Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Monday, August 7, 2017
Before I start writing the next chapter of The First Alchemist series, I want to start editing the chapters I’ve already written, mostly Mi Ling’s half of the story.
Why? Because they suck!
Seriously! They have been eating at me for a long time now. It was one of the reasons I stopped writing for so long. I just couldn’t continue writing it knowing how dead the words felt to me.
And why does Mi Ling’s story feel dead to me? Because they felt unauthentic.
He seemed like a one-dimensional character (which in other books would be a big no-no), so I made up some stuff to try to make his story more interesting: political subplot, forced romance, etc… It felt like I was writing the Star Wars prequels.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that Mi Ling is supposed to be ONE-DIMENSIONAL!
And that’s okay.
He’s not a real character. He’s a plot device.
He was only supposed to be a reflection of Chem Al’s story, showing the readers how Chem Al’s actions have shaped the future.
So I’m editing (or rewriting) Mi Ling’s half of the story to what it truly should have been all along.
I feel free.
For those of you who want to know what Mi Ling’s story would have been if I continued with the forced storyline:
-Su Li tells Mi Ling that she was working for the evil alchemists because they gave her money, helped treat her mom’s sickness, and got rid of a bullying suitor.
-She points them to a warehouse where they investigate and find the evil alchemists. A battle breaks out, and in the confusion Mi Ling is kidnapped.
-They try to rescue Mi Ling but are unable to find his location. Time passes.
-Eventually, Mi Ling realizes he has to escape on his own. So through some moment of desperation and clarity, Mi Ling changes from a weak character into a strong one, and escapes from his captives somehow (I haven’t figured out this part yet).
That’s as far as I got.
I am very, very, very sorry for being gone for so long.
My vacation kind of extended a little, okay, maybe a lot.
I have no excuse.
It's just that the longer I was away from the book, the more of a monster it became. It just kept growing and growing in my mind, and I didn't want to do battle with it. So I avoided it.
Finally, I'm starting up again, taking one baby step at a time.
Again, there is no excuse for my unprofessional behavior, and I'm deeply sorry for that.
But now I'm back. And I hope you're still with me.
P.S. - Technically, I'm not completely back yet. Before I start writing the next chapters, I'm going to do a little editing on the chapters I've already written, mostly Mi Ling's half of the story. More details to come.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
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.
Prev Chap | Next Chap
Friday, March 24, 2017
Chapter 45 - Semi-Finals Part II
The semi-finals went on.
The other warriors had their chance to fight, and soon Chem Au’s name was called up again, along with the name of his opponent:
Normally at this time, Chem Au would grow worried hearing the crowd all around him cheer for his opponent, but for once he felt confident, more sure of himself that he could stand toe to toe with the warriors of the city.
But just as Chem Au began walking towards the stage, his little brother stopped him.
"What's wrong?" Chem Au asked, seeing Little Al frowning.
"Watch out for his spear.”
"His spear?" Chem Au turned to take a closer look at Dian Gu’s spear. It didn't look like anything special. The staff part looked rather ordinary, with only the sharp part of the spear having any dominating radiance to it.
"See the tip of the spear?" Chem Al pointed.
Chem Au looked, then nodded. The tip of the spear was white, but there was only a little sliver of it. Not worth mentioning.
But Chem Al looked worried as he stared at it. "Big brother, I know that the Hard Earth Pill has helped protect you, taking the blunt of most of your opponent's attacks, but you can't rely on that forever. Especially now. Something tells me there’s something very dangerous about his spear. Make sure to use your shield to block it."
Chem Au looked shocked. Was that spear really that powerful? It didn’t look like it had any special abilities when he saw Dian Gu using it in the preliminaries. Then he shook his head. No matter how powerful that spear is, it changed nothing. He was still going to fight with everything he had.
Chem Al walked to the middle of the stage and stood in front of Dian Gu, who looked like he wanted to spit in his face.
The battle began.
Dian Gu shouted, "Let me show you the power of my Dian Clan. Rising Lightning Skill!" Yellow lightning started wrapping around his legs.
Chem Au wasn't worried. He was impressed by this skill, but he had already seen it during the preliminaries. The skill only made Dian Gu faster, but not fast enough to get away from him.
“Soaring Crane Skill!” Chem Au activated his own skill, but just as white light started wrapping around his legs, his eyes widened when Dian Gu suddenly disappeared.
Wait! Where did he go?
Chem Au looked around. There he was! But just as Chem Au spotted Dian Gu, he disappeared again. This happened again and again as Dian Gu disappeared and reappeared around the stage, circling Chem Au.
Shit, he hadn't been that fast before. Chem Au wondered if his opponent had been holding back during the preliminaries. It was taking all of Chem Au's concentration just to follow Dian Gu with his eyes, trying to keep track of his movements.
Chem Au lifted his shield just in time as Dian Gu struck out with his spear. Dian Gu scoffed. Who did this village kid think he was trying to block with his boring looking shield? The tip of his spear was made from a Thunder Piercing Viper’s fang. It took a lot of his clan's money just to buy this small sliver, which showed how rare and expensive it was. He thought about how this one sliver was probably worth more than all the money his pathetic opponent’s tiny village could make selling crops in a hundred years. There was no way a simple shield could block it.
But to Dian Gu’s surprise, his spear bounced off the shield, leaving only a scratch. The moment that happened, Dian Gu disappeared in a burst of yellow lightning, narrowly avoiding Chem Au's returning sword strike.
Dian Gu reappeared again on the other side of the stage, still in shock. How could that shield block his spear? Only the most special shields and armor in this tournament had been able to block his spear, yet this boring looking dark green shield was able to do it too? Dian Gu narrowed his eyes. He would have to watch out for that shield.
But Dian Gu wasn’t the only one surprised. Chem Au couldn’t believe what had happened as well. That spear was able to leave a scratch on his shield! Even Huo Shan’s flaming sword, who he had fought in the preliminaries, couldn’t leave a mark. That spear was unbelievably sharp!
Chem Au held up his shield and sword, more wary than ever. He watched as the lightning wrapped Dian Gu started flickering around the stage again.
“Soaring Crane Skill - Second Layer!” Chem Au struck out with his glowing white sword as Dian Gu appeared in front of him again. But no, he immediately disappeared. It was a feint!
Dian Gu reappeared behind Chem Au, but before Chem Au could turn around to block, the spear ripped through his back and out of his chest. A torrent of blood gushed out, staining the ground.
But Chem Au’s painful torment wasn’t over yet as Dian Gu shouted, “Rising Lightning Skill - Second Layer!”
Electricity coursed through the spear, amplified by the white sliver at the tip which started to glow. Snakes of lightning started running attacking Chem Au.
Everyone in the audience could hear Chem Au screaming in agony.
