Thursday, November 3, 2016

The First Alchemist - Chap 24

Chapter 24 - Three Months Before the Battle Part 2

Sheng Yi watched as her disciple dug into the ground. "Did I ever mention how nice it is to have a disciple do all the work?"

Chem Al scraped at the ground with a wooden board, the closest thing he had to a shovel. He knew that it was an honor to be helping the great Sheng Yi, but still....

"Ah, Master, I think I hit it," he said, excited to finally reach the root.

"Then get on with it."

Chem Al tossed away the board, then scraped his fingers around the root, removing as much dirt as he could. There were little white tendrils sticking out of the root, almost like worms. He picked them up until there was none left, then tossed them into one of the baskets.

Sheng Yi eyed the basket. "I think that's enough Wormite for now. On to the next one."

Chem Al nodded, then pointed. "I'm sure I saw some Lowe Leaves over there."

"Hurry it up, then. We don't have all the day." She flicked her hand at the baskets, indicating for Chem Al to continue carrying them.

Okay, maybe Chem Al did want to complain a little. Here he was with no profound strength to help him, and yet his Master was now currently at the fifth level, thanks to all the Primary Profound Pills she had taken.

"Yes, Master," was all Chem Al said, although there were some words he wanted to add.

Just as he was about to pick up the baskets, Sheng Yi stopped him. "Wait. Someone's coming."

They both crouched down, ready to run. Even though they were already at the edge of the forest, and the village was nearby, it didn’t hurt to be safe than sorry. Sheng Yi’s profound senses couldn’t travel that far, but it was strong enough to pick up the fact that something was running towards them. "I, I think it's your brother."

Chem Al relaxed. "Oh, Au's back? So soon?" He looked out into the forest.

"Help!" Chem Au shouted when he saw his little brother so close by. A surge of hope pumped through him, and he ran the last stretch a little faster.

"What happened?" Sheng Yi asked when Chem Au reached them.

"There was an attack. ... Colossus Bear. He lost his leg. Can ... you help him?" Chem Au said between breaths.

Both Sheng Yi and Chem Al did a quick examination of the wounded guard, everything from his bloody red stump to his pale white face.

"He's lost a lot of blood. Get him to my hut quickly," Sheng Yi shouted.

They all ran back to the village, Chem Au the fastest despite carrying a fully grown man, and his little brother the slowest while holding on to a basket full of Wormite.

"Place him down slowly," Sheng Yi said when they entered inside, and Chem Au did, carefully putting the guard down on the mat in the middle of the hut.

"First we must clean the wound, and then stop the bleeding. Disciple, you know what to do!"

Chem Al grabbed one of the wooden buckets that was filled with water at all times, then carried it over to the patient. He then removed the improvised wrap that his brother had made over the wound. The flow of blood increased, but he had to risk it because there was plenty of dead leaves and dirt clogging everything. He washed the stump as best he could. "Any time now, Master!"

There was a flash of light behind him, and then Sheng Yi appeared with the medicinal cauldron in her hands. In it was the first tier medicine, Blood Ichor, a thick brown liquid that glowed red. She poured it over the wound, and immediately the blood began to clot, sealing everything.

The bleeding had stopped, but it wasn’t over yet. The patient’s face was still pale. There was a chance he might die from blood loss.

Chem Al cleaned out the medicinal cauldron and prepared the ingredients to make the Blood Replenishment Pill. Half a minute later, a dark red pill jumped out of the cauldron. "Yes, I did it!”

"Well, don't just stand there like an idiot! Bring it over!" Sheng Yi said.

Chem Al went over and stuck the pill into the patient's mouth. He then took a thin, wooden splinter out of his pocket and gave a small jab at the patient's neck, causing him to swallow the pill.

They looked down at the patient. His face regained its color and his breathing became less shallow.

Chem Au saw this too. “Is he going to be okay?”

“He’s stable, for now,” Sheng Yi said. “Leave him here overnight so your brother and I can watch him.”

Chem Au nodded. He could see that his fellow guard was in safe hands. A look of wonder appeared on his face as he watched these two, especially Chem Al, bustle around the patient. His little brother wasn’t strong, but at this moment he was very proud of him.

After he left, Sheng Yi examined the man’s stump from time to time, knowing how that would affect the man for the rest of his life. “Disciple, do you have any ideas on how to regrow his leg?” she asked.

“Maybe. I’ll work on it,” was all he said. Chem Al couldn’t tell her that he knew a few ways to do it. However, according to history, it wasn’t actually The First Alchemist who discovered it, so he couldn’t say anything. Even if he wanted to create that kind of pill, he wouldn’t be able to do it with his current medicinal cauldron. It was only made out of profound iron, far too weak to make a pill that powerful. “There’s nothing we can do about that leg for now.”

“Okay, then let’s just finish it off with a Soothing Yu Pill.” Sheng Yi sensed the patient’s body with her profound energy. “He still has a few minor injuries and slight internal bleeding that the Blood Ichor didn’t catch, plus the scarring on his stump. Nothing serious. He would be able to heal up normally with time, but the Soothing Yu Pill would be faster.”

“I agree, but you’ll have to make it.”

