Thursday, October 27, 2016
The First Alchemist - Chap 22
Chapter 22 - A Talk of the Profound
“Alchemy, huh?” Chem Au said. “That’s kind of a lame name.”
Chem Al smashed his fist on top of his brother's head, hurting his hand in the process. "Ow! What do you know? It's the most amazing name in the history of ... well, everything!"
"Okay, okay. You don't have to cry about it. It's a great name," Chem Au said. "Now, can you make another pill? If you want me to beat Sorka Bo, I'm going to have to get stronger as fast as possible."
Chem Al shook his head. "Not yet. I'm going to need to gather some more medicinal ingredients,” he said before turning to Sheng Yi. "Master, you can help me with that tomorrow."
"Okay, but once we gather those ingredients, you'll teach me how to use this cauldron of yours?"
Chem Al nodded, but then he stayed quiet for a long time.
"What's wrong?" Sheng Yi asked.
"Master, if I'm going to teach you alchemy, you will eventually need to increase your profound cultivation level."
Sheng Yi looked shocked, then she became flustered. "What? But I don't cultivate!"
"There's no need to deny it, Master. You're among friends here."
Chem Al and Sheng Yi stared at each other, one trying to hide something and the other trying to expose it.
Meanwhile, Chem Au just felt confused. "What do you mean, Little Al? You know women aren't allowed to cultivate profound energy."
"I know," Chem Al almost whispered, but what he was really thinking was, at least not yet. "But my Master does."
Hearing what his little brother said, Chem Au turned to Sheng Yi and tried to sense any profound energy from her. At first, he felt nothing, but after concentrating for a long while, he finally detected a trace amount of it. "What? She really does cultivate! Even though it's only at the very bottom of the first level, I can sense profound energy in her."
Hearing her secret exposed, Sheng Yi finally sighed and turned to her disciple. "How did you find out?"
"By accident. When you examined me, I felt a hint of profound energy invading into my body."
"But that's not possible. You were born with crippled profound veins. There's no way for you to sense profound energy."
Chem Al shrugged. "I just know." He couldn't tell her that he read it in a book.
There was no going back now, so Sheng Yi said, "Okay. A long time ago, I tried cultivating profound energy. But so what? It's not like I tried to increase my strength. I'm still at the measly first level. The only reason I cultivated in the first place is because I wanted to boost my senses, which would make it easier to diagnose patients. But what does that have to do with you teaching me alchemy? I just saw you do it, and you can’t cultivate."
"True, but it's like you said. It just makes it easier." Chem Al then walked over to his Master’s supplies and picked up the pestle and mortar. "Cultivating profound energy can help make things easier. Although most people use it to practice martial arts, others also use it to make them better at their jobs. Like blacksmiths, spies, construction workers, etcetera. Why can't alchemists do the same? Take this pestle and mortar for instance, which helps you reduce medicinal ingredients into a powder. What if I were to tell you I've been thinking of trying to create a cultivation skill that will help make that easier."
Chem Al then moved his hand over and picked up his Master’s knife. "And this knife. What if I invent a cultivation skill that can make this knife sharper, making it easier for you to cut through medicinal ingredients that would be impossible for an ordinary knife? I have so many ideas, but since I can’t cultivate, I’m going to need you to test out these new cultivation skills for me. For the advancement of alchemy."
Sheng Yi looked skeptical. "Do you understand how difficult that is? You can't cultivate profound energy and you're telling me that you can create a cultivation skill?"
"Yes." Chem Al smiled, confidence flowing off of him like wind from a storm. "But you're going to have to increase your level of cultivation, or else the skills will be weak and ineffective."
"Wait, wait!" Chem Au suddenly jumped in. "How can you not be surprised that she's cultivating profound energy?"
Chem Al looked at him. "Are you against women cultivating?"
"Well, ...no, actually." When Chem Au thought about it, he realized he really wasn't against it. It was just what he had been taught growing up. In fact, he realized if the women of the village started cultivating, it would increase their overall strength, making life less harsh. However, he knew it wouldn’t be that easy. "But other people might be against it. Right now her cultivation is so low it's hard to sense, but what happens when she gets stronger? They will find out and a lot of people might not like it."
"We'll deal with that when it happens." Chem Al waved it off.
And now you’re suddenly wishy washy? Chem Au thought. This is serious, you know.
"So, Master,” Chem Al said. “Since my profound veins are crippled, I’m going to need your help. If you want me to teach you alchemy, you're going to have to increase your profound cultivation strength. Do you agree?"
Sheng Yi thought about it for a long time, but in the end she said, "If it makes me a better practitioner of medicine, of course I'll do it. Damn whatever anyone else thinks."
Yes! Chem Al mentally congratulated himself. This was another step forward for alchemy.
And then his brother broke apart his happy mood. "Hold on, I just realized something. Is that why you created this new kind of medicine called alchemy? So you can someday fix your crippled profound veins?" Chem Au said.
Because of his words, Sheng Yi suddenly realized it too. "Is that true? Is that what this is all about?" Before Chem Al could answer her, she had already concluded it in her mind. What other possibility could there be? Growing up, the boy had always hoped that she would use her medicines to heal him of his crippled profound veins, but she had failed every single time. So he tried to come up with a way to do it himself.
"Uh, yes," Chem Al said, not knowing how else to answer them.
"That's great! I know you can do it, Little Al. If anyone in the world can discover a way to heal crippled profound veins, it's you. And then you will be able to cultivate with me!"
"I ... will definitely try," Chem Al said while trying to keep his smile up. But he knew, according to history, that The First Alchemist never heals his profound veins, despite trying again and again.
"I'm sure you will succeed," Sheng Yi said.
Chem Al looked at their excited faces, unable to bring himself to tell them that that will never happen. “Anyway, that's for the future. Right now we need to focus on the tasks at hand. Au, you will have to get stronger in order to support me. And Master, you must learn alchemy as fast as you can. Together, not only will we take over this village, we will also make it better.” And that will just be the start, Chem Al thought.
They all agreed on the plan. For the next three months, they were going to prepare themselves.