“Stop! Stop it! Somebody help him!” Chem Mai shouted. She then ran towards her son.
But Sorka Jiu held her back. He then did the same thing to Chem Feng when he rushed forward. “What are you doing? Let me go!” Chem Feng shouted.
“Believe in your son. He is strong. He will get through this,” Sorka Jiu said to the Chem parents. However, although he said that, he was also a little worried. Chem Au had been hurt in this tournament before, but never to this extent.
And then Sorka Jiu looked at his little village chief, who remained calm as if he knew in his heart that Chem Au would survive this. That helped calm Sorka Jiu’s nerves somewhat.
After the lightning faded away, Dian Gu pulled back his spear, leaving Chem Au to collapse face down on the ground, a smoking ruin. Blood was pouring out of the hole in his chest, pooling around his unmoving body.
At the sight of this, while the people from Chem Village looked worried, almost everyone else was cheering, especially those from the noble clans who had a son that lost to Chem Au during the preliminaries.
"I knew it. His luck has finally ran out."
"He was strong for a village kid, but this is how far he can go."
Words like these passed around the audience. Some even started doubting the value of the pills again. Just as with Chem Au’s previous battle convincing them that the pills were authentic, this battle convinced them otherwise.
As for Dian Gu, he stood over the fallen Chem Au, gloating. His extremely fast speed, his powerful attack, he had been saving those for the finals. But when he learned that he was going to face the village kid, he decided to use all of his best moves now.
This village kid, to be able to make it this far was an insult to all of the hard work Dian Gu had to do to be able to qualify for the semi-finals, so he wanted to get rid of the village kid as fast as possible. Plus, he had to make sure that he didn’t lose to the village kid like Xi Feng did. That would have been the worst humiliation.
At that moment, Dian Gu’s thoughts were interrupted when he noticed Chem Au’s finger twitched. It was a small movement, but it was enough to make him wary.
Good thing too, because with a roar, Chem Au suddenly rose up and swung his sword, only narrowly missing Dian Gu as he flickered away just in time.
Chem Au might have gotten back on his feet, but he soon collapsed back on the ground, this time on his hands and knees. His body was screaming out in pain. He coughed, vomiting blood. He tried to circulate his profound energy as fast as possible to help heal the hole in his chest, but it wasn’t working. He was practically on his last breath before falling unconscious.
However, despite all this, he didn’t want to give up. He didn’t want to lose!
There had to be a way out of this, a way to win. But how? The only skill he knew was the Soaring Crane Skill, but he knew instinctively that its speed and attacks weren’t fast enough to catch or hit Duan Gu. And let’s face it, he had never completely mastered that skill. He was never really good at it. Sorka Bo, who was at the same cultivation level as him, was faster than him.
So he couldn’t rely on the skill. What else did he have that could help him? His shield could block the spear, and his sword could fend off his opponent for a little while, but that wasn’t enough. What else, what else? Shit, he tried to think of how he’d defeated the tough opponents he had faced during this tournament, but all he could remember was punching them.
Chem Au suddenly looked up. That’s it!
After what seemed like a long time, but was probably just seconds, Chem Au ever so slowly pushed himself back on his feet.
Duan Gu was shocked at the sight of this. How was this possible? But although he asked himself that, honestly, he knew why. When it comes to mastering the first layer of the Rising Lightning Skill, no one in the Dian clan, except for his father, was faster than him. But he never was good at mastering the second layer of this skill. His father knew that, and that was why they spent so much money to get the sliver of a fang from a Thunder Piercing Viper. Its sharpness and electrical amplification ability increased his offensive strength.
But after seeing Chem Au get back on his feet, it seemed like one spear thrust wasn’t enough. Duan Gu smiled. He wasn't worried. His opponent might still be standing, but he looked like he was about to fall over at any second.
Duan Gu twirled the spear in his hand as he shouted, "Rising Lightning Skill!" Yellow lightning wrapped around Duan Gu’s legs as he circled around Chem Au, disappearing and reappearing in bursts of lighting.
But unlike last time, Chem Au was standing completely still, no longer trying to follow Duan Gu with his eyes. It almost looked like Chem Au had already lost consciousness while standing up. He might have even been dead. The only telltale sign that he was still alive was the slight rise and fall of his chest.
In truth, maybe it was because he was delirious from the loss of blood or because he was close to losing consciousness, but somehow, Chem Au had entered a meditative state.
His plan had called for him to stay in one place. And when he told himself to stay still, no longer rushing, no longer running, this was what happened. He started to sense the world differently.
Somehow he no longer needed his eyes to follow Duan Gu's circling path. He could sense it just from the vibrations of his steps on the ground. That was how he was able to sense when Duan Gu was right behind him. Chem Au spun around and held up his shield, blocking the spear thrust.
"What the fuck?" Duan Gu shouted, then disappeared again to the far end of the stage. He was surprised. His opponent had seemed so sluggish before that he thought there would be no way that he could react in time to block his attack. But then Duan Gu shook his head as he thought of an explanation. Of course his opponent would be able to block him. After all, he was attacking from the same angle as the last time he thrust his spear into him. There was no way his opponent would forget that. That only meant that he just needed to attack from another angle.
In a burst of lightning, Duan Gu disappeared again. He flickered towards Chem Au’s side, but his spear was blocked again. And again, and again, and … again. From every side.
How was he doing this? Duan Gu shouted in his mind.
If you were to ask Chem Au, he couldn’t tell you the answer. Even he himself didn’t know what was happening. All he could tell you was that somehow the world had turned peacefully quiet like a lotus petal landing softly on a still pond. Even the sounds of the audience faded away. All he could hear were quick footsteps which he followed with his senses.
But while Chem Au felt at peace, Duan Gu was feeling frustrated. Laugh if you will or call him cowardly, but his hit and run tactics were what helped him win his battles. But this was the first time that he was being blocked so completely. It was time to up his strategy.
Duan Gu started to attack Chem Au from behind. He would constantly attack Chem Au’s back, disappear, then reappear again to do the same thing, and was blocked time and time again. But that was within his expectations. What was important was to get Chem Au to focus on the back.
Then suddenly, Duan Gu flickered in front of Chem Au and thrusted out his spear. A hit!
The spear ripped through Chem Au’s chest and out his back. Suddenly, Chem Au’s meditative state ended. The world came rushing back, and he was reminded of his burning pain. And now there was a second hole in his chest.
Chem Au coughed up blood, but he was smiling. “Finally got you.”
Before Duan Gu could react, Chem Au dropped his shield and sword and grabbed onto the shaft of the spear, then pulled it deeper into his chest. Grinding pain minced through him, but he ignored it in order to bring Duan Gu closer to him.