“Me? But I’m not ready. Every Soothing Yu Pill I’ve tried to make wasn’t as pure as yours,” Sheng Yi said.

Chem Al could only shake his head. His skill came from a lifetime of practicing alchemy, and here his Master was trying to catch up in two months. She was already able to create first tier medicine, like the Primary Profound Pill and the Blood Ichor, with one hundred percent purity so her abilities had already reached the level of a first rank alchemist. Considering she had been practicing for such a short time, her talent was astonishing, even surpassing himself, and he was called a genius back in his past life.

However, his Master couldn’t see how talented she was just because she had not been able to create a second tier pill, the Soothing Yu Pill, with one hundred percent purity. If she was able to do something like that in a mere two months, she would be a monster.

“How many times do I keep telling you that the pill doesn’t need one hundred percent purity to work? For now, your level of skill is fine,” Chem Al said, but then he had an idea. He reached for the basket of Wormite. “You know, I’ve been thinking of a new cultivation skill, and I think this one can help you. One of the medicinal ingredients for the Soothing Yu Pill is powdered Wormite. I’ve been trying to invent a cultivation skill that could instantly turn medicinal ingredients into powder without needing a pestle and mortar.” That was a complete lie. He had learned the skill back in his past life when he was just a first rank alchemist attending Sheng Yi academy, but she didn’t need to know that.

“That would make things easier,” Sheng Yi said.

“Yes, it would. I call it the Powder Cultivation Skill!” Chem Al looked so proud of himself.

Sheng Yi had a disappointed look on her face. “Such a lame name….”

“What? It’s a great name! Do you want to learn this skill or not?”

“Fine, fine. Yes, I do.”

Chem Al looked only slightly mollified. “Okay. Now hold out your hand, palm up.” When she did what he said, he placed a piece of Wormite on her hand. “Now start channeling energy into this.”

When profound energy began to flow into the Wormite, it began to glow.

“Good. Okay now smash the profound energy against each other,” Chem Al said.

“Smash? But it’s energy! It’s not like it’s a rock you hit an unfaithful husband with.”

“Just trust me. Smash your profound energy and let the Wormite be caught in it, like a house during a huge storm. But not a rough storm, a refine one. Enough to turn that house into tiny pieces of rubble.” That was the best Chem Al could explain it. In his past life, he had only needed a little bit of instruction before he managed to learn this skill. It took him a single day, which astounded the alchemist community.

Sheng Yi just shrugged her shoulders and did what her disciple said.

“Wait,” Chem Al said. “Don’t be disappointed if you fail on your first try. If you would like, you can put the Wormite in the pestle and mortar, then place your hand over it and try to activate the skill that way. Visual cues like that might be able to help make it easier to learn.”

“Let me try it this way first.” Sheng Yi focused on the Wormite in her hand. She imagined her profound energy as millions of tiny tiny rocks smashing against the medicinal ingredient. In just a few seconds, the Wormite turned into powder.

When she saw that it worked, Sheng Yi let out a relieved sigh of happiness. “Hey, look at that, disciple. That wasn’t too hard.”

But Chem Al didn’t respond. His jaw was almost touching the floor. First try, he thought. She did it on her first try. That was what he repeated in his mind again and again, shocked beyond words. First try, first try, first try….

“Hello?” Sheng Yi snapped her fingers in front of her disciple’s face. He had been staring at the Wormite powder for quite awhile.

Deciding that her disciple was broken and there was no way to fix him, she took the Wormite powder and tossed it inside the medicinal cauldron along with four other medicinal ingredients. She then placed her hands over the cauldron and concentrated.

The cauldron began to glow. Concentrate! Concentrate! She could feel it; she might succeed this time. But then, damn, her focus shifted for one second by the strain on her mind, and she could feel an imperfection.

A pill jumped out of the medicinal cauldron. She caught it. It was a blue pill, but the color was dull and the surface was gritty, nevermind the fact that the smell coming off of it was weak. Well, at least it was better than her previous tries. The shape of the pill was less misshapen. It actually looked like a round pill.

Sheng Yi sighed. How come when her disciple did this, he made it look so easy, while she strained with the effort. Must be the genius of youth.

Chem Al stood there watching her as she made the pill. He sighed, somehow relieved. His Master was a monster, but not as much as he feared. Although it was impressive that she could create a second tier pill in only two months, the pill was only at eighty percent purity. She had not reached the level of a second rank alchemist. Still, Chem Al couldn’t help but stare at her with respect. He had read that she was a genius among geniuses, but there was never this much detail about it. It was one thing to read about this and another to see it before his very eyes.

While her disciple was standing there doing nothing like he usually did, the lazy bum, Sheng Yi tossed the pill towards him, disappointed in herself. She went to a corner and continued to practice the Powder Cultivation Skill to make sure she mastered it.

Chem Al caught the pill, then gave it to the patient. Because of the pill's imperfections, it took quite a few minutes for the effects to take hold. When it did, Chem Al could see the scabs and scars on the patient's stump start healing at a faster rate, leaving nothing there but unbroken skin. Other than that, the pill should be healing any other tiny internal injuries. Now the patient looked even more restful than before.

That was when the door opened. Chem Al looked up and saw the village chief.


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