Chapter 46 - Day Before the Finals
Chem Al slapped his big brother in the face.
“Stay awake, you idiot! I don’t want you slipping into a coma on me.” Chem Al made a simple, first tier pill from a fifty year old Willow Bark. “Here. Swallow this. It will numb your pain a little.”
After Chem Au swallowed it, his little brother gave him a thick piece of cloth and told him to bite down.
“This is going to hurt.” Chem Al grabbed onto the staff part of the spear, then slowly pulled it.
Chem Au screamed. Although it was quieted down from biting on the piece of cloth, anyone close by could hear how agonizing it must have felt. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity to Chem Au, the spear was pulled completely out of his body. He fell to the ground.
“It’s not over yet.” Chem Al carefully unstrapped his big brother’s leather armor, then removed it. He then rolled his big brother on his side and smacked him on the chest and back with more pieces of cloths to cover the holes. “Put pressure on these.”
“Don’t be such a baby,” Chem Al said, moving his big brother’s hands over the cloths. “I said put pressure on these.”
It took a lot of maneuvering, but with one final long strip of cloth he was able to wrap it around Chem Au’s entire waist, keeping the wounds covered. They were slowly stained red.
After that, Chem Al made a few Blood Replenishment Pills and Soothing Yu Pills for his big brother to swallow. All that was left was to put him to sleep with a pink gas. It wasn’t much but that should at least keep him stable for now. Throughout all this, he spoke to Chem Au in a casual voice, but honestly, inside he was scared.
Something was wrong. This wasn't how it was supposed to have happened. According to history, Chem Au was supposed to crush everyone in this tournament. He was supposed to be a mighty warrior that took down any opponent that stood in his way. Just like in that scene Chem Al saw in that musical that one time.
But now look at him. Yes, he had won the match, but it wasn't as easy a victory as history said it was. Fuck, he had nearly died.
Chem Al grew worried. He had been growing overconfident lately. He had managed to do everything right so far: become the disciple of the great Sheng Yi, create the first medicinal cauldron, replace Sorka Jiu as the village chief, gained the three disciples, and everything else. But now he was beginning to realise how precarious it all was. One false move and the whole course of history could change. If the mighty cultivator Chem Au dies here, then he would never gain the title of the Turtle God, nevermind the fact that he won't be there to help protect the newly built Alchemist Association.
And this wasn't even the finals. Chem Au still had one more match before he can win the tournament like history says. And his next opponent will be even tougher.
Chem Al looked across the stage and saw Li Qinli, last year's winner of Vera City's martial arts tournament, and the final opponent that Chem Au will have to face.
With the profound strength at the twenty-fifth level, Li Qinli was a full five levels stronger than Chem Au. That didn't even mention the fact that he was also one year younger than Chem Au.
Chem Al couldn't help but sigh to himself. He had helped his big brother get stronger, but with mostly only first and second tier pills, it wasn't fast enough.
What the hell was he going to do?
While Chem Al was lost in his thoughts, his parents and Sorka Jiu were watching him after having had followed him to the stage. They mostly stayed out of the way because they fully understood that the little Chem Al was better at handling these kind of medical situations than them. It was best to give him room to work.
Seeing her youngest son finishing patching up Chem Au, Chem Mai asked, "How is he?"
Chem Al looked up, finally noticing that they were there. "He's stable for now. Just give him a day of rest and he'll be fine." That was what Chem Al said, but internally, he was chiding himself. If only he could create higher tier pills, then Chem Au would have been healed instantly.
The Chem parents sighed in relief after hearing that they weren't going to lose their son. In this tournament, deaths were rare, but they still happened.
But while they were feeling relieved, the rest of the audience was opened mouth with shock. Again, at the last second when Chem Au looked like he was guaranteed to lose, he pulled off a victory out of nowhere. But that wasn’t the most surprising thing about all this. Even though Chem Au had won, it looked like it would cost him his life.
And yet ... nope. Somehow that little medicine freak had pulled him back from death. This was even more shocking than the victory! In a battlefield, an injury like that would have meant certain death for cultivators whose profound strength was only at the low twenties. Did they just see a miracle happen?
Everyone could only stare in awe as Chem Au laid there, still breathing. That was when they all seemed to wake up from their daze. Pills! Those pills! They needed more! Everyone suddenly had a lit fire in their eyes.