Duan Gu couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Was his opponent actually pulling the spear deeper into himself? Such a sight shocked him so much that he failed to run away or even let go of the spear before Chem Au reached out and grabbed him by the shoulder.
Chem Au grinned an evil grin. Gathering all the pain and misery he had suffered in this match, he tightened his fist and punched Duan Gu in the face.
Duan Gu flew backwards in a straight line, blood sputtering from his nose, until he landed on the far end of the stage. When his body hit the ground, he continued to roll and tumble until he finally stopped by the audience’s feet.
He didn’t get back up.
It was only then, after seeing his opponent on the ground, that Chem Au finally collapsed on his knees, the spear still punctured through his chest and sticking out of his back. But despite the pain he must have been going through, he still didn’t lose consciousness, so he was declared the winner.
At that moment, Chem Al rushed up on stage with his bag of medical supplies. It was time again to uphold the reputation of The First Alchemist.
Around 100,000 years later
After taking the necessary precautions to keep herself hidden, Fen Yue secretly tailed Mi Ling and Su Li as they shopped for groceries around the market. This was the poor end of the market area where only simple crops and cheap household supplies were sold. It wasn't as crowded or rambunctious as some of the other markets, but that didn't mean she could keep her guard down.
She constantly watched the two as they chatted and laughed together, but every so often she would look away to search the surrounding area for any suspicious people. If Su Li was aligned with the three culprits, she could have been leading Mi Ling into a trap, but so far there was no sign of that.
Right now Mi Ling and Su Li were at a stall that was selling radishes. The seller was a portly woman who smiled at the sight of the girl. "Su Li, welcome back! And who is this fella? Is he your new beau?"
Su Li blushed. "No, he's just a friend."
"Too bad. He seems better for you than that other guy who had been following you around. Less aggressive."
"Don't worry. That guy's no longer a bother. Anyway, how much are you selling those radishes for?" Su Li quickly said, wanting to change the subject. Their conversation then boiled down to negotiation tactics that would make a hostage taker feel ashamed.
On the side, Mi Ling didn't say anything, knowing not to interrupt when two women were talking, although he did feel a little curious about this other guy that was in Su Li's life. He had to find some way to bring that up later.
Soon, Fen Yue saw them leave the radish stall, but then at that moment, she sensed a message coming through one of her jade transmission slips. What she heard only confirmed her suspicions about Su Li.
It was time to stop hiding. Fen Yue marched forward to confront the girl.
"Fen Yue? What are you doing here?" Mi Ling asked at the sight of her.
But Fen Yue didn't answer him. Instead, she stepped in between the two, her back guarding Mi Ling while she faced Su Li. "Step away from him."
“Uh, what?” Su Li asked.
“I have just received news that puts you under a lot of suspicion. Come with me. I’m taking you in for questioning.” Fen Yue grabbed her by the shoulder.
“Fen Yue, what the heck are you doing?” Mi Ling said.
While still gripping Su Li’s shoulder, Fen Yue turned to Mi Ling and gave him a rundown on what Ren Sha told her from the jade transmission slip, things that made it look like Su Li was receiving gifts that could be construed as an exchange to work for someone; possibly the three criminals.
But despite hearing all of that, Mi Ling remained a little skeptical. “So what? A few bottles of medicine doesn’t prove anything.”
“Y-yeah,” Su Li shouted. “I saved a lot of money to buy all of that, and for the treatment. Why are you accusing me of something just because of that?” She turned to Mi Ling. “Don’t listen to her. She just wants to get in the way between us.”
“This isn’t about him,” Fen Yue shouted back. “I just want to ask you a few questions. If you have nothing to hide, then come with me.”
Fen Yue glared at her, but Su Li wasn’t backing down. They continued to argue and shout at each other right there on the street.
Meanwhile, Mi Ling was flabbergasted. Seeing those two fighting, he didn’t know what to do in this sort of situation. But it did get him thinking. Who should he believe? Fen Yue, who was his friend and guide since the start of this journey? Or Su Li, who made his heart flutter?
But as Mi Ling thought about all this, he realized something. There was something suspicious about Su Li.
Mi Ling stepped in and pulled the two women apart. Even then, they continued to argue, but Mi Ling turned his back on Su Li so he could speak to Fen Yue. “Can you give me a minute to talk to her?”
“What?” Fen Yue started to protest.
“Please. A minute is all I need. Trust me on this,” Mi Ling said.
She looked at him carefully, but in the end all Fen Yue said was, “Fine.”
Mi Ling smiled at her, then went over to Su Li and motioned to her to the side so that they could have a private conversation. But they remained in sight of Fen Yue, allowing her to keep an eye on them.
“You believe me, don’t you?” Su Li said, her big eyes imploring for Mi Ling to trust her. “That Fen Yue is just trying to turn you against me out of jealousy. She’s doi--.”
“Quiet,” Mi Ling said. He gave her a stern look. “No more lies, please. Just tell me the truth. Are you working for those three criminals that had attacked the city?”
Author Notes: This is a rough draft. Please tell me in the comments if you see something wrong.
Chapter 44 - Semi-Finals Part I
It was a bright and sunny new day, and almost everyone from Chem Village was hungover. That was what celebrating too hard could do to you.
The only ones fully awake and didn’t have a splitting headache was Chem Au, who had to be sharp for today’s matches, and his little brother, Chem Al. Despite not having any underage drinking laws in this primitive time, Chem Al didn’t partake of any alcohol due to the habit of following the Alchemist Association’s policy to not drink before preparing medicine or performing surgery.
Before long, it was time for the semi-finals. Chem Al had to drag his big brother towards the tournament grounds. You would think after yesterday's set of victories, Chem Au would be more confident now, but no, he knew that today's matches would be even tougher. He was definitely going to lose.
The two brothers were followed by their parents, and Sorka Jiu, along with a couple of people from their village who decided to come as well. It was rare for them to leave their carts where they made money, but for those who sold well yesterday, they decided that it was worth it to miss one day of sales to watch a historic moment for their village. They didn't think that Chem Au would get much further, but they did hope that they would get to see him win at least one match today.
Chem Au with his shield, sword, and new leather armor arrived at the tournament grounds. Other than him, there were seven other warriors who were going to fight today. These seven were all noble born sons, while he was the only village kid.
Bets were placed all around among the audience. But no one gambled on the village kid. Everyone was shocked that he was able to make it this far, but a part of them accepted it. It was extremely rare, but warriors from those weak villages have made it to the semi-finals before. But this is where their time in the spotlight will end. No villager has ever made it past this point.
The only one who seemed to believe it was possible was Chem Al, who was rubbing his big brother’s shoulders. "You can do this. You just need to win two more matches. Just two, okay? Then you will make it to the finals."
