this manual was also secretly being brought here, but wasn’t this even better, and exempted himself from meddling troubles?
Zhang Yan immediately vowed an oath, making Zhen Ming’s expression turn relieved. She handed the manual to Zhang Yan and spoke, “Fellow Daoist, you must also read this manual quickly since I have to bring it back fast.”
Zhang Yan nodded and read it. With his memorizing ability at the moment, he naturally was able to memorize the whole content of the manual.
After a short while, he put down the manual and also took out a bottle of pills from his sleeve and handed it over to Zhen Ming, “King Zhen is also an expert in this field, the moment he sees this pill, he would find out it’s authenticity.”
Zhen Ming received it and left joyfully.
After this woman left the island, Zhang Yan stood in the waterside pavilion’s railing and gazed over the vast mist covered the water surface, “Fellow Daoist Luo, is there something different in the city recently?”
Luo Xiao replied, “Fellow Daoist previously didn’t mention about it, neither did you pay attention to this. But recently, I have found that, apart from disciples from various factions and demons from overseas, there are quite a lot of powerful cultivators gathered in one place. That group is quite suspicious.”
Zhang Yan shook his head and sighed, “King Zhen’s conducts in managing affairs are too frivolous. His careless and straightforward nature is not suited for a Ruler. I fear that the circumstances of the Alchemy Competition have changed.”
He heard that the former Water State’s Crown Prince had been instated for a hundred years, and now, without careful consideration, his position was to be revoked. If at this time, he didn’t rise and take the opportunity to strike, it was feared that he wouldn’t have the opportunity again. Regardless of whether Ji Jiushang would take this opportunity as a pretext to justifiably sweep away the Crown Prince’s forces in the East Palace, the Crown Prince was definitely unwilling to be defeated and would also strike back. This meant that Zhang Yan could not stay in this place for a long time.
However, his purpose had already been achieved. He could see that civil unrest was looming, and it possibly would create civil war in the Water State. And coupled with the inconvenience to go in and out everywhere in the Water Stat,e due to the rise of water surface, if he didn’t leave right now, perhaps he would be unable to leave.
Zhang Yan spoke in a solemn tone, “The blowing wind will drive the rain clouds to the mountain. Fellow Daoist Luo, we should quickly leave.”
 King Zhen here refers to a prince that would become a crown prince, which refers to Ji Zhang.