Even before today's tournament officially ended with a formal announcement that tomorrow Chem Au and Li Qinli would be fighting in the finals, almost the entire audience was already gone. Crickets were heard throughout the tournament grounds.
Chem Al and his group were one of the last ones to leave, hiring a rickety carriage to carry the unconscious Chem Au back to the market area. They had to move slowly in order to not aggravate his injuries, so by the time they all made it back, there were only a few stragglers left standing in front of the medical cart, shoulders slumped in disappointment because….
All of the pills had been sold out!
Around 100,000 years later
"What? How can you think that I'm lying to you?" Su Li said.
Mi Ling had thought about it, and although he had to admit that most of his conclusions were mere conjectures, it was enough to cast some doubt in his mind about Su Li. "Tell me, how did we meet?"
"How did we meet, Su Li?"
"I don't understand. Why are you even asking me that right now?"
"Just humor me, please."
"Fine. We met at that Chocos tavern. You rescued me from those guys who were chasing me."
"Yes,” Mi Ling said, "But come to think of it, I never actually saw those guys. And you never gave me a clear reason why they were chasing you.”
"I already told you why. They probably wanted something from me. Maybe it was just money or maybe they wanted to do horrible things to me."
"In broad daylight? In the middle of a market square full of people?"
"Of course not in a market square,” Su Li said. "Don’t you remember? They chased me into that alley where I went into Chocos."
"That's the thing," Mi Ling said. "If they had chased you into that alley, then they would have seen you go into Chocos. So why didn't they barge into Chocos looking for you? Why didn't I see them?"
"Just because you didn't see them doesn't mean--."
"And there's another thing I don't understand," Mi Ling interrupted. "Why were you even there in the first place? And I don’t just mean Chocos?"
“What do you mean?”
“I mean the whole area. That part of the city was nearly an hour away from your house by carriage. Not only that, but the prices around that area were a little on the high side.” Mi Ling winced, thinking about the high prices he saw on the Chocos menu. “Why were you in that area?”
"I went there to buy something," Su Li said.
"Really? Because you just told Fen Yue earlier that you saved your money so you can buy medicine for your mother. Why in the hell would you be splurging while your mother is sick?"
"Uh, well, I was getting a get well present for my mother."
Mi Ling gave her a disbelieving look. "Su Li, what were you doing there exactly? Because I want a real answer, and I really hope it's an answer that tells me that you're not working for those three criminals. Please, please, tell me you can give me such an answer." Despite the doubts in his mind, Mi Ling still hoped that he was wrong about Su Li, that this was all a big misunderstanding.
She hesitated, unable to say anything.
That was all the answer that Mi Ling didn't want. He rubbed his face with his hands, feeling weary. He knew that it was too good to be true. Out of nowhere he meets a pretty girl who needed his help, and for one second he could be like those heroes he had read stories about. Then they spent a night talking, building a connection that just made his heart pound harder. But it was all fake.
"I'm sorry, Mi Ling.” Su Li took a step closer and placed a hand on his chest.
“Enough.” Mi Ling moved her hand away. "Was any of it real? Please tell me that there was something there."
There was a pause. In the end, Su Li shook her head and gave him a gentle smile. "Sorry, no. You're a nice guy, but you're also kind of naive."
Mi Ling groaned.
"I mean I still can’t believe you found me out," Su Li said. "When did you start suspecting me?"
With a sigh, Mi Ling said, "Just now when I saw you arguing and fighting with Fen Yue. It almost looked like two girls were fighting over me. That was when I became suspicious."
"I don't get it," Su Li said.
"Having two girls fighting over me is something that has never happened in my life and will probably never happen in my life, so when I saw it happening in front of me, it just looked very suspicious. So I started to think that one of you must have an ulterior motive towards me. And since I consider Fen Yue a friend, and I only met you yesterday, I made a logical choice on who I trusted more. And from there I started to realize that there were a few holes in your story."
Su Li looked at him, unable to believe it. "That's it? That's what made you suspicious towards me?"
"Sad, huh?" Mi Ling shrugged his shoulders. "Anyway, are you ready to tell me the truth?"
There was very little hesitation before Su Li nodded.
Mi Ling stared at her, surprised. She had given in so easily. He thought that it would have taken more to try to pull the truth out of her.
Mi Ling then guided her to Fen Yue so that they could all hear her confession.
Author Notes: This is a rough draft. Please tell me in the comments if you see something wrong.
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