Chem Au nodded, although he didn't look confident. He got even paler when his name was called. It was announced that he was going to be in the very first match.
And then the name of his opponent was called up: “Xi Feng!”
The audience cheered, mostly because they wanted Xi Feng to get rid of that worthless village kid. But while almost everyone was shouting for his downfall, Chem Au didn’t notice them. Suddenly, he felt relieved.
He had seen a few of Xi Feng matches in the preliminaries. Out of all of the warriors who had made it this far, Xi Feng was the only one weaker than him with the profound strength at a mere ninteenth level, one level lower than Chem Au.
But that wasn’t the main reason why Chem Au sighed with relief. It was because Xi Feng’s main weapon was poison.
Chem Au almost laughed, confidence rising within him. For these past few months he saw what his little brother could do against poison in his study of alchemy. Perhaps his little brother could help him somehow with this match… Oh wait..., Chem Au realized, his mood dropping again. The match was going to start in just a few seconds. How was his little brother going to create an antidote in time?
Chem Au turned to his little brother, who smiled back at him while holding out a white, green pill.
“What? Is this the antidote? You already made an antidote for Xi Feng’s poison?” Chem Au asked, shocked.
Chem Al shrugged. “It’s just a low tier poison. It only took me a few seconds yesterday to design an antidote.”
By now, Chem Au didn't question if the pill was good for him or not. If his little brother made it, than it could only be good for him. He swallowed the pill, then asked, "I can’t believe you made this pill so fast. How could you even know that I was going to fight Xi Feng today?”
“Read it in a book,” Chem Al simply said.
Chem Au shook his head. Again, from time to time his little brother would say confusing stuff like that. He had learned to ignore it.
“Have fun,” Chem Al said as his big brother walked towards the stage.
Chem Au smiled back. “Don’t worry, I will.” For the first time in this entire tournament, he felt confident that he was going to win.
Xi Feng was already on stage, and was grinning as he saw the village kid standing in front of him. He nearly laughed, thinking about how easy this was going to be. Using his clan's poison that had taken generations to develop, he's been able to beat enemies far stronger than him, nevermind a weak village kid whose profound strength was only one level higher than him.
Xi Feng looked past Chem Au to that smaller village kid in the crowd. The only thing he had to worry about was that small village kid who had made that so called medicine yesterday. His father had told him that the City Lord rejected those pills as fakes, but their clan knew better. They didn't understand the pills but the smell coming off of it told of something much more.
But that didn't matter now, Xi Feng thought to himself as he shook his head. That kid had only seen him used his poison yesterday during the preliminaries. Even if that medicine was genuine, there was no way he could invent an antidote in a single day. Xi feng fingered the knives on his belt, getting ready.
At that moment, the match began.
Xi Feng immediately threw his throwing knives at Chem Au, who was running towards him, white light wrapped around his legs. Chem Au blocked with his shield. The knives bounced off. It was easy to tell that the knives weren’t anything special. The only thing that was worrying about them was that green tint staining the knives.
When Chem Au got close enough to his opponent, he swung his sword, but Xi Feng was able to dodge it. It wasn’t that he was faster than Chem Au, it was just that his body was extremely flexible and wily, making it difficult for his opponents to hit him.
Xi Feng easily fell to Chem Au’s side, then he quickly threw out a knife, aiming for a gap in his opponent’s leather armor. Success! The knife glanced Chem Au’s knee, leaving a thin cut. It was only a thin cut, but that was enough.
Before Chem Au could counterattack with his sword, Xi Feng jumped away, smiling. This had been easier than he thought! It usually took him awhile to wound his wary opponents, but this time he got him so easily.
Xi Feng was grinning like a maniac.
In the audience, some of the defeated warriors grimaced at the sight of Xi Feng’s smile of victory.
“So annoying!” one of them said.
“I can’t believe I lost to that pathetic Xi Feng! Using poison in a man’s battle is cowardly!”
“That village kid didn’t do any better. This match is already over.”
They all eyed the line of blood leaking out of the cut on Chem Au’s knee. From now on, no matter how much he struggled, he can no longer beat Xi Feng. All of the defeated warriors who had lost to Xi Feng knew this feeling well. They still felt a little sick and green from being poisoned yesterday.
The match continued onward with Chem Au chasing after Xi Feng, but the moment he was about to hit him, Xi Feng somehow wiggled out of his grasp. Every. Single. Damn. Time! It was annoying as hell.
Xi Feng was grinning like an idiot as he dodged another white crescent light. By now Chem Au had used several of those attacks, but Xi Feng knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep it up for long. He could already see Chem Au struggling to hold up his sword.
This was how it always is after he manages to hit his opponents, Xi Feng thought with glee. They chase after him, growing tired, out of breath, feeling as if bile was rising up their throats. All of these symptoms become increasingly exasberated as they continued to run or attack, causing their blood to pump faster and faster through their bodies. Meanwhile his opponents waste some of their profound energy trying to suppress the poison, which was impossible. This was his clan’s signature poison! Anyone with a cultivation under the thirtieth level will be unable to suppress it. But every single one of his victims still try, leaving them little profound energy left to fight. This will continue until…
Chem Au collapsed on the ground, dropping his sword.
With a laugh, Xi Feng danced his way over to Chem Au’s gasping body. This was supposed to be the semi-finals, but it was the easiest match he had ever fought. Now to get rid of the village kid.
The audience watched as this match reached the end.
“Hmph, what else can you expect from a weak villager.”
“He did good to make it this far. But this is where it ends.”
While everyone concluded in their minds that Chem Au had lost, Xi Feng was taking out his biggest knife, getting ready to finish him off. Suddenly, Chem Au looked up at him … and smiled. “Just kidding.”
Putting all of his profound strength into it, Chem Au lunged up and threw an uppercut, hitting Xi Feng under the chin.
An almost explosive sound reverberated all around as Xi Feng flew into the air and, just as quickly, fell to the ground with a heavy thud. His eyes rolled back in his head as he lost consciousness.
The entire audience went silent.
They were shocked, frozen like statues. Just as they were expecting Chem Au to lose, instead it was Xi Feng that lost. A complete reversal that only took a single second was too fast for them to comprehend. How the hell did that village kid win?
This wasn’t the first time a village kid had made it to the semi-finals, but it was the first time a village kid was able to defeat a noble born son in the semi-finals. For Xi Feng to make it this far, it shows that he wasn’t like the other weaker noble warriors who had lost in the preliminaries. So how did he lose to some no name village kid?
While the audience was trying to understand what had happened, Chem Au walked off the stage. They all watched him, thinking that maybe the poison hadn’t kicked in yet. The effects might have taken longer than expected, but it will definitely knock him down. Minutes went by ... and nothing.
That shouldn't be possible. They saw how in the match Xi Feng struck him with his poisoned knife. They could see the bloody cut on the village kid’s knee. Poison should be running through his body. He was only a twentieth level cultivator! He shouldn't be strong enough to suppress the poison completely!
It was then when they saw Chem Au sit by that small village kid that they began to slowly understand what had happened.
That so called medicine, could it have been real? They had been so shocked by the medicine yesterday that they couldn’t believe their own eyes. Despite seeing what the pills could do, a part of them thought that it must have been some sort of trick. You couldn’t erase thousands of years of disbelief caused by fake medicine in a single day. But now they began to believe. If the medicine was real, then perhaps an antidote was made to counteract the Xi clan’s poison. That was the only explanation!
“Where did you put those pills from yesterday?” the Dian Clan’s Patriarch demanded from his servant.
“Y-you told me to throw them in the trash,” the servant said nervously. “Should I go fetch them?”
The Patriarch scowled. “Do you think I want something from the trash? Do you think I’m stingy? Go out and buy another set of those pills!”
“Y-yes, sir!” the servant quickly left for the market.
All around the tournament grounds, the same thing was happening all over. Patriarchs from noble clans were ordering their servants to buy more pills, or get the ones that they had wisely put in storage. And even the City Lord was doing the same.
Meanwhile, the Chem brothers were having their own discussion about the antidote pill.
“How did it go?” Chem Al asked.
Chem Au smiled. “It was great. The moment the poison entered my body, I could feel the effects of your pill neutralizing it. Little Al, you’re even more than amazing that I thought.”
“Of course I am,” Chem Al said, as humble as ever. “To act like The First Alchemist, I’ve got a reputation to uphold.”
Around 100,000 years later
After pulling the blanket off of Su Luo's legs, Ren Sha and Da Xiang examined them. They looked weakened and malnourished, but even with a cursory glance, it was apparent to the two alchemists that someone had been treating her legs.
"Okay," Ren Sha said. "I'll examine her while you look around this house."
Da Xiang nodded, then went to look around.
Ren Sha knelt down to get a closer look at Su Luo. He drifted out his profound aura and enveloped her legs, giving them a more thorough examination. He wasn't skilled enough to judge what the medicine was by smell alone, but now he was completely sure of what it was.
"Buliang Rejuvenating Liquid," Ren Sha said.
"Are you sure?" Da Xiang said when he heard him. "Maybe they could have used a cheaper medicine?"
Da Xiang thought about it, then he looked at the cracked walls of the small, broken down house. "Buliang Rejuvenating Liquid is a third tier medicine so it isn't exactly cheap. But it is possible that Su Li could have saved up enough money to buy a bottle or two for her mother. I don't know if just finding out that they're using the most expensive medicine possible for Barre Legs disease is suspicious enough."
Ren Sha shook his head. "What if I told you that based on what I could tell, she has already been treated three times so far. And I could sense someone has temporarily opened up almost all of the profound entrances in her legs so that her body could better absorb the medicine."
"What?" Da Xiang said. "Are you sure?"
Ren Sha nodded. They both understood that for someone to be able to open up that many profound entrances, even if it was only temporarily, took the skill of an alchemist that was at least at the sixth rank. To be able to afford a couple of third tier medicine, sure they could imagine that, but to be able to hire a sixth rank alchemist to perform the treatment too? That was a little too suspicious for a family this poor.
After wrapping Su Luo in her blanket again, Ren Sha got up to help Da Xiang search the house. They needed to find more answers.
Sensing with their profound aura turned up nothing, so they would have to look by sight. It didn't take long to look through the whole house because there wasn't very much to look through. The house wasn't exactly big enough to have secret compartments to hide things in. After looking through the drawers in the kitchen one last time, they were close to giving up.
"Do you think we're being a little too suspicious of them?" Da Xiang asked. "It's very, very unlikely, but still possible that they could have saved up all that money to afford that treatment. I mean they probably don't waste money like how you do."
"Hey, I spend money very wisely," Ren Sha said. “Don’t give up. There’s gotta be something here.”
"Where else are we supposed to look? The only place we haven't searched is the trash can."
Ren Sha perked up. "Go search the trash can!"
"Uh, okay," Da Xiang said, perplexed. "I don't know what you expect me to find, but I'll take a loo-- Hey! I found something!" He had been rummaging all the way to the bottom of the trash when his hands found a wooden box. He pulled it out.
The wooden box looked new and fancy, different from everything else in the house. Ren Sha went over to Da Xiang, excited. They opened the box. Inside were thirty or so jade bottles.
"You don't think...?" Ren Sha said before opening one of the bottles. The medicinal smell instantly wafted up his nose. He put that bottle down, then opened another, ... and another. They were all bottles of Buliang Rejuvenating Liquid!
Da Xiang smelled the same smell. "I know that these are just third tier medicine, but how can they afford all of these?"
"I think we’ve found all that we need," Ren Sha said. “Let me contact Fen Yue.”
Ren Sha took out a jade transmission slip and burned it.
Author Notes: I'm going to try to reach chap 50 before Monday.
Author Notes #2: This is a rough draft. Please tell me in the comments if you see something wrong.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Chapter 43 - Ba Rre
“So these are the pills that the little village boy was shouting about?” Lord Ba Shen said after seeing the pills that his servant was presenting to him.
“Yes, City Lord,” the servant man said.
Lord Ba Shen looked through the pills, but he couldn't tell much from them. The only thing he knew was cultivation and governing a city. He wasn’t someone who studied medicine, so he called for Jia Yixue, his personal medical man, into the main hall to take a look.
The medicine man came. "You called for me, City Lord?"
"What do you think of these?" Lord Ba Shen tossed him the pills.
Jia Yixue examined them. Hmm, these must be the pills he had been hearing about. In less than a day, rumors of them have spread like a whirlwind throughout the city. Frankly, he didn’t really believe it.
There wasn't anything really special about these pills. Most of them were small and in a variety of colors, plus they had a nice smell that tugged at him, but other than that, they didn't look like anything exceptional.
Jia Yixue couldn’t really discern anything from these pills, but he didn’t want to admit his ignorance. Add that to the fact that he completely refused to believe that someone from a village could make better medicine than him, was the reason why he said, "I think these are fakes."
"Really? They seemed pretty effective when I saw them in today's tournament," Lord Ba Shen said.
"Hmph, I'm sure there must be some sort of trick involved. Poor villagers would do anything for money."
"So you think that there is nothing to these pills?” Lord Ba Shen said, and then his voice became threatening. “I was hoping that they would be able to help heal my son, since so far you have failed.”
Jia Yixue gulped. He knew that the City Lord had been thinking of getting rid of him for these past few months for failing to do what he had promised: healing the City Lord's only son.
And if the City Lord got rid of him like how he got rid of the last medicine man, then he would no longer be breathing.
"C-City Lord! Please wait a minute! Just because these pills are fake doesn't mean that I can't make the right medicine to heal your son. Just give me more time, please! Six months! Just give me six more months and I'll be able to succeed!" The medicine man thought that would be enough time to gather his things and run away.
Lord Ba Shen thought about it, then nodded. "Fine. Six more months. But if you fail me like the others before, you had better wear something protective around your neck."
Jia Yixue should have felt a little relieved, but a jolt of panic still ran up his spine. "Thank you, City Lord! Thank you! I will not fail you."
Lord Ba Shen dismissed the medicine man, who groveled while walking backwards all the way out the door. Once he was gone, the City Lord let out a disappointed breath. He had hoped that these pills could be the answer to helping his son, but it looked like that was not to be. He laughed, feeling foolish to believe for one second that something miraculous could come from a poor village.
“What should I do with these pills?” the servant man said.
Lord Ba Shen was about to tell him to toss them out, but his mind flashed to today’s tournament. If these pills were merely a trick, then they were very convincing. After thinking about it, he decided to wait. “Keep them somewhere safe for now. I will not give my son medicine that I don’t trust, but I’m willing to wait and see if these are really fakes. Let’s keep an eye on how that warrior from that poor village makes it through the tournament to see how effective these pills can be.”
The servant man bowed, then left with the pills.
As for the City Lord, he got up from his throne and made his way towards his son’s bedchamber. He paused, then went inside where he found that his son was sitting up in bed. “Ba Rre, what are you doing up? You should be resting."
"I've rested enough, Father."
His father started to protest, saying that he won’t get better if he doesn’t get more rest, but this just caused Ba Rre to sigh. “Father, let’s be honest, no amount of lying in bed will help me get better.”
Lord Ba Shen wanted to refute that but couldn’t. “How are your legs today, son?”
Ba Rre moved his blanket to the side. His legs didn’t look malnourished, but they seemed weak, almost spindly. The muscles had shrunk and the skin was pale. In other words, they looked the same as they always had for the past three years. And so far, no amount of rubbing cream or disgusting medicine he had to swallow made them any better. Ba Rre sighed. “Same as always.”
“Don’t lost hope, son. I will find someone that can heal you.”
Ba Rre collapsed back on the bed. He didn't hold as much hope as his father. The last few medicine men couldn't help him at all. What made him think that the newest one could? "Just leave me. I'll get the 'rest' that you want me to get. But please, just leave."
Lord Ba Shen walked away with slumped shoulders, thinking how he would give anything to the person who could heal his son.
As night fell, throughout the city, the nobles have been receiving reports from their servants. One such noble was the Patriarch of the Dian clan, Dian Guang. “Is this accurate?” he asked.
His servant nodded. “Yes. The spy we’ve placed in the City Lord’s castle guarantees it. The pills that the City Lord’s servant had bought weren’t used, and instead were stored away. It seems like the City’s Lord personal medicine man concluded that they were fakes.”
Dian Guang’s face grew stormy. The report held in his tightening fist was suddenly destroyed by yellow lightning. “Ha, that village kid thought he could trick me? I didn’t believe in those so called pills for one second! Throw them away! I will not feed such strange things to my son!”
The same was happening throughout the city. This new medicine was bizarre. They didn’t trust it. It could even be poison. The nobles have spent a lot of resources raising their sons into fine warriors. Why would they risk all that on some strange, fake medicine? A lot of pills were thrown away for the rest of the night.
Soon the sun rose and the market became busy again.
It was time for the semi-finals!
Around 100,000 years later
Mi Ling was the first to Su Li’s door. After answering his knock, her beautiful face appeared to greet him, smiling. "Mi Ling, you’re here! Won't you come in?"
Their eyes stared into each other, completely ignoring the three alchemists who were also standing at the door. Fen Yue coughed. "We're coming in too."
They all went in and found a sparsely furnished room. There was a small kitchen to the side, but it seemed like the living room and the bedroom shared the same space. Not only was the inside a little in disrepair, the entire space was smaller than the Grandmaster's office.
Still, the four newcomers spoke of how nice the place looked out of courtesy.
Su Li moved towards the old bed in the living room. "This is my mother, Su Luo."
"Hello, it's nice to meet you." Su Luo smiled at them. She tried to get up to give them a proper greeting but they could see she had trouble doing it.
"No need to get up," Mi Ling said.
"Yeah," Ren Sha said. "When you're relaxing in bed all day, don’t you hate it when someone forces you to get up?" Although he was half joking, he was also staying vigilant. That was when he caught a glimpse of Su Luo’s legs. Yep, she was suffering from Barre Legs disease.
However, he also got a hint of a medicinal smell coming from her legs. Ren Sha looked over at Fen yue, who nodded back, telling him that she caught that fact too.
After Su Li made some weak tea, the six people in the small house made conversation, mostly Su Luo talking about her daughter, telling them how glad she was that her daughter had made some nice friends and how she didn't make friends that much because she was always out there working to make money to support them. She hoped that they would stay friends with her daugher for a long time.
Eventually, Su Li noticed how much time has passed. "Oh, I have to go grocery shopping!"
"Now? But we have guests," Su Luo said.
"Mother, you know how I didn't come back with anything yesterday. If I don't buy anything by today, we won't have any food for tomorrow." Su Li got up to get ready to go out, but then she stopped and looked over at Mi Ling, then blushed. "Would you like to come with me? I could use some help."
Mi Ling jumped up. "Of course I will help you!"
Nearby, Fen Yue sighed. The three alchemists got up, intending to follow Mi Ling, but when he saw them stand up, he hustled them to a corner of the room, and whispered, "Do you guys really have to come with me and Su Li?"
Da Xiang looked at him like he was stupid. "Yes."
"Come on, guys! I know I'm supposed to act like bait, but what are the chances that the culprits would be out here in this part of the city. Can't you give me some alone time for an hour or two?"
Ren Sha was about to say no, mostly because he knew that Fen Yue would say no, but he was surprised when Fen Yue said, "Sure."
Ren Sha stared at her like she had grown three extra heads, but she ignored him. "Let's face it," Fen Yue whispered. "Being bait might take awhile. Who knows how many days or weeks we will have to do this before the criminals come out of hiding. I don't see a problem where you can’t be on your own for an hour."
Mi Ling was a little surprised at her answer as well, but he smiled, relieved. "Thank you."
Once Mi Ling went over to Su Li, Fen Yue turned to her two fellow alchemists and said, "Okay, here's the plan. I will follow him while you two stay here and look around. Examine the mother and search the house, then tell me if you find anything."
"Oh...," Ren Sha said, understanding. Both he and Da Xiang nodded.
Soon Su Li and Mi Ling walked out the door, and less than a minute later, Fen Yue followed them.
"Don't mind her. My friend just decided to join your daughter and help her out,” Ren Sha said. “Anyway, how about I make us some more tea. No offense, but the tea that your daughter served was a little weak."
Su Luo looked embarrassed. "Yes, I know. It's the best we can do. I'm sorry we couldn't properly receive such honored guests as yourself.” It wasn't everyday high ranked alchemists visited her home.
Ren Sha smiled. "Don't worry. It just gives me a chance to show you what I've got." He pulled a box of tea out of his spatial ring. "This is something very special. It's Virgin Pearl Jasmine tea."
Su Luo's eyes lit up. "Ah, I know that one. They serve the same thing at the Moon Burlesque Club."
Ren Sha looked stumped. "Uh, yes, that's where I got this. How do you know about that club?"
"I used to work there, of course."
"....As a waitress?"
"No, silly. As a dancer. I used to dance there." Su Luo laughed.
Ren Sha was more shocked than he has ever been in his life. He stared at the woman. She wasn't exactly old, but never in a million years would he have ever pictured her as an exotic dancer.
Seeing the stunned look on his face, Su Luo shrugged. "You've got to do what you've got to do to make money in this world. But eventually my looks got too old. I’m surprised they still serve that tea there."
Ren Sha coughed, not knowing what to say. He shook his head as he started to think of the old woman dancing on stage. In the end, he finally stuttered out that he will go make some tea. After stepping into the kitchen, he called Da Xiang over. "Listen, we're going to have to knock her out. You go over there and distract her while I make the tea."
Da Xiang nodded.
While Ren Sha pulled a small, pink sleeping pill out of his spatial ring, Da Xiang sat next to Su Luo.
Su Luo smiled at him. “Hi.”
Da Xiang didn’t say anything.
“You don’t talk much, do you?”
Again, Da Xiang didn’t say anything. Instead, he pointed his finger at the far wall.
“What are you pointing at?” Su Luo turned her head to look.
Quick as a flash, Da Xiang chopped at her neck with the side of his hand. She gasped, then collapsed on the bed, unconscious.
That was how Ren Sha found her when he came back to the living room with the fragrant tea. His mouth fell open. “What happened to her?”
“I chopped her neck.”
“What? Why would you do that? I’ve got a sleeping pill in her tea ready to go.”
Da Xiang shrugged. “It’s what my Master would have done.”
Ren Sha sighed with extreme exasperation as he put down the tea. “Just because Master Zhou Gei does it doesn’t mean you should do it too.”
When Da Xiang didn’t respond, Ren Sha just said, “Anyway, what’s done is done. Let’s just examine her.”
They looked at her legs that had been afflicted with Barre Legs disease.
Author Notes: Is "medicine man" a good word? Or should I switch it to "doctor", although to me the word "doctor" sounds too modern?
Author Notes #2: This is a rough draft. Please tell me in the comments if you see something wrong.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Chapter 42 - Their First Customer
The tournament matches for the first day continued. Chem Au fought a few more times; some of them against fellow villagers, and a few against powerful sons of nobles. Even if he’d only barely scrape through, he would win every time. And there would be his little brother there to heal him.
“Well, at least you kept your good looks,” Chem Al said, eyeing his brother’s bloody and bruised face.
Chem Au had just won his very last match of the day, allowing him to pass to the semi-finals. His entire body ached, but he was happy. He’d never thought that he could make it this far.
However, after his little brother healed him with a pill, the booing and dissent from the crowd started to grow increasingly noticeable, especially from the rich fathers who had a son that had lost to him. They kept shouting that Chem Au was cheating, that it wasn’t fair that he could be healed like that after every battle while their sons had to fight tired and broken.
“Shut the hell up!” Chem Al yelled at all of them.
The entire crowd was stunned silent. Did this little village kid with no profound cultivation just raised his voice against the richest families of Vera City?
Chem Al continued, “You should all be ashamed of yourselves! This tournament is supposed to represent real battles, and in real battles, things aren’t always fair. Sometimes you’ll fight someone a lot stronger than you. Sometimes you’ll fight someone who has a weapon and you don’t. And sometimes ... you'll fight someone refreshed and ready for battle while you're tired and injured. Yes, it isn't fair! Well, tough! My brother is going to use every advantage he has to win this tournament. If you don't like it, then just go to the market where you can buy these pills for a very reasonable price!" He held up a pill.
Everyone was silent for a moment, then some of them continued to shout and complain at the Chem brothers like mad, snarling bulls. Yes, Chem Al spoke with logic, but they certainly weren't going to get beaten down with words by a weakling. But while many continued to be loud, some quieted down and whispered to their nearby servants to go investigate these pills.
The preliminaries ended.
Everyone started to leave. The Chem brothers met up with their group and walked out of the tournament grounds. Their parents couldn't believe it. Chem Feng was especially unbelievably proud at Chem Au. Their son had managed to qualify for the semi-finals! They had hoped that he would do it, but they never really thought he could. If he were to lose his next match, it would be okay.
When they finally made it back to their spot in the market, they were in an exhuberant and celebratory mood.
But a few of the villagers, including Sorka Bo, didn't see that. Instead, they saw Chem Au's burnt, ripped up leather armor and assumed the worst. "Oh, you lost. Not surprising at all. I'm just shocked that it took you this long to return with your tail between your legs."
"Nope. He won every fight he was in today!” Chem Mai shouted, proud of her son.
“He’s going to the semi-finals!" Chem Feng said, just as happily.
All the villagers went quiet.
"Wait, what?" Sorka Bo practically shouted. He then looked at his father. “Is this true?”
Sorka Jiu nodded, also happy because someone from his tiny village was able to make it this far in the city’s tournament. The only thing that saddened him a little was that it wasn’t his son who had participated. Maybe next year.
The other villagers were shocked by this news. With Chem Au's strength, they assumed that he would win a few fights, but not enough to pass the first day. They ran forward, shoving Sorka Bo out of the way to get to Chem Au. They clamored around him, asking him questions about the tournament and his fights. Meanwhile, Sorka Bo stomped away.
But while almost everyone else was in a celebratory mood, Chem Al was getting down to business. He walked over to Sheng Yi. "Master, did anyone buy our pills?"
Sheng Yi shook her head. "Not yet."
"What?" Chem Al couldn't believe it. "Does my big brother have to win the entire tournament before we can even get one customer?”
Oh, wait, maybe he spoke too soon.
They saw someone approaching them. It was a man who, although his clothes weren't flamboyant like the nobles, was wearing something that was made from fine materials.
"Tell me about these pills," the man said with a condescending tone. He had been walking around this entire market searching for these pills, and along the way he had encountered many scammers shouting out about how their medicine could perform miracles. Although he saw the use of these pills at the tournament grounds, he was in a state of mind to disbelieve.
Chem Al's three disciples moved forward and told the man about what their pills can do. The man's face became uglier and uglier after hearing their claims. They said that these pills could mend bones, heal burns, soothe pain, and a lot of other things, but what he found most unbelievable was a red pill that they said could increase your cultivation.
Do you know how many people claimed that they had made a miraculous medicine like this? These villagers were obviously selling fakes!
But the City Lord, who the man served, ordered him to buy these pills, so he asked about their prices.
"Five high jade stones for the Primary Profound Pill, and three high jade stones for everything else!" Chem Al jumped in and said. He could tell that this man was ordered to buy these pills no matter what, so he took this opportunity to raise the prices.
"What! Five high jade stones for this tiny, red pill?" the man shouted. He wanted to walk away. These villagers were obviously scammers! How can a village even create such medicine? And even if they did, why did they look so poor? If their pills really did what they claimed it could do, then they would be richer than the City Lord!
The man really really really wanted to walk away, but he ended up buying the exorbitantly priced pills.
Chem Al smiled. "Thank you for your purchase."
The man stormed off.
"At least we got one buyer," Chem Al said, still a little disappointed. But unlike him, the villagers had regained their hope. They had been watching the entire exchange, and were now smiling at the amount of high jade stones that their village chief was holding. This was what they had been hoping for!
The villagers got even more excited when a few more people came up. A lot of them weren't actual customers. They were just browsing, curious about the pills that they saw at the tournament. But some of them came there to buy, especially those that served a noble who had a son that made it to the semi-finals. Even though all the customers were shocked at the high prices, they still paid it.
A whirlwind of purchases were made and then the day's market ended.
The villagers gathered around the medicine cart where there was a huge pile of high jade stones. Their eyes were glittering, especially Sheng Yi's and the three disciples’. They hadn't even sold all of the pills and yet they still made this much money! If they didn't sell another pill before they have to leave the city, they would still be happy.
Only those like Sorka Bo, who hated seeing the cripple succeed, was pissed. But no one noticed him.
Everyone else was celebrating, not just because of the amount of money Chem Al had made for them, but also because of Chem Au’s victories. Although Chem Au had only passed through the first day of the tournament, it was still something to celebrate. Some of the money was used to buy a round of drinks. Tonight, the people of Chem Village celebrated.
But while they had a good time, the first man who had bought their pills had stomped all the way to the City Lord’s castle.
As castle’s go, it wasn’t much. It was neither very defensible nor was it decorated enough to feel extravagant. It was a poor man’s castle, which fitted right in with a city at the edge of the Continent.
The man entered the main hall and kneeled in front of the City Lord. He showed him the pills.
Around 100,000 years later
Mi Ling woke up feeling groggy. He had been up all night transmitting messages with Su Li. He had never laughed, or blushed, that much in a long time. She could be a very interesting girl at certain times. But he had been up for so long that he didn't even remember falling asleep.
"Ah, you're finally awake."
Surprised, Mi Ling looked up and saw Que Cue by one of the bookshelves. "What time is it?" Mi Ling asked.
"It's past noon. You must have had a productive night with the journals."
"Uh...," Not fully awake yet, Mi Ling couldn't think of anything to say, not wishing to admit that he had been up all night talking with a girl.
"Studying the journals is good and all, but pace yourself, okay? Don't use up all of your energy. Today's going to be another day of moving around the city."
Mi Ling nodded. Another day of being the bait. He yawned, and prepared to get ready for the day before contacting the three alchemist disciples.
In the Alchemist Association’s cafeteria, Fen Yue, Ren Sha, and Da Xiang were sitting around a table having a meeting while eating lunch. The other alchemists around them were looking at them with a hint of worship. It was rare to see all three masters’ disciples together like this.
"Did you find out anything about that girl, Su Li?" Fen Yue asked the two of them.
"A couple of things," Ren Sha said. "At the very least, her story's not a made up sob story. My contacts have informed me that she does come from a poor family and her mother is sick, suffering from Barre Legs disease."
"Okay, so her mother’s legs don't work that well. Anything else?"
"Not much. That house that we dropped her off at is her real house. It's not a fake residence."
"That's it?" Fen Yue said. "What about any changes in her status of life? If she is working for the culprits like we think she is, she would definitely be paid off."
"No change in finances."
"Nothing at all?"
Ren Sha thought about it. "The only thing that changed recently is that the girl used to have, shall we say, a very aggressive suitor going after her. But he has recently stopped bothering her. Other than that, no change at all."
Fen Yue groaned, then turned to Da Xiang. "How about you? Did you find out anything?"
Da Xiang reluctantly put down what he was eating and then slowly took out some notes. "I've confirmed that Su Li is her real name." He then put the notes away and went back to eating.
Fen Yue stared, hoping that he would say more, but nothing came forth. She groaned again, annoyed at the lack of information.
Ren Sha smiled at her. "I know that the girl is suspicious, but are you sure that jealousy doesn’t play some part in these questions?”
"I'm not jealous!" Fen Yue said. "Mi Ling isn't even my type!"
"I don't know." Ren Sha tapped his chin with a finger. "There's something about a guy and a girl riding on the back of a dragon for many miles that can change a person's heart. Doesn't it sound romantic?"
Fen Yue threw a piece of toast at Ren Sha, but Da Xiang suddenly reached out and grabbed the toast out of the air, then ate it.
At that moment, Fen Yue felt a message coming through her jade transmission slip. Mi Ling was contacting her, telling her he was up and ready to go. It was time to travel the city again.
After Fen Yue told her two fellow alchemists it was time to get to work, they left the cafeteria and met up with Mi Ling outside the Alchemist Association's main building where there was a carriage waiting for them.
"Where should we go today?" Fen Yue asked.
She was asking Mi Ling, but Ren Sha jumped in. "Moon Burlesque Club! Come on, we went where you two wanted to go yesterday. Today's my turn!"
Everyone ignored him.
"Actually, there is a place I wanted to go," Mi Ling said. "I was hoping we could go to Su Li's house again.”
The three alchemists looked at him.
Mi Ling nearly blushed. “I just wanted to check up on her, you know, see if she’s okay.”
Fen Yue wanted to ask him some questions, but decided not to. In all honesty, she wanted to take a closer look at Su Li herself instead of just reading investigation reports from her contacts.
She sighed, then agreed to his request. They told the driver where to go, and it wasn't long before they ended up in front of Su Li's home again.
Author Notes: This is a rough draft. Please tell me in the comments if you see something wrong.